The Curse Mark: Chapter One.

THE DEVIL’S CHILDREN:  CARA DE VRIES

It began with a curse.  In all honesty, Cara was embarrassed to have found herself cursed.  It had to be a lie, but really, anyone who had been there knew that it was not a lie.  Hard for it to have been faked too, since Cara had a big, black, admittedly kind of cool looking wicked tattoo on her left arm.  At least it wasn’t difficult to hide.  But it sure was unpleasant and if anyone knew that Cara had been cursed, then Cara was going attract a lot of dislikeable and unwanted attention.

Strolling quickly down the street, passing numerous shops that had closed for the night, Cara had one destination in mind.  Ignoring the men and women who were handing out pamphlets of political propaganda that this particular woman could care less about, the sight of the very chic and elegant bar room came into view.

Anyone who laid their eyes on the lithe and delicate body of Cara de Vries would have wondered what century she had come from if it had been any other day than today.  For many, today was known as Halloween.  For the witches and wiccan practitioners, today was Samhain.  For Christians, it was All Hallow’s Eve.  So such fancy dress was hardly out of place.  It was not as though Cara cared what others thought of the way she dressed, since she was very comfortable in what she wore.  Often times though, Adrienne would complain about how aged Cara  was despite being so young and vibrant, full of youthful vigorous energy and not at all like Adrienne herself.  Of course, all of this was generally said in a sarcastic tone, and it wasn’t like Cara to ever take the older woman seriously.  Why should she?  Cara had only ever relied on herself.

The paper promoters stopped promoting when she walked passed them, momentarily stunned by her beauty, a fact the woman in question was already highly aware of and not afraid to exploit.   The dark did not hide Cara’s figure, her face, or her costume, for it was not entirely dark.  There were street lamps alight, despite the ailing one or two, and they illuminated the street of pubs and all things children-free without obstruction.   Cara was one of these objects illuminated every time she passed under a street lamp.  She was awfully pale, and her hair was reminiscent of an aging middle aged woman’s hair, dark grey.  However, it was bereft of any stiffness that might be associated with old lady hair, being soft, and silky to touch and to look at from near and far; that much was obvious to those looking on.

When she noticed that she was being looked at (ogled, after all, is such a vulgar word) her eyes slid over to the watcher, and she would quirk up a small smile.  Seduction, though not Cara’s favourite past time, was but one of her many talents.  Seeing the paper promoter blush a red deeper than the shade of a red plum brought little bright lights to Cara’s dark eyes and turning away, she continued walking briskly down the street.  She was amused.  But she was also bored.  To know that she would constantly cause the same reaction every time was slowly losing its attraction.

It was excellent then, that right now, Cara had arrived at her destination.   Not that she opened the door, or even took one step closer.  She was merely staring at the simple, boring redwood door.  The only thing spectacularly enlightening to the artistic mind was the stained glass window.  It was particularly engaging, and a pleasure to look at, of course, Cara honestly wondered if Adrienne ever looked at it.  Even if the woman kept the bar ridiculously clean, the stained glass window always seemed a bit covered with fingerprints.  Well, Adrienne better have something for me this time.  Honestly, who does that woman think she is? Cara thought to herself, a frown slightly creasing her forehead as she reached forward and pushed the door open hard enough that a gust of wind (wherever it came from Cara did not wish to know) nearly blasted her back out of the doorway.

“Ey, watch out love,” said some drunken sod next to the door, a silly smile on his face while he spouted out his words in his slurred, accented tones.   It didn’t take Cara more than a second to realise who had been responsible for the little trick that now had her hair in tangles.

Cara merely glanced at him, and snorted, “Who are you to tell me what to do?”  She said, raising an eyebrow.  She reached forward, and touched the man on the face, brushing away some sweaty—or were they greasy?—strands of hair out of his face, and leaned in, whispering, “Do you want something good?  You look like someone who wants something good.”

She watched with eagerly dispassionate eyes as the adam’s apple in his neck rose up slightly, before dropping again in eagerness.  What a fool, she thought as she captured his deep blue eyes with her near-black opal gaze, and smiled.  It was a twisted smile that said leagues about her intentions.  For those who knew her well, Cara was about to do something quite unpleasant to the man.  Good looking or not, Cara didn’t like to be pranked on, much less hit on by drunk fools.  Cara wasn’t nice.  Nor ‘good’ in any particular way she wanted to be proud of.

“de Vries, do you intend to ruin my bar?”  The sharp, accented curl of Adrienne’s words reached Cara’s ears as she formed the first demonic rune on her arm, ready to let it slide across to her target’s face, and let the rune eat the target’s face up, consume it until the man suffocated from trying to wrench it too hard off his face.   Stiffening, Cara yanked her hand away, and turned to glare at the woman behind the bar.   With one hand on her hip, and her unruly waves pinched to one side of her head, Adrienne was an attractive woman.  No one would deny her that.

Reminding herself why she was here, Cara’s hand briefly touched the part on her left arm where the curse mark was before pulling it away hoping that Adrienne did not catch it.  Even though Cara could still feel that thin, inhuman hand gripping tightly onto her arm, and hear the sound of that ghostly weak sounding incredibly powerful reciting an incantation that Cara could not understand.  A shiver ran down Cara’s neck as she focussed on Adrienne, and took in a silent hopefully unnoticeable breath.  Cara didn’t want to remember what had happened, it was humiliating enough as it was, but she had to be careful around Adrienne.  She couldn’t let Adrienne touch her.

“No, now why would I do that?” Said Cara running a hand through her hair.  “I was just having a bit of fun, you know, what’s life without some?  It would look too much like yours.”

Walking over to the bar, Cara took a seat on the one of the leather chairs.  Although there was a buzz around the room from all the conversations that had ignored what had happened when Cara had entered the room, Cara was used to drowning out the noise.

“Oh aren’t you witty,” Adrienne said wiping down a glass until the glass was clearer than a diamond.  She hardly ever took notice of Cara’s poor attitude.  Then again, sometimes, it wasn’t like Adrienne’s was any better.  “Good golly, how do you survive?”  It was sarcasm, but then, Cara knew that.

“Easy, by charming the world into falling at my feet and worshipping me,” said Cara resting her elbows on the table.  This wasn’t what she had come for, but if Cara didn’t pretend to care for just one moment about the other woman, then she knew wouldn’t be getting any help tonight.

The bar owner put the glass in front of Cara, showing off a number of gold bands around her fingers, and said, “would you like the usual?”

“You know that’s all I take.”

“Oh do I?” The woman said, feigning ignorance as her heavy French accent eroticized her words.

“Oh hardy har har,” said Cara sarcastically, rolling her eyes, and reaching over the bench for the bottle of vodka there.

“How un-classy,” sighed Adrienne watching Cara as she poured herself a very generous drink, causing the man sitting beside her to raise an eyebrow.

“And of course you’d know, being the epitome of class,” said Cara looking up and taking in Adrienne’s black ensemble.

Adrienne had been a model once.  How many hundreds of years ago, Cara didn’t know for sure, but she knew Adrienne had spent a period of her life modelling clothes.  Considering how society developed, Cara knew it was within the last century at the very least.   She had often speculated on the colourful life that Adrienne had lead, since the woman was so mysterious, and despite all Cara did to coax more information out of her whenever it suited Cara, the woman rarely told her anything relevant.  It wasn’t until later that Cara discovered just why Adrienne knew how to evade all of Cara’s lures, natural and magic-wise alike.  Adrienne had seen it all happen, and when she hadn’t seen it, she had instinctively pieced together Cara’s character before Cara could even manage to trip Adrienne over her two feet.  Cara was the one who landed on her face that day.  As comedic as such an exhibition of herself was, Cara had discovered Adrienne’s ability.  Rather, the woman had told her, not that Cara would ever admit that she had failed, for once, to deduce someone’s abilities before they could figure Cara’s name.

Adrienne shrugged, “do you think I am?  I take that as a compliment, since I rarely hear anything nice about my looks from that narcissistic mouth of yours.”  She turned and swirling her finger at the elegant glass bottle rack covering the wall, she pulled out a combination of bottles.  Taking Cara’s glass from her, Adrienne took a swig of the pure vodka in it, and barely let out a gasp (almost barely).  Cara made a face of annoyance, seeing Adrienne showing off, was not amusing.  Far from it.

Flicking her hair over her shoulder, Cara leaned forward, her eyes on Adrienne, and she said, “That’s because we both know beauty, wit and youth always win over.”

Adrienne put the bottles that were in her hand down, and leaned forward, matching Cara, and said quietly and challengingly, “darling, would you murder me if that guy over there said they wanted me over you?”

Cara looked over to her left at the blonde crew cut drinking whiskey trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.  Her eyes quickly assessed him, taking in the pout in his mouth, the way his blue eyes (deep or were they light and darkened by the dim of Adrienne’s fashionable bar?) seemed to be dwelling on something heavy, and the neat casual black blazer he was wearing with the dark blue wash of his jeans.   He was still blatantly ignoring her, but Cara wasn’t stupid, and she turned back to Adrienne, somewhat scowling, and said, “I know you know what answer he gives.  Why do I bother playing your little game just so that I can get a little information?”

Adrienne chuckled lightly then, her laughter was light with brevity.  I suppose it can’t be a bad thing if she’s in a good mood, Cara thought.  If Adrienne was in one of her better moods, then this would be less stressful.  Cara was hardly in the mood for pleasing the moody woman.

Forcing an awkward smile, one that hardly looked as though she had tried to look like she was enjoying herself, she watched Adrienne as her suddenly mirth filled face, settled into a smug smile.  Those lips that Cara somewhat envied were coated lightly in a colourless gloss, emphasising their redness.  “So Cara, tell me, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company today?”

Finally, “I’m looking for someone.  I don’t suppose he’s come in here has he?” Cara asked, immediately jumping on the chance, taking it.

“Depends kiddo, just who are you speaking of?” Adrienne’s hazel grey eyes were disturbing as they looked down at Cara, but Cara wasn’t some demonling.  Cara was Cara de Vries.  She wouldn’t back down easily.  Cara only knew that the mark would eventually kill her.  That’s what he had said when he cursed her.  But he didn’t say how long she had or when it would happen.  The back of Cara’s neck tingled, and she clenched her cheeks, telling herself to calm down as she rearranged her face into an acceptable expression.  Cara wasn’t going to die.  She would do anything right now to live, and if by anything, it meant hunting down the one person who betrayed her, then she would do it.  Showing Adrienne her most sincere and desperate face, Cara said, “an Angel.  An emotionless, unfeeling, heartless Angel called Lennox Vanderwerken.  Have you seen him?”

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