Chapter 9

Both women turned around simultaneously at the sound of Klaus’s approach. Caroline ignored whatever intimation he was trying to make about knowing her musical preferences. Instead, she immediately checked in on her best friend.

“How is she?” Caroline asked, referring to Ridley.

“She’s already doing much better,” Klaus assured her. “If she just starts being exposed to slightly higher levels of sunlight each day she should acclimate in no time.”

“How are we supposed to control the intensity of the sun out here?” Hope asked, slightly obnoxiously.

Klaus smiled, well aware of Hope’s penchant for attempting to find flaws in any and all of his plans for nothing more than the sake of being contrary. “We can’t, obviously but, we can control when she’s brought outside. We were thinking we’d take her out shortly before sunset tonight. And maybe half an hour earlier than that the following evening.”

“That sounds like a plan,” Caroline said with a clearly still-worried shrug. The truth was that she had plenty of experience acclimating new refugees of any species to the darkness but, never vice versa. No one really left Chiang Mai for any reason after moving there, except very occasional visitors, until this trip. “Where is she right now? I should probably check on her-”

Klaus put up a hand gently asking her to wait when she made a motion to leave their group collected around the pool.

“She is truly fine, love,” he reassured. “She’s with Kol in a conference room on the first floor without windows. We’ve had pillows brought in and she’s just relaxing until she feels better. Which reminds me, was the bed in your suite not to your liking?”

Caroline had to refocus on his question, somewhat alarmed with the fact that Ridley was left alone with Kol Mikaelson. Internally she had to groan - that was something she was going to need to keep an eye on. “Oh, uh, well it’s just that we’ve been sleeping on the cave floors for so many decades…” she finally answered, somewhat sheepishly thinking about the mess he’d caught this morning, “In the initial relocation efforts when building the underground, things like mattresses were not really on our list as a necessary use of space. The cave system wasn’t always as big as it is today.”

Hope and Klaus exchanged quick glances, assessing the meaning of that. So those massive caverns had been mostly designed and carved by Caroline’s team.

“Well we can certainly provide you with more suitable rooms-” Klaus began but Caroline waved him off.

“I’ll probably just stay with Ridley in the room you’ve got set up for her now. That should be fine.”

Klaus audibly scoffed and replied, “You most certainly will not be staying in the cheapest conference room the Luxor had ever made to rent out.”

“Why is it the cheapest?” Hope asked curiously.

“It doesn’t have any windows,” Kol’s chiper voice answered behind them. “Ridley wanted to take a nap. She’s nauseous from sun sickness and I suggested that she power sleep through it. I compelled her!”

Caroline blanched, “You did what?” She launched herself at the younger Mikaelson brother without thinking, preparing to beat him as badly as she could even if she couldn’t figure out a way to kill his very immortal ass.

Kol caught her wrists with an easy laugh reminding her quickly just how much stronger the Original family would always be. “Oh stop freaking out!” he chided. “She asked me to. I was given very extensive instructions and I’ll have you know that I carried them out to a T!”

Ridley always had operated under the misguided belief that vampire abilities were primarily a form of luxury to her. She tended to think of compulsion as her own personal form of a sleeping pill, or whatever else she might happen to need… a delusional escape from a hangover sometimes. In Chiang Mai, though, Ridley could trust the vampires of her community not to do her any harm. Caroline was well aware of how charming Kol Mikaelson could be but she was going to need to have a talk with Ridley about his true potential danger.

“Kol, stop playing around and, just tell her what you compelled Ridley into, already!” Klaus growled, having to show a considerable amount of restraint not to yank the two of them off of one another, hating how close they were even if it was just because Caroline was angry and he knew full well that his brother had already set his sights on the latest Bennett witch.

Kol rolled his eyes before fessing up, “I just compelled her to sleep soundly and comfortably for the next three hours and have pleasant dreams about horses,” he said. “She very specifically requested horses.”

Caroline felt a small tug of nostalgic emotion, knowing then that Kol was telling the truth so she stopped her attempted assault. When he felt her relax, he quickly let go of her wrists, casting a brief apologetic look towards Nik which didn’t go unnoticed by anyone.

“She’s never seen a horse,” Caroline explained sadly. “She’s never seen a lot of things as was true for the last several generations of the Bennett line. But Ridley went through a big horse phase when she was a kid anyway. It started after I read The Black Stallion to her.”

“That’s adorable!” Kol replied immediately, grinning at the story that he was already planning to tease Ridley with later.

Caroline’s face glossed over in happiness at the memories for a moment, her maternal instincts still strong enough to want to pounce on any opportunity someone gave her to share stories about her child. “Yeah, she went through a lot of phases based on what we were reading,” Caroline said with a grin. “After A Little Princess there was the phase when she wanted us to move to India...”

“I had that phase!” Hope interject excitedly, “Except… we actually did move to India for a little while when I asked.”

“Hmm, and let me guess, your father appropriated the Taj Mahal for himself to live in?” Caroline asked sarcastically but, it was clear she was only joking with him, a fact that made Klaus’s chest practically ache with happiness.

“Well, more like the largest suite at the Oberoi Udaivilas but, you know,” Hope said, completely straight-faced with a shrug. Exactly three seconds later they both dissolved into laughter together.

“That’s wonderful that your mother read that to you,” Caroline said as they stopped laughing. “My mother read it to me too. Maybe that’s just a book all mothers share with with their daughters.”

“Actually,” Hope replied, “My father read that to me.”

Caroline looked over Hope’s shoulder to glance at Klaus who was still watching her exchange with his family with passively happy eyes. “Really?” she asked and he nodded in confirmation.

“Oh yes, Hope I do believe I can take a large amount of credit for your love of literature, can’t I?” he asked her.

She nodded with a happy smile, remembering how her father had read to her over the years of her childhood. Even when she’d been too old to be read to, he was always giving her books, asking her what she was reading or even rereading a book with her. Her love for reading had really blossomed when he introduced her to Shakespeare. They still talked about books all the time. How many times had they reread King Lear together? “That and art, of course,” she said, referring to her father's well-known talent. “I guess Uncle Elijah gave me film.”

“I take sole credit for music!” Kol interrupted, vehemently.

“Debatable,” Hope said with a laugh, “You went through that huge Cyber-Grunge phase in the 2080’s. I was not in support of that.”

Caroline wrinkled her nose at the thought. She remembered the music from that particular time and it wasn’t the best - strangely plodding and extremely homophonic music with only the vaguest of similarities to the grunge movement of the 1990’s and the cyberpunk movement before that, which Cyber-Grunge claimed to be inspired by. It also had an odd emphasis on chanting and occasional shrieking.

“Well, as much fun as it is reminiscing on times past,” Klaus spoke up next. “You made it abundantly clear that you would only be joining us here to work. What would you like to get started on for the next few hours before Ridley wakes?”

Hope rolled her eyes, knowing that her father was not so subtly already trying to force Caroline into admitting if she wanted to spend time with him and his family or not. She quickly came to her new friend’s aid.

“Ezra and Vale said you could come out to meet everyone at The Waste as soon as you were ready,” she said. “Do you want to go today?”

“Caroline isn’t here to help your little friends at The Waste, Hope,” Klaus snapped at his daughter, “I was thinking maybe you’d like to see the research labs we have set up here in the hotel?”

Caroline looked between the two of them, wondering what argument she was missing here before surprising both of them.

“First of all I’m here to help expand any and all research going on around here, no matter what neighborhood or building it’s in. But today, actually, I’m not sure I really want to get started on much of anything before Ridley is well enough to join me,” she explained. “She’ll be mad if she’s left out of too much. I was thinking… maybe today… I’d just go swimming?”

Klaus raised a perplexed eyebrow at her before an easy smile began to creep over his features. “After you made such a huge point of assuring all of us that you were only here to research?” he asked, “Are you sure, love?”

Caroline, though, was already peeling her t-shirt off over head, revealing a jet-black subtly shimmery bikini top underneath of it. Apparently she’d made her mind up on what to do with her day much earlier. Klaus’s attention immediately zeroed in on her still toned body and the smooth skin of her torso. He managed to redirect his gaze by the time Caroline was looking at him again but it had been long enough to make Hope feel suitably skeeved out and uncomfortable. Seeing your father check out a hot girl wasn’t really something she was sure she’d ever feel totally mature about.

“I’m perfectly entitled to change my mind Klaus,” Caroline said as she began to descend the stairway into the shallow end of the pool. She knew what he was doing, trying to twist her previous vow to make her uncomfortable. But, right now, she honestly could not have cared less what was going through his mind about her sudden change of heart. She wasn’t lying when she’d said Ridley would be pissed if Caroline left her out of anything.

“Alright, that you are,” he agreed. “But my six months doesn’t include vacation time. Your six months here starts when we begin working.”

As he said it, Klaus promptly grew as uncomfortable, as Hope had just been while watching him stare. All of a sudden, he recognized the black racerback bikini that Caroline was wearing - she’d borrowed it from Hope.

Caroline was about to protest this supposed no-vacation rule (which she most definitely would not be following) but Hope beat her to the punch.

Your six months, what does that even mean? Do you own time now too, Klaus?” Hope was also stepping out of her shorts to reveal a bathing suit underneath her clothes as she began to follow Caroline into the water where the other blonde was laughing as loudly as Kol at Hope’s pluck.

“Well, I am the oldest creature in existence. If anyone could own time it would probably be me-” Klaus began before his daughter interrupted him again.

“Not even true! Uncle Elijah and Aunt Freya are both older than you!” Hope pointed out immediately.

“Don’t let Freya hear you say that,” Kol muttered dryly. “Or Elijah for that matter.”

“Don’t worry, Klaus, you’ll get your six months,” Caroline assured him once she’d stopped laughing, pushing herself further into the depths of the pool so that the water was up to her shoulders, darkening the tips of her golden locks.

“Alright in the meantime, I think we need some margaritas!” Hope suggested before motioning to her father and uncle. “You two can take care of that, right? We can trust you with that most sacred of tasks?”

Klaus rolled his eyes with an exaggerated huff before stalking back towards the hotel, presumably to get margaritas. Kol laughed before looking back to the ladies in the pool.

“Any special requests?” he called back to them before turning to follow Klaus.

“Your frozen mango ones! Don’t let him skimp on the tequila Kol!” Hope hollered in response and he threw her a quick thumbs up.

The two blondes floated quietly together in the water for a minute or so before Caroline spoke up with already amused eyes.

“Well, you certainly run a tight ship here, Hope!”

Hope threw her head back to laugh loudly at that before softly splashing Caroline with some water, “Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that everyone here cuts me a lot of slack but, I never thought for a second that I’d make it through that trip to Chiang Mai unpunished. It would seem that your presence is suitably distracting enough to put my father in one of the best moods he’s been in for decades.”

Caroline averted her eyes at that, ducking under the water with her sunglasses still on to briefly escape into the silence of the water. When she popped back up to tread water for a bit, she decided to simply change the subject.

“So…” Caroline began in an awkward tone, turning to Hope who was still lounging on the steps in the shallow end of the pool, “When did you and Vale meet?”

Hope couldn’t help the big grin that overtook her features. “Well, I first met him when he was a human, in a town in Ireland called Killarney,” Hope explained. “It was about 2110 or so and there were rumors at the time of a wolf pack in the area who were immune to the disease. That turned out to be a wild goose chase, as Vale’s family quickly informed us after we arrived. He was originally from a family of Hunters who’d redirected their attentions to fighting the rabid wolf population that had pretty much overtaken all of Ireland by that point.”

“Vale was a Hunter?” Caroline asked curiously.

“Not the legit kind, not the kind that will drive you insane if you kill them. No, Vale’s family was one of the small-time human factions that popped up after word about supernaturals became public knowledge. And, let’s just say that Vale never really had a knack for it,” Hope said. “Really, he’s never had the stomach for violence. He’s a total hippy. Anyway, at the time he was a human and only 20 and man he wanted me bad.”

Caroline giggled wondering what Vale’s version of this story would be. “Oh? And how did you respond to his advances?”

Hope scoffed like she was still mildly unimpressed with the human Vale after all these years. Caroline could tell it was all for show and that the girl was clearly crazy about her boyfriend.

“I told him to look me up if he ever became immortal,” she told Caroline with a laugh, “And then, you know, seven years later he did. The wolves had finally spread the disease to almost everyone in Ireland, including Vale’s family. He only barely escaped himself… taking one of the last ships ever sent to the country for uninfected refugees to a Rescue Base on the East Coast here where, according to him, he promptly found the first vampire he could and bribed them to turn him in exchange for feeding off of his clean blood before he turned.”

Caroline remembered well how desperate vampires had become for clean blood by the 22nd century. Vampires who previously never would have considered doing anything to help humans escape the disease were easily persuaded to do anything for a limited stockpile of clean blood, particularly given the fact that most of the humans that had survived this far had long since figured out ways to protect themselves from compulsion. Once the human population had become all too aware of the supernatural world surrounding them throughout the apocalypse, it had only been a matter of time before they became savvy enough to protect themselves - hunters, witches, or not.

Of course, there were horror stories from the unlucky ones, though. Tales of entire towns that had been overtaken by vampires that kept humans and essentially farmed them and used them as cattle. Caroline had even seen (and taken down) a few over the years. That type of lawless rule never tended to be the strongest or longest lasting in the face of the threats of the apocalypse, though, and Caroline wasn’t even sure that any of them had survived. Most vampires she knew had ultimately found it preferable and more secure over the years to simply work alongside humans as partners. Caroline was roused from the disturbing memories though when Hope continued her story.

“And then he hitched rides for the next couple of weeks until he made it to Vegas. Ezra took him in at The Waste. She and I were already friends so it was only a matter of time till we met again,” she said with a smile. “I denied him again at first. He’d only been a vampire for a couple weeks after all… but I did like him.”

“Wow, he was just a baby,” Caroline said with a smile.

Hope grinned back at her with a knowing look, “Yeah, apparently my dad and I have that in common.”

Caroline might have been over 200 years old now but everyone knew that when Klaus had fallen for her she was a baby vampire. It was part of what had flummoxed everyone about the infatuation.

“Hmm, I see you also inherited his subtlety,” Caroline replied without batting an eye. It was going to take more than that for Hope to get anything out of her.

Hope laughed but kept going with her story, “And when we met that time, well, it’s very sad for me to say but I rejected him again,” Hope admitted.

Caroline dutifully gasped at the plot twist in Hope’s love life making Hope laugh at her surprised expression.

“Don’t get too worked up. Remember, you already know the ending to this story and it’s a happy one,” Hope reassured her. “When Vale showed up here I didn’t think he knew what the hell he was doing. We’d met one time and had a brief fling. That was no reason to be following me to the immortal ends of the Earth. Turned out I was right, anyway, because Vale actually really wanted to return to Ireland and keep trying to save the country.”

“You said the whole country had been infected by that point,” Caroline prompted.

“It had. And because Vale was a baby vampire he didn’t know any better but to think that his newfound powers could help him save anyone or anything. He was sure he’d go back and be able to turn survivors in his family. He was over there for more than 80 years.”

“And did he save anyone?” Caroline asked.

Hope shook her head. “There were no survivors by the time he left. He doesn’t like to talk about it but I think he spent the better part of those years putting the infected out of their misery more than anything else.”

That was certainly a bleak way to start one’s immortal life. From the very little bit Caroline knew about the painful start to Klaus’s life, it made Caroline think that the two men had more in common than they realized and might actually even get along if they’d ever just try to talk to each other. Little did she know, Hope had thought the same thing herself many times over.

“He came back just 15 years ago in 2205 and, that time it had nothing to do with me. He came back because there was hardly anywhere left to go,” Hope said.

Caroline nodded. There were maybe a dozen strongholds and bases scattered throughout Europe and Russia but the Americas were known to be much safer and less infected areas now.

“We were friends for awhile… got together officially about a decade ago. We’ve been sneaking around ever since,” Hope finished her story with a dreamy shrug. “I have no clue when my dad figured it out.”

“Good question,” Caroline mused. She sincerely doubted Klaus would have gone ten years without getting to know his only child’s beau. Maybe Hope really did have a talent for sneaking around Klaus. This quickly reminded her that Hope’s trip to Chiang Mai had likely been in part to lead herself back here from the very beginning. Caroline still wasn’t quite sure how she felt about that.

“One I’m sure that the combined efforts of two extremely intelligent young blonde supernaturals could easily uncover the answer to,” Hope suggested unabashedly.

“Talking about us when we’re not around again, I see?” a smug feminine voice commented from behind Caroline, approaching from the hotel’s patio.

“Shut up,” Hope replied with a grin, looking over Caroline’s shoulder.

Caroline twirled around in the water to see Rebekah and Freya approaching them, both in bikinis and carrying towels with a number of hybrids trailing behind carrying various treys and a couple of apathetic looking humans walking behind them. Caroline disguised the frown that threatened to come out when she saw the humans. They didn’t appear to be compelled, and Caroline had gotten pretty good at recognizing compulsion with a mere glance over the years. Did they work for the Mikaelsons or were they… pets? Caroline couldn’t think of a tactful way to ask and wasn’t really sure it was her business anyway, even if she did disapprove.

“What’d you bring us? Dad and Kol have already gone on a booze run,” Hope said.

“Snacks,” Freya answered for her niece, “You can’t have a pool party without snacks.”

Caroline was watching this newest Mikaelson with interest. Freya was clearly very guarded and Caroline wondered if that was part of her general disposition or if it was because the rest of the family already knew her and Freya didn’t. Then again, she was new to Hope too but Klaus’s daughter couldn’t have been any friendlier.

“Ness I didn’t see you come out!” Hope exclaimed and the formerly apathetic looking human brightened at the site of her friend. “Come here, you have to meet Caroline!”

The human, maybe in her early 40s with long red hair, smiled and slid off her sandals before taking a seat at the ledge of the pool to sit next to Hope with her feet dangling in the water.

“As excited as I am to meet your new friend, excuse me if I’m a little more curious about how you’re just lounging about the pool in one happy piece?” Ness began. “I was still here when Klaus figured out that you left. It was not a tranquil reaction.”

“From what I understand, the answer to that particular riddle is our new guest,” Freya said, looking over to Caroline with suspicion before taking a seat at one of the lounge chairs in the sun. One of the other humans, clearly not friends with Hope as this woman Ness was, dutifully followed Rebekah to the chair next to her sister and stuck out his wrist for Rebekah to drink from without prompting.

“Alright, I officially don’t understand this family,” Caroline said, throwing her hands into the air and allowing the water to splash up around her. “Like, I’ve always realized that you guys had some problematic boundary issues but, is it really necessary to keep pressing this point in front of… her.”

Caroline pointed to Hope at that, unwilling to even specify “Klaus’s daughter” as that would, somehow, be a full-on admission that she knew there was something between herself and Klaus.

“Okay, you know what?” Hope asked in response, “I agree. This is getting a little weird for me too. Maybe any further awkward my-father-still-dates discussions can be held when I’m not in the vicinity?”

“Really?” Rebekah intoned, disbelieving. “You want to instate that rule, Hope? As far as I can remember, you’ve always been the most curious about your father’s history with Caroline, more than anyone.”

Hope scoffed in response, “That’s only because I’m out of the loop!” Hope insisted. “If all of this hadn’t been kept such a secret from me over the years, I wouldn’t be so interested!”

“Interested in what, darling?” a velvety smooth voice asked from behind all of them. They turned to find Klaus and Kol re-approaching the pool in more casual outfits. Both were wearing swim trunks beneath short sleeved shirts that prominently displayed their toned arms. Behind them were two hybrids carrying a tray of empty glasses with salted rims as well as two pitchers of different types of what appeared to be margarita mixes.

“Caroline, what would you like?” Klaus asked her.

“We’ll both have whatever Kol made,” Hope answered for her immediately.

“I made everything!” Kol exclaimed proudly.

“Should I be worried about that now?” Klaus asked warily, “Did you all have some sort of agreement?”

“What’re you talking about? You were out here the whole time Kol was,” Hope lied so smoothly and easily that Caroline might have believed it herself if she hadn’t heard Hope ask her uncle to booze it up.

“I’ll take whatever, I’m sure it’s great,” Caroline replied, trying to focus on Kol as he was bringing over two glasses, one for her and one for Hope. She’d forgotten how nicely they could host you when you were on their good side. She’d also forgotten how good Klaus looked without a shirt, she couldn’t help but briefly think, hoping that it didn’t make her blush.

Caroline honestly could not even conceive of a way in which she could stop checking Klaus out. He obviously noticed too because he smirked at her before stripping off his shirt and gracefully diving into the deep end of the pool. A second later, he surfaced less than a meter from her face and smiled at her. She couldn’t help her responding grin - he looked so over-joyed and youthful, it was difficult not to catch onto his enthusiasm contagiously.

When his head reappeared above the water, he looked at Hope expectantly.

“I expect you to eat something before consuming one of your uncle’s undoubtedly too-strong drinks,” he said.

His daughter promptly picked up her friend (Employee? Caroline still wasn’t sure) Ness’s wrist and latched on with her fangs. Ness shrugged noncommittally.

“What was Hope talking about?” Klaus asked, referring to no one specifically while Hope was busy eating, though his eyes were locked on Caroline’s. “What was she saying she was interested in when we got back a moment ago?”

“After over two centuries, haven’t you learned your daughter better by now?” Freya asked, surprising them all by being the one to cover for Hope. “Your daughter is a conspiracy theorist and she’s interested in everything.”

Klaus was apparently content to let it drop at that.

They spent the entire day out there, catching up and drinking and swimming… with Caroline taking plenty of time to just lounge and stare out at the sun which she still couldn’t quite believe she was seeing. Every time it struck her to be uncomfortable about how easy it was to be around them - all of them, not just Klaus, although their carefree repartee was something she’d need to keep an eye on too - Caroline would become temporarily a little guarded.

But Hope always seemed to notice these changes in her mood and would make an effort to bring her out of her shell again. Caroline had known, of course, though she forgot exactly when she’d learned, that Klaus had a daughter. She would be lying if she tried to pretend the news hadn’t stung… more than once it had burned her when she revisited the knowledge privately over the years. It had particularly hurt that it had been with Hayley. Honestly, when Caroline had heard Klaus had married a human, though she felt both shocked and something else harder to pin down, she had mostly just been relieved that he hadn’t ended up with Hayley. Or another immortal for that matter, though she had always wondered why he never turned his human wife at any point.

Would she get answers to any of these questions during her six months here? Caroline thought it would be better if she just put it out of her mind and got her work done. She’d wait for Ridley to recover and then they’d immerse themselves in research. They needed to get back to Chiang Mai, still, after all.

But the moment she began to become introverted with these thoughts again, Hope had another margarita pressed into her hands with a sly grin. The hybrids were bringing out some music equipment and a computer. They still used computers at the base in Chiang Mai too. There wasn’t Internet anymore, of course, but the old machines could still run basic programs that made research easier. But as Hope excitedly began to plug the computer into a set of speakers and then pop some headphones over her ears, Caroline got the impression this particular computer wasn’t used for research.

“Where’s Elijah?” Caroline asked Klaus, looking over her shoulder as Hope began to set up… something. He was perched on the edge of the pool, drinking a beer while the rest of them sipped their fruity margaritas. Leave it to Klaus to feel too cool to drink a “girly” looking drink.

He’d been looking at her already when she turned around and didn’t make any motion to disguise that fact when she caught him. But if he was going to hold her gaze unblinking, she could certainly but just as unaffected.

“Does Elijah really seem like a man who spends much of his time at the pool?” Klaus asked jokingly, “About the most fun Hope can cajole him into is chess or movie marathons.”

Caroline smiled at the image.

“Besides, I believe he is looking in on Ridley before Sunset,” he said. “Which looks to be soon.”

It was true, it looked like it was approaching dusk in the now pink colored sky over the expansive desert in front of them.

“Thank you,” Caroline said. “I’ll thank him when I see him too. I feel like I should be in there with her. I know Kol’s been in and out a million times today too and I’ve just been out here-”

“You were almost eaten alive yesterday, Caroline,” a scolding voice came from behind them from the direction of the hotel, “You deserve a day off to recover every bit as much as I do.”

Caroline grinned at the sound of Ridley’s voice and she flashed out of the pool in an instant to where Ridley was walking over with Elijah and Kol hovering on either side of her. Caroline took in the scene with mild curiosity. She’d known Kol would be trouble from the moment they arrived but here was Elijah as well, leaning close into a Ridley and fussing over her. It was clear he wished she’d let him reach out his arm to accompany her out to the pool for support.

Ridley caught her eye and scowled at the two guys but was clearly joking and her eyes only held gratitude.

“Yeah, these two seem to think I’m crippled now,” Ridley said. “I’m really feeling fine. Thank you for looking out for me today but luckily I’ll be out of your hair now.”

“But sweetheart, I don’t want you out of my hair,” Kol said in a salacious tone making Ridley slap his arm.

Caroline hissed out “Kol..” in a low warning tone at the same moment that Klaus growled out the same thing behind her. But though Kol was being more overt, watching Elijah’s concerned eyes stay centered on Ridley, her worry shifted.

“Are you sure it’s not too early for you to be out here?” Caroline worried even though Ridley had huge sunglasses on her face now and was also looking much better.

Ridley ignored the fussing and hurried over to Hope when she spied what the girl was setting up over Caroline’s shoulder.

“Are you playing more music?!” she squealed happily.

“Oh yeah, if you thought what that idiot at last night’s party was playing was good, just wait,” Hope promised confidently.

“How did I know you’d have criticisms about whomever I chose?” Klaus wondered rhetorically to Hope.

“Really, thank you for all your help today,” Caroline said turning back to Elijah and Kol. She was concerned about all the attention they were paying Ridley but Ridley seemed only too happy to be spending time with her new friend in favor of attractive men anyway… shockingly.

Glancing up, Caroline saw Hope and and Ridley looking over in the direction of their trio while giggling and whispering.

And then, in the distance, the sharp cry of a howling wolf pierced through the air.
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