Chapter 3: Never as good as the first time…
Again with the eavesdropping and spying, Damon thought, as he listened to Bonnie and Caroline from afar. The baby vampire had the worst timing. Things were just starting to get interesting between him and the witch when Blondie showed up. He sat down on a stone bench in the adjacent park trying to tune out Caroline’s suggestions for lingerie and flavored lube.
This thing with the witch didn’t make sense. She hated him and although he did find her crazy beautiful with the dazzling emerald eyes and silky smooth toffee skin, he never imaged saying it out loud. Yet, just moments ago, there he was itching to wipe the tears from her eyes and kiss her boo-boos away.
What the fuck was wrong with him?
She was Bonnie Bennett. Witch.
The crazy little she-devil set him on fire, for fuck’s sake!
“No,” he grated out, as he rose from the bench. Eavesdropping was for fools. He had to get away from their giggles and their plans and from the images they invoked.
Mystic Falls – 1864
Killing them before the transition would have been easy and from the disturbance Emily Bennett felt in the air the right thing to do. With the Salvatore brothers hanging on the cusp between the dead and the undead, her part in keeping them on earth upset the balance of nature. She drew her shawl close around her as she huddled in the corner of the old, abandoned one-room shack and waited, a wooden stake never far out of reach and a spell never far from the tip of her tongue.
Time crawled at a snail’s pace. Emily had nowhere to go although the North Star and its promise of freedom beamed like a beacon of hope that she dared not dream or consider following. The shack protected her as much as the Salvatore men that she watched with trepidation and forbidden interest. She never knew two men—two brothers—who were so different in temperament and purpose. Stefan, being the younger and the father’s favorite, could indulge in smiles and laughter and thoughtfulness. For Damon, birthright bore grave responsibilities and he wore them in the flicker of his ice blue eyes and the rigid posture of his back whenever his father’s disapproving glare struck him. Being a servant made Emily invisible, but not unaware.
It was so easy for Katherine to capture the brothers, drawing them in like a spider attracts a fly to a web. So beautiful and easy from a distance. But sticky and impossible to disengage once entangled.
Emily silently admonished herself. Silly fool, she thought, as her gaze strayed to the raven-haired man who rested just a few feet from her. He acknowledged Emily’s existence, but not her presence. Katherine’s pretense of love and devotion had blinded and rendered him ignorant to what Emily would have given him freely.
The word lodged in her chest. What would it mean to be truly free? Free of bondage? Free of Katherine? Free to love whomever she wanted without concern for reprimand or reprisal.
In a sudden rush, both brothers returned from the abyss of death. Emily snatched the stake from the ground and stood. The two rose as if in a dance and turned to look at her.
Damon spoke first. “Emily?”
“What is this?” Stefan asked, clutching his chest where the bullet tore through him. “What’s wrong with me?”
Of course, he didn’t understand. Katherine never asked him what he wanted. The promise of an eternity together had been her decision, not Stefan’s. This moment rendered him into a state of confusion. Emily almost felt sorry for him. But as always, her emotions drew her to his stoic, solemn older brother.
Damon didn’t spare him a glance. His gaze remained locked onto Emily. “Him too? It was supposed to be—”
He stormed from the cabin and out into the dark night. She rushed after him. She couldn’t let him go. Not like this. Saving Stefan had been her promise to Katherine, but saving Damon had been Emily’s promise to herself. Even if he could never want her or love her the same, she’d never know until she tried. Forget the imbalance of nature and the vows she made to honor it, there was one vow she had to honor for herself.
Mystic Falls - Present Day
Running never solved anything. After a century and a half, Damon knew that. So he went back to the boardinghouse. The huge empty house creaked with loneliness. Not for the first time, he missed Stefan’s annoying righteousness and the flock of people who visited because of him. Nobody came by since the younger vampire left to be Klaus’ bitch. That should be expected. The Mystic Falls High bunch weren’t Damon’s friends. They liked Stefan. Everyone always liked him.
He grabbed a decanter of some amber alcoholic beverage from the bar and sauntered to the leather sofa where he promptly collapsed into a lump of self-pity. This was really kind of stupid. Missing the pitter patter of the kiddies in his lair and pining over a witch. Hell, none of it made sense. He was a loner. Damon Salvatore, the loner guy. Chicks dug that shit. They ate up the darkness he exuded and he in turn sucked them dry.
“What the fuck, Damon?”
Eyes wide and hands clutching the bottle, he reared back in surprise. How did Alaric get the jump on him? In his domain, no less? Where were his tingly vampire supersenses to alert him to incoming prey?
“Have a drink,” he said, after realizing the answers to those questions were too much of a bother. “But get your own bottle. This one’s mine.”
“No thanks.” Ric folded his arms and fixed him with that hard, beady-eyed stare that probably worked on his students but only annoyed Damon.
“Well, sit down or get out.”
Ric paced for a minute. Then he headed to the bar, poured himself a scotch, and chose an easy chair directly across from Damon. “Where’ve you been?”
“Look, my father died over a century ago and you’re a little young for the part—”
“Stop being an ass,” Rick cut in. “You left the Grill before we could talk.”
“So talk,” Damon ordered, knowing full well he wasn’t in the mood for where this conversation was headed.
And that’s all Damon heard. The kid’s name took him back to the Grill and their conversation or was it confrontation? Bonnie’s scent covered the little shit from head to toe. It wasn’t the first time he smelled her on the boy, but it was the first time her delicious, sensual fragrance on that wasted youth’s frame made Damon want to rip the kid in half. The Gilbert punk had no clue what any of it meant. How a woman’s essence permeated a man’s senses and made him a blathering fool. Or maybe he did because at the mention of her name he definitely got in Damon’s face fast enough.
“Yo!” Ric snapped his fingers. “Are you listening? What’s up with you?”
“I wouldn’t do that finger snapping shit again,” Damon quietly advised. The last time someone pulled that on him he ripped the guy’s hand off and shoved it down his throat.
“I wanna help,” the high school teacher said with more sincerity than Damon wanted to acknowledge. “I know losing Stefan can’t be—”
“Stefan isn’t lost. He’s gone.” Damon stood and took his bottle with him to the bar. He grabbed a large tumbler from the bottom shelf and decided to make what-the-fuck-punch and poured a bunch of different shit together, downed it, and enjoyed the rush.
“You shouldn’t try this, but I have the stamina for it.” Damon finished the drink and turned his head to meet the other man’s questioning stare. “Look, Ric. You’re here doing the friend thing and on a different day, I’d…well, maybe I’d appreciate it. Today’s not that day. You should go.”
Alaric nodded once. He went to the bar and left his glass on the counter and left.
That was one thing Damon liked about the history teacher. He didn’t have to be told shit twice.
“I’m not sure about red. Red is always the go-to color, but pink may be too girly, you know?” Bonnie scrolled down the Victoria’s Secret web page of its sheerest, sexiest negligees.
For hours, she and Caroline had flipped through paper catalogues and countless web sites in search of the perfect image of sex that would have Jeremy on his knees and begging for mercy as Caroline phrased it. Bonnie’s eyes burned, but not from the photographs. She was exhausted and one glance at her friend who lay sprawled across the bed beside her suggested that Caroline was a goner, too. But sleep? Bonnie wasn’t having any of that. Strange things happened when she slept and until she went home to grab her grimoires for research, she was hellbent on pulling an all-nighter.
“Bonnnnnie, come on,” Caroline groaned. “We’re going shopping in the morning. You don’t have to decide tonight. Red, pink, blue, green. I promise you I will not let you choose wrong. Goodnight already.” She took the laptop and snapped it close. As she reached for the lamp, Bonnie stopped her.
“Care, wait a sec.”
“What is it? I can’t take it anymore.” To emphasize her point, a long obnoxious yawn escaped from her and she slumped down into the covers to complete the effect.
Bonnie resisted the urge to curl up next to her good friend. Damn, that pillow looked inviting—no! Sleep could not happen. She had to stay awake.
Seconds ticked by as the two friends regarded each other in silence. Then a flicker of hurt contorted Caroline’s pale features. Her voice came out in a cracked whisper. “You’re scared to sleep with me, aren’t you?”
Bonnie frowned. “Huh?”
“Because of…because I’m…” Caroline sighed. “You know.”
“I don’t…” Then it hit her. “A vampire?” A faint smile parted Bonnie’s lips. “No, I hadn’t even thought about it.”
“Then what gives! I’m tirrrrred. Your eyes are as red as the bottom of my dream Louboutin’s! Tell me.” Caroline tugged her hand. “Tell me so we can go to sleep already.”
Bonnie didn’t even know where to begin. How could she tell Caroline something that she didn’t understand herself? But there was one thing that Caroline could help her with…one thing that Caroline definitely had firsthand experience.
“Do you remember when Damon first came to town? And he was all over you?” Bonnie asked, snuggling next to Caroline under the covers.
“Oh, my Go—don’t tell me he’s the reason why we’re still up!” Caroline shot up and grabbed Bonnie by the shoulders, jerking her into a sitting position like she was a ragdoll. “Do not. And I repeat. Do. Not. Get. Involved. With. Him.”
“Caroline, please.” She pulled herself free of her friend’s hold. “How can you even assume? I was asking about you and him. I am so not his type.”
“With super speed and super hearing comes super smell,” Caroline said, “and when I found you in your Gram’s backyard, I knew he’d been there.”
Caroline’s admission left Bonnie speechless. Then her phone rang and she didn’t have to answer.
“I hope that’s not him,” Caroline muttered as she handed the phone to Bonnie.
Bonnie inhaled a quick breath and glanced at the caller id. Then she smiled and answered, “Hi, Jeremy.”
“Hi, babe,” he said. “Are you still mad at me?”
“I wasn’t mad at you.”
“We should talk,” he said. “I want to see you. Can I come over?”
“I’m at Caroline’s. Her mom probably wouldn’t like it if you just showed up.”
“How about I pick you up and we just drive for a little while? I’ll bring you right back.”
Bonnie looked at the phone and then at Caroline who practically hissed, “Yes!”
When Bonnie didn’t answer fast enough, Caroline took the phone from her and said to Jeremy, “She’ll be ready in ten minutes. Pick her up in my back yard and don’t make her wait.”
Bonnie watched as her friend hung up and threw the phone into Bonnie’s purse. Caroline then grabbed a mini skirt from her closet and a lacy ivory cami and sweater.
“Put these on. We don’t have time for make-up and you really don’t need it.”
Bonnie hesitated. “It’s not a date. Gimme my sweats.”
“Jeremy is hot. You said so yourself or are you too busy thinking about Damon to remember?”
“It was one question!” Bonnie all but screeched. She snatched the clothes when the vampire looked ready to rip her fave sweats into ribbons if she reached for them. “Okay, fine. I’ll put these on.”
As Bonnie dressed, Caroline went on a tirade. “You and Jeremy are adorable. Damon is… The things he did to me.” Caroline’s jaw clenched. Her usual bubbly personality faded to a darkness that Bonnie had never seen. “He used me in ways that make me sick to remember.”
Bonnie pulled Caroline into a hug. “I know.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Caroline said, when the hug ended, “but I know you’re smarter than that and you’re crazy about Jer. I’ll wait with you until he gets here.”
The two friends slipped out the bedroom window and crept like Ninjas around the side to the backyard to find Jeremy already waiting. The streetlamp provided enough light to illuminate the gleam in his dark eyes as he took in her attire. Caroline’s giggle and pat on the back made Bonnie blush. Jeremy helped her into the passenger side of the SUV that once belonged to his aunt and jogged around to the driver’s side. In a blink, they were off.
“I was out of line before,” he said, guiding the vehicle through the quiet, dark neighborhood streets.
“No, you weren’t. I freaked on you and that wasn’t cool.”
“Well, you wouldn’t have freaked if I hadn’t been such an ass.”
Bonnie shook her head. “You’re wrong about this one.”
“I may be wrong about a lot of things, but not this.” He suddenly stopped the car and looked at her. “This would be easier if I wasn’t driving. Do you have the key to your grandmother’s place?”
“Talk huh?” She laughed.
He shrugged and then that adorable grin spread across his face. “Unless you change your mind.”
“I have the key.”
The rest of the drive was done in silence. Bonnie couldn’t figure him out. Of course, her complete meltdown had been on her, not him. She owned her insecurities. There was no way she’d lay that guilt trip on him. Maybe it all began with the “I love you” as he lay dead in her arms or maybe it started before then when she thought about his exes during the times the threat of Klaus didn’t control her every thought or movement. She never considered herself the jealous type but lack of knowledge could make a girl go batshit when she least expected it.
He parked behind her grandmother’s house so that they could enter through the back. Bonnie punched in the security code. All the time, completely aware of his warm breath as it tingled the nape of her neck where a ribbon gathered her hair into a ponytail.
“It’s still furnished,” he whispered as he followed her down the hall into the den.
“Yeah, she left it to me in her will and I haven’t wanted to get rid of her stuff.” She paused to grab a few candles from a drawer, murmured a spell, and the candles burst into flame. “We can talk in here and no one can see the light from the street or next door.”
He took two candles from her and set them on an end table. She tossed a few pillows from the sofa onto the floor and they sat with their legs stretched out before them. The flickering candlelight cast an intimate glow around them. Bonnie felt the heat of his gaze as Jeremy closed the distance between their bodies. He reached for her hand and laced their fingers together. She marveled at the way her heart began to race at his slightest touch.
“As I was saying,” he said, his voice an interesting mix of grumble and whisper, “things got out of hand, and I’m sorry. I never should have let you leave like that.”
“I shouldn’t have blown up at you,” she admitted.
“It’s all Damon’s fault.”
“Please.” She pressed a finger against his mouth. “Don’t say that name.”
Jeremy laughed. “I wasn’t kidding about him wanting you. He’s mad because you’re mine.”
Before she could think to respond, he bent forward and covered her mouth with a deep, probing kiss. Unlike his previous kisses where his tongue darted and retreated, this time Jeremy explored and coaxed. Low moans emitted from the back of Bonnie’s throat. She slid her arms around his shoulders to hold on for dear life.
Seconds passed as the kiss lengthened. Her chest expanded against the solid wall of his chest. The pounding of his heart shook her to the core. She pulled back to catch her breath. He did that grin thing that made her knees weak.
“You don’t kiss like a virgin.”
“What?” He pressed quick pecks to her cheeks, nose, and forehead. “We can have a lot of fun at the lake.”
“I’ll bet.” She started to pull away. “Maybe it’s time to go.” Bonnie frowned. That’s not what she wanted to say. Why did she say that?
“Let me show you.”
She pressed a hand to her mouth, afraid of what would pop out. When nothing happened, she slowly said, “I’m not sure.”
He kissed her mouth, a sweet, slow chaste kiss that was just as intoxicating as the earlier one. “Trust me.”
In a fluid motion that left her breathless and a little dizzy, Jeremy lowered her to her back onto the floor. Beads of perspiration dotted his forehead. She half expected him to rip of his t-shirt and tear her top off along with it. But then he saw her watching him and he gave her a half smile.
“Do you still want to go?”
She shook her head.
He grinned. “Good.”
Bonnie willed herself to relax, but it was hard. Excitement pulsed through her like a wildfire. Jeremy knelt between her thighs and slid his hands under the hem of her miniskirt. His fingertips traced the edges of her panties and her heart skipped a beat. The picture frames on the wall started shaking. The air vibrated with urgency.
His dark eyes remained locked on hers as his fingers slipped beneath the fabric and caressed the slick folds that he had yet to see.
He murmured something that she couldn’t understand.
“You’re so wet.”
His caresses became more insistent. Bonnie arched into them, her hips rising to meet his searching fingers.
When he suddenly stopped, she wanted to scream.
“I can’t do this,” he said.
“Jer, come on.” Was that her voice, sounding all whimpery and needy? Damn, why did he stop?
“Your skirt and panties are in the way.”
Is that all? She fumbled with the button and zipper. Chuckling, he pushed her hands away. “I got this.”
He bared her lower half in record time. Nervousness and desire did funny things to her. Part of her wanted to cover up and the other part wanted him to get on with it. She reached for his hand and tugged.
“Easy now,” he said. “I’m enjoying the view.”
“Oh, boy.” She squeezed her eyes shut. Whoever knew that Jeremy Gilbert was a tease? If he didn’t stop toying with her, she had half a mind to finish the job herself.
“Well, if you insist.”
Then, he was there. Right there. Kissing. Licking. Nibbling. Suckling. His tongue probing and finding places that made her squirm. That made her heart race. That made her lose herself. Then his finger was there stroking and sliding inside her, making her hips rise to meet him.
Bonnie didn’t know when she grabbed his hair. Her thighs throbbed from being stretched apart. She was on the edge of a vast cliff and wanted desperately to be pushed over. Every swipe of Jeremy’s tongue sent her closer and closer still.
A voice poured into her head. No, no, no, no. Stop, stop, stop, stop. It wasn’t what Bonnie wanted, but the words were on the tip of her tongue, begging to come out. She had to fight the insane urge to push him away.
Oh, shit, not now. She couldn’t push him away now! Just one more…just…oh, yeah, right there…
The explosion claimed her as his name tore from her. A house that hadn’t had working electricity in over a year came aflame with light and buzzed with energy. Then just as quickly the lights went out as Jeremy placed gentle kisses along her thighs before moving to cover her body with his still clothing clad body.
“Wow,” he whispered against her ear. “Remind me to take flashlights with us to the lake house.”
“You’re funny.” Her heart pounded and she just barely managed to choke the words out.
“Funny, huh?” He nuzzled her neck. “What about amazing? What about mad skills? What about Jeremy, you’re the best I ever had?”
Bonnie punched him in the side with a light jab that made him chuckle. His slight movement made her very aware of his heightened state of arousal. Even through denim, his hardened sex throbbed against her thigh. She moved to touch him and the voice started again. Louder, insistent, and a little hypnotizing.
NO, NO, NO, NO.
STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP.
She jerked her hand back, holding it to her chest.
“You okay?” He rolled onto his side and brushed her hair away from her cheek.
“Did I…did I hurt you?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I’m fine.” Despite her desire to curl up next to him, she found herself putting on her underwear and skirt. With few words passing between them, he took her back to Caroline’s. Bonnie felt a chasm forming but she didn’t know how to stop it. She wanted to stop it, but for some reason, the power to fight it escaped her.
“Bonnie,” he said as they stood in the Forbes’ backyard, “say something. I’m dying here.”
“It was great.” She forced the words out. The small victory did her good, but she knew something was pulling her away from him. And she didn’t quite understand it.
“Yeah?” he said with a slight smile. “So we’re still on for the weekend? We don’t have to…do anything. I’m serious. The place has three bedrooms. You can have your own.”
“So we’re good?”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
He kissed her forehead and her mouth. Her taste still lingered. He smiled as if he knew what she was thinking. Like a gentleman, he helped her inside the window. Bonnie showered and climbed into bed bedside Caroline who was out like a log. If she had her grimoires, she’d try to figure out what happened with Jeremy.
What happened between them had been wonderful and amazing. She wanted nothing more than to tell him and maybe take things to the next level. Yet something outside of herself held her back. The grip wasn’t oppressive, but it wasn’t easy to shake. The hold was mental as if her head couldn’t see past a dense fog to have her desires met. All she could do was compromise. Bonnie didn’t like compromises. Especially when she didn’t have all the facts.
Something else was coming in. She sensed it, but what? Her eyelids drooped. No, she thought, not now. She had to figure this thing out. Sleep would have to wait. But Bonnie was powerless and she soon was in slumberland.
What-the-fuck-punch was never his friend when it was all said and done. Damon never got hangovers, but hard drinking had other ways of fucking him up. Like making blood slosh around a bit more than he liked. That sensation always made him want to gag. And vampires didn’t gag. That went against his hip, cool, undead swag thing.
He pressed a hand to his abdomen and climbed the staircase. His soft footsteps seemed louder than usual and he chalked it up to super sensitive hearing. Not to a fucking hangover because he never got them. By the time he reached his room only a steaming hot shower with his favorite pine-scented soap could soothe his foul mood. After drying off, he crawled into his bed clean, naked and exhausted.
It seemed like only a few minutes had passed when a noise awakened him. Cold air blew in from the open French doors that led to his private balcony. The breeze blew the curtains into a crazy billowing haze of fabric and then to his surprise, Bonnie stepped out of the billow as if she was an angel walking through a cloud.
Damon rubbed his eyes and even turned on the bedside lamp. Under normal circumstances, his super sensitive vision didn’t need artificial light to aid his vision. But Bonnie with her hair cascading down her shoulders and a slinky gown leaving little to the imagination on her curvy petite frame, the circumstances were far from normal. Not with her heading straight toward his bed as if she had every right to.
“Bonnie,” he said, figuring he could afford her the single warning. Coming to his bed meant one thing. He’d give her an opportunity to change her mind. One chance to back out because this time she was coming to him. Not him finding her in the woods or in her grandmother’s backyard. No, she brought herself to his home. Dammit to his bed. One warning was generous.
His name sounded like a demand, an order. Come hither, he heard so clearly, but he didn’t budge. He waited, staring intently as a knowing smile curved her full lips. She moved closer. The scent of her arousal told him there would be no turning back. For either of them.
(To be continued…)