Origins (Page 47)
Finally, she passed by, her curves close enough to touch. I reached out, grabbing her by her hips. She gasped.
"Alice," I said, my voice echoing hollowly in my ears. "It’s Stefan."
"Stefan Salvatore?" she said, her puzzlement quickly turning to fear. She trembled. "B-but you’re dead."
I could smell the whiskey on her breath, could see her pale neck, with blue veins running beneath her skin, and practically swooned. But I didn’t touch her with my teeth. Not yet. I savored the feeling of her in my arms, the sweet relief that what I’d spent the last moments insatiably craving was right in my hands.
"Shhh …," I murmured. "Everything will be all right."
I allowed my lips to graze her white skin, marveling at how sweet and fragrant it was. The anticipation was exquisite. Then, when I couldn’t take it anymore, I curled my lips and plunged my teeth into her neck. Her blood rushed against my teeth, my gums, spurting into my body, bringing with it warmth and strength and life. I sucked hungrily, pausing only when Alice went limp in my arms and her heartbeat slowed to a dull thud. I wiped my mouth and looked down at her unconscious body, admiring my handiwork: two neat holes in her neck, just a few centimeters in diameter.
She wasn’t dead yet, but I knew she would be soon.
I slung Alice over my shoulder, barely feeling the weight and barely feeling my feet hit the ground as I ran through town, into the woods, and back to the quarry.
Pale moonlight danced over Alice’s bright hair as I rushed toward the shack. I ran my tongue over my still-sharp fangs, reliving the sensation of my teeth pressing into her pliant, yielding neck.
"You’re a monster," a voice somewhere in my mind whispered. But in the cloak of darkness, with Alice’s blood coursing through my veins, the words held no meaning and were accompanied by no sting of guilt.
I burst into the shack. It was quiet, but the fire was well-tended and burned brightly. I watched the flames, momentarily entranced by the violets, blacks, blues, and even greens within. Then I heard a faint breath in the corner of the room.
"Damon?" I called, my voice echoing so loudly against the rough-hewn beams that I winced. I was still in hunting mode.
I made out a figure hunched under a blanket. I observed Damon from a distance, as if I were a stranger. His dark hair was matted to his neck, and he had streaks of grime along his face. His lips were chapped, his eyes bloodshot. The air around him smelled acrid–like death.
"Get up!" I said roughly, dropping Alice to the ground. Her almost-lifeless body fell heavily. Her red hair was matted with blood, and her eyes were half closed. Blood pooled around the two neat holes where I’d bitten her. I licked my lips but forced myself to leave the rest of her for Damon.
"What? What have you …" Damon’s gaze shifted from Alice to me, then back to Alice. "Y ou fed?" he asked, shrinking even farther into the corner and covering his eyes with his hands, as if he could somehow erase the image.
"I brought her for you. Damon, you need to drink," I urged, kneeling down next to him.
Damon shook his head. "No. No," he rasped, his breath labored as he drew nearer to death.
"Just put your lips to her neck. It’s easy," I coaxed.
"I won’t do it, brother. Take her away," he said, leaning against the wall and closing his eyes.
I shook my head, already feeling a gnawing hunger in my belly. "Damon, listen to me. Katherine is gone, but you’re alive. Watch me. Watch how simple it is," I said as I carefully found the original wound I had made on Alice’s neck. I sunk my teeth back into the holes and drank. The blood was cold, but still it sated me. I looked up toward Damon, not bothering to wipe the blood away from my mouth. "Drink," I urged, pulling Alice’s body along the floor so it was lying next to Damon. I grabbed Damon’s back and forced him toward her body. He started to fight, then stopped, his eyes transfixed on the wound. I smiled, knowing how badly he wanted it, how he could smell the overpowering scent of desire.
"Don’t fight it." I pushed his back so that his lips were mere inches from the blood and held him there. I felt him take a deep breath, and I knew he was already regaining strength, just from seeing the red richness, the possibility of the blood. "It’s just us now. Forever. Brothers. There will be other Katherines, forever, for eternity. We can take on the world as we are." I stopped, following Damon’s gaze toward Alice’s neck. Then he lunged and took a long, deep drink.
I watched in satisfaction as Damon lustily drank, his tentative sips becoming gulps as he held his face down to Alice’s neck. As Alice’s nearly lifeless body grew white, a healthy flush rose in Damon’s cheeks.
As Damon drank the last drops of Alice’s blood, I took a few steps outside the shack. I glanced around in wonder. Just last night, the area had seemed desolate, but now I realized that it teemed with life–the scent of animals in the forest, the flap of birds overhead, the sound of Damon’s and my heartbeats. This spot–this whole world–was full of possibility.
My ring glimmered in the moonlight, and I brought it to my lips. Katherine had given me eternal life. Father always had told us to find our power, to find our place in the world. And I had, though Father hadn’t been able to accept it.
I took a deep breath, and the coppery scent of blood filled my nostrils. I turned as Damon stepped out from the shack. He seemed taller and stronger than even a few moments ago. I noticed that he had a matching ring on his middle finger.
"How do you feel?" I asked, waiting for him to see everything I saw.
Damon turned away from me and walked toward the water. He knelt down and cupped the liquid to his mouth, washing away the remnants of blood on his lips.