A/N: And so, the last chapter. Thank you again, SO MUCH for every follow, fave and review! You guys make it worth the effort! Now, in a few weeks, I'll be ready to start posting the BIG sequel to "Ordinary Loneliness," and the timeline will overlap with this story. If it works out, that story is gonna be quite a ride, so join me for it!
Just tying up some loose ends here. Enjoy and let me know how you liked it by leaving a review!
Disclaimer: I do not own or operate "The Vampire Diaries."
Elle moved, knowing she slept deeply, but barely remembering why until she became conscious of a male body cradling hers. Her eyes fluttered open, but the curtains were closed, so the light was still gray inside the hotel room. A strong hand made its way across her stomach to cup her breast, and then she saw she wore an oversized T-shirt.
"Mmmmm," Jake rumbled in her ear. "Morning."
"Hey," she said. She looked over at the clock. "What time does your flight leave?"
"Tomorrow morning. I changed it," he answered.
"Yeah." He nuzzled in her hair and kissed her neck and ear. "I decided I needed another day to spend with you."
"Really?" She was thrilled and a little scared, all at once.
"Mmm-hmmm," he hummed. "Would it be too much trouble for you to turn over so I can kiss you? I mean, groping you is fun, but kissing is even better."
Elle stretched luxuriously and did turn over to see Jakob smiling at her. "Please tell me you're not a morning person."
His grin widened. "Technically, I'm an evil, undead creature of the night, but that's just semantics. Mornings aren't too bad…" he paused. "When they're spent in the company of a beautiful, passionate woman."
Elle blushed, in spite of herself. "Smooth talker," she said.
He stroked her face. "See, that implies I'm not sincere, but I am. You are beautiful," and he kissed her, "and you're very passionate," and he kissed her again and cupped her bottom so he could press her against his groin, where she could feel his hardness. "And I definitely want to spend more time with you." He kissed her again and rolled her to her back, sliding his hands underneath her shirt. She returned the kiss and twined her fingers into his hair. She could tell they weren't going anywhere any time soon.
Lindsey woke up, legs still tangled with Damon's, which is how he preferred to sleep. If he was curled around her, he was happy. Lindsey often said it was a lot like sleeping with a kudzu vine. Damon's response was why have a wife if not to keep him warm at night? This usually earned him a smack on the back of the head. But he had done that since Nashville. This morning, he was awake, aroused and intent on waking her up, too. His hands were busy on her skin, his mouth nibbling on her neck.
"It's hardly good daylight yet," she mumbled. "You couldn't let me sleep?"
He looked up at her and once again, Lindsey fell headlong into his incredible blue eyes. "You can sleep. I don't mind," he said, and then gave her the same grin that probably saved him from a spanking by his mammy who knows how many times. "But why would you want to sleep through this?"
Lindsey closed her eyes. "What am I gonna do with you?"
Damon crawled his way up her body so he was hovering over her. "Babe, I thought you'd never ask, because we have all the time in the world, and the possibilities are endless." He took her mouth with his.
Well, Lindsey couldn't say she didn't know what Damon's libido was like when she married him. She knew what she was getting into: a male with the sex drive of a 16-year-old, the looks of a 25-year-old and over a century's worth of expertise. Why fight it? She sighed into his mouth and ran her hands down his beautiful back.
His hands came up to her face, his thumbs stroking her cheeks and he fanned her hair out on her pillow. He rubbed his cheek against the gossamer, silky strands, and sighed. As Damon fitted himself inside his wife's body, Elle's words about how he and his mate were two perfectly fitted pieces of a puzzle crossed his mind. It still thrilled him on a primal level that he was the only man who had ever seen Lindsey's body, the only man who had ever touched her, made love to her.
"The only one, ever," she whispered, feeling his emotions through their bond. What started as something more urgent - for Damon - had melted into slow, lazy, sensuous touches and whispers where he allowed their bond to dictate his lovemaking, rather than just knowing what Lindsey liked. This time, they were cocooned together, as her fingertips skimmed his skin, reveling in how the planes and dips of his back felt underneath her hands, how his muscles twitched when she ran her hands across them. Damon moved inside her just occasionally, mostly focusing on how much she loved the way he ran his tongue across her collarbone, down the hollow of her throat, how much she needed him to touch her skin and to whisper to her that she was beautiful, that he needed her, wanted her, desired her, loved her. The way her body came alive under his hands when he said the words made him happy, too.
Lindsey had no idea what time it was when she and Damon finally reached their mutual peaks, but she knew they had spent the majority of the morning making the kind of love that truly satisfied her soul. She loved any contact with Damon, but when they took their time and just allowed the passion to happen, it was always deep and sweet, and she felt their bond strengthen and intensify, pulling them closer together. It was so easy to feel their bond swirling around them in these times. It was doubly sweet to know Damon was her mate, as well as her husband, and that he was as bonded to her as she was to him.
Elle found the key under the mat where Lindsey always left it for her and let herself and Jake into the house. All was quiet. He sniffed the air and grinned.
"What is it?" Elle whispered.
"You can't smell it, but I can. Those two." He pointed upstairs.
"Let's go sit on the porch." When they were outside, the door closed, Jake led Elle to the swing and they sat down. "O.K. You know vampires have an enhanced sense of smell, right?"
"Yeah," she said, still confused.
"So people, humans or vamps, emit smells. I mean, like hormones and so forth. So, when a human or a vamp is aroused, we can smell it. It's kind of a light, musky smell. Actual sex makes the smell more intense, and from the way it smells in there, well, let's just say they've had a busy morning." He chuckled, low.
"That's kind of weird to know you can smell other people like that. How do you stand it when you're in a crowd?"
Jake shrugged. "Ever been in an office where someone burned popcorn in the microwave? It stinks at first, but you learn to just ignore it. That's part of why life is so tough on new vamps. The heightened senses can drive you crazy, until you learn to control them."
Elle nodded. "Lindsey said she knows that's why her transition was much easier - she was out here with not many people around. I guess it was kind of the same with you?" she asked.
"Sort of. Mary - my sire - lived outside Fort Worth then. I hadn't been in town but a few months. I ran into her at the general store one Saturday and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Of course, I was young and dumb, still learning to speak fluent English. She lived on this little patch of land she owned outright and needed a hired hand. She took one look at me and decided I was just the kind of boy she needed on the place. I was looking for a job, so it seemed perfect."
"Sounds like something out of a romance novel," Elle laughed.
"Yeah, except for the ending. She did need the help, but she also needed a ready supply of blood and someone to warm her bed. I excelled at all of the above. Of course, she had me compelled to think it was OK that she was feeding from me, so I was fine with it." Jake's gaze was distant as he remembered.
"So how did you get turned, if you don't mind me asking? You said it was an accident."
"It was. She had this horse I was trying to break to saddle," he explained. "She had me drink from her the night before because she took a lot of blood from me, so I needed the healing. Well, she didn't tell me I needed to be extra careful when I had her blood in my body, and I went out to work with the horse. He threw me and broke my neck. When I woke up in transition, she was really upset, but told me she would help me if I wanted to turn. And she did. She helped me transition without killing and I stayed on with her for another couple of years. Again, it was away from a lot of people, and she wouldn't let me go into town until I'd learned to control the blood lust. It was a much better way to do it, but she was a good sire. She did right by me."
"Have you ever turned anyone that you know of?"
He nodded. "Once. It was a woman, and like me, it was an accident. So I tried to help her as much as Mary helped me. I think she did all right. I don't ever see her now, though. I guess she's around, somewhere. Turning someone is a huge responsibility. That's one reason so many vamps hate Katherine Pierce - well, aside from the fact she's a turbo bitch. Everyone in the American vamp community knows what she did to Damon and Stefan, and even though we're not pack oriented, anyone with any decency left felt nothing but contempt for her. That's one reason she stayed on the run from Klaus. No one in the vampire community wanted to have anything to do with her, and wouldn't help her."
"How many vampires are there, really?"
He shook his head. "I'm not sure. Not like we have a census," and he laughed. "My best guess would be about three or four hundred in the U.S. and about twice that many worldwide. So, twelve or fifteen hundred all over the world. But that's a very rough estimate." He cocked his head. "Sounds like someone is rambling around. I'm sure one of them has heard us out here by now."
In a minute or two, the front door opened and Damon peered around it, looking sleepy and rumpled in a T-shirt and jeans, very unlike his usual, put together self. "Coffee's ready. Come on in," he said. If he and Lindsey hadn't made such amazing love that morning, he wouldn't be that cordial. But he was still feeling the effects of the sex, plus the blood sharing, so he was actually in a surprisingly good mood.
Damon padded barefoot into the kitchen, where Lindsey had already fed and was drinking her coffee. He had also had one bag of blood. He was very, very hungry and knew he needed to take the edge off before Elle came into the house. He drained two more and felt more like himself. He stroked Lindsey's hair. "Want me to go get the paper?"
"If you don't mind, sweetheart," she answered, smiling at him.
"Not a bit." He was out the door and back almost before the screen door had time to close. "Here you go," he said as he handed it to her.
"Thanks, babe. Oooh. Lots of coupons in this one. Have to look and see if there's anything I can use." Damon grinned at the thought of the amount of money in his bank account, and his wife clipping coupons. She returned his smile and looked at Elle. "Everything's where it always was, if you want something to eat."
"I'm good. We ate at a little cafe in Oneonta. I'll take another cup of coffee, though."
"Plenty of K-cups. Help yourself," Lindsey answered. "You too, Jake. I know you love coffee." Damon sat next to her at the table and she leaned into his side.
"Well, the wife says last night was a success, so I have to believe her," Damon said, his tone pleasant.
"I think it was," Elle agreed.
"So do we have any big plans for today?" Lindsey said.
"I can't think of anything," Jake answered. "Got any ideas?"
Lindsey was scanning the features section of the paper. She tutted silently at an odd headline, and looked up. "Well, the covered bridge festival is this weekend. Usual stuff: arts and crafts, food, live music. Same thing you and I used to go to every year, Ellie."
"They're still doing that? Oh, that was always so much fun when Pop took us! You guys want to go?"
Jakob could see Elle really wanted to go, and he wanted to spend time with her, so he readily agreed. "Sounds good. It's a beautiful day."
"Yeah, I think so, too. Damon?" Lindsey looked enquiringly at him.
"Sure. Why not? I was just planning to be a couch potato today, so that sounds all right." Damon was feeling amenable. The reunion was out of the way, it was a nice day, as Jake noted, and he actually enjoyed these fall festivals. Not that he would admit it to anyone, but he did.
As the group walked around the grounds, Lindsey and Elle found themselves going across the old covered bridge, just as they did when they were teenagers. "I can still hear Pop's wingtip shoes echoing as he walked across the bridge," Elle said.
"I know what you mean. Me too. Long time gone," Lindsey answered as they walked. "Nothing stays the same, but now, really, everything has changed. Me, included. Vampire emotions are heightened, and it can be tough to shake the nostalgia."
"How long will you stay in Alabama? I know you can't just live in the house for the next 200 years without leaving once in a while."
"Damon said probably another ten years or so before the not aging gets really noticeable. Then, I guess we'll live in Italy for a while, in the Salvatore ancestral home, and then come back. Me? I'd rather stay put, but I don't have the option. I gained a lot of things when I turned, but I lost some things, too.
"Well, you at least went into it with your eyes open. You had a pretty good idea what you were getting into."
"I did. I think I was much better equipped for this life than some people were."
"Jake told me the entire vamp community hates Katherine for what she did to Damon and Stefan."
"For that and a lot of other reasons. She just couldn't keep her nose out of everyone else's business, apparently. I'm glad she's finally dead. She left destruction everywhere she went. Wish I could have done the honors, but hey. You can't have everything," Lindsey said with a grin.
"I'd say you slayed the worst dragon last night. I still can't get over how you turned the tables on Lee Ann. That was good."
"I think it was, too. So tell me, is Jake a first date biter?"
She threw up her hands. "I know. So, is he?"
Elle blushed. "Yeah, well. He did ask first. But yeah. He is."
Lindsey nodded. "Doesn't surprise me. So, what are you going to do? I mean, try to do things long distance or what?"
"Well, it's only a couple hundred miles to Fort Worth. We can drive it, meet halfway, you know. I think it's worth pursuing in the short term, anyway. I like him."
"I like him, too. I think you two are good together."
"You think so, huh? Do you think he would pressure me to turn?"
Lindsey considered the question. "He might ask you to consider it, but I doubt he'd pressure you. It's not a decision you make lightly, and if you're dealing with a decent person, not one they would pressure you to make."
"And Jake is a decent guy."
"Very decent. Love him to pieces," Lindsey answered.
"Would you consider Damon to be decent?" Elle asked, with a slightly wicked grin.
Lindsey chuckled. "Getting there. Normally, he prides himself on being as indecent as inhumanly possible. But he's coming around. It's always been there. You just have to plow through a lot to get there."
"You don't want him to be some kind of domestic vampire puppy, do you?"
"Oh, heck no! I fell in love with the badass. I just want him to keep it within reasonable limits, that's all. As I've told him before, mellow is much easier to live with. So I can deal with a mellower version. But no, I want him to be himself. I just want him to be the best version of himself. And like I said, he's getting there. I know when he's really feeling the urge to kill, though. He goes out to the shop and starts ripping lumber planks for projects. I think something about seeing that table saw cut through the wood is therapeutic." She laughed.
"So you don't get the kill urge?" Elle wasn't sure she knew the answer.
Lindsey shook her head. "Not often. I did last night. You don't know how I wanted to drain Lee Ann and then drag her corpse out into the middle of the floor. I really wanted to, but I knew I couldn't. And this is better, I know. That's the key. You sort of have to let the urge wash over you and then dissipate. It's like anything else. I can't act in the heat of the moment. I have to remember the feeling is going to fade, and I don't want to have to deal with the emotions and consequences of giving in to it."
"Sounds like the healthy way to deal with it to me."
"That's kind of the way I worked it out. And doing the occasional catch-eat-compel-release does help keep the predator in check."
Elle nodded. "I've been meaning to ask you about that. How do you pick, um-"
"A participant?" Lindsey chuckled. "I usually hang out at the junior college. I look for guys who need their egos taken down a peg. They're fun. They don't understand why they're following me to a lonely spot. Then, I usually ask them to get closer so I can tell them a secret, nail them, compel them and I'm out of there."
"How often do you do it?"
"Couple of times a month."
She nodded. "Yeah. Don't ask me why. I'd just rather bite a guy's neck. Maybe their veins are bigger or something. There was this one guy I got. He was a basketball player. Had veins like garden hoses. You know, you could see them really well. I watched him walk down the sidewalk and my fangs dropped, just checking out his veins. It was pretty bad."
Elle hid her face and laughed. "I shouldn't think that's funny, but it is. You didn't hurt him or anything, I know."
"Nah. But it was a temptation to sample several veins. I just had to keep my mind on what I was doing, and not on those pornographic veins." She laughed, too. "Here come the guys," she said, hearing them long before they came into view.
"Hey ladies!" Jakob said. "They're doing country dancing! We know how. Want to join us?"
"Sure," Lindsey said. "I know Damon won't let an opportunity to show off pass him by." She grinned.
"Of course not," he shot back, calling her bluff.
As much as Damon disliked speaking in front of people, it always amused Lindsey how he wasn't at all shy to do something like dance in front of people. But as he took her hands and led her into the contra-dance, she felt utterly at ease with his ability to take her through the figures without allowing her to fall all over herself, or make him look clumsy, either.
The nature of the dance meant that all the dancers eventually danced with each other, and when Jake took Lindsey's hands, she remembered again how graceful he was - nearly as much so as Damon. But she and Damon had danced together enough that she was accustomed to him. But Jake's grin was encouraging and when the dance ended, and everyone clapped for the band, Lindsey felt her mate's arm come around her waist. "I love to watch you when you dance," he said in her ear. "You're totally free. You just feel the music and let go."
"You know me. I love music."
"I do know that," he said softly. "It's part of what makes you so beautiful," he whispered into her hair, and she blushed.
The group sat at one of the picnic tables, drank fresh cider and ate funnel cake. Damon watched Lindsey and Elle laugh and he knew they would miss each other. They would have to make a trip to Texas so Lindsey could see her friend again soon. He wasn't sure what Elle and Jakob might work out between themselves, but he could see they liked each other a lot. Lindsey leaned into his body and he put his arm around her shoulders. It was second nature, now. He thought about being with Elena and how touching was almost always a prelude to sex, and rarely just for showing affection. But then again, they weren't mated, and not for the first time, Damon was profoundly thankful for that.
That evening, Lindsey cooked and the group had an evening a little like the ones Damon, Ric and Lindsey shared when they visited in 2011. Lindsey turned on the stereo, and they danced, then played a new trivia game Lindsey picked up in Birmingham, the guys against girls. When the game ended, Lindsey and Elle high-fived and Lindsey said, "We've still got it, girlfriend."
Damon and Jake looked at each other and Jake said, "I saw it, but I still can't believe it. How did they do that?"
"Hell if I know," Damon answered. "I didn't know there was another human in the world whose brain worked like Lindsey's. That's scary, you know it?"
"Damn right it is," Jake agreed with a chuckle. "We are clearly out of our league."
Elle laughed as she and Lindsey fist-bumped. "We probably should have warned them, or played cross teams or something. You and Jake and me and Damon. That might have leveled things out a little."
Lindsey glanced at the old clock on the mantel. "Well, you two have an early flight to catch. Nice that you could be on the same flight to DFW and then Elle catch a puddle jumper to Austin. Guess we need to close it down for the night. You two staying here?"
Elle nodded and smiled. "Yeah. I didn't think you'd mind."
Lindsey grinned. "You're both grown. Not much I can say. Not that I would. It's been a good day, though. Damon, you want to lock up, sweetheart?"
"Yeah," he said, as he got up and went to lock the front door.
When the house was quiet, Damon and Lindsey lay in bed, speaking in whispers.
"What do you think will happen with Jake and Elle?" he asked.
"I don't know. We talked about it a little today. I think she wants something to work out, but she's not sure where to take it. I can understand. We're both pushing 50, but I won't age, so it doesn't look as odd for me to be with you, as it does for her to be with Jake - or as odd as it will in a few years."
"Think she'll turn?"
"She has kids. I don't know. Not sure how you handle something like this when you have kids, and no one thinks we exist to start with. Have to wait and see, I guess."
Damon sniffed the air. "They're being quiet about it."
Lindsey chuckled softly. "It's possible to do. Not easy, but possible."
"Want to see how quiet we can be?" he leered at her.
"Why don't we just enjoy holding each other tonight, babe?"
"I guess we can do that." He gathered her to his chest and she nosed into his skin.
"I'll never get tired of your scent." She kissed Damon tenderly and put her head on his shoulder. "Or of anything else about you. I love you."
"Love you too." He put his arms around her and sighed at the feel of her body in his arms. "Good night."
Jakob lay awake for a while after Elle fell asleep in his arms, wondering where this possible relationship was going. Finally, he slept, too.
Lindsey hated good-byes. She and Elle hugged each other and then Jake swept her into a hug and kiss, as he usually did. Damon looked at Elle for a minute and said, "C'mere," and he gave her a big hug, which surprised Lindsey almost as much as it did Elle. But she was pleased, and Elle was, too. Lindsey waved to the couple as they left for Birmingham.
Airports were great for hellos, but lousy for good-byes, Elle thought, as she kissed Jake before catching her flight to Austin. "You've got my number," he said, "And I've got yours. I'll be calling you, baby. I don't know how long I can stay in Fort Worth before I drive down for a visit."
"Come anytime. Gwen's gonna want to meet you. She thinks she's the resident expert on males," Elle laughed. "I don't know what I'm going to do with her." She put her hands on his chest. "Gosh, but I'm gonna miss you."
"I'll miss you, too." He dipped his head and kissed her. "Have a safe flight."
"Thanks. I'll call you when I get home."
"Please do." He kissed her again before reluctantly watching her walk to her gate and he turned to get a cab home.
"All quiet again," Damon said as he put his arms around Lindsey, who was working at her computer. He kissed the top of her head. "Some weekend."
"Tell me about it. One for the books."
"You ever gonna finish that book you're always working on?"
"Maybe, if I can ever figure out a way to end it," she said, turning her face to his for a kiss.
"You'll think of something, eventually," he assured her, drawing her to her feet, deepening the kiss and finally, swinging her into his arms as he carried her to their bedroom.
"I've got plenty of inspiration," she replied as he laid her on the bed and started peppering her face with kisses.
"Show me," he said, his mouth covering hers, feeling their love through their bond.
How 'bout a review? Oh, if you don't know what kudzu is and you want to understand, just search "Alabama kudzu" in Google Images and you'll see exactly what this stuff does. It's pernicious. But leave a review before you go looking, OK? Reviews are love!