“Cos it seems to matter where I go, I will always let you know
That the place where I am is never far
You know, you’re not alone, don’t be alarmed
I’ll find you no matter where you are
So please remember that I’m gonna follow through all the way
Oh my love, if it’s all I can do, I’ll take the fall 4 U
Cos I will soar when I lay down with you and give my all 4 U”
Poets of the Fall – All the Way / 4 U
Chapter 9: Fall for you
The days that followed were blissfully uneventful – no calls from weird, annoying brothers. Their nights were filled with parties, drinking and dancing. Each night, or rather early morning, Bella fell exhausted into bed, too tired to change her clothes, and each afternoon she woke in Damon’s arms wearing his nightshirt. Invariably, it was always the companion piece to the pants he so thoughtfully donned.
Damon didn’t just take her to bars and clubs, though. He also let her do the real touristy bits that come with Las Vegas. They walked the shops in various hotels, saw a couple shows – Bella particularly enjoyed the Blue Man Group even though Damon got them third row seats and they were covered with paint by the end. Cirque De Sole was also interesting, but Damon kept making quips about flexibility and its usefulness in the bedroom which caused Bella to spend most of the night blushing as her imagination got the better of her.
Surprisingly, her favorite night was when he took her to the Stratosphere. It was on older hotel on the north end of the strip and looked like the Seattle Space Needle. They played at a couple tables, had a few drinks, and when Damon declared her ready he brought her to the top of the hotel where a series of extreme rides resided.
“Um, no,” she said definitively, backing away.
Damon smirked. “Oh yes, mina. Time to put on your big girl panties.”
And because Damon tended to always get what he wanted, they went on the rides.
Feeling generous, Damon let her choose the first ride and Bella led them over to one called Insanity, thinking she was indeed insane for going on extreme rides hundreds of feet in the air. This looked like one of the tamer attractions. It was a modified ride similar to the swings she used to go on at state fairs or carnivals, only the motion spun them out and over the edge of the roof.
Truly, she should have known she’d end up loving it.
The adrenaline rush, that feeling of freedom she’d been chasing for a while now, both collided within her and though her heart was thumping painfully the entire ride, Bella couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.
Afterwards, Bella grabbed Damon’s hand and led him to another ride, her cheeks flush with life and laughter as Damon rolled his eyes at her excitement while allowing her to tug him wherever she wanted.
They went on a large teeter-totter like ride next and Bella reflexively clutched Damon’s arm when their end would rise up in the air. After they’d reach the high point and start to descend, the downwards momentum had her lifting briefly out of her seat and shrieking in fear tinted excitement. Next, they went on a ride that shot them up into the air and then back down. Again, Bella kept a tight grip on Damon’s hand and her fear mellowed dramatically when she felt his fingers curl around hers in a firm squeeze.
She was like a kid again. Up in the air there was no room or time for worrying about life. Even Damon laughed more readily, his eyes looking brighter than Bella had ever seen. He was uncommonly indulgent with her, letting her pull him to whatever ride she desired, going on them over and over again with her. She knew these might as well be children’s rides for someone like him, but he didn’t seem to mind.
Bella minded, however, when he dragged her to the one attraction she’d purposefully been avoiding. The SkyJump attraction was essentially bungee jumping off the edge of the hotel and down to the strip, and Bella thought Damon was crazy if he thought she was going to trust her life to some rubber band.
“It’s not that different from the other rides, mina,” Damon argued.
“Not that different?” she asked with a wide-eyed look that clearly said she thought he was insane. “I’m not jumping off the edge of a building, Damon!”
“What do you mean ‘why not?’ – I choose life, Damon.”
He snorted. “Don’t be so dramatic. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Now she huffed at him. “You won’t be able to stop it, it’s not like we can jump together. What happens if the rope snaps and I plummet to my death, huh?”
“Simple. I go first and if by some weird happenstance the band does snap when you go, I’ll fly on up and catch you. You may still die when we land, but I’ll give you some of my blood, find a nice tasty human for you to feed on, and then you’ll join the undead club. It’s great, we have a theme song and everything,” he ended dryly, batting his lashes.
She argued futilely with him for fifteen more minutes, but in the end she wasn’t surprised when they were both lined up and getting ready for their turn to jump. The technician hooked Damon up and right before he leapt, he turned to her with a wink and puckered his lips to blow her a kiss, saying, “I’ll be waiting, kitten.”
And with a shout of triumph, he threw himself off the ledge.
God, her heart was racing for him in an odd mixture of concern and fondness. But she needn’t have worried. It wasn’t long before his safe landing was confirmed and they were hooking her up and running through last minute procedures.
She nodded absently, not hearing a word, but feeling comforted by the small movement. The tech seemed to understand her fear and kindly offered some hollow words of encouragement while letting her take her time before leaping.
Bella toed the ledge for a minute feeling half insane for attempting this. It was something she never would have done before, definitely something Edward would have disapproved of. At that last thought, Bella gritted her teeth and with a deep breath she pictured Damon telling her she could do this.
The memory hovered in her mind for a moment and the instant she started to believe him, she leapt.
Falling took seconds but it may as well have been an eternity. It was an oddly quiet affair, her shouts aside, with the wind rushing in her hair and ears. Her stomach felt like it was still on the roof, but part way through Bella managed to open her eyes and briefly take in the glimmering lights of Las Vegas in the evening twilight. It was breathtaking.
She became aware of two sides of herself warring in that moment – a wary, fearful side that berated the fact that she’d leapt, and a more adventurous side crowing in exultation, in victory.
Even when she’d landed the sensation of falling lingered within her. She was nearly in a state of shock that she’d jumped and landed safely that she didn’t even acknowledge the crew unhooking her and moving her over to finish disrobing the safety equipment.
I just jumped off a building and fell 800 some–odd feet to the ground, she told herself, but still didn’t quite believe it.
Nonetheless, she’d done it. Against the voices in her head telling her she couldn’t or that she shouldn’t, she’d leapt into the unknown. A slow smile curled her lips and a sense of accomplishment rushed through her as she thought about the past week spent with Damon.
Those first couple days aside, they’d quickly found an easy routine with each other. Although, that wasn’t to say their more recent nights were without trouble. If Bella was a danger magnet, then Damon was surely a trouble magnet. Granted, he was what usually caused the trouble, so maybe he wasn’t a magnet so much as an instigator.
He’d taken her off the strip the other night to a rundown bar for fun. She’d been scared at first, seeing some big burly biker men, but Damon had smirked and led her in without so much as a glance at any of the intimidating guys. But not much, if anything, scared Damon Salvatore – certainly not mere humans.
It had only mildly surprised her when Damon started a bar fight. A large, balding man had palmed her ass and she’d slapped him reflexively. The man had taken exception to that and went to backhand her. Bella opened her mouth to call out for Damon, but there was a sudden thud followed by the tinkling of glass shattering and hitting the ground. The man collapsed to the floor with a comical cross-eyed expression and Bella was finally able to see Damon who’d been standing behind him. He wore his usual smirk and there was an eagerness lit in his eyes that reminded her of a child on Christmas morning.
In his hand, he spun around the broken bottle of bourbon used to knock out her assailant. “Now the fun really starts, mina.”
She’d been confused for half a second until Damon was jumped from behind by two men, friends of the poor schmuck on the floor, Bella presumed. At first she’d been worried about him, especially when everyone else seemed to join the fight, but she was soon reminded that Damon was a vampire and had fought far stronger and worse in his years. Then she quickly became concerned for the humans, but Damon seemed content toying with them and not killing them. He was like a large cat batting at harmless mice he’d already caught. Sure, there was no doubt that he was inflicting some serious pain, but it was obvious from the start that he wasn’t using his full strength. It was a game to him.
A couple elbows and bottles came her way so going against the tiny voice that told her this was wrong and that she should stop them, Bella found a quiet corner and watched the brawl. The thudding sound of flesh against flesh made her wince, but she was surprised to find herself becoming bored, of all things. She’d changed much in Damon’s company already, she recognized.
Sighing, she said in her normal speaking tone, “Are you done yet, big boy?”
Nearly instantly Damon appeared at her side.
“Nothing like a bar fight to get your blood pumping, mina. Makes you feel alive.”
Despite the tinge of disapproval she felt, Bella couldn’t help but smile slightly as she rolled her eyes at him. “That’s rich coming from you, Mr. Vampire.”
He chuckled darkly before his hand suddenly shot out and caught part of a broken beer bottle that would’ve embedded itself in her eye otherwise.
Lifting a brow, he chuckled again. “I believe my work here is done. Let’s bail before the fuzz arrives.”
He’d taken her out the back, laughing the whole drive back to the casino.
There’d been several other similar instances, and though there was still a part of Bella stuck in her old mindset that disapproved of what they were doing, she had to admit that even though he was immortal, Damon tended to live each day as his last, which she found to be very admirable. It also didn’t hurt that she was having more fun than she’d ever had in her entire life.
It was with that thought that Bella finally caught sight of Damon waiting for her. He was leaning casually against a wall, one foot propped against it and his eyes focused entirely on her. His gaze was intense and there was a strong emotion simmering there that she couldn’t name.
Her smile, which had never fallen as she’d lost herself in thought, widened. Without thinking, Bella jogged over to him and threw herself at him. He caught her, one hand cupping her ass when she wrapped her legs around his waist, and the other diving into her hair.
“I did it,” she breathed into his ear, hugging him tightly as the adrenaline still rushed through her veins. “Did you see? I did it!”
Damon inhaled deeply, his nose buried in her hair. “I saw, mina. I knew you could.”
She pulled back to smile at him again, only to freeze at his expression. His eyes were heavy lidded and looked darker than their usual shade of ice blue. There was small crease on his forehead and without thinking, Bella reached out and smoothed it softly with her fingertips.
In response, Damon’s hold on her tightened. She was hyper aware of each of his fingers as they gripped her, pulling her impossibly closer to him.
Her lips felt dry and when she opened them to inhale she took in Damon’s scent – the smell of his leather jacket, the musky sandalwood of his bath products, and a lingering spice that she couldn’t name. She tried to say something, but stalled, unsure of what she wanted to say.
Suddenly, Bella felt drunk by his mere proximity. Her arms were heavy around him and when her eyes met his she gasped at the intensity there.
Before she knew it, Damon had surged forward, his lips claiming hers. Instinct took over and her legs tightened around him, one hand fisting his jacket as the other became lost in his hair. His hand that had been holding her up started moving, caressing her as much as possessing her as he pulled her into him. The faint taste of bourbon made her lips tingle and when his tongue met hers she was drunk in a way she’d never been before.
There was nothing polite about their kiss. It was fierce and it left no doubt that Damon knew what he was doing. Slowly, voices from others walking the strip began to penetrate their little bubble and the awareness that Damon was essentially fucking her mouth with his tongue while anyone could see made her movements go from instinctual to uncertain, self-conscious.
Damon read her perfectly. Instantly, he became softer but no less intense. Possessiveness underlaid his every touch even as he slowed them down, soothing where he was once gripping. He became gentle with her in a way that was shockingly more open than the fierce, dominate way he’d been kissing her. With ease, he slowed them down until he pulled away completely. He had a pensive air about him as he looked down at her with his head quirked to the side.
In true Bella form, she said the first thing that came to mind. “Um… hi.”
Damon’s lips twitched. “Hello.”
Suddenly she was very aware of the fact that she was still wrapped around Damon like she was a baby koala. She shifted against him awkwardly.
Leering at her, Damon smirked and with one last squeeze to her ass, he lowered her to her feet, making sure her body slid along every inch of his.
Her heart was worse than a jackhammer. She’d never been kissed like that before – hell, she’s never kissed someone like that before. As fiery as it was, there was a sense of vulnerability around both of them now. A horrible awkwardness that Bella had slowly shed around him after their nights of laughter and dancing.
Damon had brought her out of her shell over the past week, with a little help from his friends Johnny Walker and Jack Daniels. He’d never shied away from her and seemed to always be touching her – snuggling her in the mornings, holding her tight against him as they danced, and even twirling strands of her hair when they didn’t feel the need to talk and sat in easy silence.
Abruptly, she realized that they were acting very much like the newlywed couple Damon had told the concierge they were. In fact, for someone who she’d identified as a man-whore and a shameless flirt right off the bat, Damon had been surprisingly underwhelmed by the cocktail waitresses constantly vying for his attention. She’d thought those girls to be silly before and their simpering funny, but now when she thought of them with Damon, there was an odd tightening in her chest.
“Hey,” Damon spoke softly, drawing her out of her thoughts.
She bit her lip and looked up at him, unknowingly leaning further into him until his arms twisted around her, forcing her into his chest.
“Don’t over-think it, mina, you might pop a blood vessel of something.”
Despite her anxiety, she smiled. She’d read into the moment later and for now she’d take solace in the fact that she new Damon pretty well now and he wouldn’t let her get too awkward. It wasn’t a pity kiss or anything else her mind will try to conjure up later – Damon kissed her because he wanted to, simple as that.
And she’d returned his kiss because she wanted to. There was nothing wrong with that. In fact, there was everything right with it. It was the sexiest moment of her life and where Edward’s chaste kisses had once left her desperate for more, Damon’s passionate display had her hungry for more knowing that he’d never hold back.
Taking a deep breath, Bella gave him a soft smile. “Drinks?” she offered, completely content with underplaying the whole event.
He grinned. “I’ve taught you well, grasshopper.”
Slinging his arm around her shoulder, they walked back down the strip towards Caesar’s Palace, Damon humoring Bella’s excited retelling of her famous bungee jump.
As Damon steered them into the familiar setting of a club they’d frequented before and ordered them some drinks, Bella suddenly recalled his words of comfort before the jump.
“Damon?” she asked thoughtfully once the waitress set their drinks down and left their table.
“Hm-m?” he sounded distracted as he scanned the club, making notes about people and exits.
“What did you mean before when you were convincing me to jump – about the flying up to catch me?”
A slow, wicked smile curled his lips as he turned his attention to her. “What did you think I meant?”
Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not sure – that’s why I’m asking,” she drew out pointedly.
His grin widened. “I meant exactly what I said, mina.”
“But – you can’t fly… can you?”
He said nothing but continued to grin.
“No. No way. You’re lying.”
The grin widened.
“I don’t believe you,” she insisted. “I’m not that gullible, Damon. I know you can’t fly – there’s no way.”
“Well,” he drawled, looking mighty pleased with himself as he graciously allowed, “I can’t fly as you see me now.”
She frowned at him, taking a swig of her drink and feeling comforted by the burn of alcohol. “And just what exactly is that supposed to mean?”
“It means,” he rolled his eyes at her. “That I can’t fly in this form, but I can in my other.”
Shaking her head, Bella shot him a glare. “It’s like pulling teeth with you, isn’t it? Well Mr. Riddler, how’s about you spell it out and stop dancing around the answer, please and thank you.”
Damon laughed. “You’re feeling spunky tonight, aren’t you?” He scooted closer to her in the booth, his arms sliding around her shoulder as he leaned down to whisper in her ear, “I like it when you’re feisty, mina. Makes for all sorts of fun possibilities.”
His lips found her earlobe and gave her a playful nibble. A shudder danced down her spine and subconsciously she shifted closer to him, the right side of her body ending up flushed with his.
“Damon?” she breathed, unsure what she was asking him for.
He pulled back and stared down at her. His ever-present smirk was there, but softer than usual, and his brilliant blue eyes were more open than she’d ever seen.
Her tongue was heavy in her mouth and she didn’t know what to say.
Taking pity on her, Damon announced, “I can turn into a crow,” as casually as if he was commenting on the weather.
His smile turned indulgent. “For some of my kind, those with great power and control, it is possible to adapt the form of a familiar.”
He snorted. “Now I know you haven’t drunk that much yet, mina, unless it’s just me you’re drunk on.”
The latter was probably true, but she refused to admit it. “You can turn into a crow,” she said slowly.
“And manipulate the weather,” he stated nonchalantly. “Among other things.”
“Um…” Bella looked to her drink, picking it up and quickly slamming it back. “I need another drink.”
Damon laughed, signaling for a nearby waitress. “Oh kitten, you have no idea what you’ve got yourself involved in, do you?”
Ho sounded vaguely condescending, but Bella resolved not to raise to the bait until she had another drink.
What followed for most of the evening was the most enlightening conversation about vampires, Cold Ones, witches, and other supernatural creatures. Bella was thirsty for more information, and Damon appeared very willing to give her answers.
As they talked, they drank and Damon made snippy quips about why his kind of vampire was the best – naturally because of him – and enlightened Bella on a whole new world. There were times she couldn’t help but wonder how much of this Edward had known and had knowingly kept from her. She felt equally indignant and ignorant.
But Damon was very forthcoming. Their conversation was largely informative and not too personal. He gave her facts in his usual colorful commentary, but also impressed upon her a certain awareness of just how small humans were in the world.
“Good thing you got yourself a vampire bodyguard,” he winked when she expressed how dangerous it all sounded.
When Damon grew bored of their school session, as he called it, he ordered them two rounds of shots and announced that it would probably be their last night in Vegas since they’d lingered too long and didn’t want to give Victoria a chance to catch up so soon.
“I want to draw this game out with the bitch,” he smirked and it looked harder than what she’d seen from him recently. “It’s always fun to play with them before the kill.”
Bella remembered how he’d torn off Laurent’s arm and had waved at the dying vampire with it. She could easily see him playing with Victoria.
Those thoughts were quickly dispelled as they lost themselves in a fog of alcohol, dancing, and even more alcohol. It would be their night to end all nights in their week long Vegas party. It ended in a blur and Bella could barely tell up from down by the end of things, much less remember anything past her fourth shot.
When Damon carried her to the room, Bella smiled as she felt him undressing her, taking care of her when she couldn’t do it herself. There was nothing but a haze of images from their night and when she sunk even deeper into a blissful sleep, she dreamt of a room with golden wallpaper and a giant chandelier, but the image swirled away until all she saw was Damon smiling the most genuine smile she’d ever seen on him as he leaned down to kiss her, his lips feather light against hers.
(A/N): A little mysterious at the end there, no? Let me know your thoughts! Thanks again for your patience and reviews – if you can, please take the time to let me know what you thought of their big kiss! Oh, and some of you may have skipped the long a/n at the top, so please read it now if you still have questions on my updating schedule 🙂