“Shit, shit, shit!” She felt fortunate that she kept most of her equipment in her trolley and basically lived out of her backpack as she frantically tried to pack what was lying around in her room. She needed to flee, right now. Nearly tripping over her feet, she started running down the streets of New Orleans, catching the streetcar towards Bourbon Street and hopefully creating as much distance between what was stalking her and herself.
Had it been a dark spirit, she would have been able to keep it out herself, but no, what was following her was much worse; it looked like someone on PCP with fangs. Vampire. This person had followed her before, but tonight was the first time it actually came at her.
Bella sensed her pursuer had dropped off significantly once she got close to where she was going, but she knew it was likely he was waiting around the corner somewhere, ready to pounce. Bella was crazy for doing this. Totally. But she knew she’d be safe with him, somehow. She was near tears when she finally arrived at the address Kol had given her and frantically knocked on Kol’s door. “Kol!”
Kol opened the door, a look of surprise on his face as he stared open mouthed at the girl. “Uh-”
“Kol, buddy, you’re dying here. What’s going on?” a loud voice through his headset could be heard.
“Gotta go, Gilbert. I have a girl at the door,” he said, quickly cutting off the sudden barrage of questions that flooded the line. “Bella. Come in. What’s wrong? Did the kids step out of line? I was serious when I said I could get a witch to put them in a time out.”
She pointed down the street, still feeling frantic before she stepped inside, and a feeling of peace and quiet washed over her, the first time she hadn’t felt anything in ages.
He leaned out, his shoulder slightly pushing her behind him as he stared down the shadow of a man. He lifted his nose to breathe in a scent, often difficult in the city due to the volume of people coming and going. Growling, he pulled her inside more. “Stay in. I’ll take care of this. Trust me when I say, this one is not welcome in town and he knows it,” he explained. Stopping briefly, he thought for a second and looked at her. “Do not go out the door or onto the balcony until I return. Do you understand?”
It was then she noticed what Kol had on his head and let out a snort. Reaching up, she pulled his boxers off of his head. “I’m not going anywhere and this better be clean or I’ll be extremely grossed out right now.”
His lips pulled back into a grin and waggled his eyebrows as he disappeared, leaving her holding his shorts.
Bella could feel the adrenaline leave her body as she tried to get up the stairs with her trolley with equipment – there was no way she was going to leave it standing in the open doorway. She ignored her struggle, focussing more on how much the apartment felt like a desensitize tank; it was completely empty and serene and the only thing she could hear was the TV upstairs. She kept telling herself this was insane, she was being careless, but a part deep down told her to keep going, that this was the right thing to do.
Once she was upstairs, she was surprised by the size of the apartment, how much space there was but yet how cozy and homey it felt. Her eyes got drawn to the TV, and she realized Kol had been playing a computer game and his friend was trying to crawl through the camera lens on the other side, likely wondering where Kol had run off to.
When Bella tossed Kol’s shorts on the couch, it garnered the attention of the boy on the tv and he frantically waved with a big smile on his face. Bella greeted him with a small wave before stepping outside of view of the camera as she waited for Kol to return.
It wasn’t long, and when he did return, he wasn’t happy. It was clear he had been in a fight as he had smears of blood on his clothes and hands. “I’ll be out shortly,” he said as he passed by her through the living room, toward his bedroom, closing the door behind him. “Just need to wash up. You don’t need to see this.”
“Is that what you have to do often? Hurt other vampires?”
He didn’t answer right away as he debated how honest he should be. “When I have to to protect my family,” he called as he was quick in his speed. He walked out in fresh clothes and watched her with apprehension. “The one who was hunting you down. My family has a long history with him.”
“He’s been following me since I got into the hotel, it’s only today he made an attempt to get me,” Bella said as shivers ran down her spine.
Kol nodded, trying not to get her more upset. “As you know, there are good and bad humans, just as you know now about vampires. He likely took notice of you first because you were a single lady in a big town. The first few days you had no one else around you, pegging you for an easy target for a meal, or some other – nefarious purpose, which is his M.O. I’m sorry to say, what made him act tonight was likely my coming to you to speak about the job offer.”
“It’s fine,” Bella sighed, waving it away. “Something was bound to happen anyway, things have been too quiet.”
“It still should not have gone down this way for you to believe what I shared. Still, I have to tell my brothers about this. They will need to have those on their payroll step up their patrols in town,” he shrugged.
“Oh, don’t bother with that. Really. I’m glad I can crash on your couch.”
Kol smiled. “No, actually we do. Because bad vampires cause increase in murder sprees, decreases travel and tourism and business. It’s an endless cycle and a delicate balance we all try to keep. Most – normal vampires feed on blood, yes. Human blood that is. But what sets the sane apart from the more dangerous, is we can control ourselves and our meals live, a band aid and some iron supplements, a little compulsion and they knowing nothing. Life continues and the balance ensues. Characters like Douglas, well, if things were so dangerous in town, we wouldn’t be able to have pretty ghost hunters like you to come and visit.”
“I’m not a ghost hunter,” Bella laughed. “But I understand your reasoning, it’s just… yeah… balance. Balance is good.”
“Semantics. You’re free to use the apartment to your heart’s content. I’ll be right across the street. In fact, if you go out on that balcony, you can see right into my one brother’s room. No worry that you’ll see something indecent. He’s a prude, but he’ll take a liking to you, I think,” Kol winked. “Come on over if you get bored. But do get some rest. No spirits or supernatural other than I can get in here so it’ll be quiet for you.”
“I noticed that,” she said with a small smile before biting her lower lip and looking at him. “I’ve been living out of hotels for years, I don’t like being alone that much. I can stay on your couch and out of your way, I promise.”
“You’d never be in my way. I’m too fast for that,” he smiled. “But I’ve seen your videos and I can see those bags under your eyes, Doll. Just for tonight, sleep in a real bed and tomorrow, we can plan out what to do next. Deal?”
“Okay,” she sighed, giving in. Despite her two week stint at a convent, she’d been surrounded by people, by spirits and this was the first time in a very long time she didn’t hear anything. Didn’t feel anything. And it was so good, slightly scary, but so good. Bella then noticed Kol’s friend was still trying to get his attention. “You should finish playing your game.”
Kol sighed and pulled his headset’s connector out of the computer and turned to the television. “I said I had to go.”
“Yes, and you didn’t disconnect,” the voice replied, there was a hint of giddiness lying underneath his voice. “But good for you, man. Good for you. Have fun!”
“I’m going over by Nik’s! Don’t make me come back to Mystic Falls and break your neck!”
“I am not in Mystic Falls. I might very well be in New Orleans, tracking something! Or applying for a job!”
Kol scowled. “I’ll simply kill that sister of yours. I owe her anyway… What – Why? No. Just no. You come here and not even that ring will bring you back when I kill you this time.”
“Dude, relax,” Jeremy snorted. “It’s not something you’d be interested in and I’ll be likely out of New Orleans in like… a month. It looks like a great gig, too.”
“No. Besides – I heard rumors the girl was interviewing this morning anyway. Sorry pal.”
“Girl? Damn, you do know about it? Kol, I swear, if you’re going to hurt her -”
“You guys talking about me?” Bella piped up, curious now. “Is he a vampire too?”
“Yes and you hired me already, right?” Kol replied, staring at her hard. “And no, he’s not. He’s a vampire hunter who killed me a few years ago.”
Bella walked up to Kol and poked him in the arm. “You’re a vampire, you’re already dead. Besides, you feel pretty solid to me, how did it happen?”
“No. I really did kill him. Like burning flames and ashes. His family can only be killed by a very particular type of wood that is extremely rare. I got the better of him and poof! Flammable vampire,” Jeremy shrugged. “His brother tried hunting me down for a bit after but then I died.”
She eyed the boy on the tv. “You’re not dead, either.”
“I was brought back by my ex-girlfriend.”
“Ditto,” Kol raised a finger. “But she and I are still friendly, hence the nice protection on the apartment, yes?”
She didn’t know what to do with this information. “I need a nap.”
“You need a shot with that? I got plenty of good bourbon. Help yourself. If you have any questions or need any spirits to contact while in the apartment, feel free to ask the dumbass there. He can see ghosts when he needs to.”
“No, I don’t drink,” Bella shook her head. “If I drink, my mind gets all woozy and I’m not able to protect myself.” She then looked at the TV again. “Hmm, I may have to re-think my team set up, but first, I need a nap. This is too insane.” She carefully placed her equipment trolley in a corner to make sure it couldn’t fall over. All of her precious equipment was in there and she did not want to risk breaking any of it. “Information overload, you know,” she said with a yawn.
Jeremy laughed through the television. “Trust me. Knowing Kol, he only gave you a drop in the bucket. Goodnight. I need to go find something to eat anyway and -,” he sniffed his armpit. “Maybe take a shower.”
“Boys are gross,” Bella said as she picked up her backpack and turned to Kol. “Are you sure about the bed? Because I can go anywhere and fall asleep right now.”
“Go. I’ll be by tomorrow with breakfast. I think I remember Nik has some french cook this week.”
“You’re going to leave?” Bella said, feeling her anxiety rise a little. “No, please… I don’t want to be alone.”
“Okay then,” Kol nodded. “Not all night, I promise. I’m going to talk to my brother and I’ll be back. Remember, right across the street. I’ll have to tell him we will need to speak in Elijah’s room where you can see us.”
She let out a sigh of relief. “Okay. Thank you,” she loosened the hold on her backpack slightly as she walked into the direction of where Kol went after coming back all bloody. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Love,” Kol said after her, frowning before he walked out, texting his brother to meet him at the compound.
“Did she contact you after your interview?” Myriam wondered as she watched Kol walk into the courtyard. “I sent her an email with more information about what we are.”
“Not in the way I had hoped,” Kol answered agitatedly. “Where is Nik? Is Elijah home?”
“Elijah’s room, as you requested. And yes, Elijah’s with him, too.”
“Bloody hell. I hoped he wouldn’t be,” Kol grumbled as he made his way up the stairs and down the hall. Walking in, he ignored his brothers and went to the balcony to open the drapes and door. “There! Much better.”
“What’s going on, brother?” Elijah asked, eyeing his younger brother’s curious behavior. “Expecting someone?”
Smiling, the youngest brother waved a finger over his shoulder. “Tell me, do you see anything interesting?”
Both brothers looked out of the open door, seeing a young, petite brunette feeling around, almost as if she was testing out the stupid barrier their brother had put up in and around his apartment. “Ah, I see you’ve managed to kidnap the girl you’ve been so obsessed with the last couple of years,” Klaus stated dryly.
“Not kidnapped. She came running for protection. It seemed our old friend, Douglas, was in town and had set his sights on her. I took care of it,” he answered without taking his eyes off his houseguest. “The barrier is giving her mind a break right now and I’m hoping she’ll find some sleep before I get back, but she wasn’t happy about my leaving until I convinced her we would talk in here where she could see us.”
“A wounded puppy,” Elijah let out a sigh. “Why aren’t I surprised?”
Myriam shook her head from behind them as she leaned against the bedpost. “She’s a medium, that’s for certain. But there is something more there and when I tried to find some sort of protection that would work for her, there was always something blocking me. Which leads me to believe that there is something more present.”
“She still has that dark entity attached to her?” Kol asked worriedly. “I thought she got rid of it?”
“No,” she shook her head. “She had it removed almost immediately. This is some other tie and I can’t quite tell where or who to. It could be so new that it is growing, or it’s so old it’s impenetrable at this point. Hell, half the time I can’t even feel she’s even there.”
Klaus wasn’t sure about the girl. He was curious, like his brother, like Myriam, and had even seen a couple of her videos after Myriam let her browser open. It was clear the girl was gifted, and right now she looked like a fish out of water. “Even from her videos, you can tell she has an innocence but there’s something else that is there but she doesn’t want to acknowledge, which leaves me to believe she doesn’t know anything,” Klaus eventually said. “What are your intentions with her, Kol?”
“She doesn’t. She just learned about vampires this morning and then realized one had been stalking her since she arrived in New Orleans,” Kol admitted. “I am looking to work with her on her projects, try to keep her safe. The Gilbert boy wants to help too and is a big fan of hers. Considering each of our abilities, I think we could help her.”
“Young Gilbert is reckless,” Klaus turned to Kol. “And so are you. How would that possibly help her?”
“We get along. I can get her out when things get too bad, and quickly. Jeremy can see what she can hear, and not. I can help her with the true history of many areas, of what potential dangers might want her because there is something out there targeting her and it’s getting worse through her videos.”
“I have to agree with Niklaus,” Elijah said after some thought. “Not that I don’t want to discourage you from doing something noble, but she moves in a different world than us, there are beings in her world that could harm you as they can harm her.”
“Jeremy is, again, firmly in that world and we already have a plan for that. Confidentially and compulsion is great with contracts and pseudonyms. Jeremy and I are in full control of the cameras and editing so we will show what we want. We are drawn to her for a reason, and we will help her. I don’t give a damn what you say,” Kol argued.
“It’s interesting to hear you say young Gilbert is also drawn to her. Perhaps Elijah should look more into the lore of The Five – ignoring the whole Silas debacle,” Klaus said thoughtfully.
Myriam rolled her eyes and moved to stand next to Kol. “I agree with Kol because I’ve also been pulled to help her. I’ve most recently been hitting walls in what to do next, but Kol does seem the strongest candidate to support her. And she’s accepted him it seems, with him telling about his nature.”
“I know, love,” Klaus smiled at her. “Like I know how you’ve already prepared a bag for him to protect him. Kol has my blessing to continue with this…. Adventure. However, if somehow, through this new adventure, some of our old enemies find us, it’ll be the end of it, do you understand, Kol?”
“How about we just kill them? It’ll be me and a hunter teaming up,” Kol shrugged. “I’m really more concerned about our dead enemies taking it out on an innocent girl.”
“Then I suggest you stay away from that tenement building,” Elijah quipped, a smile on his face. “I’d be curious to see how the dead witches react to her.”
“I wasn’t planning on taking her there regardless. And truthfully, I am too. Maybe I should take her to meet the Ancestors tomorrow.”
Myriam frowned, not sharing her thoughts as she looked out the window. “She crashed. You should get back there. I’ll leave some breakfast at the bottom of the steps in the morning.”
Kol was happy with this conversation. He had expected to have a much harder time with his brothers than he had had. “Thank you, Myriam. And thank you, Nik and Elijah for trusting me with her.”
“Don’t thank them. I still would have told you to go if they tried stopping you, then put their asses in time out. They don’t have the right to control you,” she argued, glaring at the two like spoiled children.
“Fine,” Kol smirked and bowed. “I’ll unthank you, Nik and Elijah. Have a pleasant evening.”
“Laters! And I will get you for telling her about the pineapple circus!”
When Bella woke up the next day, she felt as if the day had already started without her. Confused as to where she was, she sleepily looked around. Why weren’t there voices of the dead or energies?
Shaking the fog out of her mind, she recalled the events of the day before and couldn’t help but wonder in disbelief. It wasn’t as if she could deny the existence of vampires and magic, because she dealt with spirits and not a lot of people believed they were real, either.
She knew Kol was going to insist on having her stay at the apartment and she decided not to fight him on that – she absolutely loved having a breather from everything, it was as if a part of her that rarely got the chance to function had awakened her and it felt so good!
Bella shimmied out of bed and realized she had fallen asleep with her clothes on. Letting out a groan of frustration, she grabbed her bag and dragged it off to the bathroom to freshen up and change her top for a clean one. She was going to have to insist on paying for her stay at Kol’s house and pay for food. It had been awhile since she’d been able to make use of a real kitchen and she longed for her own lasagna. Maybe she could make that for dinner for the both of them.
Did vampires eat human food? Or was it only blood they consumed?
After Kol returned from speaking with his brothers, he straightened up what he could before stripping down and crashing on the couch. He could have gone into the second room but he was too tired himself to care. He woke up a few hours later when he heard the front door open, no doubt in his mind it was Myriam bringing the breakfast that she had promised and after hearing the door close again, he brought it upstairs.
There was some light snoring coming out of the bedroom still and he tried to be as quiet as possible as he spread out the breakfast in the kitchen. Kol still couldn’t believe everything that had happened yesterday, but he was glad it had. He was feeling a lot calmer now that he knew Bella was safe.
He remembered seeing a wishlist on her support website, things she was saving up for. What if he’d order a few of those things? Kol opened the website on his phone and started reading.
~wishlist~: As much as I love my voice recorder, it’s old and the voices are grainy. You know what would be awesome? Something like the Wonderbox or Ovilus. Not the Spirit Box, it makes too much noise for me. I can already hear you say; “Oh, but Bella, you hear the spirits anyway!” Yes. Yes I do, but you don’t. These devices will relay in real time what’s being said and no fudging with the voice recorder in editing. Easier for me, more fun for you.
My camcorder is severely getting too old for this shit. I have to keep buying new batteries and all, but with technology advancing, I could use a new one. Jake could use a new one. I suppose the cameras are the biggest priority right now. Also, they’re far less expensive than the Wonderbox or Ovilus.
A new laptop. Oh, yes. And maybe an external hard drive?
I’m not asking you to buy this for me. If I keep our costs low, I’ll be able to get some of these things soon enough. I’m only putting it here because A GIRL CAN DREAM. 3 Bella
Oh, Kol had plans. So many plans. He could get all of this, granted, it would take a few days because it wasn’t all readily available, but he was going to surprise her. Screw the days. He had connections. And he still wanted to kill Jake for being a wuss and apparently not caring that much about his friend. Oh, when Kol would get his hands on him…
He made a couple of calls and then waited for Bella to wake up. It would be evil to wake her while she was still happily snoozing.
An hour later, there was a knock downstairs and Kol went down to be greeted by a grumpy looking Klaus. “You could do your own running around. Next time, I won’t be so cooperative. Is that clear?”
“Aw, Nik, I thought you wanted the girl to be happy,” Kol snorted as he took the boxes from his brother. “Is it everything?”
“Yes,” he replied with a scowl. “Granted, that box thing is almost brand new, had to compel it off some local ghost hunting group and made them forget they even had it in the first place.”
“I’m sure she won’t care as long as we don’t bring it up. Still, thank you. I’ll make it up to you somehow. I just need to help the girl,” Kol shrugged as he inspected everything.
“Well, now you have the perfect excuse to go to the cemeteries; test out new toys,” Klaus shrugged, amused as he watched his brother go through everything. “Have fun, call me if you need anything. Elijah and I have reached out to Douglas’ people and they’re going to leave New Orleans when the sun goes down. For now, they’re gone. Next time, we won’t be as friendly. Had it been up to me, they’d all be dead. But you know Elijah.”
Kol sneered. He had wanted to kill those vamps, badly, and now had to live with the fact they were still out there and that they could come back. “Oh, I will kill each and everyone of them on sight,” he muttered as he watched his brother walk over to the compound.
He went back upstairs and left out the new goodies for Bella on the table, then went into the guestroom to change for the day.