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.