“You had the blue note sapphire eyes, to back up all those gazes
To pierce my guard and to take my soul off to faraway places
Told me I’ll never be alone, cos you’re right there
We took a gamble with this love, like sailing to the storm
With the waves rushing over to take us, we were battling against the tide
You were my beacon of salvation, I was your starlight”
Poets of the Fall – Cradled in Love
Chapter 15: Snow Games
His lips brushing her collarbone.
Heat rushing throughout her limbs.
The sensation of floating, being swept away on a wave of pleasure that claimed her every sense, until all she saw, all she felt was Damon, Damon, Damon…
As they pulled into the ski resort Damon had chosen for their Aspen stay, the events from the previous night replayed in her mind and though she couldn’t see herself, Bella knew she was blushing once again; or maybe it was the same blush from the night before and she’d simply never stopped. It was hard to tell.
Damon moved to her door, extending his hand out to her like the proper gentleman she could almost be fooled into believing he was. That is, until she spied the knowing smirk that had pretty much stained his lips throughout their entire drive. Even now as he hooked her arm beneath his, he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, chuckling under his breath when the heat in her cheeks flared up higher.
Stupid, knowing, cocky vampire, she thought with a fond grin. Really, her face was starting to hurt she was grinning so hard and for so long.
It was strange, but Bella didn’t think she’d ever been so happy and carefree in her entire life and she knew it wasn’t because she was finally ‘getting some’ as the saying went. For so long she’d put other people’s wants and desires before her own. Her mom, dad, Edward and the rest of the Cullens – they all went first and Bella came second, or sometimes even third or fourth.
Now, though, Bella finally knew what it meant to value herself and to be the person someone else put first. That seemed to be all Damon did – focus on her, making her stronger, more confident…
And happy. Above all things, Damon made her incandescently happy.
When she looked up at him as they progressed through the lobby, she knew the feeling was entirely mutual. He seemed to walk lighter than he once had and the hard, sarcastic glint in his gorgeous baby-blues was softened into something more playful and Bella’s good mood was further buoyed by the knowledge that not only was Damon good for her, but she, apparently, was good for him.
As she took a moment to actually think about it, they rather did compliment each other. While they were opposites in basic personality, they still had enough in common to relate and keep them together. Not to mention how their respective pasts were very similar as well, though they’d yet to delve into the specifics. When she really pondered it, she figured that they simply worked only because they would always put each other first no matter what. With Bella, Damon came first and vice versa. Finally, they each knew what it meant to be number one in someone else’s eyes… and heart.
Damon Salvatore and Bella Swan against the world, she thought with a grin and a small chuckle. It made her consider Damon’s offer of immortality far more seriously than she had before. An eternity with Damon at her side… was tempting.
“You’re thinking of me naked, aren’t you, sweet cheeks?” Damon leaned down and breathed into her ear as they approached the concierge desk.
She snorted. “You think that picturing you naked would make me laugh? That’s not very reassuring, Damon.”
He tapped her lightly on the nose. “Play nice now.”
“Why?” she grinned, tapping his nose in return. “You never do.”
He looked down at her and Bella rather figured they looked exactly like the newlywed couple they’d been posing as, all giggly and flirty touches. The cynic in her wanted to scoff at the scene they were making, but she was so overwhelmingly happy that all she could do was continue to grin like a loon.
She was slightly mollified by the fact that Damon’s smile was just as carefree for once.
“May I help you folks?”
Damon snapped out of it immediately and his smile seemed to arch higher up on one side just enough to take it from sappy to sarcastic. “Yes. My wife and I need a room – maybe three nights, that sound good, sweetness?”
Bella was mildly surprised that the question was genuine. “Um, perfect,” she said, relieved that they would spend little time in the cold and snowy town. If the schedule kept true, they’d leave the day after Christmas.
Damon brought the hand he held to his lips and kissed her knuckles. “You heard the lady. Two nights – make it your best suite. Chop, chop.”
“Damon,” she hissed reprovingly, but still smiled.
“Let me guess – newlyweds?” the clerk smiled indulgently, his kind elderly face making him look a bit like St. Nick.
Knowing that with lying less was more, Bella simply nodded shyly and burrowed her blushing face into Damon’s chest demurely.
“I can always tell,” the old man’s eyes crinkled in genuine warmth.
As they secured their room and made their way to the elevator, the lodge’s warm and rustic interior was lost on Bella as she pondered the fact that this one lie she found herself committing over and over again seemed a natural and easy offense. Never in her life had a lie ever come so easily to her.
When they finally made it to their room and Damon tipped out the bellhop who had brought their bags up, Bella was near sleeping on her feet.
“Go to bed, mina,” Damon said softly. “I’ll start the fire and join you.”
She shivered lightly at his low, dulcet tone but immediately grabbed his nightshirt out of her own bag where Damon had packed it earlier with that smirk of his. She changed in the bathroom making a vague mental note to try out the huge jacuzzi tub in the corner at some point and then she trudged heavy-footed back to the soft comfort of the king sized bed.
Her neck was stiff from the car ride and she was glad for the warmth the bed offered having already felt the chill of the snow settle into her bones. The bed dipped beside her and Damon’s bare chest pressed against her back. Bella sighed as the heat from the fire his body had soaked up seeped into her and she pressed back against him with a sleepy sigh.
Damon’s lips found her shoulder where the shirt had slipped down some and one of his hands went unerringly to the crick in her neck and started rubbing gently. There was an unfurling tendril of warmth deep in her abdomen that pushed back her sleepy haze a bit as she let out a tiny moan, but Damon’s voice whispered, “Sh-h, mina. Sleep now. We’ll have plenty of time to play tomorrow.”
Bella knew he meant more than just the promise he’d made of skiing and snowboarding.
Again, her mind went back to the other night. Damon’s body – his hands, fingers in particular – moving expertly against her. Sleep pulled her and Bella went willingly into Morpheus’s embrace, her dreams focused on the memory of their moment of passion… and the vague desire she had to return the favor to him, wanting to be the one that made him succumb to his passion. She couldn’t imagine a more glorious sight than Damon submitting.
Sunlight pierced her dreams, images of two bodies moving together fading as Bella’s eyes fluttered open and dream-Damon was replaced by real-Damon who was curled around her while running his hands underneath her shirt.
She squirmed. “That tickles, Damon,” she murmured, her voice husky with sleep.
His hands moved from her sides to her stomach, pulling her back against him further. “Have any interesting dreams, kitten?”
The knowing glint to his words had her blushing as she vividly recalled the events of her dreams. “Um… perhaps,” she said lightly. If one could call a naked Damon at her disposal, willing to fulfill her every want merely interesting.
“Hm,” he hummed. “Lets get dressed, eat and hit the slopes, my little snow bunny. We’ll see to making your dreams come true later tonight.”
She grumbled, but showered and dressed in a pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. As they walked through the resort lobby, Bella finally took note of the classic, but still inviting, luxury feel the place had. St. Regis Resort was no less impressive than the Venetian had been, but instead of the Italian Renaissance décor, the hotel was dressed up in chandeliers and warm neutral tones that reminded Bella of hot chocolate. When they exited, the trees lining the block were covered in snow and the street lamps, while turned off in the daylight hour, still gave the block a magical Narnia feel that had her smiling. It was simply beautiful.
“Breakfast, then snow clothes,” Damon said, steering them across the street and into a restaurant she didn’t catch the name of.
The food was good, the service flirty, but efficient. The server had seen fit to make some sort of reference to them being siblings as she dropped off their food, clearly fishing for a date with Damon, but in his customary fashion, he’d turned the situation around and had Bella giggling into her cup of orange juice.
“My sista’? Yeah, but she’s one helluva kissa’!”
She’d particularly liked how he’d played up his slight Southern accent.
The waitress frowned for a moment, uncomprehending.
“Aw hell, bub. You’re embarrassin’ me,” Bella groaned, winking at Damon.
His eyes lit up when she played along and she blushed as he gave her a thoroughly suggestive stare. “Come and give me some suga’ now, sis.”
By that point, the waitress stalked off with a barely concealed sniff of disgust. Damon simply grinned while reaching over to playfully tug a strand of Bella’s hair.
“I don’t know, Damon. I think what I have is too sweet for you,” she tried to copy his smirk, but it fell rather quickly as she laughed. “You really are something. You know you probably scarred that poor woman for life, right?”
“We scarred her, mina. Good on you for playing along, naughty girl.”
She snorted delicately. “Well she kind of deserved it. What is it about me that every time I’m out on a date with a vampire I’m always assumed to be the sister?”
Damon popped a piece of cantaloupe into his mouth. “Wishful thinking on their part. I’m mean, who wouldn’t want me?”
Rolling her eyes, she silently conceded the point. Still, while Damon was devilishly handsome and wickedly charming when he opted to be, it was always obvious when they were out together that they weren’t related and were more than just friends. She knew it wasn’t her imagination. There’d always been a barely concealed tension resonating between them, something only an idiot would mistake for a sibling bond. So really, these women were kind of asking for the proverbial smack down.
“Does it ever bother you?” she asked curiously.
“Does what ever bother me?”
“The women,” she said. “How they always hover around you,” she stopped and smiled as she continued, “Like flies around a mule.”
It was his turn to roll his eyes, but then he grinned. “They can’t help themselves,” he said lasciviously, but when she stared at him nonplussed, he sighed and admitted, “It’s a vampire thing.”
She smiled at his grudging tone. “Maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s a Damon thing,” she allowed.
He leaned forward, his foot slipping between hers underneath the table. “Why Isabella Swan – are you flirting with me?”
She laughed. “Why Damon Salvatore – are you playing footsie with me?”
He scoffed. “Damon Salvatore does not play footsie,” he sneered the last word as if it left a bad residue in his mouth.
Even so, his foot rubbed up against hers again and Bella belted out a laugh.
Damon grinned. “Come on, snow angel. Lets go shopping, then it’s playtime. I’m thinking snowboarding.”
She balked at the idea but should have known better. No sooner had Damon dragged her newly outfitted self from a department store did he catch them a cab that dutifully brought them to one of Aspen’s many ski stores at a nearby slope.
Once Damon determined they were sufficiently geared, they caught a ski lift that brought them to the top of the slope.
“I really don’t know about this,” she muttered, little white puffs escaping her mouth as she breathed.
Damon retied the scarf around her neck. “Haven’t you learned by now? Resistance is futile.”
“Oh, I know,” she groused. “Just wanted to register my complaint with the boss.”
“Consider it noted. Just be thankful I got us snowboards and not skis.”
Bella awkwardly carried her board, following him as he lead her to an area where children were going down small hills. “And why should that make me thankful?”
He snorted. “Can you imagine yourself on skis?”
She pictured it and shook her head as her imaginary self immediately fell on her ass. He was right – with skis there was too much multitasking. Snowboarding may not be much better for her coordination, but at least it involved only one board.
“Let’s practice,” he announced.
Bella looked around and was a little bit mortified when she saw that the little hill he’d brought her to was essentially the kiddie hill. There was a wooden sign that had ‘Bunny Slope’ written one it and there were several patient instructors and parents coaching the children.
“Really?” she asked, embarrassed to find she was the oldest novice there.
“Don’t be like that, princess. Would you rather I take you up the fucking Matterhorn your first time? Everyone’s got to start somewhere, now suck it up and hop on.”
Sighing, Bella did just that and spent the next couple hours attempting to stay standing while going down little mole hills.
“How’s your ass feeling?” Damon asked after she fell for the umpteenth time.
Bella rubbed said ass. “Oh it’s just swell,” she muttered sarcastically. She never thought she’d long for the days he’d forced her to witness his bar fights and forced her to conquer extreme rides at dizzying heights, but long for them she did.
Unaffected by her grumpiness, Damon smiled. “So this isn’t working.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” she snapped. She was feeling uncharacteristically snarky.
It only amused him more. “Don’t be that way, Watson. Come on. I’ve got an idea.”
Deciding that just about anything was better than getting her ass handed to her, Bella set her gear down where Damon indicated and followed him to the ‘big kid’ hill that sloped down the mountain.
“Um… what do you expect me to do, run down after you?” she asked as he latched his feet to the board.
“Nope,” he popped and before she could react, he swept her up into his arms bridal style and jumped into motion, speeding them down the hill.
“Oh crap!” she screamed, tightening her arms around his neck as the cold air burned her face and made her nose start to run. If he wasn’t a vampire, Bella would be worried she’d end up choking him to death she gripped him so hard.
She couldn’t hear his laugh but felt the tremor of it rumbling against her.
“You – You are such a dick! A little warning would be nice!” she gasped once they’d hit the bottom.
“Now where’s the fun in that? And when did you develop such a potty mouth, mina?”
She shot him a playful look. “I guess you bring out the worse in me, Damon.”
He shook his head and decided to ignore her. “Come on, that run was child’s play. Let’s hit up higher.”
“Higher?” she gulped but allowed him to pull her back to the lift.
Only, once they reached the highest point the lift would take them to, Damon decided it wasn’t high enough. Ignoring her feeble protests, he swung her over his right shoulder in a fireman’s hold and tucked his board under his other arm as he took off running at vampire speed.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” she mumbled, closing her eyes.
“You better not,” Damon snapped. “This is designer, you know.”
“Ugh. Just hurry up. Let’s get this over with.”
Already she was picturing a warm bubble bath and some hot chocolate… Damon may or may not be welcomed to join her depending on how the following events went down.
Reaching a point he deemed worthy, Damon set her and the board down.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked eagerly.
“No,” she groaned.
“Too bad, so sad – hop on,” he chirped, crouching slightly for her to climb onto his back.
Instantly, her mind flashed to the times Edward would run with her that way, but she resolutely shoved those thoughts down and locked them in a little box she resolved to keep sealed in the deepest corner of her heart. It wasn’t fair to constantly compare Damon to Edward.
Well, she amended as she thought of the new uncharitable light Edward had been cast in. It was unfair for Edward since he would never measure up.
Shaking off her fear, Bella hopped onto Damon’s back and his hands hooked under her knees as her own wrapped around his neck.
“You won’t drop me, right?” she asked nervously.
“Please,” he scoffed. “I won’t even dignify that with an answer.”
Well alright then, Bella thought.
Tightening his hold, Damon jumped into the air with a loud ‘whoop’ and once again they were soaring downhill, only this time faster and on their own private side of the mountain that Damon had found for them.
Despite her slight motion sickness and the biting cold, Bella couldn’t help but to laugh as adrenaline streamed through her blood. Oddly, it reminded her of the way she’d felt as he’d touched her last night – the surge of fear but excitement, the trembling of her limbs as her endorphins kicked in and released. Even now, she found herself screaming his name, although there was a decidedly different edge to it.
A flash of red caught her attention out of the corner of her eye and Bella’s racing heart came to a painful stop.
“Damon,” she breathed, pressing her lips to his ear. “Go faster.”
His hold tightened on her in an instant and his body leaned forward as gravity pulled them downhill.
Again, Bella glimpsed a stream of red between the snow covered evergreens.
“Damon,” she hissed fearfully.
“I know,” he said, barely audible over the wind in her ears. “I see it too.”
Fear clawed at her throat as she pushed down a scream. She doubted Damon would appreciate her bellowing in his ear.
“I’ve got you, mina. Do you trust me?” he asked, his back foot arcing out over the snow behind them and sending them away from the figure pacing alongside them in the distance.
There was no hesitation.
“Always and with my life,” she said, pressing her lips against his neck to reassure herself more than him.
“Good,” he said and he swerved abruptly, slowing them down without stopping as he tossed her off his back and into a nearby snow bank.
White clouded her vision as a seeping cold wetness pierced her clothing despite their advertised waterproofness. Coughing and sputtering, Bella pushed herself up and tried to catch her breath. She was completely unharmed but being tossed into a pile of snow had still stung.
“Damon?” she wheezed, looking around desperately for him.
But he was no where to be seen.
“Damon!” she called again, an edge of hysteria to it.
Her voice echoed eerily and Bella sat there, shivering from far more than just the cold as she thought about how Damon had tossed her to safety in order to confront the flash of red alone.
Red. Red hair.
(A/N): Dun, dun, dun!
The diner scene (brother-sister joke) is mildly inspired by a movie I once saw, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the title…