Ordinary Loneliness

Of Fairy Tales and Nightmares

Damon looked at the chaos around him. It was like the whole world had blown up, and he finally located Lindsey in the melee and pulled her out of the confusion and into a green meadow, where daffodils bloomed.

She shook her head. "Thanks for getting me out of there. One of those crazy dreams where nothing makes sense. At least sitting in a field of daffodils makes sense."

Damon actually laughed. "Dreams never cease to amaze me. I still don't understand their purpose half the time."

"Information dump by the brain," Lindsey answered. "So, even though I appreciate you intervening in that street riot, or whatever it was, what's on your mind?"

Damon rolled his eyes. "Right to the point. You can't just sit and enjoy what I have to say is a very nice, happy scene?"

Lindsey chuckled. "You're right. It's a lovely place. Does it really exist?"

He nodded. "Well, it did 150 years ago. There's a subdivision on it, now. This was one of Mother's favorite places. She loved to pick daffodils and would come home with a basketful, and would put them in vases all over the house. So daffodils always remind me of her. Which is sort of funny, since her name was Lily."

"Flower names were much more common for girls then. You hear them now, but not as often," Lindsey said.

Damon rolled his eyes. "I'm not sure if names then were stranger, or some of the ones you hear now are. I've seen some of the names these movie stars pick for their kids, and I'm thinking there's not enough therapy in the world to get a kid past that."

"I agree with you. So now, what's got you worked up enough that you decided to walk around inside my head?"

"Well, maybe I just wanted a little down time. Or maybe," he said and suddenly had her rolled to her back and was lying on top of her, "I needed a little TLC." He gave her a deep, soulful kiss.

She returned the kiss for a few moments, then pulled back. "Control yourself, buster. As much fun as this is, I know you've got a reason for being here. Care to share?"

Damon sighed hugely, rolled away from her and sat up. "Party pooper. I've got an idea. I said I'd work on cluing you in if the powers that be want me to start something with you. I have that word."

"O.K. Lay it on me."

"Svengali."

Lindsey nodded. "Good choice. Distinctive, but not a common word, and not likely to come up in casual conversation."

Damon grinned. "And there's the movie by that name. Which is a good excuse to bring it up."

She ruffled his hair. "What do you know? Useful and ornamental!" she teased him. "Who'd a' thought?"

"Did it ever occur to you that teasing a vampire can be dangerous?" he wiggled his eyebrows at her.

"It's good for you. Keeps you on your toes and makes you sharp."

Even in her dreams, Lindsey had a snappy comeback for everything. Damon shook his head, stood up and extended his hand. "Come on. Let's walk around for a while. How would you like to see where I grew up?"

"I'd love to," she said with a smile.

They walked for a short time, then Damon said, "Just through the trees yonder."

Lindsey looked at the home, a stately Greek revival mansion, so typical for antebellum homes of the period. The house featured Ionic columns all the way around the house.

"When was it built?" Lindsey asked.

Damon thought about it. "Father said it was finished a year or two before I was born, so 1837 or '38. I was born in that house."

"Who was the architect?"

"Um, a man named William Nichols. He was from England, if I remember right," Damon answered. "Why?"

Lindsey grinned. "I thought so. Nichols designed the Alabama statehouse, and a famous home in Florence called the Forks of Cypress. This house looks a lot like the Forks. Probably built on similar blueprints. Maybe even the same plans."

Damon turned to look at her. "How in the world do you know all that?"

She shrugged. "I like history. Did the place have a name?"

"Veritas."

"Truth."

"Yeah. The irony wasn't lost on me as I got older and learned Latin and found out what it meant."

Lindsey took his hand. "Beautiful place, though. Beautiful situation."

"It was. I never really noticed when I was a kid, though. It was just where I lived." He smiled at her. "Let's go inside."

They walked up the steps and he pushed open the wide front door. Even though Lindsey figured seeing the house through Damon's eyes meant it was probably his favorite memory of the house, it was still something else.

He pointed up to the chandelier in the foyer. "Mother had that brought in from New York. I can't even imagine how much it must have cost."

"It's gorgeous," Lindsey said.

"She liked quality. Doesn't explain why she married Father, though."

Lindsey grinned. "Well, she got you out of the deal. That's something."

"Maybe. I've always wondered about Giuseppe, though. I told you I looked like Mother. Here. Come in to the front parlor. There's an actual family portrait." He gestured to a framed tintype on a side table. Lindsey went to it, and found she could pick it up and study it, as Damon must have, many times.

"Gosh, Stefan was just a bitty thing when this was made. Still a toddler."

"He wasn't quite three, I don't think."

"And look at you. Just into long pants. And that jacket and bow tie. I'll bet you hated that thing. That was no way to dress a little boy," she chuckled.

"Not at all. But tell me. Do you see a resemblance between me and Father?"

Lindsey examined it carefully. "No, but you look so much like your mother, it's hard to see, anyway. Even in these old tintypes, you can tell both of you have those blue eyes and that coal black hair. She was a real beauty. I mean, a really stunning woman. No wonder she had such pretty babies," she said with a grin, and Damon actually looked a little sheepish.

She looked out the window. "That's you running around out there, and is that Stefan with you?"

"It is. It's how we looked when we were turned. I know you wondered."

"I did." She turned to Damon. "What handsome young men. I despise Katherine for her methods, but I can understand why she had a hard time making up her mind. I guess it really comes down to blue eyes or green eyes."

"Which would you have chosen?" His expression was intense.

Lindsey wrinkled her nose at Damon and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. "I've always been partial to blue eyes, myself," she said and winked at him. "Now show me your room."

"Upstairs." He led the way, and Lindsey could tell her answer had pleased him no end. Well, everyone ought to be first on someone's list once in a while. "This is how it looked when I was a little boy."

"Your memories are so clear," she said.

"I lived on them a long time," he answered. Lindsey squeezed his hand in understanding. She looked at the room. Books and toys were scattered everywhere. She went to a thick volume. "Grimm's Fairy Tales. Wow. This is a wonderful edition."

"Stefan learned to read from that book. I used to read to him from it. Mother – couldn't. And of course, Father wasn't going to. So I did."

Lindsey went to Damon and put her hand on his cheek. "You were a good big brother. What was your favorite story?"

"We always liked 'The Fisherman and His Wife.'"

"I liked that one, too. Good lesson about not getting greedy."

He nodded and led her into the next room, where a young version of himself, perhaps 12 or so, was reading that story to Stefan. "Now go back to your hovel, and you'll find her there. And they live there to this day." Damon closed the book. "The end."

Stefan scowled at his big brother. "But they ended up back at the hovel!"

Damon shrugged. "That's what happens when you want too much, I guess."

"What's a hovel, anyway?" Stefan asked.

Damon thought about that and Lindsey nearly laughed out loud at the expression on his face. She had seen that same look on the adult version. "It's a shack. Like a one-room cabin."

Stefan nodded. "All right," and his tone was matter-of-fact. He sure was a cute little varmint. At 12, however, Damon had a sweet, sensitive face. He was perilously close to being pretty, and Lindsey suspected that didn't help matters with his overbearing father.

Lindsey glanced at Damon beside her and although he was smiling, his eyes were very bright. Clearly, this memory was very precious to him. She laced her fingers through his and he turned to look at her, and everything went hazy and then blurred out.

She woke up next to Damon. He was holding her and she felt his soft kiss in her hair. "Thanks for humoring me," he murmured.

Lindsey turned over to face him and stroked his hair. "Thank you for sharing some of your memories."

"It's not something I do very often," he said, low.

"I didn't think it was. Thank you for trusting me with them." She leaned in and kissed his cheek.

Damon brought his hand up to stroke her face. "I'm so glad you're my friend."

"Me too."

Perhaps in the darkness, Damon could be more honest. "I don't have many friends. You're just about it."

"I'm sorry about that, Damon. I really am. Sometimes, plain old ordinary loneliness is the hardest thing to deal with.

"You are so right."

She kissed him again. "Good night, Damon. We need some sleep."

"Yeah. Good night."

Lindsey turned over again and once again, felt Damon pulling her close. She felt such intense sadness for him, it was almost painful. Well, one of her God-given gifts was the ability to be a friend, and she was so glad she had been able to give that gift to Damon. Even this horrible experience had a good side if someone as desperately lonely as Damon Salvatore finally had a friend.


Over a week passed before the inevitable envelope arrived for Damon's next "evaluation." They passed the time as they had before: playing board games, watching movies and lately, having philosophical debates about various issues. Damon knew he was highly intelligent, but it was safe to say he had rarely met a human with Lindsey's intellectual capacity. She loved arguing with him. She had a head full of facts and figures that she could produce at any time, and she would wait until he had made what he thought was a flawless argument. Then, her brown eyes gleaming with mischief, she would say, "Interesting. But what about this?" and hand him his theory in tatters. He could out-think her occasionally, but it took a lot of effort and he always felt he won a major victory when he did it. But it was clear she relished the verbal sparring.

He was, however, heartily tired of the mind games their captors were playing. Now that he knew the end game, he was even less patient. They wanted to see if they could make a half-vampire baby. And he was sick of playing the game. Lindsey Hargrove was one of the few humans he truly liked and respected. She was his friend, and those were in short supply in his life. He had no intention of hurting her, or allowing these sick sadists to hurt her, either.

It was all running through his mind when he sat down in the inner sanctum.

"We are pleased the excursion to the grocery store went well," the voice said.

"Yeah, well, it was nice to get out for a change. Thanks for the opportunity." Damon would rather bite his own tongue off than say that, but he wasn't going to give anything away.

"You and Ms. Hargrove seem to enjoy each other's company."

"We do." He could hear it coming, sure as the world.

"Are you still uninterested in a physical relationship with her?" Bingo. Right on time.

"She's my friend. I don't really want to mess that up," he cautiously replied, giving them some rope.

"One of our research goals is to see whether a human and a vampire can have a successful physical relationship." Well, at least they finally admitted it – sort of.

"Do tell." Damon's voice was dry and sarcastic. These idiots were the monsters, not him. He would love to invite them to a dinner party -- with them as the main course. He kept his face expressionless, though.

"We would like to see if it is possible for a vampire to have that kind of relationship with a human without the vampire feeding on the human."

So that was another goal, was it? Good thing those monsters weren't mind-readers. They'd probably zap him with a cattle prod. "It's possible," he said. "It's just one of those things you negotiate at the beginning." He knew if he mentioned "control," his would immediately be tested, and he didn't want to put Lindsey at risk.

"So you would say a vampire can have such a relationship if he exercises self-control." Better they bring it up, anyway. It was easier to counter.

"That's one way to look at it. I prefer to look at it from a respect angle. If a vampire is in a relationship with a human, and the human asks the vampire to refrain from feeding on him or her, then if the vampire really has feelings for the human, those wishes should be respected." Chew on that.

"So if we cut down your blood supply, you would not feel tempted to feed on Ms. Hargrove."

Dammit. Damon would have bet his last dime this was coming. Deprive him of the blood bags to see how long he could refrain from biting Lindsey. Oooohhh, if he ever got his fangs on these bastards they were going to pay. Then, he had an idea. "Well, let's put it this way. If you cut down on my blood supply, and I end up feeding on Lindsey, if I'm that hungry, then the odds are good I'll kill her, even though I don't want to. And if I do, I guarantee you my next step is to take off my daylight ring and stand in the sun and fry. O.K.? Then where's all your research? Gone. And I'll tell you something else. If I do it, then I'm holding Lindsey's body as I catch fire, so hers will too, and you will get absolutely nothing from either of us for your research. Just a burned out spot on the carpet." He didn't know if it was a checkmate or not, but certainly, it made them think. The silence before they answered was about three times longer than usual.

"Of course, we were speaking in hypotheticals. If either of you die, our research goals cannot be met."

Damon was hard put not to grin. Those evil little bastards couldn't stand it when they painted themselves into a corner, and when they did, they backpedaled in a hurry. "Of course, it was all hypothetical. I'm just letting you know what my hypothetical response would be."

"Understood. So you are still not interested in a physical relationship?"

"Man, are you guys ever starting to sound like a broken record! I told you, Lindsey is my friend and I don't want to tamper with that." As furious as Damon was, he fought to keep his emotions under tight control. The Augustines loved it when a vampire had a come-apart in front of them.

"We are prepared to offer an excellent incentive," the voice said.

"And that would be…" This ought to be good.

"Another excursion, as well as shortening the period for the study."

But Damon was starting to form a plan, and step one was showing interest. "How much shorter?"

"A considerable amount."

"And just what do I have to do to get this time shortened?"

"Initiate a physical relationship with Ms. Hargrove."

"And what if she's not receptive? She's indicated to me that's not really an option for her."

"As long as she is not seriously injured, we do not object to the use of force."

Well, well, well. So they were fine with their little guinea pig being raped if that's what it took. He was thankful he and Lindsey had discussed this possibility and had a plan. "I'm not really a rapist," he said.

"We are certain force would not be necessary after the first time."

What philanthropists. "I'll see what I can do."

"A note -- this must be where we can observe the proceedings. We have allowed you to keep your bedroom free of observation."

"So it's not a go unless it's on camera, right?"

"Correct. And we have her scheduled for an evaluation in two days. It needs to be before then, so we can evaluate her responses."

"Like I said, I'll see what I can do."

"You may go."

Damon walked out of the room and back to the unit, seething the whole way. These people might be a little more subtle than they were in the 50s, but they were still just as sick.

When he got to the unit, Lindsey took one look at Damon and could tell something was up. He looked like he was ready to chew nails. He threw himself on to the sofa and glared at the television. He glanced at Lindsey. "Ever seen the movie 'Svengali'?" he asked.

So that's what was going on. "Long time ago, but I don't remember much about it. Why?"

"I'll have to see if we can get a copy in the next couple of days. I think I'd like to see it again."

"O.K." And that gave her the time frame. Obviously, they needed to talk. She went into the office, knocked around on the computer for a few minutes and then went into the bathroom. A couple of minutes later, Damon went into the bedroom, closed the door, waited and went into the bathroom, as well. Vent fan and bathtub faucet on, and they were reasonably private. "All right. Spill," Lindsey said.

Damon shook his head. "One of their 'research goals' is to see if a vampire and human can have a physical relationship. They finally admitted it."

"No surprises there. Of course, they didn't mention the half-vampire baby part, I'm sure." Damon shook his head. "What else?" she asked.

"They want us to get physical, no matter what. 'We will not object to force,' as long as I don't seriously hurt you. The carrot is another field trip and shortening the time of the project, but we know that's a lie. They want you pregnant with my child." Damon didn't think he needed to share the rest of the conversation – the part about them taking his blood supply away. That was on a need-to-know basis. "So I'm thinking we do the whole scene -- modified, of course -- and when we get our next field trip, we make a break for it. They're not gonna let up, and I think we've both figured out they're not gonna let us go. So how well do you know this town?"

"Pretty well. I've spent some time here."

"Where do they sell really good cars in this town?"

"You mean fast cars?" Damon nodded. "Place up on Eighth Avenue. I know where it is. They have some real doozies up there."

"That's what we need, then."

"What about blood for you?"

"Don't worry about that. Blood banks are everywhere. So are people." Here he grinned at her.

She smacked his arm. "Behave yourself. When do we want to do this?"

"Well, I acted pretty interested about the 'deal' they offered, and they want it done before they talk to you again in a couple of days, so maybe tonight. Get it out of the way. Oh, really bad part. It has to be where they can 'observe' it. I'm sorry about that, but it does. But I think we can manage to make them think they're seeing what they're not seeing. And then, you have to act scared, injured, etcetera for a couple of days until your evaluation. You up for it?"

She sighed. "Yeah, I guess so. I know you won't hurt me. How about this? We go for the whole scenario, then I start freaking out, but you're too far gone and it all happens. That way, you act really guilty and I can be guilty and sorry, scared -- all of it."

Damon nodded slowly. "That would work. O.K. And you never know. You might enjoy it." His grin was wicked.

"Get out of here, you pervert," Lindsey said.

He left the bathroom with a chuckle, and after a few moments, she flushed the toilet and turned off the water. The whole exchange hadn't taken long at all, so Lindsey was fairly sure "they" didn't suspect anything.


Lindsey was a bundle of nerves the rest of the day. She knew Damon wouldn't hurt her, but the idea of baring even a millimeter of skin to those cameras terrified her. "I'll just have to trust him," she said to herself.

When he came to sit beside her and gave her a slow wink, she knew it had started. As usual, the TV was on, and he put his arm around her shoulders. She scooched away from him.

"C'mon. I can't even put my arm around you?" he said, a pout in his voice. He was a good actor, she had to give him that.

"I just want to watch this show. Besides, first it's your arm, and then everything else. I know how you operate," she retorted.

He snickered. She did know him too well. If only this weren't a display for the cameras, Damon knew he could convince Lindsey that he could make it really good for her. And if they ever got out of here, he was going to. Still, there was the matter at hand. He started stroking her thigh and giving her smoldering glances as he did.

She smacked his chest. "Jeez, Damon. Would you keep your hands to yourself?" That was tough, because she didn't want him to stop touching her.

"You know you don't want me to stop. I can hear your heartbeat increase, remember?"

"Yeah, I know. But maybe it's just because I'm aggravated."

"Not a chance. C'mon Lindsey. Don't be such a cold fish." He knew that would get her going.

"Cold fish?" she screeched. She shoved his shoulder. "You jerk! I am not a cold fish!"

"Prove it, then." He leaned in to her and waggled his eyebrows. If it weren't for the devilment she could see in his eyes, she would really be getting into this.

"I'm not a cold fish, but you're a pig!"

"Oink, oink. Guilty as charged. Think you can manage a real insult?" This play fighting was getting him more turned on than he cared to admit.

"You know I can, fangboy!"

"Fangs yeah, but boy? Nothing like a boy about me. I'm a man, sweetheart."

You bet your sweet bippy you're a man, she thought. "Oh, would you just stop! I get so tired of hanging out with an octopus -- all hands. I don't care how old you are. You're still acting like a horny teenager."

Damon ran his hand down the length of her hair. "Horny, I'll admit to, sugar," he whispered in her ear. Then, "You're doing great. Keep it up." That grounded her, because the "sugar" just about had her on top of him, doing indecent things to him, and cameras be damned.

"If everything wouldn't grow back, I swear I'd neuter you!" she snapped. "I might, anyway." That was payback for the "cold fish" crack.

Play fighting or not, that comeback made Damon squirm. "Hit a guy where he lives, why don't you? You've got a mean streak."

"Like you didn't know that. I don't have too many advantages over you. I'll take what I can get."

Normally, verbal exchanges didn't last this long with Damon -- mostly because he didn't date women who could keep up with him that long. He knew Lindsey could throw out the stingers all night, though. "I need a drink," he said and got up. End of round one. This had to look real, Lindsey knew, and this gave them both time to regroup.

When he returned with his large glass of bourbon, Lindsey eyed him. "Please drink. A lot."

"Now why would you want me to do that?"

"Ever read what Shakespeare said about drinking in Macbeth?"

Damon honestly couldn't remember. "No."

"He said liquor makes a man stand to and not stand to. It provokes the desire and takes away the performance." Lindsey smirked at him.

"Shakespeare obviously wasn't acquainted with vampires," Damon shot back and drained his glass. One thing the bourbon did do -- it helped him focus on what he had to do, rather than allowing himself to get caught up into doing something he didn't need to do. He got up to take his glass to the kitchen. When he came back, he leaned over the back of the sofa, and started kissing Lindsey's neck.

"Holy crap, Damon! Would you stop!" she exclaimed. Although in truth, his mouth on her neck was as intoxicating as that bourbon.

"Mmmm. No. I don't think so," he said, and before she could think, he had vaulted over the sofa and had her flat on her back.

"Let me up, you caveman!" Lindsey cried, pounding on his back, even as he kissed her throat.

"Good job," he whispered in her ear. "Now let me kiss you. Make it look real."

Well, no problems there. Lindsey stopped wiggling so much and Damon latched on to her mouth. She knew this was supposed to be for the cameras, but she couldn't help responding to his kiss.

Damon, of course, could tell Lindsey's response was in no way faked, and it irritated him no end that he couldn't continue this in a more appropriate setting. Her body was very soft and warm underneath his and he pushed her skirt up above her knees and she heard fabric rip. "Come on, Lindsey, you know you want this," he growled.

Well, yes. Yes, she did, but not here. Not like this. Certainly not with a camera on her. She could feel him fumbling with his zipper and knew he had his pants open.

"No!" she screamed. "Get away from me! Please Damon, don't do this!"

He was half convinced she was serious. "Don't fight it. You know you want it."

"Not like this! Please! Stop!"

"I said stop fighting me!" He made a huge show of thrusting against her while she screamed that it hurt and she hated him. He cried out, as if he had his orgasm, and pulled away from her. She started to cry. "I hate you, Damon Salvatore! I hate you!" she yelled and pushed him off of her, frantically trying to straighten her skirt.

"You were into it a minute ago," he said bitterly. "Cock tease."

"Asshole!" she spat.

"Frigid bitch!"

"Cocksucker!"

Then, Lindsey punched him in the face as hard as she could, knowing she couldn't hurt him. And she ran into the office, holding her torn clothes to her. She wrapped in the afghan on the futon and cried. The tears were real, because she was scared she would never leave this place, and what if Damon actually did ever lose control with her? Still and all, it had been a darn good performance, she thought.

Damon fixed his clothing and went into the kitchen for more bourbon. He figured he looked messed up enough, and truth to tell, he was. Even though they both knew no rape was involved, it was still tough on both of them. He worked his jaw back and forth. Wow. That girl had a wicked right cross, and her shoulders were broad enough to put some power behind it. He saw stars when she connected with his chin. It would heal quickly enough, but he was in for a bad 15 minutes or so until it did. Now, they had to wait it out. This worked in their favor. Their watchers wouldn't think he would be able to convince Lindsey to escape with him without using compulsion, which of course, he couldn't do to her. He went into the bedroom to change into a pair of sleep pants and lie down. He couldn't remember the last time he had a headache, but he had one. Must be the stress.

A thought occurred to him. They could place two calls a week. He got his cell, made a call and speaking in rapid-fire Italian, made a request. His words were encrypted, so all the other microphones would pick up would be a standard "Hello, how are you" conversation. Same if they had a trace lock on his cell. He hadn't lived all these years without knowing how to put a level of security between his phone and the rest of the world. But the call would ensure he had cash waiting on him at any bank he chose to visit.

About midnight, he went into the office. "Come to bed," he said.

Lindsey looked at him and the venom in her gaze looked very real. "You've got to be kidding."

"I'm sorry, Lindsey. I really am. I got carried away. Just – come on to bed. I won't touch you again. You know we have to do this."

She got up and went past him. "I hate you, Damon Salvatore. I hope you die," she spat. He shuddered. She sure sounded convincing. She grabbed clothes and went into the bathroom and showered. When she came out, Damon was in bed already. Lindsey slammed the hallway door closed and got in bed with him.

He immediately turned to her. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" he whispered.

"No. I'm a little bruised, but I'll live. How's the jaw?"

He chuckled, low. "You pack a mean punch, babe."

"I think we were convincing, but it was awful to do," Lindsey replied.

"I know. I hated it. I mean, I loved kissing you, but I hated the whole scene."

"The mental fatigue is the worst. I feel like I've been hit by a truck."

"Me too." Damon cuddled her close. "Let's get some sleep. I know you're beat. So am I. Good night, sweetie."

"Night, Damon."

Lindsey had decided to go back to the whole "ghost" routine until her evaluation. She really would miss Damon's company, but it was a behavior pattern for her, and going back to it would make the whole sordid scene look much more realistic. Besides, it would give her the opportunity to get into the appropriate attitude for her evaluation. They had to nail this to get another trip outside. She wasn't sure what all Damon had in mind for a jailbreak, but whatever it was, she had his back.

She could feel Damon stroking her arm. "Try to get some sleep. I can tell you're still worked up."

"I'm sorry. I know it's keeping you awake."

"It's all right. Want me to tell you a story?"

"Sure," she snickered.

"All right. Once upon a time, there was a little girl and they called her Little Red Riding Hood..."

Lindsey laughed, thinking of Damon as the Big Bad Wolf, if ever anyone ever was, but his voice soothed her and by focusing on it, she finally drifted to sleep.

"And they lived happily ever after," he whispered against her hair. "God, I hope so."

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