A few of the council sat in a drawing room coated with lavish rugs and intricate wood adornations on the wall. Doyle puffed on a pipe, a tumbler of brandy condensating on the mahogany table next to him. A female angel was kneeled between his legs, her head bobbing up and down in a practiced rhythm. He turned to one of the others named Cassius who was sitting in a claw foot chair wrapped in velvet.
“Is this not the fuckin’ life?”
The man scrunched his nose a bit, but tipped his own glass in reply.
“Indeed it is. Do you have to do that here though?”
“No,” Doyle smiled. “But I can.”
A woman entering the room scoffed.
“That’s all it ever is with you. I swear, mommy must have done you wrong to make you such a stubborn little ass.”
“If you want to take her place Nancy, just ask. There’s room for two down here.”
Nancy rolled her eyes and sat in a chair across from Doyle. His lingering gaze made her skin crawl.
“I haven’t heard back from Seth tonight,” she said, turning to Cassius.
“Give them some time. Could be taking things more cautiously after last night’s brawl.”
“We shouldn’t have-”
“Seth will be fine,” Doyle interjected. “She’s not even half the size of Benji and you saw her this morning.” Doyle held out a trembling hand and mock cried.
Cassius waved off Nancy.
“He’s right. The Night Hunters are overqualified for tonight’s task. They’re probably just taking the time to enjoy it.”
Doyle walked two fingers along the side table. “Four cats and one little mouse.”
Nancy walked over to a bar cart stationed in the corner of the room and poured herself a glass of merlot. “Regardless. We can’t just keep making people disappear like this. It’s not like our group as a whole isn’t already under enough scrutiny.”
“There is no group. We are Abel, Abel is us, that’s all people need to know.”
“Nobody has seen Abel in years, you think they’re just going to keep taking our word for it and believe?”
Doyle scoffed. “Do you have any idea who we’re dealing with? These people live for that.”
“Humans, yes. But people who were born here -”
She took a hasty sip –
“ – They knew life before this. Before us. Benji is just the beginning. If anything, he’s just the first we’ve noticed.”
Cassius shook his head. “Nancy, trust in Doyle.”
She whipped around, a few drops of wine spilling up over the glass and onto the carpet.
“Why do you always take his side? Oh that’s right, because-”
Doyle smacked his hand on the table.
“That is enough.” He spoke through his teeth. “We continue as planned. As I planned. I put us here. Not you. Not Cassius. And sure as hell not Abel.”
He breathed in deep and let it out slowly until the red in his cheeks began to pale. “Now stop being so negative, I’m losing my buzz over here.” He looked down at his lap. “Keep going sweetheart, it’ll come back.”
Nancy deflated and topped up her wine glass before taking a seat again. She sipped from it slowly, glowering at Doyle who only seemed to take pleasure in her piercing gaze. He stared back at her, as if inviting her into the moment he was having, relishing in her watching him. His chest drew in faint breaths and his fingers gripped the ends of the arm chair. The door to the room burst open.
“God dammit!” Doyle pushed the angel away from him and pulled his robe across his body. Sa’id stood in the threshold gripping the cloak Logan had left behind. “What is it?”
“Apologies sir, but things didn’t go as planned tonight and I was sent to inform you of, well, some strange happenings.”
“Strange happenings?” Cassius echoed.
“Hold on for a moment,” Doyle waved off the angel who wiped her mouth and scurried past Sa’id, out of the room. He sunk back into his chair with a sullen look on his face. “Continue.”
“There was someone with her tonight when we arrived. A man, I believe.”
“A human man?” Nancy asked, leaning forward. He was taller than most other angels, slender framed but wrapped with muscle, his skin a subtle shade of brown.
“I believe so, ma’am.”
Nancy crossed her legs, her robe riding up ever so slightly.
“Ma’am will not be needed when you talk to me.”
Sa’id dipped his head, trying his best to hide a smile. Doyle made a show of rolling his eyes. “Are – you – finished?”
“Tell us what happened.”
Sa’id’s eyes flicked between Doyle and hers when he spoke.
“He used himself as a decoy. He turned down a backway just ahead of Guthrie and vanished. His cloak was still falling to the ground when we got there.”
Doyle rubbed his temples.
“You’re sure of this?”
Sa’id nodded. “Not accounting for the night and shadows he could have stolen into, there would be no deceiving of our ears. No footsteps, no muffled breaths, nothing. It was as if he never existed.”
Cassius shot a look at Doyle who remained composed. He could feel Nancy’s eyes on him as well. He pressed his fingers together.
“Thank you, Sa’id. Leave the cloak with us and we will have it inspected for any…irregularities.”
Sa’id stepped into the room to hand Doyle the cloak but was stopped in his tracks.
“The rack will be fine,” Doyle said, gesturing to a collection of brass hooks on the wall beside the door. Sa’id dipped his head in a half-hearted bow and hung the cloak before leaving. Doyle let out a long slow sigh, his eyes pressed shut. Nancy tipped her head back and downed her entire glass.
“It’s happening,” Cassius said.
“So it is,” Doyle said, his head rocking slowly, “so it is.”
TO BE CONTINUED…