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Chapter 32: The Time Has Come

The summer’s breeze blew the climbing rose, which adorned the modest cottage that sat alone. The sound of the sea could be heard from the cliff’s edge that surrounded the garden beyond. A small pathway lined with flowers and shrubs led to a quaint red wooden door, which sat in a white painted stone building with its steel grey tiled roof.

In the car, Michael tried to soak up the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere that he had felt the first time he came here, but that had been some years ago and no amount of bright sunshine could stop the cold sickness in the pit of his stomach. He had hoped that the next time he was here it would be as a friend, but time had got away from him and now here was here with news he did not want to give. At his side sat Henrick, with whom he had formed an old and strong friendship, and he could feel him staring at him, waiting for him to move. Henrick had also been dreading this moment and it was written all over his face.

‘Are you ready to do this?’ Michael said aloud, mainly to himself.

Henrick looked away and found a full bloom red rose entwined with a white to focus on instead. It had been seven years since he had been shot and the wound still ached. He didn’t mind, it was his reminder of what he nearly threw away. Cayne had recovered extremely quickly from her own gunshot wound and it was not long after that Daniel and she were whisked away to their new home. However, before they went, Henrick had used his contacts and managed to have Fountains Abbey closed for the day.

It was there, amongst the ancient ruins, that Michael had married them both. Wrapped against the winter frost all of them felt the change even in such a spiritual place when Michael had joined them with the rings and Henrick felt so proud that he was a part of it. Cayne had looked stunning, even in a simple white dress that was covered by a floor length hooded robe. Both she and Daniel, considering what they had been through were both glowing. Today, however, was not a day he wanted to be part of. All he wanted was to run and hide.

Seeing Henrick was not going to move, Michael stepped out of the car, and as he did his foot kicked a small football causing him to smile and allowing a small sense of warmth run through his veins. He was suddenly thrown back in time where he was awoken in the early hours by a frantic phone call.

‘She wants you.’

He had thrown on some clothes and made his way towards the hospital and down to the labour ward where he could hear her screaming his name. As he turned the corner, he bumped into Daniel, who looked almost sick with worry as he paced the corridor. As they laid eyes on each other Daniel’s face changed.

‘She wants her protector,’ he almost spat.

His comment had stopped Michael in his tracks, he had thought they had long passed the jealousy, but then Daniel apologised. ‘This is it isn’t it?’ he started to cry. ‘This is her sacrifice.’

Michael simply squeezed his friend’s shoulders and then stepped into the chaos where Cayne lay waiting for him.

‘Michael,’ she gasped. ‘Help me. You are the only one I need.’

‘That’s what I am here for,’ he said pulling off his jacket.

He went to her side and placed himself behind her so she could lean into him. As he felt her settle into him Daniel returned into the room and he was relieved that Daniel was smiling as he took her free hand. The room began to fill with screams, commands and encouragements. He could almost swear even today that he could feel the power of every moment pulsate through his body, but it was during the last push that he really felt it.

As Cayne gripped his hand and Daniel’s it was like she was drawing every bit of strength from them and using it to bring a new life into the world. Sure enough, a shrill cry filled the room and as he and Daniel nearly collapsed in exhaustion, the midwife held up a small and slimy pink baby.

Michael slowly started to move from his position, but as he did Cayne suddenly fell back onto the bed and had a seizure. He pushed a hysterical Daniel out of the room leaving the doctors to do their job. Cayne fought through the night, they told them that it was the strain of pushing that had caused her seizure, but Michael and Daniel knew better. She did survive and eventually Michael was able to leave them to be a family.

He had stayed within the priesthood and the years that followed he planted seeds of the new messiah and the corruption of Matthew Trebey, whose death had been covered up. He had started with the convent in York, who had kept Daniel captive, and then worked his way through whispers into the Vatican. Now, from the inside, Michael was starting to see the institution he had once dedicated his life to start to crumble. There had been leaks to the media who had not taking much encouragement to publish anything that exposed the Church. There was pressure from the newly appointed Pope to make any form of comment regarding the rumours and just as Cayne predicted the Church of Lies was starting to collapse in on itself.

Henrick and Michael were not the only ones doing their jobs. Joshua, after Cayne and Daniel’s wedding, had gone on pilgrimage looking for their mother’s family. It took him almost a year to find their grandparents.

After begging for them to talk, they eventually told him that their mother Marie, being a girl of fourteen had been led astray by new friends at her catholic school. This friend had been heavily involved in the occult and the melding of Christianity with the old ways of witchcraft. They had seen Marie change from a girl filled with laughter to a moody girl obsessed with the lies that lay within the gospels. She then took part in an initiation ceremony to be a fully-fledged member of the group. The aim, to give herself to God literally, however, she had become frightened and had not taken part fully, leaving in tears. But it was already too late, enough had already been done and the twins were conceived.

The group were just a bunch of kids playing around with rituals they knew nothing about and little did they know that the timing would have such life changing circumstances. When it came to finding their father all he found was a brick wall. It was as though the boy had not existed, so, Joshua used what skills he had and began spreading the word of the coming of a new messiah.

The car door slamming woke him from his thoughts. Henrick had now found his strength and stood outside the car. The sound of small footsteps running on gravel made them look towards the house and they both gasped. They knew it had been a while, but the sight of the beautiful little girl standing before them still knocked both. Her dark hair looking like it had once been pulled into tiny bunches, now looked bedraggled as stray curls fell over her large bright blue eyes that were full of mischief. She stopped when she saw them, with her hands firmly in her pockets.

‘Who are you?’ she asked bluntly.

Both men could not help but laugh. It was like talking to a mini-Cayne complete with the frank attitude.

‘Mary-Claudette,’ a familiar voice shouted from inside the house and as the door opened they saw Daniel step out.

They could see from where they stood at the gate that he looked like he had not slept for weeks, months even. However, the change in six years was evident. He now held himself with the confidence of a man who had to protect everything he held dear. As their eyes met, Daniel stiffened and stopped in his tracks.

‘Mary, please go inside and play,’ he said.

‘But, Daddy,’ she pleaded, in a voice that Michael and Henrick guessed would have worked in other circumstances.

‘No buts, inside,’ he said more firmly.

They watched as she slowly made her way back inside, purposefully kicking the stones in protest, all in an effort to take her time. Once she disappeared, Daniel walked towards them and there was a stiff embrace.

‘You had better come inside, we can talk in the kitchen,’ Daniel said.

He led them through the small narrow hallway of the cottage, which had walls covered with framed family pictures that had all smiling faces. Smiling faces that were probably not going to exist again after today.

Daniel opened a wooden door and led them into the kitchen that was as homily as any farmhouse. On one wall an old fireplace housed an Aga, and there was a smell of fresh flowers and herbs mixed with the sea air. Daniel poured them all some ice cold drinks and then leant back against the sink, with his dark head bowed. He looked every bit the defeated man. Michael suspected that this was what a warrior would look like as he went into battle knowing he was going to die no matter what weapon or armour he wore.

‘It’s time isn’t it?’ he said softly.

Henrick swallowed hard and he noticed that Michael had started to tap on the edge of his glass nervously. The tapping had started since Michael had given up smoking. It seemed his hands needed to be busy in order for him to remain calm and it was something that constantly irritated him, but today he would let it go.

‘You knew it would come,’ Henrick replied.

Daniel turned away and looked out of the window.

‘I know and so does she. It’s been hard watching her grow restless every day.’

A giggle broke the tension as Mary sneaked back into the room. She went to Michael’s side and looked at him with innocent eyes.

‘Hello,’ Michael said.

‘I’m not allowed to talk to strangers,’ she said folding her arms across her chest.

‘But you were the one to talk to me when were outside,’ Michael pointed out.

He started to laugh as her lips began to pout. She had been caught out and the indignant look reminded him so much of both Daniel and Cayne. Daniel had now turned back to the room and kneeling at Mary’s side he introduced them both to her. She held out her small hand for them to shake and then satisfied she was not missing anything she skipped out into the sunshine.

‘What about Joshua?’ Daniel asked once they were alone once more.

‘He is doing what he is supposed to,’ Henrick replied.

Daniel went to the back door and they could see by the tension in his shoulders he was trying not to cry.

‘Let me tell her you’re here,’ he said finally, his voice cracking and then he too stepped out.

The heat of the sun on his head made him feel sicker than he had been in the kitchen, mixed with the feelings of helplessness. He had known all along the Cayne’s future was not with him or with Mary. She had a job to do. A destiny to fulfil and his was to allow her to carry that out just as his predecessors had done many times before. Maybe that was why it was down to the women. They were so much stronger and resilient and he felt weak compared to them. Could he really let her go and carry on? He would have to for Mary’s sake.

Though the sun was hot the sea breeze cooled his body as it blew through his shirt. The sound of the sea always made him feel calm and at peace, but not today. Today it just tortured him. Mary was spinning in circles and giggling as she fell dizzily onto the grass.

She was the embodiment of Cayne with her infectious laugh and cheeky smile and he worshipped her. At her local school she was adored by her classmates and teachers and her bright chirpy attitude always filled even the darkest room with light. However, sometimes, he would catch a look pass between mother and daughter that chilled him. It was a look of mutual understanding and Mary’s blue eyes would darken slightly. There would be times insecure feelings of jealousy would surface. What they both had was something he could never share with either of them. The divinity that ran in both their veins is what made them special and one and he felt like an imposter on their grounds.

He scanned the cliff’s edge and spotted Cayne standing with her back to him. She had spent many hours over the past months doing the exact same thing. It was as though she was listening for something that only she could hear.

Her hair, now a natural brown was blowing in the breeze and he longed for the early days when they would come here on moonlit nights and make love. They had tried to defy Ben’s predictions that they would only have one child and tried and tried again, but he had been right, it was not to be.

Thinking of Ben stopped briefly. He hated how thoughts would quickly tumble into one another. For a man he had hated most of his life, Ben had become the father he had craved and now he was gone. He had succumbed to the cancer that had been eating away at him, but not before he got to hold his new-born granddaughter in his arms. Daniel missed him so much and wished he was here right now. Cayne had Michael and, apart from Henrick, he had nobody. He was going to be alone.

Mary was now looking up at him curiously and quickly he grabbed her and swept her up into an embrace. She wrapped her arms around him and he could smell the sweet strawberry shampoo mixed with grass and dirt in her hair. As he neared Cayne, Mary struggled from him and went into her mother’s arms. There were whispers of ‘I love you’ between them and his heart began to ache as Cayne lowered their daughter to the ground so she could run once more.

‘Michael is here,’ he said.

She did not look at him and for a moment it was as though she had not acknowledged his presence. He had lost her. She had not even left their home and already she was gone. He turned to walk away, and then he felt a hand touch his arm. Turning, her face was wet with tears as her dark eyes met his.

Michael stood in the doorway and watched them both embrace and kiss with vigour and passion. This was probably the last time they would be together. The promise was to keep Mary safe. She was the next generation and would be hidden away with her father so the blood line could continue. Once they were safe, Cayne would reveal herself and in doing so set them all on her path that they knew not how it would end.

‘Do you think they will make it?’

Henrick stood behind him and looked towards the couple and smiled, ‘of course, they are immortal.

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