A Night On The Town
[Disclaimer: I do not own The Vampire Diaries. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just borrowing brilliance and adding my own.]
1. The Last Night of My Life Pt 1
Dawn. It was my favorite time of the day. Fresh, untainted, new. At least in the first few minutes of a brand new day, the worries of yesterday were behind me. While the sun pushes off the horizon, its brilliant and multi-colored rays stretching across the earth, I could trick myself into thinking and believing that with the new day came a new, clean slate, unmarred by death and bad decisions.
This morning was no different. I stretched my well-rested limbs beneath my cool comforter, blinking sleepily against the soft white light pouring in through the balcony doors. The sight beyond the glass doors made me smile.
The Eiffel Tower was so glorious in the morning. All of Paris was glorious in the morning.
With a yawn, I ended my stretch and pushed back my covers, throwing my legs over the edge of the bed. The moment by toes touched the carpeted floor, my cell phone started vibrating on the bedside table. I ignored it and crossed the room to the balcony, flipped the lock and pulled the double doors open. Crisp morning air swept into the room, chilling my skin and reminding me that autumn was rapidly approaching.
This was like a dream. I still couldn't quite believe that I was here, in Paris. In a hotel room with a clear view of the Eiffel Tower.
With a semi-delirious smile, I returned to my bed and sat up against the headboard, reaching for the blue journal on the table next to my phone. I propped the worn leather-bound book on my raised knees and opened it to a fresh page.
Paris. Words really can't describe this city. It's beyond amazing. Early mornings are my favorite Paris moments, though late nights are a close second. This city does something to me. It brings me alive. It's much more entertaining than London, though London had its charms. London was…hectic. Constant movement and noise. Paris has these things too, but it's different.
I take a deep breath and inhale romance. There's no oxygen here. It's all romance and excitement and passion. It's in everything here, in the rush of people and traffic. This city is so full of life it's astounding.
It rained every day I was in London, as it has here, but in London, it was dreary and depressing. Rain in Paris accentuates the excitement. It gives the city a more romantic look. Rain-slicked cobblestone streets lined with quaint shops and cafés. What more can I ask for?
I hate that today is my last day. I could stay here forever, but I have to return home soon or Jenna will have my head. I've already missed the first day of school. Richard is here with me, but he doesn't understand or appreciate this city like I do. He says I should've returned home at least a week ago.
At least I have one more night. Oh how I love nights in Paris. A couple blocks away from my hotel, there's this long, wide alleyway that's always lit at night. Every night, someone in one of the apartments plays soft music like La Vie En Rose and couples dance to the soft melody. Even when it rains. It's one of my most appreciated finds in this city.
I'm going to email Elena before I meet Richard downstairs. We're doing some last minute shopping. Nothing too strenuous today. Climbing the Eiffel Tower wasn't my smartest idea. I'm starting to really feel the burn in my calves and hamstrings. Ouch. It almost killed Richard. It was something like 600 steps. Then we took the elevator up the rest of the way. It was so worth it. I mean, when will we get another chance? We probably shouldn't have had two bottles of wine beforehand, though.
A once in a lifetime opportunity. That's what this was. The chances of me ever returning to this city are slim, though I desperately hope that I will. Someday. I love it here so much.
Time to shop! Then I'm going to wander the city for the rest of the day.
Life is good right now.
I sighed contentedly and laid down my pen. I dropped my knees and let all my muscles relax onto the soft mattress. I turned my head to look out across the city again, desperately wishing I had more time here. The thought of never seeing this view again made my heart ache.
With another sigh, I turned back to my journal. I flipped through the pages absentmindedly, catching short phrases here and there.
Elena and Jeremy are watching cartoons and throwing Lucky Charms at each other. How old are they again?
Mom's talking Elena into the Miss Mystic pageant. I hope she wins. It's always a rush, winning something like that. Another reason I need to return soon. Miss Mystic duties and all that. It would be pretty awesome to be able to give my title to my sister…
We're meeting Bonnie and Caroline at the Grill. Bonnie spent the weekend with her grandmother so it should be an interesting night…
Elena actually went to that stupid party. Now she's calling ME to come pick her up!
Usually, it's the older sibling that influences the younger. I made a mistake. I shouldn't have gone to pick her up. I couldn't swallow my pride. And now I'll carry the consequence with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.
I hesitated at the last entry. Guilt rose up inside of me and the morning became tainted by the past. That new, clean slate was looking more like a blackboard covered in chalk dust.
I clenched my eyes shut against the onslaught of pain and snapped my diary closed. I tossed it to the end of the bed and rose to start my day. Once again, I brushed aside the guilt that haunted me, burying it in the back of my mind. Just like every other morning.
The day wasn't going as planned. I blamed Richard.
"You women are all the same."
I shot him a glare before snorting in disbelief. "You're flamboyantly gay. Shouldn't you like shopping?" I smiled mockingly at him. "Stereotypes are a waste of time, Richard. Now shut up and hand me that dress."
Of course, the complaining didn't stop. It was constant, all day long. It just got worse as the minutes passed, grating on my nerves until I finally snapped.
"Okay! Okay," I shouted from inside the fitting room of the seventh shop. I poked my head around the curtain. "Please, for the love of all that is holy, leave! Go do whatever you want. I don't need a babysitter."
He rolled his eyes. He was slumped in a cushioned chair in the waiting area just outside the fitting rooms. He looked truly pathetic. I wanted to hit him.
"What I want to do is catch the earlier flight back to London," he grumbled as he glowered at the floor between his feet.
I inhaled deeply through my nose to calm my rage, but it didn't help. I yanked back the curtain and stepped out into the waiting room, not caring that I was half naked.
"Then go, Richard. Just go." I planted my hands on my hips and snapped, "If it's so inconvenient for you to be here, if I'm slowly torturing you to death by asking you to hold a few dresses for me, go on and catch that flight."
He sighed heavily and leaned forward to prop his elbows on his knees. "I can't leave you here."
I stared at him for a long moment before stating, "But you want to."
He stood up and shrugged helplessly. "I'm sorry, Alex, but I have work I'm supposed to be doing. In London, right now."
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. When I faced him again, I forced a sincere expression onto my face and said steadily, "Fine. Go. Seriously, I'll be fine here on my own."
He shook his head. "I can't just—"
I cut him off quickly. "I'm a big girl, Richard. I can take care of myself."
It took a while to convince him to leave, and we didn't part on good terms. My rage was just barely contained and he was in the same state. He actually slammed the shop door on the way out, making the sales clerk cringe. But I couldn't deny my relief when he finally disappeared, though it only lasted ten seconds before it dawned on me that my best friend had just abandoned me in Paris, France.
I stomped back into the fitting room and wrenched the curtain back into place so hard, one of the metal rings snapped off the pole holding the curtain up.
And then the light overhead exploded.
I clenched my eyes shut and inhaled deeply once more, not surprised in the least.
At six o'clock, I stopped at a café down the street from my favorite little alleyway. The sun was just beginning to set on the other side of the Eiffel Tower, shooting rays of golden orange across the evening sky. I sat in silence and watched the brilliant rays fade into layers of soft pinks and blues as I nibbled on my last chocolate croissant in Paris, savoring the buttery pastry and milky chocolate filling.
My anger was wearing off. At least the anger directed at Richard was wearing off. The anger directed at myself was still burning hot and strong and unyielding.
The sales clerk at the shop had apologized profusely for the incident with the light and had even helped me pick the pieces of glass out of my hair. I'd let her help and pretended to be startled because I couldn't very well tell her I was responsible. I couldn't very well tell her that I had a habit of making things happen whenever I got upset, emotional, or angry.
My fingers were itching to write in my diary again. It had become more of a habit since my parents died, and a small relief during the day. My therapist back home had told me it was good for me so I started writing often. But I knew if I pulled out my journal right now, I'd only write about what an ass Richard was.
I should probably document the light thing… The thought was barely formed when I was distracted by the soft music starting down the street. I smiled in anticipation and started gathering my things together.
I froze when I noticed my coffee stirring itself. Panicked, I snatched the spoon from my cup and glanced around frantically. There were few people around, all of them on the other side of the street, so I doubted they'd witnessed the accidental magic.
I exhaled in relief and tossed down the spoon. I slung my bag over my shoulder and took a couple large gulps of the now lukewarm coffee, thinking if I disposed of all the evidence I could convince myself it never happened.
"Now that was interesting," came a voice directly behind me.
I lurched forward in surprise. Several large drops of coffee dribbled down my chin and onto my black and purple blouse. I spun in place and took another step back when I saw a man standing inches from me.
"Excuse me?" I gasped out, placing a hand over my racing heart and lifting the other to wipe my chin.
The man standing before me was a few inches taller than me, nearly six feet tall, with sharp features and dark eyes to match his black, shoulder-length hair.
He grinned, flashing his pearly-white teeth. "The coffee. Magic, huh?" He wasn't French. He was American. "You're a witch?" His dark eyes shined with knowing amusement.
I took another step backwards, my heart lurching again. "Um, you must be mistaken. I'm not a….Did you just call me a witch?" I tried to sound offended, as any normal person would be, but my voice was too shaky.
His grin only grew. He stepped closer to me. "No need to be frightened. I'm not going to hurt you. I happen to be very fond of witches."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "I'm sorry, sir, but you are clearly mistaken. Now, if you will excuse me," I snapped, turning in the other direction.
I headed for the alleyway. There were people there and that's what I needed, to surround myself with people.
I quickly crossed the road, looking both ways for cars. The street was much darker now and twinkle lights were being turned on in some of the shop windows.
"Now there's really no need to run, little witch."
My breath caught sharply in my throat and I skidded to a stop inches from the stranger, who had somehow appeared right in front of me. I blinked in shock and took a hurried step back.
"How…how did you…?" I glanced back over my shoulder across the street then returned my startled gaze to him.
"And my name is Royce." He took a big step forward and his hands wrapped tightly around my upper arms, his fingers digging in. He dipped his head down and inhaled deeply. "Oh, you smell so…delicious."
Fear lanced through me. His wording had me thinking the absolute worst. Words like rape, murder, and cannibalism flashed across my mind. I struggled against his hold on me, but his grip was much too tight.
To my utter horror, his tongue darted out and licked up the column of my throat to my chin.
"I can already taste you." He smacked his lips and tugged me forward against his chest. "What's your name, little witch?"
"I'm not a witch!" I snarled, still struggling ineffectually against his hold. "Let me go or I will scream," I threatened, furious and terrified.
He chuckled. "Oh, honey, you don't want to do that." His eyes focused intently on mine and he said firmly and clearly, "You will not scream, no matter what I do or say."
The scream that had been growing in my chest and rising in my throat vanished.
"I won't scream," I promised automatically.
"Good, now come with me." He pulled me off the sidewalk and into an alleyway. "I simply cannot wait. I need a taste. Just a small taste."
Fear stabbed at my pounding heart. I wanted to scream and I knew exactly why I wanted to scream, but I couldn't.
He dragged me down the dark alleyway until we were out of sight of the street and he slammed me against the brick wall, making my head crack against it loudly. A jolt went through my skull and I yelped as my head started to throb and burn. My vision blurred around the edges, my heart pounded in terror. Terror that was only intensified when I saw the face of my captor in the dim light of the alley.
His eyes had changed. His pupils had completely dilated and the whites of his eyes had turned red. Dark lines had appeared all around both his eyes, like veins creeping toward his cheekbones.
And his teeth…they'd transformed. Grown. Into fangs.
With a feral grin, he snarled, "Don't make a sound."
Inside my head, I was screaming as loud as I possibly could. Physically, though, I couldn't utter a word. Not even when he attacked my neck.
It hurt. It was agonizing. My flesh tore open. Was ripped open. My lips parted on a silent scream. The only sound heard was my strangled gasp and slurping.
I could feel my blood pumping out of me. I could feel him sucking and licking and drinking from the curve of my neck. And it hurt so badly.
I just barely heard the shout over the slurping and groaning coming from the man attacking my neck. At his name, he leapt away from me. Immediately, I slumped to the ground. Terrified sobs rose up, shaking me to the core. I curled myself into the wall and prayed for help.
"I'm sorry. She….Andrew, she smelled so—"
"I don't want to hear it!" the new voice hissed furiously. "Go! Now! Before I kill you myself right here."
"But she's a—"
"Now, Royce!" the newcomer hissed with so much venom, I flinched.
I heard a faint whoosh and when I looked up, Royce was gone. In his place was another man. I couldn't really make out his features in the darkness. I could only tell that he was tall and blonde.
He knelt down in front of me and studied me for a long moment.
"Please don't hurt me," I whimpered. I'd never heard myself sound so pathetic and weak before. My vision was blurring and my head was starting to feel heavy and numb.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he assured me gently. "I'm going to help you." He reached out and lifted my chin. "You've lost too much blood. And you hit your head pretty hard." He sighed. "You won't last the night."
I believed him. That terrified me. The strength was seeping out of my body at an alarming rate and I was quickly becoming aware of the dripping wound at the back of my head.
I was dying.
The man lifted his wrist to his mouth and bit into his own skin. When blood welled up to the surface, he twisted his arm and pressed his wrist against my lips. I didn't have the strength to struggle as his blood spilled into my mouth.
"Swallow," he ordered shortly. "It will help."
As disgusted and horrified as I was, I did.
Relief was already seeping into me when he pulled me to my feet and focused on my eyes. "Now you're going to tell me where you are staying. Don't talk, don't scream or cry for help. I'm helping you."
Automatically, I recited the address to my hotel room. Then things went…dull. Everything remained in focus, but everything around me had lost all appeal. I didn't focus on anything. My mind jumped easily from object to object as I was guided quickly through alleyways and across streets. I was on autopilot.
Before I knew it, I was in front of my hotel. A minute later I was in the elevator and then it was stopping and then I was outside my door. I heard the jingling of keys and loose change as the stranger dug through my purse in search of my keycard. In seconds, I was being lifted and gently placed beneath my soft comforter.
Dark eyes appeared above me again. "You are not going to remember anything that happened tonight. You came straight here after having dinner at a diner and went to bed."
I came straight here after having dinner at a diner and went to bed.
And then I was alone. I heard the click of my door closing and then I blinked.
My cell phone started ringing.
I jerked up in bed and sluggishly reached for my purse, which was lying right next to me. I frowned in confusion and tried to recall why I climbed into bed fully clothed.
I dug through my purse for my phone and managed to answer it on the fourth ring.
"Hello?" My own voice sent a dull, pounding pain through my head.
"Alex? Hey, it's me. Elena." I recognized my sister's voice immediately. "I just got your email. So…how's Paris?"
I inwardly groaned against the pain in my head and moved into a more comfortable sitting position. "Beautiful, wonderful, perfect," I answered with a strained smile.
"You sound tired. Did I wake you?"
"Yeah, but it's okay. I just got back from dinner, so I wasn't sleeping long." I shimmied down against the headboard and stretched my sore legs out. My bag fell off the edge of the bed and thumped to the floor. I opted to ignore it. "I really wish you were here."
"I wasn't really up for a trip. I had to prepare for school. You know…school? Where you were supposed to be today?"
I snorted. "I'm working on it. Just had to do some last minute shopping. Anyway, how was your first day? Any cute guys?" My body relaxed as we fell into a comfortable conversation, the stress of the day fading.
"It was…okay. A bit interesting. And since you mentioned it, yes. There is a cute guy." I could hear the smile in her voice.
I grinned. "Details, little sis!" I demanded. "What's his name?"
I hummed, intrigued. "Is that Italian?" I asked as I pushed up off my bed. My clothes were rumbled and uncomfortable and in desperate need of a wash. They smelled of coffee and something else I couldn't name that left a large dark stain on the shoulder.
"It is, but he's not Italian. Descendant, maybe. God, Alex, he is…amazing. He's so sweet and…I don't know how to describe him. I just feel this connection, you know. We just spent hours and hours talking. Just talking."
It warmed my heart to know that she was happy. After being miserable for so long, she deserved it.
"I'm so happy for you, Elena," I said softly as I flicked on the lamp on my bedside table. Wedging my phone between my head and shoulder, I unsnapped my jeans and peeled them off my legs. "So what does he look like? I need a good mental image to go with the name."
"He's tall. Gorgeous in all aspects. Great hair, brown. He's very…fit."
I chuckled. "Sounds dreamy." I walked to the wardrobe and pulled open the doors. I pulled open one of the built-in drawers and grabbed the first pair of pajama pants I found, along with an old t-shirt. "So how are things with Jenna and Jeremy?"
"Things are going good. Everyone is fine. Jenna was a little pissed today. She says you need to get your ass home soon."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
"Aren't you excited? It's your senior year, Alex. You're going to graduate this year!"
I hesitated with my pajamas in my hands. "Things are different." It was a statement. A blunt observation.
"Have you talked to Matt?" I regretted asking immediately after the question was out, mentally kicking myself for bringing it up.
"Kind of. He's…he's Matt." She paused for a long, awkward moment before continuing. "He says he still believes in us being together. He thinks we have a chance, but I don't. He's my friend. He was never really anything more."
"I know, Elena. He's always been a close friend. A romantic relationship isn't really possible between good friends like you two." I wobbled in place as I pulled on my pajama pants. "I'm going to take a wild guess and say you're feeling all guilty about hurting him."
"Elena," I said sternly. "you tried it. It didn't work out. You can't blame yourself for that."
"I know. I just don't want this to ruin our friendship."
I rolled my eyes. "That's ridiculous. You've been friends since…Jesus, I don't even know. He's practically family, Elena. He's not going anywhere," I assured her. And I was convinced of it. "It's Matt. Just give him some space and time to get used to the fact that a relationship isn't going to happen."
"I know, I know." I heard another voice in the background. "Okay, Jeremy. Hey, Alex, I'm going to have to go. Jeremy needs the phone. But thanks…for the talk."
"Anytime, little sis. Love you. Send Aunt Jenna and Jeremy my love. I'll be home tomorrow night, probably. And tell the mysterious Stefan that I look forward to meeting him."
"Will do. Love you. Bye."
I snapped my phone closed and placed it on my bedside table, my smile firmly in place. I felt better now that I'd talked to Elena.
I quickly tugged off my blouse and pulled on my sleep shirt, relieved now that I was in clean clothes. I crossed the room to the wardrobe and stuffed my dirty clothes in my laundry bag, where they would stay until I reached London and got a chance to clean them.
My phone started ringing again. I didn't even have to think about who it could be. I knew it was Richard calling from the plane, and I knew exactly what he was going to say. Before I'd moved an inch, I saw how the whole conversation would play out in my head. And I knew that was how it would happen.
I groaned and reluctantly started for the phone. I didn't see my bag on the floor; I was too preoccupied with what I'd seen and heard. My foot got caught in the strap of my bag and my other foot slipped on the soft material. My upper body lurched forward and my heart leapt up into my throat.
The bedside table came up as my head came down. I felt the stinging slap of marble against my skin, felt a crack resonate through my entire body, and saw nothing more but black.
Re-edited and revised.