“I want to help you open the tomb.”
There was silence.
Finally, he let out a laugh. “Seriously?”
She blinked. “Um… Yes?”
He nodded, seemingly amused. “Right, right, okay.”
He flashed in front of her, making her flinch. He placed his hand around her neck once more, but didn’t apply any pressure.
“Now tell me the truth,” he said menacingly. “How do you know about the tomb?”
She went to speak but he hushed her with an “ah, ah, ah!”
“Because you can’t honestly expect me to believe you’re psychic, right? I mean, I know you’re not a witch or you would’ve done something by now, so,” he applied a bit of pressure, “either tell me the truth or this time I’ll snap your neck. Capiche?”
God, fuck, of course that wouldn’t have worked.
But she thought she knew what might.
“Katherine sent me.”
The shift in his attitude was instantaneous. His face went slack and his fingers twitched around her neck, and for a second she thought he would kill her for telling such a blatant lie.
“What?” he breathed.
Guess we’re going with plan D…
“W-well technically this vampire she knew sent me, but on her behalf. She couldn’t very well reach me directly, being in the tomb and all, hah, b-but um… from what I know, before they rounded everyone up in 1864, Katherine could tell that something bad was going to happen. She didn’t know what exactly, but she wasn’t willing to take that chance, and so she contacted an old friend of hers.
“She told her to come to Mystic Falls once the founding family members of the time had died and just… drop in every once in a while. Apparently she’d already been feeding you and your brother her blood, so she told her that if she ever sees either of you around to… watch over you. To make sure you’re okay, but to stay in the shadows. And… well… as it turns out, the vampire caught wind of your plan and I was the first person she saw afterwards, and…” she showed him her tattoo, “I couldn’t really be compelled, but threatening my family did the trick.”
He looked utterly bewildered, but… Is that a glimmer of hope I see?
“What was the vampire’s name?”
“She just went by A.”
After a moment he grimaced, and when he spoke his voice was shaky. “If you are lying to me, I swear I will rip your heart out.”
She shook her head vehemently. “I’m not lying, I… A didn’t want me to tell you the truth. She wanted to keep her promise of staying in the shadows, but I don’t really feel like dying tonight, so…” She swallowed nervously. “I’m sorry I lied to you. Before.”
She could see his jaw working. Please, please, please don’t eat me.
He took his hand off of her. “How can you help? You’re human.”
And therefore will definitely have a bruise around my neck tomorrow… “How about we talk about that at the Mystic Grill? My throat hurts and some honeyed tea sounds wonderful right about now.”
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Fine.” He grabbed her by the arms. “Don’t. Move.”
They were gone before she could blink.
“Let me get this straight… Emily told her daughter about the deal we made?”
They were sat at a table in one of the far corners of the Grill in hopes of being noticed as little as possible.
Angela bit her lip, her hands wrapped around a warm mug of green tea. “From what I know, she wanted to make sure the talisman got into your hands.” She shrugged. “Keeping it a Bennett family secret apparently seemed like the best way to do that.”
He shook his head with a scowl. “Unbelievable…”
“Hey, it’s okay… Sheila Bennett lives here and she wants to adhere to Emily’s wishes.”
He crossed his arms on top of the table and leaned forward. “So then give me the necklace.”
She took a sip of tea. “I will.”
“-you swear to me that you won’t hurt the people I care about.”
He stared at her for a moment before smiling coldly. “Done. Now give me the necklace.”
She pursed her lips. “I wasn’t born yesterday, Damon. I’m going to get Sheila to create a… magical contract, for lack of a better term.”
“And what’s going to be in the fine print of this contract, exactly?”
She raised an eyebrow. “How about I get her to come over here and you can find out?”
He narrowed his eyes. “And here I thought we were becoming friends.”
She gave a gentle smirk. “I’m not giving you lip, Damon…” She took her phone out of her purse and noticed a missed call from Elena, but figured that this was more important. “It’s pretty late and she’s an older lady, but I learned long ago that she’s a huge night owl. I’m sure she’d be willing.”
He uncrossed his arms and sat back, regarding her thoughtfully. “You know, I could just – oh, I don’t know – chop your hand off and compel you.”
She looked at him admonishingly. “In a crowded place like this? You wouldn’t.”
His eyebrows twitched. “That’s why you wanted to come here. Not because your throat hurts.”
She moved her head in a so-so motion. “Well, my throat does hurt – which, thanks for that – but yes. No way was I gonna offer you a deal that could backfire like that in private.”
He smirked, and she found that her imagination hadn’t been too far off. “You know, that’s almost clever.”
She grinned. “Why thank you, Mr. Salvatore. I aim to please. Now…” she raised up her phone, “shall I?”
He let out a sigh that was half a groan. “If you or that Bennett witch try anything-”
“We won’t.” She smiled small. “Promise.”
He nodded. “Call her.”
And so she did. After a phone call filled with far too many “yes, Ms. Sheila; I’m sorry, Ms. Sheila”s, she had agreed to meet them in five minutes.
And then they waited…
Jeez, this is awkward.
“Do you want anything to drink?”
He shot her a sarcastic smirk. “Think I’ll pass.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okaaay…”
“I do have a question, though.”
She took a sip of her tea and looked at him curiously.
“How long have you known this… A?”
She pretended to think. “She came to me in August. The 3rd, I think.”
He stared at her in that unsettling way of his. “Well your heart rate didn’t go up.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You think I’m lying?”
“Oh, I’m thinkin’ a loootta things, sweetheart.” He gave her another one of his cold smiles before his eyes caught something behind her.
She felt a pair of hands rest on her shoulders.
“I suggest we get on with this,” she heard Sheila say. “Unless you’d prefer to think yourself to an aneurism, vampire.”
She moved from behind her and sat perpendicular to them. Damon brought his hand up to his chest in mock offense.
“The vampire has a name, witch! I’m,” he scoffed, “why, I’m almost hurt that you don’t know it already.”
She sneered. “I know far more than I’d like to about you, Damon.” She turned to look at Angela sternly. “And you and I are going to have a serious talk about when it is and isn’t appropriate to approach ‘volatile’ vampires.”
Angela felt sheepish under her motherly, reprimanding gaze. “Yes, ma’am…”
“Now,” she took out a leaf of paper, “Angela and I have already written up a contract that seemed more than fair to the both of us.” She slid it over to Damon. “If you would like to make any amendments, now would be the time.”
He picked it up and started scanning it over, his ice-blue eyes beginning to look more and more outraged as he read on. He looked up at them and waved it in the air.
“I can’t hurt any of these people or I’ll die?” He tossed it down onto the table and stood up with a scoff. “Yeah. No thanks. I’ll find the necklace on my own.”
“No, you won’t.” Sheila said, looking up at him dangerously.
Damon quickly fell back into his chair, but it didn’t seem to be of his own volition. He looked at them with wide eyes that settled on Angela. “You said she wouldn’t try anything.”
“I made no promises, vampire,” Sheila spoke lowly. “I don’t think you quite understand the situation you’ve found yourself in. Without us you’ll never get the talisman which means you’ll never get your lover back; no matter how hard you try. You don’t have the upper hand here, and I’d kindly ask you to stop acting like you do. Now… I ask you again: do you have any amendments you would like to make?”
She could see him clench his jaw. “How about the part where I die?”
Sheila raised an eyebrow. “What about that would you like to change exactly?”
I think I have a pretty good idea…
“The part. Where I die.”
She saw Sheila’s expression shift and Damon’s eyes went wide. He clutched at his head let out a quiet, pained cry.
She wouldn’t honestly…? Her heartbeat quickened. “Sheila, someone could-”
“Hush, child.” The edge of her lips curled up into a smirk. “If he screams he’ll expose his little secret. You won’t scream, will you, Damon?”
He certainly looked like he wanted to. He looked up at Sheila and spoke hoarsely. “Stop.”
“Sign the contract.”
His head was shivering from the effort it took to keep quiet. “Okay,” he whispered. “Okay, I will- I- stop-”
Sheila’s lips twitched upward and Damon’s head stopped shivering. He took a loud breath and rested his head down onto the table with a relieved groan.
Jesus fucking Christ, what was that!?
“What was that?” Angela looked at Sheila, eyes wide.
She met her gaze smugly. “Persuasion.”
Angela looked around them, and when she didn’t notice anybody staring she let out a nervous giggle.
Remind me never to piss her off…
“That was dirty,” Damon groaned.
“Because you would have played clean…” Sheila drawled out. “Now,” she slid the contract back to him, “I need a few drops of your blood on here. Think you could manage that?”
He shot her the nastiest glare Angela had ever seen in her life and nicked a thumb with his nail. His gaze shifted onto herself and he held his finger above the paper.
Drip, drip, drip went his blood, but all she could see was Damon’s hard, icy eyes boring into her. She gulped. He probably wants to murder me, doesn’t he? He pulled his finger back and menacingly licked up the excess blood. She felt a shiver rack her spine. Definitely wants to murder me.
“Thank you, Damon,” Sheila said, and Angela finally tore her eyes off of him.
Sheila looked at her, considerably kinder than she did Damon. “I’m going to need some of your blood too, sweetie pie. Here,” she brandished a small, sharp-looking dagger, “only a bit. Don’t want you hurting yourself too bad.”
She took it with a deep breath and made a small slice on the pad of her index finger. She winced. That hurt more than I thought it would.
Drip, drip, drip went her blood too, and when she had shed an amount equal to Damon, she pulled it back and stuck it in her mouth.
“You know…” Damon began with a suggestive smirk, “could always let me do that.”
She rolled her eyes and took her finger out of her mouth. “In your dreams.”
“Alright,” said Sheila as she rested her elbows on the table. “Make sure we aren’t spotted.”
She closed her eyes and began muttering in a language that sounded like Latin. While Angela was looking around for any prying eyes, she could see that Damon’s were solely trained on Sheila.
She felt fear grip her heart. He’s not going to kill her, is he?
Just as the thought came to her, the paper went up in flames. Sheila brought her hands back down and opened her eyes.
She looked over at Damon with a smirk. “Done.”
Angela sighed in relief. “You’ll get the talisman in three days’ time.”
His eyes narrowed. “Why not now?”
“Because, Damon, we hid it really far away.” She rolled her eyes. “Thought you’d have learned your lesson about not pushing too hard…”
“Well then,” he stood, “let’s go find it.”
He was yanked back down into his seat and glared at Sheila. “You know, this is getting real old.”
She had an eyebrow raised. “Would you like another aneurism? Might help you remember who’s in charge.”
Angela rubbed her forehead. “I swear to God, both of you… There’s no reason to be so hostile. You’ll get the damn thing in three days, Damon. We just signed a magically sealed contract that says I have to give it to you.”
He blew a breath out his nose. “It is slightly comforting to know that it’s not just my life on the line…”
Sheila stood. “I’m done here.” She squeezed Angela’s shoulder. “Don’t forget what I said… You’re getting the lecture of your life tomorrow.”
She rolled her eyes fondly. “Yes, Ms. Sheila.”
Sheila swung her purse over her shoulder. “I would also suggest checking your phone. You’ve been gone from the party for quite some time.” With that, she walked away.
Her eyes widened in panic. She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone, only to find a total of ten missed calls and six new text messages. Half of the missed calls were from her sister and the other half were from Caroline, three of the texts were from Elena, two were from Tyler, and one was from Bonnie which simply read “Grams txtd me. Good luck x”
She stood up. “Shit, I need to call my sister; tell her I’m okay.”
“Yeah,” said Damon as he followed suit, “you do that. I’ll just go find some randos to chow down on until you get me the necklace.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Are you trying to threaten me with the death of innocents?”
He smirked. “You know, child’s blood in the tastiest. Oh and, umph, don’t even get me started on baby blood.”
She rolled her eyes and dialed Elena’s number. “Goodbye, Damon.”
His smirk widened as he walked away. “Three days, angel-cake.”
“What were you doing here!?” Caroline looked worried as all hell. “Are you drunk!? Oh my God, I never should’ve taken my eyes off of you!”
“I’m fine, Caroline, I-”
“No,” Elena said tightly as she pulled back from their hug, “you’re obviously not. There’s a bruise around your neck.”
“What!?” Caroline’s eyes went wide and she stepped closer to inspect it.
Angela sighed. “Look, I’m sorry I worried you. I was taking care of a future thing.”
“Wh- by getting yourself strangled to death!?” Caroline looked near to tears. “God, couldn’t you have said something first? I thought… we thought that someone killed you or kidnapped you or something…”
Angela wrapped her arms around her friend’s shivering body. “I’m so sorry, you guys… I just didn’t want to put anyone else in danger. Things would’ve probably gone a lot worse if I’d dragged you along.”
She glanced at Bonnie who was looking down at the sidewalk guiltily. Ugh, she probably feels horrible at having kept it a secret…
Elena sighed and ran a hand through her hair. “Tyler got into a fight.”
Her eyes widened and she pulled back from the hug. “What?”
Caroline nodded minutely. “Yeah. He was drunk and worried and this one kid said something or did something and…” her eyes flicked down, “you know how he can be when he’s stressed…”
Fuck, now I feel horrible.
“I should call him,” she said, already scrolling through her contacts.
“Um, actually?” Bonnie finally piped up. “I don’t know if that’s such a good idea…”
Her eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”
Caroline was biting her lip nervously.
Her sister spoke. “He seemed pretty angry when we told him you called.”
“I think he felt betrayed,” said Caroline. “I-I feel pretty betrayed, too, but,” she let out a chuckle, quiet and humorless, “I’m not gonna knock someone’s teeth out.”
Her insides felt like they were being pulled and twisted around, and though she wanted to ignore their words she put her phone back in her purse.
“We should get home…” she muttered guiltily. “I’m sorry for ruining your night.”
Elena scoffed. “Are you kidding?” She shut her mouth and let out a long sigh. “I’m just glad you’re okay. Just… promise me you’ll say something next time.”
Caroline didn’t give her a chance to respond. “Uh, no! There won’t be a next time! I am not letting you out of my sight ever again. And you are totally explaining yourself tomorrow! No more ‘future thing’ garbage.”
She took another look at their three worried faces. To lie or not to lie?
The walk back to their house was filled with awkward silence. Bonnie and Caroline had left for their respective houses a while back, and now it was only her and her sister.
Angela glanced over at Elena’s face which was tight with an emotion she couldn’t quite discern. When they reached the porch, she grabbed her wrist before she could unlock the door.
“You want to say something,” she said. “Don’t you?”
“Elena,” she gave her a stern look, “I know you want to say something.”
Elena closed her eyes and when she opened them they were filled with unshed tears. “It was just… It’s what would’ve happened. With Mom and Dad. I go to a bonfire party and then our parents die.” She bit her lip to stop the tears from spilling out. “I was so sure you were dead.”
I totally fucked up, didn’t I? Her stomach hurt from the guilt and she could feel her nose burn the way it did before she cried. “Lena, I am so, so sorry.”
Her sister shook her head and unlocked the door. “No, just… We’ll talk about it tomorrow. With the girls and Tyler. Okay? I… I just need to be alone tonight.”
Before she could get a word out in response, Elena had all but run up to their bedroom.
She stepped inside the house and closed the door behind her. She walked up the stairs to check on Jeremy, but before she could open his door she saw her sister exiting their room with a pillow and blanket in her arms.
Angela blinked in confusion. “What are you doing?”
Elena glanced at her and immediately looked away. “I’m sleeping on the couch.”
Her sister only sighed and started walking down the stairs.
Greater good, huh? She pressed her lips together in an effort to stop their wobbling. She slowly opened Jeremy’s bedroom door and when she found him safely in bed, stayed a moment longer to make sure he was breathing. He was, and she closed the door as quietly as she possibly could.
She entered her and Elena’s room. When even was the last time we slept apart? She gave up on trying to remember, and after kicking her shoes off she sat down at the window seat. She reached down into its right-hand drawer and retrieved the notebook she’d gotten mid-July.
The first day Sherriff Forbes was sure she’d recovered from the shock she’d suffered she had sat her down in the living room and taken her testimony. They found that they both suspected whoever killed her parents to be a vampire, and a week later – after much pleading on Angela’s part – Liz had given her their case file. Most of the injuries they’d sustained she’d seen before the police arrived, but what she hadn’t seen was that in addition to his missing eyes her father had also had his hand cut off.
Angela’s eyes skimmed over the bullet point that read “Killer knew about the Gilbert rings.”
That bit of information had shortened the suspect list by quite a bit.
The first person her mind had gone to was Isobel. She obviously knew about the rings because of John, but why would she murder them? Could it have simply been an act of reckless bloodlust? No, she’d decided, because if it was she’d have drained her mother.
The second person her mind had gone to was Katherine. She knew about the rings because of either Emily or Isobel, but again, what would her motive have been? Besides, why would she have come to Mystic Falls before she was ready to get everything together for Nik? Angela tried to recall if there was anything said in the show about Katherine wanting to mentally break Elena in order to make her give herself up but came up blank.
Then again, in the show my parents’ deaths were an accident…
Finally, she thought of Augustine. The vampires that were held there had more than enough reason to want to kill her father, and her mother by proxy. They might have overheard something about his ring.
But wouldn’t he have been acting weird if any of them got out?
She tried to recall his behavior in the days just before his death, but couldn’t remember him acting any differently.
They could have escaped that evening…
She’d made a note to visit – or break into, if it came to that – Whitmore College at some point, but hadn’t felt herself strong enough mentally. She still wasn’t sure if she was. She would visit at some point however, she’d resolved, and even if she found nothing to point her to her parents’ murderer, she would at least rescue Enzo.
She felt her heart drop in realization.
He had been there the day of the murder. They had spoken mere minutes before she had found her parents’ bodies. He’d learned her surname.
Wait. No. Don’t freak out. He didn’t know about John’s ring, remember?
Or maybe he only pretended not to…
“I could just – oh, I don’t know – chop your hand off.”
Her heart felt like it was going to burst from her chest and she found herself shaking her head in disbelief.
Things have changed, Angela. It used to be a car accident. An accident. How do you know this hasn’t changed as well?
She looked at her list of suspects, and with a cold, clammy hand wrote down “Damon.”
The next morning she woke to find her sister asleep in her own bed. She glanced at the alarm clock on her nightstand and found the time to be ten minutes before it was due to ring.
Wonder what caused her to have a change of heart…
She decided she would ask her when she thought she’d be willing to talk about it and made for the bathroom.
The shower’s water was scalding hot and very nearly burned her skin before she saw the steam, but she quickly pulled her hand back and fiddled with the knob until it was the right temperature. She stepped inside with a sigh.
Tomorrow’s the night of the comet. That means Anna will be here. Anna and that man… who was he, again? She decided it was unimportant. She remembered him being young and Caucasian, and that was all she needed. Mystic Falls wasn’t a very large town after all, and it was home to only one motel.
She heard the alarm clock go off just as she finished patting herself down with a towel. She wrapped it around her body and exited the bathroom to find her sister blearily reaching over to try and shut it off. It seemed a hair’s breadth too far from her though, and Angela decided to take pity.
With a quiet click the ringing stopped and Elena flopped back onto her bed in relief.
Angela tentatively decided to test the waters. “Good morning.”
Elena rubbed her eyes and sat up. “Morning.”
She awkwardly shifted her weight from one foot to the other and pointed back at the bathroom. “I, um… The bathroom’s free if you want to use it.”
Her sister looked at her with a small smile. “I’m sorry.”
For some reason her words made her feel even guiltier. Angela shook her head. “No, Lena, you were totally right. I-I should’ve known. All I wanted was to keep you safe, but I didn’t stop to think how my actions would affect you…”
Elena got up from her bed and stretched. “Well, you’ll have plenty of time to explain yourself later today.” She started walking towards the bathroom, but Angela spoke up.
“Hey, um, what made you sleep here after all?”
Elena glanced down at the floorboards bashfully. “Stefan stopped by. We talked for a while and…” she looked back up at her, “he helped me realize how important family is.”
That’s right… He would’ve come over last night.
Angela raised a teasing eyebrow. “You just… talked?”
She rolled her eyes, smile growing wider. “Yes, Angie, we just talked.”
“Wait… Did you invite him in?”
Her smile dimmed. “No. We talked out on the porch swing. I didn’t want to take the chance.”
Should I tell her? If I’m gonna tell everyone the truth about last night I need to tell her this as well.
Angela took a long breath. “Elena… You were right.”
She looked confused. “About…?”
“Stefan’s a vampire.”
As the words left her mouth she immediately regretted them. It was too late to go back however, and so she steeled herself for her sister’s reaction.
She could see her breath get caught in her throat and her face pale a couple shades. “Oh my God…”
Angela hurried to speak before she could jump to any conclusions. “But he’s one of the good ones! I promise. He wouldn’t… He wouldn’t hurt you unless it was in self-defense or something and even then, he wouldn’t like it.”
Elena’s face regained some of its color and she swallowed. “A-are you sure? Was he in the… um… TV show?”
She nodded. “He cared about you a lot. And you cared about him. He’s one of the good ones, Elena, I swear. I, um, I was gonna let him tell you, but… you don’t seem to like it when I keep secrets from you, and I can’t really explain what happened yesterday without you knowing about him… I-I mean I could, but you’d probably be even madder at me when you found out…”
Her sister took a deep breath and exhaled with a nod. “Thank you. I… wow.”
She chuckled breathlessly. “I know, right? But, um, you can’t let him know you know. He’ll want to know how you know and you know that we shouldn’t tell people about what I know and wow that’s a lot of knows. Can you tell I’m nervous?”
Elena let out a laugh. “I won’t let him know. I promise.” She reached over and pulled her into a hug. “Thank you, twinny. It… it really means a lot.”
She sighed. “If I ever lie to you it’s only because I think it’s for your own good, you know…”
Elena pulled back, hands still on her shoulders. “Angie… I can handle the truth. What I can’t handle is you lying to me so many times that I don’t feel like I can trust you anymore.” She shook her head. “If you want me to pretend like I don’t know something because it’ll put me in danger, I can do that. Okay? But just… don’t hide it from me.”
Angela smiled sadly and reached up to pinch her cheek. “But you’re terrible at pretending.”
Elena looked at her indignantly, causing her to emit a soft chuckle. After a moment, her expression morphed into a loving smile. “I can be good at it for you.”
Tyler had been avoiding her all day. He would look away with an angry, hurt expression on his face whenever she tried interacting with him, and with a lump in her bruised throat she simply had to accept that they would speak later, at the meeting.
She had the sneaking suspicion that Bonnie was avoiding her as well; likely more out of guilt than anything. She imagined that helping her lie to their closest friends was taking a bit of a toll on her, and though it made her heart hurt she knew that she would probably do the same if she were in Bonnie’s shoes.
Caroline was at least attempting to hide her feelings, but there were awkward silences where there had been none before, and she made excuses to leave whenever their conversations dragged on for a second or two too long.
Angela didn’t want to burden Elena by making her feel like she had to choose between her and the rest of the MFMs, so she made some half-assed excuse about needing to study and went to spend her lunch break on her own.
Until Stefan Salvatore approached her.
She’d been sitting under the large oak tree behind the school, having finished the apple she had gotten only so her nervous stomach wouldn’t be completely empty. She was reading from her history textbook when she heard the sound of footsteps on grass drawing nearer.
Glancing up when she noticed a figure in front of her, she saw him looking down at her with a confused expression on his face.
She smiled at him. “May I help you?”
He huffed in amusement, hands going to rest in the pockets of his hoodie. “I just… thought you’d be with Elena and the others.”
She shrugged. “We kinda got in an argument last night. Me and Elena are okay now, but she shouldn’t have to sacrifice time with her friends for my sake. I can survive being alone for a day.”
He took a hand out of his hoodie and gestured next to her. “Mind if I join you?”
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. “Oh, uh, no. Not at all. Go ahead.”
He shot her a smile and lowered himself down onto the ground, arms moving to rest on his folded knees. He looked over at her textbook and seemed amused by what he saw. “Victorian period, huh?”
Oh. Yeah, guess that is what I was reading about, wasn’t it?
She shrugged one shoulder with a grin. “Always had a thing for silly-looking hats and poofy dresses.”
He chuckled. “Always preferred the famine and slavery myself.” He glanced to the side. “Uh, I’m… joking of course.”
She let out a laugh. “You know, by saying I’m joking afterwards you kinda ruin the joke.”
He nodded slowly, as though memorizing her words. “I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.”
She closed her textbook with a chuckle. “What’s your favorite time period, anyway? You seem to know your history pretty well.”
His head leaned back to rest against the tree and he hummed in thought. After a moment he turned his head to look at her and she fought to keep her heart from fluttering at their proximity. “Would you hate me if I told you it’s the 1980s?”
She looked at him in disbelief. “The 80s? Really?”
He scrunched up his face. “You hate me, don’t you?”
She shook her head with a breathless chuckle. “No, no, of course not, I just… I wasn’t expecting something so… recent.”
He shrugged with a smile. “Hey, you have a thing for silly-looking hats; I have a thing for hairspray and rock music.”
She sat up with a start. “No way! I love 80s rock! Who’s your favorite artist?”
His eyebrows rose. “Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a soft spot for Bon Jovi. You?”
“Oh man, there’s so many… Rolling Stones, Queen, Billy Idol, Guns n Roses, I don’t know if I can pick just one…”
He seemed to be considering something. “You know… I have an early copy of The Works that was autographed by Freddie Mercury himself.”
She felt her eyes widen. “Seriously!?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, my, uh, my dad was a fan. I could give it to you if you want.”
She tried to calm her tone, but her body was still shaking from excitement. “Oh, well, I don’t want to make you have to part from something that was your dad’s…”
He shook his head with a smile. “No, don’t worry about it. I have boxes of his stuff I’ve been trying to get rid of for years now.”
She bit her lip in an effort to keep from grinning. “Well, if you’re sure…”
Her grin broke free and she couldn’t keep herself from squealing in delight. “Okay!”
His laugh was warm and genuine, and she couldn’t help but feel as though she might be making a new friend. The thought, though somewhat rare, wasn’t unpleasant in the slightest.
Caroline approached her after school, with Elena and Bonnie in tow.
Angela had gotten her iPod out of her bag and was in the process of plugging in her earphones when she heard her bright voice from behind her.
She turned around and looked at them curiously. “Uhhh, yeah? What’s up?”
They stopped in front of her and Caroline bit her lip nervously. “Um, well, I asked Lena and Bonnie to go to the Grill with me, but it just wouldn’t feel right without you there, and God!” she slapped some hair out of her face with a huff. “Today’s just been so sucky without you! I miss you…” She stuck a hand out and looked at her hopefully. “Friends?”
Angela shook her head with a smile and pulled her into a tight hug. She felt Caroline relax against her as she quickly reciprocated.
Their time at the Grill passed uneventfully. Angela didn’t mind. After last night’s events, uneventful was more than welcome. The awkwardness between her, Bonnie, and Caroline had dissipated for the most part when Caroline insisted Angela finish both their burgers after she accidentally found out that she’d barely eaten all day. The girls had parted, with Angela telling her sister that she would be home in time for their sign language study session and the MFM meeting that would follow. Then, she was off to the Iron Horse Motel.
The receptionist was a kind middle-aged man named Marcus. She asked him if there had been any rooms checked out by a young Asian woman by the name of Anna who was with an equally as young Caucasian man, but he told her that nobody matched that description. She gave him her phone number in case they did stop by and decided to head back home. She would’ve liked to scope out the place some to see if Marcus had been telling the truth, but without a witch or a vampire to help her she was sure she would look quite suspicious.
Her, Elena, and Jeremy’s study session had been rather pleasant. Jeremy was a very smart kid, even if he didn’t like to put in the work a lot of the time, and he quickly caught up to them in one short hour. She had to credit her sister for the idea, as studying together was indeed a lot more fun. At one point, Angela and Jeremy had taken to pelting each other with balls of paper when Elena wasn’t looking, but a cheerful giggle of his got them caught. Elena had tried to be stern when chastising them, but Angela and Jeremy both had seen the smile she’d been trying to hide.
The clock read eighteen. First to arrive was Bonnie, as she lived closest. She brought the spelled bundle of sage Angela had asked for and had it lit in her and Elena’s room. Next had been Caroline who, bless her heart, had brought a ton of junk food. Her reasoning had been that people wanted to eat when they were having stressful conversations, but by the glances she kept shooting her when she thought she wasn’t looking, Angela suspected that she was trying to make sure she wasn’t starving herself. She made a mental note to buy her something in thanks. Last to arrive was Tyler, who still seemed to be avoiding her.
Earlier in the day, she and Elena had debated whether or not to involve Jeremy in the conversation, as he had no idea what had happened last night, and eventually decided that they would have a private conversation with him later. Their discussion had been somewhat in vain however, as right after their study session he had gone off to play video games at one of his friends’ house. They were glad that at least they wouldn’t risk him feeling excluded.
They were all sitting on the floor of her and Elena’s bedroom with the bags of chips and cookies and licorice sat in the middle like they were attempting to conjure some kind of sugar-coma demon.
Angela’s heart was pounding in her chest and she was doing her best to sit calmly and not fidget like she wanted to.
She took a breath. “Okay… I don’t have a speech prepared or anything, so how about you guys ask me questions and I’ll do my best to answer them?”
They all looked at each other and she expected Caroline to jump at her with a question, but to her surprise it was Tyler that spoke.
“Why’d you freak out and run into the woods?”
She took a look at his tensed jaw and thought on how to string her words together. “There was a man in there. A man I wanted to make a deal with before he hurt anyone I love.”
Elena furrowed her eyebrows. “What do you mean a man?”
She looked to the side nervously. “I-I mean a vampire.”
Their eyes widened. “What?”
Only Bonnie had stayed silent. She looked at her with a relieved smile. “We’re telling the truth, then?”
Elena, Caroline, and Tyler turned their heads to look at her in bewildered confusion.
“What do you mean, Bonnie?” Caroline asked.
Bonnie closed her eyes and shook her head. “This is Angela’s story. She should be the one to tell you.”
They snapped back to look at her and she gave an awkward smile. “Thanks, Bon…” She cleared her throat. “Um, anyway, I thought that the man would attack and feed on Vicki Donovan. That’s why I asked you about her, Ty. I’d initially planned on just saving her, but then realized that I could do so much more…”
And so she told them everything. She told them about Damon – “Wait, so Stefan’s brother is a vampire?” – and about the tomb – “And you want to help him why exactly?" – and about the deal they made – “I am not going to let you die.” – and by the time she had finished a few tears had been shed, a lot of hugs had been shared, and they’d all told her how much they cared about her. She’d sworn them to secrecy, saying that only Sheila Bennett knew the truth and that it was imperative Damon not find out.
Bonnie nodded firmly. “I can keep a secret.”
Caroline nodded as well, far more enthusiastically. “So can I, if it’s life or death like this.”
Elena smiled and squeezed her shoulder. “You already know I’m good for it.”
Tyler sighed and brought her into a tight hug. “Anything for you, Angie.”
Surrounded by the people she considered family, Angela felt confident that she could tell them anything. Keeping secrets was Elena’s biggest mistake. She closed her eyes with a smile. One I won’t be making any time soon. Aunt Jenna, she decided, would know about vampires within the week. And this time, she wouldn’t let her die.