“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world:
someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
While the group ate their lunch, they kept their conversation light as the girls tried to learn more about one another. Damon, on the other hand, was bored out of his mind by anything said that didn’t come from Bella’s mouth. After getting her to agree to changing her hair and eye color, he had another thought that would take more convincing.
While Bella was distracted in a discussion about what to expect at the local high school, Damon made his escape upstairs to get dressed. On his way out the door, he paused as he looked in on the girls. “Blondie. Can you stick by Isabella while I’m out? I just have some errands to run.”
“Yeah, sure,” Caroline waved him off before turning back to Bella to continue explaining the committees she was involved with. The girl however had her eyes locked on Damon in silent communication, trying to figure out what he was up to but he only had his usual knowing smirk that meant he was up to no good.
As soon as he was out the door and the sound of his car gone, Bella turned to the two. “He’s up to something,” she muttered.
“Damon is always up to something,” Caroline laughed. “What do you think he’s doing now?”
Her lips pressed together in irritation. “I don’t know but whatever it is, he knows I won’t be happy about it. There are only a few things he can do to really get under my skin and I have the feeling that he’ll be testing each one.”
“That sounds like Damon. Don’t worry. You just say the word and I’ll give him a brain aneurysm,” Bonnie shrugged.
“You will not!” Bella screamed as she jumped up and paced the floor. The notion that she would be so willing to harm someone who had done nothing but accept and protect her pissed her off. “Why would you do something like that! I don’t want him hurt!”
The girls’ eyes grew large at her defense of the man, and while they were more than capable of subduing the human girl, the fire that lit Bella’s eyes was something that stopped them short. She turned back on them with a sneer that rivaled Damon’s. Before disappearing up the stairs, she snarled. “I’m going upstairs. You can do whatever you want. I don’t care.”
“Wow,” was all Caroline could come out with. “If this is her human and mad, I’d hate to see what she’d be like if she transitioned and turned her humanity off.”
“It would be deadly,” Bonnie replied, frowning as she struggled to understand the strength of Bella’s attachment to their controversial vampire. The possible reasons left her thoughtful as she voiced one idea. “How do you think Damon would react if she was to be threatened by one of us?”
The blond snorted. “He wouldn’t hesitate to kill us. Why?”
The witch hesitated as she considered confessing her suspicions. “You can’t tell anyone. It wouldn’t be fair to either Bella or Damon to find out before they figured it out themselves. That is if what I think is true.”
“Fine! I swear! My lips are sealed!” Caroline burst out wanting to know what she was holding back. “Does this have anything to do with why you’ve been nicer to Damon since last night?”
“Kind of, maybe. You know how Damon explained the mating bond with the Cold Ones? How they are driven by their emotions for their partners? The way that this Cold One is after Bella kind of looks like the way that Damon is fixated on protecting her from Stefan and Elena…”
Caroline stared at her as her brain worked to process what she just heard. “You think they’re mated? Is that even possible for our kind?”
“I don’t know, that’s why I didn’t want to say anything if it isn’t real. All I know is that whatever is going on, Bella does have strong feelings for Damon. How far they run, I can’t tell. Her mind – I got a lot of the story when I touched her last night, but she was still able to hide things. I can only assume things that she feels more strongly for because when I tried to delve deeper to see what her relationship to Damon was, to see if she might be a threat to us, it was like I hit a wall. There are parts of her that’s locked up tighter than Fort Knox.”
“Wow. Imagine if she was turned into a vampire. She’d be really strong in whatever abilities she develops.”
“It would be her humanity that keeps her grounded. I don’t know if we should let her be changed or not if it ever came to it. One one side she could be a greater danger than Klaus on a good day and on the other, she could be something really good for Damon so that we all wouldn’t be so damn miserable around him,” Bonnie huffed in annoyance at the dilemma they just talked themselves into.
“So what do we do?” Caroline asked meekly, sitting down on the couch where Bella had been sitting before she ran off.
“Let it play out. That’s all we can do right now. Do you have any idea where Damon went?”
“No but if it has to do with Bella, I’m not worried. He seems to want to do everything right by her. I’m just happy to see that he isn’t all mopey over Elena’s dumping him for Stefan since they managed to break her sire bond. I’m going to go check on Bella and apologize. You want to come?”
Bonnie considered it and shook her head. “I don’t want to overwhelm her anymore today. I’ll hang out down here and see if there is anything in Emily’s grimoire that might help with the Cold One situation.”
Caroline smiled and nodded before heading up the stairs, some fear on her face at what she might face against the angry human girl. Why did Bonnie have to threaten Damon, even for her benefit? She thought to herself in regret.
It was nearly two hours later before Damon made his way back to the Boarding House. He found Bonnie pouring over her ancestor’s book, as well as a number of the Salvatore’s collection of books of the history of the supernatural. “Where’s Isabella?”
Bonnie looked up and grimaced. “She’s been upstairs with Caroline. I kinda got her mad when I offered to give you an aneurysm if you annoyed her with whatever you were planning,” she answered, her finger pointing to the bag in his hand.
He scowled at her, narrowing his eyes. “If I didn’t know you were interested in helping protect her I would kill you for that but I’ll talk to her,” he warned. Damon started for the stairs then paused. He turned back to her confused. “Just how did she react to that anyway?”
The witch snorted and looked up at him with a small smile. As she thought about it, she selected her words carefully to see just much her theories would play out. “She bitched me out for wanting to hurt you without justification. Let’s just say she is adamantly in your corner and there is no swaying her opinion of you.”
A ghost of a surprised but pleased smile lightened his face but disappeared just as fast. “Huh,” was all he said before waving her to continue as she was. When he reached his room, he pushed the door open, leaning against the door jam as he took the scene in before him. “Well if this isn’t every male fantasy. Two hot women just sprawled out on his bed. All I need is some chocolate syrup and whipped cream and the three of us could have some real fun!”
Caroline rolled her eyes at him and turned back to the magazine she was flipping through while Bella let out a small, but embarrassed laugh. She threw the magazine she had been looking through at him. “You’re despicable,” she smiled.
“I know and yet, you still put up with me,” he smiled back at her. He was happy to see something left of the girl he started to help put herself back together back in Washington. Soon his smile faltered as he tried to figure out if she would let him continue with his plan for her. “Do you trust me?”
The girls both eyed him skeptically, Caroline glancing at Bella to see how she would play his game, but the girl continuously had the uncanny skill of surprising these vampires. “Hypothetically? Maybe. What are you up to?” she asked indifferently, her eyes back on the glossy page in her hand.
“Do you trust me?” he asked again, all hints of his amusement gone as he stared at her.
Bella raised an eyebrow as she took in a deep breath, her eyes locked on his. “Yes,” she said with every ounce of confidence and vulnerability within her.
He searched for something in her eyes, as if he didn’t quite believe her. When he found that she was nothing but truthful in her belief in him, something shifted within him as he nodded his acceptance. “I need you to leave Blondie. We’ll be downstairs as soon as we’re done,” he dismissed their friend as he made his way into the bathroom and unloaded one of the bags he held.
Caroline watched him as he walked by and as soon as he was out of sight around the corner, she looked back at Bella in awe. “I’ll be close by if you need me. Just holler,” she said, blinking her eyes as she left.
Confused as to what was going on, Bella climbed off the bed and made her way to the bathroom hesitantly. She watched as he set some things up on the counter and narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing?”
“You said you trusted me, so trust me. I wouldn’t do something if I didn’t think it would be in your best interest,” he explained, looking at her reflection in the mirror behind him. “I need you to change into something less then come back.”
“Just how much less are you talking?” She asked, nervously fidgeting at what he might be wanting.
Damon rolled his eyes and smirked. “Certainly not what you’re thinking…At least not yet. You’re not ready to handle my awesomeness, but you will be. We need to start building you back up again and we’re going to start with your hair so I need you in something less. Maybe that little cute wife-beater t-shirt you wore to bed last night,” he grinned.
She eyed him before leaving to change as he asked. He watched her reflection again as she moved about, never getting enough of a peek to satisfy his male curiosity causing him to pout. When she returned, she wasn’t the spitfire he had just seen. “Okay, so what all are you doing right now?” She asked, more in resignation than anything else.
“I’m going to color your hair and give you a bit of a hair cut. Nothing big, just a trim really. I like your hair longer. Makes you hotter when you got the just been sexed up bed hair later,” he winked as she flushed bright red.
“Damon,” she warned, her eyes flashing with fire at him that made him grin more.
“Don’t worry. When have I ever driven you wrong?” he asked as he started to mix the hair dye, turning her on the stool he dragged in so that she couldn’t see what he was doing until he was ready. Frequently as he worked on her, as his fingers brushed over her skin, their eyes would meet with a furtive smiles. Each time it happened, her skin would blush a rosey color that Damon wanted to kiss and her heart would race with anticipation. He could hear every beat and it made him lost in his thoughts at times of the attraction he had felt for her. Of course he liked her, any red blooded male would be attracted to such a beautiful woman, but she knew about him and had stuck with him in unwavering support. That knowledge made him feel things he never thought possible. Feelings that he thought he felt for Katherine and later Elena making him frown at his own naivety.
“Don’t do that,” Bella murmured as she reached up to smooth the lines that creased his face during his memories. “I like your smile more than the frown.”
He leaned in and kissed her cheek, a seemingly innocent gesture but a safe one in knowing her limitations. “I can only promise to try Isabella,” he replied sadly. He wasn’t the happy go lucky type that she should have.
“I just want you to be you,” she sighed, looking away as his fingers worked the dye through her strands. “I never asked you to be anything else, nor do I expect you to be. You shouldn’t have to change who you are to be happy. Besides, snarky Damon is fun too.”
Damon couldn’t help but to laugh. “Okay Sugar Lips. Just sit here and I’ll be right back. No turning around. I mean it. I want you to be surprised,” he admitted.
“I hate surprises,” she complained.
“Tough. I got lots planned for you and to be able to do them, I need you around so just let me make the decisions for you for awhile.”
Bella swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and shook her head. “I don’t know…they did that for me too and look where it got me.”
He sighed at his mistake and knelt in front of her, taking her hands. “Isabella, I’m not them. I’m not him. If they are watching you, you know they will look at your decisions. I’m pretty sure they have been watching since they left to make sure that you wouldn’t do something that threatened them. I know we would keep an eye on someone that knew our secret, so trust me when I ask you to let me do this. They don’t know me so they can’t see me. I want to protect you. Not only from that lunatic Victoria, but also from the Cullens because they hurt you this bad. I care too much about you for you to be hurt by them anymore.”
She looked down at him, his broken eyes a mirror of her own. They weren’t that much different other than the fact that he had the confidence in himself to pick himself up and do something about his heartbreak while she wallowed in hers. When he had found her, he had helped her find pieces of herself that she never knew she had. He allowed her to know that it was okay to be a little irresponsible and have fun. Bella wanted to be more like him, to own herself in a way that no one had any control over her.
That desire sparked a new feeling in her and before she could second guess herself or question her actions, she leaned in and pressed her lips to Damon’s. The fraction of a second that caught him by surprise was too long for him before he slowly returned the kiss, allowing it to grow until the point where it might lead into far more dangerous territory for the two. Forcing himself to calm down and allow her to adjust to what she did, he pulled back with a smile. “I didn’t think you felt that way for me Beautiful,” he smirked. “As much as I’d love to continue this, let’s get you finished. I can promise that we will revisit this little moment later.”
Bella’s face turned bright crimson as she tried to cover it, shock and embarrassment over her boldness. He pulled her hands away and dropped a small kiss to the corner of her mouth. “Don’t do that. Don’t hide yourself from me. I’ve never hidden from you,” he pointed out. “We will talk about what was just going through your head later but for now, don’t regret.”