She wasn’t too happy with the fact that Jeri thought it would be kind to rescue Jessica from Bella’s bite. Granted, Jeri waited until the last possible moment but Jessica was saved. And she hadn’t learned her lesson, but Bella tried her best not to respond to it. She wasn’t violent. Deep down, she knew she wasn’t. It was something else entirely to control every impulse, every emotion. It was hard, she had more than enough experience with it, but it was hard. She didn’t like the aggressiveness she felt in her bones. It wasn’t like her.
It took a couple of weeks to level out for her, Jeri and Jessica and she was amazed by the constant patience the Mikaelsons showed them. Bella felt as if she had gone from one extreme to the other emotionally and was glad it was all over. Klaus had gone and found the rest of the vampires that had been around Carlisle and was about to return and she couldn’t wait.
Bella was sitting in the courtyard with Rebekah, browsing through fashion magazines because Rebekah wanted to go shopping again when a whiff of death wafted to her. She scrunched her nose, it didn’t smell like any leftovers from the basement, besides, those had been cleared out. This was more pungent, almost as if it was on her skin. “Do you smell that?”
“Smell what, darling?” Rebekah flipped another page in her magazine.
“I don’t know, I can’t tell, but it’s smelly. Like rotten fish.”
“We’re in the middle of the French Quarter, you should be familiar with the smells wafting through here by now,” she said amused. “Oh, this dress is lovely!”
“No, it’s not that, it’s something else. Can you look down the street and see if-”
“No, I’m not going to, it’s probably nothing. Look at this dress!” Rebekah nearly pushed the magazine in Bella’s face. “I think it would suit you perfectly.”
Bella grabbed the magazine with a huff and looked at the dress. “No, you’d look great in that.” She then handed the magazine back and got off her chair. She was going to walk to the opening from the courtyard to the street and take a peek. That’s it. She wasn’t going outside, just to have a look.
She took a deep breath and stopped a few steps away from the exit, there were still a few steps to go until she’d be toe to toe with the pavement. People were passing her by with smiles on their faces, tourists. The music from the street was louder now. She applauded their bravery while she could feel her heart beat faster and faster, almost as if it was pounding out of her chest if she didn’t back away. She gasped in another breath before taking a step closer and was then surprised to stare into the face of Peter, former bodyguard and gentleman of the bedchambers of Edward Cullen.
Backing away, slowly, she knew she had been right; the streets were dangerous, and now Peter was standing there. Dressed in a hoodie in an attempt to hide the sparkle. And she then remembered she now had vampire speed. She turned around and quickly ran to Klaus’ study to hide out.
It was Peter; she had nothing to be afraid of, he had always helped her but it was still Peter. Peter who looked after Edward. Peter, who she sent Rosalie to, because Peter was nice, or maybe that had been something she’d been telling herself to make things easier on her. She opened the French doors to the balcony and kept an eye on the entrance. So far, he hadn’t made an attempt of going in, not even after seeing her.
Bella could see that Rebekah had now gotten to her feet and was now heading towards the entrance. Bella was quietly willing her to turn back. While Peter had always taken care of Bella when he could, he was still one of them. She didn’t want Peter to hurt Rebekah. What if Peter was here on Edward’s orders to get her back? Peter wouldn’t do that, would he? He’d flat out refuse!
“Forgive me for not properly greeting you,” Rebekah’s voice sounded. Bella wished she could see the exchange instead of hearing it. “But who are you and what do you want?”
“My name is Peter Whitlock, and I don’t mean any harm,” Peter replied in a velvety smooth voice that came with the package.
Rebekah huffed. “Let me be the judge of that. What was your position with them?” Bella’s hasty exit had spoken volumes; she didn’t need to be a genius to figure out that Peter had been in Bella’s life.
“I’m ashamed to say that I was forced to be Edward’s lackey, taking care of all his needs. But wait… Bella’s turned?” Peter sounded confused, or astounded, Bella couldn’t really tell. “Wow, what are the odds.”
“Do I have to? Surely you know about the experiments they did on her. But to find the one person who could actually save her? That’s… well, for a lack of a better word, incredible.”
Rebekah let out a low growl. “What do you want?”
“I mean you or Bella no harm, I promise. You can ask her, I have never hurt her. I was offered her many times, but I only accepted so she could sleep, take a breather from what was happening to and around her. You can validate my story with her.”
“Yeah, well, she hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about her past like that as she thinks it should remain buried. You still haven’t answered my question.”
“I’ve been protecting Bella as well as I could from my end. We’ve been covering our tracks and feeding the family misinformation, but I believe that our time is up. There’s no immediate danger, so there’s no rush. I’ll come back when she’s ready for me. When you’ve been able to validate my story with her,” he spoke kindly. “I’m staying at this hotel for the next few days. That’s my name and room number.”
“What do you mean?”
“No offense but the mere thought of a Cold One associated with them makes my skin crawl. You’re not pushing it. You’re just saying, here I am and talk to me when possible.”
“Of course. I have no hidden agenda, and as I said, it can wait. I can understand why she’s scared, even when I’ve never laid a hand on her. It brings back memories, and not particularly good ones. Why would I want to traumatize her even further?”
“Very well. You shall have to wait until my brother gets home, and I expect him back shortly. He’d want to have a chat before he’d allow you to talk to her.”
“I understand. Have a good day, miss.”
It took a few minutes before Bella could hear Rebekah’s voice again. “I can’t believe he tipped his invisible hat to me,” she muttered as she walked back into the courtyard, looking up at Bella. “You okay up there?”
“Any chance of you coming down again any time soon?”
She shook her head in response.
Rebekah sighed and shrugged. “I’ll have someone bring you something to drink. I’ll give Nik a call to see where he’s hanging out.”
Klaus returned late in the evening and Bella couldn’t be happier about it. She felt as if she could finally breathe again. However, his body language was tense when she ran down to greet him and didn’t dare to hug him. Rebekah had called him and told him about Peter, hadn’t she?
“Wipe that confused look off your face and kiss me, woman,” he smiled at her, opening his arms for her to disappear into. “I’m simply a little bit frustrated because there’s still one vampire missing. Imagine my surprise that nobody I encountered wants to tell me who it is,” he said as he put his arms around her and softly kissed her. “It’s a woman and they’re all afraid of her. Any idea who it is, love?”
“She’s probably dead,” she replied with a shrug. “She liked getting on Edward and Carlisle’s nerves. I think I only saw her once or twice.”
“Ah, so she does exist!” Kol said cheerfully. “That makes the hunt so much more entertaining.”
“Do you remember her name?”
Bella shook her head. “I’m just glad you’re home again. I don’t like it when you leave.”
“You could have come with Kol and I, that would have been fun.”
She let out a low growl and hugged him tighter. “I couldn’t even breathe anymore while being a few steps away from the pavement today, that wasn’t fun.”
“Well, I could always compel that fear out of you.”
“I might have to take you up on that offer…”
He put his arm around her and guided her towards the stairs. He needed a shower, and he needed his bed. He also needed his Bella to be present in his bed. “Rebekah told me you had a visitor today?”
“No, I ran away.”
“I thought Peter was the good one? You told me about him.”
“I wasn’t so sure anymore,” she murmured. “I don’t know; maybe I was making it up to make myself feel better, or maybe he was a good one, and I just panicked.”
He smiled as he took her to his study. “A hybrid who’s afraid of her own shadow.”
“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?” he said teasingly. “You could have easily put him into his place and perhaps even damaged him if you wanted to, and you chose to bolt.”
“That’s not fair.”
“It’s alright, love, I didn’t want you to talk to him by yourself in any case.” He closed the door and kissed her. “I’d rather have you not interact with any Cold One at all if I could help it, but Rebekah said that he had something of importance to tell you?”
“Are you going to entertain him and invite him over for a talk?”
“If he was as courteous as my sister said, then yes. If he was an idiot like Jacob… then yes. We’ll kill him afterward if needed.”
She still wasn’t happy that Klaus wanted to hear Peter out, but she was happy about the fact that Peter came looking for her. It was a bit strange if she had to be honest. She wanted to show him that she was doing well, and then maybe he could go away again. They were sitting in the courtyard, a beautiful, open space and plenty of places where the rest of the family could observe without being noticed too much. To Bella, this somehow felt a lot safer as well rather than being inside the communal den. At least she had lots of places to run to if needed.
But who was she kidding? Klaus was right, she was more than capable of handling herself. Kol, Elijah, and Rebekah had taken it upon themselves to assure her of that and given her some additional training but not much. The best part about being a vampire, or in her case, a hybrid, is that she now possessed natural vampiric and wolf instincts that would come out if she had to fight for her life. She wasn’t as fragile as she used to be.
While they waited, she and Klaus were having tea with mini pastries and Bella nearly ate them all before even finishing her drink. They were that good. Or perhaps she was that nervous. What was it that he wanted?
“Stop fidgeting, love,” Klaus said as he took a sip of his tea. “We’re simply going to have a nice cup of tea with an old friend of yours. You said you loved him like you love Kol, so why are you so anxious?”
“Because I’m not sure if I was right in my assessment, despite him taking care of me?”
Klaus smirked at that. “Careful love, don’t want to become too paranoid. Granted, I only want to talk to him to learn more about the Cullens and how they work, but he’s your friend. You told Rosalie to go and find him, did you not?”
She sighed and nodded. “You’re right. I have nothing to be afraid of.” Bella popped another mini pastry in her mouth and relaxed in her chair. “He should be scared of me now.”
“And his kind of vampires don’t drink human things, so I doubt he’d love a cup of tea.”
“Blood then, we’re all civil here.”
“Yay, blood,” Bella giggled.
“Oh, don’t you start, you just had your shot,” Klaus said playfully. While all of them were drinking alcohol to stave off the hunger, even the former Mormon virgin, Bella’s first experiences with alcohol wasn’t all that great. Sure, with alcohol in her system, her inhibitions fell away, and she was less collected and certainly unable to control certain urges, driving Klaus bonkers.
But she also couldn’t function very well, her tolerance even as a hybrid was incredibly low. They then decided that they’d ease her into drinking and give her a shot of blood every couple of hours to stave off the hunger. This assured them that she wouldn’t accidentally grab a human off the street as it passed the courtyard entrance. And maybe, once or twice, slip in a tablespoon of booze in her blood or drink to get used to it.
Bella blinked when she saw Kol run passed and followed him with her eyes. He seemed to pull someone off the street and shoved him straight up a wall. “Kol!”
“You have a lot of nerve coming here, mate,” Kol said as he looked Peter straight in the eye. “My brother may want to entertain the idea of you and him having a chat, but I’m against it.”
“Kol, stop!” Bella repeated and wanted to get off the chair, but Klaus shook his head.
“Leave him, he has some issues to work through as well.”
“I don’t want him to kill him! Peter protected me, just like Kol’s doing now!”
“It’s okay, Bella,” Peter said calmly as he kept his eyes on Kol. “Search my mind then, Kol. I know that traditionals can do that.”
“Don’t mind if I do,” Kol said with a growl and put his hand against Peter’s head so he could dig in.
“She’s all yours, Peter, have fun.” Edward closed the door behind him as he left.
Peter turned and looked at the young, naked girl in front of him and sighed. “Alright, Kitten, let’s get you into something warmer than your skin.” He walked over to the dresser and grabbed one of Edward’s shirts and pulled it over Bella’s head. “How’s that?”
It was almost as if she didn’t notice the new cloth on her as she looked up at him from her position on the floor with a small smile on her face.
“No. We’ve been over this, I won’t do that to you. Get on the bed and sleep.”
The girl scrambled to her feet and ran to the bed, laying down as she obeyed Peter’s order. Sighing, he ran his hand through his hair. “One of these days you need to start trusting me that I’m not like them, Bella.”
“Oh man, you should have seen her yesterday,” Jacob grinned as he fell in step with Peter. “Edward sure knows how to give out rewards.”
Peter smacked Jacob against the wall. “It’s Prince Edward or simply the Prince for you, kid,” he said with a growl. “Remember your position.”
“And fucking the Royal concubine? Show some respect!”
“He gifted her to us!”
“I don’t care. She’s a tool, but that doesn’t mean you should not respect her or the Royal family. Your father raised you better than that.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Jacob pushed Peter away from him. “You know nothing.”
“I know enough.”
“I don’t care who you are,” Kol growled as he pointed at the room behind Peter. “That’s a human girl you’re exploiting.”
“And your point?” Peter raised an eyebrow. “If I’m not mistaken, your position is even lower than the guards. Why should I listen to you? Because you’re older? Because you’re a traditional? You want a sip of her yourself? Why are you even here?”
“Because it’s inhumane to treat her like that.”
“To you, maybe. To us? Not so much. She’s a great fuck. I’m sure if you behave yourself; you might get a shot at her.”
Kol punched Peter in the face and then skulked off. “We’re not done.”
“I think we are,” Peter called after him with a smile on his face before entering Edward’s bedchambers. “Right, kitten, I think that was all of them. Did you have a nice shower?”
“Good. I got you some fruit. Have at them,” he handed her the apple and a handful of cherries before returning to the door. “No one should disturb you today, I told them you weren’t feeling too well, that things could get messy. Get some sleep after you’ve done eating, alright? I’m going to pick up Edward from the Airport.”
Bella nodded, the blank expression on her face never changed, he wished it would. But maybe he should feel fortunate that she wasn’t trying to have sex with him anymore.
Peter watched as the wolf handed Bella over to Kol and sighed relieved in the midst of the chaos. Kol was a good vampire; Peter hadn’t been quite able to read him correctly but he trusted him enough. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. The wolf, however… he wanted to keep the girl all to himself.
At least now she had a shot at surviving the rest of her life.
Edward and Carlisle were being taken away by the police; not that a human prison would hold them for long, and Peter snuck back in to free his best friend and his friend’s wife before making a run for it themselves.
“He’ll find her,” Alice said as they headed towards the nearest woods to quickly feed before making a quick getaway.
“Don’t worry, between the three of us we can keep her safe.”
Alice gasped as she dropped her shoes. They were going to move today as Peter suspected someone was hunting them, but she wasn’t quite sure who or what. “Something’s changed. I- I can’t see her anymore!”
“Relax,” Jasper picked up her shoes and handed them back to her. “Focus on someone else.”
“I can’t. They know how my gift works. They know how all of our gifts work.”
“Where is she?” Peter said as he looked out the window. “Rose should have been here by now.”
“I don’t know, but I do know that we have to move, I’ll try to find her again when we’re safe,” Alice said urgingly. “He can’t find her. Even if it’s the last act that I’ll do, she will not go back to that life again.”
“We all agreed on that,” Jasper said as he helped Alice into her shoes. “Let’s go.”
“You fucker,” Kol said as he released Peter and took a step back. “You absolute wanker!”
“That’s me,” Peter said with a smirk. “Am I okay to walk in now?”
He grunted, turning away with a wave of his hand as his only permission. Falling into the seat beside where Bella had been sitting, he scowled as he glared at the table as if it had scorned him personally. Kol thought about the information he pulled from the Cold One’s head, not sure if it would be wise to share it with his newborn friend.
“Peter Whitlock pleased to meet you,” he extended his hand to Klaus with a smile on his face. “I must say, I’m more than thrilled to find out that Bella ended up with the one person who could save her. It sure explains why she dropped off Alice’s radar! And you got her to talk! How amazing is that!”
“I’m right here!” Bella snapped her fingers in front of Peter’s face, just as Jeri had taught her to. “I’m not invisible!”
Klaus eyed her. “You should stop picking up Jeri’s bad habits, love.”
“Hey, I take offense to that,” Kol huffed. “Jeri’s nothing but a positive influence on her.”
“My apologies, kitten,” Peter smiled at Bella. “You are most definitely visible, and you look fabulous. I’m glad to hear your voice.”
Klaus growled possessively at Peter’s nickname for Bella. “You wanted to talk; please tell us whatever you wish.”
Peter smiled at that as he sat down in the empty chair and lowered the hoodie, the shade wasn’t too bad. “The night that Bella came to live with you – and I’m glad you didn’t turn her away, I freed Jasper Whitlock and Alice Cullen from their incarceration and we ran. I’m sure that Bella’s told you about them?”
“A little,” Klaus replied. “Neither Bella nor my brother have been very forthcoming about what happened.”
Peter sucked in a breath as he looked at the two in question. “While I understand, it’s also important that you know everything that needs to be known, even if it concerns some… stories that should remain unspoken. Jasper and Alice were imprisoned because they couldn’t be killed; they were family after all. On top of that, they’re special. Alice can see the future based on decisions people make, and Jasper can influence other people’s emotions. Carlisle wanted to use Jasper’s power during Bella’s… training, but he flat out refused. He and Alice were going to try to overthrow the rule of Carlisle and Esmé for a better life, but they were caught off guard and dragged off. In prison, they were safe. Jasper would influence every person who’d come too close to them and managed to ensure that he and Alice were untouchable. Of course, I made sure they didn’t die from starvation. The night of the raid, I broke them out, and we fled, knowing that they’d come after us and wanting to use us for our gifts to bring back Bella.”
“Are you saying you’re here to take her back? Because if so, you should be lucky if I let you leave in one piece,” Klaus threatened. “She isn’t going anywhere.”
“No, we’re here to help fight them. They’re close, and they won’t stop until they have what they want and that’s Bella.”
“Why are they so obsessed with her, though?” Kol asked. “Not that we wouldn’t be because she’s an amazing girl and Klaus is rather fond of her, but why her?”
“Well, for one, Carlisle put all his time and effort in experimenting on her, making her into what she became. Two; Edward has a one track mind. He’s obsessed with Bella, mostly because she’s the only human he’s come across whose mind he can’t read. Thirdly; Carlisle wants to continue his experiments and Four; Carlisle wants his son to be happy, and as long as Bella isn’t home, Edward isn’t happy.”
“Do they know what she is?”
“No,” Peter smirked. “And that’s the beauty of it all, isn’t it? They think that Bella is hanging around with run off the mill traditionals, easy to get. I knew that Kol was someone else, he claimed to be an ordinary vampire, but I knew he was special because I couldn’t get a good read on him. All the other regular traditionals that crossed my path were simple to crack, but Kol? No. Which was why I told Jacob to hand Bella over to him and hoped that I was right in my assumption that he would take her to you. The one person who could save her, to show her what it’s like to live.”
Klaus’ interest was peaked. “You’ve crossed paths with the other vampires?”
“Oh yeah, you killed them all, didn’t you?” Peter smirked. “Well done! What about the female? Did you manage to find her?”
“I know that there’s a female. I keep wondering who the hell that female is but no one is talking; they seem to be afraid of her.”
“Well yeah, Katherine Pierce was a definite piece of work.”
Both Kol and Klaus growled loudly. “What the hell?”
“You know her?”
“Oh, Nik knows her intimately. So does our brother Elijah.”
“What?” Bella blinked at Klaus.
“You knew her name! You said you didn’t remember!” Klaus looked at her. “Why didn’t you tell me her name?”
Her eyes furrowed as she stared at him. “I didn’t want to remember! You know how badly those memories hurt! So what if I had a hard time saying the name of one of my tormentors! You knew her?! Did you have her too?” She questioned, hurt crossing her face as she stood from her seat and backed away from him.
“I’m old, Bella. Katherine is old, too. There aren’t a lot of us, of course, we’ve crossed paths.”
“Nik had to woo her, at least that was what I’ve been told,” Kol explained as he looked at Bella, who looked ready to run or take a bite out of Klaus. “She was critical in breaking the curse before she decided to become a vampire as she didn’t want to die, and Klaus had to wait for another doppelganger.”
She growled angrily as she turned her hazel eyes on her friend. “More secrets? What more is there? Any more surprises?”
“He had a fling with a blonde teenager,” Kol said with a shrug. “Quite obsessed he was.”
“Kol!” Klaus sneered.
“What? You obviously neglected to mention all of this. In all your history lessons, you never even thought about telling her about your conquests?”
“Did you tell Jeri?”
“Of course I did,” Kol huffed. “But she also knows that we’re old, and as it turns out, she’s not a saint herself. Blatantly eye fucking you while I’m standing right next to her… That was such a turn on… and a turn off at the same time.”
“You are so awesome,” Peter said in awe as he looked at the brothers. “When this is all over, can I come and live here with you? Share the joy?”
“Stay out of this,” Klaus said defensively.
“Another surprise might be that Klaus just loves his threesomes.”
“Come again?” Bella questioned, her face carefully composed as she looked at her boyfriend, or whatever he was to her.
“Oh, he only told you the good bits, didn’t he?” Kol said with glee. “Klaus the saint. Klaus the misunderstood Mikaelson. Klaus the haunted, Klaus the hunted… Klaus the victim. Well, let me tell you, Bella if you remember all the things I’ve told you about myself, he’s worse. Did he tell you that he and my siblings liked to keep me in my coffin? Boxed up with a dagger in my chest?”
“Jeri mentioned something about that,” she murmured quietly.
“Oh yeah, but it was worse for our brother Finn, who… well, he was a goody two shoes and a mummy’s boy, and we all didn’t like him but still. Who does that?”
“I think I need… I um… Where’s Jeri?” Bella asked.
“Bella, don’t do this, let us resume our chat with your friend,” Klaus said with a small smile on his face. He might dagger Kol for this. It was a shame that he needed to discuss it with Rebekah and Elijah first, and since they were watching in the shadows, they were probably going to take Kol’s side on the matter.
Her eyes flashed amber as she glared back at him when she growled. “Not now. You get what you need from Peter. You and I will speak later when I’m not so angry with you,” she responded.
“No,” she growled again and stomped off when she saw Jeri standing on the stairs. “He’s a pancake face! A big pancake face with a giant pickle!”
“I know sweetie, all men are fat sausages,” Jeri put an arm around her. “And he’s the biggest one.”