A huge THANK YOU to Jasper’sGoddessofWar who helped me decide between two versions of a scene I wrote in this chapter.
It had surprised Bella that things between her and Kol hadn’t changed simply because they kissed. She had been afraid of that, seeing as Edward became possessive after their first kiss and Kol was unpredictable according to his siblings. Bella didn’t see it that way, Kol liked to keep everyone on their toes and he tried to be the best person he could be.
She had felt him slipping out of bed when it was still dark outside and she had to admit, him going on a fishing trip with Charlie was amazing. Not so much that she had to miss Kol’s company but because it showed how much Charlie wanted to care. There was no doubt Charlie – and maybe Billy too if he came long – would interrogate Kol and he would pass with flying colors.
Rebekah waltzed into the bedroom a few hours after Charlie and Kol had left and removed Bella’s sheets before opening the curtains and tugging on Bella’s foot. “Rise and shine, little dove, we’re going shopping and if there’s still time left, we’re going to pamper ourselves at the spa.”
Bella groaned at that as she practically rolled out of bed.
“And maybe we should get you some new sleep attire too…”
“There’s nothing wrong with a pair of boxers and a shirt,” Bella said with a yawn as she motioned for Rebekah to leave the room so she could get dressed. It took her half an hour to get dressed and down a cup of coffee to be completely awake while Rebekah impatiently walked through the house. The moment she put her cup down, Rebekah pulled her out of the door and stuffed her in the car before driving off towards Port Angeles.
“We have a lot to do in a short period of time. You are going to wear a dress because you are graduating and you’re a lady,” Rebekah said as she sped out of Forks. Bella quietly told herself Rebekah was lucky that the local cops didn’t like to do speed traps. “While we’re on the subject of ladies… what are your intentions with my brother?”
“What do you mean, my intentions?” Bella said confused.
“As much as I despise my brother on occasion due to his habit of going up against me and my other brothers, he is my brother. Even now when he’s stuck in this body until he grows old and dies. I do not wish to see him hurt for the short period of life he still has left.”
Bella frowned at that. “Short? Humans have an average lifespan of 80 plus years, your brother still has a long way to go.”
Rebekah smiled at that before continuing. “My brother is over a thousand years old, love,” she said. “Granted, he spent most of those years boxed up… Elijah told me about your spat with him about this. The thing was, it was easier to box Kol up than Niklaus, regular daggers don’t work on him.”
“Nope, still not liking that,” Bella shook her head. “I get it that he’s a thousand years old and 80 years seems like nothing, but trust me, it’s a lot when you have to do everything at normal speed,” she defended herself. “And I do not plan on hurting him, Rebekah. I’m more worried he’ll end up losing interest and hurt me.” It was out before Bella realized it was.
A faint smile appeared on Rebekah’s lips as if she was thinking of something. “You have nothing to be afraid of, Bella,” she said quietly. “He’s different with you. He’s likable, he’s careful. Maybe he did get a false start the second time he was human and now that he’s on his third… I think he’s decided he needed a change.”
“Third?” Bella blinked.
“He didn’t tell you, did he? That he died because our other brother Finn had hexed him and there was no turning back while he was still alive?”
She shook her head.
“It was terrifying when he died. And sad, really sad. Mostly because Niklaus finally accepted Kol as one of us, a part of the terrible threesome… Always and Forever, is our thing. Kol said he wasn’t afraid, he smiled, but…” Rebekah sighed as she kept her eyes fixed on the road. “I’ve lost a lot of loved ones over the last thousand years, but none hit me harder than Kol’s passing… Davina, the witch he was involved with, was beside herself. She even caused a scene during Kol’s consecration and burial…”
“I’m sorry, Rebekah,” Bella said, not really being able to relate. Yes, she missed Seth, but to lose a relative that was so close to you was something else entirely.
“While Kol was dying, Davina tried to stop the hex or stop Kol from dying. And she failed. Which is not her fault, we didn’t blame her. Davina couldn’t bring him back or stop the hex as Finn was still alive back then. Bastard had a habit of jumping into other bodies when feeling threatened, just like our darling mother.”
“He told me about her.”
“Right piece of work she was. Every few years or so she manages to slip back into the land of the living to make our lives hell, wanting to correct the wrong she did by making us immortal. She’s right, of course, we haven’t exactly been angels and we have been living for a long time but…” Rebekah slightly shrugged. “Kol had put me into another body as a prank while we were trying to take on Mother for the last time and he always promised to put me back. After he died, I lost hope, but if I have to be honest, I didn’t mind being mortal again because it was an opportunity for me to finally have the life I’d always wanted.”
“But you’re back to being immortal now.”
“Oh yes,” Rebekah said with a small smile. “You see, Davina and I turned Kol’s old lair upside down, surely he had kept notes of his run-ins with other covens across the globe and maybe he had the solution all along. At the same time, my brothers went after Finn as he had come back to New Orleans. We even turned to a witch in Mystic Falls, her ancestry is as long and old as the witches of the French Quarter. She warned Davina and I that magic requires balance and that she had learned the hard way not to interfere with death. Dead is dead…”
“I kinda understand that…”
“Yes, so do I, but Kol didn’t deserve to die. He didn’t deserve to be hexed by his own brother. Davina and I wanted to bring him back at all costs. And after a while, we succeeded.”
Rebekah shrugged. “The details are quite foggy but the next thing I remember is waking up in my box, in my own body, with Kol fuming over me, berating me that I shouldn’t have done this and that the ancestors eventually allowed him to return because not only me and Davina, but apparently Kol as well, were stubborn idiots. I paid the price by being returned to my own immortal body and Kol and Davina were punished by having their love for each other erased from existence. After he finished berating me, he left New Orleans for a few months, too angry and too distraught to face any of us.”
“I suppose Kol is the one who paid the dearest; he eventually will die again. We offered to bite him, but he’d rather be human and I don’t blame him. So this is why I asked you what your intentions were with my brother. Because he deserves to be happy and not suffer from heartbreak.”
“I know, little dove,” she smiled at Bella before looking back to the road ahead of them. “There’s no pressure, none at all. Right now, you make him happy and he has a good influence on you as well, so all is good.”
Bella thought for a moment and then snorted. “It’s that you’re stronger than I am, Rebekah, and currently driving but otherwise I would have smacked you.”
“You want to give your brother the best human life experience ever. This means you can’t interfere in his life.”
“Yes, you are. You’ve just told his recent story to the girl who’s kissed him and then tell her that if she breaks his heart that it will be bad news. I get it, you want to protect him and make sure he’ll be alright but he’s still young. I am still young. Anything could happen and if there’s potential heartbreak, so be it, but for now, it’s not my intention to break his heart because things seem to be moving in the right direction.”
“But I …”
“I’m only eighteen years old, Rebekah. If you expect me to make the decision now to stay with your brother forever you’re crazy and no better than the family of my former boyfriend. Things need to naturally evolve and that takes time.”
“He doesn’t have any time, Bella,” Rebekah said as she slammed on the brakes while parking the car. “He only has this lifetime to make something of himself and it has to be perfect. He deserves it to be perfect! He deserves to grow old with someone he loves, have children, the whole dance that comes with mortality. Because he’s the only one of us who can.”
“Exactly,” Bella pointed out. “Rebekah, haven’t you noticed that in your whole thousand years that we mortals are fucked up beings but in the end, everything comes together as it should? Who knows, maybe Kol will get fed up with me and dates a string of girls after me. And when he’s fifty, he can have his midlife crisis and have a girl half his age.”
“Are you implying he’s promiscuous?”
“I’m saying, he’s human. And we humans are flawed. We’re not perfect, but we try our hardest to make something out of life without interference from other people. Kol can have anyone he wants, he has a beautiful soul and your mother picked a great body for him to inhabit. You don’t have to be afraid that he’ll end up alone, he’s got everything working for him,” Bella replied with a calm tone of voice; she didn’t want to anger the vampire even further. “And I told you, I understand you want to protect him, but humans are not as fragile as you think.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the car door. “You shouldn’t worry about him, he’ll be fine.” Bella then got out of the car and shut the door.
“Are you done?” Rebekah asked as she had gotten out of the car herself.
“Are you?” Bella could tell Rebekah was still pissed, but Bella felt even worse and all of a sudden found this whole idea of them helping her to get free of Edward completely crazy. She scolded herself in silence, the time of being a victim was gone. She was a victim of the Cullens, but no longer. It was weird to realize that because she had always refused to see herself as a victim. She’d thought she willingly stayed with Edward. But she hadn’t. She had done it out of fear. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to allow Rebekah to make her a victim again. She was a survivor now, she could stop this before it even started. “You vampires are all the same,” she muttered as she shoved her hands in her pocket after adjusting her backpack.
“I totally get it,” Bella said as she turned around to look at Rebekah. “You’re older, you’ve seen more, you want to protect your brother, I get it. But the way you make it sound is as if you want to make me or Kol into a person we’ve yet to discover for ourselves. You make it sound as if you want to mold me into something I’m not.”
“Am I? Really?” Bella shot at her. “Kol and I only kissed. Yesterday. We have no idea where we’re going to end up and we made a deal that we were going to see where it goes because he knows I’m not ready. Especially after just two weeks. You sounded like you want us to get married already and make each other happy, but newsflash, Rebekah, things like that don’t happen in the real world.”
“I just don’t want to see his heart broken!”
“Yeah well, neither do I but we’ll never know what will happen in the future, will we?” If it was possible, steam would have started to come out of her ears just like in the cartoons. “Just because you’re in a rush to make his life perfect, have you even given it a thought that maybe it’s better to back off and see what happens first? It’s his life, not yours.” When Rebekah just stared at her with her mouth open, Bella continued. “Look, I know you mean well, but please, allow him to find his own path in life. If he needs your help, he’ll ask for it. Don’t guilt trip me into a relationship with him because he’s had a difficult time so far because that will make you like them. We all have baggage.”
“But we’ve been so rotten towards him and…” There were tears in Rebekah’s eyes and Bella felt sorry for her. Maybe she had been a little bit harsh, but she simply didn’t want to end up being treated the same way as Rebekah and Kol tried to help her free herself from.
“I know, Rebekah,” Bella said knowingly as she leaned on the car with a small smile on her face. “But life is too short to try to right the wrongs of the past. All you can do now is move forward and do better. Be his little sister, not his prison.” The smile grew wider on Bella’s face. “Be my big sister.”
Rebekah let out a squeal of happiness as she rounded the car and hugged Bella tightly. “Let’s go shopping, little sister,” she smiled widely after she let go of her.
The thing Bella hated about shopping the most was the endless visits to the fitting rooms. She must have tried on several dresses before she felt comfortable in one Rebekah liked as well. She didn’t quite understand why most girls seemed to like shopping; clothes had to be practical and last for a long time. The odds of wearing that dress more than once were astronomical and basically a waste of money but as Rebekah said; you only graduate once.
They didn’t really have time to do anything else and when they arrived back home, Bella could tell Charlie had started the barbecue because of the smoke that rose from the back garden. “It looks like they’ve caught plenty of fish,” Bella said as she got out of the car and took her bags. Rebekah had also told her to buy new underwear that looked less ‘boyish’ but were still extremely comfortable and Bella herself bought a few new tops and jeans.
“Oh, good, you’re here,” Kol said as he came running towards them, looking slightly panicked. “Charlie’s friend opened the wrong fridge. He didn’t say anything, probably because his son is a shifter but…”
“On it, brother,” Rebekah said with a wide grin on her face. “Will you be so kind as to help us with getting our bags inside?”
“Of course,” Kol replied as he grabbed the remaining bags from the car as his sister walked off. “Did you have fun?” he asked Bella.
“Is shopping fun?” Bella retorted with a snort. “It wasn’t pure torture if that’s what you mean. She got you a suit.”
“What?” Kol whined as he followed her into the house. “Why?”
“Something about us girls dressing up and you’d look out of place,” she flashed a smile at him as she set down the bags on the dining table. “How was your day?”
“Your dad grilled me about our family,” Kol replied wincing. “And since the best lies are the ones close to the truth, I replied that our family is well-respected, well off and that I have a brother who tries to keep us all in check while another brother likes to break the rules after the death of our parents.”
“That about sums it up,” Bella laughed as she poured the both of them some juice. “Did you get to ask him what you wanted to ask him?” She had sort of suspected Kol would try to pry some stories out of her father and if she had to be honest, she didn’t mind. He had gone fishing with her father and that made everything alright in her book.
“Cuddles!” he tried to sound shocked but there was this huge smile on his face so he was joking. “How dare you think such a thing of me?”
“Yes,” Kol grinned. “He even showed me a picture of yours that he keeps on him.”
“No!” Bella said horrified. “The one with pigtails?”
“Oh yes,” A big smirk was plastered across his face as he took a sip of his drink. “Very adorable. You should definitely put your hair in pigtails when we go to school on Monday.”
“No.” Bella shook her head as she walked out of the door to the backyard. “Hi Billy,” she greeted Jake’s dad before giving her father a hug, holding him tightly as she did. “How dare you show him that picture.”
Charlie gaped at her, surprised he was found out.
“He told me.”
“I’m sorry,” he replied with a smile on his face. “But that day was one of the best days ever.”
“True and it’s okay, just slightly embarrassing,” she smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek before letting go of her father. “How was the fishing?”
“He caught most of it. Must be beginner’s luck.”
May wasn’t the ideal time to put up the barbecue and grill some fish and meats, but Bella loved it. She could tell Billy was having a hard time being around Rebekah. She hadn’t compelled him out of respect for him and she suspected he was good at keeping secrets himself. She merely explained that she wasn’t here to hurt anyone he loved.
Much to Bella’s surprise, Jacob arrived as well and he had a healthy appetite that Charlie couldn’t help but commenting on. Bella wasn’t much into any sport activity at all, but when Jacob and Kol teamed up against Rebekah and her to play soccer, there wasn’t much that the girls could do but to accept and horribly lose. Not only did she really have to shape up a bit because her lungs and legs felt as if they were on fire, she also really had to do something about her falling over and tripping over her own feet while moving at a higher speed than normal. Or fall into other people. Fifteen minutes in, she fell on her ass and decided not to bother getting up.
“You know,” Jacob said as he sat down next to her in the wet grass. “I prefer you like this. All human with a beating heart and some color on her face.”
“I know,” Bella chuckled as she playfully punched him in the shoulder. “You don’t have to tell me nearly every time we see each other.”
He grinned as he gave her a playful shove. “Are you going to beg Rebekah now to turn you into one of them?”
“One of her siblings then?”
“Okay, who are you and what have you done to Bella?”
“I’m still me,” she chuckled as she elbowed him in the side. “I just… gained some much-needed perspective.”
“Even if it means you’re never going to get rid of your clumsiness?” Jake grinned, happy to hear that his friend finally got the idea out of her head to become a vampire. Just the sheer thought of her being one made the hairs on his body stand up.
“It’s what makes me me, doesn’t it?” she said with a shrug. “I can live with it.”
“As long as you have someone around to catch you.”
She sighed as she looked over to Kol for a moment before looking back at Jacob who had this huge smile on his face. “What? You and I won’t work, you know that.”
“Well, you’ve never given it a real chance anyway… it was always Edward this, Edward that. And now that you’ve dumped him…”
“Jake, no.” she tried to interrupt him but he continued anyway.
“I’m sad you didn’t choose me but I’m sort of glad you found someone else who makes you happy, even if it feels like it’s moving too fast.”
“How do you know?”
“Please. Us wolves have nothing else to do but to keep an eye on you and those Cold Ones, we see a lot of stuff.”
“You’re following me?” Bella didn’t know whether to feel angry or relieved or surprised, even. “Jake!”
“Hey! Just because you have new friends doesn’t mean we have to trust them, but we do. So instead of two wolves, we have one wolf on you when you’re in Forks. But it’s clear there’s something between you and him. And for what it’s worth, you deserve it. I may not like it, but you deserve it.”
“Ugh. To hear you speak like this is so unlike you.”
He snorted. “Look, Bells, you deserve to be happy. From what I’ve seen, he’s a good guy and should you decide to move away to get to know him better, then you should go. We’ll make sure Charlie’s safe.”
“I can’t ask that of you…”
“Which is why I’m telling you, loca.” He grinned. “Besides, we’re all convinced that when you leave, they’ll come with you and your dad will be safe anyway so…”
“Just a feeling,” he said with a shrug. “So, you just do whatever your heart tells you to do and everything will be fine. Even if it’s not what I want.”
“You want me to leave?” Bella said after a moment of silence.
“No, but you have to do what you want. And I know that graduating is your short term want, and after that, we’ll see. If you do whatever makes you happy, then I’m happy. Even if it involves you moving away and get in touch with a new side of you.” Okay, so he was lying. He didn’t want Bella to leave but making her stay would be bad, wouldn’t it? It wouldn’t make him a better person than Edward. No, if he gave her enough room to move, maybe she’d stay anyway.
Bella smiled as she hugged him. “You’re the best best friend ever, Jake, thank you.”
“That’s me, forever stuck in the friend zone…”
Bella sighed as she got to her feet and walked over to Billy. She sat down next to him and looked around if Charlie was present, but he had gone for a moment. “Tell me about vampires again?”
Billy blinked at her. “Vampires are bad, Bella, you know that. They survive off of blood and have been known to slaughter entire civilizations. You shouldn’t involve yourself with vampires. As I told you when you started to date the Cullen boy.”
Bella smiled at him. “Thank you!”
“But Kaleb isn’t a vampire,” he pointed out with a smile on his face.
“Billy!” she whined as she threw her hands up in defense before burying her face in them, it was better to hide from the real world than to hear anyone else tell her what she didn’t want to hear. On the other hand, however, it was great that at least Billy and Jake were accepting of Kol, although she had the feeling Jacob had something to hide. Bella knew she was going to figure it out eventually, and it would probably be as simple as Jacob not wanting her to leave Forks and stay with him.
And as much as she loved Jacob as a friend, what he wanted was not going to happen.