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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8. Chapter 8

                                             Chapter 8 (three and half years later)
I jump down the steps and into the kitchen. Amber already left for work and I know I'll have to leave soon too. I open the fridge and pull out a glass filled with a red liquid. I down it and sigh as my fever breaks. I set the glass in the sink and rinse it a few times. I wipe my hand on a towel and toss it onto the table. It slams into my bag and I leap toward it as it begins to fall off the table. I just manage to catch the bag but not before everything crashes to the floor. I bend over to pick up the objects when something catches my eye. I reach for it and find it's a pocket knife. I run my finger over the silver lettering and try to remember what it means. Oh well. I shove the knife in my bag and run to catch the bus. I make it to the bus stop in 2 seconds. Literally. I think it's a record. Smiling I walk onto the bus and find an empty seat. I notice a man wearing a baseball hat sitting in the seat beside mine. He's fiddling around with a necklace. The pendent is a blue gem. The man is wearing a black short sleeve shirt even though its like 40 degrees out. He turns to me and his hazel eyes search mine intensely until I turn away. I think I know him. I pull out the pocket knife and examine the letters again.
"I think we've met before, my name's Alex," the man leans over to my seat. I shove the knife into my bag and turn to him.
"I'm sorry, I don't know an Alex. My name's Anna," I make up. That's a lie. I do know an Alex. Or at least I did know an Alex. But he left long ago and is probably half way around the world by now. Who knows. Who cares. I don't. Amber tells me it was all fake. That I imagined it all. I turn back to the window.
"Not it's not," he responds calmly. I freeze. This isn't the same Alex. Alex doesn't exist.
"I'm sorry. I don't know you so you have no right to tell me that's not my name," I retort as I turn back to him. He's in my seat now and he wraps his cool hands in my hair. I pull away and slap him. He looks surprised and I take that second to jump over him into the aisle. I jog down the aisle clutching my bag tightly and I walk out the doors just as the bus driver closes them. I turn to the bus and see the guy sprinting down the aisle but the bus moves on and he gets shoved into a seat. I smile as I see his worried expression pressed against the glass. I start walking toward the restaurant I work at. I push my way through the doors and I immediately see the long line. I walk back to the restrooms and get changed. I walk back out and get ready to seat tables. I look at the line again and sigh. It's going to be a long day. I step behind the counter and get ready to seat.
"How many?" I ask in a fake cheery voice.
"One," I hear his voice. The man from the bus. He's here except he's not wearing a baseball hat anymore. I turn away from him.
"This way," I gesture for him to follow me.
"Anna," he starts.
"I'm sorry you must have me confused with someone else. My name's Vivian," I tell him. He sighs frustratedly.
"I just talked with you on the bus," he growls. I see him clench him fist.
"You must be mistaken, I walk to work," I say. This is fun to watch him struggle.
"Vivian," he tries.
"Would you like fries with that," I ask. Inside I'm laughing so hard it's not even funny. Alex grabs my arm.
"Sir, you need to let go," I caution. He stares into my eyes a second but lets go. I seat him and walk to the back to place his order. My manager stops me before I make it there.
"Dakota, you're fired," he tells me. I nod and run to the bathroom to change. Normally I'd be upset but not today. Someone else can serve Alex. I certainly don't want to. I run out the back to the parking lot just as Amber pulls up. I fling open the car door and hop in.
"Go, go, go," I panic as I see Alex walk out the back door.
"Dakota, I do follow the law," Amber reminds me. I pull on my seatbelt just as Alex reaches the driver's side. He knocks on the window and Amber turns to me questioningly. I shake my head no but she only shrugs her shoulders. I grip the gearshift and put the car into reverse. The car starts rolling down the parking lot and Alex jogs to keep up.
"Dakota," Amber hisses in a disapproving tone. She stops the car and rolls down the window. 
"Dakota, please wait I can explain," Alex pleads. I frown at him as Amber gives us questioningly looks.
"Wait! You want 'me' to wait. Alex I waited three and a half years for you. I cried bloody tears when I finally figured out you weren't going to come back. I survived though. But no I will not wait Alex. I have waited long enough," I retort. Amber's eyes widen as she realize who I'm talking to.
"You, you, you," she stutters. I launch forward and catch her just before her head would have hit the steering wheel. Her foot falls off the brake and the car starts rolling down the parking lot again. I glare at Alex.
"Now look what you did," I growl. He reaches through the window and unlocks the door. He opens it and picks up Amber. I jump over the console and stop the car. Alex gets in the passenger seat and I speed off toward my apartment.
"Dakota, slow down your going 40 miles over the speed limit," he warns. I slow down and take the time to look over at him.
"It's a habit," I explain. He nods and turns away. I smile because he looks so uncomfortable. As soon as I pull into the drive way Alex coldly opens the door and carries Amber inside. I turn off the car and walk inside. Alex has put Amber on the sofa and he turns to me. He avoids my gaze and instead stares at the kitchen. I roll my eyes and start up the steps.
"Where are you going?" Alex questions. I turn to face him.
"Upstairs idiot," I retort and continue to walk up the steps. He looks hurt but he turns away and sits on the couch. Once I reach the top of the steps I sigh. I grab a pillow and scream into it a few times before I hear Alex shift uncomfortably downstairs. I pull the pocket knife out of my bag. Promise me. It reads in Latin. Promise me what? That I'll ditch you for three and a half years and then expect you to come running back into my arms. No thanks. I'll pass. I pull out a folded piece of paper. I unfold it and read the letters. Look it up. I frown and open the knife. I put it to my wrist and cut. Black blood spills out and onto the page. White letters become apparent and I read the letter.
It says promise me. Promise me I will find you alive. Dakota, promise me I can love you forever. Promise me we will have forever. I will come for you. -Alex 
"I thought you had already read that," Alex's voice comes from behind me. I'm crying now. I honestly have no idea why. Alex walks over and sits on the bed. I crumple the paper and wipe my tears.
"I'm sorry," he apologizes. I close the knife and shove it in his hand.
"Get out," I order. He just stares at me dumbly. 
"Do you really think this is going to make up for all those years you weren't here? Get out!" I yell. Alex gets up and I shove him out the door. He jogs down the steps and I follow him. Amber's up and she watches me and Alex bicker.
"Go," I shout. Alex refuses to go out the front door.
"Dakota," he tries. I try to shove him out the door but he doesn't budge.
"You've gotten stronger," he comments. I frown at him and he smiles.
"Go away," I growl as I kick him in the gut. His smile disappears. He grabs me and holds me against the wall. He's so close it's just like old times. I almost forget I'm mad at him. I'm breathing heavily from trying to push him out the door. His breath interlaces with mine and I smell his sweet scent.
"I will call the cops," I threaten as he leans in.
"Self-defense," he mutters, his breath tickles my neck and I feel his lips against my cool skin. I smile at his comment and he continues to kiss my neck. His lips make their way up my neck and I remember what I was doing.
"Leave," I whisper. He ignores me and his lips continue to move.
"Please," I add. It comes out as a sigh and that seems to only encourage Alex.
"Alex, please be kind enough to leave my sister alone," Amber tells Alex. He stops right at my mouth and pulls away. I grab the counter to hold myself up because I honestly don't trust my legs to stay put. Alex turns to Amber and she looks scared. Maybe him being a vampire is scaring her. He takes a deep breath and nods. He turns back to me and stares at me with his hazel eyes mischievously. I hold back my smile as he sets his crumpled note on the counter. He walks out the door without another word. Amber runs into my arms and I hug her tightly.
"I'm sorry I didn't believe you," she whispers through her tears. Her nice normal clear tears. I accept her apology because of everything's she's been through in the past 24 hours. I feel something in my back pocket and reach back to pull it out. It's the pocket knife. The same one I shoved into Alex's hands upstairs. Tricky.
"Thanks," I murmur to Amber. She pulls away and stares at my questioningly.
"For what?" She asks. I laugh.
"For getting Alex out of here," I say. She laughs with me.
"You didn't seem to be getting  anywhere yourself," she giggles. I smile. She's right, if she hadn't said anything Alex would still be here. And I would still be in his arms. He would still have his arms around me.
"You didn't mention he was cute," Amber says. I roll my eyes.
"Hungry?" I ask. She nods so I make her spaghetti. I also down another cup of blood but Amber doesn't complain like she usually does. I press the power button on the tv and the screen comes to life with the news report. Boring.
"Jailbreak! 12 prisoners recently escaped from jail and they took 3 guards with them. One guard, identified as Gavin Longe was found dead by a knife in the heart. Two of the prisoners, Cassandra Amare and Dylan Serane are thought to have led the escape," the news reporter announces. I snort, if only they knew. Wait, that information is over three years old. Which means they just now found the museum. That means they probably traced the black van to the vampire jail. Once they reached the jail they would have realized that they only "food" they carry is blood. That means...
"Crap," I mutter as I leap from my seat. All our covers could be blown. The news reporter shows pictures of the people involved. I notice that my grandmother's picture is missing. Other then that the rest of us are there. I snatch the note from the table and scan it looking for a phone number or something to contact Alex with. Nothing. There is absolutely nothing that I could contact him with. I see Amber's face pale as her human eyes finally finish reading the names.
"We're not safe here are we," she realizes. I stop searching for a phone number and watch as she tears up.
"Don't worry, I'm getting us out of here," I reassure. Think Dakota think. I've got it! My connection with Alex could work. I haven't tried since I was at my parent's place with Alex. I sit on the chair and close my eyes.
"What on earth are you doing?" Amber questions. I can tell she's starting to freak out.
"Shhh," I order and I try to focus on the figurative 'rock' over my mind. "Trust me," I remember Alex's words. That's not exactly easy since he ditched me. I focus on his brownish blond hair and stunning hazel eyes. I smile as my imaginary Alex laughs. He's wearing his usual black short sleeve shirt and he reaches out to me. His lips move but I don't hear him. His smile has disappeared and instead he seems serious. His lips move again but I still don't hear anything. Too bad I'm not a lip reader or a mind reader for that matter. I focus on him as he says it again. This time he says each word slowly. I start to understand what he's trying to say. What's wrong? He says. Or at least that's what I think he said.
"Our covers are blown," I tell him. He frowns and puts his hand to his ear. He can't hear me. Darn it.
"Come," I mouth. He nods and his figure disappears.  I open my eyes to find Amber staring at me, wide eyed and jaw dropped.
"You, you, you. You disappeared!" She stammers. I raise one eye brow questioningly.
"One second you were here with your eyes closed and the next you weren't. It was weird because you literally left. There was no one sitting there," she says I frown at the same time I hear a car drive into the neighborhood.
"He's here," I breathe.
"Who? Aren't you going to explain?" She drills. Of course. I forgot she can't hear like I can.
"Alex. When I disappeared I met up with Alex only we couldn't hear each other so I told him to come here," I explain. Alex pulls into the driveway ad slams the car door shut.
"What? We just go rid of him! Ok whatever but just be careful around him. You are definitely falling head over heels for him," Amber lectures. I smile as I hear Alex walk up the front steps. I open the door just as Alex reaches up to knock.
"Back so soon," I tease. He smiles puts his hands in his pockets. I block the doorway with my arms as he steps forward.
"Password?" I question. His eyes glimmer mischievously. His arms wrap around me but I push him away. He's smirks and steps inside. I frown but follow him back inside. 
"So you called?" He asks turning back to me. I tell him about the news report and how our covers are blown. Alex listens while Amber paces.
"We'll have to go to Castle," he says decisively. I nod.
"I'll go pack," Amber decides. I grab her arm as she turns to head up the steps.
"Nope. We're leaving now," Alex says and I frown at him.
"She is not coming with us," I argue dropping her arm. Amber's eyes widen and Alex shakes his head.
"I'm going!" Amber announces decisively at the same time Alex blocks me from taking the car keys off the counter.
"We kind of have to take her," Alex starts as he holds the keys just out of my reach. Frustrated, I leap forward for the keys but just at the last second he moves them and I see a smile grow on his lips. He thinks this is funny- wait! He said she has to come with us. 
"Now wait a minute," I growl as I back Alex against the wall, " 'we' don't have to do anything. 'I' am not letting Amber come. I don't care if 'you' are, 'you' are not her sister. I am." He swallows and rubs the back of his neck uncomfortably like he always does.
"Dakota, Amber is already a member of Pax Pugnatores," he tells me gently. My grip on his arm (which I didn't realize I was holding) loosens and I turn on Amber who looks like she'd rather be anywhere but here. I take a step toward her in anger and Alex catches my arm as I raise it. My anger fades and turns into sadness.
"Why Amber? Why. Mom and Dad have been trying to keep you away from this world of horror," I breathe. She lowers her gaze to the ground and sighs.
"I guess I just followed in my older sisters' footsteps," she retorts bitterly. Her comment stings my heart and I stumble backward with realization. I am a terrible role model. Why haven't I seen it before? I mean, I ran from home at 16, barely managed to get a job and then got myself stuck in the vampire world against my family's wishes. I hold back my tears and rip the car keys from Alex's hands.
"Lets go," I whisper as I leave. I get into the drivers seat and start the car just as Alex and Amber come out. Alex gets in the passenger side and Amber sits in the back. I quickly back out of the driveway and speed out of the neighborhood. I'm not breathing so I can hold my tears back and I'm running out of breath. True vampires can hold their breath much longer than humans but that doesn't mean we don't breathe. Alex grabs my arm and I catch his worried gaze.
"Breathe," he murmurs. I hold his gaze and relax. I'm still shaking but I've started breathing again. In my peripheral vision I see the car in front of me slam on it's brakes. I whip around and press the brake hard. The front of Amber's car smashes into the car ahead of us. The driver angrily slams his car door shut and comes over to us.
"If I told you to stay in the car would you?" Alex states. He opens the door and walks over to the man. I get out and follow him.
"Course not," he mutters. We stand across from the driver and listen as he lectures us. He gives us the whole because-your-a-teenager-I'll-let-you-off-the-hook-this-time speech while I stand there and fiddle around with a loose string on my shirt.
"Wait! I've seen you two before," the man frowns as he tries to figure it out. Alex and I share a knowing glance before I sneak back to the car. The man doesn't seem to notice as I reach into the back seat.
"Amber," I hiss. She jerks her head but doesn't wake up. I shake her hand a few times and she opens her eyes sleepily.
"What's going on," she asks confused. I glance at Alex. I see the man shove Alex with a smug look on his face. That smile disappears when Alex doesn't move and inch. Our covers are blown. I strain forward to catch their conversation.
"You know there's a reward for bringin' you two in. They say your dangerous. Always hungry," he says lingering on the last word. Alex turns and runs toward me. My eyes widen and I duck out of the way as a spray of bullets follow him. The window of the car shatters and pieces of glass fly into my face. Alex throws Amber over his shoulder and turns back to me.
"On the count of three we run. Got it," he explains. I nod and focus on the busy road we have to cross.
"One," he whispers. I get ready to sprint.
"Two," I mutter. The only to sounds are the constant bullets pounding at the door and my heart that's beating loudly.
"Three," he barely finishes before we take off at speeds faster than a race car. The man looks incredibly shocked but we keep running. I push myself faster and faster until my legs have a hard time keeping up. I feel as though I'm flying I'm going that fast. I follow Alex for hours. We don't stop running until we reach a waterfall in the middle of no where. I slow to a jog and pant heavily. I jump up and down a few times.
"That was fun," I laugh. I see Alex trying to withhold his smile. He sets Amber down on the ground.
"Come on, tell me you didn't miss the look on that guy's face!" I giggle. I see it, Alex's smile starting to appear. He tilts his head to the sky trying to hide it from me. 
"I so ran faster than you," I taunt. That does it, Alex smiles mischievously. I smile back and he launches himself at me. I jump gracefully out of the way and he stumbles forward. As I race away up the side of the waterfall he follows. I reach the edge of the cliff and don't hesitate. I throw myself off the cliff recklessly. Out of the corner of my eyes I see Alex pause but a second later he jumps off with me. The waterfall roars beside me but I still hear Amber's gasp. I hold my breath just before I smack into the cold water. I bob to the surface just as Alex hits the water. The water swirls around me and I fight it to swim back up to the surface. Alex has disappeared and I wonder if he never came up. I tread water as I try to figure out where he went. Suddenly arms wrap around my waist and pull me down. He pulls me to the surface again and I laugh. I swim to the shore and climb out. As I climb out I lie on my back on the pebbles. He lays down beside me and I sigh softly. This is perfect. I wish I could just freeze time here. Never leave. The smile on my face isn't forced and I actually have a hard time controlling it. 
"That was fun," I pant. Alex smiles and turns on his side to face me.
"Exhilarating," he laughs. I laugh with him. These are the moments of life I live for. Amber stumbles over to us. I can almost see her thoughts. "You two scared me to death! Dakota, jumping off cliffs is not a safe idea. Alex you shouldn't have let her do it," she'll say. Alex and I will just laugh and she'll frown at us. Amber finally reaches us.
"When are you two going to realize that you will only kill each other by being together?" She lectures. My smile disappears and so does Alex's. That was not what I expected. Why can't she just let me be. I'm finally happy after three and a half years. Why can't she just let me be here, with Alex, laughing. Amber storms away and Alex and I are left staring at each other questioningly.
"Now what?" I ask. Alex smiles slowly.
"We wait," he says. I sigh, I hate waiting. It takes too long. Alex gets up and I follow him into the woods. Amber finds us and follows us. Alex stops in front of a wood cabin. It's hidden by flowery vines and beside it lies a medium sized lake. I gasp. It's beautiful honestly.
"It's beautiful," I say my thoughts out loud. Alex grabs my hand gently.
"Not as beautiful as you," he murmurs. Amber rolls her eyes but I don't care.
"We'll be living here for a few months," he explains. I smile, I could get used to this. Alex leads us inside and the first thing I notice is the aroma. It smells wonderful. I'm drawn to the smell but I stop myself when I realize part of that smell happens to be Amber's blood. I can pick out Alex's blood smell too. A lady walks down the steps and I jump. Alex lets go of my hand and stiffens. The woman has long curled black hair and stunning blue eyes. She has freckles and her skin is very pale. Her lips are blood red. She's a vampire I can tell. If I didn't know any better I would have thought she was Snow White.
"Hi, my name is Starleah but you can call me Star for short. You must be Dakota," she says. Alex rubs the back of his neck like he always does when he's uncomfortable.
"Um, Dakota, Amber, this is my...girlfriend," Alex introduces her. Amber shoots me a knowing look. I freeze. Suddenly my perfect world just flipped upside down and turned into a nightmare. Alex got a girlfriend while I was gone. Great. I frown at her as she walks over to Alex and intertwines her hand with his. Alex smiles but it looks forced. I put on a fake smile too and she leads us into the kitchen. My heart feels as though it was pierced by a wooden stake. It hurts like crazy but it won't kill me. Unfortunately. The pain is so bad I feel like sitting down. That would only make me seem weak though so I wrap my arms around my ribs and stare defiantly at Alex who is purposely avoiding my gaze. He stands there and tries to avoid the fact that I'm burning. That's alright. I like the way it hurts. It reminds me I'm alive. Star gestures for us to sit at the table and I'm thankful. I sigh and crumple into the chair. Alex gives me a worried look so I sit up straight even though it just about kills me. I'm still holding my sides. I'm afraid to let go. If I do I'm afraid I might fall apart. Everyone else sits and Star brings around glasses of blood for everyone except Amber. She gives Amber tea. She seems nice except for the fact that she took Alex from me. Maybe I should sort through my thoughts first. For all I know Star could be a mind reader. Where's Jay when you need him. I sip the blood and wait for someone to fill the awkward silence. No one does. Of course, leave it to me.
"I'll give Dakota the grand tour," Alex says. My mouth drops. Star nods and smiles as Alex leads me up the steps.
"So, how long have you two know each other?" I inquire. Alex ignores me.
"2,3 years?" I continue.
"Dakota-"
"Where'd you meet," I question. 
"Stop," Alex orders as he shoves me against the wall. I let out a small gasp because his shove brought on another wave of pain. He lets go.
"Do you...love her," I pant as I clutch my side. Alex's gaze softens. I crumple to the floor as the pain increases.
"It's...complicated," he replies as he leans down to me.
"Complicated?" I manage to get out before I gasp in pain. 
"Are you ok?" He asks me. I groan as my ribs scream out. Alex gently gets me to stand and leads me to a bedroom. He lays me on my back on the bed. I hold my breath because that seems to get rid of the pain. Alex lifts my shirt and his eyes widen.
"What?" I ask. His cold fingers brush against my ribs and I scream silently.
"A piece of glass is lodged in between your ribs. Every time you take a breath the glass digs deeper into you side. Because your a vampire your body is trying to heal but it can't because the glass is still in here," he explains. I try to nod but it turns into scream. I hear Star shift downstairs and I know she heard.
"So, I shouldn't breathe," I smile sarcastically. He frowns at me but I see the beginning of a smile on his lips. I'm breathing heavily. Alex begins to pull the glass out and I shriek. Alex winces every time I scream. I can feel my flesh trying to mend itself back together but the glass rips away at the new tissue. Alex works meticulously to get the glass out. I try to hold back my screams so he doesn't look so worried. Finally he holds up a piece of glass that's about 7 or 8 inches long. I'm surprised it didn't puncture anything major.
"You didn't know this was in your side?" Alex smiles. I take a deep breath.
"Guess not," I laugh and then cringe. His smile disappears.
"You should probably get some rest. It'll heal by morning," he says gently as he leaves the room. I look out the window and see it's dark out. I hear Star lead Amber upstairs and a few minutes later I hear Amber's gentle snores. I watch out the window as the lake water gently rolls over itself. The full moon looks blue and it's beautiful. I slip open the window and jump out. I hit the ground with a soft thud and wince as pain shoots through my side. As I walk to the edge of the lake and sit on the bank the moon dances in the reflection of the water. I slip off my shoes and dip my bare feet in the cool water. The pitch black night is nice and I like how the water runs between my toes.
"Want company," I hear Alex's voice come from behind me. Truthfully I was hoping he'd come out but I'd never tell him that. He comes over and sits beside me dipping his feet in the water with me.
"When I left you by the museum I thought you were going to die. I didn't want to have to say goodbye to you so I... I left. I left you the pocket knife and note saying I would come back. But when I came back you seemed like a different person, happier without me. When I finally said something you acted like you didn't know me. Anyway Star lost her husband to the Lamia Roma a few years ago and we had so much in common so we started hanging out. After a while she finally asked if she could call me her boyfriend and since you seemed so happy without me I said yes. It's complicated because Star is nice but you...your somethin' else entirely," he explains quietly. I listen intently to him. I'm not sure what to think about what he said.
"Do you love her?" I ask the question I asked before. He doesn't hesitate.
"Of course," he tells me. My heart groans in sadness. I turn back to watch the water roll over my feet.
"But not as much as I love you," he adds so quietly I almost don't hear him. My heart skips multiple times and I start to wonder if it will ever beat correctly again. I am stunned. We continue to stare at the water. Neither of us say anything. Neither of us need to say anything. We're both comfortable with the silence. He loves me.

 

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