Chapter 08: Twenty Questions

He woke up from the smell of fresh coffee and the hushed voices of Diggle and Felicity. It was time he woke up anyway, he’d already spent too many hours out cold. Oliver had to admit though, he had needed the rest.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Diggle greeted him with a smile and handed him a styrofoam cup of coffee. “Slept well?”

Oliver just looked at his friend as he gratefully took the coffee and took a sip. Oh, this was good coffee, very good coffee indeed, he thought as he tried to rub the sleep from his eyes. He sat down at the table, taking another sip. “What did you dig up, Felicity?”

“Well, first of all, Roy came back and told me all about how Miss Swan wants to get into your pants,” Felicity said with a smile. The remark had him choking on his coffee as he looked up at her, gasping for air. “He said that she said that with all that food, you’d better swing by tonight to cook it for her.”

“Yeah, not going to happen,” Oliver said as he pointed to his bow. He was going to hunt tonight. Whoever was responsible for the freak storms over the last few days at the mansion, was going to pay for it. He wasn’t going to kill the bastard, but would turn him over to Detective Lance who would likely share similar feelings for someone who caused his family so much grief. “I’m listening,” he prompted Felicity, who, in turn, started to tell Oliver all about the Cullen family and it made his blood boil. He agreed that they were still posing a threat to Bella, but he was more curious about the freakish storms and even that Felicity had figured out. “Hold on… a metahuman?” The term wasn’t alien to him, as soon as Felicity had received that email from Barry about it and she had filled everyone in on what happened.

“Yeah, caused by the same freak storm that hit Barry and -”

“Is it detectable in DNA?” he asked curiously, his thoughts turning to Bella and the scene on the street with the would be muggers.

“Well, according to the research of Doctor Wells, the metahumans are born with a dormant metagene. In very rare cases, the gene is active without any trigger and there are a few people that live with extraordinary gifts. Such as… I don’t know, the ability to grow flowers on barren land? Self healing?”

“What about a personal shield to protect yourself from bullets?” Oliver offered, which was met with two pairs of raised eyebrows.

“In theory… Oh! No way!” Felicity exclaimed, quickly catching on.

“Maybe,” Oliver pointed out. “She hasn’t spoken with me about it. Well, she has but you know.” He once again pointed at his bow behind him. “Maybe I could have her talk to him about it to find out what she knows. I was planning on hunting anyway.”

“Lightning could kill you, Oliver. At least take me or Roy with you,” Diggle said.

“No, I need to know how this person manipulates the weather first, how accurate he is. I don’t want him to kill either one of you.” He got to his feet and walked to his array of arrows. He had plenty of trick arrows, one with flares on them as soon as they hit something solid. “For when he plunges her house in darkness again,” he said, stuffing them into his quiver along with normal arrows.

“Yeah, but if you’re going to cook at her place…”

“I’ll figure something out. I think that she already suspects anyway and isn’t mentioning it. It’s her job to have secrets and to guard them.”

“You’re not worried? Oliver, we don’t know if she can be trusted,” Diggle said cautiously as he leaned against Felicity’s desk. “This woman isn’t even back into your life for a week after not even remembering her as a kid and you’re already thinking about revealing yourself?”

“No, but if she already suspects, then there’s nothing I can do about it, can’t I?” Oliver said, still with his back turned to his friends as he checked the rest of his arrows and the rest of the equipment on his suit. “I want you to track down her father and keep an eye on him from a distance, he’s out fishing somewhere. If this Peter guy is after Bella, he might be after her father as well.”

“Somewhere narrows it down… a lot…” Felicity said softly as she fired up her keyboard.

He stuffed some perimeter alert arrows into his quiver as well and started to suit up, the rest of his stuff, including his clothes, he put into a duffel bag. “I’m going to do one sweep now, get changed, take my duffel bag with me, and do another one if I get the chance. If I need anything, I will call.”

“I still think this is a bad idea,” Diggle said, shaking his head. Childhood friend or not, if Bella knew, it was one more person who was going to be in so much potential danger, one more person to make sure that they were safe.

“What’s your plan then?”

“As I said, have me and Roy handle the outside.”

“No, not until I know what we’re up against.” Oliver said as he zipped up his vest.

“Oliver…”

“It’s not something we can discuss, Diggle. I’d rather have something that hurts me, than hurt you.” He said aggravated and picked up his things. “Let me know if you find out anything else.” And with that, he left the basement and headed to his car. He knew a spot on his old property where the car would be well hidden from Bella’s view and it was close to a good vantage point.

~o.O.o~

After Chuck had left, Bella spent most of the afternoon making calls for work, making sure things were going well with the set up in the new city. She had taken home paperwork to review so she had set herself up in the kitchen where the light from the afternoon sun was coming in through the windows was the strongest and smiled to herself as she looked out the window briefly. She hoped that night would be a quiet one for once.

Having grabbed an apple at some point from the delivery Oliver had sent with his repairman, Bella had gotten herself lost in her reports, failing to take notice initially of the darkening skies around the property. Her concentration broke only when her cell phone rang with her friend’s ringtone, making her groan in protest.

“Tell your father the answer is still no,” she answered the phone as she began to put her work away for the night, knowing that traditionally these calls rarely were short.

The laugh on the other end of the line was obvious to her. “I’ll be sure to pass the message along if I speak to him, but you know that’ll be like never. How’s it going?” Rosalie Cullen replied.

“Meh. Charlie and I moved back to Starling City a couple weeks ago. I’ll tell you this. It’s a hell of a lot different than I remember as a kid. Certainly nothing like Forks or Seattle. And only one decent nightclub that unfortunately I have an investment in so I have to be somewhat responsible,” she sighed dramatically.

I keep telling you, it’s okay to let go every now and then. So what if you own part of a nightclub?”

Bella was silent for a minute as Oliver came to mind and eyed her apple. It may had been her mistake by giving her friend too long of a silent response. “The media is all over this one Rosalie. My investment is helping out a popular name here who is also a friend of my cousin so you know how that goes.”

And? I don’t see any problem. Is he cute?”

“He’s my cousin’s friend Rose. And her ex-boyfriend,” Bella replied before realizing her words and cringed. “Rose…don’t…”

Rose, don’t… what? Bella, you have to start opening yourself up to new possibilities. It’s no good for a woman to be alone for a long time, I mean… needs and all that. I mean… yeah. Needs. And if he’s hot… why not go for it? Don’t be afraid to get hurt, they should be afraid of you, remember?”

She let out a frustrated sigh as she walked over to the window, frowning in disappointment and nervousness at the weather looming in the sky. “It’s not only that. His – reputation – isn’t that much better than Edward’s growing up. Sure he doesn’t seem anything like what I’ve heard or read about in the papers over the years, nor quite experienced in personal dealings with him so far. And despite my cousin’s blatant support of him now considering the way he fucked her over when he disappeared seven years ago, I don’t know if I can. He’s…” she hesitated as she thought about the night before and his story he shared with her. “He’s troubled, and while I understand and can very much relate, there is something about him that I am having trouble trusting. I don’t know what it is and I just can’t get past it right now.”

Then get to know him better, come on, you’ve had interrogation techniques in school. If he’s really something special, why not try? I can clearly hear that you care about him even though you don’t fully trust him yet.”

Bella shook her head even though she knew her friend couldn’t see her. The weather was growing worse and she really didn’t want to call Oliver while her father was away and bother him again. She didn’t want Laurel to deal with her issues either. “Is there any chance you might be able to come here for awhile?” she asked timidly.

Uhm… sure, I think I can get a few days extra off work next week? I don’t know because I just had to make that family trip last month remember?”

“Yeah, I know. Anything you can do. Thanks Rose. I appreciate it. A lot,” she said as her voice shook when lightning flashed some distance from the house. “I um, I been having some problems here and I really hate to bother you.”

What kind of problems, Bells?”

She was slow to reply again because this time, her eyes had caught a figure moving in the distance on her property in the shadows. If a small flash of lightning hadn’t just struck when it did, she doubted she would have seen him, but she knew it was there now making her move quickly through the house to go find her gun and begin checking to make sure the doors were locked. “Just some of my paranoia getting the better of me,” she said quickly, not wanting to really start on her issues with storms with another coming. “Look. I should probably call and check on Charlie since he’s out fishing all week. I want to make sure he’s okay because the weather has been like shit here.”

It was quiet for a moment and then Rosalie sighed. “If it’s really that bad, I suppose I could call in sick tomorrow and come over… or you know, you could call that mysterious friend of your cousin to get your minds off of things.”

“I don’t know. I think I may just call Laurel. I’ll get back to you Rose. I do look forward to your visit though. I think you’ll like Verdant. The atmosphere is nice but I’m working on getting the staff retrained on proper handling of the female clients. I’ll call you later,” Bella said in a rush as she found her handgun and checked the chamber before heading back into the kitchen area and turning the lights off as she peered out the window again, nervous and shaking as lightning continued to flash but the thunder still had yet to strike.

Oliver knew he was too close to the house but he couldn’t find Peter. So far, nobody has gotten hurt and maybe he was just playing with Bella’s head, honing in on her fears, but that didn’t mean that the dude had to be on the property. Bullying wasn’t very nice. He noticed that the light in the kitchen turned off and saw some movement behind the curtain. He was well aware of how paralyzing her fear was from the night before and he was sure that she would be growing more nervous with each passing flash.

He shot an arrow into the door so she’d know that at least the Arrow was out there for her and hoped that she had accepted that he was one of the good guys before he ran further. The lightning seemed to follow him now and he really did not want to know if these bolts could kill. He didn’t stop running for the sake of not getting hit and then remembered that there was an opening to the woods around the house. Making a sharp turn, he leapt over some old wood and remodeling debris and disappeared into the forest. He tapped his ear piece. “Felicity, I can’t find him.”

Neither can I.”

“How is that possible?”

I don’t know, Oliver! You should have taken Diggle and Roy with you.”

Oliver didn’t say anything and ran towards his car. He wasn’t giving up, but he didn’t want Bella to be alone either as no one should have to suffer alone with that level of petrified terror. He fired one of his flare arrows into the direction he hadn’t been in and before it landed, it got struck down by lightning. Torn between going to Bella or going after Peter, he went into his car and quickly changed before driving his car to the rest of the way to the house.

He got out of the car and grabbed his duffel bag, his bow and arrows safely tucked underneath his clean change of other clothes that were underneath some groceries and a bottle or two of wine. He knew it wouldn’t fool Bella for long, but he could at least try. He made sure his car was locked and nearly sprinted to the front door, ringing the bell.

~o.O.o~

Right after Bella hung up the phone with Rosalie, she continued to watch out the window with her gun in hand. When she nudged the curtain to the kitchen window aside to try to get a better view of the woods along the back of the house, something shot out from the treeline and stuck into the door.

Glancing back in the direction she saw the object come from, she was unable to see anyone, or anything whenever the storm flashed, lighting the grounds. Making her way over to the door, she hesitantly unlocked the deadbolt as her hand shook and pulled it open to find an arrow pinned into the wood. She knew she really couldn’t dwell on how the man knew that she was having problems as she reached up to pull the arrow from the door and held it tightly as she slammed the door back closed, locking it again.

Holding the arrow in her hand, she studied it for a moment as she considered her single encounter with him, but was interrupted when the doorbell rang. Her thoughts were lost in a continuous fog between the Arrow and then the storm that Oliver’s sudden appearance for the second night in a row had her staring at him in silence when she opened the door.

“Roy said you needed a cook,” he said with a wide grin on his face before taking notice of her gun and his present. “What is it with you and weapons… no wait, what is it with you and greeting me with a weapon in your hand?”

Bella looked down, holding up the items. “There was someone on the grounds, but I’m not so sure I can say he was really a threat,” she answered, but it sounded more like a question as she showed him the arrow. “Mysterious visitor for exhibit A. Freak storm in psychotic city, exhibit B,” she said with her hand gun in the other hand.

“Just… don’t point them at me, will you.” He touched the arrow with his finger and pushed it away. “May I come inside, at least?”

Her eyes tightened slightly at his actions, the movement nagging at her subconscious. “Sure. Um, Chuck did know that I was joking, right? You really didn’t have to come…” she said, trying to sound confident but her eyes continued to meet the windows with each lightning flash.

Oliver stepped inside and closed the door behind him. “I did not know that but with the storm going on… I just couldn’t leave you all by yourself.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle of wine. “In case we finished the other bottle last night.”

Bella reached up to scratch the back of her head as Rosalie’s words bounced around in her thoughts. “No, we didn’t. I really don’t think getting me drunk is going to help dealing with the storm though. Believe me – I’ve tried that already. Actually Charlie suggested that a couple times believe it or not.”

“Then I’m here to be a distraction and get you out of your head,” he said gently as he took her arm and went into the kitchen. She was still holding the arrow and the gun, assuming as some sort of safety blanket. He just hoped she didn’t plan on shooting him. “So what did Roy actually buy? Food that can be cooked?”

“I’ve only really picked at the fruit he got since he left. I got lost in some paperwork from the office for awhile. He said something about meat. You can look. He put everything away before he fixed the fuse box,” she said, waving her hand towards the refrigerator as she set the gun down on counter but continued to fiddle with the arrow in her fingers idly.

He set his bag on the floor and walked to the fridge. “Well, I could definitely cook with this – not that I’m a great cook but you asked.” He took some chicken out of the fridge and the bell peppers and onions. He looked around for pots and pans – found them quickly and filled one with water before setting it on the stove to start the cooking process. He had seen some pasta earlier that morning and he figured he could make something with that.

He used the chopping board he used that morning and got a sharp knife out before he started to cut the onion and peppers with almost a chef-like ability. It wasn’t his fault that he had gotten used to handling knives on the island. “The extra security cameras arrived at Verdant today. When I left, I saw that Roy was rigging them up.”

“That’s good. I was considering going in there tonight for awhile,” she commented, not saying that she was afraid of being unable to sleep again. She wasn’t sure how long his visit was for tonight, but she wasn’t about to beg him to stay just for a cuddle despite Rosalie’s voice in her head trying to push her to go for more. Bella eyed his bag curiously before looking back at him, wondering if he had other intentions that she might had missed.

He saw her looking at his bag and grinned. “Yes, I’m staying the night, then at least one of us gets a good night’s sleep,” he turned around to put some oil in the sauce pan and let it sizzle away while he looked for spices so he could spice the chicken that he had just cut into smaller pieces. “If you agree to that, of course.”

“I don’t know. I’m pretty sure I kept you awake and couldn’t do that to you again,” she replied as she moved to lean against the counter next to him. “You need to sleep too.”

“I’m good,” he smiled at her. “I haven’t been able to sleep for longer than a handful of hours for a long time anyway.” He tossed the chicken into the sauce pan and put the pasta in the now boiling water before adding some salt.

Frowning, Bella watched him for a few minutes as he cooked as she evaluated the situation, but the storm was growing and the lightning expanded to included the thunder, forcing her to close her eyes with a shudder as it began with low rumbles. Her hands tightened around the arrow she continued to hold before she left him to create a buffer zone by sitting on the other side of the cooking island. “I have no problem with you staying. If Charlie finds out, he might though, but he’s the one that left without checking the forecast so he can’t bitch at me when he comes back. Have you checked the news? I didn’t even bother to turn the television on today to see how long this weather is supposed to last.”

Oliver thought for a moment. “A day or two,” he replied eventually, spooning the chicken around before adding the vegetables. “It hasn’t been this bad for a very long time. They say it has something to do with the atmospheric changes due to the particle accelerator’s explosion in Central City almost a year ago.”

“That thing that your mother was involved with? Right?” Bella asked, unsure if she remembered what she read right.

“No,” he grimaced and inhaled sharply. “My mother was part of a group that created some sort of earthquake machine to level the city and start anew. The Arrow had some part in stopping that. If it wasn’t for him and many others, it would have been worse.”

“Ah. Sorry. There has been so much news I’ve read before coming back that it’s really crazy all the things that has happened,” she apologized.

“Yeah, it’s almost as if you’re living right inside a comic book, isn’t it?” Oliver smiled as he opened the wine to let it breathe, but also to splash a bit of it into the chicken and vegetable mix as a base for the sauce.

Rolling her eyes, Bella nodded. “That’s an understatement to say the least,” she muttered as she turned her head away to eye the storm skeptically.

“It would help you if you didn’t look out of the window so often. I mean, you’ll still see the flashes of light and hear the rumbling when not looking at it. As I said yesterday, it can’t hurt you when you’re inside.”

She scowled at him, seriously debating whether it was worth to sacrifice the loaf of bread on the counter to throw it at him. “Maybe. Just sucks because I was looking forward to going out tonight too,” she admitted as she eyed him. “My friend actually insisted that I should and I figured, why not? I’m sure that if she comes to town, she’ll want to be at the club almost every night so I’ll need to make sure that it’s worthy of her.”

“What? We’re not going to paint the club pink or add fluffy pillows and satin sashes,” he mused as he added some cream to make the sauce a bit more creamy. “And you can go out if you want, the only thing that’s stopping you is your fear.” He then pointed at the arrow. “Maybe you’ll have a run in with him again.”

“No, no changing the club or anything. Just making sure it’s safe. Um…she had an incident back in high school and since we’ve been friends, we’ve kind of protected one another so I’d do everything I can to make sure that nothing happens to her,” Bella explained before narrowing her eyes and held the arrow up and pointed it at him with a smirk. “Maybe I just will. Why? Jealous?”

“Nah,” he laughed as he drained the pasta and tossed it in the sauce pan to mix with the other ingredients. “He’s not a real person.”

Bella snorted as she stared at his back. “Certainly seemed real enough to me. Wonder what his story is…” she mused, resting her chin in her hand as she continued to watch him, and appreciating the view.

He opened the cupboard to get two wine glasses out and poured the wine before setting it on the counter, catching her watching him. “What are you looking at?” He smirked as he turned around to get a few plates out to start putting food on them.

“Trying to figure you out too,” she answered honestly. “Rich playboy. Dead playboy. Back from the dead rich boy with haunted eyes. I get Laurel forgave you for what you did with Sara, but I just don’t understand. For me to forgive something like that as she did, you must have had one hell of a story.”

“It’s easy, really,” Oliver said as he set the plate down in front of her and got the cutlery. “No, it’s not easy, it really wasn’t easy to earn her forgiveness… I think it had something to do with her seeing that I was, still am, truly sorry about what happened and my actions after I got off that island. I was a douche. I still use that front because people don’t like it when people change…” he then thought for a moment. “No, I use it to keep people at a distance, I suppose…”

She met his eyes and didn’t know how to respond because she was much the same way. Nodding her understanding, Bella waited for him to join her before speaking again. “You haven’t seemed as cold as you did in the office the other night,” she murmured.

“And I explained that to you; I am very protective over my assets, especially after what happened last year. That’s why I was an ass. And that’s why I apologized. I’m still sorry,” he said as he took a bite of his food. It wasn’t that bad, it could have been worse. Then a smile appeared on his face. “Want to play a game?” He took another bite.

“A game?” she questioned as she ate, eying him warily, wondering where he was going with this idea.

“Yep. I mean, what better way to get to know each other by playing twenty questions? You can ask me ten questions I have to answer truthfully and I can do the same to you.”

Bella raised an eyebrow as she sat back and looked at him. His idea of a game could go wrong in so many ways, because she would expect the truth and in turn she would be expected to offer the same but she couldn’t. She didn’t know if anyone else existed like her and if they did, what were thought of them if the knowledge was public. “I don’t know…”

“What’s ever being said in this house, stays in this house.” Oliver said with a nod, realizing this could go bad easily, but he needed to know if she suspected anything – she probably did. But unlike Diggle and Felicity, for some reason, he did trust her enough to know the truth. “Seeing as we both have things we don’t want anyone else to know. Anything goes.”

Biting her lip as she toyed with her fork while she debated the pros and cons of the suggestion, she quickly thought of all the things she might want to ask to see if it would be worth the risk of what he’d want to know about her. The worst being about the mystery gunshot wound her dress suffered two nights before. She could always press on his experience from the island, but something told her that wasn’t enough as her eyes flickered back over at him frequently. He knew about her fear of storms and came voluntarily to stay with her when another developed, but that didn’t explain the sudden visit from the Arrow just before his arrival which had her narrowing her eyes on him. “Okay,” she said slowly. “But you start.”

Oliver smiled at her. “I’ll start with something easy then,” he said with a nod and thought for a second. “If you could change one thing about your childhood, what would it be?”

She let out a breath she hadn’t thought she was holding as she considered her answer. It wasn’t a difficult one because she really thought about it often growing up. “I probably would have fought much harder against Charlie making me move away from Starling City when we were younger.”

“Really?” Oliver smiled at her. “I honestly don’t remember much of your time here or how it impacted us as friends. I do remember my mother telling me a few years later that I’d grown insufferable.”

“I remember being ridiculously depressed after moving. I had a hard time making friends in Forks and had only maybe two?” she said, trying to think about it, but whenever she thought about that town, all she could associate with it was Edward and her disgust.

“Did Charlie ever tell you why you moved? I mean, I could see the upside of moving away from Starling City, but Forks? Really?”

Bella shook her head, exasperated. “No. I asked several times since and why we never came back to visit as Uncle Quentin and everyone always came to us but he never said why. My mother died not long before so I had always thought it was because he didn’t want to deal with the memories. Who knows? I mean, I know you don’t remember me, and of course it was a long time ago. You’ve also been through a lot. I do remember some things though. Well more like feelings? I don’t know. I’m not making any sense.”

“I know you’re not making sense but makes sense to me, I suppose?” Oliver replied with a slow nod. He had met old friends before but he had been standoffish towards them and no matter how hard he tried with Bella, it just didn’t seem to work. And it was an odd sensation, but also a good thing? He didn’t quite know why. “It’s like… I don’t know… I can’t even properly explain it without sounding creepy.”

“You’d make creepy look good though,” she smiled at him sweetly as she leaned her head on her hand. “My turn. Hmm…What is your biggest fear Oliver Queen?”

That was a good question and he was stumped. “Look at you being all cute,” he seemed delighted as he smiled at her. She did look adorable, looking at him like that, her smile being made by lips he’d like to kiss…Blinking at the sudden thought, he couldn’t believe he considered it. What was she turning me into? “Were you born that way or did you perfect that look over time?”

“I am what God made me,” she replied simply, that just held more weight in the words than they really should.

“Hmm… I suppose,” he took a sip of his wine, realizing that she wasn’t going to allow him any more to dodge the question. At all. “Even though I don’t really care about what happens to me personally, I am afraid that something might happen to me. Because I would have to leave people behind who care about me, again, and have their hearts broken, again.” He spoke slowly as if he was thinking about his words. “I also fear that something might happen to the people I care about if something were to happen to me.”

“Reasonable fear. You do what you can to protect them by being hard on your businesses,” she observed, her lips twitching at the corner.

“Yeah, amongst other things,” he said, slowly nodding. “My turn.” He took a sip of his wine as he thought of the next question. “What personality trait do you like the most about yourself?”

“Hmm, many hate it, but I love it. So it could be both a blessing and a curse. Dad always said I was too observant for my own good you know. He was never able to find a good place to hide my presents for my birthday or holiday. I’d always find it,” she joked.

“Oh, but in your field of expertise, that’s a great quality to have.”

“I agree. That’s one of things that makes my job fun,” she shrugged as she thought about her question for him. “What’s your most active hobby?”

“Oh, that one’s easy,” he grinned. “I like to keep in shape so I run a lot and do pull ups and whatnot. Occasionally I let Diggle beat the crap out of me because I always beat him when we’re sparring.”

Bella kept her face neutral down to the micro-expressions she knew that a businessman like him might be able to pick up. She couldn’t help the comparisons that started in her thoughts as she worked to select her questions more carefully. “I can see that,” she noted, her eyes dropping down to his chest and arms pointedly.

Grinning, he put his head on his hand, just like her and looked at her. “Are you holding on to something that you probably should let go of?”

“Number three,” she said as she sat back holding up the arrow. She held it from the point to the end carefully without being cut before looking at him with a sparkle in her eyes. “You know that the oldest arrowheads date back 64,000 years to a cave in South America. The use of an arrow with a bow started about – 10,000 years ago in northern Europe.”

He thought for a moment and blinked. “Huh?”

“The history of this style of weapon,” she explained. She fingered the sharpened edge of the head, admiring the style with obvious respect and a touch of fascination inside of her. “It’s a very old one, and quite effective despite being rather – archaic. Not many cultures still use it. I read once about a small tribe from China that was traveling group. This was their weapon of choice.”

Oliver shrugged, hiding the fact that he was impressed by her knowledge of weapons. Frankly, he preferred the bow over a noisy gun when he was running around. “I was sort of taught how to use one on the island to hunt but I wasn’t very good at it. I was good at spear fishing though,” he grinned.

“Spear fishing is just the arrow without the bow,” Bella pointed out as she held the shaft end out to him. “Take it.”

“Why?”

“That’s four. Because I said.”

“No, you still haven’t answered the question because you conveniently held on to that arrow.”

“Take the arrow and I’ll answer both,” she replied with a smile as she leaned on the counter, still holding it out to him.

Sighing, Oliver gently took the arrow from her and placed it on the counter. She knew, he just knew it. “Done. Now answer.”

“I wasn’t holding onto it for any specific reason that I’m aware of. Truth is I don’t know why. I just felt like I needed to. It felt – instinctual. I don’t understand why this – Arrow person selected this as his choice of weapon,” she said as she reached across to finger the feathered end. “But I am curious to his reasoning because of the story I just explained to you and that is the why.”

“I don’t understand, Bella, if you have questions that he needs to answer, I am sure he’s in town, somewhere.”

She sat back and looked at him like he just said something stupid like suddenly proposing to her. “Are you seriously suggesting something as stupid as intentionally putting myself out there in a situation that would need this guy’s assistance? Sure! Let’s let Bella get shot or stabbed tonight just so she can get a meeting with the Arrow! You’re an idiot! I thought you were going to be coming with me anyway,” she added, feeling offended, believing that he forgotten about the dress situation from the night before.

“Alright,” Oliver said with a nod, realizing she was playing him at the same time he tried to play her. Which was good, in a way, as she had diverted her attention to him and didn’t pay attention to the weather outside. “Tell me, Miss Swan. What do you really want to know about me?”

Bella had started to clean up from their dinner and slowly looked up at him as she let out a breath. Closing her eyes, she shook her head because she knew she liked him. A lot. “Oliver…I don’t know…You’ve confused me so much since over the last month, before we actually moved back and Laurel asked me to help with your club. These last two days with you has been – more different than I thought you’d be. So – I guess what I’d want to know about you is… what your intentions are with me?”

 

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