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25% Blood & Juniper (A Vampire Tale) / Chapter 23: The Other Side of Us (Part 1)

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Chapter 23: The Other Side of Us (Part 1)

Accounts of Ashlen.

Chaos.

Maybe that's the actual essence of a vampire, chaos. My thoughts, my emotions, my needs all spiraling around as Sam drags me farther away from the girl with the bike.

The image of her freckled face before I bit into her wouldn't leave my mind, it was terror in its purest form. I could taste the fear in her blood.

And the taste excited me.

How sickening that I revele in the fear of another. What is wrong with me, is this really even me? There is something terrible inside of me that thirsts for that fear, even to the point of being self cannibalizing. My own horror seems to be devoured greedily by this inner parasite.

I'm afraid of myself.

I really thought the girl was done for, my worst nightmare of being a murder coming to life and gobbled down by the monster I was becoming. But Sam, he brought me back somehow.

Sam continues pulling me down the street, away from the delectable girl. Her skin was soft like rose petals, her flavor was divine like white clouds and liquid sun. Maybe that's the closest I'll ever come to the sun again. No taste should ever be that good, the flavor took over everything. Nothing mattered in that moment and I'd never tire of it. I was willing to give up everything to remain there for eternity. Nearly, almost everything.

In my corrupt action her life was transporting me to the skies, straight to heaven. I may not be burned holy items but was there anything more basephamous than this version of myself?

Sam looks back to see how I'm doing, still leading me away with a firm hand. Who knows what kind of moronic expression I have plastered across my dumb face. He's so… Captivating. He distracts me from the pain of leaving my adulterated utopia, from the utter repugnance with myself and even my own endless supply of fear.

His hand holding mine, I like it more than I want to admit. It makes my brain foggy and dazed, putting butterflies in my stomach. I want to touch more of his skin, more of him.

Frustration adds to the pile of crazy, I'm not a mad deviant! I'm such an emotional wreck right now.

The smell and the beating fade away, but I still find myself aching for the unfinished girl. Her blood seems to roll through my veins, but I feel incomplete. Would I be satisfied with all her blood? Probably not.

She's gone, it was like someone severed the life line connection we had, like we were siamese twins and our lives depended on one another. Or rather, I was the parasitic twin, unable to stop draining her. I feel a piece of me slowly die.

Sam turns to me, a gentle smile on his handsome face. Has he always come off so beguiling?

"I'm impressed," he looks pleased, "You didn't fight me this time, that takes a lot of self control."

I look away, ashamed. I wish he wouldn't praise me, if he wasn't there to interrupt and then take me away, I don't think I would have stopped.

He tilts my face back to him, his touch benign, wiping the blood dripping from the corner of my mouth with his thumb. He looks to the side with a glimmer of meekness as he presses his thumb to his lips to taste it. I watch him in fascination. I don't know why, but I enjoyed the strange action.

The look of guilt disappears almost immediately, he tilts his head and places a hand on my shoulder, "You know," he pauses thoughtfully with a look of admiration, "You give me hope, something I haven't had in a long time."

I glance at him with a sour look and my eyebrows tense, "You shouldn't place your hope in me, if you weren't there I probably would have..," I grimace in disgust, "I don't think I could have stopped."

His head sways, not dissuaded, "I'm not so sure about that," he glances over at the horizon line with a contented face, "You may have your doubts but I don't," he closes his eyes chuckling to himself, "It's refreshing, being around someone like you."

I scowl, "Then I'll only disappoint you, I wanted to kill her," the words come out hostile and irritable, my voice becomes even more gruff, "I still want to murder her. Spill her blood all over the sidewalk and lick it off!"

He looks directly into my begrudging face, completely unaffected, his soft eyes and cool demeanor don't waiver, "Yeah, but you didn't."

I'm flooded with such a rush of emotions it feels like I'm going to explode out of my skin. I'm pissed off at Sam for having such blind faith in me. Infuriated at this urge I have to kill everyone! This fear and grief raging though like a tornado, a loneliness like I'd never felt. And strangest of all, desire. A deep lust. I'm going insane, I want… Sam.

I snarl and grab Sam by the collar of his shirt. He hardly reacts to my threatening actions, not an ounce of shock, only glancing down at my grip and looking back into my face with relaxed eyes.

My lips vibrate, curling back with a growl, Sam only raises an eyebrow.

"Ash?"

I pull him closer so we're face to face. He blinks looking a bit more baffled now. My gaze wanders to his soft lips and I breathe out a roused breath. I must be going mad, I have a burning desire to taste them, to feel those lips on mine.

My fingers relax from the collar of his shirt sliding over his shoulders, one gliding up the back of his neck and into his thick hair that frames his face so beautifully.

Now his green eyes are wide, his mouth parts slightly as if he has something to say, it only incites me further. I lean in, craving the touch of someone that doesn't make me want to destroy.

"Wait a minute," he says in a tone thick with confusion and concern as he leans away, curling his fingers over my arms to try to loosen my grip. His hands on my skin, it shouldn't feel *this* good.

"Wait for what?" I lean forward more aggressively into his neck to breathe in his amazing scent, lips nearly brushing against his flesh.

"Ash, Stop, you don't want this," he shudders a bit, prying me off, I must repulse him. I can't help but feel a little hurt even though I have no right to, I shouldn't be behaving like this.

"Don't act like you understand what I want, *I* know what I want," I snap defensively, letting him pull away.

"You're not thinking clearly, I just don't want you acting on impulse and regretting it later."

"If you don't like being so close to me just say so!"

He glares at me for a moment, "It's not about that," he purses his lips, "It's easy to get caught up in the overwhelming sensation and strong emotions of it all."

"I'm just a crazy, unstable woman, right!" Honestly, I am though. Why the hell am I flying off the handle like this?

He sighs out, looking over my head in annoyance, "That is precisely *not* what I'm implying."

"Well I am! And right now I'm crazy for blood!"

In my passionate insanity I snap up his wrist, feeling my fangs spring forward. My eyes strain with focus, forcing the sleeve back to reveal his pale skin, I pull his arm to my mouth with exceptional swiftness.

But he's quicker, ripping his arm away before I can sink my teeth into him.

"Enough," He growls with surprisingly unrepressed ferocity.

I resist the inclination to cower. His green eyes illuminate with a savage look that would scare the pants off of most anyone.

I blink, as disgrace hits me for permitting myself to be so openly unstable. Sam's right, my emotions are much more intense than before, I'm being overwhelmed by them.

I breathe out, I can't fall apart like this, "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm being this way," I look down in shame as a finger slides along my brow bone as if to remedy a migraine, "Something is seriously wrong with me." I wince in disgust for putting Sam in such a position.

His features immediately thaw into sympathy, "No, it's alright," he looks away, "There's nothing wrong with you. I struggle with it, too."

"You credit me too generously, I feel like I'm falling apart on the inside."

"But you fight back. It's your actions that matter," he gives me a kind look, relaxing again.

I refute bitterly, "Yep, my actions! I literally tried to bite a helping hand, it's like I'm trying to burn my few remaining bridges."

Why did I try to bite him, though? It's not like I have a craving for his blood, do I?

He shakes his head, the corners of his lips faintly turned upward.

I sigh and close my eyes, standing in silence. Attempting to empty my mind and heart of all the feelings and thoughts attacking me at once.

A pair of strong arms wrap around me. My eyes open in legitimate surprise, "Sam, what are you doing?"

He doesn't say anything he just holds me close to him in his able embrace.

His smell nearly hypnotizes me into submission as I let myself be still in his arms. I feel all my riled emotions calm and I relax snuggling into his chest. My fingertips carefully caress his leather jacket and other hand timidly twists in the fibers of his cotton shirt.

What is making me feel so out of control? It's as if my passions have gone berserk. I've never thrown myself at someone so flagrantly and my temper is so volatile. Sure, I've always had a little bit of one but now it's noticeably violent and scary.

Is it just my acute emotional state that makes me want Sam, or is there something actually here? And does he even feel the same? No, he couldn't possibly feel anything for me other than pity.

Still, just like before, Sam's embrace makes me feel safe.

His thumb makes my small circles on my shoulder and his other slides down the length of my upper arm in a comforting way. The peace I'd been longing for settles as he stands close like a protecting shield.

He eventually slides away in a fluid motion, I ignore my yearning for more. He gazes on me with a slight smirk.

I give him a look of scepticism, "You did that out of pity didn't you."

His eyes narrow impishly, "Yep,"

I scoff as his grin widens as he adds, "but also because I wanted to."

'Because I wanted to.' I linger on that sentence in wonder. He actually cares or so it seems, what reason did he have to care about me?

"So," I deliberately change the subject, "being undead has made me a little insane, huh?"

"A little, but at least you're not a mindless, unfeeling zombie."

"Wait, do zombies exist too?"

He doesn't answer, just busts up laughing. It was a serious question, but now I feel silly, so I don't insist on an answer.

He looks up at the sky, contemplative and somber as his smile fades, "Perhaps our insanity is caused by some nagging realization that we are abominations of nature, deep down we know we are not meant to be."

I stare at him, seeing a glimpse of something in his eyes and the corner of his mouth, I realize it's a look of loathing. And it's aimed at himself, I think… I think Sam hates himself. I feel my heart sink and I don't understand it.

The way he says things and his mannerisms, sometimes it was very obvious Sam was not in his 20's. How long had he been this way?

"Sam... How old are you?"

He glances down at me, wiping the look from his face as if it were never there at all. He looks me over before narrowing his eyes mischievously.

"22."

What a liar, "Oh, so I'm older than you!"

He grins, "Not according to my drivers license, it says I'm 30."

"So you're 30 now? Which is it Sam?" I counter with sass, folding my arms with a smirk.

He shrugs with a smile that says he's not going to tell me.

"So we don't age, does that mean someone turned you into a vampire 8 years ago?"

He keeps that annoyingly devious expression on his face without saying anything.

"Seriously, how long have you been *alive*?"

He's enjoying stringing me along too much, "I'm not alive, I died at 22. Haven't you been told it's impolite to ask about someone's age?"

What a smart ass, "Only old people say that, you must be old and crusty."

He chuckles and looks to the side with a shrug, before conceding, "Well, I guess you're not wrong. I'm probably older than your old man."

My eyebrows raise, does that mean he would still be alive if he hadn't been changed? He may look 20 but he's just confirmed that's not the case and it boggles my mind.

"So, you'd still be alive right now if you were… you know… human?"

He looks up for a second to calculate then nods, "Yeah, most likely."

I blink a few times, he can't be that old, "You don't look older than 22, that's so crazy."

"You don't either, you barely look 20."

I put my hands on my hips, "I'm 24 for your information."

"Is that so?"

"It is. And if you're 22 then naturally I'm older than you," I give him a smug look, but there's no doubt, other than physical aging he has years on me.

He shakes his head, folding his arms across his chest and makes a short laugh in his throat, "Not even close."

He stares off into space with a calm expression as if reminiscing. I took time to examine his face, he was the perfect mix of boyish and manly. His figure had the leanness of a strong boy but the muscular definition of a man as he stood firm with arms over his strong chest. His defined jaw gave his face a nice shape, and his lips and nose were gently placed symmetrically within that face. But the feature that undoubtedly marked Sam as a man were his eyes.

His eyes were dynamic and intense as he stared off into the distance, although young, with no apparent aging lines or crows feet, these were the eyes of a man. Deep and thoughtful eyes framed by his expressive brows. As articulate as they were sometime I simply couldn't read him, I wish I knew what he was thinking about.

He unexpectedly turns his gaze back to me, catching me staring so unapologetically. A half smirk creeps on his face. Damn him.

I look away and back with an innocent smile, 'Don't mind me, just my idiot self staring like an airhead...Stupid!'

He looks me over as his brows furrow in contemplation, shifting his weight as he questions, "Did you get your fill, do you need more?"

I'm taken off guard by the sudden question, "I… Don't know. Will I stop wanting it when I'm full," I hope that's the case.

"No, you'll never stop wanting it but you'll know when you've gotten your fill," he turns and beckons me to follow, "Let's find someone else, this time should be a bit easier."

"Wait, Sam," I propel myself with a few skips until I'm walking along side of him, he stares down at me from the corner of his eye, "You're able to stop yourself before taking too much, right? Maybe, you could demonstrate how it's done."

He halts his pace abruptly. I blink in puzzlement he looks a bit uncomfortable, did I say something wrong?

He bites the inside of his cheek before responding, "I don't think that's the best idea."

"Why?"

"I actually should have mentioned this before, it's never a good idea to get mixed up in…," he trails off with a squinting eyes trying to find the right words to explain, "the hunt, if you will, or encroaching on someone else's prey."

I focus on him, listening intently, so he continues.

"I realize you don't fully understand it but I know you've felt that...animal that will sometimes take over."

I glance down to think before nodding and looking back into his eyes again. I've not only felt it, I think I've seen it… In the mirror.

"That part of us can be extremely unpredictable and aggressive. If you get in the way of other vampires while they're feeding, there is a possibility that they will feel threatened and fight you with the intention of killing you," his words are grim and his face absolutely serious as he delivers the message.

I gawk up at him with concern, "So you've been risking me hurting you every time you've helped me," it was a lot more of a sacrifice than he was letting on, "Is it always so dangerous to be around other vampires," I make a weird face,"Doing their thing?"

He breathes out, "No, you become aware of the energy you're putting out after a while and people will often share a victim," he catches my look of shock and curiosity, "but that's something else entirely."

"The point is," he sighs looking away, "I'm not going to risk hurting or," he grimaces, "*killing* you."

He stares at the ground away from me with that same expression he had on earlier, self loathing.

I don't like seeing him wear that expression. I take a step closer and touch him on the arm, he turns his head a little surprised.

"I understand," I acknowledge gently but sincerely, "And I owe you," I raise my eyebrows and nod with emphasis, "A lot."

His somber expression doesn't fade, "You don't owe me anything."

He starts walking forward again and I turn to catch up.

He keeps his head facing forward, "And you don't have to worry about injuring me, I know what to expect and how to be on the defensive," the pace he's keeping is faster than your average walking speed, but it's smooth and effortless, "if you still want my help after tonight, consider it done."

He looks over his shoulder throwing me a faint smile, though a hint of sadness remains in his eyes.

My still heart pangs, 'I don't know why you're looking out for me like this, Sam, but I'm sure I'd be lost without you.'

Following at a steady pace behind, I picture him holding me in his arms, safe. I blush and try to deny how much I want to be in his embrace again.

But I can't. I can't deny what I feel.


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