AN: So, it only took me two years to update! *SORRY* Thanks for sticking around, I hope you enjoy. One more after this (don't worry, I already started it!)

Many thanks to the lovely bonneibennet (dot tumblr dot com) for the AMAZING cover art. I love it, so much. Please leave her some love if you like it, too!


Bonnie's POV

I heard the snarling before I opened my eyes.

My head was spinning, my throat was dry and constricted. There was a hand on my throat, and my back was against a wall.

And it freaking hurt.

Which meant, this wasn't a dream.

I was not in the Boarding House anymore. I was where Damon was supposed to be.

I am, I realized as I felt my heart pounding in my chest, and my lungs burning from a lack of oxygen, me again.

Hell yes!


"You have pushed me too far, Miss Bennett," he bit out. Klaus raised the hand at my neck, dragging my body up against the wall. My feet strained to touch the floor.

I was short again!

But, more importantly - I clawed at his hands, blindly, my throat stinging.

I squinted my eyes open, and saw them: the cold, accusing blue eyes. The elongated fangs. The tense lips, pursed and venomous.

"Don't mistake my attraction to your strong will as affection."

Despite my position, my face must have twisted in disgust, because his grip tightened.

He's going to kill me, I thought.

Any way to change those odds, Damon's voice in my head spat the last word like an accusation, rather than a hint: witch?

Incendia. The word barely escaped my lips with the last of my breath.

Klaus bellowed as his pants caught on fire, the flames creeping up his legs. He stumbled backwards, stomping it out. Though he didn't let me go, his grip loosened long enough for another small gulp of air. I dug my nails into his flesh, narrowed my eyes at him and waited.

The aneurysm was sharp and precise.

He released me, his teeth gritted, his hands flying to his head. Prepared for the small drop, I landed easily in a lithe crouch on the floor.

Before Klaus could do what I would do, in Damon's body, in the circumstance – rush forward at super speed – I erected a magic barrier to lock him in the room.

My body tingled from the fresh use of magic.

My nose bled from the effort. But, for the first time in a long time, the scent didn't make me hungry. It didn't make me feel weak, either: it was like proof – evidence – that I existed, that I was me again, that I was home!

I brushed it clean with the back of my hand.

I didn't realize I was laughing gleefully until he stood, slowly, at full height, tilted his head, and regarded me with that familiar look of superiority.

He linked his hands behind his back, and stared at me with expectation.

Déjà vu.

I stopped mid-laugh, my mouth dropping open with realization.

"No," I said, shaking my head, "No. Nope. Nuh-uh."

He gave a slight nod, his voice tight but calm: "Miss Bennett."

"You've got to be kidding me."


Damon's POV

Convincing Stefan that I was back was a lot easier than convincing him that I had taken up residence in Bonnie's body. All this despite Bonnie's weak attempts to convince him that I had come back in an effort to be let free – which included, it must be noted, a rather random (accurate) guess that Stefan wet the bed until he was seven.

But all I had to do when my lazy brother came stomping slowly down the stairs, exasperation written all over his face, was say her name.


It sounded so right, rolling off my tongue, in my own voice. Like it was meant to come pouring out of my mouth, from somewhere deep in my undead chest. It spilled out of me, frantically, a few more times. And each syllable set off another spark inside me.

My eyes shifted as my mind raced, before they locked on Stefan's: "She's in danger."

That's what it meant to understand her, I realized with intense, almost-crippling guilt. Which turned to regret, and then to anger. To face certain death for someone else. To give it all up.

I shot out of that house (vamp speed!), jumped in my car (baby, I missed you!) and raced off to the Mikaelson mansion. I didn't even pause to throw my leather jacket on (that's devotion!). I definitely didn't stick around to give an explanation. I mean, I may have ruffled up that hair part along the way, but that's just because I wanted to look my best, you know, for when I saved Bonnie's life and she pledged her undying loyalty to me.

Damon Salvatore. Guardian of the Bennett line. Protector of the Witch. Cuddler Extraordinaire.

Driving up the block, I strained my ears for some sound – some sign of what was happening – some indication that she was still alive. Where was her voice? Where was her heartbeat?

It was eerily silent as I parked the car and leapt out. I threw the front door open, and it came off its hinges in my hand.

Hello, upper body strength. Welcome back, vamp powers.

I dropped it to one side, and walked in. The foyer was in disarray – paintings fallen from the walls, a few shattered vases, and scuffs on the hardwood floors. I took a step forward, cautiously, assessing the situation.


The daintiest of clinks.

I followed the sound down a corridor.

"One?" That was Bonnie.

A nose being blown into a handkerchief. "Two."

I rushed forward, face vamped out, ready to rescue the damsel in distress, ready to save the day, ready to get my one-arm-dip, knee-popping thank you kiss!

I turned the corner, and there they were!

Sitting on a couch. Having a cup of tea. In the middle of a room lined with bookcases and oversized couches in floral prints. Klaus swiping daintily at his tears, and Bonnie patting his arm comfortingly.

The ah-ha! died, unceremoniously, in my throat.

The plunk of a sugar cube in tea. The clink of a silver spoon against porcelain.

"Here you are," Bonnie handed him the cup.

She didn't even notice I was there!

Maybe I was dead and this was hell.

I cleared my throat.

"Damon," Her eyes flitted up to mine. Her lips spread into a wide, beautiful smile. Man, it had been a long time since I saw those green eyes laughing.

They made me want to laugh, too. Made me want to smile back at her; tease her until she got annoyed and flustered, and could focus only on arguing with me, to the exclusion of all others.

She had wrapped the hoodie around her waist to reveal a camisole I had bought her, one that showed off the angles of her collar bones and dipped low over our… I mean, her breasts. With those bright eyes on mine, I almost forgot we were standing there, across the room from each other, Klaus between us. I almost opened my arms and grinned in return.

But then it was gone, quickly, as she broke our shared gaze to glance back at Klaus. "This is… uhh, Elijah."

"I'm sorry," I blinked. "What?"

"Elijah Mikaelson," Klaus said. Or, Elijah said. It was confusing being on the other side of one of these. He continued, his eyes downcast. "A witch in New Orleans cursed me and my brother. After a struggle, I managed to dagger him, and came to seek Miss Bennett's assistance in switching us back. She was just about to tell me…"

"Wait, wait, wait," I shook my hand in their direction, "So Elijah kissed me?" Why did that make it worse?

A short, surprised laugh burst from Bonnie.

"I did no such thing!" Elijah loudly proclaimed.

"No judgment," Bonnie said, "It's kind of hot."

Aghast. That's definitely the look I shot her. But she laughed again in response. It sounded like wind chimes – so soft and light, and beautiful. Nothing like when I laughed with those vocal cords; that was all Bonnie.

Elijah looked, sulkily, up at Bonnie. "Though I fear I did take some liberties," he placed his hand on Bonnie's and squeezed, lightly, "with the lovely Miss Bennett. I do apologize for that… and for my aggression."

"Oh," Bonnie raised one shoulder in half a shrug. "It's like it happened to someone else, entirely."

"Wait a minute-" I protested, but Bonnie held a finger up to silence me. I put my hands on my hips and let out a huff of air.

"You are generous, as ever." Elijah was telling her, in Klaus' slow voice. Ugh.

"So, Bennett," I bit out. "Go on. Tell the man what he wants to know, and let's get out of here."

Bonnie cleared her throat, turning to Klaus' eager eyes. "As I… mentioned before, you can't fix this with more magic."

"Yes, I recall," Elijah nodded eagerly. "You said, there was a sort of, how did you put it? Trigger?"

"Well, you and Klaus have to," Bonnie took a deep breath, let it out, "understand… each other."

Our eyes met for a beat, then turned back to the Elijah-Klaus amalgamation. She pressed her lips together in anticipation of his reaction.

Whatever that sound was, it wasn't earthly. It was a wail to wake the dead: "I'm going to be stuck in this body forever!"

I cringed. I moved my hands from my hips to cross in front of my chest. Then I stuffed them in my pockets. I tried to look anywhere but at the crying Original on the couch, tea abandoned on a dainty saucer.

Behind Klaus' face, Elijah closed his eyes, leaking tears. Between loud, snotty sniffs, he cursed his brother. Then, cradling his face in his hands, he leaned into Bonnie's embrace.

My jaw dropped open.

"Oh," she let out a small gasp of surprise. "There, there."

She pat his back. Rubbed it, even. Okay, that was definitely a caress. I narrowed my eyes at Bonnie, and she dared to raise her pretty lashes at me when she told him: "Trust me, being Klaus is not," was her hand lingering on his bicep? "that bad."

I rolled my eyes. "Looks pretty bad from where I'm sitting."

"It's okay," she murmured. "I've been trapped in worse."


My eyes snapped to hers, and the annoyance drained from my body. I physically felt it leave my face. Because those green eyes were teasing me, and those perfect lips were pursed. There was a charge in the air, running directly from her to me.

A spark.

She looked so good in… her… body. Ok, maybe don't lead with that.

I clenched my jaw to keep my mouth shut. But then her little tongue darted out to wet her lips, and there was that spark again. Telling me: go to her, grab her, and kiss her and tease her until the air is lit up with that delicious, carefree laughter.

I listened to the pound of her heart pick up. And she smiled, like she knew what I was thinking, and she liked it.

I took a step forward.

But then Elijah wailed, again.

"Oh, come on!"


Bonnie's POV

"Well, that wasn't the epic show down I expected," Damon said, as we left the Mikaelson mansion. He held the door open for me, and I managed to refrain from shooting him a questioningly glance. Instead, I walked through, with him following one step behind me.

"I did leave him in tears, didn't I?" I pointed out, and he agreed with a short laugh.

But then I stopped in my tracks. Because the world – it's like I had woken up from a long, long slumber – it was so, so beautiful.

Walking across the large front yard, I could feel the sunlight on my skin, really feel it, and it was so glorious I had to bite back a moan. I stretched my arms out on either side of me, felt the rustle of the wind against my neck, felt my body temperature adjust, felt my heart pound and my lungs fill with deep breath after deep breath of fresh, luscious air. I closed my eyes for three long beats, until I felt his hand on the small of my back.

I peered up at him.

Had he always been that handsome, and I just never noticed? Or were these lingering Damon-vibes in my blood, muscle-memory from the past few weeks of him constantly checking himself out?

No, there was a soft warmth behind those blue eyes now. There was something gentle, almost tender, in the way he was looking at me. His smile was small and slow, too, making his eyes crinkle.

"Bon," he said, nodding forward. He pressed his fingers into my back as if to guide me forward, and my breath caught in my throat. He should feel cold – his body was cold, I knew that better than anyone. But for some reason, his fingers splayed against my back sent hot shocks up and down my spine.

Yeah, it was true. That body was made for Damon and Damon alone.

"Shall we?" He nodded at the edge of the lawn where the Camaro.

I rolled my eyes up at him, trying to keep my amusement from showing. "What, did you forget how to park?"

"Clearly, it's leftover women-driving-habits."

My face fell. "You're disgusting."

"What! I'm not allowed to make sexist jokes now?" He snorted.

I marched towards the car, waving off his response.

"I walked a mile, sister!"

"Shut up, Damon!"

He flashed forward, and made it to the passenger door before I did, opening it for me. He waved me in with a mocking smile.

"Thanks," I said, without a drop of sincerity, as I slid into the seat.

"See, chivalry's not dead, Bon."

"No, but you are." I sang out, closing the door behind me.

"Yeah, but you're not," Damon barked as he made his way around the car to the driver's seat. He kissed his steering wheel before continuing: "You can thank me now."

"Uhh, excuse me?" My eyes widened, as did his grin. "I defeated Klaus-Elijah. Not you."

"I could've put a kettle on."

"But you didn't."

"That's not the point," Damon frowned, backing the car out and off of the lawn. It bounced a bit as it moved from grass to asphalt, and my hair moved around my neck, brushing my ears and collarbone. I missed that feeling.

Damon glanced at me as he drove, "The point is, I switched us back. So," he cleared his throat, "you're welcome."

"Oh," I said, a disbelieving laugh drifting from my lips, "I see. Thank you for putting me in harm's way, where I surely would have died, had I not been clever enough to magic my way out of it."

Damon struck the steering wheel for emphasis. "Yes, okay, that's more like it! A little appreciation goes a long way."

I scoffed, crossed my arms, and glared at him. The grin that unfurled was slow and deliberate. And yes, annoyingly, seductive.

"We should probably go to the Boarding House. Stefan's probably worried out of his mind."

"Sure," Damon's grin vanished.

"I'm surprised he didn't show up," I said.

"I think he knew I could handle it."

"He must not love me, to leave me to Klaus like that…"

"Hey, I was on my way…"

"I mean, he must want me dead…"

"Bonnie, that's not—"

"I was basically helpless, and-"

"That's not funny," Damon said. His lower lip stuck out and his brow furrowed.

I laughed and nudged his shoulder lightly. "Only you could make someone go from making out to murder in ten seconds flat."

"Ten seconds?" Damon tilted his head. "Bet I could do it in five."

I shook my finger at him. "I'm not taking that bet."

"Scared, huh?"

"That I'll murder you?" I raised a brow.

"That you'll like it." He practically smacked his lips together.

"More like, we'll switch back," I gestured between us helplessly. I shifted in my seat. My throat felt tight, and my heart was a bit too loud for my liking. I crossed my arms in a futile attempt to smother the sound.

Damon licked his lips, and I felt my entire body tense. "Only one way to find out."

"Damon," I warned testily as he pulled the car sharply over.

Undoing his seatbelt, he turned towards me, and smiled, lazily. With our eyes locked, he undid my seatbelt, too, and took my hand in his. "Bonnie?"

He turned my palm upwards and traced his fingers up my palm, up my wrist, into my elbow. Tingles. I shivered: "Yes?"

"What's the worst that can happen?" He ran the back of his knuckles up my bare arm. Sparks.

"I'll be you," I reminded him breathlessly, "And you'll be me."

"Doesn't sound that bad to me," he said, brushing his fingers lightly over my face. They ghosted a path towards my scalp and down again. He ran his thumb over my ear and made me jump. "Being inside you."

I swatted his arm away. "No more jokes about being inside me."

He smirked: "Who's joking?"

"Still disgusting," I said, but my voice was high and my cheeks were hot. And it was especially annoying that I knew he heard every pitch of my heart, and he knew that I knew, which is probably why that predatory smile was on his lips.

"Is that a no?" he tugged on my hair lightly, like he was ringing a bell. I tilted my chin defiantly and said: "No."

"Good," he said, his voice a whisper against my skin. He cradled my chin between his thumb and forefinger, and my eyes fluttered shut.

"No," he said, brushing his thumb over my bottom lip. It stuck to his skin, and my mouth slipped open: "Look at me."

I opened my eyes, slowly, and met his blue ones, expecting ice and finding fire. They were more honest and open than I had ever seen them, even when I was wearing them. He sucked in a breath, and his hand slipped from my chin to my cheek. He pulled my face towards him, and my eyes began to droop again, watching his approach. But his were wide and wondrous, glancing between my eyes and my lips.

Then he paused, a few inches between us. My heart felt like it would burst right out of my chest, waiting for him.

"Kiss me, Damon," I said, causing our lips to brush.

He smiled into it, dipping my mouth to meet his. It was a gentle meeting of the mouths. His lips slipped over mine, coaxing and teasing them at every turn. I scraped my teeth over his bottom lip, and he made a low, growling noise that I swallowed up.

"Damon," I breathed.

"Yeah," he said, nipping at my lips.

"We should…" I took a sharp breath as his tongue found my lip, "get going…"

He pulled away, as if it pained him, and I rubbed my nose against his.

"We didn't change," I whispered. My lips were burning where he'd touched them.

"I wouldn't say that," he said, his words hitting my skin.

I smiled, overcome with a weird, and oh so welcome feeling of joy. Joy! I missed you, happiness. I missed you, fluttering heart! The sound of Damon's laughter felt like comfort. The sound of his voice, however…

"I mean, at least we know everything still works," he said.


He gestured towards his lap.

"Is that-" I narrowed my eyes at his mischievous ones. "Damon, you're so-"

"Disgusting," he finished for me, but his grin was still wicked. He reached out and linked our hands. "Thanks for not breaking it."

"Where were these suggestions when I could do something about it?" I said.

"You can still do lots of things about it."

"Oh, God. Stop."

"You make it so easy, though." He opened his mouth to continue, but I interrupted him.

"Don't," I said, "even start with the easy jokes."

His eyes widened. "It's like you're inside my head."

"At least there's something in there."

"Why are we whispering?"

"I don't know," I smiled. "Seems fragile."

"Trust me, it's not."

"I meant, the moment, you pig."

"Yeah," Damon said, pulling away from me. "So did I."

Then he pressed a quick kiss to my forehead, and we drove to the Boarding House, in silence, fingers still intertwined.


Damon's POV

Man, it was hard to focus on driving when all you want to do is pull your passenger to the backseat and ravage her.

I mean, I wanted to grab her as soon as we left that room, let alone the house. I struggled to keep my hands to myself for that eternal walk to the car. Don't even talk about a fifteen minute long drive later.

Didn't she want to jump into my arms, too? Didn't she want to wrap those lovely legs around my waist? Didn't she want to get some grass stains in some interesting places in front of the mansion? Didn't she want to honk the car horn with her butt? Didn't she want to feel my body against hers?

Well, that's why I settle for teasing you, Bennett. It's the only way I can get a reaction out of you.

That's why I'll never like you, Damon.

Wait, no, she wouldn't say that. Maybe, are we five? Do you want to pull my hair, too?

Ugh, even her voice in my head didn't sound like her! How could I sit next to her, her hand in mine, and feel so lonely. So anxious.

If it were up to me, I wouldn't have driven us to the Boarding House. I would've driven us to the Falls, to watch the fast approaching sunset and listen to the crashing water. I'd take her where we could be alone with each other, and get used to it, together. After having her to myself for weeks – in a manner of speaking – I wasn't too happy to share her, or her attention, or her secrets, with anyone else.

Plus the little witch still wouldn't admit she liked me.

Kiss me? Oh, sure, yeah, use my body why don't you? No, but seriously, why won't you use my body? Why did you stop kissing me? Was she really still worried about switching back?

I mentally threw these questions at her, but she didn't respond at all. She just stared out the window and smiled.

Which also – on purpose, okay? How was I supposed to resist that smile?

As soon as we arrived, she jumped out of the car, like she couldn't wait to be free of me. The door flew open, and Caroline came running out. I rolled my eyes as they embraced.

"Bonnie?" Caroline cried.

"Care!" Bonnie yelled.

"Is it really—"

"Yes, I'm back!" Then, one more time, with feeling: "I'm back!"

Caroline squealed, and I couldn't take it anymore.

Stefan appeared at the doorway, and nodded in my direction. I returned his greeting, and walked past the girls, deliberately bumping Bonnie's shoulder. Not that she noticed.

"I need a drink."

In the living room, and Stefan poured me a glass of bourbon and blood. My stomach roared at the sight.

"Starving?" He asked like he was expecting it.

"Yeah," I said, knocking the drink back in one easy gulp. He poured me another one.

"I figured. Blood bag supply hasn't been replenished in weeks."

"Good old Stefan," I held the glass in his direction and nodded my head. "Keen observation, considering you didn't know you were rooming with Bonnie for weeks."

"What can I say," Stefan said, "she's not usually so…"

"Debonair? Dashing?"

"Pale and lanky."

I smirked and took a sip. Blood. I never thought I'd miss this thick, sweet metallic taste. It felt like my entire brain was waking up.

"Stefan," I frowned. "How did you know it was me?"

"Hmm? You told me, remember…"

"No, when I switched back. How did you know it was me?"

"Well," Stefan pressed his lips together and crossed his arms. "No one else says her name like that. With that kind of reverence."

I almost spit the blood out onto his face. "How dare you insult the Salvatore name."

"Hey," Stefan raised his hands. "You're the one who said it. Bonnie," he mimicked. "Bonnie!" He threw in a deep sigh for effect.

I smirked and took another sip. "Nice to see you didn't grow a sense of humor while I was gone. Would've hated to miss that."

Caroline and Bonnie walked in, gabbing as ferociously as ever. I shot Stefan a warning look and he kept his mouth shut.

"So, you're alright?" Caroline asked, as the girls took a seat on the couch. Bonnie curled one leg under her and leaned into the couch with a small snuggle. She looked like she belonged there. Like she really was at home.

"Yes, I'm fine," Bonnie's smile was (annoying) endearing. I took a sip of my drink. "Damon took good care of it."

She whipped a hand in my direction, one finger up to silence me, without even looking at me.

Don't. Even.

I grinned.

"So Klaus is…?" Caroline prompted. "Did you? Did it work?"

"I…" Bonnie pressed her lips together.

"She didn't kill him," I said. I could practically hear Stefan's brow furrowing beside me. I restrained myself from wiping that knowing smirk off his lips. "And she's not going to."

Bonnie turned to me, finally. "Excuse me?"

"You're not risking your life to fight some idiot who is hardly a threat."

"Wanna run that by me, one more time?"

"You heard me, Bonnie. That's final."

"Oh, so you get to decide when I'll risk my life, is that it? Or what's a threat? You think you have some kind of say now?"

I hoped I didn't look as taken aback as I felt. "Don't I?"

Caroline cleared her throat. "Well, if there's no threat, maybe we should let him run along back to New Orleans."

"It must be a day for miracles if Blondie is thinking, for once." I raised my glass in cheers and downed the rest of the drink.

"Ha-ha, Damon."

"And when there is a threat?" Bonnie's eyes hadn't moved from me. "Am I allowed to protect the people I care about, then?"

I knew she was testing me. I knew she was daring me to say something possessive and jerkish and inappropriate. And we all know I have never been one to shy away from a challenge.

"No," I said, "You're not."

Bonnie blinked at me. "That's not your decision."

You wanted me to understand you! I understand you! You don't want to die, Bonnie. You don't want to face certain death.

But I couldn't say that. Not with Stefan and Caroline here – those intruders, those outsiders! This was Bonnie's secret, and I wouldn't let them in on it. I respected her too much. And besides, it was all I had left, that was… ours.

"Fine," I bit out. "It's your decision—"

"Thank you."

"Queen Bonnie, oh magnanimous one. Please martyr yourself at your own discretion."

Bonnie blinked at me, and her expression changed. Smoothed, even. Her brow unfurrowed, and her lips relaxed. She stood, and faced me square on. "Caroline, Stefan. I think we need a moment. If you don't mind."

Caroline scurried out of the room, taking Stefan with her.

Now it was just the three of us – me, Bonnie, and her anger. Well, four, if you counted the clawing urge to keep her safe.

Bonnie stepped forward in three easy strides. I didn't budge. I kept that green-eyed gaze, didn't even blink.

She was crazy if she thought I would let her march out that door, into certain doom. I never wanted to feel that kind of fear again, and I definitely would do everything in my power to stop her from feeling it. She was… Well, she was the word I said with reverence. Didn't she know that? Couldn't she hear it?

Bonnie stopped moving when she was standing right in front of me. She was so short, I had to lower my neck to meet her eyes, peering up at me so (irritatingly) adorably. Then she smiled – the crooked one, my favorite. And she took another step forward, into my chest.

She wrapped her arms around me, pressed her head against my chest.

"Damon," she said. "Thank you."


Bonnie's POV

"You're… Aren't you angry at me?" Damon whispered. His entire body was tense in my arms, on guard.

"Nope." I rubbed my cheek against his chest, inhaling the laundered scent of his shirt.

He relaxed into my embrace, and his arms came up to wrap around me. I was surprised, again, at how warm his embrace made me feel.

What was it?

Caroline had asked, hugging me in the driveway, as soon as the boys were out of earshot.

"Tell me everything. What was it? What triggered you to switch back? How did Damon understand you?" Her nose had scrunched up. "Did he kiss you again?"

"No, we were…" I had shook my head, "Across town from each other…"

"So what was it?"

"I… I don't know."

But I knew now. The way he refused to put me in harm's way (however idiotically he chose to express it) meant something. He had never done that before. We had always found a way, together. But now, he wouldn't even consider it. And that kind of struggle – the kind of fight to keep someone alive who was facing death, who was meant to die, who was dead already – that kind of struggle only came from one who knew. Who had been there, staring Death down, and knowing this was it.

"You understood me," I said, blinking back the tears.

"Yes," he whispered hotly. I felt his lips against the crown of my head. "But that was the plan, I was going to-"

"You were going to die for me," I said. My voice cracked as I choked back a sob. I tried to laugh the tears away, but he pulled back from our embrace. He took my face in his hands, clicked his tongue against his teeth, and wiped my tears clean with a gentle touch.

"Don't cry," he said, like a plea, rather than a command.

"You were going to die for me, and that's why we switched back." I smiled. "You did save us."

"Well, that was the plan," he said. His eyes were soft, and his smile was small but sincere. This was Damon at his most dangerous, the Damon that made my heart tremble.

"But… you do know that if I choose to face Klaus, you can't stop me."

He growled: "Is that a dare?"

"Damon," I groaned, thudding my fist lightly on his chest. "It's not an easy decision, but it is mine."

"Fine," he said, tugging me back into his arms. I crashed into his chest, but he didn't seem to mind. "I'll just have to make sure it never comes to that."

I laughed into his shirt. "That would be nice."

"It's good to be back, huh?"

Damon nuzzled my head with his face, ran his hands up and down my back and took a lungful of the scent of my shampoo. And there they were again. Sparks. Everywhere. He should be cold, I shouldn't feel this warm. My heart shouldn't be thudding so fast. Could he feel it, through our clothes? After all, there were only a few thin layers of cotton between us…

I tightened my arms around his back, pressing our bodies as close as possible. My voice was barely audible: "Pretty good."

"I mean, not that I won't miss your banging body."

I pinched him.

He yelped.

"I know you're going to miss looking at your own face."

"It's true. That was the real sacrifice," Damon said. But it seemed he was really saying, it was my face he'd be missing.

"You're not being a snappy Grouchy McGroucherson anymore."

"You are the worst at nicknames."

"Point stands."

Damon shrugged in my arms.

"So, this is what you wanted?"

"Yes." He sighed.

"A hug?"


"You're like a giant baby," I said softly, laughing into his chest.

"See," he whispered, giving me a squeeze and resting his cheek against my head. "I knew you got me."

Then a throat cleared behind us. And we both looked up.


Damon jumped back first, letting me go. Putting distance between us.

And that thudding heart of mine? It sank right down to my toes.