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Choices

Summary:
Choices Banner This story takes place in Eclipse when Riley goes to Bella’s room to gather her belongings for Victoria. This is what could have happened if Bella had arrived while he was still there, and the events following. Written pre-Breaking Dawn, so that book will be disregarded here. This will include my idea of how the series would have ended.


Notes:
Choices Banner *Written before Breaking Dawn was released, so that book will be ignored with this story.


13. Concealing Evidence

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2273   Review this Chapter

(Previously):

EPOV

"Bella, I’m sorry I didn’t think of this sooner. Would you like to take a shower and change clothes? You can use my bathroom...Esme collected some of your clothes from your room at Charlie’s house. They’re in my closet upstairs," I explained.

"Oh. Yes, I guess that does sound good. I’ll be back," she said, as she left to go upstairs.

I leaned back against the couch, pinching the bridge of my nose. All of this was so overwhelming. There was barely time for me to reflect, when I heard two voices interrupting my thoughts - Jasper and Emmett. They were descending the stairs, ready to talk now that Bella was safely out of the room. Standing up, I motioned towards the back door, as I knew her hearing was far better now than it used to be. They nodded, and followed me outside. We ran about a quarter of a mile out, just to be sure. I knew whatever they had to say, Bella may not want to hear.

Chapter 13: Concealing Evidence

EPOV

We slowed, and I turned to face my brothers. "Thank you both for trying. It is no one’s fault that we couldn’t stop things in time, so if either of you continue with those self-tormenting thoughts your having, I’m going to get angry," I said to them. They had both been incredibly upset and self-doubting since they had returned. "You both heard and know that Victoria’s figured out how to work her way around Alice. I know you both feel horrible for not getting to Florida before her, just as Alice feels horrible for not being able to see things happening sooner. Not to mention that Alice feels responsible for the two of you not getting to Florida in time," I sighed. "It’s no one’s fault. There was nothing we could do. I am just as tormented, but Bella needs us now - all of us. We have to put her first." I paused.

"Jasper, I said stop it with the guilt!" It was just oozing off of him. It’s not that I didn’t understand, but everything was just really starting to wear me down.

"I’m sorry Jasper. I realize this is difficult for all of us. I am glad to see that Alice is feeling better, but I can see from your thoughts that she is still worrying about Bella being mad at her. Neither of you, or anyone else, needs to feel guilty, alright? Now, what happened when you got to Renee’s house?" I asked.

Emmett and Jasper looked at each other. Now it was the two of them that looked sick. It was Jasper that spoke. "It’s a good thing you had us continue on to Florida, Edward. It was like Victoria didn’t care at all about the condition she left that place in. The only thing she took care of were the bodies," he trailed off, glancing back at Emmett.

Emmett turned and walked away, grabbing a small tree as he went and hurling it into the air, his mind full of rage. I looked at Jasper. He didn’t say anything out loud, he just stared back at me. I saw the scene in my mind then...the scene they found when they arrived at Renee and Phil’s house. I stepped back, shuddering at the sight.

Emmett and Jasper had entered the house through the back door, just to be careful - they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves for obvious reasons. Immediately they saw blood. It was everywhere - it was on the dining room table, it was all over the kitchen counters. It was even smeared down the refrigerator, and there were blood shaped footprints all over the floor.

My brother’s memories flashed through my mind, watching as they moved through the rest of the house. As they entered the living room, there was a broken television, and more bloody footprints on the hardwood floors.

The upstairs appeared to be untouched.

Then I saw Jasper’s mind switch channels. He showed me how Emmett had cleaned the house meticulously, removing all traces of blood, while Jasper had replaced the broken or ruined items in the house. He then met my gaze evenly.

"We took care of it, there’s no trace left," he murmured. An image of a car flying abruptly off the edge of a steep hill, and erupting into flames flooded my mind; they had set it up to look like a car accident. They had taken the extra precautions to make sure the car would explode upon impact.

"Edward," Jasper interrupted my thoughts, "we brought these back. We found them in the kitchen," his expression full of disgust. "There are also personal items that Bella may want at some point - I left them in your night stand."

He was holding two pieces of crumpled paper; I took the first one and opened it for further examination. It had blood on it - the first few lines had a large ‘X’ drawn across them. It read:

"I refuse to write - " this was cut off by a splatter a blood.

"I will not" - again, cut off with blood stains.

"No! I love Be-" more blood than before.

"That one was crumpled up on the floor. This one was left on the kitchen table." He handed me the second piece of paper.

In this note, the script was different...similar, but sharper. Victoria must have tired of Renee’s strong will, refusing to write what she commanded, and taken over. Thinking back to what I had seen from Jasper, I was quite sure Renee had suffered greatly, maybe even considerably more than Charlie. I realized that she must have guided Renee’s hand, forcing her to form words that she never would have written on her own...

"I’m glad my daughter is dead. I can’t stand that I share the same blood with her...she ruined me."

BPOV

The shower helped to calm me, even if only temporarily. After I dressed, I sat on the edge of Edward’s bed, trying to decide what to do next. I still couldn’t seem to focus - disturbing image after disturbing image flashed through my mind. What was strange was that even though it hadn’t been long at all, I was starting to feel separated from my human life with my parents. My memories were still clear, but it was beginning to feel as if years had passed, not mere days. I knew that was typical of vampires, but did it normally begin to happen so fast? It was a very odd sensation. I felt grief, but that grief was becoming more numb as the hours passed. What wasn’t fading at all was the anger, the pure hatred I had for Victoria...that seemed to be increasing.

Then there was Jacob, refusing to even talk to me. Would he ever accept my fate? Probably not.

I felt a rush of love and gratitude for Edward; he’d been so incredibly patient while I’d asked my questions. As is he could read my mind, he walked into the room, and sat by my side.

"Better?" he asked softly.

"A bit, thank you," I said. "What now?" I asked, not sure what to do.

"Well, what would you like to do now? Do you want to talk about things more?" he inquired patiently.

"Well, I have been wondering...where is Alice? Is she avoiding me?" I couldn’t take it anymore - I had to ask. Normally Alice couldn’t stay away from us, yet I hadn’t seen her at all.

Edward’s expression was strange, almost sad. "Bella, Alice is afraid you’re upset with her," he began.

"Why on earth would she think that?" I asked, completely confused.

"Well," he hesitated. "She feels like it’s her fault for not seeing what was happening in enough time," he said cautiously.

I stared at him. "Doesn’t she understand what Victoria did? Hasn’t anyone explained it to her?" I couldn’t believe that no one would have shared this with her, especially if she felt responsible.

"Of course I told her Bella, but Alice is Alice. You know how much you mean to her, and how close she was to Charlie." He paused, making sure I was ok. He studied my expression, then continued. "No matter what I say to her, she’s still...worried."

"That’s ridiculous. The one and only person I hold responsible for any of this is Victoria. Alice couldn’t have known that Victoria had figured out how to get around her visions. She’s no more responsible for what happened than...my shoe is!" I frustratingly exclaimed, blurting out the first thing I saw.

Edward looked at me, apparently amused with my absurd outburst. He looked like he was about to comment, then seemed to decide against it.

"Alright...well, since I don’t want to get your shoe in any more trouble, would you like to go see Alice?" he asked, clearly still trying not to laugh.

I ignored his comment. "Yes, if she won’t mind," I replied.

"Let’s go to her room - she’s waiting for us," he said.

When we reached Alice’s room, the door was already open. I went in, and saw Alice, sitting on the bed, with Jasper next to her. He smiled warmly, then lightly stepped to the door, excusing himself. Alice was still, staring at her hands.

"Alice?" I began. "I know what you think, and you’re wrong. You have no fault in this." I waited for a response. She slightly looked up at me, with a sad expression.

"Bella, I’m so sorry. I failed you...and your entire family." She looked so heartbroken I thought I might start sobbing all over again.

I walked over to the edge of her bed, and slowly sat down next to her, taking her tiny hand in mine. "Alice...please. You can’t do this to yourself. If you could have prevented what happened, then you would have. This is not your fault. Charlie would never want you to be this upset; besides, I really need my sister to help me through this." I looked at her with sincerity in my eyes.

That seemed to strike a chord. "So you really forgive me?" Alice asked, still gazing at the bed.

"There was never anything to forgive. You really are like a true sister to me Alice, and Charlie thought so too," I replied softly.

With that, I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. Alice had leapt across the little space between us, and embraced me fiercely, sending us both flying across the room into the dresser.

I heard Edward chuckle, and turned to see what was so funny to him. Apparently, I had forgotten my vampire strength and automatically grabbed onto the dresser I was knocked into. It was horribly distorted; half of it remained intact, while the other half was reduced to sawdust, with Alice’s clothes strewn about.

"Umm...sorry Alice," I began.

"Bella, don’t worry about it! I was beginning to think this whole room needed new furniture..." The light seemed to be coming back into my new sister’s eyes, which made me feel relief for her. She reached out and embraced me again, this time softly. "I truly am sorry, Bella. If you ever need anything, you know I will be here there for you. I’m so glad Edward was able to save you; I don’t know what I would have done without you." She looked up and met my eyes, and I could see the extent of her despair reflected back at me - she was suffering too. I sighed deeply.

"Bella...are you ok? You’ve experienced so much loss, I’ve been so worried..." Alice trailed off.

I didn’t know what to say - was I ok? My father, my mother, and stepfather, and their unborn child were all dead, all because someone had wanted me dead. I slowly shook my head, forgetting that Alice was waiting for me to say something.

"Bella...?" Alice softly interrupted my thoughts.

"I don’t know, Alice. Maybe with time..." I answered as honestly as I could. I tried to explain to her how things felt clear but distant; how the feeling of loss was strong, but anger was stronger. Then there were those moments when the feeling of loss was crippling, like when Edward had told me about my mom and Phil. It was all so confusing, I probably didn’t even make any sense.

"It’ll be alright, with time," Alice said, as she held me again. "And remember, I’m always here, for anything."

"Thanks, Alice. I really am sorry about your dresser," I apologized again.

She waved her hand at me, dismissing my apology. "Edward and I had already started throwing things out earlier, so I knew I’d be going shopping soon." She glanced at Edward, as something like embarrassment crossed her face. I didn’t know what she was talking about.

"You know, Bella...you really should go hunting. It’s just a good idea as a precaution," Alice began.

Not this again. "Thanks, but I’m good for now...maybe later," I replied. Or maybe not, I thought to myself. Ugh.

As it was the middle of the night now, Edward and I went back to his room and left the others to their thoughts. I personally thought that Edward was still having a difficult time remembering that I wasn’t human anymore, and kept thinking I needed my rest.

I climbed up onto his bed, and sat quietly. He put some soft, comforting music on and came over to sit with me. He seemed to sense that I just wanted time to think, and silently reached out to hold me. As I curled up against him, I let my thoughts go where they needed to. Memories, some happy, some sad, some horrifying, washed through my system. We stayed that way until dawn - sometimes in pure silence, sometimes with the sobs rocking through me again, but I was always being comforted by Edward, and that helped to ease my pain.