- Everything has changed. My body, my desires, my appetite.
- My soul.
- In seventeen short years, I've born witness to more tragedy than anyone should - and been the cause of far too much of it. With me I carry the memory of my death and that of my brother. I'm haunted by the sound of our last breaths in the mossy woods of Mystic Falls, Virginia, and the image of my father's lifeless body on the floor of his study in our magnificent Veritas Estate. I still smell the charred church where the town's vampires burned. And I can almost taste the blood I took and the lives I stole out of sheer hunger and indifference after my transformation. Most clearly I see the curious dreamer of a boy I once was, and if my heart could beat, it would break for the vile creature I've become.
- But though the very molecules of my being have morphed beyond recognition, the world continues to turn. Children grow older, their plump faces thinning with the passage of time. Young lovers exchange secret smiles as they discuss the weather. Parents sleep while the moon keeps watch, wake when the sun's rays nudge them from slumber. They eat, labour and love. And always, their hearts pump with rhythmic thuds, the blood as alluring to me as a snake charmer's tune is to a cobra.
- I once scoffed at the tediousness of human life, believing the Power I had made me more. Through her example, Katherine taught me that time holds no sway over vampires, so I could become divorced from it, living from moment to moment, moving from one carnal pleasure to the next with no fear of consequences. During my time in New Orleans I was heady with my new Power, my limitless strength and speed. I tore through humans as if their lives were meaningless. Every warm drop of blood made me feel alive, strong, fearless and powerful.
- It was a haze of bloodlust. I killed so many, so casually. I can't even remember the faces of my victims. Except for one.
- Her flame-red hair, her clear green eyes, the softness of her cheeks, the way she stood with her hands on her hips . . . every detail stands out in my memory with painful clarity.
- It was Damon, my brother and former best friend, who dealt Callie her final blow.
- In turning him into a vampire, I had taken Damon's life, so he took from me the only thing he could - my new love.
- Callie made me remember what it was to be human, and what it meant to value life. Her death weighs heavily on my conscience.
- Now my strength is a burden, the constant thirst for blood a curse, the promise of immortality a terrible cross to bear. Vampires are monsters, killers. I must never, ever forget that again. I must never let the monster take over. While I will forever bear the guilt of what I did to my brother - the choice I made for him - I must also avoid the dark path he is so hell-bent on following. He revels in the violence and freedom of his new life, while I can only regret it.
- Before I left New Orleans, I battled the demon my brother, Damon, had become. Now, as I remake myself up North, far from anyone who's ever known me as either a human or a vampire, the only demon I have to battle is my own hunger.
November 5, 1864
- It feels like so long ago, but in reality little time has passed since my transformation, since my father killed me. It was barely a month past that Damon and I tried to save Katherine's life, and her blood saved ours. Barely a month since I was a living, warm-blooded human, who sustained himself on meals of meat and vegetables, cheese and wine - and who slept in a feather bed, with clean linen sheets.
- Yet it feels like a lifetime, and by some definitions, I suppose it is.
- But just as quickly as my fortunes turned after New Orleans, leaving me to live as a vagrant in a rocky hollow in the park, here I am at a proper desk under a leaded window, a thick rug at my feet. How quickly I am slipping back into human ways!
- The Sutherlands seem like a kind family. I picture tempestuous Bridget and her long-suffering older sister as mirror versions of Damon and myself. I never appreciated how harmless Damon's and my father's fights were back when they were just about horses and girls. I was always terrified one of them would say or do something that would end forever what semblance of a family we had left.
- Now that my father is dead and my brother and I are . . . what we are, I realise how much more serious things can get, and how simple and easy life was before.
- I shouldn't stay here, even tonight. I should sneak out of the window and flee to my place of exile. Being enfolded in the warm, living embrace of the Sutherland family for any amount of time, no matter how short, is dangerous and deceptive. It makes me feel like I could almost belong to the world of humans again. They don't realise they have welcomed a predator into their midst. All that would need to happen is for me to lose control once, to slip from my room right now and take my fill of one of them, and their lives would be filled with tragedy - just as mine became when Katherine arrived on our doorstep.
- Family has always been the most important thing to me, and I would be lying if I didn't admit how comforting it is to be among people who love one another, if only for one borrowed night . . .
November 6, 1864
- Damon is back, though it seems he was never actually gone. He has been watching me, baiting me, controlling me. He is the puppet master and I am his hapless marionette, forced to do his bidding.
- Until I saw Damon, I had not realised just how fond I had become of the Sutherlands, of how they eased my loneliness and gave me hope that I might not have to live in exile. Though I knew I had to leave them, I had dared to hope that by proving I could stay in control around them, my journey through this world might ultimately be less solitary.
- But Damon knows me all too well. He might have compelled the Sutherlands to accept me, but he didn't compel me to stay in their presence. I could have slipped out this morning, could have run off in the park, could have disappeared into the crowd at the ball. And yet I stayed, because, as Damon no doubt predicted, I liked being part of a family again, even if only for a few fleeting days.
- Damon's plan terrifies me - precisely because I don't understand it. Why New York? Why the Sutherlands? Why involve me? If Damon was able to orchestrate everything, to so seamlessly weave his way into the Sutherlands' lives and pave the way for my arrival, why stage such a spectacle? Why bother with a marriage? Why not just take Winfield to the bank and compel him and the teller to empty his vast accounts? Does he intend to live as a human? Does he need the marriage for legitimacy in New York society? Is he simply intent upon torturing me?
- Or is there something I'm missing? Some secret aim I can't possibly begin to imagine . . .
- All I have are questions. And I fear that the answers won't come until the first dead body shows up.
November 12, 1864
- Life with Damon is like playing chess with a mad person. I can think of a thousand different possibilities to defend against, a thousand different moves he could make, and then he goes and changes the rules of the game.
- It's not just his newfound predilection for casual violence that makes him so incalculable, but the way he revels in it. Though blood is our diet, we as vampires at least have a modicum of self-will. Damon doesn't have to let his dark side win, and yet he embraces it.
- I view this change in him with horror and guilt, as I was the one who set him down the path of the vampire. Katherine was the one who changed him, but I force-fed him his first human.
- After seeing his message to me I can't consider leaving the Sutherlands until I have figured out a way to keep them all safe. What my brother did to Callie . . . it obviously isn't beyond him to just dispose of the entire family once they served their purpose.
- But when will he take action? At the wedding? After the wedding? After the honeymoon? Next year? Could I spirit the girls away somewhere? Could I convince them to hide? Could I compel them to? Damon managed to find me here, could he find me - or them - anywhere?
I have to come up with a plan, in case Damon doesn't just leave town with his newfound fortune.
Of course, the simplest solution would be to kill Damon.
Voilà - one maniacal, insane, unpredictable, murderous vampire gone, the world, and myself, a thousand times safer. That's assuming I could do it. I am so much weaker than he is, it would have to be done by surprise or guile or something equally underhanded, like a knife in the back. Like he killed Callie.
- There isn't any point in thinking that way. I will not stoop to his level. He is my brother. And as awful as he is, he is the only relative left to me.
September 8, 1864
- She is not who she seems. Should I be surprised? Terrified? Hurt?
- It's as if everything I know, everything I've been taught, everything I've believed in my past seventeen years is wrong.
- I can still feel where she kissed me, where her fingers grasped my hands. I still yearn for her, and yet the voice of reason is screaming in my ears: you cannot love a vampire!
- If I had one of her daisies, I could pluck the petals and let the flower choose for me. I love her . . . I love her not . . . I . . .
- I love her.
- I do. No matter the consequences.
- Is this what following your heart is? I wish there was a map or a compass to help me find my way. But she has my heart and that above all else is my North Star . . . and that will have to be enough.
November 13, 1864
- I am cursed. It is obvious now. Maybe that's what being a vampire means. Maybe tragedy and evil come with the hunger and the fangs; it isn't just having to live off human blood. It is the unending aloneness, being cut off from real life and from real relationships. Death will always be there to separate me from those I loved.
- There is a scroll of names in my head, and the list keeps getting longer every day. Rosalyn was the first to die because of me. Katherine couldn't stand that I was engages, so she killed the girl. Even Katherine's blood was on my hands. Though she came into my and my brother's lives and turned them upside down. She died as a result of my actions. I should never have tried to reason with my father, never tried to convince him of a different viewpoint. As soon as he confided in me about the vampire hunt, I should have done everything I could to get Katherine out of town.
- Pearl. She, too, could have escaped. I don't know exactly what her story was, but she seemed far more peaceable than Katherine.
- Alice the barmaid.
- All the humans I fed on in New Orleans. Too many to name, even if I had bothered learning their names. They were just unlucky folk who accidentally crossed my path when I was hungry or needed something.
- Callie. She died because I was stupid enough to think that she would be rewarded for helping out two vampires.
- The Sutherlands.
- Bridget, Lydia, Mrs Sutherland and Winfield. A normal family who just happened to catch the attention of one insane, vengeful vampire.
- And now Lexi. Lexi should have stayed in New Orleans in her hostel for the undead, safe in her own world where she could continue her own version of doing good.
- She will be the next to die unless I figure out how to save her.
- I have spent too much time in New York bemoaning my fate, moping, feeling cursed. By standing idly by and complaining, I am letting evil occur all around me. Now is the time for action, for justice. I must channel my loneliness and despair into rage. I must stop being a coward, as I've always been, in both life, when I let my father bully me into a marriage I didn't want, and in death, when I've allowed Damon to torture me and kill the people I love.
- Never again will I let others bend me to their will. From now on I will fight.
- And I will free Lexi, if it is the last thing I do.
- My time in New York clarified the perils of my existence; despite my good intentions, I am dangerous to humans, and my brother is dangerous to everyone.
- And now? What does the future hold? My days seem to pass like minutes. I suppose this means I'm growing accustomed to the idea of eternity.
- I have lost so much in the months since I became the creature I now am. But I have gained time. And with time, I gain opportunity. I will see Italy. And the rest of Europe. I will travel the whole world. But I will never make a home among humans again.
- As for Damon . . . I believe our road together is long and our story is not over yet. Should one of us ever finally come to his doom, it will only be the other who causes it.
- And in the background . . . heralded by the faint perfume of lemon and ginger . . . will always be Katherine, laughing at both of us.