Authors notes deleted 12/01/13

Chapter 14

Peter had refused to carry Dodge; he refused to even get close to him. I didn't blame him all that much. But I refused to be carried by a vampire I hardly knew and leave my dog to make his own way, especially when there were a lot of wild animals around here. I knew I was being overcautious, as the pack had always laughed at me for. Dodge was created stronger, faster and deadlier than any animal out there; if he was overcome he could just outrun any that dared attack him thanks to his advanced healing and stamina.

Peter began walking back the way direction he had appeared; I adjusted my hood and swung my bag back on before following him. He walked a little too fast to appear human and I found myself having to jog to keep up., I didn't want him out of my sight, life debt or not. I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him, which was not far at all.

We walked through the deserted market stalls, past the heavily boarded up little homes and started along a dirt road. It was more a mud slide due to the rain, my boots stuck and squelched. I slid around desperately trying to keep my footing.

The sulking vampire ahead of me seemed to walk faster and faster, I slid more and more often, the rain came down harder. My breath became shallow pants as shadows began to encroaching and trees began sprouting up along the muddied path. He was leading me into the jungle, it was going to get darker and already I could see nothing but darkness ahead. There would be no animals, both vampire and dog would scare them away, but that didn't mean that the bugs weren't there, lurking, waiting for the opportune moment.

With a half frenzied look over my shoulder I hastened to a sprint forgetting the mud, I came to a sliding halt next to Peter, tearing my hands from my pockets just in time to wrap them around his arm as I slid to the ground. He didn't offer to help me up; he just kept walking, half dragging me as I clambered to my feet.

I kept a first knotted in the fabric of his shirt sleeve as I stumbled alongside him, Dodge walked pressed up against my leg, his attempt at keeping me steady. Trees pressed us closer and closer together till they blocked out the light of the moon and stars altogether and I could see nothing at all.

"Peter!" I snapped, after banging my shoulder on a tree for the fifth time.

"You know I can't see a thing, you could offer a little help!" I screeched, yanking on his arm till he span to face me.

"What would you have me do, my lady?" He asked, sarcasm heavy in his voice. I could sense his face was a hair's breadth away from mine, and he was tilting his head down to my level.

"Perhaps I should gather the stars and have them line the way for you." He continued, I took a step back till and hit a tree. Dodge began growling and I felt his warmth pressing against my legs, I snapped my fingers, the sound lingered long after he had stopped gnashing his teeth.

"Or perhaps you would prefer a symphony of fireflies to dance around your pretty. Little. Head." I flinched as his cold and hard fingers poked my forehead harshly, that would leave bruises.

"Oh, how p-poetic...pretty, pathetic, poetic, Peter." I drawled, regaining my nerve and smirking at his gasp of shock. I sobered up quickly when a shudder ran down my body, I was soaking wet and didn't want to get ill.

"Find us shelter, and something to build a fire with." I ordered, he growled but dashed away. Orders I could give, anger I could do, but leave me somewhere dark, no light switch in sight and I became jittery. I sunk down the tree trunk, closing my eyes lest I saw something I didn't want to see, and wrapped my arms around Dodge's warm body, I could count on him to chase my demons away.

A little while later Peter reappeared, my eyes were adjusted to the darkness, but it did little good with next to no light at all in the overcrowded jungle.

"There's a cave." He grunted, I rose to my feet, my knees snapping loudly and nodded at him.

"How far?"

He ignored the question for a full minute till I repeated myself, with a long drawn out sigh he finally snapped, 'Ten minutes,' at me.

"Ten minutes for you or ten minutes for me?"

"What do you think?" It was like talking to hormonal teenager, what with how hard it was to get a straight answer, and I was not amused.

"Fine." I snapped right back, two could play at that game. I was tired, my eyes felt dry and hard to keep open, I hadn't slept in so long. I couldn't even remember when I had last had a bed.

"Then you will carry me," there was a disgruntled growl and cold hands seized my arms when I didn't retract my order. I added, "'gently"' as he swung me up into his arms instead of over his shoulder and raced away. My bag dug into my bag back and I was thankful I carried nothing sharp in there. I whistled for my dog to follow and cupped my hands over my ears to drown out the sounds of Peter's stone body crashing through the leaves and branches of the jungle.

I was dumped unceremoniously on my feet and barely managed to stay up right before purposely falling to my ass by the roaring fire. We were indeed in a cave;, there was a high ceiling, and the walls looked moist. There was a putrid damp smell and I took air in through my mouth to avoid the urge to gag. Leaves, twigs and various scurrying things littered the floor and I brushed them aside so I sat in a small clear patch by the much appreciated heat.

When a warm, panting body, pressed up against my side I began taking my wet clothes off. I lay everything out a safe distance from the fire and left myself in my worn black sports bra and cotton panties. I had all but forgotten about Peter till he shifted his weight and was growled at in reprimand.

"Sit down," I said, looking up at him over the fire. He did, sitting on his ass with his knees raised and his arms resting on them.

He watched me, in an uninterested way as I rubbed my now warm hands over my body to dry it off, and fluffed out my hair to help it dry. When I was warm I sat cross legged and began digging through my bag. I pulled out an almost empty bottle of water and a pack of beef jerky offering some of both to Dodge, before helping myself.

"Is that all you eat? No wonder you're all skin and bones." I paused mid chew and looked up at him; his forehead was creased in a disapproving frown. Looking down at myself I noticed my jutting hip bones, my protruding ribs and my sunken stomach. I fought the urge to cover myself up again.

"Yeah, well, it's all I can carry and all I could get my hands on." I snapped, and we went back to silence.

Neither Peter nor I spoke until I was reclined along the somewhat smooth cave floor, puffing away on one of my last cigarettes, using my dog as a pillow. Peter hadn't moved a muscle since I had told him to sit.

"I'm curious," I started. "How did you get out of the castle?" I turned my head to look at him, flicking the butt into the fire.

"Out of the front door, just like you," he told me, his voice rough and sharp. He begrudged talking to me, that much was obvious. I thought back to that night, I remembered tearing off a layer of fabric to cover my dead best friend's nudity.

"Really?" I sat up, curling my legs under myself so I could see him better. "So you saw Charlotte?"

"What are you talking about? I didn't see her, I just followed the blood."

"You didn't see her?" That was impossible, unless he had come from a different direction. No. He said he had followed the blood. The blood was in one place and left one trail. He wouldn't have come from a different direction. Her body was there, I had left it there. But the castle was crumbling when I had left; maybe she was already swallowed by the ground by the time Peter got there.

"Tell me, Peter. What sort of shape was the castle in when you got out?"

"The hall was the first to go. The explosions spiralled outwards. The floors gave way just as we made it outside." It was vampire speed, that's all. Charlotte's body was under rubble before they got there. They He hadn't been in time to see her. I nodded to myself, bringing my knees to my chest and rested my chin on them.

"If you loved her as much as you claim, why did you leave her?" The question came as a shock and a chill spread over my body, from head to toe, leaving me uncomfortable. I didn't make eye contact as I answered him.

"I did love her, my whole life. She was my family. But I couldn't carry dead weight. The city was crumbling, she would have wanted me to get out, and she would have wanted me to save myself if I couldn't save her." I had told myself it the same a hundred thousand times, hoping to relieve the guilt I carried on my shoulders., I had a feeling that if I told myself it every minute of every day for the rest of my life I would still feel sick to the pit of my stomach every time a happy memory was marred by the echo of the bloody gurgles she made that fateful night.

"How, Isabella?" I didn't need him to elaborate I knew what he meant, but I found it hard to pull myself out of the past, the flickering flames in front of me became the torch I had struggled to reach in time, the damp smell of the cave became the disgusting scent of burning fur and flesh.

"There was so much blood." I muttered, rubbing my hands against my arms as if it was still there.

"I got her out of the hall;, she was concussed, and I had to drag her. We almost got out; we were right by the doors when a werewolf cornered us. He wanted Char for some reason, he was sniffing her. She was-she was just so scared. She tried to push it away and it just-" I slapped my hands together, imitating jaws. Peter flinched but rose to his feet so he could tower over me.

"You just left her, you ran!" He accused.

"No!" I argued back, looking up at him. "I grabbed a torch and I beat its skull in before setting the corpse alight. But it was too late, she was gone. I stayed with her as long as I could, I covered her body, I held her hand..." He went to lung lunge at me, but Dodge was there first, guarding my position as I wound my hands into his thick fur.

"Liar!" He roared, fisting his marble hands till I could hear the knuckles creak. The firelight made his black eyes seem deep, fathomless and made me stand so I could no longer be intimidated by his height alone.

"What?" I screeched, still trying to get Dodge to calm down. "NO! That's the truth, what reason do I have to lie?"

With a violent hand gesture he pointed toward the cave opening. "Her blood trailed outof the castle, Isabella." I stumbled back till I hit the wall, shocked by his words, a powerful surge of hope swelled within me-

"I was covered in it, Peter," I sighed, finding his eyes in the dark, my voice deep and hoarse. "It was just me."

-before being replaced by the overwhelming wave of loss and despair it had momentarily pushed aside.