Chapter 5: Look for the girl with the broken smile…
Damon woke to an empty bed and a full memory of an amazing night. He guessed Bonnie’s morning disappearance shouldn’t come as a disappointment. They had been playing cat and mouse since this thing between them started. He was first to admit he enjoyed a good game, but after last night, playtime was over.
After quickly showering and dressing in his preferred basic black, he took stock of his bedroom. Bonnie’s sexy little get-up lay in pieces on the floor. The image of her petite, curvaceous frame spilling from the ivory contraption would stay in his head for quite a while. He grabbed the nightie pieces and tossed them into the trash, but the panties, although ripped beyond repair, still held her delicious scent. These scant bits of fabric were keepers, he grinned to himself. He pocketed the trophy and headed out.
“Where are you, little witchy?” he murmured as he folded into his vintage Mustang.
The obvious choice was her house. He headed their first. Her sporty little Prius was absent from the curb and the garage so he tried his next guess. After an hour of driving, he realized his guesses weren’t adding up to much and his frustration level was starting to rise. He needed a drink. Something to soothe the edge so that when he did find her, he didn’t go straight to batshit crazy. He knew her well enough to know that batshit crazy would put the brakes on this thing faster than he wanted to admit. So he headed to the Grill. Calling Alaric for buddy bonding wouldn’t shake his edge so he didn’t bother with any friendship overtures. He had gone into automatic mode when he hopped into the Mustang to look for her. More alone time would give him clarity and the presence of mind to know what he intended to do when he found her.
Although she came on to him like a cat in heat, there was no mistaking her experience was minimal. Damon found it odd, though. One minute she moved like a woman who knew what she wanted and how she wanted it done. Yet, there was no mistaking no man had ever been all the way there before. Not even Gilbert, he thought with a smirk.
A waitress delivered his whiskey and he told her to leave the bottle. Her green eyes brightened when he handed her a hefty tip for her guarantee that he’d be left in peace. After she turned away, he sat back in stunned haze of memories. Last night, Bennett’s eyes flickered with different colors—from shiny copper to dazzling emerald and back again. In all their fights and grudging partnerships, he remembered her eyes being the same shade of precious gems. Yet, somehow last night, they glowed like polished brass. Until that fateful moment when he helped her make the transition from girl to woman. Then, the green was back in full force.
He poured a drink and swallowed it down. The eye color thing had to be some weird witchy thing. What did he know about spells anyway? Copper or emerald. It didn’t matter to him. She was beautiful either way. And knowing that she chose him as her first lover… Damon swallowed another drink. Dammit, he had to find her. She couldn’t keep running away.
From his secluded section, he had a view of all exits. Caroline’s entrance could be just the clue he’d been looking for. He moved to approach her. Then her phone rang. She fumbled in her huge, clumsy bag until she found it. With super speed and over a century of practice, he positioned himself close enough to hear both sides of the conversation.
“I’m sorry, Care. I’m running late. I’m on my way.”
“No problem. I’ll wait for you at the bar.”
“Have you heard from Bonnie?”
“I haven’t heard from Jeremy,” Elena said. “And yes, I know they’re going to the lake house. My brother has never been an early riser. He gave himself away without realizing it.”
The lake house? With Gilbert? Damon frowned. She went anyway? What the fuck.
“You should have seen them when they left.” Caroline couldn’t keep the smile from her voice. “They were so cute.”
“They are adorable together,” Elena agreed. “Jeremy’s been a little messed up, but with Bonnie, he’s not the kid he used to be. I gotta admit I never saw it coming.”
“Your brother’s hot.”
Burning with anger and the green-eyed demon of jealousy fast on his heels, Damon left the Grill in a blur.
“Have you ever felt totally out of control…like nothing was making sense?”
Bonnie’s softly asked question pulled Jeremy from his jumbled thoughts of ghosts, the afterlife, all things supernatural and the quiet, beautiful girl who sat beside him in the passenger seat. Since leaving Caroline’s, their conversation had been minimal. Want something to eat? No. Need a pit stop? No. Then a weird silence that made him wonder if any second she’d demand he turn the car around and take her back to Mystic Falls and never see him again. His heart told him that thought was pure craziness, but his gut had other ideas.
He glanced from the road to admire her perfect profile. Dark sunglasses perched on the perky tip of her nose and still somehow managed to hide her gorgeous green eyes from him. The usual faint smile that curved her full lips failed to appear. Her fingers tugged at the scarf around her neck.
“All the time,” he said. “Nothing about our lives makes sense. At this point, I wouldn’t know what normal is.”
“After my parents died, everything changed. Everything… Some for the worst, but some for the better.” He took her hand, sliding his fingers between hers as he settled their joined hands on his right thigh. “At first, Elena left me in the dark about everything, but I still knew something was wrong, you know. I think somehow you always know when something is wrong.”
She turned toward him. “You think so?”
“Yeah, I do.”
There was another hour to their drive, and clouds loomed overhead. He should probably try to outdrive the storm, but he couldn’t resist the urge to pull over. A gravel drive led to an abandoned gas station. He parked the SUV under the building’s rusty awning, lowered their windows, and cut the engine. Bonnie’s fingers tightened against his.
“What are you doing?”
“Just stopping for a minute,” he answered. “Are you okay?”
She shrugged. A warm breeze from the upcoming storm swept her hair across her face. She brushed the tendrils from her cheek. What he could see of her face remained neutral.
“That’s not much of an answer.”
“It’s all I have. Jer, a storm is coming. We should get back on the road—”
“In a minute. Look, if you’re worried about…” He drew in a quick breath. “If you think this trip is about sex, well, it’s not.”
Her clipped tone rippled down his spine and not in a good way. “Bonnie—”
“I heard you the first time.”
Their hands broke free as she shifted on the seat to face him. “Really. Can we just go?”
“Fine.” He got them back on the road.
“About last night…”
Jeremy glanced at her for second before directing his attention back to the interstate. The words just hung in the car between them. The silence was decidedly unpleasant and he didn’t like it. When he wanted to talk, she blew him off and now this. Suddenly, he was on edge.
“What about last night?”
He didn’t miss how she folded her arms across her chest and pressed against the passenger door. Body language revealed more than people realized. Bonnie’s was saying things he didn’t understand and didn’t want to accept.
“What about it?” he repeated.
“About what you did to me—”
“From what I recall, you enjoyed what I did to you,” he cut in. His hands gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles whitened from the effort. “We created electricity. Fireworks and shit lit up the place. Are you saying now that you didn’t enjoy it?”
“I-I… never mind.” She winced as she shifted on the seat. Her back greeted him with accusations.
“I said never mind. Let’s not talk about it right now.”
“I don’t understand you right now.”
“I don’t understand myself,” she mumbled under her breath. A little louder, she added, “I haven’t been to the lake house since Elena, Caroline, and I had our shared sweet sixteen out here. Your parents were so cool to do that.”
He recognized the change in subject and had half a mind to redirect its course. But from the stiff set of her shoulders and faint tremor of her chin, he decided against it. They’d be at the lake house soon enough. Whatever was going wrong with them would be made right there.
“Yeah, my parents were real proud of themselves,” he said, softly. “They loved making the three of you happy.”
“It was a great party.”
Mystic Falls, 1864
“I can’t leave you.”
Emily would have taken the words back if she could but once spoken, there was no going back. The look Damon gave her spun with bewilderment, confusion, and disbelief. She grabbed a stick to stoke the fire until the flame enlarged between them. She couldn’t stand knowing that he couldn’t grasp her feelings for him. Of course Emily Bennett should have no affection for Damon Salvatore. The truth be told, she had no understanding as to how her heart had opened for him. But it had. She couldn’t stop it now no more than she could stop the sun from rising the next morning.
“Whatever promises you made to Katherine can’t supersede your own safety,” Damon said. “You owe it to yourself to get out of here.”
How could she tell him this wasn’t about a promise to Katherine? Her service to the vampire was based on a debt that Katherine would never let Emily pay. However this pull to Damon had nothing to do with what she owed to Katherine Pierce or Petrov or whatever the wicked woman decided to call herself. Confessions demanded to expel from her. It took a great amount of willpower to keep them within. She shook her head and wrapped her shawl tight around her. Even with all the powers of nature at her disposal, she still felt helpless and so very small.
“Emily?” He moved around the fire to sit close beside her. Warm colors of the fire reflected across his pale, angular features. Concern shone vividly in his clear blue eyes. “I give you my word that no harm will come to you. My friends can be trusted. They will see you safely to freedom.”
“I will never know freedom.” The words formed before she could think to stop them.
“You mustn’t think like that.” Long, tapered fingers closed around her arm. Despite the heavy woolen fabric that prevented a flesh-to-flesh connection, the coolness of his touch seeped through.
Although many slave owners availed themselves of the female flesh in the slave quarters, the Salvatore brothers had never been in that number. However, the same could not be said of their father. Emily doubted Damon had ever touched a woman such as her before. She knew if things were different, he probably would never have. But here, alone in the woods with their lives so different than what they were before, a shift had transpired.
Time seemed to stop. He looked down at where he had joined them and then into her eyes, searching and then understanding. Understanding…because in that moment she knew that he finally recognized her as not only a person deserving freedom, but as a woman worthy of desire.
Upon Stefan’s cry, Damon released her, stood and left the building. She could hear the younger brother’s excited, hurried conversation. Damon’s lowered, muffled tones made her curious. She edged close to the doorway and watched them. Stefan had returned with a woman and was thrusting her toward Damon as if she were a ragdoll and not a human being.
“He’s fed,” she whispered under her breath. Circumstanced had dictated that she always keep her emotions in check, but as she watched Stefan unleash his powers of persuasion on his brother, she couldn’t stop the sudden tears that blurred her vision.
Damn you, Katherine.
Emily put out the fire and gathered her things. She couldn’t bear to watch the inevitable transpire. She had to leave before her heart splintered into pieces.
The Lake House, Present Day
The dark clouds that loomed over the otherwise picturesque view of the Gilbert vacation home and surrounding lake and forest mirrored the unease that had settled over Bonnie. Tension had become the third passenger in the SUV and created an invisible border between her and Jeremy. As the ache between her thighs ebbed and flowed, flashes of images flittered on the fringes of her memory. Suspicion reared its ugly little head and refused to be ignored regardless how many times she told herself Jeremy would never.
“It’s gonna come down pretty hard,” Jeremy said. “We’d better hurry.”
They made it to the porch seconds before the downpour unleashed itself. He unlocked the door and tossed their bags inside. When she hung back, he regarded her with a furrowed brow. “You coming?”
“Yeah.” She pushed past him. The hurt that darkened his chocolate brown eyes cracked her resolve for a second, but she couldn’t let it get to her. Something happened last night and she had to get to the bottom of it. Of course, Jeremy would never…but she hurt. She shouldn’t hurt.
“The rain will make the temp drop,” he said. “I’ll start a fire. You can choose your room.”
He stormed outside, letting the door slam shut behind him. None of this made sense, Bonnie thought, as she grabbed her bag and headed down the hall. There were a lot of guys out there who’d take advantage of a girl, but Jeremy wasn’t that guy. He’d been direct about his feelings for her and protecting her the best way he could, but with everything else, he was so sweet and gentle. And if they had gone all the way—come on, Bonnie—had sex, surely, she’d remember it. All of it and not just flashes that left her confused and a little scared.
She chose the first bedroom on the right and dropped her bag near the door. As she contemplated things that didn’t make sense, she heard the front door open and close. There was a loud thud on the floor followed by a series of fuck, shit and sonuvabitch. They couldn’t spend another hour like this. She squared her shoulders and returned to the main room.
Rain soaked his t-shirt and caused the cotton to stick to Jeremy’s broad shoulders and back like a second skin. His dark hair lay plastered to his head. The jerky motion of throwing logs into the fireplace testified to his agitated state. She subconsciously rubbed the bruise on her neck as she stepped closer.
“Are the logs wet?” she asked.
“What?” He threw another into the fireplace. The stack was high enough. If he added more, he’d burn the house down.
“If they’re wet, I can start the fire—”
He stiffened. “I can start a fire, Bonnie.”
“I know. I was just… Never mind.”
He turned and faced her. “I’m sorry. It’s cool when you do that. Go ahead.”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Within seconds, Bonnie had a huge fire roaring in the fireplace. The tension that had ridden with them to the lake house suddenly returned. Her decision to put an end to it felt futile. She’d always been able to say her piece. Now, she felt like something was holding her back.
“I don’t get it.” He moved to stand just a foot from her. “Have you changed your mind about being here with me?”
“Yes…no…I don’t know.”
Surprise and hurt took residence in his eyes. “Why?”
“What happened last night?” she asked, rubbing her neck again.
“Bon, you know what happened,” he said, a gently, a slow smile curving his mouth. He closed the distance between them. One hand took hers and the other curved against her neck, massaging the bruise through the scarf. “It was magical.”
“So we had sex?”
“Sure, I guess.” He laughed. “Yeah. But not really?”
“What is that supposed to mean?” His talking in riddles was putting her off balance. “Stop laughing at me.”
“I’m not laughing at you,” he said, serious and without a hint of humor. “You’re acting weird, Bonnie. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Don’t change the subject.”
She tugged free of him. The scarf came off in his hand. His gaze narrowed in on her neck.
“What the hell is that?”
“You have a fucking bite mark on your neck!” He shoved past her to grab the framed mirror from the wall. He thrust it at her. “Look! You’re throwing weird accusations at me and you let some fucking vampire bite you!”
“What do you mean let?” She couldn’t believe her own reflection. Since learning how to fell vampires with the aneurysm spell, she never let any get close enough to inflict damage. There was no way in hell—
“Motherfuck,” Jeremy continued. “Damon, that no good sonuvabitch.”
He watched the conflicting emotions that played across her face. Confusion seemed to be the strongest and he wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and make everything better. Then the ghosts’ warnings came back at him in full force.
The Bennett witch is bad news.
Trust us, she will hurt you.
Not Bonnie, he thought. Just because Damon was asking about her the other day didn’t mean... Well, it didn’t mean Bonnie was interested in him.
She did call the asshole’s name out in her sleep. That couldn’t have been random. And now a bite mark on her neck?
Jeremy stepped back. “Bonnie, what the fuck is going on?”
“I-I don’t know.” The tears that sprang to her eyes nearly did him in.
“You have to know,” he said, hating the crack in his voice. “You have the power to kill a vampire with your mind. A bite like that wouldn’t happen unless you wanted it.”
She shook her head. Her hand covered the mark as she turned her back to him.
“Okay, things have been crazy lately, right?” He burned to take her in his arms, but he held back. I love you lingered on the tip of his tongue, but he kept it in check, too. “We can figure this out. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten so mad. Maybe we could talk this out.”
“There’s nothing to talk out,” she said. Her voice harder than he’d ever heard it before. “This isn’t working.”
“You don’t mean that.”
She turned to face him. Her head tilted at an angle of defiance. “Yes, I do.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Believe it!” she yelled. “You and me…no, Jeremy! I don’t want this!”
“But last night—”
“Last night with you was a big mistake! If I could take it back, I would.”
Damon had to speed read through three of Stefan’s journals before he found the one that had the entry about Stefan and Elena’s trip to the Gilbert lake house. As usual, his brother’s record of his life was thorough as fuck and Damon had everything he needed to find his little witch’s present location. With the Gilbert kid no less.
He broke several speed laws until the rain created too much of a hazard. By the time he reached the little romantic getaway, his level of ire had risen and dipped with as many curves as a rollercoaster. Under normal circumstances, he’d rush from the Mustang and onto his prey without a second thought. But these weren’t normal circumstances. Bonnie was different. She got to him in ways that other females never had—not Katherine or even her doppelganger, Elena. Bonnie challenged him. Even though the sex with her had amazed him, he had to grudgingly admit that it wasn’t just the sex that had him roaring out here in the pouring rain without a second thought. Whatever it was that kept pulling him to her had to be acknowledged. No running away or pretending otherwise.
The raised voices coming from the house had him out of the Mustang and on the porch in a rush of motion. Accusations were flying. Anger mingled with hurt. Goodbye sounded final through the solid wooden barrier of the door. If he had ever had an invitation, Damon would have rushed in. The whole vampire/invitation thing was total bullshit. His hand clenched into a fist at his side. Jeremy sounded so distraught and even though Bonnie was a witch with crazy ass powers, emotions threw people out of sorts. If anyone knew that, it was Damon. Dammit, if that kid laid a hand on her—
Then the door flew open and Bonnie was there in his arms. Stunned didn’t even tell the half of it. The way she curved against him as she belonged there… Shit, nothing had ever felt so right. He closed his arms around her, holding her tight against him while remembering he could crush her if he wasn’t careful. He reveled in the feel of her in his arms even as his eyes locked on the Gilbert kid.
If looks could kill, Jeremy would have staked him with a single glance. He suddenly disappeared and returned with an overnight bag, which he promptly threw onto the ground. The door slammed with the promise of finality.
“Take me home,” Bonnie whispered against his chest.
Funny, that had been Damon’s plan all along.
[A/N: I hope this chapter answers the questions about Bonnie and how much she knows when Emily is in control of her body. There are times when the two souls mingle, but there are moments when one is in full control. However, Bonnie does have flashes. More that will be revealed in the next chapter. The previous chapter was a turning point and this is the fallout. My only prediction for Chapter 6 is that there will be more tug of war between Bonnie and Emily. Damon will have to figure out what his intentions are with Bonnie. And yes, more flashbacks.]