It took three months for the vampires to demolish the building, dig out the long maze-like tunnel that Peter had requested in the direction of Mason Neck, a long 24 miles away from Mystic Falls and to build the entire new buildings on top of them. And, before they could truly open, Peter said he’d come by to show them what exactly was at the end of the tunnels and that excited Bella to no end.
For the last three months, Isaac had taught Bella everything he knew about the use of weapons, what weapons to use in what kind of situation, to become a fighter and get more strength. He helped her focus her werewolf strength into something she could use to her advantage in fights. Isaac told her about the history of the hunter’s code, especially the one from Beacon Hills and how it had changed after certain family members didn’t stick to the code and because Chris and Allison Argent didn’t agree with the code anymore due to their friends being supernaturals. How it changed from ‘we hunt those who hunt us’ to ‘we protect those who can’t protect themselves’ and how it was all inclusive. Humans and supernatural.
He told her everything about how the hunters came to be that were now hunting supernaturals. How yes, technically they were still abiding by the first, original, code, they were deluded and influenced by some of the Argents, still a powerful family amongst the hunters. The world was black and white to them, there weren’t any good supernaturals. Everyone had to die. He also said that the mess in Beacon Hills was partially responsible for this new group of hunters, mostly innocent victims and bystanders from what had gone down there. There was revenge involved now.
Isaac had left the hunters in France because he didn’t want to become a hunter, but a chef, and also because the whole atmosphere changed within the community – and towards him. Chris’ ward or not, Isaac was still a well-behaved werewolf. He’d been disappointed when he hadn’t been contacted by Scott to help him out four years ago and only found out that Scott was now trying to help others to protect them from the hunters from Peter Whitlock.
And Peter, with his big ass ego, decided that they could do better. And they could. They had more resources, more safehouses, more of everything, and they weren’t as careless as Scott and his pack.
During the three months of construction and planning things out, Isaac also took Bella to a handful of food truck festivals in the region, and it was so much fun to attend! The whole atmosphere was amazing, buzzing, a lot of talented people with their trucks, people who came to get food, and the amount of people coming to get food, too… it was crazy. Isaac seemed to thrive under pressure, and his food was spectacular now that he had started to relax somewhat after their visit to that small restaurant in the city nearby Mystic Falls.
And in every town they went, they helped out some supernaturals. Things got particularly hairy in Roanoke. The festival was crawling with hunters letting their hair down. Isaac believed he recognized at least two of them from his time in France, which caused some more anxiety in him. It didn’t help, of course, that they had stumbled upon a flutter of fairies that needed their help in staying safe.
Yes. Fairies. Who knew they existed? And that they were called a flutter?! They looked like ordinary humans, but with magical abilities. What set them apart from ‘regular’ witches was that their abilities were different. More subtle. It was strange to find fairies in America, but their ancestors once came from Ireland. But like most supernatural species, they had moved on from their malignant ways, and all they wanted now was to live in peace. It didn’t mean that all fairies were now benign and/or using their powers for good, but at least these were.
Isaac managed to get them transport to a wooded area in Arkansas where more fairies lived and almost got caught by a group of hunters who had found the fairies’ location. He was fairly sure that they had seen him, so they left without riding out the festival.
It was strange to run through the 24-mile tunnel, there were some lights, sure, but it was mostly darkness. There was enough room for a golf cart, which Isaac said that would come because most supernaturals didn’t have their speed or perhaps their stamina to make the journey on foot. The beginning of the tunnel was a maze. Peter had told them that it would lead underneath the entire town with no way out, with a handful of boobytraps for hunters should they overrun the B&B or something. There was also a connection to a tunnel that headed straight to the Salvatore School, protected by magic.
At the end of the tunnel, they found a farm, a huge farm with cows, horses, sheep… and a lot of forest around the property. It was sitting close to Belmont Bay with a handful of speedboats at the small harbor they had created. There were several buildings on site, small houses where supernaturals could live in peace, hideout, and one major building and that’s where Bella got the surprise of her life.
Inside the house was Jasper Whitlock.
Bella wasn’t quite sure how to react to that. She felt rage flare up inside of her, and if it hadn’t been for Isaac’s hand on her arm, she’d likely have attacked the vampire without hearing what he had to say. What the hell he was doing here. The Cullens couldn’t possibly be involved, could they? She turned to Peter instead, rage still burning inside of her. Well, it was a good thing that Jasper didn’t try to influence her. “What the hell! What is this, Peter? Are you working for them?!”
“Calm down, peaches,” Peter said as he held up his hands and made sure to move between the werewolf and his brother. “Jasper needed our help, too. It took him a bit longer than it took you as I didn’t have a werewolf at hand to wean him off without any side effects. Seems like the charm also works on other Cold Ones.”
“It was time to get him out too, I couldn’t see him with those squirrell munchers for longer, Bella,” Peter said calmly. “Believe me, he has the same urges you have towards the Cullens now that he’s free of them. Don’t hurt him. He’s a great asset to our cause.”
Bella shrugged Isaac’s hand off of her arm and punched Peter instead. It was definitely worth having her bones break in her hand, and she felt a lot better. “He’s not going anywhere near me!”
“No, he and I will be staying here at the farm, the animals need to be taken care of, anyway. I’ll be the only one who will occasionally show his face in Mystic Falls. That’s all you two,” Peter said kindly. “I’ve heard you’ve made some friends?”
They had been having regular dinner dates with the people at the Salvatore school, Bella even went to Richmond a few times with Caroline for a girl’s day out which involved shopping and a spa day. She liked hearing the stories Caroline told her about living in Mystic Falls. The good and the bad. Isaac’s information about the town had been enough for them to settle, but to hear everything? It was a miracle that the town was still inhabited. They really did persevere. And Myriam was going to come back somewhere the following week, Caroline assured her that the older vampire was good people.
“You’re not going to mess with them,” Bella replied eventually as she gently massaged her broken hand. “Don’t ruin them.”
“I promise we’ll stay well clear of them,” Peter said with a knowing smile. “I take it that everything is built and placed to your satisfaction?” He looked at Isaac then, who nodded in return. “Good, then I hope you’ll enjoy yourselves! Because that’s what it’s about. Enjoyment and helping others, right? I’ll let you know when I hear something about trouble, but you’ll likely find it yourself first.”
“For what it’s worth, I’m really so-”
“Save it,” Bella snapped at Jasper before looking back at Peter. “That’s it?”
Peter let out a breath and shrugged. “You and Isaac run the show, Bella. All I’m here for is funding and giving your saved supernaturals whose lives are in critical danger a safe place to stay. All I want is to work together. Live your own life. You haven’t been bothered in the last few months, have you?”
Bella sighed and shook her head. “Thank you.”
After Bella and Isaac had left and were well out of earshot, Jasper smacked Peter up on his head. “Are you insane?”
“Tell me the truth, were ya dropped on your head as a baby? Did Char cause some permanent brain damage?” He questioned his brother. “Ya mean well, and I can feel potential between them, but seriously?”
Peter sighed as he looked at his partner in crime. “What?”
“That boy ain’t equipped to deal with Bella’s rage! He likely rolls over for her to scratch his belly when she’s being a spitfire!”
“They’ve been fine so far, Jazz,” Peter replied calmly. “I wouldn’t have sent him in if I didn’t think it was a good idea. In fact, he seemed to be doing a lot better than he was before. Bella’s slowly breaking down the walls he’s put up, and he seems to be able to balance her out. She could have dismembered you, but she didn’t.”
“And what about him actively rejecting her?”
“Walls. He’s afraid that once he lets her in, she’ll hurt him like they had done to him in the past. And she’s an Alpha without a pack, and he’s an omega without a pack. He always said he was fine without a pack. I can understand his reluctance and his rejection, but he’s working through it. I wouldn’t worry about them, Jazz.”
“That’s a nuclear bomb waiting to go off,” he said as he pointed in the direction of the tunnel. “Whatever happens, the fall out is on you and your smart ass brain. You might be wrong this time.”
“I’m never wrong,” Peter said smugly before turning on his heel and going back to feed the horses.
It was the grand opening of the Mystic Night Owl, and Caroline had made sure to make a party out of it for the entire town, and about 100 people showed up for the festivities. Isaac wasn’t freaked out by it. As Bella showed them around and brought them to the entertainment area, he was cooking up a storm; making tiny sandwiches, cutting the lasagnas he made into bite-sized pieces and adjusted more meals that he had planned on making because, in all honesty, they hadn’t expected this kind of a turnout.
But by the end of the night, after everyone went home, Bella couldn’t help but smile widely after locking up and walking into Isaac’s domain – the kitchen and helped him clean up. “All in all, everyone’s really positive about this. Especially the young people, the teenagers, who still live here. They have some entertainment again!”
“Maybe we should add an extra room set up with like game consoles,” Isaac responded as he refilled the industrial dishwasher. His clothes were drenched in sweat, and his hair was sticking to his forehead. “But to tell you the truth, I’m quite happy that our restaurant only seats 50, that we have a set menu and shit like that. I don’t think I can handle 100 at the same time.”
Bella huffed. “You do food truck festivals. You can do more than 100 at once, but did you at least have fun?”
“Yeah,” he smiled at her. “So positivity all around?”
“They loved it,” she went over to hug him, sweaty or not, he deserved a hug. “And the food was amazing, but I wouldn’t have expected anything else. Your improvisation skills are the best!”
“Good,” he let out a breath as he let go of her to continue cleaning up the last bits. “Glad this is out of the way. Who knew so many people would come? This is a town of 500 citizens!”
“Yep, a good 1/5th of the population. We should be proud!”
“How can you be sure that Caroline didn’t just compel them all?”
“Oh, party pooper,” Bella rolled her eyes at him. “I trust her enough not to have done that, she wants to have this town rebuild as much as everyone else, why mess with people’s minds to do so? Have a little faith, will you? Stop thinking so negatively about people. This was a huge success, Isaac, and you ruined a perfectly good day with that remark,” she said a little bit hurt. “You can be such a jerk! But have fun cleaning up, I’m going to bed.”
Was he truly a jerk for doubting Caroline’s intentions? She had the ability to influence so many people, why shouldn’t she do it to make Bella and him feel more welcomed into the town? Or maybe Caroline didn’t do anything, and all those people came out of curiosity. Because they had hope.
He had almost forgotten what that felt like; hope. If it weren’t for Bella, he would have given up on it. Because while he didn’t want to let her in completely, he still had hope that she wouldn’t leave. And she’d been around him for four months now, and no matter how much of an asshole he’d been, she was still here. She wasn’t like the others; she was different, and he knew this. He felt it. She had managed to get some control out of him and made it her own project, simply because she’d wanted to do something.
And not because she was an Alpha, but he truly felt that she wouldn’t intentionally hurt him. She wouldn’t accept him as her beta anyway, but the least he could do was to accept the fact that she was staying.
Looking around the kitchen, there were still a few things that needed cleaning, but nothing that couldn’t wait until the next day. He needed to go and have a talk with Bella. And apologize. Because today had been a good day. Something good had happened to them. He threw the towel into a corner and bounded up the stairs to the shared apartment they had on the third floor where he found Bella in their kitchenette, pouring herself a glass of wine. “Hey, uhm… I’m sorry for what I said.”
“What? For blaming Caroline for the great turn out today? Yeah, you should be sorry,” she said as she took a big gulp of her wine. “Caroline is a strong, smart and amazing friend. Pure,” Bella let out a snort as she took both the glass and bottle to the couch with her. Werewolves couldn’t get drunk, but that wouldn’t stop her from trying her best to get drunk anyway. “She’s a majestic unicorn, and sure, at first I thought she was pretending, but fuck, Isaac, she’s pure of heart, they don’t make people like her anymore. She’s loyal to a fault and has a big heart. To accuse her – not even in her face – to do something like that? That’s ridiculous, and you should be ashamed of yourself.”
“I am,” he said as he sat down on the table in front of her. “I am. Because I realized that all of this is likely giving people hope again for this town and that they were curious. For them to be positive… is the best compliment someone could get, I suppose. And I’m sorry that I made this day end on a sour note for you.”
Bella smiled then. “You truly mean it, huh?”
“I do,” he nodded. “And I’m sorry for being an asshole to you from time to time. I… uh… did that to protect me… sort of… you see, uh…” he ran a hand through his damp hair and averted his gaze. “I thought you’d leave. By trying to create some distance between us… at least from my point of view… I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t hurt if you’d left…”
“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not going anywhere?” He looked at her with his beautiful blue eyes, and Bella could tell something had changed. Had he honestly seen the light?
“I see that now. So I’m sorry for that. I promise to be more… open about… stuff. Less of the pushing away.”
She placed a hand on his cheek and gently caressed it. “I like being with you, Isaac. I want to be with you and have all these adventures and fun. I mean, we’re running this B&B together. We’re making some great friends! Why would I want to leave you? You’re funny, you’re wickedly talented at cooking, and you work hard. You’re patient and kind. And you can be a lot of a jerk, which sucks.”
“I promise, I’ll be less of a jerk. At least to you.”
Bella let out a snort as she gently tapped his cheek before nursing her glass of wine again. “You smell.”
“Ah, so would you if you’d been in the kitchen all day,” he said with a grin, but getting the message. He got to his feet and started to pull off his shirt as he headed to his bedroom. “Save me some wine.”
“We have plenty downstairs!”
“That’s for our guests… unless you stole that one from downstairs?”
“We didn’t go for groceries yet!” Well, they had, to stock the kitchen for the bed and breakfast as the suppliers hadn’t been able to get to them in time due to roadworks. But for their personal shopping? No, they had completely forgotten in the excitement to finally open to the public.
Isaac let out a groan. Luckily, Peter didn’t care much for the books, and neither should he. Peter had enough money, even if the Owl wouldn’t make a profit or break even. “Save me some wine anyway!”