Elena was getting more than a little tired of Stefan acting like she was going to break every time he touched her. And Damon was just as bad these days. Since her return, he had been acting so... Polite. It was sounlike him. A year ago, Elena would have laughed at anyone who told her that she would miss Damon's constant teasing and innuendos. Now, she was so frustrated by their absence that she felt like crying – or throwing something.
She stormed through the house that the three of them shared, silently fuming. She was annoyed – annoyed by Stefan and Damon's behavior, annoyed at being stuck in a country where she couldn't understand anyone and, if she was honest with herself, a little bit annoyed that she was a boring old human again. After being a vampire and a ghost, she felt uncomfortable in her human skin – like a snake just before it shed.
Elena was annoyed and looking for a fight. Too bad she was all alone in a great, big house without anyone to fight with. Stefan was out 'hunting' which meant he was wandering the streets of Florence, feeling sorry for himself, and Damon was... Well, no one knew exactly whereDamon went when he left the villa. That, at least, never changed.
Except, Elena realized when she saw a light at the end of the hallway, she wasn'talone, after all. One of the brothers must have returned without her noticing. Not surprising – they both seemed to be avoiding her these days. She didn't care which of them it was, she was ready to give them a piece of her mind. Elena stormed right up to the door, threw it open wide – and froze.
The room in question turned out to be a rather old fashioned looking library complete with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and an enormous fireplace. Two tall backed leather chairs sat side by side in front of the fire. She stared in awe at the room wondering why she hadn't seen it before. Then, it struck her, it must be one of the rooms that was usually locked – rooms that Elena had privately come to think of as Damon's sanctuaries. She knew it would be rude to just barge in, uninvited. Knew – but didn't care. Hadn't Damon invaded herprivacy often enough?
Elena stepped forward, deliberately invading Damon's sanctuary. She found him lounging in one of the leather chairs, one leg draped casually over the arm. One hand, holding a crystal glass full of some amber liquid, dangled over the other arm. He didn't look up as Elena approached.
"Care to join me?" he asked, sounding very much the polite gentleman. Very polite – and very distant. Damon might have been talking to anyone, not someone he'd risked his life for. He motioned to the other chair carelessly with the hand still holding the glass. The liquid inside sloshed against the side but didn't spill.
His tone made Elena want to scream. She could have handled some kind of sarcastic remark – she was used to those from Damon - it was his cool indifference that she wasn't prepared for. She wanted to shout at him, goad him, provoke some kind of realresponse from him but she was at a loss. Miserably, she took the seat he offered.
As she sat across from Damon, Elena watched him pointedly not watching her. Any one who didn't know him might think that Damon was oblivious to Elena's presence – but she didknow him and she knew better. She knew by the way he slowly raised the glass to his lips and tossed back the rest of his drink. She knew by the way he kept his eyes fixed on the fireplace. By the way he sat so impossibly still. Damon wasn't just aware of her, he was affected by her. Deeply. He was good at hiding it – but not good enough.
Too bad Elena wasn't any good at hiding how much Damon affected her. As much as she'd like to pretend it was only anger that made her heart race and her palms go moist, she knew it was just the effect Damon had on her – had alwayshad on her. Just being in the same room, pretending to ignore her, he did that.
They sat in silence for awhile until Damon finally set his empty glass down with a sigh. "I'll just leave you in peace." He started to rise.
Elena was on her feet before she made the decision to move. She stepped directly in Damon's path.
"Dammit, Damon!" She faced him, knowing that with her hands on her hips and chin held high, she looked fierce. Any normal boy would have fallen over himself to do anything she wanted. But, of course, Damon wasn't a normal boy – although he did know, from experience, what it was like to be on the receiving end of her wrath.
He eyed her warily. "Elena..."
"Don't you dare 'Elena' me!" She stepped forward, stabbing a finger at his chest. "This isn't about me! I've put up with your strange behavior for weeks and I've had enough! What is wrong with you, Damon Salvatore? And what the hell is wrong with methat you can't even stand to be in the same room alone with me?"
For a moment, Damon just stared. He took in Elena's heaving chest and the bright spots of color that had appeared on her cheeks. Then he shook his head and rubbed a hand across his eyes in a weary gesture that signaled his defeat.
"There's nothing wrong with you, Elena. You're-" he waved a hand helplessly in her direction, "Perfect. You were always good – better than anyone else I've ever known – but now..."
"You diedfor us!" he exclaimed. Damon was getting angry now. His hands were clenched into fists at his side. He looked as if he wanted to shake her. "For me and my worthless brother. And that was bad enough but even after that you kept fighting for us and for your friends and for everyone else in that stupid hick town. They didn't deserve it. None of us did."
"What are you getting at, Damon?" she snapped. Elena didn't want to talk about the time she spent on the other side. It frightened her still and it was easier to be angry that it was to face that fear.
"Isn't it obvious? You're good, Elena," he bit the word 'good' out like it was something dirty. "Not the kind of go to church on Sunday and donate to charity good that people pretend to be, either. Real, honest goodness. The kind of goodness that deserves a second chance."
Elena didn't like the turn their conversation had taken. He was trying to make her out to be some kind of saint – something she definitely was not. She opened her mouth to say just that but Damon was speaking again. The anger had faded from his voice, leaving him sounding sad. There was something else too... Some other emotion that Elena only later realized was self-loathing.
"Too damn good for the likes of me, by far," he told her, "Maybe even too good for Saint Stefan the Virtuous."
Thatgot a rise from her. "Leave Stefan out of this! This has nothing to do with him – this is between us."
Elena was shocked at herself. She hadn't thought about Stefan once since walking into the library. Damon had always been able to do that - to consume her thoughts, to drive Stefan right out of them.
Damon's eyes flashed with a dangerous light. He gave Elena a look she hadn't seen since...the lasttime she was a human. It was a look that set alarm bells ringing in her head – and made heat pool deep in her belly. She swallowed reflexively.
"Careful, Elena," he warned. His voice was dark and smokey, his black eyes never moved from hers. Elena remembered what she too often forgot – that no matter how polite and civilized Damon may seem, he was, after all, a predator. He could sense weakness – and hers was Damon himself.
"You shouldn't say things like that. A boy could take it the wrong way."
Those alarm bells were clanging wildly in her head, warning Elena to run far, far away as quickly as she could. But other parts of Elena were clamoring for attention as well. They kept her rooted to the spot, staring helplessly at Damon – at Damon's lips, now curling into a smile. They reminded her of what it was like to be in his arms, to have those lips pressed against hers...
'Oh, hell,' Elena thought. She'd never been any good at heeding warnings about Damon - or at resisting his dark charm. And now they were alone and she'd pushed him just far enough. Challenge was written clearly across his face. It was a challenge she knew she couldn't resist.
"Oh?" She took a step closer. "And what way would you take it?"
"I'm warning you, Elena..." It sounded like a threat but he took a step back as he said it. Elena knew that he was giving her a chance to leave, to back out with her dignity still intact. She had no intentions of doing any such thing.
"You're warning me?" she asked, stepping forward again. She pushed Damon, surprised when he allowed himself to be manhandled. Another step and his back hit the hard marble of the mantle. "I've faced bigger, badder vampires than you," she said, "What are you going to do?" Deliberately, she pushed against his shoulders again.
With a savage growl, Damon seized Elena's wrists and yanked her hard against his body.
He claimed her mouth roughly, releasing her hands so he could tangle his own in her long hair. This wasn't anything like the teasing kisses he'd given her so many months ago, this was Damon unleashed. He wasn't trying to prove that he couldhave her anymore. Now, he was taking her – and she wanted to be taken. When Elena wrapped her arms around Damon's neck and moaned, he took advantage and thrust his tongue between her parted lips. She met him with a thrust of her own tongue, feeling a delicious thrill of anticipation when it scraped against an elongated canine.
It didn't occur to Elena to be afraid. They had been moving toward this moment for so long – every since that first night in the gym. Now that they had finally reached it, nothing in the world could stop what was to come. Elena, very deliberately, ran her tongue across the tip of Damon's fangs, loving the way he growled deep in his throat in response. Breaking the kiss, Elena twisted her head to the side, offering Damon her throat.
She felt the cool touch of Damon's lips against the sensitive skin of her throat and waited for the sharp sting of his teeth there. It didn't come. Instead, he pressed his lips against her throat again – and again. Damon kissed a trail down her throat, across her collarbone and then dipped lower, down and down until he reached the top button of her blouse.
Her head fell back, her eyes closed as Damon opened each button with a deliberate flick of his fingers. His tongue followed, exploring the skin left exposed. Elena could feel her pulse racing wildly; surely Damon could hear every frantic beat, knew exactly what he was doing to her. When Damon dropped to his knees before her and reached for the button of her jeans, she was sure her heart would stop altogether.
Oh! It was... Wow! There was a tiny part of her brain trying to convince Elena that what they were doing was wrong somehow but it was getting smaller and smaller as Damon eased her jeans down over her hips. They fell in a pool at her feet and he grabbed her waist, pulling her forward. When his tongue darted out to taste her through the thin lace of her panties, the voice disappeared altogether. She couldn't think of a single reason why Damon shouldn't be doing exactly what he was doing. She couldn't think of anythingexcept what he was doing to her.
Damon slid a finger around the panties to stroke her. She was ready for him; his finger slid into her wet center, making her gasp his name. He looked up and Elena could see the barely controlled desire in the depths of his black eyes. Then, without taking his eyes from hers, Damon began to slide his finger in and out of her passage.
"Damon!" cried, breathlessly, "Please." Thatwas what he'd been waiting for – for Elena Gilbert, the Ice Princess to crack. There was no denying how badly she wanted him. And no going back. For either of them.
Damon scooped her up in his arms and, carrying her to one of the high back chairs, set her down. He lifted her legs over the armrests, exposing her, opening her up to his hungry gaze. For a moment, he just stared, devouring her with his eyes alone. He stared for so long that Elena felt self-conscious. She began to close her legs but Damon wouldn't allow it; he placed his hands on her thighs, holding them in place.
"No," he said softly, "Don't."
He lifted his eyes to meet her gaze and Elena felt her embarrassment slip away. She knew, at that moment, what Damon would never say out loud: he was just as overwhelmed by her as she was by him. Neither of them could look away as he slowly lowered his head between her legs.
Her panties were still in the way. Damon solved the problem with one quick motion, ripping them off and letting them fall to the floor. They were ruined, of course, but Elena couldn't bring herself to mourn their loss, not when she felt Damon's tongue touch the most sensitive part of her body. He worshiped her with his mouth – gently licking, sucking, nipping until Elena cried out his name, her fingers gripping his dark hair, her back arched off the chair.
By his own admission, Damon had been with a lot of women. The 'beauties of Europe,' he'd once said. What he'd failed to mention was that they had taught him to do such amazing things with his mouth and - Oh!- his fingers. Elena was panting, begging – for what, she didn't know – when Damon gently lifted her hands and rose to his feet. Elena thought she would die. She reached for him, making a small noise of dismay she'd never heard herself make before.
Damon gave Elena a small, lopsided smile that was nothing like the devastating grin he usually wore to woo members of the opposite sex. And, when he spoke, it was without any of the sarcasm or cockiness his voice normally held. Thiswas Damon, Elena realized.
"Patience, love," he said, reaching to unbutton his own trousers. It took Damon only a moment to shed them – but that was a moment too long for Elena. She was on her feet, lifting the hem of his shirt before the faded black denim hit the floor. Damon helped her, grabbing it with one hand and pulling it over his head and tossing it away. Then he caught Elena in a deep kiss.
The kiss was just as intense as the first but this one held a bruising tenderness that the first lacked. The sudden change was a shock to Elena - but not an unwelcome one. This was Damon before the walls went up around his heart, before he convinced himself that he was a heartless bastard. This was a Damon she could love.
One of Damon's hands rested lightly on the back of Elena's neck, his thumb stroking the skin there while the other wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer. She felt a shiver of anticipation as his shaft nudged her moist entrance. Without breaking the kiss, he lifted her in his arms and stepped backwards until he found the chair. This time, he sat down, positioning Elena right about him. He pulled back, meeting her eyes. Waiting.
It took a moment for Elena to realize that Damon was giving her control. But it was more than just giving her a final chance to change her mind or determine their speed – for the first time, possibly ever, Damon was making himself vulnerable to another person. It made Elena's heart swell. She wouldn't take it for granted. She would give Damon exactly what he wanted – what they both needed.
Holding the back of the chair for support, Elena slowly lowered herself onto him, thrilling at the way Damon squeezed his eyes closed and gripped the armrests. She did that. Not any of the courtesans or princesses he'd been with... Her.
"Elena..." It was a strangled whisper, a plea.
She raised herself up again slowly then, even more slowly still, back down. Damon's hands clasped her hips, holding her tightly, gently guiding her movements as she slid up and down the length of his shaft. It didn't matter who was in control – they were both moving together toward the same goal. They met each other, thrust for thrust, racing toward a climax that loomed ever closer.
A voice broke through their passion. Damon froze, gripping her hips painfully tight. Elena blinked. She didn't understand why, at first, Damon had stopped; she didn't realize that the voice that spoke wasn't his own. Then she saw the look of surprise on his face.
'Oh, my god,' Elena thought, 'Stefan.' She had forgotten all about him and, from the look on Damon's face, he had too. The passion that had consumed them moments ago was gone, replaced by guilt. Damon sighed and rested his forehead against hers, brushing his lips against hers in the briefest of kisses. When he lifted his head again, the old Damon was back, walls built, mask firmly in place. It nearly broke Elena's heart. She wanted to tell him it was going to be okay, that they would sort things out – but how could she?
Elena opened her mouth to speak but Damon cut her off with a small shake of his head. Then, with a movement so quick it left her head spinning, he shifted their positions. One second, she was looking down on Damon. The next, she was on her knees, looking over the edge of the chair at Stefan - the man who she had sworn to love forever. The man she had betrayed. With his brother.
"Brother!" Damon said cheerily. With a fluid movement that made her gasp, Damon entered her from behind.
"Care to join us?"