Home > Dark Reunion (The Vampire Diaries #4)(3)

Dark Reunion (The Vampire Diaries #4)(3)
Author: L.J. Smith

Hand on doorknob, Meredith stopped dead and turned to look at her.

"Bonnie," she said quietly, "have you gone completely through the ozone?"

"No." Deflated, Bonnie grabbed Meredith's arm and sought her eyes urgently. The door was opening on its own. "Oh, God, Meredith, please don't kill me..."

"Surprise!" shouted three voices.

"Smile," Bonnie hissed, shoving the suddenly resistant body of her friend through the door and into the bright room full of noise and showers of foil confetti. She beamed wildly herself and spoke through clenched teeth. "Kill me later-I deserve it -but for now just smile."

There were balloons, the expensive Mylar kind, and a cluster of presents on the coffee table. There was even a flower arrangement, although Bonnie noticed the orchids in it matched Caroline's pale green scarf exactly. It was a Hermes silk with a design of vines and leaves. She'll end up wearing one of those orchids in her hair, I'll bet, Bonnie thought.

There were balloons, the expensive Mylar kind, and a cluster of presents on the coffee table. There was even a flower arrangement, although Bonnie noticed the orchids in it matched Caroline's pale green scarf exactly. It was a Hermes silk with a design of vines and leaves. She'll end up wearing one of those orchids in her hair, I'll bet, Bonnie thought.

"Nothing I can't break with an iron crowbar," Meredith replied. But she smiled back with wry warmth and Bonnie relaxed. Sue had been a Homecoming Princess on Elena's court, along with Bonnie, Meredith, and Caroline. She was the only girl at school besides Bonnie and Meredith who'd stood by Elena when everyone else had turned against her. At Elena's funeral she'd said that Elena would always be the real queen of Robert E. Lee, and she'd given up her own nomination for Snow Queen in Elena's memory. Nobody could hate Sue. The worst was over now, Bonnie thought.

"I want to get a picture of us all on the couch," Caroline said, positioning them behind the flower arrangement. "Vickie, take it, will you?"

Vickie Bennett had been standing by quietly, unnoticed. Now she said, "Oh, sure," and nervously flicked long, light brown hair out of her eyes as she picked up the camera.

Just like she's some kind of servant, Bonnie thought, and then the flashbulb blinded her.

As the Polaroid developed and Sue and Caroline laughed and talked around Meredith's dry politeness, Bonnie noticed something else. It was a good picture; Caroline looked stunning as ever with her auburn hair gleaming and the pale green orchids in front of her. And there was Meredith, looking resigned and ironic and darkly beautiful without even trying, and there she was herself, a head shorter than the others, with her red curls tousled and a sheepish expression on her face. But the strange thing was the figure beside her on the couch. It was Sue, of course it was Sue, but for a moment the blond hair and blue eyes seemed to belong to someone else. Someone looking at her urgently, on the verge of saying something important. Bonnie frowned at the photo, blinking rapidly. The image swam in front of her, and a chilling uneasiness ran up her spine.

No, it was just Sue in the picture. She must've gone crazy for a minute, or else she was letting Caroline's desire for them "all to be together again" affect her.

"I'll take the next one," she said, springing up. "Sit down, Vickie, and lean in. No, farther, farther-there!" All of Vickie's movements were quick and light and nervous. When the flashbulb went off, she started like a scared animal ready to bolt.

Caroline scarcely glanced at this picture, getting up and heading for the kitchen instead. "Guess what we're having instead of cake?" she said. "I'm making my own version of Death by Chocolate. Come on, you've got to help me melt the fudge." Sue followed her, and after an uncertain pause, so did Vickie.

The last traces of Meredith's pleasant expression evaporated and she turned to Bonnie. "You should have told me."

"And that makes it all worthwhile?"

"Well, it helps," Bonnie said, with an air of being reasonable. "And really, it probably won't be so bad. Caroline's actually trying to be nice, and it's good for Vickie to get out of the house for once..."

"It doesn't look like it's good for her," Meredith said bluntly. "It looks like she's going to have a heart attack."

"Well, she's probably just nervous." In Bonnie's opinion, Vickie had good reason to be nervous. She'd spent most of the previous fall in a trance, being slowly driven out of her mind by a power she didn't understand. Nobody had expected her to come out of it as well as she had.

Meredith was still looking bleak. "At least," Bonnie said consolingly, "it isn't your real birthday."

Meredith picked up the camera and turned it over and over. Still looking down at her hands, she said, "But it is."

"What?" Bonnie stared and then said louder, "What did you say?"

"I said, it is my real birthday. Caroline's mom must have told her; she and my mom used to be friends a long time ago."

"Meredith, what are you talking about? Your birthday was last week, May 30."

"No, it wasn't. It's today, June 6. It's true; it's on my driver's license and everything. My parents started celebrating it a week early because June 6 was too upsetting for them. It was the day my grandfather was attacked and went crazy." As Bonnie gasped, unable to speak, she added calmly, "He tried to kill my grandmother, you know. He tried to kill me, too." Meredith put the camera down carefully in the exact center of the coffee table. "We really should go in the kitchen," she said quietly. "I smell chocolate."

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