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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:


22. Chapter 22

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1925   Review this Chapter

The moment Bella was out the door, Tanya made an unconscious decision. She didn’t mean to – she didn’t even think about it – but seeing Edward’s affection for her rival caused her just enough annoyance to break her concentration. She decided she was going to do whatever she had to, to stop this wedding. She’d been interested in Edward for years, and this was her last chance.

Unfortunately for her, Alice’s visions came and went with exactly that kind of decision-making, even if Edward was unable to read it in Tanya’s mind. And Alice and Edward were very, very good at sharing information on the sly. The vision was short. Alice saw Edward and Bella fighting, calling off the wedding. Neither knew what could have caused it. Neither gave any indication that anything had passed between them. But it was troubling enough to mean they wanted to talk to one another without Tanya’s input. Alice took one look at Edward’s stricken face and realized she’d better get rid of Tanya. Fast.

“Tanya,” Alice began sweetly, “Jasper’s got to be going stir crazy dealing with the seamstress, and Edward and I have a lot of work to do to get everyone fitted for tuxedos. Would you mind driving back to the hotel to pick Jasper up? Maybe on the way you could call Carlisle and confirm when they’re arriving, so we can schedule their fittings as soon as possible?”

Tanya smiled back and agreed easily, realizing that it might be best to get out of here for now, to calm herself and quiet her mind. She knew that eventually Alice would see what would happen, unless she was somehow kept so busy by wedding planning that she couldn’t focus. She took the car keys and went to pick up Jasper, hoping that would be the case. It had been painfully embarrassing for her the first two times Edward had denied her. She could not let it happen again. Irina and Kate would never let her live it down.

Alice thought a million questions at Edward while they waited in silence for Tanya to get completely out of hearing range, for all that it mattered. He couldn’t pay attention to anyone’s thoughts at the moment anyway, with that vision replaying in his head. It was he who spoke first, and his voice was so sad that Alice felt her own face pull down into an even deeper frown.

“I can’t lose her again,” he said hoarsely. He sank down onto the couch. “Can you tell why we’re going to fight?”

“You know I can’t. But it seemed like you were trying to get her to tell you something, and she was refusing.” Alice sat beside him and put an arm around his shoulders, wishing Emmett were with them. HE always seemed to know just what to say when Edward got like this.

Edward nodded miserably. He’d perceived that much for himself. “What can I do?” he whispered, leaning forward to drop his head into his hands.

“We should tell her about the vision as soon as she gets back,” Alice replied. “I’m sure she’d be just as upset as you are.”

Edward thought about that for a few seconds. Would the prospect of canceling the wedding be as painful to Bella as it was to him? He had waited all these years to be with her, but she hadn’t come to Volterra to be with him – she’d come to save what was left of her family. And what could it be that she so adamantly didn’t want to tell him?

“What will happen if we don’t mention the vision, but I decide not to press her for any information she doesn’t want to tell me?” he asked, his face still turned to the floor. Alice didn’t answer. She was looking towards the door that opened into the hallway.

“Then I’ll be angry with you for keeping things from me, which I doubt is preferable to whatever vision you’re discussing,” Bella replied dryly from the doorway.

Edward was standing beside her so fast she almost missed seeing him move, even with her remarkably efficient eyesight. “Anything is preferable to that vision, as far as I’m concerned.” He noticed Demetri standing behind Bella in the hall, but didn’t seem to be able to greet him. He didn’t take his eyes from Bella.

“Alice, you remember Demetri. Maybe you wouldn’t mind letting him give you a quick tour, and introduce you to some of the others?” Bella asked pointedly, turning to Demetri to be sure that was alright with him. He shrugged. Most things were alright with him. He was fairly easy going. She watched them get into the elevator, Alice already trying to make conversation, though her eyes betrayed her worry. Bella could feel Edward staring at her.

She stepped back into his rooms, and he followed. “I hope you’ll tell me what she saw,” Bella said quietly. Edward hesitated. He wondered how badly it would hurt if she WASN’T as upset by it as he had been.

“She saw us fighting. I must have asked you a question that you didn’t want to answer, though we didn’t see what began it. I tried to convince you to tell me, and you resisted. You – called off the wedding.” …again his mind added silently. He was staring at the floor, unable to look up and see her reaction.

And then he couldn’t avoid her eyes as she stepped in front of him and put her arms around his neck. “That will NEVER happen,” she said vehemently. Her expression was so fierce – her eyes darkening as though she was furious at the very thought, and all Edward could feel was joy. She wanted to marry him. Enough that the thought of calling off the wedding made her angry. He let his own arms wrap around her waist and pulled her to him tightly, leaning his forehead against hers. “I told you in the beginning, that for this to work, we were going to have to be very honest. I will answer any question you ask me,” she continued more quietly.

“Even if you don’t want to?”

Especially if I don’t want to,” she answered, her tone chiding, then she paused, considering. “You asked me earlier why I went to Heidi’s room to look into the mirror. I didn’t want to tell you because it seemed so silly of me, once you were holding me again.”

“What did?”

“Tanya was here when I got back from talking to Marcus. When I came in, she acted as though I was breaking and entering – like I had no right to be here. And she was SO pretty….”

“No one has more right to be here than you,” Edward argued gently.

Bella smiled and pulled away, taking his hand to pull him around to sit on the couch. “Implying that I didn’t belong here wasn’t the part that upset me most. But she DID seem very comfortable poking around, and that made me wonder how close you were to her. And, like I said before, she’s amazingly beautiful. I just wanted to see …I wanted to see if there was any reason why you might want me more than her,” she finished quickly, looking away in embarrassment.

Edward drew in a long breath, disbelief etched all over his face. How could she still doubt? He reached out a hand to touch her cheek, to bring her eyes back to his. “Bella, I want you on so many levels. I want to know every thought that goes through your perfect little head. I want to understand every expression that crosses your face. And I want to memorize every curve of your body a million times over. I could never want anyone but you.”

Bella stared into his eyes in silence for several long minutes. His words, quiet but urgent, reverberated in her mind. She didn’t notice that she’d forgotten to breathe until she tried to talk. She had to suck in a hasty breath. “I can’t take that for granted,” she whispered. “I know what can happen. If you leave someone you love alone for too long, they can fall in love with someone else, no matter how much they love you.” She felt like a hypocrite for even saying it, but she DID have experience with this.

“Not me. NOT her. Bella!” Edward spun off the couch to kneel in front of her, much as she’d done when she offered him the first of the journals to read. “She and I met decades ago. Long before I had any idea I would find you –“

“You told me once,” Bella cut in, then, sounding surprised. “I didn’t write about that part of the conversation in my journals, so I’d almost forgotten. But didn’t you tell me once that she was interested in you?”

“Yes. And I also told you I wasn’t interested in her at all.” He sounded relieved.

Finally Bella smiled. “That’s right, you did. You said you preferred brunettes.”

Edward laughed. “I prefer this brunette.” In the blink of an eye, he’d lifted her off the couch, taken her seat and settled her into his lap. “And if it helps, I’ll write you a full journal account of the whole sordid affair,” he offered laughingly. After all, reading her thoughts during the time they’d been apart had been more than a little therapeutic to him. Even when the jealousy had threatened to overwhelm him, he’d been glad that she was willing to share her memories with him. That she wasn’t hiding anything.

“Sordid affair?!” Bella exclaimed, tensing again, wondering just what exactly had gone on.

“Definitely. And once you’ve seen the effort she put forth last time, with no success, maybe you’ll realize you have nothing in the world to be jealous of.”

Bella relaxed against him again, resting her head on his shoulder. “Can I burn it after I read it?” she asked casually. Edward smiled his beautiful, lopsided smile at her again and buried his face in her hair to whisper in her ear.

“We can make it part of the wedding ceremony, if you want.”

When Alice and Demetri got off the elevator, Edward called out an invitation for them to enter. Alice was through the door in an instant, bouncing her way to the couch to perch next to them. “Crisis averted!” she exclaimed happily. Demetri followed more slowly, not entirely sure of his welcome. The pixie-like Cullen had been fairly distracted as he introduced her to everyone, and then she’d abruptly decided she had to go back to Edward and Bella right away. He didn’t mind exactly, but he felt a bit let down. She was a pretty little thing.

Edward frowned at him for that thought as Demitri paused in the doorway. Edward frowned at him for most of his thoughts, though at least he never growled like he did every time Felix happened to be in the room. “Come on in, Demetri,” Edward invited, his tone even. “Jasper and Tanya should be back shortly.” He glanced at Bella, but thankfully she didn’t seem concerned anymore, and the mention of Tanya’s name hadn’t chased away her smile.

Demetri begged off, offering his congratulations on their renewed engagement, but claiming he wanted to be downstairs when Heidi arrived, which was true. He also didn’t want to be in the same room as Edward. The only people in the whole facility who ever did were Aro and Bella, as far as he knew. Edward smirked at him as he left. As long as Bella was one of the two, he didn’t care if anyone else wanted him around.