Loved, p.14
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       Loved, p.14

         Part #2 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice
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Chapter Fourteen

  Caitlin was running. She was back in the field, running through the knee-high grass. It was daybreak, and as she ran, the world seemed to rotate. She felt as if she were running right towards the large, glowing sun.

  There, on the horizon, stood her father, his silhouette lit by the sun. His arms were opened wide, waiting to embrace her. She could not make out his features, but she did know that he was grinning, waiting to embrace her. If only she ran faster.

  Caitlin ran for all she had, but no matter how fast she went, he kept getting farther.

  She was not surprised. This was how the dream always went. A part of her knew this even as she dreamt it.

  But this time, something happened. This time, suddenly, she gained ground. He was actually getting closer.

  As she ran closer to him 50 yards, then 20, then 10, for the first time, she saw him. He was standing there, huge, so tall and proud, in all his glory, lit up by the sun. He was a beautiful man. A warrior. Somehow, he resembled Caleb.

  She ran right into his arms and gave him a huge hug. He embraced her back. It felt so good to, finally, be in his arms.

  "Daddy!" she cried.

  "My child," he said, in a deep, beautiful, reassuring voice. "I've missed you so very much. I have been looking down on you. And I'm so proud of you," he said.

  He took her by the shoulders, held her back at arm's length, and stared into her eyes.

  His eyes were bright yellow, the color of the sun, and shining right at her.

  She couldn't bear to look, but she couldn't bear to look away either. They radiated such warmth and love.

  "Do you remember, Caitlin?" he asked. "Do you remember, when you were young? Where we used to go? The cliffs. The red cliffs. "

  An image flashed into her mind of huge, red cliffs, of gigantic rocks, spread all throughout the beach, into the water. A magical place. Yes, she remembered. It was coming back.

  "Find me there," he said. "Continue your search. And find me there. "

  He started to fade, and as she reached out to grab him, he was suddenly gone.

  Caitlin woke with a start.

  She was flat on her back, looking up at the treetops. In the distance, she could see the passing sky passing, through the trees. A wisp of a cloud drifted by.

  She had no idea where she was, but she still felt as if she were dreaming. She could hear the wind rustling through the delicate branches, leafless, and it felt as if the whole world were alive, swaying, making noise.

  Despite being outdoors, she felt comfortable. She looked down and saw she was lying on the forest floor, in a pile of soft pine needles. A few feet away lay Caleb. Her heart swelled. It felt great to be sleeping so close to him. She hoped he wouldn't wake anytime soon, that she could lie like this forever. Everything in the world just felt right.

  She looked back up at the sky, and tried to remember how they had got there. Tried to remember the night before.

  She remembered the feeding. There had been a small family of deer, and Caleb had calmed her, had taught her how to wait. He had taught her how to control it. She had remembered feeling clarity.

  Once she'd charged after them, her body had surprised her, had told her what to do, where to go. She'd found herself charging with lightning speed through the woods, then pouncing.

  She remembered wrapping her arms around a deer's neck, and going for a ride. It had been fast, faster than she could have ever dreamt. But finally, she had found the vein and sunk her teeth in. And the feeling had been electrifying.

  She had never felt so alive as the deer's blood coursed through her. She had felt on fire. Rejuvenated.

  Slowly, her pains had faded, as did her hunger. And she'd felt stronger than she'd ever had. She'd felt as if the world were hers.

  She looked over at Caleb. He had fed, too, last night. They had met afterwards, both so exhilarated, and then, so tired. They had laid back, on the forest floor, near each other, and had looked up at the swaying trees. Listening to the wind.

  And then, within moments, they'd both fallen fast asleep.

  Now, lying there, she inched closer to him, wanting to test out the feel of herself in his arms. She was still wearing his leather coat, and as she reached out, its sleeves just covering her hands, and ran the back of her hand along his cheek. It was so smooth. She imagined that they were together, a couple.

  Caitlin suddenly heard a rustling, and she sat up straight.

  Right in front of her, slowly approaching, was a pack of wolves. She had never seen a wolf before, and had no idea how to react. Oddly enough, she wasn't afraid. She was intrigued, mesmerized. In fact, as she watched them, she almost felt a strange sort of kinship.

  While watching, she reached over and placed a hand on Caleb, shaking him.

  He suddenly sat up beside her, alert. The two of them stared together as the pack came in close, only feet away, sniffing and circling.

  "Don't be afraid," Caleb said softly. "I can feel their thoughts. They are just curious. Remain still. "

  Caitlin sat very still, watching as their leader came up close to her, inches from her face, putting its nose right up to her cheek.

  Several tense moments followed, as Caitlin wondered what to do. Her heart was pounding, and she felt like pushing him away. But instead, she followed Caleb's direction and sat very still.

  Suddenly, he turned and walked away.

  As he left, the pack followed.

  Except for one. A small wolf, a pup, hardly bigger than a small dog, lingered. It limped, and looked back at the pack. Then it turned and looked at Caitlin, and walked right to her.

  It walked into her lap, sat down, and lowered its head. It was clear that it did not want to leave.

  "The pack no longer wants her," Caleb said. "She's injured. She's a liability. And they are too hungry to be patient. They have abandoned her. "

  Caitlin tried to focus, tried to read the animal's thoughts as Caleb did. She couldn't read it exactly, but she did feel an energy, her feelings. She felt very alone. And scared.

  Caitlin reached down, picked her up and held her in her arms. As she stroked the animal's head, it leaned back and licked her face.

  She smiled.

  "You have a friend," Caleb said.

  "Can we take her?" she asked.

  Caleb furrowed his brow.

  "It would not be the best idea," he said. "Its scent. . . it could attract other things. "

  "But we can't leave her here," Caitlin pleaded, suddenly feeling very protective. "We can't. "

  "Where we are going, there will be grave danger. It could get caught in the middle. "

  "Would it not be in danger here?" she asked. "It will die, left alone. "

  Caleb thought for a long time.

  "I suppose we can take it. . . "

  The wolf, as if understanding, ran over and jumped into Caleb's arms and licked his face.

  Caleb broke into a big smile as he pet it. "Okay, okay, enough little fellow," he said.

  "What shall we name her?" Caitlin asked.

  Caleb thought. "I don't know," he finally said.

  It suddenly came to her. The Rose and the Thorn.

  "Rose," she said suddenly. "Let's call her Rose. "

  Caleb looked at her, then nodded in approval. "Rose," he said. "Yes, that is perfect. "

  As if responding to her new name, Rose ran back to Caitlin's lap, and cuddled into her chest.

  "A family of wolves is a very powerful sign," Caleb said. "It means that the nature energy is with us. We are not alone in our search. "

  "I had a dream last night," Caitlin said, remembering. "It was unlike any I'd had before. It was so vivid. It was like. . . a visit. From my father. "

  Caleb turned and stared at her.

  "In the dream, it all came back to me. An old memory. One summer, I remember, he took me away. To an island. There were these huge boulders by t
he ocean, and these steep cliffs, these red cliffs that glowed in the sun - "

  Caleb's eyes suddenly lit up. "You dreamt of the Aquinnah Cliffs," he said. "Yes. That would make perfect sense. "

  "In my dream, he told me to return there. He said to. . . find him there. "

  "That was not a dream," Caleb said, sitting up straighter. "Vampires visit in morning dreams. Your father wants us to go to the cliffs. "

  "But what about the key we just found?" Caitlin asked.

  "We don't know what it's for," he answered. "The Vincent House could be anywhere. It's as good as a dead end. We have nowhere else to go. "

  Caleb stood. "We must go to the cliffs immediately. "

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