Song I listened to for this chapter: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol.
Bella looks around her room as they wait for her to be released from the hospital. “It looks like a garden in here. How the heck am I supposed to take this all home?”
Hatter chuckles from where he is sitting. “You don’t have to, luv. I can, and likely will, just fill your house with them later.” He loves bringing her flowers and watching her face light up. He was shocked to learn that only one other guy has ever brought her flowers. No one will talk about that guy, but when Hatter offers to stop bringing them, Bella looks at him sadly. That is the last time he brings that up.
Bella smiles at Hatter; he has offered to take her to his place since the police are sure that the guy that drugged her at the club knows where she lives. The info gathered on him says he is very vindictive and the only thing that probably saved Bella from being kidnapped that night was Hatter’s trick with the cars. But once Alice had gone back to Bella’s place briefly, they knew that the guy knows how to find her. The threatening notes he had left on her kitchen table confirms it. While he may be able to find Hatter’s place, the fact remains that it is so well guarded that Bella will be safer there. She is nervous about this, but Hatter has made it a stipulation of her getting out of here and helping with their plan.
Hatter watches Bella play with the sheet. He knows she’d been upset when she found out she wouldn’t get to go home, but thankfully she has agreed to stay with him as his place. He was livid when he found out her house had been broken into and had laid into Jasper for it. Bella is fragile enough that she doesn’t need that on her plate also. Emmett told him it takes a lot to be invited into Bella’s home which makes it all the more troubling that the man had broken in.
Hatter has beefed up the security on his place just in case and screens every person. No one will hurt or get to Bella in his home, he vows. Unfortunately, he is unable to do that in the club, but once Bella is 100% they will work on that. Jasper is enthusiastic that Bella wanted to be part of the plan. He thinks that Lonnie will take the bait and go after her, especially if he is frustrated from not getting to her anywhere else. He will take great pleasure in taking her from Hatter in his own club. The note found at Bella’s says that her ‘boyfriend or boy toy’ will not be able to protect her – Hatter intends to prove him wrong.
Hatter moves closer to Bella and reaches for her hand. “Bella, we will get the arse wipe and then get on with our lives. This is as temporary as you wish, after he is caught and locked up. I just wish you to be safe luv.” He stares into her eyes, hoping she won’t end up resenting him.
Bella sighs and tells him, “I know Hatter. I am just sick and tired of being such a burden on others, it goes against everything I am. But at the Rosee time I am not stupid and would like to sleep at night without worrying.” She feels guilty for what Hatter thinks he needs to do for her. He has already done so much.
Edward walks in before Hatter can reply. He has been intruding a lot over the months whenever Hatter is there. If Edward is there around the close of visiting hours, he makes sure Hatter leaves, unlike the rest of the staff who lets Hatter stay later, encouraging their romance. Hatter will be happy when Bella can leave and he can spend time with her without the good Doctor bothering them.
Edward looks over at them sitting close and holding hands. He frowns quickly and then it disappears from his face as he tells Bella, “Now your papers say that you will not be home. We will need to know where you are in case we find something and need to advise you. This is a new drug so we are not aware of all of the side effects.”
Before Bella can answer, Hatter replies, “If you need to get hold of Bella, you have numbers that you can contact her on. Due to the ongoing police investigation, we are not to give out where she will be staying.” Hatter is getting really suspicious of the Doctor. He is unsure if the guy is part of the Drug Gang, or if he is just jealous.
Bella stares at Hatter and then realizes he is protecting her again. She would have given her information if Hatter had not been there and who knows what Edward wanted it for! She squeezes Hatter’s hand and nods her head in agreement. She just wants to leave. She is starting to get paranoid and even more worried.
Hatter feels her squeeze his hand and when he glances at her, he sees her face. She looks tired and he realizes she needs to be taken home. He turns around and tells Edward, “If there is anything else, I be taking Bella out of here now, you can reach us on our numbers.” He holds out his hand for the discharge papers and Edward reluctantly gives them to him. Hatter puts them in his leather jacket and leans down to help Bella up. Her stuff is already at his place, thanks to Emmett and Alice. Rose will pick up everything else later. It certainly helps having the owner of the Hospital being the patient!
Bella accepts his arm as she stands and he moves his hand to the small of her back. She shivers and he looks at her quickly to make sure she is alright. She nods and starts forward, eager to leave. Hatter realizes what had happened a moment later as he walks with her. He knows he is smirking. He loves it when she reacts to him.
They walk through the hospital and meet up with Emmett who leads them to the basement which has a couple of cars waiting for them. He tells Hatter everything is ready. Emmett gestures to the cars saying, “Pick whichever you want, they all know what to do.”
Hatter nods and takes them to the Jaguar, helping Bella in and then following her. The driver is one of his normal ones and he nods to Hatter in the mirror. The cars all start forward and leave by different exits.
Bella looks at all the work everyone is going through for her and feels guilty again. Hatter reaches for her hand and holds it tightly. She realizes that it is also for this man beside her. He has this need for her to be safe and this is to help him with that desire. She is shocked by how much he cares for her. But from what Emmett tells her, he is totally in love with her, and Emmett is very observant when it comes to her.
She is tired and lays her head on his shoulder. Hatter quickly turns his head, then he realizes what she did and he relaxes. He murmurs to her softly, “Lift your head for a sec, luv.” She does so and he puts his arm around her and coaxes her to lay her head against him again as he holds her to him. She smiles and can smell the leather jacket and the same spice smell she has smelled for the past couple of months as he helped her through the last of the withdrawal.
Bella frowns as she thinks of what she has gone through, and she only had a mild dose. She feels sorry for anyone else who has had exposure to the drug and wonders that if there are others addicted and getting their fixes, then how are they going to bring themselves out of it without help? She is ever so happy that she intrigued Hatter in the club that night. She closes her eyes and rests, feeling safe.
Hatter watches the scenery making sure no one is trailing them. He relaxes somewhat when they exit Pittsburgh and head towards his place. It takes awhile after that, because of all the twists and turns the driver is doing to make it hard for someone to find his place. After awhile though, they turn down the road and near his place. They pull up to the gate and he watches carefully as the guards check the car, then check the credentials of the driver before looking back to confirm they are in the car. When they are waved through, he looks down at the woman that he is in love with.
Hatter smiles and then gently wakes her. “Bella, we are almost home.”
Bella lifts her head, feeling groggy. She blinks slowly and looks out the windows. She only sees trees and grass and she looks at Hatter, feeling confused.
Hatter gestures with his head for her to look forward and she sees a large house with the lights already on through the trees in front of them. It is a house that has the look of England but is clearly modern and… huge. She is flabbergasted and turns and stares at Hatter.
Hatter chuckles at her look as they pull in front of the house. He has no idea where she had thought he lived, but when he moved Pittsburgh and found this place, well, it satisfied his need for solitude while still allowing him to do his work with no one knowing the better who is coming and going. The driver comes and opens the door and Hatter exits, extending his hand for Bella.
Bella looks around and while she knows she has money, this completely blows her away. She stares at Hatter and wonders who he is. What has been an ongoing joke to them (he still hates the idea of Mortimer for a name and she has only gotten worse as time had gone by), she thinks she will now need some answers. Then, a random thought crosses her mind and Bella grins to herself, thinking, well at least he isn’t after my money!
Hatter is watching her nervously since no one that knows him in Pittsburgh has really seen his house, not before today. He had not been here for Emmett and Alice’s reactions, but the only reaction that matters to him is from the one by his side. “Bella?”
She turns and looks at Hatter, noticing he is nervous. The expression doesn’t fit him and before she really thinks, she says, “It’s beautiful Hatter.” He smiles but still seems nervous. “Hatter, what’s wrong?”
Hatter moves closer to her and tells her, “You and your friends are the first ones here from the city. No one but Emmett and Jacob know who I am.” He stares at her and then says, “Let’s go inside. I’ll tell you everything Bella.”
They enter and she looks around in amazement. It is just like the exterior, a mix of modern and old, wood and stone throughout the entire place. But it is warm and inviting, and Hatter leads her through the hallways. She catches a glimpse of a formal living room as they walk past and she wonders where he is taking her.
Finally, they come to the back of the house and she gasps at the sight in front of her. It is a casual room with a fire burning in the stone fireplace, but the main focal point is the backyard with a view of city lights below them. She can barely make out the Ohio River from up there. Hatter brings her further into the room and seats her on the couch by the fire. He seats himself casually on the table in front of the couch and grasps her hands, looking into her eyes.
Hatter takes a deep breath and tells her, “Bella, my formal name is Peter Temple, but the identity you may know me as is MH, or Mad Hatter.” Hatter decides not to pullback any blows and wants to just get this over with; his stomach and heart are aching, worried she may reject him. “I left LA because I was sick of the scene there and moved here to Pittsburgh. I still produce, but I had this mad crazy idea for a club and decided to try for it. Imagine my surprise and happiness that it not only has done well, but is getting famous. And the most important thing about that club is that I met you there, and all because I took a chance and followed my dreams.”
Bella stares at Hatter as she realizes this is why he can afford this place and didn’t worry about money. He is more famous as a Mix Master than Dr. Dre or Timbaland. But she listens to him patiently, feeling warm as he says he is happy that all he did made it possible for them to meet. She realizes he is sitting there staring at her intently, waiting for her to answer and she suddenly knows he is nervous that she will reject him. She smiles at him reassuringly and decides to relieve his mind.
“Hatter or Peter, whichever you want me to call you, I have my own secrets… I am the great granddaughter of… well, the man you know as Lewis Carroll. My family has since then made some wise investments.” She smiles at him. “I don’t live like this, but there are reasons for it.” She falters, remembering the accusations flung at her in the past. “But…” She looks at Hatter and smiles. “I am glad you decided to follow your dreams and that I took an offer to go out and have some fun with my friends.”
Hatter slumps in relief that she does not reject him. He looks back at her and asks, “You still want to give this a go then?”
Bella smiles and leans close to him, kissing him softly. Hatter reaches up and cradles her head to him as he kisses her back. When they separate, he murmurs to her, “I take that as a yes.” As he watches Bella smile at him, he thinks about how lucky he is. He pulls her off the couch and into his arms. Then, he moves them both back to the couch so they can just sit there cuddling, watching the city lights and the fire.
Bella relaxes in his arms and stares out at the night. Hatter holds her and rubs soothing circles on her arms. Both of them realize that they have no interruptions for once, and they are enjoying just sitting there with each other.
Hatter rests his head on hers and can’t believe his luck. Here is a woman that accepts him as he is and doesn’t want his money. She just wants… Him. He softly asks, “Were you serious when you asked me what I wanted you to call me?”
Bella is resting in his arms and answers quietly, “Yes.”
Hatter thinks about it and tells her softly, “Peter. No one calls me Peter and I would like you to call me by my name.” He looks down and meets her eyes and tells her, “But you can call me whatever you like and I will come, no matter who or what is in between us.”
Bella stares at him. “Peter…” She can’t say anything else and he looks down at her.
Hatter stares down her and tells her, “Bella, I care for you a lot. I know this is fast, but I feel so much for you. I am willing to wait for you and work for this relationship. Whatever it takes to make this work, I am willing to do.” He hopes that this is not too fast, but he refuses to lie to her, not ever. He was warned by her friends that there was a past boyfriend who had caused a lot of damage. He will be working to solve that after their current crisis.
Bella thinks. She knows Peter cares for her a lot and knows she cares for him. This is moving fast, but she really likes Peter and has decided to take a chance with him. But they are moving so fast and it reminds her of… him, and what he did to her and actually continues to do. Does she want to throw this chance away? Does she want Jack to rule her life and to take this from her? She shudders and looks up at him. She decides to take a page from Peter’s book and just tells him, “Peter, I am not good for you. I come with a lot of baggage and problems.” She stares at him and tells him, “I want to try, I really do, but I don’t want to hurt you. And I seem to hurt men and-”
Hatter stops her with a kiss, pouring his love for her into it. He does not expect much from her, but after a moment of hesitation, she answers him with equal passion. When they come up for air, she looks at him, shocked at what he did and her reaction to it. Peter tells her softly, “I don’t care Bella. If you want to try, I will do what it takes to make us possible. And luv, that kiss, tells me you want to try too. We will deal with all the problems that come our way together.”
Bella nods and Peter pulls her back in his arms and they sit there staring out the windows again. After awhile, he notices Bella is falling asleep and he looks down at her. He smiles and easily stands up with her in his arms and makes his way up to the bedroom he had made up for her. He has given her a turret room, thinking she may like it. Peter can’t ask now, but the one he is giving her is next to his master suite and has its own bathroom. He doesn’t want her too far from him in case something happens. He lays her down on the bed, pulls her ballet shoes off and pulls the blankets over her. He looks down at her and moves her hair from her face. He goes to leave and her hand finds his and her voice sleepily asks, “Stay please, Peter. I… I need you.”
Peter turns back and sees the fear on her face and nods. As he pulls off his shoes and lays down on the blankets and stares at her, telling her, “Yer safe here, Bella.”
Bella looks at him and softly says, “I know, but, Peter.. it’s just…” She stops and then just asks, “Will you just lie here with me and help me forget the world?”
Peter smiles and tells her, “All you ever have to do is ask, Bella.” He gathers her in his arms and lies there with his love, listening to her fall asleep in his arms. He will be so careful with her, though he knows she is stubborn and wants to take care of herself; he will work around her. He settles himself and falls asleep holding his love in his arms, his world complete for the night.
Fairfarren ~ Wendy