The Curse Mark: Chapter Two.



Adrienne’s day had been rather ordinary before Cara had waltzed in.  It had actually been very relaxing, and unusual, entirely free of any of the visions that had plagued Adrienne daily.  So she had been in an awfully good mood.  Not even the bane of cleaning each and every glass bothered her.  She smiled more willingly this evening than she had in the last seven days, let alone the last month.  There were no raging headaches, no pounding pain at the back of her skull.   It was a positive, after all, there were approximately three to four hundred people in the main rooms of the nightclub that was conjoined with her bar who were celebrating Halloween in the most drunken, degrading manner as possible.   So despite having to deal with so many irritating men and women potentially trashing the nightclub (although many heed the warnings, some are still fool enough to dare break something of hers) it was pleasant day, right up until the moment when the sylph by the door decided to be generous with his powers.  That did not bode well with Adrienne, and made her frown for the first time all day.

She was used to seeing Cara come in whenever she liked, it was with a little bit more gusto than the older woman had expected.  To some of Adrienne’s customers, Cara would perhaps seem a little too young, but that girl was older than her seventeen years old appearance showed.  But that was not what had bothered Adrienne the most.  What had bothered her was the intensity of the vision that had consumed Adrienne’s attention the moment Cara thought to play with the customer near the door.

Intense and over in a flash, Adrienne received a headache afterwards, feeling that familiar dull ache and hating it.  Not prone to showing intense affection for another humanoid creature, Adrienne considered Cara as nothing more than another customer.   Whatever the girl might have considered Adrienne, between the pair of them, Adrienne had always had the upper hand when it counted.   She was an interesting demon child, and when interesting walked in her door, Adrienne liked to keep them close to her.

Looking down at Cara now, Adrienne’s face didn’t not even flinch at the words the came out of Cara’s mouth.  If Cara had thought she would be more accessible now in her brightened mood, Cara was wrong.

“Why are you looking for an angel Cara?” Adrienne stared down at her, her eyes wide, though not wide in a surprised way, but wider than previously reflecting her concern.  Cara was a demon, born but not bred.  Not exactly.  Cara like Adrienne wasn’t exactly the most sharing person, and so it had taken a while for Cara to tell her that her parents had been adoptive, and that her biological parents were murdered before Cara could even walk on her own.  That was all that Cara had told Adrienne, and even though Cara was a very good actress, Adrienne was just as good.  There weren’t many who could match Cara’s skill, but Adrienne had been around a long time.  When Cara had reluctantly told her those two pieces of information, Adrienne had caught the faint glimpse of determination in Cara’s eyes.  She’d looked determined, fierce as though she were ready to pick a fight and win it at whatever cost.  It was rare for Adrienne to see such expressions on demons such as Cara.  Most of the time, demons were cockily arrogant (as Cara was more often than not) and got themselves killed for merely being ‘evil’.   But really, if mortals paid a slight bit more attention to the difference between good and evil, they would have realised that good was not always good, and that evil was not always evil.  That, Adrienne had learnt from her friend, Haruki.

Cara hesitated, this time really catching Adrienne’s attention.  It must be serious… She thought, and frowned, “Karyna?  Why are you looking for an angel?” She asked, daring to go as far as adopting the nickname that Adrienne only used once in a while.

“He’s an old friend.” Lie. But also, Adrienne thought, Not a lie.  Narrowing her eyes a little, not really from suspicion (though that was one of the reasons) but from the intense pain at the back of her head.  Worse, the pains signalling the arrival of another vision today, were worse than yesterday.  Thinking about vision pain, this was probably worse in general, which surprised Adrienne since they were rarely this bad.  Holding the vision back for a moment, Adrienne said, “Oh? Since when were you friends with an angel?”

Cara scowled, and Adrienne had to tossup between deciding if Cara hated the thought of being friends with an angel, or hated something else.  Since whenever that woman scowled, it was usually an indication of hate.   “Since the early 1800s,” she answered, wincing a little.

“Don’t tell me, one of your contracts were with him?” Said Adrienne smirking faintly through her pain.  She already knew that Cara wasn’t discriminating when it came to deciding who she made a contract with; the girl saw everyone equally so long as they were beneficial for her own endgame.  If the endgame was not reflecting Cara’s, then no doubt, Cara would not offer her services in the form of a bargain.

“Yes,” Cara replied bitterly, “and how I wish I had never contracted with him.”

Adrienne tilted her head, “this is fascinating, you never make a mistake.  I wonder…why you hate him so much…is it because perhaps…he betrayed you?”

“Betrayed is such an ugly word, he better be hoping that what happened was a misunderstanding.” Cara’s eyes darkened and Adrienne knew then that this angel of hers had indeed betrayed her.   It amused Adrienne then to know that this angel was still…unharmed when Cara was famed for her motto, ‘If you want to live, don’t cross me.

“A misunderstanding, I see, and you want to know if Lennox Vanderwerken was in my bar at some point today?” Adrienne asked, picking up a cocktail glass and mixing up a drink before sliding it along to the gaggle of girls that had conjugated at the other end of the bartop. It irked her that they had only needed to lift a hand to catch her attention, but Adrienne couldn’t ignore a customer, no matter how much she wanted to, of course, on her less kind days, the customer would know exactly how she felt about being disturbed.  The girls were lucky she was in a good mood today.

Cara rolled her eyes, “isn’t that what I was asking?” She said in a sweet voice that did not match her eye roll.

The pain was close to killing Adrienne by now, and not being able to take it for much longer, she grabbed Cara’s arm and hauled her over the bartop somehow miraculously avoiding all manner of glass, bottle and machiney, and lead her up the stairs.  The main bar room was essentially a bunch of tables, chairs and booths in a room, lining the walls and filling in the spaces between the wall booths and the bartop.  The bartop itself circled around the centre of the bar room where there was a partition wall housing the glass bottle rack.  This same partition wall hid a set of stairs within its near full circular embrace.  Passing through the arched doorway in the partition wall, Adrienne dragged a very surprised Cara up the narrow stairs to her apartment.  There were another set of concrete steps and metal railing that led below, down to the wine cellar which Adrienne’s employees had been directed to use.  As she left the main bar room, Adrienne told a surprised Al to keep an eye on everything.   She could trust Algor Rosenberg to handle trouble if it happened.  The guy owed her.

Upstairs in her room, she told Cara to stay there, before she locked herself in her bathroom, and the pain seared through her mind and across her eyes bringing forth a prophetic vision.  No ordinary vision would have felt this intense or painful.  Most visions just stole her eyes for a moment leaving her staring blankly as she watched.   But this one, this one crippled her even though for someone as old as she was, it should not have done so.  Gripping the sink, barely aware of her legs shaking below her, Adrienne was sucked into her vision.  No doubt her outer self was mumbling painful words of prophecy that had no other choice but to tumble out of her mouth while her eyes blazed white lost in the sight.

And when it was over some time later, Adrienne was on the ground, crouched over.  It had seemed endless.   She felt faint headed and undeniably sick, and indeed, she puked in the toilet bowl once she steadied her hands and was able to stand up long enough to go puke.  In doing so however, Cara came rushing in, no doubt eagerly having driven herself to boredom waiting for Adrienne to come back out.

“About ti…me…” Cara’s voice trailed away when she saw Adrienne crouched over the toilet, though Adrienne hardly counted on Cara saying what she said next, “are you pregnant?  Or drunk?  You never seemed like the type to drink while working, so you must be pregnant!”

Adrienne winced at the loudness (or seemingly loud) of Cara’s voice, and reaching up, she found Cara’s left arm, and without warning, used her other hand to shove the girl’s sleeve up her arm.   “Who wants to have children?”  She said, though technically, Adrienne was a mother.  She just had not been one for a very long time now that her children were old enough and wandering the world causing all manner of mischief, or perhaps they were dead.  Or soon would be if her vision was anything of guidance.

“Care to explain?” Adrienne demanded, albeit weakly from the vomiting and the vision earlier.  And yet her grip on Cara’s arm was strong.

Cara yanked at her arm, panic showing on her face for the first time since Adrienne had met her.  Pure panic attempting to be disguised as annoyance.  “None of your business Adrienne what I do for my contracts,” she said.

“What kind of contract is this curse, hm?” Adrienne hissed, her anger at the sight of such a mark drew out her adrenaline.   “Tell me what happened, tell me now.”

Cara was not the kind of woman-girl-child to get frightened easily.  She was a woman who looked like a girl and who, compared to Adrienne’s age, was but a child.  A child who had somehow managed to get into a game that was much too big for small game like her.   Adrienne could not shake the image out of her mind.  Her vision had not told who had laid the curse on Cara.  Oh no, her vision had shown her the mark itself.  Three concentric circles, one triquetra in the middle looping all three circles together, and around the first two rings closest to the centre of the triquetra were lined with a band of infinities.  The only difference now between Adrienne’s vision and the arm in front of her was the very fact that only the centremost circle was lined with infinities, and not the second.  Which meant there was still time between now and the moment of her vision.   How long?  Adrienne could not guess.

But Adrienne had been too forward, too fierce apparently, because Cara’s face clamped up, and whether she was fearing what Adrienne would think, would do to her possibly, she wrenched her arm out of Adrienne’s grip.  “No!” She exclaimed, jerking her sleeve down over her arm as her hair settled on her shoulders from having suddenly floated upwards in slow motion when she’d wrenched her arm away.  “No,” she whispered, repeating herself, and then she was gone.

Adrienne swore softly and pushing herself up, she quickly rinsed her mouth with what remaining energy she had left and hurtled, stumbling down the stairs in time to see Cara’s hair trailing behind her as she slammed out of Adrienne’s Bar.  Glancing over at Algor who had been flirting with a group of Halloween revellers, Adrienne scowled faintly, and cuffed him on the back of his head, startling both him and the girls.

“Get back to work,” she said.  Now she needed to figure out how to get Cara back here.  If not here, then, get her in general.  Well, that would have been the first thing she had to do if when Adrienne turned back round, she did not see who was standing behind her, her elbow resting on the bartop, her green eyes looking sensual as always, looking right Adrienne.  Like many of Adrienne’s kind, she had an air of inhumaneness around her that caused many heads to turn.  Even in heels, Adrienne was still more petite than her, not that it mattered.  It made this particular woman like Adrienne no less.

“Hello Adrienne, or should I say Phoebe?

Click Here:  Chapter One: The Devil’s Children/Cara de Vries


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