Home > Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(13)

Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(13)
Author: L.J. Smith

There's still plenty of room around it, Elena said cheerful y.

But a bite on top of those cuts...He stopped again.

Elena looked at him. She knew her Stefan. There was something he wanted to say. Tell me, she pressed him.

Stefan final y met her eyes directly, and then put his mouth close to her ear. "I can heal the cuts,"he whispered. "But - it would mean opening them again so they can bleed. That wil hurt."

"And it might poison you!"Elena said sharply. "Don't you see? Mrs. Flowers put heaven knows what on them - "

She could feel his laughter, which sent warm tingles down her spine. "You can't kil a vampire so easily,"he said. "We only die if you stake us through the heart. But I don't want to hurt you - even to help you. I could Influence you not to feel anything - "

Once again, Elena cut him off. "No! No, I don't mind if it hurts.

As long as you get as much blood as you need."

Stefan respected Elena enough to know that he shouldn't ask the same question twice. And he could hardly restrain himself any longer. He watched her lie down and then stretched out beside her, bending to get to the green-stained cuts. He licked gently, at first rather tentatively, at the wounds, and then ran a satiny tongue over them. He had no idea how the process worked or what chemicals he was stroking over Elena's injuries. It was as automatic as breathing was to humans. But after a minute, he chuckled softly.

What? What? Elena demanded, smiling herself as his breath tickled.

Your blood's laced with lemon balm, Stefan replied.

Grand mama's healing recipe has lemon balm and alcohol in it! Lemon balm wine!

Is that good or bad? Elena asked uncertainly.

It's fine - for a change. But I still like your blood straight the best. Does it hurt too much?

Elena could feel herself flush. Damon had healed her cheek this way, back in the Dark Dimension, when Elena had, with her own body, protected a bleeding slave from a whiplash.

She knew Stefan knew the story, and must know, each time he saw her, that the almost-invisible white line on her cheekbone had been stroked just this gently into healing.

Compared to that, these scratches are nothing, she sent.

But a sudden chil went through her.

Stefan! I never begged your pardon for protecting Ulma at the risk of not being able to save you. Or, worse - for dancing while you were starving - for keeping up the society pretense so we could get the Twin Fox key -

Do you think I care about that? Stefan's voice was mock-angry as he gently sealed one cut at her throat. You did what you had to in order to track me - find me - save me - after I'd left you alone here. Don't you think I understand? I didn't deserve the saving -

Now Elena felt a smal sob choke her. Never say that!

Never! And I suppose - I suppose I knew you would forgive me - or I would have felt every jewel I wore burning like a brand. We had to chase you down like a fox with hounds - and we were so scared that a single misstep could mean you'd be hanged...or we would be.

Stefan was holding her tightly now. How can I make you understand? he asked. You gave up everything - even your freedom - for me. You became slaves. You - you - were "Disciplined"...

Elena asked wildly, How do you know that? Who told you?

You told me, beloved. In your sleep - in your dreams.

But, Stefan - Damon took the pain for me. Did you know that?

Stefan was silent a moment, then responded, I...see. I didn't know that before.

Scenes strewn from the Dark Dimension bubbled in Elena's mind. That city of tarnished baubles - of il usive glitter, where a whiplash that spread blood across a wal was as much celebrated as a handful of rubies strewn on the sidewalk....

Love, don't think about it. You followed me, and you rescued me, and now we're here together, Stefan said. The last cut closed, he lay his cheek on hers. That's all I care about. You and I - together.

Elena was almost dizzily glad to be forgiven - but there was something inside her - something that had grown and grown and grown during the weeks she was in the Dark Dimension.

A feeling for Damon that was not just the result of her need for his help. A feeling that Elena had thought Stefan understood. A feeling that might even change the relations between the three of them: her, Stefan, and Damon. But now Stefan seemed to assume that everything would return to the way it was before his kidnapping.

Oh, wel , why fret about tomorrow when tonight was enough to make her weep with joy?

This was the best feeling in the world, the knowledge that she and Stefan were together, and she made Stefan promise her over and over that he would not ever leave her on another quest again, no matter how briefly, no matter what the cause.

By now, Elena could not even focus on what she had been worried about before. She and Stefan had always found heaven in each other's arms. They were meant to be together forever. Nothing else mattered now that she was home.

"Home"was where she and Stefan were together.

Chapter 6

Bonnie couldn't get to sleep after Damon's words to her.

She wanted to talk to Meredith, but there was an unseeing, unhearing lump in Meredith's bed.

The only thing she could think of was to go down to the kitchen and huddle up with a cup of cocoa in the den, alone with her misery. Bonnie wasn't good at being alone with herself.

But as it turned out, when she got to the bottom floor, she didn't head for the kitchen after al . She went straight to the den. Everything was dark and strange-looking in the silent dimness. Turning on one light would just make everything else even darker. But she managed, with shaking fingers, to twist the switch of the standing lamp beside the couch. Now if only she could find a book or something...

She was holding on to her pil ow as if it were a teddy bear, when Damon's voice beside her said, "Poor little redbird.

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