A/N: Massive thanks to Jenn (ElvishGrrl), who beta'd the last few chapters for me, and to Daisy (LokYa) and Kim (kimbuhlay), both who read this chapter and assured me I should actually post it. If it hadn't been for their encouragement, I might have chickened out. *Hugs the three of you.*
Re: Bet Me. I go on my very first overseas trip on June 6th. I'm going simply for the purpose of meeting up with some friends I made while writing fanfic and I'm beyond excited. When I return, I'll get back to Bet Me. In the meantime, KMBMH is now complete and I'm hoping to finish LCKM on Wattpad before I go. I'm not sure yet whether I will or not, but fingers crossed that I can!
Love to you all!
Fifteen years later…
Walking back from the bathroom to the party in full-swing outside, Damon was distracted by the light he could see on underneath his daughter's bedroom door. It seemed like just yesterday Jenna had taken her first steps towards him, her eyes filled with love and adoration. Now she was sending Damon's head into a spin by talking about boys – one in particular – her best friend Dean. The fact that Dean was Stefan and Rebekah's son was equally perturbing.
Thank God Elena was around to field their daughter's questions about Dean because Damon's first instinct, whenever Jenna talked about Dean, was to grab a gun and shoot Stefan's son before he had the chance to hurt Jenna, or worse, get into her panties. It didn't matter that Stefan was now one of Damon's better friends, or that they'd buried the hatchet a long time ago. If Dean defiled Jenna, Damon was going to strangle the boy.
In his opinion, thirteen was far too young to be thinking about boys. Unfortunately, Damon's opinion didn't seem to change the way Jenna felt, nor did it change the fact that he was woefully unprepared for dealing with his daughter's melancholy words about unrequited love. At least Damon had more of an idea about how to handle their two rambunctious seven-year-old twin boys, Jason and Jordan.
When a quiet sob sounded from inside Jenna's room, Damon found himself moving closer to the door, his hand poised to knock just as he spotted Elena walking down the hallway towards him. They'd been married for fourteen years but she still managed to take his breath away every single day. And dressed up in a delightfully short sparkly gold dress for his birthday celebration, she was taking everybody's breath away tonight. She looked absolutely stunning, and as much as he enjoyed company and having his friends over, he really couldn't wait for them to leave so he could have his wife to himself.
"Hey, birthday boy," Elena whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck and kissing him softly.
It didn't matter that the touch of her lips was fleeting, need flared to life within him, heating him all over. And when she deepened the kiss and pressed herself further into him, he nearly moaned aloud and dragged her into their bedroom. His desire for her still knocked him senseless, but with three children at home they were often challenged to find time. Still, they managed.
"I want you. Right now," he told her.
He felt her smirk against his lips. "Later. I have a surprise for you: your final birthday present."
"Oh, yes. And you're going to have to wait, because I know I'm going to end up screaming when you turn it on."
The force with which blood flooded his loins did make him groan now. "You're killing me here."
"Wait until later. Caroline and Klaus offered their babysitting services tonight, as their birthday present to you."
It had surprised both Damon and Elena when Elena's friend had hit it off with Damon's boss, but when Klaus had gone looking for a spot of matchmaking, Caroline had decided she didn't want to match the man with anyone but herself. They'd been happily married for nine years now, had two delightful and well-behaved children, and were currently Damon's heroes for offering babysitting.
"I suppose I'll have to wait then," Damon said.
"I'll make it worth your while," she told him saucily.
"I'm going to hold you to that."
She gave him one final kiss, before pulling away. And now that his blood wasn't roaring quite so loudly in his veins, he could hear Jenna's muffled sobs once more.
"You go back to our guests. I'll check on Jenna," she told him.
Relieved Jenna would be consoled without him having to put his foot in his mouth – as he did sometimes, Damon nodded and made his way back outside.
Forty-five minutes later, Elena still hadn't come back outside and neither had Jenna. Seeing that Caroline and Klaus were getting ready to leave, Damon headed back inside to let Elena know and to make sure Jenna was ready to go.
"But why did it take Dad so long to see you as more than a friend?" he heard Jenna ask.
"Well, he believed that being friends was better than…anything else he thought we could be," Elena said. "And I never told your father how I felt about him, so it was partly my fault for not shaking him out of our friendship zone a little earlier. I never gave him the opportunity to see me as a woman. I was afraid he wouldn't feel the same way. And your father thought I didn't want to be anything more than friends."
"But you were in love with him for ten years. How could he not know?"
"I guarded that secret with my life, darling. I didn't want him to know."
"But he did figure it out," Damon said, poking his head into the room.
Elena grinned at him, "With a little help from my friends."
Jenna sighed, but her expression was wistful as she looked at him. "It's so romantic that you fell in love with Mom on Heaven's Isle."
Heaven's Isle held many favourite memories for the whole family. Damon might have taken Elena back to The Cape to propose to her, but they'd been married on Heaven's Isle. They'd even gone back and renewed their wedding vows there, ten years later. Jenna had been Elena's bridesmaid. Their daughter had heard the story of how Damon and Elena had fallen in love many times, but she never seemed to tire of hearing it.
"I was in love with your mother well before then," Damon enlightened her, sitting down on the bed next to Jenna. "I just didn't know it. Took her a while for her to realize I was in love with her when I did, too."
Elena smiled at him. "But I got there in the end."
"My point is," Damon said, nudging his daughter's shoulder gently, "we both got there in the end."
They had, they really had, Elena thought. There wasn't one thing she'd change about her life, even if she could. She had everything she'd ever wanted. Everything and more.
"Klaus and Caroline are getting ready to leave," Damon told her.
Jenna jumped off the bed. "I'm all packed to go, but I want to say goodbye to Dean first."
When their daughter rushed out of the room, Damon stood up and held his hand out to Elena. Her whole body trembled with the anticipation of what was to come once their visitors left them.
"Was that entire conversation all about Dean?" Damon asked.
"Of all the boys in the world, it had to be Stefan's son she has her first crush on."
"I think it's more than a crush," Elena told him, worrying her bottom lip.
"She's thirteen, 'Lena."
She turned her back to him and grinned. "At thirteen, I met you."
"Yes, and look at how that turned out."
"It turned out perfectly," she murmured as he wrapped an arm around her from behind.
"I can't argue with that. Still, it's Stefan's son," he reminded her as he stared out the window over her shoulder at the boy in question.
Elena rolled her eyes, but she was laughing. Who would have thought fifteen years could change a person that much? Not Elena, that was for sure. Yet, Stefan had shown her just how wrong she was. Less than a year after Elena had first seen Stefan and Rebekah at the Grill together, Stefan had married his co-worker. They'd given birth to Dean Mikaelson a month before Elena had given birth to Jenna.
Rebekah and Elena had ended up in the same mother's group and Stefan and Damon had both been offered a partnership in Smith & Smith Advertising around the same time. Now the company was called Smith, Smith, Salvatore and Mikaelson. Stefan had taken his wife's last name at her request – something Damon ribbed him about mercilessly. And instead of being encouraged to compete, Stefan and Damon were now encouraged to get along for the sake of the business.
With the future of the company at stake, Stefan and Damon had found a way back to the friendship they'd initially had when they'd joined Smith & Smith in the first place. Soon, the four of them – Damon, Elena, Stefan and Rebekah – had been spending time together on a regular basis. The friendship had solidified over the years, and there wasn't too much the four of them didn't do together. And the way things were looking between Jenna and Dean, they could end up being grandparents together too, though not for a very, very, very long time, like a decade or two, if Elena had her way.
"Stefan is one of your best friends," she reminded him.
"For now. I'm not sure how I'll feel about him if Dean puts the moves on my daughter any time in the near future."
"I think we're safe. For now."
"Good," Damon said, sweeping her hair to one side to nuzzle his nose into her neck and inhale her perfume.
She pressed back against him, delighting in the fact that he still so obviously wanted her, despite the fact she'd given birth to their three children and the fact she'd already hit the big four-o.
"Happy?" he asked her.
"How could I not be?" she responded as they finally broke apart and started walking towards the back door.
Outside, their large garden was full of people laughing and having a good time. Everyone she'd invited had turned up to wish Damon happy birthday. They had a wonderful family, satisfying jobs, plenty of friends, and a love that continued to grow. Life was perfect, even more so tonight because she'd have her husband to herself for the rest of the evening.
She scanned the crowd for their children. Jason and Jordan were playing with Klaus and Caroline's two young girls, and Jenna was talking to Dean. Elena watched her daughter push her hair behind her ear and laugh at something Dean said.
He might break her heart.
The thought was there before she could push it away, but she quickly reminded herself of one of the most important lessons she'd learned to date. A best friend could easily break your heart, but they could also make every one of your dreams come true.
If you let them.