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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.


15. Side Effects

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3223   Review this Chapter

Chapter 15: Side Effects

BPOV

When we returned to the house, we found things to be much the same as when we had left. My family heard our arrival, and of course, out of sheer curiosity, they positioned themselves in the front room, awaiting some kind of explanation.

Alice was the most impatient - instead of joining the others in the living room, she had opted for the more direct approach, and was waiting just beyond the front door. When we entered the house, she tried to look indifferent - she failed.

"So, um, how did that go, Bella?" Alice questioned. She truly couldn’t stand that everything disappeared when we were around the wolves.

Edward spoke first, for which I was actually grateful. "Everything went fine, so you can all calm down and quit worrying. He didn’t try to kill her. Actually, quite the opposite," he added quietly.

"What do you mean by that, exactly?" Alice looked irritated, standing with her hands on her hips.

Edward looked towards Carlisle before speaking. "Well, apparently Bella smells fine to the wolves, or at least Jacob, and he had no desire to phase or attack her. Oh, and Bella doesn’t find the wolf smell to be offensive either," he finished, agitation crossing his features.

Everyone just stared at me, until Emmett burst out laughing. "What is it with you, Bella? That’s just bizarre! Those dogs reek!" he continued to roar with laughter. It was almost refreshing to hear him laugh as loud as he used to around me. Rosalie, who had still not said a word to me, left the room; I swear she rolled her eyes on her way out.

Carlisle, Esme, Alice, and Jasper all looked shocked. Carlisle looked at Edward, another moment of silent communication passing between them.

"Right, well, that certainly is interesting, Bella," Carlisle said to me. "I’m glad to hear that things went well." He and Esme tried to look unconcerned as they resumed reading their papers.

I’m sure they were both thinking one thing: freak. How embarrassing.

Edward sat down with his parents, pulling me gently along with him, and explained about Paul, as the others listened.

He and Carlisle agreed that if the pack caught the scent, they would be allowed to follow it, as long as we were made aware as soon as possible. Edward called Jake to let him know, and it was agreed upon.

Excusing myself, I went up to Edward’s room. I should probably start to think of it as my room too, but that seemed sort of presumptuous. I decided to take a shower to try to relax. When I was done, Edward was waiting for me in his room.

"Are you alright, Bella?" he asked.

"Yes, I just wanted to take a shower," I smiled reassuringly at him. Well, there was no time like the present. "Edward, I was wondering about something..." I began, then felt silly.

"What is it, Bella?" he looked concerned, and I realized that I was worrying him.

"Well, since I don’t have any other immediate living arrangements or plans, I was wondering...do you consider this to be my room too, now?" I swear if I could blush, I would be scarlet right now. I felt like an idiot.

He studied my face for a moment. "Would you like a room of your own, Bella? I’m sure we could clear one out, if you wish." He looked heartbroken at the idea.

"Um, not really. I just didn’t know...I don’t know where...I feel kind of ‘in-between’ places..." Why did I even bring this up?

"Bella, of course this is your room too now. I just assumed you had realized that. I’m sorry for being so inconsiderate. If you want to stay here with me, then I’ll have it no other way. If you decide you want your own room, I’m sure Esme will find one that is suitable. All I want is for you to be happy. I’m even willing to redecorate if you wish," he smiled brilliantly at me.

I sighed in relief. "I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else," I said shyly, looking down. His hands reached up toward my face, and he brushed his fingers along my cheek. I glanced up at him, and his eyes met mine with nothing but love and adoration. He still took my breath away. He gazed into my eyes for a moment; he seemed to be thinking about something. Then, as the silence pressed on, he began to lean forward, ever so slightly. I sat frozen, completely transfixed.

I’d been so consumed with grief, that I hadn’t realized how much I missed feeling him so close, and the overwhelming desire for him to kiss me nearly knocked me off my feet.

He only hesitated for a second more, then his lips met mine. This was an entirely different kiss; a wave of electricity flowed through my system, a thousand times more powerful than when I was human. He was kissing me softly, gently, then suddenly, he wasn’t being quite as careful. He must have remembered that his teeth couldn’t hurt me anymore. There was a new intensity between us; I’d never experienced anything like it - the amount of love I felt made me believe I must be in heaven. In that moment, he was able to erase all the pain and loss, and it was just us. I didn’t deserve him, but I’d never been more thankful for him.

He pulled back slowly, and looked into my eyes. Everything I thought and felt was equally reflected back at me; he had missed me as much as I had missed him. He held me close, and whispered into my ear, "I love you, Bella. Thank you for being mine."

I snuggled closer to him, wanting to stay in his arms forever, until he sighed. I leaned back and looked at him. "What’s wrong?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Alice, I know you’re out there, just go ahead and come in," he said.

Alice bounded through the door. "Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt, but I thought I heard you mention redecorating. Want to look on the internet Bella? We could completely change this room to suit you both..." she was entirely too excited.

"Actually, I like it the way it is, Alice. I may add a few things later, but I’m not very concerned with it right now, sorry." I knew she’d be upset.

"Oh. Well, maybe you’ll change your mind later. What are you going to do now?" she asked.

Edward jumped in. "What we’re going to do now, is go outside and try to get Bella to hunt." He saw my expression and put his hand up to stop me from disagreeing.

"I know that you find it to be repulsive, but it’s beginning to worry me, as well as Carlisle and the others. Please, Bella, please, at least try this once for me?" he pleaded.

Of course I couldn’t refuse him when he looked at me that way. "Fine. I’ll go, but I’m not promising anything - and if I get sick from seeing you drink blood, then it’s your fault," I added stubbornly.

Alice laughed. "You’re so silly Bella. We can’t ‘get sick;’ there’s nothing in there to come up!" she continued giggling. "Can I go too?" she asked.

"I think it would be best if a few of us go, to show the different ranges of attack. I was thinking, you and Jasper, and of course myself," he finished. "Would that be alright, Bella?"

"Whatever. I have no intention of drinking anything, so it doesn’t really matter," I replied sarcastically.

"I’ll get Jasper!" Alice bounded back through the door.

"Let’s go, Bella. I promise it won’t be nearly as terrible as you seem to think," he said, shaking his head, chuckling.

I sighed and followed him down the steps and out the door, where we waited for Jasper and Alice.

EPOV

We ran into the forest, having decided to go at least five miles out in hopes of crossing some decent hunting choices. I wasn’t too concerned with finding large game; after all, I was just thankful I had finally convinced Bella to come with us. Carlisle and I were both sure that once she smelled the blood, things would take their course.

We slowed as we caught the scent of deer in the changing wind. I looked over at Bella to see if she could smell it. Her expression was indifferent.

"Bella, do you smell anything different?" I pressed.

"Hmm...maybe. It smells like...wet animal fur?" she looked at me questioningly.

Not the response I was expecting. "Do you smell anything...sweet? Or savory? Or...appealing?"

She paused, and closed her eyes, trying to focus. When she opened them, she looked embarrassed. "I don’t know, maybe...but it’s hard to tell," she said.

Alice, Jasper and I looked at each other, trying to understand the situation.

Deciding to try another approach, I said, "Well, maybe if you see how it’s done. Watch me, Bella."

As I crouched low, I let my senses take over. Immediately, I could tell exactly where the herd was, and what my best targets were. Moving stealthily through the woods, I attacked when I was close enough. It took only a second, but I had two successful kills. The thirst took over as I immediately drained the first of the deer. I quickly moved on to the second, and when I had finished, I returned to Bella.

"Do you think you want to try?" I asked hopefully - surely she could smell the blood by now.

"I don’t know, maybe not right now..." she looked as though she was trying not to hurt my feelings.

What should I do? I was becoming increasingly worried. She would have to drink, wouldn’t she? I didn’t want her to become weak. For a newborn, it was amazing that she had lasted this long. Jasper could sense the worry coming from me, and led Alice off toward the herd to make their own kills, leaving me with Bella to try to reason with her.

"Are you upset with me, Edward?" Bella asked quietly.

"No, love. I’m just very worried about you. You remember Carlisle’s story..." I reminded her of Carlisle’s reaction when he had discovered what he’d become - he’d tried to end his existence by, among other things, starving himself to death. "Now Bella, we both know that doesn’t work - that we can’t actually die from not feeding. However, we do know just how weak Carlisle eventually became; I don’t want you to become that weak, that miserable. I’m just not sure what to do..." I trailed off.

Bella was silently studying me, a look of concentration on her face, then she sighed. "Edward, please don’t be upset. I don’t want to worry you, or any of your family. You have all been so kind to me; so supportive and helpful. If it means that much to you, I suppose I can try." She looked as though she was going to get sick at the very idea of it.

"Please, Bella. I would feel much better - I really do think it’s necessary," I replied sincerely.

"Alright. Where is the, um, herd?" she asked hesitantly; she looked distraught.

"They've moved a bit further out - they're just past the trees, in the clearing. Focus your senses and you’ll find yourself directed to them. Jasper and Alice are just on the outskirts with their prey. Don’t worry about them though - they’re entirely focused on their own kills, so you don’t need to feel embarrassed. Believe it or not, you’re intuition will take over as you get closer. Are you ready?" I asked.

"I guess. Ok, here I go," she said. Bella closed her eyes, trying to regain focus, then opened them and walked slowly closer to where I had indicated. She saw Alice and Jasper, and closed her eyes again, lightly shaking her head, as if struggling to clear it. Then, she took a deep breath, and must have smelt something different; she automatically started to crouch, but then looked back at me, hesitating. I nodded encouragingly.

Bella turned her focus back in the right direction, closing her eyes, and stayed like that for a minute or two, then she took off. She flew towards the herd, and had successfully taken down one of the deer much quicker than I had expected. Once she had broken it’s neck like I had shown her, she hesitated again. After taking a deep breath, she plunged her teeth into the animal’s neck.

When she had finished drinking, she stood up and began to walk back towards me. Alice and Jasper had just rejoined me, so we all waited together. Bella looked downward as she approached, as if embarrassed. Something was different; she moved so lithely - seeming to exude grace, even more grace than since she’d changed. When Bella stopped in front of us and shyly looked up to meet our questioning looks, she was met with three disbelieving gasps, our shock clearly audible in the otherwise quiet forest.

BPOV

I took a deep breath, and relaxed, as I realized I was done drinking; the animal’s blood was gone. At least Edward would have peace of mind now. Really, it hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. I felt kind of silly for making such a big deal of it; however, I wasn’t eager to do it again anytime soon. Honestly, I really felt indifferent towards the whole process.

As I headed back towards the others, embarrassment crept in; had I hunted like a clumsy fool? Oh well - regardless, I reminded myself again that at least Edward would feel better.

When I reached them, I shyly looked up, hoping they wouldn’t be laughing at me. It’s not like I’d really known what I was doing, after all.

What I was met with was not laughter. All three of them seemed to be uncannily shocked at something. Worried that something was behind me, I whirled around to see what it was, but there was nothing there - what was their problem? There was nothing here but the four of us. I looked from one face to the other, trying to read their expressions.

Suddenly, a shock of confusion flew through my system. What was that all about? It was a bit overpowering, and made me take a step back. Just as I did, Jasper took five steps back. Then I started to hear voices, and knew I must be losing my mind.

"What on earth is going on, Edward? Did you feel that?" one of the voices said; it sounded a lot like Jasper, but that couldn’t be possible.

"Does he think I’m stupid? Of course I felt that. What could be happening here?" another voice echoed that sounded like Edward.

"Edward? What’s wrong? Is she alright? I swear I think I just heard Bella’s voice in my head, thinking she’s going crazy - how on earth would I be able to hear her? Maybe we should take her to Carlisle." Was that...Alice? Crap. I was completely losing it.

Just then, everything blurred. I saw something happening in my head, played out in slow motion, as if in an old film. It was all of us, the whole family, standing out in the backyard. I was in the center of them, and they were surrounding me in a loosely shaped circle. What the heck? Then, another voice.

"Edward, did you see that? Does that mean we should go home? What’s going on here?" the voice asked. Again, this sounded a lot like Alice. Impossible.

I took another few steps backward, shaking my head, trying to get a hold of my mind.

Edward murmured softly to Jasper, "I think we all need a little help here, Jasper. Just go easy."

The environment start to wind down, the calm soothing my system at an incredible rate.

"Bella, are you alright?" Edward was asking me.

I raised my gaze to his, making sure I wasn’t hearing voices, and that he had actually spoken to me.

Although I was sure he had spoken out loud, I kept hearing the other voices.

"Why are her eyes like that? Is she alright?"

"We need Carlisle’s help, this is too weird."

"I don’t like this, it’s unnerving."

"Can everyone just please shut up for a second?!" I lashed out, speaking before I realized it. Great, now they would really think I was crazy. After all, Edward was the only one here who had spoken aloud in the last few minutes.

More voices. "What does she mean - I haven’t said anything."

"Is she ok Edward?"

My fists gripped my hair, and I shook my head in frustration again. Then Edward spoke softly. "Wait, everyone - please, just somehow stop thinking about anything. I don’t care how you do it, just do it."

"Bella, is that better?" Edward softly spoke, aloud again.

I waited. It was quiet. "Yes," I said fearfully. This was freaking me out.

"Bella, look into my eyes," Edward said. I did as he asked, then I heard another voice.

"Bella, do you hear me? In your mind, can you hear me speaking to you, love?" This was definitely Edward’s voice. Now that I was concentrating, looking into his eyes, I knew it. I nodded my head slowly in response.

"Bella, can you do something for me? Can you direct a thought towards me, but not speak it aloud, please?"

I hesitated, confused. Then I simply thought, "I love you, Edward."

He looked into my eyes, then he spoke, softly. "I love you too, Bella."

What did this mean? We could hear each other? And what about all that other chaos? Could I hear Alice and Jasper too? And all the emotional turmoil - what was that? And seeing us with the rest of the family, in the yard - what was happening? I began to panic.

Jasper backed up further, then seemed to concentrate, and the calm waves were restored, pulling me out of my anxiety attack.

Edward spoke again. "Bella, please, one more thing. Could you try to hear Alice, or Jasper? Just focus on them, and see if you hear either of their thoughts."

I directed my attention over to them.

"Bella?" one voice started.

"Um, Bella, this is weird, do you hear me?" asked another voice.

The first I realized was Jasper, the second Alice. I nodded my head slowly to indicate I had heard them both.

Edward cleared his throat. "And could you try to silently respond to both of them, to see if they can...hear you?" he asked.

My gaze settled back on Jasper and Alice. As I looked at Jasper, I thought, "Hi...Jasper?"

Then I looked at Alice. "Alice? Can you hear anything?"

They both looked at me, eyes wide, then they turned to Edward, and nodded their heads.

So they could hear me, too. I guess I understood all the ‘voices’ now. Jeez - was this how Edward felt all the time, hearing everything? How frustrating.

Edward was awestruck. "Well, I think it’s best if we get back to the house. We’ll discuss this more when we get there." Then he hesitated, as he remembered the original point to this outing.

"Bella, are you thirsty now? Do you need to feed more? There’s still plenty of time," he offered.

"No, definitely not. I’m good. Thanks," I added.

They were all at a loss. "Alright, let’s go," Edward said, and we were off. I ran as fast as I could, trying to rid my head of their confusing and concerned thoughts.

After mere minutes, I beat all of them back to the house by two miles. And here none of them ever thought anyone could beat Edward Cullen at running; I guess I proved them wrong.