Hey everyone.....Yeah, I know it's been a good....six months since I've updated. Sorry!!!! I didn't mean for it to take this long...but school....and writer's block kinda did that....heh. Anyways...here's chapter 14!

--AWBREY--

I woke suddenly. It was much before sunset, and I wondered what woke me from my sleep. Sitting up, I listened for any noises that didn't belong. I heard the door slam closed and the sound of footsteps walking through the living room. They were Sage's. I relaxed, knowing she was okay.

I stood up and pulled on my robe, then walked quietly to the living room. The smell of pizza was pouring through the house. The smell was slightly nauseating. Sage was sitting on the couch, pulling the coffee table closer. I couldn't help but laugh.

She glanced up at me and smiled, "Hey. You're up pretty early. It's only four."

I smiled back. She seemed to be all right, which was a nice change from last night. "I head something, that's all." I glanced around the room. The blinds were open, and the little light that was coming through hurt my eyes. "Sage, could you close the blinds?"

"Oh, of course. I'm sorry." Sage jumped up and closed the blinds. I sighed with relief.

She went back to the couch and sat down cross-legged. Turning her attention to her food, she opened the pizza box. It was sausage and pepperoni "You must be a light sleeper or something. It was just the pizza guy."

"Yes, I am, for my kind at least." I came into the living room and sat on the couch. Leaning back, I relaxed and watched her. She started eating a piece of the greasy food, using her free hand to turn on the television with the remote.

We watched the television in comfortable silence, then she did something that startled me completely. She finished her second piece of pizza, then scooted close to me, curling her body up on the couch, against me.

"…Sage?"

She looked up at me. This was obviously surprising to her as well. "I-I'm sorry, if you don't want me to…"

"No, it's okay. Stay there." I wrapped my arm around her, keeping her in place. "I never said that. Quite the opposite actually."

She buried her face in the cloth of my robe. "I've missed you so much." She blurted out, "I can't stop thinking about you. That's all I've done since I've left. At my graduation, I swear to god that I saw you. I'm going crazy or something. I went to your house…but you were gone."

I listened, staying silent for a moment before answering. "You weren't seeing things little one. I was at your graduation." I said quietly.

She looked up at me, "Really?"

I nodded, "Yes, I wouldn't miss something like that. Not even if we weren't speaking to each other. I still care for you."

She closed her eyes, but not before two tears found their way down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry Awbrey." She murmured.

I wrapped my other arm around her and turned so I could pull her into my lap. "Shh, no more apologizing little one. I know you are sorry, more than sorry. No more tears." I leaned close and kissed them off her cheeks.

She leaned away so she could see my face properly. "Awbrey…how did you know when and where my graduation was?"

"I can find that easily enough. You did tell me where you went to school while you lived with me. All I did was call and ask."

"oh…"

"Did you think I used magic powers or some such?"

Sage smiled wanly, "Maybe." She wrapped her arms around me and nestled between my body and the couch. "I've been such a bitch to you."

I blinked in surprise, 'Sage! No you have not!"

"Yes, I have. You've given me your heart, more than once…and…I've just squashed it without even stopping to think."

This was an interesting turn. I stayed silent, mostly because I had no idea where she was going with this. She kept her face turned from mine as she spoke.

"Awbrey…I do love you. I really do. I just don't know how to make this work. I want to find a way, if you're willing to try after what I've done to you."

"What?" I stared at her, my jaw hanging open. Was I willing to try? Hell yes!

She looked up and giggled nervously, "I want to try this whole relationship thing. But…not just yet."

"Then…when?"

"When…when…I don't feel so dirty." Her gaze fell away again.

This time I put my hand under her chin and forced her to look at me, "What are you talking about?"

"What happened last night…that…I feel so dirty. I scrubbed myself raw in the shower, but I can't get the feel of that man off of me. I feel so gross. And every time I think of it, I can't stop myself from crying." Even as she said it, her eyes were tearing up.

"Sage…" I tightened my hold on her, "You're not dirty, okay? Try to forget what happened last night. That man can't hurt you anymore, I made sure of it."

Sage's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "What…what do you mean?"

I shook my head. I did not want to tell her that I nearly severed the man's head off, and murdered him not ten feet from where she was lying. "Just know that you are safe now little one. Nothing like that is ever, ever going to happen to you again."

Her gaze dropped away from mine. She knew. She knew what I did. I could only hope that she wouldn't condem me for it now. I waited in silence. The accusation never came. Instead, she dropped the subject.

"I should call my mom. I'm sure she's really worried about me by now."

"Of course. The phone is to your left"

She picked it up and dialed her house.

"Mom? Hey, Its Sage…..Mom! Mom! Calm down. I'm sorry I scared you. I'm fine, just fine. I met up with my…" she paused, "My old boyfriend. I ended up falling asleep on the couch. That's all, okay?"

Her mother was yelling, so I was able to hear her easily.

"You spent the night at some boy's house that I don't even know?" the voice turned from fearful to angry.

"Mom, I'm eighteen, thank you very much. I'm an adult, and I can do that if I want to."

"You're still my child. I won't have you coming around, not telling us where you go!"

"I'm an adult, and I'm out of school now, I can do whatever I want." Sage was irritated. It sounded like one of those old arguments that kept getting rekindled.

"If you feel that way, then you can just move out on your own. I won't have you living under my roof with an attitude like that."

"You know what? Fine! I'll come by later and get my stuff." She slammed the phone down before her mother could answer. Tears were burning in her eyes, but she tried to hold them back.

I stayed silent, just holding her. I didn't know what to say to comfort her.

"Awbrey…I'm sorry…" she closed her eyes and groaned.

"Sage, I said no more apologizing. If you are truly leaving your home, you are welcome to stay here."

"Are you sure?"

I looked down at her, smiling, "Little one, you have lived with me for over a month before. I was fine with it then. What makes you think I've changed?"

She shrugged. "I dunno…but you don't have a big house anymore. There's not enough room for me here."

"Rubbish. I'll find room."

"Where am I going to sleep? Or put my stuff?"

"If you wished, you could sleep in my bed. At night I really won't be occupying it. And have enough room in this place for both of our belongings."

She bit her lip in thought. I couldn't help it when my hand reached up and traced her cheek. She smiled back at me, "All right. I already know that you'd pester me until I said yes anyway. I don't feel like being annoyed to the point of insanity."

"There we go, good girl." She relaxed in my arms once again, draping an arm across my stomach.

"Thank you Awbrey." She said softly.

"You're welcome little one." I kissed the top of her head, "When do you wish to gather your belongings?"

"Whenever you feel like driving me."

"Later then, when the sun has set."

"Sounds good to me. I don't feel like getting up right now." She yawned and closed her eyes, nestling herself against me. It was almost too much for me to handle at the moment. I was hungry, and she was so tempting. I needed to feed…and she was right there, pressed against my body. Before I knew it, I had pulled her chin up and was lowering my head to her lovely neck.