Home > The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(2)

The Asylum (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #5)(2)
Author: L.J. Smith

“May I see?” Cora asked, holding out her hand expectantly.

Damon ignored her. “They could have run a better picture of me, at the very least. That illustration doesn’t do me justice at all,” he said sulkily as he settled onto the bench next to me and crumpled the paper into a ball. But I could see his hands shaking—the faintest of tremors, so subtle, they would be invisible to the human eye. This wasn’t the confident Damon I knew.

Cora rifled through the papers lying next to our untouched breakfast trays.

“We’re only a few miles outside London,” I said, looking at Damon. “What will we do when we get there?” For all we knew, we’d be apprehended as soon as the train arrived at Paddington Station.

“Well,” Damon said, throwing the wadded-up newspaper to the ground and stomping on it for good measure. “I’ve heard the British Museum is exquisite. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.”

“This is serious, Damon. They’re looking for you. And once they find you…” I shuddered, thinking of what would happen if the Metropolitan Police found Damon.

“I know it’s serious. But what am I supposed to do? Hide for eternity because I’m being framed for a crime I didn’t commit? Samuel needs to pay. Besides, I’m not afraid of the police. I may have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

“You’re in this one, too,” Cora said quietly, holding up the front page of the London Gazette. This article had no illustration, only a headline: JACK THE RIPPER DISCOVERED, STILL ON THE LOOSE.

Damon grabbed the paper and quickly scanned it. He turned to me. “The press has labeled me a nobleman. I look like a pauper now, so I doubt anyone will recognize me,” he said as if to convince himself. Lacing his fingers together, he smoothed back his hair, then rested his head in his palms as if he was a sunbather at the beach.

It was true: He didn’t look at all like a member of London’s elite. His shirt was torn and dirty. His eyes were tired and bloodshot, and he had the shadow of a beard covering his chin. But he still looked like Damon. His hair was dark and thick, falling in a wavy line over his strong eyebrows, and his mouth was set in his usual half-sneer.

Catching me looking at him, Damon arched an eyebrow. “I know you’re thinking something. Why don’t you just say it?” he asked.

“We shouldn’t be going to London,” I said flatly. After all, Damon was a wanted man in the city—a weak, friendless wanted man at that. We had no idea how many other vampires were allied with Samuel. His brother, Henry, was one for certain, but we could only guess how far Samuel’s reach extended. He certainly must have had friends in high places to frame Damon in the media.

“Not go to London?” Damon spat. “And do what? Live in the forest and wait until we’re found? No. I need revenge. Aren’t you concerned about your little friend, Violet?” he added, knowing that was exactly why I was after Samuel in the first place.

I looked at Cora, desperately rummaging through the papers as though one of them contained a map to safety. Her blue eyes were wide with fright, and I was struck by how well she’d held herself together after last night’s events. She’d been brave in the hours before sunrise, when we’d been hiding in the woods and waiting for the search party to pass, despite the fact that her sister had just been turned into a demon. Now, I could only imagine the thoughts swimming in her head.

“I want to rescue Violet. I do,” I said, hoping that Cora could sense my sincerity. “But we need a sound plan. We don’t know what we’re up against.”

Even as I said it, I knew Damon would never agree. When he wanted something—romance, Champagne, blood—he wanted it now. And the same applied to revenge.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Cora set her jaw. “We have to go to London. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t try to save my sister,” Cora said, her voice rising on the word save. She folded the paper with a crisp smack and pointed to another illustration. I flinched, expecting to see Damon. But instead, it was a drawing of Samuel, his chin held high and his hand raised in a poised, political wave.

“Let me see that,” Damon said, snatching the paper from Cora’s grasp.

“‘Samuel Mortimer, the hopeful London councilor, vows to keep the city streets safe. “I’ll kill the Ripper with my bare hands if I have to,” Mortimer promises, to cheers of approval,’” Damon read from the text. “I’d like to see him try.”

I winced. Samuel Mortimer, derived from the French word for dead. Of course. And neither I nor Damon had realized it, even though Damon was so proud of calling himself Count DeSangue. Count of Blood. It had probably been Samuel’s first clue to Damon’s true nature.

I shook my head. What other hints had we missed? Hadn’t I fallen into Samuel’s trap, too? I’d believed Damon was the Ripper.

“Promise you won’t do anything until Violet’s safe,” Cora said. “And then, yes, kill him. Just don’t let Violet be a pawn.”

I didn’t want to make Cora a promise I couldn’t keep. I wasn’t even confident that Damon and I could defeat Samuel, but I knew Damon wouldn’t pass up any opportunity to try. I wanted to tell her to run away from all of this, as far as she could. Go to Paris, change her name, and try to forget the past. But she wouldn’t. Violet was her sister. Cora was bound to her, just as I was bound to my brother.

I gave Cora a slight nod, and for her, it seemed to be enough. I rubbed my eyes, trying to wake myself up. I felt as though I was drunk, or trapped in a dream. Everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours had taken on a hazy quality, as though I had dreamt the events, not lived them. But this was real.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology