Well... that was fast right? Didn't take me long to write this chapter right? Only a little over a year to update, that's short right? Read on my friends. And read the AN at the end as well :P
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Damon muttered between his teeth as soon as Mike opened the door. He and Edward stood on the front steps of the Newton house.
"Mike," Edward greeted, ignoring Damon's comment of disbelief, even though he himself was also wondering why the hell had Bella decided to go on a date with Mike Newton out of all the men in this town.
"Cullen? This is… a surprise," Mike said, confusion written all over his face.
Damon stared at Mike. What could Bella possibly see in this person?
"I realize this might come as a surprise to you. We're looking for Bella, and we were hoping you might be able to help us find her," Edward explained.
"You are looking for Bella?" Mike scoffed. Images of Bella right after the Cullens left flooded his mind. Now that Bella was finally over Edward, and she was at last giving him the time of day, Cullen decided to appear again?
"Yes," Edward replied as he listened to Mike's thoughts. An image of Bella driving a car in a short black skirt flashed through his mind.
"Well, she isn't here," Mike answered quickly.
Even if she was I wouldn't tell him. Mike thought.
"I see," Edward replied, "You haven't heard from her?" he asked.
"Nope," Mike replied instantly.
"Have you seen her recently?" Edward asked.
"Nope," Mike answered, an image of a laughing Bella flashed through his thoughts, she was staring at him, her face just a few inches away from his.
Edward thought the memory looked like she was about to kiss him, and clenched his jaw.
"Mike, we'd really appr-" Edward started to say, when Damon rolled his eyes, passed Edward and walked right up to Mike. He was tired of playing nice, he was getting answers out of this guy one way or another.
"Hi, Damon Salvatore," he said extending his hand to him, cutting Edward off.
Mike looked surprised by Damon's sudden movements.
Damon grabbed Mike's hand and shook it a little too tightly, making sure he had his attention. Mike looked up and met his eyes in pain. As soon as their eyes locked Damon took his opportunity.
"Great, now that I have your attention, you're going to cut the bullshit and be completely honest with me… where's Bella?" He asked as his pupils dilated and reached into Mike's mind.
"I don't know…" Mike answered absently.
"When did you last see her?" Damon asked trying to get answers out of him.
"I don't know… a while ago…" Mike answered.
"Do you know what she was up to?" Damon asked.
"No," Mike answered nervously.
"What was the last thing you talked about?" Edward asked.
Mike glanced from Edward to Damon.
"Answer him," Damon ordered, tightening his grip on Mike's hand.
"I… I don't know," Mike replied, Edward knew Mike was trying to remember, a flash of images blurred through Mike's head: Bella walking in front of him in the woods, the both of them in a dark alley while she was looking for something, Bella asking him if he had ever travelled, Bella asleep in a bed (Mike's bed, Edward supposed), Bella driving like a maniac in Damon's car, and then Bella telling him she was leaving soon while looking at something in his computer.
"She said she had to leave soon," Mike told them.
"She was checking something on his laptop," Edward whispered.
"Did she say where she would go?" Damon asked.
"No… not really…" Mike answered.
"Invite us in," Damon told him, letting go of his hand. They had to check that computer.
"Come on in," Mike said, his voice trembling.
Edward and Damon stepped inside.
"Which way to your room?" Damon asked.
Mike pointed the way.
Bella's scent was still lingering faintly in the air. She had to have spent a lot of time there.
Damon's eyes scanned every surface.
"How did you know about the bodies? Who tipped you on the stories?" Damon interrogated Mike, while he stood there analyzing his environment.
"She did," Mike answered.
Damon glanced at Edward. What was this girl up to?
"Your computer, where is it?" Damon asked.
Mike walked to his bed, and opened a drawer from his bedside table. He then took out the laptop and handed it to him.
While Damon tried to look for clues in the computer Edward tried to get more information out of Mike.
"Did you ever see her with Jacob Black?" he asked.
Mike shook his head no.
"Was there a place she talked a lot about? Somewhere she liked to go?" Edward asked him.
"Umm, she was always home. Or she was here. She liked to drive around too," Mike answered absently.
"When you went out, where did she take you? Was there a place where she'd stop driving?" Edward asked.
Mike frowned, trying to remember.
"You went walking in the forest right?" Edward asked, remembering the trees and moss that he had seen in Mike's thoughts.
"Where did you go while you were there?" he asked.
"Umm… there was this place…. it was a meadow… I think?" Mike answered.
"She took you to the meadow?" Edward asked while clenching his jaw.
Damon chuckled. Edward glared at him.
"Yeah, one time," he said and let out a sigh. An image of Bella leaning towards him flashed through his head. His heart rate sped up. Then the memory of kissing her clouded his thoughts.
"Concentrate now, where can we find her?" Edward snapped, trying to get the image of Bella kissing Mike out of his head, but it was impossible, it was all he could see now.
Mike frowned, his mind really trying to dig up something. It was worthless. Nothing came up.
"He doesn't remember anything else," Edward told Damon.
"There has to be something here," Damon said as he searched for clues on Mike's computer.
"Maybe retrace her steps," Mike said.
"What do you think we're doing Einstein?" Damon snapped.
"You said she always told you when one of the murders happened, who told her?" Edward asked. Damon looked at him, it was obvious it was her idea, what was he getting at?
Mike shrugged, "I don't know."
"I'm taking this thing, I'm no computer genius but I'm sure the answer is in here," Damon told Edward.
"If you think of something, you call me," Damon said, as he wrote his number on a piece of paper and left it on Mike's desk. Mike nodded and then they walked out his house.
"It seems like Bella spent a lot of time in the woods," Edward said as they made their way back to the car. He was trying to make sense of the images he had seen in Mike's thoughts.
"Aren't the woods like… prohibited?" Damon asked, opening the car door and getting in.
Edward nodded and then added, "If she spent a substantial amount of time in the woods… the wolves would have caught her at some point, there are far too many of them for her to handle… correct? Or do you think she could have taken them down with the training you gave her?"
Damon was quiet for a few seconds and then spoke, "She couldn't have taken them all down before, even with the training. What worries me is her ability, and her feelings being shut down, anything can happen when those two things combines. She's too damn stubborn."
Edward chuckled and looked out the window of the car. He knew she was.
Damon drove out of the Newton's driveway. Damon kept thinking about the woods. His eyebrows close together in concentration as he stared at the road ahead.
"These images you saw in the Newton kid's head, you recognized the parts of the woods they visited?" Damon asked,
Edward turned to him, and answered, "Most of them…"
Damon let out a deep breath, realization hitting him, "Enlighten me Eddy, where does the treaty line start… exactly?"
"A few miles after the reservation ends in the woods. Why? What are you thinking?" Edward asked in response, frustrated by the fact that he still couldn't get into Damon's head.
"The wolves are in on it, they know more than they're saying… Why would Bella really protect their thoughts from you? Because it would ruin whatever plan she's playing. Those places you don't recognize? They're within the treaty line, and that's the reason we can't find her, because she's hiding where we can't go looking," Damon answered.
Edward closed his eyes, it made perfect sense.
"We're visiting the pup again," Damon muttered.
"When did she get so irritatingly sneaky?" Edward whispered.
Damon turned to look at him and grinned, "That's my fault."
"So… when exactly did Bella re-work the terms of the treaty? Before or after the bodies started piling up?" Damon asked Jacob a few hours later.
Jacob scoffed, "You think we made a new treaty with her?"
"I don't think, I know," Damon stated.
Jacob raised and eyebrow and shook his head from side to side.
"You've seriously lost your head, we don't negotiate with vampires, the treaty is non-negotiable, unbreakable, and unchangeable," he told them.
Damon let out a frustrated laugh, looked to the ground and then grabbed Jacob by the throat, "Where is she!" he demanded.
"Do. Not. Touch. Me," Jacob replied, his nostrils flared up.
"Damon, put him down," Edward said, noticing how other wolves had started walking out of the woods.
"Did you make a new treaty for her? Where was she hiding?" Damon asked again, letting go of Jacob's throat violently.
Jacob laughed cockily.
"Jacob, please, we need to put an end to this," Edward told him.
"You want to put an end to this? I would gladly do it by ripping your throat off, say the word," Jacob spat.
Damon's phone started buzzing.
"You should probably get that," Jacob told him.
"What?!" Damon answered.
"We found something," Stefan said on the other end of the line.
"What is it?" Damon asked.
"It's more of what there isn't. We've been checking the files with Charlie. We double checked the backgrounds. The victims, none of them had families. Their pasts are completely vague on paper, but there is nothing actually in the system. No birth certificates. No driver's licenses. These people don't exist. Damon, there are no bodies. Something that Elena said the other day kept playing in my head over and over and now that Charlie's collaborating and we double checked, it all makes sense," Stefan explained.
"What about the coroner's reports?" Damon asked.
"We visited the coroner. He was compelled, all the signs were there," Stefan answered.
"The officers on the scenes of the crimes?" Damon asked.
"Compelled," Stefan answered.
Edward looked at Damon confusion written all over his face. Damon glanced back at Jacob who was standing in front of him, his arms crossed, staring at him with a smirk plastered on his face.
"I don't think she actually killed anyone," Stefan said.
"It doesn't make any sense," Damon said, "She shut down."
"I know," Stefan replied.
"I'll call you back," Damon said and hung up. He looked at the ground, and ran a hand through his hair.
"Her feelings aren't really off are they?" He asked Jacob.
Jacob grinned, "Nope."
Damon bit his lip and kicked the ground, "Fuck!" he yelled infuriated.
Edward shook his head.
"Where is she pup?" Damon asked again.
"I honestly have no idea," Jacob replied.
"But you did change the treaty for her…" Edward said.
"Our treaty was with your kind," Jacob answered.
"You made a new one with her," Damon answered.
"So all of this… all this running around… making us worry… was this just a fun game for her?" Edward asked.
"It was a fun game for us," Jacob said and pointed to the members of his pack who were watching from the sidelines.
"What did she want to prove with this?" Edward asked.
Jacob glanced at Damon, "What was she trying to prove Damon?"
Damon started walking away. He knew what this was about.
"Don't think for a minute that I've let go of the fact that you crashed my Audi into a tree," Damon hissed as he got in his car.
- FLASHBACK -
She had been driving aimlessly for days since she left Elena's place. She would stop to feed, and then when her need for blood was satisfied she got inside the car again and hit the road. She had thrown away her phone a few miles out of Hanover. It was just her and road ahead. Today, it had rained since the sun came up. The night before, when she was gazing out at the stars while sitting inside the convertible with the top down she realized where she needed to go. It had been a good while since she'd been there. She didn't even know if she was going to be welcomed, things were pretty different now. She didn't care though. She had to do it. She turned the key, and the engine came to life. They would probably destroy her, but it was a risk she was willing to take, after all, she couldn't call and warn them she was coming, she had no phone.
The continuous raindrops tapped on the window repeatedly. She had parked her car off the side of the road about an hour ago, waiting for someone to come, but no one did.
Aren't they supposed to patrol this place? She thought.
Bored of waiting she opened the car door and leaned against it. Maybe, if her scent got caught in the wind they would come to meet her. Now if only the wind blew a little harder, that might actually happen.
Sure enough, a few minutes after she stepped out of the car, she spotted two big black eyes staring at her from across the road. She stared back at the wolf, still leaning against the car, not making any movements. She held his gaze. He then raised his head, howled loudly and then ran back into the forest.
The message had been sent. He would know she was here.
A few minutes had passed when she saw Jacob walking out of the woods and in her direction. A big smile plastered on his face. He crossed the road, walked towards her, and lifted her from the ground in a tight embrace.
"I've been worried sick about you," Jacob said into her hair.
"There's nothing to be worried about, I'm fine..." she replied.
"Damon has been calling like a maniac," he told her.
Bella rolled her eyes, "Is it true?" he asked.
"Is what true?" she asked in return.
"Did you do it? Are you… off?" he asked.
"They believed what I wanted them to believe," she answered.
"So… you're still Bella? Bella with her million emotions?" He asked.
She shrugged, "Unfortunately…"
Jacob sighed, "Call your father. He's worried too," he said taking out his phone from his pocket.
"I'll talk with him later… First, I want to talk with you," she told him.
Jacob's brows pursed.
"Bella what happened to make you leave them?" Jacob asked in concern.
"Let's take a walk," she told him.
They walked into the forest, as Bella confided in him everything she had learned since her return from Italy.
"That fucking fuck face," Jacob muttered under his breath when Bella finished talking.
Bella looked away nodding.
"That's it… I'm going to have to kill him," he told her calmly.
Bella rolled her eyes, "You're not doing anything, except what I ask you to," she told him.
"Why did you make them believe you had shut down?" he asked.
"They're scared of what might happen if I do. All this time, it's been as if they've been walking on eggshells around me. Especially after the Cullens came back. If I make them think that my emotions are off they are going to make sure they give me my space and I don't feel like they're trying to manipulate me. Why? Because when your emotions are off and you want to make a point, you make it without any regrets," she explained.
"So what you're saying is…"
"What I'm saying is, they're scared I'll go on a killing spree, and they don't want that," she explained.
"And since your ability senses people's needs and what they want, if your emotions are out of the way, then wouldn't that make you extremely selfish because you'd be looking out only for yourself and what you want?" he said, understanding what Bella meant.
"You're making them believe you've shut down because…"
"Because I know they'll come looking for me, but they'll leave me alone, and I want them to worry," she said.
"You mean, you want him to worry," Jacob concluded.
"Potato, pota-toe," she replied.
They sat down on a rock and were in silence for a few minutes.
"Bella why didn't you just shut down for real? I mean, why go through this heartache twice?" He asked her.
"Because not feeling Jake, that's the easy way out. It's worse, because when your emotions come back, they come back crashing down on you. I won't shut off the world for a guy. Not again. I already did that once, I don't want to go back there. I need to deal with this in my own way. For now I just want him to worry. That's my revenge," She answered.
He nodded, understanding what she meant, "So… what do you need me to do?" he asked her.
"Well… for starters do you think we can work a new treaty for me?" she asked.
"We can work something out," Jacob replied.
"Good…" she answered.
He looked back in the direction of the road, "So you took his car huh."
Bella smirked, "Do you want to take it for a ride?" she asked holding the keys in the air.
Jacob beamed a smile, "You're really trying to piss him off…"
Bella shrugged and they walked back to the car.
"So, what's the plan?" Jake asked Bella later that afternoon after taking a long and fast drive together.
"Allow me to live within your side of the treaty line, we'll set up our own barriers in there. I won't harm anyone, you don't have to worry about that," Bella told him.
"You want to live inside the treaty line?" Jacob repeated.
"Yes, that way if they come looking for me, they wont find me, they wont ever guess I'm inside the treaty line, that place is off limits," she explained.
"I get it. You'd have to live far away enough from the line so that they can't whiff you out, but at the same time, far enough from our reservation. A middle ground. I'll have to talk it over with Sam," Jake replied.
"Tell him everything I've told you," Bella said.
"I will," Jake answered.
"I'll have to lie to Charlie," Bella added.
"If the Salvatore's come looking for you at the reservation, we'll have to lie too," Jake concluded.
Bella nodded, "Is that going to be a problem for you guys?"
"Nah, deceiving vampires is always fun," he answered, he then added, "What if the Cullens come poking around? How do we keep Edward out of our heads?"
"I have a way around that. I'll deal with it," she told him.
"You can block him?" Jake asked.
"I think, that if I want it bad enough I could do it… I've done it before…" she replied.
"Cool," he said in amazement.
"Jake, I think I'm going to start to leave a fake body trail…" Bella whispered.
Jake raised an eyebrow, "How are you planning to do that?"
"Hmm… by compelling people?" Bella answered.
"I'll come up with something. Talk things over with Sam and the pack. I'll stay with Charlie for a few days first," Bella replied.
A FEW DAYS LATER…
It broke her heart.
It broke her heart talking to Charlie like she didn't care about him. Treating him the way she was treating him was horrible, but she needed to be close to him.
At nights, when she knew Charlie was fast asleep Bella let her guard down and let the emotions come sweeping over. She was angry at Damon for the things he had done. He was angry at Sage for not telling her anything but riddles. She was definitely angry with Edward, tricking her with his "let's be friends" routine. She was even angry at Elena and Stefan… just because.
She wanted to be by herself. For the first time in a while, Bella wanted to be on her own, without any of her friends there.
Jake had called her that afternoon giving her the thumbs up. The pack had agreed to letting her live in the middle of the treaty line and the reservation. They even lent her a cabin that belonged to one of the guys. Bella would have to go there soon. Her plan was almost ready, she was just missing a very important part of the cover up.
She had been cooped up in the house for days, only heading out occasionally to find bags. Last night the Black's had been over and she had been extremely rude to them. She refused to cook for Charlie. She was not being neat. She left opened bottles of alcohol all over the house. It was all part of the charade setting.
Charlie had that look. That look that he had had when the Cullens left and she was destroyed. It was a mix of fear and worry. She could feel it too. The strong pull that came from him, to wrap his arms around her and just make her feel better. It was difficult to resist it. To not give in and embrace Charlie in a tight hug. But she had to do it like this so that it would be believable.
One afternoon, after going to the hospital to get her week's load of bags, she stopped at a diner and ordered a sandwich. She had been sitting alone for a few minutes when someone approached her.
"Bella?" she heard a guy call out from behind. Obviously, she knew who it was. She wasn't really looking forward to turn around and greet her old friend, or more like old stalker, so she ignored him and continued eating the sandwich that was in front of her.
He tapped her shoulder.
She turned around, "Mike, hi!" She greeted him, putting up a cheerful act.
"This is a surprise!" he replied, "It feels like we haven't seen each other in forever," he leaned in and gave her a hug.
Bella rolled her eyes behind his back.
"You look different," he pointed out.
"You too," she replied, he had gained some weight since she last saw him.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"You know… visiting my Dad for a little while. What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be in college?" she answered and then asked.
"Oh, I'm actually taking some time off, my Mom has been a little sick," he explained.
"Oh, that sucks," she answered.
"I've been working at the local paper though, I've got a small reporter job," he told her.
"Really?" she replied intrigued by his new position.
"Yeah, my parents know the editor so... he helped," Mike added.
Bella smirked, the last part of her plan forming in her head.
"Mike?" she said.
"Yeah?" he replied.
"Let's go out tonight, grab a drink or something," she proposed.
His eyes glistened, a smile popped into his face. He had waited for this moment for years.
"Sure," he replied and swallowed nervously, "I'll pick you up around… eight?"
"No, I'll pick you up," she told him.
"It's a date then," he told her.
Bella stood up from the stool, and patted him on the shoulder with a small grin, "Sure… it's a date."
She grabbed her bag, paid for her food and walked out of the diner.
Things had just become so much easier than she had expected them to be.
When she got home, she found Charlie looking at some files. She glanced over them quickly and realized there had been some sort of homicide. After bantering with Charlie for a little while she went upstairs to get ready for her date. She took out the disposable phone she had bought to speak with Jake while she was there.
"Jake?" she whispered as when he picked up his phone.
"Hey…" he replied.
"So umm… I think I have everything covered. My plan is about to start," she told him.
"What about the part that was missing?" he asked.
"I got it, I'm seeing Mike Newton tonight," she whispered.
She heard Jake explode in laughter.
"Shut up," she told him.
"I'm sorry, did you say Mike Newton?" he asked.
"Uh huh," Bella replied while fixing her hair.
"As in, the guy that can't take a silly action movie?" Jake asked.
"That happened ages ago," she told him.
"Okay… okay… So how does he fit into the plan?" he asked.
"He works for the newspaper," she answered.
"Ohhh… excellent," Jake replied.
"See? I have a reason, he might be useful," she told him.
"Okay, call me back when you get back from your hot date," Jake told her.
"It's not a hot date," she told him.
"You need a hot date, trust me," he responded.
"Shut up Jacob, I have to go now, bye," she said quickly and hung up.
Bella heard Charlie go into the bathroom. This was her shot to take a closer look at the files he had downstairs. She blurred to the living room and peeked through the paperwork. It was a homicide. She memorized all the information she could: Name, age, address, known family, the place where it happened, everything. When she heard Charlie flushing the toilet she hurried back upstairs.
A FEW WEEKS LATER
"Did he say anything?" Bella asked after Charlie went inside to work on the guacamole.
"He's worried, he wanted me to talk with you about the bodies, it's working," Jake answered.
"Okay then… let's act this out, it's time I leave," she told him.
"What do I do?" Jake asked.
"I don't know, what would you tell me if I had killed all those people?" she replied.
"I'd probably be really mad," he answered.
"Then act like it!" She insisted.
"Okay, what about this?" he said throwing his hands in the air, "You can't do that Bella!" he said loudly.
"Great, now I play it cool," Bella answered.
"Right, I keep moving my hands in the air like this," he said as he started waving his arms, as if he were upset.
"Yeah, and frown more, give me some glaring," Bella suggested. He did as she told him.
"Now I point at you and you shove me off," Jake proposed.
"Excellent," Bella said, as she moved his hand away.
"Maybe I should shift," he said.
"Do it, I'll vamp out," Bella told him.
"Wipe it off," Bella told him quickly.
He started growling.
Bella hissed back.
"I might have to hurt you," Bella told him.
"Oh, we'll see about that," Jacob grunted.
Bella pushed Jake.
"God your eyes look creepy," Jake told her.
"Shift already," she told him.
After Jacob's body blurred into his wolf form, Bella heard Charlie yelling, and then he shot her.
Damn. It was a good thing she had started drinking vervain again, because the feeling of vervain burning her skin was horrible, but tolerable. She lifted her eyes and looked at Charlie. The pain in his eyes was almost unbearable. This was it, she had to leave him out of it. Without thinking about it twice, she turned around and ran into the woods.
She lived in the cabin between the Cullen's treaty line and the reservation for weeks. From time to time she went out with Mike to layout the next part of her plan.
"Where are we going?" Mike asked one day, excitement in his voice as he followed Bella through the alley.
"You'll see," she told him.
"It's starting to get dark Bella, maybe we should go back," he told her.
"Jeez Mike, grow a pair of balls will you?" she told him.
"I'm not scared or anything," he replied.
"Your heart is about to jump out of your chest, you're trembling and you're talking quickly," Bella pointed out.
"What? I'm excited that's all… and how do you even know that?" he asked.
Bella turned around, "I'm a vampire," she told him.
"What?" Mike asked chuckling.
"I'm a vampire," she repeated.
"Okay, if you're a vampire, then I'm a werewolf," Mike answered trying to be sarcastic, thinking Bella was joking around.
Bella pushed him gently against the alley wall, pressed her body against his and held her weight with her hands placed on the bricks that were behind his head.
Mike's heart was pounding.
She could tell this sudden movement had not scared him but instead, it had aroused him.
She stared into his eyes, sniffed his neck and then looked back up at him, letting her eyes shift from their normal brown color to pitch black and bloodshot.
"Don't scream," she whispered compelling him.
His heart pounded faster.
"Don't be scared," she added.
She traced a finger down his face and over his neck as his heart rate slowed down.
"You see? I'm a vampire… and you're definitely no werewolf," she told him and let her mouth linger over his throat.
"I… I… I don't-" he stammered.
"I'm not going to eat you or anything," she told him as she lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
"So you… you…" He stuttered
"I drink blood?" she asked.
"Yes, it's quite tasty," she answered.
"You don't tell this to anyone, or I will have to hurt you Michael Newton, and that's something I don't want to do," she said while compelling him.
"Good, now let's go get ourselves some fake stories to spread around," she said, mischief in her voice.
Mike shook his head yes quickly and obediently followed close behind her.
Bella quickly discovered that spreading lies wasn't as difficult as she thought it would be. Once fear started spreading over the murders people became pretty gullible and believed anything with the use of very little compulsion. She started having fun. She'd only go into town to compel the people she needed to make the stories plausible and the rest of the time she spent cooped up in the cabin.
"They're here," Jacob reported one afternoon as he emerged half naked from the woods. He walked up to Bella, who was reading a book on the porch of the small cabin.
"Who came?" she asked curiously.
"Just the Salvatores and Elena. The Cullens aren't here, at least not yet," he explained.
Bella stared out to the forest. "What did they say?"
"Well, I only spoke with Elena. They are very worried. They had no idea about the body trail until I mentioned it," he answered.
"Did she freak out?" she asked.
"Yep, especially after I told her we would kill you if we found you," Jacob added.
"Good. Let them worry," she replied.
"Sam said it looked like Damon had been shot in the leg," Jacob added with a smirk.
"Charlie…" Bella whispered.
Jake shrugged and chuckled.
"It's all set," Bella told him, her tone flat.
"You got everyone compelled?" Jake asked.
"The coroner, officers, Charlie, and Mike. They're all compelled. I should leave soon, I just need to buy a plane ticket out of here and that's it," she explained.
Jake scratched his head.
"This is one twisted plan you made up Bells. I am all for torturing the Salvatores and the Cullens, but Charlie didn't deserve any of this," he pointed out.
"I know… I wasn't really thinking things through completely. But I do think he'll get a some sort of promotion after all of this is over," she answered.
"Maybe you should just make him forget that all of this ever happened, that you weren't involved in any of it," he suggested.
She shook her head, "No, I did this, I have to own up to it, accept the consequences."
"I'm here no matter what, you know that right?" he told her.
"I know," she replied.
- END FLASHBACKS -
She had stayed with Sage for four months. Four months of gruelling training sessions, long hours of meditation and many late afternoons of cooking, gardening, and drinking wine.
Sage had pushed Bella's buttons while training, but had respected her need for silence and thought whenever he detected she had had enough. He enjoyed her company, her inquisitive nature, her curiosity and her need to understand her condition and abilities. If there was something Sage had learned about Bella in the time she had spent with him was that the girl was stubborn and dedicated. She had managed to shift into animal form on the third day he had started teaching her, and it was magnificent. He was constantly surprised by her will.
He was very aware that Bella had been hurting all along. Some days she woke up angry and fought with every ounce of strength she had inside. Other days she woke up and went for long walks and didn't return until the sun had already set. Sometimes he sensed her need for silence, other times he sensed her need for company. Sage was not amazed of how easy it was for him to read her, he had been expecting it.
Damon, on the other hand, had been calling incessantly.
"Nothing?" Damon would ask.
Sage would glance at Bella and then when she shook her head no, he'd respond, "I'm afraid not mon amie."
One day, after one of those calls, Sage turned to Bella and asked, "Mon petite Fleur, it's been months, he has been calling every day. Don't you think it's time to hear him out?"
Bella shook her head.
He stared at her and then after a while he spoke to her, "You know Isabella, we expect people, people that we love, the people that we care about, to be like us in all kinds of ways and when they're not, we're disappointed. You can't expect people to be like you. We tend to see the world through the prism of our own reflection and we assume, without even thinking, that people are just like us. When the people that we care about let us down, when they disappoint us, we have trouble seeing that we are holding them to an impossible standard."
"I would never do what he did to me. I am not like Damon. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive him for using me the way he did," Bella replied.
"Sweet child! This really is quite a small box you've got yourself living inside. It must be very tiring squeezing yourself into that everyday," he said, and then bobbing his head from one side to the other, added, "I am this, I'm not that. I am this I'm not that."
Bella eyed him. She knew Sage was right. She had always known who Damon was, but, when had she stopped seeing that? When had she set him up on a pedestal?
"Just listen to him, I implore you," he told her.
Bella shook her head, "I can't," she answered.
If there are still some of you out there reading, thank you for waiting oh so patiently.
There is only one more chapter left for this story. It will be posted later on this week.
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