Stuck in Love
Lindsey stepped into her good shoes and picked up her purse. She heard Damon shuffling downstairs about then. He gave her a sleepy leer. "Thought you were going to church."
"You wear pants to church?"
"Yeah. Times change, hon."
"I see." He flopped on to the sofa. "Well, have fun and say a prayer for me."
Lindsey went to him and took his face in her hands. "I do that already." Before he could grab her, she was up and nearly to the door. "I'll bring you a plate. Stay out of trouble while I'm gone, how about it?"
He raised an eyebrow. "What kind of trouble can I get into out here?"
"I know you. That's why I said it." With a wink, she left and he could hear her heels on the wooden porch steps and the car start.
He snorted in irritation, but then smiled. He never got anything but the truth from Lindsey. Whether it was about his personal behavior or his daylight ring, she never hesitated to let him have it with both barrels if she thought it necessary. He went to heat up a couple of blood bags, and as he did, he realized he still was definitely not back to normal, yet. He still felt tired, dragged out. Of course, that could be due in part to how much time he had been on the road, lately, The Camaro had just turned over 300,000 miles. Probably time for an engine rebuild, he thought.
There were all kinds of events to set in motion, but he intended to do everything he could to get Katherine out of that tomb. Fortunately, he could do that next fall, when the comet that had originally sealed her there paid Mystic Falls another visit. Still, he remembered what Lindsey told him – that he would regret it if Katherine came back into his life. She flatly denied any clairvoyant or psychic abilities, but sometimes, when he looked into her coppery brown eyes, he wondered. It was almost as if she could see straight into his soul. It was a little unsettling. He was accustomed to the witchy types of psychic abilities, but Lindsey was different. She would claim to be a good judge of character, good at reading people and to being intuitive, but she could see deeper than just where being intuitive would take her. She certainly had him pegged. And now, he wondered if going back was such a good idea. Then, the image of Katherine's wavy brown hair and big brown eyes would come to him, and he knew he had to make the attempt, no matter what. If he regretted it, well, he had a lot of regrets.
He was dozing on the sofa when he heard Lindsey's car. It wasn't long before she came up the steps and opened the door. He could already smell the food she carried. It was incredible. He got up to help her and she grinned at him.
"Lazy hound. It's 12:30 in the afternoon and you haven't even dressed yet. Well, as you can see, I was prevailed upon to bring half the feast with me. So we have a lot to choose from."
He pointed to a cake carrier. "I don't remember you having that."
"I didn't. That's what's left over of sister Ruby Byrd's homemade fresh coconut cake. She insisted I bring it home. How that dear lady gets seven-minute frosting to come set when it's this warm, I'll never know. But she does. She and my grandmother were great friends. This is actually my Mi-Mi's recipe that she uses. And Betty Jo Hastings makes Mi-Mi's homemade rolls, so there's actually quite a bit of family history in all this food."
"Remember what I said about twenty pounds in a weekend? Make that forty," he said, surveying all the food.
"Well, this means I don't have to cook for a couple of days. My editor goes to my church, and he waylaid me while I was putting these plates together. I have a busy week ahead of me."
Damon was busy making up a plate of fried chicken, several casseroles and ham. He glanced at her. "What's going on?"
Lindsey grinned at his plate. When Damon felt like eating regular food, he applied himself conscientiously.
"Well, there was this luncheon for senior citizens about three weeks ago, and out of the 100 or so who attended, at least 25 came down with food poisoning. One man died. The organization won't cough up the name of the caterer, which means there's something up with the business, probably. So my job this week is to find out who catered the event."
"Sexy reporter girl strikes again," he teased.
"Yeah, right. Think you've got enough on that plate?"
He shrugged. "Nothing like enjoying the culinary efforts of a group of church-going Southern ladies. What's that under the plastic wrap?"
"Strawberry pretzel salad."
"A pretzel crust, topped with a cream cheese mixture, then strawberry Jello and sliced strawberries on top."
"Is it a side or dessert?"
"Either one. Want some?"
"Of course." Lindsey watched him in great amusement as he ate it. "God, but that's good. I've been missing a lot. I need to eat human food more often."
"You're welcome to look through my cookbooks. If you find something, let me know. I'll do my best to fix it for you."
Damon knew, aside from the fact that Lindsey just liked to cook, that she did it for him as a way of showing love to him. That's how Southern women were, in general. If they loved you, they cooked for you. He watched as she bustled around the kitchen, putting food in the fridge. The kitchen looked probably much as it always had, with the exception of modern appliances. The cabinets were white enameled steel, but he thought the counter tops had been replaced, and the cabinets themselves looked refurbished. The room was bright, and the table and chairs were classic 1950s formica and metal kitchen designs. The chairs looked freshly reupholstered, though. It was probably the brightest room in the house, since it faced south. Lindsey wore a vivid coral sweater and black slacks. She was barefoot, as she usually was in the house. Her shoes came off as soon as she walked in the door. He looked at her makeup and noticed her lipstick matched her top. He grinned at the idea. For all her pragmatic personality, she was still intensely feminine.
She saw him watching her. "What have I told you about staring at me, Damon?"
"Don't do it. But I like watching you. Did you match your lipstick color to your top on purpose?"
"Yes. Why? What's the matter with it?"
"Nothing, you paranoid wench. I like it. I like anything that makes your lips stand out."
"I'll remember that. Good thing for you that I like bright lipstick. A 'neutral lip' is not my best look." She walked by him at the table and he caught her and pulled her close.
"I don't like neutral lips, either. I like color." He brought his lips to hers. She melted into his kiss, as she always did.
Finally, she broke the kiss. "Somebody kept me up kind of late last night. I need a nap."
"Sounds like a plan," Damon murmured.
"To sleep, sugar. For real."
"O.K, O.K. If you insist. Bet I could make you change your mind, though." His grin was sin itself.
"I have no doubt of that. But I need some sleep."
"Yeah, yeah. I've heard it before. But I'm going to take a nap. You're welcome to join me if you want to."
"Wouldn't miss it," he answered.
Lindsey was almost asleep when she felt Damon flop down beside her. He was making no attempt to be subtle and she smiled.
"Now I've got a question for you," he said, as he leaned over to kiss her ear.
"What is it?" she murmured.
"Do I remember you feeding me yesterday morning, like from your vein?"
"Mmm-hmm. You do," she answered. "Had a blood draw kit. Long story, but yes."
That information set Damon back on his heels. "How did you know how to draw blood?"
"Mama was a nurse. I've seen her do it a thousand times. And, she taught me to do it for my physiology class in high school. So I more or less knew how. Not something I want to do all the time, but you needed fresh blood and I was in a position to provide it. I wasn't going to let you feed directly from me, in case you got too aggressive. I figured I could pull the needle out any time, myself, though."
Damon thought about that for a little while. "You took a risk. I was off my rocker yesterday morning."
Lindsey turned over to face him. "I know it was a risk, but that's what you do for people you love. You were a lot more dangerous when I brought your car back. I don't mind telling you I was pretty scared. But I knew you weren't in your right mind."
He folded her into his arms. "God, I am so sorry about that. I don't ever want you to be scared of me. You know I'd never intentionally hurt you."
"I know, sweetheart." She snuggled to him and was asleep soon after. He lay there and watched her for a long while.
When she woke, Damon wasn't in the bedroom. She went out to the upstairs porch – his favorite spot. She sat in the rocker next to him.
"Feel better after your nap?" he asked.
"I do. Lovely afternoon," she answered.
"Yeah, it is. Won't be long before the hot weather gets here."
"Nope. At least we haven't had a bad severe season. Only a couple of days with bad storms. So it's been a quiet spring."
"Mmm. I wonder why it is I like this porch so well."
Lindsey smiled at him. "It's everybody's favorite part of the house. You can see the woods from here, and watch the sun rise and set."
"I guess so. I liked this spot the first time I walked out here."
"I have a theory about that, Damon. Want to hear it?"
"You like it out here because you are, at heart, a country boy."
Damon looked at her like she had gone crazy, but her expression was calm, slightly amused. "I'm a what?"
"You heard me. You're a country boy."
"O.K. Let's hear the Lindsey logic on this theory." He shook his head and she grinned at him.
"Well, you might be comfortable in a big city, but that's out of necessity. And I know you're easily bored, but that's just because you've spent all these years in loose living. Look at where you were born: Albemarle County, Virginia. You were raised on a plantation, not in town. In spite of your parents' wealth, I know how you grew up."
"Enlighten me, please."
Lindsey rolled her eyes. "Stop being so snarky. You were born at home, like most people were then, and you spent your childhood running in the woods, and going barefoot in the summer. You climbed trees, waded in the creek, went swimming in the local pond, fished with a cane pole, and probably smoked cross vine and rabbit tobacco. You can whittle and I'm betting you could make a whistle from a river reed. And unlike your current preference for being clean, your mammy had to chase you down on Saturday night to bathe you. And then it was a fight. You raided the apple trees and ate so many you made yourself sick." Seeing the smile on his face, she settled back in her chair and continued rocking.
Lindsey's words took Damon way, way back. He could almost see himself as a boy, playing in the woods and showing Stefan how to catch a frog, or skip a stone across the creek. He could see himself at twelve, with a five-year-old Stefan tagging along after him, desperately wanting to play with the big boys. And Damon included him because he knew how much he needed his big brother.
Lindsey watched the emotions chase each other across Damon's face, and finally, he closed his eyes and rubbed them a little. She knew it was to keep the tears back, but she rocked silently, and listened to the birds and the familiar sounds.
"How do you know?" came his quiet voice.
"My dad was raised in the country. It hasn't changed that much. I know what he did."
"What was it you told me one time about being able to crawl around in people's heads because you're a writer? It was like I was seeing it all again."
"I just know something about growing up in a rural area, that's all."
Their chairs were close enough that Damon could reach to take Lindsey's hand. He did and they sat in companionable silence for a long while.
"Thank you," he finally said.
"For being able to just sit and not talk."
"You're welcome." She stood. "I need to look up some stuff online." She kissed the top of his head and went inside.
When he went inside, he found Lindsey deep in some research. She was hardly aware of him, so he took the opportunity to watch her as she worked. When she sat back and stretched, she said, "So what is it?"
"Nothing." He smiled at her and went to feed. When he came back, he looked at the shelves on the wall of the den. "You've got a record player. An actual turntable. Does it work?"
"Yeah. Pick something out to play, if you want."
"You've got a bunch of old 78's. Does it play these?"
"Sure. Those belonged to my mom. She had a pretty good collection."
"I'll say she did." He looked through the records until he found what he wanted and put the record on."
As the first notes played, Lindsey grinned at him. "Moonlight Serenade. Beautiful song."
"Best slow dance song ever written," he answered and walking to her desk, held out his hand. "May I?"
"Of course," she answered, and he drew her into his arms and they danced. Not surprisingly, Damon could actually waltz properly, and he showed her the steps. When the song ended, he bowed with a flourish and Lindsey dropped a curtsy, as she smiled.
"My pick next," she said.
When she put the next record on, Damon looked a little puzzled, and then grinned as he recognized the song. He pulled her into his arms and they swayed to "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square."
Lindsey sang the words softly and Damon murmured, "I like the songs you pick."
"Thanks. Want to hear my favorite?"
She put another record on the player, and the notes of "Skylark" came over the speakers.
"I liked this one when it was popular," Damon said as they started dancing again. "You must be a Glenn Miller fan."
"I just like Big Band music in general. I was raised on it."
"It's great. I like rock and roll, but there's something about this music."
When that song ended, Damon said, "Want to dance a little more?"
"Can you jitterbug?"
Lindsey grinned. "I sure can. Mama taught me. In this living room, in fact."
Damon chuckled and dropped the needle on "In the Mood." He held out his hands and Lindsey took them and they danced, with Damon catching her when she forgot the steps or stumbled. But it was wonderful. She collapsed on the sofa, out of breath, and Damon beside her. Both were laughing.
"That was great. We'll have to do that again," Lindsey said.
"Yeah, we will. You love to dance, don't you?"
"I really do."
"What time do you have to be at work?"
"I'm usually there by eight."
"What time do you get up?"
"About 6:45 or so. Why?"
He glanced at the clock. "It's 8:30 now, which means I've got about two or three hours."
Lindsey wasn't even thinking about who she was with. "Two or three hours for what?"
"To ravish your delicious body and still let you get enough sleep to get up for work in the morning."
"Yeah. 'Oh.' So if you want to get a shower or anything, I suggest you go now."
"So I don't have a say in this? I just get ravished, regardless?"
He nodded. "That's pretty much it." His tone was nothing but smug.
"So if I don't really want to..." her voice trailed off.
Damon looked a little hurt. "You don't want to? You know I'd never force you."
"I know. It just kind of irritated me that you just assume that you get to snap your fingers and if you want sex from me, you get it. You don't even ask!"
He had the grace to look a little shamefaced. "Well, normally, I don't have to ask. But I should respect you more than that."
"All right." She moved to rise from the sofa, but Damon's arm kept her in place.
"So, how would you like to go take a shower, and then let me ravish your delicious body for a couple of hours? Would you like that?" His mouth was against her ear and his voice was black velvet.
As much as she wanted to turn the tables and refuse him, Lindsey knew that would hurt him, and she didn't want to do that. And, she wanted him. Refusing would just be cutting off her nose to spite her face. She turned to him. "Yes, I'd like it very much." She kissed him and went to shower.
Damon watched her go and reminded himself Lindsey was not like other women.
When Lindsey got out of the shower, Damon was waiting on her, not surprisingly. He had a candle lit in the room and the lights out. He had a bottle of something in his hands and a towel on the bed. The candlelight flickered and cast shadows on his perfect body, clad only in black boxers. He stood.
"Come here, babe," he murmured. She padded across the hardwood floor. He took her hands and kissed her softly, sensually, sweetly, deliciously. Once again, it ran through Lindsey's mind that Damon's mouth should be considered a controlled substance. "Lie down and I'll massage your back."
"O.K." She slipped her top off and lay down. Damon opened the bottle he had and squirted oil in his hands. He rubbed his hands together to warm the oil and started stroking up her back in long, easy movements. "Mmmm. That feels really good, Damon."
"I want you to feel good and relaxed."
"I think I'm there."
He chuckled and there was so much sin in the sound, Lindsey could swear the temperature in the room went up about 20 degrees. He bent his mouth to her ear and licked all around the shell. "How do you feel about being tied up?"
Lindsey looked up at him, with more than a little suspicion in her expression, making him grin at her. "Why?" There was even more suspicion in her tone. She just knew him too well.
"Because I'd love to try that with you." He kissed her softly up her spine.
"And why is that?"
"It's fun." He moved his mouth to the back of her neck and up to suck on her earlobe.
Lindsey cleared her throat. "And what would you be tying me up with, may I ask?"
He held up a couple of scarves. "Just these. That's enough for a first time."
"First time. You're expecting this to be a repeat occurrence?"
The look on his face sent heat pooling to her center, and flames started licking in her blood. "Only if you like it." The black velvet was back in his voice.
Dammit, this man could convince Donald Trump to buy the Brooklyn Bridge! And she wasn't nearly as hard-nosed. She could feel her insides turn to jelly. She forced herself to look sternly at him, though, and narrowed her eyes for emphasis. "O.K. But if I say it's time to turn me loose, you do it. No teasing, no trying to convince me otherwise. Just do it, or you're sleeping on the floor, or anywhere not in my bed. Got it?"
"Got it," he said, and there was triumph in his voice.
"And blow out the candle."
"Lindsey..." he began.
"Do it. You'll be able to see just fine." But she wouldn't be able to see the expression on his face as he looked at her body.
"Fine, fine." He blew out the candle. "Are you through telling me what to do?" His voice was teasing.
"Depends on how you act," she answered.
He chuckled. "Lindsey, what I put up with from you..."
"You're kidding me, right? What you put up with?"
He kissed her. "I walk right into it every time. Where the hell did you get that smart mouth, anyway?"
"I see," was all he said, but he understood. "Time for me to be in charge now," he said, and his voice promised every kind of carnal sweetness there was in the world. "On your back, wench." Lindsey complied and he said, "Give me your wrist." His voice was low, hypnotic. She did and he kissed the inside and ran his nose along her skin and she heard him give a pleased purr, which sent fire along her nerve endings. He wound the scarf around her wrist and secured it to the headboard, then did the same to the other wrist as he sat on top of her.
With no moon out, very little light came into the room and Lindsey could hardly see Damon – only a faint shadow. Which was kind of appropriate, when she thought of it. He moved to the foot of the bed, and she felt him sit down. He took her left foot and ran his thumb along her instep. She squirmed and tried to get her foot away from his hands, but naturally, she couldn't do it. "Stop wiggling," he said, and then he massaged her foot before going to the inside of her ankle and licking the skin over the bone. He bit the skin softly and, lifting her leg, worked his way up to the knee, kissing and biting, but never hard enough to leave a bruise. He gave the same attention to her right foot and then ran his hands up her legs to her hips. He started nipping her skin on her sides, and then turned his attention to her breasts.
His hands were gentle, but his mouth licked and pulled at her nipples, then she could feel him sucking the skin on the side of one breast, and she knew she would probably have a hickey there in the morning. Not that anyone could see it. She ached to draw his head closer to her, to put her hands in his soft, jet hair, to feel his skin under her hands and she pulled at the scarves, but Damon knew what he was doing and she couldn't get free.
"Having fun yet?" he rasped in her ear.
"Going crazy," she managed.
"Same thing," he snickered. "I love you like this. Hot, needy and all mine." He kissed her, beginning with soft touches of his lips against hers, then the tip of his tongue flicking her lips, pulling back as she tried to lean into the kiss. Finally, he covered her mouth with his, and gave her a soul-searing kiss, as his hands wandered down her sides, tracing circles, making her pant and gasp with wanting.
He touched her center and she arched up to meet his hand. He purred again as he felt how wet she was for him. "Are you horny or something?" he teased, and she moaned in response. He touched her exactly the way she had showed him, and she was bucking against his hand, wanting more, so much more. He slipped one finger inside, then two, and moved them, occasionally slipping them out to touch her sweet spot. Finally, he lowered his mouth to her folds and she screamed in wanting. Her orgasm hit in record time and he was kissing his way back up her body, and then entered her. She chanted his name and he reached with one hand and loosed her wrist, and then the other one. She grasped his hair in her hands as he thrust inside her body, his movements bringing her near a climax again.
Damon was close himself, and he nosed along Lindsey's neck, looking for his particular favorite spot, and he sank his fangs into her skin and they climaxed together. As always, he cleaned the wounds and healed them. Didn't want awkward questions when she went to work the next day.
She was feeling lazy and sated when he whispered in her ear, "And you still get to have a good night's sleep."
"You're impossible," she murmured.
"Thank you," he returned. "You love it."
"After a fashion. I love you," she said.
Damon snuggled her to his body. "And I love you, even when you're being impossible."
"Go with that thought," she said as she fell asleep.
Damon watched Lindsey with interest that week as she pursued the story. He read the stories she wrote about it and could tell she was circling in for the kill. Those people might as well give up the name of the caterer. She was going to find it.
On Thursday, she came in, excited. "Got it! Got it!" she crowed.
"What, the name of that business?"
"Yep! The paper's attorney had to write a letter to them, but they finally coughed it up. And here's the kicker: he doesn't have a catering license from the health department! You've got to have one. It's state law. And the organization gets state funding, so I got their annual report. Turns out the money they saved on the catering job went to the director of the organization as a bonus. Heads are gonna roll over this one."
"I thought you didn't like covering hard news."
"I prefer features, but this was satisfying. A family lost a loved one. They deserve some justice."
Lindsey wrote the piece the next day, for the Sunday paper. Damon read it after Lindsey went to church, and found himself amazed once again at her ability to put a puzzle together. The woman was scary smart.
When Lindsey got up the next morning, Damon was gone. As he always did, he left a note and an updated phone number and email. She wasn't sure why he didn't stay longer, except he had made some vague references to getting Katherine out of the tomb, and needing to do some things. Maybe one day, he would come home to stay. She despised herself for not being able to let him go, but he didn't let her go, either. So she went to work and life went on.
She did hear from him for a while, and then nothing. No calls, no emails. Finally, late one night in 2010, he answered his phone. "Damon?" she said.
"Yeah. Who is this?" He sounded very, very drunk.
There was a long pause, and then he said, "Lindsey? Really?" in a tone soaked with pain and rage.
"Yeah. How've you been?"
"Not good, Lindsey. Katherine wasn't in the tomb. She bribed a guard to let her go. She's been loose all this time, and she never tried to find me."
Lindsey closed her eyes in sympathy. "I'm so sorry, Damon." How much more betrayal could one person stand?
"Well, you told me what would happen if I let her back in my life, and you were right on the money."
"Damon, I hate it that I was right. I'm so sorry she hurt you."
"Yeah, and then guess what? She has a doppelganger, and guess what else? She's in love with Stefan, and I'm in love with her. I am so screwed up it isn't funny."
Lindsey felt as if Damon had staked her. "I wish it were different, Damon. But I still love you and care about you." She had to say it because it was true.
"Thank you. You don't hate me, then?"
"No, Damon. I don't. I love you. I want you to be happy."
"Call me more. I miss hearing from you."
"I miss you too, Damon." This was the hardest conversation she had ever had with him.
"And you'll call me and email me? I miss you."
Then come back to me, she thought. "I will. I'll stay in touch. I promise. You promise, too?"
"I promise I will. Good night, Lindsey."
"Good night, Damon." She clicked off the call and sobbed. What did she expect? How many times would she allow him back into her life, only to lose him again? She might see someone occasionally, but she knew if Damon Salvatore showed up on her front porch again, drunk or sober, strung out or in any other condition, she would take him back. It was pathetic and sad, but she couldn't help it. He was in her blood and under her skin. She couldn't "quit" him. But maybe she could outlast the competition. It was her only hope.