Later that day Caroline was sitting with Matt Honeycutt, Meredith Sulez, and Bonnie McCullough, all listening to Stefan on Bonnie's mobile phone.
"Late afternoon would be better," Stefan told Bonnie. "She takes a little nap after lunch - and anyway, it'll be cooler in a couple hours. I told Elena you'd be coming by, and she's excited to see you. But remember two things. First, it's only been seven days since she came back, and she's not quite...herself yet. I think she'll get over her - symptoms - in just a few days, but meanwhile don't be surprised by anything. And second, don'tsay anything about what you see here. Not to anyone."
"Stefan Salvatore!" Bonnie was scandalized and offended. "After all we've been through together, you think we'd blab?"
"Not blab," Stefan's voice came back over the mobile, gently. But Bonnie was going on.
"We've stuck together through rogue vampires and the town's ghost, and werewolves, and Old Ones, and secret crypts, and serial killings and - and - Damon - and have we ever told people about them?" Bonnie said.
"I'm sorry," Stefan said. "I just meant that Elena won't be safe if any of you tells even one person. It would be all over the newspapers right away:GIRL RETURNS TO LIFE . Andthen what do we do?"
"I understand about that," Meredith said briefly, leaning in so that Stefan could see her. "You don't need to worry. Every one of us will vow not to tellanyone ." Her dark eyes flicked momentarily toward Caroline and then away again.
"Ihave to ask you" - Stefan was making use of all his Renaissance training in politeness and chivalry, particularly considering that three of the four people watching him on the phone were female - "do you really have any way to enforce a vow?"
"Oh, I think so," Meredith said pleasantly, this time looking Caroline directly in the eyes. Caroline flushed, her bronzed cheeks and throat turning scarlet. "Let us work it out, and in the afternoon, we'll come over."
Bonnie, who was holding the phone, said, "Anybody have anything else to say?"
Matt had remained silent during most of the conversation. Now he shook his head, making his shock of fair hair fly. Then, as if he couldn't hold it back, he blurted, "Can we talk to Elena? Just to say hi? I mean - it's been a wholeweek ." His tanned skin burned with a sunset glow almost as brightly as Caroline's had.
"I think you'd better just come over. You'll see why when you get here." Stefan hung up.
They were at Meredith's house, sitting around an old patio table in the backyard. "Well, we can at least take them some food," Bonnie suggested, rocketing up from her seat. "God knows what Mrs. Flowers makes for them to eat - orif she does." She made waving motions to the others as if to raise them from their chairs by levitation.
Matt started to obey, but Meredith remained seated. She said quietly, "We just made a promise to Stefan. There's the matter of the vow first. And the consequences."
"I know you're thinking about me," Caroline said. "Why don't you just say so?"
"All right," Meredith said, "I'm thinking about you. Why are you suddenly interested in Elena again? How can we be sure that you won't go spreading the news of this all around Fell's Church?"
"Why would I want to?"
"Attention. You'd love to be at the center of a crowd, giving them every juicy detail."
"Or revenge," Bonnie added, suddenly sitting down again. "Or jealousy. Or boredom. Or - "
"Okay," Matt interrupted. "I think that's enough with the reasons."
"Just one more thing," Meredith said quietly. "Why do youcare so much about seeing her, Caroline? The two of you haven't gotten along in almost a year, ever since Stefan came to Fell's Church. We let you in on the call to Stefan, but after what he said - "
"If you really need a reason why I should care, after everything that happened a week ago, well...well, I would think you'd understand without being told!" Caroline fixed shining cat-green eyes on Meredith.
Meredith looked back with her best no-expression expression.
"All right!" Caroline said. "She killed him for me. Or had him called to Judgment, or whatever. That vampire, Klaus. And after being kidnapped and - and - and - used - like a toy - whenever Klaus wanted blood - or - " Her face twisted and her breathing hitched.
Bonnie felt sympathy, but she also was wary. Her intuition was aching, warning her. And she noticed that although Caroline spoke about Klaus, the vampire, she was strangely silent about her other kidnapper, Tyler Smallwood, the werewolf. Maybe because Tyler had been her boyfriend until he and Klaus had held her hostage.