THEY PULLED up to the pier. Vivienne still held the gun in her hands as she exited the car. Not knowing what to do with it, she shoved it in her back pocket. Blake guided her to a boat that was tethered to the pier.
“This boat will take you home,” he said. “Goodbye, Vivienne Ornelias.”
Vivienne didn’t like the way he was using her full made-up name. She wondered if it was his way of severing every connection between the two of them. For some reason, now that she had lost his ferocious unrelenting attention, she suddenly missed it.
Vivianne walked over to his side. He had one hand on the rail. She suddenly felt a strong urge to hold his hand. Although he was gloved, she could see the tension in his grip. She had a feeling that if she were to touch his skin, it would be ice cold. His voice alone was chilling her to the bone. He sounded like he was preparing to die.
She didn’t reach for his hand. She couldn’t bring herself to do it. If she reached for him now she’ll spend the rest of her life regretting the decision she had made to let him go. What was it about him that always reminded her of fairy tales? The boat docked at a hidden pier. They were surrounded by mountains and at the top of one of the mountains in the distance, there was a light house.
Blake turned to head back to the car. He turned to her and strangely, he smiled. He suddenly looked at ease, like a man who had been running all his life and had finally come to accept his dark fate.
“Say hello to the professor for me when you see him,” Blake said, his tone finally light, and yet strangely distant. The divide between them had already started to set in. Just like that, the boat started to pull away from the pier. She stared blankly at his silhouette against the setting sun. It was all happening too fast. This was what she wanted wasn’t it? She had to choose. It was either going to be Blake or going home. With every second, her choice was becoming more clear. This boat was going to take her home where she’ll see her father again, Janun, Aunt Sully, and maybe even Daniel. She was coming closer and closer to taking that old bus back home again. Her parents had talked about her taking a job at the library for the summer. She was going to spend her days among the dusty stacks of books, reading about adventures and dragons. Maybe she’ll even glimpse a few about blood thirsty vampires. Then Daniel will come to visit her in the library again. Maybe he’ll be sweaty from all the basketball he had been playing. He’ll grimace at the sight of so many books that made his head hurt. But she won’t care, she’ll love the way he smiled and stared dumb-folded when she tried to tell him about what she had been reading. The crazy professor’s crazy daughter, that’s all she’ll ever be.
“Blake!” Vivienne exclaimed. She wasn’t sure why, but suddenly she jumped from the boat onto the pier. She knew she would regret it later but she just couldn’t let him go again. It wasn’t a rational choice. Even as she grabbed the wooden post to hoist herself up, she started to regret it. What was she doing? The pier was slippery and covered with barnacles. The rough edges had cut her palm during her violent landing. She shouldn’t be doing this. She didn’t belong in this fantasy world of castles and princes. She had no business here.
Even as those thoughts of doubt swirled about in her head, she heard footsteps. Blake had turned around. He wrapped one of his arms around her waist and hoisted her up to her feet. She was wet from the knee down. Her pants were soaked. She helplessly wrapped her arms around him. At first she did it because she was trying to regain her balance but when she felt the solid weight of him in her embrace, she just wanted to hold him and never let go. It was too much to take in at once. Even as she laid her head on his shoulder, she could almost smell the candles and grassy willow trees of River Way. She started to cry into the dark wool of his suit.
After what seemed like forever, she felt his hand gently stroking her hair. She could only imagine how utterly ridiculous he found her emotional outburst and how angry he was that she had made a mess of his immaculate clothes.
“It’s all right, Viv,” he whispered into her ear. “Just go.” He continued stroking her hair as though she was a helpless child. Is that really why he thought she had come after him? Because she wanted to leave with a clean conscience and no hard feelings?
“I don’t want to go,” Vivienne snapped back. She pounded her fist into his chest but found it to be rock hard. “I don’t want you to leave me again. ”
He laughed softly at that. His pale eyes found hers. They studied her with both longing and disbelief. “It’s too late for that, Viv. I wish I could have done everything in the world with you by my side. But, it’s much too late, you need to go home.”
“Let me help you,” As much as she tried to deny it even to herself, these were the words she had said to him in countless nightmares. He had walked away from her countless times in her dreams, into the vampire graveyard, into his death. Over the years she had hated him bitterly for it, for leaving her with the burden of his tragic end. But in her dreams, in her deepest desires, she had never stopped looking for a way to save him.
“Blake,” Vivienne suddenly whispered. He turned his head and saw it too. A white limo pulled up to the pier with a multitude of black cars behind it. A small army guards emerged from the cars and Lady Maglania herself appeared behind them.
Vivienne backed away from Blake as the Lady Maglania approached. “Look at who found herself a date to the freshman dance.” Around her, about a dozen guards appeared armed with assault weapons, pointed at her and Blake.
“Allison?” Vivienne said as she squinted in the light of the limo’s headlights. Vivienne slowly pulled the gun out from her back pocket. “Ally, is that you?”
“Of course, who else would come to your rescue darling?” Allison’s lip curled up in a jeer. Her lipstick was as red as blood. Vivienne suddenly found her beauty to be more eerie than comforting. She was lovely in a glossy, plastic kind of way. She looked more perfect than any human had a right to be.
“Oh,” Vivienne said, smiling with a confidence she didn’t feel. “I don’t need to be saved. I have everything under control. Can’t you see that?”
Vivienne saw Blake moving forward to shield her with his body. Yes, even now, he was still trying to protect her. Poor, foolish Blake Thorne. Even against the most hopeless of odds, he never could help himself.
“You look like you’re stalling, darling,” Allison said, never moving beyond the protective circle of her guards. Vivienne saw that Allison was wearing her cameo necklace around her throat. “What’s the matter? Did he tell you some sweet-nothings that turned your blood-lust?”
“I’m not stalling,” Vivienne said. She saw the guards ready their weapons. Vivienne had to admit, she wasn’t sure if she was going to live to see dawn.
“Vivienne,” Blake hissed, without turning to look at her. “Get on the boat. There’s nothing more you can do here.”
“Oh, there’s something I can do,” Vivienne pointed the gun at Blake’s shoulder and pulled the trigger. There was a explosive sound and then Blake dropped down to one knee as he grabbed the gory wound in his shoulder. Allison was wrong, it wasn’t just a stunning blow. His shoulder looked like it had been ripped to pieces. Vivienne had to hide the shock in her face as she looked back up at Allison, waving her gun. “See, Ally? I can fend for myself. You can lower your guns. I want to finish this myself.”
Allison motioned for the guards to stand at ease. Vivienne walked in front of Blake and aimed her gun again. Blake was staring at her with the utmost look of betrayal in his eyes. “So is this how it ends?” He asked, with a pained laugh. “You shoot me in the back, Viv?”
“Shut up, vampire,” Vivienne said as she lowered her gun and shot him again, this time the bullet grazed his thigh. Vivienne saw the look of anguish as he stared back at her. He made no move to attack her even though she knew he could. She had taken a leap of faith as well that he wouldn’t hurt her. Vivienne backed up to Allison’s side.
“Ally,” Vivienne said. “He said horrible things about you. He said I should betray you. I would never turn on you for a vampire.”
“I know, Vivienne,” Allison said in a excited voice. “I always knew you would choose me. We’re best friends. You came to Coral City to save me.”
Vivienne turned to Allison and she finally allowed the tears that collected in her eyes to fall. She wrapped her arms around Allison and held her close, feeling the soft tendrils of her best friend’s hair on her cheek. They really were best friends but on that night she had to betray someone. It would be either Blake or Allison, the choice was not an easy one. In one swift move, Vivienne ripped the cameo necklace from Allison’s neck.