Home > The Fury (The Vampire Diaries #3)(9)

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

"Right," said Elena. "But we'd better get a note pad and pencil and make a list of the most important ones. Damon and Stefan have already agreed to help investigate, and if you'll help, too, we'll stand an even better chance of finding it." She was hitting her stride with this; she'd always been good at organizing things, from schemes to get boys to fundraising events. This was just a more serious version of the old plan A and plan B.

Meredith gave the pencil and paper to Bonnie, who looked at it. and then at Meredith, and then at Elena. "Fine," she said, "but who goes on the list?"

"Well, anyone we have reason to suspect of being the Other Power. Anyone who might have done the things we know it did: seal Stefan in the well, chase me, set those dogs on people. Anyone we've noticed behaving oddly."

"Matt," said Bonnie, writing busily. "And Vickie. And Robert."

"Bonnie!" exclaimed Elena and Meredith simultaneously.

Bonnie looked up. "Well, Matt has been acting oddly, and so has Vickie, for months now. And Robert was hanging around outside the church before the service, but he never came in-"

"Oh, Bonnie, honestly," Meredith said. "Vickie's a victim, not a suspect. And if Matt's an evil Power, I'm the hunchback of Notre Dame. And as for Robert-"

"Fine, I've crossed it all out," said Bonnie coldly. "Now let's hear your ideas."

"No, wait," Elena said. "Bonnie, wait a moment." She was thinking about something, something that had been nagging at her for quite a while, ever since- "Ever since the church," she said aloud, remembering it. "Do you know, I saw Robert outside the church, too, when I was hidden in the choir loft. It was just before the dogs attacked, and he was sort of backing away like he knew what was going to happen."

"Oh, but Elena-"

Soberly, after a moment's hesitation, Bonnie did. "Who else?" she said.

"Well, Alaric, I'm afraid," Elena said. "I'm sorry, Bonnie, but he's practically number one." She told what she had overheard that morning between Alaric and the principal. "He isn't a normal history teacher; they called him here for some reason. He knows I'm a vampire, and he's looking for me. And today, while the dogs were attacking, he was standing there on the sidelines making some kind of weird gestures. He's definitely not what he seems, and the only question is: what is he? Are you listening, Meredith?"

"Yes. You know, I think you should put Mrs. Flowers on that list. Remember the way she stood at the window of the boarding-house when we were bringing Stefan back from the well? But she wouldn't come downstairs to open the door for us? That's odd behavior."

Elena nodded. "Yes, and how she kept hanging up on me when I called him. And she certainly keeps to herself in that old house. She may just be a dotty old lady, but put her down anyway, Bonnie." She ran a hand through her hair, lifting it off the back of her neck. She was hot. Or-not hot exactly, but uncomfortable in some way that was similar to being overheated. She felt parched.

"All right, we'll go by the boardinghouse tomorrow before school," Meredith said. "Meanwhile, what else can we be doing? Let's have a look at that list, Bonnie."

Bonnie held the list out so they could see it, and Elena and Meredith leaned forward and read:

Matt Honeycutt

Vickie Bennett

Robert Maxwell-What was he doing at the church when the dogs attacked? And what was going on that night with Elena's aunt?

Alaric Saltzman-Why does he ask so many questions? What was he called to Fell's Church to do?

Mrs. Flowers-Why does she act so strange?

Why didn't she let us in the night Stefan was wounded?

"Good," Elena said. "I guess we could also find out whose dogs were at the church today. And you can watch Alaric at school tomorrow."

"I'll watch Alaric," Bonnie said firmly. "And I'll get him cleared of suspicion; you see if I don't."

"Fine, you do that. You can be assigned to him. And Meredith can investigate Mrs. Flowers, and I can take Robert. And as for Stefan and Damon-well, they can be assigned to everyone, because they can use their Powers to probe people's minds. Besides, that list is by no means complete. I'm going to ask them to scout around town searching for any signs of Power, or anything else weird going on. They're more likely than I am to recognize it."

"Fine, you do that. You can be assigned to him. And Meredith can investigate Mrs. Flowers, and I can take Robert. And as for Stefan and Damon-well, they can be assigned to everyone, because they can use their Powers to probe people's minds. Besides, that list is by no means complete. I'm going to ask them to scout around town searching for any signs of Power, or anything else weird going on. They're more likely than I am to recognize it."

"Elena. Elena!"

Startled, Elena looked up, to see Meredith's wary dark eyes and Bonnie's alarmed expression. It was only then that she realized she was crouched close to Bonnie's wrist, rubbing the biggest vein with her finger.

"Sorry," she murmured, sitting back. But she could feel the extra length and sharpness of her canine teeth. It was something like wearing braces; she could clearly feel the difference in weight. She realized her reassuring smile at Bonnie was not having the desired effect. Bonnie was looking scared, which was silly. Bonnie ought to know that Elena would never hurt her. And Elena wasn't very hungry tonight; Elena had always been a light eater. She could get all she needed from this tiny vein here in the wrist...

Elena jumped to her feet and spun toward the window, leaning against the casing, feeling the cool night air blowing on her skin. She felt dizzy, and she couldn't seem to get her breath.

What had she been doing? She turned around to see Bonnie huddled close to Meredith, both of them looking sick with fear. She hated having them look at her that way.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to, Bonnie. Look, I'm not coming any closer. I should have eaten before I came here. Damon said I'd get hungry later."

Bonnie swallowed, looking even sicker. "Eaten?"

"Yes, of course," Elena said tartly. Her veins were burning; that was what this feeling was. Stefan had described it before, but she'd never really understood; she'd never realized what he was going through when the need for blood was on him. It was terrible, irresistible. "What do you think I eat these days, air?" she added defiantly. "I'm a hunter now, and I'd better go out hunting."

Bonnie and Meredith were trying to cope; she could tell they were, but she could also see the revulsion in their eyes. She concentrated on using her new senses, in opening herself to the night and searching for Stefan's or Damon's presence. It was difficult, because neither of them was projecting with his mind as he had been the night they'd been fighting in the woods, but she thought she could sense a glimmer

of Power out there in the town.

When the bulb was finally screwed back in, it revealed Damon sitting casually but precariously on the sill of the open window, one knee up. He was smiling one of his wildest smiles.

"Do you mind?" he said. "This is uncomfortable."

Elena glanced back at Bonnie and Meredith, who were braced against the closet, looking horrified and hypnotized at once. She herself shook her head, exasperated.

"And I thought I liked to make a dramatic entrance," she said. "Very funny, Damon. Now let's go."

"With two such beautiful friends of yours right here?" Damon smiled again at Bonnie and Meredith. "Besides, I only just got here. Won't somebody be polite and ask me in?"

Bonnie's brown eyes, fixed helplessly on his face, softened a bit. Her lips, which had been parted in horror, parted further. Elena recognized the signs of imminent meltdown.

"No, they won't," she said. She put herself directly between Damon and the other girls. "Nobody here is for you, Damon-not now, not ever." Seeing the flare of challenge in his eyes, she added archly, "And anyway, I'm leaving. I don't know about you, but I'm going hunting." She was reassured to sense Stefan's presence nearby, on the roof probably, and to hear his instant amendment: We're going hunting, Damon. You can sit there all night if you want.

Damon gave in with good grace, shooting one last amused glance toward Bonnie before disappearing from the window. Bonnie and Meredith both started forward in alarm as he did, obviously concerned that he had just fallen to his death.

"He's fine," said Elena, shaking her head again. "And don't worry, I won't let him

come back. I'll meet you at the same time tomorrow. Good-bye." "But-Elena-" Meredith stopped. "I mean, I was going to ask you if you wanted to change your clothes."

Elena regarded herself. The nineteenth-century heirloom dress was tattered and bedraggled, the thin white muslin shredded in some places. But there was no time to change it; she had to feed now.

"It'll have to wait," she said. "See you tomorrow." And she boosted herself out of

the window the way Damon had. The last she saw of them, Meredith and Bonnie were staring after her dazedly.

"Your cloak," she said, pleased. For a moment they smiled at each other, remembering the first time he had given her the cloak, after he'd saved her from Tyler in the graveyard and taken her back to his room to clean up. He'd been afraid to touch her then. But, Elena thought, smiling up into his eyes, she had taken care of that fear rather quickly.

"I thought we were hunting," Damon said.

Elena turned the smile on him, without unlinking her hand from Stefan's. "We are," she said. "Where should we go?"

"Any house on this street," Damon suggested.

"The woods," Stefan said.

"The woods," Elena decided. "We don't touch humans, and we don't kill. Isn't that how it goes, Stefan?"

He returned the pressure of her fingers. "That's how it goes," he said quietly. Damon's lip curled fastidiously. "And just what are we looking for in the woods, or don't I want to know? Muskrat? Skunk? Termites?" His eyes moved to Elena and his voice dropped. "Come with me, and I'll show you some real hunting."

"We can go through the graveyard," Elena said, ignoring him.

"White-tailed deer feed all night in the open areas," Stefan told her, "but we'll have to be careful stalking them; they can hear almost as well as we can."

Another time, then, Damon's voice said in Elena's mind.

Chapter Eight

"Who-? Oh, it's you!" Bonnie said, starting at the touch on her elbow. "You scared me. I didn't hear you come up."

He'd have to be more careful, Stefan realized. In the few days he'd been away from school, he'd gotten out of the habit of walking and moving like a human and fallen back into the noiseless, perfectly controlled stride of the hunter. "Sorry," he said, as they walked side by side down the corridor.

"S'okay," said Bonnie with a brave attempt at nonchalance. But her brown eyes were wide and rather fixed. "So what are you doing here today? Meredith and I came by the boardinghouse this morning to check on Mrs. Flowers, but nobody answered the door. And I didn't see you in biology."

"I came this afternoon. I'm back at school. For as long as it takes to find what we're looking for anyway."

"To spy on Alaric, you mean," Bonnie muttered. "I told Elena yesterday just to leave him to me. Oops," she added, as a couple of passing juniors stared at her. She rolled her eyes at Stefan. By mutual consent, they turned off into a side corridor and made for an empty stairwell. Bonnie leaned against the wall with a groan of relief.

"I've got to remember not to say her name," she said pathetically, "but it's so hard. My mother asked me how I felt this morning and I almost told her, 'fine,' since I saw Elena last night. I don't know how you two kept-you know what-a secret so long."

Stefan felt a grin tugging at his lips in spite of himself. Bonnie was like a six-week-old kitten, all charm and no inhibitions. She always said exactly what she was thinking at the moment, even if it completely contradicted what she'd just said the moment before, but everything she did came from the heart. "You're standing in a deserted hallway with a you know what right now," he reminded her devilishly.

"Ohhh." Her eyes widened again. "But you wouldn't, would you?" she added, relieved. "Because Elena would kill you... Oh, dear." Searching for another topic, she gulped and said, "So-so how did things go last night?"

Stefan's mood darkened immediately. "Not so good. Oh, Elena's all right; she's sleeping safely." Before he could go on, his ears picked up footfalls at the end of the corridor. Three senior girls were passing by, and one broke away from the group at the sight of Stefan and Bonnie. Sue Carson's face was pale and her eyes were red-rimmed, but she smiled at them.

Bonnie was full of concern. "Sue, how are you? How's Doug?"

"I'm okay. He's okay, too, or at least he's going to be. Stefan, I wanted to talk to you," she added in a rush. "I know my dad thanked you yesterday for helping Doug the way you did, but I wanted to thank you, too. I mean, I know that people in town have been pretty horrible to you and-well, I'm just surprised you cared enough to help at all. But I'm glad. My mom says you saved Doug's life. And so, I just wanted to thank you, and to say I'm sorry-about everything."

"That's all right," he said. "How's Chelsea today?"

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