Chapter Eight

Well, days passed into weeks and weeks passed into months. Autumn leaves continued to billow down, blanketing the grounds with the brilliant reds and golds. Sammy had gotten relatively used to the place already - it was, after all, her new home.

Making her trek across the campus to her biology class, she trudged through the grounds, the crunch of the leaves echoing around her. She stifled a yawn as she adjusted the strap of her backpack, shivering in her brother's old windbreaker. Winter was nearing and she made a mental note to pull out her father's winter jacket from the small suitcase she had packed with all of the clothes she managed to preserve after the accident.

Things have been pretty good so far. Between hanging out with Tristan and Vincent, my social life has been fairly packed. Just have to be careful to keep them apart ... and to stop acting so girly every other minute.

"SAMMY!"

She turned around, startled, just in time to see Will shooting past her in a blur. Just as he brushed past her, his hand latched onto her wrist and she found herself being dragged along behind him. But with Will's antics, how could I ever relax?

"Who are we running from?" she panted hard as they finally reached the building. Their mad dash let up and she bent over, hands on her knees.

"No one," the tall tanned boy grinned, his hazel eyes twinkling. Damn him, he didn't even break out into a sweat. "Just like to see you rosy and out of breath." He winked devilishly at her.

She didn't even bother to respond.


Yep, everything finally seemed to be falling into place. She was getting the hang of things and life wasn't so ... awkward anymore. Nope, everything was just fine … just fine . . .

Sammy tossed and turned in her sleep. "No . . . stop . . ." She was running through the dark hallways of her uncle's mansion. Screaming for her parents, screaming for anybody, her footsteps resounded throughout the marble corridors. She slipped and slid as she clung her way past the cold, unyielding walls. Her panting sounded harsh to her ears and her heartbeat too fast and too loud to be normal.

"No . . . " she moaned as she stared at the same wall that always plagued her nightmares. "No . . ." A dark, immovable stone wall cold to the touch, it was the dead end she always dreaded and could never escape.

"Samantha," the low amused voice sent chills down her spine and she turned around slowly. The dark figure of Frank Westlane loomed at the end of the passageway and he took a step toward her, crooning at her. "Samantha." Another step and another and . . .

"Please don't. DON'T!" Sammy kicked out and she jerked awake. Her breaths came in short gasps and tendrils of her short red hair clung damply to the nape of her neck. She could feel tears rolling down her cheeks. "Just a dream . . . just a dream . . . just a . . ." She sucked in breath as a sharp spasm of pain rippled through her leg. She clutched her leg and curled up in a ball. She couldn't stop herself from letting out a soft moan and Vincent woke up drowsily.

"Sam? Wha's the matta?" Vincent slurred sleepily.

"Nothing. Nothing. Go back to sleep," she answered him in a hushed voice thick with tears.

He was fully alert now. He clamored out of his bed and crossed the room in three steps, hovering over her. "What's the matter? Why are you crying?"

She sniffed. "I'm not crying. Who said I was crying?"

His hand started to reach out to brush a tear off her cheek, but he froze at the last second. Instead, he flicked his finger at her face and her head fell to one side. She mumbled, "Ow."

"Hmmm?" he asked pointedly.

"What?"

"My finger is wet!"

She rubbed her nose with the back of her hand and narrowed her eyes at him. "So?"

"So you're crying," he said, feeling a tad foolish.

"I'm not crying. I just have allergies," she lied.

"Uh-huh," he said skeptically. She tried to sit up and a spasm of pain shot through her again. She fell backward and rubbed her leg, grimacing.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing!"

"You have a cramp in your leg?"

She nodded dejectedly.

"So you're crying because of a cramp?" he said incredulously.

"I'M NOT CRYING!" But she couldn't stop hiccupping with new tears. She suddenly felt immensely exhausted; she hadn't had proper time to mourn her parents' deaths before she was ushered into the home of her sadistic uncle and just as quickly, she ran off only to be living a life of lies for god knows how long. Yes, it was high and proper time to sit back and let everything catch up to her. Damn it, she deserved a good cry.

The only problem was that she didn't want to cry now. She had been doing such a good job with coping and everything – why the hell should she break down now? Why couldn't she be strong?

Vincent took a seat next to her and she reared back, wincing slightly. "It hurts," she said lamely as she rubbed her leaden foot.

He sighed, rubbing his eyes sleepily. By the moonlight, the angles of his profile were thrown in sharp contrast with the shadows. He looked so sturdy and reliable and for a second there, she was tempted to just confess everything to him. Was it fair for her to bring other people into her mess?

Then his hand shot out and before she could blink, he was cradling her leg in his lap. "What – what are you doing?" her voice sounded high-pitched even to her.

He grumbled, "What does it look like?" His fingers rubbed in circular motions along her calf and she reddened. He yawned loudly. "It wouldn't help me to sleep with you sniffling in the corner of your bed. Don't worry, this happens too when you don't warm up before doing exercise so sometimes, you have to massage the muscles to relieve the cramping." Eyes still closed, he peeled back his right eye to squint at her. "Though I guess you can't exactly warm up before going to sleep?"

I don't even shave anymore! Thank goodness I wear long pants to bed. The image of Vincent running his hand over her bare legs sent shivers down her spine, but then it was overlapped with the picture of him caressing her stubbles and well, then she just wanted to die. Why is he doing this? Don't tell me this is normal behavior between boys. The aching throb in her leg was starting to wane though and since Vincent's eyes were still half closed, she figured maybe he was just too sleepy to be weirded out by this situation. She hugged her pillow to her chest, propping up her chin as she stared at her roommate.

Vincent was impossibly tall. Even when he was sitting, his height still surpassed her. His large built made her feel strangely small and vulnerable and yet, she felt completely safe next to him. His touch was so gentle, soft and careful … it sent warm tingles swirling in the pit of her stomach and her face reddened even more.

A lock of black hair fell into Vincent's eyes and she resisted the urge to brush it away. He's usually so gruff and stoic but he can be so nice when he wants to be. He's so - "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" she shrieked as she yanked her foot away from him and clamored backward in alarm.

He gave a jolt as if she had woken him up and raised an eyebrow at her. "Same thing I was doing before."

"Yeah, but – but – but you were traveling upward. Upward! You were touching my thigh and -"

Her roommate looked stunned and even by the wan light, she realized that he had turned bright red. "H – hey! It wasn't like I was feeling you up! I was just trying to loosen up the muscles and – and what are you thinking? You're a guy! I wasn't going to take advantage – okay, good night."

With the abrupt turn in the conversation, he got up and made a beeline to his side of the room.

She clutched her pillow, stunned by his quick dismissal. Her cheeks were still red hot. The room turned silent.

Vincent stopped, making a half-turn, and cleared his throat. "But - you okay now?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Alright, good night then." He turned back to his bed, yanking back his covers.

"Good night."

Vincent climbed back into his bed.

"Vincent?"

"Yes?" He turned his head.

"Thank you."

Startled, he grunted gruffly in response. As he laid his head down on his pillow, he could still feel his face burning.

On the other side of the room, Sammy curled up in her covers and rubbed her leg absentmindedly. She could still feel the warmth of Vincent's touch and in spite of her flushed face, she was unable to stop a soft smile from creeping up on her lips.

Neither of them got any sleep that night.


"Morning!" Will and Jack sauntered into the cafeteria, pulling up two chairs to the table.

Sammy smiled tiredly in response. Vincent just propped a hand up and leaned his cheek against his palm, closing his eyes.

"What's wrong?" Jack frowned.

"Had a late night?" William grinned at them.

Vincent didn't even open his eyes and he let out a loud yawn. "Wipe that grin off your face, stupid. I just gave him a massage ..." Too late, he choked and coughed, trailing off.

"WHAT?" Will and Jack exclaimed.

"I didn't say anything," Vincent said quickly.

"Yes, you did. You said –"

"Oh god, I knew I should have stayed in bed today," Vincent groaned, dropping his head against the table.

"It isn't like that," Sammy quickly cut in. "He was just worried about me. I was rolling around in my bed and I couldn't move and he came over to make me feel better –"

"OH . . . make you 'feel better'," Will nodded knowledgably.

"No! No! It wasn't even like a massage. He was just rubbing my leg and my thigh –"

"Okay, too much information!" Jack laughed.

"Nonononono! Vincent was just being really nice! He –"

"Aw, Vincie-poo, you're such a darling! You're so very chivalrous!" Jack cooed.

Vincent straightened up, shooting them a dirty look. "Coaches help athletes with muscle cramps all the time –"

"And what strenuous bedtime activities have your athlete been participating in?" Jack nodded at Sammy and the girl turned beet red.

"Oh, Coach Vincie, I have a crick in my neck. You think you could be a sweetie pie and smooth it out for me? Pretty please?" Will batted his eyelashes at the other boy.

The expression on Vincent's face darkened, eyes glittering grey, and he rolled up his sleeves. He cracked his knuckles and loomed over them. "Sure, Will, I'll be more than happy to."

The two boys instantly stopped laughing and cowered backward, ducking their heads low to paddle cornflakes into their mouths.

While her roommate was busy waving fists in his friends' faces, someone tapped Sammy on her shoulder. She turned around to see Tristan smile down at her. "Hiya."

"Hey," she smiled back.

Vincent promptly stopped what he was doing and turned to glare at the blonde boy. Tristan ignored him and sat down with Caine by his side. "So where are you planning to go for the winter vacation, Sam?"

"Huh?"

"Winter vacation. We're going to have a break from school for two weeks." Tristan grinned.

Oh crap. I totally forgot about the holidays. What am I going to do? "Uh, right, I think I'm just going to stay here."

Everyone stared at her. "But Sam, it's the holidays. You can't stay here by yourself," Will protested.

"It's okay. I'll be fine," she smiled weakly.

"But that's so sad! You're going to feel so lonely and sad during the happiest time of the season! Don't you have some guardian to take you home?"

Her throat tightened. I'll go to hell sooner than I'll let him drag me back. "No. But it's fine really."

There was a moment of silence and then Vincent and Tristan both spoke up, "How about coming to my place for the break?"

The table went silent as their faces swiveled to each other in surprise.

"Oh, that sounds like fun! Sammy, we should all go to Vincent's place! It'll be like a little vacation," Will beamed. Jack nodded cheerfully.

Vincent muttered darkly, "I don't recall inviting you two boneheads."

Tristan shook his head, "Sam, you deserve a break from this idiot. I feel bad enough that you have to face him day and night here."

"What did you say?" Vincent bit off.

Marvin suddenly appeared by Tristan's side and sneered, "You heard him! He called you an idiot!"

Tristan frowned. "Where did you pop out from?"

"I've always been by your side, Trist," Marvin whined obsequiously. The blonde boy rolled his eyes, turning back to the redhead.

"Sam, it's your choice," Tristan said patiently.

"Uhhh . . ." How did I go from having no place to hang out for winter to this? The two boys fixated their eyes on her intently and she shifted uneasily in her seat. Maybe I should just stay here.

Will grinned. "No need to fret, Sammy. I've got the perfect solution."

"Hmm?" She gave him a grateful, expectant look. Anything to get out of this mess. Those two look ready to rip each other apart … and tear me in half in the process.

"We flip a coin!" The hazel eyed boy pulled out a quarter triumphantly.

She dropped her head on the table. Not exactly what I had in mind . . . but I'll take it.

"Heads is Vincent, tails is Tristan." The shiny coin flipped through the air in a graceful arc. Everyone watched it expectantly as it made its way back down. Clattering onto the table, it spun around rapidly before coming to a stop.


© Copyright 2003 Maeven (FictionPress ID:349779). Reposted 12/28/2008. All rights reserved. Distribution of any kind is prohibited without the written consent of Maeven.