Caroline pulled up outside a large house that looked like it came right out of an historical novel. My eyes were fixated on the building, taking in all the details that I almost missed Caroline speaking.
“This is the Salvatore Boarding Home. It doesn’t actually house visitors like it used to anymore, but it’s Damon and Stefan’s home. Oh, and Elena on some days. You’ll meet her soon I’m sure, though I doubt that Stefan will bring her around until he’s sure you won’t hurt her,” she smiled.
“I’m human. What the hell am I going to do to her?”
“I don’t know. He’s just overprotective of her. We all are for very good reasons. She’s got enough vampires after her so I’m sure the two of you will have plenty to chat about. Come on,” she waved me along as she went up to the door and just waltzed right in.
Inside was slightly creepy with the blood red décor and dark lighting but it was also comforting as well. She led me into a sitting room or parlor where a man was bent over a table that had a large number of old looking books that had me curious. He looked up and his eyes shot from me to Caroline. “What are you doing here?” he asked, looking back at me.
“Me? I don’t know. I was just kidnapped by Blondie here. I’m sure her two hottie friends will be around soon enough. I must say I’m looking forward to this interrogation. Hey! They never answered my question about whips and chains!” I remembered, turning to Caroline. “Maybe there’ll be some handcuffs included?”
The man was taken aback as Caroline burst out laughing. “It’s okay Ric. This is Bella. We’re helping her out with her vampire problem so she’ll be sticking around for awhile. Bella, this is Alaric, or Ric. Ric, meet Bella. She’s going to a real handful for Damon.”
“Nice to meet you. So – you human?” I grinned at him, trying to hold back a laugh at his surprised look.
“Yes,” he answered carefully, as he seemed to try to figure something out with me.
I nodded and shrugged. “So what are you to these vamps? The family pet? Wow these are a lot of books…” I muttered as I finally noticed the walls filled with shelves that I was itching to go check out.
Luckily we didn’t have to have any big heart to heart as the front door slammed open and shortly revealed my two new bodyguards. “You really know how to pick them Luscious. A mind raper? How the hell did you stand being with him?” Damon said first thing when he saw me.
Rolling my eyes, I walked over to the fireplace and studied the artifacts they had on display there. “I was the exception. I think that’s mainly why he was so interested in me in the first place because he couldn’t hear my thoughts. That and his power trip with getting over his blood lust for me. Supposedly I am his singer.”
“Nice! So you think you’ll let me have a taste? I would love to send him a postcard letting him know just how delightful you are,” he smirked making me laugh as I moved on to peek at the titles on the shelves and was in my glory.
“I’ll get back to you on that. First, I’d like to know who’s books these are,” I said, pointing at the shelves I was currently looking over.
“Why?” Damon asked, exchanging a look I couldn’t quite make out.
“Because if they belong to a chic, I’d happily switch teams, and if not, I want to have his baby. Seriously, this collection is better than any library I’ve visited in my travels. And many of them are first editions. You have any idea how much money is just sitting here? It’s got to be at least a million,” I pointed out as I got lost looking. “Easy.”
They all burst out laughing but I was just slightly serious as I turned back to looking at their collection. “Well, you’re more than welcome to read anything you like there,” Stefan, I remembered was his name, offered. “Damon is the only one that really reads those, not that he’s capable of having children anymore – thank god.”
That actually surprised me and I looked back, appraising him with new eyes. “Huh,” I let out.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a classic every now and then,” he complained.
“Damon, you probably slept with some of those authors when they were alive,” Caroline pointed out and I burst out laughing.
“So, how about you tell us more about why we just chased off a Cold One for you,” Stefan interrupted, more focused on getting back to business.
Sighing I turned to stare into the fire that was burning in the fireplace as I considered where to begin. “Can I just have a drink first? It’s not the most pleasant story and for a lot of it, I need to be well on my way to hammered to get through it,” I admitted. Damon came over to my side after he got me a glass of whatever, I didn’t particularly care, and pulled me down onto his lap while I stared into the glass.
“Whenever you’re ready,” he said softly. The tenderness in his voice felt unnatural but comforting to me and considering the vibes I got from the others, they were a bit shocked at it. Thankfully they kept their thoughts and opinions to themselves as I pulled myself together.
“It started my junior year of high school. I moved in with Charlie, my dad. My mother remarried and wanted to spend time on the road with her new husband. I was happy for her that she found someone that kept up with her antics. She was really more a child than a parent so I let her go. I went to live with my father and it was nice. I still pretty much cared for myself and it was like living with a roommate that wasn’t around much because he worked a lot or was away with his buddies fishing,” I said with a small smile as I thought about them back then. “I saw them for the first time during lunch period on my first day of school. They were utterly gorgeous and mesmerizing. There was something about their beauty that was different that I didn’t learn until sometime later. I had my first encounter with Edward the following period. He was – hostile. Extremely rude and acted like I smelled horrible. Because we had to sit next to each other, he stayed as far at the other end of the small table as he could but I knew that something wasn’t right. His eyes were black as night and when the bell rang, he got up so fast and was out the door before I could barely blink.”
I was quiet as I remembered those days and continued on, explaining his absence and return. Then I went into the incident with the van. Most of the room stared at me, shocked at some parts, but were nice enough to let me get the story out as I needed to. By the time that I reached the part of my history with James and the start of the nightmare with Victoria, I hadn’t realized just how nervous I’d gotten. I kept rubbing at my wrist that held scars of that time that would be with me forever. I knew they couldn’t see it because I always had it covered with a wrist band much like Edward used to wear, though it wasn’t because of him. I just didn’t want to have it exposed when I wanted to wear short sleeves.
“There’s more to it than that,” Caroline pointed out. “I mean you wouldn’t be that pissed off at him just for wanting to take a bite if you offered yourself up to Damon like you did before.”
I glared up at her like she was the blond idiot that she appeared to be. “Of fucking course there is more. I was just taking a fucking breath and a mental fucking check because it’s still fucking traumatizing Barbie.”
She looked back at me slightly pissed I dared to speak to her like that while Damon hid his face in in my shoulder and I could feel him trying to not laugh out loud. Rolling my eyes, I took a deep breath and a large gulp of my glass, finishing it. He handed me his glass, earning a very grateful smile from me as I forged on with the story with James, to my 18th birthday and the first time that Edward abandoned me in the woods and leading up to the rescue from the Volturi.
From that point on, each time I was forced to bring up Edward’s proposal as a condition to his changing me, I poured myself another drink and downed it. “Fucking sparkling idiot,” I muttered as I stared into the empty glass. “So, after graduation, he couldn’t go through with changing me, convinced that he was damning my soul and took off again so that he could try to get out of it. The rest of the Cullens were more than willing to step up and change me but at that point I was pissed off more on the principal because he was a lying bastard. He broke their laws and I was out for blood. I graduated and went back to Italy to strike a deal that expires in about a year or so.”
“What exactly was the terms of this deal? The Volturi aren’t exactly ones to mess with. Granted, we’re stronger than them, but I still wouldn’t intentionally try to piss them off,” Stefan commented.
“I get to make Eddie’s existence a miserable one was one part. He wanted me to settle somewhere and have the perfect human existence with a husband, white picket fence with three point two kids and a dog named Max,” I said sarcastically. “Though he’d probably be lurking around and eat the dog in the middle of the night…Anyway, I never pictured that kind of life for myself. I never wanted kids. When I was with him, I just wanted to be with him. He didn’t understand that I was more than capable of making my own decisions – as did the rest of the family. Well, most of them. Jasper was pretty much in the same boat as me. You guys met him. He runs as much interference as he can for me but he can only do so much as well.”
Their human pet had been pretty quiet throughout the entire thing and finally reminded me of his presence. “But what brought you to Mystic Falls in particular? It’s not like we’re a big town that you can really get lost in.”
I gave him a very unladylike snort and turned pointedly at Damon. “You said you’re a vampire? Show me,” I demanded, still quite not believing them.
Damon hesitated as he looked at the others before his face transformed to something out of a movie. I blinked at him, not reacting, for having faced against the Volturi, James, Victoria, and an angry shape shifting wolf pack before so emotions were pointless no matter if you were afraid or not. “Wow. Okay then. See, that’s cool,” I muttered as I stared at his vampire face in fascination, leaning in to get a better look at his fangs. “Do they hurt?”
“That may not be a good idea Luscious,” he murmured. “You smell quite tempting to me right now.”
“Not the first time I’ve heard that line pretty boy, but if you’re going to feed from me, I’d rather be changed into your type of vamp then become a walking disco ball,” I shrugged, looking away.
“We don’t have to bite to change like them,” he said, making me look back at him, finding him back to his normal face. His eyes looked at me curiously, almost as if he was searching for something in mine. “For you to become like us, you have to die with vampire blood in your body. You’d wake up in transition and have to drink human blood to complete it within a certain amount of hours. They have venom which requires a bite. That’s why for them, when they feed, its change or die, which is why I am curious as to why you have one of their bites on your wrist.”
I instinctively covered the scar, rubbing it, with a frown. “That accident in Phoenix I mentioned. James bit me and Edward sucked the venom out, stopping the change. Still left a souvenir to remember the experience.”
We sat there staring into each other’s eyes before he nodded. “Okay. So I think that’s it for story time. I have a year left to wrap up tormenting Eddie. Then they expect me to be in Italy to serve in the guard for a hundred years before I get my freedom, though I doubt I’d get it even then.”
“What was your backup plan? I doubt you would have agreed to that without having something in mind,” Alaric asked.
“Well, I was researching what I could on vampire myths and legends. That’s how I learned about Mystic Falls. I figured if there really was another breed of vampire out there, this would be the best place to find them if they could blend in so well. I never figured that I’d hit the mother fucking jackpot on that count,” I said as I gave Damon a knowing wink. “I don’t want to die, in the literal sense, but I also don’t want to become one of them, so if it was true, I was hoping that I could find one that would be willing to change me and help fake my death so that I can use that as a loophole to my deal with the Volturi. I had worded my agreement that I would become a Cold One so if they discover I accidently became something else…what could they do? It’s not like Aro could read my mind to determine my real intentions.”
“That’s pretty devious of you. If Aro can’t read your thoughts in human form, he’s going to want you really bad as a Cold One,” Stefan said as he exchanged a look with Damon who nodded in response. “Is that why your friend on the phone told your ex about you having the Volturi on speed dial?”
“Pretty much. He does really want me. Said something about me being a shield,” I shrugged as I stood up and stretched. I kicked Damon’s foot lightly. “Where we sleeping? I’m tired and I don’t feel like going back to the hotel.”
He looked up at me, surprised for whatever reason. “Huh-what?”
“Did I just speak Chinese or something? You act like you’re shocked that I’m telling you to take me to bed. You think I would run off screaming after you showed me your super scary vampire face? Please. If you were to get on your knee with a diamond, fuck yeah I’d take off screaming but we just met so come on. I’m about ready to fall over after everything today. I don’t need another concussion to add to my list of injuries.”
“Sure,” he nodded, finishing off his drinking before taking my hand and leading me away from the others without another word. I gave them a half hearted wave, not particularly caring as I really was tired. When we got to his room, I had to admit, I was impressed. I would have complimented it but I was too busy stripping off my clothes to get into bed as he came over with a shirt. “If you want something to sleep in,” he shrugged.
Smiling, I took the shirt from his hand and tossed it on the bed and pulled him closer so that I could wrap my hand around the back of his neck to draw him down to my height as I kissed him. “I don’t care what you are. I still think you’re hot,” I smirked. “I’ll sleep in your shirt if it pleases you, but I was fine with nothing at all as well.”
He stood there frozen as he watched me slip his shirt over my head for a moment before blinking at me, trying to comprehend that I really managed to take him by surprise yet again. He turned me around, pressing himself along my body as he pushed me against the bed until I was forced back onto it and he hovered over me. “You are one dangerous vixen,” he murmured, his lips grazing mine as he spoke.
“It’s the only way to live,” I replied, reaching up run my fingers over his cheek. “Come on. Since you obviously drink, I’m hoping you actually sleep and I really am tired. We can chat more in the morning if you like, but I’m hoping your friends downstairs can hear this…I’m done talking about everything I already mentioned. I know vampires have perfect recall. They can fill each other in.”
“We’ll figure shit out later. Let’s just sleep now Luscious,” Damon said with a slight smile, dropping a quick peck on the corner of my mouth that made me smile as we shifted to settle in the middle of the bed as he wrapped me up in his arms. For the first time in years, I fell asleep feeling safe, without fear of nightmares that often plagued me.