Betrothed, p.16
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       Betrothed, p.16

         Part #6 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice

  Sam walked with Polly through along the river bank, on the outskirts of Warwick Castle. After his meeting with Aiden, he had stormed out of the castle, upset, and had run into Polly, who'd been catching up with her old coven members. Polly had seen the upset on his face, and had suggested that the two of them take a walk.

  They had been walking for hours now, along the riverside, Sam barely saying a word. He knew he was being rude, and should be talking more, telling her what was on his mind - but he had been too overwhelmed by his emotions. Everything that Aiden had said was whirling through his mind, again and again, each pronouncement going off like a new bomb.

  Caitlin was the chosen one, not he. His mission was only to guard Caitlin. He wasn't special. He had his own destiny. He didn't choose to be turned - Caitlin did. The person who turned him was darker, evil. He had evil blood running through his veins. He had a possibility of slipping to the dark side. He was way more powerful than nearly any vampire. But much more vulnerable to slipping. And his clue, his father's clue for him, ended here. At Warwick Castle. To train with Aiden.

  Sam didn't know what to feel, as he thought through all of this. Part of him was furious, wanted to scream at Aiden, to tell him that he didn't know what he was talking about. Another part of him, though, deep down, sensed that it was all true, that he had always suspected something like this. A part of him felt like a failure, felt insignificant. Another part of him felt important, that he was so powerful. He felt tugged in all different directions.

  As if all this were not enough, he also kept thinking about what Tyler had said to him, before they'd parted ways. That it was obvious that Polly loved him.

  Sam stole a sideways glance at her, saw her strolling along, looking at the grass, the river, the trees, the sky. She seemed happy. But that was probably only because she had just been reunited with her friends. It didn't seem obvious at all that she loved him. In fact, it didn't even seem that he liked her much.

  She had, though, invited him to go on this walk, seeing how upset he was. That meant a lot to him, and he appreciated her company. He really appreciated her respecting his need for silence, but figured he should probably say something to her now.

  He cleared his throat.

  "The meeting didn't quite go as I had expected," Sam began.

  She looked at him, concerned.

  "What do you mean?" she asked.

  Sam thought about how to phrase it.

  "Well, um, Aiden, he. . . is not exactly what I expected. "

  Polly seemed happy that he was talking again. "I know, he's the best, isn't he? He taught me so much. All of us. And your sister, specially. She's like a whole different person after training with him," she said in a rush, excited, as always. "What did he say to you? What did he tell you? Where will your dad's clue lead us next?"

  Sam shook his head. In a somber, broken voice, he said, "The clues won't lead me anywhere else. " He paused. "This visit is the end of the road for me. It led me to Aiden. That was my clue. It was a message from my father. He wants me to train with Aiden. " Polly looked at him, confused. "I don't understand," she said.

  Sam stopped, and faced her. "Aiden said that my mission is different from Caitlin's. That she's the special one. That she is the one meant to find him. My mission is only to protect her. "

  Polly stared back at him.

  "Aiden wants me to stay here. To train with him. He said I'm not ready yet. That I'm still run by my emotions. That I have a lot to learn. Do you agree?"

  Polly looked at him, and her expression softened a bit.

  "I think we all have a lot to learn," she said. "And you can be a little bit of a hot-head, yes," she said with a smile.

  Sam couldn't help smiling back. Polly had a way of making it hard for him to stay mad at anything.

  "But he also said I have a dark side. That I was turned by an evil person. That, if I'm not careful, I can slip to the dark side. "

  "But we all have good and dark sides," Polly said. "That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just forces us to be disciplined to stay on the right side. I think any of us, at any time, can be good or bad, can always slip. "

  Polly paused.

  "The person that turned me wasn't the best of people," she added, softly, her expression darkening.

  Sam looked at her in surprise. He never stopped to consider who had turned her.

  "I was born a half-breed, to vampire and human parents, and they abandoned me on an island.

  But later in life, I was also turned. Fully turned. By a boy - a stupid boy. It was a dumb relationship mistake. I was in love with him for about a minute. And then I realized, too late, what a jerk he was.

  The first of many bad boy decisions, I guess," she said with a sigh.

  Sam stared at her.

  "So you see," she added, "it's not just you. I have it in me, too. And I haven't turned to the dark side. So it doesn't mean that you will, either. "

  Sam felt better talking to her. He didn't know what he would have done without her here.

  "So you think I should stay here, and train?" he asked, hesitantly.

  "You're lucky Aiden made you the offer. You should be grateful for that. Of course you should.

  Don't you want to become the best fighter you can be?"

  Sam thought about that. She was right. He did want to become the best he could be. And until Caitlin needed his protection, he figured it was as good a place to be as any.

  Sam found himself wondering if Polly would stay here, too. He felt butterflies in his stomach as he realized, finally, that he wanted her near him.

  "Are you going to stay, too?" he asked, hesitant, not wanting her to hear in his voice that he cared.

  But his tone must have given him away, because she suddenly broke into a big smile.

  "And if I won't?" she asked. "Will you miss me?" she said, her smile widening playfully.

  Sam looked away, and felt his face turning bright red.

  "You're blushing," she said, with a giggle.

  Sam's face reddened even more.

  "I - uh - um - I - never - I never said that I would miss you," he said, stumbling over his words, trying desperately to sound neutral.

  Polly giggled. "You don't have to. I can see it in your face. " Sam suddenly looked directly at her, and he could see that she was staring right back at him. This time, she wore a new expression. For the first time, it was finally clear to him that she liked him.

  They locked eyes, and neither of them looked away.

  "Aiden said that I wasn't special," Sam said softly, staring into her eyes.

  Polly took a step forward, and placed the back of her hand on his cheek.

  "You're special to me," she said.

  Sam felt his heart pounding, as he slowly leaned in towards her, and as she slowly leaned in towards him. He saw her lips approaching, and knew that they were about to have their first kiss.

  Suddenly, right before their lips met, a trumpet sounded. They both, startled, wheeled and looked. A group of their coven members were sounding trumpets, and waving huge flags in their direction.

  "THE GAMES BEGIN!" one of them shouted. "Aiden wants you both here!"

  Their moment ruined, Sam and Polly both looked away from each other, self-conscious. They both turned and began walking back, both keeping their distance, embarrassed to even hold hands in sight of everyone else.

  Sam, his heart still racing, couldn't help wondering if a moment like that would ever come for them again.

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