While they were flying out to New Orleans the following day, Bella couldn’t believe that she was doing it. But it felt good and from this point on, she decided, she would not look back. She had two suitcases in the hold of the plane, and she had stuffed some things into Kol’s suitcase as well. There was no way she was going to leave without Bobby the Bear, even if her father would send her her remaining things when she’d ask him to.
There was this slightly tingling sensation in her extremities that only grew as they got closer to New Orleans, almost as if something was waiting to erupt from her body. Sure, she was nervous, but this feeling was something completely different. She had felt it before, right before she magically threw Kol into a dresser. She smiled to herself. That seemed to be so long ago but in fact it hadn’t been more than two months ago.
After the plane landed and taxied to the gate, Kol held out his hand to help her to her feet, and the both of them were surprised when they got shocked. It wasn’t like static electricity because that felt different, this was a jolt of energy that originated in their hands and running up their arms. “Well,” Kol said with a grin on his face as he shook his arm to get rid of the numb feeling and helped her up, blocking the magic now that he knew what to expect. “Someone has opened up.”
Bella blushed. “Was that?”
“Oh yes, it was, Cuddles,” he reached into the overhead compartment to get their backpacks. “You’ve opened yourself up to the possibilities, to the potential and it’s clearly showing.”
“It’s also potentially dangerous,” Elijah spoke, he and Rebekah had been sitting in front of them on the plane. “You mustn’t lose control over your emotions until you’ve balanced out.”
“He’s such a stick in the mud,” Kol grinned as he nodded towards his brother. “Remember you asking me how I did stuff?” When Bella nodded, Kol flicked his hand as he winked at her.
“Kol!” Rebekah hissed. “Do not pull my hair!”
“I didn’t!” Kol said innocently.
“We’re disembarking a full plane, please do try to behave yourself,” Elijah scolded his brother.
Go on, try it, Kol mouthed to Bella and Bella repeated the movement that Kol did and visualised tugging on Rebekah’s hair, curious if it would work. She was a little bit apprehensive because of the two vampires and because she wasn’t quite sure how not having practise at all would not result in her accidentally blowing everyone away.
“It wasn’t me! Honest! I swear!” Kol laughed as they got off the plane. “It was Bella. Just… don’t make her upset or anything,” he said with a shrug. “Since we’re in the airport.”
“Oh, now he’s sensible,” Rebekah said with a sigh.
“I’m sorry,” Bella apologized as she looped her arm through Kol’s and shoved the other one in her pocket. “I should have known better.” There were a lot of people around, she should have thought before she listened to Kol, but it had been fun to try; it didn’t require much effort or concentration. She could imagine though that Rebekah was annoyed about it. Or Elijah, for that matter.
“Yes, yes you should have,” Rebekah said annoyed as she started to make her way through the mass of people towards the luggage belt.
“Don’t worry, Cuddles,” Kol said softly and kissed the top of her head. “Rebekah is glad she is home, don’t take it personal, she always gets a little bit grouchy.”
Bella huffed. “No more babysitting us, you mean?”
“Well, you, and yes,” he pointed out. “Tell me, you must feel at least a little bit excited to be diving head on into a new adventure.”
“Of course I am,” Bella said as she fell into Kol after a businessman pushed past her in a hurry, knocking his carry on against her legs. If it hadn’t been for her already holding on to him, she would have fallen flat on her face.
“Oi,” Kol growled before using his magic to have the man’s bag spill open all over the walkway, resulting in him cursing and ranting while he started to pick his stuff back up. “Serves him right, the wanker,” he muttered under his breath. “Although, I don’t mind you falling into me every once in a while,” he said with a lopsided grin on his face as he looked at her. “I’m your hero, after all.”
“I’m not going to live that down, am I?”
“Nope,” he grinned and then let out a happy sigh. “So glad to be back here. The moment we got even close to New Orleans I could feel this burst of magic going through me and it’s exhilarating.”
“That tingly feeling?”
“You felt it too? Did you feel it on your first trip here?”
Bella shook her head. “But I think I felt it now is because I am open to the possibility. I mean, I didn’t even know there was such as thing as magic before.”
“Oh yes, the possibilities are endless, you’re going to have so much fun with it, I promise!”
“Yes, but not in the airport,” Elijah said as he turned to his brother. “Both of you.”
Kol scoffed as he looked at his brother. “It were tiny spells, brother. No harm done.”
Klaus was waiting for his siblings when they got to the compound. He stood on the balcony overlooking the entrance with his arms crossed over each other and then jerked his head for his siblings to come upstairs. Elijah told Bella to go to the room she had when she was in New Orleans before, and she wanted to protest. Mainly because she didn’t like secrets. Kol, of course, saw how Bella’s demeanor changed, gently took her arm and pulled her closer to him. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, brushing his lips against her ear. “I’ll tell you everything once we’re done. Go unpack. I might have arranged a present for you.” he then kissed her and followed his siblings up the stairs.
Sighing, Bella made her way to her room with her bags and snorted when she saw a couple of books on the bed. Latin for Dummies, French for Dummies and New Orleans for Dummies. There was also a bag with fencing gear, she recognized it as fencing gear because she had seen Carlisle and Edward use it – they explained that although they didn’t need it, it wasn’t the same experience. The clothes were in the right size too. Bella assumed now that they were away from prying eyes that Rebekah or Kol could teach her things Charlie would get a heart attack from. She had to admit, the sessions of stick fighting they had in the last few weeks had been fun and worked to let off some steam.
She didn’t feel the need to unpack just yet; she had no idea how long she was going to stay at the compound and if Kol wasn’t staying, she didn’t want to stay either. She took her phone and decided to call Charlie to inform him that she had arrived in one piece.
She didn’t know for how long she and Charlie were on the phone while she flipped through one of the books. When she saw a shadow appear at the door, she hung up and looked up. “Done?” She smiled widely at Kol, who was leaning against the door, and he didn’t look happy at all. “What?” She got off the bed and walked up to him, seeing that he wasn’t unhappy but worried. “What’s going on?” She took his arm and pulled him inside the room and looked up to him. “Can’t you stay here?”
“It’s not that, Cuddles,” he muttered as he pulled her close and breathed in her scent. Even after having sat on a plane she still smelled bright as rain. “I can stay here, I made that very clear to my brother. He may think I’m a nuisance, but so is he. I don’t trust him with you.”
Bella nodded slowly. “I would have gone with you if you weren’t allowed to stay.”
Letting out a snort, he kissed the top of her head. “I need to tell you something and you have to promise not to freak out.”
Blinking, she looked up at him, fearing the worst. “It can’t be Charlie, I just spoke to him on the phone. Who died?”
“No one,” he replied. “But Niklaus… well, I knew he had some questionable friends, met most of them, but he kept this one from us. Rebekah isn’t happy about it either, and it seems that Elijah knew about this too. But, I suppose, if you’re as paranoid as my brother, you like to keep friends who are on the opposing side to keep an eye out.”
“Makes sense,” Bella said slowly as her mind worked in overdrive. “You’re saying he has a cold one in his pocket?”
“I wouldn’t say that, exactly, but this one’s loyal to Niklaus after he ran into him in the 1800’s. My brother gave him and his mate the means to hide from whatever they had been running from,” Kol explained as he caressed a strand of Bella’s hair out of her face. “As it turns out, this one used to be best friends with someone we’re both familiar with.”
She realized that he was taking things slow on purpose so she wouldn’t accidentally do something stupid with her magic and pinched the bridge of her nose with a sigh. “Just tell me.”
“His name is Peter Whitlock.”
“What? Why? Why is he here?”
“You know him?” Kol asked surprised.
“No, I know of him. He and his mate were spared by Jasper in the wars. Why is he here?” She had to be honest, the thought of Peter being here scared her. Peter was an ally of the Cullens, or at least of Jasper and Alice and that couldn’t be good news. She also knew that he didn’t follow the same ‘diet’ as the Cullens did. This made him unpredictable at best, hell, even Edward thought he was a danger to Bella seeing as his self-control was something he had to work on and made sure they stayed clear of Bella when they visited.
“You should talk to him.”
“Me?” Bella snorted. “No, absolutely not. I know enough to stay well clear of him.”
“Nik promised you’ll be safe. I’ll be there too. I know that we just got back here and that talking with him is not a priority, but you have to talk to him. He’s not as bad as you may think.” When she didn’t answer, he sighed. “Look, he is hiding something. Nik said Peter demanded only to speak to you. I don’t know why, Nik doesn’t know why, but since he’s a cold one, it must have to do something with your cause.”
Bella huffed and crossed her arms over her chest as she looked up to Kol. “Fine.” She reluctantly followed him upstairs. What if Peter was worse than Jasper had been with controlling himself around humans? She could very well be endangering Kol now.
“Hello, little Swan, nice to see you again,” Klaus greeted her politely as he stood before closed doors. “My apologies for having you have to deal with this, but Peter insisted.”
She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. “I sort of suspected you having dealt with the cold ones before, the way you talked about them and how you handled Edward and his siblings before, but this?”
“Don’t worry, love,” Klaus apologized and saw Bella wince at the word. “He’s not here to hurt you. Not all cold ones are bad, and he is aware of your situation.”
Bella slowly nodded and relaxed her arms before taking Kol’s hand and stepped into the room. It was another living room type of room; there were couches, and there was a coffee table and some art on the walls. Peter was sitting comfortably on one of the couches, his arm casually draped over the back of the couch and one of his legs was swung over the other. He got up the moment Bella entered the room, and she was taken aback by how red his eyes were. At least he wasn’t hungry.
“Good to finally meet you, Bella,” Peter drawled as he extended his hand to her. Texan. Of course, he was a damn Texan, just like Jasper had been. He had this ruggedness about him that made her think of him like a cowboy and no doubt that he’d have no trouble attracting women for himself. When Bella didn’t shake his hand, he nodded. “I can understand your apprehension,” he continued, a smile on his face. “I am a friend.” He then looked at Kol and nodded at him. “I know how much you care about her, I am here with the best intentions.”
“Ah, for a moment there, I thought you had lost your ability to do your thing,” Klaus spoke as he closed the doors. “Let’s sit, shall we?”
“Wait, what?” Bella said confused as she looked between Klaus and Peter. “What?”
Peter smiled knowingly. “Allow me to tell my story, Bella,” he said as he gestured to the couch and watched how she pulled her boyfriend with her before he sat down himself on the other one. “No doubt you have heard about me. Knowing Edward, he probably described me as some monster, but that was what Jasper and I wanted everyone to believe. You see, he saved my life a few times, Jasper, and he became my best friend. You could even say we’re brothers, that’s how deep our connection goes. He allowed me to take his name when I forgot my own. He had a feeling that something was off when he was being courted by Alice and her family and wanted me to be his backup plan in case things would go awry.”
Bella swallowed hard. If getting killed by a pack of angry wolves meant that things went awry for Jasper, then he should use more powerful words, like… shitstorm.
“Like Jasper, Alice and Edward, I have a gift of some sorts. I know things. I don’t know how, but I just know. It’s quite possible that someone in my family was a psychic or a witch,” he then smirked. “Edward and Alice must have been so frustrated with you.”
Bella slowly nodded. “I uh… Because of me… he uh…” she sighed, having trouble to find the words. Still. She felt so guilty about Jasper’s death and here was his friend talking about him as if he was still alive. “I’m sorry, he died.”
“I know,” Peter said slowly. “And it wasn’t because of you, nor did the wolves retaliate for Seth’s death. It had been Jasper’s choice and somehow had managed to persuade the wolves to take him apart.”
“What?” Bella stammered. “Why would he do that?”
Peter then smirked as he leaned back on the couch; his arm slung back over the back of the couch. “Because he was like you and by seeing how you fought against his gift and the drugging that the Cullens did, he got the strength to do the same. Leave,” he then shrugged. “Albeit in a slightly bloody way.”
She swallowed hard as she squeezed Kol’s hand. It made sense why the wolves got the jump on him; it was because he allowed them to. Life with the Cullens had been hard on him, and he decided to step out. Permanently.
“I know what the Cullens did to you, Jasper has told me all about it, and I am so sorry,” he said as he looked at her. “Klaus told me that you wanted your revenge on them, will you allow the Major and I to join you?”
“Sure,” Bella said with a nod. “Who’s the Major?”
Peter just smirked as he jerked his head to the door. Even Klaus had a self-absorbed smirk on his face. Bella looked at the door as it opened, and it revealed Jasper, wearing a big smirk on his face. “Major Jasper Whitlock, ma’am, at your service,” he said as he saluted and then opened his arms as Bella got up and ran to him. “Hiya, Bells,” he sighed happily as she hugged him.
When she let go of him, she smacked him in the chest. “I saw you die! Why didn’t you tell me!”
“I wanted to tell you,” he replied with a grin on his face. “I wanted to tell you everything, and how sorry I am for having manipulated you, but Jacob said that-”
“Jacob?!” Bella’s eyes grew wide in shock. “Jacob knew?”
Jasper shrugged. “He’s the most sensible of the wolves; I approached him first before meeting up with Paul and Sam, but Bells, you had to see me die. I didn’t want you to, but you needed that extra push to sever your emotions and feelings completely from Edward and the rest of the family. I needed to be sure you would go through with this because they’re a bunch of assholes.”
“I can’t believe this,” she said as she moved away from Jasper and started to pace around the room. “I must be still dreaming or drugged because this isn’t happening.”
“Cuddles, calm down,” Kol said as he took a step towards Bella but when she looked at him, he decided to stay put. If looks could kill… “You’re not drugged.”
“Ha!” Bella snorted as she kept pacing, warily eyeing everyone else in the room. “That’s exactly what a hallucination would say.” She then pointed at Jasper. “How did you survive the wolves’ mauling?”
“I wasn’t burned,” Jasper said with a shrug. Normally, he would have reached out to her and calmed her down, but he had promised himself not to do that anymore. It had been bad enough that he had done it in the last few years and felt guilty about it. “The wolves took my bits and pieces to a safe place away from the reservation and away from Carlisle and stayed with me until I was whole again… well, apart from the two thumbs that Rebekah took from me…”
“I can give you one back, mate,” Klaus spoke up with a grin. “I was sent one. Rebekah knows how much I love little souvenirs.”
“That is… slightly disturbing but much appreciated, thanks,” Jasper said as he looked at Klaus for a moment before looking back over to Bella. She seemed to be in her ‘outer monologue’ stage right now, trying to piece everything back together. Things like these usually lead her to have a panic attack, maybe he should-
“No, don’t even think about it,” Peter scolded Jasper. “Let it happen. You’ve done it much too often now; you need to stop.”
“In any case,” Klaus said as he looked at the two cold ones. “You’re both more than willing to stay and help Bella with her plans. However, might I suggest you stay out of the sun and only explore New Orleans by night, with one of my nightwalkers until we’ve found a solution for your little sparkly problem?”
“You’re such a party pooper, Niklaus,” Kol said, not keeping his eyes off of Bella. “This is New Orleans, two enormous disco balls walking down the street won’t make anyone suspicious at all.”
“Kol! Be nice!” Bella scolded him as she stopped pacing and looked at Jasper. “You’re really here?”
“I am,” he said with a snort, feeling how her state of mind shifted back to a normal one. “And I am sorry for what Esme has done to you.”
“Not your fault,” Bella muttered as she walked over to Kol and put her arms around him. She still didn’t like it that Jasper didn’t tell her about his plans and that he showed up here, in New Orleans, of all places. She was even more surprised that Klaus had let him in. Hell, she wasn’t even sure if they should trust Peter and Jasper. Like Peter, Jasper’s eyes were bright red and with Jasper eating humans, it meant trouble.
“Oh,” Peter said as he said with a nod. “She doesn’t trust us, Major.”
“I don’t blame her,” Jasper said as he sat down on the couch. “She needs time; that’s all.”
Glad that both men understood her, she let go of Kol and walked out the door, back to her room. She needed to process this. What did it mean? Jasper could have done all this just to screw with her mind, to talk her out of getting her revenge on Edward and maybe even kill her. Or worse, kill Kol so she would go back to Edward.
Sure, the answer could be plain and simple. That everything they had said was the truth, and that they were here to help her but she had been too trusting in the past and Jasper had manipulated her feelings so she would comply. What if, though. What if they were speaking the truth?
She was glad she hadn’t unpacked; it would make it a lot easier for her to put some distance between her and the two Cold Ones.
“Oh no,” Kol said as he walked into the room. He had followed her downstairs and saw her eye her bags. “You’re not leaving.”
“They’re here,” she pointed out.
“They can leave. You’re staying, Cuddles,” he said as he pulled her into his arms and softly kissed the top of her head. “They can stay at Elijah’s or even Marcel’s and they will be monitored. I’m sure that when you tell Nik that their presence here makes you uncomfortable, he’ll tell them to leave and arrange for them to stay elsewhere.”
“You’re more important to Nik, trust me. You have more to offer than two cold ones with gifts; he’d want you on his good side.”
“So he’ll only like me for what I can do in a couple of weeks?”
Kol snorted. “Darling, he’ll want you on his good side because he’ll fear you once you learn how to control your powers.”
It was Bella’s turn to snort. “Imagine that, little old me being something to be afraid of.”
“Oh and you will love it,” he smiled widely at her before softly kissing her. “Let me talk to Nik, okay? I’ll be back in a bit. Get some rest or whatever. And unpack some stuff, make this room more like you and less like you’re living at your grandmother’s.”
Even though Kol stayed in her room with her that night, she wasn’t able to sleep. Klaus had tasked Elijah with babysitting Jasper and Peter and moved them as soon as night had fallen, but she still didn’t feel at ease. Kol was out like a light, and she decided to go for a little stroll through the compound. She got into a pair of jeans – there was no way she was going to walk around in her pyjama shorts – and quietly left the room.
She took a deep breath to breathe in the New Orleans air. While it had been quite warm when they arrived, it had now cooled off to a more bearable temperature, and it was more comfortable to move around in. She had to get used to the heat if she wanted to survive longer than a week in the city; she had grown too accustomed to the gloomy weather in Washington.
The tiles of the compound felt cool to her bare feet; she loved it because while she was used to sleeping with her socks on, it was definitely not needed here. She nearly got crushed by a vampire being flung from the balcony above her. She yelped in surprise and managed to jump to the side, only to land flat on her ass because she tripped over something on the floor.
She watched the vampire run off and then looked up to the balcony, seeing Klaus standing there, looking at her. “Shame,” he stated with some boredom in his voice. “And here I thought you were a witch.”
“Oh, sure,” she shot back at him as she got to her feet and rubbed her ass. “I’ve also had so much practise over in Forks,” she continued furiously. “I mean, I could do magic and shit while the only thing I could do here was blow stuff away and once, tug on Rebekah’s hair. I’m the baddest badass witch you know, and I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it!”
“Well, you could have started with that bloody vampire,” Klaus snarled. “If you’d blown him up, that would have been fun!”
“How? Do you know how this works?”
“Not a clue,” he said with a shrug. “Start with focussing on what you want to do and I don’t know, use a hand gesture?”
Bella realized he was intentionally playing dumb and only to provoke her into using her magic while she didn’t have any control over it. She started to climb the stairs, imagining the balustrade Klaus was leaning on was crumbling away and flicked her hand towards it as she felt an energy surge through her body. The floor he stood on simply fell away and Klaus with it. “Do you think I liked it being unable to practise magic in Forks?” She said frustrated as she looked down at a surprised looking Klaus. “That your siblings had to step in whenever one of them was doing something unagreeable? Do you think I liked it being helpless? Where’s the independence when you still have to rely on people stronger than you to fight your battle?” She balled her fists in her pockets and took a step back in shock when the top of the fountain blew up. “Do you think I like being out of control like this?”
“Calm down, little Swan,” Klaus said calmly as he brushed the debris off of him and started to walk towards the stairs. “There’s no need to demolish my home. I only wanted to make sure my siblings told me the truth about your magic to see what needs to be done to get it under control and get you ready to get your revenge.”
“Yeah well, you should trust them more,” Bella muttered as she shoved her hands in her pockets and nodded to the mess. “Sorry about the mess.”
“Not to worry about that,” he said with a smirk as he approached her. “My sister told me you three have been fighting with sticks, how did that work out for you?”
“It gave me something to put my anger into, for sure,” she said as she looked at her feet. “I think this all happened because you sprang Jasper and Peter on me today. Amongst other things.”
Klaus nodded as he lead her into his study, careful to avoid the hole in the walkway. “I’d like to know if you’re certain you want to go through with this. Your magic. Your revenge. You dating my brother. It won’t be easy, and I am willing to give you all the help you need with the first two but when it comes to my brother, you’re on your own. All I ask is for you not to screw him over.”
Bella sighed and counted to ten before replying. “Yes, I am certain. And as I told Rebekah, what’s between me and Kol should be just that. I understand that you perceive him as a fragile human witch right now, and you want him to have a good, human life. But that won’t happen if you try to control everything in his life.”
“He’s my brother, you can’t tell me what I can’t and can do. I know how stupid humans can be.”
She snorted as she looked around his study; it was cosy, and there was an easel near the window with a painting on it. “I’m going to repeat the words I’ve said to Rebekah on this subject. You do not have to worry about Kol; I have no intention of hurting him. In any case, I’m worried he might end up hurting me.”
“Very well,” Klaus said as he gestured to the couch for her to sit on. “Then starting tomorrow, the kid gloves are off. You’re expected to work hard without any complaint as we will help you to get everything under control. You will be pushed to your limits, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Forks Isabella Swan is gone. It’s time to become the person that’s bubbling underneath your skin and live to your full potential. I’m not even going to ask you if you’re ready for that.”
“But I am.”
“Good,” he poured them a glass of wine and handed it to her. “Drink up, it’ll help you sleep later.”
She took a sip of her wine and looked at Klaus. His attitude was refreshing, although she was pretty sure that both Kol and Rebekah could be the same way. She had seen glimpses of that over the last few weeks. She was pretty sure now the both of them were back in familiar water without having to take other people into account, that she was going to see a whole new side of them.
“Your case is a tough one,” Klaus continued and started to pace around the room. “I find myself torn between berating you for talking to me as you did earlier and congratulating you with feeling confident enough in talking to me as you did,” he looked at her with a smile on his face. “Then, of course, we have the complication that you and my brother seem to be affectionate towards each other. I also have to take in account that you finally have the freedom to speak your mind to anyone and that makes it even harder for me to make up my mind.”
“I am sorry. But you started it, with your snarling.”
“I am well aware of that, little Swan, but there aren’t a lot of people I allow to speak to me like that. I am not certain you have earned the right to do so just yet,” she opened her mouth to say something but he continued. “I am also aware of the fact that you are a very angry young woman and that I should give you at least some time to learn how to control your emotions and your powers.”
Bella scoffed. “You make it sound as if I am to blame for what happened earlier.”
“But you are.”
“You provoked me.”
“You could have chosen to ignore me, and you didn’t and it backfired, creating a hole in the walkway, and you ruined my fountain. Granted, it is better for all of us if your penchant for destruction stays within the confines of these walls, and that is why I am letting it go, this time.”
Bella downed her glass of wine and got to her feet. “How about we both take the blame?”
“Not a chance,” Klaus huffed with a playful smile on his face. “This is your fault. Go to bed, little swan, before you destroy more of my things.”