Bella Nixon (2018- )
Parents: Ross & Michelle Nixon (both deceased)
Siblings: Colby Thorne (half)
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.