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.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 2106 Review this Chapter
He had to hand it to Jasper. For a soldier, he had an eye for comfort. Edward unlocked the door with the plastic key card his brother had given him earlier, and let Bella precede him into the room Jasper had chosen for them. He had just enough time to notice the beauty of the room, before Bella turned back toward him, on her face a shadow of the wicked smirk that told him exactly what was on her mind. She kicked off the low, golden heels she’d been wearing all night. He let the door fall closed as she reached for his hand, and fought back the sense of desperation that he’d been feeling, off and on, since the night she’d agreed to marry him.
Apparently, he hadn’t fought hard enough, however. “What is it?” Bella asked, having noticed a suddenly worried look as it flashed across his face. He grimaced, and then quickly smiled.
“It’s something, and you’re going to tell me what.” Bella smiled up at him, her tone playful. But his smile fell away, taking hers with it.
“Just remembering what Emmett and Jasper were telling me earlier,” he admitted, shaking his head. This was not how he’d wanted to begin the night. Of course, that was the problem, exactly. He hadn’t known how to begin the night, and he’d been foolish enough to ask his brothers’ advice.
Bella’s face reflected her confusion. Apparently that had not been the answer she was expecting. “What did they say?” She stepped closer to him, still holding his hand, and smiled again.
“Nothing I want to repeat in mixed company,” Edward replied firmly. If he could have blushed, he would have. His memory didn’t contain just their words, after all.
Asking his brothers for advice had not been Edward’s wisest idea. He should have gone to Carlisle. At least he wouldn’t have been laughed at. Emmett had found the whole situation hysterical. They’d gone hunting, just the three of them at Edward’s request, and he’d managed to stutter out what was worrying him.
“I’ve just never – I mean, I don’t know how to – to start. After the wedding, you know?” He’d been mortified with that statement long before he’d finished making it. He was usually the most articulate of the Cullen ‘children.’
Emmett was already laughing by the time he finished speaking, and Jasper was only barely containing it. “Hang on, let me see if I can help,” he’d said, chuckling. And then images had started to flash through his mind. Images Edward really didn’t want to see.
“Stop that!” he snapped. “You know that’s not what I mean.”
Emmett caught on quickly and Edward thought he might be permanently traumatized by the image of Rosalie in lingerie that had appeared in HIS mind. He seriously questioned Rosalie’s taste in lingerie. “Neither of you are helping,” he’d growled.
“You’ve been reading minds for over a century. You’ve got to know how it’s done,” Emmett answered loudly. There wasn’t any point in hushing him, it would only make him laugh. “And didn’t you tell us that the two of you nearly had, before – “ He stopped talking abruptly, not willing to mention what had come after the days of Edward and Bella’s first romance. But Edward wasn’t particularly bothered by that, anymore. They were together now, that’s what mattered. And he had more pressing things to worry about.
“That’s true,” Jasper said, remembering. “You told us about that last trip to the meadow – the day she told Charlie you were engaged. You didn’t have any trouble telling her what you wanted then.”
In truth, Edward HADN’T told them about that. Alice had. Gleefully. And Jasper and Emmett AND Rosalie had all laughed at him when he got home for being turned down by the same girl who’d been begging just weeks before. There were no secrets in the Cullen household. However, he ignored this slight bending of reality, for once.
“A lot has changed since then. She’s not – we aren’t at the same – experience level, anymore,” he’d muttered. Emmett only laughed again. He looked up at Jasper, though, realizing that some of his amusement had drained away.
“No, you aren’t. Does that bother you?” he asked seriously. He, himself, had struggled with just the opposite issue when he’d first found Alice. She’d either been entirely innocent, or she had forgotten ever being otherwise. It had been difficult for him to work up the nerve to approach her, as he’d feared that he might scare her away. They, too, had waited until after their wedding, for just that reason.
“It doesn’t bother me, exactly. It just makes me feel –“
“Intimidated?” Emmett chimed in. Emmett knew a thing or two about feeling intimidated. He had married the most beautiful woman in the world, who could also fight off man-eating bears and single handedly carry a man twice her size for miles without getting tired. He’d been more than a little intimidated when he’d first tried to tell Rosalie Hale that he was in love with her.
Edward had just dropped his eyes. They both understood a little of his problem.
“Look, Edward,” Emmett had said, trying to stifle his amusement, “She’s about to marry you. It isn’t as if you have to wonder whether she’s interested,” he tried to reason.
“I’m not worried about whether she’s interested. I’m worried about what she might expect….”
This sobered Emmett entirely. Insecurity in any of the Cullens but him was something to worry about. As far back as he could remember, no one in the family had ever betrayed the slightest hint of it, least of all Edward.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Edward scolded, answering that thought. “Alice is insecure all the time – afraid the rest of you think she’s a freak for her visions. Jasper’s insecure every day we spend in high school – afraid that the rest of us think he’s weak. Rosalie’s insecure because she worries we all think she’s foolish….” he trailed off, afraid he’d overstepped his bounds. It was one thing to know everyone’s secrets and another to tell them.
“But not you,” Jasper piped up. “No one’s ever seen your insecurities. You’re the only one among us who never shows them.”
“That doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”
They fell silent, then, hunting and thinking, and trying not to think. Edward let Emmett get all the way through a fantasy or maybe a memory – he wasn’t sure which – for once, just to see. Emmett was constantly daydreaming about Rosalie, and usually Edward stopped him before things got too intimate. Letting it continue made all his nights out of the house on their behalf worthless, of course, but he admitted to being curious.
Finally, Jasper had a thought worth voicing. “With Alice and me, in the end, all of my experience didn’t mean anything. I didn’t bring any expectations with me on our wedding night. I don’t think Bella will either.”
“But you must have,” Edward argued. “After all those years with Maria, there must have been…” Edward hesitated, but decided to plow on. He was already embarrassed, the least they owed him was a frank discussion, since he had to live through the discussion in any case. “…there must have been things you knew you liked. Preferences….”
Emmett’s laughter was reverberating off the trees so loudly that Edward stopped talking again. But he sobered quickly. “Preferences can be changed. Sometimes they have to be,” he added darkly. After all, as a human, he’d always liked to play a little rough – not something Rosalie could have possibly enjoyed, considering her history. Edward winced at that chain of thought, but didn’t comment.
“Yes, there were particulars I enjoyed. And over time, Alice learned what they were, just like I learned what she enjoyed.” Jasper continued as though Emmett had not interrupted, for which both the others were thankful.
“I just hate not knowing. If she were anyone else, I would already know exactly what to do. Exactly what to say.”
“But you would never do or say any of it, because if she were anyone else, you wouldn’t want her,” Jasper concluded. Edward grinned in spite of himself, knowing that was true.
“Just throw her on the bed when you get there and pounce on her,” Emmett offered, already back to his usual chipper self. This time Edward allowed himself to be amused by the accompanying imagery. At least it was a human memory, and had nothing to do with Rosalie.
“Thanks, Emmett,” he said dryly. “I’ll keep that strategy in mind.”
“He has a point. Bella’s past experience isn’t really relevant to tomorrow night. She’s marrying you because she wants to be with you. For one night, you can pretty much do no wrong. So, make it worthwhile. Learn what she likes. It isn’t as if you have to waste any time sleeping.” Jasper barely finished before he broke out laughing and Emmett joined him.
Edward just sighed.
“I’m not ‘mixed company,’ Bella said, her tone playfully indignant. “I’m your wife.” But she had no intention of really pursuing the argument. Knowing Emmett and Jasper they’d been taking bets or something. She’d rather not be privy to the details. Instead, she stepped closer still and released his hand, reaching up with both arms to encircle his neck.
Edward pulled himself out of his memory instantly, and found that maybe he hadn’t needed any advice. This was exactly where he wanted to be, and exactly what he wanted to be doing. He lowered his lips to hers. The words that had just fallen from them made her taste even sweeter to him than usual. He felt her fingers in his hair, pulling him closer to her as he wrapped his arms tightly around her waist.
It was nearly dawn by the time the Volturi and their guard returned to their fortress to wait out another day. All except Demetri. He accompanied Tanya to the hotel where her sisters and the Cullens were staying. The elevator was crowded with Emmett inside, even though only he and Rosalie were with them. The rest had all piled into the other elevator, probably realizing that even one person in such an enclosed space with Emmett would feel claustrophobic.
Emmett and Jasper had paused mid-conversation when they entered the elevators, and they picked it up again as soon as they’d all stepped into the top floor lobby. “I’ll take that bet, and if you’re wrong, and he took MY advice, then you’ll owe me that AND you’ll have to wrestle whenever I want,” Emmett countered the bet Jasper had made downstairs.
“And what if he didn’t take advice from either of you?” Rosalie demanded, amused. Both of them seemed put out by this possibility.
They walked together down the hallway, while Alice and Rosalie trailed behind. Carlisle and Esme followed them, laughing quietly at the antics of their ‘children,’ and at the generally joyous atmosphere the night’s festivities had created. An atmosphere for which Demetri was grateful. It had certainly made it possible to catch Tanya’s eye when otherwise, he might never have had the opportunity.
Ahead of them, everyone stopped abruptly, and then the snickering broke out. Emmett and Jasper had come upon a bit of black cloth in the hallway, practically shredded. “That,” Alice commented, “means that I win the bet.”
She glanced over at Rosalie, who was glaring daggers at her while Emmett and Jasper looked on bemusedly. They hadn’t been aware that the girls had a bet, too. Then Alice took Jasper’s hand with a superior expression on her face, and pulled him into their room.
Carlisle and Esme were the next to disappear, both with the slightest of amused smiles, and Tanya’s sisters followed soon after. Rosalie sighed. “She’s right. She wins. I’ll have to get started on the Porsche as soon as we’ve finished unpacking.” Emmett grinned, knowing this was no real hardship for her, and that, in fact, she would probably enjoy working on it immensely. They ambled off toward their room as well, leaving Tanya and Demetri standing alone in the hallway, looking down at the ruined tie in amusement.
“She didn’t really seem like that sort of girl,” Tanya commented finally, 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.” He thought back on her odd behavior earlier in the week, and the smiles she’d flashed his way, for no reason he had been able to discern. He thought of Marcus agreeing to walk her down the aisle. Then he let Tanya take his hand and lead him away as well. The day, after all, could be just as entertaining as the night.
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