Home > The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(12)

The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(12)
Author: L.J. Smith

“Now, there’s a girl you wouldn’t have met in Mystic Falls,” Damon murmured, clearly impressed by her independence.

“Probably because no girls like that would have wanted to meet you. They’d have had the good sense to stay away,” I shot back, even as I wondered what Damon meant. Was Cora becoming a romantic interest for Damon? There was no way that could end well.

“Their loss,” Damon said easily. He threw the hood of the cloak over his head, concealing his face. “Anyway, brother, let’s focus on the task at hand. It’s a lovely day for a family hunt, wouldn’t you say?”


I’d gotten used to my life stretching in front of me, as vast as an endless ocean. But in the past two weeks, my worldview had constricted. Now, working our way through the alleyways and darkened streets of London, all that mattered were the next few minutes and hours. Would we kill Samuel? Would Samuel kill us? How would he react to discovering I wasn’t a pile of ashes back at Abbott Manor? And were we about to enter into a death match with the undead?

Damon seemed to hope so. In fact, he was treating the entire ordeal as if we were soldiers going into battle, and it was his duty to muster the troops. The only time his mood seemed to lift was when he described the ways he wanted to destroy Samuel.

Eventually, I tuned him out, allowing him to continue his monologue about whether he’d stake or burn Samuel, or both.

Damon and I hurried along empty streets toward Samuel’s Montague Street home, darting this way and that to avoid any suspicious glances. Not like there were many. In our new outfits, with the bloodstains finally washed off our skin, we looked like two wealthy young men enjoying everything London had to offer. We certainly didn’t look like hungry creatures of the night, about to do business with the devil.

We turned onto Montague in silence, walking under the hazy gaslights dotting the street. Down the block, carriages were rolling up to a large, well-kept house blocked from the view of pedestrians by an ivy-covered fence.

I turned to Damon, but he was distracted, leering at a stylish woman leaning tipsily on the arm of her companion. She was wearing a blue dress that left her lily-white neck exposed and vulnerable.

Damon arched a dark eyebrow. “Lady Ainsley,” he explained as he watched her carry on with a man who was clearly not the Lord Ainsley I had met. “Not as faithful to her husband as he’d hope.”

I turned to Damon in the darkness, a revelation forming in my mind. “Do you think that’s why Samuel’s angry? Jealousy?”

“Did I take one of his women, you mean?” Damon asked. “I didn’t take anyone. They were all more than happy to go with me.”

Lady Ainsley and her escort turned and walked up the gaslit path toward the house.

“Well? Let’s go,” I said, gesturing at their retreating backs.

“Yes,” Damon agreed, but he seemed lost in thought. I wondered how many of the women at the party he’d known, how many business deals he had struck with their husbands. Samuel could be holding a grudge for dozens of reasons. Damon always went after what he wanted, not caring who was in his way. Fallout was inevitable when it came to Damon’s conquests, and unfortunately I wasn’t stranger to getting wrapped up in it.

“Penny for your thoughts, brother?” Damon asked, easily catching up to me.

“You don’t have any money,” I joked. “All you have is the cloak on your back, and I was the one who stole that for you.”

“True. But I have other ways of making you talk.”

“I was thinking that you make enemies more easily than friends,” I said as we made our way toward Samuel’s home.

I surveyed the expansive grounds. From the street, it looked more like a park than a private home. The four- story Georgian mansion dwarfed the redbrick houses on either side. A main path, lit up by candles, led to the front door. Several smaller dirt paths wound around the house and through groves of maple and elm trees. I shook my head in disbelief. How was it that Samuel could be a vampire, could kill at will, and still live here, with the respect and admiration of humans? Meanwhile, I’d spent the past two decades trying to do the right thing, surviving on whatever scraps I could find, always afraid to get too close or ask for too much.

My mind drifted to our estate back in Virginia. It had been called Veritas, Latin for “truth.” My father had named it, adamant that a man’s primary purpose in life was to search for truth and fight deception. Maybe it was a path that worked for humans. But for a vampire, seeking the truth often meant unwittingly causing death. If I’d left the Jack the Ripper murders alone, Oliver would be alive. Violet would be human. But Cora would still be enslaved by Samuel, and countless more girls might have died. Damon would have been framed by Samuel and might have been hung by the police. No matter what path we’d taken, people would have perished. It was just a question of who.

I sneaked a glance at Damon. He, too, was staring up at the house, his jaw tight.

“Well, this is it,” Damon said, walking closer to the iron gates. “Moment of truth. You can either be a coward and run back to your little human girlfriend, or you can follow me. It’s your choice.”

“I’m not your enemy, Damon,” I said. “Samuel is. Remember that.”

Silently, we followed an elderly couple up the winding path to the large oak doors of the Mortimer mansion. The woman in front of us was clad in a glittering red dress, while her husband was wearing a tuxedo. It was impossible to tell whether they were royalty or vampires, and I realized that, if we were let in, the entire evening would play out like a macabre costume party, with none of us knowing the demons from the humans.

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