Betrothed, p.2
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       Betrothed, p.2

         Part #6 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice
 
CHAPTER TWO

  Sam woke to the sound of screeching birds. He opened his eyes and saw, high up overhead, several huge vultures circling. There must have been a dozen of them, and they circled lower and lower, seemingly right over him, as if watching him. As if waiting.

  He suddenly realized they assumed he was dead, and were waiting for their chance to swoop in and eat him.

  Sam jumped to his feet, and as he did, the birds suddenly flew off, as if startled that the dead could rise again.

  He looked around, trying to get his bearings. He was in a field, in the midst of rolling hills. As far as he could see, there were more hills, covered in grass and odd bushes. The temperature was perfect, and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was very picturesque, and there was not a single building in sight. It appeared he was in the middle of nowhere.

  Sam tried to figure out where he was, what time period, and how he'd arrived. He desperately tried to think back. What had happened before he'd gone back in time?

  Slowly, he remembered. He had been in the Notre Dame, in Paris, in 1789. He had been fighting off Kyle, Kendra, Sergei and their people, keeping them at bay so that Caitlin and Caleb could escape. It had been the least he could do, and he owed her that much, especially after endangering her with his reckless romance with Kendra.

  Vastly outnumbered, he had used his shape-shifting power, and had managed to confuse them just enough to wreak considerable damage, wiping out many of Kyle's men, incapacitating the others, and managing to escape with Polly.

  Polly.

  She had been by his side the whole time, had fought valiantly, and the two of them, he remembered, had been quite a force together. They had escaped through the ceiling of the Notre Dame, and had gone searching for Caitlin and Caleb in the night. Yes. It was all starting to come back. . . .

  Sam had found out that his sister had gone back in time, and he knew, on the spot, that he had to go back, too, to make wrongs right, to find Caitlin again, to apologize, and to protect her. He knew she didn't need it: she was a better warrior than he was now, and she had Caleb. But she was his sister, after all, and the impulse to protect her was something he could not turn off.

  Polly had insisted on coming back with him. She, too, was intent on seeing Caitlin again, and on explaining herself to her. Sam hadn't objected, and they had gone back together.

  Sam looked around again now, staring out at the fields, wondering.

  "Polly?" he called out, tentatively.

  No response.

  He walked towards the edge of a hill, hoping to get a view of the landscape.

  "Polly!?" he called out again, louder this time.

  "Finally!" came a voice.

  As Sam looked out, Polly appeared, walking up over the horizon, rounding a hill. She carried an armful of strawberries and was eating one, her mouth full as she spoke. "I've been waiting for you all morning! Gosh! You really love to sleep, don't you!?"

  Sam was delighted to see her. Seeing her, he realized how alone he had felt coming back, and how happy he was to have some companionship. He also realized, despite himself, how much she had grown on him. Especially after his fiasco with Kendra, he appreciated being around a normal girl, appreciated Polly more than she knew. And as she got closer, and as the sun lit up her light brown hair and blue eyes, her translucent white skin, he was surprised, once again, by her natural beauty.

  He was about to respond, but as usual, she didn't let him get a word in.

  "I woke up not ten feet from you," she continued, as she approached, eating another strawberry,

  "and I shook you and shook you, but you wouldn't wake! So I went off and did some gathering. I'm anxious to leave this place, but I figured I'd not leave you to the birds before I went. We have to find Caitlin. Who knows where she is? She could need our help right now. And all you do is sleep!

  After all, what did we come back for if we're not going to get up and go and - "

  "Please!" Sam called out, breaking into a laugh. "I can't get a word in!" Polly stopped and stared at him, looking surprised, as if she had no idea she were speaking so much.

  "Well then," she said, "speak!"

  Sam stared back at her, distracted by how blue her eyes looked in the early morning light; finally having a chance to speak, he froze up, forgetting what he was about to say.

  "Uh. . . " he began.

  Polly threw up her hands.

  "Boys!" she exclaimed. "They never want you to talk - but they never have anything to say themselves! Well, I can't wait around here anymore!" she said, and hurried off, strutting through the fields, eating another strawberry.

  "Wait!" Sam called out, hurrying to catch up with her. "Where are you going?"

  "Why, to find Caitlin, of course!"

  "You know where she is?" he asked.

  "No," she said. "But I know where she isn't - and that's in this field! We need to get out of here.

  Find the closest city, or buildings, or whatever, and figure out what time we're in. We have to start somewhere! And this is not the place!"

  "Well, don't you think I want to find my sister, too!?" Sam called out, exasperated.

  Finally, she stopped and turned, facing him.

  "I mean, don't you want company?" Sam asked, realizing as he said it, how much he wanted to look for Caitlin with her. "Don't you want to search together?" Polly looked back at him with her large blue eyes, as if summing him up. He felt as if he were being scrutinized, and he could see she looked unsure. He couldn't understand why.

  "I don't know," she finally said. "I mean, you handled yourself pretty well back there in Paris - I do have to admit. But. . . "

  She paused.

  "What is it?" he finally asked.

  Polly cleared her throat.

  "Well, if you must know, the last - um - boy - I spent any time with - Sergei - turned out to be a liar and a con-man, who tricked and used me. I was too stupid to see it. But I'm never going to fall for anything like that again. And I'm not ready to trust anybody of the male race - not even you. I just don't want to spend any time with any more boys right now. Not that you and I - not that I'm saying that we're - not that I think of you that way - as anything more than a friend - than an acquaintance - "

  Polly began stammering, and he could see how nervous she had become, and couldn't help smiling inwardly.

  " - but it's just that, regardless, I'm sick of boys. No offense. " Sam smiled broadly. He loved her candor, and her spunkiness.

  "None taken," he answered. "The truth be told," he added, "I'm sick of girls. " Polly's eyes opened wide in surprise; that clearly wasn't the response she'd been expecting.

  "But it occurs to me that we have a better chance of finding my sister if we search together. I mean - just - " Sam cleared his throat, " - just professionally speaking. " Now it was Polly's turn to smile.

  "Professionally speaking," she repeated.

  Sam reached out his hand, formally.

  "I promise, we'll just be friends - nothing more," he said. "I've sworn off of girls forever. No matter what. "

  "And I've sworn off of guys forever. No matter what," Polly said, still examining his hand, as it dangled in the air, unsure.

  Sam left his hand out patiently, waiting.

  "Just friends?" she asked. "Nothing more?"

  "Just friends," Sam said.

  She finally reached out and shook on it.

  And as she did, Sam couldn't help noticing that she held his hand just the slightest bit too long.

 
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