Five years ago
It was a wonderful day, the type of day you appreciated when the sky was typically a drab gray color. But today was no such day, the sun was shining bright, rays cascading and warming the faces of bright smiling children. Birds were singing, flitting from branch to branch in the crisp air of autumn and more importantly lovers were arguing.
“You have no idea what I’m thinking so don’t bother trying.”
“You’re a woman, why on Earth would I claim know what you were thinking?”
She snorted, her hands on either hip. “At least we can agree on that.”
He sighed heavily. “For the love of. It’s just china Delia!”
Those words sent sparks flying from her blue eyes. “China that will be at our wedding!” She said stomping her foot as if it would emphasize her point. “I cannot have the Duke of Cambridge eating off of some... some... chinsy stone wear!”
Cleatus pinched the bridge of his nose, frustration clearly had gotten the better of him. They were only on the discussion of what their guests would be eating off of and already they were arguing, weddings were stressful but this was ridiculous. He couldn’t help but recall the words of wisdom his grandfather had spouted nearly every day as he grew up. ‘Now remember boy,’ The old man would always begin, ‘Women are always right even when they’re wrong.’ Seventy three years of marriage later his grandparents were still happy and loved one another deeply. So, taking the old man’s words to heart he begrudgingly agreed. “Fine. Fine, I do suppose you are the more experienced with these sort of engagements than I am.”
His fiancé clasped her hands together a smile gracing her lips. Delia’s blue eyes lit up like never before and the sunlight bounced off her golden hair. Reaching out one delicate hand to his, her pearl white teeth dazzling. “I just want the day to be perfect. It will be the first day of the rest of our lives together.” She paused, pressing her lips together she leant up giving him the slightest of pecks on the cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
It was hours later when he’d stopped in a bistro across the city just after conducting business on behalf of Ameer, his future father in-law. He’d had a meeting in the Hotel de Paris which ran through lunch. The bistro across the way served some of the best tea and pastries in Paris so when he stopped across the way he never imagined what was to happen next. One moment he was thanking the girl who brought him a fresh kettle the next he was laying on the cobble stone ground, ears ringing shattered glass and debris covering him.
Sitting up he checked the woman laying beside him, she was fine, standing he saw across the street the burning shell of a car, numerous people laying on the sidewalks clutching their heads then the rush of sound came back to him. Women screaming, loud shouting, the sirens in the distance. Hurtling over the waist high fence he dashed across the street, checking people as he went, most were fine but when he reached a young girl lying face down on the side walk he turned her over. Her light brown hair was matted with blood stuck in clumps to her face, a gaping rip in her green dress oozed blood over his hand while he applied pressure. Stockings ripped and one of her shoes was missing, other bystanders had come and were helping anyone who’d become injured but none seemed as hurt as this girl. “Madam! Madam! Can you hear me? Help is coming. Just hold on help is coming. Uh, S'accrocher! Aide est sur son chemin!” She smiled up at him reaching with one hand, her finger tips brushing against his cheek smearing blood but her hand dropped as all the life faded from her. The last thing Cleatus remembered was screaming for help.
February 14, 1938
“Look who’s awake.” A blurred gray figure came into view and pushed his face up, slapping his cheek a couple of times. His entire body felt heavy, breathing was easy save for the slight whine as he exhaled and his head was killing him.
Cleatus couldn’t see much. Everything was blurry and he could barely focus on his own hands tied together in front of him. The man came back pushing his head to the side roughly, he felt rather than saw, the needle and syringe that was shoved into his neck. Where ever he was the place felt big, the heat of a lamp scorched his face and it smelled damp. Trying to follow the man’s movements his head lolled to the side lazily. “What did you drug me with?”
“Scopolamine.” Cleatus flinched, Edgaring truth serum. “I’m no doctor, but I’ve been told the dizziness and lethargy will pass. Not that you’ll live to feel it happen.”
The chair he was sitting on was abruptly kicked from under him. His body fell to the concrete with a sick thud, knocking the wind out of him. Gasping for air all he could focus on was the pain. Sweet Mother, everything hurt. Either he was passed out for the beating or it was a side effect of the drugs. A chain rattled above his head as a hook was looped into the rope around his wrists. Jesus he was going to be strung up! With a grunt and a cry of pain Cleatus was lifted from the floor. The tips of his toes touching the concrete. He was completely helpless.
Crack! Lip split open Cleatus didn’t have time to brace for the sucker punch. “What do you want!” He couldn’t hold back the note of desperation in his voice, or the wince when he tasted blood. The chain was pulled roughly, wrenching his shoulders further.
“You know what I want.” He stepped into the light, Cleatus knew this man. “I want a confession.”
Squinting in the bright light Cleatus tried to place him. Perfectly groomed face, white blonde hair, the ear to ear sadistic smile and expensive suit. It clicked. “You’re the Sharks man.”
He laughed openly. “So you don’t forget a face then. The name’s Daku, not that you’ll know it for long.” He reached a hand back behind himself and pulling a wicked looking Bowie knife, he examined it carefully.
Cleatus swallowed hard. “I make it a point not to forget someone who throws a hard right cross.”
Cold eyes studied him. They were deep set like he hadn’t slept in days, but still as alert as a shark ready for the scent of blood in the water. “I would have thought just one beating was enough.” He stepped forward, throwing his fist back and into Cleatus’s right side. A cheap kidney punch. Daku grasped hold of his face pulling him closer. “Do you know why you’re here, Cleatus?”
Leaning forward he spit out a mouth of blood. “No idea.”
Daku punched him again. He held the knife against his face. “I’ve thought about ways I wanted to do this. How I wanted to kill you when I found you.” He paused turning around, the silver blade still in his hand as he leant against the table. “The knife or the gun.” He held up the Smith and Wesson wiggling it back and forth a little. “I was going to let you choose, but now I think it should be more of a surprise.”
Gritting his teeth Cleatus bit back a mouthy retort. “This is insane. You’re going to attack me when Roselyn is in danger?” It was like he’d been doused with cold water. “Oh god no Roselyn!”
Something sparked in Dakus eyes. “Roselyn! You’re worried about Roselyn right now? I’ve saved her. She’s safe. She won’t suffer the same fate as Vanessa.” The barrel of the gun pressed into Cleatus’s skull. “You took Vanessa! You drained her of her blood, Noah Styled her and left her for dead!” He smashed him in the face once more.
A slow trickle of blood flowed from a gash above his eye. Unbelievable. “You think I’m the Vampire?” Un-Edgaring-believable! “You think I am that sick son of a Ice! You believe that I could do those disgusting things! That I could kill Roselyn? That I’m ... I’m the sick Kouros who murdered the woman I love for sport. The son of a Ice who at this very moment has Roselyn!”
Rage flashed in Daku’s eyes. Slamming his fists into Cleatus. One. Two. Three more times.
“He has her! He has Rose and you’re too busy torturing me! Are you insane!” He screamed struggling to gather his feet beneath him, his hands going numb above his head. The rope that bound them rubbed roughly against his skin, it burned almost as much as his shoulders. “He’s going to kill her!”
There was a sneer on his face, while he cocked the hammer on the gun. “Who?”
“Roselyn!” Cleatus shrieked continually struggling against the rope he choked past the split lip he was sporting and flinched from the bruised ribs. “The Kouros has Roselyn!”
Daku’s face scrunched in concern and he lowered the gun, he’d followed him all day long. From the precinct to his apartment. Cleatus had never even been near her. “You’re still going to play this game?” Could he have been wrong, white panic filled him. The hammer of the gun clicked back. “Who has Roselyn? And you better be specific.”
There were many things he hated to do and making assumptions was one of them, but he hated dying even more. “Paeon. He has her and he’s going to kill her just like he killed Vanessa.” It was getting harder to breath. “If you don’t want her to end up the same way. If you don’t want Rose to die, help me. Help me save her!”
Daku’s eyes seemed to waver for a moment then the gun came up into Cleatus’s face once more and he felt his heart drop. At the last second Dakus arm swung to the side and he fired. Bang! Ping! The bullet struck the winch handle that held Cleatus in place. He dropped like a sac of bricks to the cold pavement. Coughing and sputtering blood.
Using the knife Daku cut the rope around his wrists. “If you’re wrong about this...” Daku didn’t even have to finish. Because if he was wrong, Cleatus would be begging for death.
Cleatus thought he was being cleaver. Thought he was being quiet. Apparently he was neither. Stick to the plan. That was all he had to do. Find Roselyn and save her. Sounded easy enough. Paeon’s pallet factory was just on the other side of the harbor from where Daku had planned to kill him. Oh the irony. The place smelled like saw dust and sweat and had a damn noisy wooden floor. Glancing around the stack of pallets he impatiently wiped at the drying blood over his eye, he just had to find Roselyn. His hand gripped the Colt revolver Daku had given him, find her and save her. He clicked the hammer back as quietly as he could.
But it wasn’t quite enough. Bang! Before he could make a move a shot rang out and Cleatus couldn’t hold back the scream as a bullet tore a hole in his thigh. He could feel the warm blood oozing between his fingers. Cleatus gritted his teeth as manic laughter echoed off the walls. “You’re late Cleatus. Your damsel has been waiting for you, I’ve only had to drug her three times now.”
Lights flicked on immediately and there near the center of the production floor was Roselyn, bound and blind folded. Her lipstick smudged. Stockings and dress ripped, his breath caught in his throat until he saw her chest rise and fall. She was alive. Leaning back behind the stack of pallets he shed his jacket. Ripping at the expensive stitching he created a makeshift tunicate for his leg. The beating from Daku was minor compared to the amount of blood he’d lose if this tunicate didn’t hold. Son of a Ice nicked the artery, he’d be setting off metal detectors for years to come; that is if he made it out alive.
The hammer of a gun clicked beside his head and fear coursed through him. “Come now Cleatus you think I’m foolish enough to let you get the best of me?” The stock of the gun crashed against his skull. Cleatus saw stars and dropped the pistol in his hand. A hand grasped his wrist, dragging him from behind the boxes. Just outside the circle of light that held Roselyn.
The Vampire casually walked past her, heels clicking on the floor. Leaning casually against a table, an amused smile graced his features. “It’s good to see you Cleatus. You look terrible.” This was the first time Cleatus had seen him in person but he already knew the face. He’d been in the precinct, he’d seen him in the streets. But his first thought was Roselyn. “Rose.” He whispered, his body was weak and he was beginning to lose consciousness.
He laughed joyfully at him. “You are ever so the white knight coming to his maidens rescue aren’t you Cleatus.”
Some white knight he turned out to be. His steel eyes glanced over at the bound and blindfolded Roselyn.
“Don’t worry she should be coming too soon.” The heel of the Vampires boot came down on the bandaged leg and Cleatus cried out in pain. “Wake up!” He snarled down to him. “I can’t have you dying on me now. Not when the fun is just beginning.” The dark haired man strolled over to his chair once more reaching towards the table for a small knife and a brick of what looked like brie? Was this guy serious. He cut a piece and popped it into his mouth and looked deep in thought for a moment. “Do you like story’s Cleatus? Oh, of course you do. I’m going to tell you one. One that should answer some of your nagging questions. Would you like that?”
He said nothing instead he clutched at his leg and tried to raise himself up. The ringing in his ears wouldn’t stop. Cleatus felt beyond weak, he was running on fumes at this point. Click. His attention turned back to the Vampire. He was pointing a pistol at Roselyn. Instantly he stilled.
“Once upon a time in the land of Normandy lived a beautiful young woman, lets name her Juliette. She was kind and she was dear, and had not a speck of darkness in her soul. Juliette had a brother, who’s soul was as black as the darkest void. But being the pure soul she was, still loved him. After a terrible war a man came traveling through their small town. Meeting the beautiful Juliette he felt a piece of himself come alive he hadn’t known existed. Eventually the two fell in love. Now Juliettes brother couldn’t have that, so he hired an assassin named Romeo to get rid of the man his pure and darling sister had fallen in love with. Are you with me so far?” He glanced down at Cleatus, in his distraction he’d managed to move a good four inches closer but was still grimacing in pain.
“Good. Now anyway, the man he hired was none other than the one his sister had fallen in love with. Romeo learned that her brother planned to marry her to a wealthy shark from a land across the sea. Neither of them wanted to be apart so together they devised a plan. Juliette told this shark of her plight and asked him for his help. Much to Romeos surprise the shark agreed to help the two run away and disappear. On the night when they were to leave and run away from the black hearted brother Juliette was slain in a brutal and horrific explosion!”
Cleatus glanced up at him. “An explosion?”
“As the young innocent Juliette was about to leave the horrible life her brother had planned for her. A life where she sat as nothing more than a pawn in her dark brothers game. Her escape exploded. But a man was there when the explosion happened, a man who thought himself a white knight. One that did nothing but let the poor young Juliette bleed to death in his arms. A man who was as heartless as they came, one who didn’t care to help her and only thought of himself!” The words were biting, but Cleatus remembered that day well that day in Paris. “A man who worked with the black hearted brother to destroy what little happiness the innocent Juliette could have had.”
“What are you talking about?” Cleatus bit out in irritation.
He snorted stabbing the cheese knife into the wood of the table he sat at. “Come now Cleatus I thought you were a literary major.” He strode over to him and kicked him heartily in the ribs. “You watched her die in your arms! You were a part of all of this, you’d only just met with the Paeon family that day! You had planned it all!” He kicked him again and again until Cleatus coughed up a little bit of blood. “And for that you’re going to pay.”
“Cleatus.” Roselyn half whispered shifting around.
“Ah it looks like our little damsel is waking up.” He paused glancing from the crumpled man under him to the young woman on the pallet. “You know what Cleatus, I’m going to do you a favor.” He picked him up by the lapels, dragging his limp body around so he was facing her now. “I’m going to let you watch me kill her.”
White hot fear coursed through him. Son of a Ice. “No.” He began weakly.
The Vampire laughed at him again an openly jolly sound making bile rise in the back of his throat. “Oh yes my friend.” Reaching down, he gently stroked Roselyns face. “Are you awake yet my dear?”
“Please let me go.” She mumbled her body trembling.
“She’s awake my friend.” Reaching down, Roselyn’s mouth opened into a now silent scream as she sobbed when he lifted her from the floor. “Your white knight is here for you my dear. Say hello Cleatus.”
“Stop please.” Cleatus shouted struggling to move again, wincing when he felt his ribs ache in protest.
“I can’t stop now it’s just getting to the good part. Hmmm, how to go about this then. She is after all much better than the rest.” He paused seeing Cleatus struggling to stand, to move at all. He reached for the cheese knife on the table. “Maybe I’ll peel her face like an apple.” He said darkly, an almost whisper. He held Roselyn’s frightened face in one hand. The knife pressed delicately against her cheek, she whimpered.
“It would be such a shame for you to not see her face before she’s put in the ground.” A chuckle left his throat. “So much more than what I was ever given.”
“Enough Paeon!” Cleatus shouted, struggling to stand.
“THAT. IS NOT. MY NAME!”
Bang! The shot rang out through the empty warehouse. A raw scream ripped from Roselyn as she crashed to the floor, the blindfold loosening from her eyes. Blinking a couple times she saw blood gushing down the Vampires arm. Dripping from his fingertips as his arm hung limply at his side. His head turned wildly looking around to where the shot could have come from. His body went ridged and slowly turned. The barrel of a pistol pressed against his temple. Another blast rang out. Bam! Roselyn screamed flinching and turning away from the scene. This new assailant now disabled both of the Vampires arms at the shoulder, any movement now would cause agonizing pain. Roselyn scrambled away, pushing herself back as far as her arms would let her.
“Do you know who I am?”
The breath caught in Roselyn’s throat, she knew that voice. ‘Daku?’
“The right hand of god?”
Bang! The Vampire fell to his knees a sickening squelch of flesh, he’d shot out one of his knees. With a bit more force he asked again. “Do you know who I am?”
His voice was shaky now still mocking. “Karma?”
Crack! Striking the Vampire with the butt of his gun. It knocked him to the ground. “I prefer to think of it as fate.” Daku reached down cracking the man across the face, one, two, three, four five; it didn’t seem like he was going to stop. Blood was oozing from his face now but still that sick smile remained. “What are you smiling about!” Daku screamed in his face. “You stole Nessa from me Nelson and now you have to pay for it!”
The sound of his name sent chills through Cleatus. Dragging his leg he tried to get closer to Roselyn. To hold her, shield her from what he knew was going to happen. His hands reached and gently graced against her arm. “Rose.” He whispered, she turned her head the blindfold around her neck. Green eyes wide in shock and horror. “Rosey don’t look.” She nodded, her emerald green eyes trained on him. They began to water as she stared at him.
Tearing the ropes away from her wrists he pushed himself into a sitting position pulling her trembling body into his arms just as Daku lost his mind. It happened when the Vampire, no when Nelson whispered something to him. It broke the last piece that held the already fragile man in place. With a pained and inhuman cry the Bowie knife was ripped from under his jacket, the silver blade glinting in the light before it was plunged deep into Nelsons chest wedging the man against the wooden pallet underneath. The murderer gasped for air, weakly attempting to reach for the handle of the knife. But Daku beat him to it. He pulled it free and plunged it in again. And again. And again. And again. Finally in one last movement Daku stared him in the eyes and twisted the blade. It made a horrible squelching noise before his eyes turned a dampened, glassy gray. Dead.
Roselyn sobbed into Cleatus’s shoulder clutching at him in desperation. He’d come. She looked him in the face, hands grazing over his cheeks and pressing their foreheads together. He’d come for her. His face was cut up, he’d been shot, and no doubt he was going to need weeks to recover from everything. But he was here. He was here and it was over. Fat wet tears cascaded down her cheeks while Cleatus pulled her close. Holding her tight with every last ounce of strength he had. “You’re safe now. I’ve got you Rose. I’ve got you.”
“Freeze!” A voice rang out from the dark and a dark figure came running from nowhere. “Shores PD! Let me see your hands!” Rocko busted into the circle of light his service revolver pointed at Daku. The Cheifs gray eyes trained on the blood covered Daku who weakly lifted his hands. Standing and stepping away from the pulverized body that once was the Juliette Killer.
A light chuckle came from beside him. “Haven’t I ever told you not to go anywhere without back up.” Cleatus smiled as best he could at the snide comment, never had he ever been more grateful to see Noah in his life. He followed his boss’s gaze to the still and sullen Daku, then back to Cleatus. “Officers are on their way.”
Cleatus glanced over at Rocko who made brief eye contact. Cleatus shook his head and Rocko lowered his gun at the unspoken plea. “Get out of here.” Rocko snarled at the startled man.
Daku glanced over at Cleatus. Nodded once then started running in the darkness through the pallet factory.
Pulling Roselyn just the slightest bit closer, Cleatus saw the whirling blue and red lights of the ambulance but he still held Roselyn as close as he could while she wept into his jacket. “We’re going to be okay.” His lips pressed against her temple as she desperately clung to him for safety. “My sweet Rose.”
The sun was coming up just like it was any other day. Cleatus laid back in his hospital bed Roselyn leaning against his chest silently crying. Least she was until she’d fallen to sleep against him, her soft breathing was enough to tell him that she’d finally passed out. Just as he thought the bullet in his leg couldn’t be removed, instead they’d disinfected, bandaged and sewed him up. He’d be on bed rest for the next few weeks after the beating and blood loss but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t live with.
Roselyn hadn’t been injured too badly, rope rash on her wrists, a few cuts and nicks here and there but other than that she’d be perfectly fine physically. Honestly Cleatus was just happy to hear she hadn’t been assaulted. They’d lied the second other officers had gotten there. Said they didn’t know where the second guy came from or who he even was. Daku would get off a murder charge. Not that it would have mattered much, killing a serial killer he might have been hailed a hero.
There was a knock on the door, Cleatus glanced up to see Rocko standing in the door way. His scowl spoke volumes, but the small smile he gave said much more.
It was over. His nightmare was finally over.