When Lindsey woke to the feel of Damon's body next to hers, she was sure she was having that dream again and that it would vanish when she woke up. But this time, it didn't. He was there, his breathing soft next to her ear. Vampires did indeed breathe; it was just slower and softer than humans. She had called her boss the night before to get a couple of days off for "unexpected company." Well, that's what it was, even if it was her vampire boyfriend and his buddy.
How she had missed seeing his face in the morning light, with the sun slanting on to his jet hair, turning it reddish in the rays. She missed the way he twined himself around her, the way he sighed in satisfaction when she snuggled to his chest. She missed the way the sun gleamed in his gorgeous eyes, turning them crystal blue, or the way they darkened in passion when she kissed him. She had missed everything about Damon.
She missed him standing at the stove, frying bacon and eating it straight from the pan, saving every other piece for her. She missed him kissing her awake before the sun was even up, and making love to her before she was even fully conscious. She even missed his cold feet against her legs and the way he had of turning snark into an art form. There was nothing about him she didn't miss.
"Morning, sunshine," came Damon's sleepy, sensual voice.
"Good morning, sugar. Sleep well?"
"Like the dead," he teased.
"Ha. Ha." She turned to face him and he swept her into a breathless kiss.
"I always sleep when I'm here," he said when he raised his head from hers.
She smiled. "Good. But please," and she sighed as he started nibbling her neck, "let me get up. I know I have horrific morning breath, and I'd prefer to kiss you after I rinse my mouth out. OK?"
"If you insist. You know I don't care, though."
"I know you say you don't." She giggled as he rubbed his hardness against her and she reached to stroke him. "That will still be here when I get back."
"You sure about that?" he smirked.
"It always is," she replied, making him laugh, and roll away so she could get up.
When she got out of the bathroom, he was still lying on the bed, this time without his sleep pants.
"Exhibitionist," she said.
"You like to look."
"Guilty, but still..."
"Stop talking and get yourself in this bed."
She went to him and grasped his shaft. "You'd better watch how you order me around in my own house, Big Shot."
"I get the point."
"Good." She climbed on top of him and he immediately flipped them over.
"You ready to go at it like rabbits yet?" he asked, recalling her words from the night before.
She grinned at him. "Only if you don't rip my pajamas off. I like these." As was his custom, he was awake before the sun was well up, so it was still fairly dark in her bedroom. She could see him, but the light outside was still gray.
"I'm gonna get you a cheap set that I can rip to shreds," he said, teasing, but he unbuttoned her top and pushed the two sides apart. "I love these," he said, palming her breasts and dropping his mouth to them. He took her shorts off quickly and touched her folds. "You're ready for me now," he murmured in her ear.
"Go for it," she said, and Damon thrust into her body, and she cried out with the sweetness of the invasion.
He was in to the hilt of his body and rocked them back and forth for a while, as Lindsey felt her body responding to his, as it always did. She brought her knees up and allowed him to penetrate her deeply. He was moving and as always, when he knew they were both close, he drank from her vein, sending them both into bliss. Lindsey loved the feel of Damon's tongue as he cleaned the wounds, then healed them. He started to raise his head, but she held him against her neck, telling him without words she loved the feel of his mouth on her skin. She could hardly move with his weight on her, but it was what she wanted: feeling his skin all along hers, his body on top of hers, and inside her. She deeply craved the contact with him. She wanted him with every part of her. She knew she couldn't hold him there, but she didn't know how many more times she could let him go.
Because the weather was nice, Lindsey packed a picnic and the three went to a park on top of a mountain. The views were beautiful and both Damon and Ric enjoyed walking the trail that went around the park and had great overlooks where they could see for miles.
Ric watched Damon and Lindsey together. Sometimes, Damon would touch her hair or run his hand down her back, or take her hand as they walked. Lindsey did the same things: she slipped her arm around his waist, leaned in to him when they talked – a hundred little gestures that spoke of something deep between them, but Ric knew Damon was going back to Elena, as sure as the world. He really wanted to punch his friend's lights out for being so – so oblivious, and for taking something so good in his life, and throwing it away. Ric was totally frustrated with the man. He wanted to shake Damon until his head rattled.
Ric and Damon were again sitting on the upstairs porch, talking and watching the stars. Lindsey was deeply asleep. They were kicked back in the rockers again, sipping bourbon.
"You know, Damon, it's funny. No matter what's happened in your life since 2004, you keep ending up back here, not in Virginia. Have you noticed that?"
"You may have a point," Damon answered.
Ric swirled the bourbon in his glass. "Well, I'll tell you this much: if I had a woman like Lindsey waiting on me, I'd get my happy ass back to her as quick as I could. It would serve you right if she did find someone down here to settle down with."
"I've asked her why she doesn't. She said it's because no other guys are me. I mean, that's true, but still..."
"How do you and your ego all fit in the car at one time?" Ric said.
"It's a convertible."
"That's the only explanation," Ric said with a snicker. "Jeez, Damon. Lindsey would walk across hell and back for you, with nothing but a squirt gun, and here you are, thinking of running back to a flighty kid who admittedly cares a lot about you, but still hasn't really decided whether she wants you or your brother. She's not the brand of supreme psycho bitch Katherine is, but she's just as indecisive. She's just not evil about it. But Lindsey? Saint Stefan could walk into this house butt-naked with a raging hard-on and she'd throw him a towel and still come back to you. Didn't you tell me she could have stayed in Fort Worth with your friend Jakob? But she didn't. She chooses you every single time. You're a masochist, Damon. You obviously want to be with someone who causes you pain because you think you deserve it."
"Why did I bring you along on this trip anyway?"
"Because you needed someone besides you who can set the timer on a vervain grenade."
"Oh yeah. Well, would you mind keeping your advice to the lovelorn to yourself for a change? You're giving me a headache."
"Is that so? Take an aspirin. Tell you what, though. I think I've talked myself into coming back for Lindsey." Ric knew he was playing a dangerous game, but still...
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Damon snapped, his eyes alive with fury.
"I mean that she deserves better than to keep yearning for an unstable jerk of a vampire who comes to her when he needs some TLC and a safe fuck. I'd at least be here for her."
"Are you kidding me? You think all she is to me is a safe fuck?" Damon hissed.
"Well, what else is she? Clearly, whatever is between you two isn't enough to keep you here. If I could convince her to take a second look at me, I'd stay here happily. For her, I'd even stop drinking."
Damon could feel ugly, searing, jealous rage surge inside. "Don't you dare, Ric Saltzman. If you even look at her the wrong way, I'll rip your heart out."
"So you don't love her enough to be the kind of man she needs, but you don't want anyone else to have her. Nice, Damon," Ric snarked.
"I am this close to snapping your neck."
"Promises, promises. For God's sake, Damon, either stay here and love her or cut her loose! She doesn't deserve to keep hoping for something that'll never happen! Either go back to Mystic Falls and get it straight with Elena, or come back here. That woman loves you, Damon! And you say you care about her. You told me she says she doesn't want to be last on anyone's list. Well, what the hell place does she have on your list? She's sure as hell not at the top, and that's just a shitty way to treat someone who has been damn good to you, Damon. Let her move on or take her for yourself. Time to fish or cut bait, brother." He went inside.
Damon put his head in his hands. Ric was right. Every word he said was true. But Damon knew he had to go back to Mystic Falls to resolve things with Stefan – and Elena. Then, maybe, he could come back.
The week passed too quickly. Lindsey had to go back to work, but Ric and Damon found plenty to occupy themselves. They tuned up the Camaro, fixed some of the small things around the house that needed it, and even found some time to go to the little stream at the back of the property to fish. They didn't catch much, but the peace and quiet was restorative. In the evenings, Lindsey might fire up the stereo and they would dance or just talk while music played, and once she brought out her Trivial Pursuit game and proceeded to kick their butts, to their dismay and her delight.
Damon made the nights memorable, as he always did. But the night before they left, Lindsey turned to him. "You all are leaving in the morning?"
"Yeah. We've got to get back."
"Well, at least I know this time. I won't be waking up to an empty bed and a note on the table."
"I hate goodbyes."
"Tough. I get to say one tomorrow, finally. I'm glad you came, though. You don't know how much."
He sighed. "I wish you could just move on. I hate thinking of you being down here by yourself."
"Damon, I'm not made that way. I fell for you and fell hard. If I did find someone, which is not very likely, considering that I'm past forty, I'd always be looking for you. That wouldn't be fair to the person I was with."
"Adopt a kid! Do something so you won't be alone."
She laughed. "It's nearly impossible to adopt if you're a single parent. But loneliness is a crappy reason to adopt a child. A pet maybe, but not a child."
"I worry about you."
"So come back here. I know, I know, you can't promise it. It gets harder to say goodbye to you every time you leave, though. So I've made a decision."
"What's that?" He had a feeling of dread.
"Please, don't come back unless I ask you to, or unless it's an emergency. If you need to come back, you can, you know that, but I can't say goodbye much more. If you come back otherwise, come back to stay. It's not that you're not welcome or not wanted, or that I don't love you, but Damon, I ache for you when you're gone! I thought I could deal with you coming in and out of my life, but I can't. Not anymore. I guess I'm getting too old to deal with it. I'm sorry I can't keep my promise to always say this is home for you."
He held her close. "No, I don't blame you. Not a bit. I blame myself for being so damn selfish. Once I leave tomorrow, I'll stay gone if I can't come back for good. But you know if you need me, call me. And can we still stay in touch?"
"Sure. I want to. I still care about you, Damon. I still love you."
"And I love you. I wish I could be what you need me to be."
"You're wonderful," she said and he almost staked himself at the thought of causing Lindsey such pain.
"Ric, it was wonderful meeting you. I'm so glad I got to," Lindsey hugged him as he and Damon prepared to leave the next morning.
"Me too, Lindsey. You're a jewel." He kissed her softly and she blushed.
Damon held her wordlessly and she reached to stroke his face and hair, as if memorizing how he felt. Ric could see her steely determination not to break down in every line of her body. He hurt for her. He could tell Damon was hurting, too. Served him right, the selfish asshole. He wanted Damon to be absolutely miserable. Maybe it would wake him up.
Damon kissed Lindsey tenderly. "I love you," he said.
"I love you, too. Stay in touch."
"I will. Call me if you need me."
"I will. Travel safely."
"All right." He looked at Ric. "Time to roll." Ric just nodded. He was thoroughly disgusted with Damon.
They walked outside and Lindsey walked to the porch. She waved at them as they left. Just as they turned the corner, Ric saw her collapse on the porch steps, head on her arms. His heart broke for her.
Both men were silent for a long while. Finally, Damon said, "O.K. Out with it. Clear your craw."
"Nothing you haven't heard from me before. One of these days, you've got to make it right with Lindsey."
"She already told me not to come back unless it was an emergency or unless she asked me to."
"Good for her. Damon, you've got happiness in both hands, but you're absolutely bent on throwing it away. You're a prize idiot. And you're an ass. So shut up and drive."
The trip back to Mystic Falls was largely a silent one.