Bella awoke Christmas morning with a start as she shot up in the bed. She could not get the image of raven-black hair and baby blue eyes out of her mind. She felt a tug in her chest, and a slight ache. While it wasn’t painful, it was as if her heart was telling her she needed to be elsewhere, that she should be elsewhere. More specifically, she needed to be in Mystic Falls.
She had a passing thought that maybe the visitors and the dream of the night before were just a figment of her imagination, but it all felt too real and there was no way her mind could dream up the blond, spikey haired, ass of a messenger. Nor could she dream up a man whose heart and soul had been just as badly shattered as her own once was. He knew she definitely could not dream up how breathtakingly handsome he was. Her lips twitched into a smile. She had never been one to be taken in by the appearance of the opposite sex, at least not until she was met with Edward’s perfectly inhuman features. But those were hard not to notice as they stood out unnaturally among the mere humans.
Damon on the other hand, had more than just good looks that drew you to him. She couldn’t exactly explain what it was. Maybe it was an aura of danger that seemed to leak just underneath the surface, or maybe it was the sensuality and confidence he seemed to have about him. Just maybe, it was the fact that he had an actual personality. Bella snorted as she thought of a certain piano playing vampire that really had no personality.
She thought on it for a few minutes as she picked at the loose threads on her comforter. Her thoughts then returned to what her path was to be, feeling that tug in her heart once again. She was sure that with Damon being part of her destiny that this pull or whatever it was to him was the Universe’s way of making sure that she’d go to him. She chewed on her lip in thought, until it was nearly raw and wondered if the whole love at first sight thing actually did exist, because she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she wanted him and would willingly give him anything she could offer him, she wasn’t sure if what she felt was love. She wearily closed her eyes as it dawned on her that she didn’t merely want him, she needed him. These feelings were new to her and nothing like she felt with Edward.
She pondered if what she had felt for the Cold One was even love. Even though she had given him everything she had, she had done so because she wanted to, not because she needed to. She realized the difference and came to the conclusion that you don’t simply fall in love. Love is a state of being and it is always there, sometimes it just takes longer to make itself known. With love, there were no bounds, no stipulations; it was an incessant need, a desire to be with that special someone.
It was then that she realized that what she felt was, in fact, love. While it defied her own beliefs of what love was, she knew it to be true. She loved Damon Salvatore. The only questions that remained were; would he feel the same way towards her and just how in the hell does she get to Mystic Falls to actually meet him? Ric had seemed so absolutely certain that she’d be Damon’s perfect match, and believed that destiny would somehow put them together.
With that thought in mind, she got out of bed, wrapping her comforter around her for warmth as she sat at her computer. She turned it on, tapping her foot impatiently as she waited for the ancient contraption to boot up. Then she waited another five minutes as it connected to the Internet. Forks just had to be the last place on earth that had dial-up Internet and she hated it.
Once her home page pulled up, she typed ‘Mystic Falls’ in the search engine. She clicked on a link that took her to the town’s website. There, it listed places where one could shop, eat and so on. She couldn’t help but smile when she saw an ad for the Mystic Grill. She scrolled through the page, noticing a section on schools. She took note of the local high school and further down the page, there were listings of colleges that were nearby. The name Whitmore College stood out to her and she clicked on the link.
Reading that they had an excellent literature department, she smiled. That could be how she’d meet her destiny. She quickly filled in the online form for an information packet and an application. She sighed wistfully in thought, as she realized she wouldn’t meet Damon until the next fall, but she was certain that there was a good chance of running into him at some point, once she was there. Whitmore happened to be pretty close to Mystic Falls, so the odds of meeting him were quite good.
The aroma of freshly brewing coffee hit her nose, signaling that Charlie was awake. She hastily pulled on her robe and made her way downstairs.
“Morning, kiddo.” Charlie greeted.
She smiled and bid him a good morning as she headed for the coffee pot. It wasn’t something she normally drank, but she figured after last night’s events, she would need something to give her an energy boost. She grabbed a mug, filled it with coffee, then added liberal amounts of cream and sugar to it. Hope you see that too, you little pixie bitch, she thought. She took a healthy gulp of her coffee before turning to face her dad, who was looking at her strangely.
“Merry Christmas, Dad!” she said with an actual sincerity behind it. She took pity on him as he had looked like he could die of shock at that very instant.
“Umm…M-Merry Christmas to you, too.” He stuttered out. “You’re drinking coffee.” He commented, pointing to the mug she held.
She shrugged, “Yep.”
“You smiled.” He stated, with a tad of awe behind it.
She smiled again, “Yep! No more emo crap, dad! That’s over with! I promise you! I just realized Edward isn’t worth it.”
“Good on you, kid! Good on you!” Charlie beamed. He was pleased to finally see a twinkle in his daughter’s eyes and a smile on her face after all those months of sadness.
“How about we open our gifts and get that out the way? After that, I’ll make a Christmas breakfast that’d even do Grandma proud.”
Charlie nodded happily, “Sounds good to me.”
They made their way to the living room and exchanged gifts. Bella had gotten Charlie a couple of new fishing lures and a tackle box while he gifted her with a gift card to the book store in Port Angeles and a pair of snow shoes. Leave it to Charlie to be practical, she thought. She thanked him for the gifts and was about to get up to start on making breakfast when he grabbed her hand.
She tilted her head as she looked at him, wondering why he seemed so somber all the sudden.
“I got you something else.” He quietly said.
He then stood up, walked over to the end table and opened a drawer, pulling out a fairly large, white envelope. “I know you nixed the idea of going to your mother’s and truthfully, I don’t blame you. But I think it would do you good to go somewhere for a few days. Take some time for yourself before you start up the new semester.” He then handed her the envelope.
She took the envelope from him and gasped as she saw two vouchers for plane tickets. “Ch-Dad!” she exclaimed, “I can’t accept this!”
He arched an eyebrow, “You can and you will! My only request is that you stay within the United States, I don’t want you running off to Italy and falling in love with some Italian Romeo.”
She bit her lip to hold back a giggle, “Well there was this one place I heard about in Virginia I’d like to visit.”
“Umm, yeah…It’s a place called Mystic Falls, and there’s a college nearby I can check out while I am there.”
“Virginia huh? Doesn’t sound too bad… What’s the college?”
“Whitmore. It is supposed to be a really good school.” She eagerly stated.
She didn’t want to tell Charlie the actual reason as to why she was going to Mystic Falls and hated fudging the truth a little. Charlie just didn’t need to know that she was planning to meet an actual ‘Italian Romeo’.
She tried to sound enthusiastic as she attempted selling the idea on her father. “I have a few days left of my winter break and maybe I could use that time to check it out. If it is okay with you, of course.” She looked at him with a hopeful expression, waiting to see what he’d say.
Charlie grunted before he responded, “Well….I did get you the tickets to give you a chance for some time on you own. I just never expected you to actually use them. Checking out a college might not be such a bad idea, though.”
Bella’s eyes lit up, “So I can go?”
Charlie smiled and nodded, “You can go. I’ll even take you to the airport tomorrow.”
Bella sighed happily and walked over to her father, pulling him into a hug. “Thanks Dad.”
Bella walked through the gate of one very busy airport in Richmond, Virginia. She took in the sights and the sounds, the hustle and bustle of the people as she strode through the airport. She eyed a rental car desk and made her way to it. She took out the platinum American Express card that Edward had once given her, deciding that for once, she would use it. He owed her something, right? He may as well help pay for the path to her true destiny.
She rented a Chevrolet Traverse, handed her card over, signed the slip, and then went to pick up her suitcase.
She stopped at a convenience store to buy some snacks, drinks and a map. Even though her phone had GPS, she wasn’t tech-savvy enough to figure out how to use it. She decided to put some gas in the tank as well to be sure it was full. She pulled up to the row of gas tanks, and spotted a vintage Impala. It was a gorgeous car and she gave a low whistle as she stepped out of the vehicle. “Now, that’s a car.”
She was unscrewing the cap to the tank when she heard a deep voice behind her, “Why, thank you!”
She spun around and saw a man with the greenest eyes she had ever seen. He had a mess of blondish-brown hair and he was well built. Even through his layers of a t-shirt and flannel shirt, she could see that. He is gorgeous, she thought. If she had not been on the way to Mystic Falls, she may have taken the time to make an attempt at flirting with him.
“You’re welcome,” she replied simply, then went back to unscrewing the cap and putting the nozzle in. She had just swiped her card when the man walked over and leaned against her Traverse. His arms were crossed and he wore a smirk that reminded her of someone else. He seemed to have the bad boy persona down pat, right down to the devilish twinkle in his eye.
She did not miss the fact he was eyeing her up and down, checking her out. She did her best to ignore him as she squeezed the pump, and turned to concentrate on the numbers that told her how much gas she was putting in.
“The name’s Dean. What’s yours, pretty girl?”
She pursed her lips and turned to him, her eyebrow arched. He smirked again and shifted a bit in his stance. “Oh come on! Don’t tell me that you’d like my car better than me.” He was flirting with her and she withheld a smile as she told him that her name was Bella.
He tilted his head thoughtfully and then moved it side to side, “It fits you; a pretty name for a pretty girl.”
She met his eyes briefly before retorting smartly, “And you need to really work on your pick up lines.”
He chuckled, “They never failed me before.”
She cocked her eyebrow, “Well Dean; was it? There’s a first time for everything, now isn’t there?”
He nodded his head with an amused expression, “Where you headed?”
“Why do you ask? You plan on following me?”
“Hmm-Maybe.” His voice still remained flirty, but she knew he was messing with her. She figured out that the flirting was probably a second nature to him when it came to women.
She bit her lip as she replied dead seriously, “I have a father back home that happens to be the Chief of Police. Anything happens to me and he will hunt your ass down.”
He guffawed as he replied, “Oh sweetheart, it wouldn’t be my first run-in with the law.”
She eyed him, “And why does that not surprise me?” She smirked as she met his eyes. She was truly enjoying this.
Dean grew quiet as his gaze moved behind her. She furrowed her brows, then turned her head, following his gaze and saw a very tall, very good looking man headed their way with a bag full of stuff.
He stopped short as he eyed the two watching him, then continued his way to the Impala, putting the bag in the car before he looked looked at Dean, “We need to go.” His voice seemed to hold the weight of life and death.
Dean sighed as he moved away from Bella’s vehicle, “Sammy sure likes to put a damper on things…” He grumbled, then nodded her way and got into his car. When the engine started she heard the loud music of AC/DC, and Dean winked playfully as he glanced at her through the window of his car. The song was “Hells Bells.” She could hear their muffled arguing as they pulled off and she swore she heard one say “Bitch!” to which the other responded with “Jerk!” She out right laughed as she returned the nozzle to the pump and went inside to get the things she needed.
A couple hours later, she found herself passing by the “Welcome to Mystic Falls” sign and a smile slowly spread across her face. As she drove past Elena’s house, she couldn’t believe that everything was just like it was in her dream. She drove to the town square and parked, giving a nod towards the grill, thinking of Ric. She hoped that somehow that he knew she was about to meet her destiny soon. She felt the same about Sam and Prue, too. She thought that they’d all be proud of her for facing her future.
She got out of the vehicle and took a walk through town, the familiarity of it warming her heart. She oddly felt at home here, even though she knew it was an epicenter for the supernatural. She found a clothing store and decided to do some browsing. It had been so long since she shopped on her own. Normally, she hated shopping, but she wanted the chance to scope out the store and choose things she would actually want. It was another touch of freedom she had sorely missed.
She walked around picking up a few odds and ends when she spotted a blood red sweater that went slightly off the shoulder. It felt soft as velvet as she run her fingers across it. She smiled as she set her things down, picked up the sweater and held it up to her. She walked over to the mirror that was on display in the corner of the shop, gazing at herself critically. She smoothed the sweater, and looked at herself in the mirror again, trying to decide if she could actually wear something like that.
“You should try that on! I bet it’d look great on you!” she heard a bubbly voice behind her. She met the blue eyes of the voice’s owner and took note of her blond, wavy hair. She had remembered seeing her during dream with Ric at the grill. She had been part of the group seated with Stefan.
Bella turned around, “Oh, I-I don’t know.”
“Try it on! They even have the perfect pair of earrings to go with it!” the girl coaxed.
Bella sighed, briefly being reminded of Alice’s enthusiasm, but unlike Alice, this girl wasn’t being bossy or demanding, she was encouraging.
She shyly looked at the smiling girl, “I’ll try it on, with one condition,” The blond rolled her eyes at that and nodded, “You tell me your name.”
“Caroline. Caroline Forbes.” She giggled and then pointed to the dressing room. Bella was headed towards it when Caroline shouted after her, “What’s your name?”
“Bella!” she shouted back as she stepped into the dressing room. She hastily took off her jacket and pulled off her sweatshirt. Taking the sweater gingerly in her hand she pulled it over her head and fixed her hair. She spun around to get a good look in the three way mirror, liking what she saw. The sweater fit her perfectly, and for the first time in a long time, she felt pretty.
There was a knock on the door and she jumped at the sound. Caroline’s voice piped through the door, “Well!! How does it look?”
Bella shook her head in amusement as she slowly opened the door for Caroline to see.
“I knew it!!” the girl said excitedly. “I have an eye for those kinds of things, you know…” Bella’s eyes scanned Caroline’s stylish outfit and could tell that was definitely the case. It wasn’t flashy or overdone, but it was trendy and well put together.
Bella changed back into her clothes and gathered the things she wished to purchase, then headed to the checkout counter. Caroline stood in line with her as they chatted. Bella told her she was here to check out Whitmore College nearby, and Caroline excitedly told her that’s where her and her friends would go next fall. They traded tales of high school life, and when the subject of Calculus came up, they both came to the conclusion that it was the worst subject, ever.
Once Bella checked out, the new friends made their way out the door and Bella put her bags in the Traverse. “You forgot something,” Caroline said cheerfully and held up a dainty bag, swinging it back and forth in front of her.
“I didn’t buy that.”
“No, but I did! Here…” With that, she handed over a small bag and inside was a small gift wrapped box.
Bella arched an eyebrow as she gingerly removed the box from the bag, “Are you in the habit of buying strangers gifts, Caroline?”
The girl laughed, “Only ones I like!”
Bella unwrapped the gift and inside was a small pair of gold dangle earrings with little red crystals. Bella gasped as she looked up at Caroline, “Thank you,” she said sincerely, “they’re beautiful!” and she then gave her new friend a hug.
The taller girl grinned, “They’ll match your sweater perfectly!”
They stood in a comfortable silence for a few minutes when Bella’s stomach growled ferociously. “Let’s go grab a bite to eat, huh?” Caroline suggested.
Bella swallowed thickly, knowing there was only one place to eat and there was a good chance Damon would be there and here she was in a sweatshirt and blue jeans. She felt that ever present twinge of inadequacy before she glanced up at the other girl, “Sure,” she agreed shyly.
“Oh, none of that shy crap!” Caroline said as she wrapped her arm around Bella’s shoulders. “We’re gonna get lunch and you’ll get to meet some of my friends. They’ll love you, I promise!”
Bella cast a doubtful look her way as they headed towards the grill.
True to her word, they all indeed love Bella. She found them all to be nice, even Elena; someone she hadn’t been exactly fond of in her dream. Bonnie, Elena, and Caroline had spent two hours just eating, talking, and making stupid jokes. She was thoroughly enjoying herself. That moment was something she had always hoped for; a group of friends sitting around, laughing and doing something simple together, like having lunch. It was something most teenagers took for granted, but for Bella, it meant the world. It was something she had never had the chance to really experience.
The group stilled when the chime to the restaurant’s door rang and the others looked in that direction as Bella bowed her head and hoped it wouldn’t be Damon. She wasn’t ready, not yet.
“Who’s the new girl?” rang out in a deep, yet soft voice. It had a suspicious and an annoyingly demanding tone to it. It reminded her of Edward, so she wasn’t surprised when she looked up and saw Mr. Emo himself, Stefan Salvatore.
“I’m Bella, Bella Swan.” she introduced herself. “I met Caroline over at the boutique across the street.”
“Ah” was his reply as he eyed her.
“Stefan, stop. She’s fine.” Elena said gently. “Bella, this is my boyfriend, Stefan Salvatore.” She smiled and once Stefan took his seat next to Elena, she kissed him on the cheek.
After a few awkward moments of silence, the group’s conversation carried on as they asked Bella about growing up in Phoenix and Forks. When Edward was brought into the conversation and she told them about the break up, there were several faces with scowls amongst her new group of friends.
“He sounds like a grade-A dick.” Jeremy commented. He had joined the group not too long ago, and was seated with Bonnie.
“Jer!!” Elena admonished her baby brother.
Bella snorted, shaking her head, “Grade-A dick would be an understatement.” She smiled as she looked Jeremy’s way and they all laughed.
Somehow, the conversation turned to where Bella would be staying while in Mystic Falls. When she mentioned she had reservations at the local bed and breakfast, Caroline exclaimed “No way! You stay with me!” Before Bella could protest, Caroline had whipped out her cellphone and cancelled Bella’s reservation.
She gaped at the girl, she didn’t know whether to be thankful or angry. “We’ll make it a slumber party!” Bonnie excitedly announced.
Elena smiled, “Good idea!”
Bella went into her shy mode once again, before Caroline squeezed her shoulder, “We won’t bite, I promise!” Everyone chuckled at that but Stefan, who cut the blond a look.
“Oh lighten up, Stef, it was a joke for God’s sake!” she then rolled her eyes and smiled warmly at Bella, “He gets a stick up the ass, sometimes. Just ignore it.” Bella couldn’t help but laugh at the statement and like a chain reaction, everyone else joined in, too.
That night at Caroline’s, the four girls sat in their pajamas and gorged themselves on ice cream and various junk foods. When the subject of the supernatural inevitability came up, after they noticed the scar on her wrist, it was then that the group swapped stories. While much of the anecdotes they told her wasn’t new to her, thanks to Ric, she was glad that they trusted her enough to share their history with her.
She shared more information on what had happened with the tracker, Edward, his family and the finer details of their break up. “You were right Bella, Grade-A dick was an understatement.” Elena softly said. “But I am glad we met you and that you are here.”
“Me too, Elena, me too.”
That night they all fell asleep in Caroline’s bed, their arms and legs tangled with each other. Bella was the first to wake up. She slowly maneuvered her way out of bed, then quietly grabbed her bag and made her way to the bathroom to get ready for the day. She then snuck downstairs to the kitchen where she was greeted by a woman in uniform. “Good Morning, you must be Bella.”
She stopped short as she stared at the woman, being reminded of her dad. Her expression did not go unnoticed, “Something wrong?”
Bella sighed and smiled, “The uniform just reminded me of my dad, he’s a cop too.”
“Liz Forbes,” the woman introduced herself, “I’m Caroline’s mom.” Bella shook her hand and politely smiled.
“Would you mind if I cooked breakfast to thank Caroline, and you for letting me stay here?”
“Can you cook?” Liz asked warily.
“I make the best pancakes west of the Mississippi.”
Liz smiled, “By all means, go ahead, just please clean up after yourself. I have to head to the station.” She started out the door but stopped suddenly and turned back around, handing Bella a small vile of clear liquid, “Put this in your coffee, it’ll make it taste better.”
Bella could not help but let out a laugh, “You met me all of five minutes ago and you’re already trying to sneak vervain into my system?”
Liz cocked her head to the side, “You know?”
“Yup, got the full report last night, Sheriff.” and she winked.
Liz shook her head, trying not to laugh, “Just be careful, Bella.” She added seriously.
“I will be.” She promised.
She was half way through making breakfast when the girls stumbled into the kitchen and made their way to the coffee pot.
“Bella, you didn’t have to do this!” Caroline spoke first.
“I wanted to somehow thank you for everything…So just eat and enjoy!”
“Yes, mom” she said sarcastically.
“Hey!” Bella shouted as she threw at chocolate chip at the vampire.
All the girls laughed as Bonnie eyed the vial on the counter, “OMG! Liz already gave you vervain?”
Bella snorted, “Yep”
Elena shook her head, “That stuff is nasty, I think Caroline has an old locket or something around here that we can put some in and you can wear it, instead.”
“All taken care of,” a voice rang out as Stefan stepped into the kitchen. He held out his hand and in its palm was a small oval-shaped, gold locket. “My apologies for having a stick up by ass last night, as Caroline so kindly put it.”
She took the necklace, “Thank you, Stefan.” He smiled and nodded. “Join us for breakfast, or would you rather have one of the bunnies in the back yard?”
His eyes widened in surprise, as did the rest of the group.
Bella all-the-sudden felt self-conscious as she looked around the room, “What?” she asked.
Stefan’s lips twitched into a smile, “That comment just reminded us of someone we know.”
“Hmm” she said as she nibbled on her lip. “Who would that be?”
The name “Damon” chorused around the room and she felt her heart thump at the name. They all eyed her, hearing it. She swallowed thickly but was saved when someone’s cell rang loudly and their attention got diverted to that. It was Bonnie’s and she announced that it was Jeremy before walking out the room to take the call privately.
Once breakfast was done, they all made plans to go scope out Whitmore and see the campus. They had made a day of it, that also included lunch and shopping.
Once they got back to the house, Bella was tired, but once Caroline mentioned they should get dinner at the grill, she perked up. “And you, madam are getting gussied up…A sweatshirt isn’t cutting it tonight! I want you to look hot!”
Bella scoffed, “Good luck with that, Blondie.” The room froze in silence as they all glanced at each other. She threw up her arms, “What?” she said annoyed. “What did I say wrong?”
“Nothing,” Caroline mumbled and pulled her off the couch. Bella had decided to wear her red sweater and the earrings Caroline had gifted her with. She was eyeing herself in the mirror as she toyed wither new locket, hating the dark circles she found underneath her eyes.
Elena noticed and dug through a make-up bag. Finding what she was looking for, she held up a tube of concealer. “This will work wonders on those,” she said as she smiled.
Within the next ten minutes she found herself with her dark circles covered, her face powdered, her eyes lined and mascaraed, and somehow, Caroline had found the perfect shade of red lipstick to wear. She glanced in the mirror and smiled broadly, “Wow” she murmured.
“Wow, indeed!” Elena smiled. “You’re gorgeous!”
Bella blushed deeply, and quietly said, “Thank you”
“Just quit it with the blushy crap! Own that shit!” Caroline ordered. Bella covered her face as she thought she would die in laughter. The other girls giggled while Caroline nonchalantly shrugged.
The other girls were still getting ready when Bella suggested that she head on out to the grill. She made the excuse that she wanted a few minutes to call her father, but in truth, she wanted to scope out the grill for a certain dark haired vampire. Her body was humming with electricity and she just knew that was the night her life would change.
She sat down at the bar. Matt come up and greeted her and took her order for a cherry Coke. She waited for her friends to show up and she couldn’t help but feel that perhaps they had already grown tired of her and went elsewhere. She rested her chin on her hand as she sipped her drink.
When Matt came over to check on her, he saw the glum look on her face and asked her what was wrong. She pouted as she replied quietly, “I just thought everyone would be here by now.”
Matt just laughed, “Bella, it usually takes Caroline two hours to get ready. I wouldn’t worry about it. You want another soda while you wait?”
“Yes, please. “she replied, planting a smile on her face. Another reason she felt gloomy was that she was sure Damon would have been at the bar, and she had been hoping to run into him without the others around. She sighed deeply, and decided to go to the bathroom to freshen up. She let Matt know, so no one would take her seat.
Once in the ladies room, she leaned against the wall and tried to fight the insecurities and the doubts of truly meeting her destiny that were rising within her. She rested her head against the wall as she heard Prue’s voice in her head, “Destiny has plans for you, but you must first believe that you are worthy of them.”
“I am worth it,” she whispered.
She then stood in front of the mirror, fixed her hair and adjusted her sweater. She washed her hands and dried them before walking out the door.
She felt an electricity buzz throughout her body as she made her way back to the bar. Once she rounded the corner, she froze as she caught the sight of a man clad in a black leather jacket sitting at the bar. She licked her lips and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she saw a pair of ice blue eyes looking straight at her. That familiar jolt of electricity shot up her spine as she stared back at him. Like in her dream, time seemed to stop and she felt a tug in her heart. “Go to him,” her instinct told her.
Damon had not taken his eyes off of her as she walked nervously towards the bar. She felt weak in the knees and her heart was pounding. Bella was sure he could hear it with his heightened senses.
She played a thousand and one scenarios on how this could go in her head with each step she took. She was so lost in her thoughts, she had not realized she actually reached the bar until she heard a voice that had a smooth tenor to it, a softness like velvet, a voice that was made to seduce, to draw you in. “Well, well, well, who do we have here?” He then eyed her from head to toe and smirked.
She took a deep breath trying to make her heart stop thumping against her chest. This only made him smirk even wider, indicating to her that he could indeed hear it. “I’m Damon,” he said as he winked.
“Accept the gifts she hands to you.” she heard Prue’s voice once again. She inhaled another breath and met his gaze, “I’m Bella.”
He licked his lips and took a swig of his drink, “I thought you might be. Dear Brother mentioned a new girl in town this morning when he was filling that,” he pointed to her locket, “with vervain. Kept rambling that he acted like an ass last night and yada, yada, yada.”
Bella giggled, “So he was brooding over having a stick up his ass?”
Damon chuckled, “Typical Stefan, you’ll get used to it. Only took me about a century.”
“I like to refer to him as Mr. Emo.”
He snorted and held up a finger, “That’s a good one! Soo…what really brought you to Mystic Falls? Whitmore isn’t that interesting, believe me I know.”
You, she thought but instead explained that her dad had given her plane tickets and since she wanted to check out Whitmore, she thought she may as well check out Mystic Falls, too.
“Hmm, hmm,” he said. He obviously wasn’t buying it.
She went to sit down and Damon touched her arm “Sit in the other one, that seat is taken.” The electricity that had been constantly humming in her body since she laid eyes on him increased, and she snapped her head to meet his eyes. His own blue eyes were filled with shock as they looked at one another.
“You.” He whispered. He stared intensely at her.
She nervously licked her lips, “W-What about me?”
He shook his head, “The other night–I don’t know how, but I felt that same sensation I just felt now, and I know you felt it too.” His gaze somewhat hardened, “Don’t you dare deny it.”
She lowered her head, looking at the ground, closing her eyes. She felt Damon’s hand move down towards her own and give it a gentle squeeze. “Bella?” he said softly, almost reverently. She looked at him through her lashes, “I won’t deny it. I did feel it…” Her voice was barely a whisper and she felt her knees buckle. “I need to sit down.”
He reluctantly removed his hand from hers and pulled out the stool she had originally planned to sit on, “Go on; sit.” his voice full of concern. She was surprised he allowed her to sit there, now realizing it had once been Ric’s seat.
Damon could not believe what had just happened. He had heard stories of such things in the one hundred and seventy some odd years he existed, but he often dismissed them as folklore, myth and wrote it off as complete bullshit. Who would ever believe that with one touch or one look, you’d know that was the one that was meant for you, the other half of your soul? He thought out of all the vampires he knew, his perfect baby brother would be the one to find his soul mate. He never thought it would happen to him, the bad brother. But it had, and here she was sitting right beside him. The thought was shocking to him.
He had thought he would spend his eternity truly alone, that he wasn’t worthy of such a priceless gift. Yet, the one that was in charge of the universe evidently thought so. But would Bella want him, even after finding out all the horrible things he has done in his life? All the blood he spilled, all the games he played; would she still want him after knowing about them? Yes, a small voice said in his head. Yes, she will.
His eyes focused on her as he took in her brownish-red hair, pale skin, and wide doe-like eyes. Her lips were plump and made even more striking by the red lipstick she wore. To him, she was the most beautiful woman he ever saw, and he had seen lots and lots of women in his time. He wanted her. He wanted her more than anything he had ever wanted in his life. He swallowed thickly as he vowed that this would be the one thing he would not fuck up.
“Bella,” he said as he placed his arm on the bar and rested his head in his hand. “How was I able to feel that the other night?”
She rested her own elbows on the bar and told him, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me,” he countered.
She then launched into her story from the very beginning, from the time she moved to Forks, meeting Edward, the breakup, and how she basically became a walking zombie afterwards. She told him of her messengers, her visits from Prue, Sam and Ric, what they showed her and what they had to say.
“So the path to your destiny lead to me?” Damon questioned softly. Bella bit her lip and nodded. “Ric told you everything, and you still came here, for me?”
“I don’t know if he truly told me everything, but it was enough, and it didn’t matter to me what you had done in the past. I don’t care!” she spoke passionately. “I- I don’t understand it, but I felt a pull to you, like I needed you. I feel it even now, except that it’s stronger. Damon, I never believed in love in first sight or any of that mumbo jumbo, I thought it was something you read about in books, or saw in movies. But the instant I laid eyes on you in my dream, I think–No, I know I fell in love with you!”
Damon brought his hand up to her face and brushed some stray hairs aside. He then stroked her cheek, “You know, I never believed in any of that love at first sight mumbo jumbo either.” He smirked at using her choice of words, as he cupped her face. “I never believed the tales I heard of soul mates. I thought they were complete bullshit, to be honest. Besides, I never thought that… what was it Sam called it?”
“God, Fate or Time” she answered with a smirk on her face.
“That.” He smirked back, “Would ever think I’d be worthy of such a thing. I don’t deserve this, I know that-”
Bella cut him off, “You don’t get to decide that. God, Fate, Time, Destiny, The Universe, whatever you want to call it, led me to you and I made the decision to follow that path. They thought we were two souls who needed to be together, that we are worthy of one of another, and Damon, we are worth it. Don’t ever doubt that again!”
He chuckled, “No doubting, then.” He pursed his lips in thought. “We’ll take this slow. I don’t want to fuck this up.”
Bella nodded in agreement and murmured, “A leap of faith.” She smiled broadly because she realized that Sam was right. Sometimes you don’t even need to think to make a decision, you just need to take that leap of faith. Her heart felt content and for the first time in a long time, she was truly happy.
“I think this calls for a toast! What’s your poison?”
Bella quirked an eyebrow and she smiled slightly as she replied “Uh… a cherry Coke?”
Damon cast an “Are you kidding me?” look her way and promptly stated, “We’ll fix that.”
She shook her head in amusement as he snapped his fingers, grabbing Matt’s attention, “The lady wants a cherry Coke.”
“Bella?” Matt questioned, concern all over his face as he eyed Damon’s hand resting on her knee.
“I’m fine. Matt. Just really thirsty, so how about that drink?” Matt walked off to get her soda as Damon poured some Bourbon into his glass.
Bella’s gaze fell on Damon’s hand that was resting on her knee, “What happened to taking it slow?”
A devilish smirk spread across his face as he rubbed her thigh, “We never said exactly just how slow we would go.”
He continued to rub his hand slowly up and down her leg as he licked his lip, “I think this is slow enough…” His voice dripped with pure sex and it made her shiver.
She arched her eyebrows as she replied, “I think you need to shift gears and go a little slower.”
He removed his hand from her thigh and wrapped it around her shoulders, “I’m sure I’ll change your mind about that.” he whispered in her ear.
She closed her eyes while an image of a dream she had on the plane came to mind. It was of her and Damon sharing a very passionate kiss in front of a Christmas tree. She smiled as she responded, “I’m sure you probably will.”
Matt approached them with Bella’s cherry Coke, surprise written all over his face. Damon sent him a glare and he promptly set down the drink and scampered off.
“Five bucks says he’s running off to call the Scooby Gang.”
Bella snorted, “I’d say make it ten.”
She picked up her drink, and looked at Damon meaningfully, “To Destiny”
“To Destiny.” They clinked glasses and after Bella took a rather large swig of her drink, she set it down, took one of the cherries out of it and popped it in her mouth. She did not miss the fact that Damon’s eyes watched her every movement. She placed the stem on her napkin and toyed with it, not sure what to say.
Damon reached over and pulled out a cherry from her glass and popped it in his mouth, sucking on it in an obvious sexual manner before popping off the stem and setting it on the napkin next to hers.
She glared at him, “Hey! I was gonna eat that! I like cherries!”
He plastered a smarmy grin on his face, “So do I, they’re sweet and juicy.” He then run his tongue along his lips and licked off the small amount of juice and soda that remained there, wiggling his eyebrows.
She crossed her arms and rolled her eyes at his blatant innuendo. “Seriously?!”
He did a crazy eye thing that she actually found cute as he said, “Seriously!” in a half mocking tone.
She couldn’t help herself and burst out laughing. “I’m going to have my hands full with you, aren’t I?”
He smirked, “Oh, I’m pretty sure we’ll be keeping those hands of yours full at one point or another!”
He chuckled and kissed her on the cheek, “You’ll love it!”
She closed her eyes and uttered under her breath, “Oh, my God”
“Yep, that’s what they all say…”
She glared at him and he wagged a finger at her, “Ah, you walked right into that one!”
She laughed, “Okay, I’ll let that one slide.”
She went to grab her drink, but he placed his hand on top of her glass, “Wait a second…” He then reached for his Bourbon bottle and poured a splash of it into her drink. At the look of uneasiness she gave him, he simply said “Try it.”
She picked up the glass, taking a small sip, letting the flavor rest on her tongue. She found that she actually liked the flavor and took a bigger sip. Once she swallowed, she remarked, “Not too bad.” and smiled.
“That’s my girl!” he exclaimed and kissed her cheek. Just as he did, Elena, Stefan, Caroline, Bonnie, Jeremy and Tyler walked into the grill, all wearing matching expressions of disbelief as they eyed the two sitting cozily together.
“You ready for a round of twenty questions?” he asked. She grabbed his glass and gulped the Bourbon down, slightly coughing as it went down her throat. Damon snickered, “Easy there, Brown Eyes.” She coughed once more and nodded.
The round of twenty questions begun almost immediately after Elena came up to them, promptly dragging Bella off to a booth, with Damon and everyone else trailing behind them.
Sitting in Damon’s lap, she gave them the short version of her story about her Christmas visitors and how they helped guide her to her destiny. Damon explained they were soul mates and were destined to be together. Bella answered question after question to the skeptical group, until Bonnie took pity on the poor girl and asked for her hand. She saw Bella’s past and the glimpses of her visitors and snippets of what they said. She also felt and saw what Bella did when Bella first touched Damon. “They’re telling the truth.” She met the eyes of everyone of in the group, almost daring them to question her power and the truth to what she saw.
The next few days went by in a blur as Damon and Bella spent time together, getting to know one another. They stuck to their agreement, taking things slow; they had not gone past hand holding, cuddles and a kiss on the cheek here and there. She wanted their first kiss to be memorable and special. If they were to be together for eternity, she wanted something to really remember a thousand years from now. She was kind of hoping for one at the stroke of midnight to ring in the New Year.
She had fully accepted the gift that Destiny had given her in Damon and the more time she spent with him, the more she fell in love with him. Like they were taking things slow physically, they were also taking it slow emotionally. Neither of them wanted to rush things; they both wanted to build a relationship on a solid foundation, and most importantly they wanted to do it together, in a true partnership. It was something the two of them had ever experienced before in a relationship. Bella was so giddy with happiness that it bordered on being almost delirious.
The girls were out shopping for gowns to wear to a party at the Lockwood mansion. It was Bella’s first New Year’s Eve party, and for once in her life, she was actually excited about going to a party. She just wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to wear a cocktail dress. She had asked Damon if he had any preference for a color he’d like to see her in and he had just shrugged, ‘Anything but yellow is fine.”
So with that in mind, she avoided anything yellow and anything blue. Blue made her think of Edward. It would most likely take a century or two before she’d even consider wearing the color again. The only exception was her blue jeans, and the older they were, the better she liked them. Those, she would never stop wearing.
The four girls went shop to shop at a mall in Richmond, not finding anything. They grabbled lunch and chatted about Bella’s leaving the next day, telling her how much they’d miss her. They all made plans as they ate for frequent visits and Skype sessions. When the topic of Whitmore came up, they all collectively held the hope that they’d be roommates.
She was glad they didn’t ask much about her and Damon’s relationship. They all knew she was a private person, but she was glad they accepted it. She was grateful to Bonnie for that, because if she had not stood her ground for them that night at the grill, she had no doubt the group would never believe that she and Damon were meant to be, after all.
They found a cute little shop on the outskirts of Richmond and decided to check it out. It was a designer’s shop and she was local to the area. When asked if she carried formal wear, she smiled and was quite helpful as she showed the girls what was available. Bella became entranced by a black and white dress that had a white background with a black lace overlay and scattered throughout was some black beading that jazzed it up. She excitedly plucked it off the rack and run to try it on. When she came out to get the girls’ opinions, they all gawked at her and she ducked her head, smiling shyly.
Each girl seemed to find everything they needed at the shop and Bella plopped down that platinum Amex card and bought everything. She did so with a wicked smirk on her face.
They all got ready at Elena’s house. It was a chaotic mess, with girlish giggles and squeals that drove Jeremy crazy. He ended up leaving the house to just get away from them.
It was a quarter to nine as Elena and Bella stood in the living room of the Gilbert house, awaiting the Salvatore brothers. Tyler had collected Caroline not too long ago and Bonnie and Jeremy had just left a few minutes before. Bella was pacing around the room, picking at her nails nervously.
“Bella!” Elena fussed, “You’ll ruin your manicure! Stop! You’re gorgeous!”
“What if he hates my dress?!”
Elena scoffed, “Somehow I don’t think he’s gonna care if he likes it or not, you look so beautiful! Radiant, even!”
Bella blushed, “Thanks… so do you.”
Elena smiled, “Thank you.”
The doorbell finally rang and Elena went to open it, “Stay there!” she whispered. “I want Damon to get the full effect!” Bella rolled her eyes but did as she was told, and stood still in front of the fireplace.
Elena opened the door and smiled widely when she landed her eyes on her boyfriend. Damon looked past her, hoping to see Bella. Elena told him to go on inside.
When he walked into the house, and Bella saw Damon dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a black silk tie, it took her breath away. He was even more gorgeous than what she’d imagined he’d be, all dressed up. She had to admit, though, that she missed the leather jacket. He just didn’t seem to be Damon without it. But then again, she didn’t think any man on the planet could look that damn good in a suit.
He slowly approached her as his eyes lingered on her form, taking in every inch of her in that black and white dress. He licked his lips and stroked her cheek, “You are stunning.” he huskily said.
“You’re not so bad yourself.” she whispered back. Gross understatement there, she thought, he’s hot. She wasn’t about to say that because he probably already knew it. She giggled mentally at the thought.
“Not so bad?” he asked teasingly, his trademark smirk making its appearance. “I tell you that you’re stunning, and I get a not so bad?” He cocked an eyebrow and stood closer to her, their chests just barely touching.
Her heart went thump, thump, thump in her chest at his close proximity, and she sucked in a breath as she looked up into his eyes and down to his lips. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears as that familiar electricity flowed between them. She licked her lips as he did the same. She closed her eyes, wanting nothing more than to kiss him. She sighed as he wrapped an arm around her waist, holding her snugly.
“Hey guys! We got to get going!” Elena called out, ruining the moment.
“Give us a minute, Xena! Go on out to the car and we’ll meet you there.” Damon’s voice had been filled with more than its usual dose of snark, but also held more than a touch of annoyance.
Startled by his words, the brunette jumped back slightly, looking between the two. She felt a little guilty for ruining what seemed to be a very intense moment for them. “Um…okay.” she quietly said. Stefan then led his girlfriend out of the house.
Damon sighed deeply and handed Bella a rose that was in full bloom, “This is for you.”
“Thank you” she said with a small smile and pink cheeks. She grabbed her clutch and shawl and started to head to the door. She could feel his eyes on her as she did so. It made her nervous, knowing he was checking her out.
“Brown Eyes,” he said gruffly, “wait.”
She turned to him and smiled, “Hmm?”
He stepped to her, took the rose from her and snapped off most of the stem. He stuck the rose next to the bun in her hair, then kissed her forehead tenderly. “Now you’re absolutely perfect.” He smiled down at her and she could feel her cheeks warm up as he took her hand, leading her out the door.
The Lockwood mansion was decorated extravagantly, and Bella had the fleeting thought that it would outshine anything Alice Cullen would ever put together. She was nervous as she entered, thinking back to the last time she was at a party in a room full of vampires. Her life could have easily ended that day. She supposed that memory would always be with her; it was one of those moments that changed her life. She was grateful for it now, because look where it led her. She found her place in the world, her destiny and her soul mate. She turned to look at Damon as he escorted her into the house and smiled. His eyes twinkled and he actually smiled back. This party will be different, she vowed silently.
It was different and for the very first time at a party, she had fun, Damon taught her to dance and within an hour, he was spinning her across the floor and then back to him. Sometimes, he’d even dip her and kiss her nose. He laughed at her when she attempted the Jitterbug, but winked and kept encouraging her.
The big band sound was not a type of music she ever enjoyed before, but she decided that Damon Salvatore could make anything fun. She smiled as he took off to get them some champagne. The group pounced on her while he was gone, “Oh Bella! You got some moves, girl!” Caroline told her.
Bella giggled, “You can thank Damon for that.”
“Oh no, sistah’! That is all you! You looked like a rock star on that dance floor!”
“That she did!” Damon said as he walked up to them. He handed her a glass of champagne and kissed her cheek, enjoying the blush that bloomed as he did so.
It was nearing close to midnight as the girls laughed and made silly moves on the dance floor. They were all slightly tipsy from the alcohol. Damon and Stefan stood at the bar watching the girls, and with their heightened senses, they could hear the girlish giggles and squeals, even as the band played.
While Damon’s face was stoic, Stefan’s face had a smile, “How does it feel, brother?”
Taken off guard and irritated by the question, Damon retorted, “How does what feel?”
“To finally get the girl,” Stefan’s eyes bored into Damon’s as he clarified further, “The right girl.”
Damon shrugged, “It feels great, Stefan! I wanna go dance on the rooftops and tell the world I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill!” His voice dripped with its usual sarcasm before he shrugged again as he impassively asked, “Is that that you wanted to hear, Steffie? I might have got the girl, but I’m not sharing this, not with you!” He then guzzled the rest of his drink and slammed the glass down as Carol Lockwood announced it was time for the countdown.
He stomped his way towards his girl. This thing belonged to him, to her, and not nobody else. He was determined to keep it that way, too. He sure as hell wasn’t going to share his feelings on the matter, either. Saint Stefan should keep his nose out of it and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
He took a calming breath as he snaked his arms around Bella and planted a kiss right behind her ear. He felt that electricity between them and it soothed his soul. He rested his chin on top of her head as he held her.
They listened to Carol Lockwood go on and on about how a new year was a fresh start, a new beginning, and finally wished everyone a “Happy New Year”. She then started the countdown. It was thirty seconds to the New Year and the electricity hummed between Bella and Damon. When it got to the final ten seconds, he had turned her around and cupped her face, and as the crowd cheered and the band played Auld Lang Syne, Damon’s lips met Bella’s for the very first time.
It was the most gentle and tender kiss he had ever given anyone, and yet it meant more than anything he could have ever imagined a simple kiss would. He kissed her a second time and stood back looking down at her, meeting those damn doe-like eyes of hers that he could easily get lost in. He loved the feeling of it, but yet hated the power that this girl held over him. But, it was what he had waited over a century and a half for.
Bella was left breathless by the kisses he gave her. They were sweet, soft, and loving. She stared at him, completely mesmerized by him. It wasn’t just the kiss that took her breath away, it was the vampire before her. She drew in a breath as she reached up and cupped his cheek, never taking her eyes away from his. He smirked and brushed a stray hair off her forehead.
They both jumped slightly when the band cued up and started playing “It Had to Be You.” She yelped as he yanked her to him and shimmied, then spun her around, before catching her in his arms. He wrapped both of them around her tiny waist, just as she wrapped her own around his neck. They swayed to the jazzy beat for a few moments before he kissed her temple. He then tipped his head down, bringing his lips to her ear. “It had to be you,” he sang and she blushed. “It had to be you, I wandered around, and finally found somebody who could make me be true…” he continued singing.
Bella giggled as she moved her head to face him, “You actually know the words to this?” she teased.
“He smirked as he twirled her around, “Nothing wrong with a little Harry C., but Sinatra… he was the king of cool!”
“Never would I have pegged you for a fan of either.”
He shrugged, “I just know a good song when I hear it, and somehow I don’t think this band will be breaking out into The Sex Pistols or The Smiths anytime soon.”
She laughed as he leaned closer to her, “It had to be you, wonderful you, It had to be you.” His singing became lower, and huskier until it was nothing more than a seductive purr. She was about to say something when his lips crashed into hers. It took her by surprise, but she found her hands threaded into his hair as she melted into him, closing her eyes and relishing in the kiss.
When he licked her bottom lip, demanding entrance she willingly opened her mouth and she was unsure of what to do, so she let him take the lead as his tongue snaked around hers. They quickly found a rhythm and tugged at each other passionately. She was sure they looked scandalous on the floor as they explored each other’s mouth, but she couldn’t find it within herself to care.
Damon trailed his hand from her waist and up her arm, giving her a delicious tingle. He then rested his hand at the nape of her neck and withdrew his tongue. He nibbled on her bottom lip and rested his forehead against hers. She swallowed thickly as she caught her breath. It was as if the world had stopped, she didn’t even hear the band anymore, just the pounding of her heart, and all she could feel was the warmth of his breath on her face. His scent enveloped her and she realized that he was her world, not just physically as he is now, but he belonged to her heart and soul, forever. Not only that but she belonged to him. She sent a mental thank you to whoever or whatever brought them together. Prue was right, it is a gift, and it was a gift she wasn’t going to deny.
“Happy New Year” Damon murmured. Happy New Year indeed, she thought. She knew that this was only going to be the beginning for whatever laid ahead between them, and she looked forward to it. She pecked him on the lips, “Happy New Year to you, too” She whispered.
~ The chapter title was inspired by the Harry Connick Jr. song of the same name. Song lyrics used in the chapter are without permission.
~For those of you who don’t know, the Blueberry Hill bit was a reference to the TV show “Happy Days”