It was almost as if the Cullens were licking their wounds for the weekend and left Bella alone. She took the time to type out her paper on the computer and Rebekah hovered over her at times to make sure she got the details right. It was a little annoying, but Bella allowed her to because she was a great help as she had a great way with words.
Kol and Rebekah brought her to the edge of the reservation, hoping Bella would be safe amongst the wolves. They’d wanted to respect the rules of the tribe while Bella would go and see Seth off to the great beyond. She hadn’t joined the mourning group, but stayed at a distance because she didn’t feel like she belonged any more. Seth would have want her to be there and that’s why she had gone.
Besides, she had noticed that Seth’s sister Leah and Paul Lahote weren’t looking at her as if she was friendly. This scared her as both had issues with controlling their emotions and shift. She could see Sam tried to run interference but, it wasn’t until Jacob dragged Bella towards his bike that she realized that the two wolves had been close to losing control.
“Leah blames you,” Jake said as he drove down the road. “This shouldn’t have happened.”
That question only made him pull down the throttle even further, he wanted to be rid of her. “You made your choice when you chose him over me. Just be glad our fathers are still friends.”
“If you hadn’t chosen him, they would have moved on by now and most of us wouldn’t have started to shift. If you hadn’t chosen him, you and I would be great friends like we used to be, maybe even more. If you hadn’t chosen him, you wouldn’t have alienated everyone around you. You wouldn’t have become this person that I don’t know anymore. Your light wouldn’t have gone out. If you hadn’t chosen him, he wouldn’t have killed Seth. Pure and simple. I don’t know what you did to piss him off, but it’s your fault Seth is dead.” Jacob said as he hit the brakes upon seeing Bella’s new friends. “I hope they realize how toxic you are.”
“They are the ones who are helping me get away from them…” She whispered. She knew she had blown it with Jacob, and his attitude didn’t surprise him one bit, but it still hurt to hear the words.
“Who are they, exactly?” He said after taking a deep breath. “You’re stuck to him like glue.” He continued through gritted teeth as his body had tensed and gripped his handles tightly.
“They were the ones who chased them out of New Orleans. Thanks to them, I was able to stay there longer,” she explained in hopefully such a way it wouldn’t anger him any further.
“So why did you allow them to get through to you and you shut us out?”
Bella looked over towards Rebekah and Kol, who both watched them with careful eyes from their position across the treaty line. Rebekah at least could hear every word and nodded enough for her to continue. “Jake – you wouldn’t believe everything that happened in Louisiana but I’ll tell you if you want to know.”
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as if to calm himself before nodding. “Go on.”
Bella got off the bike and moved so she could look at him before she started to tell the whole story. As expected, Jacob huffed or snorted at the mention of witches and how she fit in all of it. It wasn’t a surprise that he believed the part where she told him about how Rebekah was a different kind of vampire than the Cullens. “And as for getting through to me… they’re taking being patient to the extremes,” she admitted. “It’s hard to let go of things I’m used to and the best thing is, they’re not forcing me to do anything I don’t want to. They asked what I wanted to do in New Orleans or, once they got to know me, surprised me to take me somewhere I liked.” She then grinned. “I hurt myself the other day when we got into town and instead of leaving me alone, they healed me.”
“How did you hurt yourself?” Jake asked, his usual concern for her returning quick before he forced himself to push it away. He blinked through confused eyes as he looked her over for the bruising and damage that would normally be on her. “Where did you hurt yourself?”
Bella lifted up her knee and pointed at it. “He was waiting for me when we got back, ambushed me in my bedroom and held me tight. All I could do was try and hurt him… so I kneed him… and broke my knee. I should have known better. He’s this marble statue and I’m breakable,” she said with a shrug. “But I stood up for myself.”
“Can I kill him?” Jacob asked, almost whispering.
“Can you leave Edward to me?” She whispered back. “You can have anyone else.”
“Bella, I’m shocked,” He laughed. “You break your knee while trying to hurt him and you want him all to yourself?”
“Yup.” She then nodded to Kol and Rebekah. “The three of us have a plan. We devised it on our way over here.”
“I don’t know, Bella. We’ve been on them ever since Seth died, I can’t tell them who to pick.”
“Trust me, Edward won’t get off easy while we’re still here, he’ll pay for Seth. But I want to be the one to… you know…”
“You want to get him to New Orleans?”
Bella nodded in response.
“Magic is the stuff of legend, or fairytales.”
“So is shifting into a wolf or vampirism,” she pointed out. “And yet, here you are.” She could have sworn she heard Kol snicker.
“Fine. I’ll see what I can do.” Jacob sighed as he ran his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, Bella, but I have to inform you that you’re no longer welcome on the reservation for the time being but you and I can still hang out if you want.”
“I’d like that,” she said with a nod.
He then nodded towards Kol and Rebekah. “They don’t pose a threat to the tribe?”
“No,” she shook her head with a smile. “Although they both may call you toy dogs or puppies when they see you when you’re a wolf, all nice and fluffy.”
“Mean,” he said with a chuckle and planted a kiss on top of her head. “See you soon then, Bella. Take care of yourself.”
“See you, Jake,” she smiled at him and watched him speed off. She then walked over to Rebekah and Kol.
“He didn’t even apologize to you, how rude.” Rebekah noted as she checked Bella for new marks or scratches.
“At least he calmed down enough to hear what I had to say,” Bella said as she looked at Rebekah. “They didn’t hurt me. Jacob pulled me away the moment some of them were starting to lose their cool with me present there.”
“And then he almost lost it,” Kol pointed out. “Volatile shifters then?”
“Jake would never hurt me. If he feels like he’s going to lose it when I’m around, he tells me to go away or he walks away to calm himself. They’re all emotional right now, and I don’t blame them.”
“Alright,” Rebekah said with a small smile. “But tomorrow I can take some fingers, yeah?”
“You want to get expelled on your first day of school?” Bella snorted as they got into the car. “Charlie will not be happy about that.”
“Tomorrow evening then,” Rebekah smirked. “Hey, does your school have a cheerleading team?”
The first day back at school after the New Orleans trip started off on the right foot, Bella thought sarcastically as they drove up to the parking lot. As usual, the Cullens were standing in one group together. It was drizzling and overcast and they hadn’t hurried themselves into the building as much as Bella had hoped they’d do. She had parked the car but didn’t dare to step out as she kept looking at them, afraid what might happen when she would.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, Bella,” Kol said as he gently squeezed her hand. “They won’t do anything in a crowded car park, it would be quite stupid of them.”
Rebekah handed her her old phone. “You’re going to march up there and you’re going to hand him his phone back and tell him that you’re coming by tonight to pick up your things.”
“What? In the middle of the parking lot?”
“Oh yes,” Rebekah said with a big grin on her face. “Right in front of everyone.”
“I can’t do that!”
“Oh, this is getting old,” Rebekah sighed as she got out of the car. “I swear I wish I could compel some confidence in you but I can’t. So you’re going to get your arse out of the car or I will pull you out and throw you into his arms.”
“Rebekah,” Kol warned his sister before helping Bella out of the car. He put his arms on Bella’s shoulders and made her look at him. “You can do this. You’re going to start with the easy part, stroll up to them and greet them. You’ll hand Mary-Alice’s husband the proof that she’s not who she says she is. And then, you’ll address yourself to Edward,” he said in a calm tone of voice. “Rebekah and I will be right behind you, alright, Cuddles?”
“Just like we discussed,” Bella said with a slow nod.
“Exactly, pet. I know it’s different to execute the plan for real but you can do this. I know you can and so does Rebekah.”
Rebekah leaned against the car when Bella walked to the Cold Ones and sighed deep. “I have to admit, brother, humanity suits you.”
Kol scoffed. “I’m a wanker.”
“Not to her, you’re not. It’s refreshing and sweet how you handle her,” she then cocked her head as she kept her eye on Bella. “She has an awful posture though…”
Bella bit her lip as she approached the Cullens. She wanted to put her hands in her pockets but with the binder and the phone in both hands, she was unable to. They all stared at her and she lowered her head, she didn’t want to see them looking at her. She scowled when she felt a nudge from Kol in her back and lifted her head up again. Witches were assholes. “Thank you for leaving me in New Orleans,” she smiled at them. “It was what I needed.”
“Good, are you back to your senses now?” Edward remarked as he took a step towards her at the same time as she took a step back.
“Please wait your turn,” Bella said politely before looking at Jasper. “I ate so many good things, especially desserts. At points, I felt as if I could explode but it felt great, it reminded me how good food is, how good life is. I had a lot of fun discovering parts of New Orleans, parts of myself, without you.” She then looked at Edward. “And then I realized you weren’t helping me to become a better person, you were holding me back.”
“Bella, that’s not true and you know it,” Edward pleaded. “We take care of you, we’ve opened our home, our lives, up to you.”
“I am not done.” She shot at him before looking back at Jasper. “My new friend recognized Alice, he said he knew her from way back when and that she was someone we believed she was not.”
“What are you talking about, Bella?” Jasper asked with a friendly tone of voice. Bella had always liked Jasper. He was much like Kol, being the sibling who was thought of as ‘lesser’ and ‘special needs’ while he was a beautiful person on the inside. He was loyal to a fault, though, and that was the biggest problem she had with him.
Bella noticed Alice had turned paler than her usual complexion and smiled widely at Jasper. “I’ve brought you some light reading, to back up what I just said. She has a lot of skeletons in her closet, Jasper, I just thought you should know.” She handed him the folder and then walked over to Edward, who was trying to control his rage, she could tell by how his nostrils were flaring.
Rebekah and Kol had been right; it was for the best to do this in public. She handed him his phone back. “We need to talk, you and I.”
“No, we don’t, Bella,” he said as he frowned at the phone. “What’s this?”
“That’s me returning your property.”
“Why?” He took a step closer as he straightened himself up He knew Bella would be intimidated by his confidence, even if he was faking it. Bella knew there was a chance that he itched to get his hands on her but he knew that he was likely going to lose control if he did and hurt her. Can’t hurt the human, but the human could hurt herself on him instead.
“Because I have my own phone now,” Bella said as she looked up to him. “I expect you handling by property at your house with care when you pack them for me. I’m coming by tonight to talk.”
“Don’t be stupid,” he scoffed as he handed her the phone back and nodded towards Rebekah and Kol. “Have they been filling your mind with things you shouldn’t concern yourself with? Now is not the time to do things you are doing, Bella, we’re the only ones who can protect you from the Volturi.”
“No, sorry Edward, you’re not,” Bella shook her head as she thrust the phone back into his hands. “I want you to stay away from me, all of you. And you and I will talk tonight.” When she walked away, Edward grabbed her arm tightly and pulled her to him. “Let me go,” she told him as she looked at him. “I’m asking you once.”
“And then what?” Edward smirked at her. “Break your knee, again?”
She growled as she stomped on his foot.
“Relax, Bella,” Jasper said after some nudging from Alice and placed his hand on her shoulder. She had been so focused on Edward that she hadn’t expected Jasper to touch her and calm her down. She had always wondered why he was able to manipulate her emotions like that. Maybe it was because his power, combined with the emotions, worked on a different level from what her body was shielding her from. They had been so careful with making decisions because of Alice, but she hadn’t taken Jasper in account because she had considered him a good boy.
“Come along now,” Edward said as he started to pull her with him. “It’s time to end this nonsense and get back to normal. You’re acting really unbecoming.”
“No, please,” she said with a whisper. “Let me go.” She wasn’t feeling angry anymore, in fact, she didn’t think she was feeling anything at all and she had lost the will to fight. It was wrong. She knew it was wrong, but she couldn’t fight Jasper.
Before she knew it, Jasper’s hand was off of her and she was in Kol’s arms with Rebekah pinning Edward against the nearest wall, waving Jasper’s thumb in his face. “She asked you nicely. Many times. See this? Lay another finger on her and one of your siblings, or yourself, will lose more than just a thumb, got it, pup?”
When the other Cullens moved in to avoid further escalation or for an attack, Rebekah looked over her shoulder with a smirk and her vamp face on. “Oh, don’t even try, porcelain dolls, you’ll be next, no matter how the girl begs me not to hurt you.”
She then focused back on Edward. “You’re going to stay away from her, sparkles. She’ll come by your house tonight to pick up her belongings and tell you where you stand.”
Edward just looked at Rebekah with an amused smile on his face. “You’ll lose. You don’t know her as well as you think you do, she’ll come round.”
“I wouldn’t bet on it. Now get your asses inside or do I have to throw you in?”
“Are you okay?” Kol asked Bella as she was visibly upset. He gently started to rub her back as he held her close.
“I did it,” she said with a slight chuckle. “I did it and it was going fine until Jasper…”
“You did it and you were brilliant,” Kol agreed. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Nope. Not hearing it, Cuddles, you were amazing. End of.” When he had noticed she had stopped shaking, he let go of her and put an arm around her. “Let’s go and learn something new, shall we?”
Bella had to admit, she liked the way she was positioned in class right now. She was in front of the class, which was stupid, but she had Kol next to her and Rebekah behind her. And on her other side was the door. She felt safe, she felt sane and for the first time in a long time, she felt she could really see this through; getting her revenge on Edward and then some. The small smirk that appeared on her face stayed for the rest of the day.
She decided to be a bit daring with dinner that night, only to congratulate herself a bit further by preparing the salmon Billy had left hanging on the door for them. She usually cooked something quick and easy for her and Charlie and had done so the last two days for the four of them. Gutting the salmon was messy and smelly work, but the meal would be cooked quickly. She decided to serve it with baked potato and some asparagus and all they had to do now was to wait for Charlie to come home while Rebekah had a light snack out of the fridge.
“I’ve never done high school,” Kol said as he leaned against the kitchen counter and watched Bella work. “It’s an unusual experience.”
“How so?” Rebekah asked with a grin. “All those sweaty teenagers who think they’re more important than others trying not to pay attention in class while pretending to pay attention in class, with all its little subcultures in the school… all ready to be played like violins.”
“It’s boring.” Kol said, rolling his eyes. “I almost fell asleep during the classes. That Mrs. Goff is terrible at Spanish and English? Don’t make me laugh. It’s not English what they’re teaching.” He then looked at Bella. “You really suffer through this every single day? You’d better hope I don’t claw my brains out of me ears from boredom.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Bella smiled at him. “At least you’re good at pretending to listen.”
“It was fun to pop open buttons from random classmates, yes,” He said with a nod. “Or open a drawer just as the teacher walked by…”
“Or heavily snoring during biology…”
“That wasn’t me,” Kol said innocently.
“Yes, it was,” Rebekah laughed. “I would have done the same, really. I mean, there’s only so much you can learn about the human anatomy from text books. It’s much more entertaining to just grab a human and rip open the chest cavity and see what’s going on. But seeing as this is your senior year, does that mean there’ll be a dance at the end of it?”
Bella winced. She had been lucky to duck out of the spring dance this year because of her trip to New Orleans but she hated the dance. “Yes…”
“Oh, we need to go shopping then, little dove.”
“We don’t have to go.”
“Oh, we are.” Rebekah said, her face looking even more resolved than it had before. “Somehow I always miss the dance when I’m in high school.”
Kol snorted as he saw how uneasy Bella was and how much his sister was already looking forward to it. “It will be fun. When’s graduation?”
“Next month…” Bella said as she looked at the door. She could have sworn she heard Charlie’s car park next to hers and he could come in any moment. When he did, he was busy talking on his phone about the recent killings in Seattle. She walked over to him to give him a hug and then set the table while Kol helped her while Rebekah hid the evidence of her snack.
“How was your first day at your new school, Kaleb?” Charlie said after he hung up and grabbed a beer from his own fridge. “It smells nice, Bells,” he smiled at her and kissed the top of her head.
“It’s smaller than what Bekah and I are used to, but I suppose that’s better, too.” Kol replied with one of his rehearsed lines.
Charlie hummed in response as he sat down at the table.
“How was your day, Charlie?” Bella asked as she sat down and was soon joined by Kol and Rebekah. “What’s this about Seattle?”
“Oh, nothing. Just a couple of missing kids, we’ve been asked to keep an eye out,” he said as he took a swig of his beer. “I have to stop by the garage tomorrow to get a dent out of my car though. It felt as if a boulder was thrown off the bridge right on top of the car but when I stopped all I could see was a dent and no boulder. Must be the weather playing tricks on the metal or something.”
“Are you sure, Mr. Swan?” Rebekah asked concerned. “Do you think you were targeted specifically, maybe?”
He snorted. “Don’t be silly, we’re in Forks, not some big city.”
They continued the meal in silence and when Bella was clearing the table she spoke up again. “We’re going over to Edward’s for a bit. We won’t be long.”
“I would have thought he’d have come by this weekend.” Charlie said with a nod. “You two are always together, joined at the hip.”
“I’m trying to change that,” Bella replied.
“Well then, let me worry about those dishes and you go over to Edward’s.”
Bella couldn’t help but check out the damage to her father’s car when they got outside and sighed. There was a butt shaped dent on top of the cabin. “Fucking Emmett,” she muttered.
“How do you know?” Rebekah inquired as she looked at the dent. “I mean, it looks like an arse.”
“Emmett has a thing for jumping on cars,” Bella replied as she opened the door to her own car. “They’re trying to scare me.”
“Is it working?”
Bella huffed. What was she supposed to say to that? Yes? Yes, it scared her because they were going after Charlie. She also knew it was a scare tactic and that they probably wouldn’t hurt him but the possibility was there. No, she wasn’t scared because she had never felt more safe as than with Kol and Rebekah. And she felt guilty about it because Charlie – and Renée, in a way – always taught her to fight her own battles. She figured the rules were different seeing as her battle was against the supernatural.
The more she thought about what Emmett had done while driving towards the Cullen house, the angrier she got. His brother Edward still had to pay for killing Seth and in general, everyone else had to pay for being fucktards. Simple as that.
They had set up a plan while they were still in New Orleans where she and Kol were able to hide them all from Alice’s sight and she knew that they had to stick to it. She had wanted the plan so she could get her own revenge on the Cullens instead of having Rebekah kill them all. At the moment, it was tempting to abandon the plan and let Rebekah have a go.
Carlisle was waiting for them at the house, arms crossed over his chest and he looked angry. The moment Bella stepped out of the car he stood in front of her. If she hadn’t taken a step to close the door, he surely would have pinned her against the car. “What have you done, Bella?”
“Nothing?” Bella said confused. “I drove my friend’s car?”
“You’re upsetting the dynamic in this family, that’s what you’re doing. Get inside the house. Your friends can wait outside.”
“I’m not going inside the house,” Bella said stubbornly as she leaned against the car with her arms crossed over her chest. “Edward can come outside.”
“Bella, don’t do this,” Carlisle said kindly as he put his hand on her shoulder.
She could feel a slight tug and sighed. “Edward can come outside,” she repeated. “And please get your hand off of me.”
Kol had rounded the car and stood close by while Rebekah just stared at Carlisle, waiting to snap off one of his limbs if he didn’t comply with Bella’s request. Kol felt proud of his girl for standing up for herself and then realized he had thought of Bella as his. He had entertained the idea but to be actually thinking it was something completely different.
“You’re being difficult,” Carlisle said as he removed his hand from her, probably prompted by Edward and Alice in his head. Bella had always hated that kind of telepathy. Or telepathy in general. She preferred it the way it was with her, with them not being able to get inside her head at all.
“Am I?” Bella looked up to him. “Edward. Outside. Now.”