A/N: I promised a brief epilogue, and so here it is.
"Elena, you need to eat more; keep your strength up. Let me get you another serve," Anita said to her.
Elena shot Damon a look that clearly said 'help me', but he simply smiled and shrugged. Elena glared at him, but Damon knew she didn't really mind. His mother finally had the two daughters-in-law she'd always wanted, and Caroline and Elena had understood that a fussing mother in law was part of the bargain when they married into the family. Or at least Elena had, because he'd warned her. Stefan and Caroline looked on with amusement as Caroline nursed their two month old. Caroline had endured it all while she was pregnant, and now it was Elena's turn.
"I'm already big enough, Anita," Elena told his mother.
"Nonsense. You've hardly put any weight on." His mother turned to him now. "Tell your wife she's too small."
Elena felt like the side of a 'small' house. Her ankles were swollen. Her boobs were huge. Everything felt puffy.
"She's fine, Mom. Stop fussing."
Elena looked at her husband of eight months with relief. He smiled back at her, and Elena wondered if their honeymoon glow would ever wear off. Their two week vacation in Hawaii had been filled with romance, dancing, and an abundance of lovemaking. When they'd first talked about going on honeymoon, Elena had been reluctant to take the time off at work. Things had really taken off at REAL PR, and they had even had to hire new reps. Rose had insisted she take some time out though, and it had been amazing.
There had been at least three days they'd never made it out of bed. The more they'd had of each other, the more they had wanted. Then again that was the way it had always been between them. Nothing had changed in the short time they'd been married. Three weeks after the honeymoon, a pregnancy test had confirmed they'd conceived. When the test came out positive Damon had been nervous, but his excitement and happiness had also been clear, and as promised he'd held her hand and been there to share the excitement. Everything Elena had wished for had come true, and instead of walking around waiting for the bubble to burst, she was cherishing every perfect moment.
It was hard to believe her adoring and attentive husband ever had a doubt about becoming a daddy. He'd thrown himself into painting the nursery in their new house, baby proofing everything, and an endless stream of DIY jobs that Damon had suddenly decided needed to be done as soon as possible. He'd also enjoyed some of the perks of her being pregnant, namely her over-sized breasts and increased sex drive. Even now the way he was looking at her made her body thrum with excitement.
"She needs to eat. A pregnant lady needs her strength," Damon's mother persisted.
Anita had welcomed her into the family with open arms, and these Sunday dinners with Anita, Stefan, Caroline, and now their little girl, Emily had become a tradition over the past year. Elena always looked forward to them, and Anita was an amazing cook. Despite what Anita was telling her, however, she did not need to eat any more. If she had one more bite, she would be rolling away from the table, and in her pregnant state that wouldn't be the best idea. Only two more weeks, she told herself. Her due date was in two weeks time. She tried not to think about how many women went over their due date with their first baby.
"So," Caroline asked, stepping in to distract Anita, "are your bags packed?"
"Yes," Elena told her. "Bags have been packed for two weeks, and are sitting by the door."
"Have you timed the trip to the hospital?" Stefan asked.
"We have," Damon told him.
Damon had timed all five different ways to the hospital to see which way was quicker, and which way had less sets of traffic lights. The car seat had been fitted weeks ago. As far as he knew they were ready. He'd even read the book, What To Expect When You're Expecting. That had actually scared him; all that information about what could possibly go wrong during the birth. After that Elena hadn't let him near her stack of books.
"And you have a large pile of towels on hand for when the waters break?" Stefan asked. "You never know when it could happen."
Elena and Caroline laughed at Damon's expression.
"He's kidding," Elena told him, with a smile.
"The membranes only rupture first in fifteen percent of pregnancies," Caroline told him. "Stefan spent the last month chasing me around with towels."
"We had just had our house re-carpeted," Stefan said defensively. "In the movies the waters break and there's a big mess."
"In the movies," Caroline said with an eye roll, while burping Emily over her shoulder
"I didn't know that," Stefan said.
"I couldn't even get in the car without having to sit on a towel."
Elena and Damon were both laughing now and Stefan mock-glared at Caroline. "Did you have to tell them that?"
"Oh, it's funny," Caroline told him. "You know I love you."
Stefan gave her a kiss on the lips, then smiled and nodded. "I do."
Damon reached for Elena's hand and squeezed it softly. These moments, with his family, had become something he valued above almost everything else. Damon would make sure he would be there for moments like this with his children. He knew things would be different for him. That didn't mean there weren't brief moments where he worried, but those moments of concern only reminded him that he was already different from his father. He worried, he cared, and he loved. He loved Elena. He loved their unborn child, and he loved the life he was living now.
His book, "Why Pleasing Your Woman In Bed Should Be Your Top Priority," had been on the number one best sellers list for months. Damon knew the majority of sales were from women buying the books for their husbands or boyfriends, but it was money. He'd followed that up with another book, "Breaking Family Cycles." That book was slower moving off the shelf, but Damon was okay with that. That one was more personal, and had been extremely cathartic. Now he was working on writing his first horror novel, and continuing to do his radio show. Life had never been better.
Two weeks later, Elena looked at the calendar and sighed as she marked off her due date with a red pen at the end of the day. The last two weeks she'd been uncomfortable sleeping, uncomfortable walking, and uncomfortable doing just about everything. Work had occupied her for most of the pregnancy, but since she'd started maternity leave four weeks ago, she was left with some time to occupy.
Fortunately, Damon was home working on his novel except for Fridays, when he went into the radio station. They were making the most of every opportunity to spend as much quality time together as possible because Caroline had been hounding her about making every minute count. They went out for dinner together, cooked, baked, and hung out, but she was ready for the baby to come. She heard Damon walk up behind her, felt him put his arm around what he could of her waist, and trembled as his lips traced the shell of her ear.
"It's been forty weeks," she told him with a sigh.
"Mm-hmm," Damon mumbled.
"I haven't even had a contraction," Elena said to him.
"So we'll just keep trying to move things along," Damon told her easily.
Elena rolled her eyes but smiled and turned around and wrapped her arms around his neck, only taking a moment to glance down and see her baby bump between the two of them.
"Come on," Damon said to her, ignoring her protests as he picked her off her feet carefully and moved them into the bedroom.
The next morning Elena woke up to an empty bed. Used to spending time with her husband at breakfast, and wondering where he was, Elena slipped into her silk robe, which no longer tied around her, and began walking towards the study when she heard a pop, and felt a rush of warm water between her legs. It took her a second to realize what had just happened.
Damon was at her side within a second.
"My waters just broke," she told him.
"Are you sure?" he asked her, looking down.
"Uh-huh," she told him with a grin.
"I thought it only happened in the movies."
"So last night worked, huh?" Damon asked with a smirk.
"Mm-hmm." Elena said indulgently, not mentioning the fact that they'd been trying so frequently for the last few weeks, that it most likely was not that. It seemed more likely that the baby was simply ready now. Elena knew both of them were ready for this too.
"I'll call the hospital," he said to her.
Approximately sixteen hours later, Damon was holding his son, Samuel Joseph Salvatore in his arms. It had been a long labor which had required much endurance from both of them, but Elena believed it was all worth it. She'd cuddled and held the baby, but strangely seeing Damon hold their son moved her in ways she would never have guessed at. She didn't think she'd ever seen Damon as intense as he looked into his son's eyes.
Damon watched his son quietly and made a promise that this Salvatore male would grow up feeling good about himself. This Salvatore male would have a happy and productive relationship with his father, and this Salvatore male would never doubt his ability to give and receive love. They were big promises, but he would live his life trying to ensure that his son didn't have the hang ups about being a Salvatore male that he had had. He was on the right track. He knew that. Stefan would be a positive role model as well, and if Stefan and Caroline had a son, Damon would endeavor to be a positive role model for him too. Things were going to change in this family.
A little over a year later
Elena considered the afternoon a success. Damon's second horror novel "Vampire Nightmares," was selling like hotcakes, and the turnout to the book signing was bigger than either of them had anticipated. Finally, Damon was with REAL PR, and that was the way both Damon and Elena liked it. There were no rules about not dating clients, and Elena was only too happy to be a publicist to her husband.
Today Damon's mother was babysitting. Anita took advantage of these working occasions to spend time with her grandson, and Damon and Elena were making the most of the occasion to go out for a well-earned dinner this evening. Family life was exciting and rewarding. She'd never seen Damon happier than when he was playing with Sam, but they allowed plenty of time-out for each other too.
They were just in the process of packing up and getting ready to leave the book store when they overheard another couple bickering as they entered the store.
"I told you we were going to be late. Look he's packed up."
Elena recognized Matt and Georgia straight away.
"Elena," Matt said with surprise. "I didn't realize you were still representing Damon."
"Not just representing, Darling," Georgia corrected her now husband. "She married him."
Elena had seen Georgia twice since Damon's launch party years ago. Despite the woman's rather shallow interests, she was relatively easy to get along with. Elena never did, however, go to their wedding.
"Married?" repeated Matt.
"For almost two years now," Damon said, throwing an arm around his wife's shoulders.
"Congratulations," Matt said quietly.
"You're a lucky woman, Elena," Georgia said to her.
"I'm the one who's lucky," Damon told Georgia.
Georgia smiled a wide smile at the two of them, before she looked at Damon and held her book out. "Will you sign my copy of your book?"
Damon moved away to locate his pen and Georgia followed, leaving Matt and Elena standing there making awkward conversation. It felt like a lifetime since she'd seen her ex-fiancé at Damon's book tour launch, and it felt like an eternity ago that she had been filled with the sexual insecurity and self-doubt her relationship with Matt had left her with.
Her sex life with Damon was fun and full and satisfying, and her husband never failed to make her feel beautiful and amazing. Not to mention he was always focused on her pleasure – something Matt had never been. Last time she'd seen her ex-fiancé she'd felt inadequate. Now she understood that she had lacked sexual chemistry with Matt, and that Matt's own inadequacies had affected their sex life. He'd brought her as little sexual pleasure as she'd brought variation to their sex life.
"Ready to go?" Damon asked behind her, interrupting her thoughts.
Elena nodded, eagerly anticipating their night alone together. They said goodbye to the other couple, and walked out of the bookstore holding hands. Elena realized she was simply too happy where she was to feel any resentment towards her ex. Sometimes things just worked out for the best, and this time was one of them. Mixing business with pleasure had been her best decision yet.
A/N: I'm going to plead your forgiveness for any errors, because I haven't had more than three hours consecutive sleep for two weeks. Over 1400 reviews. Wow. You've all made this such a successful story for me. A big thanks to everyone who read and commented on this story. You've held my hand every step of this journey. Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed it.