“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.”
It wasn’t a club but for a small town like Mystic Falls the only decent place to hang out for any kind of entertainment outside of the supernatural was the Mystic Grill. Bella had seen it on her way through town in the taxi that brought her to the Salvatore Boarding Home, but it was only a fleeting glance. That night the place was pretty busy. She could see a long bar at one end, pool tables and dart boards at the other side of the room. In one corner there was a stage area set up for live music and easily recognized the equipment for karaoke.
That annoyed the hell out of Bella. She glared up at Damon as he had her arm wrapped around his as he led her into the place, his grin fixed on her. “Damon,” she warned, her voice edged with venom at quickly learning his motives for wanting to go out.
“Oh just relax Beautiful. I’m not making you do anything you don’t want to do,” he assured her. Leaning into her, she barely suppressed the shiver that threatened to course through her body as his lips brushed her ear as he whispered, “But don’t deny you miss it.”
She was skilled with controlling her breathing, something she had to learn a long time back and kept her face impassive as she looked away from him to fiend her interest in what else may be going on. As good as she had gotten at masking her feelings, she knew he was well aware just how much he affected her because she could not control her heart rate. “Whatever,” Bella muttered.
“Oh don’t be like that. We’re just going to have dinner, maybe get a little drunk, and dance. That’s all I planned for tonight. Scouts honor!” Damon grinned, holding up three fingers.
“If you’re a boy scout then I’m Mother Fucking Theresa Damon. Don’t lie to me,” she replied with a small smile because he really was amusing. What she hadn’t realized was that the larger part of his intentions was already working because two days before she never would have responded like that to anyone. He couldn’t be more proud of his influence over her as well since when he first met her, she would have let everyone walk over her and now she showed spirit and a back bone that was just hiding underneath all the hurt she’d suffered. That and her potty mouth turned him on like no other, making him shift beside her as he tried to figure out a way to deal with his growing attraction to the woman.
“Fine. Then how about you take the girls and go find a table and order up some food. I have some business I need to handle,” he said softly as he gave her a gentle push forward. She only nodded as she eyed him walk away to meet with an older blond woman that was eating at the bar.
“Don’t worry about it. He and my mom have a really weird friendship,” Caroline assured her as she tugged her along, chalky having caught Bella’s staring.
“Sorry. It just makes me wonder what business he had with a cop considering he’s the type to generally avoid them,” Bella laughed.
Elena turned to them confused after checking out what they were talking about. Having seen Caroline’s mom in her regular clothes and being pretty sure that Bella hasn’t been out in town to meet anyone yet, her suspicious nature rose again. “How did you know she was a cop?”
With a small but wistful smile, Bella looked off, lost in her thoughts. “Charlie was the police chief in Forks. Having a cop for a dad, you simply know,” she explained before turning away so that no-one could see the sadness filling her again.
Damon had been keeping an eye on his girl as he had started small talk with Liz before she looked him in the eye. “Just get to the point. What is it you want Damon?” She asked.
He sighed, really hating to have to ask favors of anyone but the circumstances pushed for uncharacteristic behaviors. “A friend of mine recently moved into town and unfortunately trouble tends to follow her. I was just hoping that you could have your people keep an eye out for new faces, people that act out of sorts and let me know so that I can look into it…”
“And by looking into it, do you mean handling it?” She asked carefully, her eyes narrowing. Glancing at the table where her vampire daughter and friends were gathering she saw the new girl with them that her daughter clearly developed a soft spot for. Nodding towards the group, she asked, “Is she human?”
Damon smiled and looked away briefly, avoiding eye contact. “As human as you are. At least right now. I’m working on a contingency plan for her but she’s stubborn,” he groused.
“She doesn’t want to be changed?”
He frowned, not letting his own fear seep through his walls. “I think she did but that’s part of the problem from her past she has following her. I know one in particular is a red head woman. I don’t have any more description than that. As far as others, I’ll see if I can get more information about them but Isabella isn’t very forthcoming.”
“Tell me, this threat against your friend. Will it affect the rest of the humans in town?” She asked quietly.
He sighed as he raised a finger to order his usual drink from the bar before dropping into the seat next to get dejectedly. “Probably,” he admitted. “But I’ll do my best to contain it. She came here only because she had nowhere else to go. The friends she thought she had were willing to give her up to save their own furry assess but that’s another problem I’ll deal with in the future. One she better not think I could just let slide,” he complained, fire lighting up his ice blue eyes alerting the sheriff just how far he was driven for the girl.
Liz was quiet as she ate her dinner for a few minutes letting him calm down with his poison before coming to a decision. “Then we’ll do all we can to help each other out. If you find out anything else useful, just let me know and I’ll do what I can.”
Damon looked up from his drink with some surprise on his face. Nodding slightly he threw back the rest of his drink. Standing, he pulled out several bills from his wallet and the it on the bar for his drink. “For the Sheriff’s dinner too,” he smiled and ignored his friend’s protests, walking away with a wave of the hand.
Despite the group’s attempt to distract Bella from whatever Damon was doing but a part of her was inexplicably connected to his presence. Caroline pulled her to where she was forced to sit facing away from the bar area allowing them to have her somewhat undivided attention. “Tyler should be here as soon as he’s done with whatever his mom wanted and you’ll get to meet Matt. He works here and should be around on his break layer,” she babbled on, including every detail about their involvement in their supernatural world.
At some point Bella began tuning her out, catching Bonnie’s eye as she rolled her eyes playfully. While she wasn’t entirely annoyed, she just wasn’t the gossiping type. Before long, she felt someone slide in beside her on the bench and stretch their arm behind her. All it took was the whiff of well worn leather to know it was Damon. She looked up at him and raised an eyebrow quizzically. “Finished with your business?”
“For now. Just securing more eyes around town for your protection is all,” he smirked, brushing her hair back to expose her face and neck to him. “I never lied when I said I would make sure you were protected. I’ll make sure you’re well protected from Big Foot if need be as well.”
“Well considering my track record, you might want to start studying up on every single mythical creature theorized because I’m likely to have stumbled upon them at some point and someone of their kind probably wants me dead or turned into one of them,” she teased back.
Damon scowled and shook his head petulantly. “Wrong. They aren’t getting you because I’m not going to let them. If you’re turning into anything, it’s going to be a vampire – and not the fucking gay ass sparkling kind. Not over my dead – dead body.”
“Relax Damon,” Bella sighed, reaching over to tug on the lapel of his jacket. “We have time right now to figure things out, to plan my options. Victoria’s smart, but she’s not the brightest crayon in the box so it’ll take her awhile to figure out that I’m not even in Washington anymore. No one in the tribe knows where I am and Jake only knows that I left, just not where. He won’t give that out willingly and if the others find out, it’ll be only because it slipped in his thoughts while phased and connected to the rest of the pack. I explained to you how they work when I told you about Edward and Alice’s gifts before you left. Don’t tell me your vampire memory is failing you in your old age.”
“I’m not old! I’m perfectly well preserved at a virile age of twenty five,” he smirked as he loomed closer to her face.
Bella ignored the entranced stares that were locked on them as she gave him a saucy smile back. “Virile? Vampires can’t procreate. As much as you love trying to, maybe I’d like to stay human long enough to find a man capable of getting the job done.”
“If you wanted to have kids, you would have dumped your frozen popsicle for the overgrown puppy, but you didn’t. You also came to me, so your argument is null and void. Try again Gorgeous,” he replied, pushing his drink in front of her attempting to get her at least somewhat tipsy that night if just to loosen her up to relax a little.
She glared at him as she easily finished his drink with a wince. Choking out, she managed to ask, “What the fuck is in that stuff? I swear I just swallowed gasoline.”
“Oh come on! You’ve had it before! We got to get your taste buds back up with what it used to be. Those mongrels really did a number on you. They are definitely making it an appearance on my kill list now. Right behind Daddy Veg-Head.”
“As long as you don’t kill Jacob. Remember he’s the one that gave me the warning to get out. He has no control over a lot of his actions because of the whole alpha command thing,” Bella pointed out tiredly, not wanting to get into the discussion. She was granted her reprieve in the form of dinner arriving.
Not realizing just how hungry she was, Bella dove right into the burger and fries that someone had ordered for her. Damon eyed her curiously, making her glare at him as she hovered over her food protectively. “What?”
“I thought you were vegetarian yourself,” he said, though it sounded more like a question.
She shrugged before turning back and taking another bite thoughtfully. When she cleared her throat to answer she looked back at him with a mischievous glint in her eye. “In the last couple months, I’ve developed a healthier respect for my natural diet.”
Damon stared at her for a beat before laughing. She quickly joined in as the others were mostly confused. The only one that understood the ‘joke’ was Stefan and while he wasn’t offended by it, he just rolled his eyes before explaining. “The vampires she was friends with called themselves vegetarians because they feed on animal blood. Evidently Bella was a human vegetarian, not eating meat and has since started.”
“It’s nothing personal against you Stefan,” Bella said as she looked at him. “But it was just a hard lesson I learned about repression and now – I know just how much I fucking love cheeseburgers!” She continued to eat her meal, taking another bite and allowing her eyes to roll back in her head as she let out a moan that went straight to Damon’s groin.
He shifted in his seat as he tried to make eye contact with whoever was servicing their alcohol for the night for refills because it was certainly going to be a long one for him. As soon as the waitress set down his drink, Bella’s slender hand reached across and swiped it out from under him, taking a healthy sip before setting it back down with that saucy smile.
The two were engaged in some kind of mating stare down, or that was what their friends interpreted it as. Feeling the need to do something, Caroline and Elena quickly pulled Bella away from Damon, though not without some struggle as they dragged her to the dance floor with them. As shy as she once was, she felt comfortable enough with this group that she allowed herself to be more free, less responsible for her actions as she danced.
While she was on the floor with the girls, she could feel him watching her. The sensation, normally foreign and unwelcome, but from his eyes, it only boosted her. As Caroline went to spin her around on the dance floor, Bella’s eyes kept catching with his and smiled. Her smiles were more light and carefree than she could remember. Before she knew it, his arms were wrapped around her from behind as he held her close. Damon’s nose nestled itself through her hair and into the crook of her neck as he breathed her in before turning her to face him, pulling her into a slower number.
“Do you have any idea just how much of a tease you are?” he asked her.
Bella looked into his eyes, confused at his question. All she could see was sincerity, but also amusement as they twinkled back at her. “What do you mean?”
“Nearly every guy has had their eyes on you the entire time you were dancing with the girls. Now I was never worried about them. Everyone around town knows they are off limits, but you’re an anomaly to them, someone new. What they don’t know is just how unattainable you are.”
“I am, am I? And just how is that?” Bella murmured, her hands idly sliding up his shoulders as the tempo of the music changed slightly to meet and rest behind his neck, gently playing with the edge of his hair.
Damon’s breath hitched slightly, his eyes darkening with some untold emotion as he leaned in to her ear and whispered, “That would require we complete that conversation that we were meant to have in my bathroom this afternoon after your kiss.”