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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:


11. Chapter 11

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1635   Review this Chapter

Bella was standing in front of her couch when Edward came in. He’d long since stopped knocking at her door. She could hear him coming, and if she didn’t want company, she could say so before he entered. Sometimes she did. He went to stand beside her, realizing she was looking at the framed pictures of Charlie and Will. Charlie Masen and William Carlisle Black. He kept his eyes on the floor.

Bella looked up to smile at him, but frowned instead when she noticed his downcast eyes and blank expression. “You’re assuming something,” she accused gently. He didn’t reply, so she reached for his hand, but he avoided her fingers. Instead he turned toward her and took her other hand in both of his, and then she felt him tense. Finally his eyes turned up to hers, and she realized something that hadn’t occurred to her before. He NEVER held her left hand. Whenever she’d reached for him with that hand, he’d always found a way to smoothly avoid it and take her right hand instead. In all this time, she’d never noticed it. Heidi had been right.

It backfired on him today, though. When he took her right hand, he immediately noticed the cool metal that encircled her finger. He looked up at her in shock to find her smiling at him. And she didn’t look sad. He didn’t even think. He brought both hands up to cradle her face and kissed her. Hard.

Bella was glad her mind processed more quickly these days. It kept her from freezing in shock. She could see in his eyes the joy – and knew what was coming. And when his cool, hard lips touched her own, she realized she wanted it badly. At first, it was like it had been years before. His lips weren’t AS cool – didn’t seem AS hard to her, but they moved over hers insistently, with a desperation she remembered from their last days together. As if he was trying to convince her that she wanted this as much as he did. She didn’t need convincing.

When Edward felt her tongue on his lips he opened them to her, thrilled she wasn’t pulling away. She tasted incredible, but so different from before. Not as warm, but warmer than him. And not as fragile. He felt his whole body shiver as her tongue slid over his for the first time. His hands fell from her cheeks, and he wrapped his arms possessively around her waist and squeezed, for once holding nothing back. She molded to his body in a way he’d thought no vampire could.

Neither of them needed to breathe anymore, and it crossed both their minds that they could do this forever, if they chose. They very nearly did. Neither knew how much time had passed when they finally broke apart, Edward lowering his forehead to touch hers, and both of them gasping in air more from the intensity of the moment than any real need. He watched her chest heave with satisfaction. “God, Bella, I didn’t think we’d ever –“

“Shhh.” His musical voice had sounded so broken, so hoarse. She cut him off, bringing her mouth back to his. He didn’t argue.

When the knock sounded, quite some time later, they were standing in exactly the same attitude. Edward scowled at the door, registering who was on the other side, and what they wanted all at once. It was all he could do to make himself let her go.

He opened the door to find Felix and Demetri standing in the corridor, arms folded identically across their chests. Felix looked amused. Demetri looked resigned. It was Felix who spoke. “Aro’s been trying to get your attention for three hours, and he’s not real pleased with being ignored.”

From the corner of his eye, Edward saw Bella grin and duck her head, which made it hard to suppress a smile of his own. “I was a little distracted. I don’t monitor people’s thoughts every second,” Edward returned, inwardly cringing. He quickly cast about for Aro’s thoughts and discovered that it was just as Felix said. He ignored it when they both thought exactly the same thing. Well, that’s a relief.

Felix turned away and Edward glanced over his shoulder at Bella. She was still smiling in a way he could recognize. When he held out his hand, she moved quickly across the room to take it, and they followed Felix to the elevator, Demetri behind them. Bella turned and smiled at him briefly, making Edward glance back as well, in answer to Demetri’s surprise. Bella smiled so infrequently. And then they resigned themselves to another long talk with Aro, both wishing instead that they could be alone to talk with one another.

Aro was waiting for them in his office along with Jane, in addition to his bodyguards. Bella didn’t usually see much of Jane, which was for the best. She doubted she would ever forget who had given the order for Jacob’s death. She was as likely to forgive Jane as she was to forgive Felix, which is to say, not at all. She kept her face carefully blank, pleased once again by how simple it was.

Jane appeared bored as usual while Aro was clearly excited. Bella glanced at Edward, who was frowning, and knew this was not going to be their usual sort of meeting. “Ah, Edward! Bella!” he began, not sounding at all annoyed, though Bella could easily imagine that he was. He had become used to simply thinking that he wanted them, and having them appear. She watched as Aro held out his hand and Edward went to take it without the slightest hesitation. It occurred to her, not for the first time, that she despised that he had to share all his thoughts with Aro. She was glad she could at least protect his soul from Aro’s scrutiny.

“Excellent timing, then,” Aro commented as he released Edward’s hand. He looked positively thrilled. “A break for you both – a chance to get away together! Jane?”

The frown line in Edward’s forehead deepened as Jane stepped forward. She scowled at them both. “A situation has arisen in Peru. An unusually powerful newborn has destroyed his father, and the entire coven that was keeping him in line. He’s been sighted in the sun at least twice that we know of, and none of the local covens will claim responsibility for him,” she added with a sneer at Edward, reminding them of Carlisle’s failed attempt to show mercy to the unfortunate newborn named Bree.

“You will both accompany her, of course, to deal with the newborn before he can cause any further damage. You’ll have to make haste. Jane has already arranged transportation.” Aro smiled at them through brittle lips.

“We leave in thirty minutes,” Jane added smugly, noticing the glance Edward and Bella exchanged.

Edward nodded and turned on his heel. Bella followed him so quickly that a human would have said they turned in the same instant. The whole situation was like having ice water dumped over your head after you’d just snuggled down into a warm bed. Bella suppressed the urge to roll her eyes at herself for that thought. Even when she wasn’t thinking of Jacob, sometimes she was.

She focused her thoughts on the coming journey instead. Why, all of the sudden, were they being given an assignment outside Volterra? And why with Jane? As far as she knew, Jane ALWAYS worked with Felix and Demetri. It was disquieting, to say the least. It was also of concern that Jane followed them right back up to their rooms and waited in the hallway while they each retrieved their cloaks. As if they might bolt.

Aro had, after he’d ascertained the usefulness of Bella’s talent, given each of them dark charcoal cloaks with deep hoods. Darker than any of the guard wore, but not the black of Jane’s. Bella emerged from her room already wearing it. She had no other clothing that she could wear in the sun. Fortunately, it wouldn’t be long before nightfall. This would get her to a car, at least, and Jane wasn’t foolish enough to schedule a daytime flight. They would fly out after dark. She wasn’t sure exactly WHAT she would do in Peru, though. Maybe it didn’t matter, as the newborn had already been spotted.

She waited in the hallway with Jane in silence, avoiding her eyes. Edward appeared only a few moments later, similarly dressed. He, at least, had a bag with some clothes in it. Bella realized that going through eternity with only three serviceable outfits wasn’t going to be convenient, and promptly decided to stop being so proud and ask him to take her shopping when they got home. She frowned all the way down in the elevator.

Edward noticed, but didn’t dare ask what was wrong in front of Jane. He had expected to feel a little excited at the prospect of getting out of this veritable prison, but he realized he wasn’t looking forward to this fight like he would if it were his own family he was protecting – like he had looked forward to the newborn fight back in Forks. He knew he was frowning also. He would have liked some privacy with Bella to try and figure out where they were going from here. Or even just where ‘here’ was for them, now. Everything had changed so quickly. At least, he hoped it had changed. He glanced at her unhappy expression again, and gritted his teeth. She heard it, and smiled at his obvious annoyance. “We never get a break, do we?” she asked. She heard Jane huff in annoyance, but didn’t care. Edward immediately put his arm around her waist and pulled her as close to him as he could. He didn’t answer.