Fear less, hope more;
Eat less, chew more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Love more, and all good things will be yours.

x-x-x-x

When I returned home late that night, my mind was so groggy that I thought I'd pass out right there and then. I dragged myself through the silent house – thankfully not having to deal with my father's scolding for the evening – and fell on my bed in utter exhaustion.

But right as I was about to let go of my conscious mind, a new object on my desk caught my eye. A rectangular form lay there in the dark, making me push aside my fatigue for the moment and alluring me from my bed.

A book perched on my ruined desk, a black bookmark sticking out of its covers. Rubbing my eyes, I grabbed it and brought it closer to my face.

I nearly choked when I saw the familiar title of the book. I turned to the first page quickly, only to find what I'd expected to see – a small group of words were scrawled over the blank page in Bella's messy handwriting.

Stay good for me. I'll miss you.
Love,
Bella

I couldn't hold back my joy when I brought the book closer to my face and read the first page of the story with eager eyes. All my weariness was forgotten in that brief moment of delight when I noticed that our previous goodbye had not been our last one.

This farewell was the one that mattered.

How had she gotten inside? A cold wind blew in through the open window beside my closet, but I discarded the thought that followed immediately. Even the mere idea of Bella climbing up the wall to my room on the second story was hilarious.

Well, what did it matter? Inspiration flooded through me as I took a second look at the unexpected present.

I scurried to my bedside table and lit the lamp, illuminating my dark room once more. I sank in my bed, threw back the covers, and buried myself in them, setting the book on my pillow as I adjusted myself into a comfortable position on my stomach.

Letting my hand trace the edges, I lowered my nose to the first page and sniffed at the paper. I had always loved the smell of freshly printed paper, and the way the first pages seemed to stick to each other when they were turned around for the first time. Each new book was a treasure, and each turn of the page a new experience. There was a thrill to reading that I had never quite forgotten, not even in my years of rebellion.

This book in particular promised to be a pleasure from the beginning to the end. It didn't matter that I'd read it before; the words would have a completely new meaning to them after what I'd gone through in the past few weeks.

Reading my first book after Alex's death was exactly the kind of break I needed.

Relaxing my every muscle, my eyes skimmed over the cover again. I wanted to memorize every thread of its shell, as much as I wanted to do the same for the insides. I was going to enjoy this book from the very first letter.

'Dracula'
by Bram Stoker

Bella never failed to amaze me.


A/N: That was the last chapter!

Thank you to all you dear readers and reviewers :) I'm so sorry for the slow updates -- editing and loading up chapters is such a hassle and I've been swamped with school work. Also, this story has not attracted the attention I'd hoped for. I don't usually whine, and I'm fine with just a couple of reviews per chapter, but when you look at the stats I think you might agree with me that I have not been getting much feedback at all. 20 chapters, hundreds of reads, but only 18 reviews? This story is one of my big favorites among the ones that I've written, so it really gets me down to see that people aren't saying anything about it. The good, the bad, the undecided -- I want to hear it all. So if you've remained silent thus far, please consider leaving me a note :) I value all opinions.

Thank you!

P.S: I don't own 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker, as you may have already known ;)