Lindsey fought to keep a straight face while she and Damon got their marriage license. He had 150 years on her, and her driver's license said she was 20 years older. Fortunately, the license clerks in Vegas had seen it all, numerous times, so this wasn't even a blip on their radar. Lindsey guessed this would be the last license she had with her actual age on it. Now that she was in the vampire system, she would be 46 -- well, maybe she'd have them change that to 40, or even 35 -- from now on.
They signed the paperwork and the clerk printed out the license and stamped it with an embosser with the State of Nevada seal. "It's good for thirty days from the date of issue," she said. "Best wishes."
"Thank you," Lindsey replied, smiling at her. As they walked out of the office and Damon hailed a cab, she looked at him. He looked a little thoughtful. "You're not fixing to run out on me, now are you?" she asked him as they settled into the cab.
He scowled at her. "Hell, no. Where did you get that idea?"
"You had a strange look on your face," she said.
"Getting a marriage license will do that to you."
"Is that so?"
"Well, when you've spent the last several years figuring you'd never have one, well…" his voice trailed off.
"O.K. I can understand that. I never thought I'd have one, either."
Damon put his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "Sometimes, we end up having way more in common than I ever realized."
"Amazing, isn't it?" Lindsey said, but there was a smile, not sarcasm in her voice.
"It kind of is, actually," he agreed.
"I didn't know your middle name was Gabriele."
"Yeah, well, it's not something I usually tell a lot of people," he admitted.
"I like it. Damon Gabriele Salvatore. Very Italian and very sexy," she replied.
"Well, that makes me feel a little better," he said. "I didn't know your middle name was Ryan. That's different."
"My grandmother's people. Ryans are all over Blount County. Daddy liked the name. And it wears well. They didn't want to name me anything too trendy and I'm glad."
He glanced at his watch. "Your hair appointment is in fifteen minutes." They were at the hotel and Damon slipped the card from his wallet that he presented to the desk clerk when they checked it. "Charge it to the room," he said.
She looked carefully at the card. "Damon G. Salvatore. So this is what the high roller card looks like," she said, teasing.
He rolled his eyes. "Go away and get your hair done, and do whatever women do in spas," he said.
"Be glad to," she answered, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
Lindsey found that just showing the card at the spa got her the VIP treatment. She expected to wait with the other patrons, but found herself whisked to a private lounge, where she was plied with fresh fruit juice and given a whole menu of service options. She was a small-town girl at heart, but she could definitely get used to this kind of treatment.
Two women waited with her, both of the wealthy, waxed, tanned, toned, buffed and honed variety. They gossiped with each other and pointedly ignored her as being utterly beneath their station. Her vamp ears picked up that they were both Bellagio regulars, from Southern California, that their male companions were in the movie business and various other bits of information. She nearly spit out her juice when she heard them discussing the latest Hollywood fad cleansing diet, and how much better they felt since they weren't so bloated with -- horrors! -- solid food. Lindsey grinned to herself, thinking that she no longer had to watch what she ate, and in 20 years, when they were spending their husbands' fortunes on cosmetic surgery, she would still look exactly the same. She toyed with the idea of compelling them to gorge on carbs for the remainder of their stay, but decided that was a little too juvenile.
When her consultant came to talk with her, Lindsey ordered a massage and out of the hearing of the harpies, said she was getting her hair done for her afternoon wedding, and was thinking about a birdcage veil, but had not chosen one, yet.
"I'll order a selection for you to try while you're having your massage. When Shea is ready to do your hair, just find the one that works best for you and of course, we can just charge it to your room," the consultant told her.
"Why thank you so much!" Lindsey exclaimed. This was most definitely the life. Who needed the supernatural when you had a preferred guest card at the Bellagio? That little piece of black and gold plastic made all kinds of things possible.
The twin harpies were having their hair done at the same time as Lindsey, and they were giving their stylists fits. Nothing was right, nothing was what they wanted, or how they wanted it. When Shea finished with Lindsey's hair, she paid with a smile and a thank you. She walked past the harpies as she left and looked them both in the eyes. "Your stylists deserve 50 percent tips to make up for your appalling behavior. You both need to be nicer to people." Their slightly blank expressions told her the compulsion worked and she walked out, feeling good about being a vampire. Speaking of which, she was going to need some blood before the ceremony and all. She carried her veil in a small box and she went up to the room.
Damon was sprawled on the bed, reading the newspaper. "Took you long enough," he said.
"Perfection takes time," was her answer and she got his smirk in reply.
"So what did they do to you down there?"
"A lovely massage and a haircut and style," she said, as she sipped the blood. "So, if I'm going to be ready by the time the minister gets here, I'd better start." Lindsey took everything she thought she would need and went into the "hers" bathroom on one side of the suite.
Damon was unaccountably nervous. He knew he looked hot in his black Versace suit, which he had the hotel laundry service steam and press that morning. His cufflinks were platinum and tungsten carbide and matched his wedding ring. He absently touched the thunderbird underneath his shirt, and was glad that ugly daylight ring was safe in Lindsey's house, where it couldn't hurt anyone, or interfere with her slipping his wedding ring on his finger.
Damon straightened his tie, just as someone rang the bell to the room. A glance confirmed it was the minister, caterer and florist. They brought in a mini cake, other hors d'oeuvres, chilled champagne and flowers. The florist helpfully pinned Damon's boutonniere, a single stephanotis blossom, and he instructed her to go to Lindsey's bathroom and give her the bouquet he ordered. It was made from pink roses and white orchids, and he heard her intake of breath and surprised giggle when she saw it. Well, that was a success, anyway.
The florist also started a CD of classical music on the room's sound system, and knocked on the bathroom door to let Lindsey know everything was ready. She and the caterer would be the witnesses.
Lindsey came from around the corner of the dividing wall, and Damon's mouth dropped open a little. Although he had been intensely curious to see her dress, he didn't peek. Even he had his traditional side, and that side wanted to be surprised by how his bride looked. He wasn't disappointed. She wore a white, ankle length dress. It had a sweetheart neckline, with an illusion yoke that dipped in the back. The organza skirt had a ribbon sash and lace appliques all the way to the hem. Damon grinned at her shoes. They were satin pumps in ocean blue, just about the color of his eyes. Her hair was pinned up on one side and she wore a little net veil attached to a band of three silk roses. Her hummingbird necklace and engagement ring were her only pieces of jewelry. She was as beautiful a bride as he had ever seen, and she was his bride. He still wasn't sure he believed it was happening, and sent up a fervent prayer that nothing remotely supernatural was brewing to mar this moment. His prayer was answered.
It was impossible for Damon to look anything but sexy, Lindsey thought. It didn't matter what he wore. But his suit was perfection on him and his eyes were warm and twinkling. She could tell he approved of her appearance, which made her happy.
The minister started the ceremony. It too, was fairly traditional, and Lindsey smiled at Damon as she slipped the ring on his finger and said her vows. At that moment, she didn't care whether she was living in time or in eternity; she was marrying the only man she had ever loved. She was secretly pleased that Damon's voice trembled just a little as he said his vows; she could hear the emotion in his tone and it warmed her heart. They were pronounced man and wife and had their kiss -- chaste and appropriate -- the minister said a prayer and congratulated them.
The florist also served as photographer and captured several shots before she left, promising them a CD of the pictures by the late evening. Shortly, however, they were alone again.
Damon took Lindsey's hands and kissed them. "You are so beautiful. The most gorgeous bride I've ever seen."
She blushed and kissed him. "And there is no doubt I've got the handsomest husband in Las Vegas, and probably in the state of Nevada."
"That's a fair assessment," he said, just to pick at her.
She rolled her eyes and looked at the cake. "This is so cute! And champagne, and everything." She kissed him again. "Thank you, sweetheart. It's all absolutely perfect. I couldn't ask for anything else. Ever."
"I'm glad you're happy," he said softly.
She put her arms around him. "I'm so happy. But I'd have been happy standing on my front porch barefoot if that's how you wanted to marry me. As long as you're standing beside me, that's all that matters."
"You really feel that way?" His tone was still uncertain and it made Lindsey want to hug him and never let him go.
She took his face in her hands and looked him in the eyes. "I really feel that way, Damon Gabriele. You are the most wonderful man in the world and I love you." She pressed her cheek to his and held him close.
Damon folded Lindsey into his arms and held her, stroking her hair, inhaling her sweetly unique fragrance that spoke of home to him. Because she was home and love and everything he had chased for over a century, and she was standing in his arms, wearing his ring, vowed to him willingly.
He led her to the sofa and they sat down. "I need to ask you something."
"Remember the other day, you were outside, and I was shaving and I nicked myself pretty bad. I didn't say anything, but you came in and asked me if I was all right. Remember? Why did you ask me that?"
Lindsey thought about it. "I guess I thought I heard you yelp. I just thought something was wrong."
"O.K. And then, remember when you dropped that frozen ground beef on your toe? I was outside, working on the car. I couldn't hear you, but I came in and found you hopping on one foot and cussing that ground beef?"
"Well yeah, but did you have to remind me I was hopping around on one foot?" she grinned.
"It was funny. My point is that neither of us could hear the other one. We just knew something was wrong. Just that something had happened."
Lindsey wrinkled her brow and nodded. "O.K. I see where you're coming from."
"How did it happen, do you think? Psi gifts are witchy stuff, not vamp stuff."
"I'm assuming you have an answer to that, since you brought it up," she said.
He grinned. "I do. I haven't told anyone but Stefan that we were going to get married, and he said he would keep his mouth shut, and I believe him. Anyway, I did call Witchiepoo and ask her about it. She made some calls, did some research, and what she told me explains a lot about our relationship." He looked expectantly at her.
"Well, are you gonna tell me, or just keep me in suspense?" Lindsey asked.
That got a smirk. "So here's the deal. We've been what they call 'blood bonded' or 'blood mated' for years. It's why I couldn't stay away and you couldn't move on."
"So some kind of supernatural mumbo-jumbo made us love each other?" She didn't look happy about that.
He shook his head with a grin. "No. The kicker is, the love came first. The bond is created from the love. Nothing -- not even compulsion -- can force a human or vampire to love anyone else. The love has to be in place before the rest of it can happen."
"Hmmmm. Tell me more, professor," she said.
"It's why I couldn't ever get it right, really, with Elena. It's why I never felt really content or satisfied with anyone else, why I was so miserable I flipped the switch and went back to Mystic Falls and raised such hell. Elena helped me feel again, and I'm grateful to her for that, and I'm so screwed up, I thought it was love I felt for her. It was, but not what I feel for you."
"Think of the grief you could have saved yourself just by staying with me, where you belonged." Lindsey's voice was soft and teasing as she stroked Damon's cheek.
"Don't I know it?" he said. "I told Elena I was chasing everything, but none of it mattered. But that's the story of my life."
"Not anymore. Now, you're where you belong: with me. Permanently."
"I know. I know why taking care of you, even though I thought I wasn't going to have you very long, made me so happy. I was with you. Also explains why Elena was sired to me, but you're not."
"Huh. This ought to be interesting," Lindsey quipped.
"It is. The sire bond only comes into play, according to some dusty grimoire Bonnie read, if the baby vamp has feelings for the sire, but the feelings don't go both ways. I loved Elena, yes, but my heart belonged to you. I was just too stupid and horny to realize it."
"So when I turned because your blood was in my system…"
"We loved each other already. There was a blood bond in place that supersedes any sire bond. It's like we're sire bonded to each other. And according to Bonnie, that doesn't happen too often. I mean, two vampires can love each other, like Stefan and Caroline, but it didn't happen while Blondie was still human."
Lindsey nodded. "And Caroline despised you, which is why she wasn't sired to you, and Isobel just wanted your hot bod. Which I totally can't blame her for." She stilled for a moment. "And it's why you've been able to give up Katherine. You always said you loved her, but you weren't sired to her when she turned you. So she either compelled you to think you loved her -- which is completely different from actual love -- or you were just infatuated -- also not love -- which explains why you weren't actually sired to her. You just carried a torch for her for all those years. Makes me sorry for Elena and that girl in New Orleans. They both loved you."
"I know. Like I said: screwed up."
"Much less now than you used to be, at least," Lindsey said, comforting him.
"Think so, huh?"
"Know so," she said. "But we're sitting here like idiots when there's CAKE sitting on a cart! And champagne!"
Damon smiled at her -- the smile that had only happiness behind it. "You're right. I guess I need to see about opening that bottle, don't I?"
"If you don't mind."
He opened the bottle and as he poured the champagne into the flutes, he said, "Does having this blood bond with me bother you?"
She gave him his favorite toothy grin. "Are you kidding me? Beats a leash any day, and much more effective."
Damon laughed in spite of himself. "It ought to piss me off when you say stuff like that, but it doesn't." He handed her a flute and although he wanted to offer some words in a toast, nothing would come. Nothing sounded right. It all sounded cheesy or shallow.
Lindsey watched as Damon looked for the words, but stayed silent. So, she looked into his eyes, nodded, clinked her glass with his and sipped the champagne. Then, she kissed him. When she pulled back, she stroked his cheek. "You say it best when you say nothing at all," she whispered and kissed him again. He leaned his cheek into her palm and she could feel moisture from tears. She was right when she had told Stefan that Damon felt everything deeply; he just didn't want to admit it. She set their glasses down on the table and put her arms around him to hold him again. Maybe it was the blood bond, but she just knew he needed to be in her arms. With her high heels on, she was nearly his height, and he rested his head on her shoulder. She didn't know how long they stood, holding each other silently, but it was sweet and honest and real.
"I don't know why you bother trying to teach me this stuff," Lindsey chuckled when they had sampled the cake, and tried the crackers and cheeses, accompanied by what Damon said was a really good white wine.
"You'll develop a palate for it," he promised.
"C'mon. You know me. If it's not Kool-Aid with a kick, I'm not interested. Even with a heightened sense of taste, I taste alcohol and yeast, and that's about it."
"I'm not giving up. Good wine should be appreciated."
"Appreciate it for both of us, then," she said as he grinned and shook his head.
"Did I mention we have reservations at Le Cirque for five, and then we have tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show?"
"Really?" Lindsey's mouth fell open. "Are you serious?"
"Yep. And you don't even have to change clothes. You're perfect like you are." His grin was smug, but really, Lindsey couldn't blame him.
"Damon, you're spoiling me something awful," she said. He just shrugged and she got the tomcat grin. "Preferred guest, right?" He wiggled his eyebrows.
Leave it to Damon to look perfectly at home, even in the hallowed environs of Le Cirque. He looked chic, sexy, hot -- everything. Lindsey was grateful to have him by her side, and was immensely proud of her gorgeous husband, but she felt like the country mouse gone to the big city. What kept her from being quite so nervous was appreciating the looks on every female face in the restaurant. Heads turned to watch Damon as they walked to their table.
When seated, Lindsey murmured to him, "Well, you made a splash. Every woman in the place is staring at you."
"Nothing new," Damon smirked, and Lindsey discreetly, but firmly poked his ankle with the pointed toe of her shoe. His expression was innocent hurt.
"Stinker," she said. Their server brought the menus and poured water for them.
Damon glanced at the menu. "Want me to order for you?" he asked.
"Thank you, but no. You'd order caviar and foie gras sure as I'm sitting here, and I'm not eating cold fish eggs and fat goose liver. Not on a bet."
Damon pressed his lips together to keep from laughing out loud. "Escargot, then?"
"And not snails, either. Don't even think it. I see some very nice things here that I'll eat."
"The bread and butter?" he teased.
"Oh, ha, ha, Mr. Man About Town. If they only knew how much you like my fried chicken, peas and cornbread and peach cobbler. Don't put on airs with me. I'll have the organic field greens salad, the white truffle risotto and the roast chicken."
Their server returned and Damon ordered in rapid-fire French, but Lindsey could follow enough to know he ordered what she had asked him to.
When their starters arrived, Lindsey looked carefully at Damon's plate, and sniffed. She made a face.
"Steak tartare. Eeww." She started on her salad, shuddering.
"What's the matter with it? It's really good."
"Raw meat. Yuck."
"You eat it all the time," he said. His grin was pure evil.
Oooohhh. That devil. Well, two could play that game. "Not anymore," she shot back with a pleased grin. That wiped the smirk off his face.
"That's dirty pool," he said.
"Can't handle MiGs, don't fly in MiG alley, sugar britches." She continued eating her salad.
"When am I gonna learn?" he groused.
"Oh, maybe after 80 or 90 years of being married to me, you'll catch up."
"If I could only say I didn't ask for that. But I did," he said.
The tablecloths were long, and Lindsey eased her shoe off and ran her toe up the inside of Damon's leg. She winked at him. His grin turned wolfish again. "Want to skip the show?" he asked.
"Not on your life."
His shoulders sagged in mock disappointment. "How did I know?"
The show was wonderful and Lindsey was enraptured. Damon enjoyed the show itself, but his real pleasure came from seeing his wife's face as she watched the performers. He still wasn't used to being the guy who made someone happy instead of miserable. But he'd take it.
Lindsey's wedding night gift to her husband was a pair of black silk sleep pants she found in the Armani store in the hotel plaza. She knew Damon would wear them for her, but as she emerged from her bathroom, couldn't have predicted just how sinfully sexy/delicious/hot they would look on him. He was standing, programming the sound system, and the waist of the pants hung low on his narrow hips, showing the dimples of his lower back. Mouth watering -- that's what he was.
He hadn't looked at her yet. "I like the jammies, babe. They're comfortable."
"I'm glad," she said, and waited for Damon to turn toward her. When he did, his mouth dropped open. Then he swallowed. That was the reaction she was looking for.
"Wow," he managed. She looked gorgeous. She had her hair brushed down over her shoulders. She wore a long nightgown in cream silk satin and organza. The silk went to mid-thigh, and joined to it with a wide lace inset were several layers of matching organza panels that fluttered to her ankles. The gown had butterfly sleeves edged in lace and a deep-V neckline, with embroidery accents. It had a laced closure at the front, tied with a satin bow.
"You like?" Her smile was pure seduction.
He nodded and walked to her. He touched the satin sleeve with a delicate finger and then the lace at the neckline. "I guess..." but he was hoarse. He cleared his throat. "This is not for ripping apart, obviously."
"Oh, no. This is for unwrapping. Just untie the bow," she said, relishing the look on his face. It wasn't often she could render Damon speechless, but she was enjoying this. She wasn't sure what he had expected, but it clearly wasn't this.
Damon looked at Lindsey's face, filled with honest, open love for him, into her eyes, still as kind as they were before she was turned, but the sadness was gone. When had it disappeared? He couldn't remember. He caressed her cheek with the back of his hand and trailed his fingertips across her lips, his eyes as blue as Lindsey had ever seen them. She kissed the tip of his middle finger, and he smiled, but there was only delight in his expression, not the usual lust. He tipped her chin up and pressed his lips to hers with such gentleness, with such aching tenderness, Lindsey wanted to weep with the feeling.
She brought her hands up to comb her fingers through his soft hair and scratched his scalp, knowing it was one of his favorite ways to be touched. His hands went to her back, pressing her body to his. Damon sighed into her mouth as the kiss grew more heated, but he was determined to do this at human speed. Lord willing, he was only going to get one actual wedding night, and he wanted to savor every second.
He carefully pulled the bow loose on Lindsey's nightgown, and slowly unlaced the ribbons from each eyelet. He parted the bodice and drew her the last couple of steps to the bed, where he pushed the material from her shoulders and it fell to her feet in a whisper. He ran his hands down her shoulders, looking at her body, which she was finally unashamed to show him. It wasn't perfect. Her skin was creamy and soft, but the scars of her humanity still showed. But every scar, every imperfection, told her story -- their story -- to his eyes. He circled his thumb around the scar where her chemo port was placed in her chest, seeing even the stretch marks on her breasts -- faint now -- but beautiful to him because they were part of her.
Lindsey slid Damon's sleep pants off his hips and he stepped out of them. His body always took her breath away, but now, he wasn't just her boyfriend or occasional lover. Now, he was her husband. She who never thought she would never fall in love, much less marry, had somehow bonded to the most wonderful man she had ever met. In spite of his faults, Damon Salvatore suited her in every part of her being. They truly did complete each other. She kissed him again and lay on the bed, drawing him down to her.
Damon felt as shaky as an untried 19-year-old. His knee was between her thighs and she ran her hands up his arms in invitation. He started with her neck, and proceeded to kiss and tongue every square inch of her skin, until she was panting in anticipation. His mouth was soft and hungry on her breasts, and he gently bit the undersides and worked his way down her belly, to her center, where he kissed and nibbled on the soft skin of her inner thighs before he placed tender kisses on the moist flesh. Taking his time, Damon brought Lindsey to a slow, sustained, smoldering climax that had her clutching his hair and moaning his name softly. He kissed his way back up to her mouth and left love bites all over her neck that quickly faded. He sank himself into her heat, so slowly, so she could feel his whole shaft inside her.
Lindsey brought her hips to his and twined her legs with his, locking her hands to his shoulders and throwing her head back, giving him access to her neck when he wanted it. Damon's body was screaming at him to thrust and drive, but he controlled the urge and moved slowly, but penetrating deeply, drawing out the pleasure as long as he could.
Finally, his need to increase the pace was more than he could resist, and he thrust faster into her body, and she met every one with whispers of passion and desire. He could feel her body start to tip over the edge and sank his fangs into her neck. She bit too, and any blood sharing before seemed feeble and pale in comparison to this coming together. Damon had waited his whole existence as a vampire to feel this way -- the way Katherine told him he could feel. As he licked Lindsey's neck and closed the wounds, and felt her doing the same, he was as high as any drug had ever made him and he looked in Lindsey's eyes. "You too?" he whispered and she nodded.
Lindsey couldn't believe how fiercely intimate tasting Damon's blood had been. It was aggressively, deliciously probing to the deepest feelings in her soul. She was completely exhausted, and had never felt more wonderful. Nothing had prepared her for this. Nothing could have. She snuggled to her husband's delicious body as he drew the comforter over both of them. He turned out the light and nuzzled her neck again. "Do I even have to say how much I love you?" he whispered.
"Yes, so I can say how much I love you," she murmured. "And I do." The afterglow of the lovemaking and blood sharing made Lindsey cling to Damon, needing to feel his hands on her skin. She crashed into sleep. Damon followed close behind her, but realized before his eyes closed that the demons weren't howling in his soul. His warrior angel had defeated them again. He was grateful.