Loved, p.24
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       Loved, p.24
 

         Part #2 of The Vampire Journals series by Morgan Rice
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Chapter Twenty-Four

  When Caitlin and Caleb woke, it was night. They lay on the beach together, on the sand, on the warm night, and under the light of an enormous full moon.

  They still had the beach to themselves, and the sound of the crashing waves was all around them. They both lay there, awake, undressed, in each other's arms, using their coats as a makeshift blanket. Rose lay beside them.

  They were both changed people.

  They stared into each other's eyes. They rolled over and kissed each other again, slowly.

  Their relationship had changed forever. She had changed forever. And nothing made her happier.

  They were no longer two random people, friends, kept together by the same mission. They were now lovers. A couple. Together.

  Caitlin only hoped that it would last forever.

  There were so many questions she was burning to ask. Like, what now? He had crossed a line, forbidden for his race. What if they found him? Would they kill him? Had he risked it all for her? Was she really worth it?

  And now that he had, would he leave her? Was there any way for them to stay together, to make it last?

  What could their future possibly look like?

  She was overcome with emotion, overcome by knowing what he had sacrificed for her.

  "I'm afraid," she finally said, softly.

  "Of what?" he asked.

  "Of us," she said. "Of dying. You will live forever. But I. . . " She struggled to think how to phrase it. ". . . I won't," she said. "I want to be with you. I want to be like you. I want to be immortal," she said.

  His expression turned somber. He slowly reached over, dressed himself, and stood.

  He stared off at the ocean.

  She dressed, too, grateful for the warmth of her coat and patting it to make sure her journal and the scroll were still safe inside. She stood beside him.

  "I want to be with you, too," he said. "But trust me, you do not want to be immortal. It is a curse. It is much better to die. To start again, clean, fresh, in another lifetime, another place, another time, another body. To not have to remember. To let the life cycle take its course. Our kind. . . we are unnatural. "

  He turned and looked at her.

  "There is nothing more I would love than to have you by my side. But being with me forever is not worth the pain of immortality. "

  "Please," she said, taking his hand. "It's what I want. Turn me," she said, starting into his eyes. "Turn me so that I can be a true vampire. So that I can be with you forever. "

  He stared back at her, and his eyes welled up.

  "As much as I love you, that I could never do," he said. "You would be stuck in limbo forever. You would never be able to procreate. I could never inflict that on you. Even for selfish reasons. And if I were to turn you without permission, my punishment would be severe. "

  Her heart fell. Maybe it was not meant to be, after all.

  Caleb took her hand silently.

  "If we are going to spend the night here, we should find some shelter, build a fire," he said.

  He led her as they walked along the cliffs, in silence.

  "I thought I saw something earlier, when we were riding," he said. "A cave," he added. "There," he said, pointing.

  There was indeed a small cave, set back into the cliff. It was not that deep or wide, but it was enough to provide shelter.

  The cave's floor was comprised of the same fine sand as the beach, and it was lit up by the full moon. There was already a large pile of burnt wood sitting in its center. Clearly, others had used this spot before. It was probably a popular spot for bonfires, maybe even for lovers to spend the night.

  Caleb reached down and rubbed his hands with lightning speed, as he had done once before, and within seconds, the firewood was lit and burning. Soon, a roaring fire illuminated the cave. Rose came close and lay down beside it.

  Caitlin got close, standing beside Caleb and wrapping one arm around his waist, feeling the warmth of the fire.

  They both sat down and looked up at the cave, at the ceiling, at the graffiti on its walls. It was shaped in an arch, and the light reflected off it in a million strange ways.

  "Where do we go from here?" Caitlin asked.

  She was asking about the sword. But she was also asking about them.

  "I don't know," he said. "We seem to have come to a dead-end. "

  "I'm sorry," she said. "Maybe my dream. . . maybe it didn't mean anything. Maybe we followed the trail in the wrong direction. Maybe we need to go back to the Vincent House. Maybe there's something we overlooked, some clue that would point - "

  Caleb suddenly put a hand on her arm, stopping her. He was looking up at the walls, scrutinizing them.

  She looked up and saw it, too.

  He got up, and she followed.

  There, in the far corner of the cave, high up, was an indent in the wall, almost in the shape of a cross. It looked surreal, unnatural. They had only seen it because the full moon, and because the fire had burned so strongly. Otherwise, no one could have ever come across this. It was small. And if it hadn't have been for his keen eye, it would have been easily missed.

  Caitlin reached up, and scraped away stone and dirt. As she did, the shape became clearer. It was indeed a tiny indent. In the shape of a key.

  Caitlin reached into her pocket, and extracted the key the small key to the Vincent house. She held it up and looked at Caleb. He nodded back.

  She slipped it inside, and it fit perfectly.

  They looked at each other, dumbfounded.

  She turned the key, and it clicked. A small compartment open in the wall of the rock.

  She reached in and extracted it. It was a scroll. Torn in half.

  They both looked at each other, speechless. It was the second half of the scroll.

  *

  Caitlin reached into her pocket and took out her half of the scroll. She was grateful it was still in its airtight metal container, spared from air and water damage.

  They held them both up together and walked closer to the fire, holding them to the light.

  As they did, the entire inscription became clear:

  The Four Horsemen travel a trail to freedom.

  They leave common ground,

  Enter a ring of blood,

  Meet at the house,

  And find the ones they loved

  Beside the fourth tip of the cross.

  They both looked at each other, in awe that they found it here.

  "What does it mean?" she asked.

  "I'm. . . not sure. But these words. . . a 'trail to freedom,' the 'common'. . . . I might be mistaken, but I believe it all points to the Freedom Trail. Boston. That would explain the 'trail to freedom. ' And the 'common' could be the Boston Common. I don't know where, exactly, it's pointing us, but I would guess it's somewhere on the Freedom Trail. It would make sense. Salem, Edgartown, Boston. All three are very strongly connected. "

  Caitlin struggled to get her mind around this.

  "But. . . how is it possible?" she asked. "It seems so random. Why would we find it here? In this cave? In this place? It doesn't make any sense. What if we had gone somewhere else?"

  "But it does make sense," he replied. "Think about it. We did not come here by accident. Your father visited you. He led us here. And those horses took us right to this cave and stopped. "

  She looked at him.

  "Horses are a great aid to the vampire race. They are mystical. Messengers. They have been with us from the beginning of time. They came when we needed them. It was no coincidence. They led us here. Sometimes," he continued, "events that seem like a coincidence are the most pre-planned of all. "

  She stared at the scroll, marveling at the old writing, at the events that brought them here. More than ever, she began to feel that all of this was destined.

  And she began to hope that maybe her relationship with Caleb could be destin
ed, too.

  "So where now?" she asked. "Boston?"

  He nodded. "Looks like we need to get back on that boat. "

 
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