Once I stopped drinking human blood, I became even better at hearing a heartbeat, knowing in an instant, from the speed of a pulse, whether a human was sad or annoyed or in love. Not that I was around humans very much. After I left New Orleans, I truly was a creature of the night, sleeping during the day and venturing into the outside world only when humans were safe in their beds, fast asleep. But occasionally I’d hear a quickening heartbeat and know that someone was climbing from a window or sneaking out a door to meet a lover, stealing a few moments of intimacy.
That was the hardest sound to hear. Whenever I did hear it, I was reminded of Callie, of her fluttering heart and quick smile. Of how alive she was, and how she was not afraid to be in love with me despite my true nature. Now, when I think of our plan to escape, I can’t help but laugh bitterly at myself for ever thinking it could have been a possibility. It had been the same foolish mistake I’d made when I’d fallen in love with Katherine, believing that humans and vampires could love each other, that our differences were just a minor detail that could be easily solved. But I wouldn’t fall into that trap a third time. Whenever vampires and humans dared to love each other, death and destruction were sure to follow. And I had enough blood on my hands to last an eternity.
I would never know the extent of the harm Damon was causing in the world. Sometimes I’d see a newspaper article or hear snatches of conversation about a mysterious death, and my mind would instantly jump to my brother. I’d listen for him, too, always waiting to hear him call “Brother” in his exaggerated drawl.
But mostly I listened to myself. The longer I subsisted on animal blood, killing the odd squirrel or fox in a forest, the more my Power ebbed, until it was simply a faded thrum in the background of my being. Without Power, I lost the electric sense of feeling alive, but the guilt I would carry for the rest of my existence had dulled around the edges. It was a trade-off, one of many I’d learned to make, and one of many more I’d have to make in the eternity that stretched in front of me.
So I made the vow to always keep moving, to never stay in one place too long or grow too close to anyone. That is the only way I’ll do no harm. Because God help us all if I ever fall in love with another human
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