Home > The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(14)

The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(14)
Author: L.J. Smith

Samuel must have noticed my gaze because he jerked his tuxedo jacket into place and crossed his arms. But he was too late. The sparkling blue stone told me everything I needed to know: His hatred of us had something to do with Katherine.

“Neither of you is as smart as I am,” Samuel continued. “And judging from this arrogant display, neither of you has any idea who you’re dealing with.” Samuel glared at us as though he were a headmaster and we were his wayward pupils.

“And you’re more naïve than we thought. Because this is just the beginning,” Damon said in a low voice.

“Oh, I know it is,” Samuel said, smiling like a cat with a mouse under its paw. “Because now I have a lovely deputy. Violet is a grand girl. Thank you for introducing us.”

Out of nowhere, Damon threw a punch. It landed on the side of Samuel’s nose.

Samuel blinked, but the blow had done nothing.

Samuel shrugged. “Just more fodder for the eventual flames of your undoing. As you can see, I’m unbreakable.”

Damon laughed, one short bark. “You’re a coward. I was coming to ask you to settle this once and for all, man to man. But you’re no man,” Damon spat. “Your days are numbered.” With that, Damon spun around and walked away, his footsteps hard on the path.

“Remember to vote!” Samuel called at Damon’s retreating back.

I had to do something. Maybe, with Damon out of earshot, it would be easier to reason with Samuel. Once I had Violet, I doubted I could persuade Damon from acting on his revenge fantasies, but at least I’d no longer have to be part of them.

“Samuel, let Violet free. She’s—” I began.

“A very hungry vampire,” Samuel interrupted. “And a lovely girl to have on my arm. Now, Stefan, I’m going to let you in on a secret. I hate you. But I abhor your brother. Play nice, and I may let you off easily. A stake to the heart next time. Simple. No torture. Or maybe—” Samuel leaned toward me. The sweet scent of blood hung in the air around him; he must have fed recently. “Maybe I’d let you go completely. Just leave London. Forget about your brother. And forget about Violet. But I wouldn’t count on it. After all, as I say to my constituents, I’m the type of person who gets things done.” He laughed maniacally before pushing me so forcefully I tumbled down the steps and cracked my head against the path.

The door slammed shut. In the distance, I could hear another group of guests working their way toward the mansion. Had Samuel somehow used compulsion—or something else—to make sure we’d been entirely alone during the course of our conversation? And if so, what couldn’t he do?

I stood and brushed myself off, rubbing the back of my scalp.

A short man in a top hat and tailcoat grabbed my arm. I whirled around, fangs bared. “What?” I growled, realizing just how much Samuel got under my skin as I saw the startled expression of the stranger. I needed to stay in control.

The man shrank back. “I’m sorry. I wanted to … is the Mortimer house?”

I nodded, giving a slight apologetic smile.

“Thank you,” the man said, fear flashing in his eyes as he rushed away.

Damon was waiting just inside the fence, pacing against the iron trellises. “I hate him. I want to pull him apart, limb from limb, in front of all his fancy guests. Just wait until they realize their precious councilor-to-be is a bloody murderer. It would serve all of them right to be killed.”

“Damon, listen to me,” I said urgently, leading him away from the property. “I noticed something tonight. His necklace. Did you see it?”

“No, I wasn’t paying attention to his jewelry,” Damon said as we hurried into the street. Mist swirling beneath the gaslights cast a ghostly shadow on his face. I pulled him away from the light. It wasn’t safe for him to be seen.

“He had a necklace like our rings,” I said pointedly. Finally, realization flickered in Damon’s eyes.

“Katherine,” he said finally.

The name hung between us, as palpable as the cobblestones under our feet. A shiver crept up my spine.

“He must have known her. He must have,” I said. I twisted my ring around my finger. The inside was tarnished, and there was a slight crack in the stone from one of the many bloody battles Damon and I had fought. But it was my lifeline to normalcy—and Damon’s, too. Without our rings, we would be bound to the darkness, unable to walk in the sun without bursting into flames. Damon’s ring was darker and even more tarnished, the silver nearly black. But the stone was just as blue as mine. As blue as the stone in Samuel’s necklace.

Damon nodded, a faraway expression on his face. I knew in his mind, he was back in the carriage house in Mystic Falls, Virginia. He was curling a lock of Katherine’s hair around his finger, planting a kiss on her porcelain cheek, or arching his neck in just the right way to allow her to…

I stopped imagining.

“Do you think … did Katherine ever mention Samuel?” I asked tentatively. A coach drove by, its well-dressed passengers most likely on their way to Samuel’s house.

Damon shook his head. “Katherine never mentioned any other man to me,” he said sharply. The end of the sentence went unspoken: Even you.

“She never said anything to me, either. Have you seen a stone like that anywhere else besides on our rings or Katherine’s necklace?”

“What does it matter?” Damon asked angrily, his voice piercing the night air. He threw up his hands. “All it proves is that the three of us shared the same dead vampire.” He kicked at the ground, sending a shower of pebbles further into the street. He lowered his voice. “I’m more of a man and more of a beast than Samuel ever was, or ever will be. And I want him to know that.” He turned on his heel and walked back toward the house.

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