Elena and Stefan pulled up outside the Salvatore boarding house. They had spent the night in Elena's but today Stefan was continuing Elena's training in self defence. As they entered the house they saw Jessica coming down the stairs smiling. However both their attention was drawn to the designer scarf tied around her neck. She had not been wearing that last night. I waved at them,
"Hey guys. How are you?"
Damon was coming down the stairs after me. He did not look happy upon seeing his brother and Elena. But then, they didn't look happy with him either. I stood for a second watching them all glare at each other then sighed,
"Right, well I'm leaving before you all start doing that annoying 'everything is fine'smile at me. Damon, walk me out?"
Damon turned his attention back to me, "Of course".
A taxi pulled up, I stood on my toes and kissed Damon goodbye,
"Thanks, I had a blast last night. And try to remember, work for the fun. Taking what you want, there's always someone to kill your buzz."
He grasped my face and kissed me deeper, then pulling back whispered, "Jessi, you have no idea how right you are. See you later."
I got in the taxi and head home. Mom was in the kitchen. As I walked in she smiled, "Coffee?" she asked.
I gave her a quick peck on the cheek and told her that would be awesome. As I watched her move around the kitchen, making us coffee I thought about how lucky I was. How many girls, a week before they even turn 18, could stay out all night and not have their mother chew them out. My mother trusted me. She knew I drank, but she also knew I was very careful. I had never gotten in trouble and my school work had never once suffered over it.
Giving her another kiss I took my coffee upstairs. I drank it as I picked out a fresh outfit. I had a quick shower, got dressed, put the scarf back on and headed downstairs.
"Mom, I was gonna head into town, have a look around. Do you need anything?"
She told me she was fine, that she was going to have a lazy day for once and then told me to have fun. I gave her a quick hug and grabbed my keys and left.
At the square I saw Caroline Forbes handing out flyers. I walked over to her, she smiled when she saw me, but it was a nice genuine smile. I asked her if she needed a hand. She thanked me and handed me half the pile. For the next hour we walked and talked. She told me about her life in Mystic Falls. I could tell she was honestly such a good person. What you saw was what you got. When we finished handing out the flyers for the Mystic Falls bachelor raffle that was taking place the following Saturday Caroline took me to the grill for lunch as a thank you.
As we ordered I turned to Caroline, "I shouldn't order coffee, should I?"
She shook her head. I ordered a coke instead. As we waited her eyes were drawn to my neck scarf. She sighed looking down at her hands,
"Did Damon give you that?"
I smiled fondly as I touched it. "Yes. He is so sweet. I just feel like I want to wear it all the time."
She gave me a small smile, "Well I have a bag of neck scarf's that I was going to throw away. You can have them if you want, I have a feeling you might need them."
I thanked her. Just then our lunch arrived and we continued to talk about school and other things. After lunch, as we left the grill she asked me would I be attending the bachelor raffle the following Saturday. Without thinking I answered.
"Watching men parade up and down, I couldn't think of anything better to do on my birthday..."
Caroline stopped walking, crap did I say that out loud. She grabbed my arm,
"Your birthday is on Saturday? Why didn't you tell us? Oh, you'll be 18, won't you? Yay, we're going to have a party and..."
"No Caroline," I cut her off, "I don't want a party."
And with that I walked off. I was so mad at myself. I had gotten too comfortable and let that birthday remark slip. God damn it, I was fuming, everyone in my old life knew to let my birthday pass without so much as a card or a 'happy birthday'. My mother would always just leave money under my pillow but not mention it. I did not like my birthday, bad things...
I couldn't bring myself to even finish that thought. I kept my head down as I felt tears well up in my eyes. And of course I almost banged right into someone again, well I would have if that person hadn't reached out and grabbed my shoulders.
I gasped and looked up. Damon Salvatore. Oh crap, could this day get any worse. Of all people that I do not want to see me all teary and girly, he was right at the top of that list.
He was smiling at me, but when he saw my face the smile dropped,
"What happened," he demanded, "Did someone hurt you?"
Still holding onto my shoulders, his eyes started darting up and down the street searching for the cause of my tears. I sighed,
"No Damon, no one hurt me. I let something slip in front of Caroline. It brought up some bad memories and I know I'm going to regret letting it out in front Caroline of all people. I know she means well but still..."
He looked down at me for a second, a thoughtful look on his face. Then taking me by the arm he started leading me back towards the grill. I just let him lead me. We sat in a booth at the back, Matt came over to take our order and smiled down at me,
"Hey Jessi, can't stay away huh?"
I liked Matt. He just seemed so sweet and innocent. I smiled up at him, he started to ask me what was wrong when Damon cut him off.
"You can go now! And send over the waitress with 2 whiskeys."
I gave Matt an apologetic smile and he took off, I turned back to Damon, "There was no need for that, he was just concerned."
Ignoring me Damon didn't speak until the waitress placed our drinks in front of us and walked away, "Right now, tell me what you let slip in front of Caroline."
I kept my eyes on the table, "Damon it's nothing really, it's silly."
He reached across the table and covered my hands with his own, "Jessica, look at me!"
Slowly I raised my eyes to meet his.
"Now," he started, "We both know I can persuade you to tell me, but I would rather you told me of your own accord."
He was right, somehow I knew he could get me to tell him. With a sigh I told him,
"She was asking me about the bachelor raffle and I let slip that it was the same day as my birthday"
Damon raised an eyebrow, "Your birthday?"
Sighing again, I explained, "On my 6th birthday my father walked out on us, which was brilliant. He used to beat my mother. But the following year on my 7th birthday he showed up, drunk as usual. My mother tried to stop him getting in the house and he tried to kill her. She spent 2 months in the hospital while I stayed with neighbours. The following birthday, my 8th, he kidnapped me from school and this time tried to kill me. He spent a long time beating me and when he got bored of that he stuck a knife in my stomach, he thought I was dead, all to get at my mother. He then dumped me in a park near my home."
I could see the anger and hate forming on Damon's face, he was squeezing his fists so hard the knuckles were white. Focusing on a button on his shirt rather than his face I continued, my voice breaking a little.
"Some kids found me; they told their parents who rang the police. The police were already looking for me. My mother had rang them when she found out the school had let me go with my father. I wasn't quite dead... obviously, as I'm sitting here now. I was rushed to the hospital where the doctors said it was a miracle I was alive. I don't believe that though, I believe it was my mother. I remember the whole time he was kicking and punching me I could see her face. I swear I could hear her voice telling me to go to sleep, not to move, and pretend to be dead, that she would find me. Which is what happened, of course the cops never found him. I was in hospital a long time, never fully healed. Hell I can't even have kids thanks to the stab wound. So the following year on my birthday I had a panic attack, convinced he would show up again. He didn't, but he did send me a card telling me he would see me soon, for 3 years I got those cards on my birthday. I was convinced he was coming back to finish the job he started. So we moved and I haven't heard from him since. But my birthdays remained taboo. I made it clear to my mother, she tried once on my 16th to give me a party and I walked out."
When I finished I downed what whiskey was left in my glass then reached across, took Damon's untouched drink and lowered that one too. I had never told anyone that and I could feel my whole body shaking.
Damon reached across the table, and tilted my chin up so our eyes were level. I knew he could see the pain in my eyes, as clearly as I could see the pity in his. I pulled out of his grasp and stood up looking down at him,
"Damon one thing I hate is pity. I have had years of people pitying me. I don't need it from you."
He stood, "Yes I fell pity," he moved closer, not breaking eye contact, I could see his pupils dilating as he spoke, "I feel pity for the father who couldn't see what a wonderful daughter he had, and still has. I feel pity for the people you closed your heart to as a result of all this. And I will feel pity for any man or woman that ever tries to hurt you again because I will hunt them down and kill them. I do NOT pity you, you really don't realise how strong you are. But I promise you this, I will make you realise it."
I blinked rapidly, Damon and I were at the grill sitting in a booth. Damon was speaking,
"So you're going to the bachelor raffle on Saturday?"
I shook my head, I must have dozed off or something, I remember coming in here but didn't remember sitting down. Weird, I smiled up at him, "Yes, I will be, it's for charity after all."
I looked at my watch, god it was four o'clock, where did the time go. I stood up,
"Sorry, I have to go, I promised my mom I would help her with dinner."