It was getting dark when Lindsey and Damon rolled into Fort Worth, Texas. They had stayed at the beach for two more days, when Damon's "spider sense," as Lindsey called it, started making him anxious and they decided to head elsewhere.
"Where do you want to go?" Damon asked. "I'd like to get out of the area."
Lindsey thought about it. "I've never been out West," she said.
He nodded. "O.K. That sounds good. Would you mind if we went to Fort Worth so I could see my friend Jakob? I haven't seen him in years."
"No, I wouldn't mind. I'd like to meet him," she said.
Damon was privately pleased he had marked Lindsey as his, should any other vampire be interested in her. Not that Jakob would try to move in on him, but it never hurt to have an insurance policy, and Lindsey would never know the little blue mark behind her right ear was anything other than a bruise, or something like that. But to other vampires, it was a neon "keep away" sign. Damon wasn't sure how it worked, but he knew it did.
Lindsey had been troubled with nightmares of what happened when the Augustines caught up with them. She said she kept seeing him lying on the floor. He always held her and kissed her when she woke up, and wished again he could compel her not to remember. Once, he had actually entered the dream, and even though he had been sick at the sight of himself on the floor, he was able to take Lindsey out of the scene. She had slept quietly the rest of the night, and he hoped that would start a trend. Sometimes, changing the outcome of the dream made it stop.
"Whooo, but that's a long drive," Lindsey said, as they pulled up to their hotel. They would spend the night here so Lindsey could rest, and then Damon was taking them to a nice bed and breakfast the next day. They had cottages separate from the house, which was exactly what he wanted. The owners could easily be compelled to stay out of the fridge.
"Yeah." He chose a darkish parking space, away from lights. "Hand me a blood bag. I've got to eat before we go inside."
"O.K." Lindsey gave him a bag and he drank the contents in record time. He hadn't had any since early that morning, so she figured he was fairly hungry, and a hungry vampire was not a good thing to have around. "Need another?"
"Yeah. Your neck is looking way too tasty. It always does, but..."
"I get the picture," she said, handing him a second bag, which he also consumed fairly quickly.
He wiped his mouth. "That's better. Now I can deal with annoying front desk clerks without wanting to have them for supper." He downed half a bottle of water to get the blood off his teeth.
Lindsey laughed. "That is so wrong, but it's so funny."
They made their way to the hotel room and Lindsey looked at all the delivery menus. "Oooh. There's a Thai place that delivers. Lord knows I do not feel like setting foot out of this room tonight to find something to eat."
Damon was reading the newspaper and looked at her. "A little known fact about vampires is that if you eat Thai curry, they won't get near you."
"All vampires, or just the ones named Damon Salvatore?" Lindsey teased.
"I'll brush my teeth and use extra Listerine before bedtime. I want some panang curry. They also have short ribs, if you want something. No curry in those. But I have a serious love for all things curry."
Damon wrinkled his nose. "How did I not know that ahead of time?"
"You'll make it. Is it just curry you don't like, or all Thai food?"
The look on his face made Lindsey suspicious. "So what happened? You bit a chick who had eaten curry and got sick or something? And now you can't stand the taste anymore?"
Damon flipped the paper up. "Something like that," he muttered.
"Tell me," she laughed.
"No." The tone in his voice was final.
Lindsey laughed harder. "Must have been something to see. Wish I'd been a fly on the wall."
"Drop it," he growled.
Lindsey walked behind his chair and put her arms around his neck. She nuzzled in his hair and nibbled his earlobe.
"I'm trying to read the paper."
"No you're not. You're looking at the society page. Nobody reads that except people who are in it. I know these things." She worked her way down to the soft part of his neck, right above his collarbone. She bit down softly into his skin, then increased the pressure as she pulled back.
"Dammit woman, you're relentless," but his voice was a purr.
"Oh, yeah. But you love it."
"I know it," he said with a grin.
"I'll find something besides curry to eat."
He brought her mouth to his and held the kiss for several seconds. "Get what you want. I'll deal with it," he said. How did she do this to him? He hated curry.
"I'll compromise. We'll split the large order of short ribs. How about that?"
"O.K.," he said with a smile.
Lindsey was asleep in record time, leaving Damon a little irritable. He was getting used to having sex every night, but he knew Lindsey was tired. He still couldn't quite believe she was allowing him to feed from her, or have her body. He knew she wouldn't allow an ordinary human man to get as close. He went outside on the balcony to call Jakob, since he didn't want to wake her.
He answered on the second ring.
"Jakob? It's Damon. How are you?"
He heard a chuckle. "I could say the same thing. It's been a while. I'm good. You?"
"I'm good. I'm in Fort Worth for a few days."
"Come to the house! It would be great to see you."
"I'll be bringing someone with me."
"A female someone?" Damon could hear the interest in Jakob's voice.
"Yes. A human female, but she knows about us. No compulsion necessary."
"Bring her along, if she's all right with us, then. I'll be interested in meeting her. How did you meet her?"
"Long story. I'll tell you when I see you."
"Come tomorrow then. Sounds like it's been interesting."
He snorted. "You could say that. It involves the Augustines."
"Those assholes are still in business? You'd think if vamps could get together over anything, it would be over getting rid of them once and for all."
"You'd think," Damon answered.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow then. Looking forward to it!"
The bed and breakfast was geared toward couples and one of the main features of every room was a walk-in shower and a whirlpool tub for two. Sounded good to Damon. Their cottage was at the back of the property and had four rooms: a den, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. It was perfect, and Damon wanted to stay here for a while – maybe a couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, the owners were very amenable.
Damon got a text from Jakob: "Want to go to a club tonight? Does your lady like to dance?"
He didn't really know. He knew she loved music and liked to sing. "Do you like to dance?"
She was in the kitchen, cutting up fruit for a fruit salad. "Yeah, why?"
"Jakob asked if we wanted to go to a club tonight."
"Sounds like fun," she said.
"O.K." Damon texted in the affirmative and got a reply from his friend to meet him at his place at six.
"Oh crap!" Lindsey exclaimed.
"What is it?"
"I just cut my finger. It hurts." Now, why did she have to tell him that? Well, he'd probably smell the blood anyway, with that nose of his.
Damon was immediately by her side. "Sorry it hurts, but want me to make it better?" His eyes were glittering, even as he put on the innocent face for her.
"You stinker. But yeah." She held her hand to him, and he gently licked the blood from the cut, then sucked on the tip of her finger, drawing more blood from the wound, keeping his eyes on hers the whole time.
Leave it to Damon to make the act as erotic as possible. Lindsey could feel heat pooling in her stomach and every nerve ending was on fire. He nipped his own lip, and kissed his blood on to her finger, healing it. Then he kissed her, making sure his blood got into her mouth. "Want some?" he purred, as Lindsey kissed him.
Somehow, she mustered the strength to break the kiss. "You big rat. Stop that. I'm trying to accomplish something here."
"And I'm helping you out."
"Yeah. You're helping, all right. Helping me lose my mind," she groused, but there was no heat in her tone.
He leaned his elbows on the counter. "You love it."
Lindsey looked up out the window. "What kind of bird was that?"
Damon glanced up and Lindsey sneaked her hand around and pinched him on the rear.
He grinned wickedly at her. "You sneaky little wench."
"I have to get the advantage occasionally. Doesn't happen often."
"Paybacks are a bitch," he mused.
"So they are, but I'd think you'd be flattered that a woman pinched you on the rear end. That's a compliment."
"Maybe I'll think of a way to pay you back for the compliment, then."
"Feel free." She smiled at him, and went back to fixing the salad.
He was about to tell her he could fix the fruit better and faster, but she was using the knife expertly. She looked at him. "What?"
"Some knife skills you've got."
She shrugged. "I told you I cook a lot. It's more efficient just to learn to use a knife the right way."
"Ever heard of a food processor?" he teased.
"I have one and I use it. But you still need to know your way around a knife to cook well."
"Agreed. What's your favorite thing to cook?"
She thought about it. "I don't know. Depends on my mood. I love to bake."
"Oh, lots of things. Never did learn to make decent bread, but I have my grandmother's roll recipe and it's wonderful. Why?"
"Would you bake something for me?"
She turned to looked at him. There was something wistful in his tone, in his face. "If I know how to make it. What would you like?"
"Ever heard of chess pie? Our cook used to make it for me and Stefan when Father was away. He wouldn't have it on the table. He hated sweets."
Well, that explained a lot. Lindsey didn't trust people who didn't like sweets. "Chess pie? Oh, that's easy. You want plain, lemon, coconut, chocolate, what?"
"Just plain is fine." His smile was like the morning sun.
"I'll get the ingredients and make one this weekend, since you said you wanted to hang around here for a while. How about that?"
"Sounds good to me."
"All right. I'll get what I need at the store tomorrow or the next day." She was glad he hadn't asked for something like angel food cake, which would pretty much require a stand mixer. A chess pie stirred together easily.
She spooned some of the fruit into a bowl and popped the rest in the fridge. "Compulsion definitely helps when you've got something in the fridge to hide," she said, looking at all the blood bags. She closed the door. "How does that work, anyway?"
"What, compulsion?" He was kicked back in the recliner in the den area.
"Yeah. I mean, I've seen you do it, but I don't understand the mechanism. Is it hypnosis or what?"
He shrugged. "I've heard it called that, but I'm not sure precisely how it works. All vampires can do it. Some are better at it than others. But vampires can't compel other vampires, and we can't compel witches. And certain humans."
"Certain humans?" she asked.
He grinned. "Yeah. You know, the crazies compelled me not to compel you, right?"
"Well, if they had known more about you, that probably wouldn't have been necessary."
Lindsey looked confused. "Why not?"
He gave her a big grin. "I'd be willing to bet you're one of those 'certain humans.' As stubborn and strong-willed as you are, it'd be a bitch and a half to compel you for thirty seconds, let alone long-term. I just don't see you letting it happen. You'd fight it. But I'm glad I couldn't. I like knowing that whatever you tell me, good or bad, is how you really feel, not because I compelled it out of you."
"Well, you know what happens if you ask my opinion. You'll get it. So, you have to maintain eye contact, I noticed."
"Yeah, that's pretty essential. So, good tip: if you think you're around a vampire and you don't want to get compelled, avoid a lot of direct eye contact. And don't ever invite one inside your house. That gives them permission to come and go as they please. So you don't want to do that."
"I don't think they're terribly common around Blount County. It's never been known for its supernatural stories."
Damon nodded. "That's actually a pretty good indication it's not a popular place for any supernaturals, then. Kind of sparsely populated?"
"Yeah, it's not a big place."
"That explains it a little, then. Vamps tend to go for bigger places. There are exceptions, but they tend to congregate in big cities. Easier to get lost, get meals, that sort of thing." At Lindsey's raised eyebrow, he said, "We're predators. You know that."
"I know." She was sitting on the sofa, eating the fruit. Damon came to sit beside her. "What is it?"
"Can I have some of that?" His tone was wheedling.
"There's plenty in the fridge."
"I don't feel like going to the fridge," he pouted.
She held out the bowl. "Take it. It's easier than trying to keep it away from you."
He took the bowl, then gave her the pouty face again. "There's not a fork."
"What, you can't eat grapes and pineapple chunks with your fingers, you big baby?" She rolled her eyes and looked at Damon. His leering expression told her everything. "Oh, now I know where this is headed!"
"Where?" She got the innocent face again.
"Right into the bedroom as soon as I finish feeding you the rest of that fruit."
The woman was a mind reader. Had to be. "Is that such a problem? Not like we have anywhere to be for four or five hours."
Lindsey narrowed her eyes at him. He hated when she did that because it usually meant he was about to lose a strip of hide. So, he put on the "you're adorable" face, hoping it would help. As usual, she saw right through it. "Tell me something, Damon."
"You've told me repeatedly that vampire emotions are much stronger than a regular human's, true?"
He ate a piece of pineapple, since she obviously wasn't going to hand feed him. Not right now, anyway. "Yeah. So?"
"So are you just horny and really wanting to get laid, and I'm handy, or do you really want me?" She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a nerve-rattling stare.
And this is how males of the species got into seriously deep shit with their women, Damon thought. "I haven't even so much as looked at another woman in weeks. I could walk out the door and get laid in five minutes, if that's what I wanted."
Lindsey had to acknowledge the truth of that. "Yeah," she said, but skepticism was all over her voice.
"But I'm not. I'm here, with you, because I want you, not what's out there." He scooted closer to her and kissed her, remembering he needed to remind her that he wanted her for herself more often. Otherwise, he knew she would hop the next flight to Birmingham, and he didn't want that. He wanted her here with him. He deepened the kiss, stroking her tongue with his, scratching her back gently as he kissed her, as he laid her back on the sofa, and he whispered to her how much he loved her body, how he loved kissing and touching her, how beautiful she was, and finally, felt her relaxing into his kiss with a sigh.
He still didn't get what he wanted, because Lindsey decided she needed to find something club-appropriate to wear. It was a deep red top with three-quarter length sleeves and a ballerina neckline that Lindsey liked because it lengthened her neck. She wasn't sure that was a good idea since she would be with two vampires, but she still really liked the top, so she got it.
Damon's eyes were glittering, she noticed, as he watched her put on her lipstick – the red lipstick. "We may not get out of here on time," he purred into her ear.
She tugged his hair sharply. "Yes, we will. Behave yourself."
"I don't want to," he said into her hair, moving his hands to her breasts.
"You never do, but you're going to," she said, standing up and leaving the room to get her purse.
When they got home tonight, Damon was going to keep her awake all night, he promised himself.
Lindsey was nervous as they stood at the door of the home where Jakob Beite had lived since about 1885 or so. She knew it was the house where Glory had lived, and left to him. Damon knocked and in a moment, the door opened, and a man stood in the doorway.
Lindsey looked up at him. He had to be 6'4, minimum, gorgeous, with a shock of blond hair, blue-gray eyes and a boyish grin. He greeted Damon, "It's been too long," and shook hands with him.
"Jake, this is Lindsey Hargrove. Lindsey, Jakob Beite," Damon introduced them.
She held out her hand. "So nice to meet you, Jakob. Damon's told me a lot about you."
"That's a little scary," he chuckled. "Good to meet you, too." He took her hand and brushed his lips across the back. He did his best to hide his surprise. This woman looked nothing like the women he knew Damon usually dated. She wasn't tall, leggy and model-ready. No, but she had an old-fashioned beauty about her, in spite of her contemporary makeup. Her eyes were warm and sparkled with intelligence. There was no compulsion at work here, he could tell. And Damon had marked her. Not that it was strictly necessary, since he would never try to charm one of Damon's women away. That was a good way to die. Plus, he could smell Damon all over her. Still, it was unusual. Damon rarely marked a girl. He normally didn't care enough, or keep them around long enough to make it a necessity. And, although the average human eye would never see it, he could see faint, barely visible scars on her neck, indicating she had allowed him to feed from her. There must be something different about this woman.
"Please come in," he said. "Have a seat. Can I get you anything, Lindsey?"
"I'm fine, thanks," she said.
"I know you want some bourbon," Jakob said to Damon. He poured a glass and then laced it with what Lindsey knew was probably blood from a decanter on the sideboard.
"So still enjoying Fort Worth?" Jakob asked, handing Damon the drink. He had one for himself. They raised their glasses to each other.
Damon snickered. "It's changed a lot."
"Still has its wild side, though."
"I'd be disappointed if it didn't. We're at a B&B on the outskirts of town. It's quiet, and I doubt even the Augustines have the balls to try to get us there, even if they find us. Besides, they don't operate much west of Mississippi, anyway. Be here a couple of weeks."
"Have you ever been here, Lindsey?" he asked.
"No. I changed planes at DFW once, and that's about it."
"Welcome to Fort Worth, then."
"Thanks." Jakob was one more handsome man, Lindsey thought. He was Damon's opposite: above-average height, broad shoulders, narrow hips, long legs, blond hair, as opposed to Damon, who was maybe 5'10, lean and lithe, with his jet hair. Both had blue eyes, but Jakob's were a much softer color, tinged with gray. Jakob still maintained a boyish look, while Damon, although 25 when turned, looked about 35. He had very little of the boy about his face, except when he was asleep.
After a few more minutes of conversation, Lindsey excused herself to the ladies room, knowing Damon and Jakob had some things to say to each other.
"She's not your usual type, Damon," Jakob said.
"I have a type?"
"You know damn well you do. But she's lovely. And seems very, very intelligent. I'm surprised she'll spend ten minutes with you."
Damon snickered. "Between you, me and the fencepost? So am I. But we've been making it work."
Jakob nodded. "You do seem much happier than you did the last time I saw you. She's crazy about you."
"I'm afraid she is."
Damon shrugged. "She and both know it can't be long term, and I honestly don't want to hurt her. She's been awfully good to me."
Jakob's eyes widened in surprise. "Good God, Damon. When did you manage to grow a heart?"
"Kind of a new thing for me," he answered.
"Tell me about it. But I'm still glad to see it. I think I like this woman a lot. So give me the Reader's Digest version of how you two met."
Lindsey could hear them talking, and heard Damon telling Jakob about how they got together. Suddenly, he stopped. "I'll tell you the rest later." He heard her heartbeat, probably.
Lindsey came into the room and Jakob stood. "Ready to hit the town?" he said.
The club was crowded, but they managed to find seats at a corner booth, Jakob and Damon sitting on either side of Lindsey. She felt pretty damn sexy, walking into a club with unquestionably the two best looking men in Fort Worth. Jakob wore a deep blue shirt and faded jeans that looked like he'd been melted and poured into them. Damon wore a deep purple shirt and his favorite faded black Levis, boots and leather jacket. Both of them looked absolutely luscious. They ordered drinks and Jakob looked over Lindsey's head at Damon. He knew he could speak normally and Damon would hear him over the music. "She's enjoying this. A lot."
Damon nodded and grinned. "Yeah. I still can't believe I let you talk me into coming to a club that plays mostly 80s music."
"You'll survive," was Jakob's reply.
A cute cowgirl in tight jeans strolled by and saw them. She leaned over to Damon, until she saw the venomous stare Lindsey was giving her. Lindsey leaned into Damon's side and he slipped his arm around her shoulder. She kissed his cheek and he nuzzled her ear. He said, "Let's not have a barroom brawl in here."
"Then she better be glad she didn't lay a hand on you. I'd have torn her bottle blonde hair out by the roots!" Lindsey answered, much to Damon's amusement.
Of course, Jakob heard the exchange, and he was chuckling. "Does that possessive nature extend to me, too?" he asked Lindsey.
"Certainly not. Go find somebody to dance with."
He laughed and went to find the girl who had walked by their table. A few minutes later, they were dancing.
"I thought you liked to dance," Damon said.
"I do, when it's a song I like. I don't like this song." She sipped her drink, a strawberry daiquiri. The song changed, and Lindsey looked up. "Now this song, I like. C'mon."
The song in question was "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard, and it wasn't long before she and Damon were doing a serious bump and grind to the music. It sort of lent itself to that kind of dancing. He got behind her and she was shimmying against him, when Jakob showed up and started dancing in front of her. She could feel Damon lose the rhythm of the song, and she turned her mouth to him and said, "It's OK. It's just a dance." Jakob moved a little closer, and she put one hand on his upper arm, since he was too tall for her hand to rest comfortably on his shoulder. Her other hand she brought to Damon's hair, and started running her fingers through it. She had never felt so sexy or desirable in her life. Jakob was grinning at her, but there was nothing sexual in it. He was enjoying watching her have such a good time.
Damon was ready to have his way with Lindsey right there on the dance floor, as she moved against him in time to the beat, her fingers in his hair. She turned her head and kissed his cheek.
"You are so damn sexy," he growled in her ear and she grinned and kissed him again.
Jakob leaned over to her "You look gorgeous," he said.
"Thank you," she answered. Damon had slipped both arms around her waist and she could feel him hard against her. "I'm gonna have pour some cold water on you," she said.
"Try it," he rumbled.
When the song ended, Damon attempted to swing her around and kiss her, but she wriggled away from him. "Bathroom," she said and disappeared into the crowd.
The guys sat back down, and Damon glared at Jakob. "What the hell was that?" he said. "She's marked, or didn't you notice?"
He laughed. "I noticed the minute I shook her hand. What's your deal? You know I'm no poacher. Now I have to say, if I'd seen her alone in a club, I'd have made a point to meet her, but she's your woman, Damon."
"So what was with the sexy mambo thing you were doing?" He was still irritated, and very horny.
"Damon, from the little you've told me, Lindsey's a woman who can use all the ego boosts she can get. We both know we're studs. What's the harm in letting her know two good looking guys think she's sexy? Every woman wants that."
He had to concede that point. Lindsey would, after all, be leaving with him, and in his arms tonight, not Jakob's.
Lindsey was in the bathroom, doing the best she could, finger-combing her hair. It was a mess.
"Here. Need a hairbrush?" A cute girl was standing next to her.
"Oh, thanks. Mine is in my purse with my boyfriend." She grinned inside as she said that. She ran the brush quickly through her hair. "That's so much better. Thanks again."
"No problem. I saw you and those two guys out there. I'm gonna assume your boyfriend was the dark-haired one, right?"
"So who was the other one?"
"He's Damon's friend. Nice guy."
"Hot as hell."
"That too," Lindsey grinned.
The girl laughed. "Is he available?"
"As far as I know. Go introduce yourself."
"So what was that thing you three were doing out there? Looked pretty sexy to me."
Lindsey laughed. "Nothing. I think he was dancing with me like that to pull Damon's chain a little. We're not interested in each other." She hadn't even thought anyone would actually be paying any attention to anything they were doing, as crowded as the place was.
"Well, girlfriend, I have to say you're the luckiest chick in town tonight. Getting to do some dirty dancing with two hunks like that. And you're going home with one of them."
"I kind of think I'm lucky, too," Lindsey grinned.
"So, I know we don't know each other or anything, but straight up: is Damon as hot in the sack as he looks like he is? Cause he looks like he could rock your world."
Lindsey turned beet red, but said, "Even hotter. His looks are just the tip of the iceberg. He's got a body that won't quit. And he knows what to do with it." She shook her head. She knew other girls talked about their guys like this. "And he's got these beautiful hands, with long fingers." She raised her eyebrows.
The girl mock fanned herself. "Jeez. And I'll bet he's got stamina, too, huh?"
"You wouldn't believe it," Lindsey said – and the girl wouldn't.
"God, he sounds amazing. You wouldn't like, just loan him to me for five minutes, would you?"
"Not for five seconds, I hate to tell you. But Jakob, his friend, is hot, too. Like I said, I'll introduce you."
"That would be awesome. I'm just here with some of my girlfriends, and none of us has even gotten a nibble all night." Funny you should say 'nibble,' Lindsey thought. "My name is Careen Dalton. My mom was a 'Gone with the Wind' nut," she said.
"I am, too. Lindsey Hargrove. Nice to meet you."
"You too. Let's go meet these two stallions you roped."
"Grow up on a ranch?" Lindsey asked.
"Horse farm. It's cliche, but it does slip in, occasionally."
Lindsey chuckled. "Hey. In this case, it's very apt." Was it ever.
When they got to Lindsey's table, Jakob grinned at her, but Damon was looking aggravated. Darn him and his "mercurial temperament." She introduced Careen to the guys and slid into the booth beside Damon. "What's the matter?" she asked him.
"What took you so long?" he said.
"Girl talk in the bathroom. My hair looked like a rat's nest. I had to fix it."
He put open-mouthed kisses on her ear. "I want you right this second. Now," he growled.
She scratched his jaw. "Damon, I'm really having a good time. Can you keep a handle on it for just a couple more hours?"
"Looks like I'll have to," he pouted.
"Maybe Jakob and Careen will hit it off and he'll want to leave early. You can't tell."
"Hey, 'True Colors' just started. Let's dance. Just you and me this time."
"All right," he conceded.
As Damon folded Lindsey into his arms, she hummed the tune, and then sang softly, "and I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors, and that's why I love you. So don't be afraid to let them show. Your true colors, true colors, are beautiful like a rainbow."
Damon had the strong feeling she was singing to him, and not just singing along with the music. He brought one hand up to her hair and stroked it as they swayed to the music. Her voice was as sweet as it was in the dream he interrupted. She sang the last chorus, looking into his eyes. He kissed her as the music faded, and held her until the lights came up again.
As they went back to their table, Lindsey could see Jakob and Careen were involved in a fairly heavy make-out, or as much as they could do in public anyway.
"Is she safe with Jakob?" Lindsey asked Damon.
He nodded. "Yeah. He's a good guy. Poster child for control. She's safe with him. Even if he bites her, she'll be fine. He's good at compulsion, and she'll remember everything but that. But he always was more stable than I was. He was turned accidentally too, but his maker was a lot more careful with him. She – Mary -- knew she had a responsibility to him, so she taught him control first thing. I didn't have that advantage. I had to learn it all on my own. Katherine was caught in the tomb, and all I had to go on was instinct. So I did the best I could. Most of the time, it wasn't very good, though."
Lindsey kissed him on the cheek. "You do very well."
"You didn't know me when my switch was flipped."
"No, but the good was still there then, or it wouldn't be here now. It's a wonder you didn't do away with yourself after you escaped the Augustines."
"I'm bad, Lindsey. I do bad things."
"You've done bad things. Past tense. But not here, in this moment. In this moment, you're a good guy and you're taking good care of me."
"Please don't make excuses for me."
"I'm not," she said. "I'm extending grace. Grace doesn't make excuses; it just loves you as you are."
Damon put his dark head next to Lindsey's brown one. "Thank you for seeing something else in me."
"You're welcome. I think we're ready to leave."
"Finally." He couldn't wait to get back to their little cottage. He was ready to make love to Lindsey until neither of them could see straight.
Careen went home with Jakob and Lindsey saw him open the door for her, and motion her inside like a real gentleman. Damon pulled out of the driveway and went screaming down the street.
"What are you doing, you nut?" Lindsey screeched.
"Getting home faster," he answered, nearly taking a turn on two wheels and slamming Lindsey into the door.
"Slow down! You just slammed me into the door!"
He did spare a glance at her. "Are you all right?"
"I'll probably be bruised up and down my side. You've got to take these corners easier, or I'll be sick as a dog by the time we get home. I get terrible motion sickness and this isn't helping!"
"We won't be in the car long enough for you to get sick," Damon said.
"Says you. You're not the one who'll be puking on the grass," she snapped.
They were at the B&B ten minutes later, and Lindsey was, as she predicted, sick. Damon opened her door. "What's the matter?"
"I'm SICK! I told you to slow down and ease up on the corners, but no. You had to be the big, bad vampire and drive like a lunatic."
"Well, let's go inside."
"I can't stand up yet. I'll fall if I do. I'm still dizzy," she snapped.
"Oh." She hadn't been kidding. Damon had never dealt with a human who got motion sickness, but Lindsey's face definitely looked a little green. He knelt next to her. "Are you all right?"
"NO, I'm not all right! My head is pounding. It's going to take an hour or so, probably, until I do feel better."
"I've been an ass once again. I'm sorry. Here. Let me carry you inside." He was the picture of contrition, and in truth, he felt awful. She told him very clearly what would happen, but he drove like a maniac anyway. "I'll go unlock the door and I'll come back for you. I'm so sorry, Lindsey."
He came back for her and she put her arms around his neck and he carried her inside the cottage and put her on the bed. He took her shoes off and said, "What can I do?"
"Just leave me alone for a little while. I need to not move."
About an hour later, Damon crept into the bedroom. "How you feeling?"
"A little better. The headache has dulled down at least." She turned to face him. "Please, the next time I tell you something like that, would you listen?"
"I will. I'm sorry."
"O.K. Apology accepted. Can you get me something carbonated?"
"Sure." He left and returned with a diet ginger ale. She drank it.
"That's better. Now I'm just going to take my shower and go to bed, all right?"
He nodded. "All right."
She stood, still a little shaky, and kissed the top of his head. "I still love you. Just don't do that again, O.K.?"
"I swear I won't."
"O.K." She went into the bathroom, and he could hear the shower start. Maybe there was a way to make this up to her.
He undressed quickly and slipped into the bathroom and flipped the lights off.
"Oh shoot. The power must have gone off," Lindsey griped.
Of course, Damon could see clearly, so he slinked into the shower behind Lindsey. He waited until she stepped under the spray and then he stepped directly behind her and slipped his arms around her. "Power's still on," he said in her ear.
"Damon!" she screeched, and nearly lost her footing. He held her securely.
"I've got some serious apologizing to do," he said. "I thought I'd start tonight. In spite of the way things turned out, I had a good time. I hope you did."
"Except for the last couple of hours, yes."
"Good. Now that I'm hopefully through being an idiot for tonight, I am going to spend the next span of time making you feel good. I'm going to kiss you and touch you and do whatever you want me to do. Starting with rinsing out your hair." He suited actions to words and rinsed Lindsey's hair, then quickly rinsed off himself, and handed her out of the shower, and dried her with one of the fluffy towels. It was still dark in the bathroom, but he tucked the towel around her and sat her down at the vanity and turned the light back on. He got her brush and with infinite care, brushed her hair out as he massaged her scalp.
Then, he picked her up and carried her to the bed, and turned out the lights. One day, though... He lay beside her. "Now. I'm yours to command. What do you want?"
"Massage my back," she said.
"Absolutely, my lady," he said against her cheek. She turned over and Damon took the towel away and started massaging her shoulders and neck and back. She sighed in contentment.
He whispered in her ear. "Is that enough?" She murmured yes. "So what now?"
"Kiss my skin. Everywhere."
Damon grinned. "Excellent idea." He started at her feet and kissed her ankles and legs, the backsides of her knees, her thighs and over her buttocks, then all over her back and neck. "Like that?" he said.
"Just like that," she answered.
Damon stretched himself on top of her back, taking some of his weight on his elbows, but leaning down to whisper in her ear. "I know that's not all you want. Tell me, Lindsey. Tell me what you need."
"You. I need you to touch me," she murmured.
He dipped his hand to her center and rubbed her slick heat. "You are so wet for me." He turned her over on her back and continued touching her, then kissed his way down to her core. His tongue flicked all over her and she moaned in response, arching to his mouth.
"Come for me, Lindsey. Just for me," he said, continuing to touch her, and she climaxed with a sigh. Damon eased himself inside her and started moving easily. When he was spent, he was relaxed, too.
"I didn't say you could do all that," she teased sleepily.
"Well, if we wake up in the night, you can tell me what to do all over again," he purred into her ear, glad that she was in his arms tonight, and not Jakob's. He liked his friend, but never enough to share Lindsey with him – or anyone else.
"You're a stinker, Damon, but I love you," she said, before falling asleep.
"I'll try to do better," he whispered. "Because I love you.