Although my vampire blood was responsible for getting me into the mess on the rafters, it also saved my life.

As I fell, I stuck out an arm - more out of desperation than anything else - and my hand caught the rafter. If I'd been an ordinary human boy, I wouldn't have had the strength to hold on. But I wasn't ordinary. I was a half-vampire. And even though I was dizzy, I was able to grab tight and hold on.


I swung above the four-story drop, eyes shut, hanging on by those four slim fingers and my thumb.

"Darren! Hang on!"Sam shouted. He didn't need to tell me that - I was hardly going to let go.

I'm coming over,"Sam said. "I'll be there as fast as I can. Don't let go. And don't panic."

He went on talking as he made his way across, calming me down, telling me it would be all right, he'd rescue me, I had to relax, everything was fine.

His words helped. They gave me something other than the drop to think about. If not for Sam, I would have been a goner.

I felt him inch out along my rafter. The wood creaked, and for one awful moment I thought the weight would cause it to break and send both of us plummeting to our deaths. But it held and he closed the gap, crawling along on his stomach, quickly but carefully.

Sam paused when he reached me.

"Now,"he said, "I'm going to grab your wrist with my right hand. I'll do it slowly. Don't move while I'm doing it, and don't grab me with your free hand. Okay?"

"Okay,"I said.

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I felt his hand close over my wrist.

"Don't let go of the rafter,"he said.

"I won't,"I promised.

"I don't have the strength to pull you up,"he told me, "so I'm going to swing you from one side to the other. Stretch your free arm out. When you can, grab for the rafter. If you miss, don't panic, I'll still be holding on. If you get a grip, stay still for a few seconds and give your body a chance to relax. Then we can haul you up. Got it?"

"Got it, captain,"I said, grinning nervously.

"Here goes. And remember: Everything will be all right. Okay. It's going to work. You will survive."

He began swinging me, lightly at first, then a little harder. I was tempted to grab at the rafter after a few swings but forced myself to wait. When I thought I was swinging high enough, I stretched out my fingers, concentrated on the thin plank of wood, and grabbed.

I caught it!

I was able to relax a little then and rest the muscles of my right arm.

"Do you feel ready to pull yourself up?"Sam asked.

"Yes,"I said.

"I'll help you get your upper body up,"he said. "When your stomach is safe across the rafter, I'll get out of the way and give you room to bring your legs up."

Sam put his right hand on the collar of my shirt and jacket - to catch me if I slipped - and helped yank me upward.

I scraped my chest and stomach on the rafter, but the pain didn't bother me. In fact, I welcomed it: It meant I was alive.

When I was safe, Sam backed off and I got my legs up. I crawled after him, moving slower than necessary. When I reached the ledge, I stayed crouched down and didn't stand until we got to the stairs. Then I leaned against the wall and let out a long, shuddering sigh of relief.

"Wow,"Sam said to the left of me. "That was fun ! Do you want to do it again?"

I think he was joking.

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