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The Road Not Taken

Summary:
Epilogue: “She didn’t really seem like that sort of girl,” Tanya commented, her tone just a tad sour, and Demetri quirked a smile.

“I get the feeling there’s a lot more to her than we’ve suspected.”
Sequel to The Road Less Traveled by Daintress of tm_switzerland.The Road Not Taken


Notes:


10. Chapter 10

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1258   Review this Chapter

Edward hadn’t hunted alone since they’d arrived in Volterra. Bella required more regular trips than he did, but he’d always taken advantage of their hunts, so that he could spend as much time with her as possible. He was amazed, really, at his own capacity for masochism. It seemed to have grown since their very short time together in college. Every second they spent together was difficult for him, though waiting in his room to see if she would seek him out was also agonizing. She rarely did. If it weren’t for the expression on her face when she stared into his eyes, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to stand any of it.

Bella had given him an out, of course. It was in her nature to be concerned for the pain of others and that, at least, had never changed about her. At any time, he could go to Aro and request never to see her again. They would be separated for the next ninety-some-odd years. But the very thought brought to mind the emptiness that had defined his life during their years apart. He had faced it twice. And no matter how much her sad smiles and distance hurt him, he never wanted to face it again. The thought that someone else might be there to comfort her, as Jacob had been, was a deterrent as well.

He stalked the lynx without giving it much thought, and without his usual joy in the hunt. He realized that he only ever enjoyed it anymore because he spent his time watching Bella. Hunting was the only thing that seemed to draw a smile from her that wasn’t sad. It wasn’t the smile he remembered, either – more predatory, less happy. But at least it wasn’t sad.

He wasn’t really thirsty, but Heidi had come to talk to Bella, and aside from Marcus, she was the first to do so in three solid years. Also, she clearly didn’t like the idea of him listening in, so he’d decided it was best to get out of the area. He felt his lips pull up into a smile as he remembered Bella’s defense of him, though. That had felt good. He let his mind dwell on that, in a futile effort to keep from thinking about the things that didn’t, such as their conversations about souls.

He was more troubled by her ability than he’d ever admitted to her. It had taken months to come to terms with the idea that he had a soul. Aro had been equally shocked – and afraid. Edward could understand that. If word got out to the rest of the Volturi that they had souls, Aro’s whole way of life might come crashing down around his ears. Who would want to continue on a path of murder, knowing it would destroy his soul? But apparently, there were some who were unbothered by the thought.

Since Marcus and Caius had been informed about her ability, and had subsequently decided that they really didn’t give a damn about the state of their souls, Bella had been a little more open about discussing things with him. Aro had indicated that he was as interested in hearing her thoughts on the souls of the rest of the Volturi as he was in anything Edward had to say about their minds. Maybe MORE interested. He could find out what was in their minds for himself, after all. And Marcus had been insistent that she share whatever she could discover with him, as well.

So, she had told Edward a great deal about the souls of the vampires they interacted with in Volterra. There were only two souls she utterly refused to discuss. The two that concerned him most. Bella’s and his own. He had not resorted to begging, but he HAD asked why. Her response had been ... unsatisfactory.

The lynx was close. He tried to give himself over to his sense of smell and failed. He just wasn’t that thirsty, and his mind was too preoccupied with Bella. He stepped into the animal’s line of sight and it stared at him for a moment. He hoped it would hiss and attack him. But it did not. It just blinked at him as if it could see he wasn’t going to harm it, and insolently turned its back on him, ambling away. He sighed in disgust.

The trip back to Volterra was slow, and he made it that way on purpose. Running alone was not much fun anymore, either. He missed Emmett and Jasper. He desperately missed Carlisle. And yet, he was glad they weren’t around. All three of them were insufferable when he was unhappy, for different reasons. Emmett was always so optimistic. Carlisle was always so understanding. And Jasper. Jasper would tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself and just kiss her and see what happened. Also, he admitted to himself, he was embarrassed. Even HE had thought that after a few years, Bella would be interested in him again. But maybe she had changed too much. Maybe she just wasn’t capable of loving him that way anymore. That thought opened up a wound in his chest that had been his constant companion for so long, it seemed permanent. He gritted his teeth and walked faster.

Things were better than they had been during that single semester they’d spent together at Dartmouth, at least. He could see that she was making an effort to tell him what was on her mind. But her mind was a lot different now than it had been as a human. He was perfectly aware that when he asked what she was thinking and got a single response, she wasn’t telling him everything. And whatever she wasn’t telling him was probably about Jacob Black. He had tried to resign himself to that, but he still struggled with the pain of it.

Once in a great while, she would admit that she was thinking of Jacob, but not often. For the most part, she said she was thinking about the souls of the Volturi, what she was going to say next to Marcus, or whether or not she was thirsty enough to hunt that night. These were not the sorts of things that could thoroughly occupy a mind like hers, and he knew it. But he never pressed her for more, even though he could see that they were headed down the same path as before.

He was entering the huge drainage pipe that allowed him access to the city before he was really ready. He wondered if Bella and Heidi were finished yet. He knew what Heidi had wanted to discuss. She’d overheard him asking Gianna for frames for Bella’s newest pictures, and she wanted to see them. Like every other vampire he knew, Heidi had no past, any more than she had a future. She wanted to know what it was like. And Bella was the closest thing to human that any of them had, except Gianna herself, who admittedly held little interest. She’d wanted to see Bella’s family.

And THAT thought hurt more than most things. Bella had a family: sons, and a brother-in-law, a father and mother, and the pack. They wrote to her and thought of her and cared about her. What did she need with him? He passed Gianna without a word and got in the elevator. Then he went to his room and waited, knowing she wouldn’t come. Knowing that Heidi was already gone. And knowing he would break down and go to her, eventually.