Bella Nixon (2018-present)
Date of Birth: 10th May 2002
Bella was mentioned many times in the first half of 2018 as the younger half-sister of Colby Thorne. She was the daughter of his abusive stepfather Ross Nixon, who viewed her as his property. Ross had ended up removing both Bella and her mother from their home in Mangrove River, with Colby making a failed attempt to chase after them as he did so. Colby had spent the next six years searching for her without success.
Near the end of the year, Colby and Dean finally tracked Bella down to the isolated house where she had been living with Ross. Having been told by Ross that they had had to leave town because Colby was going to hurt them (and taking Colby chasing them as they left as evidence of this), Bella threatened the pair with a crossbow then took refuge in a makeshift hide and texted Ross. She tried to delay Colby and Dean until he could arrive but they realised what was going on and kidnapped her, taking her to an old River Boy hideout where Willow joined them. They tried to remind Bella of how they’d all got on when she was young while Bella insisted her mother had left because she didn’t love them and was bewildered by Colby now being a police officer. In the end, her faith in Ross was shattered when Colby played her a recording of Ross admitting to killing Colby’s father and she agreed to go away with Colby for a while.
When the body of her mother Michelle was found near the house, Bella was interviewed by the police. She covered for Colby by claiming he had found her after she contacted him on social media and recalled that Michelle tried to get her to leave with her during the night. She told Ross and next morning Michelle was gone, which she realised was when she was killed. She moved into the flat above the Diner with Colby and explored the Bay, meeting Ryder and Raffy. On learning that Colby’s fiance Chelsea had broken up with him over kidnapping her, Bella told her Colby had done the right thing and convinced them to reunite. The three of them went away together to see if they could manage to be a family.
They returned in good spirits, planning to move to the city after Colby and Chelsea were married. Maggie quizzed Bella about starting school, which she had not been attending since she disappeared with Ross. Colby wanted to wait but Chelsea wanted her assessed as soon as possible. Bella was horrified to hear them arguing, being reminded of the arguments between Ross and Michelle, and did what she always did then, running and hiding. She was found by Ryder who agreed to hide her in a caravan, although she was immediately found by Dean and returned to Colby, who told her that arguments didn’t always escalate into worse. Maggie gave her an assessment and concluded that she was intelligent but still at a primary school level of education, suggesting a bridging course over the summer. However, plans kept changing as Chelsea and Colby were undecided as to whether they’d be in Summer Bay or the city at the time.
Ross secretly approached Bella and asked her to come with him, insisting that he hadn’t killed anyone. Bella refused, deciding she wanted a fresh start with Colby and Chelsea in the city, but kept quiet about him being around. She spent the night before the wedding at the beach house with Chelsea, Willow and Jasmine. After enjoying herself at the wedding, she was planning to stay with Willow while Colby and Chelsea were on their honeymoon. She and Willow accepted a lift with Chelsea in the wedding limo but the driver turned out to be Ross who kidnapped them, driving them out into the bush and calling Colby. When he turned up, Ross told him to choose between Chelsea and Bella but Colby refused. Ross tried to shoot Colby as he charged at him but Bella spoiled his aim, causing him to miss Colby but injure Willow. Chelsea and Bella looked after her while Colby and Dean chased Ross, getting her to hospital. Colby eventually turned up and told them he’d lost Ross. Bella admitted to Colby and Chelsea that she’d known Ross was around.
She accompanied Raffy and Ryder to a farewell dinner for Coco, then learned Chelsea had moved to the city without them, ending her marriage to Colby after barely a week. Bella reassured Colby they could do without her. The two of them decided to stay in Summer Bay although it left them sharing a flat with Robbo, with Colby sleeping on the sofa. They considered getting a place of their own but instead accepted Ben’s offer to turn a walled-up storage area into a room for Bella.
Since the various dramas had resulted in her missing the bridging course, Bella had trepidation about going back to school. When Maggie gave her one of Coco’s old school uniform dresses, she adapted it into a top to wear over jeans, which Maggie made no objection to. However, she ended up walking out of school after failing to understand Year 11 maths problems and being belittled by a classmate, Imogen. She was soon introduced to her support teacher, Simone Bedford, who had one-on-one sessions with her and got her to write about herself in a getting-to-know-you exercise. Bella wrote that her biggest fear was that Ross would come back and kill Colby, believing it was private, and was distressed when she heard Maggie and Simone showing it to Colby. She ran away to the beach house looking for Willow and instead encountered Irene, who convinced her to call Colby. However, she overheard Colby telling Irene he wasn’t sure if he could help her.
When she learned Colby had resigned from the police in order to look after her, she ran away back to the house she had shared with Ross, where she found the hole where Michelle’s grave had been. Colby tracked her down there but she refused to go with him so he insisted on staying with her. He realised she didn’t want him to give up his life for her and she agreed to go back with him but asked him to go back to the police and find Ross.
She was left bewildered when a sleepwalking Dean tried to drag her into his car and told her he was taking her to Ross, with Willow having to intervene. She was left staying with Willow and Irene while Colby helped Dean through withdrawals from an addiction to sleeping tablets. She helped Ryder run the Purple Day at school which ended with Simone’s affair with Brody being revealed, and Bella begged Simone not to leave the school. She was then dragged out of school by Willow, who tried to take her out of town but was stopped by Jasmine. The reason became clear when Colby admitted to her that he had killed Ross the day of the kidnapping, which was why Chelsea had left, with Willow and Dean also knowing. Bella insisted on staying the night with Irene and demanded details from Colby. She wondered if Ross could have changed if he’d had the chance but Willow reminded her of what he’d done and told her not to romanticise him. She tried to get Colby to tell her where he was buried, but when she learned Colby intended to turn himself in, she told him that would leave her with no-one and convinced him to stay with her.
She was left frustrated when Dean, who was friends with Brody’s wife Ziggy, sent Simone away when she was helping her with her work. Colby worried that Bella didn’t have any friends so arranged for Raffy and Ryder to spend time with her. Bella felt humiliated but accepted they actually did want to be friends with her and went to a movie with them. She worked with Simone on a photography assignment but this put her at odds with Raffy, who blamed Simone for Brody and Ziggy’s break-up. When Bella needed to work with Simone instead of spending time with Raffy and Ryder, she claimed she was going shopping with Colby but Raffy found out the truth and called her a liar. Bella broke into the school and spray painted “Homewrecker” on Simone’s office door, then joined Raffy in mocking her over it. However, this resulted in Raffy being blamed and Ryder convinced Bella to own up. She apologised to Simone, explaining she did it to impress Raffy rather than to hurt her, and was disappointed when Simone chose to resign, although she did smooth things over with Raffy and Ryder when they joined her in cleaning off the graffiti. When she learned Brody was leaving town with Simone, she was worried Raffy would blame her but Raffy assured her otherwise.
Roo was made the new support teacher but Bella was unhappy with the arrangement: Not only did it mean starting again, but since Roo was a class teacher, Bella was back in normal classes and Roo could only work with her during breaks and after school. Wanting to spend with Raffy and Ryder during her break, she failed to turn up for a meeting with Roo only for Colby to forcibly return her to school. She promptly set off the fire alarm, getting the school evacuated and unknowingly causing Raffy to miss a meeting about homework. She was suspended and Colby took her into work but she refused to keep quiet, having several fierce arguments with him and eventually tricking Dean into coming to collect her by ringing him up saying the police were holding her there. After talking things over with him, she realised her behaviour was stopping her fitting in and apologised to Roo and Maggie.
However, Bella quickly grew bored spending time with Willow and Colby while Dean gave most of his attention to Ziggy. Even when Dean recruited them to help prepare Ziggy’s car for a rally, Bella was unhappy with the set-up, loudly objecting when Ziggy asked Dean to partner her in the rally. Eager to prevent them being alone, she stowed away in the car and revealed herself when they got to the outback start line, assuming they would have to take her home. Instead, Dean called Colby to come and get her. Colby checked them into a motel for the night but the following morning Bella refused to go home with him and headed for the local police station saying she was going to tell them he was a murderer. Colby stopped her by threatening to drive off without her and told her she couldn’t use it to get her own way, with Dean also giving her a telling off when he heard.
Grounded on her return, Bella received confirmation that Dean and Ziggy were together. Coco told her that Ziggy had said it was just a holiday fling so, when the pair committed to a full relationship, Bella started a row in the surf club, telling Dean that Ziggy was using him. Colby tried to drag her out and she hit him with a pool ball. Bella was left horrified, running and hiding under the pier. Colby decided Bella should move in with Irene who had offered to have her. Bella was forced to go along with it but made it clear to Irene that she didn’t want to be there and wouldn’t follow her rules.
After they had eaten, Irene told Bella she had to clear away and wash her own plates. Bella refused, leaving the plate on the table for hours, and continued to stand her ground as it escalated into a battle of wills, with Irene grounding her and refusing to let her watch television, also sending Ryder away when he came to see her, as all her dirty dishes piled up. Bella sneaked out first thing to see Colby and begged him to let her come home but he just called Irene to pick her up. Bella ended the impasse by smashing all the plates. She was scolded by both Willow and Colby with Willow getting her to apologise to Irene. She and Irene bonded making cupcakes with Bella relating how she and her mother had made a birthday cake for Colby but Ross had thrown it out. When she gave Colby the cupcakes to make up for the birthdays she missed, Colby asked her to move back in but she instead decided to stay with Irene since she felt it would help things get better between them.
Bella had thrown herself into photography at school since it was something she had done with Michelle, using her mother’s old camera, and was happy to do a photography assignment, roping in Ryder as a model. Roo reminded her she had an Engilish assignment due first but, when she tried to focus on it, she was frustrated that she didn’t understand the text or the assignment. Roo refused to give up on her however, coaching her through relating to the novel and writing the assignment, and pointing her towards a forum for students where she soon made an online friend, Tommy.
Irene told her that she’d been invited to a fashion show by her old foster daughter Olivia in London and that Colby was happy for her to move back in. When she saw Colby getting friendly with Mackenzie Booth, Bella worried that she’d be in the way and favoured staying on at the beach house with Willow but Colby assured her he wanted her back. However, when she discussed it with Tommy, he convinced her that living with Colby again wouldn’t work. Colby was disappointed with the decision but accepted it, taking her out for lunch and buying her a laptop. Bella showed Raffy her conversations with Tommy but Raffy warned her about the dangers of revealing too much to strangers online. When Bella questioned Tommy he admitted he wasn’t at school, saying he was a 25-year-old teacher. Bella told Raffy she wouldn’t speak to him again, but when Tommy told her she was special and he could help her, she agreed to keep communicating with him.
Bella got 89% on a photography assignment and gave Tommy her address so he could send her a digital camera, allowing her to send him her photos of herself. She tried to do a sophisticated-looking self-portrait but he convinced her to do something toned down. Tommy sent her tickets to a photography exhibition in the city. Irene assumed it was a school trip and, on learning otherwise, refused to let her go unaccompanied. Bella gave Tommy her phone number so he could drive her there. However, she bumped into Raffy while waiting for him and Tommy failed to turn up, later texting to say his car wouldn’t start and suggesting they meet up while everyone was at Robbo and Jasmine’s wedding. She convinced Irene to leave her alone and was initially delighted when Tommy turned up, but soon became uneasy when he showed no interest in going to the exhibition and suggested they get to know each other, before getting jealous on seeing a photo she took of Ryder. Bella tried to get rid of him by hiding in the bathroom, but he forcibly kissed her and then tried to rape her. She was saved by Irene, but ended up having to drag her off when she bludgeoned Tommy with a bottle as he was leaving. Bella took charge, dumping Tommy at the hospital and getting rid of anything that could identify him.
Bella deleted all records of Tommy from her computer but with the police getting closer to the truth Irene decided to confess. Bella went to Colby for help and he took charge of the investigation. Bella felt obliged to stay and support Irene and learned of Irene’s own childhood abuse on seeing a video about it online. Colby asked her to move back in but she was reluctant and ended up arguing with him and Dean. Willow and Ziggy took her to the farm where she admitted it had been her first kiss: They assured her it didn’t count as a real kiss. She returned to the flat but shut herself away there doing schoolwork. Irene and Colby convinced her to go to a support group.
Ryder invited her to a party at the caravan park to celebrate the end of HSC trials. She initially declined but, when Colby spent all his time with Mackenzie and Irene asked her to give evidence in her defence, she went along and started drinking heavily. She ended up falling asleep in Ryder’s bed, resulting in awkward questions when Alf and Colby found her there. She admitted she was afraid to face Tommy in court. Ryder tried to convince her to return to school and, with encouragement from Colby and Willow, she confided in him about the assault. Irene again spoke to her about testifying, which caused her to regress, but after Mackenzie told her about testifying against a friend who abused his girlfriend, she agreed. She met up with Karen Thompson, her mother’s old friend, and accidentally gave away the fact Dean was dating Ziggy. Raffy and Ryder convinced her to go back to school before she attended court, only to freeze up on the witness stand when she saw Tommy was there, resulting in Colby causing a disruption and the case being deferred. However, she managed to focus the next day and insist that Tommy tried to rape her, with Irene getting let off with a good behaviour bond. Bella was with Irene when Teresa, a woman from her support group, turned up to reveal she’d murdered Tommy. Bella was unconvinced by Colby and Mackenzie’s attempts to convince her Teresa had done the wrong thing, arguing that Tommy had been stopped from hurting anyone like Ross had and the only difference was Colby was a police officer and knew how to get away with it.
Mackenzie admitted she was struggling to handle Colby being in danger all the time so Bella angrily told her to break up with him sooner rather than later. Despite this, she was furious when she found Mackenzie actually had, dousing Salt with petrol intending to burn it down. She was stopped by Dean and Willow but was unrepentant and rejected Willow’s suggestion that she and Mackenzie could still be friends. She began doing everything she could to keep Colby and Mackenzie apart, including volunteering him to help Dean out with a surf lesson. When she found Colby talking to Mackenzie anyway, she angrily declared he should throw her down the stairs. She ended up showing her anger by attacking a post with a chunk of wood, in the process cutting her hand and needing Alex to patch her up. She believed Colby had cut ties with Mackenzie only to discover he was meeting her in secret. She confronted him with photographs of them together but he refused to stop seeing her.
Bella prepared to go on her first school trip, although she was disgruntled that Colby was planning to spend time with Mackenzie while she was away. On the morning of the trip, she felt ill. Mackenzie accused her of faking it but then she collapsed and was rushed to hospital: She had contracted tetanus from the cut on her hand, having never been immunised. The anti-toxin had to be ordered in but she soon began to recover, although she told Mackenzie she’d never forgive her for trying to turn Colby against her, saying she didn’t want her visiting and popping the balloon she brought her. She was booked on a course of immunisations but tried to refuse them on hearing she wouldn’t be able to live at the flat with Colby, since Robbo was looking after Grace there. However, when she was told she couldn’t stay there if she didn’t have the immunisations either, she grudgingly agreed and accepted staying with Irene for a while, convincing Colby to stay with her. She found Alex in Willow’s bed and helped decoy Irene and Colby so she could sneak out. Willow initially refused to discuss it with her but later admitted they were together; Bella agreed to keep quiet. When Colby asked her what she wanted out of life, she admitted she had no plans beyond finishing her HSC and was happy to go along with him.
She moved back to the flat but learned she might have to redo Year 11. She then contributed to the awkwardness at drinks at Salt to celebrate Willow’s promotion by exchanging barbs with Mackenzie. She did however win Alex’s respect for not telling Colby about their relationship. She overheard Dean telling Colby to stay away from Salt because Mackenzie still liked him and stopped Colby going out by claiming to be ill. Alex could find little wrong with her but suggested it was an after effect of the immunisations. However, as a result, Colby refused to let Bella do the intensive study course Maggie had devised to get her into Year 12. Not wanting to repeat, Bella suggested to Colby that she could be home schooled. She began taking lessons from Maggie and Roo, during which Ryder introduced her to his girlfriend Jade Lennox. When Colby wanted to discuss Dean with Mackenzie, Bella again pretended to be ill to stop him leaving. Mackenzie had by now realised what she was doing, as did Robbo, who told her that lying to the people she cared about wouldn’t end well.
When Jade told her Ryder had uploaded a sex tape of her, Bella confronted him and slapped him when he insisted Jade was lying, comparing him to Tommy. Despite this, she gave Mackenzie a serve on seeing her sack Ryder and said she was going to make sure she left town. However, Colby overheard and realised she had been faking being ill. When Colby ignored her calls, she stole pills from the hospital at random and took them all. She asked Willow to tell Colby she was ill but Mackenzie found her in pain and took her to hospital. They ended up hiding in the treatment room when a group of gunmen took over the department, where Bella admitted what she’d done. An attempt to get her help resulted in her being captured too, and with the gunmen refusing to let staff treat her, she was left critically ill.
She was allowed to be treated when corrupt cop Jay Myers took charge of the situation and soon after the hostages were freed by the police. She had to explain to Colby what had happened, also thanking Mackenzie for helping her. She was still in hospital during Robbo’s funeral but was allowed home the next day. She quickly made up with Ryder on learning Jade had set him up but was resistant to Colby’s suggestions she see a counsellor. She went to see the counsellor he’d arranged, Patricia, but quickly left when the subject of Ross came up, lying to Colby that it had gone well. Ryder insisted she had to take the counselling seriously on learning about her overdose but she was still reluctant to discuss Ross for fear of letting slip something about Colby. After Roo made some pointed remarks about how she told people what they wanted to hear, Bella decided to continue with the counselling and also agreed to Dean moving in.
She was still reluctant to repeat a year of school and learned she didn’t qualify for distance teaching, which would allow her to study at home while still being enrolled at Summer Bay High. She was frantic when Colby was hospitalised with compartment syndrome after being stabbed in the leg and lost her temper with Irene, Roo and Dean when no-one would take her to see him. She had Ryder and his new friend Nikau over but Dean kicked them out, while Roo told her that there was now no option other than repeating Year 11. After chatting with Nikau, she decided to drop out of school and instead do a photography course at TAFE. Roo and Maggie were supportive but Colby initially rejected the idea outright when she put it to him. However, when she convinced him she was serious and Dean offered to pay her fees, Colby agreed on condition she continued counselling. Bella agreed, but then cancelled her session.
She was confused when Nikau began avoiding her and realised Ryder had told him about Tommy, leaving her upset that the decision to tell him had been taken from her. She joined up with Nikau to take Dean’s car and go to the city to see his uncle Tane but was shocked when she fell asleep and stayed there all night, rushing back to Summer Bay. Although Colby wasn’t bothered about that, he was furious to find she had given up counselling and told her he was done helping her. After making various attempts to see Nikau, she ended up yelling at him that she liked him and running off. She went looking for Ryder and ended up confiding in Roo instead. Ryder forced her to talk to Nikau and they kissed. They arranged a date and Bella hustled Blake Golan at pool to get the money to finance it.
Next day, Bella asked Willow for advice on when to have sex and then told Nikau she wanted to sleep with him. However, when they tried, Bella went into a panic and locked herself in her room, then cut herself. She was taken to hospital where the decision was taken to admit her for full-time psychiatric care, resulting in Colby and Willow taking her to an equine therapy centre. Although initially resistant, she began to bond with her horse, who she named Bullet because she felt out of control, but was upset about being left alone there and not allowed to contact anyone.
After weeks in therapy, Bella asked Dean and Willow to pick her up, worried about seeing Colby again and falling back into bad habits. When she ran into Colby at the surf club however, she immediately went home with him. She had written letters to Colby, Nikau and Irene during her stay but was unable to deliver the one to Irene since she was away. Colby accepted her assertion that he needed to let her make her own choices but Nikau was angry with the message that she wasn’t ready for a relationship. She was also reunited with Ryder, who confided in her about his father Evan’s terminal illness. She had no special plans for celebrating her 18th so Colby gave her a cupcake and pancakes and Willow took her down the beach. Nikau tried to question her about Colby’s investigation into the Diner robbery and she warned him Colby wanted to include him and his uncles in a line-up.
Even though Colby (correctly) suspected Nikau of stealing Tori’s car, Bella continued to support him and comforted him when Colby stopped him and his uncles travelling to New Zealand with Gemma for the internment of his father’s ashes. She managed to convince him the whole town wasn’t against him and they kissed. Colby was unhappy with the situation however and Bella agreed to take things slow. She learned that Amber Simmons, whose brother Jai had died in a car crash while helping Colby try to stop Ross taking her, was in town and blamed Colby for his death, and convinced Amber to make peace with him. She finally started at TAFE, celebrating with Nikau, although they were interrupted by Tane and Amber. Ryder suggested Nikau take her for a picnic and romantic boat trip, but it wasn’t really either of their thing and Bella pushed Ryder in the water when he tried to claim it was Nikau’s idea. She convinced Nikau to stop avoiding her flat and got Colby to accept him.
However, the peace was quickly broken when Ross’ body was discovered. Bella wanted to run away but Colby insisted they had to stay and face it. She panicked when she heard Angelo, investigating the case, wanted to interview her and Colby’s attempts to coach her just left her more worried that she would drop him in it. She told the whole story to Nikau and decided to skip town. Nikau decided to go with her, getting money for plane tickets. They bought an old ute and went up to the mountains, with Bella teaching Nikau how to live off the radar. They ended up camping out and sleeping together. However, realising he was worried about leaving his family, she slipped away after the ute failed to start and he went to get help. She went looking for him when he left a message wondering if she’d left because of them sleeping together, only to find Mackenzie, Ari and Tane with him. On hearing the police were about to order her arrest and Colby was covering for her, she dashed back to Summer Bay and went to the police station where she held things together in an interview with Angelo, although the experience caused her and Nikau to distance themselves from each other.
She confided in Willow and smoothed things over with Nikau after convincing Alf not to sack him for disappearing. She walked in on Colby in a compromising position with Taylor and was horrified to learn that she was Angelo’s wife. Bella was taken in for questioning again by Angelo when he found out about her leaving town. She began spending most of her time at Nikau’s and, after witnessing Colby kissing Taylor in a car in public, Nikau invited her to move in with him. She did so for one night but concluded she wasn’t ready to give up on Colby. However, she realised Colby hadn’t even noticed she was gone and was spending all his time with Taylor despite insisting it was over. Bella photographed them kissing and sent the picture to Colby to try and show him that anyone could have seen them, but Colby’s response was to delete the photo from her camera and demand she support him. Bella tried to get Taylor to break up with Colby but he told her to stay out of it and her increasingly obsessive behaviour resulted in her and Nikau breaking up. Ryder and Jasmine ended up locking them in the gym to talk where Bella admitted she was trying to protect Nikau and he insisted on standing by her, also encouraging her to support Colby.
She was upset to learn Nikau was considering moving to New Zealand to join Gemma until he asked her to go with him. She felt she couldn’t leave Colby but then Angelo told her he knew about Colby and Taylor only for Colby to dismiss it when Bella tried to warn him. Realising Colby would never change, Bella decided to go with Nikau, which she kept quiet from Colby until he received an invite to the farewell Ari and Mackenzie had arranged for them, ignoring his attempts to order her to stay. However, on the morning she was due to fly out, Colby was arrested for Ross’ murder. Bella felt unable to leave town so she and Nikau went to stay with Ziggy and Mackenzie instead. After helping Dean arrange a lawyer, she moved back to the flat. Attending Colby’s trial, she was shocked when Willow turned out to be the prosecution’s star witness and Colby changed his plea to guilty as a result, getting 25 years. She refused to forgive Willow and was frustrated that she wasn’t allowed to visit Colby in his first week. However, she encouraged Ryder to take a hospitality internship and also encouraged Nikau to go to New Zealand when she found out the Paratas were in danger from some local criminals.
With Dean having disappeared, Bella was left alone at the flat. She went to see Colby on her own and admitted what was going on. She also admitted to Mackenzie, who let her stay with her. She was happy to go back to living with Dean when he returned but, with him still upset about his break-up with Ziggy, she ended up spending a night in Nikau’s room chatting to him on a video call.