Home > The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(10)

The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(10)
Author: L.J. Smith

“He hasn’t learned it in twenty years,” I mumbled under my breath.

Cora whirled around sharply, and I knew she’d heard me. “Stefan Salvatore, I bet there’re some lessons you still need to learn, too.”

I nodded. “That’s true,” I said quietly. I liked Cora’s spirit.

When we got to the tunnel, I took the lead in climbing down. Even from the fifth rung, I could hear the scurrying of the rats, as familiar a background noise to the tunnel as cicadas had been on June days back in Virginia. But underneath that I heard an angry sigh that I’d recognize anywhere.

“He’s here,” I said in relief, taking off into the dank tunnel.

Finally, after a few twists and turns, I found Damon, sitting in a dark corner, illuminated by the glow of a makeshift fire. His hair flopped over his forehead, his dark eyes were bloodshot, and he was reading a well-worn paper. Stubble covered his face, and he looked every inch the outlaw he now was.

“Samuel’s killing me,” Damon said, looking up from the fire. “He has single-handedly made sure that I cannot go anywhere in London. I even wore the disguise. That worked well,” Damon said in disgust, throwing the gray conductor’s hat on the fire. A plume of smoke rose up.

“Why did you go out at all?” I exploded. “You know you’re being watched. You’re the biggest news story in the country!”

Damon shrugged. “You don’t get anywhere without a little risk. People barely looked at me when I was wearing the conductor uniform. And it wasn’t as if I was sightseeing. I was trying to find Samuel, do the dirty work so you wouldn’t have to. Instead, I got chased down like a common criminal.” Damon shook his head in disbelief. “Of course, those police officers had nothing on me. I felt sorry for them, huffing and puffing like that.”

“They almost caught you. You’re welcome, by the way,” I said angrily. If we hadn’t distracted the officers and given Damon the space he needed to dash into the woods, who knew where he’d be by now?

“That was you? ‘My sister fainted!’” he lisped, mocking me. “Well, that was highly unnecessary. I was fine.”

“You could have gotten yourself killed,” Cora said sternly.

“It’s either kill or be killed in my world,” Damon replied tersely. “And I intend to kill Samuel for this. After all, he’s the one who concocted this Jack the Ripper nonsense. And then to attach my name to it! As if I’d ever be so sloppy.” Damon fumed. “He can’t face me himself, so he sends humans to do his bidding. And if that isn’t enough, I read this little item in the paper. The fool’s having a party tomorrow night to announce his political aspirations. Let’s consider this our invitation. His party will be his funeral,” Damon said ominously. The hair on the back of my neck bristled. If there was one thing I knew about Damon, it was that he always followed through on his convictions.

“Do you think he’s compelling the police?” I asked. “Or do you think they recognized you from the paper?”

“How would I know?” Damon asked, throwing his hands up in disgust. “It’s not like I’m privy to his master plan. I thought he was just another London aristocrat, someone I could use to introduce me to the right people. I never imagined he was a vampire with rage issues. If anything, he should have been thrilled to have found another one of his kind. But now, he’s running me out of my city, and I won’t have it.”

“What about Henry?” I asked. “What do you think his motive is?”

“Whatever Samuel says,” Damon spat. “Henry’s a useless sap who follows Samuel around like a farm dog. Not unlike another brother I know.”

But before I could come up with an insult of my own, Cora piped in.

“So who is Samuel, really? Is he that important?” she asked.

“Samuel’s running for London councilor. I was helping him plan his campaign,” Damon said, a twisted grin forming on his face.

“Well, then we need to come up with a plan to stop him. We’ve already wasted a day.” The one thing I’d learned in my two decades as a vampire was that inaction always seemed to backfire. Biding my time and waiting for the perfect moment to strike had never worked. I’d always been late by a minute, an hour, a lifetime. But no more.

Damon smirked. “Stefan saves the day. What a brilliant idea. ‘We need to find him.’ Well, that’s what I was trying to do.”

“You can’t just run around London hoping you’ll run into him!” I fumed. That was Damon’s problem: He acted on impulse, rarely considering consequences. It was a trait that worked when besting humans. But Samuel was a vampire and stronger than both of us combined. Our only hope was to outwit him. “We have to be strategic. Maybe it’s good he’s in the spotlight,” I said, thinking out loud. “It means he has to work that much harder to hide certain things.”

“He’s good at hiding things,” Cora said softly, fingering the vervain charm around her neck.

“Do you remember anything else about Samuel?” I asked urgently.

“Think I didn’t already ask her that, brother?” Damon interjected. “She doesn’t remember anything. She only recalls the warehouse parties. I was the one in his inner circle.”

“I can speak for myself, thank you!” Cora interjected. But when she didn’t continue, it was clear she didn’t have any further information on our enemy.

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