“Look,” Stefan said, “it’s better if they think you’re dead.”
Vicki scoffed. “Better if I were dead, you mean.” Not that she didn’t appreciate Stefan not actually staking her, but why not go all the way? Finally get rid of the problem that was her very existence.
“I didn’t say that.”
“It’s what you meant. Don’t worry. I’ve heard it before. I know when I’m not wanted.”
But Vicki walked out the door and kept walking. She should’ve gotten out of this town a long time ago. Maybe Stefan and Damon had done her a favor. Both had killed her, if only in the most technical of senses. Which meant no more obligations for Vicki Donovan. No longer being Tyler’s favorite fuck. No more Jeremy looking at her like she was something special. No more Matt telling her she was so much better than this.
She was free.
She walked along the side of the road until a guy in a pickup truck offered her a ride. She hesitated at first—he leered at her and she wondered if being a vampire gave you mind reading powers or if she’d just seen that particular look too many times in her life—and then she remembered she was the dangerous one. So she climbed in and when the guy pulled over to the side of the road and reached for her, she pounced.
When she came to, her mouth was covered in blood and the guy slumped listlessly in his seat.
“Shit, shit!” Maybe Stefan was right. She hadn’t meant to kill him, but she hadn’t known how to stop. Hadn’t been enough herself to know she should stop.
She stared at the guy. He was in his forties. Balding. Beer belly. She’d say he wasn’t a great loss to society if she wasn’t so sure people were saying the same thing about her back home.
A car drove by, slowed a little, and then sped past. Vicki held her breath until its headlights were out of sight. She couldn’t stay here. She opened the the door and then paused, head tilted. She could use transportation.
Five minutes later, the guy was in a ditch and she was behind the driver’s wheel. She didn’t know where she was going. Not Mystic Falls was good enough for now.
It was a while before she remembered she’d have to find shelter during the day. Wasn’t like she’d ever been much for daylight anyway. She pulled into the first hotel parking lot she saw and asked for a room.
“ID and credit card, please,” the clerk said.
And Vicki stared at her and said. “Vicki Donovan. I already paid.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
And the clerk typed something on the computer and Vicki bounced up and down on the balls of her feet. It worked! Damon’s creepy compelling thing worked. This was going to be awesome.
The clerk handed her a room key and asked if she needed help with her luggage.
Vicki stared at her. “No.”
In her hotel room, she flopped onto her bed. No luggage for her. She never thought she’d literally only have the clothes on her back. Then she grinned. No reason she couldn’t use that handy compelling trick to do a little shopping. She looked at the clock. Which would have to be tomorrow. Sunrise was due any minute.
The next night, Vicki stopped by a mall and walked through it like she owned it. Did own it. She worked her way in and out of one store at a time, picking out whatever struck her fancy, until the mall closed and then hauled all of it back to the truck.
“Gotta upgrade this,” she mumbled to herself. She’d get one of those cars Matt lusted after. If only she could show it to him.
Vick turned to see a guy about her age. He was well-dressed, like Tyler, but the tone of voice was Jeremy’s. Nice, like he really meant what he was saying and wasn’t just looking for an excuse to talk to her.
“Sure,” she said.
“I’m Adam,” he said.
She should probably start using a fake name one of these days. But then Stefan and Damon used their own names, didn’t they? She handed Adam shopping bags and found herself staring at him. She swallowed.
She’d forgotten to eat.
“That all?” Adam asked, as he swung the last bag into the truck.
“Yeah. Thank you.” Vicki put her hand on his arm. And couldn’t take it off. “Sorry, sorry.”
But before he could finish the question, she lunged at him and drank and drank and drank.
“Stop, stop, stop!” she said, and finally broke herself away from Adam, sobbing. He fell to the ground and she didn’t know if he was alive or dead. Didn’t want to check. She leapt in the car and drove until the sky started growing light.
She found a nicer hotel this time. Might as well have the best. Maybe she should’ve stayed around Mystic Falls. Taken vampire lessons or whatever. She stared at the phone. She could call Stefan and Damon. Maybe they could give her some tips.
The word slipped out unbidden. No. No more relying on other people, no more listening to them and letting them judge her, determine her life for her. She had everything she needed now. She could take of herself.
When she woke up, she took a long shower. She called down to the desk and asked for a map of the United States. As soon as they brought it to her, she sat at the desk and wrote down a list of cities.
All the places she’d given up ever seeing years ago. She could see them all now. And, when she was done, she could go somewhere else. Europe maybe. Australia. All of sudden, she found herself making plans. She could see her life stretching out in front of her. She had centuries, she had millennia to get it right.
And even Vicki Donovan could make something of herself when she had all of eternity.