Home > Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(11)

Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(11)
Author: L.J. Smith

"Damn you,"Matt said under his breath.

"Excuse me?"Damon's voice was no longer languid and falsely polite, but suddenly a whiplash.

"You heard me,"Matt growled. "And if you didn't, maybe we'd better go outside so I can say it louder,"he added, soaring on the wings of bravado.

He left behind a wail of "No!"from Bonnie, and a gentle

"Sh,"from Meredith. Stefan said, "Both of you - "in a commanding voice, but then he faltered and coughed, which both Matt and Damon took as a chance to sprint for the door.

It was stil very warm outside on the boardinghouse porch. "Is this the kil ing ground?"Damon asked lazily when they had descended the steps and stood beside the gravel path.

"It's fine by me,"Matt said briefly, knowing in his bones that Damon would fight dirty.

"Yes, this is definitely close enough,"Damon said, flashing an unnecessarily bril iant smile in Matt's direction. "You can yel for help while little brother is in the parlor, and he'l have plenty of time to rescue you. And now we're going to solve the problems of what you're doing in my business and why you are - "

Matt punched him in the nose.

He had no idea what Damon was trying to do. If you asked a guy to step outside, then you asked him to step outside.

Then you went for the guy. You didn't stand around talking. If you tried that, you'd be stuck with the label of "coward"or worse. Damon didn't seem like the type who needed to be told that.

But then, Damon had always been able to repel any attack on him while he got as many insults as he liked...before.

Before, he'd have just broken every bone in my hand and gone on baiting me, Matt guessed. But now...I'm almost as fast as him, and he simply got taken by surprise.

Matt flexed his hand gingerly. It always hurt, of course, but if Meredith could do it to Caroline, then he could do it to...

Damon?

Damn, did I just take down Damon?

Run, Honeycutt, he seemed to hear the voice of his old coach tel ing him. Run. Get out of town. Change your name.

Tried that. Didn't work. Never even got a T-shirt, Matt thought sourly.

But Damon wasn't leaping up like a flaming demon from hel , with the eyes of a dragon and the strength of a raging bul to annihilate Matt. It looked and sounded more as if he were shocked and indignant from his disheveled hair to his earth-stained boots.

"You...ignorant...childish..."He lapsed into Italian.

"Look,"Matt said. "I'm here to fight, okay? And the smartest guy I ever knew said: 'If you're gonna fight, don't talk. If you're gonna talk, don't fight.'"

Damon tried to snarl as he knelt up and pul ed spiny teasel and prickly sida out of his distressed black jeans. But the snarl didn't come out quite right. Maybe it was the new shape of his canines. Maybe it just didn't have enough conviction behind it. Matt had seen enough defeated guys to know that this fight was over. A strange exaltation came over him. He was going to keep al his limbs and organs! It was a precious, precious moment.

Al right, then, should I offer him a hand? Matt wondered, to be answered instantaneously by, Sure, if you'd offer a hand to a temporarily stunned crocodile. What do you really need ten whole fingers for, anyway?

Oh, wel , he thought, turning to go back into the front door. As long as he lived - which, conceded, might not be too long - he would remember this moment.

As he went in, he bumped into Bonnie, who was rushing out.

"Oh, Matt, oh, Matt,"she cried. She was looking wildly around. "Did you hurt him? Did he hurt you?"

Matt smacked his fist into the palm of his hand, once. "He's stil sitting down back there,"he added helpful y.

"Oh, no!"Bonnie gasped, and she hurried out the door.

Okay. Less spectacular of a night. But stil a pretty good one.

"They did what?"Elena asked Stefan. Cold poultices anchored by tight bandages were wrapped around her arm, hand, and thigh - Mrs. Flowers had cut her jeans off short - and Mrs. Flowers was wiping away the dried blood on her neck with herbs.

Her heart was pounding with more than pain. Even she hadn't realized that Stefan was tuned in to the entire house when he was awake. Al she could do was to shakily thank God that he'd been asleep while she and Damon - no! She had to stop thinking about it, and right now!

"They went outside to fight,"Stefan said. "It's idiotic, of course. But it's a matter of honor, too. I can't interfere."

"Wel , I can - if you're done, Mrs. Flowers."

"Yes, dear Elena,"Mrs. Flowers said, winding a bandage around Elena's throat. "Now you shouldn't get tetanus."

Elena stopped in mid-motion. "I thought you got tetanus from rusty blades,"she said. "Da - this one looked brand-new."

"Tetanus comes from dirty blades, my dear,"Mrs. Flowers corrected her. "But this" - she held up a bottle - "is Grand mama's own personal recipe that has kept many a wound disease-free down the cen - down the years."

"Wow,"Elena said. "I never even heard of Grand mama before. Was she a - healer?"

"Oh, yes,"Mrs. Flowers said earnestly. "She was actual y accused of being a witch. But at her trial they could prove nothing. Her accusers seemed not even to be capable of coherent speech."

Elena looked at Stefan only to find that he was looking at her.

Matt was in danger of being dragged off to a kangaroo court - for al egedly assaulting Caroline Forbes while under the influence of some unknown and terrible drug. Anything to do with courts was interesting to both of them. But looking at Stefan's concerned face, Elena decided not to pursue the subject. She squeezed his hand. "We have to go now - but let's talk about Grand mama later. I think she sounds fascinating."

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