The Curse Mark: Chapter Six

THE DEVIL’S CHILDREN: CARA DE VRIES

 

Boys, idiots, Cara thought as she shoved her way through the crowd.  Though Cara hardly spared a thought for who she passed by or whether they were even boys to begin with, they could have been men! But well, like Cara cared.  Uncouthness was uncouthness, and what she had seen was enough to categorise and file away.

Sighing heavily, she had no idea where to go now.  She had completely failed in her attempt to tempt Adrienne Cynzia into telling her about Lennox Vanderwerken.

Making her way to the best hotel in the city (it was so much classier to call it a town, though it looked more liked the city she had grown up in over two hundred years ago, and not at all like a city that existed in the present day), Cara charmed her way into a very last minute, upper class hotel room.   With a flick of her hair, and a flash of a smile, Cara was booked in and at a fine price too.  Even if she earned enough and had enough savings for several times over, there was no need for her to waste it on accommodation, was there?  But then, her own place would be nice.  And if she was truly honest with herself, she technically did not have that much in savings, not with her frivolous attitude to life.

As she took the keycard from the receptionist, the woman said, “I love your outfit.”

Blinking, Cara smiled, “thank you, perfect isn’t it?” She said twirling around once elegantly, showing off the Victorian era dress.   Although Cara’s head was tilted to the side looking down at her dress, she was not actually doing that.  It was just anyone who was within her vicinity who was affected by her illusion who saw what she wanted them to see, including the fact that she currently looked ten years older, slightly taller, and was twirling around.  In reality, she was merely standing there, smiling with the keycard in her hand ready to leave.

Waiting out the receptionist’s awe, Cara politely took the compliments and said, “custom made,” when the woman asked where Cara had gotten such a dress.  She had had it for years, along with a closet full of similar dresses in different shades.

“It’s amazing,” said the woman in awe.

“Yes, it is,” she said with a hint of impatience in her voice that did not match the friendly smile on her face.

Cara watched carefully, noting the way the receptionist’s smile dimmed a bit when she sensed the impatience, perhaps even heard it, but didn’t see any evidence of impatience on Cara’s face.  This made Cara highly amused.  She enjoyed watching the confusion in the receptionist’s eyes, and were it not because she had other, better things to do, Cara wouldn’t have mind messing with the receptionist’s mind a little bit more for the fun of it.

After a moment, Cara grew bored at the receptionist’s awe.  Her dress really wasn’t that impressive, because it wasn’t her best dress.  It just so happened to be her work gown.  Since she was the kind of girl to want to look prettier than any other person who happened to wear a similar gown and work at the same time, it was somewhat prettier than other kinds of work dresses.   This would have been more impressive for Cara if the receptionist was fawning over one of her prettier dresses.  Alas, that was not the case, and by now the receptionist had completely forgotten what she was doing, becoming overly enamoured.  So Cara slipped an illusion into the woman’s mind, nudging her to pass over to Cara the welcome pamphlets so that Cara could leave at last.

Smiling until her face nearly split in half from the effort, Cara strode away from the reception finally and headed over to the stairs.  As high class as this hotel was, it was located in the mini city and it wasn’t exceptionally tall, and while Cara could have taken the lift, she wasn’t exactly fond of them.  Something about the movement of a lift made it impossible for her to hold an illusion, much less a complex rune line.

When she finally arrived at her room, she stood at her door approximately five minutes, standing still like a statue and looking as though she had taking a deep interest in the wood of the door.  That wasn’t what had happened though.  Cara was technically taking deep internal breaths to calm down.   Calm down from the excessive exercise she had undertaken between the ground floor and the fifth floor.  She was hardly what one would call fit, but she wasn’t entirely unfit either, she was just in need of a regular daily training schedule.  But in the two hundred something years she’s lived, Cara has told herself that she would get fit tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, and never really getting to it.  She was always a lover and not a fighter, and the only benefit of being fit would be that she’d be able to run faster.  Why bother running though if one could just teleport themselves away?

So why had she walked up the stairs?  Realising this, Cara looked around to see if anyone had noticed her blunder.  The tail end of something disappeared around the corner at the end of the hallway on her right and Cara narrowed her eyes.  It was just her being paranoid, since it wasn’t like everyone could sense what species another person was, so anyone who was watching her probably didn’t know that she was a demon.  But still, if anyone knew, they must have thought she was an idiot for climbing up the stairs.   And thinking about what other people might be thinking of her now had Cara fuming silently to herself.

Shaking her head, having had enough of herself thinking useless things (not that she could help herself from thinking about those things, it was just who she was), she swiped her card on the door pad and listened for the click.

Click.

Easy.  Pushing the door open, Cara’s first and only thing to do was find a bed and collapse in it, exhausted from the events of the day.  She would have tried to fall asleep, but the mark on her arm was making it impossible to do.  Pulling her sleeve down, Cara looked at the three concentric circles and the triquetra on her arm.  They just looked like any ordinary black tattoo, but they were far from ordinary.

Lying on her back, she held her arm above her head, feeling her lower lip quiver.  She would not cry.  She really wouldn’t.  It wasn’t a big deal.  This was fixable.

If only she was someone else listening to the lies she was telling herself.  Maybe then, they would have been more believable.  But Cara wasn’t a fool, and reality was easier to live without false optimism.  And right now, Cara was in trouble.  Big trouble.

Draping her arm over her forehead, Cara had no more energy to fight the misgivings within her, letting them wash all over her, eventually, despite however long she ended up staying awake, these misgivings were the lullaby to her sleep.  Somehow, she fell asleep.

 

The first of November for Cara began with the sun high in the sky and the air moist, bringing out the humidity of a November morning.   Afternoon actually, since Cara had slept right through the morning, though if she was asked, she would say it was morning.  After all, morning was whenever she thought it was morning.  And for those who knew her well, that was non-negotiable.

Moaning slightly, Cara woke to light streaming through her heavyset curtains, and wished she hadn’t opened her eyes at all.

Downstairs, the dining room was full of hotel guests having breakfast.  Looking left and right, Cara was lead to a seat towards the side of the room.   Yawning, in a very ladylike fashion, Cara was perfectly polite in nearly every single way, covering her mouth prettily. The lace ruffles on her sleeves falling downwards with gravity, revealing the thin, slender arm beneath.

“Oh this is a surprise, I didn’t think you were in town,” said a male voice behind her, causing Cara to freeze partway through her yawn.   She gestured for the maître d’ to leave her before turning.

Noting that lazy smile on his lips, something Cara thought did him no favours at all and making him seem as lazy and indifferent as always, Cara honestly did not understand how women and girls alike were attracted to him.  Of course, she could understand why they thought the long wavy hairstyle of his hair might be attractive particularly in how it partially covered one side of his face, or why they were attracted to how ‘cool’ he seemed whenever he was around, one hand in his pants pockets, shoulders back.  He could have and probably should have been the kind of man who was her type, but lucky enough for him, he wasn’t her type at all.

Returning his smile, though with less of the lazy attitude and more sarcasm, Cara said, “I’m surprised you could even make it to lunch at this hour Ichirou.”

He smirked.  A lazy smirk, but a smirk all the same.  “With all the big shots rolling into town, I didn’t want to miss the party.”  Ren’s face hardly even twitched when Cara used his name.  Excellent.  “And it’s Ren, love, not that.  Never that.”  Guess Cara had gotten more under his skin than she had first anticipated.  That suited her fine.

“Oh no, no, what would your mother say to that?” She said, teasing him taking one step closer.

“Don’t bring my mother into this,” he scowled, the expression shifted so fast on his face, any sign of class and sophistication that had been hanging on him earlier completely faded away leaving only true fact behind.  He was just a young demon following reluctantly in footsteps too large for him.   As evidenced by the bodyguards that were glued to him.

“Aw, but your mother is such a good friend of mine, I wouldn’t want to tell her that you’ve been misbehaving again, would I?” Cara brushed some lint of his blazer, well she would have, if her hand hadn’t made contact with the force field Ren always had at the ready between him and the rest of the world.

Cara pulled her hand away, letting out a gasp in the process.

“Don’t remind me,” he said grimacing.  “How the pair of you get along astonishes me.”

How Cara and the Dark Night Rose would certainly astonish the son of the Dark Night Rose, but well, Cara wasn’t one to spoil whatever little fantasies in his head, not when the reality was hardly any more special than boiling an egg.  Sort of.  Opinions differed, particularly those who had been present when the two women had met.

Glancing over at her table, Cara gestured for him to sit, “care to be my guest child?”

“Depends, will you be paying?” Ren sat nonetheless knowing that Cara would pay anyway.  In a manner of speaking, she would pay with an illusion.  His time was expensive, and so was hers.  “Old lady, don’t call me a child again, and waffles sound delicious.”

Cara fisted her hands, but did not complain, taking a seat opposite him.   “Of course.  I should you charge you for the insult, but I’m gracious and beautiful, and as such gracious and beautiful people like I will waive any sort of fee today.   Isn’t that generous?”

Ren snorted, pushing the menu to the side and sitting back against his chair, his eyes on Cara.  “If I was motivated by beauty, then charge me all you like.”

“But yet you’re so beautiful yourself, I’m surprised you even have cash left to spare,” she said, her eyes scanning the menu.

“Flattering,” he said not looking at Cara but rather had taken an abnormal interest in the people around them.

“Something caught your interest?” She asked, being subtle with her eyes still glued to her menu.  It would have taken a sharp eye to notice when she looked up to see Ren looking around, because it never seemed like she’d lifted her face at all.

“The people,” he murmured, “there are too many guests in this building.”

“It’s a hotel,” Cara pointed out putting down her menu.

“Yeah, got that, but still.” Cara looked at where Ren was looking.  It was only when she started looking at the people around her did she realise and understand what he was saying.

“What about it?” Cara commented, looking away though her thoughts were very much alive with the knowledge that more people in the form of powerful and undesirable meant that something was happening.  And it wasn’t just a criminal meet and greet.

“Do you know how many people have waltz into town this past week who rank as high as my parents in regards to power?” He said, his reddish brown eyes looking directly at Cara now, intent on holding her gaze as though to frighten her with this new knowledge.

Cara was not frightened.  Not officially anyway, though she was nervous, undoubtedly.   Cara may have been friends with Ren’s mother, or at least, as much as you call two women such as Cara and the Dark Night Rose who had reputations for possessing no friends at all.   Just acquaintances.  And those acquaintances were people who they had contracts with and whom Cara and the Dark Night Rose knew would not betray them.  That was made Cara and the other woman so similar but it made the pair of them no less willing to be any more than an acquaintance with the other.

“How would I know?  I only arrived just yesterday myself,” she said.

“That’s my point.” He leaned forward, resting his head on his hand.  His elbow so generously supporting the pressure and weight of his rather large head on it, by large, Cara meant metaphorically large: a descriptor that refers to the size of his ego which on more than one occasion irritated Cara.

“What’s your point?” She asked, confused.

“Included in the count of powerful arrivals, is yourself, aren’t you a self-proclaimed ‘powerful’ demon in existence?”

The look on his face clearly said he didn’t agree with it, not that Cara was going to take notice of it.  “Self-proclaimed?  You mean recognised and agreed upon.  I don’t see any need to self-proclaim anything if it hasn’t already been proven to be true.”

“Heritage.”

“What?” Cara said blinking and turning her head back to him.  She had been assessing the people she recognised in the room.  There were faces she knew, and there were faces she had only seen before.  Each face she recognised was listed and organised in her head, and based on her own abundant knowledge of people, she filed them in order from most power to weak.   When she realised what she was doing, she stopped.  Ren was making her paranoid.  “What about my heritage?” She asked, annoyed that he dared mention it.

“You’re powerful because of your heritage,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with my heritage,” she replied almost instantly.

“Oh so you’re just naturally talented are you?” There’s a ridiculous smirk on his lips that Cara didn’t like.

But she didn’t tell him not to smirk like that.  “Well I thought that was obvious.”

“Obvious, what is obvious with you?”

“Are you implying something?” Cara said, glaring at him.

The smirk widened a little, and Cara’s eyes narrowed, focussing on him.  Cara had worked hard to develop her abilities to the extent they were.  They were honed erratically, and most rigid teachers would have asked, ‘how come she’s still alive?’ For Cara though, the answer was simple, she was a genius.

“And you call me narcissistic,” said Ren, smiling up to the waitress when she arrived with several plates in her hand—hands.   Neither Cara nor Ren blinked at the sight of multiple arms.  But they knew that not everyone was seeing what they were seeing, and it wasn’t a surprise that such a woman had been hired to work here.

Ignoring his comment, with a snooty nose up at him and the waitress, Cara waited until the waitress was gone before carefully phrasing her next set of words.  The most important thing was that Ren didn’t deduce that Cara was looking for someone in particular.  If he knew that, then he would know that something was up.  Since when do demons go after an angel for help?  Only desperate people went in search of blood enemies. But even Ren wouldn’t be able to conceive of why Cara was so interested in Lennox apart from the vengeance.  He would probably want to tag along for the show, and Cara absolutely could not have him watching her when the real reason behind it this time was not just for vengeance.   Thinking about how much she was about to rely on Lennox Vanderwerken was causing a headache to blossom painfully at the base of her skull.  Now why didn’t she have more angels in her debt?

“Tell me, how many powerful individuals have waltz into town?”  Mini city, but whatever, I’ll be nice, she thought not wanting to get into a silly argument about names, even if it annoyed Cara.  She was willing to sacrifice this little thing for knowledge.  “You know, waffles are meant to be eaten, not picked at.”

Ren was using his fork to poke at the waffles in front him as though perhaps the berries and the cream or maybe the maple syrup had some hidden agenda against him.  “Too sweet,” he mumbled.

This was the problem with Ren.  Not only was he lazy and was only persuadable so long as money was on the table, sometimes he was very unpredictable.  He liked sweets, he didn’t like sweets.  Maybe he was just contradictory on purpose, or maybe it was his natural personality.   Whichever it was, Cara was still trying to figure it out.  She knew fairly well that he was perhaps one of the few people she may never manipulate due to his lack of attraction to her looks.

Glancing up at her, Ren put a raspberry in his mouth and chewed on it.  His eyes merely stared at her when he said, “if I told you, that then what fun is there in the game?”

“Game?” Cara scoffed, “I hadn’t realised we were playing a game.   Am I mistaken in thinking you’re not the type for games?”

“Maybe I am.  Are you saying you know me well enough?”

Stupid, Cara scolded herself.   Of course she didn’t know him well enough, but that sure as hell didn’t stop her from bluffing, though really, this was one person she shouldn’t bluff with since despite his age, he played the manipulation game almost as well as she did.  He was just blunter.

“Alright, I’ll play your game,” said Cara, surrendering, not that anyone would believe it.

He tutted her, and she barely refrained from holding back her scowl.  “You might not like the game I play.  It may cost you your life.”

“Is that all?  I hardly think you’re the first to threaten me with that,” and it’s not like I don’t have a curse mark on my arm that I know is just meant to kill me when the time is right, she silently stated.  Or at least that was what Cara could understand of the Runes that marked the circles on her arm.

“No, probably not,” he said laughing lightly, somewhat mockingly.  Cara narrowed her eyes at him disbelievingly.  He had responded so quickly and honestly as though he knew everything about her.   Even if he thought he knew everything about her, he really didn’t.  It was Cara’s belief that one person could not know everything about another person.  Time moves and people change even if some things remain the same.

Leaning back for the first time all day, Ren leaned back, his forearm resting on the edge of the table, and said, “But if you’re so interested, it seems, you arrived in town at the worst possible time.  There are a couple of Angels in town after your blood.   Did you kill someone I should know about?”

 

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

Click Here:  Chapter Two: A Moon At Stake/Adrienne Cynzia

Click Here: Chapter Three: Can Angels Lie?/Lennox Vanderwerken

Click Here: Chapter Four: Why We Fall/Blayke Feray

Click Here: Chapter Five: Murderous Intentions/Kenichi Ai Gravitas

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