Bella had told him that she wanted some time alone, by herself, and Kol granted her as much space as needed while keeping an eye on her. She was adamant that she continued her teaching job and he made sure that she had a daylight ring to walk in the sunshine, allow her to walk amongst the humans.
For a new vampire, she had excellent control over her bloodlust and Kol envied her. He had never bothered to control himself like that, but she was managing. During the times that she was at work, he snuck into her house and filled her fridge with blood bags. She didn’t like that, it was often that he came back to his own house and find that she had pushed dog shit through his mailbox, and normally someone would get really angry about that, but he found himself incredibly amused. He had gotten to know her as an independent young woman, but he never knew she had a bit of a mean streak. It was refreshing.
While Niklaus had given him the benefit of doubt in making sure that Bella would be a balanced vampire, Elijah had been against it; mainly because in his mind, Kol was still the irresponsible and imbalanced younger sibling who was worse than Niklaus. It infuriated him that his brother thought Kol hadn’t changed. That he was incapable of change. But Kol would show him. Prove himself. Over and over again.
It was during one of their heated Thanksgiving arguments when Bella texted him. He had invited her over, of course, but she said she had plans. She hadn’t elaborated, just said that she had plans and that was it.
Are you free?
It was the weirdest text ever. Of course he was free. Free to do what? It’s the usual family Thanksgiving dinner. My sister is yelling at my brother, I’m yelling at the other brother and we’re all yelling at each other. Perhaps by midnight I’ll be resting uncomfortably in my coffin.
Not free then?
There was something insisting in those words, something desperate. He could feel it. What’s wrong?
My Thanksgiving usually consists of drinking so much I can’t see straight for reasons. I realized I need more booze now that I’m turned and I got hungry.
Kol let out a small chuckle as he politely excused himself from the fight with his siblings to somewhere more quiet. Okay?
I need you to come to Rousseau’s, I’m holding everyone in this bar hostage. I need you to compel them to forget what they saw.
Alarm bells went off in his head. Rousseau’s was Nik’s former lover’s bar, owned by Nik now. It was in the middle of the French Quarter and people were out to party. Lone souls, much like Bella herself. What had she gotten herself into? What happened?
I got hungry. How do you discreetly get rid of a couple of bodies?
Kol groaned as he set off for Rousseau’s, and lo and behold, Bella was keeping everyone inside amidst a small pile of dead bodies that she had dropped. “That wasn’t just hunger, darling,” he said as he pushed the door open. He felt disappointed. Kol had believed that she could control herself.
“No, some of it was anger,” she said playfully. “They tried to stop me when I fed on the bartender so I killed them and it feels bad, I’ve never killed anyone but it also feels so good!”
“Go home, you’re drunk.”
She paused, then. “I killed people,” her voice was barely a whisper as she looked at the humans she’d been holding hostage. Every single one of them having the look of terror frozen on their faces before she looked at the little heap of humans. She’d simply broken their necks, but it looked so bad. So bad. “Can we bring them back?”
“No, darling, they’re dead.”
“I honestly didn’t mean to!”
Kol noticed that there were dangerous tears behind those eyes of her and he didn’t want her to fall apart right there, it would only complicate things. “I know, Bella,” he tenderly said. “Why won’t you go home? I’ll come to you as soon as I’m done and we’ll talk about this.”
“What if those people were parents of the kids I teach?”
“Go home, you’re going to be fine.”
“Yes, now go,” he smiled at her before making sure she left the bar. Kol then got to work. He compelled every living soul in that bar and choose the strongest looking males to help him discard the bodies. Some of the weaker ones were told to clean up. It took longer than he had hoped, but Bella had really made a mess out of it. Unexpectedly. Oh, he knew he wasn’t going to fool any vampire that would set foot in Rousseau’s after the clean up, not even after a good wash with alcohol, but Nik would appreciate the effort.
When he arrived at Bella’s, she had seemed to have calmed down somewhat as she was drinking from a bottle of wine. “How are you feeling?”
“Not a huge Thanksgiving person, are you?” Kol chuckled as he sat down on the sofa next to her. “Why’s that?”
Bella shrugged. “I don’t see the point of it. Now, Christmas… is something else. But Thanksgiving is just an excuse for me to go out and drink. A lot. And this time… I fucked up.”
“It’s not your fault, darling,” Kol gently rubbed her back as he watched her take another swig of her wine. “We have a huge tolerance for alcohol, so you really did your best in getting drunk,” he smiled at her. “Well done.”
“I killed people today. Not for feeding, but because they wanted to stop me from doing so. What if I kill my children because I can’t fight the hunger?”
“You only lost control because you’re shitfaced, it’s fine, we’ve all been there.”
Bella huffed as she put her head on his shoulder and took another sip of her wine. “Can you make me forget?”
“Why? You’re a vampire now, you’re supposed to kill people. They’re your food.”
She looked up to him and sighed. “I killed innocent people without feeding from them. Snapped their little necks as if they’re twigs. I should be in jail.”
“And then what? Starve to death?”
Bella was quiet then before nodding. “You’re right. I shouldn’t have drunk that much. I shouldn’t have gone out, period. I’m still learning and I’m still new at this.”
“And when you’re not drinking, you have excellent control and that is fantastic,” he smiled at her. “Very impressive.”
She looked up to him with big, sad eyes. Whatever was bothering her, he’ll get to know eventually. “Really?”
“Truly,” Kol took the bottle out of her hands and set it on the table. “Now, what can I do to make you feel better?”
She smiled at him then, as her hand moved over his leg towards his groin. “Well… I have an idea… You’re handsome and I’m adorable…” When she reached his cock, she gave it a gentle squeeze over the fabric of his pants and he sucked in a breath. “You’re packing…”
Oh, he was likely going to regret this, but he was a sucker for temptation. She was so flattering and it wasn’t his fault that she instigated sex. He earned it, after what he’d done for her. And if she needed this, then he was more than happy to oblige.
Clothes were torn, tables broken, lips clashed before ending up on top of her kitchen island and bodies sliding and crashing into each other while hands desperately clawed at the other’s skin. She was loud, letting go of all the hurt and pain and sadness that she felt.
Round two involved crashing into her bedroom door, making them all fall on the floor and ending it there as she came again, nearly screaming his name as she tumbled over the edge and took him with her.
Round three was non-existent. She had him drink a glass of wine in the midst of all the debris and she promptly fell asleep on the sofa, her head in his lap. Snoring, loudly. A lady she was not.
He carried her to her bed and tucked her in before going home.
There was no poop in his mailbox after he’d replenished her blood supply over the next few weeks. Kol wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing because he kinda liked the attention. He was stupid to think that the excrement was a mirror of Bella’s feelings or something, but she left him alone.
She usually replied to his texts when he was checking in on her, but it didn’t appear that she was looking for company. A shame, really. They hadn’t really talked after what had happened on Thanksgiving. Not that he needed to talk about it, or wanted to talk it, but it had been awesome. And he knew that she had kind of a crush on Kaleb, even when he was inside of him, but that Davina got in the way. Bella was far more exciting than Davina, in Kol’s opinion, despite Davina being a witch.
He knew he was a catch, so was she, but was she aware of what she was missing?
Nik had him out of town for a couple of weeks. His brother had one of his ‘brilliant ideas’ and had Kol hunt down some artifact of which Kol was certain didn’t exist anymore. He needed to get out of New Orleans for a while anyway.
Bella was doing fine and Davina was hating him so that was great. He wasn’t quite sure what happened between him and Davina, but it was likely that she didn’t like him anymore now that he was a vampire. It had taken her long enough, months, even, to realize that he was a dick.
On the way back his travels took him through the state of Washington and he couldn’t help but to harass the local Cold One population there. Cold Ones were dicks, especially these. The Major ran with them, but Kol figured the rest of them were a source of Bella’s anger. He’d happily take them all out, but he wasn’t much of a fighter. Sure, he could fight, but his brothers were more the warriors.
So when he found himself dangling a few feet from the ground after having been picked up by the big, burly Cold One called Emmett – apparently Kol had killed the vampire’s mate – he wasn’t quite sure how to get out of this pickle. Kol couldn’t die, sure, but there were many ways that this guy could hurt him, he was certainly holding him with a vice like grip. “Listen, I’m just trying to make a friend feel better… it’s a misunderstanding, really.”
“You’re one of those Originals, aren’t you?” the Cold One growled as he shook Kol as if he was a leaf. “Which means I can’t kill you even after you’ve killed my Rosalie,” he snarled as he kept holding Kol by the neck, making him wiggle like a fish on dry land. “What to do with you!”
“Emmett, that’s quite enough,” a smooth, velvety voice sounded. Kol knew this to be Carlisle Cullen, the leader of the coven. “It’s one of the youngest Originals, you’ll have to forgive him for being so brazen.”
“He killed Rosalie, Carlisle.”
“I’m sure that his siblings will make sure that he pays, now, let go of him,” he said patronizingly. “Because I’m fairly certain that he’ll find a way to get loose and kill you too.”
Emmett grunted as he squeezed Kol’s neck until he heard a bone snap and dropped him to the ground. “Fine, but I’m going to get my revenge one way or another!”
“Of course,” Carlisle smiled at him and pat him on the shoulder. “I am so sorry for Rosalie, Emmett,” he continued before pulling Kol back onto his feet and put an arm around him. “Come, let’s have a chat.”
“I’m not interested in a chat,” Kol said with a raspy voice as he rubbed his hand over his neck. “I’m interested in you lot leaving my friend alone.”
Carlisle chuckled softly. “She has no idea that you’re here, does she?”
“No, she doesn’t and she doesn’t need to know. The constant reminder of you lot still being here haunts her and she can’t have that if she wants to move on with her life.”
“But we’ve been leaving her alone, young Mikaelson,” Carlisle replied kindly. “She’s been in contact with the latest member of our family, Angela, but she and Bella have been friends for quite some time now. And I believe that Jasper calls her on occasion. Other than that, we’ve been leaving Bella to herself. We know that she’s safe in New Orleans under your protection.”
“It’s not enough. I’m fearing that she has a knack for self destruction and with you still here, present and likely going to collect her, it’ll only do her more harm than good.”
“She has nothing to fear from us,” Carlisle replied as he continued to lead him away from the rest of his family. “The Volturi are after her. We’re fine with her knowing about us and not having turned, the Volturi are not. It’s the law and rules.”
“Then I shall kill them, too.”
“How about you kill them instead?” Carlisle suggested. “And once we do something that will prove to you that we are, indeed, hurtful towards Bella, you can come after us.”
Kol was getting agitated now. “How about I kill you now and get it over with?”
“Would Bella want that?”
“I don’t care what she wants, in the long run, this will be for her best interest.”
Carlisle smiled, then. “Many years ago, I ran into your brother Elijah. We agreed that we didn’t see the world the same way and we also understood that your kind could easily kill mine. We agreed that we wouldn’t be in each other’s way, much like the treaty my family has with the shifter wolves here. Now, the look on your face tells me that you have no knowledge of this agreement, so I shall forgive you for killing Rosalie.”
“Forgive me?” Kol huffed. “Please. Fight me so I have a reason to kill you.”
“I shall leave your punishment to your brothers. Go home, young Mikaelson. The next time I won’t be this kind,” Carlisle pushed him over the treaty border on to wolf territory. “But I shall give your brothers a call about this incident.”
Kol felt like he was in high school and his teacher was mad at him for something. Huffing, he felt at least somewhat accomplished by killing this Rosalie, he hoped that it would make Bella feel better and more at ease, knowing that he could protect her, that his brothers could protect her; that perhaps even she could kill a Cold One when needed.
Oh, wouldn’t that be great? Teaching Bella how to fight, use her powers properly? Would she wear tight fitting outfits? He could make that mandatory! Grinning, he went deeper into Quileute land to meet with the latest chief, Jacob Black, to request access to their shaman for Nik’s stupid trinket. And maybe request that they keep a closer eye on the Cullens, seeing as they turned a human – Bella’s friend – and that was against their treaty, wasn’t it?
Funny enough, he did receive a verbal ear bashing from Niklaus over the phone, but by the time Kol arrived back in New Orleans, his brother wasn’t that angry with him anymore. He even apologized for it for some reason. Kol had half expected to run into a dagger at that point, but since he was in the clear, he could tell his brother that Kol had been right the first time, that whatever Nik was looking for had been destroyed and that he’d been sent on a wild goose chase.
Even that didn’t earn him a dagger.
Perhaps Nik was getting sentimental in his old age. Elijah was huffing and puffing about Kol having killed a ‘friendly’ Cold One, but Nik was protecting him. Why?
While they were having dinner with the family, Kol kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was close to Christmas now, surely there wasn’t a Christmas dagger with his name on it?
“What’s this elephant in the room?” Kol asked as the servants were taking away their empty plates and glasses. “You have been eyeing each other quietly and barely conversed. Something is wrong,” he then let out a slight chuckle. “Because usually my deeds of the last few weeks would have earned me a dagger to the heart.”
Klaus hesitated but eventually spoke up, knowing that Kol was likely going to combust if he didn’t speak up. “It’s Bella.”
Shit. Blinking, he feared the worst. “She’s not dead, is she?”
“She’s not dead,” Klaus echoed, Elijah slowly nodded in agreement. “However…”
Elijah took a sip of his tea and swallowed it quickly to interrupt Klaus. “She’s your responsibility, Kol. You should have taken her with you on your quest for Niklaus.” He and Niklaus did not have any blame in this. None whatsoever. As long as that was clear.
“Don’t blame him, Elijah,” Klaus warned his older brother. “The girl has a job that she loves, of course he wouldn’t take her away from what she loves.”
Kol slammed the table with his fist, causing the cutlery and the dishes to clang together as they launched from the table. “What did you do?”
“Well, we kept an eye on her, as you requested, of course,” Klaus explained as he eyed the fallen plates on the floor, not daring to look Kol in the eye. “She seemed to know that we were and asked a witch to cast a spell to hide her from us. Not even Freya can find her.”
“What are you saying?”
“We have no idea where she is.”
“She’s your responsibility, Kol. Not ours.” Elijah reminded him.
“Elijah, I swear…” Kol threatened his brother as he got to his feet. “You are unbelievable,” he spat. “You ask me to do things all the time and I do them to the best of my abilities and I ask you to look after one new vampire and you lose her? The mighty Niklaus and Elijah Mikaelson have trouble dealing with one vampire?”
“Well, truth be told, we were occupied by having to deal with the looming threat of the Volturi coming here because of your vampire…”
“That’s complete and utter bollocks,” Kol spat as he ran out to see if Bella had come home. He was used to being seen as the family disappointment, as the happy homicidal maniac, as nothing more than the menace, but despite it all, he always did as what was asked of him. Was it that hard to return the favor?
She wasn’t home, but her phone was and it told him that her work had called several times. Things were rotting in her dustbin and her bed was still made. Spoiled blood was in her fridge. It was clear that Bella hadn’t been home in a while. Likely the same week he went off to prove Niklaus’ artifact didn’t exist anymore. Damnit. He thought she’d been stable enough for him to leave her, but it was apparent that he’d been wrong.
Bella had a habit of running away whenever being confronted with something so he hoped that she hadn’t run out of New Orleans. Asking a witch – and a powerful one at that if Freya couldn’t break the spell – to cloak her was new, but not surprising. Bella was smart. She knew how to survive. But he truly hoped she hadn’t left New Orleans because spelled or not, the Volturi would find a way to find her.
Kol hoped he was the first one to find her, though.
He went through her browsing history on her laptop and hated what he found. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Vampire fetish websites mostly, simple humans wanting to be fed upon by a vampire, but the few search results that he found that were not that, disturbed him greatly. It appeared that she had found the dark pits of vampire society, those where the nightwalkers from his brother spent their days; drunk and high and horny with the help from some herbs that some witches supplied them with.
He liked it.
Oh, Kol didn’t deny that he, too, spent many hours in a vampire den at some point in his travels and his existence, but he never fancied Bella to be someone to do such a thing. Then again, Bella was no innocent and she was a troubled soul. Who wouldn’t be after what she’d been through?
The Volturi were still planning on going after her, perhaps they should send them a letter telling them she’d turned? Or wouldn’t that matter? Would she be destroyed instead, seeing as she didn’t turn into a Cold One?
And maybe, those exact thoughts had lead her to find an escape into the arms of needy and pathetic vampires who deserved only to walk by night.
It didn’t take him long to find her. There was a place at the Harbor that he knew of and it was a perfect hide out. It was still in New Orleans and there was enough land to run away or derelict buildings to hide in. It wasn’t easy to get into the place, he was fortunate enough to be an Original and could compel these losers, but how on earth had Bella managed to get in? Loser vampires or not, they still had their own set of rules, laws, even, and as long as they stayed out of trouble, his family wouldn’t bother with shutting them down because even shitty nightwalkers were allowed to have fun.
After gaining access, he could see why she was allowed entrance. In the dimly lit space there was a giant table and Bella was splayed out over it, blissfully unaware of Kol’s presence. She was naked and one of the mutts was eating her out. It looked extremely hot, especially how in her high state her body arched whenever a wave of pleasure hit her body. In the crowded room, where everyone was watching the show, he could hear her little noises as the vampire between her legs did everything in his power to make her scream out in delight.
And all he wanted was to be a possessive asshole and tear that vampire to shreds before giving Bella something to wear as he brought her home to come back to her senses.
Kol counted til ten and took a deep breath. He inhaled the smell of the herbs and alcohol, but they were laced with sex. Bella’s amazing scent of sex, and he lost it. Grabbing the nearest blanket, he threw it over her as he yanked the vampire away from her – the mutt was lucky that Kol didn’t kill him – before throwing Bella over his shoulder and ran her home.
“What are you doing?” Bella whined as Kol dropped her onto her bed. “I don’t want to be here.”
“Oh, you’re going to be here, and I’m going to make sure that you stay until the effects of whatever you’ve been taking wear off,” he said sternly as he tucked her into bed. “And then, you and I are going to have a chat.”
“Don’t make me compel you.”
Bella let out a snort as she rolled to her side. “You can’t.”
“Sleep it off. Then we’ll talk.”
While Bella was asleep, he popped over to his house to get a few fresh blood bags and threw out her old stuff. He wasn’t going to leave her alone. Not again. Kol had a pretty good idea what was going on and he intended to fix it. No more from a distance stuff, he was going to do this hands on and he knew what he had to do to fix this for her.
He woke up to the sound of the shower being turned on and started to make coffee and poured Bella a glass of blood for when she was done. Kol heard some angry noises coming from her bedroom as she got dressed and handed her her glass of blood the moment she came out. “I fucking hate you,” she growled as she sat down like a petulant child. “Why couldn’t you have left me there?”
“Why are you squandering your second chance in life, Bella?” he retorted. “I saved your life and you’re wasting it by hanging out with those losers? Why?”
“Because maybe that was the biggest mistake ever? Giving me a second chance?” Bella retorted as she knocked back her glass of blood and set it on the table. “The Volturi will still come for me and I wanted to have fun for as long as possible. Fun, that you interrupted!”
“Bella, be reasonable,” Kol replied as he eyed her. “You’ve always been under threat of the Volturi, what has changed? Why are you so afraid now?”
“Just leave me alone, you made a mistake by turning me.”
“You’re certainly trying my patience, Bella Swan. I know you’re masking your problems, you can pretend you’re fine for a while until you break. Well, you’ve hit rock bottom now so you’d better talk so I can help you.”
“If you know it all so well then you tell me!” Bella responded angrily. “This is not me! I feel like I’m pmssing since I was turned! I either feel too much or I don’t. And I don’t try to sleep because whenever I do, I have such vivid nightmares about what the Volturi will do to me so yeah, tell me, Kol. Tell me what you can do to make me feel better!”
He let her rage for a few minutes and when she finally sat back down again, he spoke. “I should have told you about the emotional implications of turning. Everything is heightened and I believed you were handling things correctly.”
“I nearly killed my class filled with kids because one wouldn’t stop smacking his lips.”
“Alright, so I can help you with your emotional control. I’m not the best in that myself, but that’s because I’m lazy,” Kol took a sip of his coffee. “And I think that for Christmas, you need to get out of New Orleans.”
“I can’t leave New Orleans, Kol.”
“Of course you can,” he smirked widely. “I’ll be with you to protect you.”
He could hear her let out a breath then. “Where are we going?”
“No, absolutely not! You want me dead, don’t you? Kol!”
And then there was panic, quite amusing, really. “No, darling, we’re going to kill the Volturi. You and I. And then we’re going to set the entire village on fire after we’ve eaten so many humans that we’re well stuffed and high on blood. Or we could do it the other way around, I haven’t figured that out yet.”
“We can’t kill them, Kol. They’re the Volturi. Cold Ones are hard to kill.”
“It’s like punching through a wall, no big deal,” he sat down next to her on the sofa and smiled. “So, what do you say? Want to go to Italy for Christmas?”
Bella threw her hands up in defeat. “Sure, why the hell not. If I’m going to die, then I’d rather die spectacularly.”
Kol laughed at that. “Darling, your first death was already spectacular, it’s merely a shame that you don’t remember that. What you should do, however, is live spectacularly and I’m going to show you how. From this day forward, you shall not want for anything because I will give it to you. No job, no responsibilities.”
Bella mockingly gasped at that. “You’re not asking me to become your girlfriend now, are you? Wow, you have a night of sex with someone and… wow, I didn’t think you were that needy, Kol Mikaelson.”
“It’s not me who’s needy, darling, I’m merely keeping you out of trouble.”
“We’re going to Volterra to kill the Volturi, how much trouble is that!”
“I’m keeping YOU out of trouble but not US.”
“Ah, I see,” Bella grinned as she eyed him hungrily. “A quick fuck before we go?”
First class tickets to Italy. No expenses spared. Kol even decided to teach Bella a few tricks on the stewardesses and she seemed to enjoy being able to compel normal humans to do her bidding. Granted, the stewardess, Jackie, gave a pretty decent foot rub. Bella needed to start enjoying life as a free person and what better way to start with having some fun?
Bella didn’t like blood, but he showed her how she could feed from humans without killing them. That Bella’s blood now had a healing factor and that a single drop would heal the puncture wounds. That blood was a good thing and she looked so hot when she licked blood off of her fingers.
Oh, Kol was falling for her. He’d fallen for her even when he was still Kaleb, but he had Davina to worry about. And his mother. And his siblings. And his death. Kol knew that Bella had liked Kaleb, especially more than like seeing as she had wanted to ask him out, but that had been him. It was obvious that she wasn’t feeling the same way about him, not now he wasn’t Kaleb anymore. Did she like the other face better?
How could she resist a handsome face like his?
“Can I ask you something?” Kol asked as Bella knocked back a glass of whiskey. She nodded for an answer and eyed him curiously. “Perhaps it’s silly of me to even ask, but as far as I know, you’re the only person who’s met the real Kaleb, then met me as him and then it was just me.”
“Which Kaleb did you like best?”
Bella let out a chuckle. “Oh, you want your ego flattered? Should I say that it was your version of him just so you’d feel better?”
“Don’t be rude, darling.”
Sighing, she relaxed in her chair and looked at the ceiling of the airplane. “I liked Kaleb. He was slightly peculiar in his ways, but he was kind. He sometimes tagged along with me to school to show the kids some magic tricks, but he was quite lonely. I don’t think he knew anyone else in New Orleans, like me, so we sort of bonded over that.” Bella smiled when she turned her face to him. “And then he disappeared and came back. And I was amazed by how he had found himself a girlfriend in such a short time. This Kaleb was mental and intriguing, but he worried me, too. Behind the smiling façade, I could see that he was feeling even more alone than he used to and that broke my heart. Nobody should feel like it’s them versus the rest of the world, it’s just not right.”
“Was that the reason you ordered pastries and put them on my doorstep?”
She smiled at that. “Yes. Pastries make the world better. Especially those made in New Orleans. How is Davina, by the way?”
“She doesn’t like me like this, which is insane because she’s a witch and I’m an eternal fountain of magical knowledge. She could use me, but she doesn’t like me like this,” Kol replied solemnly. “And that’s alright. In the beginning I was using her and I thought I felt something for her, but I don’t.”
“She brought you back from the dead, didn’t she?”
He nodded. “And thought I’d be the same as before I died. But as a witch, as a human, I didn’t have this blood lust, you know. I had more control over myself because nothing was heightened. I loved it.”
“You still think that way?”
“Nah. Being a vampire has its perks,” he smiled widely. “Like having endless fun. Travel the world but take years doing so. You don’t age, so it’s brilliant.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, I thought you two were a cute couple.”
“Oh, please,” he huffed. “She’s a teenager and I haven’t been one for a thousand years.”
Bella let out a snort. “Must be a tiny dating pool for you then, if you think like that. Ever hooked up with a Cold One?”
“Really? They’re all perfect! So beautiful, so frozen in their youth…”
“So cold and rock solid. No thanks. I prefer a warm body,” Kol replied, slightly offended. “I can’t believe you’ve even asked me that.”
“You must have heard stranger questions before,” Bella said playfully as she took another sip of her drink. “Although perhaps thinking you’d hook up with a Cold One could be classified as an insult.”
“Well I’m sorry.”
“Good!” He was well aware that she had managed to shift the focus to him, once again she wasn’t talking about herself. But at least he had found out that she liked him better than Kaleb, so that was a plus. “I suppose I should be thanking you,” he eventually said.
“Because with you hiding for the last few weeks, my brothers felt guilty and didn’t dagger me for not finding Nik’s artifact and for killing a Cullen, breaking Elijah’s agreement with them.”
“You…” she blinked at him in surprise. “You killed a Cullen?”
“I had to be in Forks anyway to talk to the shaman of the Quileute tribe, and I figured I’d kill them all but I was stopped from doing that.”
“Why on Earth would you do that?!”
“Their continuous existence is weighing you down. You might say it doesn’t, but everything about you is heightened now. So I figured that I’d kill the Cullens as a present for you.”
“But they’ve left me alone. I only talk to Angela over Skype and Jasper only called me because he was worried because his mate was freaking out.”
“Yes, and his mate would be freaking out if she hadn’t kept an eye on you from afar,” Kol pointed out. “They may have let you leave Forks and them, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t own your ass anymore, Bella, and you know that.”
“But I’m not worried about them! They’d never do anything to harm me.”
Kol smirked at that. “I remember you telling horror stories about how this Edward left you alone in the woods during a thunderstorm after telling you he was going to leave. Or what about that time when they celebrated your birthday? You got hurt.”
“It was a misunderstanding.”
“Was it? Or do you say that because your mind was so charmed by this family? What about that time you went to Volterra to stop Edward from exposing himself? Was that because you loved him or because you were manipulated to do that?”
“I was asked.”
“Even now, you defend them while their influence has made your life hell. They deserve to die, Bella, because even now, they’re hurting you. We’re going after the Volturi now because yes, at this point they are the bigger threat but after that, you and I are going to Forks.”
“It was the Cullen’s fault that you were exposed to their way of life. To what they are. It’s their fault that the Volturi are after you now. What part of that is alright with you, Bella? It should made you angry.”
“They don’t deserve-”
“And even now, you’re trying to make excuses for them. They’ve turned your best friend, Bella. Angela is no longer a human. They’ll keep ruining people’s lives until someone stops them.”
“But you and your family aren’t that clean cut, either! You can’t possibly tell me that you’ve turned humans because it was fun or to use them.”
“You’re the first one I’ve turned in over 800 years. Everyone I’ve turned in the past is dead after I died the first time. My brothers might have made mistakes with choosing their sires and honestly, if some of them come out of the woodwork now, they’ll make their lives miserable. Some humans were turned to help them escape a situation that wasn’t good for them. I remember that my brothers, especially Niklaus, turned a handful of women and men in Spain to escape their oppressors. Some were turned by mistake or in a fit of drunken rage. Some hate his guts, but the main difference between our families is that we can actually control our vampires, they’re fragile and not uncontrollable in their first year.” Kol scolded her. “A large part of the vampires in New Orleans were made by Marcel, a child Niklaus rescued from slavery and raised as his own, but the vampires we’ve created? As a family? Their lives are better than they were.”
“So why me?”
“I told you, Bella, I found you interesting and wanted to see what my blood would do to you and your shield. After your death and resurrection, I thought long and hard about how I was going to handle it, but you’re my responsibility and I gave you a choice. Because you deserve to rid yourself of your past as well and live a healthy, full life with no cares in the world.”
Bella scowled then. “I don’t want to be anyone’s responsibility, Kol. Why do you think I went so far in hiding from your brothers? You made me their responsibility while you were out of town. I’m responsible for myself. The choices I make are my own.”
“But you wouldn’t have been in that position if it weren’t for me dosing your food with my blood.”
“You know what it sounds like? To be responsible for someone? As if that person can’t take care of themselves. I’ve been responsible for my mother and my father, I’ve been their babysitter. I don’t want to be babysat, Kol. I’m not a child.”
He was quiet for a moment then as he searched for the right words. “Very well. If you’re so big on choices and that being your own responsibility, then you’re right. You’re absolutely right.”
“You asked me if I wanted you to be my girlfriend and the answer is no, I do not. The whole idea behind the term ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ is juvenile. The terms are overused. Outdated and the ideology behind them is nothing of equality,” Kol started as he looked at her. “I reject the idea of mates, because not only is that a reminder for you to your experience with the Cold Ones, it’s also as if we’re animals. We’re not. We’re certainly not thrown together by nature. I don’t wish for you to be my girlfriend or mate. I wish for you to be my partner in every sense of the word. Equal. Everything I’ve never done, I want to do with you. Together. I want you to be my partner in the worst and best ways possible. You don’t have to give me an answer now, but this is where I stand. This is the choice I’m making; I’m choosing you. You could likely give me hell for the rest of our lives, but that’s my responsibility because I choose you and asked you to be mine.”
“You don’t even know me.”
“I know you well enough. Now think of what I’ve said and give me an answer before we leave Italy,” he said playfully as he got up from his chair. “I’m going to find a stewardess or passenger to snack on.”
Bella’s silence for the rest of the flight was agonizing. Kol had never bared his soul like that to a girl before and he was anxious; she could still reject him. What would he do if she’d reject him? Oh, this was going to be a gamble, but she truly was special and he wanted her to be his. He hoped that her silence meant that she was thinking about his proposal and nothing else. But the wait was long. When was she going to tell him her answer?