Caroline scowls into her peppermint mojito and tries desperately not to comment on the way the off-white streamers clash horribly with the atrocious rustic red of the table cloths. She loves Elena, honest, and she knows this is her party, but… but! Oh, the decorating is just awful, the food subpar, and really, must all the drinks be holiday-themed? She could really, really go for a shot of tequila right about now.
"Caroline!" Elena squeals, pulling her into an unsuspecting half-hug. "You look beautiful!"
A quick glance at Elena's outfit allows for a reprieve of relief. Elena's sense of style is much, much better than her sense of décor, thankfully. Caroline's smile is a genuine one. "As you do you," she gushes. "White is totally working for you!"
Elena's cheeks flush scarlet. "Stefan picked it out," she admits and then winces. "Sorry about the decorations," she adds, eyes darting skyward. "I let Jer decorate."
"Oh thank god," she exhales dramatically. "I was trying so hard not to comment."
"It was showing," Elena says, laughing lightly. "Your brows have been pinched from the moment you walked in. Not to mention, you took a swig of your drink every time you saw something offensive to your retinas."
"Was I seriously that obvious?"
Caroline sighs as she scrunches up her nose and glares at the offending table cloths. "But, rust-red, really?"
Elena sighs forlornly. "There is no hope for him, alas."
Caroline giggles. "Oh!" she exclaims, setting her empty cup down on the counter as she guides Elena into the kitchen for a refill. "Is Bonnie coming? I know she's pregnant, but come on—she can't miss your Holiday Party, it's tradition!"
"Jer said she's coming, it's just going to be a bit late because it's taking her longer to make her Gram's super-secret magic soufflé."
"Aaahh." Caroline nods, pours herself another drink and then takes a sip.
"Easy there," Elena teases.
"Oh hush your judgey self," Caroline snips. "I'm a single twenty-six year old female at a holiday party. I have to get drunk and make a fool of myself whilst nabbing the hottest, single guy here."
Elena sends her a meaningful stare, arching her eyebrows.
"What? I'm sexually frustrated. I haven't gotten laid since October at Bonnie's shitty Halloween party with the awful vodka-beer-punch-concoction." She sighs dramatically and glares at Elena. "Which, by the way, you totally nabbed the better Salvatore—Damon may be a tiger in the sack but he's not one for calling the morning after, if you know what I mean."
Elena's eyes bug. "What?! You slept with Damon!?"
Caroline's hand clamps over Elena's mouth. "Shhh! Discretion! Discretion!"
"Why didn't you tell me?" she hisses.
"What didn't I—? Elena, I need something stronger than a mojito to have this conversation."
Elena scrunches up her eyes and the walks straight to one of the lower cabinets, pulling out a bottle of patron.
"You're seriously the best," Caroline chimes as Elena pours them both a shot. She downs it and then two more.
"Okay, spill," Elena demands.
It is in that precise moment Stefan decides to grace them with his presence. He slips an arm around Elena's waist and grins charmingly at Caroline. "Evening, ladies," he says, and oh god, she's going to gag at the way they're staring lovingly into one another's eyes—
Caroline scrambles from the kitchen, but not before snagging a bottle of champagne from the fridge and one of those fancy glasses hanging upside down.
She hums in satisfaction to herself as she wades through the crowd. She stops suddenly, caught like a deer in headlights, when she spots Damon across the room. "Seriously," she groans out loud, "crap, crap, crap," she hisses, dodging two party-goers and making a b-line from the garage. She flies through the door and slams it shut behind her, legs spread apart and hair frazzled as she gasps for air.
"Leaving so soon, love?"
Caroline nearly drops the bottle of champagne in shock; her blue eyes snap to the Greek god leaning languidly up against the brick walling, cigarette alight in his hand. She stares at him longer than strictly necessary and takes it the rough of his stubble and the sea green of his eyes. And, oh, wow.
"Uh, no," she manages awkwardly before kicking herself. "I was …"
Mystery man takes a long drag of his cigarette. "You were…?"
Caroline rolls her eyes and decides to go for ungraceful. She kicks off her obnoxiously red heels and slides down the wall, crossing her legs so handsome doesn't get a free show. "Avoiding someone," she supplies, holding up her hand expectantly. "Light one for me," she demands.
"Do I seem like a man who shares?" he replies, tone husky and amused.
She glares. "I thought British men were supposed to be all chivalrous and here madam, let me open that door for you?"
He smirks at that. "Very well, sweetheart," he rumbles, snuffing out his own cigarette before lighting hers and shuffling to where she's sitting. He crouches down in front of her and holds it out. As she reaches for it, he pulls back. "Who are you avoiding?" he inquires, taking a drag of her cigarette, the bastard.
She scowls. "Keep away? Seriously?"
His grin is slow and god, sexy, this time. "It appears so," he replies fluidly.
She sighs and glares, ruby red lips pressing together irritably. "A guy," she snaps before snatching the cigarette out form between his lips.
He appears mildly impressed as he moves to slide down next to her. Their knees are almost touching. "A guy," he repeats. "Ex-lover?"
Caroline takes a drag. "Something like that," she mutters.
"Shame," he murmurs, dragging his hands along his stubble and glancing at her.
"Not really," she hums. "He's a grade A douche. I was drunk and stupid. You know the story. "
That gets a sly smirk out of mystery man. "Do you make a habit of sleeping with men while inebriated, love?"
She spares him a side eye. "Why? Hoping you'll get lucky?"
Suddenly he is in her space, breath warm on her cheek as she notes idly how much more handsome he is up close. He brushes a strand of hair out of her face, stares at her for a long, breathless moment, and then reaches around her, hand curling around the neck of the champagne bottle. He pulls back from her and pops the cork before taking a swig straight form the bottle.
Caroline's face is on fire. "That's unsanitary," she groans dryly. Try as she might, the scarlet coloring her cheeks refuses to fade.
"Perhaps," he drawls. He holds it out towards her.
She scowls at him, finishes her cigarette and wrenches it form his grasp. She downs a swig and sets it down angrily on the ground. "What's your name, anyway? I can't keep calling you mystery man in my head."
He chuckles at that. "Niklaus," he answers. "I prefer Klaus."
Caroline squints her eyes. "Niklaus?" she arches her brow. "Wow, your parents must have hated you."
Klaus' jaw tightens visibly and he looks away. His hands fist into his dress pants so tight his knuckles turn white.
She notices. "Oh," she breathes. "Oh. Wow, I suck," she continues. "Sensitivity thy name is not. Caroline, is though."
He fixes a steely gaze on her. "Forbes," he finishes for her.
That surprises her. "Okay, now I am officially creeped out."
"Stefan has mentioned you in passing," he supplies.
"You know Stefan—Oh, oooh! You're his boss. Oh my god, Elena is going to kill me," she moans into her hands, before peeking at him between her fingers. "I need another drink," she decides.
Klaus gestures to the bottle with an open palm and grins.
She almost downs the whole thing before he snatches it out of her grasp. "Easy there, love."
She grins sheepishly and wipes some champagne from her lips. "Sorry."
Klaus' gaze does something funny then, twisting and swirling with a thousand different emotions she cannot discern. Maybe it's because she's a might tipsy or because the guy is really deep (hell, she doesn't know—she just met the guy) but it doesn't surprise her when he leans forward and his lips are suddenly on hers. He's warm and his hands move to brush against the side of her cheeks before his fingers thread through her hair. His lips move against hers slowly, hot and moist and wonderful. She gasps into his mouth and he takes the opportunity to slip in a little tongue. The kiss doesn't last long, but when he pulls away her chest tightens with a deep desire for more.
"Oh. Oh," she breathes.
"Mm," he hums in return, bringing his thumb to graze over her wet lower lip. "Your lipstick is smeared, love," he notes absently.
She looks up at him and gets caught up in the deep fire of his gaze. "Elena has a spare bedroom," she blurts.
He half-grins like he's considering it. "Let me take you to dinner," he says instead.
"What," she exhales shakily. Men do not take her out to dinner. They sleep with her and then act like they don't know who she is. She isn't… she's never…
Klaus is smirking now. "Dinner," he repeats.
He leans forward then, recapturing her lips for a second soft and searing kiss. "Good," he murmurs, stuffing a card inside the cup of her bra. The next moment he's at his feet and gone from her sight. She fishes the card from her bra the minutes she's alone.
She smiles and drowns the rest of the bottle of Champagne before rejoining the festivities.