Home > Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(9)

Midnight (The Vampire Diaries: The Return #3)(9)
Author: L.J. Smith

"You mean he was holding her up to steady her?"Meredith asked, her voice suddenly almost a whisper. Matt caught her meaning. Stefan was probably asleep upstairs, and Meredith wanted to keep it that way.

"No! They - they were looking at each other,"Bonnie cried.

"Looking. Into each other's eyes."

Mrs. Flowers spoke mildly. "But dear Bonnie - maybe Elena fel down and Damon had to just scoop her up."

Now Bonnie was speaking remorselessly and fluently. "Only if that's what's just happened to al those women on the covers of those romance books - what-d'you-cal -'ems?"

"Bodice-rippers?"Meredith suggested unhappily when no one else spoke.

"That's right! Bodice-rippers. That's how he was holding her!

I mean, we al knew that something was going on with the two of them in the Dark Dimension, but I thought al that would stop when we found Stefan. But it hasn't!"

Matt felt sick in the pit of his stomach. "You mean right now Elena and Damon are in there...kissing and stuff?"

"I don't know what I mean!"Bonnie exclaimed. "They were talking about the star ball! He was holding her like a bride!

And she wasn't fighting it!"

With a chil of horror, Matt could see trouble, and he could see that Meredith could see it too. Even worse, they were looking in two different directions. Matt was looking upstairs, at the staircase, where Stefan had just appeared. Meredith was looking at the kitchen door, one glance at which showed Matt that Damon was entering the foyer.

What was Damon doing in the kitchen? Matt wondered. We were there until a minute ago. And he was, what, eavesdropping from the den side?

Matt gave the situation his best shot, anyway. "Stefan!"he said in a hearty voice that made him wince inwardly. "You ready for a little athlete's-blood nightcap?"

A tiny part of Matt's mind thought: But just look at him. Only three days out of prison and he already looks like himself again. Three nights ago he was a skeleton. Today he just looks - thin. He's even handsome enough to make the girls al go crazy over him again.

Stefan smiled faintly at him, leaning on the banister. In his pale face, his eyes were remarkably alive, a vibrant green that made them actual y shine like jewels. He didn't look upset, and that made Matt's heart twist for him. How could they tel him?

"Elena is hurt,"Stefan said, and suddenly there was a pause  - an utter silence - as every person froze in place. "But Damon couldn't help her, so he brought her to Mrs. Flowers."

"True,"Damon said coldly from behind Matt. "I couldn't help her. If I were stil a vampire...but I'm not. Elena has burns, mainly. Al I could think of was an ice pack or some kind of poultice. Sorry to disprove al your clever theories."

"Oh my heavens!"cried Mrs. Flowers. "You mean dear Elena's waiting right now in the kitchen for a poultice?"She hurried out of the foyer toward the kitchen.

Stefan was stil coming down the stairs, cal ing, "Mrs.

Flowers, she scalded her arm and leg - she says because Damon didn't recognize her in the dark and jostled her. And that he thought it was an intruder in his room, and nicked her throat with a knife. The rest of us wil be in the parlor if you need help."

Bonnie cried, "Stefan, maybe she's innocent - but he isn't!

Even according to you, he burned her - that's torture - and he put a knife to her throat! Maybe he threatened her to make her tel us what we wanted to hear. Maybe she's stil a hostage right now and we don't know it!"

Stefan flushed. "It's so hard to explain,"he said very softly.

"And I keep trying to tune it out. But so far - some of my Powers have been growing...faster than my ability to control them. Most of the time I'm asleep, so it doesn't matter. I was asleep until a few minutes ago. But I woke up and Elena was tel ing Damon that Mrs. Flowers doesn't have the star bal .

She was upset, and injured - and I could feel where she'd been injured. And then suddenly I heard you, Bonnie. You're a very strong telepath. Then I heard the rest of you talking about Elena...."

Oh my God. How insane, Matt was thinking. His mouth was babbling some "Sure, sure, our mistake"gibberish, and his feet fol owed Meredith's to the parlor as if they were attached to her Italian sandals.

But the blood on Damon's mouth...

There had to be some mundane reason for the blood, too.

Stefan had said that Damon had nicked Elena with a knife.

As to how the blood got smeared around; wel , that actual y didn't sound like vampirism to Matt. He'd been a donor for Stefan at least a dozen times in the last days and the process was always very neat.

It was strange, too, he thought, that it had never occurred to any of them that, even from the top of the house, Stefan might be able to hear their thoughts directly.

Could he always do that? Matt thought, wondering at the same time whether Stefan was doing it right now.

"I try not to listen to thoughts, unless I'm invited or I have a good reason,"Stefan said. "But when anybody mentions Elena, especial y if they sound upset - that I can't help. It's like when you're in a noisy place and you can barely hear, but when somebody says your name you hear it instantly."

"It's cal ed the Cocktail Party Phenomenon,"Meredith said.

Her voice was quiet and remorseful as she was trying to calm the mortified Bonnie. Matt felt another tug at his heart.

"Wel , you can cal it whatever you want,"he said, "but what it means is that you can listen in on our minds any time you like."

"Not any time,"Stefan said, wincing. "When I was drinking animal blood I wasn't strong enough unless I real y worked at it. By the way, it may please my friends to know that I'm going back to hunting animals by tomorrow or the next day, depending on what Mrs. Flowers says,"he added with a significant glance around the room. His eyes lingered on Damon, who was lounging against the wal by the window, looking disheveled and very, very dangerous. "But that doesn't mean I'l forget who saved my life when I was dying.

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