Home > Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(6)

Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(6)
Author: L.J. Smith

He'd seen the two lovebirds together, Elena hand-feeding a dying Stefan her blood through razor wire. Fortune only knew what ideas that fox had gotten into his furry white head when he'd prepared the rose that had "cured"Damon of his

"curse."If it turned out to be an irreversible "cure"...

If Sage turned out to be unreachable...

It suddenly broke into Damon's thoughts that Elena was cold.

It was strange, since the night was warm, but she was shivering violently. She needed his jacket or...

She's not cold, the smal voice somewhere deep inside him said. And she's not shivering. She's trembling because of al you've put her through.

Elena?

You forgot all about me. You were holding me, but you completely forgot my existence...

If only, he thought bitterly. You're branded on my soul.

Damon was suddenly furious, but it was different from his anger at kitsune and Sage and the world. It was the kind of anger that made his throat close and his chest feel too tight.

It was an anger that made him pick up Elena's scalded hand, which was rapidly turning scarlet in patches, and examine it.

He knew what he would have done as a vampire: stroked over the burns with a silky cool tongue, generating chemicals to accelerate the healing. And now...there was nothing he could do about it.

"It doesn't hurt,"Elena said. She was able to stand now.

"You're lying, princess,"he said. "The insides of your eyebrows are up. That's pain. And your pulse is jumping - "

"You can sense that without touching me?"

"I can see it, at your temples. Vampires,"with vicious emphasis on what he stil was, in essence, "notice things like that. I made you hurt yourself. And I can't do anything to help.

Also" - he shrugged - "you're a beautiful liar. About the star bal , I mean."

"You can always sense when I'm lying?"

"Angel,"he said wearily, "it's easy. You are either the lucky holder of the star bal today...or you know who is."

Again, Elena's head drooped in consternation.

"Or else,"Damon said lightly, "the entire story of the drawing of the lots was a lie."

"Think what you like,"Elena said, with at least some of her usual fire. "And you can clean up this mess, too."

Just as she turned to leave, Damon had a revelation. "Mrs.

Flowers!"he exclaimed.

"Wrong,"Elena snapped.

Elena, I wasn't talking about the star ball. I give you my word on this. You know how hard it is to lie telepathically -

Yes, and I know that therefore, if there's one thing in the world you'd...practice...at...

She couldn't finish. She couldn't make the speech. Elena knew how much Damon's word meant to him.

I'll never tell you where it is, she sent telepathical y to Damon. And I swear to you that Mrs. Flowers won't either.

"I believe you, but we're stil going to see her."

He picked Elena up easily and stepped over the smashed cup and saucer. Elena automatical y grabbed his neck with both hands to balance herself.

"Darling, what are you doing - ?"Elena cried, then stopped, wide-eyed, two scalded fingers flying to her lips.

Standing in the doorway, not two yards away from them, was petite Bonnie McCul ough, a bottle of Black Magic wine, nonalcoholic but mystical y exhilarating, held high in her hand.

But as Elena watched, Bonnie's expression changed al in an instant. It had been triumphant joy. But now it was shock. It was disbelief that couldn't hold. Elena knew exactly what she was thinking. The whole house had devoted itself to making Damon comfortable - while Damon stole what rightful y belonged to Stefan: Elena. Plus he'd lied about not being a vampire anymore. And Elena wasn't even fighting him off.

She was cal ing him "darling"!

Bonnie dropped the bottle and turned, running.

Chapter 3

Damon leaped. Somewhere in the middle of the leap Elena felt herself left to the whims of gravity. She tried to curl into a bal to take the impact on one buttock.

What happened was strange - almost miraculous. She came down, right side up, on the opposite side of the couch from the plate of steak tartar. The plate did a little leap of its own, three or four inches, perhaps, and then settled back where it had been.

Elena was also lucky enough to get a perfect view of the end of the heroic rescue - which involved Damon diving for the floor and grabbing the bottle of precious Black Magic wine just before it hit the ground and smashed. He might not have the kind of lightning-fast reflexes he had when he was a vampire, but he was stil far, far faster than an ordinary human. Leap holding girl, drop girl onto something soft, turn leap into dive, and at last instant grab bottle, just before it would hit. Amazing.

But there was another way that Damon wasn't like a vampire anymore - he wasn't invincible to fal ing onto hard surfaces.

Elena only realized this when she heard him gasp, trying to breathe and not being able to.

She scrambled wildly in her mind for al the accidents she could remember with jocks, and - yes, recal ed one when Matt had had the wind completely knocked out of him. The coach had seized him by the col ar and thumped him on the back.

Elena ran to Damon and grabbed him under the arms, rol ing him onto his back. She put al her strength into hauling him into a sitting position. Then she made a club of her hands.

Pretending she was Meredith, who had been on the basebal team at Robert E. Lee High and had a .225 ERA, she swung as hard as she could at Damon, slamming her fists into his back.

And it worked!

Suddenly Damon was wheezing, and then breathing again. A born straightener of ties, Elena knelt and tried to rearrange his clothes. As soon as he could breathe properly, his limbs stopped being pliant under her fingers. He gently curled her hands into each other. Elena wondered if possibly they'd gone so far beyond words that they would never find them again.

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