Bella wasn’t surprised by the lack of Cullens the next day in school. Or the next and the day after. In fact, the entire week had been Cullen free. For the first time in a while it gave her the room to breathe and do fun things with Rebekah and Kol after school. They went hiking in the Olympic Park and visit the Marymere Falls or go to the ice cream shop to gorge on ice cream and exit the shop with a brain freeze.
Bella found that Rebekah was often strolling behind her and Kol, and she wondered why that was. Even the slightest hint of Bella trying to include Rebekah in her and Kol’s conversation was being deflected by her. Bella hated it that Rebekah was acting like the third wheel because she was trying not to make her feel that way.
It was Friday afternoon and Kol and Bella were sitting in the outside seating area of the coffee shop. Rebekah had ducked into a clothing shop across the street, saying that she had resisted the temptation long enough and that she was going to shop until she figuratively dropped. Bella and Kol weren’t interested in doing so and decided to wait outside with a nice cup of coffee.
“Is it just me or does this feel like we’re a mum and dad? Waiting for their daughter to emerge from school?” Kol pointed at the shop his sister was in.
“I wouldn’t know,” Bella replied with a shrug. “My mom always dragged me into stores because I hate shopping for clothes and Charlie usually just gives me money while he goes fishing.”
Kol winced at that. “He wants to go fishing tomorrow.”
“I know,” she grinned as she looked at him. “It’ll be fun. Rebekah wants us to go shopping for the graduation party anyway, which would be no fun for you.”
“But I don’t want you to suffer all by yourself.”
“Fishing with Charlie is fun and maybe Billy will come with. Billy’s full of stories about his tribe could be interesting for you.”
Kol huffed and took a sip of his hot coffee. He’d rather just spend the day with Bella, couldn’t his sister go on that fishing trip? Rebekah used to be better at it than him anyway, he could never sit still long enough. Should he scare the fish away, Charlie would have a great story to tell Bella. And maybe, Charlie could tell Kol more about Bella as she was still a mystery to him. Mysteries needed to be solved.
It would be stupid to admit out loud that even though they had spent about two weeks together, that it felt as if he’d known her for years. Because it wasn’t true and he wished it was.
“Can I ask you something?”
Kol could see that Bella was uncomfortable and now he wondered what he wanted to ask. “Sure, Cuddles, you can always ask me anything. If I’m going to answer it is something else entirely.”
“You’re such a troll,” she grinned. “I don’t think like this anymore but for a while, with Edward, I wanted to become a vampire. Mainly because I wouldn’t be able to stand to grow old while he didn’t. I figured it would also cure me of my clumsiness. I then realized I didn’t want to turn into an asshole. Maybe only to kill him,” she said while a faint smile formed on her face. “But you’ve been a vampire. Don’t you ever miss it?”
“I’ve traveled the world and I’ve enjoyed myself. I’ve seen things that you wouldn’t believe and I had the time to do what I wanted, when I wanted,” he said, careful with his choice of words. “But with everything positive there’s a lot of negative. You don’t get to think about that when you’re a vampire because nothing matters. Every emotion gets heightened. The fact that I never felt wanted by my siblings hurt, a lot, and I acted out. I slaughtered a lot of people simply because I was bored. I was a nuisance, to be honest with you. I didn’t care about what I did because my siblings didn’t care about me. I turned off my humanity and had fun. I played with my food. Didn’t care about rules…”
“Nothing’s changed then,” Bella said with a grin. “You still play with your food.”
“My sister wants to be human more than anything. She values humanity and she wants to start a family and grow old. A couple of years ago, some idiotic people down in Mystic Falls found out that there was a cure for vampirism. This jump started this whole rat race between different factions. Klaus wanted the cure so that it couldn’t be used on him. Rebekah wanted it because she wanted to be human and some young vampires wanted it for one of their mates who had been accidentally turned. It was a mess of epic proportions. And then there was me, trying to sabotage all their efforts because by finding the cure, they would find the first immortal being ever. And he would bring hell on earth if they’d wake him.”
“Not just humans do stupid things for the weirdest reasons, Cuddles. And frankly, I don’t blame them but hell on earth was just a too big of a price to pay for the cure. And it could only cure one vampire so yeah, not good.”
“I was the idiot who went against everyone, I died, of course. I truly died. Stake and flames. Poof! I ended up on the Other Side where I plotted my revenge against the person who killed me…”
“What?” Bella said laughing.
“Hey, I liked my life. I hated it, but I liked it, what else was I supposed to do? We Mikaelsons are a vengeful bunch because there’s nothing better than revenge. Besides, I was pissed off because I got killed by a pesky teenager, do you have any idea what that does to the ego of a thousand-year-old vampire?”
“Typical,” she shook her head, laughing. “What’s the Other Side? Heaven?”
“No, more like a hell for supernatural beings who died. It sucked. And because Silas was back, it was collapsing. Well, it was a lot more complicated than that, but he set it off. And I didn’t want to disappear for good. I was lucky that my mother yanked me out before I got sucked into nothingness.”
“But now you’re human. You could turn back into a vampire.”
“Not like the one I used to be, pet. I was an Original, I couldn’t be killed… well, not without effort. If I become a vampire now, I will lose my witchiness – again – and people could kill me with ease. I value my life too much for that to happen. Klaus’ temperament hasn’t really changed in all these years and I don’t want to die. I also think that Beks would be the first person to kill me for giving up my humanity so…” he said with a chuckle. “Trust me, your decision to not turn into a glittery vampire after all is a good one. You and I wouldn’t have been sitting here and talking, for one.”
Bella shuddered. No, she would still be with them, meek as a lamb and waiting for Edward to turn her. She could understand where Kol was coming from, it was one of the things she had considered if she’d turn; what if she and Edward would have a falling out in a hundred years? What would she do? How would her transition enhance all her emotions? She knew she currently held an unhealthy amount of rage in her system, would that have turned with her? And would it have been possible for her to go off the reservation sort to speak? Quite likely.
Besides, she didn’t want to live too long in a world without her parents. Everything had to progress in a natural order and while she had accepted the world around her, being a vampire wasn’t natural. Or maybe it was for them. It wasn’t for her and, therefore, shouldn’t judge.
“And also, your clumsiness is endearing, Cuddles, gives men like me to be the hero to come to your rescue,” Kol grinned. “And I’m generally awesome so it will balance out your habit of falling over and bumping into things.”
“For now, all is well in the world.” Bella drank the remaining coffee and scrunched her nose. “Did you just honestly say that you’re my hero without missing a beat?”
“Glad you think so too, Bella,” Kol beamed at her.
“I didn’t say…”
“Cuddles, all I hear is you saying I’m your hero.”
“But…” Bella’s cheeks had lit up to a wonderful shade of red, and not for the first time in the past week. Without the Cullens showing their faces she was a lot freer in the way she behaved, a lot happier and a lot more easy to tease.
“It’s okay, I can take the responsibility that comes with being your hero and bedwarmer.”
“You’re sleeping with him?” Edward’s voice sounded from behind them and he didn’t sound too pleased. “Are you out of your mind?!”
Before she knew it, Kol got lifted out of his chair and pushed against the wall. “Edward!” she cried out. “Leave him alone!”
“It’s okay, Cuddles,” Kol grinned as he looked at Edward. He then started to think about the most vulgar and exciting things he could do with Bella just to piss off the vampire even further. Kol knew that with one shout, his sister would come to the rescue anyway if his magic couldn’t do the job by itself.
“I’m going to kill you,” Edward growled as he tightened his grip on the human boy. “Maybe I will, to stop you from poisoning Bella’s mind. You’ve corrupted her enough as it is.”
“Oh please stop,” Kol snorted as he managed to push the vampire off of him and made sure he was standing between Bella and the raging vampire. “You’re a pathetic excuse for a man. Get it through your thick skull that she doesn’t want to be yours anymore, mate.”
“She has no say in the matter,” Edward spat at Kol, unable to move from his spot. Kol was glad that at least that part of his magic worked too, although he was unsure if it’d work on more than one raging Cold One. “The Volturi will come after her if she doesn’t stay with me. If I don’t turn her.”
“That excuse is becoming old, mate,” He replied with a sigh. “You’re trying to tell her these horror stories, that she should be afraid. Won’t work, she’s fearless and you are not getting her back. She doesn’t want you, Edward. She’s had enough of your shit.”
“She’s right here and can talk for herself,” Bella grumbled.
“I know, pet,” Kol replied as he took a quick look at her before turning his attention back to Edward. “I’m not quite sure if Edward knows, though. Leave her alone, mate, you’re starting to sound really desperate right now, but that’s your thing, isn’t it?”
Edward looked around Kol, Kaleb, to look at Bella. “You do know that the reason Seth and Jasper are dead is because of your new friends, don’t you, Bella?”
“Oh, that’s low,” Kol inhaled sharply as a fed up Bella got to her feet and pushed Edward away from them.
“It’s your fault, Edward. Get the fuck out of my life.”
“Don’t worry, when he’s done with you, I’ll be still here to pick up the pieces, love,” Edward said as he took a step back.
Bella visibly shuddered as she closed her eyes to will herself not to throw up the coffee she just had. “Go away.”
“Did you know he has impure thoughts about you?”
“I give up,” Bella said as she threw her hands in the air and collected her bag before she tugged on Kol’s arm. “Come on, let’s join Rebekah. The idea of shopping is all of a sudden very appealing.”
“Honestly, I don’t have those thoughts about you,” Kol said quickly as they crossed the street. “I just… I knew he was mind raping me so I-”
“I don’t mind if you do, to be honest,” Bella admitted as they stopped in front of the store and looked across the street where Edward was still watching them. “Because I have them too,” she smiled up to Kol. “About you, not about myself because that would be crazy,” she added as she stammered.
Her face turned the beautiful shade of red that he liked so much on her and decided to tease her a little bit. It was endearing how novice she was about the whole flirting game, had she even been kissed before? “Really?” Kol smirked as he ran his hand through his hair as if he was thinking about something – which he wasn’t. “Because I do have some thoughts about you and me. I’m a handsome fella and you’re not too bad looking either and some thoughts include you and me… On a rug in front of-” Kol couldn’t even finish his sentence as Bella had pulled him down to her level and had pressed her lips against his. All he was able to do after she released him from her grasp was blink at her. She had surprised him by her boldness and he wanted more.
It only took him a moment to realize that she probably kissed him because of Edward. He didn’t even dare to look across the street, but did it anyway, and saw that the wanker had gone. Kol could feel how Bella cupped his chin and turned his head back towards hers, so she could kiss him again. This time, her tongue sought entrance to his mouth and he granted it as he put his arms around her and pulled her closer.
“Oh, good,” Rebekah’s voice sounded next to them. “You’re finally kissing. Well done, you two. Let’s go home.”
Instead of things being immediately awkward between her and Kol, Bella found that nothing was wrong. Kol had the goofiest smile plastered on his face as they drove home. Bella couldn’t help but look at him in the rearview mirror whenever it was possible. He probably thought she only kissed him to get rid of Edward, but that wasn’t the case. Yes, it helped that Edward ran away like the spoiled brat that he was, but she did it because it felt right. That and Kol had it coming.
She grinned to herself as she parked her car in her usual spot. Sometimes, Kol just talked too much and she had now found a great way to shut him up.
“We are going to Port Angeles to shop tomorrow, aren’t we, Bella? Because I didn’t see anything I fancied in the shops here in Forks,” Rebekah said as she pulled five bags out of the trunk of the car. “Not for the graduation dance anyway.”
“Yes, Rebekah, when Charlie and Kol are going fishing, we’re going to drive to Port Angeles and I’ll be your personal dress up doll.”
“Goodie,” Rebekah said with a grin on her face and then got into the house. “Great job on handling Doucheward!”
“She is right,” Kol echoed Rebekah’s sentiment as he and Bella walked towards the house. In true Bella fashion, she had denied him the courtesy of carrying in the bag of groceries. “Was it just me or did he become worse?”
“He hates losing. When he loses, he tries to be more persistent,” Bella said with a shrug as she put the bag of groceries on the counter. “Persuasion was always Jasper’s thing. Or Carlisle’s… Edward isn’t that subtle.” She smirked as she unpacked the bag. “All hands on deck, I need a lot of stuff chopped up.”
“What?” Kol blinked at her.
“You two are going to help me cook.”
“No, I am not,” Rebekah said as she gathered her bags again. “I’m going to try all of these on again,” she said before disappearing up the stairs.
Kol was leaning against the table with his hands crossed over his chest as he looked at Bella. “One kiss and you want to domesticate me?” He asked jokingly.
“Two kisses and no. This was my idea before that,” she replied as she put down a chopping board and a knife. “Start chopping.”
“You just want me to do the onions so you can see me cry,” he chuckled as he washed his hands and grabbed an onion.
“No,” she smiled as she cut up the meat. “I just don’t want to do all the work by myself. And you’ll have to do smaller chunks than that.”
Kol snorted and shook his head as he did as he was told. After two onions, a carrot, and a pepper, he put the knife down and leaned against the counter to watch Bella work. “About that kiss…”
Oh god, she thought as she dropped the knife in the sink and looked at Kol, panic clearly on her face. “I- I’m sorry… I thought… I mean… you…” she stammered. She had thought of not doing it, but he had been sending her the signals, hadn’t he? And he had the goofiest smile ever on his face on the drive back so it couldn’t have been that bad, could it? What if that had been a pretense?
“Bella, stop,” Kol said as he put his hands firmly on her shaking shoulders. “Nothing’s wrong, Cuddles, breathe.”
She had been doing so well and now she was freaking out because of a potential mistake she had made. Bella was angry with herself for freaking out about the panic attack. She was being stupid. It’s that she thought she heard Kol telling her to breathe, otherwise she wouldn’t have let out a breath she wasn’t aware of she was holding and gulped in some air. And her body only went into panic mode for one simple reason; she really liked him. If that kiss had been out of bounds, things would grow uncomfortable and she didn’t want that to happen.
“Hey, are you listening to me?” He bent his knees a little to look at her. “Nothing’s wrong. That kiss was amazing.”
Why were his hands on her? She shrugged them off and started pacing around the kitchen. How on earth was she going to get out of this? Would he stop trying to help her with Edward? Did she have to go back? No, that couldn’t happen, she’d rather disappear before that would happen. She had been doing so well and now she’d fucked up.
She was forgetting something. Right, breathing. She kept pacing as she took deep breaths. Maybe Kol was right, they had to talk about that kiss. He needed to tell her that it had been a bad thing to do, that he wasn’t into her like that. Yes, she needed to hear him say that so she could prepare herself for the worst.
Bella managed to calm herself down as she dried off her tears with the sleeve of her shirt and stopped right in front of him. Poor Kol looked like someone who was about to jump out of its skin out of anger. Or was it worry? She knew she’d find out soon enough. “Sorry. I’m sorry about that,” she said as she let out a deep breath. “I’m sorry for the kiss. It shouldn’t have happened. I-”
Kol kissed her to prove a point and to shut her up. He ran a hand through her hair before breaking off the kiss. “As I said… nothing’s wrong, Cuddles,” he said with a whisper and planted a kiss on top of her head. “But we do need to talk about it. Well, I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t and just carried on. But we need to talk about it, because of you and your relationship you’ve recently ended.”
Bella looked at him for a moment and then hopped onto a clean spot on the counter. It had been a while since she had gotten a panic attack like that one. Well, not really. This was a good one, because it was out of fear of losing hope, opposed to the fear of losing everyone she held dear after Kol had wrecked her phone. She felt drained, but since he said that nothing was wrong, she decided to listen. Maybe he just wanted to say that she was a stupid teenager. Maybe it was an age thing.
“Did you kiss me because you like kissing or do you want more out of it?” Kol asked as he placed his hands on her thighs and made sure she couldn’t walk away from him this time. Maybe it was silly of him to ask questions about a stupid kiss, but he happened to like Bella and he didn’t want to prance around on her feelings and emotions. Which was why he was forcing her to talk about her feelings. And forcing himself too – his brothers would probably laugh at him for doing this.
She was a lot stronger than last week, yes, but she was still damaged and he knew that it would take some time for her to heal. He was a witch, sure, but broken spirits could not be mended by magic. He also didn’t want her to do anything before she was well and ready. But if she’d wanted more out of that simple kiss, he’d make sure that she’d get it too.
He was human now and he had made peace with his shortened life but, he didn’t want to rush Bella into anything. He didn’t care much for himself, she was more important and deep down, that scared him. He was always number one. He had always been number one and now she was. “I know what I want, but I want to know what you want before I am telling you what I want. Because you should be allowed to have your own thoughts on the matter.”
Bella swallowed hard. Kol was close to her and was keeping her from walking away again. He also didn’t prompt her on how to answer the question which was hard, because Edward always had prompted her and she would say whatever he wanted to hear. But Kol didn’t. He really wanted her to answer truthfully. “Do you promise things won’t change for the worst if I answer that?” She asked, almost scared to ask.
“I promise. Things can only get better from here on out because we’ll both have a sense of what’s going on. I want to hear your thoughts, Cuddles.”
Bella bit her lip and nodded. “I really like you, Kol and I really liked kissing you.And I don’t want things to get complicated now because you make me feel safe. You seem to see me as a person and not like something that needs to be owned…”
Kol smiled at her as he gave her thighs a squeeze. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? And I’m still here!” When Bella let out a slight chuckle, he continued. “I like you too and that kiss… I wasn’t sure you had it in you,” he grinned. “How about we continue with what we’ve been doing since we met two weeks ago? We’ll just add the kissing to the list of things we like to do together. We’ll see how it works out once you’re truly a free person before we start putting a label on whatever’s going on between us? Let things naturally evolve and all that.”
“Of course I am, Cuddles!” He smiled widely at her. “Otherwise I wouldn’t suggest it, now, would I?” He poured her a glass of water and handed it to her. “Drink up and tell me what to do. You’re not going to cook after that panic attack of yours.”