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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17. Chapter 17

Åłęx Tręńńåt, I write on a piece of paper. My tears stain the letters and they drip into funny shapes. But I'm not laughing. No. It has been 2 years since Alex died and I haven't gotten over it. I'm living with Sam and all the others. They don't bother me at all. I am writing a letter to my beloved, dead, Alex.
Åłęx Tręńńåt, Į wįłł åłwåÿš łøvę ÿøü ęvęń åś wę łåÿ øń øür dęåth będś. Ÿøü śhøwęd mę høw müçh füń bęïńg årøüńd ÿøü çøüłd bę. Wę håd wåÿ tøø müçh füń gęttįńg įńtø trøübłe. Į güęśś įf ÿøü hådń't fåłłęń øff å cłįff Į ńęvęr wøüłd håvę håd tø wrįtę thįś. Åńd åłthøügh mÿ tęårś śtåįń thįś pågę før ÿøü Į wįłł ńęvęr łęt ÿøü gø...
Yeah, ok so my tears smeared everything. What else is new. I can't even read it. Sighing I crumple the paper and throw it into the trash can. It hits with perfect accuracy but then falls out because my trash can is filled with crumpled papers from before. I lay my head on the table to stop it from spinning. I haven't felt anything since Alex died. My brain has become mush. I no longer feel emotion. I have become a killer. I kill my prey without batting an eye as I would have before. Of course, I usually prey on criminals. I sneak out late at night, usually once everyone else is either sleeping or gone. I no longer use the door. The window is so much easier. I leave at midnight and come back at dawn. I hear them talk. Well, of course I hear them talk, I'm a vampire. Sam says I've gone to extremes. Star thinks I need some sort of distraction. Dylan reassures them that I'll get over it but with each new day he grows more and more unsure. Naomi's opinion is that I have become mentally unstable. But then again, nobody asked her opinion. I make it a game to listen in on their conversations about me. I haven't spoken in the 2 years he's been gone. I think I've forgotten how to speak. I still feel him around me. When I kill my victim I hear him tell me to be more careful with my actions. I haven't bothered with any of that stuff yet I still manage to stay out of jail. Go figure. I feel Alex around me and yet the part of my mind where I hear his voice is dead. I don't sleep. When I do I end up waking with nightmares of watching Alex falling into the never ending hole with his eyes wide. Oh his eyes. His beautiful hazel eyes that widen in fear and panic. He leaves me awake battling the sheets on the bed and screaming my head off, shouting out his name. At first they'd come to check on me but soon they got used to my distressed calls. With my head still on the table I finger the pocket knife with the silver lettering. A slight knock on the closed doors alerts me and I slide the knife back into my pocket.
"You have a visitor," Sam says softly through the door. I groan but don't make a move to open it.
"Who is it?" I question grumpily. My voice it rough. I hardly recognize it. I have lately had an extremely short temper, which, is probably why everyone's been avoiding me.
"He says his name is Riley," she explains. I strictly have a no visitors policy.
"I don't want to see him," I retort. That's not true. I don't want him to see me. Or what I've become. Sam must have picked the lock because a few seconds later she comes in as if I had never locked the door in the first place. She's the first person to brave coming in here in the past two years. Sad, but true.
"You are a mess," she comments. I frown.
"What else is new?" I mumble darkly. She opens the curtains to reveal a beautiful sunset.
"The fact that you have a hot date waiting for you downstairs to take you out and you look like crap," she retorts as she digs through the closet looking for something for me to wear. I ignore her and pull the pocket knife back out. She runs a brush through my chestnut brown hair and I fight her.
"I don't want to go," I complain. Sam pretends she didn't hear and continues to rip the brush through my knotted hair. Once she's done she tosses me a nice dress she found in the closet.
"Get dressed," she orders. Defiantly I flip open the knife and point it at her threateningly. Lets just say I've become a little dangerous and irrational. That's another reason they don't dare come near me. A look of shock crosses Sam's face but my gaze only hardens. She can see that all weaknesses in me are gone. I no longer feel any hurt or sadness. Just anger and independence. I could kill her and not think twice about it. And she knows it. Still holding the dress I take aim. Just as I get ready to launch the knife right through Sam's neck an arm catches mine. 
"Put the knife down Dakota," Riley says slowly, deliberately. My heart pounds insanely as his voice echoes through my chest. I am mad. Not just angry but also insane. I realize that now. But I will never give up. Not now, not ever. Spinning I drop the dress and try to stab him in the stomach. His grip on my arm is tight and I only manage to pull myself closer to him. He doesn't let go of my hand and I still don't trust him. Two very stubborn people. I certainly will not back down first.
"Why are you here?" I growl. He doesn't smile, as Alex would have. Instead his expression is dead serious and his eyes are as enchanting as ever.
"I am here to take you out on a date. After seeing this I'm not giving you a choice on whether or not you want to come," he explains holding my gaze. Frowning I still am not giving in.
"Does it involve sky diving?" I demand. He looks slightly confused but nonetheless answers.
"No."
"Hang gliding?"
"No."
"Rock climbing?"
"No."
"White water rafting?"
"No."
"Alpine sledding?"
"No." 
"Bungee jumping?"
"No."
"Running away from the cops?"
"Hopefully not."
"Knife fights?"
"No, although you seem to like those."
"Entering the Olympics?"
"Definitely not."
"Stealing the Statue of Liberty?"
"Where are coming up with these ideas?"
"Crashing a wedding?"
"Is this what you do in your free time?" I consider this for a second. His eyes search mine intensely but I don't look away. Taking a deep breath in I break his grip easily and pick up the dress.
"Fine, I'll go," I tell him as I close the bathroom door slightly. I leave it open a little and I watch him. Riley smiles and nods to Sam as he exits. I roll my eyes. How did I ever agree to this? I change into the dress and use the mirror to zip it. Sam, hearing the zip, comes in and pulls make-up out of the drawer. In record time she applies some and shoos me out the door. I slip my feet into the high heels Sam chose. Trust me I never would have chosen them on my own. I turn and look at myself in the mirror. I see a beautiful woman wearing a gorgeous black dress that ends at her knees. She has perfectly straight chestnut brown hair and deep blue eyes that are filled with emotion. I don't believe it's me. It can't be. For one, the woman in the mirror seems happy. I am not. Second, the woman's brown hair is straight. Mine is not. And finally, the woman's eyes show no hurt or pain both physically and mentally. Mine, do. I stare, mesmerized at the person in the mirror and watch as she turns to greet someone. He steps into the view of the mirror wearing the waiters outfit he died in. I hold back my tears, now understanding why the girl is so happy. Sam comes to my side and puts her hand on my shoulder. I watch as the Alex in the mirror wraps his arms around the woman and she giggles. Her laugh sounds vaguely familiar. It's my own but I haven't heard it in so long I've forgotten the sound of it. He kisses her gently which only reminds me of him more.
"You called Riley didn't you," I say softly. I'm not mad, I just want to know. I watch as the two people in the mirror dance to music only I hear. It's a song I know. It's an odd tune. It was a song Riley sang. If I remember correctly the words went something like this,
Her heart is there
In the open plain
It needs to be protected
For the elephants are marching
Marching, marching
The elephants are coming
And her heart is there
Sam and I watch as the two dance to the melody of the song. It has odd lyrics.
"Yes," Sam answers the question I asked earlier. I nod slowly. I kind of figured she did. He wouldn't have come back for a messed up, dangerous, crazy in the head vampire. I know I wouldn't. Swallowing hard I turn my back to the mirror but the words of the song stick in my head. 'The elephants are marching/marching marching'. The elephants. I wonder if the elephants from the song are the same ones from the story Dylan told me. Riley's song brings back memories of all the nights spent by the waterfall. One time in particular stands out.
"Have I ever told you the story of the elephants?" He had asked. I had told him no so he told his story. Now, as I remember it, it is the same story Dylan told me. With only a few minor differences. I walk toward the door I have seldom used in the past 2 years. Jogging down the steps I am now on a mission. Riley waits at the door with both Eric and Dylan staring him down. I pull Dylan into the kitchen with enough strength to throw a bulldozer. He looks unbothered but I see a sliver of defense in his eyes. He fingers the steak knife in his back pocket. I'm hurt. He feels he needs to have a knife just to talk to me. Well, I guess I deserve it.
"When you were in jail and that man told you the story of the elephants," I begin. He relaxes and his hand drops so I continue.
"How long ago was that?" I demand. He is taken back by my change of tone but he is like Sam, afraid of me.
"Oh, couple hundred years I guess," he answers. Interesting. I find it odd that the stories match. It's suspicious. I turn to walk away but Dylan grabs my arm and pulls me back.
"Are you ok?" He questions. I contemplate lying but I don't have the energy.
"No," I tell him honestly. He pulls out his knife and places it in my hands.
"For protection," he explains. Confused I just stand there.
"Aren't you afraid I'll kill you with it?" I ask. He smiles.
"I'm making a bet on my life that you won't kill me," he replies. I slide the knife into a black holder attached to my thigh and walk back out to Riley. Dylan doesn't follow me out. Riley puts his arm around me and walks me to his car. He opens the passenger door and I sit. 
"How long are you going to be in town?" I ask him once he gets in. He starts the car and begins to drive.
"What do you mean?" He questions. I don't understand why he doesn't understand.
"Well, you're a con-man. You always have been so I guess I assumed you'd be leaving soon," I reply. He shakes his head in disappointment.
"A thief has to flee but a good con-man-"
"Can leave town whenever he wants," I finish for him. 
"I haven't forgotten," I remind him. He nods and continues driving in silence. I'm cautious, especially when he parks the car at a beach. He comes and opens my door silently. I follow him along the path that will lead to the ocean. The sea water rushes over itself in a hurry. Spray from the waves hits my face gently and I wipe it off. The sun sets in the horizon making the scene even more beautiful. For one second I let my guard down and enjoy life.
"I can't tell you how sorry I am about Alex. I know how much you liked him," Riley announces breaking the silence. My guard goes back up and a stray tear glides down my face. It's the first emotion I've felt in a while. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want him to talk about it. I finger the knife through my dress. I don't really want to use it but I will.
"Why are you bringing this up?" I demand, trying not to let him see my true emotions. He puts his hands up in defeat so I let go of the knife.
"I think I might have a solution that's all," he explains. I frown.
"A solution for what? Alex's death?" I retort. Riley flinches.
"No," he mumbles. I'm determined to get him to say this. I want him to say this.
"Say it," I spit. Ocean spray wets my dress as we walk further from the car. Riley still refuses to speak.
"Say it!" I repeat. He swallows noticeably and takes a deep breath.
"A solution for your new attitude," he mutters. I am not satisfied with that answer.
"What new attitude?" I ask enunciating each letter. Ocean water flows around my feet so I slip off my shoes and carry them. He's getting frustrated now.
"The fact that you can't get over this stupid idea that Alex has died!" He yells. I am silent. I wanted him to say that so much but now that he said it, it hurts. My chest aches with renewed sadness. Tears spill out of my eyes and I turn away from him. Riley's eyes soften and he tries to hug me.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I take it back," he tries. I back away from him. No one has hugged me in a long while. No one has even got near me let alone hug me. Riley puts his arms down.
"You can't take it back now," I remind him bitterly. He nods and puts his hands in his pocket.
"I just thought that maybe you could come live with me for a little," he suggests quietly. I'm shocked. Live? With him? He seems to sense my thoughts so he explains further.
"I recently bought a house. It's not far from here. It's got an ocean view and it's away from the city. I just thought maybe if you wanted to get away for a little while we could live there. We'd have separate rooms and you could visit your friends whenever you want," he describes for me. His eyes are dark in the poor light but I still see a flicker of hope enter them. I sigh.
"Sure," I say. Before I can stop him Riley picks me up and twirls me around. A small smile creeps onto my face and soon I am giggling. It feels nice to laugh and have fun. I miss it. Riley puts me down and faces me. I wrap my arms around his neck and hug him. After one surprised moment I feel him wrap his arms around me. We stay like that, in a peaceful moment, until the waves come crashing over our feet. I let out tiny screech as the freezing cold water soaks the bottom of my dress. It's not the dress I'm worried about it's the fact that I am literally freezing cold. I wade through the water as fast as I can Riley following. The water comes up to my thighs. Even for a vampire it's not that easy to get through this. I spot small icicles floating around in the water which only adds to the coldness. I slip on a seashell and fall into the water that is receding. Another smile appears as I beckon for Riley to come over. He comes and holds out his hand for me. I slide my fingers neatly into his and with all my strength pull him down with me. He falls, laughing, into the icy water. Now we're both soaked from head to toe and I lost my shoes. I don't even see them floating away somewhere. Oh well. I lay my dripping wet hair on Riley's shoulder and watch as the sun rises. He wraps his arm around my waist and I sigh. It reminds me of when we were younger. Another wave crashes over us and I swim to the surface. Riley appears a second later and we swim ashore.
"That was fun," he comments. I try to wring out the ends of the dress but I only end up ripping it. We jog back to the car and Riley drives off. I'm assuming he's going to his place because we don't seem to be going back to Sam's. We reach the house in a few minutes and I am taken aback by the beauty of it. It's literally in the middle of the beach but its all privately owned. The entire house is made of glass, for the most part. There are steel braces supporting the house. And stilts for when the tide comes in. I stare in wonderment as Riley leads me inside. The kitchen is small but it isn't needed. The living room has two tan couches and a flat screen TV in it. Riley leads me upstairs and opens a closed door.
"This is your room," he says faintly. I stare in amazement at the room. The floor is see-through along with the walls that face outside. The water swirls underneath the floor and I can see fish and seaweed in the ocean water. It truly is amazing. Like I said before, Riley never ceases to amaze me. It's so open and clear. I love it. I absolutely love it.
"When I die, this will all be yours," Riley whispers over the sound of the waves. I turn to him, confused.
"What do you mean?" I question. Why is he telling me this?
"I'm just saying, if I die anytime soon all this will go to you," he elaborates. I nod slowly. He takes a deep breath in and smiles.
"I'm going away for tonight, I'll be back. You can stay here if you want. There's a car in the garage and plenty of blood in the fridge. Just, don't go in the guest bedroom. That's the only room off limits other than that you have free rein," he states. He turns and leaves me in the room. I slip the knife out and place it on the dresser. Now that he said not to go in the guest bedroom I want to know what's in there. I feel like I'm in Beauty and the Beast. Don't go in the west wing. Don't go into the guest bedroom. I'm curious. Once again, curiosity killed the vampire. Well, I guess I'm already dead so...curiosity killed the killer? Never mind. I watch as Riley drives away through the clear walls. As soon as he's out of sight I race out the door and down the hall. I place my hand on the gold colored knob and attempt to turn it. It doesn't budge. Locked. Darn it. Well I can solve that problem on my own. I use all my strength but the door still refuses to open. It must be made of a special metal that vamps like me can't break through. Go figure. Riley must have known I would try to see what's in here. Hmmm. Now what? I press my ear against the door and listen inside. Nothing. No sound. Sound proof walls? Man, Riley is one step ahead of me each time. Wait! There's got to be a key right? Exactly! You can't have a door with no key. I leap down the steps in search of the key that will let me know what is behind that door. There is a burning crave, a hunger, a desire to know what is behind the door. I just have to know. A new sensation flits into my brain. It's not new, per se but it's old and foreign to me. This part of my brain hasn't been used in a while.
"Not yet," the words float into my mind. They swirl in my mind and make me dizzy. My heart pounds in my chest and I can almost smell the sweet scent wafting from his words. No. It's just my mind playing tricks on me. He can't be alive. I watched him fall off the edge of the cliff. Into the unknown. I slide into a chair in the dining room and watch as the fish swim below me. There's a phone on the table so I pick it up and dial Sam's number. She picks up after the first ring and her voice sounds excited.
"So, how'd it go," she prods. I think back to the events that happened and smile slightly.
"It went well,"  I reply. I hear a scream of happiness on the other end and I giggle softly.
"Yeah, I'm going to stay with him for a little while ok?" I tell her nonchalantly. Immediately the screaming stops. Sam comes back on calmer.
"It'll only be for a little while. And I will come visit often," I add quickly. Sam takes a deep breath in before answering.
"I guess it's for the better," she responds seriously. We are both silent for some time before she finally speaks up.
"Hey, have fun," she ends, all seriousness gone. I smile and hang up. What to do? That's a trick question. What I really want to do is find out what's behind that door. But Alex, or at least the Alex in my mind, told me not yet. So I will wait. Why? Because I love Alex. It's as simple as that. I stand, shakily, and make my way back up the steps. I push open my door and fall dramatically onto the bed.  Something cold and wet lands on my neck and I remember that I'm still soaked. I leap off the bed and sigh in relief when I see that the bed hasn't gotten dirty. Cautiously I open the closet and peek in. I find it full of clothes my size. Apparently Riley knows my size. Not surprising though, I guess. Pulling out a pair of jeans I slide the dress off my shoulders. It sinks to the ground as if in submission and I drop the jeans. The shower calls to me. I get in and turn on the water. It pours over my figure and washes out the sand in my hair. The sad part about taking a shower as a vampire is that taking 30 minute showers is practically impossible. I get bored quick and within a few minutes I'm out. I dry off and put the jeans on. I rarely wear pajamas to bed. Pulling a tank top over my head I crawl into the bed and bring the covers over my head. Even though it's dark out I'm not seeking darkness from the covers. I'm afraid of the nightmares that haunt me in my dreams. They torment me and play on my emotions. Closing my eyes I listen to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and soon I'm all but asleep.
                 'I walk on the smooth, packed down, wet sand. It gets between my toes and it feels weird. In the distance I spot a man standing, looking out along the shore. I can't see him clearly despite my vampiric senses. He doesn't turn to me so I walk a little closer. The man looks so familiar but yet so different. The closer I get the farther away he seems.
"Who are you?" I call into the loudness of the waves. The man tilts his head toward me and smiles the same mischievous smile that he always does. Tears slide down my face. Happy tears and sad tears alike. I run to him but I keep getting farther away. I can't run fast enough. The earth between us suddenly opens and Alex goes plummeting into it.
"No!" I scream'
I shoot up in bed and find I've messed up the sheets entirely. I take in the scene of the room. My heart pounds loudly and I can hear it above everything. A little girl stands in the doorway. Her chestnut brown hair hangs shoulder length and in her her green eyes I see wisdom. I wonder who she is. She doesn't say anything but comes to the edge of the bed and crawls in with me. I must still be dreaming. She can't be more than 5 or 6 years old. She picks up my head and lays it on her lap. She begins to stroke my hair and my eyes close instinctively. I hear her voice as she begins to sing softly. It's beautiful and amazing. It's better than any voice I've ever heard. The notes are clear and perfectly pitched.
"You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When the skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
So please don't take
My sunshine
Away," I listen as she sings. She sounds peaceful and unworried. I am suddenly drowsy and nothing is keeping me from sleeping.
"The other night dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke dear
I was mistaken
And I held
My head
And cried," I try to listen to the lyrics of the song I know well and the more I listen the more I wonder who this child is. She makes me want to sing with her. I haven't sang in a long time. I have an instant love for her. I open my mouth and sing. My voice sounds rough but it harmonizes well.
"You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When the skies are grey
You'll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine
Away," we sing together and I see her smile slightly. She continues to run her fingers through my hair and repeats the last words.
"Please don't take my sunshine away," the words enter my mind as both hers and Alex's. I start to fall asleep but she continues.
"You'll never know how much I love you," she whispers softly in my ear. 

 

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