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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:


7. Chapter 7

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1315   Review this Chapter

The only thing that marked the passing of time for Bella, besides hunting at regular intervals, were the letters, and occasional boxes she received from Washington.

Quil’s were the most welcome, as they included pictures of little Charlie and Will. They looked more like Jacob in each image. They were going to be handsome boys. Charlie was starting second grade already, having begun Kindergarten the year she disappeared. Both boys had school pictures that Quil sent to her regularly, in addition to roll after roll of pictures Billy had been taking. Edward sent Gianna out to purchase frames for them, and Bella put several pictures on the mantle above her unused television set.

Quil told her the pack was doing well. Embry was handling things. Leah and Michael and Sam and Emily were helping her father and Billy with her sons. He mentioned that Carlisle had thrown together a Last Will and Testament that made sure the bookstore and half the shop would go to Charlie and Will when they were old enough, although Billy got the house, and Charlie got the money from the stocks. She wouldn’t have done it any differently, so she was grateful Carlisle had thought of it. She made sure to write a thank you letter to him.

Quil’s tone was always apologetic. It seemed to her that he felt responsible for her current situation, somehow, and she could hardly comprehend it. It was her fault they’d lost Jacob. Her past, that had come back to destroy her, and therefore her responsibility to protect the pack from it in any way she could. And this had been the only way. Jacob had known it. She wrote back graciously each time, minimizing her own pain over her loss and trying to sound chipper about her new life. It wouldn’t fool him, of course, but maybe he would stop feeling guilty, eventually.

Alice wrote too, and more frequently than Quil. She gushed over the story of Bella’s first hunt, detailing Emmett’s reaction for her. She often whined that she wanted to come and visit, which Bella forbade. She did not trust Aro to accept the terms of the treaty as they stood while Alice was nearby.

Bella had long since finished writing everything she could remember about her life in Forks. She’d even let Edward read all the parts about him. They were fairly close. They hunted together, talked about souls in the quietest of whispers, and held hands. But it wasn’t the same. Bella wasn’t sure what was holding her back, or if something was holding HIM back. It had been two years since she’d lost Jacob. She still thought of him often, but she was careful never to show it on her face. It was easier than she’d expected. And of course, since she no longer slept, Edward never heard her whisper Jacob’s name in the night.

She had been astonished to discover that the reason the Volturi were able to live together in relative peace had little to do with their age. In fact, it was because they lived extraordinarily solitary existences. For the most part, Bella lived her life in the sitting room, bedroom, and bathroom that made up her quarters. She was fortunate to have Edward to converse with because there was rarely an opportunity to talk to anyone else. Because they did not feed with the others, there was no reason for them to interact beyond answering Aro’s summons on the rare occasions he felt he needed one of them. And since Bella’s ability was a secret, such summons were extremely rare in her case.

So she was quite surprised, one day, when she opened her door to find Marcus knocking, rather than Edward. She invited him in politely, avoiding his eyes. It had become customary for her not to look anyone in the eye except Edward, and occasionally Heidi or Demetri, whom she only saw in passing. Though their souls were metallic in color like all the other vampires she’d encountered, they shared a bit of the kindness she could see in Edward. It wasn’t as strong. It wasn’t as open or inclusive – clearly their kindness was confined to their own species. But Bella could recognize it for what it was, and she tended to be friendlier to them than the others. Marcus, however, she avoided as strenuously as Caius or Jane.

“Hello Marcus. Please,” she said quickly, gesturing him into the sitting room. She registered the dead look on his face, and couldn’t imagine what had brought him to see her. He certainly didn’t appear interested in anything he saw as he looked around. Behind him came the two beautiful bodyguards who followed him everywhere, dressed as usual in short dresses that showed off their perfect legs. “I’m sorry there aren’t enough chairs,” she said to them, as she closed the door. The girls looked at her, amused. It wasn’t as if standing might inconvenience them in any way. Marcus sat on the couch facing the unused television, and they stood behind him. Bella sat as well, turning slightly to face him. “Was there something I could do for you?” she asked politely, a little unnerved that he had not yet spoken, though, of course, she had never before heard his voice.

Marcus looked at her blankly for a moment, and she focused her eyes on his mouth, waiting for him to speak. “You are aware that I see relationships,” he began, his voice cold. Bella imagined she could feel the chill coming off his body as well. He sat stiffly on the comfortable leather couch as he continued. “And I have noticed something quite odd. In spite of the fact that you have been a remarkable disappointment to us all in the area of special abilities, Aro continues to be quite taken with you. Usually in circumstances like these, he simply has the newborn killed and moves on. However, he is attached to you in a way I cannot explain, and also slightly fearful.” Marcus spoke with no animation, as though he neither cared about these things, nor realized the rudeness of his comments. Bella forced her face into submission, refusing to smile. Because it WAS amusing. Here was something that probably concerned him deeply, but he’d been through so much in the course of his three thousand years that he couldn’t muster any real interest in discussing it.

“My conclusion is that Aro must be hiding your abilities from me. If you truly could do nothing but protect your own mind, he would have done away with you at once.”

Bella doubted this was true. Aro’s desire for Edward’s cooperation would probably have prevented such a thing, even if Aro WERE disappointed in her. But he was not disappointed, and clearly Marcus knew that. “Aro has requested that I not speak of my abilities to anyone besides those who were already aware. As a result, only he and Edward have any knowledge on the topic. It would be foolish of me to reveal it to you against his wishes. However, I’m aware it would be equally foolish to refuse,” she added, glancing toward the harmless-looking girls behind him. One of them smirked appreciatively. “Maybe it would be best if you and I go together to speak with Aro?” she suggested.

Marcus looked at her again in silence before nodding his agreement. He stood, and he and Bella filed out of her quarters. She didn’t look at the girls when they passed her. As she was closing the door behind them, Edward’s door opened, and he joined them without a word. Marcus glanced at him, nodded expressionlessly again, and set off toward Aro’s office. Bella took a deep breath, but didn’t sigh. Here was another grueling conversation with Aro in the making. She wondered if Caius would join them as well. It hardly seemed fair for Marcus to know and not Caius.