Chapter 11: Book signing
-1 year later
“Elena, you need to get your lazy bum out of bed, right now!” My best friend, Lucy, pulled the cover away from me and pulled the curtains to the side. “What time is it? It's way too early!” I said and hid my head underneath my pillow. It really wasn't too early, I felt the sun shine on me through the big windows in my apartment. “It is not too early, and you know that bloody well. Now, get out of bed, get dressed and come with me, you have a crowd waiting for you to talk! And I am not taking no for an answer,” she said and grabbed my pillow. I looked at her. Lucy is a beautiful girl, but looks nothing like what she is. Her black hair frames her face, to make her look like she's 19, not 24. She is not very tall – only 1.55, she's very skinny and looks very fragile. But she is not anything near fragile. She's a business woman, very organized and a woman that stands up to her self. Sadly, she is also the only woman able to make me do things, I really don't want to do.
“Fine, Lucy, I'll get dressed,” I said and sat up in my bed. She scuttled around in my walk-in closet, trying to find something I could wear. I looked at the clock next to my bed. 14:00. I had almost 2 hours before I had to be at a school in London, talking to some kids. My driver would pick me up in 1½ hour. I had lot's of time! “Be glad you have so many clothes, or else we would have to go shopping!” Lucy said and threw a pair of jeans, a blue tank top and a black blazer on my bed. “Now, get dressed, do your hair and all the stuff you need to, then we'll go. And you have to eat before we go!” she said and grabbed her bag. She knew I didn't like to have anyone here when I was eating. I told her it was because of an eating disorder. Somehow, I had managed to hide from her, that I was a vampire. Even without compelling her! I had managed to hide from everyone around me, that I was a vampire.
Since I had returned to London, things had escalated pretty fast. I had returned to my old job at the London Magazine, but only for a few months. By then, my book was ready to be published. It only took one week for the first 50,000 books to be sold. And then everything just... Happened. I started writing another book in the series, which was just as successful as the first. A year after, I had finally quit my job, and spend my time talking to young artists. It seemed like my skills as an author was enlightened by me turning into a vampire.
So everything looked bright and beautiful, so why was I still soaking in my own tears every night and drinking way too much? There was only one answer, and that answer, was a name, that I had promised my self I wouldn't say again, in all of my lifetime. And that was a bloody long time. A certain person had made sure of that. It wasn't easy being a vampire. I had learned feeding, I had learned compelling and I had learned how to defend my self. But I had never learned how to get blood, when you were being followed by paparazzi's everywhere. I had never thought that would be necessary. But it was, and I was practically living on the edge.
I had learned to sneak out to the backyard of the apartment building I was living in. From there I had a 4 minute vampire speed run to a wood, where I hunted animals. Sometimes I went to a bar and dressed up as someone else. Wasn't hard to put on a wig and apply make-up I would never wear normally. Then I found whoever looked more miserable and fed from them. Afterwards I would compel them to start working or start an education, and then made them forget they ever met me. And then I made sure I always had a minimum of 20 blood bags in my secret refrigerator. They fit perfect into my purse. My life as a vampire sucked. That's why I started drinking – alcohol helps control the cravings for blood. And vampires needed a bit more alcohol than normal humans to get actually drunk.
With a big sigh, I put on the clothes Lucy had picked out for me, started curling my hair and apply make-up. Then I found a blood bag and quickly emptied it. I didn't want to have an accident on the school I was going to. No kids should be harmed. At least not by me. It had to be impossible that I was the only vampire in all of London. I didn't know if Adam was turned in London or in Mystic Falls, when he found out I had dumped him to be with another person.
1½ hour later, I was ready, standing by the front door, waiting for my driver. I really didn't like having a driver and people doing everything for me, but it was kind of necessary. My driver is a male, called Joe. He's as British as anyone gets, and he is a perfect gentleman. He knows exactly how to tackle this whole 'being famous' thing, and helps me with everything. He had become one of my best friend. I wouldn't last a day without him and Lucy. Even though he is old, he's still pretty fresh and does whatever he thinks is best for me.
“Are you ready, miss Gilbert?” he asked, as he opened the door and looked at me. “Yes, Joe. Let's go,” I said and smiled at him, as I walked to the car. I got in on the back seat and he in the driver's seat. “Now, be good to those small kids,” he said, as we got near the school, I was going to lecture at. “Of course. I'm always good!” I said and started looking at my nails. I needed to fresh up the nail polish. It didn't really look pretty any more. “I know you are, but these are just small school kids. Be nice,” he said and parked the car in the parking lot. I smiled as we got out of the car and started walking towards the school. I was going to speak in the gym of the school, and I was also going to meet the principal there.
It wasn't really hard to find. I was there early. It was only 15:45. The gym was full of plastic chairs, all facing a small stage, with a microphone and a table with my books. “Seems like they're ready for you,” Joe said as we walked closer to the small stage. It looked like the average English gym. Not like American gyms. “Yep. They even got my books,” I said and looked at the small table. “Yes. So are you ready for their questions about your accent?” he asked and smiled at me. Even though I had been in England for a year, I was still speaking American. And every time we visited a school, there was always this one kid, wondering why I was speaking weird.
“Ah, miss Gilbert, you made it here!” I heard the principal entering the room, with a young woman next to her. She somehow seemed familiar. “Yes, I'm here,” I said and shook his hand. “We're really glad that you want to speak at our school. It really means a lot to the kids. They have been looking forward to see you in months,” he said, as his grip around my hand grew tighter. I smiled at him and looked at our hands. “Oh, sorry,” he said and let go of my hand. I looked at Joe. Not a sign of him laughing or smiling. “So, where do I wait until the kids get here?” I asked, and looked around the small gym. “Uhm, behind the stage. We have a small room with props...” he said and showed me. I nodded and went into the room. It wasn't big, and it contained a lot of theatrical props. In the middle of the room was a table with chocolate and water and two chairs. “Sit, miss Gilbert,” Joe said and nodded towards the chairs. I smiled at him and sat down, grabbing a bottle of water. I could hear the kids entering the gym and hear their small hearts beating. Some of them were very young.
My lecture went as any other of my lectures. Nice and quiet. It was when we got to the audience asking me questions, things became a bit different.
“Where are you from?” A child from the first row with ginger hair and freckles asked me. Every god damn time! “I'm from America, Virginia,” I said and smiled at him. It wasn't his fault that everyone asked me where I was from. “When did you realise that you wanted to be an author?” A small girl from the middle of the crowd asked. She looked sweet. She was small, only 2nd grade. Her hair was long and blond and her little blue eyes were looking at me, filled with anticipation. “Well, I did when I was very little. I started writing journals with my mom, and from there I just started writing. When she died, I kind of got obsessed with the idea of being a write,” I said. “I'm sorry for your loss,” she said, “I lost my mum as well.” I felt sorry for the little girl. “It gets better, sweety,” I said and looked at the little girl. She smiled at me. “When did your mum die?” a small boy asked. “I was 16,” I said and started remembering back. I remembered the funeral, and the days after. I remembered meeting Stefan, being with Stefan. And I wondered what he was doing right now. “How?” he asked and looked at me. “Uhm... My parents car went over Wickery Bridge... I was the only survivor,” I said and looked down. It was a long time since I had thought about my parents and Wickery Bridge. The water where I had been with... No, I wasn't going to think about him. “Any other questions?” I asked and looked at the school kids, with a new smile. “Will you sign my book after the questions?” A small girl asked and I noticed my book, wrapped tightly in her arms. “Sure! Any other questions?” It didn't seem like it.
Joe put a chair by the table with my books, and handed me a pen. “Great,” he said and blinked to me. I smiled at him, and looked at the first person in the line. It was the little girl, whose mom had also died. “What's your name, sweety?” I asked and opened the book on the first page. “Melissa,” she said and blushed. I smiled and started writing. 'It gets better Melissa. Stay strong and follow your dreams. -Elena'. I handed her the book and smiled at her. She looked at the first page, and started crying. I stood up and hugged her. “Hey, it's okay. When did you loose her?” I asked and stroke her back. “It's 2 months ago. I miss her so much,” she cried and put her little arms around me. “Of course it does. Now, Melissa, do you think your mom wants to look at you from heaven, and see you crying?” I asked and looked at her with a friendly smile. She snivelled and shook her head. “I didn't think so. It's okay to miss her, but she wouldn't want you to be sad.” I said. She smiled at me and hugged me again. “Thanks, miss Elena.” And then she ran off. I smiled and sat down again. There was surprisingly many kids with my book. After signing every copy, I helped the principal clean up the hall. “Thank you so much, miss Gilbert,” he said and shook my hand one last time, before he left.
“Do you still have time to sign one more copy?” I froze as I recognized the voice. I turned around and saw Damon standing with a copy of my book in his hand. “Or just time to talk for a bit...”