Bella hadn’t broken anything major, so all the doctor did was to put a bandage on her foot to stabilize it and everything had to heal on its own. Until it healed, walking and driving was going to be a bitch, but she was going to have to endure it. It was punishment for being a jerk to Kol and for being so uneasy at the former house of her ex-boyfriend.
It was just a house.
Rebekah wasn’t in school the next day, which was a pity because Bella wanted to apologize to her, but Bella knew that Kol was at school as she nearly drove into his Porsche while trying to park. That would have been a nightmare for the insurance!
Bella found him in English class, sitting next to the only empty table in the classroom, so she sat down next to him. “I’m sorry for my behavior towards you.”
“I don’t want your pity, Bella,” Kol spat. “That’s exactly why only teachers know about our parents being dead. I can’t believe my sister told you.”
“It’s not because of that,” Bella replied. “Never mind, it’s complicated. I just wanted to apologize,” she added as she pulled her book out of her bag. “If you don’t want it, it’s fine with me,” she added before opening her book and started to focus on the teacher.
Halfway during class, Kol threw a note on her desk. Shall we get out of here?
She looked at him and frowned. “It’s the first week of school!” she hissed.
“I don’t care!” he hissed back, a cheeky smile on his face.
“No, what if my dad catches us?”
“We’ll go to Port Angeles. Or Seattle. Somewhere. Come on, you know this area better than I do.”
Bella sighed and nodded. “After this class, so it doesn’t look too suspicious.” Her dad was going to kill her. She should have said no. Kol was going to get her into trouble and she was going to get hurt. He was just like him. A family with money. Privileged. Even lived in the same fucking house. And she only said yes because she felt sorry for him. This was a very very bad idea.
They had taken her car and she set off on the 101 to head to Port Angeles. An hour of driving with Kol in the passenger seat. “There’s a box there with cassette tapes if you’d like to listen to songs, the antenna on my truck got snapped and I couldn’t be bothered to get it fixed,” she said as she pointed at the glovebox.
She pointed at her radio. “Ancient radio. No CDs in this one.”
Kol grabbed the box and saw everything labeled neatly. “I love music,” he said nodding before putting the box back down. “Myriam gave me an ipod and loaded it up with all sorts of music from the last century, it’s quite a treat,” he said as he motioned to the cable that was hanging out from the radio. “Mind if I hook it up?”
“Go right ahead,” she said with a shrug.
“So, where are you taking me?”
“Port Angeles. Seattle is a big drive and my foot still hurts so…”
“Yeah, I kicked my truck yesterday, broke a tiny bone,” she lifted her pants leg. “No cast, because it’s such a tiny bone but it hurts.”
“Then let me drive!” Kol said shocked. “Darling, you should have said something, I’d have picked you up from home!”
“It’s not, no, pull over. I’m going to drive,” he said as he unfastened his seatbelt. “Come on.”
“The truck is temperamental.”
“I’ll manage. Pull over.”
“Kol, it’s my truck.”
“And? You’d have done the same if it were me with a hurt foot and driving you. For safety sake, let’s swap places,” he pleaded with her.
She pulled onto the hard shoulder and hit the brakes hard. “You think my truck isn’t safe?!” Yep, just like Edward. “This thing may be old but it’s safe. It’s being checked regularly by a mechanic and he and I work on the truck ourselves. This is a safe truck!”
Kol blinked at her and held up his hands in defense. “Bella, I think your pretty red truck is perfectly safe, but you driving with a hurt foot is not. In fact, if you and I were to have an accident with our cars, you’d win with barely a scratch and the flashy Porsche my brother bought would be mangled. Allowing me to drive means we’ll have a bigger chance of making it back in one piece.”
“Fine,” she shrugged as she unfastened her seatbelt and hopped out of the truck. “All yours.”
“I’m not going to steal it or anything.”
“No, more worried you want to replace it with something newer,” she muttered under her breath as she climbed into the passenger seat and closed the door. “Just follow this road, we’ll be in Port Angeles in like 45 minutes.”
Kol didn’t miss what she had muttered under her breath. That, and Rebekah’s tale about how she was at the house had him worried. They were all aware of the house having been the former residence of a Cold One coven. Had Bella encountered them and survived them? What was she?
He watched her as she turned on his ipod and she looked out the window as she listened to the music. After a while, he spoke up. “I live with my brothers Elijah and Klaus, with Klaus’ wife Myriam and my sister Rebekah. We lived a very sheltered life, especially my sister and I, and for me this is actually the first time I have some sort of a high school experience.”
“You sound like you were or are in a cult.”
Kol let out a snort. “It sometimes feels that way, but no. I’m at Elijah and Klaus’ mercy and Myriam is the one who makes sure things don’t get out of hand much. I- I have issues with controlling my emotions. Mainly my anger. Or anxiety. It’s always a party when both come out to play.”
“Rebekah said that one of them is a beast and the other is a monster.”
“Pretty accurate. Although the beast is married to Myriam and not that bad in comparison to the monster.”
“Are you in trouble?”
He smiled at her then. “Darling, I’m always in trouble, just the way I want it to be.”
“But with your brothers, I mean, my dad-”
“Don’t worry about me, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, I think I’m worse than them in more ways than one. Which might be their fault, but I’ve never been one for restraint,” he grinned as he looked back on the road. “And it’s not all that bad, we’ve traveled a lot, the lot of us. Seen a lot of the world. Trying to escape our tyrants of parents. So it’s a good thing they’re dead. We can finally settle. I’m just having some… adjustment issues, that’s all.”
Why did that story sound like the biggest bullcrap there was? He sounded like he was choosing his words far too careful to have the story sound authentic. It sounded calculated. Maybe there was some sort of truth in there, but it didn’t sit well with her. “Congrats, you’re broken, much like every other teen out there.”
Bella nodded. “It’s all the rage these days. Bad family life? You’re broken. Failing school? Not your fault, you’re broken and the system is failing you.”
“Are you broken?”
“No. I’m angry.”
Ah, they were making progress! Seeing as she was talkative, Kol decided to keep asking. “About what?”
“That’s none of your business,” she smiled sweetly at him. “It doesn’t matter. Once I graduate I’m getting out of here and see the world for a while and then it won’t matter at all why I’m angry.”
“Darling, from what I know and have experienced over the years, you can run as far as you want to, but your problems would still be there. Perhaps even follow you. And out there, in the world, you could run into more bigger and scarier problems.”
“I doubt that,” Bella let out a snort. “As long as I avoid Alaska, I’ll be fine.”
Alaska. Hadn’t the Cullens gone there? Elijah had done some research when buying the house a couple of months ago and discovering some relics left behind. Elijah was apprehensive at first of settling for a while in Forks because of the former presence of the Cold Ones and of course, the shifter wolves.
And in all honesty, Kol didn’t like this place either. He preferred the sun. Couldn’t they have relocated to San Francisco? Yes, they had agreed to leave New Orleans to Marcel Gerard but Forks? Perhaps the small community would be less tempting for Kol to start a mass murder, but still.
But apparently, it’s what his family has been doing for years. Move to the least likely places where nobody else would think of trying to find you. Forks was one of those places. “Alaska?”
“Ex-boyfriend,” she said as she looked out of the window. “Not worth spilling words over.”
“I do love a good gossip.”
“No. We can talk about anything else but not that.”
Kol smirked. “Did he have a small wiener? He probably had an itsy bitsy dick. Good thing he’s an ex. You won’t miss much.”
She smiled a little at that. “I wouldn’t know, he was a prude.”
“Or perhaps secretly gay. Just having you as his beard. All into sparkles and feather boas,” Kol mused. “Maybe a big, secret disco built into his room so when you’d leave he’d have kinky gay parties. With a giant disco ball.”
“That’s not nice.”
“Well, the guy obviously hurt you otherwise you wouldn’t be so tight-lipped about him. I’d love to beat him up for you.”
“You can’t,” she let out a snort and shook her head.
“Because he’s in Alaska.”
“We’ll go there in the next school break.”
“No! He’ll kill you! And if not him, maybe his siblings will!”
He briefly looked at her with worry. “Did he hit you?”
“Did you ever report him?”
“No, and drop it,” she said as she nodded to the traffic sign. “The next one left.”
“I’m fine, honestly,” she replied as she pointed at the turn. “Well, I’m likely not fine seeing as for the last year or so, and especially during the summer, I managed not to think about him and latched onto my best friend to have fun together. And we did. And then the day before school started he told me he needed space and that I had to stay away and live my own life. So…”
“I’ve looked it up, it’s called codependency. Apparently, it’s a bitch.”
Kol started to laugh. “That sounds so much like my brother back in the day until Myriam kicked him in the ass. Literally. Told him to get rid of my older brother. They were like Siamese twins. Elijah didn’t think that Klaus could be fine without him.”
She bit her lip as Kol parked the truck. “I’m not sure if I’ll be fine without my best friend, though. He and his tribe makes me feel safe, and he took that away from me.”
“He’s on the reservation?” Kol blinked as he turned off the car. This girl was neck deep into the supernatural and she was still standing. How was that even possible? “Want me to kick his ass? I could use a good fight!”
“He doesn’t deserve that. I probably deserved this, he was likely annoyed by my presence… And it’s fine. I’m fine.”
“I think you’re not. Which is alright, because neither am I and I think we’ll get along swimmingly,” he smiled at her as he handed her the keys of the truck before getting out and helping her out the truck as well. “So, where do we go first?”
Bella shrugged. “I don’t know, you wanted a change of scenery.”
“Sure, but let’s go to the sandwich place, the Italian isn’t that great,” she said as she locked her truck and directed Kol to the sandwich place. “Port Angeles has a great bookstore, though. It’s owned by a tribal woman and she has all the books. She’s helped me a great deal with some uh… research… I did.”
He likely had to come up with a plan not to go to that bookstore. It was highly likely that he wouldn’t be able to get in. Not only was it privately owned, but Tribal women were also crafty. Not necessarily witches, but tribal magic was just as powerful. “For school?”
“Not really. All the information we need for our essays can be found at school or the internet. This needed some bookish knowledge.”
“What was it about?”
“Fairy tales,” she smiled at him. “Myths and legends. It was quite an interesting read and it pushed me in the right direction to do more research online.”
“I thought you loved history?”
“I do, and sometimes that involves myths and legends. You can’t really understand the history of something without learning what’s around it or that’s what I believe anyway,” she lead him down the road past the bookstore they’d likely visit later and Kol felt as if he was being pushed away from it. Yep, the bookstore was going to be a problem. “I heard a lot of tribal myths and legends during campfire, but to find actual ties to the history of the region, that’s just awesome.”
“Proud of it,” she grinned. “I just like to be thorough and this was a side project of mine. And that’s why I want to travel. Visit historic sites myself. Like Pompeii!” she said enthusiastically. “Although… on second thought… that might not be wise…”
“Italy is beautiful.”
“Remember what I said about avoiding Alaska earlier? Let’s add Italy to that list. I’ll be fine as long as I avoid those. And… likely Egypt. I’ll probably be fine everywhere else, but maybe I should check that, just in case. I might be stuck forever in Forks,” she said sadly before muttering to herself to double check the fine print.
Kol decided to pretend he didn’t know what she was talking about. He had an idea, but he was certain that Elijah or Klaus would know more. “Don’t be daft. The world is a great place, but like I said, running from your problems only makes them worse or you’ll encounter bigger problems because of your problems.”
“Look at you, sounding all grown up,” she let out a chuckle and pointed at the sandwich store. “Lunch!”
Bella was back home by the end of the school day and Kol decided to walk back to school to pick up his car. For some reason, Bella’s foot felt fine, and she decided to take a walk in the woods. To clear her mind. She had taken some things with her to go over, and she wanted to do that away from prying eyes, like her father.
Her talk with Kol, she had kept it as vague as possible, made her realize that she wasn’t that free at all. She could travel the world, but she’d likely be hunted, and she needed to be sure. It was her anxiety that was talking to her, and that was fine. She needed to be reassured that she was fine. That she didn’t have to stay in Forks for the rest of her life.
That pit in her stomach that had slightly gone, had come back. And that was bad news. She didn’t have Jake to fall back on this time. Without Jake, she couldn’t stand it and he had made it clear he didn’t want her to call him or to stop by. She couldn’t bother Jessica or Angie with this, because what was she going to say? Even Jake didn’t know the full story but at least he was in the know.
No, she was alone.
And she needed reassurance that her deal had been safe. That she was free to go wherever. If not, she wasn’t sure what she’d do. College wouldn’t be an option as that would take her to Seattle or further away.
Without Jake, the world was a lot darker. More serious. Cold. And it had only been a couple of days. Less than a week. Bella was stupid and having withdrawal symptoms. Jake? Or… perhaps without Jake, the Edward fall out could now be properly felt? No.
She threw up near the river before rinsing her mouth out with the water and continued to walk. Once she was sure she was all alone, she sat down in a clearing and grabbed the document out of her bag and started to read. Reread. She’d read it a million times, but she could have missed something.
Bella didn’t underestimate the Cold Ones and their possible knowledge of magic. Because they were magical, why else would they have special gifts?
As she paged through the pages, everything appeared the same. It wasn’t until she spilled a bit of water from her bottle on the last page that everything changed. There was an additional paragraph, right above where she signed the agreement. Where Edward and Carlisle signed. And the Volturi Kings.
She felt her heart drop as she gently spread out the water. This agreement is null and void should Ms. Swan travel more than two hours away from Forks, Washington, United States.
Bella could feel a stabbing pain in her body and hugged her knees to her chest. She was a prisoner. In Forks. She’d be safe from the Cullens, but not if she’d travel far away. She’d been screwed over.
Her freedom had come with the price of not having any.
Bella’s head snapped up to the voice she’d just heard. The familiar voice and quickly rushed to her feet as she stuffed the agreement in her bag. “What are you doing here?”