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.
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.