The horseless carriage took them far on the outskirts of town. Damon handled the vehicle with precision as he did most things. She marveled at how Giuseppe Salvatore had never given his eldest son an ounce of credit for anything when in actuality, Damon was quite clever. And very passionate about causes that he held dear. A glance at his stoic profile as he handled the winding road with ease reminded her of the few short days they had spent together so many years ago. It was that brief moment in time that caused her to take the leap when the opening arose. Eternal punishment might come from this thievery, but at this point, she no longer cared.
The time with him was well worth the risk.
“Now, she’s quiet,” Damon murmured, fixing his pale blue eyes on her. “Now, she has no words.”
She pulled her gaze from his and looked down at the clenched hands resting on her lap. Well, it wasn’t really her lap or her hands. The only thing that was truly hers was her will and her everlasting love for the man beside her.
The speed of the carriage slowed as the forest thickened. In her time, she knew these woods like the back of her hand, but over a century had passed. The landscaped had changed. Her previous possession of her descendant’s body had been for a specific purpose that went in-line with the purpose of the other spirits. This foray was a personal task.
The spirits opposed her desire to live out her desires and it was only by tapping into her deepest, darkest ability had she been able to accomplish as much as she had without them stripping her powers away. It was the young witch’s cry for help to save her beloved that had given this spell its power. Love had the power to transcend time and space when channeled correctly. Even if Damon suspected something was amiss, she loved him too much to turn back now.
Movement came to a sudden halt. The steady vibration that had accompanied their journey ceased. Two small towers of bricks stood before them as if it had once been an entrance to a grand estate. She inhaled a sharp breath. Could it be? When Damon said he was taking her back to the start, she never guessed that his suspicions would lead them there. How could he know? She had been so careful. Hadn’t she?
Faster than she could process her thoughts, he exited the horseless carriage and came around to her side. The door wrenched open on its hinges. His hand closed around hers and he pulled her out.
Once standing face to face, she had nowhere to run. His piercing gaze locked her in. He captured her face between the palms of his hands. His crystal blue eyes narrowed as he stared at her.
“I don’t know why I missed it. Those eyes…those shiny copper eyes,” he murmured. “What game are you playing with me, Emily Bennett?”
“Okay, tell me about this Damon guy.”
Jeremy and Dawn were the first to arrive at his house. She’d seemed edgy the entire drive over as if she was on the verge between a fit of rage and a fit of tears. He almost offered her a joint to help her chill, but considering she was Bonnie’s cousin, he thought better of it.
“I’m not the best person to ask about him,” Jeremy answered.
“Is Bonnie safe with him?” she asked. “Maybe we should call Chris.”
Jeremy paused in the middle of his text to Elena to look at the girl. Although a few inches taller than Bonnie, he noticed a faint resemblance between the two. Dawn’s skin tone was warmer like hot chocolate and her high cheekbones accentuated the roundness of her eyes. He could definitely see why Matt had become a little flustered after one conversation.
“Her dad?” He shook his head. “Um, no. That’s not a good idea.”
“But if she’s missing—”
“She’s safe with Damon.” He hated to admit it, but it was true. The older vampire cared about Bonnie. Jeremy knew he wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
Before their conversation could continue, the front door opened. Alaric entered with Lucy. Caroline followed. To Jeremy’s surprise, Elena shut the door after her. Caroline must have called her and picked her up along the way. All eyes were on him when they stepped into the kitchen.
“What the hell is going on, Jer?” Elena asked.
“Bonnie is being possessed,” he said without preamble.
Elena and Caroline looked at each other. Alaric gasped. Dawn grabbed her purse and stormed out the back door. Lucy stepped forward with questions.
“Do you know who or what it is?”
Jeremy shrugged. “I don’t know. She doesn’t know either. It just happens.”
“Is that why she ran off with Damon?” Caroline asked.
“What?” Elena threw in.
“Yeah, whatever it is seems to like Damon,” Jeremy muttered, remembering the argument at the lakehouse and its aftermath. “It likes him a lot.”
Alaric touched Lucy’s shoulder. “Can you stop it?”
“It depends. We’ll need to get her back here. I need to know what we’re working against.”
Jeremy nodded. “I’ll call Damon.”
Everybody started talking at once. They all had a recollection of how Bonnie hadn’t been herself lately. Their voices jumbled together and made a phone conversation impossible. Jeremy slipped out the back door and dialed Damon’s cell. As he waited for the vampire to answer, his attention wandered to Dawn who sat on a stump in the middle of the yard. She was fumbling with something on her lap and didn’t look too thrilled with her progress. He was about to walk over when Damon answered.
“This had better be good.”
“Bring Bonnie back,” Jeremy said, “Lucy can help her.”
“Fuck you with that kid shit, Damon,” Jeremy cut in. “Bonnie needs help. If you really care about her, you’ll want her to be whole.”
A short pause followed. Jeremy bit back a string of curses and waited. Damon could not be the total asshole that he envisioned him to be. The vampire had saved Bonnie from Klaus not too long ago, after all.
“Fine,” Damon said. “Tell Lucy to meet us at the boardinghouse.”
Jeremy ended the call and turned to go back inside when a frustrated growl stopped him. He headed over to Dawn.
“Peachy,” she snapped, cupping her hand over whatever was on her lap.
“Hey, don’t bite my head off…” He noticed some cigarette paper on the ground and bent to pick it up. Since he hadn’t lit up in awhile and never in the backyard, he knew it wasn’t his. “Did you drop this?”
Her round eyes blazed a crazy shade of fiery hazel. It was kinda sexy and a little disconcerting. Plus, he felt like a dick for checking out his ex’s relative. Again. So much happening at once, Jeremy took a breath and decided to give her space.
“Yeah,” she answered in a softer, more controlled tone. She took the paper from him and thrust it into the front pocket of her jeans. When she did that, he saw what she’d been hiding. Some herbs on another cigarette wrapper, but it definitely wasn’t pot.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s not marijuana,” she said, defensively.
“It’s not even illegal—”
“I’m not judging, but if you’re lighting up in my backyard…”
She frowned as she looked away. “It’s wolfsbane.”
“What the hell are you smoking that for?”
She ignored him and tried to roll the joint, but her trembling hands prevented it.
“Let me.” He knelt in front of her and rolled it on her thigh. He tried hard not to notice how well the denim molded to her flesh or how her breath quickened and her trembling increased. “There,” he said when he was done.
“Thanks,” she mumbled, raising the joint to her mouth. She grabbed a lighter from her purse, but her hands shook too much to do any good.
He took the lighter from her and helped with that, too. As she inhaled, a powerful shudder shook her body. Slowly, the fire dimmed from her eyes and the hazel darkened to chocolate brown.
“Wolfsbane?” he asked.
“It calms my nerves,” she answered quietly. “I have anger issues. It helps.”
“Jeremy!” Elena called him from the back porch. “What did Damon say?”
He stored away Dawn’s comments for processing later and headed toward his sister. “We need to meet him at the boardinghouse.”
Bonnie left the darkness in an overwhelming rush of energy. The return from the abyss made her feel disoriented. The vise-like grip on her wrist put her senses on instant alert. Without pausing, she cast the spell that guaranteed freedom.
Damon released his hold and fell to his knees instantly.
As she stepped away from him, her gaze darted around their surroundings. They were in unfamiliar territory. Once again, she returned to find herself alone with him. She hated this feeling of helplessness and how everything always tied her to Damon Salvatore.
He screeched her name again. She released the spell that assaulted his nerves. Deep down, she knew it wasn’t fair to attack him. It wasn’t his fault that this thing kept happening to her. But dammit! All she wanted was a normal life. She never asked for any of this.
With his hands to his head, he stumbled to his feet. His eyes glittered like icicles. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I’m sorry,” she murmured.
Everything around him grew still. “You’re what?”
“You heard me.” She wrapped her arms around herself and went to one of the short towers of bricks. Once upon a time, these bricks probably loomed several feet over her head. Now, they were just relics of the past. She wondered whose past and why he’d brought her here. But after days of avoiding him, she was leery of asking him anything.
“You’ve never apologized before,” he commented.
“I never will again so don’t get used to it.”
“Definitely Bonnie,” he said mostly to himself.
She turned her head to look at him. He was rubbing his temple now. Apparently, most of the pain was wearing off. A cell phone lay on the ground. He bent forward, grabbed it, and stuffed it in his pocket.
“Your cousin is waiting for us at the boardinghouse.”
“Dawn?” Bonnie frowned. Shit! She remembered she hadn’t told him anything about Stefan and Klaus’ attack on her Mississippi relatives. How in the world had Dawn figured out the Damon and Stefan connection? This would not be good.
“No, who’s Dawn?” he muttered. “Lucy…the witch is here.”
“Yeah, she may be able to help with…this.” He motioned with his hand. “Do you remember anything that happened?”
“Was sex involved?” Mistrust evident in her voice.
He bristled. “No,” he said through gritted teeth.
Beyond the anger, she sensed that her question offended him. That surprised her. It gave her a bit of hope, too, but she wasn’t ready to admit that to herself.
“Come on.” Damon turned his back on her and returned to the driver’s seat. The engine fired up within seconds. His chiseled profile reminded her of the marble statues that they’d studied in art. To say he was pissed was putting it lightly.
She joined him inside the car. The passenger door was barely shut before he floored the accelerator.
“Buckle up,” he ordered.
Bonnie obeyed. Not because she feared him. “Tell me what happened.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Being at the Grill with Caroline and my cousin,” she answered. “Then Jeremy came over. He grabbed me—”
“He grabbed you?” He bit out each word and threw it back at her with force.
“Not like that!” She glanced at him. Rage leaped from him like a burning inferno. There was no way in hell she’d let him hurt Jeremy again. “He wanted to talk and then everything went black. The next thing I know we’re out here in the woods… You have no idea how much I hate this.”
“You’d be surprised,” he said quietly.
“Why did you bring me out here? Did you know it wasn’t me?”
“You…she came to me at the bar,” he said, his tone and demeanor softening. “Copper eyes again so I knew. Besides, you’d never… Anyway, I suggested we have some alone time and she took me up on it.”
“But the woods?”
“It’s where Stefan and I grew up.” He took his gaze from the road to look at her. “I know who’s possessing you. I wasn’t sure at first…”
Mystic Falls, 1864
The horse’s hooves echoed like thunder as Damon drove it mercilessly toward Fell’s Church. Emily clung to the vampire’s waist with all her strength. She bit her lip to stifle the moans as her full bosom rubbed against the hard planes of his back. The feel of him between her thighs made her weak. Again, she admonished herself for her wanton thoughts about this man. He would never be hers, but never in her wildest dreams had she imagined this closeness between them. Even though his full attention was on another woman, she relished every second in his presence.
Regardless the wrong of it, she grabbed hold and held it all dear to her heart.
Then all too soon, the wooden steeple appeared in the moonlight. Damon slowed the horse to a casual gallop and finally to a stop. He leapt to the ground with that graceful quality that only heightened his virility. When he reached for her, she took hold of his shoulders as he grasped her waist. Heat soared through her at the innocent touch. His nostrils flared as if he sensed the erratic sensations that pulsed within her. He pulled her close and stared down into her eyes.
Her breath came in short pants. If he kissed or fed on her, she would surrender. It didn’t matter to her. She had waited so long and with her demise imminent, she saw no point in further denial. Then just as suddenly he released her.
“What do you need of me?” he asked.
The rejection burned, but it was no surprise. Katherine’s hold over him was so deep. Emily knew she’d never be a true match against it.
“There are guards,” she said. “I need to get as close as possible, but I can’t—”
“I’ll dispose of them.” He left without another word.
In his absence, she pulled her grimoire from the saddlebag. With the help of the moonlight, she could read the words without requiring additional light. Creating a barrier of protection from the fire would require a strong source of energy. A natural, mystical occurrence was due tonight and she hoped it would not fail to appear. Without it, the spell would not take hold.
Damon appeared before her. His quiet bearing set her on edge. It was unnerving how quickly he had mastered the ability to move with such power and grace.
“It is done,” he said. “What else?”
She asked him to gather twigs and branches for a fire. While he did so, she created a circle and moved to stand within it. She told him to put the elements around her in the lines she’d drawn on the ground. He did so without question.
“I need the flask, too. Pour the water on the wood there.”
Again, he obeyed her request. His expression unreadable in the starlit night as he watched her. She’d never known him to be so quiet.
With the elements in place, Emily cast a spell to bring a ring of fire around her. The words poured from her. Energy surged through her body like lightning. Her incantations grew stronger. Wind ruffled the leaves on the ground. Her skirt billowed around her legs. Still, she continued until finally the streak of light blazed through the sky.
In time, nature returned to normal. The wind ceased. Emily’s heart stopped racing. The fire burned itself out. Damon joined her inside the circle.
“It is done,” she whispered.
“I will honor my promise,” he told her. “I will protect you and your family. No harm will ever come to you or them. Ever.”
She nodded, but she knew her fate was already decided.
Mystic Falls, Present Day
Damon sensed Bonnie’s eyes on him the rest of the drive back into town. He wondered what her little judgy mind was conjuring. After his revelation about Emily she’d grown silent. And since he was still a little pissed and a lot hurt over her sex accusation, he didn’t have any words of reassurance for her.
Two days of silence had led to this. If she had just answered the phone when he called or trusted him an ounce, this chasm wouldn’t exist between them. Sure, he’d given her reason to believe him a colossal dick, but he’d also given her a few reasons to trust him. As they neared the boardinghouse, he realized just how badly he needed her to believe in him.
He parked behind Lucy’s shiny black SUV and cut the engine. When Bonnie didn’t immediately jump out, he looked at her. The stare she fixed on him made his dick harden. If bright emerald eyes weren’t staring back at him, he’d swear that Emily had returned.
“Thank you for taking care of me,” she murmured. “That’s why you took me from the Grill, right?”
The impulse for snark left him. He nodded. “Yeah.”
He placed his hand on the door handle and waited. There was more. He could sense it, but he wasn’t sure he would like what came next.
“I have to tell you something.”
“It can wait,” he said. “Lucy’s waiting—”
“I have to tell you about my other cousin. Dawn.”
“It can wait, Bonnie.”
She shook her head. “I don’t know if Lucy will be able to help me or not. Emily is strong and the only reason I came back today is because you confronted her. If she comes back again, I may not…” She swallowed hard. “She may take over and I may never come back.”
“That won’t happen,” Damon argued. He wouldn’t let it.
“We don’t know for sure. She’s stronger than I am. Grams told Jeremy that she’s stronger than the others and since the witches have cut me off, I can’t go to them. If Lucy can’t do this, I may be at Emily’s mercy forever.”
“There are other witches. I’ll find them.”
She gave him a faint smile. He knew in that moment she believed his sincerity. It soothed him and he couldn’t resist running the back of his hand along the swell of her cheek. When she didn’t shy away from his touch, hope sparked deep in his gut.
“I don’t know any other way,” she said half to herself. “Stefan and Klaus were in Biloxi.”
“Ric doesn’t know for sure,” he said dismissively.
“I do,” she said. “Dawn’s father was ripped apart and p-put back together and her twin brother is missing. It fits Stefan’s M.O.”
He pulled his hand from her and shifted to look her dead in the face. “No.”
“Yes. Her father’s a werewolf. She and her brother share the gene, but neither has turned yet. I mean…I don’t know about Jordan. He’s missing now, so I don’t know. With Klaus being part werewolf, maybe he’s looking for more… I don’t know—”
“She just showed up and she was a mess.” The words erupted in a rush. “She found her dad and he was dead. And she came to us because he told her we’d protect her.”
“How long have you known?”
“She’s been with us a couple of days.”
He slammed from the car. The switch that flipped his emotions on and off was severely off kilter. Everything felt horribly on right now. The urge to grab his little witch and shake her overwhelmed him. The rapid pounding of her heart echoed loudly in his ears. As she left the car and shut the door, he waited for her knock him to his knees. When the spell didn’t come, he glared at her.
“You should have told me.”
“She doesn’t know about you or what you are,” Bonnie answered. “She has no clue that the man I… That I know the man who tore her family apart. When Grams died, I felt so alone and hurt and angry. I couldn’t let her go through that.”
“He’s my brother, Bonnie.”
“She’s family, Damon.”
The words hung there between them. The invisible lines drawn like clauses that came without compromise. Family. Loyalty. He’d seen her fierce devotion to Elena and her willingness to even die for her best friend. But this was different. This left him defeated.
“Lucy’s waiting for you inside.”
He headed toward the front door and she fell into step beside him.
“We don’t have to do this here,” she said, her voice quiet, strong and determined.
“Yes, you do.”
He pushed the door opened and motioned for her to enter first. Despite the volcano that had just erupted between them, his feelings hadn’t changed. He just didn’t know how either of them would be able to move past it.
Bobby Bennett, Jordan Bennett and Dawn Bennett are original characters created by niklovr.