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

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

It was odd, though. Elena's senses told her that there was no one standing directly in front of her, waiting for her to literal y run into him. Al right, she thought. Start with baby steps. Step one. Step two. Step three - I must be wel into the room now, but it's stil too dim to see anything. Step four...

A strong arm came out of the darkness and locked in an iron grip around her waist, and a knife pressed against her throat.

Elena saw blackness shot with a sudden gray network, after which the dark closed in overwhelmingly.

Chapter 2

Elena couldn't have been out for more than a few seconds.

When she came to, everything was the same - although she wondered how she hadn't lethal y cut her own throat on the knife.

She knew that the tray with the dishes and cup had gone flying into the darkness in that first instant when she couldn't help flinging out her arms. But now she recognized the grip, she recognized the scent, and she understood the reason for the knife. And she was glad that she did, because she was about as proud of fainting as Sage would have been of doing it. She wasn't a fainter!

Now she wil ed herself to sag in Damon's arms, except for where the knife was. To show him that she was no threat.

"Hel o, princess,"a voice like black velvet said into her ear.

Elena felt an inner shiver - but not of fear. No, it was more as if her insides were melting. But he didn't change his grasp on her.

"Damon..."she said huskily, "I'm here to help you. Please let me. For your sake."

As abruptly as it had come, the iron grip was withdrawn from her waist. The knife stopped pressing into her flesh, although the sharp, stinging feeling at her throat was quite enough to remind her that Damon would have it ready. Substitute fangs.

There was a click, and suddenly the room was too bright.

Slowly, Elena turned to look at Damon. And even now, even when he was pale and rumpled and haggard from not eating, he was so gorgeous that her heart seemed to plummet into darkness. His black hair, fal ing every which way over his forehead; his perfect, carven features; his arrogant, sensual mouth - right now compressed into a brooding line...

"Where is it, Elena?"he asked briefly. Not what. Where. He knew she wasn't stupid, and, of course, he knew the humans in the boardinghouse were hiding the star bal from him deliberately.

"Is that al you have to say to me?"Elena whispered.

She saw the helpless softening in his eyes, and he took one step toward her as if he couldn't help himself, but the next instant he looked grim. "Tel me, and then maybe I'l have more."

"I...see. Wel , then, we made a system, two days ago,"Elena said quietly. "Everyone draws lots for it. Then the person who gets the paper with the X takes it from the center of the kitchen table and everyone goes to their rooms and stays there until the person with the star bal hides it. I didn't get the lot today, so I don't know where it is. But you can try to - test me."Elena could feel her body cringing as she said the last words, feeling soft and helpless and easily hurt.

Damon reached over and slowly slipped a hand beneath her hair. He could slam her head against a wal , or throw her across the room. He could simply squeeze her neck between knife and hand until her head fel off. Elena knew that he was in the mood to take out his emotions on a human, but she did nothing. Said nothing. Just stood and looked into her eyes.

Slowly, Damon bent toward her and brushed his lips - so softly - against hers. Elena's eyes drifted shut. But the next moment Damon winced and slid the hand back out of her hair.

That was when Elena gave another thought as to what must have become of the food she had been bringing to him.

Near-scalding coffee seemed to have splashed her hand and arm and soaked her jeans on one thigh. The cup and saucer were laying in pieces on the floor. The tray and the cookies had bounced off behind a chair. The plate of steak tartar, however, had miraculously landed on the couch, right side up. There was miscel aneous cutlery everywhere.

Elena felt her head and shoulders droop in fear and pain.

That was her immediate universe right now - fear and pain.

Overwhelming her. She wasn't usual y a crier, but she couldn't help the tears that fil ed her eyes.

Damn! Damon thought.

It was her. Elena. He'd been so certain an adversary was spying on him, that one of his many enemies had tracked him down and was setting a trap...someone who had discovered that he was as weak as a child now.

It hadn't even occurred to him that it might be her, until he was holding her soft body with one arm, and smel ing the perfume of her hair as he held an ice-slick blade to her throat with the other.

And then he'd snapped on a light and saw what he had already guessed. Unbelievable! He hadn't recognized her.

He had been outside in the garden when he'd seen the door to the storage room standing open and had known that there was an intruder. But with his senses degraded as they were he hadn't been able to tel who was inside.

No excuses could cover up the facts. He had hurt and terrified Elena. He had hurt her. And instead of apologizing he had tried to force the truth out of her for his own selfish desires.

And now, her throat...

His eyes were drawn to the thin line of red droplets on Elena's throat where the knife had cut her when she'd jerked in fear before col apsing right onto it. Had she fainted? She could have died right then, in his arms, if he hadn't been fast enough in whipping the knife away.

He kept tel ing himself that he wasn't afraid of her. That he was just holding the knife absentmindedly. He wasn't convinced.

"I was outside. You know how we humans can't see?"he said, knowing he sounded indifferent, unrepentant. "It's like being wrapped in cotton al the time, Elena: We can't see, can't smel , can't hear. My reflexes are like a tortoise's, and I'm starving."

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