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.
3. Chapter 3
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1493 Review this Chapter
“Of course, of course! After seeing how her blood calls to you, I could hardly deny you the chance,” he said, all generosity. And then he’d clapped his hands and another of his bodyguards had shown them to a room on the next floor. The door was loudly locked behind them, and they stood, Edward staring at Bella, and Bella staring at the door.
After an uncomfortable moment, Bella turned to him. “He thinks you’ll kill me and the treaty will be worthless. Jane is still in Forks, isn’t she?”
Edward had gathered exactly that information from Aro’s mind, and he was impressed with Bella’s insight. “Yes,” he admitted quietly. He knew he had the strength to do this. He’d done it before, after all, when he’d removed James’ venom from her hand. But that had been so long ago, and he’d breached her trust since then, abandoning her when she was most vulnerable. He searched her face for any trace of fear, but couldn’t trust his conclusion. Perhaps she was just much better at hiding such things, these days. Or perhaps she was so different that he wouldn’t recognize it if he saw it.
Bella sighed and looked around, finding her suitcase at the foot of the bed in the next room. She changed into pajamas that she didn’t remember buying, unwilling to thrash about in the blue jeans and top Alice had designated as ‘flying clothes.’ “The sooner we do this, the sooner it’s over,” she said over her shoulder, when she’d finished. She was looking pensively at an illuminated painting of a vineyard when he came through the door. The room had no windows.
He paused, wondering if he wanted to know what she was thinking. Her life was over. He was going to take it from her, and her soul as well. He wondered how much she hated him right now. He certainly hated himself. But then she spun on her heel and glared at him. “You aren’t going to ask, are you? What have you decided I’m thinking about?” she demanded.
Edward looked down in embarrassment. She had him. He heard her take a deep breath and risked looking up at her through his lashes. It had no discernable affect. She spoke in a normal tone. “I wish they hadn’t locked you in here. I wish you didn’t have to sit through this. It’ll probably be worse for you than for me,” she said quietly – telling him her thoughts even though he hadn’t asked.
“It won’t.” His voice was grim with the memory of his own transformation. As if he would leave her alone to face that! “But I wish it could be.” He lifted his head at the end to see her expression softening. He reached out a hand, and she walked back towards him to take it. He saw her swallow and try to smile.
Bella piled up the pillows on the bed and seated herself against them. She was surprised how calm she was as Edward sat down, putting a hand on the other side of her waist to lean over her. He looked apologetic. She thought sadly about how happy this would have made them both, years before. This was certainly not the atmosphere that it would have been then.
Edward looked into her eyes and saw the sadness, but he knew better than to ask if she was sure. One thing he had learned about Bella Black in the last few days was that she would do anything for her family. He pictured her again, leaning forward over the roaring motorcycle as it skidded to a stop. Her own safety – her own pain – was still the least of her worries. “Are you ready?” he asked instead.
“It doesn’t really matter if I am,” she replied honestly. “Jane is just waiting for Aro’s word that the treaty is nullified to go kill everyone I know. It’s time.”
Edward nodded and leaned toward her. For a long moment she thought he was going to kiss her, but he lowered his head and his chill lips grazed her neck, instead, breathing in the scent of her skin, of her blood. She lifted her chin, feeling her heartbeat speed up. She braced herself for the pain, but it didn’t come. She felt his lips again, a little lower. For an instant, her heart stopped altogether. It occurred to her that she might not be as immune to him as she’d thought – as she felt was proper, all things considered.
“Will you tell me why?” he whispered against her skin, and she knew immediately what he meant. He couldn’t tell if she was reacting to his kisses, or only the fear of his venom. At least he’d asked this time, instead of assuming. She was determined to reward him with absolute honesty.
“I’m a little embarrassed to admit that feels nice. Also, I wasn’t expecting it. I was preparing myself for the fire.”
Edward closed his eyes and allowed himself a slight smile. Maybe there was still hope. At least she was honest. He placed an open-mouthed kiss on her collarbone and felt her shiver. “This time will be the bite,” he warned. She tensed again as, carefully, his lips found the pulsing vein in her throat, and sealed themselves around it. He paused for half a second to gauge his own readiness, and then carefully bit down.
Bella whimpered, and her hands came up to grasp his forearms. He barely felt it, though she couldn’t possibly have squeezed any tighter. He remembered perfectly how her blood had tasted the last time, but that was nothing to tasting it again. His mind registered when it was time to pull away, but he drank a moment longer anyway, then forced his lips away and pressed his thumb over the bite. The venom would seal the wound almost instantly. He sat up to look at her, wiping a drop of blood from his lower lip with his thumb. He realized he was panting with the effort it had taken him to stop.
Bella had her teeth firmly clenched together, and there was agony in her eyes already. But she hadn’t screamed yet. Rosalie had told her it did no good, so she thought she might not bother. She would only hurt her throat. For as long as such things were able to cause her pain.
She dimly heard Edward whisper a strangled apology. Then his face left her line of sight, and she felt the fire start at her left wrist, and then her right. He’d broken her hold on his arms like it was nothing. When he sank his teeth into the main artery to her left leg, she screamed in spite of herself.
Edward was relieved, but he winced at the sound anyway. At least Aro would know immediately that he hadn’t failed. The treaty would hold. Quickly, he injected as much venom into her right leg as possible, putting just enough pressure on it to let the wound seal before he released her. He didn’t want to touch her at all, as it would only increase the pain she was feeling. But she reached for his hand, and he let her take it, because he honestly couldn’t deny her anything. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered again, knowing she would never hear him over her own screams.
Bella only screamed for a few hours before she fell silent, gritting her teeth. “Rosalie was right,” she gasped. “Sc - screaming doesn’t help.” Then she held her breath. She held it so long she completely passed out. That helped. Edward stared at her for a moment in disbelief. He’d never, ever heard of ANYONE being unconscious for any part of the transformation.
Then he chuckled darkly to himself. Bella was one of a kind. Her hand was still gripping his tightly, her body still tense. But she was breathing deeply and evenly now. He took the opportunity to gently push her hair away from where sweat had stuck it to her temples, the most he’d been able to touch her since carrying her to the house.
He was relieved she was missing at least some of the pain. He doubted it would be long before she awoke, but hoped for a few hours at least. He had thought that hell on earth was knowing that she was married to Jacob Black. But at least during that time, she’d been safe and happy. Hearing her scream, knowing HE had made her scream in agony – THAT was hell on earth. He closed his eyes, held her hand and waited.
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