Word Count: 1.4k
Prompt: Insomniareid: Bella/Nigel (Charlie countryman) please!
Warning(s): Reckless Bella, Murder, Nigel being Nigel
Bella fell out of love with Edward the moment she slammed into him and tried to push him into the shadows. She screamed and pounded on his chest, begging him to step back. His skin shimmered and twinkled like a hundred thousand cut diamonds and it wasn’t beautiful—instead it looked like death.
It was death. It was a death sentence.
Bella’s life flashed before her eyes and as Edward’s arms came around her and pulled her into the shadows, to safety, but she tore back away from him and into the crowd of red robes. She ran blindly, pushing through festival goers, just knowing she had to get out as fast as she could. Her heart constricted, but it wasn’t like before. It wasn’t like the months and months where she had screamed in despair as she woke from her waking nightmare. It was the pain of a shattering love and a heart suddenly made free.
With nothing but the clothes on her back, Bella found shelter in the doorway of a crumbling building on the edge of Volterra that night. Her breakfast was the gift of a baker, the bread burnt and unsellable. It took her two nights to find a poker game and exchange her diamond stud earrings for the buy in.
If Edward had lived or died, Bella didn’t know. He didn’t come looking for her though. Neither did Alice.
Bella didn’t want to go back to Forks. She didn’t want to return to Phoenix. Her passport had been in her back pocket, so she wasn’t restricted to Italy. Slowly, she made her way up through Italy, up into Austria, to Vienna where she spent the Winter, then into Hungary, where finally she made her way into Romania. It was Summer again when she found herself in Bucharest, a city as strange as it was beautiful, and she celebrated her twentieth birthday dancing in the dark under-reaches of the city.
Turning, Bella saw a man so unlike Edward, she was instantly attracted. He was tall, with sandy blond hair and brown eyes. His skin was weathered with a five o’clock shadow and he had a tattoo of some sort on his neck. His arms were muscled, firm, but not like diamond. He was dangerous, but not because he was going to kill her.—Maybe he would kill her, she reconsidered, in a dark alley, filled with passion, with his bare hands… but not because he was dangerous because of his species, instead choosing to be dangerous in his interactions with others.
“Hello,” she responded, letting her eyes meet his despite her attraction to him.
“You’re very beautiful to be dancing alone,” he observed, coming up to her and leaning against the bar, signaling to the bartender.
She turned back to face him. “I broke up with my boyfriend.”
“Oh?” he sounded interested. “When was that?”
A year and a half ago. “When I was in Italy.”
“I hate to tell you,” the man murmured, leaning close and whispering in Bella’s ear, “you left him behind several countries ago, gorgeous.”
Two shots were placed in front of them.
“Prost,” the man saluted as he picked his up and held it toward her, and Bella did the same before letting the smooth liquid run down her throat.
He didn’t ask her name before he was pulling her onto the dancefloor, and Bella let him, entranced by the scars on his forearms and the strength in his hands.
Bella really didn’t dance. She never grew out of her clumsiness. It couldn’t really be said that she swayed to the music either. It was more that she made general movements to the beat and no one bothered her.
But with Nigel—when she was in his arms—she found that her hips were moved in his large hands, and she pressed her forehead against his. Nigel’s sheer masculinity was intoxicating, his earthiness, the way he took what he wanted and didn’t play games with her. This was a man who wouldn’t ask her what her favorite color was.—Instead, he kissed her during the third song, the beat forgotten, and even that was better than the cold, chaste press of lips against lips.
She let him walk her back to her rundown hotel when the club broke up near dawn, and he put his hands in her back pockets as he kissed her goodbye.
It was clear Nigel was just as much of a night-owl as Bella was. When she rose around four in the afternoon, Nigel was in a little café across the street, sipping an espresso, an empty chair pulled out and waiting for her.
“My pretty little American,” he greeted when he ordered her an espresso and a croissant. He leaned over the table on his forearms, swallowing, which made the dancer on his neck move. “How do I get to keep you?”
Bella realized, looking into his dark eyes, that Nigel was entirely serious. “Well,” she answered carefully, “it depends on how long your card tables remain solvent.”
Nigel cocked his head to the side. “You gamble for a living.”
She shrugged. “Life is a game of chance.”
His lips twisted at that, and he leaned back in his chair, relaxing. “Isn’t that so, gorgeous.”
Nigel didn’t play cards, but Bella noticed that he was often in the clubs where she played, she just hadn’t noticed him in the few nights she had been in Bucharest before her birthday. He was always at a table with other men, drinking, laughing, shaking hands. Nigel seemed to be some kind of a businessman. A disreputable one, based on the sorts of clubs Bella frequented.
It wasn’t long before Bella let Nigel unquestionably into her life and into her bed. He seemed to fit into the crevices of her existence so seamlessly, she hardly noticed he was there. His hand was always in her back pocket, so it only seemed natural when it slipped inside her underwear.
And she loved him. She loved the smoke that he breathed and the sound of his voice. She loved the raw strength in his hands and the gentleness of his touch.
The first time Bella saw Nigel with a gun, she had followed him out into an alley, a wad of cash in her inner jacket pocket. She had hoped to catch him before she walked home to her hotel for the morning. At first, Bella wasn’t sure what she saw, a flash of light in the darkness, but when she rushed forward, Nigel was standing over the body of a man she didn’t recognize, and the gun was smoking in his hand.
“Nigel?” she asked, breathlessly, looking down at the dead man.
He was breathing heavily and then he pushed his hair out of his face, the gun smoothly sliding into the back of his jeans. “You saw nothing, gorgeous,” he told her as he walked away from the body and reached out to pull her to him. She tried to shrink away from him, but his arm was too quick for her, and he pressed his dry lips to the side of her face. “I was with you all night,” he commanded her.
Afraid, she looked up into his eyes and saw the danger there and, after several long moments where their gazes searched each other and Bella only saw death and danger, she nodded hesitantly.
“Good girl,” Nigel praised her, kissing her again, this time on the lips. His breath smelled like smoke and she breathed in the familiar taste of it. “The ass of an angel, the face of a goddess, and the smarts of Isaac Newton.” His hand reached down and squeezed her bottom. “How much did you make tonight, gorgeous?”
Bella, at first, didn’t quite grasp the question, but then, when his dark eyes pierced her gaze, expecting an answer, she swallowed once and told him, “More than enough.”
He kissed her long and slow and dirty right there in the street, with a dead body not twelve steps away, before leading them back into the club.
Bella hadn’t realized how dangerous Nigel truly was. How dangerous he could be to her. How could she have truly realized when all she had ever known were vampires and lions and lambs and diamonds sparkling in the sunlight? Now it was too late—and when she lay in Nigel’s arms that night, Nigel having decided they would move in together, she couldn’t even seem to cry.