The Volturi agreed to have an audience with Klaus Mikaelson, who had brought young Bella Swan with him. Aro was delighted, if Klaus Mikaelson had Edward’s lover, then the Cullens surely were dead! Caius wasn’t entirely sure if he had to be happy with Klaus Mikaelson’s return to Volterra, as all encounters with the Mikaelsons usually lead to leaving them empty handed.
Everything was as Bella remembered it to be, only now with less of the guard, which filled her with immense joy and she could hardly contain herself. She was nervous, though. What if despite her telling Aro that she wasn’t human to begin with that he’d ordered her to die, anyway? She couldn’t leave Isaac and she surely didn’t want to abandon their mission.
Klaus had told her she had nothing to worry about, that this was a mere courtesy call to tell them to accept what she was and to back off, or there would be consequences. Myriam then said that nobody liked having a fight with the Mikaelsons because they always won.
“Mr. Mikaelson, such a surprise! And you brought others?” Aro greeted Klaus as he got up from his throne to approach him and Bella. “And Miss Swan, so deliciously young as always.”
“Aro,” Klaus greeted him with a nod. “My condolences, I had to take care of your guard when they came to New Orleans to aid the Cullens, I’m afraid that they crossed into my city and you won’t ever see them again.”
Aro sneered then. “We had a deal!”
“The deal was that I’d stay out of your business, and you’d stay out of mine. Miss Swan is under my protection, not that she needs it,” he said as he narrowed his eyes on Aro. “The Cullens are dead. Those who are still alive are victims themselves of the elder and younger Cullen’s manipulation and also under my protection. Now, I understand you had an agreement with Bella about her needing to turn or die because of her knowledge of the Cold Ones?”
“That still stands, despite the losses. It’s law that no human can know about our kind. No matter if she’s under your protection. Our law.”
“Of course,” Klaus smiled courteously.
“It’s foolish of you to have brought another human to this meeting,” Aro said as he looked at Isaac. “Such a fine specimen as well. I’d hate having to kill you.”
“Go on, pups, show them why the both of you are hands off,” Myriam encouraged them, Aro was pissing her off, and she could tell that Bella was about to snap.
Aro took a few steps back when Bella and Isaac put their game faces on, Bella’s eyes flashing red, Isaac’s yellow. “Do know that it takes a tremendous amount of restraint for me not to rip your head off your shoulders,” Bella threatened Aro. “You knew about the Cullens and what they did and you should have stopped them years ago.”
Aro blinked before looking over his shoulder to see if he wasn’t the only one seeing this. From the look of disgust on Caius’ face, this was real. Turning back around, he saw that Bella and her friend had turned their faces back to normal. “My apologies, Ms. Swan, we didn’t know.”
“Neither did I,” Bella said calmly as she took Isaac’s hand. “As it turned out, my werewolf side was suppressed for years by poison, perhaps Wolf Lichen blocks your gifts as well. Does this mean I won’t be killed now?”
“Now why would we want to do that? You’re a fascinating creature, even when we believed you were human! It would have been a shame to kill you, that’s why we hoped that Edward would turn you! But… we’d rather not taint the gene pool, so to speak. We also don’t believe it’s possible to turn a creature such as yourself.”
“Will you call off anyone else who is after me?”
“Of course! You’re free to live a happy and fruitful life. Enjoy your freedom, Miss Swan.”
“I know I’m not in the position to make demands, but I do have a request. I do believe that you owe me one.”
“And what’s your request?”
“I request the freedom of Emmett and Rosalie Cullen and Jasper, Peter and Charlotte Whitlock. Rosalie and Emmett, as Jasper, had been victims of Carlisle as well. And Peter and Charlotte have done enough to stay out of your way over the years and not to cause any ripples in their existence. They deserve the same freedom as you’ve now granted me.”
Aro scowled then. “But I want Jasper and Peter to work for the Volturi.”
“They have their own lives and they’re doing something good with their longevity,” Bella smiled kindly. “Your existence is not in any danger and they’re living under the radar. Besides, Peter is a friend of mine, but a good friend of Isaac’s. He’d really hate it if something happened to his friend.”
“Or perhaps you’d like it if I put those five under my protection, too?” Klaus mused, loving the fact how strong Bella was. Underneath all those nerves she truly was an Alpha. And likely a bit more diplomatic than he was.
“Fine,” Aro replied with a nod. “Anything else?”
Bella thought for a moment before curiosity got the better of her. “How are you dealing with the supernatural hunters? Are there any casualties on your side?”
“Of course not, although we’ve snacked on plenty of them,” Aro seemed entertained. “It’s very difficult for a human, a trained hunter or not, to kill us. It doesn’t stop them from trying though. From what I’ve gathered is that our kind is merely entertained by them.”
“Please don’t allow them to be turned for shits and giggles? If I come across a hunter that’s of your kind, I won’t hesitate to dismember them and burn their remains.”
“Pity. Since you’ve destroyed most of my guard, I could use new soldiers.”
“No,” Bella said sternly. “And don’t make me find out that you did, either.”
Marcus stifled a chuckle and Caius was still not amused. “Very well, Miss Swan, I owe you that much,” Aro nodded. “Now, any more demands? Because if so, I might have to start demanding things of my own.”
She smiled then. “No, that’s it. Thank you so much, Aro.”
“Oh, home, sweet home!” Bella exclaimed as she dropped herself onto the couch in their apartment in their Bed and Breakfast in Mystic Falls. It had been a few days since they’d been in Italy and a week since she got her revenge on Edward and she was glad to be home.
Myriam would arrive back in a few days and until then, it was just her and Isaac at the Bed and Breakfast, ready for reopening and resuming their daily lives. While they had some good food in New Orleans, and in Italy, Bella had to admit that she’d missed Isaac’s cooking.
She’d missed their little breakfast routine.
“Shit!” Bella sat up and looked at Isaac who had just come inside as he carried their bags. “Shit!”
He looked at her in confusion. “What?”
She then pointed at their two bedrooms. “What bedroom are we going to sleep in together?” She’d realized that since the last time they were inside this apartment, they had changed their relationship status and since then hadn’t slept apart either. Two bedrooms seemed excessive now. “And what are we going to do with the spare one? Because, should Kol choose to come, he’s going to stay somewhere else in the building. Not with us.”
“Or we could take down that wall and make it one big bedroom,” he said as he put the bags aside and joined her on the couch. “Or use it as storage, you never know what the future might bring,” he shrugged. “And I don’t mind moving my stuff into your bedroom.”
He laughed then. “Yes, our bedroom. Everything is ours now.”
She crawled into his lap and straddled his waist as she put her arms around his neck. “Shall we break in our new bed?” She teased him before she kissed him, hard.
Bella didn’t have to say that twice! It had been quite challenging to stay away from her at night and in the morning as they had shared the space with sensitive vampire ears and now they were once again free to do whatever they wanted. Answering her kiss, he got to his feet and held her as he walked them towards her bedroom. Their bedroom.
“Love birds, we have arrived!” Myriam announced loudly as she and Kol walked into the reception area of the Bed and Breakfast where Bella was just about to sign in a regular couple wanting to stay at their on the books facility. “Oh, guests!”
“Careful now, Myriam, don’t want to scare them off!” Bella warned her playfully before turning her attention back to her guests. Isaac wasn’t particularly happy about them as he had to clean out an entire section of the kitchen to cater to these guests’ special dietary needs and had been scrubbing the place clean for the last day, making sure that absolutely nothing would cross contaminate.
Once everything was in order and the credit card checked out, Bella took her guests’ bags and took them to the first floor and showed them to their room. When she was done, she got tackled by Myriam. “Okay, I missed you too,” Bella laughed as she hugged her friend and looked at Kol. “Hey you! Change of heart?”
“She wouldn’t allow me not to go,” Kol sighed with a shrug. “But I do have to admit, I love what you’ve done to what once was the Mystic Grill.”
“We tore it all down, rebuilt. I’ll give you the grand tour once you guys settle. You can have one of the suites on the top floor, it’s where Myriam sleeps and Isaac and I’s apartment is there too,” Bella explained. “And do try to be quiet, I just rented out the last room available for paying customers.”
“Do we have some non-paying customers downstairs?” Myriam asked knowingly.
Bella nodded. “Yeah, they’re scheduled to be picked up by Peter in a few hours. Now, go settle in, I’ll drag Isaac from the kitchen so we can bring you up to speed.” She watched as Myriam and Kol went upstairs before heading to the kitchen once the receptionist they’d hired came back from break.
“Don’t come in!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Bella huffed as she looked at the spotless kitchen. Just as she had thought, Isaac had decided to decontaminate the entire kitchen for their food allergic guests. That is, if they were even allergic to the foods they had described as it was the latest fad still in dieting. “It’s time for a break. You’ve cleaned enough and I’m pretty sure that if health inspection comes over they’ll give you like a gold star.”
“Are you mocking me?”
“I might be,” she smirked as she leaned against the door. “Myriam and Kol have arrived.”
Isaac smiled at her then. “Can I use him as my little helper in the kitchen?”
Bella thought for a moment and shrugged. “We’ll see. You really need to find people to help you out, Isaac, we’re full and you can’t do everything by yourself!”
“I can try?” Oh, he knew. But all the people he tried out weren’t what he was looking for. Either they were under qualified or they believed that they didn’t have to do anything seeing as it was merely a Bed and Breakfast and that during the day nothing happened. And maybe it was because he was a perfectionist, but he needed the right people for the job and not doing a job half assed. Maybe Kol and or Myriam could find him some decent cooks and compel them to his needs or something.
“Do you have a fresh pot of coffee?”
“Yep.” Isaac put his cleaning utensils away and grabbed a tray to fill it with cups, the coffee, sugar and milk and added some cookies that he had baked that morning for their guests.
Bella waited until he had his hands full and started to walk towards the restaurant to meet up with Myriam and Kol. “Is something wrong, Isaac?” she asked quietly. “Because you’re being…”
“Neurotic?” He let out a snort as he put the tray on the table. “No, I just don’t want our food allergy guests get sick or give us a low rating on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Hi guys!”
“You shouldn’t bother with all that kinds of stuff. You now have two vampires back under your roof. If they get sick, we’ll feed them our blood and compel them,” Myriam shrugged.
Bella grabbed a paper and rolled it up before hitting Myriam over the head with it. “Three weeks away from this place and you forgot the number one rule already?”
“No, of course not. As human as possible, but… who cares about this shit? They’re probably lying about it anyway.”
“And if they’re not they could get seriously ill from my food. No compelling humans and no feeding them blood. No snacking on the guests.”
“Rule two,” Myriam said to Kol as she nodded. “Don’t worry, Mystic Falls is off limits but there’s a fridge full of blood bags downstairs.”
“I regret coming here. I’m bored already!” Kol exclaimed as he bit down on a cookie.
“Oh, that’s easily fixed. What are your talents?” Bella smiled kindly as she poured him a coffee.
“Murder, mayhem, torture… rule breaker…”
“Did you have a job during the last thousand years?”
“Darling, my siblings kept me boxed for the most part because I used to be so unpredictable and violent and annoying. And when I was out for a long time, I made sure I wasn’t in their vicinity at all and hang out with witches,” Kol sighed. “Niklaus is a painter. Elijah is a great pianist and politician. Rebekah trained to be a nurse. Me? Nothing. Even Myriam has more degrees and work experience than I do, I’ve got none!”
“You’re an Alchemist,” Myriam pointed out. “You may not be a witch anymore, but you know exactly what to do with herbs and other ingredients. You know the exact measurements. You know how to teach, because you love teaching witches the things you’ve learned on your travels.”
Kol looked at her and blinked. “Huh. I never thought of it that way.”
“So, what? You want him to teach witches here?” Bella looked at her friend. “I don’t think this place is the best place for that, you know.”
“No, you idiot,” Myriam rolled her eyes. “There’s magic school where Kol could occasionally pop in to help out, but they have enough witches there already to teach the children. No, I think that he’ll be a great help for Isaac in the kitchen.”
“What?” Isaac nearly choked on his coffee. “Him? In my kitchen? No way!” Okay, fine, he had suggested it only moments earlier, but he had been joking.
“Actually, I think it’s a great idea,” Bella smiled as she ran her hand through Isaac’s hair. “You’d need to be able to measure the right amounts when doing alchemy and or witchcraft, Kol’s a vampire, I’m sure he has excellent feeling in his hands when it comes to weight and measurements. He can do the work for like what? Five cooks at the same time?”
“Easy,” Myriam huffed. “Just try it for a while, Isaac. Like Bella said, the place is packed and you still haven’t found the right cooks to work with you. Train him.” She then looked at Kol, a stern look on her face. “And you don’t get any say in this, you do as what they want you to do, got it?”
“I’m not afraid of you, Myriam,” Kol rolled his eyes.
“Or we could just box you, Klaus did give me a dagger…”
Kol’s eyes widened out of sheer panic. “What! He wouldn’t!”
Myriam let out a snort. The mention of the dagger was always something to freak out Kol with. But unknown to him, all daggers were either lost or safely put away. “You really think that my boyfriend would allow me, a regular vampire, a breakable vampire, to go somewhere alone, with you the happy homicidal maniac?”
“Fuck you, Myriam! You’re not going to dagger me!”
“Hey, knock it off!” Bella shot at the two. “Kol is not going to get daggered or hurt, leave him alone, Myriam,” she said as she rounded the table and ruffled Kol’s hair, feeling him instantly relax under her touch. “Don’t worry, if the kitchen doesn’t work out for you, we’ll find you something else to do. But to stay here, you need to do something, you understand that, right? And yeah, sure, Peter may call upon you, and Jeremy, to go on some rescue mission, but you need a proper job, too.”
“Whatever you think is best, Bella,” Kol smiled up to her. “As long as you keep Myriam and that blasted dagger away from me.”
“If Myriam daggers you, she’ll be in big trouble,” Bella said as she leveled her gaze on Myriam. “We don’t dagger people who are in need of aid. Anyway, when are you going to talk to the major about your plans with Freya and Rebekah?” Bella kept running her hand through Kol’s hair and to massage his scalp, she could feel him relax more and more and that’s what she wanted.
“Next week,” Myriam replied. “I want to walk around the city a bit more to find the best place to make the area into a gated community that Freya can protect with spells. Each house will be individually spelled as well.”
“Nice, I like it!” Bella approved.
Isaac got to his feet as he took another cookie from the plate. “Alright, we’d better go to the kitchen and start our meal prep, Kol. It’s going to be dinner time soon and we have 50 mouths to feed. Guests and reservations together.”
“Oh great, you’re not even going to take it easy on me!”
“You have no idea,” Isaac laughed, shaking his head as he lead the way towards the kitchen.