5

"Max! No!" I screamed thrashing in my seat to get loose and go to him. All of my thrashing caused the chair to topple over. I fell to the floor on my side and watched as Calib reeled back muttering curses as Max crumbled to the floor. As he fell, a knife slid out of his bag and slid just a few inches away from me. I pulled the chair behind me as I crept toward the knife to grab ahold of it so that I could get free and run to Max.

I grabbed ahold of the hilt of the knife and tried to saw away at the rope around the wrist nearest the knife. It was awkward trying to hold the knife while sawing away at the rope; I had to saw away at the rope on the underside of my wrist. I finally pulled my arm free and brought the knife to my other wrist and cut as quickly as I could. Once I was done with my wrists I still had my ankles to do before I could even think of going to Max. I pulled both of my legs free and ran toward Max hoping that I wasn't too late.

I stumbled toward Max and fell to my knees beside him reaching out my hand to touch his cheek. He felt so cold and lifeless like he had already passed. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I came face to face with the realization that Max would never know how I truly felt. I took too long figuring out my feelings, and now he was gone. Tears trickled down my cheeks as I wept for a lost love and my best friend. I laid my cheek on his and just cried; I felt like I could fill a well with all of my tears. My tears ran down my cheeks onto his so that it looked like he was crying too.

"Oh Max, I wish I had told you…but I didn't know at the time…Max, I love you; I've always loved you though I never knew it myself…" He had sacrificed himself to save me…, I thought to myself weeping even more. He had given up his whole life so that I could life out mine. I was so absorbed in weeping for my loss that I didn't notice Calib creeping up behind me. Yet right before he got to me, I turned around to find him hobbling toward me. He still had the pocketknife lodged in his chest; it looked like he hadn't even tried to pull it out.

"Rylee…help me…" he rasped reaching out a hand toward me. I couldn't really move away from his hand so instead I swatted it away. He was so weak from the blood loss that he was immediately off balance. I couldn't believe he was still alive with all of the blood he had lost. There was a pool of blood where he had fallen after Max had stabbed him.

"No!" I screamed at him and pushed him away from me causing him to topple over. I was so distraught that I did the unthinkable; I picked up the knife that I had used to cut the rope and brought it down, stabbing Calib in the chest. I couldn't believe I had just done that; it wasn't like me to hurt others, but I was just so hysterical that I had stabbed the one person who had caused me to feel this way. Calib let out a high pitched scream like he was burning.

I covered my ears as the screaming continued; it was like the sound of a woman screaming in fear it was so loud. Suddenly the screaming stopped leaving me in absolute silence. The silence was eerie as it settled over me giving me chills down my spine. As the silence settled, I noticed that Calib had disappeared. I looked around the room, but there was no sign of him just a pile of ash where he used to be.

I didn't believe that he could have just disintegrated into ash; it just wasn't possible. I shook my head then laid back down beside Max and ran my fingers through his lush black hair. I couldn't believe he was gone. We had our lives ahead of us, and now his was gone for good. Tears streaked down my cheeks as I leaned in close and kissed him deeply on the lips, a goodbye kiss.

As I was getting up, I felt a hand wrap around my raw wrist. I looked down at Max's face to find him staring back at me with a small grin. He pulled me back down and kissed me with such force that I lost my breath. I was breathless by the time we broke apart. He smiled up at me like he was seeing the most beautiful thing in the world. I felt a blush creep up my cheeks as he continued to stare.

"You saved me," was the first thing that popped into my head as I stared into his misty grey eyes.

"No, you saved me," he replied beaming up at me with so much love in his eyes. I didn't have the heart to deny him while he was looking up at me with so much love written all over his face. I kissed him lightly on the lips and hugged him with as much pressure as I could muster up.

"I was so scared, Max, I thought I had lost you forever," I whispered, afraid to say it any louder in case something else happened.

"You will never lose me, Rylee. I'll always be there for you no matter what," he whispered back, holding me closer to his body. I snuggled up against his chest feeling comforted that he was here.

"You better not," I joked half-heartedly. He laughed at that. Oh how I've missed that laugh, I thought to myself as I smiled in happiness. I finally felt whole and truly happy for the first in forever.

"Rylee, let's go home," Max said as he pushed himself up and helped me up though he was a little bit unstable. I put an arm under his and helped him across the room to the door that would start a new beginning. I had everything in the world that I would want at that moment; money didn't mean anything to me as long as I had Max right beside me.

I hadn't been lying when I told her that she had saved me; I had died once again and once again been brought back. I had saved her because of the love I felt for her, and she had saved me the same way. Love had saved us both from losing our lives too soon in life. I felt grateful that I had a second chance to finally live the life that I wanted with the girl that I loved. We walked out of the warehouse into the soft snow that was gently falling, cleansing both of us from the evil that had touched us.

I brought Rylee closer to me even though she was the one supporting me from toppling over. I looked down at her and smiled as snowflakes clung to her chocolate brown hair; it made her look even more beautiful and innocent. She glanced up at me with a broad smile spreading across her lips and the light shining in her emerald green eyes. I felt like my heart was going to burst with the happiness that I felt at finally being with Rylee. I couldn't believe that I had died twice and still gotten the girl though I almost lost her.

Rylee rested her head on my shoulder as we walked on the sidewalk toward my house and new life. As I was walking, I felt a sudden pull on my soul like it was trying to lead me somewhere. I paused a moment and looked toward the woods knowing exactly what I would find. I noticed a pair of crystal blue eyes staring back at me from behind a tree. My fox had come back to me. I smiled finally feeling at peace in my human skin again though sometimes I wished for my fox skin again. Rylee looked up at me then to where I was staring though the fox had vanished by then, blending into the snow again.

"What's wrong?" she asked, looking up at me quizzically.

"Nothing, just thought I saw something in the woods," I replied, leaning down to kiss her on the forehead. She smiled, content, and kept on walking toward our new life. My life would never truly be the same after everything that I had been through, but whose life really would? Though my life had change, it had changed for the better; I had finally found where I belonged and I wasn't going to give it up for the world. Three lives had been lost but would never be forgotten despite one of them being evil.

Yet life goes on despite the ups and downs of life and death. I had died twice and in dying twice I had a new outlook on life. I will always keep living until the day comes that my life ends for good. As I looked down at the love of my life, I thought of everything that I had gone through just to get to this point. I was just glad that I had never given up on life and love.