Surprises of the Heart: Part II
“Just a minute!” Virtue checked the sauce simmering on the stove, glanced at the salad ingredients sitting on a cutting board on the counter. Then she looked toward the door. She considered for a moment just not letting him in, then shook her head. What the heck? It’s not like this date could be any worse than the others she’d had. Wiping her hands on her apron she headed for the door.
Damon shifted his feet, restless. Couldn’t she answer a door? Just then the door opened and Damon saw the woman from that morning. He knew it was her. That was obvious. She’d done something to her hair though so that instead of hanging down limply, the golden tendrils fell to her shoulders in soft waves. And somehow her eyes looked bigger now, brighter. He smiled at her. She didn’t smile back. It was then that he realized he still didn’t know her name.
“Thanks for letting me in.” He told her. “Virtue.” Even as he said it he almost choked on the word. Virtue? That was her name? What, he wondered, had he gotten himself into?
“How. . . How do you know my name?” She knew she hadn’t told him. He just smiled.
“That,” Damon told her. “Is for me to know.” He was working on shrugging off her name. It was just a word after all. He concentrated instead on the room that he was stepping into. Glancing around he noticed the wall décor was subtle. Black and white photographs of various scenes, a few tapestries with interesting patterns and colors. Statues were placed on tables and surfaces around the room. Most of them he recognized as being representations of mythical beings. Others were religious in
nature. He walked to a bookshelf near the door. In front of the clearly organized books was a tiny figurine of the Buddha. He picked it up, studied it for a moment.
“I know.” Virtue was standing near him. “It’s odd. I kind of collect them.”
“Why?” He asked, looking at her, his eyebrows raised.
“I don’t know.” She admitted. “I just like them. It’s like I’m drawn to them. It’s difficult to explain but I enjoy having them around. They’re. . .” She paused. “Inspirational, though I doubt that makes any sense to you.” Placing the Buddha back, he glanced at his date and smiled.
“Hey, whatever floats your boat.” As expected, she turned from him, obviously not impressed with his reaction.
“I’m not quite finished with dinner. You can have a seat on the couch whilel you wait.”
“All right.” Walking over to the sofa Damon sat, relaxing into the cushions. He picked through the pile of books on the table beside the couch. “Wonders of Italy, As the Romans Do, Italian Folktales, Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples.” He turned his head toward the kitchen. “Are you planning a trip?”
“Someday.” Virtue continued to chop vegetables and toss them into a salad bowel. “For now, it’s just dreams.”
“Why Italy?” He asked, thinking that there were some awfully odd coincidences here.
“Because it appeals to me.” She laughed. “It’s like the figurines, hard to explain.”
“Right.” He nodded, replacing the books to their spot on the table. “And we’re having spaghetti for dinner.” He’d just recognized the smells coming from behind him.
“Yes.” She paused in her work. “How did you know?”
“Good sense of smell.” He told her. Virtue nodded though she didn’t seem quite convinced. “Would you mind if I put on some music?” He was bored and the stereo seemed the closest thing to play with.
“No.” She told him. “If you can find something you’d like to listen to. I have a pretty eclectic collection.” That she did he noticed as he flipped through the CD cases on top of the player. There were three of them. The first one was complete jazz, though various types and a mix of classic and modern. The second was seasonal, holiday music. The third and the largest seemed to be a grab bag of genres and artists from Mozart to Garth Brooks and Guns N Roses. He also noticed that one happened to be the soundtrack to the television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He wondered what her reaction would be to learning that vampires weren’t just fiction and smiled slightly. Damon finally settled on the Guns N Roses and slipped it into the player.
Guns N Roses. Virtue tilted her head slightly as she picked up the finished salad and reached into the stove for the garlic bread. Yes. She figured that would be more his style than most of her CD’s. She checked the spaghetti she’d started boiling on the stove and the sauce that had been almost done. It was ready.
“The food’s done.” She told Damon, setting it out on the table and discarding her apron. Damon took his time in getting up from the couch and walking into the kitchen. He sniffed at the food.
Damon really didn’t have much of a taste for human food, but to tell her that now, well, he wasn’t quite ready for that yet. Instead, he stepped in front of her as she reached to pull a chair away from the table. He met her eyes. Immediately Virtue paused. Damon smiled smugly. It worked every time. He moved closer. He was only inches away. Another minute and. . .
“We should eat. The food will get cold.” Virtue’s voice broke the spell. Damon tried to hide his surprise as he reached for the chair and pulled it out, gestured to the seat.
Virtue took the seat slowly, fighting not to let Damon notice how much he unnerved her, how much the simple act of looking into his eyes had her captivated. She’d been ready to do just about anything he wanted, and that’s why she’d spoken. Virtue was an independent woman. There was no way she was bending to a mans will, no matter how devastatingly good looking he was. If something was going to happen between them, it was going to be her decision as much as his. She made herself smile as Damon took the seat across from her at the table.
“You’re not eating.” Virtue commented a while later. Damon sat in his seat, and the fork was in his hand, but so far he’d not taken a single bite.
“Of course I am.” He told her but didn’t make any attempt to do so.
“You’re not.” He shook his head.
“Nice conversation.” He told her. Virtues shoulders rose with indignation.
“If you don’t like my cooking just say so.”
“All right.” Damon pushed his plate away, sat back in the seat. “I don’t like your cooking.”
“But you didn’t even try it.”
“Look,” he told her. “I’m not that big on Italian food.” She shook her head.
“But you are Italian.” She paused. “Aren’t you? I mean, the accent and everything. I just assumed. . .” Damon laughed shortly, stood up and walked around to stand next to her chair, reached down and removed her hand from her fork, pulled her up to face him, looked deep into her eyes.
“What do you think?” He ran his hand along the side of her neck. Virtue suddenly felt a bit unsteady on her feet. She wouldn’t let him know it though. She forced herself to speak.
“I think . . . that you . . . are a bit too forward.” She took a step away from him. Damon gave another laugh. Inside though, he was reeling again. She’d moved away from him? She was denying his advances? This, he thought, was unbelievable.
“You really live up to your name don’t you?” He asked.
“What do you mean?” She was blushing. He stepped back up, reached toward her, but didn’t touch her. His hand rested an inch away from her skin.
“You know what I mean.” Taking a deep breath, she reached for his hand, brought it down to touch her neck.
“No.” She told him. “I don’t think I do.” Smiling the same devastating smile he’d been giving all night, he pulled her to him.
“Mind if I test that assertion?” She put her hands on his chest. Her voice was full of determination when she responded.
“Go ahead.” She knew, even as his mouth came down on hers, that this wasn’t right. She was playing straight into his hands, giving him exactly what he wanted. Then his lips touched hers, and all rational thought flew from her mind. She couldn’t think, and all she could feel was the way his arms held her, the way his body was pressed so close to hers. She made no objections as he deepened the kiss, using his tongue to part her lips. In fact, she accepted his entrance eagerly. Her hands moved along the muscles of his chest, felt through his shirt. Virtue sighed.
Nothing had ever taken her over like this. Nothing had ever felt this good. When he lifted his head from hers, she made a sound of objection. A moment passed. Opening her eyes, Virtue looked at Damon. He was standing in front of her, his face above her, a smug, self-satisfied smile on his face. Quickly trying to pull herself together, she pushed him away. To her further annoyance, he didn’t make any objections and moved back willingly.
“Stop smiling.” She told him.
“Can’t.” He replied. “I’m in too good a mood.”
“You’re an arrogant, egotistical bastard.”
“Strong words.” He told her. “That kiss must have really gotten to you.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” Her heart was pounding. “It’s just been a long time.”
“A long time? It’s been what, about twenty-four hours?”
“How would you know?” He leaned back against the counter.
“I have my ways. Now let’s see. What was his name? William?” Virtue stared, her mouth coming open slightly. Damon continued. “You didn’t want him to kiss you though, did you? You thought he was too. . .” He paused. “Boring.” Damon’s mouth suddenly closed. He looked startled. Then he shook his head. “But you were cornered at the door, and of course, being the polite person that you are, you went along with it. Afterward you told him you were tired and had to get up early.” Damon looked at her. “You couldn’t come up with anything more original than that?” Virtue didn’t answer. “When you came inside you slammed the door and turned on Miles Davis.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Am I right?” Of course, he knew for a fact that he was.
“How do you. . .”
“I’m not like anyone that you’ve ever met.” He told her.
“Yeah.” That’s for sure, she thought. Damon smiled.
“Yes. It is.” He stepped closer, uncrossing his arms. “But before I tell you why that is, there’s just one more thing I’m curious to know.”
“What’s that?” She was the one who had her arms crossed now, only she wasn’t relaxed. She was defensive.
“Well, last night was the last time you were kissed by a man. I’m just wondering, when was the last time you slept with one?” She was blushing furiously. She wouldn’t meet his eyes, and Damon didn’t even have to search her mind to know why. “You never have.” He said, a note of disbelief in his voice. There was a long pause. Well, he thought, maybe he hadn’t been so far off when he told her she lived up to her name. “So,” he asked. “Aren’t you wondering how it is that I know all of this?” She looked at him.
“You’re not . . . um . . . you haven’t been. . .”
“Stalking you?” He asked before she could say what she was thinking. “No. I don’t have to. I can read your mind.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Give up? All right. I’m a vampire.”
“I thought you were being serious.” She told him, looking slightly angry.
“I am.” He told her, stepping even closer. “Do you want me to prove it?”
“Sure. Why not?” She held up her arms. She was really angry now. “Go ahead. Prove it.” He momentarily considered backing away, leaving her alone to think that he was just another jerk date of hers. Instead he grabbed her shoulders, pulled her up to him.
“I will.” He flashed his teeth quickly, just long enough to let her take in the sight of his long canines, before he struck at her neck, sinking his teeth into the soft flesh.
“Ouch!” It hurt. It really hurt. Virtue struggled to get away but Damons grip on her was strong, too strong. She finally gave up, gave into the pain. It was then that she heard a voice in her head.
“It only hurts because you’re fighting it.” It was Damons voice. She had no idea what was going on, but somehow her unconscious mind seemed to know what to do. It answered Damon.
“I’m not fighting. I stopped. It hurts because it hurts.”
“Not physically fighting.” Damons voice was instructional, as if he were talking to a child. “Mentally you’re fighting it.”
“Why shouldn’t I? You’re . . . You’re biting me!”
“Because you asked me to.” He made no apologies as his lips moved at her neck, as he drank her blood.
“I did not!”
“Yes. You did. You told me to prove that I was a vampire.”
“But I wasn’t serious. I didn’t think you really were a . . . a vampire.” Suddenly she stopped, realizing that it didn’t hurt anymore. She hadn’t noticed because she’d been so busy concentrating on fighting with Damon, but the sensation now was actually kind of pleasant.
“Yes. It is.” Slowly she let down her mental defenses. He could already read her mind. What was the use in trying to fight him? Damon, for all of his outer toughness, wasn’t quite sure how to deal with her when she wasn’t fighting. He wasn’t used to it. But there she was. It was as if she were allowing him to view her soul, from her favorite season to her childhood dreams. For once he was more interested in the person he was drinking from than in their blood.
“Damon?” She asked, and her voice reminded him of a Childs, not of the woman he’d argued with earlier.
“Am I going to die?” It was such a simple question, and Damon had a simple answer.
“No.” Quickly he pulled away from her, watched as her eyes opened and lifted to his. She just looked at him for a while, not sure what to say. Finally she did manage to speak.
“Why what?” He was trying to compose himself, not to let on that for the first time in his life he’d met a woman that unnerved him. He’d known Virtue less time and yet he felt closer to her than he ever had to either Katherine or Elena. It was disconcerting, especially for someone who spent as much time hiding as he did.
“Why didn’t you kill me?”
“Because I don’t.” He told her. “I don’t kill people.”
“Have you ever?” She asked. Damon nodded.
“Oh.” She looked toward the table, gave a funny little smile. “We never finished eating.” Then she fainted.
Reflections on LJ Smith