Myriam sat down at the dining table with a set of yard sheers as she glared at Elijah before putting it down right next to her.
“Is Elijah being impossible again?” Rebekah wondered out loud. She had gone for a change of clothes and had sat down next to her older brother. “Don’t mind him, Bella, he’s great with politics and finding places for us to live, but other than that, he’s not really in touch with the world around him.”
“That’s the second time someone told me about Elijah and can I please just find that out for myself?” Bella asked, slightly frustrated.
“I withdraw my initial assumptions,” Elijah said amused. “I like her.”
The food on the table looked incredible. There were mashed potatoes, vegetables, fish and roast chicken and some fancy gravy along with it as well.
“Dig in,” Kol nodded. “While Elijah tells you the story of how the Cold Ones came to be.”
“But I did my research on the Cold Ones,” Bella said. “I even asked Carlisle, and we came up empty, how can you know?”
“We have an extensive library on a lot of things, but this knowledge comes from one of Kol’s old books,” Elijah replied. “There is a now extinct line of witches called the Travelers. They were all about keeping the balance of nature until they were enslaved to help build the pyramids in Egypt. They wanted to become stronger, and faster, so their masters would be happy and they could return to their lives. Or, perhaps, become the new Pharaoh. At the start of the day, they performed a ritual that upset the Deities they prayed to and it got their entire camp killed. But, from the ashes, the laborers rose and their skin was hardened and sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight. And so, by upsetting the balance of nature, the remaining Travelers who had nothing to do with this lost their powers for a while, and the Cold Ones were born.”
“Great! That explains why some of them have gifts.”
“Or how their gifts are being retained, you see, when a witch turns into a vampire, our kind of vampire, they lose all of their magic, because there needs to be a balance. Some Traveler witches, however, are an exception. There’s an offshoot of the Travelers called the Gemini who can have the amazing ability to retain magic but we haven’t heard of a sighting of the Heretics for quite some time now.”
“The Gemini look down on any witch of their coven that has to draw strength from others to perform magic; they’re called siphoners,” Kol explained. “They regained their magic upon turning and now they can draw from themselves to perform magic. Nasty buggers.”
“I heard you had a contract? How did that come to be?” Elijah asked as Klaus went back to the living room to fetch it. “As far as we’re aware, they either kill the humans who know about their existence or turn them.”
“That is the law, yes,” Bella replied with a sigh, not wanting to revisit the whole ordeal in particular. “Do we have to do this?” The food wasn’t that appetizing anymore. “I’ve never told anyone because… it’s…”
“I can make an estimated guess,” Myriam smiled at her. “Girl meets boy, then controlling family… discovers he’s a vampire… family starts controlling girl…”
“Boy dumps girl in the woods for her own safety as the family moves away, girl goes through withdrawal symptoms, then gets a phone call from family that boy is in trouble…” Bella added softly. “And I was so stupid enough to head to Italy to ‘save’ him, even though it was one giant ruse to get me back, which I didn’t understand, they left. He dumped me. They all hurt me,” she added bitterly. “And I got only in trouble with the Nomads because of them. They killed James, so Victoria sent Laurent. Now that he’s dead, she’ll likely come for me herself.”
“The issue of the contract can be resolved in many ways,” Elijah said as he read through it. “The simplest solution is to become a supernatural being yourself. I’m sure one of us wouldn’t mind helping you turn.”
“What!” Bella squeaked. “No?! How…. how can you be so careless with the life of humans?”
“You would be a vampire, you’d live longer,” Elijah replied, shrugging. “We don’t offer this to a lot of people, but I suppose you’re a special case.”
“How about no?” Okay, so Elijah was dick-ish.
“Another solution would be to see if you’re supernatural yourself,” Kol saw the death glare that Bella was giving his brother and he was amused. “You see, darling, we can’t compel you. That usually means you’re a witch.”
“We can usually tell people what to do or to feel by telling them. It’s a great interrogation tool or to stave off boredom, but your mind is closed to it.”
She nearly choked on her food as she put down her fork. “I’m in a room filled with mind-rapers? Like Jasper and Edward?!”
“It’s not like that…”
“Well to me, it sounds that way!” Bella rose to her feet and started to collect her things. “Thank you for offering to help me, but I think I’ll take my chances. This was a bad idea,” she said as she felt her heart beat so fast that she’d think it’d jump out of her chest cavity. “I-I won’t tell anyone about you, I promise, but I can’t do this. Not anymore.”
“Bella, you don’t have to be afraid, please, don’t go,” Rebekah said as she quickly followed her. “I promise, we’re not like them at all.”
“Stay away from me,” Bella said as she ran towards the door and quickly got into her car. As she drove off, she could see Rebekah stand in the door with a sad expression on her face, but Bella needed to get away. The Mikaelsons were just another coven of vampires who liked to play with humans and she’d get even deeper into trouble. She was going to be fine. They just had to stay away from her. She was going to fix this. And if not, well then at least she could die with the knowledge of having tried.
Victoria was still coming for her. The Volturi wanted her to turn or to die.
Easy as that. If she died, they’d leave her dad alone and Victoria would back off too.
Then why was it so hard not to just speed and wrap her truck around a tree?
Because she wasn’t ready.
She parked her truck in the driveway and locked the house in her Charlie’s absence and went to her room. It was time to get ready. Make piles of what to keep and to throw away. Or giveaway. She was stuck. Prisoner. A Dead Girl Walking. Best to get it all over with.
Bella’d been sorting through her stuff for maybe half an hour when she heard someone throwing stones against her window. Confused, she looked out the window and saw Jake standing at the bottom. “What do you want?” Why was he shirtless? It was night time and it was cold, where was his shirt? Coat?
“Can we talk?”
“I’ve already locked the house.”
“Not a problem. Scoot,” he smiled up at her before climbing up the house and climbing through her window. “Tadaa.”
“Do you really like to display your athleticism all the time? Because it does get a bit annoying.”
“How are you doing, Bella?” He asked as he looked around her room. “Redecorating?”
“Something like that,” she said as she sat down on her bed. “What do you want, Jake? You made it perfectly clear that you needed some space and yet, here you are not even a week later.”
He started to walk to her and Bella quickly grabbed a pillow. “Look, I’m sorry,” he said as he got too close for comfort and she pushed him away with her pillow. “I wish I could explain, but I really… really can’t. Have you ever had a secret that you couldn’t tell anyone? One that wasn’t yours to share?”
“Jake, it’s been a long day… I’m really not in the mood for this.”
“Well, that’s what it’s like for me. But worse,” he said as he sat down next to her on the bed. “You have no idea how tight I’m bound.”
Bella sighed as she ran a hand through her hair and leaned into him. “I hate this. I thought we could tell each other everything and here you are, keeping secrets from me. Pushing me away.”
“You know what hurts the most? You already know what I’m keeping from you. Don’t you remember the stories from the campfire?”
She playfully hit him on the head. “So why are you shirtless? Does it make it easier to turn into a pony-sized wolf? Where does your pants go?”
“Yeah, I know, Jake. I had to hear it from someone else but you, and that hurt. And who are you to decide whether or not things are safe around you while you go through this? You shouldn’t be alone!”
“I could hurt you.”
“Yeah, and I could hurt myself by just tripping over my feet!” She hit him again with her pillow. “It’s only because you’re stronger than me that you’re doing this, but you pushed me away, Jake, and I’m lost.”
“I feel that way too… I mean, I should have never…”
“Then don’t.” Oh, what was she doing? It wasn’t going to matter anyway. She was going to be dead soon.
He gently took her arm and ran his thumb across the Cold One scar. “Come to the rez after school tomorrow? Spend the weekend?”
She sighed as she covered her scar with her hand. “Yeah, sure.”
“And then tell me the truth about that scar?” He looked at her with a hopeful look on his face. “Because I think you got that scar off of a vampire, didn’t you?”
Bella let out a breath. “It’s in the past, it doesn’t matter anymore. They’re gone.”
Jake was disappointed to hear that. “Okay, so, tomorrow after school, straight to the rez, and don’t invite anyone into your home, especially the new people in town, okay?”
“I wasn’t planning to…” Bella muttered.
“I have to go,” he planted a kiss on her forehead and walked back to the window. “Promise me you’ll come tomorrow.”
Bella nodded before she watched him jump out of her window again. She walked over to it to close it and fell onto her bed. She was so tired. So fucking tired. What harm could one more weekend do? Maybe she’d get hurt by one of the wolves, it’d be easier to die then.
Kol wasn’t in school the next day, and Rebekah and Myriam kept their distance from her as she sat with Jessica and Angela, but Bella wasn’t entirely there. Jessica recognized the signs and tried to get Bella to talk, to open up but Bella couldn’t be bothered.
After school, she headed to the reservation and while Jake wasn’t home yet, she greeted Billy and headed to Jake’s room to lay down on his bed. It was nice and quiet on the rez, Bella liked that. She could be with her own thoughts and switch off. Decompress. She wasn’t even sure if she should be there. Jake was someone she’d known for most of her life and he was a wolf now. One that should have killed Cold Ones and didn’t.
One that killed a Cold One with help from non-Cold One vampires.
She shouldn’t be here. Things could never go back the way they were, she knew too much. She was an idiot human who knew too much about the supernatural community, now at least three factions of them and that was wrong. She was far better off going back home, continue what she was doing and just leave.
Walking out of Jake’s bedroom, she waved Billy goodbye and headed outside, blinking when she saw Paul and Sam trying to take her truck apart without damaging it. “I kinda need that truck, put it back together.”
Paul grinned at her. “Sorry, vampire girl, it’s Jake’s orders.”
“Then give me his bike, I want to go home.”
“And since when do you listen to Jake anyway?”
“Since he’s our Alpha? It’s his birthright. It just took him a little longer to grow into it,” Sam replied with a shrug. “You’re not going anywhere this weekend, Bella.”
Bella scowled as she got her bag from the bed of her truck and started to walk. She wasn’t even walking for ten minutes when Jake caught up with her. “Hey, what’s up? Where are you going?”
“What? Why?” Jake gently pulled her against him and wrapped his arms around her. “You always spend the weekend here.”
“Until last weekend, when you pushed me away. Then yesterday you wanted me to come back? Y-you’re saying that you can’t promise me that I’ll be safe and yet you wanted me to come to keep me safe? What kind of nonsense is that?” she tried to push herself away from him but he had his arms tightly wound around her. “Let me go, Jake.”
“Give me another reason.”
She took a deep breath as she looked up at him. “I’m done. Your world? Is not mine. I have enough trouble with vampires as it is, and I want out.”
“You got yourself into this mess.”
“Yeah, I know, and neither you or the new vampires in town have anything to do with that. Leave me alone, this is my mess.”
“What!” she pushed against him again. “You want another reason? YOU didn’t tell me yourself what you were. No, you had a vague excuse of being interested in another girl and you said I needed to be on my own as we’d grown to be like Siamese twins!”
“Well, you didn’t tell me everything about the Cullens, either!” Jake said as he let go of her. “You’re telling me to tell you the truth while you never told me about them. About the Cold Ones and what they were doing with you. To you. What they’ve done to you!”
“Because it’s a fucking secret they even exist!”
“So are we!” Jake countered. “But now that you know, that we know, why won’t you come back, huh? It’s a lot easier to be out in the open around you now. Everything’s going to be alright, Bella.”
“No, it’s not,” Bella said sadly as she looked down at her shoes. “I’m not free of the Cold Ones. I won’t ever be free of the Cold Ones. Either I turn, or they kill me. I can’t travel more than 2 hours out of Forks because they’ll get me. There’s a psychotic vampire after me because the Cullens killed her mate after he attacked me. Eye for an eye and all that. The new vampires in town aren’t Cold Ones, they’re different. More human. And guess what? Just my luck that I fell right into their lap, too. I’m a fucking magnet and it needs to end.”
“What you need, is to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get shitfaced,” he put an arm around her and guided her back towards the reservation. “We were going to hang out at Emily’s tonight with the rest of the pack. Just to have some fun, shoot the breeze and forget.”
“I can barely keep it together, Jake. If I get drunk-”
“Then you’ll cry, who cares? Come on, good food and alcohol and semi-adult supervision, but they’re just like us. No more secrets.”
Bella kept quiet for most of the night as she helped herself to the snacks made by Emily and drank all the beer that was being handed to her as they were gathered around the campfire. She suddenly had a blanket wrapped around her and she was leaning into Jake as everyone was having fun. She didn’t care. She was drunk off her ass and loving the buzz.
“So, what are we going to do about the new vampires in town?” Sam asked Jake. “What do we know about them?”
Jake shrugged. “They’ve seem to be assimilating themselves into our community in a much more subtle way than the Cullens ever did. Three of them were at Bella’s school. The same three who we had to fight with for the Cold One that was threatening Bella.”
“How many are there, anyway?”
“I don’t know, Bella?”
“You’ve been to the new vampires, haven’t you? How many are there?”
“Uhh…” Bella took a sip of her beer and thought hard. “Five,” she eventually said. “I love what they did to the house, though. It looks a lot more like a home instead of a sterile environment with reminders of their longevity. No freaky graduation caps as an artwork. And they have a cook to make them food.”
“They eat normal food?” Sam blinked. “Are you sure?”
Bella nodded so hard that she felt like she was a bobblehead. “And they can feed on humans without killing them.”
“So they’re not a threat?”
Bella shrugged as she took another sip of her beer. “The teacher is a good one, she really knows what she’s talking about when teaching a class. I think they’re here to get away from the rest of the world for a while. I don’t know.”
“How much of a threat are they?”
“I don’t know, Sam!” Bella shot at him, nearly dropping her bottle of beer. “I think you should be more worried about the Cold Ones. Victoria won’t stop until I’m dead. The Volturi will kill me too, or perhaps turn me if they get their hands on me. The Mikaelsons saved me from Laurent, I think they’re alright unless you piss them off.”
Jake pulled Bella closer to him and kissed the top of her head. “Do you think they’ll be open for a meeting?”
“Likely. But I’m staying out of it,” she said as she took another swig of the beer. “And that’s the last of what I’m going to say, I’ll go back to drinking.”