Author Note: This chapter has been revised and bits added to it as of 07 Feb, 2016.
When Elena showed up, a part of Bella was a bit frightened of her after what happened in her room. She wanted to ask her if she had any crazy experiences in this town but she didn’t want her to think she was nuts herself either so she kept quiet.
“Just wanted to warn you – Damon can be a real pain in the ass. If he annoys you, just let Stefan or I know and we’ll deal with him. Bonnie will be there too so if it gets to be too overwhelming, we’ll just leave,” Elena offered. “I think you’ll really like it though.”
“It’s no problem,” Bella smiled but otherwise said nothing as she looked out the window as they pulled up to the large house.
“It used to be a boarding house that was in their family. Now it’s just their home,” she explained to her, obviously seeing her curiosity about the building. “It has fourteen bedrooms I think, three sitting rooms or something. It’s just old and stuffy. They like keeping the historic feel of the place. I think they are just pack rats.”
She didn’t have the chance to respond as Stefan had come up to welcome her. “Hello Bella, welcome,” he smiled at her. “Glad you can make it.”
“Thanks for inviting me but you really didn’t have to,” she replied but she found herself growing more nervous as her wrist began to tingle again in his presence and tugged on her sleeve.
“I told you it’s no problem. Hey! What was up with that burn pile in your yard?” Elena asked, turning her attention back to her after a moment.
To that Bella’s emotions about the Cullens simmered beneath the surface but it had nothing to do with these people so she didn’t want to let her issues out on them. “Oh that,” she huffed. “My dad decided to pack some things that I had wanted to leave behind that had been given to me by my um – ex best friend. I intended to leave them behind in my past, but since my father decided to bring that part of my life with us here, I chose to burn that bridge.”
She eyed him as he looked between them with concern. “I take it you and your friend didn’t end things amicably?”
Thinking about how Alice so easily gave into Edward and didn’t bother giving her a warning that they were leaving without a goodbye hurt. She had claimed they were best friends and sisters from the very beginning causing her loss to hurt deeply. “She and I didn’t end things at all. It was her brother that ended everything. When he broke up with me, they all moved away without so much of a goodbye to someone they called a friend and sister,” Bella admitted, looking away with a shrug. She wouldn’t let it get to her anymore. She couldn’t.
“Well, Bonnie should be on her way back soon. She had to run home for something. Elena’s brother Jeremy is around here somewhere. Probably upstairs in one of the bedrooms playing video games,” Stefan replied, changing the subject to her relief. “Damon is working on dinner. I hope pasta is okay? He makes this terrific sauce but refuses to tell anyone his secret.”
Her curiosity at this was piqued, causing her to smile some. She found it intriguing for a man to be interested in cooking and seemingly to be good at it. “Well, that would be his prerogative if he’s the one cooking. I don’t like to share my recipes much either but I used to like cooking for some friends back in Forks. Some days, I swear they were raised by wolves the way they ate,” she joked as she thought about Jake and the rest of the his friends that Edward disapproved of her hanging out with. But just like the Cullens, all of a sudden, he no longer wanted anything to do with her and it only made her more than willing to go through with the move to Virginia.
She shook her head, refusing to allow herself to fall into that rabbit hole again as Stefan lead her into the kitchen where she paused into the doorway, eying the man at the stove who’s back was to her. She only vaguely heard Stefan speaking at that point as she was stuck on the images that came to her of the dark haired man that morning. “Bella, this is my brother Damon. Damon, Bella. She’s one of the last of the Swan founding family,” Stefan said while she blinked in confusion, shaking her head.
“Stupid crazy town,” she muttered under her breath, knowing for certain that something was seriously going on that she wanted answers to. It was more than coincidence that there were not one, but three faces she saw in something like flashbacks that she couldn’t understand.
“Nice to meet you,” Bella said with a shaky voice as she held out her hand to shake, but Damon being Damon, took it and turned it so that he could drop a kiss to her knuckles.
“Pleasure is all mine Miss Bella. I hear you moved into the old Swan manor. Nice place,” he replied making her blush, but it was the familiarity of his greeting that continued to make her suspicious of everyone.
“Thanks,” she said uncomfortably, eying him before going over to her seat that Stefan had pulled out for her and tucked her hair behind her ear, looking around. Damon and Stefan seemed to share a look with one another that she recognized with the Cullens when they communicated wordlessly with one another and it bothered her somewhat.
She was about to comment on it but again, they managed to save her, which she welcomed. “So Bella. You said you used to cook in Forks for friends?” Stefan asked. “Maybe you can try Damon’s sauce and duplicate it for us so that we can get a copy of that recipe in some way?”
She looked at him, amused at his determination to get to the bottom of this sauce that had him so infatuated. Before she could answer, Damon let out a snort as he looked over at her. She narrowed her eyes on him as he spoke, “If you think you’re good enough, you’re more then welcome to try Gorgeous. I doubt you’d be able to though. No one will ever get this recipe. It was given to me by someone very special.”
Bella hadn’t had the chance to answer as they stared one another down because Bonnie rushed in, apologizing for being late. “What did I miss?” she asked as she looked around, noticing for the first time the way Damon and Bella were acting.
“Just waiting to see if Bella might be able to figure out what makes Damon’s sauce so kick ass,” Elena replied, watching them like it was game seven of the World Series.
Bella nodded, nervous as she felt nothing but a sense of warmth flood her despite the constant tingling her wrist was giving her as she slipped off her chair. “I’ll give it a try,” she said approaching the stove where Damon smirked as he gave the pot a stir, spooning a bit of sauce out for her to test. She couldn’t help but think it odd the way he and Stefan stared at her so intently as she tasted the sauce, her first taste, taking in the flavors with her eyes closed, she was well aware of the feeling of being watched. The sauce was familiar to her. Too familiar. It was like it was her own, that she had made many times before, but it was also off.
“Its good,” she admitted with a smile before looking up at Damon. “But…It seems to be missing something. I don’t know.”
Her eyes took in his features, comparing him to the man in the images that she saw that day, unable to do anything but to wonder if they were one in the same. After all, if vampires existed, why couldn’t other supernatural beings? As he reacted to her words, a strong desire in her to reach out to sooth away the frown that came to his lips, surprised her greatly. “What do you think is missing?” he asked softly.
She went to try another taste again, thinking it over more, keeping her eyes on him this time. “It tastes a lot like the sauce I make for my lasagna. I usually add some wine in. Merlot or something darker depending on how rich I want the sauce,” she explained as she set the spoon down but not before taking on last finger swipe from it and returning to her seat. “It really is good though.”
Bella didn’t notice his frozen reaction as she walked away from him as Bonnie and Elena drew her into a conversation about when she would start school with them the following week. As much as she appreciated their company and conversation, she found her thoughts straying back to Damon, a soft smile on her lips every now and then as she watched as he continued cooking. Little things, moments, movements, that would catch her eye that felt more known to her, making her think that there was more going on that someone wasn’t sharing. That she was going to demand answers to eventually.