I had been staying with the Salvatores for almost a week now and it had been an interesting experience. Sitting in their kitchen as I picked at my breakfast, I was shooting text messages around, trying to get in touch with everyone to let them know that I was alright and things were okay as of that point. Every now and then, my phone would ring, but I would ignore it, choosing to sing along to the ring tone instead, each time it went off.
Stefan walked in, causing me to look up and judging from the expression on his face, it seemed that his curiosity got the better of him for my not answering. “How’s it hanging?”
He gave a small smile as I narrowed my eyes slightly. While he wasn’t so bad over the week, there were aspects of the guy that reminded me of Edward way too much for my liking. Stefan had been barely subtle in his feelings about being unsure of my being safe for his human girlfriend. It actually amused me because I really thought it was more because I got on so well with his brother.
“Screening your calls?” he questioned, pulling up a seat across from me. I raised my eyebrow curious as to his sudden desire to be social with me even if he was fairly friendly in his assistance that first night against Edward.
“You can say that,” I replied, giving my phone a dismissive glance. “My friend hadn’t returned any of my messages for the week before I got to Mystic Falls. I wanted to let her know that things were good since she helped me with my research after we met, but now payback’s a bitch.”
Stefan was quiet as he sat at the counter across from me making me look up at him with my eyes, but not lifting my head. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“How long do your Cold One friends usually stick around when they find you like he did?” he asked. “We do try to remain as inconspicuous as we can. Even Damon. We won’t be able to protect them if they are found out because they drink from any humans.”
I couldn’t resist the eye roll that came. “They have more self control than what I’ve heard about you. What was it that Damon called you? A Ripper? Spare me the sob story Stefan because I could care less. I have my own issues than having to think about a town full of walking sausages that I’ll likely be wanting a piece of myself soon enough.”
He blinked for a moment as he took in a breath. “You intend on going through with the transition then?”
Having just shoved a spoonful of oatmeal in my mouth, I couldn’t exactly answer appropriately. I just stared at him for a moment like the idiot that he seemed to be that morning every time he opened his mouth. I couldn’t help but wonder where Damon was so that he could take his brother off my hands because he was starting to get on my nerves. Swallowing the mouthful of the food, I set the spoon down so that I could give him my full attention.
“Stefan. If you are asking if I truly understand what it means to become a vampire, then yes. I do know. I’ve been living with this shit since I was seventeen. I’ve planned for every scenario that I can think of when it comes to the Volturi and the only option that has me coming out in any positive position is as a vampire of your kind. Granted, until last week, I wasn’t certain you existed, but my friend and I did our research and it was enough to give me hope that it wasn’t in vain. No matter what the end game was, I would be turned into something eventually because I’m not interested in being forever dead and dusted,” I replied as my phone rang again making me sneer at the display.
I silenced the ringer again and took my bowl over to the sink to wash it with a huff as I glared at the vampire. Turning my back on him might not have been a good idea, but if he truly wanted to harm me, he would have done it long ago when Damon left the house and we were alone. In truth, I needed a moment to collect myself as he seemed to have the uncanny ability to annoy the hell out of me. By the time I turned around, I couldn’t help but to get even more pissed. The fucker was trying to be sly and snoop in my phone. “What the fuck are you doing?”
“I -” he started to say as he pulled his hand back from the device and we both watched as the previously dark screen had been lit by his obvious tampering from his touch knowing that any attempt of denial was a load of crap.
Making my way back to the table, I grabbed my phone back just in time for it to ring again with my friend calling. This time I welcomed her interruption as I answered her call and pointed my finger at Stefan. ‘I’m not done with you,’ I mouthed as the call connected.
“Where the fuck are you? I’ve been in town for a week and you promised you would get here? My new friend’s brother is pissing me the fuck off trying to get into my phone. You would think that he’s never heard the phrase curiosity killed the cat,” I snapped as I waited for her to reply but there was only a long silence on the other end. “Hello?”
I could hear her take a breath before she whispered, evidently being somewhere unable to speak aloud now. “I’ll be there soon. Sit tight Girl. Don’t leave the house,” she said before hanging up. Looking at my phone confused, I didn’t know what to make of her unusual behavior. For all of the stalkerish calls she’s made that morning, she was suddenly avoiding me now that I’ve answered.
Returning my attention back to Stefan, my irritation was amplified even more with the combination of my friend’s unusual behavior and his attempted invasion of my privacy. I may be human still but I was seriously considering cashing in on the Volturi’s desire to have me so badly to deal with him on my behalf. My thumb hovered over the contacts button as I glared at him but the sound of the front door opening and Damon’s voice calling out my name saved his brother’s neck.
“In the kitchen,” I replied softly, knowing he’d hear me through the massive house.
Damon’s infectious grin fell as he took in the still tense positions between his brother and I. “What’s going on here? Did I miss something?”
“I’d say so. Your brother is a nosey asshole that needs to learn to mind his own,” I replied as I held up my phone. “Over a hundred years old and you would think that he’d be familiar with the phrase curiosity killed the cat.”
He looked back at him to find him reasonably embarrassed for the situation. “Why the hell would you try to snoop through her shit? Bella has been pretty honest about everything since we took her in,” Damon demanded of him.
Stefan ran his hand through his hair in a way that Edward often does and it made me huff in annoyance. “I was okay with everything when I was certain she told us everything but I think she is keeping things from us. Something important.”
“Oh get over yourself Saint Stefan! You were the one that was all on board to help with protecting Bella and now you think she’s somehow the enemy? What the hell is wrong with you?” he questioned as he came to my defense. “I don’t even want to hear it from you right now. Elena is on her way here right now and is pissed at you because you’ve been avoiding her all week and keeping her from the house. I told you you should have told her the truth that we had a guest.”
“Elena? That’s his girlfriend, right?” I asked as I looked at Damon. “Why haven’t I met her yet? She’s the doppelganger you told me about, right?”
“You told Bella about her?” Stefan hollered as he flashed over to his brother and shoved him against the wall. As quick as he moved, the back door flew open and he was thrown off of him and into next room.
It took a moment for the brothers to take stock in what just happened as they turned their attention to the intruder. Damon stared at her in surprise at how she defended him against his brother while Stefan remained in shock that his girlfriend’s doppelganger ancestor that had always been in love with him just willingly threw him the way she did.
“What are you doing here Katherine?” Stefan sighed in resignation, knowing that her visits never went well for them.
“Right now – keeping you from trying to kill my friend’s boyfriend,” she snapped at him. “You lay a hand on Damon again and you deal with me. Got it?”
Damon looked over at me where I made myself comfortable in the kitchen as I turned from them to clean up. “Bella? You know Katherine?” he asked with a hurtful tone.
The way Kathy had made her arrival known, revealing to me what she truly was and never have told me for all the research on this other breed of vampire she helped me with, she never told me that she was one of them pissed me off. “I know Kathy, yes. But now she can go to hell for all I care,” I replied as I threw the dishrag I had in my hand in the sink and started to leave by sneaking around behind Damon to avoid her.
“Bella…” Katherine called softly as she looked at me, making me stop and look back at her. “I wanted to tell you. But – I truly believed or rather hoped that you would discover the Salvatores first like you have before I did. I had every intention of telling you the truth but I had some things to take care of-”
“I don’t want to hear your sob story now. You lied to me and that’s enough for me to not want to have anything to do with you now,” I interrupted her as I looked at her in her eyes. I could see the hurt in their reflection which made me believe that she was truly being honest but I couldn’t handle whatever she had to say. Taking in a deep breath, I remembered that Damon and Stefan both seemed to know her. Looking up at Damon as he was careful to avoid me, I was confused. “How do you two know Kathy anyway?”
Damon was slow to reply as he looked up at her before glancing at his brother then to me. “She’s our sire,” he managed to get out but I could tell that there was something else as I looked at him. Raising my eyebrow for him to elaborate, he shook his head in annoyance. “She’s also both our ex-girlfriend you can say. Not a good history there which is what is making this whole thing between you and her and right now difficult to understand.”
Shrugging a shoulder, I smiled at him. “I don’t think its that hard to comprehend Handsome. I thought she was a friend, human like me at least. She helped with my research in finding out about your type of vampire which brought me to Mystic Falls.”
“Yes and you two should be grateful for me,” Kathy piped up from where she was leaning against the wall trying to keep out of the conversation but failing causing me to roll my eyes. “After our time in Phoenix I knew you and Damon would hit it off and had to send you here where my favorite Salvatore boys could help you out with your Cold One problem until I got back from Louisiana.”
“This conversation is between A and B. See your way out,” I replied as I pointed to the door.
Stefan slowly made his way back to us as he continued to have that constipated expression is face that was a mixture of confused and suspicion. “Why were you there Katherine?” he asked her as I started to leave but he continued with another that made me pause with my own curiosity. “Klaus is in New Orleans.”
Turning to look back at her, I remembered from our conversations, she mentioned the unusual name that she avoided because he had tried to kill her many times over. “I know,” she answered him with noted hesitation as she glanced at me. “I went to see him about some – things I learned that he might have been interested in.”
“What kind of things?” I asked lowly as I glared back. “Things like me?”
“A bit,” she said nervously, looking around seemingly for a way out but thankfully, Damon was quick to block the back door and Stefan and I were blocking the other exit.
“What did you do Kathy?”
She swallowed as she looked at me pleadingly. “Bella, please trust me that I did nothing that was not in your best interest. I only gathered you some powerful followers, supporters. You will figure it out when the time is right. I don’t know much more because the stories I picked up over the years were vague on their own. I just know that you are important and that you are to be protected. When I told Klaus of you, he agreed so much so that he granted me my freedom to ensure that you are safe as I’ve been doing since we’ve met.”
I didn’t know what she meant by that and stared back at her silently, waiting for her to elaborate. Damon, bless his impatience, looked like he would rather rip her head off for whoever this Klaus person was once he was mentioned and started humming the theme to Jeopardy as we all waited for her to speak.
Katherine scowled back at him and he only smiled in response. “Humans are not supposed to survive a Cold One bite – ever. Not even when it’s been sucked out because a small portion remains. For the amount of time that has passed since your accident that you told me about Bella, you should have experienced changes in your body that would be similar to that of their kind but you haven’t. Sort of like a delayed transition.”
Blinking in confusion, I just shook my head and waved my hands around. “Whoa, whoa wait a minute. Carlisle would have told me something of this. Surely he would have heard or seen something like that since he’s been on this earth, what? 300 years?”
She scoffed at me as she pushed between an equally stunned Stefan and myself as she made herself comfortable in the living room, leaving us to follow. “I love you, you crazy bitch, but I’ve been alive a lot longer than that walking popsicle. I think I know a bit more.”
“Hey there psychotic slut! You may have been my best friend this past year but don’t forget who’s also been lying while knowing exactly what I’ve been searching for all this time! Don’t get off track here. Go back and tell me about this whole protection detail you claim you’re on now because I have two capable…” I trailed off as I looked at Stefan skeptically because of my growing distrust in him. “Well, semi-capable vampires that you sent me to yourself. What’s the deal?”
“You’re special. I just don’t know how so right now. I’ve been working on finding that out in between gaining you support against the Volturi, fucking pains in the asses. All I do know is that no one wants you to be one of them and I want to know why. Klaus sent me back up here to help keep an eye on you and I won’t doubt he’ll send more to ensure your safety. Shame the asshole never cared for anyone else like that,” she muttered at the end.
“And your supposed protection since you two met?” Damon asked as he came up from behind me, his presence easing the tension that filled my body as I found myself leaning into him for comfort. I tried not to think of my actions at the moment, but I had my suspicions and certainly wasn’t going to voice them any time soon if they were true. Like hell was I going to willingly go through that kind of mess again.
Katherine sighed as she pulled out something from her messenger bag that only then I noticed she had with her. Instantly I recognized the flaming red strands and tensed up all over, causing Damon to start running his hands over my arms to calm me. “Is that…?”
“I killed the bitch for you. It’s not hard to pick up that you had one of those sparkly asses on your tail. Once I was certain she was definitely after you, I had a little fun since I hadn’t been able to kill anyone in some time as we’d been together most of the time. I ended up burning her when we were outside of Houston,” she smiled devilishly.
“Oh, well…” I stammered, not sure what to say. The boys were both rather quiet as well, seemingly unable to fully process the vampire before them with the one they were familiar with. Everyone seemed so lost in their thoughts that they failed to hear the door open and a new visitor walk in.
The girl looked around at everyone, frowning at the sight of Katherine lounging on the couch in front of the fireplace with her signature mischievous smile that I loved about my friend, Stefan standing across the floor staring at her in confusion, and then Damon and I just beyond them as he continued to work on keeping me calm.
“What is going on here?” she asked.
Stefan looked up at her wide eyed, his mouth fell open for a moment but at a loss for words while I was even more confused. “Kathy? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you had a fucking twin in this town as well?”
Katherine looked over her shoulder and her smile fell to a look of disgust. “Eh. She’s a doppelganger, one of my descendants. No one important. Be happy you got to make friends with me first. I’m the fun and pretty one!”
“Stefan? Damon?” the girl asked, a little more heat behind her words as she looked at them in a way that annoyed the hell out of me. Especially when she shifted her attention to my vampire. My vampire? What the fuck?
“Oh get over it Elena,” Damon sneered. “Elena, this is Bella. Bella, this is Elena – Stefan’s human. He’s been keeping her away from you because he thought you might be dangerous for her.”
That earned a mutual snort from both Kathy and I. “Right. The Cold Ones are only interested in me and no one else so everyone doesn’t have to worry about them. No need to ruin your hero hair Stefan. Your pet will be perfectly fine,” I snarled at him. “And don’t think you’re off the hook for trying to snoop into my cellphone. I’ll find a way to get back at you. Vampire or not. Maybe I’ll try to get the deer around here to feed off of some fresh vervain plants or something. That’ll show you to mind your own business.”
He scowled back at me as he made his way over to his girlfriend but I wasn’t interested in making nice with the girl as she looked back at me curiously. “Damon? Can we go out and do something? I really don’t want to be hang around the house all day. Cabin fever…”
“I wouldn’t…” Kathy sang out from the couch where she’d suddenly decided it would be a good time to paint her nails. “Hang around a little longer. Might want to have your boyfriend do a run because I picked up a sickly sweet scent around the back of the property on my way in.”
“What?” I demanded, pissed off all over again but not at the present vampires this time.
“I haven’t noticed anything,” Stefan murmured as he turned to his human girlfriend and whispered in her ear something. I noticed her nod before looking at me and headed upstairs, likely to his room to wait for him. “I’ll go out and check. I honestly haven’t noticed any new scents when I’ve gone out the last couple nights.”
Kathy shrugged. “It was fresh so you might not have. Just saying. You boys go have a fun hunting Cold Ones. I can protect your girls in here just fine,” she smiled. “Besides – Bella and I have some girl talk we need to catch up on.”
Damon scowled at her as she batted her eyes innocently at him as he headed for the door. Sighing, I collapsed into his favorite armchair. “I hate you right now. You know that?”
“You’ll get over it. Now seriously. Have you and Damon sealed the deal yet?” she asked seriously. Perhaps too seriously for my liking.
“What’s it to you? We’re getting to know each other right now. If he and I decide to sleep together like that, maybe I’ll tell you but right now, I trust you about as far as I can throw you, you bitch,” I replied.
She shrugged and leaned back again. “Was just curious.”
I wasn’t so sure but said nothing anyway. It wasn’t long before the boys returned so I didn’t have to wait with her, trying to figure out something to break the silence because I was hurt by her deception. Damon was pissed off as he walked in, making me wonder what they found and I found myself on my feet as I looked them over for any injuries if they had come to battle. “What did you find?”
“Your ex-boyfriend’s scent. He’s been hanging around,” he muttered. “I guess until we can get rid of him again, we’ll have to watch our thoughts now.”
“That’s not all that we found outside,” Stefan said louder as he walked in with a well dressed man that looked like he could have just stepped out of a GQ magazine. I eyed him speculatively just as he looked me over, although his gaze was more…intrigued.
“How can this be?” he questioned as his eyes flickered over to Kathy whom I vaguely noticed that as casual as she attempted to appear, she was tense as she watched him. “Katerina. I must admit when Niklaus told me of your story, I did not believe but now…” he murmured as he returned to look at me. “Forgive me Beya. I know you will not know who I am now. I am Elijah.”