The Road Not Taken
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.
17. Chapter 17
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Edward, however, was tense, and not for the hunt. He wasn’t thirsty. He watched, instead, as Bella hunted. Each time it was his turn, when he tried to give himself over to his instincts – his sense of smell, especially – he just ended up coming back to her. He knew she noticed. When he was sure she was done for the night, he let himself try one more time, and after only a few moments, he found himself face to face with her for the third time, and she was shaking her head bemusedly. “What’s wrong?”
He decided on honesty. “Every time I try to get interested in the hunt, I fail. Tonight you are the only thing in the forest that can draw my interest.” He stepped closer to her and brought his hands up to cup her cheeks, so much like the first kiss they’d ever shared, and yet so different. He didn’t have to be afraid of himself anymore. He could worry about the things normal men worried about. Would she accept his kiss? Would she accept more?
He stared into her eyes, loving the expression she always wore when he did. He still had no clear picture of what she saw there, but as long as she looked at him that way, he imagined it couldn’t be anything too awful. He leaned down to place his lips on hers slowly, and was thrilled at the low moan that shivered through her body as he kissed her.
He’d taken care, earlier, to lead them toward this spot. It wasn’t their meadow by any stretch of the imagination. Just a bit of soft grass near a stream too small to make it onto any map. The sound of the water was comforting to him, though, after living so long near the river in Forks.
He felt her hands wrap around his waist, loosely at first and then pulling him closer. He was still hardwired to pull away when those things happened, but he resisted the urge. Unnecessary, he reminded himself, letting her hold him tightly. When it began to feel too intimate he abruptly scooped her into his arms and strode toward the bank, sitting down in the grass gracefully, his back against an enormous rock that used to be part of a nearby bridge, long since tumbled from its perch.
Bella’s arms twined around his neck and she didn’t bother to contain her enthusiasm. The taste of his lips had always sent her reeling. Now, however, she had no concerns about fainting. She felt him first tighten his grip on her and then change his mind. He laid her in the grass, instead, never taking his lips from hers. She didn’t bother being embarrassed about the whimper that escaped her as he insinuated a leg between hers and pressed her harder into the grass, either. She let her hands drag down his chest, and he pulled away, his eyes opening slowly. Her palms came to rest on his hips and he whispered her name, his breathing ragged, before turning his attention to her neck, kissing his way down to her collar bone and back.
Bella almost commented when she found herself lying in the damp grass in a brand new dress, but the way he’d said her name had distracted her so thoroughly that she’d managed to forget her worry on that point. He braced himself half over her on one elbow, while his other hand drew patterns against her exposed hip. She could feel the material of her dress sliding up her leg with every pass of his fingers, and she forced herself to breathe only for the pleasure of drawing in the scent of his hair while his lips traveled along her neck. For all that her mind was so much more efficient now than it had been when she was human, she could hardly manage to think of anything but the feel of him against her, the paths of his lips and fingers. But there was one small worry that was slowly breaking its way through the fog of her desire.
“Edward, wait,” she whispered breathlessly. He paused only a moment, and she got the impression he was fighting back a growl. She grinned as he tried to kiss her again. “No, really. Please?” she asked against his lips. He pulled slightly away, his head falling so she wouldn’t be able to see the disappointment in his eyes.
He waited, still as a statue, forcing his breathing to slow. “I don’t want to wait anymore, Bella. All we’ve ever done is wait.” And what were they waiting for anyway? Something more to go wrong? To prevent them from being together again? No, he had no desire whatsoever to wait anymore. He tried very hard to modulate his tone so that he wasn’t growling at her. But there were some instincts that just couldn’t be suppressed.
She laughed at him for it. He would have been offended, but she brought a hand up to caress his face, and he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch instead, acutely aware that her other hand still rested low against his hip. That seemed hopeful to him. “Edward,” she began carefully, her voice so full of warmth that he opened his eyes again to watch her expression. “When you thought you had no soul, you didn’t want to do this. You told me it was the only area of innocence left to you. Now that you know you have a soul, don’t you want to wait?”
He blinked. “Tell me what I have worth waiting for,” he demanded, hardly daring to let himself hope that she meant what she implied. He watched as the very faintest of blushes seemed to tinge her cheeks, and held his breath.
“After all I put you through last time, I – I don’t expect you to ask me to marry you again, but – “
She had to stop abruptly as his lips crashed into hers wildly, joyfully. He had to pull away again after only an instant, his breath coming in gasps. And then he laughed. “But you will,” he finished for her, watching her face as her lips turned upwards.
“I will,” she confirmed.
He dropped his head to whisper in her ear. “When?” She could hear the impatience.
“What is the smallest possible amount of time Alice needs to put together a wedding with only the family as guests?” she asked in answer.
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