The Rain King

By Terri Botta

Summary: Sequel to The Queen of Unintended Consequences. Six years after Damon leaves Elena with Klaus, he's called back to handle a delicate situation. An AU Season 3 fic.

A/N: Many thanks to my awesome betas Glamoured-by-Eric, Kate C, and Layla Reyne


Chapter Twelve

"So let me get this straight," Damon said, pacing while Junior and Ric occupied one of the sofas in the parlor. Elena was standing, but she was getting that pinched look on her face that told him that her ankles were bothering her. If she didn't sit down soon, he'd call her on it, but right now he was dealing with the latest bomb that had been dropped on his life. "You've been seeing ghosts for the last six years?"

"Bonnie was warned that there would be consequences for bringing me back from the dead the night Sheriff Forbes shot me. Seeing ghosts apparently was part of it," Jeremy explained.

"Okay. Okay. Hold that thought. Just… gimme a minute," he stated, stalking to the kitchen.

Thankfully, Elena stayed behind in the parlor, probably to talk to her baby bro and the former history teacher, so he was free to brew a cup of her tea. He doubled the normal dose of herbs, then reached into the cabinet under the sink, his hand feeling for the small, glass vial he'd hidden under there.

Pulling out the little bottle, he stared at the greenish liquid inside it. He'd brewed the absinthe himself from wormwood leaves and flowers, green anise, and other herbs. It was a potent concoction, and dangerous to use, but desperate times called for desperate measures. If the conversation that was about to happen in the parlor covered even a fraction of the subjects he thought it would, he had to send Stepford Elena so far into the dungeon she couldn't even hear herself think.

With great trepidation, he uncorked the bottle and carefully put five drops of the spirit into the tea with an eyedropper. He prayed silently to a god he wasn't even sure existed that it worked, otherwise they were all screwed if and when Klaus appeared, after his little mole spilled her guts to him. He added the requisite drizzle of honey, and gave the tea a good stir before returning to the parlor with the steaming mug. He handed the cup to Elena who was sitting down next to Jeremy on the sofa.

"What have I missed?" he asked with a smile.

"Well, Jeremy was telling me all about life in the big city," Elena answered, taking a sip of the tea. Her eyes widened as soon as she tasted it. "Oooh, what's in this? It tastes different."

"Anise. Gives it a bit of licorice flavor," he replied glibly.

"Hmm. It tastes like those thin cookies. You know, the Italian ones that look like snowflakes?"

"Pizzelles?" he offered.

"Yeah, those. I love those. This tastes good. I like it with the anise," she told him, drinking more.

'Don't get used to it,' he wanted to say, but he held his tongue. Instead, he drew his mouth into a tight line and sat down on the opposite sofa. "So, Jeremy, how has college life been treating you?"

"Good. It's good. I took classes over the summer because I want to graduate in May, and I needed some extra credits for my Environmental Studies minor."

Elena took her brother's hand and rubbed it fondly. "Jeremy was saying how he got a job with a stage crew that makes sets for Broadway shows."

"Yeah, it's fun. I've gotten into some of the hottest shows that way," the young man said, smiling shyly.

"That's odd," Damon commented, crossing one ankle over his knee. "You never struck me as the Broadway musical type."

The younger Gilbert shrugged. "I like to draw, and I like music, and some of the productions are actually pretty cool."

"Well, it's always good to have a hobby that doesn't involve bloodshed," Damon quipped, reaching for his drink. He needed a refill. So did Ric, he noticed.

"I still train. Ric and I get together a couple of times a year, and every now and then I've run into vampires. You'd be surprised how many there are in New York."

"Big cities make good hunting grounds. Lots of prey, lots of little lost nobodies that fall through the cracks," he stated, standing and going over to the table with the decanter. He poured himself two fingers of bourbon, then brought the bottle over to Ric and replenished his. "Vampires feed well in a city like that, and New York…" he whistled appreciatively. "Lots of wannabe dancers and models. Yummy."

Ric snorted. "You haven't changed a bit."

The words cut deep because it seemed like the friendship he and Alaric had shared was completely gone. He'd held out some small hope that a tiny bit of the camaraderie that they'd once shared was still there, but it looked like he'd been hoping in vain. Ric hated him, but at least Junior seemed to have forgiven him for his trespasses.

"Vampire, Ric," he shot back. "Feed on blood. Can I help it if I prefer the taste of a fresh, young woman who treats her body like a temple?" He smirked, and saluted with his glass, as he set the decanter back on the table and resumed his seat.

"Sure, another unsuspecting innocent who falls for your lies and charms," Ric scoffed. "What's one more girl to add to the list of all the ones you've taken advantage of?"

He was thinking up a suitable response when he saw Elena turn to Ric and slap him across the face. The resounding crack of her hand on the other man's cheek echoed in the suddenly quiet room, and all three of them stared at her in shock.

"That's enough," she growled, standing up. "I don't want to hear another word from you about Damon taking advantage of anyone."

She made her way over to Damon, and he stood to meet her as she wrapped her arms around his waist and kissed him.

"Hi, babe," he greeted with a smile, hugging her back.

"Hi."

"How're you feeling?" he asked, searching her eyes for any sign of discomfort or struggle.

"Okay. I'm tired, but that's nothing new," Elena answered, then sighed when Damon rubbed tiny circles into her back with his thumbs.

"Would someone like to explain what just happened?" Ric demanded, rubbing his jaw.

They separated, but stood shoulder to shoulder as they presented a unified front.

"I think it's fairly obvious what just happened. I hit you for being a jerk. I know I haven't seen you in six years, Ric, but the man I remember was smarter than that," Elena chided, her arms crossed over her chest.

"It was the tea," Jeremy interrupted. "It breaks the compulsion."

Damon smirked. "Ghost Witch filling you in, Junior?"

Jeremy's expression grew far away again, and then he nodded. "Something like that, but Ric texted me last night about what you'd told him."

"It's only temporary. I don't have complete control yet, but I will admit that brew seemed more potent. What did you put in it that was different?" Elena asked.

"Five drops of absinthe," he confessed.

"Absinthe? Really?" Ric blurted, shaking his head disapprovingly.

"It's not enough to do any harm, but I needed that cup to have an extra kick," he assured them.

"Ric, I'm fine. Damon wouldn't hurt me."

"So says the girl he left with an Original Hybrid to use as his personal blood bag," Ric said contemptuously.

"His doing that saved all of your lives. Klaus would've found out I was still alive, he would've come for me, and he would've killed anyone who tried to get in his way," she countered.

"We could've come up with an alternative if he'd given us the chance," Ric insisted.

"For the record, Operation Eternal Road Trip was my first choice, but Little Miss Martyr wouldn't leave any of you behind, and I wasn't going to steal a Winnebago to take all of you along," Damon informed, pleased with his own Buffy reference.

Elena shook her head. "Klaus would've just found us, and if we'd split up, he would've hunted us all down and used whoever he caught to force me to turn myself over to him.

"So you honestly believe that his only choice was to abandon you with Klaus?" Ric argued.

"Yes, and I came to understand that more and more the longer I was with Klaus," Elena explained. "Klaus is ruthless and relentless. He has connections all over the world, and witches that do his bidding. There would've been nowhere we could've hidden where we would've been safe. Running was hopeless. I understand that now. And Damon didn't abandon me with Klaus. Stefan was there. He was depending on Stefan to protect me. Damon had no idea that Klaus would compel Stefan to turn off his humanity, or that Stefan would betray Bonnie and Caroline and turn them over to Klaus when they came to rescue me."

"I should've suspected, though, given my baby bro's history, but I didn't think he'd turned it off completely because he was still trying to put the bodies back together," Damon said.

"It wasn't off completely. There were moments… The night you left me with him. He was very upset."

Damon grimaced. "I know. I got the voicemails."

He put his arm around Elena and drew her close. They'd chitchatted enough, and now was the time to get to the serious part of the morning. "So? Are we good for this conversation then?" he asked her.

Elena looked up at him, a little frown on her face. "I don't think so. I think the less I know the better."

His eyes flew open wide, and he cocked his head. "Elena Gilbert not wanting to be the one making all the decisions? Will wonders never cease?"

"Don't be an ass."

He grinned and kissed her forehead. "Yes, dear."

"Pffft."

"So I guess we'll have to wait until you go up for your nap then," he stated as gently as he could. He hated to exclude her, but if she was uncertain, then it was best to trust her and take her at face value.

"Yeah. We can't take the chance of her knowing what I know."

"Okay then. I'll make breakfast," he offered.

She gave him a pleading look, and he knew what she was going to ask before she'd even said a word.

"Blueberry-pecan pancakes?" she requested, her predictability making him smirk.

"Is that what you want?"

"Yes."

"Then that's what you'll get. Blueberry-pecan pancakes with eggs and corned beef hash."

"And fresh biscuits with strawberry jam?"

"And fresh biscuits with strawberry jam," he agreed.

She wrapped both arms around his waist and pressed her cheek to his collarbone. He drew her close and hugged her, nuzzling her hair.

"Thank you. You're too good to me," she said, her voice muffled by his shirt.

"It's the trade-off for putting up with my snarky ass."

She looked up at him, her eyes loving, and cupped his cheek in her palm. "One of these days we're going to talk about your sense of self-worth, but for now I'm hungry so get cooking Salvatore."

"Yes, m'lady."

He let her go reluctantly and left her in the parlor with her brother and his former best friend. His instincts were telling him not to leave her alone with two adult males, but they were family and – for better or for worse – he trusted them not to hurt his mate. He dialed up his vampire hearing, however, as he entered the kitchen and began gathering the ingredients to make breakfast. He kept one ear out for her as he started coffee brewing, his body ready to drop everything and rush to her defense if he heard any hint of distress.

"You're looking good," he heard Jeremy compliment.

"Yeah. I feel good most of the time. I'm tired a lot, but the doctor says that's normal."

"The baby's doing okay?"

"Yeah. I'm having a girl. I got a picture from the ultrasound I had last week. I'll go get it."

"No, that's okay. You can show it to me later. Right now we want to talk to you."

"You do know that Damon can hear us even when he's in the kitchen, right?" she reminded.

"Maybe we should put on some music or something then," Ric suggested.

Damon tensed, about to go vamp speeding back there to show Ric the error of his ways, when Elena did it for him.

"No. I'm done making plans behind Damon's back. We're in this together, and I won't cut him out of the loop. Whatever you have to say to me, you can say with him hearing it."

Her words filled him with pride, and he smiled as he started the corned beef hash browning in a skillet and mixed the pancake batter in a bowl.

"Elena, we just want to make sure that this is the best thing for you," Ric said.

"Being here with Damon is the best thing for me. If you try to take me away from him, Klaus will kill you both, and you know it. He'll find out, he'll hunt us down, kill you, and take me back. I do not want that."

"Bonnie says she can hide us. She can draw on the power of her witch ancestors and keep Klaus from finding us," Jer said.

"And what? Leave Damon to face Klaus once he finds out I'm gone? No. If Damon isn't included in the plan, I'm not going. Period."

"Elena, he left you with Klaus in the first place!" Ric argued.

"And it killed him to do so, but it was the only way. Now, I'm doing what I should have done six years ago. I'm trusting Damon. If he changes his mind after what you have to tell him this afternoon, I'll go along with whatever he thinks is best, but until then, I'm staying put."

"Elena…"

"You're ignoring the fact that I want to be with him. Damon is good to me. He takes very good care of me, and there isn't anyone else I'd rather be doing this with. We're partners. Lovers. I love him."

Damon paused in his pouring of the batter onto the hot griddle as his dead heart skipped a beat. She'd just admitted her love for him to her brother and Ric, and he almost couldn't contain the rush of joy that raced through him. Elena loved him, and she wasn't afraid to tell her family.

"Love, Elena? Are you sure?" Jeremy asked.

"Yes. Yes, Jer, I'm sure. To be honest, I've loved him for a while. I should've admitted it six years ago, but I was too much of a coward."

"I saw it. I saw how you were starting to look at him," Ric admitted after a moment of pensive silence. "The two of you grew so much closer after Stefan left with Klaus."

"Yes. And part of the reason why I wouldn't admit what was happening between Damon and me was because I was afraid you would disapprove, and I didn't want you to be disappointed."

"Elena, it wasn't Damon I didn't want you to be with. I didn't want you to be with any vampire. I wanted you to be able to have a normal life."

"I was never going to have a normal life, Ric. I understand that now. Even if I'd never met Stefan or Damon, I'm a Petrova doppelganger. Klaus would have found me eventually, or Katherine. Either way, I would've been sucked into the world of the supernatural. At least with Stefan and Damon, I had people who loved me and wanted to protect me. Without Stefan and Damon, and even Bonnie and Caroline, to help me, things with Klaus would've gone very differently."

He was focusing so much on Elena's words that he forgot about breakfast, and the pancakes started burning. He scraped them off the griddle with a curse and dumped them into the trashcan. He then wiped off the cast iron surface, re-greased it, and poured a fresh set of pancakes on the hot metal.

"So you're okay with this?" Jeremy questioned.

"No, I'm not okay with this. I'm not okay with any of it. Klaus compelled me to have sex with a stranger so he could get me pregnant, then he compelled me to obey Damon and make him happy. My mind and my life are not my own, but, with that being said, I'm making the best of it. I refuse to resent my baby for being conceived. I refuse to blame Damon for my compulsion. I know he's doing everything he can to help me overcome it, and he's working on a way to break it completely."

"If he's using absinthe, he must be desperate," Ric commented, clearly still irritated that Damon had used the elixir at all.

"Damon would never use something that was dangerous to me or my baby. He's more protective of me now than he ever was before."

"Bonnie says the dose he put in the tea was safe enough," Jer informed.

"See, even Bonnie agrees with me. How is Bonnie? Does she… does she forgive me for what happened?"

"Yeah. She doesn't blame you. She knows what happened wasn't your fault. She doesn't even blame Damon. He warned her not to go after Klaus, and she didn't listen."

"It's so weird that you can see ghosts. Do you ever see anyone other than Bonnie?"

"Yeah."

"Have you seen Aunt Jenna?" she asked in a shy voice.

"No. I've never seen her, but I have seen Anna and Vicki. And Mason Lockwood."

"Mason Lockwood?"

"Yeah, he wanted me to help him contact Tyler, but by then it was too late. He'd gone after you with Bonnie and Caroline, and none of you ever came back."

The conversation in the parlor was wading into dangerous waters, so Damon wrapped up breakfast and called out.

"Breakfast is almost ready, guys, which means I need someone to set the table!"

"Coming!" Elena answered.

"No, Elena. You stay put. We'll get the plates and stuff," Jeremy offered.

Elena snorted. "I'm pregnant, Jer, not an invalid."

Damon heard her get up and come walking towards the kitchen, and he quickly vamp sped to have the plates stacked up and ready for her to grab once she arrived.

"God, those smell good. Can I have one right off the griddle?" she said as she came in, then he saw her spy the batter bowl. "Ohhhh, pancake batter!"

He zipped over and grabbed the bowl, whisking it out of her grasp. "Ah ah ah! Raw eggs are bad for Baby! You could get salmonella poisoning."

She huffed and rolled her eyes. "As if you wouldn't smell it well before then."

He shrugged. "True, but why take chances?"

He set the bowl in the sink, but snagged a hot pancake off the griddle and slid it onto a plate, cutting it with a fork and offering her a bite.

"Careful, it's hot," he warned as she leaned in to eat it.

She grabbed the morsel with her teeth, her eyes closing in pleasure as she drew it into her mouth, and the little moan she made went straight to his groin. Then he watched – transfixed – as she licked the fork clean.

"Mmmm, so good. You spoil me. I love it."

He almost forgot that they had guests. He wanted to take her right there because kitchen sex was amazing, but Junior Gilbert coming in squashed all his amorous intentions. She knew what she'd done, too, because she batted her doe eyes at him and gave him a secret smile. He wanted to growl and smack her ass for being such a tease. She just winked at him, all sultry and female charm, and then picked up the stack of plates and utensils and gave him a good view of her backside as she carted them out to the table.

"Here, make yourself useful," he said, handing Jeremy a plate piled high with steaming pancakes.

The boy looked at him, then his eyes opened wide, and he shook his head slightly. Damon, always observant, noticed the motion immediately.

"What is it?"

Jeremy shook his head more firmly. "Not now. Later."

"Witchy ghost have something to say?

"Something like that."

"Do I need to find the pottery wheel somewhere in the basement?"

"It doesn't work that way."

"Whatever. I am sure Bitchy Witchy will let me know what she thinks. She always did."

"She doesn't hate you, you know. She forgave you. But she knows you haven't forgiven yourself."

"Get the pancakes to the table. They suck when they're cold."

Ric came in and Damon handed him the platter of corned beef hash without a word. Elena came back in for the coffee. He gave her the mugs and handed the pot of hot coffee to Junior who came in behind her. When Ric came back, he gave the man the tray with the sugar, cream, butter and syrup. He followed last with the scrambled eggs and returned for the juice glasses and OJ.

Breakfast was a pleasant affair. No matter what Junior Gilbert or his former best friend thought of him, they were playing nice for Elena's sake and enjoying the food because he was an awesome cook, after all. About half way through the meal, he went back into the kitchen to heat himself up a bag of blood, which he poured into a glass for appearances' sake. When he returned, most of the food was gone, and Elena was looking well fed and sated. There was a light in her eyes that he hadn't seen since before he'd left her with Klaus, and he saw her face beam with happiness as she laughed at something Jeremy said.

He watched them from the doorway, sipping his blood and enjoying the scene before him: the happy family reunited, except he wasn't part of it anymore. He had been, during that last summer when it had been just the four of them. He and Ric had played at being parents to two teenagers, although half the time he felt like he was parenting Ric too. The man was a hopeless slob. He used to go over to the Gilbert house regularly to prepare meals, leaving them in marked containers in the refrigerator and freezer with instructions on how to heat them up. Two nights a week were "family" nights where he would cook dinner then spend the evening playing cards, board games or video games. Ric was a decent poker player, and not half bad at chess. He'd been teaching Junior Gilbert the finer points of bluffing, and how to read the other players' tells, before Elena's birthday and the trip to Tennessee. Before everything went to hell.

For a brief time, a few short months, he'd belonged. Before his "family" had woken up and realized he was a ruthless killer, before Elena had found his secret closet of news clippings – what was Blondie doing in his bedroom anyway? – before he had to chase down his baby bro because Elena refused to give up the search. For one summer, he'd had a family again, and he'd forgotten how good it felt to be wanted, needed and cared for.

He smiled a bittersweet smile and looked down into his mostly empty glass, knocking back the last of the blood in one gulp. The sound of empty plates being stacked up drew his attention to the table, and he moved forward to help gather the dirty dishes to take them to the kitchen. Elena gave him a fond, sweet look that spoke of approval and quiet affection, and he returned the feeling to her in spades as he took the plates.

By unspoken agreement, they all cleared the table, working together in the seamless way that they'd developed during that last summer. Each of them had their "job." Jeremy brought in the leftovers while Elena carried in the glasses, mugs and used silverware. Ric cleared off the table and wiped it down. He rinsed off the dishes and put them in the dishwasher, separating out the glassware that he wanted to hand wash. He scrubbed the skillet and cleaned the griddle, leaving them both to dry.

He made Elena another cup of her tea, adding only three drops of absinthe this time and putting some tummy soothers in because, while her morning sickness was much better, she did still get queasy sometimes. He brought it into the parlor where they had all gathered again, and he set the mug down on the table for her before going to the liquor cart to pour himself and Ric new tumblers of bourbon.

"Pour me one too?" Jeremy asked, making him lift his head to look at the boy.

"Really, Junior?" he asked.

"Hey, I'm legal now," Jeremy argued.

Damon scoffed. "Like I care about that. Looks like Obi Wan Saltzman is teaching you the finer points of day drinking between how to kick vampire ass lessons," he replied as he fished out a third glass from the shelf under the cart and poured a serving of bourbon into it. At this rate, he'd be out of Pappy's in no time.

"Like Jimmy Buffett says, its five o'clock somewhere," the boy quipped, holding out a hand to accept the glass.

He chuckled as he put Ric's glass down on the table, and he was about to go sit on one of the high-backed chairs near the fireplace when Elena's hand snaked out to grab his wrist and urged him to sit beside her. Ignoring the pang in his heart, he obeyed and lowered himself to the sofa cushions. She tucked her legs under her and leaned into him as he draped the throw blanket from the back of the couch over her. Even with a fire going in the hearth the old house was cool and drafty. She snuggled up and rested her arm across his lap, her cheek against his shoulder. He balanced his chin on the top of her head and tried not to notice Ric's scowl. Ric disapproving of him, however, wasn't nearly as disconcerting as the pensive look on Junior's face, and he wondered what the Dead Witch Project was whispering in the boy's ear.

"That was an excellent breakfast. Thank you, Damon," Elena said.

He wrapped a possessive arm around her and smirked at the two men sitting across from them. "Gotta feed my baby right so she has everything she needs for her baby," he answered proudly.

"Meh, right now this baby feels like she's going into a carbohydrate coma."

He made a sympathetic sound and rubbed her back, relishing in the feel of her pressing closer and her soft sigh.

"Have you thought of a name yet, Elena?" Junior asked.

She shifted a little and moved a hand down to stroke her lower abdomen. "I was thinking Miranda Jennifer, you know, for Mom and Aunt Jenna."

"That's a good name," Jeremy agreed, and Damon heard the slight tremor in the boy's voice.

If he were honest, he would admit to getting a little choked up himself. Elena and he hadn't discussed possible baby names, but in hindsight it made perfect sense that she would choose a name that would honor her deceased loved ones.

"And you're sure it's a girl?" Ric questioned.

"I'm a Petrova doppelganger. I'll only ever have girls. Some mystical doppelganger thing."

"Girls?" Ric repeated with an emphasis on the plural.

Elena frowned and rubbed her belly again. "That we don't know. I may be restricted to one baby that will carry on the doppelganger genes. Miriam wasn't sure if I'd be able to have more children."

Junior's eyes went unfocused, then sharpened on his sister a few seconds later. "Bonnie says probably not, unless something happens to your daughter. If she's killed before she has a child, and you're still able to have children, it's possible that you might be able to get pregnant again."

Elena's body went very tense, and Damon tightened the hand he had around her shoulder. He didn't need to be a mind reader to know what she was thinking, and he could smell the anger rising to the surface of her skin.

"Well, that's good to know. I wish I'd known that earlier. I have built-in doppelganger birth control. That's awesome," she said bitterly.

Junior paled, and he wanted to strangle the kid for being a jerk. Jeremy, of all people, knew how much Elena hated to have her choices taken from her.

"Elena, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said it like that," the boy apologized.

"How should you have said it?" she snapped. "Oh, by the way, Sis, this is it. One girl for you because you had the luck to be born a mystical being whose blood is needed for all kinds of cool spells? Did you know that doppelganger blood is required for eight different binding spells, but each one is keyed to the doppelganger from a specific bloodline? Klaus will never be able to use any other doppelganger's bloodline to make hybrids. Isn't that great? My kid is doomed to be the breeding stock for a thousand-year old werewolf-vampire bastard. Awesome."

"Elena…" her brother tried again, but she cut him off with a look.

"My life: one big, supernatural freak show," she complained, pushing against Damon as she struggled to sit up. He released her slowly, not wanting to fight with her when she was angry and hurting. This was an emotional cesspool, and he didn't want to get dragged into it.

"And on that happy note, I'm going to go lay down," she announced, tossing the blanket off of her shoulders.

He didn't stop her as she rose to her feet and began making her way towards the stairs. He threw a daggered glare at Junior as he followed her, trying not to hover, but wanting to get her settled in bed. Emotions were rolling off of her in waves: rage, pain, and despair, and it was breaking his heart to see her in such distress.

"Baby, I'm sorr…" he started as they entered their bedroom, but she stopped him with a fierce kiss.

"Don't," she said harshly, her hands tugging at the hem of his shirt.

"Elena…"

"Don't talk. Don't say anything. I don't want to think," she begged, as her fingers teased his nipples.

"Ric and Junior are downstairs…"

"I don't care. Make me not think, David, please."

Her plea turned him into mush, and he obeyed, pulling her to him and kissing her thoroughly. All too soon, she was topless on the bed, and his face was between her breasts, his lips alternately teasing and sucking her nipples while she tugged on his hair. Her sweatpants came off, as did his jeans, and he moved lower so the best friends could see each other. Both were overjoyed to have a play date and wasted no time getting reacquainted. Her hands gripped the sheets as her thighs squeezed his head, her back arching as she voiced her pleasure, and then he added his fingers and rubbed her G-spot, sending her over the edge with a gasp and a cry.

After she came, he thought he was done. He was prepared to leave his need unfulfilled rather than take advantage of her while she was in such a fragile, emotional state, but she was having none of it. She grabbed his shoulders and pulled him on top of her, spreading her legs wide and lifting her hips just enough to encourage him to mount her. He slid in and let the rhythmic squeezing of her walls around him dictate how hard and fast he would go.

Two more times, he brought her over the edge, each orgasm more powerful than the previous one, each a step in the deliberate short-circuiting of her brain. She wanted not to think? He would make sure she had trouble remembering her own name, but he'd be damn sure she remembered his.

He let himself go just before her last one, spilling into her as she bucked beneath him and screamed his name. He pulled out and began licking her again, trying to coax one more climax from her. Her breath was coming in short, panting sobs, but she gave over a fourth time, shuddering with a whimper before she lay still and quiet.

He crawled up beside her and gathered her to himself, kissing her brow with feather-light kisses as he stroked her hair. He smelled the tears that leaked out from behind her closed eyes, but he did not call attention to them. Instead he held her the way he knew she wanted to be held, and he sang softly to her until she was able to pull herself together.

"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely.

"Anytime."

She chuckled like a drunk and kissed his chin. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Baby. Sleep now. Just sleep."

"And dream of you," she murmured, half-conscious.

"Always."

He held her until he was sure she was sleeping the sleep of the sexually sated, and then he carefully slipped out of bed. He arranged her into a comfortable position and tucked the blankets around her, giving her another kiss on her forehead, and then he left her dreaming as he took a quick shower and got dressed.

He closed the bedroom door behind him as quietly as possible and headed back down to the parlor. It was time to find out why Junior and the history teacher were really there.