Tides of Sorrow

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7.4 - HIS DEVOTED SOLDIER

She lay on her side watching him sleep. He didn’t look particularly comfortable wedged in the armchair. Still, he’d managed to grab some shut-eye it seemed.

It was the first time she’d really had a chance to look at him without always having to glance away when he caught her staring. She decided he was quite a striking man, in his own way. The long black hair - which right now could do with a wash - no doubt was sleek and smooth when groomed. Stray strands of it covered a little of his face; they rippled lightly with his breathing. His cheekbones were set high, somewhat pronounced and his nose, aquiline with slightly flared nostrils. Her eyes settled on his mouth; the lips full, inviting, if it wasn’t for the deadly incisors which lurked behind them.

Her visual exploration moved down to the partially open robe he wore. There on the planes of his chest she detected subtle traces of scars, ancient no doubt. Whether they were from the days he had been a farmer or the result of battles as a vampire, she had no idea, but they seemed to ‘make’ the man before her.

One hand rested on the arm of the chair, the other, on his thigh. No longer were they lethal talons, they were just normal hands. A little grime and encrusted blood sat under the nails certainly, but considering what those hands had to endure last night, she excused him that much.

His legs; one stretched out, the other bent at the knee. She nibbled her bottom lip - this isn’t in keeping with etiquette, she tried to tell herself and quickly turned her eyes away. But, back they drifted. The robe was tied securely enough around his waist, but one rogue hem was slipping over his bent knee, daring to reveal all. She silently chastised herself, trying to drag her gaze away again. But...any moment now...

He suddenly shifted. The robe fell back into place keeping everything hidden. She jumped and inched back in the bed and looked up at his face; her skin hot, flushed.

“Good morning,” he said.

“M-morning,” she replied. She felt her face redden more - the price of being almost caught peeking where one should not.

He sat forward, drawing the robe around himself. “How are you feeling?”

“Okay. I think.”

He nodded and smiled a little as he held her gaze.

“You?” she asked, glancing away, awkward, not knowing what else to say. She had not expected to wake and find a semi-clad vampire sitting next to her bed after all.

“I am fine, thank you.” He reached up to brush a lock of her hair back over her ears. She shuddered. He withdrew his hand, perturbed by her reaction. “I was only going to check the cut on your head,” he explained.

She pursed her lips. “Sorry! Guess I’m a little jumpy still after all that’s happened.” She looked embarrassed.

He frowned, concerned. “That’s understandable. I’m truly sorry you bore witness to that. It must have been very frightening for you.”

“My fault really. I was the one who insisted.” A small broken laugh tripped from her lips.

Slowly, he leaned forward and checked her wound. All looked good, apart from a little bruising. “You were lucky it was not worse.” He settled back in the armchair, his forearms resting on his knees.

She managed a small tweak of her mouth. A few moments silence ensued. “I’m sorry you found out about your past the way you did,” she ventured. She watched him closely. The silence that stretched between them this time was bordering agony. He sat with his eyes fixed on the floor. “You’re going to hunt him down, aren’t you?”

The dark eyes looked up at her. Somehow, she knew she need never fear for her safety in his company yet there was something behind those eyes which spoke of a darkness she could not comprehend. Without doubt he was insanely powerful - she had witnessed it! Yes, he looked a tad dishevelled at the moment and one would be forgiven for thinking he was a bit on the lean side, but therein lay the smoke and mirrors; the complexity of the man. The allure.

She lowered her eyes worried she had somehow added salt to his wounds with her blunt question.

“He is corruption,” he said, sharp, concise. “I have been assigned to root that out.”

She toyed with the edge of her pillow, carefully choosing her words. “Even after all I witnessed last night I have to confess I am still sceptical. I may be inclined to consider the supernatural now, but that is as good as it gets for me. So I hope you will not be offended by what I am about to say.”

His hair rippled as he nodded. A beat passed before Becky continued. “Whatever or whoever this God is, have you considered the possibility that all which has come to pass was actually brought about by Him?”

Cain held her in a hard stare. Her heart was pounding but she needed to explain her perspective - albeit about a deity she did not believe existed, at least not in the way he and the angels did. “What if God has been the puppeteer all along? Angered by the disobedience of the Fallen, seeing how they treated Man, He instigated it all from the start - from before you were even born? His vengeance could then be exacted through the very beings who the Fallen so detested.”

“Are you saying God made me kill Havel?”

Carefully she answered. “Indirectly, perhaps. Could He not have made Lahash and Samael taunt you? His plan being once you were His devoted soldier you would root them out for Him, fuelled by your own revenge?” In other words, He’s used you; but she kept that much to herself.

Abruptly, he pushed himself up from the armchair and paced back and forth in front of the small bay window. “He does not do things discursively,” he said, low.

“How do you really know? Have you seen Him? Spoken with Him, like we are speaking now?”

“I...” His jaw tightened, fingers flexed in and out of fists, starting to extend.

“I’m not trying to belittle your faith, Cain...”

“Then what are you trying to do?” he retorted, his eyes dark, swimming in inky black and crimson.

She stared, distraught by his apparent indignation. “Understand,” she replied weakly. “I’m just trying to understand.”

“Understand what?” In a blink he’d moved to the foot of the bed, his hands splayed on the throw before her, body leaning towards her crouched figure.

She tensed. “You questioned it yourself - on the moors! He sees all, you said. Why would He punish me, knowing it had been His own who had been responsible.”

He fell silent, holding her gaze. Gradually, his irritation eased and the flooded eyes and elongated fingers also receded. Once more, he was just a man. But, he looked ...defeated. His eyes continued to captivate her, draw her in, calm her. “Would you mind if I shower?” he asked suddenly, unexpectedly.

She knew not to pursue the subject of God and His ‘mysterious’ ways. Cain no doubt needed space to assess the situation; adjust to his new identity and consider what it meant for him. “No - not at all” she said softly. “There is shower gel and shampoo in the cubicle.” It felt a little odd telling him such things. She found herself wondering how often a vampire felt the need to shower, or use any bathing products for that matter. She would never dream of asking of course.

He nodded thanks, then disappeared into the bathroom.

Wrapped in her duvet she began to feel tired, a little disconnected. Succumbing to a slight giddy sensation, she closed her eyes. Distantly, she heard the shower powering on... the rush of water, fluctuating as he bathed beneath its torrent.

She felt...

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