Stefan’s Diaries: Bloodlust Chapter 7

The next evening I gazed contented at the sun setting over the harbor.Miss Molly hadnt exaggerated: The girls at her house were hospitable.For breakfast Id had one with long, corn-silk hair and bleary blue eyes.

I could still taste her wine-laced blood on my lips.

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Damon and I had spent the day wandering the city, taking in the wrought-iron balconies in the French Quarter–and the girls who waved to us from their perches there–the fine tailor shops with bolts of sumptuous silk in the windows, and the heady cigar shops where men with round bellies struck business deals.

But of all the sights, I liked the harbor best. This was the citys lifeblood, where tall ships carrying produce and exotic wares entered and exited. Cut off the harbor, you cut off the city, making it as vulnerable and helpless as Miss Mollys girl had been that morning.

Damon gazed out at the boats as well, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. His lapis lazuli ring glinted in the fading sunlight. “I almost saved her.”

“Who?” I asked, turning sharply, hope swelling in my chest. “Did you sneak off and feed from someone?”

My brother kept his eyes on the horizon. “No, of course not. I meant Katherine.”

Of course. I sighed. If anything, last night had made Damon more malcontent than ever. While Id enjoyed the company and the sweet blood of a girl whose name I would never know, Damon had retired to a room of his own, treating the establishment as if it were simply the boardinghouse it pretended to be.

“You should have drunk,” I said for the hundredth time that day. “You should have taken your pick.”

“Dont you understand, Stefan?” Damon asked flatly. “I dont want my pick. I want what I had–a world I understood, not one I can control.”

“But why?” I asked, at a loss. The wind shifted, and the scent of iron, mixed with tobacco, talcum powder, and cotton, invaded my nostrils.

“Feeding time already?” Damon asked wryly. “Havent you done enough damage?”

“Who cares about one whore in a filthy brothel!” I yelled in frustration. I gestured out to the sea. “The world is filled with humans, and as soon as one dies, another appears. What does it matter if I relieve one wretched soul of its misery?”

“Youre being careless, you know,” Damon grunted. His tongue darted out of his mouth to lick his dry, cracked lips. “To feed whenever you feel like it. Katherine never did that.”

“Yes, well, Katherine died, didnt she?” I said, my voice much harsher than I meant it to be. “Shed have hated who youve become,” Damon said, sliding off the fence and standing next to me.

The scent of iron was more pervasive now, curling around me like an embrace.

“No, she would have hatedyou,” I retorted. “So scared of who you are, unable to go after what you want, wasting your Power.”

I expected Damon to argue, to strike me even. But instead he shook his head, the tips of his retracted canines just visible between his partially open lips.

“I hate myself. I wouldnt expect any different from her,” he said simply.

I shook my head in disappointment. “What happened to you? You used to be so full of life, so ready for adventure. This is the best thing that has ever happened to us. Its a gift–one thatKatherinegave to you.”

Across the street, an old man hobbled past, and then a moment later, a child on an errand rushed by in the opposite direction.

“Pick one and feed! Pick something, anything. Anything is better than just sitting here, letting the world go by.”

With that I stood, following the iron and tobacco scent, feeling my fangs pulse with the promise of a new meal. I grabbed Damon, who lagged a few paces behind me, until we found ourselves on a slanted lane out of range of the gaslights. What little light there was gathered onto a single point: a white-uniformed nurse, leaning against a brick building, smoking a cigarette.

The woman looked up, her startled expression turning into a slow smile as she took in Damon. Typical. Even as a blood-starved vampire, Damon, with his shock of dark hair, long lashes, and broad shoulders, caused women to look twice.

“Want a smoke?” she asked, blowing smoke into concentric circles that blended with the mist in the air.

“No,” Damon said hastily. “Come on, brother.”

I ignored him, stepping toward her. Her uniform was spattered with blood. I couldnt stop staring at it and the way the rich red contrasted to the stark white. No matter how often I had seen it since changing, blood continued to awe me with its beauty.

“Having a bad night?” I asked, leaning next to her against the building.

Damon grabbed my arm and started to pull me toward the lights of the hospital. “Brother, lets go.”

Tension coiled in my body. “No!” It took a swat of my arm to toss him against the wall.

The nurse dropped her cigarette. The ash sparked, then extinguished. I felt the bulge of my fangs behind my lips. It was just a matter of time now.

Damon struggled to his feet, crouching low as if I was going to strike him again.

“I wont watch this,” he said. “If you do this, I will never forgive you.”

“I have to get back to my shift,” the nurse muttered, taking a step away from me, as if to run.

I grabbed her arm and pulled her to me. She let out one short yelp before I covered her mouth with my hand. “No need to worry about that anymore,” I hissed, sinking my teeth into her neck.

The liquid tasted like rotting leaves and antiseptic, as if the death and decay of the hospital had invaded her body. I spit the still warm liquid into the gutter and threw the nurse to the ground. Her face was twisted in a grimace of fear.

Stupid girl. She should have sensed the danger and run while she still could. It hadnt even been a hunt. Worthless. She groaned, and I wrapped my fingers against her throat and squeezed until I heard the satisfying crack of bone breaking. Her head hung at an unnatural angle, blood still dripping from the wound.

She wasnt making any noise now.

I turned toward Damon, who stared at me, a horrified expression on his face.

“Vampires kill. Its what we do, brother,” I said calmly, my gaze locking on Damons blue eyes.

“Its whatyoudo,” he said, taking off the coat around his shoulders and throwing it over the nurse. “Not me. Never me.”

Anger pulsed like a heart at the very core of my being. “Youre weak,” I growled.

“Maybe so,” Damon said. “But Id rather be weak than a monster.” His voice grew strong. “I want no part in your killing spree. And if our paths ever cross again, I swear I will avenge all of your murders, brother.”

Then he spun on his heel and ran at vampire speed down the alleyway, instantly disappearing into the swirling mist.

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