A/N: I know, it's been a while since the last update, but I have had some wicked writer's block! Ideas are always welcome! Here, then, is chapter 9. Enjoy, and please, review! I appreciate it!
Disclaimer: I do not own or operate "The Vampire Diaries."
Chapter 9: Changes in Latitudes
Damon told Elena his bungalow was isolated, and it was. There were only a couple of other houses in the area, and they were a fair distance from any of the resorts. It was raised, as were most of the homes on the beach, with a porch that wrapped around the house. The house was painted a creamy white, with sea blue trim on the porch railings and window sills.
He ushered her inside as he opened the door, and Elena looked around in delight at the stone floors, the bright interior and the view of the ocean from the back deck. A table and chairs sat on the back deck, along with the hot tub Damon mentioned, and a grill to one side. The den furniture faced the ocean, too, and Elena collapsed onto the overstuffed sofa. "This is beautiful, Damon. Everything you said it was."
"It should be. I paid enough for it. But I'm glad you like it." He went to the front door. "I'll bring in the groceries. Look around. Make yourself at home."
"O.K." She went down the hall. There were two small bedrooms and then the master bedroom was at the end of the hall. She opened the door and sighed at the room. The floors were hardwood, with sisal area rugs. The walls were sea blue on the bottom and creamy white on top, divided with wainscoting around the room. A beautiful sea themed print was on one wall. The bed, not surprisingly, considering this was Damon, was huge. Looked like a California king. It had a simple wooden headboard - she thought that was called "mission style," and the dresser and chairs matched. The bath was off to the side, and it was as luxurious as everything she had come to associate with him. A large garden tub stood in the middle, with a walk in shower to the side. There was a huge double sink vanity - all in the same sea blue as the bedroom. The floor, walls and ceiling were cream.
She went back into the bedroom and looked out the french doors, which also overlooked the ocean, and opened to a private deck. Wow. Just wow.
"Do you like it?" came Damon's voice from behind her.
"It's beautiful, Damon. I love it," Elena answered.
"Good. There's a book on the coffee table in the den with a lot of brochures about things to do, but how does a moonlight dinner cruise sound?"
Elena grinned at him. "Fantastic."
"That's a relief, since I booked one for tonight," he said.
Elena went to him and kissed him briefly. "Who would have thought you were such a romantic?"
"I have my moments," he said dryly.
"Just still trying to turn my head, huh?" she teased.
"Something like that," he replied.
She grinned at him. "So what do you wear on a moonlight cruise?" she asked.
"Anything." He leaned in and leered at her. "Or nothing at all."
Elena gave him a playful shove. "Damon! Really! I was being serious."
"So was I," he growled.
"I'm not going on a boat naked." Then she got an inspiration. "And you don't want the captain seeing me in my birthday suit, now do you?"
The look she got answered her question, but he said, "No way in hell do I want that." He pulled her close. "Nobody sees that but me," he rasped in her ear, while nibbling her neck.
"That's what I thought," she said and kissed him. Elena had found in their short time together she could always count on two things: Damon being contrary and Damon being possessive. It was helpful knowledge. Somehow, she squirmed out of his embrace and said, "We're on the beach. I'm going down to the water." She went into the bedroom and put on her swimsuit. She dug her beach towel out, along with a pair of flip-flops and her sunglasses.
Damon watched her as she emerged from the bedroom. Even though he certainly wouldn't have minded if she chose a teeny bikini, he also liked her more modest one-piece. It had a retro feel to it, like something Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell would have worn. It was black with white polka dots and had a halter top. He grinned at her.
"Like it?" she asked.
"I do. Classy. You look like you're actually going to the beach, not to the nearest street corner for a hook-up."
Elena laughed. "Well, since I am going to the beach, and I'm not in the habit of standing on street corners, it's doing its job, then."
"So are you coming with me, or are you just gonna watch from the railing?"
"Go on. I'll be down in a couple of minutes. You got in the bedroom before I did."
"O.K. Elena grinned at him and went down to the water's edge. She spread her blanket and sat down, watching the surf and the waves rolling on to the shore. The atmosphere was soothing and she could feel her stress level dropping. The past weeks had been beyond hectic. What with her appearance on "Good Morning Atlanta," all the business they had and of course, Damon, Elena had hardly been able to take a breath, it seemed. She lay back on the towel and looked at the blue sky - just about the color of Damon's eyes, she thought fancifully. So what was their relationship, anyway? She liked him a lot. She might even be falling for him. But was there even any such thing as a long-term relationship with - someone like Damon? Elena still had trouble wrapping her brain around what Damon was. She knew he was telling the truth. She had seen his fangs - felt them, even, seen his incredible speed and strength. She knew Damon was inherently dangerous. He was a predator. Top of the food chain. So what did a girl do with a problem like Damon Salvatore?
She turned on to her stomach and rested her face on her folded arms. And Mason Lockwood was a werewolf? Seriously? That was another concept, too. And that Katherine woman? Elena buried her face in the towel. If she kept going over those issues, she was going to lose the relaxed state she had managed to achieve.
She wasn't sure how long she lay in the soft sand, when she felt a hand smoothing lotion on her back. "You'll burn to a crisp if you're not careful," Damon said. He worked the sunscreen into her back, and on her neck and shoulders.
Elena turned to face him. "Thanks. Answer me something."
"What was it about me that made you want to track me down?"
Damon reclined on his side, and propped his head on his elbow. He wore black trunks and a black cotton shirt, unbuttoned. "I think I mentioned I liked your books, but wanted you to meet what you were writing about."
"Fair enough, but then, what's kept you around? Is it because I look a lot like Katherine?"
He pursed his lips and gave Elena an intense look. "No. What's kept me around is you, Elena. You're a beautiful, fascinating woman. I'm never bored around you, and that's good."
Elena grinned at him. "Boredom is bad?"
"Boredom is very bad for a vampire. When a vampire is bored, we tend to look for things that will relieve the boredom, and bad things can happen," he said.
"You get into trouble."
"Cause it, more likely." He raised his eyebrows at her.
Damon narrowed his eyes at her. "Now what's cooking in that head of yours?"
She shrugged. "Nothing, really. Do you ever miss being human?"
He turned on his stomach and leaned on his elbows. He watched the waves for a time. "Sometimes," he answered.
"What do you miss?" she asked.
"Being hungry for just food, and not blood. Being able to stay in one place for more than a few years. Having real friends, and not just associates or allies. Not looking over my shoulder for people I've hurt over the decades."
Elena felt sorry for Damon. She had never seen him quite so serious. "If you had a chance to become human again, would you take it?"
Damon gave her a sharp look. "Funny you should ask. Stefan sent me a little vial filled with red stuff a few months ago."
"What is it?"
"The official Whitmore Cure for Bloodsucking Vampires, Demons and Other Assorted Creatures of Supernatural Origin. Guaranteed to get rid of all those nasty bloodsucking tendencies, along with melancholia and liver flukes, I imagine." He talked about the cure as if it were one of the patent medicines so popular when he was still human.
"Really? It's an actual cure?" Elena's eyes were wide. "Why haven't you taken it, then?"
"Another excellent question. Think about it, Elena. I've been this way for over 150 years. Aside from having made a few enemies who would love to take a shot at the human version of me, can you imagine the bureaucratic nightmares? I can't even begin to think about it. Where would I get a birth certificate, or a Social Security number? I've never paid taxes, and my driver's license is a matter of compulsion. But my dear baby brother, sweet and utterly impractical, thinks we can get past those little problems. You see the difficulties."
Elena nodded. "Yeah, but there may be a way around all that," she said.
Damon was frankly incredulous. "What fairytale has your writer's brain been spinning?"
She sat up. "No. Really. Would you believe the book I'm working on right now actually addresses that issue?"
Damon sat up, too. "This, I've got to hear. Just to see what you came up with."
"O.K. I'll admit it sounds farfetched, but give me a chance to tell you the whole thing."
"I'm listening," he said. This should be entertaining, if nothing else.
"All right. Let's say, in the late 70s or early 80s, your parents, especially your dad, were terrified the Cold War was going to heat up and there would be a nuclear holocaust. So, they take their two young sons and go completely underground and off the grid. Because your dad never trusted the government, you were both born at home, and he never allowed your mother to register your births, so you never had a birth certificate or a Social Security card."
"With you so far, but how did we get out?"
"Your parents died within a couple of years of each other. They didn't believe in doctors, either. They taught you at home, which was an underground bunker in Virginia. You've been living on all the cash your parents squirrelled away over the years. And all your money is here in the Caymans, right? So there aren't any records linking the money to you. It wouldn't be a walk in the park, but if you really wanted to do it, you could. You'd have to do some preliminary legwork, sure, but it could be done. And having a brother actually makes it more plausible than just one person doing it alone. You could say you spent the last while taking care of your mom until she died, and then you decided you didn't want to live like that anymore." She sat back on the sand.
Damon looked at her in admiration. She really had worked all this out. He shook his head. "I have to say, it's ingenious. Definitely ingenious. So what did we do with our parents' bodies?"
"Burned them. What else?"
"O.K. Makes sense. But that still leaves the ID question."
"Your driver's license is valid, right?"
"O.K. Well, you'll need a Social Security number, then. And a baptismal certificate is the easiest secondary form of proving your birth. And fortunately, the forms are easy to find. Just have to get some people to fill them out and sign them and you're good. That will get you a Social Security card, and then you can start building an ID profile, get a passport, that kind of thing. You can always say your mom wanted you baptized, even though your dad was against it."
Damon shook his head. "You have a criminal mind, Miss Gilbert. I'm really impressed." His grin was frankly admiring.
"Well, I didn't want to write about it and then have people email me and tell me how far off the mark I was, and that you couldn't actually do it that way, so I did my research. So really, all you need to do, if you're serious about this cure business, is to get with Stefan and decide where you were born, and get your story straight."
Damon laughed out loud. "Elena, you are devious. For your information, I was baptized. It was just in 1839. So was Stefan. I should know. I was there. But that was in, oh, 1846. Again, not helpful."
"So how serious are you about the cure, Damon?" Elena asked.
He sobered. "I don't know. If you'd caught me before 1900 or so, I'd have been desperate for it. Now?" He shook his head. "I just don't know. I've lived this way for a long time. I'd really have to think about it."
"Have you thought about it?"
"Yeah. Quite a bit. And honestly, the ID stuff you're talking about isn't as hard to come by as you might think. Vampires know people who can get that stuff done. That's part of the way we have to live."
"It can't be easy, living that kind of shadow life, though, Damon. What are the advantages?"
He rolled over on his back and looked at the sky. "Power. Immortality, as long as no one stakes me. I don't age, I don't get sick. I heal quickly. I can drive like a maniac and not worry about getting hurt or killed because of my reflexes. Freedom."
"But you're not really free, are you? I mean, you have to hide what you are, who you are. You have to keep moving from place to place. You have to feed on human blood to survive. Is that really freedom?" Elena looked keenly at Damon.
"You trying to talk me into becoming human again?"
She stretched out again and turned to look at him. "Just playing devil's advocate, I guess. From what you said, your brother really wants to take the cure, and wants you to do it, too. I suppose I'm just trying to get you to look at it from both sides, so whatever decision you make is the right one for you."
He acknowledged her words with a nod, then said, "But what gets me is Stefan is trying to guilt me into doing it because he wants to. And this whole weird brother thing is that he forced my hand to turn because he didn't want to be alone. Now, he wants me to take the cure for the same reason."
Elena reached to take his hand. "Well, this is something you have to want for yourself. You can't do it for Stefan, or anyone else. You have to do it for you."
"So you're not going to try to make me do it."
Elena gave an exasperated laugh. "We've been seeing each other what - a few weeks? There's no way I know you anything like well enough to do that. I can't make those kinds of decisions for you, and I wouldn't want to. That's not right or fair to you. And I don't think I could make you do anything."
Damon's mouth quirked up in that grin Elena found so charming. "Well, clearly, we're not gonna cure cancer or anything else right now." He scooted next to her and took her hand to draw her to his body and he kissed her. "So how about we work on what we can do?" he said and continued to kiss her softly, trailing his mouth down her neck and up to her chin and her lips.
As soon as Elena felt Damon's hand down the front of her suit, she said, "Don't you think we ought to take this inside?"
"I told you this is a private beach, babe," he answered.
"Maybe so, but I know I'd feel better if we were inside. Public sex isn't really my thing," she breathed, since his fingers were doing wicked things to her.
"Stick with me. I'll corrupt you, but good," he growled in her ear.
"I'm sure." She kissed him back. "But not in the sand." She managed to roll away from him and stood. "Come on. I'm getting sand in places sand doesn't need to be."
"You're as much of a spoilsport as my broody little brother," he said.
"Delayed gratification means you still get what you wanted in the first place." She turned to walk back to the beach house, when she was scooped up and found herself inside in seconds. Damon's hands were fisted in her swimsuit, ready to tear it off her body. "No!" she screeched. "I can take this off. It's my favorite suit and you're not shredding it!"
"Make it damn fast, then," he snarled, stalking her as she backed down the hall and into the bedroom, untying the neck of the suit and sliding it down her body. Damon had shed his shirt and trunks long since and as Elena sat on the bed, he literally pounced on her, putting her on her back.
Elena squeaked in surprise, having him on top of her so suddenly, his eyes blazing blue fire and his mouth descending to hers. His kiss was hot, wet, demanding, insisting she not just have sex with him, but submit to him completely. He had her wrists pinned with one hand, his other holding her waist, and there was nothing she could do about it. He dragged his mouth down her neck and he nipped her with his human teeth - hard. "You drive me nuts, woman," he rasped.
"Right back at you," she sighed, hardly able to move with Damon holding her solidly. "What are you waiting for?" she said, wondering why he was concentrating mostly on her neck and shoulders, not touching her anywhere else, not doing anything, in fact, except kissing her.
"You were the one who mentioned delayed gratification," he said. "You put ideas in my head."
"You don't need any ideas, believe me," she said, still struggling to break his hold on her wrists, knowing it was useless.
His voice dropped to a velvet purr. "That's right, baby. Fight me. It makes me want you even more." His mouth was on her ear and he ran his tongue along the shell. Elena couldn't help but arch her body to him when he said that, and he gave that low, sexy rumble of a chuckle that turned her to goo. With his mouth on her ear, his opposite shoulder was within reach of her mouth and she latched on to it and bit him - hard.
She wasn't sure what his reaction would be, but she didn't expect him to laugh. But he did. "So you've got teeth too, you little stinker," he said. "Be careful how you use them, though. Going around biting vampires could get you into some serious trouble."
"You're the only vampire I plan on biting," she panted.
"Good thing I'm into it, then, huh?" He trailed his teeth down her neck, raising goosebumps on her skin.
"Is there anything you're not into?" she asked.
"It's a short list, but a few things. We can discuss my hard limits later," he chuckled. Damon finally let go of Elena's wrists and she threaded her fingers into his thick, soft hair, tugging at it a little sharply as he teased her breasts with his mouth while those talented fingers were stroking her to full-on madness. Suddenly, he thrust into her body, but didn't move after. Elena opened her eyes and looked into Damon's face. "I could stay right here all day," he smirked.
Elena didn't answer. She just ran one toe up and down the back of Damon's leg. When she got to the tickle spot behind his knee, she poked him in the exact location guaranteed to make him jump. "That got your attention," she smirked.
"Hmmph," she heard and he started moving slowly, deeply in her body, then, just as she was getting really heated up, he stopped. "Maybe I'll just leave you like this," he said.
"Go ahead. I can finish the job myself," she retorted.
He grinned lazily at her. "Not like I can, that's for sure. And definitely not if I decide to, I don't know, tie your hands to the bed. How would you like that? Talk about delayed gratification…" his voice trailed off.
"Do it, and as soon as you untie me, you are vampire toast," she said.
His smile was as diabolical as she had ever seen it. Had she pushed him too far? "You really make me want to test you on that one. But we don't have time to really explore that scene right now. But remember," and here he kissed her nose, "teasing a vampire can have - unexpected - consequences." He resumed his kisses, and his movement inside her body. No reason to deny himself release, even if he wanted to play with Elena's responses. As she neared climax, he tasted her blood again, sending both of them into bliss.
Elena woke up suddenly to being tickled. "Wake up, lazybones," Damon said, "If you want that moonlight dinner cruise, that is."
"Stop tickling me, please, Damon!" she screeched, but the torment continued, and his smile was malicious. "C'mon, stop!" Somehow, Elena rolled out of the bed and on to the floor, and even Damon's vamp speed couldn't get him around the bed fast enough to keep her from taking cover behind the huge rocking chair in the corner.
"You can't get away from me forever, Elena," he said in a singsong voice.
"I'm only getting away from you tickling me. I hate that. I really, really hate being tickled."
"How much do you really hate it?" he said, his voice teasing.
She glared at him. "So much that, unless you promise not to do it again, I am not letting you touch me, period. I'll sleep in the guest room until we get back to the States. And then, I'm kicking you and your Camaro off my property. For good. Got it?"
Damon looked a little startled, and a lot sobered by her statement. He pursed his lips and nodded slowly. "Got it. No more tickling. Roger, wilco."
"Thank you." She came out from behind the rocker and somehow made it into the bathroom, in spite of Damon's attempt to waylay her. Still, getting the door closed was not working. He was holding it open with a casual hand. "Damon!" Elena snapped, frustrated. "You're just determined to be a pill, aren't you?"
"A pill? Me? Now I'm hurt," although his expression suggested he was anything but. "I just figured you were taking a quick shower and wondered if you wanted me to wash your back, that's all."
"If we start that, we won't make it to the cruise," Elena answered.
He sighed and dropped his hand. "Guess not. Have fun - although it would be much more fun if I were in there, too."
She grinned at him. "True. Be out in a few," she said, closing the door.
Well, at least Damon could suggest what she could wear. He knew he had good taste where women's clothes were concerned. He looked through all the clothing she brought, but nothing appealed to him. Fortunately, a couple of the resorts on the island had boutiques. He dressed quickly and tapped on the bathroom door. "Elena? I'm making a quick run out. I'll be back soon."
Well, that was odd, she thought, but she said, "OK. No problem. I'll be here." About the time she was out of the bathroom and working on her hair, Damon breezed into the bedroom. "Hey," Elena said. "What's in the bag?" Damon was carrying a large white shopping bag.
"Take a look," he said, handing it to her.
Elena looked inside the bag and pulled out a dress. It was a vivid tangerine, made of some stretchy material. It had a criss-cross neck and back, and looked like it was a sheath fit. "Wow," she said.
"Like it? I thought you might wear it for me tonight."
"I love it, but Damon..." she began and he shook his head.
"If anything other than 'thank you' comes out of your mouth, I'll take drastic measures, I swear," he said.
"All right, all right. Thank you, Damon," she said with a resigned grin. She looked in the bag again and extracted a shoebox. She glared at him, this time.
"Hey! You can't have a new dress and not have shoes, too. Same thing applies," he said, holding up a finger, when she was going to really protest this time. "Nothing accepted other than 'thank you.'"
"Thank you, but I wish you wouldn't…"
He was next to her in a flash. He held her chin and looked into her eyes, intending to compel her, but something in her expression made him change his mind. "Stop it. I enjoy being able to give you things. Money isn't a problem, and I don't expect anything you're not willing to give, O.K.?" He took her hand, kissed it and looking up through his lashes at her, said, "So let me do something unselfish. I don't usually take that route." His eyes were sincere, and Elena was not immune to his gaze.
"All right," she relented and kissed him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said, and sat on the bed, watching her get ready for the cruise. He wore black slacks that he had to know accentuated his rear end, and a purple button up shirt. But, as Elena had decided a long time ago, Damon could wear a dirty wife beater and a pair of ripped jeans and make it look suitable for a formal occasion. Hell, he could probably pull off a 70s leisure suit, as long as it was black. The thought made her giggle. "What is it?" Damon asked.
"As bad as men's fashion was in the 70s, what did you wear? I can't see you dressing like Mike Brady," she said.
Damon shook his head. "Polyester is demonic. I wore a lot of jeans and T-shirts. Thank God, the Levi's people never changed the cut of the 501s. I've worn a lot of styles over the years, but I drew the line at leisure suits and that crap. When disco hit, I wore satin shirts, but always in black."
"Were you a regular at Studio 54?"
"I spent some time there. I preferred some other clubs, though, just to go and listen to music and dance. 54 was a great hunting ground, though. People were so stoned, they had no idea they'd been bitten. It had its good points," he said.
Elena shook her head. "Sometimes, I'm sorry I asked. Ready to go?"
His grin was wicked. "Sure."
On board the boat, they drank a good white wine, and ate conch fritters for an appetizer, followed by huge, sweet boiled shrimp and grilled amberjack, with a salad and other roasted vegetables. Dessert was what the chef called a chocolate mousse cake. The night was beautiful and Elena and Damon reclined on a chaise lounge for two and watched the stars and the water. Damon took her hand and they lay on the lounger, silent. Finally, Damon said, "I'm glad you don't feel the need to talk all the time."
She snickered. "Sometimes, silence is all you need."
"True." He turned to face her. "Question."
"If I took the cure and I were human, what would you do?"
"Well, I'd try to support you any way I could. Why?"
"It would change everything. Would you want to deal with that?" His tone was as serious as she'd ever heard it.
"I'd sure be willing to give it a try," she replied.
He nodded. "I'm glad to hear that."
"Good, but I say again this is something you have to want to do for yourself, and not for me, or Stefan or anyone else. It has to be for you."
"Yeah, I know."
They returned to the bungalow, and Elena washed her face and got ready for bed. When she got into the bedroom, Damon was in bed already. The trip back had been quiet, but not uncomfortably so. Elena could tell Damon had the cure on his mind, and she was going to let him mull over it as much as he needed to. She guessed it would prey on her mind if their positions were reversed. Although, she liked the idea of Damon as a human. She felt he would find it much easier to be the good man she knew he was, deep down.
She turned the light out and kissed him. She snuggled to his side. "Good night, Damon. Thank you for the cruise. It was wonderful. I had a great time."
"I'm glad you did, Elena. Good night," he said.
She was asleep immediately; she was really tired. Damon, on the other hand, watched her sleep for a long, long while before he dropped off. As Elena had known, he had a lot on his mind.
P.S. I have to say: the idea of Damon in a leisure suit nearly made me fall out of my office chair laughing. The picture was hysterical. Remember to type a review in that little box and hit the button! It's very simple! Thanks, my dear readers!