“Oh, Bella! Great! I finally am able to talk to you!” Edward greeted her with a big smile on his face.
“Mr. Cullen,” she greeted him politely through gritted teeth and decided to put her hot cup of tea down just in case she’d hurt herself. The anger she felt was coming more off of Kol, she was near tears herself.
“Oh, and you do remember Jacob, right?” Edward said as he pointed at the guy next to him. “I thought it would be a great idea to have him around, to make sure people get the right idea of you and your actions and all! Your fans have always wanted to see you two reunite!”
She couldn’t do this. Not after she learned the truth about Jake’s involvement with her as her friend and chaperone. Not after he abandoned her during a dark time. Not after… everything. Bella was well aware that she was looking like a deer caught in headlights. Stumped. Frozen.
“Bella,” Jake had this big, fake smile plastered on his face and approached her to give her the biggest hug ever, but she didn’t move to hug him back. She couldn’t move. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. “Come on, Loca, hug me back, I’ve missed you!” He hugged her even tighter.
There was a camera pointed at her and she knew Kol wasn’t going to be able to rescue her from this. It was likely Kol was going to kill Jake the moment he had the chance. Jeremy was still inside the house, with Myriam, and Bella was doomed. She let out a tiny squeak and was relieved when Jake finally let go of her and it was then that Jeremy came running at them.
“Please, don’t touch her,” Jeremy said as he moved himself between Bella and Jake. “She works best if she’s touched only by those she trusts,” he said as he turned around to face her. “You okay?”
Bella shook her head as she bit her lip. She wanted to cry. She couldn’t do this. She hadn’t expected this to be a possibility, at all. She needed to go away and come back for the house later. But she couldn’t do that to all the spirits that she had promised. She had to persevere. “I’ll do it,” she said in barely a whisper, but took Jeremy’s hand as he turned around. “Jake.”
“Hi, Jeremy,” Jeremy said as he shook Jake’s hand. “What an unexpected surprise,” he said as he looked at Edward. “A little heads up would have been nice, Mr. Cullen!”
“Nonsense,” Edward smirked as he pointed at some chairs that were ready for them. “Anyone who likes to watch Bella do her thing on youtube knows about the many requests for Bella and Jake to reunite, if only briefly, and I thought it would be nice to facilitate that happening. Surprises are what makes the world a more fun place to be!”
“Well, you did a great job at that, not even my team knew he was here,” Jeremy replied as he helped Bella to sit down in a chair and handed her a glass of water.
“Ah, that’s right, you are the new me!” Jake nodded. “But aren’t there two of you?”
“Yes, but he’s an off camera type of guy,” Jeremy replied kindly as he watched Bella drink her water. “And I’m not the new you. I’d like to think of myself as better. We, as a team, look out for Bella’s well being to make sure she won’t be distracted by the darkness and have her go through all of her recovery again.”
“Hey, I was a good friend,” Jake said defensively as he pointed at himself. “It’s just the crap that she allowed the spirits to do to me that drove me away from her and her story telling ways.”
“And everyone noticed that she wasn’t doing well, except for you,” Jeremy snarkily remarked. “Well done.”
“Please don’t fight,” Bella said as she put her hand on Jeremy’s arm and bravely smiled at him. “Because if he hadn’t run away and had taken me home instead, I wouldn’t be sitting here and living the great life that I have now with people who truly care about me.”
“This may be news for everyone else, as it was for me, but Jake told me you were actually in a mental hospital for a while, is that correct, Bella?” Edward asked sweetly. “If he had returned you home, would you be in another one at this point in time? Don’t get me wrong, what you do is amazing, but isn’t it all just one big trick? A con? To create sympathy for you and earn money through it all?”
“If you truly believe that I’m a fraud, Mr. Cullen, why did you go through extreme lengths to get me to do this Halloween special with my friends? To expose me?” Bella countered as she dug her nails into Jeremy’s arm. “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, because as you are well aware from the report we’ve sent you after our first encounter with your lovely house, we found out that your family is one from a long line of cult worshippers. Believing in something completely ridiculous,” she took a deep breath and continued.
“Your goal was to find the secret room in this house that held all the cult paraphernalia so you could join them, even though you already know you were rejected by said cult because of your own mental instability and your penchant to have unnatural obsessions with things. The spirits in this house, your ancestors, did a fucking good job to make sure nobody would find that room. It doesn’t show up on the blueprints of the house and not even machines can detect it. That’s why you hired Spooky Investigations first, and then me. And after that, you went a little overboard, didn’t you? Hiring people who didn’t exactly know what they were doing, or who dabble in the dark arts, creating portals, vortexes, put innocent spirits in that house and kept them there, plastered against the windows, walking around like zombies without any means of an escape.” Bella took a sip of her water as she thought of her next words.
“What I just told you, has been documented tonight, it has been validated by the scientific equipment and the brilliant white witch named Linda. So the question is, am I really a fraud merely because I spent some time in a mental health hospital? Please. People like me, especially younger, tend to be sent to every psychiatrist in the world to see if there’s something wrong with us, and then, because it’s easy, are sent away, out of the public eye as not to embarrass their families. I would think that actually tends to give more to validation since we often wish to diagnose what we don’t understand that is different.”
Despite Bella’s fear and anxiety, she was being formidable and alert, ready to take no prisoners. Jeremy was glad about that, but not about the nails that were still digging into his arm. “Breathe,” he reminded her softly.
“Yeah….” Jake stammered as he looked at Edward. “Bella’s parents took her everywhere to be seen. They had a lock on her door and window so she wouldn’t wander off to see the spirits. Like me, she was homeschooled and our fathers believed we would be great friends, and we were.”
“Drop it, Jake,” Bella said angrily. “You were paid to be my friend. You didn’t like me at all, you were just greedy until you couldn’t take it anymore. You didn’t look out for me, at all, you didn’t understand. You have no right to stand up for me like you’re trying to do because you’re one of them. You needed to keep an eye on me, make sure I ate and stayed alive, that’s all. I am disgusted with myself for not having seen this. I’ve always defended you, right up to the point where I learned the truth about you,” she then took a deep breath. “Congratulations, Mr. Cullen. I always try so hard to remain positive while there are cameras on me and never speak ill of people, but you have managed to make me do just that and I hope that the audience will forgive me for this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I was about to go for another walk through of your house to see if there are any lost spirits that need my help,” she said as she got to her feet and turned off her mic. Followed by Jeremy, she marched straight to Kol and dove into his arms, shaking from the adrenaline.
“Can I at least kill him, darling?” Kol muttered against her ear.
“Discreetly,” she sighed as she clung on to him. “That was mean, very very mean.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see him before, neither did Nik… we didn’t know.”
“It’s okay… makes me more determined now to get things rolling,” she said as she looked at him. “I want him walking into that house on camera, anyway,” she grinned before quickly kissing him and poofing out.
“Okay, here we go,” Jeremy said as he followed Bella around and saw her disappear into Edward. “She’s in.”
Bella didn’t like how Edward felt. He felt sticky. Icky. Dark. Twisted. His thoughts were impure and she had to fight him for a moment but managed to push him aside to gain control over his body. “Excuse me, Jacob,” she said, as Edward, and rose to her feet. “I think it’s time that I find that room myself.”
“Need some help?”
“No, because I think I know where it is. They have been avoiding a certain area in the house. Go get something to eat, I’ll write you a check when I return.”
“You just said that on live TV,” Jacob retorted in a hushed voice.
“Eh,” ‘Edward’ shrugged. “Trying to discredit her didn’t work, so why not let everything else go to hell?” He continued to march towards the house and Bella felt around in his pockets, not surprised to find a lighter there. ‘Okay, Eddie, let me show you the room…’ she told him as she continued to walk. She noticed that the others were packing up and didn’t pay much attention to the owner of the house walking inside his own home followed by a camera and headed straight to the secret room.
Bella could feel Edward’s excitement for it, how he marvelled in the dusty old books and seeing the altar, and then Bella showed him the blood. ‘That’s mine, asshole,’ she said as she retrieved the lighter out of his pocket. “Could you leave me alone, please?” ‘Edward’ asked the camera man. “Just for a few minutes.”
“Of course, sir,” the man replied and after Bella was sure that he was gone, she opened the zippo and lit it. She could feel Edward struggle against her actions, and it was his own doing that the lighter got knocked out of his hand and fell straight into a puddle of gasoline.
Edward got a little scorched once the fire started to spread, so she moved him out of the room when she was sufficiently happy that the thing was beyond saving. She quickly left Edward’s body and made herself whole behind the house before running around it and bumping into Drew. “There is a gas leak and a fire has started by Edward, you need to clear the house, now!”
“Are you sure?”
“Drew! If I wasn’t sure about an imminent explosion, I wouldn’t be this insistent! Call everybody out and clear the area!” Bella said as she pulled him along with her as he was giving the orders over the walkie. Hugo was the last one to cross the gate as he pulled Edward along with him and it was then when the whole house shook and exploded, in front of rolling cameras.
Bella had found the comfort and safety of Kol’s loving arms when Edward walked towards her, breezing. “YOU! This is your fault!”
“Excuse me?” Bella blinked at him. “How is this my fault?”
“I don’t know how you did it, but I know that this is a part of your vendetta against me!” Edward spat as Jeremy tried to hold him back. “Let go of me, she needs to pay!”
“Calm down,” Jeremy said as he held Edward in a headlock. “I get it, your expensive house that has been in your family for quite some time has turned into a smouldering ruin, but that’s no reason for you to blame it on her.”
“Especially not since he started the fire,” Jace said as he returned with a video recorded by one of the cameras, showing Edward in the hallway next to the burning room, fiddling with his lighter with a devilish smile on his face. “Please lock him up in his trailer, we’ve called emergency services and the cops but it’ll take them awhile to get here. Is everyone alright?”
“Yeah, thanks to Bella,” Drew smiled at her. “Thanks!”
She watched as Jeremy took Edward out of the way and then looked at Drew. “It was nothing, you should thank the remaining spirits for alerting me to it,” she looked past him to see Carlisle and Esme wave at her before they were taken by the Elementals the moment they set foot on the ground their brethren had been stuck on for centuries. She hadn’t actually seen Alice go, but that was alright, Alice was a nuisance, but mainly harmless. If the girl wanted to stick around in the soon to be ashy ruins of the house, then so be it.
“Take her home, Kol,” Drew told him. “We have enough camera evidence to show the cops what happened and she looks absolutely drained.”
“Yeah, we’ll go back with Myriam and her boyfriend once Jeremy gets back,” Kol said as he shook Drew’s hand. “Thank you for looking out for her and having her back. Seems like you lot have a spectacular ending to your special.”
Drew let out a snort and nodded. “Yeah, that was unexpected, but glad everyone is safe. Have a safe trip home, I know it’ll take a couple of hours.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get her home in one piece,” Kol smirked as he squeezed Bella’s shoulder. “Say goodnight to Drew, Bella.”
Bella looked up at Drew and narrowed her eyes on him. “Don’t ever do this to me again.”
“I won’t, I promise.”
She huffed before smiling at him. “Goodnight, Drew. It has been fun.” Bella was glad that Myriam greeted her with the angel statue when she and Kol arrived at the car. The books were in the trunk, as was the survival bag. Bella didn’t quite need the angel statue anymore, but she gratefully took it and hugged Myriam tightly.
“Let’s go home,” Myriam smiled.
Bella slept for a couple of days, she had fallen asleep in the car and didn’t wake up until Kol got impatient and tried everything he could to wake her. He and Jeremy had been deflecting phone calls and emails from the media, especially after Edward Masen-Cullen was arrested for multiple accounts of fraud and harassment, oh, and the murder of Jacob Black, whose body was found stuffed in a cupboard in Edward’s mobile home.
But Bella needed to eat. She needed to take a shower and Kol just wanted to know she was okay.
“I’m awake,” Bella muttered as she swatted Kol’s hand away and rolled herself over in bed, covering herself with the blankets again. “Five more minutes.”
“You’ve had three more days,” Kol laughed as he pulled the blankets off of her and pulled her up. “Come on, sleeping beauty, time for a shower.”
“Days?” Bella allowed herself to be manhandled by Kol as he pushed her towards the bathroom. “Days?”
“Well that’s no fun,” she pouted as she got undressed and stepped underneath the running shower, instantly waking up as it was cold water, and a lot of profanity escaped her lips, causing Kol to laugh and turn up the heat for her. “Well, I’m awake now!”
“Good,” he grinned. “I’m going to make you some food while you cleanse your body from everything it’s been through.”
“Ugh. Alice. Edward. Ugh. Ew. Gross.” She continued that mantra for a very long time while he made her food and it was hilarious. He texted everyone that Bella was back to her senses and waited for Bella to show herself. Thoroughly scrubbed and dressed in a summery dress despite it being the first week of November, Bella emerged from the bedroom. “I’m not ever going to do a thing like that again. Never. Ever.”
“I know, darling,” he smiled at her as he set down a cup of tea. “Eat. You have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Oh yes, Jeremy and I have expertly deflected all of the media, it’s time you do some of the work yourself,” he stuck out his tongue to her and showed her the newspaper detailing Edward’s arrest. “And you won’t have to worry about this, either. Nik has taken care of it, you won’t have to give a statement or face him again, or even go to court.”
She nearly choked on her piece of chicken. “Jacob Black was found murdered and stuffed in a cupboard in Edward’s trailer?”
“I told you I’d kill Jake,” Kol smiled proudly. “And I took care of my kill, by covering it up and made Edward’s life even more miserable. Because he deserves that. I couldn’t kill him, but I could make his life even harder. So I did.”
She continued to read the article and was surprised by what Edward had been charged with. Was it the truth or were most of these accusations planted, forged? In any case, he’d never see daylight again and Bella felt remarkably alright with that.
“Your fans adore you, you know that, right?” Kol asked as she pushed the paper away and continued to eat. “Throughout the Halloween event they kept tweeting and tweeting and ever since that broadcast, your youtube stats have been skyrocketing.”
Bella thought for a moment and wasn’t surprised that she wasn’t surprised by it, nor excited. “Good thing to stop on a high, I suppose.”
“I told you,” Kol said surprised. “You don’t have to give up your ghosts when you go and find something else to do that you think is fun.”
“I’m done, for now,” Bella replied softly. “Ready for something that won’t try to kill me or my friends and ready for rainbows and puppies. Of course I’ll still help someone who needs it, but other than that, no more.”
“You’d like us to go to Italy ourselves and kill the Volturi for you?”
“I want to come with,” she looked at him. “I want to look at their stupidity and obsessions myself. I want to be sure that Valerie is under their influence and I want to free her from that influence. She’ll be the last spirit I’ll save, for now. Have you had a chance to read the books yet?”
“We all wanted to, but this is your fight. You can read the books and tell us all about it while we make sure that the Volturi or any of their worshippers don’t enter New Orleans. If we find worshippers in this city, they will be killed,” when he saw the incredulous look on her face, he let out a snort. “We like to start somewhere, darling. There is no doubt that they will have seen the TV special, or seen snippets on the news, they will be coming for you.”
Bella nodded as she polished off her plate and took a sip of her drink. “Thank you for my food, what’s next?”
“You’re going to take it easy,” he said as he got rid of the plate in front of her and replaced it with her laptop. “Catch up with your adoring fans, I’m going to get you your books.”
“No cuddling?” Bella pouted.
“Oh, we will cuddle,” Kol grinned as he kissed her. “Don’t you worry about that. You could, of course, make yourself comfortable in our chair and I’ll join you shortly.”
She giggled as she slipped off the kitchen stool and took her drink and laptop to the loveseat and nestled herself in there. She had no issues with taking things easy, in fact, she didn’t even want to interact with her viewers, she wanted to put an end to everything she’d done previously. However, since it wasn’t the time for that yet, she had to pretend everything was fine. Until the Volturi were taken care of, she was still Bella, the person who told stories told to her by the spirits.
There were so many mentions on twitter, however, that she couldn’t possibly read through them all, not to mention to reply to them all. She waited until Kol returned and smiled at him. “I think I’m going to do a quick live video instead, how’s that?”
“Are you sure?”
She turned her laptop around to show him. “Too many. Feels like actual work.”
Kol laughed at that. “Are you going to do it by yourself? How about I play some video games while you do that?”
“Sure, sounds good,” she smiled at him.
Kol let her get herself set up as he went about with his own, messaging Jeremy in the process to let him know he was about to start gaming. He also let his brother and his girlfriend know what Bella was up to, but he was certain that Myriam knew before anyone else as the voodoo bitch often knew more than she let on. Just the thought of her had him letting out a disgruntled grunt as he narrowed his eyes on the television.
Bella managed to avoid all questions about the Cullen House, Edward Cullen and everything related to that nightmare, although everyone was dying to know if that had been really her on live TV or her pretending to be someone else. “And, in closing, I do want to say that that was a very fed up and angry Bella you saw on TV. If you could have felt what I felt, could have seen what I saw, you would have likely acted uncharacteristically as well. I still love to tell their stories, and, while I haven’t watched it all back, I will write them down and post them to my website after confirming the stories. Because you know me, I like to have evidence backing me up. Will I ever go to a horror house again? After the experiences we’ve had at the Cullen House? Well, all I can say is that nothing is as bad as the Cullen House and we’re glad that everything turned out alright. Have a very-”
“Bloody asshole!” Kol shouted, cursing Jeremy. “You killed me again!”
Bella blinked before looking around the camera. “It’s a good thing that I hear your voice, and that I see you playing a video game, Kol, but uh… we don’t curse when I do these videos.”
He looked over at her and smiled. “My apologies, darling. I’ll have Jeremy come after you next time. You know how I feel about, erm, his killing me in these games,” he shrugged, turning back to the television. “I’ll get you back you bloody wanker!”
Bella blinked again, before looking at the camera again. “Have a very nice day, now, if you’d excuse me, I think I need to stuff a dirty sock into my roommate’s mouth and then kick our friend’s ass in the game under his name.”
“Like you could catch me, love,” Kol smarted, a smile on his lips as he bit his lip from cussing out again at Jeremy.
“Goodbye!” She laughed before disconnecting the video, putting the laptop to her side and headed over to Kol while she grabbed the second controller. “Let’s kill Jeremy.”
“Best idea I’ve heard all bloody day,” he grinned, slapping a huge smacking kiss on her cheek as soon as she was next to him. “Take mine. I have to run across the street quickly. I need to restock our fridge.”
Bella huffed. “You just want me to get you some points, you’re really bad at this game.”
“Just kill the wanker for me and I’ll join in when I get back. We can switch out games once he dies a few times to see how it feels,” he waggled his brows suggestively. “Then maybe we can go play something else.”
Bella eyed the package she bought him weeks ago and was still resting on the counter. “With that, maybe?”
“Nah,” Kol grinned before heading out.
She gave a pout as she looked back at the present. “Is he ever going to open it?”
“No,” Jeremy laughed. “Is he seriously letting you play to kick my ass?”
“Yeah,” she sighed turning back to the television and game. “He’s really sensitive about dying. Even in these games. I can understand considering how many times he had actually died from what he and his family told me.”
“He’s also very competitive, he always had to fight for his place amongst his family,” Jeremy reminded her. “And I am responsible for him dying, but look at us now, we’re the best of buds.”
Bella raised an eyebrow as she fought his character. “I’m sure he would argue that, but I see your point. Being the youngest brother, it couldn’t have been easy. Rebekah would have been favored, regardless as she is the baby sister.”
“He’s never told you about his past? You do know that he was an unhinged psychopath, right?”
“Oh, no. He’s told me about it. We came across one of his – tantrums in town that he had tried to get me to avoid,” she sighed. “He burned down a house for laughs with people trapped inside.”
“Klaus and Elijah didn’t want to deal with him, the happy homicidal maniac Well, mainly Elijah, Klaus unboxed him for funsies,” Jeremy said as his character was getting the shit kicked out of him. “Their relationship became a lot better after Kol’s stint as a human witch, which is also when he reached out to me and actually forgave me for killing him. And what was I amazed, because boy, Kol Mikaelson knows how to hold a grudge!”
“I’m happy they seem to be getting along better now. As a vampire, he seems to be fairly controlled until someone pisses him off. I’m surprised he didn’t do more with Edward,” Bella admitted.
“That’s because he couldn’t, and because you told him you were going to take care of it, and must I say, you set him up brilliantly,” he smiled. “He had a lot of fun killing Jake.”
She grimaced. “I think I may had been spending a bit too much time around Kol and Klaus. I admit I may have enjoyed it too, a little too much. And that frightens me at the same time.”
“The guy deserved it. You should ask Ylva, see what she thinks about it, but we all agree that you didn’t cross a line there. If anything, because you took care of Edward, it was done in a somewhat natural way instead of him dying under unnatural circumstances and then we’d all be screwed because there’d be a police investigation and shit,” Jeremy replied. “Sure, Kol killed Jake, but he made it look like Edward did it. The main problem right now is the land the house sat on. The debris are cleared, but the land is still there, and owned by Cullen still. Do you want to go back and cleanse it?”
“Yeah, but Jer, I’m supposed to be this balance. Edward made me feel very dark things and there’s no way I’m going back there but yeah, the area needs to be cleansed, I’ll send some of my friends.”
“Every good person has a dark side. Or dark thoughts inside of them and sometimes they do act upon them. Does that make them bad? Or unredeemable? No. Hell, look at the entire Mikaelson family. They were fun loving humans before their parents turned them into a bunch of blood sucking monsters. They have been monsters for centuries and yet, they have changed their ways. Sure, they still have their moments, but they’ve found their way back to the light. From what I was told, you were allowed to stay this time because you are stable and fuel that light. You were created by the same spell that turned them. You need to forgive yourself for going into that grey area, because all you did was have Edward set his own place alight. And that’s nothing compared to what anyone of us have been doing, including me. And stop killing me woman, allow me to heal!”
Bella smirked as she shot his character again. “Well, with the Cullen house done and the family here trying to plot out our move against the Volturi, I’m pretty sure that I’m going to develop cabin fever. Plus once Jacob’s death gets back to Forks, I’m certain we will have to deal with my dad again – or who I thought was my dad,” she muttered, confused at how she should feel about the man she grew up with.
“Oh, Jake’s death hit Forks alright, the whole town is in mourning. There should be an invitation to his going away ceremony thing for you on the kitchen counter, but you know you don’t have to go, right? Those people did nothing but manipulate you.”
She looked over towards the kitchen and shifted uncomfortably on the couch. She couldn’t help but wonder if she could have Kol and Klaus compel the entire town to her liking and immediately brushed it away. It’d be wrong…wouldn’t it?
“What’s on your devious little mind, Bella?” Jeremy laughed as he saw her on the camera. “You’re thinking about something. Some more revenge?”
“It – crossed my mind,” she admitted with a blush.
“Well, they deserve it. They messed with you for so long, you’re entitled to having your revenge. And while you try not to get cabin fever, you can think about what you want to do after we’ve dealt with the Volturi.”
Bella let out a strangled laugh. “So we’re going to take a detour to Washington before going to Italy?”
“Yep, I think that the entire family will want in on that, you should go over and inform them while I lick my wounds because damnit, you killed me – again.”
“Sure, sure. You got your ass kicked in a video game by a girl,” Bella grinned, standing up from the couch. “I’ll have Kol give you a call later with what’s going on. I think we will more than likely fly out for this one though. A road trip will just be too long.”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Mikaelson! Talk to you later!”
She turned back to the television with a scowl as she was about to turn it off. “Don’t say that!”