The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1: Origins · Read more Vampire Diaries #1: The Awakening · Read more · Cabot, Meg - The Princess Diaries (vol.1). “Stefan?” Mrs. Cartwright asked in her shrill voice, the same one she affected when she used to chide Damon and me for whispering during church. Her face. 3MB Size Report. DOWNLOAD EPUB The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1: Origins. Read more Vampire Diaries #1: The Awakening · Read more.
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Read "The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #1: Origins" by L. J. Smith available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. The first. The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries (Series). Book 1. L. J. Smith Author Kevin Williamson & Julie Plec Author (). cover image of Origins. The first book in the New York Times bestselling series by L.J. medical-site.infos is the first book in L.J. Smith's bestselling Stefan's Diaries series, whic.
Elena sees herself as beautiful, therefore, she is quite proud and vain. Elena is extremely shocked and hurt when Stefan, the new boy whom she is instantly, indescribably drawn to, does not pay any attention to her in the beginning of the series, but Stefan avoided her for other personal reasons which were unknown to Elena at the time.
Personality wise, Elena is described to be popular, beautiful, confident and ambitious. In terms of general personality traits and characteristics, Elena is described as being popular, outgoing, confident, smart, opinionated, idealistic, feisty, sociable, fearless, loving, caring, passionate, devoted, commanding, encouraging, protective, determined, strong, brave and loyal.
However, on the downside, Elena can also be selfish, self-centered, entitled, proud, obstinate, stubborn, promiscuous, indecisive, aggressive, vain, headstrong, childish, spoiled, needy, clingy, demanding, conceited, attention seeking and boastful. Elena's best friends since childhood are Bonnie McCullough and Meredith Sulez, but she was once also best friends with Caroline Forbes, who eventually turned into an enemy after Elena fell deeply in love with Stefan, when Stefan reciprocated her feelings and began a relationship with him.
Before the series began, Elena had many issues and troubles in regards to then opposite sex, love and romance. She admits to using boys as trophies, prizes and using them to help boost her confidence and self-esteem. Elena's first love is her childhood friend, Matt Honeycutt.
Unlike all the other boyfriends and boys Elena has dated, Elena genuinely loves and cares about Matt and doesn't see him the same she does other boys. Although Elena loves and cares for Matt, she feels like she loves him in more of a platonic, brotherly or friendship way. Elena's life changes forever when she unexpectedly and fatefully meets a mysterious, foreign boy from Italy, Stefan Salvatore, who is secretly centuries old immortal.
Elena is immediately, intensely and indescribably drawn to Stefan when she first sees him and she is deeply, passionately and strongly in love with him. It was revealed in the book Shadow Souls, that Stefan is Elena's true soul mate due to The Soulmate Principle , which is a silver cord or thread described to be the colour of moonlight binding, linking or connecting the souls of destined, true soul mates from heart-to-heart or soul-to-soul. Elena has a younger four-year-old sister named Margaret, and she and her sister lives with her legal guardian Aunt Judith Gilbert her father's sister and Uncle Robert Maxwell.
Although Elena is deeply in love with Stefan, she later also develops feelings for Damon, Stefan's older brother. Throughout the series she has to face hard challenges, such as becoming a vampire unwillingly, truly dying to save both Stefan and Damon, then coming back to life as a guardian angel, traveling to the Dark Dimension in order to save her beloved Stefan , facing kitsune , and fighting a phantom.
Elena greatly resembles a vampire, Katherine, and worries that she will become like her and that Stefan and Damon are drawn to her because she strongly resembles Katherine. But the differences are that Elena is a brave, strong, courageous girl and will fight for her friends and not herself. As the series progresses, she is willing to put her life at risk and do anything to help and protect the people she loves and cares about. Elena has endured much loss, grief, pain and tragedy in her very young teenage life; mostly due to the loss of her parents in a tragic, fatal car accident.
Elena dies twice throughout the course of the series, first dying and changing into a vampire, and then dying as a vampire after killing Katherine to protect Stefan and Damon from Katherine torturing and killing them all. Elena then comes back in Dark Reunion as a spirit of the afterlife and returns in Nightfall a supernatural human with angelic powers and abilities.
In Midnight, she is turned back into a regular human girl and begins attending college with her love Stefan and her friends Bonnie, Matt and Meredith. Stefan Salvatore Stefan is the hero, the supporting protagonist alongside Elena , and the male lead character of the book series.
Stefan is Damon's moral, benevolent younger brother. Stefan was born July 5, in Florence, Italy to Conte Di Giuseppe Salvatore and his unnamed mother, who died a few years after Stefan's birth due to an illness. Stefan is a five hundred plus year old immortal born during the time of The Renaissance, who was one of the Salvatore brothers that fell deeply in love with a young beautiful Bulgarian girl who was a vampire, Katherine Von Swartzschild, during his human life and before he was transformed into a vampire when he was a 17 year old human boy.
During his human life, Stefan was a noble, aristocratic young man who lived by a strict code of morals, values, ethics and code of honor. Stefan strongly believed in nobility, duty, responsibility, justice and doing the right thing as much as possible.
In his human years, Stefan was seen to be deeply sentimental and he was shown to care about family, friends, memories, duty, his ambitions and studies, responsibility and serving his duty to his hometown of Florence. Between he and Damon, Stefan was the favored child with everyone, especially his father Giuseppe, mostly because Stefan was seen by everyone as a good, noble, obedient, and ideal son. I felt the sudden, overwhelming urge to whip the ring from my pocket and offer it to Katherine on one knee.
But then I thought of Father and forced my hand to stay put. Companionably, we walked down the road. Perhaps it was because she was an orphan and so utterly alone in the world. Whatever the reason, I was grateful for it. A light wind blew around us, and I inhaled her lemony ginger scent, feeling as though I could die of happiness, right there, next to Katherine. I cleared my throat. We walked in silence for a few long moments. I kept my stride deliberately short so Katherine could keep up.
They were cold as ice, even in the humid air. I glanced up the road, as if trying to ascertain the best route for us to follow, though really I was hiding my blush from Katherine.
I felt the weight of the ring in my pocket again, heavier than ever. But she was no longer by my side. But all I heard was the echo of my own voice. She had vanished. Instead, after searching the path, I sprinted the two miles back to the estate, terrified that Katherine had somehow been dragged into the forest by some unseen hand—perhaps by the very creature that had been terrorizing the nearby plantations.
When I arrived home, though, I found her on the porch swing, chatting with her maid, a sweating glass of lemonade beside her. How had she gotten back to the carriage house so quickly? I wanted to stride up and ask, but I stopped myself. At that moment, Katherine glanced up and shielded her eyes. I nodded dumbly as she slid off the porch swing and glided into the carriage house.
The image of her smiling face kept floating back to me the next day, when I forced myself to make the call on Rosalyn. It was even worse than the first call.
Cartwright sat right beside me on the couch, and every time I shifted, her eyes gleamed, as if she was expecting me to take out the ring at any second.
But no matter how much I tried, all I wanted was an excuse to leave so I could visit with Katherine. Finally, I muttered something about not wanting to be out past dark. I almost felt guilty as Mrs. Cartwright ushered me out of the house and into my carriage, as if I were going off to battle rather than a twomile ride home. When I got to the estate, my heart fell when I saw no sign of Katherine.
I was about to double back to the stable to brush Mezzanotte when I heard angry voices emanating from the open windows of the kitchen of the main house. You need to go back and take your place in the world. The army is not for me. What is so wrong about following my own mind? My heart quickened as I stepped into the kitchen and saw my brother. He looked taller, his hair somehow seemed darker, and the skin on his neck was sundarkened and freckled.
I threw my arms around him, thankful I had arrived home when I did. He and Father had never gotten along, and their fights occasionally escalated to blows.
Damon turned to me. Damon smiled. There were slight lines around his eyes that no one would notice unless they knew him well. It was the event of the year, and Father, Sheriff Forbes, and Mayor Lockwood had been planning it for months. Partly a war benefit, partly an opportunity for the town to enjoy the last gasp of summer, and mostly a chance for the town leaders to pat themselves on the backs, the Founders Ball had always been one of my favorite Mystic Falls traditions.
Now I dreaded it. Damon must have sensed my discomfort, because he started digging through his canvas rucksack. It was filthy and had what looked like a bloodstain on the corner. Finally, he pulled out a large, misshapen leather ball, much larger and more oblong than a baseball. Get some color in your cheeks. Damon walked out the door, and I followed, shrugging off my linen jacket. Suddenly the sunshine felt warmer, the grass felt softer, everything felt better than it had just minutes before.
I lifted up my arms and caught the ball against my chest. She was wearing a simple, lilac summer shift dress, and her hair was pulled into a bun at the base of her neck. I noticed that her dark eyes perfectly complemented the brilliant blue cameo necklace that rested in the hollow of her throat. I imagined lacing my fingers through her delicate hands, then kissing her white neck.
I forced myself to tear my gaze away from her. Damon, this is Katherine Pierce. Even though it was a phrase any of the girls in the county would use when talking to a man, it sounded vaguely mocking coming from her lips. I turned the ball in my hand. As they had been the previous day, her hands were cold, like ice, despite the heat of the afternoon.
Her touch sent a jolt of energy through my body and up to my brain. Damon watched her run, then arched an eyebrow toward me. After a second, I ran, too. I felt the wind whip around my ears. I tried to comfort her, but her wracking sobs never abated. The whole time, Mrs.
Cartwright kept giving me disapproving glances, as if I should be doing a better job calming Rosalyn. At that, Rosalyn had flung her arms around me, crying so hard into my shoulder that her tears left a wet mark on my waistcoat. I tried to be sympathetic, but I felt a stab of annoyance at the way she was carrying on. And so I was. Not when Father took down the portrait of Mother that had hung in the front room.
Now that the dinner where I was to publicly propose to Rosalyn was just days away, we were heading out for a whiskey to celebrate my impending nuptials. I turned my thoughts back to Penny. Strange, right? The army had made him stronger and faster. As we walked down the cobblestone streets, I noticed signs affixed to most doorways: A reward of one hundred dollars was being offered to anyone who found the wild animal responsible for the attacks.
I stared at the sign. Maybe I could find it, then take the money and download a train ticket to Boston, or New York, or some city where no one could find me and no one had ever heard of Rosalyn Cartwright. I squinted across the twilight and saw Pearl, the apothecary, standing outside her shop with her daughter, Anna. Pearl and Anna were two more victims of the war. After that, Pearl had found a home in Mystic Falls, and she ran an apothecary that was always busy.
Jonathan Gilbert, in particular, was almost always there when I walked by, complaining about some ailment or downloading some remedy or another. Town gossip was that he fancied her. Pearl smiled and nodded. Her face was unlined, and a game among the girls was trying to determine how old she was. Anna was the spitting image of her mother, and when they stood side by side, the two looked as if they could be sisters.
Are you old enough to be going to dances yet? I smiled despite myself. Of course Damon would be able to charm both a mother and a daughter. Fifteen was the age when girls were old enough to stay through dinner and hear the band strike up a waltz.
Pearl used a wrought-iron key to lock the apothecary, then turned to face us. Can you make sure Katherine gets on tomorrow night? I knew her in Atlanta. I stiffened. Was Damon escorting Katherine tomorrow night? But what choice did I have? Not propose to Rosalyn? Pearl turned around, a quizzical expression on her face. Would you like us to escort you ladies home? Pearl shook her head. But I do thank you for your concern. He was in Mystic Falls, a town where people liked to eavesdrop and loved to talk.
Had he forgotten so quickly? I laughed despite myself and slugged him again on the arm for good measure. The punch was light, but felt good—a way to unleash some of my annoyance that he was able to escort Katherine to the dinner. We were immediately greeted by an enthusiastic smile from the voluptuous, red-haired barmaid behind the counter. It was clear that Damon had made himself at home here on several occasions.
We elbowed our way to the back of the tavern. The room smelled of sawdust and sweat, and men in uniform were everywhere. Some had bandages on their heads, others wore slings, and some hobbled to the counter on crutches. I recognized Henry, a dark-skinned soldier who practically lived at the tavern, drinking whiskey alone in a corner. Robert had told me stories about him: He never socialized with anyone, and no one ever saw him in the light of day.
There was talk that maybe he was associated with the attacks, but how could he be, if he was always at the tavern? I peeled my eyes away to take in the rest of the scene.
There were older men tightly grouped in a corner, playing cards and drinking whiskey and, in the opposite corner, a few women. As we walked past, one of them brushed my arm with her painted fingernails.
Which he probably had. Janes behind me. Well into his seventies, Dr. Cartwright at the bank has been discussing it for weeks. The fair young Rosalyn. Quite a catch! Janes continued loudly. I glanced around, hoping no one had heard. At that moment, Damon appeared and gently set our whiskeys on the table. Janes hobbled away.
I shrugged. But talking about Rosalyn felt dangerous. Somehow, no matter what I said or felt, I still had to marry her. Suddenly, a new whiskey appeared in front of me. I glanced up to see the pretty bartender Damon had been talking to standing over our table. I watched her retreating back. All the women in the tavern, even those with loose reputations, were more interesting than Rosalyn. You, meanwhile, are free to do as you please. I shook my head, as if trying to remove the idea from it, and took another drink of whiskey.
You have to believe in what you do. I trust Father. And I know he only wants the best. It was true. Maybe I could grow to love Rosalyn, but the thought that I could be married and have a child in just one short year filled me with dread. It had to be. Do you think she has a soldier somewhere? In fact, as beautiful as she was, I almost wished that some far-flung relatives from Charleston or Richmond or Atlanta would step forward to invite her to live with them.
If she were out of sight, then maybe I could somehow force myself to love Rosalyn. Damon stared at me, and I knew in that moment how miserable I must have looked. But discussion of the demons did not stop people from all over the county coming to the Grange Hall to celebrate the Confederacy.
The coaches backed up beyond the stone drive and showed no sign of slowing their onslaught toward the imposing stone structure. As my feet hit dirt, I saw Ellen Emerson and her daughter, Daisy, walking arm in arm, trailed by two maids.
Hundreds of lanterns lit the stone steps leading to the white wooden doors, and carriages lined the curved walkway. I could hear strains of a waltz coming from inside the hall. Daisy had hated me ever since we were children, when Damon had dared me to push her into Willow Creek.
You look more beautiful every day. Can you please forgive a gentleman for his wicked youth? I sighed. There was no mystery or intrigue in Mystic Falls.
Everyone knew everyone else. They would have the same conversations, the same jokes, the same fights.
And the cycle would continue for eternity. How is he? Do give him that message! I sighed and stepped into the hall. The walls of the hall were covered with ivy and wisteria and, farther up, Confederate flags. Father had obviously spared no expense, and it was clear that this was more than a simple welcome dinner for the troops. Heart-heavy, I headed over to the punch. I prepared myself to give a tight smile and accept the awkward congratulations that were already trickling in.
What was the point of having a dinner to announce an engagement that everyone seemed to know about? I thought sourly. I turned to find myself face-to-face with Mr. I instantly composed my expression into something I hoped resembled excitement. Cartwright said, offering me a glass of whiskey. Practical and low risk with plenty of opportunity for growth. Cartwright shook his head. Not saying it should have gone and gotten itself killed, but I think everyone is getting themselves all worked up over nothing.
All this discussion of demons you hear all over the damn place. People whispering that the town is cursed. Cartwright boomed, causing several people to stare. I smiled nervously. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Father acting as host and shuttling people toward the long table at the center of the room.
You have everything you need? Rosalyn stood next to her mother and smiled tightly at her parents. As our neighbors took their seats around us, I realized that there were still two empty seats to my left. I glanced toward the door. The band was still playing, and there was anticipation in the air. Finally, the doors opened with a clatter, and Damon and Katherine walked in.
Damon could act like a boy, could continue to drink and flirt as if nothing had consequence. Even I was surprised by the surge of anger I felt. Instantly guilty, I tried to squelch the emotion by downing the full glass of wine to my left. After all, would Katherine have been expected to come to the dinner by herself? Besides, they had no future.
Marriages, at least in our society, were approved only if they merged two families. And, as an orphan, what did Katherine have to offer besides beauty? She wore a green muslin dress whose fabric spread across her hoop skirts, and there was a hushed murmur as she and Damon made their way to the two empty seats at the center of the table. Her blue necklace gleamed at her throat, and she winked at me before taking the empty seat next to my own.
Her hip brushed against mine, and I shifted uncomfortably. If I heard her musical voice, I might lose my nerve to propose to Rosalyn. What I am worried about is getting the militia together to solve the problems here in Mystic Falls.
Just then, an army of servants entered the hall, holding plates of wild pheasant. I took my silver fork and pushed the gamey meat around my plate; I had no appetite. Around me, I could hear the usual discussions: Katherine was nodding intently at Honoria Fells across the table.
Suddenly I felt jealous of the grizzled, frizzy-haired Honoria. She was able to have the one-on-one conversation with Katherine that I so desperately wanted. This was the moment everyone had been waiting for: They knew an announcement was about to be made, and they knew that following that announcement there would be celebrating and dancing. It was always the way dinners happened in Mystic Falls. As if on cue, Honoria leaned toward me, and Damon smiled encouragingly. Feeling sick to my stomach, I took a deep breath and clinked my knife against my crystal glass.
Immediately, there was a hush throughout the hall, and even the servants stopped midstep to stare at me. I stood up, took a long swig of red wine for courage, and cleared my throat. I glanced at Katherine. She was looking at me, her dark eyes piercing my own. I tore my gaze away and gripped my glass so tightly, I was sure it would break. Will you do me the honor? I pulled out the box and knelt down in front of Rosalyn, staring up at her watery brown eyes.
Rosalyn shrieked, and the room burst into a smattering of applause. I felt a hand clap my back, and I saw Damon grinning down on me. Katherine clapped politely, an unreadable expression on her face. It was too large, and the emerald rolled lopsidedly toward her pinkie. Immediately, a crush of women surrounded us, cooing over the ring. Come here, Stefan, son! I stopped in my tracks, waiting for the answer.
Katherine glanced up, casting a furtive look in my direction. Her eyes held my own for a long moment. But then Father nudged me from behind, and before I could react, Damon grabbed Katherine by the hand and led her out to the dance floor.
I ran from fittings at Mrs. Once I went up to the attic to look at the portrait of Mother. Love is patient, I remembered her saying in her lilting French accent during Bible study. The notion comforted me. Maybe love could come to me and Rosalyn. After that, I tried to love Rosalyn, or at least garner some kind of affection for her. In fact, Rosalyn had been in remarkably good spirits.
Maybe that would be enough. Father had wasted no time in planning another party to celebrate. This time, it was a barbecue at the estate, and Father had invited everyone within a twenty-mile radius. I recognized only a handful of the young men, pretty girls, and Confederate soldiers who milled around the labyrinth, acting as if they owned the estate. When I was younger, I used to love the parties at Veritas—they were always a chance to run down to the ice pond with our friends, to play hide-and-seek in the swamp, to ride horses to the Wickery Bridge, then dare each other to dive into the icy depths of Willow Creek.
Now I just wished it were over, so I could be alone in my room. To judge from his lopsided grin, he was already drunk. He passed me a sweating tumbler and tipped his own to mine. Can you picture it? I swirled my whiskey miserably, unable to picture it for myself.
I sighed and sat down on the porch swing, observing the merriment occurring all around me. I knew I should feel happy. I knew Father only wanted what was best for me. I knew that there was nothing wrong with Rosalyn. So why did this engagement feel like a death sentence? In the distance, schoolchildren were swinging and shrieking on the gate.
To be around so much merriment—all meant for me—and not feel happy made my heart thud heavily in my chest. I shut the door to the study and breathed a sigh of relief. Only the faintest stream of sunlight peeked through the heavy damask curtains. The room was cool and smelled of well-oiled leather and musty books. Shakespeare calmed me, the words soothing my brain and reminding me that there soothing my brain and reminding me that there was love and beauty in the world.
Perhaps experiencing it through art would be enough to sustain me. Katherine stood at the study entrance, wearing a simple, white silk dress that hugged every curve of her body.
All the other women at the party were wearing layers of crinoline and muslin, their skin guarded under thick fabric. Out of propriety, I glanced away. Katherine stepped toward me. It was a lame attempt to change the conversation; I had yet to meet a girl versed in his works. I tore my eyes away. I looked up, astonished. My heart galloped in my chest, and my brain felt as slow as molasses, creating an unusual sensation that made me feel I was dreaming.
Katherine yanked the book off my lap, closing it with a resounding clap. But I was simply asking you a question. Are you worthy of that comparison, Mr. Or do you need a book to decide? I cleared my throat, my mind racing. Damon would have said something witty in response, without even thinking about it. But when I was with Katherine, I was like a schoolboy who tries to impress a girl with a frog caught from the pond.
I sounded so jealous and petty. I shook my head, frustrated. It was as though Katherine somehow compelled me to speak without thinking. She was so lively and vivacious—talking to her, I felt as though I was in a dream, where nothing I said would have any consequence but everything I said was important. She placed her icy hand on my forearm.
Cartwright, to twirl Rosalyn in a first waltz, to toast my place as a man of Mystic Falls. An errant dark curl flopped down on her white forehead. I had to use all my strength to resist pushing it off her face.
But had she seen me pausing outside the carriage house? Had she seen me run Mezzanotte to the forest when she and Damon explored the garden, desperate to get away from their laughter?
Had she somehow managed to read my thoughts? Katherine smiled ruefully. She took down a thick, leather-bound book, The Mysteries of Mystic Falls. I sank into the cool, cracked leather cushion next to her and just let go.
After all, who knew? Perhaps a few moments in her presence would be the balm I needed to break my melancholia. I was dimly conscious of the fact that I needed to leave, soon, but whenever I thought of the music and the dancing and the plates of fried chicken and Rosalyn, I found myself literally unable to move. Are you distracted? The smell of lemon and ginger surrounded me, making me feel wobbly and dizzy. She turned toward me. Our lips were mere inches apart, and suddenly the scent of her became nearly unbearable.
I closed my eyes and leaned in until my lips grazed hers. For a moment, it felt as though my entire life had clicked into place. I saw Katherine running barefoot in the fields behind the guest house, me chasing after her, our young son slung over my shoulder.
But then, entirely unbidden, an image of Penny, her throat torn out, floated through my mind. I pulled back instantly, as if struck by lightning. They fell to the floor, the sound muffled by the Oriental rugs. My mouth tasted like iron. What had I just done? What if my father had come in, eager to open the humidor with Mr. My brain whirled in horror. Twilight was just beginning to fall. Coaches were setting off with mothers and young children as well as cautious revelers who were afraid of the animal attacks.
Now was when the liquor would flow, the band would play more loudly, and girls would outdo themselves waltzing, intent to capture the eyes of a Confederate soldier from the nearby camp. I felt my breath returning to normal. I saw Damon sitting with other soldiers, playing a round of poker on the corner of the porch.
Five girls were squeezed onto the porch swing, giggling and talking loudly. Father and Mr. Cartwright were walking toward the labyrinth, each holding a whiskey and gesturing in an animated fashion, no doubt talking about the benefits of the Cartwright-Salvatore merger.
His words rang true, yet an unexplainable shiver of fear rushed down my spine. Was it just me, or had the sun set remarkably quickly? Leaving Robert behind, I elbowed my way past the party guests. It was odd for a girl to not show up at her own party.
The door had been closed, the shades drawn. The moon reflected off the water, casting an eerie, greenish glow on the rocks and willow trees surrounding the pond. The grass was wet with dew, and still trampled from the time when Damon, Katherine, and I had played football there. The knee-high mist made me wish I were wearing my boots instead of my dress shoes. I squinted.
At the base of the willow tree, where Damon and I had spent hours climbing as children, was a shadowy lump on the ground, like a large, gnarled tree root. I squinted again. For a moment, I wondered if it could be a pair of intertwined lovers, trying to escape prying eyes. At least someone had found love at this party. But then the clouds shifted, and a shaft of moonlight illuminated the tree—and the form beneath it. It was Rosalyn, my betrothed, her throat torn out, her eyes half open, staring up at the tree branches as if they held the secret to a universe she no longer inhabited.
I remember footfalls and shrieking and the servants praying outside their quarters. I remember staying on my knees, yelling out of horror and pity and fear. I remember Mr. Cartwright pulling me back as Mrs. Cartwright sank to her knees and keened loudly, like a wounded animal.
I remember seeing the police carriage. I remember Father and Damon wringing their hands and whispering about me, allies in trying to develop the best course for my care.
I tried to talk, to tell them I was fine—I was, after all, alive. At one point, Dr. Janes hooked his arms under my armpits and dragged me to my feet. There, words were mumbled, and Cordelia was called for. She pressed her hands to my chest and muttered a prayer under her breath, then pulled a tiny vial from the voluminous folds of her skirt. She uncapped it and pressed it to my lips. Quickly, she dosed me with more of the licorice-scented liquid.
I dropped back to the hard steps of the porch, too tired to think anymore. His face was white with shock. Janes began. Damon nodded. Should have what? Should have gone looking for her far earlier, instead of spending my time kissing Katherine?
Should have insisted on escorting her to the party? I managed to stand, shakily, beside him. From out of nowhere, Father appeared and held my other arm, and I haltingly managed to step off the porch and back to the house. Revelers stood on the grass, holding each other, and Sheriff Forbes called out for the militia to search in the woods. I felt Damon guiding me through the back door of the house and up the stairs before allowing me to collapse on my bed. I fell into the cotton sheets, and then I remember nothing but darkness.
The next morning, I awoke to beams of sunlight scattered on the cherrywood floorboards of my bedroom. Our mother had rocked us in it when we were infants, singing songs to us as we went to sleep.
He poured water into a tumbler and held it toward me. I struggled to sit upright. I fell back against the goose-down pillows and allowed Damon to bring the glass to my lips as if I were an infant.
The cool, clear liquid slipped down my throat, and once again, I thought back to last night. She must have been so excited to show off her dress, to have the younger girls gape at her ring, to have the older women take her off to a corner to discuss the particulars of her wedding night.
I imagined her dashing across the lawn, then hearing footsteps behind her, only to turn and see flashing white teeth glistening in the moonlight.
I shuddered. Damon crossed over to the bed and put his hand on my shoulder. Suddenly the rush of terrifying images stopped.
The war is bringing people east for battle, and they think the animals are following the blood trail.
It was just one more example of new phrases like killed and a widower that were about to be added to my vocabulary. An epidemic of mass hysteria. As Damon continued to ramble, I lay back and closed my eyes. Her eyes had been large and luminescent. A candle burns on my nightstand, the flickering shadows foreboding. I am haunted already.
Will I ever forgive myself for not finding Rosalyn until it was too late? And why is she —the one I vowed to forget—still on my mind? My head is pounding. Cordelia is always at the door, offering drinks, lozenges, powdered herbs. I take them, like a recuperating child. Do they know of the nightmares? I thought marriage was a fate worse than death. I was wrong. I was wrong about so many things, too many things, and all I can do is pray for forgiveness and hope that Midnight. I will do it. I must.
For Rosalyn. And for her. Now I will blow out the candle and hope for sleep—like that of the dead —to engulf me quickly…. Time to get up! Day faded into night, and I could never really sleep, only doze into terrifying dreams. I drank it quickly. I hobbled to the mirror. I had stubble over my chin, and my tawny hair stood up on all ends. My eyes were red, and my nightshirt was hanging off my shoulders. I looked awful. Father stood behind me, appraising my reflection. I still felt horribly guilty.
I blanched. Still, I managed to change into the suit, allowed Alfred to help me shave, since my hands allowed Alfred to help me shave, since my hands were so shaky, and emerged an hour later ready to do what I had to do. I kept my eyes down as I followed Father and Damon to the carriage. Father sat up front, next to Alfred, while Damon sat in the back with me.
Damon put a hand on my shoulder. The magpies chattered, the bees buzzed, and the sun cast a golden glow on the trees. The entire coach smelled like ginger, and I felt my stomach heave. It was the smell of guilt over lusting after a woman who was never to be—could never be—my wife. The church bells were ringing, and every business in town was closed for the day. We reached the door as Dr. Janes hobbled into the church, his cane in one hand and a flask of whiskey in another.
Sheriff Forbes was in his usual place in the second pew, glaring at the cluster of rouged women from the tavern who had come to pay their respects. At the edge of their circle was Alice, the barmaid, cooling herself with a silk fan. In the front pew, Mr. Cartwright stared straight ahead, while Mrs. Cartwright sobbed and occasionally blew her nose into a lace handkerchief. At the front of the church, a closed oak casket was covered with flowers.
Wordlessly, I walked to the casket and knelt down in front of it. Unbidden, images of my betrothed popped up in my mind: Rosalyn giggling over her new puppy, giddily discussing flower combinations for our wedding, risking the wrath of her maid by planting a covert kiss on my cheek at the end of one visit.
I moved my hands off the casket and put them together, as if in prayer. I wanted her to know, wherever she was, that I would have learned to love her. Right behind me was Katherine. She was wearing a dark-blue cotton dress that stood out in the sea a dark-blue cotton dress that stood out in the sea of black crepe that filled the pews. I flinched and drew my arm back. How dare she touch me so familiarly in public?
Concern registered in her dark eyes. After all, her parents had died. She was just a young girl, reaching out to offer her support. She looked so sad that for one wild second, I was tempted to cross the aisle and comfort her. I slid next to Damon, who had his hands crossed piously over a Bible. I noticed his eyes flick up as Katherine briefly knelt down by the coffin. I followed his gaze, noticing the way several curls had escaped from beneath her hat and were curling around the ornate clasp on her blue necklace.
A few minutes later, the Requiem ended, and Pastor Collins strode up to the pulpit. I covertly glanced across the aisle at Katherine. Her servant, Emily, was sitting next to her on one side and Pearl on the other. She turned slightly, as if to look at me. I forced myself to look away before our eyes could meet. I would not dishonor Rosalyn by thinking of Katherine. I gazed up at the unfinished, steepled beams of the church.
The sun was quickly setting, but I could still make out a shadowy figure nestled between the roots. I glanced again. It was Rosalyn, her party dress shimmering in the weak light. Bile rose in my throat. How could she be here?
She was buried, her body six feet underground at the Mystic Falls cemetery. As I walked closer, steeling my courage and grasping the knife in my pocket, I noticed her lifeless eyes reflecting the verdant leaves above.
Her dark curls stuck to her clammy forehead. Instead, her neck displayed only two neat little holes, the size of shodding nails. As if guided by an unseen hand, I fell to my knees next to her body. Then I raised my eyes and froze in horror. A small smile curved her rosebud lips, as if she were simply dreaming. I fought the urge to scream. I would not let Katherine die!
But as I reached toward her wounds, she sat straight up. Her visage morphed, her dark curls faded to blond, and her eyes glowed red. I started backward. The voice belonged neither to Katherine nor Rosalyn—but to a demon. I screamed, gripping my penknife and slicing it into the night air. The demon lunged forward and clutched my neck. It lowered its sharpened canines to my skin, and everything faded to black….
I woke up in a cold sweat, sitting upright. A crow cawed outside; in the distance, I could hear children playing. Sunbeams were dappled along my white bedspread, and a dinner tray was sitting on my desk. It was daylight.
I was in my own bed. A dream. I remembered the funeral, the ride from the church, my exhaustion as I climbed the stairs to my bedroom. It had just been a dream, a product of too much emotion and stimulation today. A dream, I reminded myself again, willing my heart to stop pounding. I took a long gulp of water straight from the pitcher on the nightstand.
My brain slowly stilled, but my heart continued to race and my hands still felt clammy.
It was as if demons were invading my mind, and I was no longer sure what was real or what thoughts to trust. I stood up, trying to shake off the nightmare, and wandered downstairs. I took the back steps so as not to cross paths with Cordelia in the kitchen. Saturday seemed like a lifetime ago. Still, the candle in the silver candlestick holder was exactly where Katherine and I had left it, and The Mysteries of Mystic Falls was still on the chair.
If I closed my eyes, I could almost smell lemon. I shook that thought away and hastily picked out a volume of Macbeth, a play about jealousy and love and betrayal and death, which suited my mood perfectly. I forced myself to sit on the leather club chair and glance at the words, forced myself to turn the pages. Just then, I heard a knock on the door. It was probably Sheriff Forbes again. Could it be … Katherine? My heart quickened despite itself. My eyes still looked hooded, and tiny vessels had broken, reddening the whites, but there was nothing more I could do to make me look, let alone feel, more like myself.
I strode purposefully into the parlor. For an instant, my heart fell with disappointment. Instead of Katherine, sitting on the red velvet wingback chair in the corner was her maid, Emily. She had a chair in the corner was her maid, Emily. She wore a simple white eyelet dress and bonnet, and her dark skin was smooth and unlined. I absentmindedly put a sprig of lilac to my nose and inhaled. As soon as I said it, I realized it was a foolish statement. How would an uneducated servant girl possibly know what I was speaking of?
But Emily simply smiled. I held the basket up and inhaled. It smelled like flowers, but there was something else: I inhaled again, feeling the confusion and darkness of the past few days slowly fade. Obediently, I sat and stared at her. Her movements and manners were so deliberate that watching her was like watching a painting come to life. The second the words left her lips, I realized that could never be.
As I sat there, in the daylight of the parlor, with another person rather than being lost in my own thoughts, everything clicked into focus. I was a widower, and my duty now was to mourn Rosalyn, not to mourn my schoolboy fantasy of love with Katherine.
Besides, Katherine was a beautiful orphan with no friends or relations. It would never work—could never work. Somewhere private. I knew what I had to say, what the only proper thing to say was, but the words were hard to form. Please send your mistress my regrets, although she will not want for company. She is quite fond of Damon. I stood up as well and felt, even though I towered a head taller, that she was somehow more powerful than me.
It was an odd yet not altogether unpleasant feeling. The smell of cinnamon and eggs floated up from the kitchen, and I heard the snort of the horses as Alfred hitched them outside.