06: I’m a keeper

The couple of hours alone with Bella with both phones off, some well needed energy release and some napping had done the both of them wonders. Even Diggle was surprised that the two were ready to leave when he rang the doorbell and Oliver opened the door within seconds.

Oliver had to admit, now that darkness had fallen, Verdant looked absolutely wonderful from the outside, warm and inviting without losing the color green which was the club’s colors. Bella had done an amazing job transforming the club to this potential by playing with the features like that. “Wow, well done,” Oliver said in awe as they got closer to the club.

“You’re welcome,” Bella replied as she ran her hand over his leg, squeezing it slightly as she looked out the window.

She was a woman of many talents and Oliver loved that about her; as she kept surprising him.

“Just a heads up, the press has already arrived and they’re waiting at the entrance,” Diggle informed them as he parked the car.

“Lovely,” she replied with slight sarcasm. She knew they were going to be around, but she had hoped that they would be able to at least get inside without having to deal with them. “One good thing is that we were able to restrict the press inside. Exclusive invitations,” she smiled deviously as she looked over at her boyfriend.

“Hmm, as if that would stop some of them to try and get in anyway,” Oliver replied and kissed her before he opened the door and got out. He walked around the car and opened Bella’s door, holding out his hand for her to get it. “If it wasn’t that we would look ridiculous wearing sunglasses when it’s dark, I would have opted for that.”

“Wouldn’t stop you any other time, but I am rather partial to your eyes,” Bella murmured after she exited the car and joined him at his side. Looking at the commotion outside of the club, she was rather surprised. “This should be a successful night…”

Oliver grinned as he put his arm around her. “Which is good, this means that people will be spending a lot of money to get their beloved police officers some new equipment to keep their city safe and us a ridiculous amount of good publicity,” he said as he waited for Diggle to fall in line behind them and then headed towards the entrance of the club.

Bella couldn’t help but agree with him as they made their way inside. Almost immediately, she was able to notice the increase of security around the club that she hadn’t originally planned and raised an eyebrow. “Oliver? Dear?” she questioned, her smile bright and frozen as she was well aware of eyes on them. “Is there something going on that I wasn’t clued in on?”

“Yes,” Oliver said with a slow nod as they made their way through the people who had arrived early, with the same smile plastered across his face as was on Bella’s. “There will be some undesired guests at the event and we simply could not refuse them because they have a name of their own. Don’t want to start a rumour that we do not like people.”

Scrunching up her nose, she scanned the dance floor where the majority of the guests were gathered presently, awaiting for the evening festivities to begin. “Undesired guests? Anyone specific or generalized?”

“Let’s just say… this evening will be about all of us trying to control ourselves when these people show up. Diggle and Steve will have their eyes on you at all times.”

His implication sent a chill up her back and caused her head to look sharply at him. “Who is it?” she questioned, already on edge as she started to look around again for unknown threats in what was supposed to be a safe area.

Oliver sighed as he rubbed his eyes for a moment. “Carlisle and Esmé.”

Bella turned slowly to him, frowning. One eye twitched from irritation and stress as the urge to punch the man grew. Taking a slow, deep breath to calm herself, she spoke as evenly as she could. “And just how long have you known that they were coming tonight, Oliver?”

He looked like a puppy being scolded for peeing on the carpet. “Felicity called me in the supermarket, okay? I didn’t want to tell you anything because we had different needs at that point and I didn’t want to ruin it for the both of us.”

“You are so sleeping on the couch tonight,” she hissed in his ear before she pulled away from him as she schooled her expression so that no one caught on to their distress. Her heart raced at the thought of coming close to the man that was behind so much of her terror for so long but knowing that she would be virtually unable to do anything about it. “They had chosen wisely to make their first public appearance in Starling City, you have to admit. At least, that is if they actually show.”

“And they probably know that you co-own the club and they want to get a rise out of you,” Oliver spoke calmly as he followed her. “And you’re going to prove them wrong, no rising. Just stay away from them and enjoy the evening.”

“Easier said than done, Oliver,” she murmured as she was itching to turn towards the basement door to go to her weapons so that she could inflict pain on at least one Cullen. “It wasn’t you that that bastard tortured for ten years.”

“I know that, Bells, but it’s not like you can confront them right now without causing a scene.”

She growled as she felt him pull her back slightly. “I am aware. Just pray that they intend to keep the same intentions. I cannot be held responsible if they cross the line.”

“That’s why two of your best friends are looking out for you when you’re not with me tonight,” Oliver smiled at her and planted a kiss on top of her head. “Now, let’s bug Roy and have a drink.”

Bella fought against making a face, constantly looking around even more now that she found she was unable to enjoy the evening as she had hoped. “Alcohol sounds extremely appropriate about now,” she replied, immediately turning for the bar as her arm wrapped around his tightly. Despite her own security, and the on and off duty police officers present for the fundraiser they were hosting, she never felt more unsure in a place she was supposed to feel safe as she looked over her shoulder at the door where more people were arriving.

“Relax,” Oliver said again as they took a seat at the bar. “See, this is why we didn’t want to tell you because you wouldn’t enjoy your evening and now I feel like I’ve ruined it,” Oliver said with a pout. “What’s the worst they can do? I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t dare to pull out a gun or whatever.”

Bella wasn’t so sure as she settled in beside him and checked the time. Twenty minutes before she needed to go and start with the commencement for the event. “It’s whatever their abilities might be that has me worried.”

“Let them handle with the worrying,” he said as he gently rubbed her back. “It’s going to be fine.”

Roy made his way over to the two after he finished serving a small group at the other end of the bar. “We’re pulling in a lot of extra donations already and the thing hasn’t even started,” he grinned. “How you two doing tonight? Want something to drink?”

“Need, Chuck. Tequila,” Bella replied as she pointed to the bottles behind him.

“You think that’s a good idea?” Roy asked her, raising an eyebrow. “I mean, you’re hosting and all…”

“Give me the tequila, Chuck,” she said as she stared at him. “Considering the information I just learned, I need it to get through hosting tonight with a fucking smile on my face. If you don’t want to find out just how – displeased I am, go ahead and refuse me…”

“Uhh… boss?” Roy questioned Oliver with a fearful look on his face.

“Cut her off of the tequila when she gets too plastered,” Oliver said with a nod. “Or you know… just give her the one. Just the one.”

Bella wasn’t thrilled with that suggestion either but she accepted the shot which she threw back the second Roy set it in front of her. “I’ll take a cosmo, strong, for mingling now. Thanks,” she said with a snarky smile as she turned to eye the crowd that grew. “I have to go work that… Has anyone seen my father yet?”

“No, but he’s on his way,” Felicity’s voice sounded as she put her arm around Bella with a big smile on her face and a clipboard in her other hand. “Grab your cosmo, ditch your boyfriend and let’s have some fun.”

Oliver blinked at Felicity, having to prevent his jaw from dropping to the floor.

Bella looked at her in consideration for a moment before shrugging a shoulder. “Eh, why not? Let me know if you see the Stepford parents,” she said as she handed off her purse and shawl to Oliver.

Roy snickered as he walked away to help some more people.

“Yeah, I’ll just uh… put these up in the office,” Oliver replied as he looked at the two women. “Stay out of trouble.”

“Tell trouble to stay away from me and not provoke,” Bella grinned as she took her glass and Felicity’s arm before they set out for the largest group of people to lose themselves in.

Being in his office for a moment gave him the opportunity to scan the incoming crowd more easily. He had to admit, having the Cullens at the event was a bad idea, but it would have been even worse if they had denied them access seeing as nobody but Bella’s family and the team knew about the issues with them.

“You know,” Barry’s voice sounded from behind Oliver. “You’re not supposed to stay here and linger, you should go downstairs and mingle, just like Bella.”

Oliver let out a groan.

“John sent me up here for the same reason you’re standing there right now.”


“Come on, Oliver, put your pompous ass mask on and have fun. Leave the worrying to us.”

He snorted as that was exactly what he had just told Bella and it wasn’t putting him at ease, so he could imagine the effect on Bella. “Yeah, alright, just don’t you forget to have some fun as well. It’s rare that you get some time off from your city and get to spend that time with your girlfriend.”

“She looks hot tonight,” Barry said as he stood next to Oliver, looking out of the window too. “Not that she never looks hot, but that dress…”

Oliver looked at Barry and nodded. “Anyone who gets close to her gets a broken hand.”

“That’s the spirit. Now go,” Barry laughed as he pointed at the door. “They may not even show up.”

“Oh, they will…” Oliver sighed as he left his office and went downstairs again.

Bella weaved her way through the guests with Felicity, making small talk with whoever stopped them. When they were reasonably alone, she was anything but the happy ray of sunshine she displayed. “You and Oliver are currently on my shit list. You know this, right?” she said under her breath with a tight smile while she surveyed the floor again. “I don’t appreciate secrets like this being kept from me, especially when I am not given time to prepare to have to face these people and not be able to punch their faces in like I want.”

“If we had given you time, you would have found a way to poison the alcohol supply and ended up poisoning everyone,” Felicity pointed out as she looked at her clipboard. “Anyway, it doesn’t seem like they’ll show up anyway, almost everyone’s in. Maybe we’re just too gritty for their poshness.”

“One can only hope but they like making an entrance,” she huffed. She looked at the time and sighed. “Show time.”

Felicity looked around to find Oliver and had to snort when she finally spotted him and pointed to him for Bella. “For some reason, Oliver’s whereabouts don’t surprise me,” she said. Oliver was standing with Captain Lance and Mr. Swan and at least they were having a conversation but she wouldn’t have been shocked if all three men would have been standing there being miserable.

“That man is going to drive me insane,” she muttered before she moved towards them. As she got closer, she rolled her eyes. “Gentlemen.”

“Busted,” Charlie muttered.

“See, I told you she’d come and get you because we’re being clique-y,” Captain Lance told Oliver with a smile on his face. “Bella, you look beautiful.”

Bella smiled up at him genuinely and blushed from his compliment. “Thank you, Uncle Q,” she replied. “Would you like to join Dad and I when we start the announcement? Please?” she added as she batted her eyes.

Lance sighed deeply and nodded. “Because you asked so nicely.”

“Thank you!” she grinned and kissed his cheek before wrapping her arm around his and dragged him up to the stage near the DJ. The MC handed her a microphone before slowly turning the music down and worked to get the audience’s attention.

“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” Bella started speaking as she stood with her father and uncle. “Your support for the Starling City Police Department is greatly appreciated. With your support for your purchase of your tickets tonight and additional donations, in working with Swan Security, we have managed to supply our force with top of the line, brand new vests and shields to protect our officers from the many threats that they face out on the streets to keep each and every one of us safe.”

She paused for a moment as she looked around, meeting Oliver’s eyes once she found him and smiled. “I can go on with speaking all night, however I am sure there are things that I am sure that you are all hoping to see or hear about in regards to this evening. Before I pass the microphone over to my father, I just want to thank the wonderful new restaurant in Starling City, Alfredo’s, for catering our event tonight. There are many selections available that I am sure will be able to please everyone. Enjoy!” Bella gave everyone one last bright smile before handing the microphone over to Charles Swan, who looked a little less than willing to have to speak.

“Hi, I uh, I’m Charlie Swan of Swan Security that my beautiful daughter has lovingly built up and we have selected a few of our own technology that we’re willing to share with The Starling City police department to make them safer on the street,” Charlie pointed to one of his employees who was wearing the vest and carrying the shield. He wasn’t sure who it was, either Anthony or Daniel or possibly even John. “The shield is an improvement to the standard issue riot shield, it takes more force and damage to break it and it’s lighter to maneuver. The vest is also an improvement to the standard issue. Instead of taking most of the impact – which it still does – the kevlar and fabric we used also causes most projectiles to bounce off. This is what this fundraiser is for. If there’s enough money left after making the vest and shield available for every cop in Starling, we can try and see if we can help them to update their equipment even further, or introduce a new computer system that has helped us greatly in past encounters. For example, the facial recognition software they use is outdated, ours is streamlined and gives faster, positive results which saves time when needed. So give generously, please.” Charlie handed the mic to his cousin who seemed to be willing to kill him on the spot. Public speaking problems without any form of preparation ran in the family. Apart from Laurel, she had been fortunate to have been blessed with doing it right.

Quentin glared at the man as he stepped forward as Bella barely hid her amusement. “Thanks Chuck. I’ll remember this,” he commented into the microphone, earning a quite a few chuckles from the crowd. “First, I would like to thank Swan Security – Isabella and Chuck most importantly for their contributions to our police force. It’s more than just having my extended family back in Starling City that has done all of us good,” he said, pausing as he turned to look at them. “Your generosity for as long as I can remember has known no bounds. These defense shields are just more proof of that to ensure the safety of our law enforcement officers in dangerous times. While we have our own local hero who has his own wishes to keep his identity anonymous, the Arrow I’m sure could agree when I say that you’ve brought a lot of good in helping the effort in turning the dark days back into the light.”

Charlie nodded. “We can’t continue to rely on the Arrow. While he has done a lot of good in this city, he’s working outside the law. He’ll be gone one day and it’ll leave our dedicated police force under equipped to deal with the fallout.” He pointed towards the case with glass against the west wall. “For a closer look on the equipment my employee is currently modeling, I suggest you take a look at that case. Throughout the evening, either myself or Steve will tell you about one of the prototypes we’re willing to fully develop for Starling City PD to make sure that the force continues to be one step ahead.”

Oliver watched how they showed off some of the other things they had brought with them and watched the crowd observe it with keen interest. The safety of the Police Department was very important because that meant they could protect all their rich asses better. He signalled the DJ when the demonstration was over and walked over to the stage to gather Bella. “You were great.”

“I wish we could have someone else to do these types of things for us but we’re the name of the company,” she complained, grabbing a flute of champagne as a server walked by and downed it. She casually turned in his arms and looked around as she sipped from the glass. “How is everything else?”

“Looking good,” he smiled at her, eyeing her with dark eyes. When she hit him in his chest with a snort, he nodded towards the crowd. “They were very enthralled by everything you were showing them. I think Starling City PD is going to be well kitted out by the end of tonight.”

Bella pulled back her lip in a grimace. “More like funded. Those that were shown are being pipelined and are closest for completion to production. We have money but not nearly enough to produce the quantity that would be needed here,” she shrugged.

“No, but at least something to keep everybody happy, especially your uncle,” he planted a kiss against her temple and sighed. “The dreaded mingling is arriving, isn’t it?”

“You mean to say you haven’t begun already? Is that why you’ve been hanging out with my father and uncle? What blasphemy is this? I’ve only begun almost since we arrived after you broke the news about our unexpected guests. Has anyone seen them yet?”

He sheepishly grinned. “And no, no one has seen them yet but they are inside since the doors are closed for entry now.” He flashed a smile for the camera and sighed when they left again. “I hate mingling, being snotty takes so much energy,” he said overdramatically with his Oliver the idiot voice. “But let’s do this shit.”

“But you do it so well!” Bella smiled as she reached up and pinched his cheeks.

“I want to bet that at least half of these people expect me to become drunk and make a complete ass out of myself,” he let out a low growl as she pinched his cheeks but didn’t stop her.

“Then have me curse you the hell out or kick your ass for embarrassing me,” she mused thoughtfully as she looked out to the floor, wondering where her father went and searched for more alcohol being served.

“I think I saw your father go into hiding in the bathroom,” he grinned and nodded towards Lance. “I think he’ll be following soon too.”

She frowned at that and narrowed her eyes. “I am beginning to wonder about them. For two law enforcement officials, you would think that they are aware that incest is illegal. If they decided to jump the fence for the same team, all the power but keeping it in the family – no. You on the other hand – are the exception when it comes to that phrase and my family. However, it stops with me.”

Oliver tried to keep a straight face but couldn’t help but burst out in uncontrollable laughter because of the mental image she had just given her of Charlie Swan and Quentin Lance in the bathroom together and he wasn’t ever going to be able to get that image out of his mind now. Or use the bathroom. He stopped for a moment to take a deep breath. “What? You have another cousin?” He half hiccuped.

“Do not make me rip your balls off, Oliver Queen,” Bella growled under her breath as she glared up at him. “I will leave you bleeding here on this dancefloor. I promise you that.”

He was still hiccupping as he spoke again. “You should have expected that retort,” he took a deep breath to calm himself down again but one look over his shoulder to Lance set him off again. He turned back to her and saw the death glare on her face and he knew he had to suck it up but it was so hard to do so. “I love you,” he squeaked and then bit his lip to stop himself from laughing.

She rolled her eyes at him. “You’re such an asshole,” she huffed, turning from him, a small smile hiding on her lips as she pulled him behind her while they headed towards the bar. Knowing her father like she did, she expected him to show up for some beer at some point. “Chuck!”

“Yes ma’am!” Roy grinned as he turned to face her. He cocked his head when he saw a blue faced Oliver trailing behind her and nodded towards him. “Is he even breathing?”

“Nope. I’d suggest you take a piss break soon though,” she shrugged innocently. “Have you seen my father?”

Roy watched as Oliver tried his best not to break. “Is he actually trying to stop himself from laughing uncontrollably? Is it an ugly uncontrollable laugh or does it actually reflect his inner child?”

Oliver glared at his protogé and tried a breathing exercise to calm down. “Beer, please.”

“Sorry boss, but I can’t serve children.”

“Shall I shoot you in the kneecaps instead?” Bella questioned as she cocked her head to the side. “Give the man a beer so that he can keep his mouth shut. You have no idea what the hell it was that we just witnessed and, boy, you don’t want to know. I promise you that.”

“Sure thing,” Roy said, almost letting out a yelp and set a beer on the bar for Oliver. “What can I get you?”

“Tequila sunrise,” she smiled. “Heavy. Still more mingling to do as we have dinner yet before the blind auctions.”

“Light,” Oliver said with a nod before taking another swig of his beer – this was better than nearly choking on his breath. “Save the heavy for later.”

Bella leaned over and ran her hand up his leg until it met the junction of his thigh and groin. Her fingers dug in painfully deep, nails biting through the fabric of his pants close to his balls that she could feel. “You will pay for that – later,” she whispered in his ear, her eyes looking over his shoulder and pressed a kiss to his neck as if she was simply sharing a romantic moment with him.

“I’m already sleeping on the couch, what else can you throw at me?” He retorted with a low murmur. “Tying me up only makes me want you more.”

She growled at his comment but her fingers gripped at his clothing more as she focused at something else on the dancefloor. She found her father, who did not appear pleased as he was attempting make his way through the crowd but a particular couple had stopped him and appeared to be trying to speak with him. “I’m going to murder them. I don’t care if I go to jail,” she sneered.

He turned to follow her gaze and blinked. “That’s them? He looks like he’s terminally ill, you sure he’s a doctor?”

“He had some sick obsession with vampires when I was in high school that I remember. Experimented with blood,” she whispered as she pulled away from him. “Don’t let his appearance deceive you, Oliver.”

“I’m not, just don’t let them get to you, okay? We want this night to go smoothly.”

“It’ll go as smoothly as they let it. They are the ones doing the fucking around now,” she warned as she pushed her way through to her father.

As she got closer, she could hear Carlisle talking to her father about the successes Edward had made his field while Esme would intercede with her comments. The woman reached out to grab his arm to keep him from leaving, but Bella could see a change in her father’s eyes as he looked back at her. Eying him with confusion, she looked back at the couple she grew to hate. “What the hell are you two doing here?” she questioned.

“This is a Charity fundraiser, Bella,” Carlisle spoke gently. “We want to make sure the Starling Police have everything they need.”

“So you could have made an anonymous contribution and continued to stay the hell out of my life. Leave,” she warned.

“Bella, play nice,” Charlie warned her as he eyed his daughter. “They haven’t done anything today to piss you off.”

Carlisle defensively held up his hands, enough for Bella to see, not enough to cause everyone to look at them. “Gatherings such as these are the perfect opportunity to meet your new neighbors. If you didn’t want us here, you should not have organised an open event such as this.”

She looked back to her father, incredulous to his defense of them. For all that she’d been through because of their family. “I have every right to be pissed off by their mere presence,” she said as she stared at him. “You know what they did! What is wrong with you?”

“I know what they did, but give them a chance, alright? You’ve started a new life here and they want to start a new life here as well.”

“They have a whole fucking planet out there to choose a place to settle and they come where I am? That doesn’t scream suspicious to you, Dad?” Bella questioned as she stared him down, trying to see what seemed different. “Things are going just fine with our family and with Oliver. They need to leave.”

Oliver had circled around the crowd, passing Steve as he kept an eye on Bella. Something felt off. He had wanted to stop her from going towards the Cullens so things would be civil but she was a force to be reckoned with and he knew that if he would attempt to stop her, she’d blow up. However, Charlie was looking slightly dazed, not like he was when he was on stage. “That normal to you?” Oliver muttered to Steve, who was also keeping an eye out.

Steve stared back at the scene and shook his head minutely, his face pinched with concern. “Nope. I’m just hoping she keeps it contained at the moment.”

“Your father told me how just how proud he is about you for deciding to invest in this club with someone who’s known for his erratic behaviour,” Esme said, not taking her eyes off Charlie as she gently held his wrist.

“Of course. Oliver was an unstable boy for awhile but has turned into a fine young man,” Charlie almost parroted, causing his daughter to turn her attention onto the woman more.

She growled under her breath as she pressed her hand to the back of her father’s neck. “I think you should go get some water over at the bar, Dad. Ask Chuck to get some from the cooler that I had set up for security,” she suggested as she stared her former mother figure down.

Almost as if Charlie came out of a daze, he blinked at his daughter before turning his gaze upon Esme. “Get your hand off me,” he said with a low voice. “You shouldn’t have come here, why are you insisting on ruining my girl’s night?”

“We’re not ruining anything, Charlie,” Esme smiled at him, a hint of surprise flashed across her face before concentrating again. “You were agreeing that-”

“The hell I was.”

“Leave before I have security escort you – forcefully,” Bella said as she eyed them. “You know your family is not welcome anywhere near me or my own. Don’t even attempt whatever it is you thought you were going to do tonight because it won’t work. We aren’t interested.”

Oliver tapped Steve on his arm for him to follow him as he walked towards Bella. Charlie’s stance and expression had changed once Bella had touched him and that worried him. It was already known that some of the Cullens were metahumans, but knowing how Bella’s ability worked, it was clear that at least one of the couple was one too. And apart from Barry and Bella, he didn’t want another metahuman in his club. “Sweetheart, everything alright here?”

“No. I thought you said you had the exterminator come through. We still have cockroaches coming out of the recesses,” she muttered.

“I see. That’s a shame,” he said as he looked at the Cullens. “Hi, Oliver Queen,” he introduced himself, purposely putting his arm around Bella instead of extending his hand to them. “Please kindly leave the premises without drawing attention to yourself or you will be escorted out.”

Esme smiled at him kindly as she held her hand out. “Such a handsome gentleman. You’re the one that captured Isabella’s heart since she dated my son,” she said, blinking innocently.

He raised an eyebrow as he looked at Esme’s hand and then looked at her. “I’m not in a habit of repeating myself.”

She looked from him to Bella who held a smug and knowing smile on her lips that caused a shiver to run down her back, making her step back to Carlisle, her hand lingering awkwardly in the air. “I suppose manners were lost along the way,” the man commented. “You expect us to respect you but you disrespect my wife when all she did was greet you kindly?”

Oliver shrugged as he walked around Bella, as Steve had escorted Charlie to the bar, switching his arms around her and shook Esme’s hand. “No, that’s sheer laziness on my part.” He wanted to let go of her and sighed when she held on. “I shook your hand, now get out.”

Esme swallowed as her eyes darted back to Bella and down to where she had been in contact with the man as well. Never before had she been thrown off until that moment. Nodding her acceptance. “Of course. I’m so very sorry to disrupt your evening like this,” she apologized softly, though it wasn’t quite sincere in her eyes. “Let us leave, Carlisle.”

He had too been watching the events before him, just as Bella had with a careful eye, and he knew. He knew he had the gem before him that he was missing. Curse his blasted son and his arrogance in his teenage ways those years ago. “Very well. Perhaps we can meet and discuss the past soon?” he asked as he looked at Bella.

“No,” she answered succinctly as she turned to look up at her boyfriend, waiting for them to walk away.

He kept his eyes on Carlisle and Esme, his face in a neutral expression as he was still playing the part of Mr. Oliver Queen the idiot and not himself. “Have a good night, Mr. and Mrs. Cullen.”

“Don’t forget to pick up and get infected with a bad case of dysentery on your way home,” Bella added with a pleasant smile. “Don’t come back to Verdant either. I won’t be so kind next time.”

Carlisle put his arm around his wife as they turned around and kissed his wife on top of her head. “We’ll get her some other time,” he said quietly. “I promise. Edward is doing amazing.”

Oliver watched how Steve headed towards the exit to make sure the Cullens were indeed leaving and then kissed Bella on her lips. “I’m proud of you.”

“She’s one of them,” she muttered with a shaky voice, kissing him back briefly. “She tried to fuck with Charlie. I don’t know what she tried to do but she crossed a line.”

“Yeah, I figured,” he walked with her to the bar and helped her sit down. “We’ll deal with her, I promise.”

Steve joined them looking relieved after he grabbed himself a bottle of water. “They left in a taxi with no fuss. Charlie didn’t seem to remember what was happening other than being really pissed off at the Cullens. He’s spitting fire about filing a restraining order when I dropped him off by Captain Lance.”

“I don’t like that side effect,” Oliver muttered as he motioned for Roy to get Bella a shot of something strong.

“Hey guys?” Barry was suddenly behind them, a big smile on his face. “I’m heading back to Central City, I overheard that dude talking about his son and we all know where he is so I’m going to see if I can get more on him. Maybe befriend him and stuff. The fun stuff.”

Bella sat up from where she was holding her head on the table and looked at him. “What? No…Oh hell…It’s your home. Be careful. I can’t help you there if he tries to pull some shit like his mother just tried.”

“I’m a big boy, Bella,” he smiled at her. “I’m worried about my friends, that’s all. It’ll be okay.”

“Barry,” Oliver said, a tone of warning in his voice.

“Yeah yeah, alright, I’ll be careful,” Barry sighed. “My communication will go through Felicity, for obvious reasons.”

Steve chimed in, eying the boy skeptically. “Maybe increase your communication to regular intervals. They won’t know but if you skip a check in, it’ll flag us that you’ve been compromised and we won’t count on you as a valuable set of eyes on this douchebag.”

Barry huffed. “Don’t worry, already got the riot act read to me by Felicity. We have a word I need to mention and shit like that,” he shrugged. “See you guys later.”

Once he took off, the newcomer to the group, though still unaware to most of the details of what the others knew, frowned. “That cockiness is going to get someone hurt. You don’t need to know all the details of a mission to get something done. But not knowing, and being cocky…”

“Yep,” Oliver sighed. “I’ve been telling him that for a long time now,” he continued and then shrugged. “He’s worried about his friends. I would be. Besides, he has his ways to find out about the target, he’s a CSI for one.”

“Perhaps. I just feel that this is bigger than it appears,” he shrugged with a sigh. “In the end, I just do my job and follow the boss,” he smiled as he nodded to the woman who continued to knock back her shots. “She’s the best. You’d do good to make your claim on her a permanent one. Just saying.”

Oliver looked at Bella and shook his head. “Maybe one day,” he eventually said before taking a swig of his beer. “And yes, your boss is very important. I’m glad that you think so too. She thinks she’s the shit, but she needs guys like us to watch her pretty ass.”

“That she does. And we have her,” he nodded back.

“To drink the entire bar?” Oliver grinned as he took the shot from her hand. “That’s enough, Bella. We still have an entire evening, you need to host the auction soon.”

She groaned in despair as she laid her head on the bar. “Is Derek here? Tell him that Dad and I will pay him double to deal with it. I did my share. I got sick and had to leave. Some faces made me want to vomit,” she whined. “I behaved.”

“Mr. Hale is around. I’ll go find him and tell him of your request,” Steve smiled at her. “I’m sure your father will be more than willing to support your choice to make an escape after your encounter.” He set a fresh bottle of water for her on the counter before he walked away, leaving the two alone.

Bella let out grunt at the water and looked up at Oliver. “He’s a dick. Let’s go downstairs and hide.”

“How about we go upstairs and stay available to your team? Nobody can see us, but we can see them?”

“Either is good,” Bella almost fell over when she got off her chair and was lucky that Oliver was there to catch her. She grunted when he took the bottle of water as he escorted her to the office upstairs to hide out for the rest of the night.


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