Oh, Bella so much appreciated the way Isaac tried to let her in. It was a lot easier to be around him now, and he was significantly happier, much like a puppy. Whenever she had time, he invited her to come and join him in the kitchen where he was trying to perfect things while making things less perfect and it made his food even better.
And while it would take some time to have guests staying over, the restaurant was usually quite busy during the weekend, and during the week people would come for lunch. Some people even came from out of town, and it didn’t take them long to find out why; Peter had put advertisements in just about any newspaper he could find and one in the magazine for travel lovers and foodies.
Bella and Isaac hired some of the local youth for waiting tables, and he was still looking for people to help him in the kitchen. Myriam came to work for them a month after they had opened, bringing along with her a fully paid management course for Bella as an opening gift from her and her boyfriend, Klaus.
Bella wasn’t sure what was going on, but she sure loved not having to think about money, even though she didn’t have much herself and, like Isaac, were paid a wage, but whatever they wanted they could get. It was stress-free and liberating. And it was all because Isaac had finally let her in and had made her truly feel that they were a team now.
The mayor hadn’t waited for the rebuilding of the town’s centre and infrastructure after receiving the money in the city’s bank account. There were workers in town all day, and they happily sat outside the B&B while Isaac fed them lunch – they didn’t want the inside of the new and beautiful building to become as dirty as they were.
Things were really shaping up, and Bella couldn’t be happier.
But of course, they were running this B&B as a business and as a front for helping other supernaturals, and it had been a few busy nights in the kitchen for Isaac due to a group of foodies dropping by to test the waters. Bella had believed he had gone to sleep immediately after hitting the bed, but even she woke up from his phone ringing in the middle of the night. She had heard Isaac’s door open, so she followed the gesture from her own room, and he was talking to someone on the phone in the living room. “Oh, did I wake you?”
“Your annoying ringtone did,” Bella replied as she put a small light on and leaned against the counter. He was still dressed in his dirty clothes and didn’t look sleepy. What had he been doing all this time?
“No, Chris, it’s fine,” Isaac replied as he ran a hand through his hair. “I know Peter said that but I’m not going to drive them all the way to California, you know. No, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. Yeah. If you don’t believe me, call Peter. Send me the address,” he said as he disconnected the call and looked at Bella. “Uhh… hunters got wind of a werewolf family in West Virginia. Mom, dad, two kids. Mom and dad died protecting their children and the kids called Argent for help. We’re closer. The kids are running towards the border towards Virginia, Orkney Springs. They’re safe, for now, but you know…”
Bella thought for a moment and nodded. “Give me two minutes to get dressed, and you should get changed too, you smell like food and sweat, and I don’t like sitting in a car with a stinky. They can wait for two more minutes since we need to drive for a bit too.”
It was still dark when they arrived at Orkney Springs two hours later, but the little town was being lit up by people walking around with flashlights and cameras. “Now, remember, our eyes glow when people take pictures of us. Let’s try to avoid them all together,” he reminded Bella as he took a handgun and handed it to her before grabbing his own. “Let’s hope we don’t need them.”
“They are hunting people like us, shouldn’t they like, die?” Bella muttered.
“And that will likely have things escalate even further. No thanks,” he said as he got out of the truck. He had parked a block away from the address Chris had sent him for safety reasons. “Bella, they will kill on sight. When they find out you’re a wolf, they will be able to subdue you and kill you. And no, I’m not overly cautious or overprotective.”
“You told me as you were teaching me for the last 4 months, Isaac. I know the dangers. The risks,” she checked the gun over before grabbing a holster to holster it for safety. “You’ve taught me well, don’t worry about it.”
He looked at her as he locked the truck. “I’ve never seen this much activity with hunters. It’s usually a couple, sure, but it looks like all the groups have come together for this.”
“And you should be too,” he replied as he pushed his hands in his pockets to look somewhat casual before he headed in the direction of the house the two kids were hiding out in. “Despite Chris calling me, this could very well be a trap. The hunters don’t know yet that there are new players in the saving game and I had hoped it would stay that way. So yeah, this could be a trap for Scott.” He stopped for a moment, contemplating whether or not he should get another weapon on him.
“And what if it’s not and those two kids are in danger?” Bella looped her arm through Isaac’s as she pulled him along with him. “Yes, we’ll be careful, but don’t think the worst of things just because there are so many hunters in a small town.”
“In situations like these you should think of the worst things that can happen,” he muttered as he allowed himself to be pulled along, keeping a careful watch over their surroundings while still appearing casual. No one normal would be up this early to take a walk, and of course, he and Bella were going to look suspicious.
They made it to the house in one piece and undetected alright, but from what he could see through the kitchen window, the children weren’t alone. They were with adults with guns and from what he could tell, the front door was booby-trapped, no doubt the back door was too. He pulled Bella down to the ground. “Told you, trap!” He hissed at her.
“But those kids!”
“Yes, no doubt they’re in real danger,” he said as he pulled a smoke grenade out of his coat pocket.
“When did you have time to pocket that?”
He smirked at her before getting to his feet, smashing the window and tossed the grenade inside the house before quickly moving to kick down the door. “Stay behind me and follow me,” he told her before getting inside, quickly taking care of the first two hunters and Bella knocked another unconscious. He then lost her during the scuffle while he grabbed the frightened kids.
Bella coughed as she followed Isaac out, grabbing hold of his belt. “Go,” she said as she kept a hold of him as he moved, she had her gun out as they retreated, just in case, but she was confident that the hunters inside that house were all unconscious. With a little luck, they would make it back to the van in one piece. That is if they didn’t immediately call for backup after Isaac threw the smoke grenade.
She was tripping over her feet, glad that she was holding onto Isaac and that she was now a werewolf. She would have fallen flat on her face before. She strained her ears like Isaac had taught her to so that she could hear the approaching boots on the ground should they come even closer, but for now, they needed to hurry and get the kids out of here.
Bella felt a stabbing pain in her side, but the sensation was strange, it was already healing. Okay, so maybe she had thought too lightly about this and Isaac wasn’t actually exaggerating. She was scared out of her wits now, the boots were getting closer, and they were slowed down by the crying kids who were being ushered by Isaac. She let go of Isaac and picked up the smaller child while still having her gun aimed behind her. “Pick him up, they’re coming, hurry!”
Isaac started to laugh as he picked up the boy and pushed Bella out in front of him. “Come on, Bella, live a little!”
“Fuck you, Lahey, I’m hurt!”
He knew she was hurt. Likely stabbed with a knife, he could smell her blood and smell her fear. He had warned her, before, but she wouldn’t want to listen, maybe this would have taught her a lesson. “I’ll check you over once we get the hell out of here, okay?”
Bella huffed as she saw one of the hunters turn around the corner and shot them in their leg, causing them to fall over and fumble for their weapon. “Hurry up!” Bella snapped as she tried to go faster than she’d already been going. “I swear, next time you’re going by yourself, I’ll stay home!”
Once everyone was inside the truck, Isaac drove away quickly, making sure not to head for Mystic Falls directly. He kept looking in his mirrors to make sure that they weren’t being followed as he drove them off. “You all okay back there?”
Bella had given the kids something to snack on, to drown their fears or something, and was checking out her cut with her back turned to them. It had stopped hurting as much, and the gash was already closing up. “You fucking owe me a new shirt.”
The kids stayed at their B&B for a couple of days until a relative came to pick them up and take them as far away from the hunter hotspots as possible. Bella was still reeling from the experience, though, and had started to question her decision to help Isaac. She wanted to stay, but would he be okay with it if she’d stayed back?
“No matter how badass you are, no matter how much you’ve learned, it’s something entirely different if you end up in a violent situation, isn’t it, boss?” Myriam piped up as she sat down opposite her at the table in the restaurant as Bella was going over the books. “Oh, I wanted to speak up sooner, but I figured you weren’t up for the conversation.”
Bella sighed as she closed the book. “You’re a vampire, isn’t violence kinda your thing?”
“So is being a werewolf,” Myriam pointed out. “However, you can choose not to put yourself in situations that you feel uncomfortable with. I was human before I became a vampire, you know,” she smiled at her. “And I’m leaving most of the fighting and protecting to my boyfriend and his family. It doesn’t make me weak or fall into the traditional female role, you know. Because I do like a good kill. I just stopped joining him on his fights because eventually, stuff gets to you.”
“I was scared shitless,” she muttered the reply. “I thought Isaac was overreacting when he trained me, but… I’m a cop’s daughter, I’m supposed to… you know… I’m a big bad werewolf.”
Myriam placed her hand on top of Bella’s and gently squeezed it. “Staying home when you think it might be too much for you to handle is not a crime.”
“But I can’t send him out there on his own!”
“Looks to me that he’s been doing that for a very long time and he’s been doing fine.”
Bella huffed. “Yeah sure.”
“You’re not weak or giving up when you stay behind to hold down the fort. What if you get more protectees? I mean, I’m a vampire, sure, but even I can’t take on a group of hunters at once,” Myriam shrugged. “Besides, there’s nothing wrong to stay home, period. Waiting for your man to come home after a battle, take care of him…”
“He’s not my man!”
“Are you sure? I mean, the way you two move around each other speaks volumes.”
“He’s not. Jesus fuck, I’m one of his special projects, remember? I’ve only been away from my boyfriend and his family for a few months and-”
Myriam started to laugh. “You’re blushing ever so slightly, and your heart beats a little bit faster… you have feelings for him. Ah, don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”
Bella sighed as she withdrew her hand and folded both of them in her lap. “He’s complicated.”
“Aren’t all men? But at least it looks like you’re making progress with him, right? I mean… I had the same thing with Klaus. He saved me all those years ago from a situation that was… well, let’s say that it wasn’t a pleasant one. And he didn’t know what to do with me, because I told him that I wanted to stay with him. I was scared of the world, and the man who saved me made me feel… well, safe,” Myriam said carefully. “Like you, I was Klaus’ protectee, and on top of that a brand new vampire with anger issues. He had his hands full with me, but he always approached things clinically, from a distance. Almost as if he didn’t want me to get any closer. Trust issues.”
“How long did it take you to, you know…”
Bella’s jaw fell open. “Twenty-five years? Myr, we’re werewolves and may have a longer lifespan as humans, but we’re still mortal! I’m not going to wait that long! My patience isn’t even that long!”
“Ah, but those years gave me experience, and I can help you with helping him,” Myriam winked at her. “To make sure it won’t take you that long, so you two have enough time to make some puppies together.”
“But he’ll be alone in the field if I stay here, I don’t want him to be alone, Myriam. I mean, he’s great at what he does, he’s a true soldier and all, but if things are as bad as this, he can’t do everything by himself.”
“Well, he likes Jeremy, doesn’t he?”
She wasn’t sure about Isaac liking Jeremy, but Jeremy came over a few times to play video games with Isaac, or they’d go for a run in the morning. “I think so.”
“Jeremy used to be a special kind of hunter, and honestly, his talents are wasted at magic school. You could suggest to Isaac to have Jeremy join him when he goes out and tell him why you think he’s a better fit.”
“But I don’t want to disappoint him.”
“I don’t think he will be, but you’ll never know until you sit down and have a talk with him.”
She sighed. “Right.”
They were watching some comedy on Netflix with a good bottle of wine and some snacks that had been left over from the high-tea that Isaac had served that afternoon to a bunch of executives out of Richmond. Bella liked their evenings of decompression, especially after their rescue mission. It was nice and comfortable. Easy. Relaxing. But, she needed to talk to Isaac after her talk with Myriam.
She let out a sigh and paused the movie. “Can we talk?”
“Don’t we always talk?”
“Yeah… but… this is different.”
“Ohh,” Isaac said playfully as he put his glass down and shifted, so he was more comfortable and looking at her with a curious look on his face. “This oughta be good!”
“Goofball,” she let out a snort and shook her head. “I know that I’ve been basically pushing you to train me to come along with you… and I hate for you have wasted your time on me and…”
“Hey,” he interrupted her and took her hand. “My time is not wasted on you. Ever. I liked teaching you new tricks.”
“Yeah, okay, your time was not wasted. Got it. But…”
“You found it was a little bit extreme when we rescued those kids?”
“A bit… and it’s probably not that way all the time. Things could be worse or easier, it’s not for me. Is it okay to stay here and hold down the fort with Myriam instead?”
He softly kissed her hand. “Of course, Bella. You can do whatever you want, and holding down the fort is just as important.”
“You’re not angry or disappointed?”
“Why would I be, Bella?” He smiled at her. “I’ve been doing this for years, by myself and the occasional assist from Peter. It’s not for everyone, and that shouldn’t be taken the wrong way. Your talents lie elsewhere. You can protect yourself, and I fully believe that you can hold down the fort when we have guests over that need our protection.”
“It’s that easy?” she laughed. “Seriously? I thought you’d be a bit more… anal about it.”
“If anything, I’m glad you’ve decided to stay behind. It’s not easy out there.”
“No, I know. Which brings me to the next thing I want to talk to you about,” she said as she scooted up closer to him. “You shouldn’t be doing this alone. What if you get hurt during one of the future rescues? You could risk being killed or taken, or you know…”
He pulled her into his arms, so she was leaning against him with her back. They often watched TV like this, it was comforting and nice. And he hated it, but he was really trying to get that out of his mind; Bella wasn’t going anywhere. She was allowed in. “Peter’s a walking disco ball in daylight, and I can’t see who else we can ask.”
“So you’re not opposed to the idea then?” She looked up to him, his face close to hers, her heart skipped a beat. Oh, she wanted to kiss him badly.
“No. Why, you have someone in mind?”
“Well, we’ve made some friends here. Like Jeremy Gilbert. He used to be a supernatural hunter, a mystical one. He’s had training, and he might even think like you. You like him, don’t you?”
He thought for a moment about his running partner. He had considered him before, to make a group out of him and Bella, but he had been under the impression that the fighting days were well behind Jeremy. “You think he’s open to this?”
“You never know until you ask him,” she gently pat him on his arm and got the remote to unpause their movie. “So you’re going to ask him?”
“Can I consider asking him?”
“Then I will ask him.”
“Good,” Bella smiled as she settled against him again, letting out a deep, content sigh.