True Heart

Dakota Grey is just an ordinary girl with an ordinary life. That is, until she meets Alex, a vampire who just can seem to let her go. She learns that she's not an ordinary girl and in fact, she had a whole life before her memory was erased. Together they find out just how small the world really is as they try to piece the puzzle back together.

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1. Chapter 1

“A good story should make you laugh, and a moment later break your heart.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk, Stranger Than Fiction

                                                            Chapter 1    

               Sunlight peeks through the curtains and into my room slowly. It covers all my walls and furniture as if lighting the room with an orange flame. I groan as the sun hits my closed eyes and reach to pull the covers back over my head. My navy blue comforter gives me the darkness I wish but at that point I'm already awake. Grumbling I throw off the covers and glance at my alarm. The glowing red lights dance in my eyes until I get used to the light. 7:01 it reads.

"Too early," I complain as I look into the mirror at my disheveled appearance. My chestnut brown hair looks terrible, it's tangled and knotted. I look at my deep blue eyes in the mirror and sigh knowing I won't have time to fix it if I want to catch the bus. I randomly select a teal shirt and slip it over the tank top I'd been wearing. I carefully step over the clothes and open my closet. I notice a pair of jeans lying on the shelf so I quickly grab them and put them on as I race down the steps of my apartment.

               Too lazy to make breakfast I open the cupboard and feel around for anything in there. I feel a box and pull it out.

"Poptarts, great," I mutter sarcastically as I rip the package open. I shove one in my mouth as I grab my public bus pass and head out the door just after grabbing my messenger bag.

               Once outside I run down the porch steps tripping on the newspaper. I fall onto the concrete dramatically. Well I certainly didn't try to be dramatic but it kind of turned out that way. I'm just glad no one else is out. I stand and brush the dirt from my clothes. The bus screeches to a stop in front of the stop sign and I run to get there before it leaves. Being the pessimist I am I let my imagination wonder to the idea of the bus crashing.

               Bringing my thoughts back, I wait as the ancient bus driver opens the doors. I walk up the steps wincing as pain shoots up my leg. The gray haired bus driver scratches his beard and holds out his wrinkled hand for my pass. I hold it out and wait forever until he finally hands it back. Grabbing the bus pass I scan the seats searching for an empty one.

               My eyes light up when I find a vacant seat towards the back of the bus. I limp down the aisle wishing I could hide from the stares I am getting from the other passengers. I finally reach the seat and half jump half dive into it. I slowly lower my bag onto the seat. Sliding over to the window I watch as the bus groans on to the next stop. Leaning against the side of the bus, I close my eyes and let my worries fly away. The bus sways back and forth in a rocking motion, soothing me until I am completely asleep.

                I walk out of the trees into a meadow. The tall grass rubs my legs uncomfortably and my left leg aches with a dull pain. Crickets and other small bugs jump around me as I make my way through the unnaturally long grass. The meadow seems to go on forever and soon I get tired of walking.

"Hello?" A smooth deep voice prods into my thoughts. It makes me shiver as I notice a man standing in the distance at the end of the meadow. How long has he been standing there?  I think as I try to make out any other features.

"Not long," He replies and his cool hand brushes up against my arm. It sends an electric current through my arm causing me to flinch.

                My dream vanishes and I find myself once again sitting in the dull gray seat.

"Is this seat taken?" The same voice wakes me up instantly. I spin around to face a man leaning over the seat. His shaggy brownish blond hair hangs in his face but his soft hazel eyes show with amusement as I struggle to come up with an answer.

               He wears a black short sleeve shirt and black pants that clearly scream creepy. I notice he seems to be smelling the air and suddenly I feel bad about not brushing my hair. A wild look flies into his eye but he controls it and his smile return. I frown starting to think this guy might just be a maniac. Wow, the first maniac I'll ever meet is on a public bus. You know, I always thought that if I'd ever meet a maniac it'd be in a movie theater watching some dark scary movie with the volume up way too loud.

               His smile grows bigger and I can only imagine the thoughts that are racing through his head. At that point I realize he is still waiting for an answer.

"Oh! Um, yeah the seat's taken," I tell him. He shifts his weight to his other foot and I notice he has very pale skin.

"Thanks for saving it for me," he smiles as he sits down. I scowl, who made him king of the world.

"No problem," I mutter as I move my stuff out of the way. I actually hoped he would just leave me alone so I could go back to sleep.

"So what's your name?" He asks cutting into my thoughts. Don't answer don't answer! My head screams at me. Why would he ask for my name? Oh wait he's a maniac... I forgot.

"Dakota," I tell him mentally smacking myself in the head for saying that. That might have been the worst mistake of my life. I mean how many times have little kids in kindergarten been told not to talk to strangers and here I am telling my name to maniac.

"I'm not a maniac," he answers me trying to hide his smile. I swear my mouth dropped open. Now he's psychic?

"And I'm not psychic either although you must be thinking I am," he continues. Wait maybe he's just a really good guesser. No, no, no he knows exactly what I'm thinking! How crazy is that! And I told him my name so now he's going to stalk me the rest of my life. Oh what a reassuring thought, being watched while you eat breakfast in the morning. Wait, I don't eat breakfast.

"I'm not going to stalk you either," he practically announces to the world. Wonderful, just wonderful.

"I need to go," I tell him shortly as I made my way out of the seat. He reaches for my arm but halfway through the decision he changes his mind and only his fingertips touch. His skin is as cold as ice and I am not kidding when I say it was cold. It makes me shiver and I stumble out of the seat.

                I'd forgotten about my foot because as soon as I put weight on it I fall. Strong arms wrap around my mid section holding me up. I turned to see...guess who?

"Think you may need some help there," you guessed it, stalker dude. He pulls me up so I'm standing and helps me walk the aisle without killing myself. His arms have a tight grip on my waist and I can feel his chest pressing against my back. It’s weird because I want to hate him so badly but all I can think about is his hands on my waist. For some reason it feels familiar, this position. I shake those thoughts away quickly.

               As we near the steps I realize I missed my stop and now we're in the middle of nowhere. Of course. Why today, of all days? He picks me up by my hips and walks down the steps. This guy is freaking me out I don't even know his name and now he's taking me somewhere. He gently sits me on the ground and I take off running. I ignore the pain running through my leg and only focus on the open area in front of me.

               I smile; stalker guy isn't so tough now. He can't even run fast enough to catch me. I turn back to see where he is and notice he isn't behind me. I just shrug my shoulders and turn away. A tall dark figure stands in my way and I run into it slamming shoulder first into it. The pain in my shoulder is intense and I think I dislocated it. He puts his arm around me and I push him away with my good arm.

"Dakota," he tells me. I back away slowly, trying to put as much distance between me and him.

"No, get me away from here," I say. He sighs and sits on the ground looking defenseless but I know better.

"Hi, we haven't been off to a great start but my name's Alex and at this moment you should probably let me help you," he says. My mouth drops, for the second time today. Well at least I know his name. His name, something seems familiar about it but I can’t put a finger on it.

                He stands and takes a step toward me. The pain in my leg is devastatingly painful and trust seems to radiate off him. To trust or not to trust. To be or not to be. They always say trust your gut instinct but my gut instinct is telling me to trust him. He seems to be telling the truth.

"You know I'm telling the truth. You have a gift, a very powerful one. I can help you control it and find the other branches," Alex announces as he takes another step. What on Earth! Maybe I was right, maybe he is a maniac.

"Right now there's a figurative rock over you mind, find a way to remove it and your talent is released. You know me Dakota, but you have to move the rock to remember me," he continues as he takes a few more steps toward me. I try what he says and find he's right. My mind feels as though there's a block. I try to imagine it away but it doesn't budge.

"The only way to get rid of it is to trust me," Alex whispers. I jump. His voice comes from directly behind me. I feel his hand run up and down my good arm. I stiffen and try to act calm.

"Do you trust me?" He mutters in my ear. His eyes reflect worry and something else which only makes me confused.

"Yes," my voice comes out a shaky whisper. His hands reach my shoulder and he gives it a hard shove. I scream a few choice words at him but end up falling to the ground crying. Betrayal. That's the only thing I can think of other than the excruciating pain in my shoulder. I turn to look at it and see its all red. That's when I realize how warm Alex's hands were. Compared to how cold they were I'm surprised they're that warm.

"Alex," I gasp. He's standing over 50 yards away between two trees. I see pain and struggle in his eyes. My shoulder feels as though it’s on fire. Whatever he did to it, it hurt. Badly.

"Alex," I manage to say. This time he comes. He towers over me and I start to worry about him.

"The worst is over," he explains although I have to wonder if he also says that for himself because whatever he did to me it hurt him worse. He gets to his knees and gently puts his arms around me. I'm not sure if I should accept his hug or not. But I do.

"I'm sorry," Alex whispers. He pulls away and wipes the tears from my face.

"I had to pop your shoulder back in place," he explains to me. I nod as if it all makes sense. He brushes the hair from my face and then turns to my ankle. He puts his hand on my knee and slowly makes his way down to my foot. I winced when his burning fingers brush my swollen ankle.

"This just needs time," he says running his fingers along the bends of my foot. I just sit there not knowing what to do.

               His arm finds my knees again and he wraps one arm around them. His other arm finds my lower back and he lifts me from the ground as if I weigh nothing.

"Hey! Put me down!" I shout at him. He only smiles and continues to walk back to the road. I give up and let him carry me back to the highway.

"Why are you so hot," I ask trying to figure out how he could be so warm and not be sweating. He laughs and it takes me a second to understand what he's laughing at. I frown at him.

"You know what I mean," I scold. He pretends to be serious but I can tell he's still laughing. Suddenly his face becomes serious. I look ahead and see a large patch of sunlit area. I don't understand why he's so hesitant to go in the light I mean it’s not like he's a

vampire or anything right. Right? I mean, he's warm not cold, and his eyes aren't red. They're hazel and they go well with his dirty blond hair. I feel his breath quicken and he pulls me closer to him.

"Alex, you're hurting me," I gasp. He loosens his grip but I feel his terror. He's holding his breath, I can tell. Then he buries his face into my hair and jogs through the area. Confused I put my hand on his arm but pull it back quick when it burns my hand.

"I'm sorry, close your eyes," I hear him mumble through my hair. I do as he says and suddenly we're traveling at like a hundred miles per hour. It's terrifying seriously, try going that fast. I take that back don't try you might throw up. Like I did. I felt terrible and not just because I threw up.

               Alex slows whatever he's driving. Or at least I think he's driving. What else could go so fast? He sets me down and I take a few unsteady steps. His arm catches my waist before I go tumbling off the pavement. The burn is immediate and I flinch away from his touch.

"I wish you would realize that I'm on your side," Alex murmurs. Recognition flows through my veins as soon as those words are out of his mouth. For some reason I have this strange feeling I’ve known him for a while. And something tells me we knew each other well. So why can’t I seem to remember him? Why is this “rock” stuck over my memory?

"You're too warm. It burns," I tell him not knowing what else to say. His eyes are suddenly filled with worry. For what, I have no idea.

"Yeah," he sighs as he rubs the back of his neck. A twig snaps and my attention is switched to a person standing in the trees alongside the road that Alex and I are standing on.

"Alex, I see you've found a repast," a male voice floats to us. Alex steps in front of me protectively as I try and figure out what repast means. I have an odd feeling that it's important.

"You're wrong Zak," Alex growls. The man, Zak, jumps from the trees and onto the road. I take a step back, whatever thoughts I had about Alex being a maniac, psychic, or a stalker are gone and I have the sudden urge to go bury my head in his chest until it's all over. Right now Alex screams calming and safe whereas the other dude screams

disturbed and fear. Figuratively speaking.

"You weren't going to drink her blood?" Zak questions mischievously knowing fully that I'm listening. I think that's when I fainted. I feel Alex's burning hands catch my head before it hits the concrete and a second later I feel him being ripped away from me.

               Fighting, that's what I hear, growling, hissing, and an occasional groan of pain. I will my eyes to open but they refuse and I'm stuck listening to Alex fight off...well I don't want to know what. More come I think although they leave me alone for some reason. The more I listen the more I wish I could run away.

               A scream that is unmistakably Alex's echoes loudly and suddenly I don't feel so protected. Trust. Yeah not so much. A rumbling brings my thoughts back to the present and I have less than a second to realize what it is.

                A car. Too late. The obvious rip and unbearable pain let me know I've been hit. My mind clears for a split second and realization strikes. My stomach shrieks in pain and all the noise stops. All the noise stops.

               I think about that putting two and two together and I rapidly realize 2 things. 1, I'm bleeding, heavily and if I waste more time lying here I'm going to die and 2, I'm surrounded by who knows how many vampires. What a lovely thought. Not.

               It's at that second I feel Alex's hand pressing against my chest in a rhythmic beat. CPR. But I'm not dead. At least, I don't think I am but Alex just keeps going and he's shoving so hard I'm afraid he's going to crack my ribs.

"Come on Dakota, I can't hold my breath forever," Alex whispers. Why would he hold his breath? I feel him hesitate and I cough gently. He sighs and I'm off the ground again. I open my eyes and find his hazel ones staring back at me.

"Why do you have to smell so good?" He smiles and it takes me a minute to understand what he's saying. My blood. That's when I remember my stomach. I lean forward to look at it. It's at that point when I black out.

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