The three of them were waiting on me. I apologised for being late, Jeremy spoke up,
"We thought you might have changed your mind."
"I almost did," I admitted, "I just had a weird feeling but my mom convinced me to come out."
We got into Stefan's car and headed to the grill. The place was packed, but in front of the stage three tables were pushed together. There was a 'Happy 18th' tablecloth covering them and balloons attached at both ends.
Matt, Tyler, Bonnie and Caroline were seated there waiting. As soon as they saw me they all stood and started singing 'Happy Birthday'. Before I had a chance to re-act everybody in the grill joined in, even those that didn't know me. It felt weird being happy to hear it.
As my new friends took turns hugging me I felt teary, I never thought I could celebrate this day again. When we all sat down they all put presents in front of me. I told them they didn't have to but started ripping off wrapping paper causing them all to laugh.
Matt and Tyler had gone together and bought me a voucher for the only music shop in town. Caroline had bought me some new clothes, as well as some new neck scarves. Elena and Stefan gave me a very expensive looking leather bound journal. Jeremy gave me new drawing materials. I loved everything. I thanked them all repeatedly. Then Bonnie handed me an envelope. Inside was a ticket for the bachelor raffle. I had to laugh at that,
"I have to say this is the first time someone has given me the chance to win a man as a present."
I then turned to face them all, "You know in the few weeks I've lived here and known you I feel like I've known you all my life. You've welcomed me into your homes and hearts... and other girly sentiments like that... so thank you."
We all laughed and sat down to watch as the bachelor raffle began. All the men were paraded out, ageing from 18 to mid 30s. I had to laugh when the last man appeared on stage, smirking down at me. I heard Bonnie behind me,
"I didn't know Damon was in this."
Caroline answered her, "Well I know my mom asked him, but he told her no. I wonder what changed his mind."
Elena turned to them and pointed to me, "At this stage do you really need to ask."
As I watched Damon strut his stuff the others watched how he and I never took our eyes of each other. Ever since Matt had told them what Damon had said to me in the grill under compulsion they had looked at me in a slightly different manner. The way he treated me was not how he treated the people he toyed with.
Everybody in the grill seemed to be having fun that night. As each male was raffled off, the cheering in the place from the women got louder. Caroline at this stage was getting us free drinks from the bar. I somehow knew she was able to do it the same way Damon did.
Finally it was Damon's turn to be raffled. Mayor Lockwood reached into the bowl of names, looking at Damon she shouted out,
"And Damon Salvatore goes to... Jessica Bird."
I had to laugh, I just know he had something to do with me winning. Although I was glad, the thought of him leaving with some other woman, even for charity was not a good one.
He sauntered over to our table and sat in the empty seat beside me. As Carol Lockwood thanked everyone who participated or donated Damon took my hand in his and kissed the back of it. He noticed my wrist,
"So, do you like your present?"
"Damon it's the most beautiful bracelet I've ever seen, thank you so much."
I could hear Caroline gasp as the group noticed it for the first time, but while I was with Damon I barely noticed the others beside us. Damon was talking again,
"Well you won me. I'm yours to command."
Smirking back at him I chuckled, "Oh Mr Salvatore, have I got plans for you."
He barked a laugh and started to say something else when Caroline's mother, Sheriff Liz Forbes came over to our table. She asked Damon if she could talk to him for a second, with a quick kiss to my cheek he got up and followed her to the bar.
We all watched as they spoke, Stefan and Caroline were focused more than the rest of us. It almost looked like they could hear the conversation and were listening in. Both their faces dropped at the same time. Stefan started to explain, bodies were found with their blood drained. Whoever the killer was wasn't even trying to cover their tracks. I looked around at my group. Why would the sheriff be telling this to Damon? What would it have to do with our group? And how could Stefan possibly know what they were saying? Damon came back over.
"Stefan, I'm going with Liz. I need you to get Jessi home."
Stefan just nodded and stood. Other than the misplaced feelings his brother had felt for Elena, he had never seen his brother like this with anyone, not counting Katherine and that had been under compulsion.
Now I was confused, what was going on? Everybody was getting their coats. Matt, Tyler and Caroline were getting a lift with Bonnie and Stefan was taking me, Elena and Jeremy. Grabbing my gifts I left with them, Bonnie and the others driving off in one direction and us the other way.
We were halfway to my house when I got the first sick feeling. Something was wrong. I leaned forward and grabbed Stefan.
"Get me home! I need to get there now."
I was getting hysterical. They all tried to calm me but I needed to get home. Something was wrong, I just knew it with every fibre of my being. As we pulled onto our street Elena was dialling Damon, explaining that something was wrong with me. I could hear him down the phone saying he was on his way. As Elena hung up Stefan pulled into my driveway. Before the car came to a full stop I opened the door and jumped out. I could hear them calling after me but I was already at my front door before they were even out of the car.
I stood frozen to the spot. The front door was smashed to bits. As the others reached me, I heard them gasp. Stefan started to say something but a voice cut him off. It came from inside my house,
"Jessica baby, hurry up and come in. It's a family reunion."
I stifled the scream that tried to escape my throat. Elena was beside me in a second,
"Jessi, what is it? Who is it?"
Before I could answer a man stepped into view, holding my mother by the arm, blood was pouring down her neck. I couldn't take my eyes of him.
I could hear them talking behind me, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. He found us. He knew where we were. Him I could hear perfectly, "Jessica, come in here... or I kill your mother. We have to celebrate your birthday."
My mother tried to tell me to run, to get away. But I couldn't leave her with him... I had no choice. I cried as I entered the house, "Please, please don't hurt her. Take me instead... please..."
My father was smiling and as I got closer to him I noticed his face begin to change. His eyes grew darker, black veins covering the top half of his face and his teeth were growing longer. Before I could blink my mother was at his feet and he had grabbed me, spinning me round to face my friends.
Elena and Jeremy were crying and Stefan... Stefan looked weird. It looked like he was pounding on glass but he was standing in my open doorway. I thought I heard him shouting something about not being invited in at Jeremy. I actually laughed, what a weird time to be worried about manners over not being invited in.
And then my neck was being ripped in half. Or at least that's what it felt like. My father had buried his teeth into me. My voice was faint but I was aware of calling a single name... Damon...
The last thing I saw was a pair of beautiful but deadly green eyes baring down on us. I knew I was dying but apart of me understood and accepted it. My father had started this on my birthday all those years ago, I suppose that was how it had to end. I just hoped my mother could one day be happy again...