Ordinary Loneliness

A Fragile Truce

One of the problems with being a vampire was you tended to be cold, and you always looked for a source of warmth – kind of like a snake. So it was that, when Damon woke up the next morning, he was curled around Lindsey's body. She hadn't moved from her side of the bed; he had moved from his. He considered his position. It wasn't so bad. He thought about some of the hookers he had bedded in the past. Lindsey had it all over them: she was clean, didn't smell and probably didn't have the clap. So now, he told himself, you're willing to be a real stand-up guy and put this lady just one notch above skank whores. Classy. Well, no one ever said he was perfect.

Carefully, Damon moved away from Lindsey's warmth. He was pretty sure she'd freak if she woke up to find him twined around her like a python with a warming rock. She stirred briefly, but didn't wake. He saw her shiver and thought she might have been cold too, so he tucked her blanket around her more securely before going into the kitchen.

This whole project had "Augustine" written all over it, he thought. Those bastards were certainly not above kidnapping innocent humans to suit their purposes. He thought he surely had gotten rid of all of them, but apparently, he'd either missed a couple, or someone knew about their "work" and decided it would be just dandy to carry it on -- or at least use their methods. He wasn't sure which was worse. He couldn't believe they caught him twice in one lifetime.

He grabbed a blood bag from the fridge and heated it. As he sipped on it, he pondered on what in the world he could do to get both himself and Lindsey out of this situation, alive and in one piece. There had to be an end game; there was always an end game. Especially for the Augustines. That explained the sinister little "one dies, both die" line in the "rules." And Damon had no doubt they were absolutely serious.

Even if he chose to ignore his 99 percent of the time, Damon did have a conscience and knew the difference between right and wrong. He might not care about the difference a good portion of the time, but he could distinguish between the two. The Augustines made no such distinctions. The goal was Good. Hindrances were Evil. Humans or vampires were merely their tools to achieve the Goal. So it went. He knew they were being watched all the time. So, plans had to be made that wouldn't pull their focus. Fortunately, Damon Salvatore was nothing if not sneaky and conniving. But of course, the Augustines -- or whoever was running this shit show -- would know that too. Father always thought Stefan was the smart one. But Damon knew he was a match for Stefan, any day. The truth was, Damon Salvatore would have blown the doors off an IQ test, and would have even before he was turned. He warmed another blood bag, sat at the table and started drinking.

So, at this point, caution was the order of the day until he was more accustomed to the routine. He wasn't going to tip his hand, for sure. But he had to get Lindsey somewhere they weren't being watched. Maybe the bathroom. He would have to determine where the cameras were and oh-so-casually throw a blanket over one. Even if the sound still worked, he could write a note, which would then go into the garbage disposal.

Just as he was finishing the bag, Lindsey came into the kitchen. He was so deep in thought, he hadn't heard her stirring around in the bedroom. But she was just quiet, anyway. He was determined to behave himself. Working together was the only way they were getting out of this place. And even a "mercurial," obnoxious asshole like himself could see she didn't deserve the worst he could dish out.

"Good morning," he said, pleasantly.

"Morning." Lindsey started the coffeemaker and retrieved a cup from the cabinet.

"Mind getting one for me? I could use some coffee."

"Oh, sure. I didn't know whether you drank coffee. Not everyone does." Lindsey placed a second cup on the counter.

"I do. How are you this morning?" he asked.

"O.K. You?"

"I'm all right. Did you sleep much?"

"Pretty well. How about you?"

"Fine. Just out of curiosity, were you thinking about cooking any breakfast this morning?"

Lindsey shrugged. "I don't know. I can, if you'd like something."

"Is there any bacon in the fridge?" he asked, knowing there was.

She checked. "Yeah. I'll fix some for you. Would you like an egg? I only like them scrambled, but I'll attempt to fry one if you want it."

"Scrambled is fine."

"All right. Toast?"

"If you don't mind."

Lindsey wasn't sure why Damon was actually being so decent today, but she was grateful. She started some bacon in the microwave and scrambled an egg in the pan. She put three pieces of bread in the toaster, found some grape jam in the fridge, and put that on the table. She poured him a cup of coffee and gave it to him, then put the egg, bacon and two pieces of toast on a plate and put that on the table in front of him, along with a fork and a paper napkin.

"There you go," she said.

"Thank you, Lindsey," he answered and gave her a dazzling smile that made her heart turn over. In fact, Damon could hear her heartbeat go up a notch or two.

Her face and voice betrayed nothing, though. "You're welcome."

As he ate, he noticed she sipped coffee, but didn't eat anything. "Everything's good. You're not eating?"

"Glad you like it. I haven't been up long enough to be hungry. I'll eat after while."

"Well, thanks for going to the trouble for me."

"You're welcome."

Damon finished eating and cleared up his dishes and smiling at her again, went into the den. But, he kept one ear open, listening to what she was doing. He heard her soft movements, a clink of china. That was her cup on the counter, then more small sounds, the refrigerator door opening and closing. Stealthily, he got up and inched to the kitchen. She sat at the table, her back to him. He could see her with a single piece of toast. Was that all she planned on eating? She ate the toast as if it were a chore, and washed it down with coffee. He decided to keep an eye on her, even as he moved back into the den.

As usual, she went into the office and closed the door. Were they back to the ghost routine? He sighed. Well, at least she didn't expect non-stop sex or something like that. Some of the girls he knew would take this opportunity to see how long they could keep him naked. And she didn't sit in the den and run on incessantly about idiotic subjects, which was definitely a plus. If all a girl was capable of doing was running her mouth or having sex, he would prefer sex. At least she would be doing something interesting. He paused to think about that and grimaced. He never claimed to be the good guy -- quite the opposite -- but did he have to be the bad guy and a pig? He shook his head and turned on the TV. Even "The Price is Right" was better than too much self-examination. Besides, it was always fun to see how fast Bob Barker could run from the crazy women contestants. Even at his age, he managed to avoid the worst ones. Years of practice.

Lindsey just surfed the Internet, mostly looking at sites that featured books online. She could hear Damon chuckling at "The Price is Right," and remembered watching it with her grandmother during the summers when she was a child. She had gotten pretty good at the pricing games, but her favorite game shows were the quiz shows, like "Jeopardy," and her favorite, "Tic-Tac-Dough."

Maybe Damon had decided he had been enough of a jerk for a while and would be more civil to her. She would take civil, if that's all he could manage. She was sure he was going crazy in this place, probably more than she was, and she certainly wasn't going to antagonize him, if she could help it. She thought, being born in 1839, he could have some interesting stories to tell, and she'd like to hear them. She wondered how these people caught Damon. He didn't strike her as the type to be led into anything; he was much too suspicious to be easily fooled. This was a reporter's dream story, only she would never be able to tell it.

She found "Jane Eyre" online and turned her attention back to it. It had been a while since she read it.

"What are you reading?" Damon asked her. How did he move without her even hearing footsteps?

"Jane Eyre. It's one of my favorite books."

"I thought it was good, too. But it's been a long while since I've read it. How do you feel about the work by the other Bronte sisters?"

"I liked 'Agnes Grey.' 'Wuthering Heights?' Not so much."

"Yeah, I always thought 'Wuthering Heights' was a little too over the top. Almost like she's trying too hard."

"I know what you mean. Did you want to use the computer? I'm just reading. I can come back to it any time."

"Not really." He moved closer to her and looked over her shoulder. "What's going on in the book?" His breath was too close to her, and she could feel goosebumps pop out all over, in spite of herself.

"Jane is still at Lowood."

"Mr. Brockelhurst has to be one of the biggest jerks in literature -- ever," he said.

"I agree with you."

He turned. "Did you hear something just now?"

"No."

"I did." He went into the den and saw the familiar envelope, this time with his name on it. He walked back into the office. "Looks like it's my turn in the barrel," he said, handing it to her. It instructed him to prepare for his "evaluation." "I guess I'm considered presentable. Not too much variety in the way of clothes."

"At least they left you some shoes. You were barefoot when you got here," Lindsey pointed out.

He nodded. "So I was. Guess we should count our blessings."

"If you'll put your dirty clothes on top of the machine before you go, I'll do a load of laundry while you're gone."

"I'd appreciate it."

"No problem. I have to do some anyway."

Damon went to the bedroom and deposited some clothing on top of the washer. He went into the den and Lindsey actually followed him. "Nothing to do but wait until the mysterious door opens," he joked, wiggling his eyebrows.

"Yeah. Listen, Damon. Thank you for – for deciding to be nice to me. I appreciate it."

"You don't want to be here any more than I do. No reason for me to be a dick to you."

She smiled and sat on the sofa. When the door opened, Damon got up and went toward it. "See you in a bit," he said.


Damon went through the same hallway and doors routine. When he got to the darkened room, at least he knew a little of what to expect. "Please be seated," the disembodied voice instructed. He sat.

"We are glad you have modified your behavior toward your roommate. Your previous attitude was not necessary and not conducive to the goals of this study."

"I realize that," Damon said. He did not want to antagonize these people. If they were aligned with the Augustines, even philosophically, he could be sure that excruciating pain would be in his future if he pissed them off.

"Does her presence upset you?"

"I hardly know she's there."

"You have shared a bed."

"Your orders. We both want to get out of here as soon as we can."

"Does her physical appearance upset you?"

"She's not what I expected."

"Answer the question. Does her physical appearance upset you?"

Damon rolled his eyes expressively. "It did. Not so much now."

"Do you find her sexually attractive?"

Bastards. "She's not really my type."'

"Do you find her extremely unattractive?"

"No. She has a nice face." What he wouldn't give to have someone to spit on for these questions.

"She said she finds you very attractive. Does this upset you?"

"Why should it? Most women find me attractive." If these were the kinds of questions she got, no wonder Lindsey was a wreck when she came back.

"If asked to seduce her, would you?"

"Why would I do that to her? She doesn't deserve that. If you guys are trying to watch two people have sex, just buy a damn video!" He shook his head in disgust. "I thought this was about peaceful coexistence, not sex, anyway."

"We have our research goals."

"I'm sure you do."

"Why is she not eating?"

"I don't know. Stress, maybe. Depression. I have no idea."

"Does this concern you?"

"Does it concern you people?" he shot back.

"Answer the question."

"O.K. It concerns me."

"What do you plan to do about it?"

"Me? Are you kidding me? I can't force a grown woman to eat! I can't compel her and I wouldn't anyway. She's an adult."

"Encourage her."

He sighed. "All right. I'll encourage her. But that's all I can – or will – do."

"We encourage physical closeness, as well."

"Listen here, people. I refuse to make that woman feel something for me when this is a temporary situation -- hopefully – and then have her fall apart when it's over and I can't continue the relationship. I'll admit to being a complete dick and an ass, and the bad guy, but even I have my limits."

"Would you do it if it meant shortening your time in this project?"

Well, wasn't that a tasty little carrot? And just like something the Augustines would do. "Nope. All I've got is time, these days."

"We have enough information for now. We will evaluate you again."

"Looking forward to it," Damon said. He left the room and the glass doors and exhaled in relief.


When he got back to the unit, the door opened as usual, and he went into the den. Lindsey was watching T.V. "How was it?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Sick bastards. I'm supposed to encourage you to eat more. They want you to."

She raised one eyebrow. "Well, in the immortal words of Mick Jagger, 'You can't always get what you want.' That's my answer."

Damon put his hands up in a placating gesture. "Hey, your decision." But he looked at her in the light. It seemed to him Lindsey's features were sharper. Well, she probably had dropped some weight since she had been here. But there was an edge to the way she looked. He really couldn't put his finger on it, exactly. "I need a snack, though," he said and went to heat up some blood. Two bags and half a bottle of bourbon later, he felt a little better.

"Why do you drink so much?" Lindsey asked.

"Takes the edge off. Vampires have super heightened emotions, so what would be just kind of irritating to a human might be a major annoyance to us. Alcohol helps."

"O.K. Makes sense."

"Why aren't you eating?"

"Don't feel like it. I'm not hungry most of the time." And there was no way she was eating anything in front of this guy. Not even a salad.

"Fair enough." She turned to look him in the eyes. Her eyes were brown, deep set. They were ineffably sad. But they seemed to see into his being. They were the eyes of an old soul, he realized. He waited for her to say something – anything – but she just nodded and turned back to the television.

Lindsey watched for a while, then glanced over at Damon. He was looking at her intently. "Damon, please don't stare at me. It makes me uncomfortable."

"Sorry. Just trying to figure you out."

"There's not that much to figure. As you noticed, I'm not that interesting."

He rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Lindsey. Are you gonna keep throwing that in my face? I said I was sorry, and I am."

"I didn't mean it in that way. I know I'm not a hugely interesting person. I'm not a world traveler or anything. I write feature stories, not hard news. I write stories about old ladies winning quilt shows and kids fighting cancer and the new bands coming to town. I've covered one murder trial and I swore that was the last time I'd ever do it. Then, about three years ago, I had to cover an execution. Told my editor if he ever asked me to do that again, I'd walk out and not look back. It was a month before I was right in the head again."

Damon had seen too many people die – killed too many himself – but he had to think that watching an execution couldn't be a healthy thing to do, especially for a human. "Not an electrocution, I hope." God, but was THAT ever a nasty way to die. The worst, in his opinion, except, maybe, for hanging.

"No, lethal injection, but it didn't matter. You see a living person come into a room and you know they won't leave it alive. That messes with your head in a major way. It did with mine, anyway. I know people who covered them and it didn't bother them too much. But they all had problems, too."

"You don't actually see the whole process, do you?"

"No. You see the person come in and watch them strap him to the bed, and start the IV, and hear his final statement, then they close the curtains, and open them after they pronounce him dead. Still pretty gruesome."

"I guess so." His brow was furrowed and Lindsey got the impression he had never really thought about people in the modern era actually being present to watch an execution so they could report on it. "How did you get tagged for that assignment, anyway?"

"He was from our area. Usually, an Associated Press reporter covers it, and there was one there, but because he was local, they wanted to send someone, and I was available. The other reporters who had done it said it wasn't that bad, but they were just telling me that so I'd go ahead and do it. Never again, though. Not in this universe."

"Damn. Hell of a thing to watch."

Lindsey nodded. "Give me quilt shows and that kind of thing any day."

"I can see the appeal, compared to the other. What was the murder trial about?"

"Woman on trial for killing her husband. It was one of those things when I'm glad I wasn't on the jury. No way I could have been impartial. Apparently, this guy was a piece of work. Her attorney had a stack of reports thick enough to choke a mule, and every one was a police report or doctor's assessment of her condition after this jerk beat the hell out of her. He killed their dog in front of her, and that's what made her snap."

"How'd she do it?" Damon was fascinated.

"He was a major drunk, and she waited until he passed out. She tied him in the bed, soaked his body and the bedclothes in bourbon, poured about a half a bottle down his throat and lit a match."

Damon nodded slowly. "Now, that is poetic justice if I've ever heard of it. Gotta salute that chick. What happened to her?"

"Guilty by reason of mental defect. She was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in a mental hospital. But before she was transferred, she killed herself in jail."

"Holy shit."

"Yeah. Her mother sent me a copy of her suicide note. She wanted to thank the newspaper for printing the details about what her husband had done to her so everyone would know what she had been too ashamed to tell."

Damon's eyes were wide. "It's a wonder you don't drink. "

Lindsey laughed ruefully. "No, I eat instead."

"Except recently."

"Yeah." She turned back to the television. Damon looked at her and thought she had to be one of the loneliest humans he had ever met. Nearly as lonely as he was.

"I've done some bad, bad things. If I'd been caught and been human, I'd have had a needle in my arm a long time ago." Now, what in the hell made him tell her that?

Lindsey looked over at him, a little alarmed. "Do you feel any remorse for what you've done?"

He looked keenly at her. Something in her eyes made him wish he could lie, but he couldn't. "Yeah. Yeah, I do. A lot of it was unnecessary as hell, but I wasn't right, either. Vampires have this ability to kind of switch off their humanity. By that, I mean, the good part. The compassion part. Leaves us with anger, hate, revenge. And no remorse. I did that for years and years. I might as well tell you this. Back in the 50s, I was held captive for five years by these nut jobs who called themselves the Augustines. I and a vampire friend were tortured and used as medical experiments because we heal. After I got out, I flipped the switch and it stayed off for a long time. Now, this – whatever this is – worries me because I think it's connected with the Augustines, in philosophy, if not directly. It just has their methods all over it."

"That's scary."

"You're damn right it is."

"They can hear us."

"I don't care. I'd have told you at some point. Now as well as later." He shrugged.

Lindsey nodded. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. That's not right. You're a human being."

"No, I'm not. I'm a vampire." He glowered at her.

She snorted. "Well, you look plenty human to me. You're not a gerbil! I'd say you were human. Different, but human."

Damon actually laughed at this. "Not a gerbil. That's a good one."

Lindsey grinned at him and suddenly, he saw a flash of beauty in her face when her eyes came to life and she gave him a mischievous sidelong look. She saw an answering flash in his eyes and then, the veil was back and the light went out. That was it. Watching Lindsey was like seeing someone through a veil, or in a dim room. You got to see exactly what she wanted you to see – and that was all. When she chose to raise the veil, you could see her – the woman inside. But unless she did, you saw the carefully crafted outer shell she presented to the world. He wondered how many people actually saw underneath the veil. As good as she was at keeping it up, he would bet not many did.

"Don't..." he said and touched her arm. She tensed up again. Before, he would have turned away in a huff, but now, he said, "I'm not going to hurt you, Lindsey." His basic nature might now be a hunter of humans, but she wasn't on his list – although he could understand her wariness. It was smart. She was smart.

"All right," she answered. "I don't know why I believe you, but I do. I suspect if I knew half the things you've done, though, I'd have killed myself the first day you got here."

Damon acknowledged this by chewing on his lower lip and raising his eyebrows. "Yeah, probably."

"Why do you do it?"

"It's my nature. It's who I am. I like it."

Lindsey nodded. "So, were you a remorseless psychopath before you became a vampire?"

"No, I was actually a pretty nice guy. You might have liked me."

"Then killing is not your nature. It's the path you chose. Surely, if every vampire were exactly like you, there wouldn't be too many humans left."

He wanted to say she was being judgmental – his favorite indictment – but she wasn't. She was just stating a fact.

"So I chose that path. All right. I'll give you that much."

"And it doesn't bother you that your meal, when you can get blood from other sources, might deprive a family of a father or a mother, a parent of a child, that it tears up families who never did anything to you?"

"You're treading on thin ice, Lindsey," Damon said, his temper rising.

She looked him in the eyes, held his gaze for a moment, then turned away. "All right," she said, and was silent. Clearly, she wasn't going to provoke him.

"I could snap your neck and you couldn't stop me." He was being bitchy and he knew it, but what she said irritated him.

Again, she looked him right in the eyes. "You could. And I wish you would."

His eyes popped. "Really? Why is that?"

"I'm tired, Damon. I'm tired of being here. I'm tired of being a guinea pig. Mostly, I'm tired of being last on every list. And I'm too chicken to jump off the bridge or shoot myself. Except for the fact they said you'd die too, you'd be doing me a favor. There are a lot of people I miss. I'd like to see them again." She rose, went into the office and closed the door, leaving him sitting on the sofa, stunned into stillness.

He felt as if she had slapped him, even though she hadn't said anything that wasn't true. She kind of reminded him of Stefan; both were broody and introspective. He had seen flashes of her wit and a vivid personality, but again, it was all behind that veil. He went to warm up a blood bag and sipped it thoughtfully. She wasn't going to really be herself in front of someone she didn't trust completely. And a couple of days of him being reasonably decent to her wasn't going to make that happen. He lowered his brows in the direction of the office. "Why should I even care?" he asked himself. He poured a large glass of bourbon and went back to watching TV. But what she said still was a niggling itch in the back of his head. Why should it bother him what any human thought about him? But somehow, he kind of cared about Lindsey having a good opinion of him, and that pissed him off.

Lindsey stayed in the room the rest of the day, again, not even coming into the kitchen. Damon didn't feel like trying to draw her out, either. Still, when he was ready for bed, he checked on her. She was asleep on the futon. Because of who they were dealing with, he scooped her up and placed her on "her" side of the bed and covered her up. She stirred a little, but didn't wake, and he undressed, then lay down beside her. He knew he couldn't compel her, but what did Lindsey Hargrove dream about, he wondered?


He saw her, throwing pieces of driftwood into the ocean. He watched her sit down in the sand and lift her face to the sun. The surf covered her toes as a little ripple came up and she laughed. It was a musical sound. She wore shorts and a T-shirt and was entirely unconscious of him or anyone else.

Damon watched her for a while and noticed she didn't look in her dreams as she did in the real world. She was several pounds lighter and her hair was longer. Well, everyone was entitled to their dreams, he thought. He wrestled with the idea of whether to approach her or not, when she turned her head and saw him. She stood, brushed the sand from her thighs and walked over to him. "Why in the world am I dreaming about you?" she said.

"Because I'm just that irresistible?" he replied.

She shook her head. "Get out of my mind. Sleep is the only escape I have."

"Where are we?"

"Alabama Gulf Coast. Before it got so built up."

"It's nice."

"Yeah, it is." She turned to walk away.

"Lindsey?"

"Yeah?"

"Want to walk on the beach with me?"

"I guess so."

They walked, largely in silence, for a while. "Are you feeling better than you were?" he asked.

"Maybe. Being on the beach always makes me feel better."

"A thought just hit me," Damon said.

"What's that?"

"This – in your dreams – is the only place they can't know what we're saying. If we want to plan an escape, we can do it when you're asleep and I can get into your dreams. Apparently, they don't know I can do that." He grinned, obviously very pleased with himself.

"Sneaky. I like it," Lindsey said and returned the smile.

"You should do that more often."

"What?"

"Smile. You do have a nice smile. Makes your face light up."

"Thanks." Where was he going with this?

"Today, they asked me if I'd seduce you if it got me out of here sooner. I said no, and hell no, that I wouldn't do that to you, but it might become necessary for both of us. Think you could stand it?" he said.

"Think you could?" She gave him no quarter and her tone was pure acid.

"Ouch. Deserved that. I admit it. Yeah, I could definitely stand it. I wanted you to know it might be our ticket out of here, though. I'll have to think of a word or phrase or something that'll tip you off."

"I appreciate it, Damon. I really do. "

"You're welcome."

Suddenly, she whirled to face him. "So what changed your mind about me? You think you could stand it, now, huh? How'd that happen?" Lindsey's expression was challenging. Hands on her hips, she narrowed her eyes at him and dared him to answer.

That was the thing about messing around with dreams. You tended to get the real person and Damon had just discovered Lindsey Hargrove was one extra tough customer. He shrugged. "Maybe I decided I was a little too shallow for my own good, and needed to broaden my horizons."

She sneered at him and her eyes were cold. "I'm not a pity project." She'd be damned if she would allow him to have pity sex with her.

"No, not at all. Not one bit." Taking a risk, he turned to her and tipped her chin up. He was going to kiss her. This was her dream, after all – would she allow it? His mouth touched hers and fireworks went off in her brain. He kissed her sweetly, tenderly.

When he raised his head, he smiled at her and she gave him a wry grin. "You're too good at that, Damon. Way too good."

"I've been told that before," he said with a smirk.

"Why am I so not surprised?"


Lindsey woke up suddenly. She was turned toward Damon and he was holding her. She didn't think he was asleep, though. And no, he wasn't. Even in the dim light, she could see him open his eyes. She couldn't see them very well in the dark, but knew that fabulous blue gaze was on her. "You all right?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," she answered, but he could hear the suspicion saturating her tone.

"Interested in picking up where we left off?" he asked. Now where did that come from? Maybe it had just been too long since he'd had a woman.

"I thought you said you weren't going to seduce me," she whispered, softly enough that any cameras wouldn't pick it up, but Damon could hear her clearly.

"I just want to kiss you, all right?"

"Do you ever 'just' want anything?" A week with him and she had his number and was reading his mail, Damon thought.

"Occasionally. And right now, I just want to kiss you. If you'll let me." He moved closer, until his lips brushed hers, and then she was lost. His mouth should be considered a controlled substance. Who needed compulsion when you kissed like this? He took her lower lip between his teeth and worried it gently and then his tongue found hers and she relaxed completely into his arms. He continued kissing her, then moved to her chin and her neck and she heard a tiny crackling sound.

"Damon?"

"Mmmm-hmm?" he hummed against her skin.

"Fangs in, please. No free samples."

How the hell did she know his fangs had dropped? "Just a little taste? I can make it feel really, really good for you." She could feel his fangs, razor-sharp, barely scrape her skin.

Lindsey had no doubt he could make anything he did feel really, really good, but she didn't want Damon to think it was all right for him to bite her anytime he felt like it. Give this man an inch, and he'd take the Interstate, she knew. "I'm sure you could, but sorry."

He sighed and returned to kissing her neck. "You smell so good, and I'm betting your blood is twice as tasty, but oh well."

"Flattering, but I'll pass." She brought his chin up to hers and kissed him, then turned over. "Good night, Damon." Her blood was on fire, and she wanted to melt into him, but her heart just couldn't take it.

Conceding defeat for the moment, he said. "Good night, but can I hold you? You're really warm."

"All right, but keep your fangs to yourself, if you don't mind."

"I'll be good," he whispered in her ear, and goosebumps popped up all over her body. He knew it and chuckled. He snuggled to her, spoon fashion, and fell asleep.

Lindsey was furious with herself for even entertaining the idea that Damon's actions were anything other than self-serving. It would take some fast talking for her to allow him to kiss her again. If they ever got out of here, she wanted some semblance of her self-respect intact. She wasn't going to fall into his arms just because he had decided to treat her like she didn't have the plague and he was feeling deprived. Once she could tell he was asleep, she moved away from him, to the very edge of the bed. She wished with all her heart she was home in Alabama. Even being by herself in her parents' home and missing them was better than this. Anything was better than this.

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