Whenever Bella thought about the events that set her on the path to her current life, she found she had mixed feelings on the whole affair. For the most part, in regards to Edward, initially she was raging mad. Nowadays, she was mostly apathetic when she had to listen to his father attempt to sell his son’s accomplishments to her.
As if she would ever be taking him back. It was her now with the name and power in Seattle. Edward thought he would be moving onto greener pastures when his family announced they would be moving from Forks, but Bella got a taste of revenge in incriminates as she had kept in contact with his sister. Learning that he lied to the family about how he broke up with her pissed both Bella and Rosalie off, and despite the two not always seeing eye to eye before, the way Edward had verbally assaulted and demeaned the girl the way he did was so unbecoming that it came as a surprise.
What cut even deeper, especially to Rosalie, was the way the cold hearted bastard just abandoned the teenaged girl in the middle of the woods on the cusp of a dangerous thunderstorm, mirroring the night of her own brutal rape that occurred only a year before that she was still in therapy over. Traumatic events like those would create bonds that wouldn’t have been there before and Bella had a new Cullen fighting in her corner for years to come.
Carlisle and Esme Cullen, not wanting to tarnish their family’s good name in the media, had been quick to make a visit to the Swan household once word reached them via their own daughter about how Bella had fallen severely ill from exposure due to their son’s actions and they practically offered them anything they wanted for silence.
Charlie Swan only wanted the family gone from his daughter’s life and was no more shocked than the Cullens themselves when she announced she wanted not only Edward’s trust fund, but any other discretionary investment she requests in the future for capital, without any expectation from them for repayment or involvement in whatever business she chooses to pursue after she graduates college. That on top of them covering her medical bills that they had incurred. Once she had their agreement in writing, and several phone calls and voice-mails of threats that Bella was smart enough to save to disc for posterity, Edward and his family were gone.
Rosalie had kept in touch and for that, Bella was always grateful. The girl had gotten a kick out of the amount of money that she had managed to drain from her parents as they complained about it enough at home. Edward had reacted more negatively than anyone because he no longer had the money he had expected he would despite their parents’ promise to still fund his college tuition, but beyond that he was on his own for rent and extracurriculars.
Bella wasn’t stupid. Even with her new found wealth, she used the money wisely. Even though she selected the best school with an expensive tuition, it offered the highest quality education she could ever dream of. She excelled at her studies, and never lost her focus, wanting to finish as early as possible. Taking as many classes as she could manage, and attending through the summer, she graduated at the top of her class early.
She worked with her father in researching the company that would soon become one of the fastest growing private security firms based out of Seattle. With her young age and the fact that she was a woman, Bella was often turned away early on and Charlie stepped in for many early meetings before they performed something of a ‘bait and switch’ when she would sweep in and knock everyone off their feet with her plans.
At twenty seven years old, Isabella Swan was a household name and Swan Security was the leading provider for personal protection for all levels of clientele. It was the one thing that Bella was adamant about. They would find a way to offer their services if the person really needed it and they had private investigators on staff that would look into their potential clients before taking them on if the risk was worth it.
The company continued to grow and as she sat in her office reviewing reports, she never anticipated the turn it would take when her father entered her office with a proposal that had her considering leaving the city she loved so much.
“Bella,” Charlie greeted roughly as he fell into the worn out leather chair that was unofficially reserved beside her desk for him.
“Dad,” she replied casually, not removing her eyes from the computer. “Is there something I can do for you or are you here just to bother me today?”
He was quiet for a few minutes which made caused her to look up at him curiously. “When was the last time you spoke with your cousin in Starling City?” he asked.
“Laurel? I don’t know. Last year or something? Maybe a little longer? She called to let me know that her ex-boyfriend that she thought was dead was actually alive,” Bella shrugged. “Damn bastard should have stayed dead for all I care.”
“Figured as much. Well, you might want to call her and catch up then because I heard from Quentin and things aren’t sounding too good out there. I’m thinking about heading back for awhile Bells,” Charlie admitted sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Ehh – he also said that Sara is alive too…”
Bella sat as she stared down at her desk, not saying a word as she let the information sink in. She had heard the story of how the playboy Queen kid cheated on Laurel with Sara on that trip and everyone was lost at sea. The entire family had been torn apart as a result. When her father and her went to Starling City for the memorial for everyone, she could barely stand Moira Queen and the haughty attitude the woman had and she wasn’t eager to have to deal with that family again any time soon. Especially her good for nothing son who was no different than her own ex for all she was concerned. “I’ll call Laurel and see what is going on. She’s still working with legal aid there, right?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t say. All he said was that the Glades is nothing like what it used to be and that they just need help, period. He said they have someone that is doing what he can, but its’ overwhelming. I couldn’t understand everything he was mumbling.”
Bella let out a frustrated sigh. It was one of her peeves when people couldn’t communicate clearly or were deliberately evasive with her. She knew it wasn’t Charlie but a part of her couldn’t help but feel that something was off about the whole thing. Maybe it was the part of her that made her different, that drove her to want to go there now that she knew something was different. Either way, Charlie knew that her sense of honor and family was triggered and she couldn’t deny him.
“Go set up the arrangements for the flight. Sometime next week though. There’s too much that we have to finish up here that will take time and accounts that need to be transferred and taken care of before we leave,” she stressed as she began to mentally make a list of all the things she needed to deal with now that she would be leaving the Seattle branch of her company to someone else’s care.
“Right then Bells. I’ll let you know when I have that info,” he said as he got up and headed back out, her eyes following him until he disappeared from sight when he closed the door behind him.
With a sigh, she sat back in her chair as she pulled out her cell phone reluctantly. Scrolling down her contact list, she found Laurel’s number and hit dial. It didn’t take long to hear her cousin’s voice answer on the other end, though she wasn’t as cheerful as she was the last time they had spoken.
“Bella?” Laurel greeted her, sounding slightly confused and curious.
“Hello Laurel,” Bella answered. Continuing on as if it was nothing, she spun around in her chair and looked out her window. “How are things going in Starling City? I hear your wonderful sister is back from the dead.”
She could hear the girl sigh on the phone. “Yes. She’s back. I should have called you and I’m sorry. It’s just been crazy here. Just – I can’t even begin to tell you everything that’s happened since we spoke last. Tommy is dead, Oliver’s mom was killed, the city is practically a war zone. My dad got demoted because he helped a vigilante in town who I thought was a bad guy but – really – isn’t. Bella… When did things get so fucked up?”
The heartbreak and despair in her voice was unmistakable. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Bella let out the breath she’d been holding. “I don’t know. Are you and your family safe at least? If you need protection, I can get you that. Or money? Or whatever you need. Just say the word and I’ll get it to you. Charlie is already getting travel arrangements made for us to come out there sometime next week. I have to get some things in order with the company first before I can leave.”
“Most of the fighting is down in the Glades so we’re okay as long as we stay up town. I’m okay for the most part but I’m worried about Ollie. Since his mom’s death and nearly losing the family company, he’s nearly drained. His club was doing great but that got destroyed and he’s been trying to get that going again without luck because he has to focus on Queen Consolidated before someone else tries to take the last thing he has of his family. As it is, I think he put the house on the market but is trying to keep it hush.”
Bella let that information seep in with a smile on her lips. It was certainly something she could work with. “Look. I can’t do anything about Queen Consolidated but I can loan your boyfriend the money for the club. Scratch that. Tell him I’ll give him the money as an investment. I want a minimum of thirty five percent of the ownership for this. He and I can discuss details later, but that’s the terms of him getting his club back in business.”
Laurel stuttered for a moment on the phone as she searched for her words. “Bella? Are you sure about this? That’s a lot of money! If you do this, you know that your name is going to be stuck next to his all over the papers here, right?”
“My name on the tabloids and magazines is nothing new Laurel. I’ve had to get used to it over the last few years. It sucks but comes with the territory of being successful in a male dominated world. Helps too when they think you’re hot…”
“Oh my god. Oliver is going to be shitting bricks when he sees you. Seriously! And Sara! Between the two of them…Oh! I don’t think that either of them has really seen you how you are now. I mean, Dad has spoken of you every now and then after he gets off the phone with Charlie but Sara still thinks of the crazy cousin that kept tattling on her. She’ll be happy to see you but she’s also different lately. Geez, you just have to see everyone to understand what I mean,” Laurel explained.
Chuckling Bella grinned to herself as she turned back to her desk to pull up the news site for Starling City so that she could start getting an idea of what she was getting herself into. “Can you do me some favors in the meanwhile? I am going to open a new branch in Starling City if Charlie and I are going to be moving there so I need a building. I’ll email you the details of what I need and see what you can find. Whatever you can find, or if it can be modified and done by the end of next week, get it done and have all the paperwork sent to my office here. Give them my cell phone number as a contact for confirmation if they need it. I’ll include all the specs for designs of the offices as well.”
“Very particular, aren’t you?” her cousin chided with amusement.
“When you have the ability and the money, you have the right to be. I know what I like and what works for the company. Why change it?”
“True. But anyway. I’ll let Oliver know about your offer and get back to you if he accepts. He’d be an idiot not to and then we can get repairs underway. If we can get a company working around the clock, I think he can reopen inside a couple weeks!”
Bella rolled her eyes at the woman’s enthusiasm for the man. She recalled her crying over both the loss over him and her sister, as well as learning about his infidelity by him when they both disappeared those years ago and it was something that she just couldn’t get over. Even though Sarah was back, she wanted nothing to do with the girl but the man’s businesses affected many people and Laurel was insistent he wasn’t the same boy he was when he left. “Just talk to him and get back to me. I don’t care how much it will cost to get repairs done under whatever time crunch he’s looking to do for an opening date. Just give me a time that I have to make an appearance for my part and I’ll be there.”
“Thank you Bella. For everything. I’ll smack some sense into Ollie if I have to and get all the legal paperwork sorted and faxed back to the office for you. Oh! And the details for your new office branch here too. I’ll probably have to pull Felicity in on that one…”
She didn’t care who this Felicity was but Bella was grateful when one of her best men knocked on her door to signal for her that she was going to be late for a meeting. “Listen, Laurel? I have to run or I’m going to be late for this meeting. I’ll talk to you when I can. Bye…” she hung up quickly before her cousin could say anything else. Letting out a groan, she wondered what the hell she was getting herself into by moving across the country with a large portion of her company.