Bella groaned as she started coming to and all she was able to notice initially was the amount of pain her body was in. Moving her arms was nearly impossible and she knew almost immediately that her one arm was broken. She probably damaged some ribs too, as it was hard to sit up and her head was splitting, it was almost as if a thousand midgets were stomping around in her head and it sucked.
She silently cursed Elijah for throwing her out here, almost as if she was trash. She probably should feel fortunate that at least she had a decent, soft, landing.
The next thing she noticed was the smell of something burning. Wood, metal. Just the general idea of smoke but it was close by and when she finally looked up, she could see the house was burning. It had exploded, debris were all across the property and for the moment, she could do nothing but stare at it in surprise.
Her eyes looked around, hoping, praying that the old vampire was capable of surviving such an explosion. She never anticipated for him to actually remain behind as he had, believing he would have used his speed to escape behind her. Attempting to sit up again to get a better view of the area simply hurt too much and she was forced to lay back down in defeat, to regain some composure to move further again.
She tried to look over her body to keep an eye on her surroundings and squinted when she saw someone emerge from the burning wreckage. However, focussing on that made her head hurt even further and she sighed in frustration as she closed her eyes for a second. The smell of burning flesh caused her to open her eyes again and Bella blinked when she saw Elijah standing next to her.
Naked. Skin flaking off. Burnt skin. Smoke was still coming off of his body but she could also see that he was already healing. But he was naked and she couldn’t hide the fact that she liked what she saw.
“Did you really have to use yourself? Couldn’t find a match or lighter?” She quipped, trying to avoid looking at him as her face reddened.
Elijah worriedly looked her over. “I assure you, it was quite cathartic,” he replied simply. “I am sorry for causing you pain.” He sat down on his knees and bit his hand and offered it to her. “Drink this.”
Bella raised an eyebrow at his offering, the Crimson liquid scent hitting her already overly sensitive nose. “Thanks but just the scent is making me…” She trailed off, covering her nose and mouth with her good hand.
“Drink this, Bella,” he said kindly. “It will heal you. You can throw it up if you want to, but if you drink some of my blood, it will heal you as it’s healing me.”
“So you’re magically healing vampires now? What else am I going to find out?” She asked as she hesitated, looking at his bleeding hand.
“It is our blood that makes us heal,” he explained. “Should we wish to, we can offer our blood to those who are in pain, as yourself, so the blood can heal them as well. It’s only blood.”
“It smells like rust and salt.”
He frowned at that. “I know that humans can be squeamish when it comes to blood, but you have an excellent nose, Isabella,” he said appreciatively. “Please, you must be in so much pain. One sip is all it takes.”
“If it doesn’t work, I’ll add you to my growing list of supernatural beings I want to hunt down,” she muttered as she reached for his hand. Scrunching her face, she brought it to her lips and took a sip, wary at the taste and expecting to be as revolted by it as the scent but an instinct inside drove her to take a couple more heavier pulls before forcing herself to let go. She laid there on the grass, in shock of what she’d done, looking up at Elijah as the blood stained her lips. “You’re naked.”
“Yes. I am.”
“Camille should be back soon. I can go wait by the road or something. She can get you clothes,” she murmured as she blinked as she tested her arm, feeling it as it healed.
He cocked his head with an amused smile on his face. “Does my naked state upset you that much?”
“I said I had a growing list of supernatural to hunt. There is a pack of shifter wolves I was friends with that didn’t bother hiding themselves when they changed,” she shrugged, slowly sitting up and gathering her bearings.
He looked up when he heard a car speed away and got to his feet. “Stay here, I believe there are some clothes in the shed. When I return, we need to move, so I hope you’re feeling better.”
Bella watched him disappear and sighed. “I’m in trouble,” she mumbled to herself.
It was dark and Bella was dizzy from the vampire speed by the time she and Elijah managed to catch up to Camille’s car. She had stopped at a payphone and was frantic as she carried Hope and dropped her change when she paused at the sound nearby.
“Whoever’s out there, if you try anything, I will gouge out your eyes!” she screamed out.
“Actually, Camille, I don’t think that’s necessary,” Elijah said as he gently put Bella down on her feet, holding on to her so that she wouldn’t fall over.
“The man is psychotic, but whatever,” she muttered beside him, holding on tightly as she felt the world spinning.
“Oh, my god, you survived? Elijah! What the hell happened back there?” Camille scolded him.
“I think that’s a discussion we should have in the car,” Elijah said calmly. “We need to move. Now.”
Bella whimpered at the thought. “Yay… anyone got dramamine?” she asked sarcastically.
“Of course,” Camille said as she was placing Hope back in the car. “It’s in Hope’s bag. What did he do to you?”
“He wanted to train for the Olympics,” she muttered as Elijah helped her to the car and she could rummage through the bag. “You know, that sport called Shot Put? I think he scored a personal best.”
Elijah rolled his eyes as he looked continued to look around their surroundings. “While your sense of humor is refreshing for the moment, I really must remind you both that we must be moving. We need to get back to New Orleans post haste.”
“On it. Found the pills so that I don’t throw up on your fancy burnt shoes,” Bella smiled as she faced him. “I’m ready to roll.”
“Be grateful that you’re still able to throw up over my fancy shoes,” Elijah retorted. “If it wasn’t for me, you would have been quite crispy.”
“Jesus! You both sound like you’re married,” Camille muttered as she started the car.
By late morning, Elijah and Bella, holding Hope in her arms, managed to return to Klaus’ home without any further complications. Camille had opted to go on to her own hope instead. Walking, the place was certainly not what Bella remembered it appearing. “What is going on?” she asked as she looked around at the simple, yet elegant set up.
Elijah hesitated as he took in the display himself. “Hope’s mother is to be wed to the Alpha of a local wolf pack. Come. We must find Niklaus.”
“You brought them here?” A woman asked surprised, slightly angered, as she rushed down across the courtyard, followed by Klaus and another man. “Finn could be anywhere!”
“I have taken precautions,” Klaus said simply, a faint smile on his lips. “There’ll be no uninvited guests at your wedding, and after, your wolves will be the first line of defense to this home. No more running, Queen.”
Hayley made her way over to Bella, eyed her for a second before snatching her baby out of her arms and protectively wrapped her arms around the baby before turning to Jackson. “Hope, this is Jackson. Jackson, this is Hope.”
Bella blinked at the hostility from the woman, a shiver running through her as she narrowed her eyes on her. “We blew the house with that Finn in it,” she murmured softly, as so the baby couldn’t hear. “My bones still hurt from it…” she added as she glared up at Elijah.
“Welcome home,” Klaus greeted his brother and their guest. “Come, let us go to my study to talk, leave the almost wedded wolves with my daughter.” He turned a little and pointed to the stairs.
“Sounds good to me. Got anything strong?” she asked him as she took a brave step in his direction, forcing the two wolves to look up at her. “I think I’ll need it.”
“Why yes,” he smiled at her. “I have a nice bourbon upstairs that I wanted to pour. Tell me, did my brother treat you all right?” He gently placed his hand on her lower back and nudged her towards the stairs.
Her nose scrunched up in thought. “One of my mother’s old boyfriends used to give me whiskey. Him?” she thumbed over her shoulder. “Yeah, he’s fine. Aside from the sack of potatoes incident, no problems. Though he does have some issues of his own. Nothing I can’t deal with. I’m used to the crazy as you well know.”
“Who the hell is this?” Hayley demanded as she held her daughter close to her.
Klaus rolled his eyes as he turned around mid stairs, forcing Bella and Elijah to stop short behind him. “Hayley, meet Isabella. Isabella, meet the mother of my daughter, who apparently can’t seem to be interested in her long enough to ignore what’s happening around her.”
“Klaus…” Hayley growled. “There is too much going on for more games…”
“If you honestly believe I’d allow someone I didn’t trust to be in the presence of our daughter, then you are mistaken. Go enjoy your reunion, let the adults talk in private.”
Elijah eyed his brother curiously, as he knew he had not spent significant time with the girl to get to know her enough to earn his trust the way that he was accustomed to. For him to admit it so freely, he found himself turning his gaze to the young woman. Awe and wonder filling him about her. “Yes, we do need to have a discussion, and we should include Bella,” he added, his hand on her arm reassuringly.
“Was there anything else, Hayley? Or will you please trust my brother and I to have Hope’s best interest at heart?”
“I am sure they have everything under control,” Jackson said soothingly to his wife-to-be. “Perhaps Hope isn’t the only situation they’re currently dealing with?”
“She should be-”
“Of course she’s their main concern, let it go,” he smiled at her, running his hand through her hair. “She smells human. So one wrong move and she’s dead. Take comfort in that.”
Her lip curled back as she watched them continue upstairs. “Witches smell human too,” she added. “We should have run when we had the chance. But fine. Plans are set and we have to get ready. Come on, baby,” she whispered to Hope as she started to fuss in her upset mother’s arms.
“I thought the return of your daughter would please you,” Elijah spoke as he observed his brother quickly swallow back to back shots of his bourbon after have handed Bella a glass of the whiskey she had previously requested.
She had taken a seat near the window, watching on quietly, her feet pulled up on the edge so that her knees were to her chest. Knowing that whatever tension in the room was their own, she was wise enough to stay out of it for now.
“I am overjoyed,” Klaus replied as he threw back another shot. “And I’ll be even more so, provided you do nothing to dissuade Hayley from going through with this wedding.”
Elijah blinked at that. “I was under the impression this was Hayley’s choice. Tell me you did nothing to bully this decision.”
“We are mobilizing an army. She does what is asked of her. And you will do nothing to prevent that,” he said and threw back another shot. “To be frank, before your return, I was slightly worried about you throwing a wrench into this wedding.”
“And why is that, brother?”
“Oh, everyone knows you had a thing for Hayley, but I suppose that has changed.”
Bella raised an eyebrow at that bit of information. Having already figured out that she and Klaus obviously had been together at some point, and now that his brother had something for the woman, who she didn’t particular care for at the moment, she just stared at the two as she took a hearty sip of her whiskey, feeling it burn down her throat.
“I won’t do anything to stop the wedding. Unless, of course, I learn that she was pressured into sacrificing her freedom in the name of some political alliance,” Elijah said with a faint smile across his lips, not remotely fazed by his brother’s honesty.
“She’s doing what is right for her family.”
“Of course, she is. The big hybrid army of Niklaus Mikaelson. Tell me, brother, have you ever considered the possibility that-”
“You said you wouldn’t say anything to ruin this alliance,” Klaus said, cutting his brother off. “Those wolves will be under my command.”
Bella rolled her eyes, muttering under her breath. “Dumbass…”
Elijah smiled at that. “Do not worry, Isabella, as always, other people will be there to clean up Niklaus’ mess.”
“No. I’m saying all of you are dumbasses. Obviously you each have ideas and plans for dealing with this threat that you clearly don’t quite know or understand but you don’t tell each other what you want to do. For all you know, if you take parts of each other’s’ ideas, something might piece together and work. But typical, stubborn vampires. Always know what is best for everyone else,” she ranted, her own volatile emotions fueling her speech. “But go ahead. I’ll just sit here and wait until it’s my turn.”
Klaus turned to face her, his face drawn into a deep scowl as he glared at the girl. “You do know, Love, that I have killed humans for speaking to me in such a manner,” he spoke lightly, but there was a dangerous edge to his tone to give hint to the level of his anger.
“And what are you going to do? Kill me? Ask Elijah just how much I fear death,” she questioned evenly as she stared back at him.
The hybrid tilted his head as he eyed her, his ears picking up her very steady heartbeat and even breathing. Beside him, his brother let out a tired sigh.
“She insisted on staying in the house to help fight against Finn when she was unaware of the threat he was or the power he held. She also helped with the idea of blowing the house that almost took her had I not thrown her across the property,” he admitted.
“Yeah, and I had broken my arm and a few ribs in the process. Fuck you very much,” Bella snapped, finishing her drinking and setting the glass on the table by her. “What are we doing now? Why am I being included in this family discussion?”
“This wedding is very important to me,” Klaus said as he looked at her. “A lot of people will arrive and I do not think it’s a good idea for you to be here for the event, nor the party after. People could recognize you. Or someone could drop by from your past, anything could happen.”
She shrugged, not caring about missing the festivities. “I don’t mind staying in a room. Just give me some drinks and a good book and I’ll be happy.”
“I understand you’re in need of some rest and relaxation after your… adventure. However, I cannot permit you to stay here for this.”
“This is going to be a very supernatural event, and even though you’re not unfamiliar with it, we do feel that they could pose a threat towards you,” Elijah said gently. “Then there’s obviously Hayley’s reaction towards you…”
“The bride is a bitch,” Bella stated blandly, blinking at them. “What either of you saw in her, I have no clue. But fine. If you have somewhere else for me, then I’ll go.”
Klaus smirked at that. “Well, I can’t disagree. She is a female werewolf…”
“Niklaus,” Elijah scolded him.
“I have the perfect solution for our little predicament. How would you like some normalcy, Isabella?”
Her face dropped as she looked at him like he was truly an idiot. “I thought you all were trying that at the farmhouse. Look how well that turned out.”
“Well yes, as if I would know that my demented brother would show up at that house to take my daughter away,” he retorted.
“And now he’s extra crispy. You’re welcome by the way,” Bella said sarcastically to Klaus.
Elijah looked at the exchange between his brother and the girl Elijah had been with for the last few days and was slightly amused. Worried, too, as his brother had a habit of ruining things for him. “We’ve yet to introduce our other brother to you. Don’t worry, you’ll like him. He’s quite mellowed out since returning into our lives.”
“Kol would definitely love you and would want to keep you, so you’d have to look out for him.” Klaus added.
“I’m not a fucking pet Klaus,” she sneered as she stood up. “Those Cold Ones saw me as one. I’m not about to be looked at as one again. I’d rather you kill me now before this continues.”
“I’m afraid we don’t do well with people who say they want to die when we’re in their presence. We tend to keep them alive longer.”
“Besides, you’ll end up coming back. You have my blood in your system,” Elijah mused.
Bella scowled at him, letting out a sigh. “And how long will it last for the amount that I’ve had? Just so I have a good time frame of how these things work should any of your kind decide to try to save me again from near death.”
Elijah and Klaus shared a look, before they both replied: “Forever.” There was no chance that they were going to allow the girl to kill herself or get killed. They were going to have to slip in some blood into her tea or food from now on.
“…THE FUCK?!” she screamed so loud, her voice could be heard down the hall.
“At least until you’re not suicidal anymore.”
“I’m not suicidal! I just don’t want anyone, not even vampires that have shown me even the slightest kindness like you to get hurt for my troubles. Elijah already took out one of my stalkers but I have more and you have enough on your plate that my hanging around will only bring more trouble-”
“Stop.” Elijah interrupted her, putting his hand over her mouth. “I have told you this before, we will help you with your problems; you do not need to be afraid anymore. You’ll be safe, even if you are with our brother Kol.”
Her eyes glared over his mouth as he continued to keep her silent.
“I understand your anger,” Klaus spoke gently. “My family and I know what it’s like to be hunted for centuries. What it’s like to look over your shoulder the entire time and wishing that should we be found, nobody gets hurt in the process. We’ve lost dear friends over the years because of this. The anger you’re feeling, we all know it. We’ve experienced it. The feeling of being defenseless is angering on itself, but you have my word, Bella, no harm will come to pass.” He then eyed Elijah. “Well, at least not from our part, not anymore. You don’t have to worry that we’ll get hurt. As Elijah has shown you, we are quite resilient.”
A low growl rumbled in her chest as she bit hard into Elijah’s hand to release his hold on her. “Try to silence me again, I’ll shove a hot iron poker in your mouth, asshole…”
“I swear, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were a Mikaelson,” Elijah said amused, rubbing his hand as he watched her.
“What’s this then?” a strange voice sounded as he cheerfully walked into the room. “A human girl getting too much for the playboy and the monster?”
Bella looked at the newcomer to the little party and rolled her eyes. “I need another drink if I’m going to have to deal with a fucking puppy.”
“I’m hurt,” Kol said with a pout. “Kol Mikaelson, pleasure to meet you,” he said as he approached her, extending his hand for her to shake it. “There’s a bar down the street, fancy getting plastered beyond belief? I know I can use that.”
Her eyes looked him over, narrowing before glancing to the other two. “One, you look nothing like those imbeciles. Two, you actually sound somewhat normal. What’s your major malfunction?” she asked as she reached out to shake his hand hesitantly. She had a slight nauseated sensation and tried to pull away but he wouldn’t let go.
“Well, I’m their brother. My mother pulled me from the Other Side and shoved me inside this handsome body, which is why we don’t look alike. Just like Rebekah and Finn,” he smirked. “Although, Rebekah was my fault.” Kol blinked as he felt something strange. He couldn’t quite place it, but it was almost as if the curse Finn had put on him was being sucked out of his body. “And I believe that I am no longer malfunctioning,” he said as he cocked his head in intrigue.
Klaus was observing the introduction in silence, having had called their brother over as soon as he had heard their arrival. Seeing Kol’s new interest in the girl, he was becoming more concerned and regretful about that decision if the witch was thinking of taking her for some underhanded plan of his to use her against him. “What is it Kol?”
Kol impishly looked at his brother, still holding Bella’s hand. “Nothing, brother. As I said, we’re going to get plastered.”
Bella tried to pull her hand back from him, but he held firmly. “Let go,” she warned lowly. Her face etched in worry as she already trusted the vampire more than the stranger for his admissions and honesty. “Answer his question. What do you know?”
“Well, we are going to get plastered.” Kol said again. “And I’m not telling you now, because I want to get plastered and if I tell you, you want me to take her somewhere else.”
Klaus growled as he advanced on his brother, yanking his hand away from Bella and threw him against the nearest wall.
Elijah let out frustrated sigh as he flashed to their side, holding Klaus still from harming their brother further. He was worried about what was going on himself, and desired answers just as much. “I would suggest you say something to ease all of our concerns before we allow you to leave with Isabella,” he whispered.
Kol groaned as he got back to his feet and rubbed the back of his head. “She’s not human,” he whispered back. “She’s something else.”
Bella looked confused as the brothers turned to her. “I have no idea what he is talking about,” she said, shaking her head. “If he is referring to that shield thing the Cullens mentioned, I already told you about that and I don’t even know how it works.”
“Why did you have to say that, poppet?” Kol groaned. “Now you want me to take you in for testing your specialness instead of us getting plastered while there is so much to celebrate!”
“You’re a dick,” she huffed, turning to Klaus. “Don’t you have anyone else I can go to?”
“Kol, for your sake, stop talking in riddles,” Elijah said as he looked at his brother. “Please.”
“Fine.” Kol said with a scowl and pushed passed his brothers as he started pacing. “Remember that curse Finn put me under? Remember me telling you that I was dying and you didn’t believe me?”
“I still don’t, no matter what Rebekah said.”
“Yes, well, you no longer have to believe me because your new best friend here, somehow managed to cure me while you said there wasn’t one,” Kol spat as he pointed at Bella.
She stood there, standing back as she eyed him as she replayed the entire exchange in her head. “I think I’m going to throw up,” she mumbled before looking around.
Kol used his magic to get the nearest wastebasket in front of her. “Now, I’m not sure if I’m still limited to this body, but I’m no longer dying.”
Grabbing it, she immediately began to heave into it, nothing coming out at first but soon a thick dark liquid began to be expelled. The odor was strong, like that of a rotting corpse and her stomach spasmed painfully with each time she tried to get the substance out.
Elijah had quickly moved to her side to caress her back but the stench was foul. What was this?
“What is that?” Klaus inquired, disgust written all across his face.
“That, my brother,” Kol said as he once again pointed at Bella from his spot across the room. “Is that non-existent curse.” He then opened a window and moved to another to open that one as well.
Having fallen to her knees, Bella’s chin was covered with the remnants of the black liquid as she looked up dazed and weak. “If I’m going to die because of your fucking curse, I’ll find a way to come back and haunt your ass,” she muttered. “There are a hundred reasons I’m willing to die, this isn’t one of them.”
Elijah got his handkerchief out of his pocket and started to clean up Bella’s face. “Are you all right?” He asked quietly.
“I don’t even know what just happened,” she answered, looking up at him. “I just felt sick since I shook your brother’s hand.”
“Yeah, well, be glad you didn’t have to suffer from nosebleeds and headaches,” Kol muttered as he looked at Klaus. “Let me guess, you’re going to instruct me to take her to a hotel for the night? Have her rest up? No getting drunk?”
“I have an apartment in Algiers,” Elijah quickly said before his brother could say anything. “I am certain Bella will be well comfortable there, and it will keep the two of you out of trouble. I also have a well stocked alcohol supply.”
Klaus smiled knowingly as he looked at his brother as he spoke. “Yes. I am sure she will be too.”
“Would you please allow me to take them there?”
“Ugh, Algiers. Couldn’t you have done better, Elijah?” Kol scrunched his nose. “The chances of my running into Marcel are significantly higher there and you know how he feels about me.”
“You’re a powerful witch, Kol. I am sure you know a spell or two to inflict some pain onto Marcel when needed.”
Klaus sighed. “Yes, we are well aware of your history and you are magically healed thanks to Bella. Take her to Algiers and await for one of us to come there after the ceremony. We will figure out what Bella is in time, but when she is ready.”
“All she needs right now is rest,” Elijah added.
Kol grumbled and watched as Elijah lifted Bella into his arms. “Fine. Whatever you say, brother.”
“Hurry back, Elijah. We have a wedding to prepare for,” Klaus said, not really wanting Elijah to leave to take Bella to his apartment, but she needed him right now. He’d tuck her into bed, come back and have Kol watch over her. If that wasn’t a recipe for disaster, Klaus didn’t know what was. “No shenanigans, Kol.”
“You really have to start trusting me, Nik. I’m going to get sauced while she sleeps,” he said with a wink and walked after his older brother carrying the girl.
Klaus frowned as he watched after them until they disappeared from sight. Trust was not easily earned by his blood. However, that girl was something unexplainable.
It’d been two days since the wedding and Bella had begun feeling better from her experience with Kol and his curse. When Elijah returned after the wedding, he’d been quiet, contemplative as he watched her. Neither one of them feeling very conversational for their own reasons. She had to wonder if something had occurred at the ceremony that upset him, but – he didn’t appear saddened at all.
When they did catch one another’s eye, he had a pleasant smile waiting for her. As stressful and confusing as the Mikaelson family dynamics where, she wasn’t bothered by them. Or the violent nature of their feuds. No. At the moment, when she found herself awake, she was lost in her thoughts about the seemingly new ability she found herself having.
The skillful witch of the vampire family was thoroughly intrigued by her. To the point that that the two she did come to trust their word on, only because they had yet to not say anything they had not followed through on, were equally concerned about his interest.
“I want to go into the city,” she announced randomly, her eyes fixated on the page she’d been unable to get past.
“Do you feel well enough?” Elijah inquired as he looked up from his book. “I’ll take you.”
“I feel better. More like myself, before all this,” Bella admitted slowly. “It was strange though,” she explained, discussing the event for the first time, her fingers tightening around the binding of the book.
“Strange? Not frightening?”
Her dark eyes flickered up at him. “Considering my history, in all that I’ve been through, why would I be frightened?” she asked. “Threw up a mysterious black goo. Must be a Monday.”
He smiled at that. “You are certainly something special. Simply brushing away something like that while you hadn’t heard of true magic before you met us? I applaud your bravery.”
“I will say this. Whatever I may be, if it’s something cool and powerful and your brother pisses me off, there is nowhere on this earth he can hide. I’ll blast him back to the Other Side or wherever the hell he came from. Mommy won’t be able to save him. He annoys the fuck out of me,” she huffed.
Elijah smirked. “Kol is an acquired taste, but his intentions aren’t as diabolical as they were when he was a vampire. Instead of being a headache, he likes to hand them out. Especially to Niklaus.”
“He’s shady and planning something,” Bella whispered.
“He’s shady and always switching sides. Depending on who’s on the winning side. Much like Niklaus. But he’s harmless. Kol. Not Niklaus. Kol… well… let’s just say he has some issues towards us, not towards you.”
“I trust Klaus, as I trust you. Neither of you have done anything but what you’ve promised. And I don’t like promises, at all. So do me a favor and avoid making them in the future. Actions speak louder than words.”
Elijah watched her with amusement on his face. “I promise. Now, shall we go?”
She scowled at him, completely unamused. “Has anyone ever told you that you aren’t funny?”
“Of course. I’m the dullest Mikaelson, so they tell me.”
“You’re lucky you have your looks going for you,” she muttered as she stood from the couch and headed for her room to change. “Stupid good looking vampires in this damn family… They’re all idiots.”
Elijah sat back on the sofa and waited for her return. When she eventually did, he watched her in amusement. “You do realize that I have vampire hearing, don’t you?”
“You obviously don’t have vampire memory if you forgot that I dated a Cold One,” she deadpanned.
Elijah shrugged. “If you so desire, I could ask my brother to charm my face into something less… distracting.”
“Klaus already tried compulsion. It’s doesn’t work on me,” she smiled back.
“My other brother. The witch. Remodeling my appearance.”
Bella pouted as she looked at him, her eyes roaming his face in an overexaggerated matter. “Why would you do that? The only eye candy I would get would be Klaus? You would have to introduce me to more of your friends then.”
“Do make up your mind. Either we’re… annoyingly handsome or it does not bother you.”
“When I have I actually complained about the view?” she blinked innocently before turning on her heel and headed for the door. “Let’s explore New Orleans and play tourist!”
Elijah took a deep breath before joining her. This woman was going to drive him mad, wasn’t she? Now he understood how Niklaus felt when Camille was messing with him. It was entertaining, but slightly annoying as well. It was that he knew of her past, and the atrocities against her, otherwise he’d think that there was nothing wrong with her.
Elijah opened the garage door, revealing an ancient monstrosity; his 1942 Chevrolet pickup truck. “I was never able to get rid of this one. If it’s not to your liking, I suppose we could go for a modern car but…”
Bella stood there staring at the car for a minute and let out a relieved breath. “At least it’s not a Volvo or Mercedes,” she murmured, her voice sad as she ran her hand over the hood. “I might have taken a Louisville to the headlights then.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to get to know Kol? He loves his baseball bats,” he opened the passenger door for her. “Is this to your satisfaction?”
“Oh, yes,” Bella said, letting out a breath and nodded. “I used to have a 1963 Chevy like this. A rust bucket, not as well maintained as yours but it still drove. I wonder what happened to it…”
He helped her inside and gently closed the door before getting into the truck himself. “Well, if you feel confident enough on the way back, I’ll even let you drive her.”
“I may have to ask if it’s possible for vampires to get sick because, one, you’re not in a fancy suit, and two, you just offered to let me drive your car. I’ve never heard of a vampire letting someone drive their prized possession like that,” she grinned.
“I’m a devout feminist, women can do whatever they want,” Elijah said as he started the truck, the engine roaring to life. “Apart from taking their own life because they want to prevent other people from getting hurt.”
“Right…” she said, dragging the word out, closing her eyes as she enjoyed the familiar sound. “You’re still an ass like your brothers. Must run in the blood. Should I be concerned since I have yours in me?”
“I think you do pretty well on your own without our influence, Miss Bella,” he mused as he started to drive the car. “Shall we drive around the city and stop whenever it strikes our fancy?”
“Carry on, wayward son…”
When they were on the bridge, he finally spoke up again. “Why do I have the feeling that you’re making references I do not quite understand?”
“Oh, I don’t know, grandpa,” she teased.
“Do I look like a grandfather to you?” Elijah questioned as he looked at her from the corner of his eye.
“Oh, if only there were grandfathers as hot as you and Klaus… the world would collapse in on itself, I guess.”
Elijah let out a sound of amusement as he got off the first exit. “I will have to admit that life with you around will certainly be more interesting. You will be keeping Niklaus on his toes.” He took the first right and sighed. “I should not have taken the first exit, my apologies. This part of New Orleans doesn’t have the atmosphere you come to believe when thinking about it. However, I can tell you that there used to be plantation houses here in the old days.”
“It’s just fine,” Bella said as she looked out the window thoughtfully. “It’s still something different than the view of the last two days from across the river. What else is around here? Any markets that we might be able to do some window shopping?”
“I suppose, although I’m not quite sure where. Did you know, this area was bought by wealthy Americans to settle because they did not wish to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles? It was ridiculous, of course.”
She looked at him with a sly smile. “Did you have a hand in that?”
He met her eye and was a bit evasive in his playful smile. “Perhaps,” he said before his eyes caught the edge of some event in the distance. “Well, it would appear there is something going on locally. Would you like to stop and walk around?”
Bella looked to the trail of cars parked and people walking in the direction of a church a block or two down. “Sure. Why not? Are you even capable of entering churches?”
“Of course, it’s public domain,” he parked the car and turned off the engine. “We don’t need invitations for residences open to the public, it acts as an open invitation.”
“Interesting. So if I somehow freaked out one day, moving into a church is an option scratched off the list. Good to know,” she joked.
“It would stop us, yes, but if, by then, we haven’t stopped your little problem, they would be able to enter freely so unless you know a witch who can cast a spell to keep everyone out…”
“I’m not asking your crazy, delusional brother for a favor, Elijah,” she replied quickly.
“New Orleans is filled with witches, all it takes is finding one you can trust.”
Bella raised an eyebrow, staring at him for a minute as she thought. “Somehow, I don’t think you have many by the way you said that. Let me guess. Klaus?”
He sucked in a breath as he got out of the car and moved around to her side to help her out of it as well. “Niklaus seems to be at the center of most political debacles. You are very perceptive, Isabella. Very observant, almost as if it’s a natural gift of yours.”
“Eh,” she groaned as she joined him after closing the door. He took her hand to wrap around his arm and started to lead her in the direction the other patrons were going, giving her time to formulate her thoughts. “You think it may be related to this thing I am that Kol suspects?”
“I imagine his mind going ninety miles a minute right now, if not faster, trying to figure out what you are,” Elijah replied thoughtfully. “But rest assured, he won’t come with a theory if he’s not a hundred percent certain of it. It is likely he wants to run a few magical tests on you, but only if you’re willing.”
“Are you familiar with this kind of magic? If it’s safe?” she asked in a whisper as she looked around to make sure no one was overhearing them.
“All magic is extremely dangerous, Bella. It’s who you are as a person and how you use your magic that makes it either safe or unsafe. But trust that we will do everything in our power to help you with it, when you need it.”
She let out a deep breath and nodded, smiling as her hand tightened on his arm. “Not knowing what I am… that frightens me half to death. What I might be capable of?”
“You are Isabella Swan and you’re a decent human being. That’s what you are.”
“You’re so confident of that? How do you know that I’m not suddenly coming into these abilities to bring down some big power? The only big bad around is your brother and I actually like the guy,” she hissed at him as they got closer to the church market.
“Because we have had many coming after us and we survived. We will survive the onslaught you’ll put on us,” he said with a grin. “What will you do? Mock us to death with your adorable expressions?”
Her lips pursed and rolled her eyes. “You’ve all killed your enemies, no? At least I can’t complain about going out in style,” she mused, looking up at him coyly.
“And yet, returning again because of the vampire blood in your system, now, wouldn’t that be fun?”
He almost seemed normal, now. Away from his family, with her, he seemed normal. Not robot-like. Flirty even. She liked this Elijah, he wasn’t as boring as he’d lead her to believe. “Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment. And since you and your brother are so dead set on keeping me around, I suppose I must come to terms with the idea of it,” she sighed as she stopped to look at the items at one stall.
He realized where they were and shook his head in disbelief. Of course, something magical happens and signs started to lead them to places. It was no surprise that they were at the Norwegian Seaman’s Church, browsing their faire. He could already see one stall with drawings of their interpretations of the Old World. How quaint. “Did I tell you that our family originated in the Old World? You call it Scandinavia now, but myself, Freya and Finn, were born there before we moved to the New World where the rest of my siblings were born. Our father was a viking, our mother a girl from one of the villages he pillaged.”
“As sorry as I feel for your mother in that situation, from what I’ve heard about her… She was a real bitch,” Bella murmured as she looked up at him as she stepped back from the stand to continue on.
“She was,” Elijah agreed. “Still is, I suppose.”
“Still?” Bella repeated. “Rebekah said…”
“It’s a long story, I shall tell you later. Would you like something to eat?” Elijah said as he looked at the assortment of foods. “The Knekkebrød is something you’ll appreciate..”
“Uh, I guess? I’ll just go looking at the stands over there while I wait,” she said after noticing the line.
“If there’s anything wrong, please call my name and I will be with you instantly,” he said, not seeing anything potentially dangerous among the mass of people, but he was still concerned all the same.
“Elijah, most of the threats are in the heart of the city I assume, otherwise you wouldn’t have taken me out here. Plus your brother was dealt with at the house. I think we’ll be okay being apart for a few minutes,” she smiled.
He slowly nodded and let go of her to make his way to the food stand. There were several, really, but he was certain that she’d appreciate the Knekkebrød with something hearthy on it. If they had Norwegian Goat Cheese, it would be brilliant.
While Elijah was in line waiting, Bella made her way to a stand that caught her eyes with handcrafted wooden animals. A small smile on her face as she picked up a small swan piece, she held it as she thought about her father.
“Well, what a surprise to find you here… alive,” a familiar voice spoke from behind her.
Swallowing the sudden rise in fear, she smiled at the attendant as she pulled out the few dollars she had to pay for the piece and thanking him. She turned to face Finn, confused as she looked at him, taking a couple steps away from the stand and him in the process. “Same here. Last I heard you were rather… crispy,” she murmured, her eyes looking around for Elijah but not wanting to give away that he was in fact with her yet.
“It so helps that I have a sister who’s on my side,” Finn smirked as he stalked up to her too quickly for her to move away in the crowd, grasping her arm. “What are you doing here? Has my brother discarded you already?”
“Hardly,” Bella gasped at his hold. Her voice stayed low with all the innocents around, both being mindful of their surroundings. “I’m just taking a day out after what you did the other day. A human body can take only so much of a beating after all.”
“Of course,” Finn said gently, his expression changing as he stared at her. “But I’m sure you wouldn’t mind coming with me? I promise you’ll be safer with me than you are with them.”
She blinked as she looked at him, confused. “The hell am I going anywhere with you,” she said, trying to push against him to let her go. Her eyes glanced around for Elijah again, still not seeing him and not having realized that during their encounter, the two had drifted off out of immediate view. “Let go of me… or so help me God..” she warned.
“I don’t know who you are girl, but I need you to come with me,” Finn insisted but his face twisted in pain and he was forced to let go. Holding his hand that was blistered in a scalding burn, he looked up only to see a remnant of the girl’s hair disappearing into the crowd. “The hell?”
Bella wove herself through the crowd, whispering Elijah’s name to herself in hopes that he’d find her as she kept herself moving until she ducked into the first unassuming door she could find. A simple tea shop, the fragrances instantly calming her racing heart as she closed her eyes and leaned against the heavy door.
A woman appeared from the back, holding a steaming mug of tea and stopped at a reasonable distance from Bella. “Isabella? I’ve been expecting you!” She smiled widely and held out the mug. “Tea? It’ll help with the nerves.”
Her eyes snapped open and let out a sigh. “Fucking great. What nutcase are they going to throw at me next?” she asked herself.