Betrothed, p.24
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       Betrothed, p.24

         Part #6 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice
 
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  Caleb sat there, watching Caitlin leave the tavern, in total shock. He could not believe that this was all happening. Just moments before, it had been a high point for them, one of their very best days, an incredible engagement party, an incredible play, and they were having an amazing time with everyone. It had seemed like things could never get better.

  And then, moments later, it all came crashing down, and so unexpectedly. Caleb had been absolutely shocked to see Violet, someone who hadn't even entered his consciousness for hundreds of years, and he was at a complete loss for words. He didn't know what to say to her, and he didn't know what to say to Caitlin. It had happened so fast, he was so caught off guard, and before he knew it, Caitlin was leaving.

  "Caitlin!" he had called after her again.

  But it was no use. She had already pushed her way through the thick crowd, Scarlet in hand, and was already heading out the bar.

  Caleb wanted to go after her. And he would. But he figured it was best to first let her get some air, to clear her head and calm down. He planned on giving her a few minutes, then he would go out and talk to her.

  In the meantime, he wanted to know what Violet was doing here - and he didn't want to be rude by walking out on her.

  "She's a touchy one," Violet said, looking down and smiling at Caleb.

  Caleb was not amused, and did not smile back.

  "How did you find me here?" he asked. "And what are you doing here? Last I heard, you were living in Sweden. "

  She smiled back. "That was five hundred years ago," she said. "People move around. London is my home now. It has been for the last 200 years. "

  "Did you follow me here?" Caleb asked. "Is there something you want from me?" Caleb felt nervous that perhaps she was stalking him, wanting to ruin his relationship - maybe wanting to get back together.

  But he was also a bit baffled, because Violet had never been that type. She had always been a loner, and when they had broken up, hundreds of years ago, she had never once tried to contact him.

  "Don't flatter yourself," Violet shot back. "You're not the only reason that someone lives in London, or goes to a Shakespeare play. This is a very popular tavern. The world does not revolve around you. I happened to be here. And I happened to see you. That's all there is to it. Nothing more. "

  Caleb sighed, feeling the tension leave his body, and the table seemed to relax, too, the tension visibly reduced.

  "I'm just leaving," she said. "I suppose I shouldn't even have stopped to say hello. But I presume you'd be more courteous than you were. "

  Caleb now felt badly. She was right. She had done nothing wrong, and he owed her at least a tiny bit of cordiality. He should have been more polite to her.

  "I'm sorry," he said. "Just bad timing. Caitlin I just got engaged, and this was our engagement party. She doesn't know about you, so your appearing here out of the blue - " Violet held up a palm. "I get it," she said. "Sorry. I wish you both well. " With that, she turned, and disappeared into the crowd. That was the Violet he remembered.

  Always quick to leave, not to stalk. Which was why seeing her in the first place had so surprised him.

  The table seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as she left, and slowly, the chattering resumed.

  "Don't feel bad," Sam said to Caleb, "Caitlin's always been that way. She can be hotheaded.

  Territorial. It's not your fault," he said.

  Caleb nodded back, grateful.

  "I should go and check on her," Caleb said, rising.

  "Polly already went out to check," Sam said. "She'll be fine. "

  "I think I should check myself," he said, and rose from the table and pushed his way through the crowd.

  Caleb headed out into the sunlight, and looked everywhere for Caitlin and Scarlet. The crowd was thick, and swarmed in every direction. But he could not see her anywhere. And he did not sense her presence, either.

  He saw Polly standing there, looking around, too.

  "Where is she?" he asked Polly.

  "Your guess is as good as mine," she said, looking worried. "It seems that your girlfriend, Violet, scared her away. I don't blame her. "

  "Polly, she's not my girlfriend. I didn't do anything wrong. " Probably merely shrugged and looked away, and Caleb could tell that she was mad at him, too.

  Girls, he thought.

  Caleb stormed back into the bar, needing a drink. He went back to the table and sat back across from Sam. He saw all the empty glasses and noticed that Sam had been drinking too much, and he realized again what a wildcard Sam seemed to be. A fresh round of drinks came, and Sam grabbed two for himself, and handed a glass to Caleb.

  Caleb drank the whole thing in just a couple of gulps.

  "Is Polly still out there?" Sam asked.

  Caleb nodded back. "She's pissed at me, too. "

  Sam shook his head. "Girls," he said. "I better go talk to her," Sam added, and got up from the table, seeming a little bit drunk. Caleb watched him push his way through the crowd.

  Caleb felt the beer go to his head, and it felt good.

  He wanted another drink, but the waiter was nowhere in sight, and he could tell that, with the thick crowd, it would take forever to get served.

  He scanned the table for any leftover beer, and saw, across from him, Caitlin's untouched drink, still filled to the rim. She was gone now, and so she wouldn't be drinking it. He didn't see the harm.

  It was a shame to let it go to waste. And after all that happened, he really could use just one more drink.

  Caleb reached over and grabbed her glass, and drank it all down. He couldn't help noticing that it tasted a little bit funny going down, not like the normal beer. He wondered if maybe her beer had gone sour, or came from a bad batch.

  But he didn't care. He wanted to drown out his woman troubles, and make it all go away.

  *

  Polly was upset as she stood outside the bar, searching everywhere for Caitlin and Scarlet. She knew that Caitlin could handle herself, but it bothered her that she was nowhere to be found. That could only mean one thing: she had left. Gone somewhere. And that she must have been really upset with Caleb.

  And Polly could understand. If it were Polly's engagement party, she surely wouldn't wish for some ex-girlfriend to show up. It was annoying, to say the least. Not that Caleb could be blamed, necessarily. But still. It wasn't what any bride-to-be wanted.

  Polly knew how emotional Caitlin could be, and only hoped that she would stay clear-headed, and not let this affect things between her and Caleb. She thought they were the perfect couple, and hated to see all these things constantly get between them.

  As Polly turned, preparing to go back into the bar, she suddenly felt a cold hand grip her arm.

  The grip was firm - too firm to be Caitlin's, and she wondered who it could be, as she spun to look.

  Polly was aghast.

  There, just feet away from her, stood Sergei.

  He looked much like he had back in France, even wearing the same regal outfit he'd had on back then. She couldn't believe that he was here, that he had traveled back in time. And that he had tracked her down.

  She still felt a burning hatred towards him. He had tricked her, back in Versailles, into revealing where Caitlin was. He had used her all along. He had duped her, made a fool of her; he had played with her heart, and broken it. She felt ashamed and embarrassed at how deeply she had fallen for him, at how blind and stupid she had been.

  Now, seeing him here, back in the flesh, all of her emotions burned fresh. She felt a new wave of anger towards him, as if it had all just happened yesterday. What audacity he had to come back in time, to try to talk to her. He stood there with a stupid smile on his face, as if nothing had ever happened between them, and Polly felt her anger grow even more.

  "Polly," he said, "I came back for you. To find you. I miss you. " Polly shook her arm roughly, throwing his hand
off of it, and stared back at him.

  "Don't you dare put your hand on me," she snarled at him. "Don't you ever put your hand on me again. "

  His face seemed to collapse with sorrow.

  "I'm so sorry, Polly. I behaved badly. I recognize that now. I made a huge mistake. I was under such pressures - I wasn't myself. That wasn't really me. I really loved you, all along. I still do. " Polly felt such a wave of anger, she couldn't help herself. She reached up and smacked him hard across the face, the noise so loud that several passersby turned to look. It felt good to hit him, to release a fraction of her anger.

  Sergei looked shocked, as if he hadn't expected that.

  "You lied to me," she said, her voice cold and steely. "You used me. You're a liar. I'll never trust you again. No matter what you say. I can't believe you even came back here. You're pathetic. And you're just wasting your time if you think I'll ever so much as like you again. "

  He lowered his eyes.

  "I deserved that. I know. And I'm so sorry. I can't say it enough. Can't you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?"

  Polly could hear how broken his voice sounded. It certainly sounded genuine. And it felt good to hear those words, especially after what he had put her through. And she did have to admit that somewhere, deep down, she still felt a tiny twinge of affection for him.

  But Polly quickly pushed those feelings away, forcing herself to remember what he had done.

  And forcing herself to think of Sam, who she genuinely liked.

  "If you come near me again," Polly said, "I won't be so kind. You and I are enemies now. I will never forgive you. No matter what you say. "

  "I came back in time because I love you!" he pleaded. "And I know that you still love me too. I want to hear those words. Please, tell me that you love me, Polly. Just like you used to. Say it again.

  Tell me that you love me again. "

  Polly turned, as she sensed someone approach.

  Just a few feet away, watching them, was Sam. He looked wide-eyed, a little drunk, and very, very jealous.

 
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