Damon kept an uneasy vigil by Lindsey's bed as he waited for her to wake up in transition. He knew they had shared blood the morning before the wreck as they made love, but he was still on pins and needles. He knew he could get Lindsey successfully through transition, and with her strong moral code, and being older to start with, knew she could survive without killing. But he also knew there was a huge chance she would be sired to him when she completed the process. And she might not even do it. She might decide she would rather die than be a vampire.
He ran his hands through his hair. Yesterday, everything was going to be all right! She was in full remission, with every expectation of staying there for the foreseeable future, anyway. He had already decided he wasn't going back to Mystic Falls, so that wasn't an issue, either. Now, this. One part of him rejoiced that he could be with her forever, but another part knew how much she didn't want to be what he was. But just as he had to respect her decisions when she was taking the cancer treatments, he also had to respect what she wanted, here.
If she didn't want to transition, then he would be with her until she drew her last breath. If she completed transition, he would still be with her every step of the way: helping her, teaching her the right way to do things, not the selfish way. He would teach her how to survive in a way he knew wouldn't violate her morals. And if she wanted to go on the bunny diet like Stefan, then he would help her do that, too. He had talked to Bonnie and she said she would do a token for Lindsey. He chose it online and had it Fed Ex'ed overnight. She just had to wake up.
He thought he saw her stir, and sure enough, her eyes flew open and she sat up. Damon was by her side immediately. "Hey," he said.
"Oh, thank the Lord you're here!" she said.
"Of course, I'm here." He took her hand.
She looked at him. "I'm in transition, aren't I?"
"I thought so. I knew I couldn't have survived that wreck. I knew it as soon as we left the road. But I was ready to go. I didn't think about having your blood in my system, though."
"You didn't?" Damon was just going to sit and allow her to talk or yell, or whatever.
"I didn't. Not until I heard this voice telling me I had to come back, but that I would find peace when I died, even if I transitioned."
"Wow." Damon didn't remember anything but darkness after he was shot. Maybe it had something to do with the circumstances. She was sitting up against the headboard. Damon took her hand and brushed his lips against her knuckles. "I don't want to ask, because I'm afraid of the answer…"
Lindsey put her opposite hand in his hair and scratched his scalp. "I don't know. How long do I have to decide?"
"A few hours. And there's plenty of blood in the fridge, so you don't have to hunt for a long time if you complete the process. But I swear to you Lindsey, I'll do right by you. I'll teach you how to do things the right way, so you can live with yourself. I won't let you turn into -- me." He remembered how disastrous that had been with Elena. But he knew he had come a long, long way since then. If Lindsey transitioned, then he was responsible for the well-being of the woman he loved more than anyone else in the world.
"If I decide to transition, I know you'll take care of me, Damon. I trust you. You've always taken care of me. This won't be any different." She looked lovingly into his eyes.
Well, that did it. If she decided to go through with this, Damon had no choice but to teach her the right way to survive. No more "reveling" and turning off your emotions. No more of the hedonistic crap he had indulged in to try to fill the emptiness inside. Well, he had indulged for over a century. It was about damn time to grow up. Not that they couldn't have a lot of fun, but the blood orgies Sage loved so much were a thing of the past. Sage had taught him a lot about being a vampire, but most of what she knew was pretty perverted. He saw now that she enjoyed corruption, although he had hardly protested. He was a willing participant.
Damon climbed on the bed with Lindsey and held her close. "Can I tell you something?" he asked.
"Please." Confessions from Damon weren't frequent, so Lindsey was all ears when he decided to open up.
"Let me start by saying I'm honestly not trying to force your decision. Well, I kind of am, but I need to say this."
"I want to hear it."
"When I got down here, I didn't know what I'd find, how you'd be or anything. And I didn't know how long we had together. I was beating myself up for all the time we lost when you were healthy. I'm pretty good at that."
"At beating yourself up? Oh, you excel in that," she said as she stroked his cheek and she felt his chest rumble in laughter.
"I know it. But you were here, and you never said a word, except that you had about given up on me coming down here. Not that you'd given up on me, but that you didn't think I'd be here. That hurt so much. When you've been there for me so many times, and I wouldn't get away to be with you. It made me look at who and what I am. Beyond that, you were fighting to live, but still getting ready to die. And I was selfish enough to wonder what the hell I was going to do without you. Which is really selfish, considering how seldom we saw each other."
Lindsey leaned against Damon's chest, relishing its solid feel. "So what conclusions did you draw?"
"I told Elena one time that I couldn't imagine a world without her in it. At that time, I couldn't. But what I came to understand was that I was trying to hang on to a feeling from a hundred years before. And worse, I was using her to fill the ache in my heart that was only soothed when I was with you. Ric tried to tell me in 2011 when we were here, but I knew it all, of course. My life was wrapped up in Elena. I was consumed by her. Because I was trying to keep the feelings for Katherine alive. And it all nearly slipped away from me. I told her it was forever, and the whole time, this little voice was telling me 'forever' wasn't in Mystic Falls, no matter how much I wanted it to be."
"Why did you want forever to be in Mystic Falls?"
He sighed deeply and rested his chin on the top of Lindsey's head. He so did not want to hurt her, but he knew nothing less than the truth would do. "Because Elena was as close as I was going to get to Katherine. I didn't want Katherine -- no way. But Elena was the new and improved version. She's a good person."
"I know she is," Lindsey said.
"And I thought, because she wanted me to be the better man, that she could see good in me, like you could, that I could have it all. I could enjoy Katherine's beauty and sex appeal and all the stuff I wanted in 1864, but it came with someone who genuinely wanted me to be a better person."
This time, it was Lindsey's turn to sigh. "It always comes down to who's the prettiest girl. And it was never me. So you loved me, but you were gonna stay in Virginia because Elena looks like - Elena - and Katherine." She sighed again, and Damon could hear the hurt. He put his head to hers in a silent apology.
"It was as messed up as messed up gets. Because I was messed up. And it nearly cost me everything. But I came here and realized I could leave everything behind, except you. I couldn't leave you behind. After the blow-up Elena and I had, I realized she wanted me to be better so it wouldn't violate her standards, not because I needed to be better in general. Well, she did want me to do it for myself, but mostly it was so her life wouldn't get messy. You wanted me to make a fresh start for me, whether you got any benefit out of it or not."
"I want the pleasure of seeing you happy, Damon. I always have," she said.
"And that's the difference. You take an interest and pleasure in anything I do. Anything healthy," he amended ruefully. "When I was working on the Camaro, you were right in the middle of it with me. When you saw me whittling, you were interested. Wanted to know what I was carving, where I got the idea."
"I'm nosy, Damon. You know this."
"Yeah, you are. But this wasn't being nosy. This was being interested, which is different. You want to know about me. You're interested in me as a person, not just as the guy who happens to make your toes curl in bed."
"I don't have to see your smirk. I can hear it," Lindsey said.
"Not surprised, but," he said, and his voice dropped into black velvet mode, "here's one more advantage. Believe me, once you turn, good sex becomes mind-melting sex. As good as we are together now, it would be magnified a million times."
"I thought you weren't trying to sway my decision," she said.
"Just giving you enough facts to make a good decision," he answered with a smile.
She looked at the clock. It was a little after 10 a.m. She got up and went to the window.
"That light is gonna be bright. Have to warn you," he said.
"I can handle it." She closed her eyes as she pulled the cord to open the drapes. She flinched, but stood in the sun, her face turned to it, feeling its warmth. When she could no longer stand it, she pulled the drapes closed and turned to Damon. He had the feeling she had made a decision, but for the life of him, he couldn't divine what it was.
She went back to the bed and sat down. "You told me that being a vampire was being at the top of the food chain, the ultimate predator, the ultimate hunter, that unaltered humans were the prey and they didn't really matter, if you were thinking strictly from a predator's point of view, right?"
"Right," he answered. Where was she going with this?
"Well, it occurs to me that there's another way of looking at it, since you said a witch did this originally, and witches are really concerned with the balance of nature, correct?"
He was genuinely puzzled, but he had the feeling he was about to witness another example of classic Lindsey logic. "Correct. What's your point, honey?"
"Well, you know I do believe in God." He knew, yes. He had gone to church more in the past six months than in the previous 150 years, just to be with her.
"Yeah. It's one of the things I love about you." And it was. It was part and parcel of her personality.
She smiled. "Well, something else that occurred to me is that, while vampires are at the top of the food chain, they also acquire a lot of skills and abilities that help them hunt, but can also benefit other people."
"Sure. I guess so." He still wasn't seeing where this was headed.
"Then, for me, being a vampire is not about being at the top of the heap. It's about using these skills to help others. In other words, to whom much is given, much is required. If I transition and receive these abilities, then I have to use them in another way." Seeing the stunned look on Damon's face, she said, "It maintains the balance of nature. Vampires tend to be so miserable because they revel in doing horrible things and they switch off and so forth and so on. They think that's what they're supposed to do, and that's the easy way to do it. These abilities make it much, much easier for a vampire to act on the selfish, indulgent feelings all humans have. But that upsets the balance, because the odds are completely in the vampire's favor. Using these abilities to heal instead of kill keeps the balance."
Damon's mouth dropped open in shock. No one had ever put it to him in those terms, but it made perfect sense. When he was killing, he was high, powerful, in control, in command, the ultimate owner of his destiny - and utterly miserable. It satisfied for a while, but then he wanted it over and over, each kill bloodier than the last. It was exactly like being on drugs. He couldn't believe it, but somehow, Stefan had stumbled on the right idea. He nodded slowly. "I see what you're saying. Wow. But what about the ones like Klaus?" He was thinking out loud.
"Well, some people are just thoroughly depraved. They've given themselves over to a reprobate mind. He'd have been that way to a certain extent no matter what happened to him. He's just totally messed up. So what's your response?"
Damon grinned at her. "That you got your money's worth out of that minor in philosophy, sweetheart, and that this is something you've thought about a lot over the years." He sobered and stroked her cheek. "Does this mean you've made a decision?"
She nodded. "I have."
"Feel like sharing it?" He could feel his own heart pounding, his pulse racing. He was in a cold sweat. Would he lose her today or have her for a long time?
She sighed. "I never wanted this. I never wanted to be a vampire, once I knew they were real. I always said those were problems I didn't want, problems I didn't need. And then you kept coming back into my life, and every time, it's been harder and harder to let you go. If the cancer won, I could have accepted that I never really had a shot at survival, anyway. I was ready to go, like I said. But once I got in remission, I had already decided I was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to keep you. You know you're the only man who has ever touched me. And you're the only man I have ever loved."
Damon took her hands. He was nearly in tears. "And?"
"And I'll transition because I cannot face giving you up one more time."
He bowed his head. "Thank God. Thank, thank God." And Lindsey could hear it was a genuine prayer of thanks.
"But…" she said.
He lifted his gorgeous blue eyes to hers. "Anything."
"But, I am a one-man woman. And I can't stand the thought of you messing around with anybody else. Maybe it's not fair to ask you…" but she didn't finished as he folded her into his arms.
"I'm here to stay. From now on." And he pulled back, wanting her answer while she was still fully human and there was no chance of a sire bond, which he would have to explain to her. "I know it's the least romantic setting in the world, but I'll tell you my reasons in a second. Will you marry me? Please? I love you with all my heart. Please marry me."
Her smile was like the sunrise. "Yes. Now and any other time. Yes. Because I love you too, Damon Salvatore." He pulled her to him and kissed her once again.
He broke the kiss reluctantly. "Now, before you do this, there are some things you need to know. I haven't turned that many people. I told you about the sire bond, right?"
"That you had it with Elena, yes. I remember. You said it was because she had feelings for you before she was turned."
"Right. And so do you."
Lindsey nodded. "And you're fairly certain I'll be sired to you because I love you now."
"It's a very strong possibility. But, now I'm prepared for it. Now I understand how it works. And if I think you're doing something just to please me, and not because you really want to, I'll invoke the bond and tell you to do what you truly want to do, and that you doing that is what will make me happy. That's why I asked you to marry me now, before you turn. I want to know it was completely your decision, and what you truly want to do. I tried to do the right thing by Elena when I found out she was sired to me, but we were messed up to start with, and it didn't work very well."
"Lots of things about that relationship that didn't work very well."
He shook his head. "You have no idea. But I've changed since then. I don't think I'm the same man I was."
She squeezed his hand. "I don't think you are, either. Tell me, how much will I change as far as my physical appearance goes? For the first time in my life, I'm pretty happy with how I look."
Damon smiled at her. "You're beautiful. Take that to the bank. But to answer the question, in the next couple of weeks, you'll probably look younger. Not like a teen or anything, but younger. As far as your body, that's going to stay pretty much like it is, now, which is fine by me," he said as he ran his hand up her back.
She smiled at him. "I like that idea. So I can eat as many chocolate chip cookies as I want and never gain an ounce?"
He grinned at her. "Yeah." He laughed. "So, you were hesitant about transitioning for me, but for unlimited chocolate, you'll do it."
She giggled. "I know it sounds bad. I mean, I love to cook. Food will still taste good, right? You eat regular food and say you enjoy it."
He nodded. "That won't change. What will change is what will satisfy you. Blood will satisfy. Food will be good, and will help if you can't get to any blood right then, but blood is what will take the inner hunger away."
"Will I crave blood all the time?"
This was the tricky part. "In the beginning, probably. But now, you're different, Lindsey. You're twenty years past the age most vampires are when they're turned. Have you ever seen a vampire who looked older than 30? That's because most of them were much younger than that when they were turned."
"Why does that make a difference?"
"Maturity is everything. I think that's why Stefan has always had problems, although he's better now. Ever met a 17-year-old boy who could control himself even most of the time? Neither have I. Even me, and I was 25 and was a veteran of two years of pitched battles? I had control issues, too. Then, look at Caroline Forbes. She was seventeen -- I think -- but she was always really disciplined. She's still a fluffy little airhead sometimes, but she was disciplined. And, except for one unfortunate incident when she was first turned, she has a hammerlock on her control."
Damon sighed. "That's a long story. Suffice it to say, she never wanted to kill, either. But she had seen so much, and been through so much, she had a lot of darkness. And I made it worse. Rather than let her learn her way, I imposed myself on her. Now, I didn't know she was sired to me at the time, but I still didn't let her try to find her own way, and just stand by to keep her from killing, and keep her out of trouble. But I said it a long time ago: that girl is a danger magnet."
"And I'm in transition with Damon Salvatore in my house and in my bed, and I'm not a danger magnet?" Lindsey teased.
He had to smile. "No. I told you before: you're my warrior angel. You kick danger's ass if it messes with you. But you're 46, sweetheart, and you have a stable, steady personality. You're a fully formed person. Your emotions will be heightened, but I don't see them being at the level of a teenager. And you already know how to control yourself. You know how to cope now. You're miles ahead of most baby vamps. Obviously, you'll change a little when you complete transition. But I have a strong feeling you'll still be very much the same person you are now. No guarantees, but I've been around long enough to have a pretty good idea about these things."
"So when do I need to complete the process?"
"Whenever, since there's blood in the house. I almost waited too long, which is why Stefan was able to get me to turn. I was desperate for blood, and he brought me a victim." Damon shook his head. "Wasn't pretty."
Lindsey wrinkled her nose. "Doesn't sound like it."
"I have to tell you it's going to take some time for you to get used to augmented senses. That's part of what drives baby vamps crazy, is suddenly being able to hear everything, smell everything."
She smiled at him. "I've had over 20 years of tuning out scanner chatter in the newsroom, and going nose blind to burned microwave popcorn in the break room."
He laughed. "See what I mean about coping skills? But when your fangs come in, that's going to hurt. No way around it."
She nodded and sighed. "I feel like I did when I went in for the first round of chemo that used adriamycin. That stuff is brutal. I knew I had to do it, but let me tell you, Damon. It was a long, long walk down that hall to the treatment room. I've never felt more alone in my life."
Damon took her in his arms again. "Well, you'll never have to deal with that again. I'm so sorry I wasn't with you that day. I'd have gone back with you. You know I would have."
"I know. But this is considerably more momentous, and you're here for me." She took his face in her hands. "And I love you and I trust you to do right by me," she said.
"I will, Lindsey. As God is my witness, I'll do the right thing for you. I swear I will. You have my word I will."
She kissed him lingeringly. "Let's do this, then."
He nodded. "I'll go get the blood and warm it up and I'll bring it to you. I think that'll be better. You won't be overwhelmed by the sight and smell of all those bags in the fridge."
"O.K." She grabbed his hand. "Damon, I'm scared. Really scared." Her eyes were wide with fear and her hands were ice cold.
He kissed her forehead. "I know. But you'll get through it and I'll hold your hand the whole way. I won't leave you for a second."
He left the room and Lindsey heard him go downstairs. She bowed her head to pray for strength and to embrace this new life with honor and right living.
When Damon came in with the blood bag, she couldn't take her eyes from it. He saw her expression, and the naked fear there, too. "Come on. Let's go in the bathroom in case it gets messy."
"I can smell it," she whispered.
"Yeah." He took her hand and drew her up from the bed and into the bathroom. He had broken the seal on the bag. "Let me do this for you, O.K.? I'll feed you. Just relax."
"I'll try," she said, her voice quavering.
"Sit down on the vanity chair and close your eyes. That might help," he said.
She did so and Damon said, "All right. Open your mouth."
Taking a deep breath, she did and Damon squeezed a little of the blood into her mouth. It was perfectly warmed and at first, it was revolting, but then tasted rich and sweet and, as Damon had said, was so satisfying. He took the bag away and Lindsey's eyes opened. She wiped her mouth with the ball of her thumb and Damon handed her a tissue.
"You O.K.?" he asked.
She nodded, but still looked miserable. He stroked her hair. "It's all right. Have some more." She took the bag and drank more, when Damon took it away again. She looked stricken, but he said, "Slower is better. Take my word for it. Learn control now and you don't have it to learn after something bad happens."
"All right," she whispered. She was a vampire, now. She was like Damon. But now, she would have him forever.
"Now you drink for five seconds. I'll count and when I get to five, stop, all right?"
He handed her the bag and she put it to her lips, her eyes never leaving his. "Start drinking," he said. "One-Mississippi. Two-Mississippi. Three-Mississippi. Four-Mississippi. Five-Mississippi. Stop."
By a supreme act of will, Lindsey took the bag from her lips. She handed it to Damon. He gave her a big grin. "Good girl. That's the way to do it." He kissed her forehead, and for the first time, Lindsey could actually smell him. He smelled woodsy and fresh and clean.
She sniffed. "I can smell you. I like the way you smell."
He smiled. "And vice versa. I know you want more. That's normal. Let's do the slow five count again, O.K.?"
"O.K." He handed her the bag and she put her lips to it, and started drinking as he counted. When he said stop, she again pulled the bag away and handed it to him. With her initial hunger sated, it was getting easier to stop. "It's a little easier now that the first urge is gone," she said.
"That's great. That's what you want. It takes some newbies months to learn that. I'm so proud of you." He looked at the bag. "There's probably two more five-counts left. This time, you count inside your head and stop. You can do it."
Lindsey nodded and took the bag. She drank for five seconds and pulled away. Damon's smile of approval was all she needed. She emptied the bag and handed it to him. "Fantastic," he said and she smiled shyly at him. He found he didn't have the urge to teach her how to maim and kill. He couldn't allow that to taint her soul.
She wiped her mouth with the tissue again. Damon knelt in front of her and pushed her hair back from her face. "Still all right?"
"Yeah," she whispered. "It's a lot to take in all at once."
"I know. It'll get easier." He kissed her cheek and laughed, a little ruefully.
"What is it?"
He took her hands and looked up at her through those impossibly long lashes. "This is by far the most peaceful transition I've ever witnessed. I'm having a hard time believing I'm part of it, considering my very, very bloody past with humans and transitions and etcetera."
"Maybe love has something to do with it."
She smiled, but then winced, as from pain, and she held a hand to her mouth. "It hurts," she said.
"Fangs do that," he said.
"I thought it would take longer."
"It's different for everyone. No two vampires have the same things happen at the same time."
Lindsey squeezed her eyes shut, still holding her mouth. Damon took her other hand. "Squeeze my hand. The pain will pass. Give it a minute."
Suddenly, the pain stopped and Lindsey exhaled. "I'm glad that's over."
"That's the worst part," he said, and he put his thumbs under her eyes, where she knew the dark veins must be showing. "Let me look," he said, lifting her upper lip. "There they are. Want to see?"
"I guess," she said, and he drew her to her feet and turned her to the mirror. She looked at herself, with the dark veins under her eyes. She opened her mouth and tentatively lifted her lip. Two razor-sharp fangs showed and her eyes widened in alarm. She turned her head and hid her face in Damon's chest. His arms immediately came around her and he stroked her hair. "I'm so ugly," she said.
Not for the first time, his heart broke for his woman. He held her tighter. "No, you're not. That's not ugly. Not to me -- not to any vampire. But especially not to me. It makes you sexier than you already are. You're beautiful, Lindsey, no matter which face I see. They're both beautiful to me." He turned her back to the mirror and put his chin on the top of her head. "This is a beautiful face," he said, stroking her cheek. He picked her up and carried her to the bed. "It's not even noon and you've already had a big day. Lie down and get some rest. It really does help."
"Don't leave me alone," she said.
"I already told you -- not for a second." He lay down next to her and took her in his arms.
Lindsey was turned toward Damon, snuggled in his warm embrace, when his scent filled her head. It was wonderful and she drew in the fragrance and felt her whole body tingle with desire. This was the man she loved, and he was hers from now on. She kissed his chin and then his lips. His eyes opened lazily. She was looking at him with pure lust in her eyes. He grinned.
"I think you're starting to understand what I meant about the sex," he teased.
"It's just because you smell so good and I never could tell. A little yes, but wow." She nuzzled his neck and then looked up at him again. "Does everyone have a specific smell?"
"Yeah. And vamps smell different from humans." He saw her scowl. "Unaltered humans," he amended.
"What do I smell like?" she asked. She was genuinely curious, but didn't figure regular humans smelled very wonderful, so she had never asked.
"It's changed, of course. It's more intense now. You smell like cinnamon, vanilla and honey, and," he drew his nose up her neck, thinking, "like the air before it rains. Perfect. So what do I smell like to you?" He and Elena had played this game, but she never could come up with what she felt was a good description.
"Like the woods after it rains, like clean clothes on the line, and something underneath, like amber or sandalwood. Like a man ought to smell."
He grinned at her. "I like that description." He ran his hand up her arm gently and she shivered. "Your sense of touch is heightened, too. But your nose will tell you a lot. What's it telling you now?"
She closed her eyes and sniffed. The air had changed. It was Damon, yes, but there was an overlay of something she could only call a light musk. It was pure sex. She opened her eyes. "You're getting horny."
"Very. So are you," he said, pleasure in his voice.
"Have you always been able to tell?"
He nodded. "Yeah. People are just that way. I didn't want to tell you, though. I thought it might embarrass you."
She blushed. "It kind of does."
"Don't ever be embarrassed with me. At the same time, don't ever be afraid to tell me if you don't like something, or if you don't want to do something." He kissed her hand. "I respect you and your body." A thought occurred to him. "I want to test a theory."
He looked deep into her eyes. "Lindsey, it would really make me happy if you clucked like a chicken."
Her eyes popped open. "WHAT?"
"Please cluck like a chicken. It would make me so happy."
Lindsey scowled at him. "You've lost your mind, Damon Salvatore! What makes you think I have any intention of clucking like a chicken for you? I get turned and NOW you're into that kind of kink? Really?"
He grinned broadly at her and laughed. "Sorry, baby. I just wanted to see whether there was a sire bond or not. Even if there is, your free will is certainly intact."
"You are disgusting and evil," she snapped.
"I know," he answered. "But I really did have the best intentions. It would make me very happy if you'd kiss me, though."
"That notion I can get behind," she said and drew his mouth to hers. In the next couple of days, he would show her exactly how intense it could be when two vampires had sex, but he wasn't sure how where she was in the transition, and whether she would heal quickly or not, yet. That was for a little later.
Lindsey pressed herself to Damon's body, feeling every single muscle as he rolled her to her back. She fumbled with buttons on his shirt and he said, "Just rip it off. You can."
"I like that shirt. I don't want to ruin it," she said. "I'll tear off something I don't like. But," she said, and flipped them again so she was on top, "I think I do like this whole control thing. Maybe you can let me be in charge. I know what you can do. Let's see what I can do."
He grinned at her. She was going to be a wild woman, he knew. "Go for it, you sex freak."
She smiled at him and pulled her T-shirt over her head. Damon had put her in fresh clothes while she was "dead," but had neglected a bra, not surprisingly. She wiggled out of her sleep shorts and threw them to the floor. Then, she unfastened his jeans and slid them off his hips and threw them to the floor. "Take your shirt off," she ordered.
"Yes, Ma'am," he said and it hit the waxed hardwood floor, too.
The light was dim because the curtains were closed, and she couldn't go outside until she had a token. Which reminded her. "Damon, where am I going to get a daylight token?"
He smiled. "I ordered something online last night and had it overnighted here. Should be here in the morning, and Bonnie said she would do the spell as soon as I sent her the photo. So you're just stuck inside for a day."
"What is it?"
"It's a surprise," he said.
"Will I like it?"
"I'm pretty sure you will." He grinned a little wickedly and pulled her to his mouth. "Now, where were we?"
"Right about to the part where I was planning what kinds of indecent things I could do to you," Lindsey said.
"I'm all about indecent. The more indecent, the better," he smirked.
"Oh, tell me something I didn't know."
"In fact, I'll be happy to offer suggestions for all kinds of indecent acts you can perform on my person." He wiggled his eyebrows at her.
"You should write a book."
"It's a thought. If you want to get this started in the right direction, then put your mouth right here." He pointed to a nipple.
Lindsey grinned at him. "That's one of my favorite spots, anyway." She complied and started licking his nipple.
"Mmmmm," he purred. "Now bite. Hard. You won't hurt me."
Her expression was doubtful, but he said, "Trust me."
So, against her better judgment, she bit down on his flesh. He groaned aloud, but said, "That's it. Do it again and then get the other one." She did it and shortly, Damon was squirming underneath her. She pulled back to see both nipples were red and swollen, and unaccountably, it made her more excited. He wanted it, and she was willing to do it. She bit him on his chest, and started down his sides, finding the very tender spot underneath his ribs to be too enticing and she sank her human teeth into him there. He cried out and cursed as she worried the spot. She moved on, sliding down to where his hipbones started -- always one of her favorite places on his body -- and bit down again.
"Holy shit, woman! You're driving me crazy!" he rasped.
She only smiled and made her way to the soft skin of his inner thighs -- probably the only soft place on his lean, lithe body. She bit him twice more, and then nosed her way up across his sac, to take his shaft in her mouth. As she loved him, she felt the veins pop under her eyes and felt her fangs drop. She inadvertently scraped his skin with a fang and saw a thin line of blood appear.
"Oooh. I'm sorry," she said, a little shocked.
Damon raised his head and saw what happened. His expression darkened. "Go ahead. Lick it off. You want to and I want you to. Please."
Lindsey could hardly believe what she was doing, but she licked the blood away and savored the taste of it on her tongue. There was no trace of a scratch underneath it. So she continued loving him that way and Damon was fighting the decision of whether to let her do it, or of flipping her to her back and pushing himself inside her body. He reminded himself they had all the time in the world.
She raised her head and their eyes met. She nodded almost imperceptibly, but Damon knew what she wanted. He was on top of her before she could think, and inside her body. He knew he still had to hold back a little, but he was thrusting harder than he had, and Lindsey was meeting every movement. He stilled for a moment, and looked into her eyes. "You're close. Do you want to bite me now?"
She nodded. "Yeah," and felt her canines lengthen again.
"Good. We'll bite each other about the same time. This is as intimate as it gets. You want it?"
"O.K. Right about here," he said, pointing to a spot on his neck. Lindsey concentrated on the spot and sank her fangs into his skin. His blood started coming into her mouth, and then she felt his teeth in her skin and felt his mouth work. As soon as her blood touched his tongue, they were both slammed into an alternate universe. "Intimate" didn't even begin to describe it. Lindsey could feel everything Damon was feeling: how he loved her, including her body, how he loved the way she looked -- everything. It was beyond incredible. Damon knew, too, how much Lindsey treasured and cherished him, her pride and delight in the changes he'd made in himself. When he finally broke the connection, he licked the wounds closed. She was healing well.
"Unlatch, babe," he said, nudging Lindsey. She took her mouth from him, and cleaned the wounds as he had done so often for her. They had both climaxed and were sated and profoundly relaxed.
"Is blood sharing always like that?" she asked.
Damon chuckled. "No way. It's never been like that for me before."
"Not even with Elena?" Lindsey asked, a hint of jealousy in her voice.
"Not even close. Good yes, but not like that. In fact, I think I'm going to have to have a nap to recuperate before we indulge again," he said.
"Again?" Lindsey couldn't imagine moving for hours after all that.
"Oh yeah. Again and again. Now you can handle it. You wait until you wake up. You'll want it. Guaranteed." And she would want it with him. But that was all right. He intended to show her every delicious aspect of what her body was now capable of. As they dozed off in each others' arms, murmuring words of love, he wondered why he ever thought leaving this woman's bed was a good idea.
They were on the upstairs porch that evening. "Jump," Damon said.
She looked over the rail. "From two stories up?"
"You can do it. If I can, you can."
Lindsey gave Damon a dubious look. "Yeah, but…"
"I'll push you."
"Don't you dare!"
"Then jump! You've got to learn how to do these things. You might need to know, someday."
"Just jump and land on your feet. You'll right yourself in the air, I promise. C'mon," he encouraged her.
"This is nuts," Lindsey muttered, but she climbed over the railing. She took a deep breath and jumped off the porch. A moment later, she was on her feet, on the ground. She looked up at Damon, still on the porch. "I did it!"
He jumped down -- the picture of grace, always -- next to her. "Told you so."
"You probably look better doing it, though. I land just about like a gooney bird." She was afraid she would land and roll over and over. Landing on her feet was an achievement, she thought.
"No, you're fine. But practice does help."
Lindsey was stuck in her bedroom the next day, and was surfing the net on her laptop. She heard a truck pull up. Damon went to the door and she heard it open and close, and then he came zipping up the stairs. "Fed Ex guy was here!" he said. He had a small package. He opened it and took out something in bubble wrap. "For you," he said.
Lindsey opened the wrap, fighting the urge to pop all the bubbles, and looked at what was inside. It was a hummingbird in lapis. The beak was silver and at the throat gleamed a tiny jewel.
"That's a ruby," Damon said.
Lindsey looked at the pendant. It was on a platinum box chain, much like Damon's thunderbird. "It's incredible, Damon. Beautiful. Thank you. How long did it take you to find it?"
"You're welcome. It took half the night, but you weren't conscious, so I passed the time by looking for this. Let's call Bonnie and get it magicked up."
He first took photos of the pendant and texted them to Bonnie. Then he called her. "Hey. Did you get the pictures?"
"I did. It's beautiful, Damon. Any woman would be proud to wear that. You have good taste."
"You sound like you doubted it, Bon-Bon," he teased her.
"Welllll, let's say you haven't always demonstrated the most discretion in the world."
"I know. Let's not go all judgy on me, how about it?"
"I'm not. Is Lindsey there?"
"Yeah, stuck here until sunset or the spell gets cast. Want me to put you on speakerphone?"
"Yes. Same routine as before. I'll spell the pendant first." She chanted the words of the spell and then said. "O.K. Lindsey, hold the pendant and see if the sunlight burns you."
Lindsey did so and said, "No. It's fine."
"Great. All right, Damon. It's your turn. Put the necklace on and stand in the sun. You remember what to say?"
"Yeah." He would never forget Lindsey saying those words in her soft voice. He stood in the sun for a moment and then put the pendant around her neck. "Lindsey Hargrove, I give you the gifts of light, life and spirit."
Lindsey saw the tears in his eyes as he placed the pendant around her neck. "Your gifts I receive," she answered as she straightened it out. She kissed him softly and went to stand in the sunlight. "Mission accomplished, Bonnie. Thank you so much."
"You're welcome. Now take a picture and send it to me, if you don't mind."
"Will do," Damon said and he ended the call. He got his phone and sat on the bed. "Come here. Bon-Bon wants a picture."
"Oh, all right." Lindsey went and sat in front of him and arranged it so they were side to side.
Damon put the phone in front of them. "Smile," he said and Lindsey did. Just as he snapped the photo, he kissed her cheek. He sent the picture to Bonnie. "Now look at this," he said. "Come on. You said you were happy with the way you look."
Lindsey looked at the picture. "I can think of two people who don't suffer in comparison with you in a picture: Stefan and Elena. But that's about it."
Damon sighed in frustration. Lindsey and her self-image issues. He pulled her close and kissed her. "You're beautiful. And I consider myself to be an expert on the subject."
Caroline was at Bonnie's place and saw the photo. "Oh, my gosh. That is just so adorable! Damon Salvatore, adorable. Who would have have thought?"
"Haven't you been emailing him?" Bonnie asked.
"Well, yeah, but just to keep him up on what's going on. This," she said, pointing to the screen, "this is, well, it's just epic!"
Bonnie laughed. "Good thing Elena hasn't seen this. She'd go postal."
Caroline fluffed her hair. "Well, I know it wasn't her fault that Katherine took over her body, and of course, it was all Damon's fault she flipped the switch to start with because of that stupid sire bond, but he really did try to help her. But that whole crap about Damon making her compromise her morals! What a crock! When she told me that, seriously, I nearly just gagged. I actually felt sorry for Damon. Like Elena hasn't done plenty of compromising, all by herself. So have I, for that matter."
"I never thought I'd see the day when you would have any sympathy for Damon," Bonnie said.
"Well, we all have to grow up and move on sometime. Maybe it's because he went to help Lindsey for unselfish reasons. He knew she needed someone, and he could do it, so he did. Stefan said those two have a really interesting history. I'll have to get him to tell me about it sometime. He just dropped hints that it had something to do with those horrible Augustines."
"Really. I didn't know how they got together," Bonnie said. "Maybe we can get Stefan to tell us both the story. I'd like to hear it, too."
Caroline looked up. "Looks like we can ask him. Here he comes."
Stefan peeked around the door and Bonnie motioned him inside. "Couldn't get Elena to come with us?" she asked.
"Nah. She's made all these friends at Whitmore and she's not interested in us."
"Well, I don't have classes this weekend, and I manage to stay in touch with my friends," Caroline said primly.
Stefan put his arm around Caroline's shoulders. "It's tough for her to be around here, these days, Caroline. You know that."
"I know. Especially with the picture Bonnie has on her phone. Show him, Bon!"
Bonnie handed her phone to Stefan. He looked at the photo. "Lindsey turned."
"They were in an accident and she had his blood in her system. I only know because he asked me to do the daylight spell on her necklace."
He nodded. "Well, I wouldn't wish it on anyone, that's for damn sure, but I can't argue with what I'm seeing here."
"Look at the next one," Bonnie said. Damon had texted a picture of the two of them on the sofa, Lindsey asleep with her head on his chest. The look on his face was indescribable. It showed love, protection, pride and deep happiness.
Stefan looked at the picture and something inside his heart tightened. It had been 150 years since he had seen Damon with all the walls down, with no malice in his eyes. This was the brother he loved, the big brother who protected him and read stories to him and who had carried him over a mile back to the house when he sprained his ankle in the creek. Caroline took his hand.
Tears glistened in Stefan's eyes as he handed the phone back to Bonnie. "Print that out for me, will you, please?" he said.
"Sure. I kind of like it, too."