Illusion (Chapter 8 To Know is to Forget)
Stefan withdrew his fangs from my neck and went into attack mode, streaking from the bed with his bloody teeth bared, grabbing Georgia by the throat. She fought against him, her dark blue eyes large and filled with unshed tears. Stefan's grip never faltered as he held her in place, his eyes dilated and unfocused.
Ignoring the blood that trickled down my chest from his bite, I frantically dove from the bed to calm the sudden commotion, hastily draping the sheet around me.
"Stefan, let her go. It's Georgia," I tried to reason with him, my voice getting louder as I spoke. Snapping my fingers in front of his face, I tried again. "Stefan!"
His eyes darted between Georgia and myself. His fingers gradually loosened their grasp on her and she staggered backwards, clutching her neck where his hand had been. Her head bobbed back and forth between us, her mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out.
She whirled around on her heel, turning to run and I panicked. Throwing my hands up in front of me, I let out a shriek. "No! Georgia, stop!"
She came to an immediate halt, unable to move. My inner shield had altered in some way, invisibly casting itself outward in my fear. It encircled her, effectively holding her in place. It felt as if an elastic web had stretched away from my body to securely wrap around her.
Stefan could only stare at me, his mind voice filled with awe. "Are you doing this, Josephine?"
I shrugged. "It appears that I am. I have no idea what's happening, Stefan."
Slowly approaching her, I kept my hands in front of me. "Georgia, I want you to sit down so we can talk, ok?"
Mentally directing her to the bed, I watched her unsteady gait as she moved under my control to awkwardly sit on the bed. I began to lower my hands and I could feel the strength of the shield waver slightly. Unsure how to manipulate it, I jerked my hands up and the power increased. My fingers were trembling under the effort it took to control my new ability.
"Josie, why was he biting you? And why can't I move?" Georgia whined. She looked as if she could burst into tears at any moment.
I ignored both of her questions. "Oh, Georgia. Why couldn't you just knock on the door like a normal person? This could have been avoided."
"Don't you dare put this on me! You need to answer me, Josie. Is he a va-vampire?" Georgia stuttered. She looked at Stefan with apprehension. He folded his arms across his broad chest and leaned against the wall, unashamedly naked. He was watching both of us intently.
He sent his thoughts to me. "If Georgia does not accept the truth I will have no choice to either kill her or force my will on her, erasing this part of her memory. It will be dangerous to remove so much, vackra."
"Georgia, I need you to listen and I need you to stay calm," I said softly to her as I crouched down beside her. "Yes, Stefan is a vampire."
She swallowed hard and a tear ran crookedly down her cheek. "Are you one too?"
I offered her an uneasy smile. "Only part," I corrected. "I found out about my parents during our impromptu trip."
"Why can't I move?"
I put down my hands and concentrated, focusing on releasing her. I felt my shield retract within me, the tension disappearing. "I was doing it. You can move now."
She moved one if her hands first, flexing and unflexing them, her eyes narrowing as she gazed at me suspiciously. She then bent her arm and shook her legs, making sure they still worked.
"How long have you known that he's a vampire?"
I reached across to smooth her long dark hair away from her frightened face. "Since the first night I met him."
"I just don't understand any of this, Josie. Did he do this to you?" Her southern accent became more evident and she jerked her chin towards Stefan. "What the hell does all this mean?"
I glanced over my shoulder at Stefan. He hadn't moved and was as still as a statue, his thoughts closed to me, giving me the control in what I chose to tell Georgia.
"No, Stefan didn't do this to me. I was born this way. When we were in New York I met my father. He's a vampire." I took a deep breath and continued. "My mother was human. Basically, I'm a mixture of both. Maybe it would be easier to think of me as a more durable version of the Josie you know."
"You won't get older? Or die?"
"We can both die, Georgia. Though we are much more difficult to kill," Stefan replied, his deep voice breaking into the conversation. "Now that you know, you now have three options."
Georgia crossed her legs and puckered her lips. "And what pray tell are my choices?"
"Option one is that I kill you. I would prefer not to do that since it would be upsetting to Josephine. Option two is that I can force my will on you and make you forget, which is potentially dangerous. Option three is that you can keep our secret and act like nothing has changed." Stefan ran his long fingers through his messy hair. "The choice is yours."
Stefan may be almost a thousand years old but he lacked the art of subtlety in situations like this. I rolled my eyes and grabbed her hand and squeezed it to get her attention. Her blue eyes were wary as she met mine.
"I'm still Josie, Georgia."
Georgia glared over my shoulder at the still very naked Stefan. If looks could kill and Stefan wasn't already dead, he would be now. Her mouth twisted into a sneer and when she looked back at me, her eyes were filled with contempt.
"No, Josie. It's my ass on the line and I need information. How old is he? How is he able to be out during the day? How does all of this work?" She was relentless, the questions coming out in rapid fire bursts.
"I am 33," Stefan answered. "Most of the things you read or hear about our kind are myths. Such as our supposed aversion to sunlight."
"Huh," Georgia said, considering his words for a moment. "Exactly how old are you in vampire years?"
Georgia made it sound like Stefan was a dog and vampires counted their ages my multiplying them by seven. She was an intelligent woman, but there were times I questioned her thought process. Of course, I'd been in her shoes recently. I could sympathize with her confusion and curiosity.
He chuckled as he read my thoughts and answered her. "I am 975 years old. We still count years the same way as humans do."
"I knew there was something different about you. I just never thought of he was a vampire." She chewed on her bottom lip. "Josie, you could've told me what was going on."
"I'm sorry, Georgia. I hoped you'd never find this out." I closed my eyes, focusing on her future. I saw her decision and looked at Stefan and nodded.
"We can trust her, Stefan. She won't tell anyone."
"How did you know what I was going to say?" Georgia asked, her voice raising an octave.
Yet another revelation to dump on her. I could tell she'd almost hit her breaking point so I chose to just make it as simple as possible. "I'm a psychic. I can see the future."
Georgia face hardened. "I feel like an idiot. That's why you didn't like to go out until you met him," she snorted loudly. "Does Anna know about this?"
"The psychic thing, yes." I said. "The vampire stuff, no."
"You could've told me about being psychic. I suspected something was up with you," she accused, chewing her lip again. "This is why you're leaving Bali with him! You wanted a clean break. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but even I can figure it out now."
Inhaling a deep breath, I nodded sadly. "That's part of the reason. Stefan and I aren't going to age. There are…things that need to be taken care of in New York."
"So now you're headed off with Hunky." Georgia gestured to Stefan. "Were you just going to disappear?"
I studied my hands for a moment. That's exactly what we would have done and were going to do eventually. Stefan owned properties all over the world and it would be easy to disappear with his years of practice and wealth to assist us.
For the first time since I knew her, Georgia cried. And not just a few tears. She wept until her shoulders shook. I sat beside her and let her cry against me, not able to offer her any other consolation. "You can't just walk away, Josie. You're like my sister."
"I know. That's what makes this so hard, Georgia."
Georgia's relationship with her family was less than ideal. In her own words, they were mostly alcoholic rednecks that lacked any sort of common sense. She'd escaped to New York at the age of 18, putting herself through school and landing a position with a charity before getting the opportunity to start a division operating in Indonesia.
"You can come and visit us anytime," I assured her. As soon as the words left my lips, I realized how shallow they sounded. She'd cried because I was leaving and I'd offered her a place to stay if she decided to visit. I was no better at this than Stefan.
She stood and put her hands on her hips. "That's a piss poor thing to say to me. I love you like a sister and you tell me I can visit? I'm going home."
Stefan blurred to block the doorway, his large frame ominous as he stood looking down at her, his muscular chest bare and long arms folded across his chest. Thankfully at some point during our conversation he'd managed to pull jeans on.
"You must give me your word that you will keep your silence," Stefan warned. "If you talk to anyone about this, it means your death."
She barked out a sardonic laugh. "I said I wouldn't tell anyone. Unless you want me to pinkie promise, that's all you're gonna get, Stefan. Who would believe me anyway?"
Stefan stepped aside and let her pass. She almost ran down the hallway in her haste to leave, slamming the front door so hard it shook the windows.
Stefan let out a deep sigh and sat down beside of me. He reached for my hand, turning it over and tracing patterns on my palm with his fingers. He said nothing, keeping his thoughts protected.
"I should have changed the locks," I mused, more to myself than to him.
"You never cease to amaze me," he murmured. He brought my hand up to his mouth and brushed his lips over my fingers. "Look at it this way, vackra. She knows our secret. You can keep her in your life."
"Yeah, she's thrilled with me. She wants to kick my ass."
"Time will pass and her anger will fade," he replied. "I am sorry. I wish I could save you from this part. This is where you lose every human friend you have or choose if it is safe to reveal your secret."
He pulled me back on the bed until we were propped on the pillows. His fingers absently rubbed through the fabric of my shirt, up and down my back. I rested my face against his chest, running my hands over his muscles and through the fine hair that covered it.
"I get to keep you. It seems like a fair trade."
"Now who is the smooth talker?" He pinched my side. "You have a new gift. We must practice to see how it works."
"I don't know how it happened. I was scared she was going to run off and I had to stop her. I just didn't expect that I'd actually be able to do it without moving." I looked up at him, pressing my chin on his chest. "This must be another change."
"I would assume it is. Try it on me."
"What?" I looked at him with wide eyes. "Stefan, I don't think I can do it again."
"Try it on me," he repeated. "Keep me in place."
He leaped from the bed. His face became predatory, his fangs clicking into place. "Stop me."
Giggling, I sat up on my knees, my hands on my legs. "Stefan, I don't know how I did it earlier. You're not scaring me with your fangs, Romeo. They turn me on."
He stood up straight and retracted his fangs. "Let us try something different. Close your eyes."
Sighing heavily, I obediently closed my eyes, waiting for what he was going to do next.
"Your father has killed me. Kian is coming for you," his voice was barely audible. A mixture of grief and anger filled me at the thought of his death at Kian's hands. "Pretend that I am him. You must stop me."
Without thinking, my hands flew up as I sensed him approaching me. I pushed my emotions outward, focusing on keeping him away from me. I felt the shield push out, wrapping around Stefan, securing itself around him like a vice.
Through barely opened eyes, I watched in amazement as Stefan struggled against my hold on him. He was trapped in mid-stride, incapable of moving. His mind was wide open to me while under my shield. He was furious, his mind filled with rage at his own vulnerability, incensed at his helplessness.
"It worked!" I exclaimed excitedly. "You can't move at all?"
"Not at all." He pushed against me, unable to free himself. "Release me."
"I don't know if I should. You're a scary vampire." I teased. "Did you ever think I'd be able to hold you back? Maybe I should call Lukas. I could use FaceTime and he could see this live."
His eyes darkened and the corner of his mouth twitched. "Vackra…"
"Fine." I lowered my hands and he stumbled forward as my shield retracted.
He darted to my side and had my back against the bed, hovering over me. He kissed me, his mouth hard against mine. "Tell no one of this ability, not even Lukas. What you just did can protect you if I cannot."
He was always pragmatic, thinking three steps beyond everyone else, planning and scheming. Stefan would protect me with his life. Knowing that I could stand beside him with my own ability made me feel like the scales were even.
"You should not be worried about such things." Stefan rolled to my side, staring into my eyes. "I never wished for things to be so difficult. It is my only regret."
"Stop." I placed my palm against his face. "It doesn't matter, Stefan. With or without you, Kian would have found me."
"Perhaps." Stefan replied quietly. "So you have no reservations, Josephine?"
"Not a single one." I let my fingers caress the curve of his cheek. "It's worth it, you know?"
"To be with you forever. It's worth all of the worries and fears. I have you."
I glanced up at him, meeting his gaze. His blue eyes were soft, filled with love and devotion. His hand rested against my chest, his fingers stroking the pendant around my neck.
"Att ha din k?rlek ?r en v?lsignelse. Du ?r min ?lskare, min v?n och min k?ra kompis. Jag ?lskar dig."
"I've only been using the CD's for a few days, sweetheart. I understood that you love me. What else did you say?"
"I said to have your love is a blessing. You are my lover, my friend and my cherished mate." He lowered his mouth gently to mine. "I love you."
"Jag ?lskar dig, min man." The words sounded strange and felt peculiar on my tongue. It was worth the discomfort to watch his eyes sparkle as he heard me speak in his native language.
"Until the stars stop shining?" He used my words from a few days ago.
"And then some."
"You need to sleep. You need to wrap up your affairs tomorrow."
"Yeah, yeah." I snuggled against him.
He nuzzled his nose against my hair, breathing in my scent. He groaned softly in response, his hands rubbing over my back and ass possessively. I pulled back, letting my eyes travel over his face. Unable to resist his lips, I pressed a kiss to the top and then the bottom before devouring his mouth, the taste of him addictive and sweet.
The pads of his fingers cupped the back of my neck as he answered my kiss. His mouth became more insistent, our legs tangling together as we moved closer to each other, languidly kissing each other with wet, open mouthed caresses. When he lifted his mouth from mine, his lips went to my neck, scattering kisses and tiny bites across my skin. His hand slipped between us and he gently stroked my clit with his thumb while his fingers filled me.
"You begged me to come for you earlier. I want you to come all over my hand," he said huskily against my neck.
His fingers and thumb stroked and thrust inside of me, teasing and insistent. His blue eyes stared intently at me, watching every expression that crossed my face. When they curled up and plunged harder I gave in, falling apart over his hand, sighing breathlessly when I felt him release against my stomach.
Stefan captured my mouth in another kiss. "That was beautiful, watching you come for me."
He was a blur as he moved from the bed to the bathroom. He returned with a towel, quickly cleaning up the mess we'd made.
He sank back into the bed and pulled me back on his arms. My eyes were heavy and for the moment, the confrontation with Georgia was in the back of my thoughts.
His arms around me were the last thing I remembered until drifting off into sleep.
* * *
Pulling in front of Anna's real estate office, I put the car into park and gripped the steering wheel for a moment. The day had been filled with errands, putting in a forwarding address request in to the tiny postal office in Canggu, transferring money from accounts here in Indonesia to the much bigger joint bank account I now shared with Stefan in the US. I'd reached my final and most difficult errand of the day: not only was I putting my villa on the market, I was also going to tell Anna that I was leaving. I'd scanned her future and knew the outcome would be fine, but she was going to ask questions. Questions could be dangerous…I would need to stay on guard and not reveal too much to her.
Unable to put off the inevitable chore, I shoved open the door to my jeep and headed for her office. I was greeted with a chiming bell and Anna's head popped up with her 'I'm all about selling you a property' business smile. When she saw it was me, the smile changed to her more snarky grin. She pushed herself away from her desk to meet me.
"Josie Anderson decides to grace me with her presence!" Anna's eyes scanned over me, lingering over my necklace before they went to her watch. "You have perfect timing. Let's go to lunch."
Anna crossed back to her desk and grabbed her purse from one of the drawers. She rejoined me, motioning for me to follow her outside. We walked in the bright sunlight for a few moments before she spoke.
"So, you're back. Is this a good thing?" Anna asked curiously. "Since you're not in tears, I'm assuming you and Stefan are together.
"It depends on what you consider a good thing. I've already had one big negative reaction, so I'm anxious to see what yours will be."
We walked up to one of the street vendors and ordered satay before heading in silence to a bench under a tree. Anna sat first and pointed to the seat for me to join her.
"Yeah, I'm sure you didn't use your psychic ability to know the outcome of our little chat. I'm going to take a wild guess. You're moving," Anna said sarcastically, taking a bite of her chicken. She chewed for a moment and swallowed, her sharp brown eyes never leaving mine. "Why is it you look like you spent all your time in New York at a spa? Either New York was really, really good to you or Stefan has a magic dick."
I choked on my bite at her comment. Anna laughed and slapped me on the back a few times until I was finally able to breathe normally.
"Anna!" I exclaimed, feeling the telltale blush spread over my face.
"From that response I'm going to go with the magic dick. By looking at him, I'd say it could cure just about any problem you could have," Anna replied, tucking her brown curls behind her ear. She finished her chicken and tossed the skewer in the trash, turning her attention back to me. "I know you didn't come to see me for shits and giggles. What's up?"
Taking a deep sigh, I looked at my shoe for a moment before I started talking. "I need you to put my villa on the market."
"Oh?" Anna answered. "Oh. This is a permanent move. You aren't coming back?"
Shrugging, I smoothed my khaki shorts and picked at the cuticle on my thumb. "We may come back to visit. I don't think Lukas is putting his house on the market so we could always stay there."
Anna sighed and her lips pressed into a disapproving frown. "That sounds like some cryptic bullshit line. This is me that you're talking to, not Georgia. Are you coming back or not?"
"No. Probably not," I said in a rush of breath. I flipped my hair over my shoulder, mentally holding my breath as I watch Anna mull things over.
Anna said nothing, tapping her fingers against the bench and not really looking at anything. She appeared to be lost in her own internal musings. The longer she was silent, the more I diligently sorted through her future. She was constantly changing her mind from one train of thought to another. It was enough to give me a headache.
"If you are going to do this, there's no more running away from him. Stefan doesn't deserve that kind of bullshit again." Anna finally spoke, turning her head to look at me. "What happened that made you take off that night, by the way?"
"Let's just say I uncovered interesting information about my birth family while we were in New York. I met my father, who I'd rather not discuss. The entire experience was overwhelming. When I took off that night, I didn't think about it, I just reacted." The side of my mouth turned up in the tiniest of smiles. "With one exception, I wish it was all still a mystery. Some things are better left unknown."
"What was the exception?"
My smile increased as I thought of Nikolaus. "I have a brother. He lives in the city, so I'll be closer to him too."
Anna sat back against the bench, her shoulders slouching under the weight of the information she'd just gathered from me.
"No shit? A brother?"
Snickering, I leaned back with her. "No shit. His name is Nikolaus."
"You have a brother," Anna said. "That has to be bizarre to find out after of these years. What's he like?"
I pictured him in my head during our brief meeting, from his light brown hair with bits of red, his lean, muscular physique and motorcycle jacket and jeans. "Very handsome. He has a lot of tattoos. He's a smooth talker, but I like him."
"Can he do what you can?" Anna asked, tapping her temple with her fingertip.
Nodding slowly, I took another bite and chewed slowly. Anna's eyes unfocused for a moment as if she was deep in thought.
"It's a family trait then," Anna deduced. "That's gotta make you rethink having kids, huh?"
There was no way to tell Anna that there would never be children in my future. I was an immortal creature, an unchanging anomaly. I'd also chosen a vampire as a mate…both of those things meant no babies for me.
"I don't think it's in the cards for us anyway. I never had plans to be a mom so it's no loss." I swatted her leg and tried to lighten the mood. "You're off the hook for babysitting duties."
"Good try with the humor thing. No dice," Anna rolled her eyes and then focused on my necklace again. "That's new. Is it from Stefan?"
Reaching up, I ran my fingers over the pendant, feeling the crude carvings under my fingertips. "Yes. It's a family heirloom."
Anna scooted closer and leaned over to inspect the pendant, fixated on the carvings. She looked up at me through her eyelashes. "Exactly how old of an heirloom is this? I may not be a jeweler, but I know that is no reproduction."
Shifting uncomfortably, this conversation had officially gone where I didn't want to go. I needed to move things along before I slipped up and said more than I wanted to say.
"I'm not sure. I didn't ask." I stood up and stretched. "It's probably time you got back to work and I still have errands to run."
Anna watched me and clicked her tongue a few times. She stood as well, crossing her arms under her chest. "I don't know what's going on with you. I do know you well enough to know when you divert like that, it's something major. I need to know two things."
Inhaling a deep breath, I briefly closed my eyes. I was wincing when I reopened them, bracing myself for her questions. "Go ahead."
"Are you safe and are you ok with all of this?"
I could answer these questions either way. When I was with Stefan, I was safe. He'd protect me with his life. But was I really safe? Absolutely not. Not as long as Kian was lurking in the shadows of my life. I could offer the same sort of response for her second part. I had Stefan, so I'd accepted my changes. But if I had to face them alone, I might not be as happy being immortal in a world where I would watch people that I loved die, yet I would never age.
I went with the easy answer. "Yes to both. Honestly Anna, I had a minor freak out. I'm fine now. I promise."
Anna observed me for a moment, scrutinizing my face to see if I was lying. I must have passed the test because her shoulders relaxed and she grabbed my arm, linking us together.
"I think we have a villa to list. Let's gossip while we walk. You call tell me all about Stefan's magic dick."
* * *
Pulling into my driveway and parking in front of my villa, the first thing I noticed were our suitcases on the sidewalk, lined up neatly in a row. Tilting my head, I looked up at the sky, the late afternoon Indonesian sun warming my face. I was a different person now than I was when I moved here a year ago.
Smiling to myself, I headed past the suitcases, committing every step into my villa to memory with the knowledge that I'd never walk alone again. This place, this house was the beginning and the end. No more lonely days, no more putting on my false face to the world, the face that pretended I was happy. I'd come to Bali to run away, and I was walking away with the confidence I'd never had before.
Grasping the door knob with a smile, I pushed the door open, dropping my purse and keys on the now empty table. When I turned, my mouth fell open in surprise.
Stefan's large frame was sitting in the chair facing me. He portrayed outward calm, yet his inward thoughts were a blur of conversations, visions, anger and strategy. His glacial eyes were fixed on Georgia. She was perched on the edge of the couch, her feet twitching anxiously as she clutched her arms. Lukas sat to her right, quiet and unmoving. No one was saying a word. It was apparent I'd walked into a situation that made me want to press fast forward to bypass this situation completely.
Yet here I stood, neck deep in tension that was so thick it was tangible. I pressed my back against the doorframe and my eyes flickered over each one of them. Lukas, well… Lukas was Lukas. His hands were crossed in his lap and his thin lips were pursed in either amusement or aggravation. I couldn't differentiate simply because he used the same look for either sentiment. Georgia's stance was agitated and condescending, and I didn't need to lower my shields to feel her emotions. Her nervous feet gave her away.
I'd come full circle and Stefan's eyes moved a fraction to meet mine, and his blond eyebrow raising slightly. His mental voice pushed into my thoughts, loud and frustrated.
"Josephine, your friend Georgia decided to join us. This has been an amusing hour. She is even testing Lukas' patience. It is quite an accomplishment since he defines aggravation."
Still keeping my gaze on Stefan, I pushed off the door and walked across the room to sit on the arm of Stefan's chair. When his hands pulled me into his lap, I didn't fight him. He relaxed and his fragmented thoughts seemed to calm. I settled back against his chest and rested my head against his neck, inhaling his woodsy scent. I also noticed another smell hanging in the room. Coppery like a penny.
"So, who's going to tell me what's going on?"
My voice rang out loudly in the room, and both Georgia and Lukas's eyes focused on me. Stefan's hand rubbed against the part of my thigh that was left exposed by my shorts, his fingertips tracing patterns against my skin.
Lukas let out a puff of breath and crossed his arms. "Since no one is going to tell you, I will. Your friend wants us to change her. She thinks it would be the best thing for her since she already knows what we are."
The pressure of Stefan's fingers increased against my leg and I could only stare open mouthed at Georgia. Had she lost her mind? What had possessed her to seek out Stefan and Lukas alone and ask for them to change her?
Stefan's voice rumbled behind me. "She presented a convincing argument. That I will admit. I will leave it to her to explain what happened. Tell her, Georgia."
Georgia's whole body collapsed against the couch. It was if she had deflated in front of my very eyes, even her voice sounding defeated. "I just thought that since I knew, it made sense to just have them change me. Not to mention the idea of not aging seems nice and I'd be like you."
I was torn between wanting to spring off of Stefan's lap to alternately slap her and hug her. "Be like me? Not aging seems nice? Are you serious, Georgia? Do you think this is some kind of joke?"
She tightened her grip on the towel on her arm and I noticed the red stain of her blood, glaring against the whiteness of the cloth. When she spoke, her voice was a whisper. "No, I know now it's not a joke. I didn't really think it through."
I shot off of Stefan's lap and was beside her, clutching her wrist before she had a chance to react. She blinked at the suddenness of my movements. "You cut yourself in front of two vampires? You have lost your mind?"
"I just thought… Never mind."
"You just thought what, Georgia? You'd cut yourself and they'd be swayed to change you? They could have drained you dry," I snapped. Peering up at Lukas, he simply shook his head, exasperated with the whole situation.
"I saw Stefan with you. He didn't drain you," Georgia responded haughtily. My hold on her arm increased and she flinched slightly, gasping at my strength. I loosened my fingers but didn't let her go. Closing my eyes, I dropped my shields to look into her future. It was fuzzy and hazy, filled with black swirls and blanks. When I saw her muddled plans, my heart sank. My jaw was set firmly when I reopened my eyes to look at her. I was so angry I wanted to shake her to get my point across, but I'd be wasting time and energy. Something had happened that had altered her in some inexplicable way.
"Georgia, he loves me and he's not going to drain me. Stefan could give two shits about you," I pointed out. Instantly regretting the harshness of my words, I tried again with a gentler response. "What I meant to say is that Stefan doesn't love you and neither does Lukas. We're a food source to a vampire. You can't go tempting fate."
I didn't have to look at Stefan. The heaviness of his eyes on me said it all. I didn't wait for him to tell me what I already knew: Georgia was never going to stop either trying to convince them to change her and she would resort to drastic measures if necessary. What had happened to my strong friend that had a sassy response for everything? She'd resorted to bloodletting to try to get vampires to change her. This was a different Georgia than I knew before.
"You're going to have to wipe her memory. That's the only way now."
"I know. Once again, I am sorry." Stefan's voice was apologetic in my mind.
Exhaling a deep breath of frustration, I met his gaze. "Are you serious? You're sorry? This is her fault, Stefan. Her mess for you to fix and you're sorry? Incredible."
Standing tall, Stefan glided across the room to squat in front of Georgia. I felt her pulse rate increase under my fingertips and her breathing sounded ragged. She tugged against me and I instinctively placed one of my hands up, pushing my shield around her, effectively ceasing her struggle. Her squirming stopped and fury burned in her dark blue eyes as she looked from Stefan to me.
"What the hell are you gonna do to me?"
"Release your hold on her, vackra." Stefan mentally commanded me.
Putting down my hand, I let my shield retreat back inside of me. Georgia instantly began to fidget.
"Georgia, I am going to do what I should have done last night. I am going to erase your memories of what we are," Stefan said calmly. He leaned closer and cupped Georgia's chin in his hand, turning her eyes away from me. He smiled serenely and his eyes bored into hers. I knew the exact moment that she had fallen under his spell. Her blue eyes glazed over and her lips parted slightly. It was strangely erotic to watch him push his influence on her, to see her completely under his control.
"You will forget what we are, Georgia. We are humans, just as you are. We are moving to New York for business," he murmured to her softly. "Georgia, what are we?"
"Humans. Just like me." She sounded robotic with no inflection in her voice.
"What did you see last night?" Stefan asked in the same soft tenor.
She paused, her eyes staring blankly into his piercing blue ones. "I don't know."
"You watched a movie and then you went to bed."
"I watched a movie and went to bed," she repeated woodenly.
"Why are we moving back to the US, Georgia?"
Stefan's gaze never left Georgia's as he reached for her arm, gently pulling the towel away, revealing the small gash on the inside of her arm. He bent and licked her skin, his nose wrinkling in distaste at her blood. The wound stopped bleeding and he placed her arm back at her side.
"You received that injury while doing housework. You will not remember harming yourself." Stefan smile faded and he sat back on his heels. He was releasing her from his will and I could see the life come back into her eyes. She blinked a few times and looked at the three of us in confusion.
"What am I doing here?" Georgia asked. "I don't remember coming over here."
"We were planning a going away get together, Georgia. Don't you remember?" Lukas reminded her, lightly poking her side with his finger.
I had to give Lukas credit. For being as irritated as he was with her, he was pulling this off superbly. There were award winning actors that couldn't have done a better job.
"A party!" Georgia bounced excitedly. "I'll call Anna and we'll plan everything!"
She jumped to her feet, hurrying to the door. She gripped the doorknob and looked confused.. "Wait a second. You're going to Stefan's house now, aren't you?"
"Yeah, we're getting ready to leave now," I said cautiously. I was waiting for Georgia to remember something, anything that would trigger an outburst from her.
"Then I'll call your cell phone when I have details," she decided. "See ya later!"
The door slammed behind her, leaving me to gawk at the door, still waiting for the bottom to fall out.
"Well, that worked better than I thought. I figured she'd find a way to trump you wiping her memory," Lukas mused, standing up and brushing his hands together, as if wiping the events from the day away. "Let's get out of here before she comes back."
For once, neither Stefan and I could argue with him. Grabbing the bloody towel, I threw it in the trash can and followed Stefan to the front door. I let my eyes sweep over my villa for a final time.
"Are you ready?" Stefan asked, moving to stand at my side as I glanced over the house I'd called home for over a year.
The situation with Georgia had driven home the fact it was time for us to move on. Stefan's arm wrapped around my shoulders and as I glanced up at him, I knew I had no regrets and nothing to lose.
Nudging him with my shoulder, I pressed closer against his him. "Let's go."