The next evening, a knock came on Brooke's door precisely at nine.
"She had no trouble getting into the hotel," Brooke mused, "probably has a lot of tricks up her sleeve still. No, who am I kidding, she must have a lot more now."
Opening the door, it was her turn to gasp. The red satin dress Sam wore was breathtaking, her hair piled atop her hear and a black choker completing her 'femme fatale' masterpiece. Brooke was speechless.
"Are you going to.. invite me in?" Sam asked with a smirk.
"Yes, of course Sam! Please come in." The blond couldn't understand why she felt so shy around someone she'd once known so well.
"It's actually Samantha these days. Sam's a little too... casual, I find."
"I'm sorry, Sam-Samantha – I didn't mean anything..."
"Don't worry Brooke, I know. Are you ready to go?"
"Yes, let me get my purse – I was thinking about..."
"I have a room upstairs, actually. I booked it this morning and arranged for dinner to be brought up. Do you mind?" She asked, in a tone that indicated that objections were not really an option.
"Sure! Sounds great."
"Great! Let's go, shall we?" taking the blond's arm with a strength Brooke didn't remember.
Brooke could only gasp when she saw the penthouse suite Sam had arranged for their dinner. The lights were out, but Sam had covered the room in candles. The dinner table held a bouquet of perfect roses.
"I can't believe it – it's so beautiful."
"All for you Princess. It's the least I could do after all this time."
They sat and ate with minimal conversation – at least Brooke did. Sam seemed content to pick at her food and just stare at Brooke, frequently breaking into a smile that melted Brooke's nervousness.
Finally, Sam lead Brooke to the couch, handing her a glass of the wine she'd poured.
"So really, Sam, what have you been doing for all these years? Why didn't you ever visit? or even call? No one's heard a word from you at all."
"I've been... busy, let's say," she removed her shoes and placed her feet on the couch. Without realizing it, Brooke had done the same.
"But too busy to even call?" Brooke arched an eyebrow. "Even me?"
"Especially you, B." Sam was looking directly into Brooke's eyes.
"Wha... – Why especially?" Brooke's expression did nothing to conceal her hurt feelings.
"I'm sorry Brooke, I didn't mean that in a hurtful way. I just.." She put her glass and Brooke's on the table and grabbed Brooke's hands. "I just meant that it would have been harder to just call you and not come home."
"Why didn't you come home to me Sammy?" Their faces were inches apart now.
"I can't ever go back Brooke, not now."
"Why, what's happened?"
"The night before I left, you asked me a question I was afraid to answer, do you remember?"
"Of course I do, I've never forgotten that night. It was the last time I ever saw you – until now." The blond hesitated. "Why were you afraid to answer?"
"Don't be silly. You know why I couldn't answer, my feelings for you were obvious!"
"Not to me Sam-Samantha!"
"Oh silly Brooke, you can call me Sam if you really want to – at least when we're alone." The brunette paused a moment to release her hair – with a single motion, it cascaded over her shoulders. "I thought you knew and that you just wanted to make me say it."
"No Sam, I really didn't know how you felt. I just hoped."
"Hoped?!" Samantha's eyes widened as she leaned closer to Brooke. "You hoped?"
"Yes, hoped. When you love someone, you hope that they feel the same way."
"Love? Me?" Her right hand snatched Brooke's left. "You loved... me?"
"Of course, I did. Who else did you think I loved? Josh? Harrison? Please?"
"I wish I'd known, I really do, so much would be different... now."
"What's happened Samantha? Why do you make everything sound so final? What happened to you?"
Samantha sighed. "So much has happened Princess, it's seems like another life."
"Tell me, please." Brooke took both of her companion's hands in hers.
The brunette beauty broke the grip and stood up, walking around the room.
"I can here to get away from you, so that I could forget about my feelings for you. I figured so far away, with so much work to do to finish school, I'd be able to forget about you." She turned back towards the blond. "It didn't work, of course. I still thought of you every day – and every night."
Brooke blushed as Samantha continued, "I would have finished at the top of my class if I'd actually finished."
"You never finished school?!" Brooke leapt to her feet. "How's that possible? We all heard about..."
"You heard what I wanted you to hear. I made sure that everyone heard what I wanted them to, and that they never, ever, looked for me."
"But why? Why would you shut us all out? Your mom? Your friends?"
"It was for your own good, Brooke!" Sam shouted. "My life wasn't... safe."
"My God... what happened to you?" Brooke put her arms around her 'sister.'
"When moving away didn't work, when school didn't work, I tried to forget you with other people – lots of other people."
"Oh my Sammie, I'm so sorry." Brooke embraced the girl tightly. "What happened to you?"
"My... my lovers Brooke. They weren't all..."
"Women?" the blond asked. "So there were men?"
"Well, yes, some, but that's not what I was going to say." Her face was pressed into Brooke's chest.
"What then?" Brooke released her grip on Samantha as the crying girl turned away.
"They weren't all... human Brooke," she said. As she turned around, Brooke saw that her lips were parted, and then she saw the elongated canines and incisors, and the color left her face.
As Samantha raised her head, Brooke saw the black where the girl's eyes should have been. She fell to her knees, gasping, but the scream wouldn't come.
"Don't be afraid, love. I'd never – ever – hurt you – or let anyone else hurt you. You don't have to worry. I just needed you to know... why.. I can never come home." Saying this, she knelt on the floor facing Brooke, closing her mouth and eyes. A instant later they opened, looking perfectly normal.
"Oh my poor Sammie..." Both were sobbing now and Samantha kissed her. "Please let me stay."
"And be like me? – No Brooke I could never do that to you."
"Then just let me stay."
"Would you... really?"
"Of course I would Sam, I've never loved anyone else in my entire pathetic life."
"I'd.. I'd like that." It was then Brooke noticed that the girl's tears were tinted red. "I love you Brooke."
"I love you Sam."
"Samantha" the vampire corrected her with a smile.