Chapter 02

It took Bella some time to wrap her mind around everything that had happened, what Zach had said and all the experiences she had brushed off as ‘coincidence’ or ‘hallucination’ before. Life was fucked up.

She kept going to school and work her shifts at the Mystic Grill, but she wasn’t ready to socialize outside of that just yet. She missed the Halloween party, no big deal, really, even though Moritz really wanted to go. The day after the party he broke up with her. Also, no big deal. She had weirder things to concern herself with. It just hurt that he left her for some blonde bimbo with a bigger ass and a bigger rack.

Bella’s notebook was starting to get full now. Not with fantasized shit, but with the things that she had noticed. The things she knew now and she was going to have to buy herself a new one soon. Just as she was planning on going out to buy some food, a knock was on her door and she opened it, revealing a strange woman in front of her. She had long blonde hair and was about Bella’s height. “Uhm… can I help you? You passed the boarding house on the way here?”

“Hi, I’m Lexi,” she smiled at Bella. “I’m a friend of Stefan’s.”

“Okay, hi Lexi.”

“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

“No. If you can’t cross the threshold on your own, you’re not coming in,” Bella replied, crossing her arms over her chest. She had read up on the regular vampire lore online, and with Zach’s warning in the back of her mind, she hoped that the invitation thing was true.

“Cool,” Lexi nodded with a smile on her face. “You know about our kind then, that’s cool. So, what are you then? A witch?”

“I’m a mere human, protecting myself. Now, what can I do for you, Lexi?”

“Bullshit. You’re like us! You’re a part of our community!”

“Lexi, leave the poor girl alone,” Damon suddenly appeared out of nowhere, like a knight in shining leather. Despite Zach’s warning about his nephews – or actually his uncles, Bella couldn’t help but find the elder Salvatore brother extremely attractive. Always dressed in leather… his hair… his beautiful blue eyes… it was enough to make a girl swoon.

Bella felt guilty, but not that guilty, that she had written a character looking just like him in one of her original stories and she might have used some self-insertion to pair him up with her. And have great sex. Like, the best. Seeing stars kind of sex and then fireworks. Oh yeah.

“I think she has the hots for you, Damon,” Lexi smirked as she looked at him. “And I am a free person, I can go wherever I want.”

“But you can’t go in there, so come on, leave her alone,” he countered playfully, putting an arm around her to steer her away. “Go bother Stefan. He’s a miserable little thing after the whole Elena debacle.”

Ah yes, Elena. The girl found out about Stefan and Damon being vampires and had demanded space; causing Stefan to feel all sorry for himself.

“Aw, but the girl looks like she’s in for a party! Why not invite her over to party with us? Get drunk, drink blood… dance… drink…”

“She’s off limits,” Damon reminded her, looking over his shoulder to wink at Bella before marching Lexi away from the guest house. “She’s our tenant, not a meal ticket.”

“Generally when you’re collecting rent from someone it means that they’re your meal ticket,” Lexi countered.

“She lives rent free, now, come on. You have to get dressed for a party,” Damon looked over his shoulder again. “You’re not working tonight, are you?”

Bella shook her head. “I’m going to get food and watch a movie.”

“Good. Stay here. I’ll make sure you get some food.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I make a killer lasagna!”

“Make sure it’s blood free, I hate the smell of it!”

“Oh, you little baby!”

“Yeah, you both definitely should hook up,” Lexi laughed all the way to the main house. “Like an old married couple!”

A few hours later, there was a knock on the door and when Bella checked, nobody was there but a picnic basket with hot steaming lasagna in it, a couple of books and a note from Damon saying that she’d enjoy these books and that should she have any questions that she could send him a message.

Damon’s lasagna tasted phenomenal, and the books Damon had given her looked like journals; perhaps the journals that Zach had mentioned. She was careful not to drip any lasagna on the books as she read and she wasn’t surprised that the true history of Mystic Falls, the supernatural history, was close to the one they were being taught in school or during every Founders party, but then with a supernatural twist and no animal attacks.

The first book was mainly about vampires and witches, and by the time she’d read through it, she’d polished off all the lasagna Damon had made. Bella hadn’t realized she was that hungry. Or perhaps his lasagna was indeed that good.

When she returned from her kitchen with a glass of wine, shimmery Lexi was standing at the table, peeking into the journal that lay open. “What the fuck,” Bella muttered under her breath.

“Nice place you have,” Lexi grinned as she looked up to Bella. “And I totally confirmed that you are supernatural. You’re a medium!”

Yeah, that would work. “If it decides to work, yes,” she replied, downing her glass of wine in one go. “Who killed you?”

“Damon,” Lexi shrugged. “If only I could come back from the dead and return the favor. I’m older, you know. I’m a lot stronger than he is. He was only able to take me down because I was being shot at.”

“Uhuh.”

“It’s a good thing you have that rule of not being able to cross your threshold means not entering your home. Damon is dangerous.”

“Okay,” Bella sighed. “But he made me a damn good lasagna and he’s my landlord so yeah, nothing you can really do about it. Anything else? Do you want me to pass something on to Stefan?”

“Nah,” Lexi waved away Bella’s words. “I just came here to check to see if you were telling the truth and you were. And now it’s time for me to move away from the portal and go live out the rest of my existence on the Other Side.”

She didn’t know what to say about that. “Have fun?”

“Thanks!” Lexi smirked before she winked out like a candle.

~o.0.o~

A couple of weeks later, the school had their annual decade dance and unfortunate for Bella, her friend Jeri wasn’t allowing her to skip this one, too. Bella thought she looked ridiculous in her fifties outfit and there was no way that she was going to dance. Bella was going to have punch, be around for maybe 30 minutes and then leave again. She’d been in the middle of doing homework and revising after having ignored it in favor of reading journals chronicling the supernatural world in Mystic Falls, and she didn’t want to fail her exams.

Bella had expected Stefan to be there, but she was surprised that Damon came with him and she watched him approach Bonnie Bennett. Oh, Bella knew about the hateful relationship between the two, Damon had told her all about it, and decided that Bonnie could use the night off, so she intercepted him. “Hey, wanna dance?” Bella said as she looped her arm through his and started to pull him away.

“Well, actually, I-”

“You can skip torturing Bonnie for one night, Damon,” she replied gently, smiling up at him. “Fair warning though, I don’t usually dance.”

“Then let’s make this short then,” Damon said as he took the lead. “Because I’m not really here for the dancing or the chaperoning.”

“Really?”

“Really,” Damon nodded as he kept his eyes on the crowd. When Bella looked around, she saw that Stefan was doing the same as he danced with Elena. “Something bad is afoot. I half expected you to stay at home so you’d be safe, but no, you just had to attend the dance.”

“Blame Jeri,” she chuckled and pointed at her best friend, who was now dancing with Moritz. “Oh, that… bitch! She’s seeing Moritz now?”

“Your ex boyfriend?”

“Yeah!” Bella felt angry. “She’s my best friend and she’s dancing with my ex boyfriend. I hope that’s all they’re doing and not…” Her eyes grew wide when she saw them kiss. “Oh, she’s dead.”

Damon laughed darkly and turned Bella around so she didn’t have to watch her best friend kiss her ex boyfriend. “Just say the word and I’ll use her as my pet for awhile. Young blood, so delicious.”

“I doubt you’d have to compel her for that. No, she’ll only enjoy it,” Bella sighed, shaking her head. “No, it’s fine. Jeri’s more exciting than I am. She has a better ass and better tits…”

“And Moritz has a new girl every week…” Damon added playfully. “Wasn’t he dating a blond bombshell earlier?”

“Shut up,” Bella muttered and stomped on his foot. “So how much closer are you to freeing your Katherine?”

Damon smiled widely. “Close.”

“And you still think it’s a good idea to free her?”

“Yep,” Damon replied as he spun Bella around. “Alright, enough dancing. You’ve shown your face, you’re going home. Don’t want you to end up as an accidental snack.”

“Oh, vampire business,” Bella cooed as she allowed Damon to escort her to her car. “Spooky!”

~o.O.o~

In his quiet moments, Damon liked to sit on her front porch with her door wide open while she sat inside. Both drinking alcohol or tea or eat whatever he came to offer. Simply to talk. Mostly about the disappointment of not having found Katherine in the tomb underneath old Fell’s Church, where he believed she’d have been with the other 26 vampires Guiseppe, his father, had locked them in. But that hadn’t been the case. Katherine was still lost. Maybe dead, even. Bella knew he was hurting bad, and it was likely that he was acting out around his friends and family because of this.

At some point, he slipped her a folder and when she looked inside, she found plane tickets and hotel reservations in her name. “What’s this?”

“You need to leave town for a while and both Stefan and I are too preoccupied to look out for you.”

Bella was confused. “I have school. I have a job. I have exams starting soon.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that. It’s only until it’s safe. You’re still new at all of this and you’re obviously still trying to make this part of life your own,” he pointed at the folder. “They’re tickets to Orlando, Florida, in case you’re wondering. Disney world!”

“Damon…”

“No, don’t you Damon me, Bella Swan. You’re going away until it’s safe or until you can protect yourself. Just because they can’t enter your home, doesn’t mean they can’t take you while you’re wandering around in the forest or in town,” he then let out a dark chuckle. “I’ve been trying to get Stefan to drink human blood for years and he’s finally fallen off the wagon. That sure taught me, he’s a fucking lunatic now that he’s off bunnies.”

“You don’t trust your brother?”

“Not right now, no. So please, go have fun in Florida. Soak up the sun. Do things in complete freedom. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come back.”

“And what if that takes too long and I miss my exams?”

“Congratulations, you graduated high school with flying Aces!” Damon cheered.

She huffed. “I think you’re overreacting,” she pushed the folder back. “I’m staying, I’ll be more careful but I’m staying. Your uncle… nephew, whatever told me to stop running. So I’m not running away for danger. I’m staying.”

“Disney.”

“I’ll go to Disney when I’ve done my exams, how’s that?”

“Fine, but if you get killed, it’ll not be my fault!”

Bella grinned as she looked around the doorpost to face him. “Deal.”

~o.O.o~

As it turned out, Bella didn’t have anything to fear from the new, old vampires in town. It was Stefan who looked like a pressure cooker bomb, ready to go off at any time, and she feared for his immediate circle; Elena and Bonnie. Not that it mattered that much to Bella, but she didn’t want to miss her entertainment during lunch breaks at school. Damon informed her that Stefan was doing better after they had managed to wean him off human blood cold turkey.

It was likely that wasn’t going to last.

When Founder’s Day came around, and a quite special one at that, celebrating 150 years of Mystic Falls, Bella didn’t quite feel like it. It was almost as if the entirety of Mystic Falls had a shroud over them, suffocating. As if something was coming. Something bad. So she didn’t go and instead shopped for a couple of days of supplies and stayed in her house.

There was a big fire. There were accidents. While Bella could see on her days out and about that life went on as normal, she could also see who was connected to all the happenings, people acting strange or looking around skittish.

Damon came to her door at the end of February with a big smile on his face. “We’ve got werewolves.”

“Really?”

“Uhuh, Lockwood.”

“Tyler?”

“And his uncle.”

“Cool,” Bella grinned. “Can I see?”

“Hell no, it’s too dangerous for you but I brought you a book so you can read up on them. Also, Caroline is a vampire and Katherine is back but she’s a bitch so…”

“That sucks.”

“Hmm…” Damon nodded. “On a sadder note, Stefan nearly died and the mayor has died. There’s a wake today. Are you coming?”

Bella thought for a moment. She wasn’t sure about it, if the Lockwoods were supernatural, it could prove to be a disaster. On the other hand, werewolves were animals, right? Wouldn’t they take to her like the foxes did in the forest? It was best to remain at a distance. She didn’t quite like Tyler. “While I would love to pay my respects, I don’t think it’s a good idea. Besides, I have a shift at the Grill. But I’ll send some flowers.”

“I told you, you should have taken me up on my offer for you to go to Disney.”

“I’m not running, Damon.”

“No, but you’re hiding. It’s the same thing,” he pointed out before running off.

Out of frustration, she slammed her door shut. He made it sound as if she was enjoying herself, locking herself away like this. She knew that werewolves were the natural enemies of vampires so why was Damon so upset about this? If she’d somehow attracted the werewolves, they could go off on him and he could die. Was that what he wanted?

Bella booted up her computer and opened skype. Maybe her friend Trashpanda was online so they could chat while she was reading the lastest book that Damon had given her. Trashpanda was a female, Bella’s age, and she lived in New Orleans. Unlike Bella, Trashpanda had a lot of issues with her family but for some reason she couldn’t get away from them. College was her way out and even though she was planning to attend the University of New Orleans, they had dorms and she was going to live there.

Until then, Bella kept her spirits up and they both discussed their writing together. They’d been talking for a couple of weeks now and Bella hadn’t learned Trashpanda’s real name just yet. Which was fine, seeing as Bella’s nickname was CeilingCat. Oh, there were worst names she could have come up with, but that was the freedom of the internet, wasn’t it? To be something you’re not. Bella liked talking to Trashpanda about random stuff that was not related to what Bella’s life had become. Tell each other stupid jokes.

Unfortunately, her friend wasn’t online so Bella settled in in front of her computer and read Damon’s book. By nightfall, she decided to go to the main house to return some of these books. It wasn’t as if she needed them, and she could use it as an excuse to find a bottle of wine or something. She had forgotten to pick up something on her grocery run because she was distracted.

As she closed the door of her home, she could hear MSN messenger going crazy with alerts, but that just had to wait. Bella was already outside and on a mission. Bella opened the front door to the Salvatore home and nearly dropped her books in shock when she saw Damon sitting on top of Elena, his hand around her neck, fiercely kissing her. “Damon!”

In a panic, Damon looked up to see Bella standing there. “It’s not what you think,” he said like a deer caught in headlights.

“Oh, threesome!” Elena giggled as she pushed Damon off of her and started to circle Bella like a predator.

Not Elena.

“The fuck?” Bella carefully watched Not Elena circle her before looking at Damon. “What the hell!”

Damon sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Bella, meet Katherine.”

“Katherine?”

“Hi,” Katherine smiled at her as she kept her eyes on Bella. “Oh, she’s special, Damon, I can smell it.”

“Katherine as in… the Katherine you spent the last century and a half lusting over? Missing? The one who’s hurt you by leaving you?”

“Yep.”

“And she looks like Elena.”

“Did I miss that out? Elena looks like Katherine,” Damon pointed to the door. “I’ll explain to my best of my abilities later. Out.”

“You’re going to make her leave?” Katherine pouted. “Aw, Damon! Threesomes are fun!”

“Bella’s a tenant and off limits,” Damon said as he positioned himself between Katherine and Bella. “Good night, Bella,” he said with his back towards her. “Talk to you soon.”

She wasn’t even going to fight him on this. From the stories he had told her about Katherine, Bella knew that she was bad news and really couldn’t understand his infatuation with her. Then again, according to him and Stefan Katherine was a manipulative bitch, so what was going on?

As she got into her house, messenger was still making too much noise for her liking and when she slipped behind her computer, Bella had to laugh.

TrashPanda: Did you choke on your kitty nibbles or something? You can’t be online and not be here. Where are you? Did you get eaten by a dog? Hello? FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

CeilingCat: Relax. I had to step out for a moment.

TrashPanda: And do what? Jesus. Don’t be online and not be here, okay?

CeilingCat: Okay, Mom. What’s so urgent anyway?

TrashPanda: Nothing. Just bugging you for an update on your Twilight/Supernatural fic. Holy shit, you’ve been going at it for so long and it keeps getting better and better! You have some creative brain, yo!

CeilingCat: Just about to write the last chapter. Not too fond of the story right now. Too much going on. Too… complicated.

TrashPanda: Or too close to the truth?

CeilingCat: Seriously, this again? Trashy, vampires aren’t real. People just love the idea of it, hence why Supernatural and Twilight are attracting so many viewers. I mean, if we have to believe the stories, New Orleans is like a hotbed for supernatural creatures.

TrashPanda: And yet, Sam and Dean never visit us! *pout*

CeilingCat: Funny. Nah. I’ve told everything that was needed to tell with the story and I really need to focus on my school shit.

TrashPanda: I thought you were an excellent student?

CeilingCat: Who studies hard for that honor, thank you very much. History teacher has slipped into mythology now. Werewolves.

TrashPanda: Sounds interesting. For something that’s not real, of course. Greek Gods and Goddesses for me. Boring. I mean, you’re right, if we have to believe the stories, New Orleans is a hotbed for supernatural creatures, why can’t we have your teacher and learn about the cool stuff?

CeilingCat: Maybe because you can just walk into a store and get a book or a future reading by a ‘medium’. Unlike small town me!

TrashPanda: You think you’re so funny! Anyway, I have to go. Mom’s complaining that I’m using the internet. She wants to call grandma… which will likely resort into some fighting but eh. Beggars can’t be choosers. Talk to you later! Xx

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