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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16. Chapter 16

I thought I was dead. No, I think I am dead. I am currently lying on the ground with several stakes in me. Therefore my conclusion is that I'm dead. I feel terribly cold both inside and out. Sometimes something warm is wrapped around me but even then I'm still cold. I want to open my eyes but they don't like to listen. I get them to open slightly and darkness fills my eyes. I take a deep breath and flinch when pain attacks my sides. There's a small mumbling sound in my ear. It sounds like a voice but I can't distinguish it. The person repeats it and it takes me a while to processes what he's saying.
"Are you cold?" He asks. I can't respond to him but I'm frozen. I feel like an ice cube. Burning arms wrap around me and it warms my insides. I hear a loud crack and inside I scream with pain. My bones are beginning to heal. My spine has just reset itself and now my ribs are taking their turn. I feel my skin sewing itself back together around my thigh and shoulder springs back into its socket. Alex's arms still hold me tightly as I try to open my eyes. They refuse and I inwardly scream as my left foot goes back to being arched. Fire attacks my veins and I will his arms to move away. A burning fever spreads through me and I feel as though I'm covered in sweat. All of this is in the inside though, and on the outside I look peacefully calm. Alex doesn't let go and I wish I could make him let go. I can't breathe at all and I'm fighting for breath. My veins continue to heat up but Alex's burning arms won't let go. The more the heat increases the more I want to scream.
"Almost done," Alex mumbles into my ear. His voice echoes within my body rattling back and forth. The heat explodes and it feels as though a million tons of TNT were set off in my veins. Cool night air rushes into my mouth as I scream my head off. My body is weak and I can't support myself. I am suddenly freezing cold instead of burning hot. Alex's tries to calm me fail, and I keep screaming until finally I run out of breath. Tears run down my face periodically and I bury my head in Alex's chest. He strokes my hair softly and keeps his arms around me. 
"What happened?" I ask him quietly. My voice is rough and I don't recognize it.
"Castle exploded. And you didn't make it out in time. After a day I came back for you but when I asked Hannah if she could save you she said you were already dead. Of course, I didn't believe that so I ran off with you and we've been here, in the middle of the woods for about 3 months," he explains. I raise one eyebrow questioningly at him and he laughs.
"I knew you weren't dead because I could hear your mind. It was weird," Alex adds. I nod because I don't trust my voice anymore. There's one question I want to ask him but I don't like the sound of my voice.
"Why haven't you drank anything?" I ask him through my mind. He sighs and looks away.
"You've been deathly cold this whole time and the only way I could warm you up was to be warm myself," he replies. I nod but I can feel his restraint. He's been fighting himself this whole time. I realize the weakness I feel is what humans feel all the time. The weakness, the instability, the reason for being dependent all the time. I can't believe I was ever this useless.  Being a vampire gives you real power. And real danger. My former strength is returning slowly along with the heat that tells me I need blood. I can't imagine the pain Alex is going through. I take that back, I do. He's overheated. As am I. We need blood. Now. I jump to my feet and practically fall over. Alex catches me but I can feel he's weak too. I smile, he's definitely going to miss his strength. I know he understands what I'm trying to do. We're both weak, as weak as humans. We're basically are humans who drink blood. I miss my vampire self. I finally take a look around and find everything's blurry. I see the general shape of a hill beside the one we're on. I can't make out any details. Alex is squinting too so I'm assuming it's another vampire quality I'll miss. Despite my screaming bones and muscles I take off sprinting toward the hill. As a vampire I would have made it up the hill in less than a minute no worse for the wear. In my overheated vampire state though, it takes Alex and I 15 minutes and we're both out of breath. We rest for a while and I try to see anything past the horizon that looks familiar. Of course, I can't see anything past the bottom of the hill.
"Where the heck are we?" I question frustratedly. Alex gets up from the boulder he was sitting on and comes to my side.
"Not sure exactly," he pants. I sigh and lay my head on Alex's shoulder tiredly. Humans must need a ton of sleep. It's pitch black out but even I can see a dark green jeep making its way up the hill we're standing on. I signal for Alex to stay quiet and we split up to ambush the jeep. In the back of my head there's a fear of having to kill them. I make my way, silently down the hill. Ok, that's an overstatement, I made my way down the hill loudly. Luckily though the four people in the jeep are all drunk so they don't hear a thing. Or at least they don't care. I don't know the plan but I have a feeling it'll come easy.
"On the count of three," I hear Alex whisper in my mind. I nod and hope he can see me. Wherever he is. I'm hiding in the bushes beside the road ahead of the car.
"One," he starts. I get ready to go. I can survive getting run over. Right?
"Two," he adds. I mean, I don't have any other choices.
"Three," I say aloud. Closing my eyes I leap in front of the jeep just as it comes flying over the road. I prepare myself for the blow that never comes. I open my eyes and see that I have jumped into a ditch and I haven't even landed on the road. I'm an idiot! Stupid overheating. I missed. That would have never happened if I wasn't overheated. I run out onto the road and find Alex angry.
"What was that!" He shouts. I frown and my gaze hardens.
"It's not my fault you haven't got any blood for the past 3 months!" I retort. His eyes reflect my fury and I realize we're letting our prey get away. My eyes widen and Alex's do too. I spin around and run toward the car. Alex joins me and we run after the jeep. We catch up in minutes (not seconds) and Alex grabs the back bumper. I can still feel his anger but I'm not sure what he's doing. At this moment he's not as strong as he used to be. He'll never pull this off. He digs his heels into dirt road and I watch as he gets dragged through the road as the jeep continues to speed away. He lifts one foot and steps backward. The car skids against road as he holds it back from speeding away. I was wrong. Ok so maybe not having blood is affecting me more than him. He groans softly.
"Kick the tire out," he shouts. It takes me a few seconds to understand what he wants me to do. That's probably from being overheated. I plant 2 swift kicks on the tire and watch in approval as it goes flying off the side of the hill. Alex drops the jeep and it drives away. We watch as it insanely crashes into the hill. It probably doesn't help the driver is drunk.
"I didn't get all my strength from being a vampire," he smiles proudly. I laugh, that explains a lot. We race into the crash looking for humans. Three of the four are unconscious. The other is male and he runs off as soon as we're at the jeep. 
"I'll get him," I say as I jog after him. I move my legs faster and faster until I feel as though I'm flying. I'm not, of course, and I could run faster as a vampire but it feels pretty fast for me right now. I reach the male and launch myself at him. He stumbles and I've hit him with such a force he falls over. I hold him down with my knees and I pin his arms down with my hands. He struggles as he sees how wild I am. Something in me takes over and suddenly, I'm showing no mercy.
"Let me live! I have a dog!" He screams in terror. I stroke his face delicately.
"I believe the line is, I have a wife and 2 kids," I tell him. His eyes widen and he's shaking. I lower my lips to his neck slowly.
"I don't want to die!" He screeches. I sink my fangs into his flesh and enjoy the blood that gushes into my mouth. It's sweet and soothes my burning skin.
"I'm sorry," I murmur as his heart fails. I suck him dry. There's not a drop of blood left in his body when I finish him. I throw his body over the side of the hill and watch as it flies farther than I could have imagined. I've run about a mile to reach the guy and I can see Alex clearly. I feel my strength return and my aches and pains recede. Contrary to the time it took to get out here I make it to Alex's side in a second. He tosses me the female and I hungrily suck her blood. Once we both finish we climb back up to the top of the hill. 
"I feel bad about killing them," I tell Alex. He doesn't break my gaze.
"They were criminals, when I got them out of the jeep I found a stash of illegal drugs in the back," he answers. I'm puzzled because I can't tell if he's telling the truth or not.
"What happened to me," I ask. He looks away.
"You've lost all your talents except the one you and I share. How? I have no idea," he explains. I sit down from the shock. Alex wraps his arm around me.
"I'm sorry," he mutters. I try to hide my shock and stand.
"We need to go," I swallow hard. He stands and smiles.
"Race you to Sam's," he taunts. I can't back down from a challenge this easy to win. I smile and take off sprinting toward Sam's house which I can, proudly, see standing beautifully white in the pitch black darkness. I match Alex's pace effortlessly. Unlike Alex I have been able to run fast since I was little. As a human I could run 50 yards in 6 seconds. Alex looks over at me confused and I smile challengingly. He accepts and speeds up. Of course, I match his pace. You know, I'm a little disappointed he can't go faster. I say that, but I also know he's not showing me his fastest speed. But then again I'm not showing him mine either. My legs move in a blur and to any human watchers we would seem as fast as cheetahs. Right now I'm going at least 60 miles per hour and I can go faster. I'm bragging, I know. But how many people on this world can say they can run faster than 60 miles an hour. No one that I know of. Unless your a vampire that is. Alex pushes the speed faster and I adjust my speed to his. I yawn this pace is boring me. We've still got a few hundred miles left. Lets see how fast Alex can really go. I lean forward in the position of a sprinter and push the speed faster yet. My heart beats in sync with my feet and I enjoy the rush it gives. I haven't felt this much power in the longest time. Alex falls behind slightly so I smoothly change my gait so he can catch up. He takes that second to sprint ahead 2 or so miles. My jaw drops. I cannot believe he was holding back that much speed. His figure is readily disappearing from my view. Switching into hyper-mode I run full force at him. Now that I have a target to catch up to it won't be that hard. In exactly 9 seconds I'm once again at his side. I count. He looks surprised to see that I have caught up so quickly.
"See ya when you get to Sam's!" I shout with a smile on my face as I run onto the highway. It's packed with cars but that doesn't stop me. And anyway, the humans in the cars are too slow for me. I leap onto the roof of a nearby tractor trailer truck with ease. I crouch on the top and try to find Alex. He's a couple miles back so I decide to take a joy ride for a few seconds. I get bored so I go looking for more fun. Naturally this comes with jumping off the top. I stand and take a running start. As my feet hit the edge of the roof I push off with the strength of a vampire. I go flying off the roof and land, with perfect aim, on my feet, on the road. I sprint as fast as the silver Mercedes-Benz beside me. In the back I see a small little girl. Because I'm going the speed of the car (which is going 20 miles over the speed limit) she can see me. I smile at her and wave. She waves back and smiles shyly.
"Mommy! Look! There's a girl running beside our car!" She tells her mother, who is driving the car. Her mom shakes her head.
"Sweetheart, that's not possible. No one can run as fast as a car," she explains to her daughter who can't be more than 6 years old. I frown, that's not true. Alex must be in the area because I can feel in my bones that I'm going to make a very bad decision. The little girl smiles sadly at me and I nod to her. I sprint a few strides ahead of the car and do two front flips. The little girl claps wildly and I smile. Her mother though apparently doesn't see me. Frustrated, I jump onto the front of her car and she practically has a heart attack. I make my way around the side of the car and stand on the step. I place my hand on the window and force it down. She swallows, horrified, and I pat her shoulder reassuringly.
"You really should listen to your daughter more," I say to her. She turns her head toward me but I gently turn it back. 
"Eyes on the road at all times," I remind. Her daughter is laughing and clapping insanely. I force the window back up and grab hold of a truck that's going faster. Letting go of the silver car I ride away. Alex catches up and I leap onto his back. He grunts but carries my extra weight. I turn back to the little girl and find them still watching us. I stand on Alex's shoulders and take a test bounce. He continues at the same pace and I don't feel him stagger.
"On the count of three!" I shout over the wind made by cars. Alex nods ever so slightly.
"One," I yell. 
"Two," I add. I hope the little girl's mother sees this.
"Three!" I shout in excitement. I throw myself off Alex's shoulders and into a back flip. The mother's jaw drops in astonishment and I smile. I land perfectly on the road next to Alex. I run beside him but take the time to turn back to the girl's mother. She still has her jaw dropped and I here her mutter something along the lines of, "What are they teaching kids in school these days." I salute and sprint away in a blur with Alex at my side. We reach the dirt road in milliseconds. This is where the real competition starts. I let my full speed free and I make it to the driveway a full minute before Alex. I skid to a stop in front of the house and Alex just about runs into me. 
"I won," I gloat. Alex frowns and I laugh. Alex's frown turns into a mischievous smile.
"You wanna arm wrestle," he taunts. I punch his arm as hard as I can and we both end up laughing. I know I can't beat him in a competition of strength. A noise inside the house silences us. We share one look and I know we both think the same thing. We totally have to play a joke on the others. I take a step back and leap onto the balcony of the second floor. I open the glass doors quietly and step into the bedroom. On the ground I hear Alex ring the doorbell and Dylan answers it.
"She didn't make it," Alex tells him in a fake upset voice. It sounds totally realistic which leads me to believe he has prepared himself for this. I stay in the doorway and listen to them.
"Man, I'm sorry. I really am," Dylan tries to comfort. Alex lowers his head and Dylan gives him a pat on the back. 
"We all thought you were dead," Ben says. I catch my breath and spin around to see Ben lying on the bed. 
"Alex was the only one who wouldn't let it be that way," he continues. I swallow thickly and take a few steps inside.
"I'm glad you're alive," he adds. He stands and I find myself wrapped in a hug. I welcomingly accept his hug. His gray eyes shine with excitement as he leads me downstairs. As we reach the bottom step I let go of his hand. I laugh when I see Dylan's shocked expression. He looks back and forth between me and Alex before he finally gets the joke.
"You guys suck," he smiles. He shakes his head and turns, still smiling, into the kitchen. I follow him and see the remains of Pax Pugnatores. There are 14 of us not including me. Our numbers are diminishing quickly. Ben takes my hand but I let go, again, once I see Alex's threatening look.
"We need to go," Ben whispers in my ear. I give him a questioning look so he explains.
"The party, is tonight," he tells me. I had totally forgotten. I guess it's easy to forget this kind of stuff when you've been dead for 3 months.
"There's a dress upstairs for you," he adds. I nod slowly and make my way back up the steps. I feel Alex's gaze follow me up and I can't help but smile. I find the bedroom that was mine last time I was here and step in. I can almost smell the green vapor that filled the room when Alex and I were here. The dress lying on the bed is a beautiful white dress. As I hold it up I see it will hang right below my knees. It's simple yet exquisite in design. I slip my shirt over my head and toss it onto the bed. Sliding my pants off my waist I pull the dress up around me. Using the mirror in the back of the bathroom door I zip up the back. I'm not one to go crazy over dresses but this one might be the most beautiful one I've ever seen. A small knock at the door brings my thoughts back to the present. 
"You look beautiful," Ben's voice floats across the room. I spin around to find him wearing a white tux. If I wouldn't have known any better I would have thought we were going to a wedding. 
"Can I ask you a question?" I ask quietly. He smiles slightly so I continue.
"Where's your mark?" I interrogate. He slowly and methodically pulls his left sleeve up. Right above his elbow, on the inside I find the familiar red tipped silver flame. I stare, mesmerized, until he pulls his sleeve back down. I smile slightly as he takes my hand and leads me down the steps as my escort. Alex looks terribly jealous in his waiter outfit. I walk to his side and straighten his tie so it's straight. A smile plays on his lips and I kiss it quickly.
"I'll be fine," I reassure him as I follow Ben to the car. He catches my arm and pulls me back into his arms. I breathe his sweet scent and relax.
"I know," he whispers in my ear. He lets go and nudges me toward the car but not before handing me a gun and a knife.
"What do I do with it?" I question. Alex smiles and lifts the hem of my dress and slides the knife into a black holder attached to my dress. His fingers brush against my leg and I hold my breath until my heart slows back down. He drops the hem of my dress and hands me a purse. I give him a questioning look so he takes the gun from my hand and places it in the bag.
"It would help if you had some creativity," he teases. I smile and push open the door that will lead me into the waking world. Dawn light streaks across my face and my eyes droop. I'm exhausted even though I've spent the past few months sleeping. I duck into the backseat of the black Crown Victoria. I can smell the layer of coating that makes it bullet proof. Alex gets in the driver's seat and Ben hops in the back with me. As Alex pulls out of the long driveway I lay my head on Ben's shoulder. He doesn't seem to mind so I slowly fall asleep.
                                                 <><><><><><><><>
"Dakota," an urgent whisper breaks through my sleepy haze. I open my eyes to see Ben sitting beside me. I look out the window to see a small, deserted looking, house standing proudly in the middle of nowhere. I honestly didn't know there were that many places in the U.S that were in the middle of nowhere. It's sunset which leads me to believe that I've been asleep almost all day. 
"We're here," Alex tells me. I nod and step outside along with them. The redish orange light hits me and Ben and Alex both are staring jaw dropped at me. I smile inwardly and walk between them closing both their mouths. Opening the door I find that what looked like a small house is really very large. Loud music blares throughout the place and I'm surprised I couldn't hear it before. Someone rich clearly owns this place because everything is covered in gold. I smell no vampires in the room. That is, until Alex and Ben walk in. No sign of my sister. Yet. I split away from Ben and Alex and find a lone man sitting on a white couch. He has the distinct smell of a vampire and I am puzzled as to why I didn't smell him before. I sit beside him and he turns to look at me.
"So, do you know who this "Quello Vero" is?" I ask him, trying to make small talk. He takes the bait and answers.
"That would be me," he replies and my mouth drops. I cannot believe I seriously just asked that question. Inwardly I'm hitting my head against the wall. Strike one. He laughs as if my expression were funny. As if. Huh.
"I've been off grid for the past few decades, I was being chased by the police for suspected murder," he adds. I fake a smile and suddenly wish I could be anywhere but a room full of criminals.
"What about you?" He questions. I swallow hard and say the first thing that comes to mind.
"I wasn't following traffic laws," I say lamely. 
"Really?" He exclaims, shocked. My smile disappears.
"What?" I ask.
"Well, I just thought that since you're a vampire and everything you would have a more impressive crime," he responds. Strike two. If I keep going on like this I'll be dead by the time the moon comes out. I'd better pick a safe topic.
"So, um Quello Vero-"
"That's not my name," he interrupts me. His deep enchanting brown eyes meet mine and I know I've seen them before. I stare at his tan skin and short black hair trying to figure out where I've seen him before.
"Oh?" I sigh. Yeah, I've definitely seen him before. But where?
"My name is Riley," he responds in a tone I definitely recognize. I just need a few more seconds and I'll get it.
"And you?" He prompts. My brain feels hazy as I prod my memories for any recognition.
"Oh! Sarah," I answer. I've got it! A memory. Of my sister, Isabella and I. We were standing at the edge of a waterfall. The current pulling at the banks trying to convince us to dive off its deadly fall. The man, Riley, was closest to the water and we were trying to make him dive. He was older than us. Already 18. I was only 12 at that time but with my older sister by my side backing me up I felt fearless. Riley was desperate to show off. He would practically do anything we told him too. And I have to admit, he was kind of cute. He had confidence through the roof and he was more cunning than a fox. He had a wickedly cute crooked smile and his laugh was enough to shake my bones inside. 
"You can't do it! You're a wimp, you wouldn't jump the falls," Isabella teased Riley. Although Isabella did all the talking Riley's eyes never left mine. 
"I will do it under one condition," he suggested looking directly at me. 
"What?" I asked him. He smiled his ridiculously charming smile and replied.
"Dakota kisses me," he answered. My jaw dropped with shock so much I thought it was going to fall off. 
"No way!" I shouted in sync with Isabella. He took a step backward and I put my hand up for him to stop. A sliver of doubt creeped into my mind. What if he doesn't make the jump.
"We'll see about that," he muttered loud enough for me to hear it over the water fall. A mischievous smile grew on his face as he leaped backwards off the cliff. I was devastated. I never heard him hit the ground and I couldn't see him through the mist off the waterfall. I ran to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall and searched, despite Isabella's protests, for Riley. He was like a brother to me. Ok, maybe a little more than that. Ok, a lot more than that. He never ceased to amaze me. He always did exactly what he said he was going to do. His life and mine were intertwined throughout much of my teen years. He was my protecter and support. I found him lying on the side of the pool. He wasn't breathing. Or at least I don't think he was breathing. Now that I think about it I'm pretty sure he was already a vampire at that point. I had just taken a medical class on CPR so of course I did the first thing we learned. Yeah, that didn't work. I cannot believe what I did next. I did mouth to mouth. Ok so it wasn't the best idea. But it worked. Well...as soon as my lips met his he immediately kissed me back. It was a set up. And I fell for it. I fell hard for it. In the years following we met, often at night. We fell in love despite our various age differences. He never seemed to grow any older and soon I was 16. He practically disappeared off the face of the earth after that. It was sad. And I have to wonder if that's the reason I became a pessimist in the first place. After that a few years later I met Alex and everything kind of fell into place. I haven't thought of him in years. He doesn't seem to recognize me. Well, no one would. As a child I had blond hair. It wasn't dyed, it just turned brown over the years. But still, the first guy I ever kissed doesn't remember me.
"Hey, Sarah?" He says trying to get my attention. I slowly slide out of my memories in a haze, reluctantly, and stare into his seductive eyes, confused.
"Whose Sarah?" I question a second before everything comes rushing back. He looks terribly confused. That's strike three, I'm out. Thankfully Isabella walks in at that point which gives me an excuse to leave. 
"I need to go," I tell him as I stand. He catches my hand and I meet his irresistible eyes once again. 
"I've waited a long time for you Dakota," he murmurs. Although I'm touched by his remark I'm a little shaken that remembers my name. Something about the way he says it both draws me in and raises some flags. I break his grip before I end up going with him. Alex joins my side as I walk determinedly toward Isabella.
"Who was that?" He interrogates worriedly. He's worried about Riley. Or about me. I'm not sure. Riley's reply rings through my ears and pierces my soul so hard I might just fall over. Isabella leaves out the back door. I know Riley won't follow, he never has.
"No one," I answer. Alex doesn't believe me but he doesn't question further. He slides his arm around my waist and leads me out the back door. I lay my head on his shoulder, thankful he's here. I don't know what I'd do with out him. Well, that's not true. I would've walked right out of here with Riley. It upsets me that he came back. He literally fell off the face of the earth. There were newspaper articles saying he died. And yet here he is, all healthy and perfect. The end of Dylan's story runs through my head uncertainly. "That night the man was murdered by one of his elephants. All the police blamed it on the elephant that had turned evil but that wasn't the murderer. The other elephant who had been forgotten and faded from people's minds killed the man. The police took no notice though because they thought the calm, sweet elephant everyone loved could not be the killer. So they set that elephant free and sent the other off to be killed. Right as they heard the shot, they realized something very important. They had killed the wrong elephant and the real killer, they had set free.' My heart keeps matching Riley's voice to the elephants. But why? He clearly still loves me so why would he kill my friends. I don't get it. Wait! I do remember, Riley told me that story once when we were out by the waterfall one time. So he's not the one trying to kill my friends I just recognized his voice. We reach the edge of a cliff and I peer over the side. I can't even see the bottom so it must be at least 15 miles down if not more. I kick a pebble over the side and listen for it to hit the bottom. Either it never does or it's so far down I can't hear it.
"Stop right there!" I hear Isabella shout. I slowly turn and my jaw drops in astonishment when I see Ben being used as a human shied. Or should I say, vampire shied. A gun is pointed at both his head and Alex's.
"I'm sorry it has to be this way Dakota," she adds as she shoots Alex in the foot. It seems to happen in slow motion. Alex steps back in pain and his foot slips off the edge of the cliff. His arms grab the air frantically as if he could catch hold and be safe. As if there are invisible handles waiting for him to pull himself up.  I can't move fast enough. His body slides down the dirt cliff and the fingers of my left hand only brush across his shoulder. I drop to my stomach and throw my right hand out as if it were the last safety raft. My delicate yet strong fingers barely manage to catch Alex's arm below his elbow. His eyes show with panic, an emotion I've never seen from him before. He struggles to pull himself up because the dirt sides crumple beneath his weight. His left foot bleeds heavily as he tries to shove it into the earth. It slips and his arm slides from my grip. I hold on tighter but I can't pull him any closer to me. Isabella throws her one gun toward me. It lands just short of my reach. The only way I could reach it is if I let go of Alex. But I will never let go of him. Not in a million years. I hear her remaining gun click which brings my attention back to Ben.
"Choose Dakota. Choose who you want to save," Isabella taunts. This is what people call a catch-22. I can save Alex, at the expense of Ben or I can save Ben and drop Alex. Alex falls further into the hole and tears drip from my eyes. Everything feels slow. With each new tear that falls onto his handsome face Alex grows farther and farther from my grasp. Farther away from where he is safe.
"Why are making me do this?" I ask through my tears. I see a sliver of sympathy cross her eyes which leads me to believe she's never changed from the 16 year old who dared Riley to jump off the waterfall.
"It has to be done," she replies vaguely. The only thing keeping Alex from falling off the cliff is my fingers. The sound of my breathing pounds in my head along with my heart. They beat in sync with Alex's heart. He's afraid, I can tell but he'll never let on. I want to save Ben but that means dropping Alex. Alex gives one last kick upward but it fails and his arm is thrown from my fingers.  I watch in horror as he free falls into the blackness below. His eyes reflect my horror and shock and his lips are opened in soundless scream. The silence of his scream pierces my heart and attacks my soul. His arm extends toward me in hope. In hopes that I will reach out and catch him. Save him. I stretch farther off the cliff side in attempt to grasp his waiting arm but I miss. He slams into the darkness of the hole. Vanishing into nothingness. His body is covered by darkness and my screams follows him down. I scream my lungs out telling him to stop falling. To be safe. I strain my hearing down with him but I never hear him hit the bottom. He disappears into the blackness and I can no longer see him. The image of his horror-filled eyes and soundless screams stain my mind. The image is ingrained there, taunting my with its veritable sincerity. My soul leaves with Alex and I cry real, clear, tears for him. I reach for the gun that will save Ben but before I reach it Isabella pulls the trigger. Ben crumples lifelessly to the ground and I scream. I'm crying now and I do nothing to control it. Isabella drops her gun and stares into my tear filled eyes. I am surprised, my tears for Ben are red and bloody. I hold the gun shakily and take an unstable breath in.
"Are you happy now?" I interrogate in a crying voice.
"Now that you've ruined my life," I continue. She only stands still. It's almost as if she died too.
"I wish you had never been in my life. Then my life would still be perfect," I add as I take a ragged breath in.
"Be careful what you wish for my dear sister, because your perfect life might come back to haunt you," she responds. My jaw drops and she walks past me leaving the gun behind.
"You will always be my little sister. And I will always protect you," she comments to me as she leaves. I am so confused, she the one who's been causing all this trouble in the first place. How is she protecting me? I stumble back to the Crown Victoria we came in. I sit in the driver's seat and cry for 5 hours before I finally have the sense to drive back to Sam's. Once I get to the driveway I sit there and cry for a few more hours before I have the nerve to face those indoors. I stand at the door and listen in. I don't hear anything so I cautiously open the door and stumble inside. Alex isn't here to catch me anymore. This makes me cry more which in turn makes me stumble more. I make it to the kitchen before I crash into the bar. Crumpling to the ground I stay there sobbing. The light is flicked on and Sam towers over me with her hands on her hips.
"Leave me alone," I grumble. Sam shakes her head and holds out her hand for me. I take it and she pulls me to my feet. Taking a seat at the bar I lower my head to the table top. Sam opens the fridge and pulls out a clearish yellowish liquid. It looks and smells exactly like the same as the stuff Jay made me drink. She pours a glass for each of us and sits beside me. She takes a swallow of it with no problem so I take a chance and take a sip. It doesn't burn as it did before. This confuses me.
"What is this?" I question as I drink another sip. Sam swallows before answering.
"It's Jay's. You can drink it in place of blood. This used to be all he'd ever drink," Sam replies. I turn to her and see my own tear stains on her face. Seems like I haven't been the only one crying. I take another sip and flinch as it stings a little.
"It's terrible," I comment. Terrible but addictive. I like it. Sam takes a long drink and new tears spring from her eyes.
"S'an acquired taste," she laughs under her breath. I look on in confusion so she explains.
"That's what Jay would have told you," she answers my unasked question. I nod and a smile appears on my lips because she's right. That's exactly what Jay would have said. It warms my heart to know that someone else is also struggling over his death. To know that I'm not the only one.
"When I first joined you guys why did you hate me so much?" I ask not really sure why. She smiles.
"I didn't hate you, I was jealous of you and Alex. You two seemed so happy and I was jealous of that," she explains as she drinks more out of her glass.
"Alex is dead," I tell her. I don't know where that came from but it just seemed right to tell her that.
"You'll get over it," she mutters darkly. I swallow another mouthful of the liquid.
"Did you?" I ask bitterly. She lowers her head to the table and I see her tears drip onto the counter top.
"No," she whispers. 

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