tagErotic HorrorDemons and Angels Pt. 02

Demons and Angels Pt. 02

byTara_Neale©

Rahab led the man, Daniel, if that really was his name, to a booth in the back of the packed diner just off of Sunset Boulevard. She still was not certain what she was doing here...with him. Her almost nightly vigil to the dark side was finished by all right she should slink back to the cubby hole that she called an apartment. She had too many cases right now including a death penalty one. She needed her rest. Yet here she was with a man she did not know.

At least she knew why. There was something in the man's eyes. Some pain, so deep and dark, that it threatened to swallow him whole. And as dark and seemingly all-consuming as that stain was, there was also good in him. She could feel that, just as she could feel when her clients were telling her the truth. She always knew the guilty from the innocent. And this man was both.

"Why?" was the single word that the man whispered as the waitress seated them in the booth. The torn plastic seat made more noise than he when he said it.

Nonetheless to her ear's it was as if he screamed it. It was another of things that had always been different about her. She felt heard, saw, smelled things that others could not. It had been that way for as long as she could remember. It was her gift. And her curse.

She thought about pretending not to hear but something about this man told her that would do no good. He was not the type to just let something drop. Like her once he made a decision, he followed through upon it. "Why what?" she asked more casually than she felt as she hid behind the stained laminated menu. She prayed the waitress would be here quickly. This could be the longest cup of coffee of her life. And something screamed at her...the most important.

***

Daniel watched the woman. Her emotions played upon her face like a Shakespearean tragedy. She did not want to be here. Did not want to be with him. It was an emotion that he was very familiar with. Few people did.

But they came anyway. Money and power bought you many friends. He chuckled self-deprecatingly. He had no friends. He had not had any in centuries, eons, eternity it seemed. He had hangers-on, minions, at best acquaintances who sought what gain they could find by knowing a man like him. While he did the same. And when it was no longer profitable for either, they simply disappeared. It had become the way of this modern world. He frowned, may hap it had always been that way?

He would think upon that later. The days were long this time of year, and getting longer. He would have hours upon hours when he was locked inside the earth to ponder that question and the million others that tortured his ancient soul. But for now, only one mattered.

"Why do you do it? You are not like them," he sniffed the air. Innocence clung like a cloak to her of this he was certain.

He saw her stiffen, knew that he had deeply offended her. His very existence was offensive so why should it matter so fucking much if he offended one tiny human woman? Because she is different, cried what tiny shred of a soul remained inside of him. But that too must wait, she was speaking now.

"Different from the whores, prostitutes and drug addicts you mean?" Her eyes almost blazed as they stared past him and through his withered soul it felt like.

But she did not give him time to reply. "It never fails to turn my stomach. We think we are this great country. This Christian nation. We wrap ourselves in the flag and apple pie. And all the while we turn our backs on those who need us. The poor. The lonely..."

It was a speech that probably would have gone on forever now that he had her heckles up if not for the approach of the waitress. "What can I get you folks?" It was so late and the woman was so tired that not even the appeal of a tip could force a smile upon her dour face.

The woman's body was still tense but she did manage to force a smile for benefit of the waitress, "Just coffee. Thank you."

He looked at the woman's tightly pursed lips. He did not need to read her mind to know that she not pleased. More bums to take up seats, keep her on her feet and leave little to nothing beyond the buck price of weak coffee. Perhaps even to pilfer extra packages of the sugar or salt even.

He took a hundred dollar bill that he had planned to use to lure his victim to him and laid it upon the table. "Just water for me," his voice deepened as he looked at her, "but this should cover it."

A genuine smile spread across the woman's face as she hastened to do his bidding. Money had its uses.

"You placed words upon my lips. I did not disparage your friends." He shrugged and looked out the window at the busy street. Dawn was but a couple of hours away, but still these dirty streets buzzed with activity. "We are all whores," he muttered as the waitress brought her cup of coffee. The woman started to say something else but he waved her away.

"That was not the differences I was speaking of." He captured her gaze and held it for a long moment. It was cute the way that she worried her lower lip with her teeth. A vague memory scampered across the dark corners of his memory and then like a tiny mouse it was gone before he could capture it.

"Your differences come from within. From your soul that is light to this darkness." To my darkness he wanted to scream.

He shook the feeling off. It would get him nowhere. It never did. He had made his choice all those millennia ago when death came to call for him and he escaped her clutches. Now he would welcome her like a lover or mother. But she kept far from his paths, following at a distance.

***

Rahab picked up the steaming cup of coffee and blew across its surface. She watched concentric circles feather out from where her breath hit its surface. She tried to clear her mind by focusing upon them and only them. This man confused her on so many levels. Death hung to him like an ancient armor. Yet at the same time she felt a depth of soul and purpose like unto her own. She could not reconcile the two. She shook her head as she brought the cup to her lips. The hot liquid scalded her tongue and throat. It was a welcome distraction from the puzzle.

To make matters worse, she was tired. So fucking tired. Over the past few weeks, her normally hectic schedule of public defender and part-time savior for prostitutes had been catching up to her. Sure, she was no longer a spring chicken as her mama would have said. But at forty-three neither should she be falling apart. Between the exhaustion and migraine headaches that were coming with increasing frequency, she knew she should schedule an appointment with her doctor, but who had time? Some niggling little voice added...and some things were best not known.

But Rahab had spent a lifetime knowing things she should not know. Tears blurred her vision as that thought brought her back to this man's question. She had always been different. One of her earliest memories was of Old Man Ledbetter. She had seen the darkness inside of the man that everyone else thought a kindly if eccentric old man. But she had known...known the man was a killer. Of course, no one would listen to a five year old, who claimed to know why women kept going missing.

Of course when one woman escaped, rising the cry that brought the sheriff and law to Old Man Ledbetter's backdoor, the whole town started to talk about the little girl who had known. Eventually they had discovered a dozen bodies buried on his property. But Rahab knew there were more. Bodies across the state and country that authorities would never connect to the man. When she started school, she had quickly earned the name teacher's pet and snitch. Whether it was pulled hair, spitballs or missing books, she always knew the culprit...and she always told.

Eventually her mama had quietly spoken to her about it. She never really understood or believed that her oldest daughter 'just knew' things that it was impossible to know. But she had convinced the child not to tattle as she called it. But guilt of knowing and not telling was a powerful burden for one so young to bear.

She had born that burden for a lifetime now. Maybe that was why she was so tired? She shook her head as she sat the empty cup back on the table. What was the use? She was not going to share the truth of this burden with a stranger. A man she had just met...especially not one shadowed by death and sin. If her own mama had not believed her, why would he? Why would anyone?

"Thank you for the coffee but I really should get going. It is late and I have work tomorrow," she ignored his question as she extended her hand across the table.

When he took it, the world swam about her. A thousand bright stars sped by. She felt herself float through them at the speed of light. The American West ripe with grain and war cries. Elizabethan England with bright clothes, parties and intrigue. But it was the crusades, knights in shining armor upon which she stopped.

He sat upon a black horse, a steed was the only word for it. The heat was overpowering. Yet he wore layer upon layer of clothes and heavy metal. It weighed upon his shoulders as heavily as the burden of the lives of the men around him. They fell like flies all around him. Cut down one by one by sickles and swords. Their enemy moved with speed they could not, weighed down as they were. The enemy too had the advantage of fear...deep and abiding fear for their loved ones. It was a home field advantage of sorts. They were prepared to fight to the death for their land, their families...their god.

She watched him as he fell. His horse cut from beneath him. He landed with a thud that knocked the wind from him. But immediately he rose. Somehow he found the strength, the will to lift the heavy blade above his head. It sang through the air in a perfect arc, cutting deep into human flesh. Limbs flew, heads too. He moved forward, red fires of hell glistening in his eyes. Until the darkness swallowed her...

***

"Shit," he cursed as he moved with preternatural speed to catch her. "Fuck," added as the waitress rushed to their table.

"What happened?" her eyes were wide with shock and fear. "Is she all right? Should I call nine-one-one or something?"

Daniel felt I all slipping away. The woman. His last chance. If the ambulance and police came, they would take her from him. He was not family, a stranger even. He would have no right to go with her. No other chance to find the answers which he sought. The salvation that was probably nothing more than a dream anyway.

As always he fought back fear and panic. He shook his head and forced a smile as he lied, "Nothing to worry about. My wife just fainted." The waitress screwed up her face at him, ready with a dozen more questions, but he pre-empted them all. "This is a bit of a rough pregnancy." The words were a knife to his own heart. He sent a silent prayer begging forgiveness towards the heavens. Even though he knew he neither deserved or would get it. That time had long since passed.

The woman's whole body relaxed and a big smile spread across her face, "Why didn't you say so, sugar? Pregnant women need lots more than hot coffee to keep them going. You should know that, daddy. Let me get her a piece of apple pie. It ain't homemade or nothing but it will give her a bit of energy. Then once she feels a bit better, we can get something more substantial into her. Red meat...or liver maybe. That is probably her problem. Anemia...low iron in her blood. Just leave it all to me," she prattled on.

Daniel shook his head as he lifted her in his arms. She weighed next to nothing. The meal that the woman spoke of would probably do her good, but he did not want an audience when she came around. He did not want to be caught in the lie. And he had no doubt that when she awoke it would be with fire and fight.

He smiled down at her at that thought. How like her she was? Willing to do anything, fight anyone for what she believed was right. Over the centuries it was a quality that he had found surprisingly lacking in humanity. True goodness and purity of heart was a rare thing. A gift not to be taken for granted.

"Thank you but I think I should get her to bed. Let her rest," he lied again. Lies came easily now, too easily perhaps. But many lifetimes of practice had overcome any initial reluctance. Expediency was the goal...and if lying got him what he wanted faster and easier then it was a simple enough thing to do.

The woman started to protest but he simply shook his head and pushed past her with his bundle in his arms. When he wanted something, he would not be deterred by anything or anyone. The ends always justified the means. He had staked everything upon that premise...long long long ago.

He inhaled the rich night air as he burst through the door. That was another of the differences between them. He belonged in the darkness, where things were easily concealed. Lies were mere conveniences. Sins but momentary dreams.

She was light itself. Truth. Tomorrow...yes, tomorrow. She would have many questions to answer then. More lies to tell. But for tonight, for this moment, he would simply enjoy the feeling of her weight in his arms. Tomorrow always came too quickly. Even as eternity dragged endlessly onward.

***

Rahab came awake in the darkness. She was thankful for it. The pounding in her head was almost unbearable. Another migraine. How many was that this month? Except this one was worse than any of the others had been. And that was saying something.

She rolled to the side as a wave of nausea overtook her. A gentle arm wrapped about her as her body shook with dry heaves. Between the pain and sickness, she did not have the energy to question it. She did not have the energy to question anything these days.

When it finally passed she collapsed into the strong arms that drew her gently into a comforting embrace. A cool hand brushed hair back from her heated flesh. She sighed as she tried to place who it was.

Mama had never been this strong. And Papa would never be the one to nurse her. But she was not a little girl anymore and Mama and Papa were gone. Long since long. Along with her beloved sister, Mindy. She had no one now. She had had no one for close to twenty years. Her sister murdered by a serial killer. Her parents so distraught that they mourned themselves to death. Their death certificates might say cancer and stroke, but she knew the truth. They died of a broken heart.

She would have followed them too. Except she had a mission...to find the man that did this to them. And find him she had but not even that brought the peace she had hoped. Not her career as the star of the Los Angeles county Public Defenders office. Not even her work with the prostitutes along Hollywood and Vine brought her the solace she craved.

So why did she feel it now? Because despite the pain, there was a calm quiet in this moment, in these arms that stilled her troubled soul like nothing ever had in this lifetime. She tried to turn, but his hypnotic voice washed over her, "Lie still," as his fingers brushed softly at her face.

She sought through her memories. Tried desperately to place that voice. Who was this man? Where was she? The soft plushness that enveloped her was nothing like her utilitarian mattress and sheets. Silk...it felt like silk. Or was that his warm, spicy skin beneath her cheek? Where was she? And how had she gotten here?

She fought trough the fog of the pain in her head. She remembered leaving the office late. It was pay day. At lunch time, she had paid all her bills, carefully factored how much she would need for food and gas for the rest of the month. Then she had withdrawn the rest. She would give it to Jodi. Convince the young girl to go home...or even to a shelter. Anywhere but the dangerous streets of Hollywood.

Jodi, her heart cried out. The girl was so much like Mindy. She had touched her in a way that none of the others had. Called to her. Rahab knew just one thing...if she had not been able to save Mindy, she must find a way to save Jodi. Life rarely gave you second chances but that was what this felt like...a second chance to save her baby sister.

She swam through the darkness. She had taken it too. She had found the girl. She was talking to a dark man. He was beautiful. Too beautiful. Inhumanly beautiful. Was he some Hollywood star? Rahab rarely went to movies and she did not own a television. Besides work and her mission, she had only books to keep her company. Mayhap he was one of the male models on the covers of her spicy erotic romances? He certainly had the look.

Except that there was a darkness in him too...something that went much deeper than the color of his hair and eyes. A killer. This man had the feel of blood upon his hands. A cold and calculating killer.

But not. That was what had confused her. That he had murdered...many times over even...was no doubt. But it was the other...the need and pain that she felt beneath all that which had forced her to accede to his request.

Coffee! They had gone for coffee at a diner she knew. After she had given Jodi the money, convinced the girl to seek shelter with the sisters who ran a mission to help prostitutes get out of the lifestyle. Jodi was safe, she sighed.

She felt a warm soft caress of lips against her heated brow. She forced her mind back to what she did not want to face. They had gone for coffee. His question. Different. But she had always been different.

But this was different even from her different. She had touched him. Then...

"No," she cried out as she began to fight and push at him. She had to get away. Far away from this man.

"Peace be still," came the quiet voice as he wrapped her tighter in his arms. It made no sense. None of it made sense. As the blackness swallowed her again.

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