Vampire diaries the return nightfall epub


05 Vampire Diaries The Return Nightfall (L. J. Smith) { }. New York Times bestselling seriesThe Return: Nightfall is the fifth book in L.J. FICTION>; Romance>; The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall - EPUB. Elena burst out of the backseat of the Jaguar and Elena got into the backseat of the Jaguar and put L. J. Smith The Vampire Diaries The Return: Shadow Souls Vol. 2 For my wonderful agent, Elizabeth Harding Contents 1“.

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Vampire Diaries The Return Nightfall Epub

The Vampire Diaries - The Return 02 - Shadow Souls - L. J. KB. 05 The Return_ Nightfall - L. J. KB. The Vampire Diaries - The. Vampire Fiction ebooks Collection [PDF MOBI EPUB] 'The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight' by L. Smith With the help of charming and The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall (eBook) Vampire Diaries Books, Vampire. New York Times bestselling seriesThe Return: Nightfall is the fifth book in L. Smith's The Awakening and the Struggle (book 1 and 2 I believe Vampire Diaries.

Publishing history[ edit ] The Vampire Diaries. The Return: Midnight The series was originally published in and it revolves around Stefan Salvatore and Elena Gilbert as the two main protagonists. The first three novels in the original series The Awakening, The Struggle, and The Fury all feature Stefan and Elena as the narrators of the series, while the last book in the original series, Dark Reunion, is from Bonnie McCullough's viewpoint. After taking a long hiatus from writing, Smith published the first installment of "The Return" trilogy, Nightfall, on February 10, Shadow Souls, the second book of "The Return" trilogy, was released on March 16, The third and final book of "The Return" trilogy, Midnight, was released on March 15, In fact, Smith signed a " work for hire " contract back when she had written the original Vampire Diaries novel trilogy, which means Alloy owns the copyrights to the series. Smith had originally intended to call the books in "The Hunters" trilogy Phantom, Evensong and Eternity, [2] [3] [4] [5] but the third book was called Destiny Rising by the ghostwriter. The first installment, Unseen, was released on May 2, , [10] the second book, Unspoken, on November 7, , and the third and final book, Unmasked, on May 8, The first two books of The Salvation trilogy were first released on site. Smith would continue to write her books on site Kindle as fan fiction and are not part of the official series. The Evensong arc would pick up where The Return: Midnight had left off and it takes place in an alternate world from the official series that follows Midnight.

The Vampire Diaries is now a hit television series on The CW The story centers on Elena Gilbert, a young, beautiful high school girl who finds herself eventually torn between two Italian brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore, who are centuries old vampires.

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The series was originally a trilogy published in , but pressure from readers led Smith to write a fourth volume, Dark Reunion, which was released the following year in The first three novels in the original series are from both Stefan and Elena's point of view, but the last book in the original series, Dark Reunion, is from Bonnie McCullough's viewpoint.

Smith announced a new spin off trilogy in entitled The Vampire Diaries: The Return, which featured Damon Salvatore as the narrator of the trilogy. The first installment of The Return trilogy, Nightfall, was released on February 10, Shadow Souls, the second book of The Return trilogy, was released on March 16, The third and final book of The Return trilogy, Midnight, was released on March 15, The trilogy after The Return trilogy, The Hunters, is written by a ghostwriter.

The trilogy goes back to featuring Stefan and Elena as the main narrators and protagonists. Many speculations have been made as to why Smith was fired, but no official statement has been made by either the author or publisher.

Some say it was because Smith intended Elena to be with Damon, and refused to stop that plot when her publishers told her to have her be with Stefan. Smith had originally intended to call the books in The Hunters trilogy Phantom, Evensong and Eternity, but she retained the name Eternity and will be writing a book unrelated to the series called Eternity: A Vampire Love Story.

The title of the third and last book in The Hunters trilogy is Destiny Rising. The new trilogy of The Hunters will focus mainly on Stefan and Elena, their life in college with their friends and all of the events surrounding them. But instead it presented itself as a starving child chained to a ball that no one could breach, and she wanted to comfort and soothe the child. She cradled the little boy, rubbing his arms and legs hard and nestling him against her spirit body. At first he felt tense and wary in her arms.

But after a little time, when nothing terrible happened as a result of their contact, he relaxed and she felt his small body go warm and drowsy and heavy in her arms. She herself felt a crushingly sweet protectiveness about the little creature. In just a few minutes, the child in her arms was asleep, and Elena thought that there was the faintest ghost of a smile on his lips. She cuddled his little body, rocking him gently, smiling herself.

Someone who was—was not forgotten, never forgotten—but who made her throat ache with sadness. Oh, God, she had forgotten him—she had actually, for a few minutes allowed herself to be drawn into something that meant forgetting him. The anguish of all those lonely late-night hours, sitting and pouring out her grief and fear to her diary—and then the peace and comfort that Damon had offered had actually made her forget Stefan—to forget what he might be suffering at this very moment.

She looked at Damon accusingly. Why not? But I did not Influence you, and I did not bite you. I merely kissed you. He gives out dreams, fancies, pleasure that stays in the minds of his…donors. Elena and Damon came to a twirling, elegant stop, right beside the Jaguar. Matt immediately ran to Elena and snatched her away, examining her as if she had been in an accident, with particular attention to her neck. Once again Elena was uncomfortably aware of being dressed in a lacy white nightgown in the presence of two boys.

He might not still be in love with her as he once had been, but Elena knew he cared deeply about her and always would. She knew he would never forget the time they had been together.

More, he believed in her. So right now, when she promised that she was all right, he believed that. You said it yourself—there are vampires trailing us! Neither of them even noticed her. Elena cleared her throat more loudly, and Matt finally remembered her existence. Damon shook his dark head. But by what gate? And when? If we can lose them the only thing we need to worry about is Stefan and the prison guards.

But Elena was tingling all over with excitement, with anxiety. Us or you? Damon gave him a long, blank look. With me, it should be uncomfortable but a matter of routine. Damon looked serious. He liked fighting. But first I am going to get in it and get changed into real clothes and maybe even catch a few minutes of sleep. Matt will want to find a brook or something where he can clean up. I am trying to hold my aura down, really.

Somehow, although it was his deepest grievance against Damon, he often managed to forget that Damon was a vampire. You did it to me. It was Shinichi. You know that. Time stretched and Elena began to fear that he was beyond her reach. But then at last he lifted his head so that she could look into his eyes. Matt exploded again. At first Damon just raised an eyebrow at her, but then he shrugged elegantly and obeyed, his form blurring as he took the shape of a crow and rapidly became a dot in the rising sun.

You look like you need it. Bonnie started to lean into the pressure, but made herself stop. It was humiliating to be shaking so obviously on a Virginia morning in late July. It was humiliating to be treated like a child, too.

But Meredith, who was only six months older, looked more adult than usual today. Her dark hair was pulled back, so that her eyes looked very large and her olive-skinned face with its high cheekbones was shown to its best advantage. She could practically be my babysitter, Bonnie thought dejectedly.

Meredith had high heels on, too, instead of her usual flats. Bonnie felt smaller and younger than ever in comparison. She ran a hand through her strawberry-blond curls, trying to fluff them up a precious half inch higher. Bonnie looked sideways at it and then back at Meredith. If anything tries to grab my ankle this time, it gets this. Bonnie almost smiled. But quit changing the subject. I can do this alone. She squeezed. It was me she invited over.

First we try to help her, for her sake and ours. Then we try to make her get help. It looked…skewed…in some way, as if she were seeing it through a distorting mirror.

Besides that, it had a bad aura: Bonnie had never seen a house with so much energy before. And it was cold, this energy, like the breath out of a meat locker.

Bonnie felt as if it would suck out her own life-force and turn it into ice, if it got the chance. She let Meredith ring the doorbell.

It had a slight echo to it, and when Mrs. Forbes answered, her voice seemed to echo slightly, as well. The inside of the house still had that funhouse mirror look to it, Bonnie thought, but even stranger was the feel. If she shut her eyes she would imagine herself in a much larger place, where the floor slanted sharply down.

Forbes said. Her appearance shocked Bonnie. The faded, shrunken woman was leading the way. She had almost no aura at all, Bonnie realized, and was stricken to the heart. No matter what. But it was difficult to think at all in this house, much less to think of anything good. Bonnie knew the staircase was going up; she could see each step above her. But all her other senses told her she was going down.

It was a horrifying feeling that made her dizzy: There was also a smell, strange and pungent, of rotten eggs. It was a reeking, rotten odor that you tasted in the air. But just before it disappeared, Bonnie thought she saw movement in the heap of food on the fine bone china. The smell of rotten eggs—no, of sulfur, Bonnie realized, was very strong. But how did such a horrible smell get into Mrs.

Bonnie turned to Meredith to ask, but Meredith was already shaking her head. Bonnie knew that expression. The room was dark. No one was in or on the bed. And shut that door fast! A flood of relief swept over Bonnie. She stepped into the dimness before her. What do I want? Really want right now?

And the answer came to her immediately. I want to see Stefan.

I want to feel his arms around me. I want to just look at his face—at his green eyes with that special look that he only ever shows to me. And I want…Elena felt herself flush as a warmth went through her body, I want Stefan to kiss me.

Elena was thinking this as for the second or third time she shut her eyes and shifted position, tears once again welling up. If only she could cry, really cry, for Stefan. But something stopped her. She found it hard to squeeze out a tear.

05 Vampire Diaries The Return Nightfall ( L. J. Smith) { }

God, she was exhausted…. Elena tried. She kept her eyes shut and turned back and forth, trying not to think about Stefan for just a few minutes.

She had to sleep. Desperate, she gave a mighty heave to try to find a better position—when everything suddenly changed. Elena was comfortable. Too comfortable. She bolted upright and froze, sitting on air. But, no—this was different than what had happened when she had first returned from the afterlife, and had floated around like a balloon.

She was afraid to move in any direction. And then she saw it. She saw herself, with her head back and her eyes closed in the backseat of the car. She looked as if she were serenely sleeping. So this was how it all ended. No cause of death was ever found…. B ecause they could never see heartbreak as a cause of death, Elena thought, and in a gesture even more melodramatic than her usual melodramatic gestures, she tried to fling herself down on her own body with one arm covering her face.

As soon as she reached out to begin to fling herself, she found herself outside the Jaguar. But this is nothing like the last time. Then I saw the tunnel, I went into the Light. Suddenly Elena felt a rush of exhilaration. I know what this is, she thought triumphantly. This is an out of body experience! She looked down at her sleeping self again, searching carefully. There was a cord attaching her sleeping body—her real body—to her spiritual self. She was tethered!

Wherever she went, she could find her way home. There were only two possible destinations. She knew the general direction from the sun, and she was sure that someone having an O. The other destination, of course, was to Stefan. To her delight, she found it almost immediately.

When she touched the cord, it resonated so clearly to her of Stefan that she knew it would take her to him. There was never a doubt in her mind as to which direction she would take. Theophilia Flowers. They were there, along with Meredith and her brilliant intellect, to protect the town. And they would all understand, she told herself somewhat desperately. She might not ever have this chance again.

Immediately she found herself rushing through the air, far too quickly to take note of her surroundings. Everything she passed was a blur, differing only in color and texture as Elena realized with a catch in her throat that she was going through objects.

And so, in just a few instants, she found herself looking at a heartwrenching scene: Stefan on a worn and broken pallet, looking gray-faced and thin. Stefan in a hideous, rush-strewn, lice-infested cell with its damned bars of iron from which no vampire could escape. He was awake already.

But you always get something wrong. Last time it was the little pointed ears. Go away. Elena stared. She was in too many kinds of distress to choose her words: I was just trying to fall asleep in my clothes in case a police officer stopped by while I was in the backseat of the Jag. The Jag you bought me. But— marvel of marvels—there was now a tinge of blood in his cheeks. Moreover, he was no longer looking disdainful. He was looking deadly, his green eyes flashing with menace.

I was thinking about you and falling asleep—and here I am! Somehow—somehow that brought you here. Because of love. Because we love each other!

Elena shut her eyes. If only she could be here in her body, she would show Stefan how much she loved him. Oh, God, so much has happened!

But when he spoke his face was deadpan. Bonnie and Meredith told me things about Caroline— like how she was scuttling on the floor like a lizard—that just terrified me. But I had to leave them to deal with that so that I could—could get to that safe place. I never knew I could do this. My blood. She knew it! It was the only liquid that would—in a pinch—help keep a vampire alive when no blood was available. Damon had told Elena that it was magically made from special grapes that were grown in the soil at the edges of glaciers, loess, and that they were always kept in complete darkness.

She knew it was breaking, because she could feel it inside shattering like glass, with each needle-like shard skewering flesh inside her chest. Then he looked at her with a sheen in his own eyes. As you guessed. So they—well they run out before they get to me, sometimes, you see— Elena lifted her head, and this time tears of pure rage fell right onto his face. Where are they? Because your tears, the phantom tears of a pure maiden — She shook her head back at him.

And I was ill tonight, Elena, even though I tried to hide it. As good as new! Are you sure? Look at me! Elena looked at him. He was usually pale, but now his fine features looked flushed—as if he had been standing in front of a bonfire and the light was still reflecting off the pure lines and elegant planes of his beloved face.

I…did that? She remembered the first tear droplets falling, and how they had looked like blood on his face. Not like blood, she realized, but like natural color, sinking into him, refreshing him. But I wish we could touch each other. I want to feel your arms around me. By now Elena was cool-headed enough to tell him about the incident with Matt without making Damon sound too much like a villain.

I made him get rid of the stake. Elena was bathed in the deep glow of his trust for her. And then abruptly the world—the entire universe—shuddered at the sound of a gigantic slamming sound. It jerked at Elena. It began again—a monstrous booming that terrified Elena. She clutched uselessly at Stefan, who was looking at her with concern. And then something even worse happened. She landed on it and melded into it and then she was sitting up and the sounds were the sounds of Matt rapping at the window.

For a moment it seemed impossible that she was going to be able to keep from crying. Elena blinked, forcing herself to deal with her new situation. But her memories of their short, sweet time together were wrapped in jonquils and lavender and nothing could ever take them away from her.

Damon was irritated. Is For Sale

Damon ignored it. What he was looking for was una donna splendida. But his mind kept drifting. He circled down toward the town below, keeping to the residential district, searching for auras. He wanted a strong aura as much as a beautiful one. Students were the first, but this was summer, so there were fewer to pick from. Joggers were the second. And the third, thinking beautiful thoughts, just like…that one down there…were home gardeners.

The young woman with the pruning shears looked up as Damon turned the corner and approached her house, deliberately hurrying and then slowing his stride. His very footsteps made it clear that he was delighted to take in the floral extravaganza in front of the charming Victorian house. For a moment the girl looked startled, almost afraid. That was normal.

Damon was wearing black boots, black jeans, a black T-shirt, and black leather jacket, in addition to his Ray-Bans. One thing was clear even before that. She liked roses. Ah, but your Moonstones! Damon felt the information flow effortlessly from her mind to his. She was just twentytwo, not married, still living at home.

She had precisely the kind of aura he was looking for, and only a sleeping father in the house. Would you like to know what my ultimate dream is? Damon felt every delicate nuance with her, enjoyed seeing her flush, enjoyed the slight tremor that shook her body. If—if you have time to come with me. After all, he would soon need a place to put Krysta…while she slept it off. But at the rear of the bower was something that caused his pace to quicken involuntarily.

The closest anyone has ever gotten to a black rose. The closest to black ever bred. Damon reached out to take it and their fingers touched. Damon smiled at her. It was only natural to look to see where the voice was coming from.

The chair that used to sit in front of it was gone. Caroline was underneath. It might have been a good hiding space for a ten-year-old, but as an eighteen-year-old Caroline had curled into an impossible position in order to fit there. She was sitting on a pile of what looked like shreds of clothing. Then it was just the three of them together in the darkness.

No illumination came from above or below the door to the hall. Her voice was steady, comforting. That should have been comforting, too. Except—except that now that Bonnie could hear her voice sort of reverberating under the desk, she could tell it had a new quality.

Not so much husky as snarly, Bonnie thought helplessly. You could almost say Caroline growled her answers. Little sounds told Bonnie that the girl under the desk was moving.

Can I just turn on your bedside lamp? But the pitch-blackness was making her tremble. She could feel that this room was wrong in its angles—or maybe it was only her imagination.

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She could also hear things that made her jump —like that loud double clicking noise directly behind her. What had made that? Turrn on the one by the bed. And she was moving toward them; Bonnie could hear rustling and breathing getting closer. Not Meredith. Never since Bonnie had known her had Meredith smelled like rancid sweat and rotten eggs. But even it was not as depressed-looking as the owner of the lot.

Elena and Matt found him asleep inside a small office building with dirty windows. Matt tapped gently on the smudged window and eventually the man started, jerked up in his chair, and angrily waved them away. But Matt tapped again on the window when the man began to put his head down once more, and this time the man sat up very slowly, gave them a look of bitter despair, and came to the door.

Zero to sixty in 3. Adaptive Dynamics and Active Differential for exceptional traction and handling! There is no car like the XZR! His eyes stopped flickering and became the eyes of a poker player. You were drooling over it a minute ago! I should have done the talking, Elena thought. She tried to shut out the male voices and looked at the dilapidated cars on the lot, each with its own dusty little sign tucked into the windshield: She was afraid she was going to burst into tears at any second.

This car will bring customers flocking in. Better than that purple hippo over there. On my lot, here and now, that car is barely worth one car in exchange! He had his RayBans hooked over his T-shirt and was standing with his hands behind his back. He was looking hard at the car dealer. Elena turned to Damon. You asked him which was the best car on his lot. He flashed a brilliant smile at her for a tenth of a second, and then turned it off.

She sighed. Damon smiled again, but this time it was an odd smile, just a quirk of one side of his mouth. His eyes said it was nothing much. But his right hand came out and it was holding the most beautiful rose Elena had ever seen in her life.

It looked as if it would be plush to the touch, and its vivid green stem, with just a few delicate leaves here and there, was at least eighteen inches long and straight as a ruler.

Elena resolutely put her own hands behind her back. The rose probably had something to do with their journey. Elena might be imagining it, but it almost sounded as if he were disappointed. Elena knew exactly how he would have gotten the rose…but it was so pretty…. As she still made no move to take the rose, Damon lifted it and allowed the cool, silky-feeling petals to caress her cheek.

It made her shiver. He used the cool, softly rustling petals to outline the other side of her face. Elena took a deep breath automatically, but what she smelled was not flowerlike at all. It was the smell of some dark, dark wine, something ancient and fragrant that had once made her drunk immediately.

Drunk on Black Magic and on her own heady excitement…just to be with Damon. I love Stefan. It was the only name that fit. Now Damon was giving her a rose kiss by swirling the blossom in a circle on her cheek and then applying pressure. The firmer petals in the middle pressed into her skin, while the outer petals just brushed it.

Elena was feeling distinctly light-headed. The day was warm and humid already; how could the rose feel so cool? It was as if she had been transported back in time, back to the days when Damon had first appeared to her, had first claimed her for his own.

When she had almost let him kiss her before she knew his name…. Vaguely, Elena remembered thinking something like that before. Damon changed other people while remaining unchanged himself. Not just the wild and angry dark parts, but the gentle parts. The honor and decency that were trapped like veins of gold inside that stone boulder in his mind. I have to help him, Elena thought. Somehow, I have to help him—and the little boy chained outside the boulder. These thoughts had trickled slowly through her mind while it seemed separated from her body.

She was so involved with them, in fact, that she somehow lost track of her body, and only now did she realize how much closer Damon had gotten. Her back was against one of the sad, sagging cars. And Damon was speaking lightly, but with an undertone of seriousness. Elena sensed trouble. Especially within minutes of when he must have fed from that girl. Shinichi again? Elena wondered. The thrills, good or bad? Elena knew that Damon himself was thinking the same thing.

His black eyes were smoldering. Damon was furious—but there was a certain vulnerability about his fury.

She ignored the rose, even as he traced the curve of her cheekbone with it. She tried to speak steadily. Ran in on, actually. Elena knew what he was seeing: Damon caressing her with the rose, while she was practically embracing him. She cared about Damon; she had been trying to get through to him….

She cared about Damon. She really did. It was usually difficult being with him because they were alike in so many ways. Headstrong, each wanting their own way, passionate, impatient… She and Damon were alike. Small shocks were going though Elena, and her entire body felt weak.

She found herself glad to lean against the car behind her, even though it must be getting dust all over her clothes. I love Stefan, she thought almost hysterically. But I need Damon to get to him. And Damon may be falling to pieces in front of me.

She was looking at Matt all the while, her eyes full of tears that would not fall. She blinked, but they stubbornly stayed on her lashes.

He said nothing. It was all in his expression: It was a sort of alienation that shut her out completely, that severed any bonds between them. And then, to her astonishment, Damon spoke. You can hardly blame a girl for trying to defend herself. Damon was Influencing Matt. Not to Matt! Damon had been interrupted in the use of his Power. If it had been anyone else, they would have ended as a small spot of grease on the ground.

It was all she could do not to let her aura escape completely. Her voice was quiet but icy. And leave Matt alone! But when he spoke, he seemed less distant. You name it. He was flushed but deadly calm.

And the dealer guy has another one. We could have two cars just alike. Which really meant that she should drive with Matt the whole way.

But Damon would never accept that. And she needed Damon to get to her beloved, her one and only, her true mate: I already arranged a deal with the guy. We should get going. We might get separated. You could get lost…very easily. Elena could see no emotion in either his face or his expression, but his aura was seething red. Matt had already turned around. He just kept going, without another word.

Without a backward glance. She was fully clothed, clutching her diary to her. It was the day after Matt had left them. As usual, he was immaculately dressed: Heat and humidity had no effect on him. Not exactly the most nutritious breakfast, but Elena craved the caffeine and sugar. They had both shown that Sedona, Arizona, lay on an almost perfectly straight horizontal line from the small rural road where Damon had parked overnight in Arkansas.

But soon Damon was turning south, taking a roundabout route of his own that might or might not confuse any pursuers. After all, one of these days she just might have another out of body experience while napping and see Stefan again. When Elena finally emerged from the restroom, Damon was cold and expressionless—although she noticed that he took the time to look her over just the same. Oh, damn, Elena thought. I left my diary in the car. Damon enjoyed being in charge of things as much as she did.

He also enjoyed Influencing each police officer who pulled him over for blasting the speed limit. But today he was short-tempered even by his own standards. Elena knew from firsthand experience that Damon could make himself remarkably good company when he chose, telling outrageous stories and jokes until the most prejudiced and taciturn of passengers would laugh in spite of themselves.

The one time she tried to make physical contact, touching his arm lightly, he jerked away as if her touch might ruin his black leather jacket. Fine, terrific, Elena thought, depressed. She leaned her head against the window and stared at the scenery, which all looked alike. Her mind wandered. Where was Matt now? Ahead of them or behind? Had he gotten any rest last night? Was he driving through Texas now? Was he eating properly? Elena blinked away tears, which welled up whenever she remembered the way he had walked away from her without a backward look.

Elena was a manager. She could make almost any situation turn out okay, as long as the people around her were normal, sane beings. And managing boys was her speciality. That was what she loved about Stefan. Not at hunting them or slaying them, but at loving them safely. Elena knew when it was right to bite or be bitten, and when to stop, and how to keep herself human.

She wanted simply to be with him. After that, everything took care of itself. Elena could live without Stefan—she thought. But just as being away from Meredith and Bonnie was like living without her two hands, living without Stefan would be like trying to live without her heart. He was her partner in the Great Dance; her equal and her opposite; her beloved and her lover in the purest sense imaginable.

He was the other half of the Sacred Mysteries of Life to her. They stopped at some nameless town for lunch. Elena had no appetite, but Damon spent the entire break as a bird, which for some reason infuriated her.

That was when she realized exactly what kind of tension it was. The one thing that was saving Damon was his pride. He knew that Elena had things figured out. And that was good. He had not even thought about a girl in this way for approximately five hundred years.

But Damon was—very capable—now. And the closer he got to Elena, the stronger her aura was around him, and the weaker was his control. Thank all the little demons in hell, his pride was stronger than the desire he felt. Damon had never asked for anything from anyone in his life. He paid for the blood he took from humans in his own particular coin: She wanted Stefan. Just a few days ago he had been an empty shell, his body a puppet of the kitsune twins, who had made him hurt Elena in ways that now made him cringe inside.

It was true. It had happened. Besides which, he happened to be a sadist. There had been nothing of him to awaken. And if a solitary part of his mind still wept because of the evil he had done—well, Damon was good at blocking it out.

It would never happen again—not and leave him still alive. Acting as if she trusted him. Of all the people in the world, she was the one with the most right to hate him, to point an accusing finger at him. But she had never once done that. She had never even looked at him with anger in her dark blue, gold-spattered eyes. The pulsating, albino, second body that had been inside him.

Damon forced himself to repress a shudder. Damon was glad to have had the memories gone. And now…right now he was alone with Elena, in the middle of the wilderness, with towns few and far between.

And yet he knew that he must not, must not even start the process with this one girl who, to him, was the jewel lying on the dungheap of humanity. To all appearances, he was perfectly in control, icy and precise, distant and disinterested.

The truth was that he was going out of his mind. That night, after making sure that Elena had food and water and was safely locked into the Prius, Damon called down a damp fog and began to weave his darkest wards. Damon then flew a few miles south as a crow, found a dive with a pack of werewolves drinking in it and a few charming barmaids serving them, and brawled and bled the night away.

In the morning, returning early, he saw the wards around the car in tatters. Before he could panic, he realized that Elena had broken them from the inside.

There had been no warning to him because of her peaceful intent and innocent heart. And then Elena herself appeared, coming up the bank of a stream, looking clean and refreshed. Damon was stricken speechless by the very sight of her. By her grace, by her beauty, by the unbearable closeness of her.

And then Damon suddenly had an Idea. Elena threw him a sidelong glance. Am I supposed to faint with joy? This has nothing to do with being a vampire. Blood circulates, yes? And Power can be circulated, too. Even humans have known that for centuries, whether they call it life-force or chi or ki. But if you learn to circulate it, you can build it up for some really big release, and you can be more inconspicuous as well.

He lied unblushingly. Naturally, this made Elena even more determined. Oh, please, Damon? You can teach me. How does she do that? There were at least three or four billion people on this dust mote of a planet that would give anything to be with this warm and eager, yearning Elena Gilbert. Of course not. She had dear Stefan. Well, he would see if his princess was still the same when—if—she managed to free Stefan and get out of their destination alive. Meanwhile, Damon concentrated on keeping his voice, face, and aura all dispassionate.

She could be dispassionate, too. Even her deep blue eyes seemed to have taken on a frosty glint. Where is it? Elena fought back both tension and a shiver—he could see it. Damon was probing for the place where the flesh became soft over bone, the place most humans assumed their heart was because it was where they could feel their heart beating. It should be right around…here. Now, to set the process off. He knew what it would feel like to Elena: Then, a rapid montage of sensations as he went through a practice rotation or two with her.

Up toward him, to her eyes and ears, where she would suddenly find she could see and hear much better, then down her spine and out to her fingertips, while her heartbeat quickened and she felt something like electricity in her palms.

Back up her arm and down the side of her body, at which point a tremor would set in. Finally, the energy would sweep down her magnificent leg all the way to her feet, where she would feel it in her soles, curling her toes, before coming back around to where it had started near her heart.

Damon heard Elena gasp faintly when the shock first hit her, and then felt her heartbeat race and her eyelashes flicker as the world suddenly became much lighter to her; her pupils dilating as if she were in love, her body going rigid at the tiny sound of some rodent in the grass—a sound she would never have heard without Power directed to her ears.

And so, all around her body, once, and then again, so she could get a feel for the process. Then he let her go. Damon felt the temptation to draw her to him, but suppressed it. That surprised him a little, the bitterness. Why should he care how many boys had handled Elena? When he made her his Princess of Darkness, they would both go hunting for human prey—sometimes together, sometimes alone.

Just practice doing it alone. This was difficult, as she was a perfect traveling companion. Elena was just sweet enough to offset her bright, active, ever-scheming mind. She was just compassionate enough to make up for her self-confessed egotism, and just skewed enough to ensure that no one would ever call her normal.

She was intensely loyal to her friends and just forgiving enough that she herself considered almost no one an enemy—kitsune and Old Ones of the vampire kind excepted. She was honest and frank and loving, and of course she had a dark streak in her that her friends simply called wild, but that Damon recognized for what it really was. Oh, yes…and Elena Gilbert was just gorgeous enough to make any of her negative characteristics completely irrelevant.

But Damon was determined to be annoyed and he was strong-willed enough that he could usually choose his mood and stick to it, appropriate or not. He kept his mind pinned to the dozens of boys and men whom the exquisite girl beside him must have bedded. So why was he with Elena now? Did Stefan ever worry about her past—especially with an old boyfriend— Mutt—still hanging around, willing to give his very life for her? Damon had seen the clash of their wills, even when Elena had been a child mentally just after returning from the afterlife.

As humans said: She wore the trousers in the family. Well, soon enough she could see how she liked wearing harem trousers, Damon thought, laughing silently, although his mood was darker than ever.

The sky over the car darkened further in response, and wind ripped summer leaves from branches before their time. Elena jumped slightly, involuntarily, every time the thunder let loose.

Damon watched this with grim satisfaction. He knew she knew that he could control the weather. Neither of them said a single word about it. They passed a motel, and Elena followed the blurry electric signs with her eyes, looking over her shoulder until it was lost in darkness.

They were headed into a really nasty storm now, and occasionally the Prius hydroplaned, but Damon managed to keep it under control—barely. He enjoyed driving in these conditions. It was only when a sign proclaimed that the next place of shelter was over a hundred miles away that Damon, without consulting Elena, swung into a flooding driveway and stopped the car.

The clouds had let loose by then; the rain was coming down in bucketfuls; and the room Damon got was a small outbuilding, separated from the main motel. The solitude suited Damon just fine. As soon as the door to the room slammed shut, with the storm more or less outside and her own stiff and aching body inside, she headed for the bathroom without even turning on a light.