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.
9. Chapter 9
Rating 5/5 Word Count 1171 Review this Chapter
Heidi smiled as Bella spent just as long on this picture as she had on Jacob. “He always looks at you like that,” she commented after a moment. Bella spared her a glance.
“Not always. Sometimes he looks at me like this.” She flipped a few more pages until the creased picture of Edward and Bella came into view. She unfolded it, and put it into the little corner holders properly. When she glanced up again, the corners of Heidi’s perfect mouth were turned down.
“Did you fight?” she asked after a moment.
“No. It was complicated. There was an incident...” Bella closed her eyes for a moment, remembering. Her journal writing had helped substantially in preserving her memories. She could still see the wild thirst in Jasper’s eyes. She told her the story quietly, making sure Heidi understood that Bella had never blamed Jasper, or anyone else, really. It had been her own clumsiness that had caused it.
“It wasn’t long before Edward decided that it was too dangerous for me to be around his family, or him. This was taken shortly before he left me,” she said sadly, looking back toward the picture. Nothing had ever been the same between them after that.
Heidi was in awe. “How can you remember it so clearly? I only remember my own name because they called me by it after the change.”
“That’s Edward’s doing. He told me once that after I wasn’t human anymore, I would lose those memories. On the way here, we got these.” She stood, and pulled a journal off the bookshelf Edward had purchased for her soon after their arrival. She handed it to Heidi, who flipped through it at remarkable speed, and handed it back.
“Wow. Then what happened?” she asked, and her expression was so eager that Bella laughed. Heidi was much easier to talk to than she ever would have imagined.
“I’ll let you read them sometime,” she dodged. “Edward hasn’t read them all yet, and he should be the first.”
“You haven’t let him read them?” Heidi queried, her tone a little off. Bella replaced the journal and looked over at her.
“Not all of them. I wanted –“ she stopped and looked back at the shelf. “The ones about what happened while he was gone will probably really hurt him. I suppose I was trying to wait until things were right between us, as if that might somehow make it easier for him.”
“And you don’t think things are right?”
Bella reflected that Heidi had a lot in common with her old friend Angela. They both saw a lot more than was comfortable. And they were both kind. Heidi, however, tended to talk more. And ask more uncomfortable questions.
“No. And I’m not sure exactly why.”
Heidi looked at her oddly for a moment. “You’re ready to move on, then?” she clarified, glancing back at the huge stack of pictures. Bella grimaced.
“That depends what you mean by ‘moving on.’ I’m not ready to forget about my family. I’m not going to take down the pictures of my boys and stop writing to my friends. But I’m not spending all of my time dwelling on the past anymore, either. It isn’t like I keep that picture of Jacob up where anyone can see it. I didn’t even show you all the pictures from the trip to Vegas and the bonfire – most of my pictures of Jake I keep locked away in a trunk under the bed. I hardly ever look at them anymore, and I’d forgotten that one was even in the drawer,” she added. Abruptly, she dug it out of the stack and disappeared into the other room to hide it away.
Heidi followed her, watching. “But you ARE still wearing your wedding rings,” she observed shrewdly, trying to keep her tone light. She’d noticed them as they handed pictures back and forth. Bella, surprised, slammed her fingers in the trunk she’d slid out from under her bed, denting the lid. She sighed, looking at the damage, then closed it again more gently.
“I’d forgotten,” she whispered. She was still kneeling at the side of her unused bed, shoving the trunk back underneath. She put her hands on the bed and looked at her rings. Heidi sat down at the foot and looked with her, a sympathetic expression on her face. Finally Bella looked up. “I’m not sure I’m ready to part with them, after all. But –“
She looked at her hands again, and her eyes fell on her bracelet. She smiled, and slowly took off her rings. She put the emerald engagement ring on her right hand. Then she took off her bracelet and very carefully bent one of the links, near the little wolf that had dangled there since her high school graduation party. She attached the wedding ring to it, and bent the link back into place, securing it there. Then she swallowed hard. They would still be with her. She looked at her bare fingers for a few seconds more, then smiled up at Heidi, and put the bracelet on her right wrist, leaving her left hand entirely without adornment.
Heidi was grinning, too. “Good advice,” Bella said, standing.
Heidi stood as well, and followed Bella back out into the sitting room. Then she passed her, and made her way to the door. “Heidi, it really means a lot that you wanted to look through the pictures with me, and hear about my life,” Bella said suddenly, as the woman’s hand grasped the door handle.
Heidi turned around. “It means a lot that you were willing to share,” she replied warmly. And then she was gone. Bella looked around the room, more than a little bemused by the turn of events. Although she’d seen Heidi’s soul, and knew she was a decent person in spite of the diet she kept, she had never expected to be able to talk to her so easily. She still shuddered at the thought of what happened in the circular room, two floors down, and Heidi wasn’t just a participant. She actively sought out their victims. And yet ... Bella couldn’t help feeling that maybe they could be friends. It was disturbing in some ways.
Had she now been a vampire so long that she could forgive the murder of innocents in her friends? Was she coming to view such things as commonplace? Acceptable? She shook her head, and had a sudden urge to do something she’d been avoiding ever since her transformation was complete. She wanted to take a good long look at her own soul. Unfortunately, she’d removed all the mirrors from her quarters in the very beginning.
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