It was funny how the weeks leading up to her finals had flown by so quickly. It had been made easier by the Cullens dropping out of school – it wasn’t as if they needed school anyway. They were probably up to something, but Bella didn’t care. She was glad for the reprieve so she could focus on her studying although Kol had made it a challenge, to say the least.
Every day he’d think of something that threw a wrench in her self-made studying schedule. It usually started with him telling her that she studied too hard for her finals and that she didn’t need that much studying as she was a bright cookie.
Rebekah had offered to teach Bella some sword fighting as distraction from her studies and the Cullens. She refused, afraid that they’d scare Charlie into a heart attack, so Kol came home one day with staves. He thought Rebekah had been on to something and Bella needed a way to learn how to defend herself at least a bit against other people if she’d be hanging around in New Orleans. That way, she wouldn’t have to rely on her, currently still unstable, magic.
Bella was sporting a few new bruises, but she was surprised how quick she picked things up. Both Kol and Rebekah were great teachers and didn’t mind her falling flat on her face every so often when she lost her footing again. As long as she didn’t have to move her feet, she was pretty decent after only a few lessons.
A part of Bella was glad that Renée had canceled her trip to Forks as her new husband Phil was dealing with a broken leg, but another part of her was relieved. Even with the Cullens laying low, Bella found it still too dangerous for her mother to come over. She had to admit, she was missing her mother, but for now she was safer where she was, and her safety was more important than Bella missing her.
Despite all the distractions that the siblings provided, she had a good feeling about her finals and after her second day of finals, she took them to the ice cream parlor for a well-deserved treat. While Kol and Rebekah had found a seat outside, Bella was inside to order. She was in the middle of her order when someone bumped into her. Before she could register what was going on, she had been taken out of the ice cream shop and brought somewhere else by someone cold and strong as hell.
When she finally realized what had happened and who was to blame for this, it was too late. She got tossed into some place with a locked door, and Esme was standing in the corner with her arms crossed over each other.
“What the hell!” Bella breezed.
“Calm down, Bella,” Esme said with a gentle tone of voice. “Please. I just want to talk.”
“No, if you wanted to talk, you would have started a conversation at the ice cream shop.” Bella looked around for something she could use to hit Esme with into letting her go, but the room was bare. She was not going to hit Esme with her hands because she had learned her lesson when she had kneed Edward in the groin. “What’s wrong with you people?”
“I’m worried about you,” Bella was wondering if Esme had ever been angry, the woman seemed to be incapable of doing that. “Do you have any idea what you’re putting my family through? Haven’t we always been kind to you? Are you on drugs?”
“Not this again,” Bella was frustrated and started to pace around the room as if she was a caged animal. “You have to let me go, Esme.”
“I am only trying to understand, Bella. You’ve been acting strangely after your trip to New Orleans. Jasper…” her voice was thick with sadness. “Was slaughtered right in front of you. You’ve been ignoring Edward, and you haven’t come by the house.”
“Why don’t you people understand that I don’t want anything from you? That I don’t want Edward anymore? That I’ve finally come to my senses on how you’ve been treating me?”
Esme pursed her lips. “I see.”
“They’ve obviously brainwashed you or they cursed you while you were in New Orleans, unprotected by my children.”
“Unbelievable…” Bella muttered to herself. “You’re really not giving up, are you?”
“We care about you, Bella,” Esme said quietly. “Maybe a few hours alone will do you some good.”
The moment Esme opened the door was the moment Bella tried to make a run for it, but why was she even trying? The vampire was faster and stronger than her and with a simple push, Bella almost flew through the air and got knocked against the wall.
She must have passed out or something because when she came to, the light that had shimmered through the cracks in the wall had disappeared. There was no light in the room either, and that was freaking her out. Not being able to see your attacker was always a bad thing. Bella’s head was throbbing, she felt thirsty and hungry, and it was cold. When she got to her feet, the world seemed a little bit wobbly but she managed to steady herself and made her way to the door and much to her dismay, it was still locked.
What else did she expect? Esme would go soft on her and regret taking her?
Bella then remembered she had her phone on her and hoped that she’d be able to get reception. She felt around her pockets and sighed when they were flat and empty. Of course, Esme had probably taken it from her while she was out cold.
Grumbling, she tried to find the wall and used it to guide her around the little room. Maybe she could find something to help her do something at least. She didn’t freak out – who wouldn’t freak out when taken away by a supernatural being you can’t do anything against because of their tough skin? – Because she knew what she was up against. Esme wouldn’t hurt her, at least not intentionally, as the Cullens wanted her back.
Instead of freaking out, however, Bella could feel herself becoming angry, and that wasn’t a good idea either. While she knew that she wouldn’t get hurt, it still wasn’t a wise idea to poke the bear with a stick and hope it wouldn’t lash out.
When she had made her way back to the door, finding nothing in her path to help her, she sighed. She made her way to the wall with the cracks to see where Esme had taken her, maybe if she could see something familiar in the darkness she could call for help or something. Vampires had super hearing, right? She knew that Jake had it, probably only in wolf form so maybe she could get lucky.
She was glad she didn’t get her hopes up in seeing some light or anything she could identify in the darkness. It was almost as if she was in some bubble. She started calling out to Rebekah, Kol – Kaleb – and Jake but after a while, she found that it was leading her nowhere. Surely they were looking for her, right? At least Rebekah and Kol?
When the door opened, Bella nearly jumped ten feet in the air, she hadn’t expected that. In walked Esme, carrying a gas lamp and she set it in the corner, but all Bella could do was to keep an eye on the woman. “Please let me go, Esme.”
“I’m sorry, Bella, I can’t do that,” Esme said with a kind voice and retrieved a carefully wrapped plate of food out of her bag. She also produced two bottles of water which she set down next to the light.
“Sure you can. Just allow me to walk out that door.”
Esme looked at her with a smile on her face. “You shouldn’t yell as you did, Bella, it’s bad for your voice. They won’t be able to hear you. Nor find you, not even your witch friend can.”
“What did you do?”
“Carlisle and I were well aware of Alice’s true identity when we took her in even if she hadn’t offered the information herself. We suspected she was on the run from someone or something, and it didn’t matter to us. Alice has always been special. After Jasper’s death… she went to retrieve a box with items from the past, saying that they contained magic for various ends. She placed two in this area; one to conceal and one to stop sound.”
Bella felt the panic rise inside of her. What Esme was saying was that there was no way out for her. No one was going to be able to find her, end of. There was a little bit of hope that Rebekah would ask Jacob for help seeing as he had a well-developed sense of smell. She knew that Rebekah had a heightened sense but would that be enough?
“You must be familiar with Dark Objects, Bella, seeing as your witch friend planted them all over your house.”
Bella huffed. “What do you want from me, Esme? Keep me as your human pet or are you going to turn me after all?”
“You and Edward are destined to be together and yes, eventually we will turn you. But not right now, you’re too angry and as a newborn you could kill us all.”
“We are not destined to be together! He’s a controlling, manipulative asshole, and you’re not better!”
“We’ll see,” Esme smiled at her. “Enjoy your late dinner and make sure you drink. I’ll be back soon.”
Bella couldn’t help but watch as Esme closed and locked the door again. Once she was sure that Esme had left, she took a good look around now that the gaslamp was giving off some light to see. She was in some bunker, and the reason it was so cold was because it was half way tucked into Mount Olympic because that was the only bunker she could think of. Unless Esme had taken her to Canada. Bella sure hoped not.
“Just great,” she muttered to herself and despite her being hungry, she didn’t want to eat whatever was on that plate. However, she knew that she had to drink something. She sat down in front of the lamp and stared at the plate. The clingfilm couldn’t hide the fact that it was one of Esme’s infamous salads and Bella shuddered at the thought of having to eat that again. Grabbing one of the bottles, she could see that it had already been opened once, which was nice. At least Esme had thought about Bella’s inability to open bottles from time to time.
The water was nice, it was probably going to cause her to have to go to the bathroom which was non-existent at the moment but she had to drink something. If she wanted to survive this, she had to drink. She didn’t want to sleep that night and spent the night thinking about her future while making sure she didn’t down the water in one go.
Was she really going to move to New Orleans? Sure, why not? It was a lot warmer than Forks; it was where her family originated, and she liked to find out more about that and the witch stuff, and most importantly, Kol was there. Maybe she was this stupid young girl who left one boyfriend for another in a short amount of time but wasn’t that what she was supposed to do? Live and see where life would take her?
Kol was simply amazing; he made her discover sides of herself that she didn’t know she had. He excited her and yes, he had a playful mean streak but that was mostly in jest. His pranks could be cruel, not towards Bella though, his sister always seemed to be on the receiving end of it, and she endured it. Bella wished she had Rebekah’s confidence though, the girl didn’t seem to be fettered by anything and simply marched on through.
When the sun seemed to come up, Bella couldn’t resist not eating anymore. She was going to give herself a good talking to when this was all over. She was the worst kidnapee ever, but she hadn’t eaten the whole day yesterday, nervous for her last day of finals and her stomach had started to make these stupid growling noises. The food was there for a reason; she had to eat it.
Esme’s famous salads usually contained a few leaves of lettuce, a handful of wildflowers and a chopped up apple with some cheese. Bella wasn’t surprised to find all that when she removed the cling film from the plate. She picked on the apple for a bit, rethinking her decision to eat something and decided that the apple and cheese would do as the lettuce and wildflowers had already started to wilt.
She settled against the wall so that the cracks could continue to bring in the cold air and keep her awake while she hoped that she was going to be out of her prison soon. By now, she realized that Charlie would be worried. Charlie would come looking for her. He’d mobilize the police force, and he’d come looking for her. No need for supernatural beings, he’d come. He had to. He was her dad.
She woke up with a jolt when she could feel her being pulled to her feet. “Esme.”
“I’m here,” Esme said kindly and caressed Bella’s hair. “How are you feeling? Better?”
Bella nodded. She was a little bit sleepy, but Esme was here now. All was good.
“Good girl,” she smiled as she handed her a new water bottle. “Drink this, it’s time for you to come home. Would you like that?”
“Yeah, of course.” Bella managed to smile at Esme before curiously looking at the bottle of water.
“We’re not leaving until you’ve drunk the whole bottle.”
“Okay,” Bella said as she greedily started to drink the water. When she finished, she wiped off her mouth and proudly smiled at Esme. “Can I use the bathroom when we get home?”
“Of course, love,” Esme lifted Bella in her arms. “Hold on to me, we’re going home. Edward can’t wait to see you again.”
“Edward?” No, that wasn’t right, was it?
“Yeah, we were all worried about you, sweetheart,” Esme said as she carried Bella out of the room. “You caught something while you were away.”
“I did?” Bella yawned as she settled her head against Esme’s shoulder.
“You’re not out of the woods yet but it’s time to come home.”
“Go to sleep, before you know it, you’ll be home.”
The cold air hit her like a truck and all of a sudden she felt as if she was drunk. Bella giggled as she tried to get out of Esme’s arms, wanting to experience walking while drunk. Who knows, maybe she wouldn’t fall over for once. Reverse psychology and all that. Or was that physicality? She doubted that her falling over would have had anything to do with Einstein… or was it Freud? Or both?
“I said, go to sleep,” Esme made sure she didn’t squish Bella but held on a little bit tighter.
“Maybe she doesn’t want to, love.”
“Kol!” Bella smiled widely and made use of Esme’s surprise to roll out of her arms and to land safely on her feet. She then smiled proudly at Kol for not falling flat on her face.
“Bella, no,” Esme said as she reached for the girl but she had already found her way into Kol’s arms.
“Hi Cuddles,” he smiled at her and held her tightly. The girl was out of it, just like Rosalie had told them she would be. It had all made sense, but that didn’t mean that it was wrong. Rebekah had taken pleasure in ripping off Rosalie’s head and burning the remains. He looked at Esme and managed to cast a spell to keep her in place. “Dark Objects, I’m impressed,” he said with a nod. “I suppose Mary-Alice learned a trick or two.”
“Give her back.”
“See, I can’t do that. She voluntarily came over to me, that means you have no say in the matter.”
Esme smiled at that. “Go on, ask her.”
Kol shrugged and looked down at Bella, who was clinging on to him with the biggest smile on her face. “You’re in no shape to answer questions, are you, Cuddles?”
“I love it when you call me that,” she said with a giggle.
He smiled at that and caressed her hair. “Would you rather stay with me or go home with Esme?”
“Esme said I had come down with something. She cured me.”
“Bella, answer the question, sweetheart. Would you rather go home with your friend or me, Edward can’t wait to see you,” Esme tried. Kol registered that she sounded desperate. He had every faith that Bella, even in her drugged state, would make the right decision as she had made the decision to leave Edward while she was on a lower dose.
Bella huffed. “Kol, of course. If that’s okay with you?”
“No, it’s not okay.”
“Of course it’s okay,” Kol said as he could see the confusion on Bella’s face. “It’s your choice, isn’t it? She asked for it.”
“Bella, it’s not okay,” Esme said sternly.
“Oh, of course it’s okay,” Rebekah said as she came from another side of the building. “I’m impressed, we were unable to find you, you had your remaining children keeping the wolves busy and blondie was keeping an eye on us. Did you know that she didn’t even want Bella around? That she thought she was better off without you lot so she could live the life that Rosalie badly wanted for herself?”
When Esme didn’t reply, Rebekah continued. “Of course you did. Any good mother would know their children’s deepest secrets. After a little bit of persuasion, Rosalie was more than happy to tell us where you took Bella. Hurts, doesn’t it? To be betrayed by the one you love?”
“I’m confused,” Bella whispered to Kol. “Is it okay or not?”
“It’s okay, Cuddles,” he chuckled as he caressed her hair.
Bella giggled again. “Can we go home then? Esme cured me; I’m fine now.”
Bella’s eyes grew big as a big brown wolf rounded the building followed by several other wolves. “Puppies!”
The wolf snorted before looking at Esme and bared its teeth.
“Can I pet the puppy?”
“No, Cuddles, we’re going home.”
“But the puppy…” Bella pouted at Kol.
“You can pet the puppy later, come on, the car is close by.”
Kol was glad that they had compelled Charlie to go and camp out on the reservation the moment they had realized that Bella was missing so that the house was empty, and Charlie was safe amongst the wolves. Bella slept on the way back in the car, but the second that Kol turned the engine off, she was awake again and getting out of the car. “Don’t wander off, Cuddles, we’re going inside.”
“Okay,” she said as she walked towards the front door and tried to open it. “It won’t open.”
“Pull, don’t push,” he said in a gentle tone as he had caught up with her and opened the door for her. Whatever they had given her – even Rosalie wasn’t sure as it was something Carlisle had developed specifically for Bella – he hoped it was out of her system soon.
She had been missing for a couple of days, and she may not feel like it at the moment, but graduation was only in a day or two. Kol sinceriously hoped she’d be back to normal by then. “Get to the kitchen, Cuddles, it’s time for some real food and some acidity in your stomach.” He hoped that the drug would be something compared to Rohypnol. If she started to feel better by drinking orange or lemon juice, he could whip up a magical antidote for it.
Rosalie had also mentioned something about Bella being more susceptible to outside influences while on the drug, and he desperately hoped that Esme hadn’t caused any long lasting damage. And as much as he wanted this to be over with – for her sake -, he knew it was a matter of simply waiting it out and look after her as well as he possibly could.
Bella sat down on a chair and watched as Kol pulled something out of the fridge and popped it into the microwave. “No salad?”
“Chicken. A whole roast chicken, just for you.”
“Yes, and you’re going to eat it once it’s done.” He watched her as she leaned on the table and rested her head on her arms with a smile on her face. It was so tempting to take advantage of her drugged state; to satisfy his need, to have her do things against her will. To interrogate her about her real feelings for him, to want to know everything there was to know about her. The old him would most definitely have done all the above, not caring about privacy. But Kol wanted Bella to stay Bella; a cute and vibrant little thing that his heart yearned for.
Bella drank the orange juice he set down in front of her and then realized something; she still had to go to the bathroom. “Can I be excused? I need to use the bathroom.”
“You don’t need to ask,” Kol chuckled as he watched her get up from her chair. “Do you need help?”
“If you must.”
“No,” Bella quietly muttered to herself as she walked towards the bathroom. Upon her return, she eyed the whole chicken that was on the plate on the table. “That’s too much, what about you?”
“I’m not hungry, Cuddles, it’s all yours.”
Bella giggled and cocked her head as she looked at Kol for a moment. “You’re gorgeous.”
“I know I’m very gorgeous thank you very much, look at this face, how perfect is it?” Kol grinned as he sat down in front of her. “And you’re very beautiful yourself.”
She giggled again and then started to pick on the meat of the chicken with her fingers before carefully started to eat. “Edward won’t like it that I’m eating this entire chicken.”
Kol groaned as he ran his hand through his hair. “You don’t have to speak to him if you don’t want to, Cuddles.”
“But Esme said…”
“Esme could have said a lot of things, it doesn’t bloody mean you have to agree with all of it.”
“You’re angry,” Bella observed as she started licking her fingers as she looked at Kol.
Oh, she didn’t just go there, he thought as he tried to look anywhere but at Bella. Even drugged up she managed to tease him so very much. The thought of those fingers touching him… He swallowed hard before pinching his leg underneath the table to distract him as he looked at her. “I am.”
“What did I do? Can I fix it?”
“No, Bella,” he smiled at her. “I’m angry at Esme.”
“But why? She cured me, didn’t she? She was nice, and she was taking care of me. She gave me water to drink and food… Esme missed me very much.”
“Cuddles, we’re not having this conversation right now. Eat your chicken.” Kol said sternly as he felt the anger inside of him grow. He hoped that the wolves were true to their word and that they’d kill Esme for kidnapping Bella. It was bad enough that they’d probably have to start all over again when it came to her independence, although secretly he wished she’d snap back once the drugs were out of her system. He set down another glass of orange juice, but this time with a splash of lemon in it.
“I’m not thirsty.”
“I don’t care. Drink. It’s good for you.” He had told himself not to tell her what to do but he didn’t have a choice right now. Was she like this when she was with the Cullens? They’d just boss her around, and she obliged without any major opposition? Figuring it was best not to engage in a conversation with her right now, he watched her eat and drink, and when she had eaten most of the chicken, Kol smiled at her. “Well done. Now, how about you take a shower and get changed into your PJ’s, Cuddles? Settle in for a movie marathon with Rebekah?”
“Of course, someone has to take care of you girls,” Kol said with a wide smirk and watched Bella as she took the stairs. The moment she was out of earshot, he grabbed his phone and called his sister, hoping that she wasn’t on her way home just yet. He needed her to pick up a few ingredients at the nature store so that he could feed it to Bella to help her body get rid of the drugs.
Half an hour later, Bella walked down the stairs clutching her duvet and wearing her pajamas. “I feel like crap,” she sulked as she plopped on the couch and snuggled under her duvet. “I threw up in the shower… sorry.”
“That’s okay, Cuddles,” Kol said as he sat down next to her. “Glad you’re feeling better.”
“But I don’t. I’m sick. Esme can help me.”
“No,” he said as he caressed her damp hair. “You’ll be fine. Bright as rain tomorrow evening.”
“How do you know?”
Kol shrugged. “It’s what I hope, for your sake.”
Bella snuggled up against him while still snuggled up in her duvet and closed her eyes. “Don’t think I can stay awake for movies…”
“That’s okay, Cuddles,” he said softly and put his arm around her. “You’re safe now, that’s all that matters. Get some rest.”
“I love you,” she said with a yawn before instantly dozing off.