The Lady in Red

A New Greek Tragedy

After three weeks, Selina still hadn't called.

"Maybe this means she's happy," Stefan told his brother. Since Selina had left, he'd been in an increasingly agitated mood. "Maybe you should just accept that."

"No," Damon shook his head. "I don't like this at all. You remember that cousin of hers, that Michael. He never thought anyone was good enough for her. No doubt he taught his descendants to act the same way."

Stefan began rifling around in the drawer under the silverware to see if he could find his keys. "So what you're saying is that you believe Michael Lockwood is trying to sabotage your relationship with Selina from beyond the grave."

"No," Damon shut the drawer quickly, giving Stefan just enough time to pull his hand out. "I'm saying he had a crush on her, and he didn't want anyone else in his way."

Stefan looked up at his brother and burst out laughing. "Oh come on. Seriously? He was her cousin, Damon. He wasn't in love with her. I admit he was protective to the point of being creepy, but that doesn't mean that he was in love with her."

Damon tried to come up with a response to that, but before he could say anything, the doorbell rang.

"That's Elena," Stefan explained. "We're going out for coffee."

"I'm coming too," Damon replied suddenly and followed Stefan to the door.

"Hi Stefan, ready to go?" Elena asked. Then she noticed Damon beside him holding his coat. "Damon, what's going on?"

"Damon wants to come with us," Stefan explained. "Selina left three weeks ago and he's feeling a little lonely."

"No I'm not," Damon snapped. "Can we just go already?"

"Why'd Selina leave?" Elena asked as they made their way to the coffee shop.

"I don't know and I don't care," Damon answered from the backseat.

"I think the reason why she left," Stefan replied, "is because somebody in this car didn't give her a reason to stay even though he obviously has one."

"Where'd she go?" Elena asked. "Did she leave town?"

"No, she moved in with Tyler Lockwood."

Elena's eyes widened. "Why'd she do that?"

"Well, here's what I think," Stefan told her. "Remember when we first found her and she told us that story about her cousin Michael finding her in the woods feeding on a squirrel, and instead of staking her, he told her that as long as he and his descendants walk on this earth, she could stay in the town and be safe?"

"Yeah," Elena nodded. "And then he gave her the newspaper with the article about the two of you taking Katherine to the Founder's Day Ball. I remember."

"Well, Michael was a Lockwood. So was Selina's mother before she married Matthew Warren."

At that point, they arrived at the coffee shop and Stefan parked the car in the lot. Then they didn't speak again until they were seated at a table.

"So let me get this straight," Elena told Stefan. "Selina decided to move out of the boarding house and into the loving bosom of her distant family?"

Stefan nodded. "And for some reason, even though he knew that and did absolutely nothing to prevent it, Damon's been very upset recently."

"It's like I was telling Stefan earlier," Damon interjected. "Michael was in love with Selina and didn't want any other man coming near her. Now I bet he's taught his descendants to feel the same way."

"To which I responded that that couldn't possibly be true because he was her cousin and if they were in love with each other, that would just be wrong. What do you think?"

"Well," Elena thought a moment, "not really knowing Selina's history as well as the two of you, I really couldn't say. But I do agree that Michael being in love with Selina when the two of them were actually cousins is a little far-fetched."

"Thank you," Stefan exclaimed. He gave Damon a look. "See, I told you."

"Oh, please," Damon rolled his eyes. "The only reason why she agreed with you is because the two of you are dating."

The waitress came with their coffees. They stopped talking for a moment and continued when she'd gone away.

"Well, Damon if you're so concerned, why don't you go and asked Selina what went on between her and Michael?" Elena suggested. "She and Tyler just showed up and they're sitting right over there."

She gestured at a table about three over from theirs. Selina was indeed sitting there with Tyler and the two of them were talking and laughing. At the sight of them, Damon frowned.

"Are you okay?" Elena asked.

Damon said nothing. He kept his eyes on the other table, and as he watched, his hands slowly balled into fists.

"You want to beat him to a pulp and take Selina straight home, don't you?" Stefan asked with a knowing smile.

"Well, I didn't get to do it to that damn cousin of hers, did I?" Damon asked bitingly.

"I don't see what you're so worked up about," Elena said as she took another drink of her coffee. "Even if Michael was in love with her, you were the one she got engaged to."

"Yeah," Stefan agreed. "So either let it go or go over there and tell her you're sorry and want her to come home."

Damon's eyes were still on the other table. Both Selina and Tyler had finished their drinks and were getting up to throw the empty cups in the trash. As soon as that was done, they left, with their hands on each other's shoulders.

Finally, Damon turned back to look at them again. "You remember how after Selina came to live with us, Mr. Pierce had that heart attack and died?"

Stefan nodded. "Yes, but I don't see how that's relevant to anything we've been talking about. Mr. Pierce had a bad heart and he died. There's nothing else to it."

"What if there was?" Damon pressed.

"What else would there be?"

"What if Michael killed him? Because he hit Selina?"

Stefan shook his head. "No."

"I heard that the autopsy said there was absolutely nothing wrong with his heart, at least not that would have killed him then. But they did find a broken bone in his neck and the only way that bone can get broken is if the person is strangled. They just didn't release it to the papers."

"Well, that's all well and good Damon, but nothing you say is going to convince me that Michael was in love with Selina and intent on wrecking your relationship." Elena told him. "What is clear to me is that you still love her and that her being with Tyler is upsetting you. What you need to do is go and tell her how sorry you are for being a jerk, and then maybe she'll forgive you."

Damon stared at her for a moment. "I've finished my drink. Have the two of you? I think I'm ready to go back to the house."

Stefan and Elena just looked at one another and threw the cups away. Then, the three of them got in to the car and sat in silence all the way back to the boarding house.

After she and Tyler got back from having coffee, he told her that he needed to go on some errands. She asked him why and he said it was because he had a surprise planned for her later that evening and he needed to get supplies. She went with him to the door and saw him off, then went to parlor and fell back on the couch, sighing happily.

The last three weeks had been wonderful. It had been awhile since she'd felt so completely protected and loved. And it was nice to be back in her old house again. She'd gone exploring one day and managed to find her mother's old journal and some boxes of correspondence. Reading through all of it made it feel as if her mother was really back in her life again. Back when she and her mother had been living with Mr. Pierce, he'd controlled everything they did, including checking their mail to make sure that they were only associating with the right type of people. If he found a letter he didn't like, it disappeared. That was why her mother had always made multiple copies of every letter that she wrote; so just in case Mr. Pierce destroyed one, she could always send another.

One of the boxes contained a letter that Selina had actually taken out and kept: it was a copy of the one that Katherine was supposed to have brought to Damon so he'd know exactly what was going on with Selina, and why she wouldn't be there to meet him when he came home for leave. She took it carefully out of her pocket and read it again:

Dear Damon,

Selina has become ill with scarlet fever. She hasn't really been well the last couple of weeks, but two days ago at dinner, she complained of a really painful sore throat. She then became flushed. I sent for Doctor Stensrund and he came and said she was burning up. He said that she probably won't live through the week. I know you're coming home for leave and that Katherine will be at your house when you arrive, so I'm sending this letter with her. I believe it would do Selina a world of good to see you one last time before the angels come and take her.

Amelia Warren (Pierce)

Her mother's signature made Selina smile. It was so heartening to know that even though she'd married Mr. Pierce, her one true love was still Selina's father.

Selina wondered what happened to the original note. Katherine had probably destroyed it somehow before she left, and their mother hadn't known about it.

Holding back tears, Selina put the note in her pocket. If she ever saw Damon again, she was going to give it to him. That would prove once and for all that Katherine was a good-for-nothing liar, and that she hadn't run off with Dr. Stensrund after all.

She'd read in her mother's journal that Dr. Stensrund hadn't immediately told her mother that he could cure Selina of her illness. He'd waited awhile before divulging that piece of information. Before that, he'd just let her think that Selina was was going to die.

She spent the rest of the day reading over her mother's letters, and when Tyler called her to come upstairs around eight that evening, it took her awhile to come back to the present.

She headed up and called for him, and when he answered back, his voice was coming from one of the empty guest bedrooms.

"What are you doing in here, Tyler?" she asked.

He smiled. "Look around." She saw candles. And flowers. Heard ambient mood music. Saw that the bed had been pushed back so that there was enough room for a small folding table that had been set for two. And then she noticed the blankets on the bed had been turned down.

"Tyler," she said, "what is all this?"

He smiled and took her hand. "This is for you," he answered.

She sat down at the table. "You know we can't date Tyler. We're cousins! And we certainly can't go anywhere near that bed unless we want to write a New Greek tragedy. Or move to the Ozarks, and have a shotgun wedding." Suddenly, her mind cleared, just as it had the day Michael had found her in the woods.

"I have to leave, Tyler. It's been nice staying here while I recovered from what happened with my fiancé, but from the looks of this, I think it would be best if I left."

She stood up from the chair, blew out all the candles, and left the room.

When she got back to her own room, she began throwing her clothes back in their suitcases. Once she was packed up, she got them down the stairs, grabbed her coat, picked up her bags again, and headed to the nearest bar.

Elena decided to head back to the boardinghouse and on her way there, she noticed Selina walking along the road, carrying a bunch of bags.

"Oh my God! Are you okay?" Elena parked her car on the side of the street and hurried out to meet Selina, who was clearly struggling with all that she was carrying.

"No, I'm not okay," Selina informed her. "I left Tyler's house. He wanted us to be a couple and if I would have stayed there any longer, he would have tried to get me to sleep with him."

"Really?" Elena asked, taking some of her bags.

"Really," Selina said. "So I'm going to a bar, O'Neil's on 3rd and West Court, and I'm going to drink until I forget the whole experience. That will probably take an hour, hour an a half. Then, will you tell Stefan to come and pick me up?"

Elena nodded. "Sure."

After making sure Selina was safely in the bar, Elena got in her car and called Stefan to say that she was going to be a little late. She waited out the hour at a bookstore and then headed to the boarding house.

"Hi, Elena. What's going on? Did something happen to keep you?" Stefan asked.

"Well," Elena took off her coat and hung it in the closet. "I ran into Selina about an hour ago. She said that she left Tyler's because he tried to sleep with her, and now she's at O'Neil's on 3rd and West Court drinking so she can forget the entire experience. She told me that that would take an hour and wanted you to come and pick her up."

"All right, I'll get my keys."

"No, you two stay here." Until he'd spoken, Elena hadn't noticed Damon sitting on the couch. "I'll go get her."

Stefan and Elena looked at one another in surprise, but Stefan threw Damon his keys.

"What?" Damon asked when he saw how they were looking at him. "Can't a guy go rescue his fiancée after she gets herself trashed at a bar without people suspecting him of having ulterior motives?"

"We don't think you have ulterior motives," Elena said. "It's just that you haven't exactly been nice to her since her birthday."

"Well, I'll admit it, seeing her with Tyler made me realize some things, all right? Now, if you don't mind, I think I should be going before Selina manages to get herself behind the wheel of a car and do something stupid like drive off a bridge."

He headed out the door. As soon as he was gone, Stefan and Elena smiled at one another. "I don't know about you," Stefan said, "but I think things are finally starting to look up."

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