What if everything you wanted was all within your reach but not yours for the taking?
Klaus and Stefan are tearing through the South collecting hybrids and leaving a trail of dead bodies behind them. Unable to reach Stefan any other way, Elena devises a holiday plan to lure Stefan back home.
Damon thinks Elena is wasting her time and fears the worst. He and Stefan no longer celebrate Christmas, but if Klaus approves Elena’s request, Damon will support her by giving her what she wants—a traditional Christmas.
What Elena wants and what she gets are two different vampires altogether. Elena approaches Klaus and asks for Stefan’s release, even if it’s only for one Christmas weekend. Klaus agrees, but his terms and conditions are nonnegotiable.
Soon, Elena is holed up in a snow-covered chalet with the Salvatore brothers and Klaus, an original vampire with an unusual agenda. And he’s gone to great lengths to find out who Elena really loves.
I used to love mystery and danger. Like other teenage girls, I’d often imagined what it might be like to find myself in the middle of a catastrophe, stuck between two great forces—like good and evil—only far more dramatic.
At that time, Stefan and Damon Salvatore didn’t exist in my world. The world—at least the one I lived in—was less complicated. My days then were in black and white, with an occasional burst of color and flare, compliments of Caroline.
Then the Salvatore brothers entered my life and everything changed. I soon learned there wasn’t a line of division down the middle with these two. And after I met Damon and Stefan, my former life faded to black and now the past seems surreal.
I look down at the Salvatore driveway, now lined with packed snow and jagged tracks and wonder how I could’ve been so naïve. Who was that young girl who compartmentalized thoughts, people, places and things? Why didn’t she take the time to see the bigger picture with more multidimensional aspects, more depth?
As I think about the coming hours with a mix of dread and a dash of excitement, I now know a well-rounded life takes a triangle’s shape. Life isn’t clean and tidy with a circular rotation driven by nature to lead us all back to where we started. It’s not boxed up all nice and neat with defined planes and specific instructions to make our days easier. How boring would that be? Then again, after barely surviving these last few months, boring sounds like a little slice of heaven.
It’s the most wonderful time of year or it is for those who believe in the two-sided world, the world beyond this window, the one where others grade their mere existence by good or evil.
But there is a third entity or force. And he’s standing right behind me.
“You promised to release him while we’re in Tennessee.”
“And I will,” Klaus assured her. “Once we’re settled in and before the sun goes down.”
“Is there a ‘but’ in there somewhere?”
“All right, Elena, you win. I’ll let you in on a little secret.” His demeanor changed then. “You can’t play with fate or run from it, love. Katerina tried and as you saw for yourself, she failed on numerous occasions. She also loved two brothers as you love two brothers.”
“I never said—”
Klaus held up his hand. “Let me finish. Damon gives you what you need, what you must have at any cost. Stefan, on the other hand, gives you what you want—the ability to stay committed to your high moral standards. The Stefan you know gives you a normal relationship, an acceptable bond. Your friends like him. Your teachers accept him.”
“What about the Stefan you know?”
“The Stefan I know would rip your pretty little neck apart if I so much as compelled him to do so.”
She swallowed, processing. Klaus wanted to hurt her. He wanted to watch how she interacted with the Salvatore brothers. He would then later use what he learned against her. “You made Stefan into something he’s not.”
“On the contrary,” Klaus said. “We’re vampires. That makes us hunters or predators by nature. We’re only killers by choice.”
“Stefan wouldn’t have done any of this if you hadn’t compelled him.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Klaus said. “I can hand an average man a gun, beat him within an inch of his life, and he will not pull the trigger if he isn’t a killer. The survival instinct, some of us have it and some of us don’t, Elena.”
“That’s a terrible comparison.”
Klaus shrugged. “Maybe you’re right. Besides, Stefan’s weapons are embedded in his gums. No one hands him anything. He takes what he wants.”
“Damon, just for the weekend can we not pretend there’s nothing between us?”
“I can do that.”
“Okay then.” She relaxed, but quickly realized her request had been an invitation.
Damon framed her face and stared longingly into her eyes. “Don’t even think about stopping me.”
She didn’t. Instead, when his lips brushed across hers, she clutched his collar and pulled him closer, convinced then that his kiss was exactly what she needed.
For a few extraordinary seconds, she was swept away by passion, loving the way his strong hands felt against her back as he brought her to him and kept her still, anchored against him. Her emotions ran wild and his kiss deepened as if he already expected her to try and resist him, but how did she push him away when all she wanted to do was draw him closer?
She shook her head, resisting temptation then. Damon didn’t stop. Instead, his lips trailed up and down her neck and she was a lost hope, a desperate cause when her ragged breaths fell out in spurts and his were muted by another round of ravenous kisses.
“Damon, wait.” She turned her head, trying to stop him before he went too far, before he took her to a place they’d never been, but a place she’d imagined all the same. She shook her head and shoved him. “What…what are you doing?”
“Now who’s pretending, Elena?” He dragged his thumb across his bottom lip and a guttural moan slipped from his mouth. “You were too generous with those kisses to play them off as nothing now.”
“Stefan is here.”
“As if I needed the reminder,” Damon grumbled, sitting on the bed with his legs splayed. “Thanks for that. Moment ruined.”
About the Author: Susan Smith Alvis has been a career author for over a decade. With over 300 titles to her credit, her pseudonyms have been award-winning authors with international bestsellers in most genres. To find out more, visit her book page at Amazon. To sign up for updates and future release date announcements, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org