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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.


30. Visitors

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Chapter 30: Visitors

EPOV

Obviously, the family was thrilled to hear of our marriage plans. Alice had barely been able to contain herself as she heard Bella accept my proposal. She had done all she could to give us some privacy, to enjoy our special moment, before she came charging through our door, tackling us both. Bella had just laughed along with her, too lost in her own joy to even try to subdue Alice’s enthusiasm. Ever since then, Alice had begun obsessively gathering magazines, fabric samples, and anything else she could possibly think of.

Jasper was becoming slightly irritable at the amount of space it was all taking up in their room. Alice had yet to get Bella to agree to sit down and sort through the selections, but it would only be a matter of time before she cornered her. If nothing else, at least she’d quit trying to get Bella to redecorate our room.

Early one morning, while I was working on my compositions, Alice came running down the stairs, coming to an abrupt halt right at the base of the piano.

"Edward, we’re going to be receiving visitors soon. Where’s Bella?" she asked hurriedly.

I understood her vision at once. "She’s outside with Esme, I’ll get them. Get everyone else together and meet us back here."

Minutes later, we were all together in the living room. Everyone was staring at me, waiting to hear what was so important. How was I supposed to tell Bella this? After she had finally started to find some peace, now I had to throw this at her.

Carlisle was the first to interrupt the silence. "Edward, what is this all about? What do you want to tell us?" he asked, perplexed.

"Alice has had a vision. It appears as though we’ll be receiving visitors - most likely quite soon," I explained. Bella immediately tensed at the word ‘visitors’- that was the word we had originally used to refer to James’ coven, and I instantly regretted my choice in words, although if I was being honest, this could potentially be much worse than James’ coven.

"Who?" Esme whispered, dreading my answer.

"Jane. She has Felix and Demetri with her as well," I answered, trying to keep my tone even for Bella’s sake.

"What do they want, Edward?" Bella asked, her voice trembling. I could only imagine that memories of the terror of Volterra were sweeping through my angel’s mind, terrorizing her. Among other things, Jane’s power was not something one easily forgot.

"Aro has sent her to check up on you...to see if you’ve been changed," I said, sighing heavily.

Rosalie spoke next. "Well, what’s the problem then? I mean, obviously, Bella’s one of us now, so shouldn’t that be enough to satisfy them? Won’t they just leave after they see she’s been changed?"

Alice and I looked at each other. We both remembered our last encounter with the Volturi quite clearly. "Edward, do you think that’s all they want? I doubt it will be that easy...Aro was so interested in getting us to join him, and now he’s checking on Bella. Once they see how powerful she is, he’ll demand that she join them," Alice thought to me.

Pinching the bridge of my nose, I discreetly nodded my head in agreement. That was exactly what I was afraid of. Bella is simply too powerful for them to ignore. Aro would insist on her joining his family.

Bella sighed impatiently, recognizing the communication happening between Alice and me - she hadn’t fed for about a week, so she didn’t have access to her abilities. I glanced up, meeting her gaze.

"I’m afraid it may not be that simple." I reminded everyone of what had transpired in Italy, of Aro’s great interest in Alice and I, as well as his comment to Caius about Bella, about seeing the potential there.

Carlisle leaned back in his chair, rubbing his face with his hands. "You think Aro’s checking on Bella to see if she ended up gaining any powers that would be useful to them? If that’s the case, then yes, that would definitely be a problem. Knowing Aro, I’m afraid that I’m inclined to agree with you."

"Wait - what if Bella just doesn’t feed until they leave? She doesn’t have her abilities right now, and if they’ll be here soon, then how would they even know?" Emmett asked.

Alice suddenly gripped the edge of her chair, her eyes glazing over. We waited for the vision to cease, hoping to gain some more information.

As the vision ended, she softly shook her head. "They’ll be here tomorrow morning," Alice informed us.

Carlisle nodded his head slowly. "Well, it looks like our only choice for now is to have Bella refrain from feeding. The eye color may make them curious, but we’ll explain to them what happened when Bella was attacked. Bella, obviously, I’d rather you not have access to your powers for this visit - if they do something to upset you, it would be very difficult for you to hide your gifts. Are you comfortable with that?"

Bella looked over at me, her eyes wide. I didn’t need to read her mind to know that she was remembering Jane’s gift, and was terrified. Of course Jane hadn’t been able to affect Bella with her ability, but Bella knew she was able to affect me, and clearly, she was afraid of just that. "Bella, nothing will happen, I promise everything will be ok. Jane will have no reason to try to hurt me, or anyone else, for that matter," I murmured, trying to reassure her.

She merely nodded her head silently. For the rest of the day, I fought to maintain my composure in front of Bella, in an effort to ease her mind. Truthfully, I was fuming. The minute Bella had begun to relax, to feel a sense of normalcy, someone else was stepping in to threaten that. Not just anyone, either - the Volturi, the most powerful of all of our kind. It was infuriating.

For once, I was grateful when I heard Alice pestering Bella with wedding details again, as I would give anything to keep Bella’s mind off of tomorrow. As Alice uselessly tried to list various options and ideas, I took the opportunity to gather Emmett and Jasper to go hunting. We would want to be at our strongest, just in case.

The next morning, we were all waiting in the living room, watching the news, or at least pretending to. The tension in the room was high, but Jasper was doing his best to bring it back down. Bella had been mostly quiet - as much as I didn’t want her to be, I knew she was worried.

Finally, at nine o’clock, we heard them approaching the house. We all stood, making an effort to appear casual. Bella and I stayed the furthest back.

There was a knock, and Carlisle quickly opened the door. Stepping aside, he motioned for our guests to enter. Jane, Felix, and Demetri moved forward, into our home, and lowered the hoods of their cloaks.

"Welcome Jane, Demetri, Felix...we were expecting you," Carlisle greeted them.

Jane glanced over at Alice, before responding to Carlisle. "Yes, we assumed that you would be," she replied flatly.

"To what do we owe the honor of your presence?" Carlisle asked politely.

"We are here at Aro’s request, as well as Marcus and Caius. We are here to check up on the promise Edward and Alice had made them." Jane moved forward, closer to Bella, trying to get a closer look.

"Clearly, you’ve kept your word," Jane uttered, disappointed. Felix sighed, and I fought to remain civil.

"Yes, Bella has become one of us. Is that all you needed, Jane?" I asked shortly.

She gazed irritably at me for a few more moments, then, deciding she was more interested in Bella than me, she turned her focus back to her.

"Well, there is something else, since you ask, Edward. I’m wondering why she doesn’t have red eyes...all newborns do. Even if she wasn’t following our way of feeding, she would still have traces of her own human blood in her system," Jane said softly, her cherubic features intently focused on Bella.

Carlisle stepped in, before I could answer, which I was grateful for. Whenever Jane was involved, I had to fight to keep control of my temper. She was such a sadistic, contemptuous soul, it was hard to speak rationally with her, and I didn’t need to give her a reason to take her resentment out on me.

Carlisle explained what had happened to Bella, and how she’d had little to none of her own blood left in her body when I’d reached her. Jane inquired further as to what had happened to the ones that had attacked Bella, and Carlisle explained that the family had tracked them down and destroyed them. It wasn’t exactly accurate, but since I had dealt with Riley, and since Bella had drawn from all of our powers to destroy Victoria, it wasn’t a complete lie - Bella was a part of the family now, and Carlisle never actually specified who did the final act of killing either. It’s not like we had many other options. We were already hiding Bella’s gift - obviously, coming face to face with Aro could no longer be a possibility for us without getting caught. Thankfully, he and his brothers very rarely ever left their castle, if ever, and Carlisle would do everything he could to keep us from Volterra.

After listening to his explanation, Jane turned back to me. "So you hadn’t even acted to change her yourself yet? Even after Aro’s warning? Such defiance will not be regarded as compliant," Jane practically hissed at me. "You were given clear instructions on what was expected of you, after all. I don’t believe Aro had left much room for confusion, Edward."

Again, Carlisle interrupted before I could speak. "Jane, respectfully, we were not defying Aro by any means. As Bella was only a few weeks from finishing her schooling, we were waiting until then to change her, so it wouldn’t be nearly as suspicious, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Edward and Bella were going to presumably be leaving for college, and it would arouse far fewer questions than if she were to disappear before graduation. Regrettably, our hand was forced to act sooner," he explained.

Jane glared at me, her thoughts seething. She knew Carlisle’s explanation was rational, but she was furious - she felt that the Volturi’s terms should have instilled enough fear in us that I would have acted to change Bella the second we’d gotten back.

Suddenly, she focused her attention back on Bella. "Wait. You haven’t had any problems with your diet? Have you not had any human blood?" she asked, disbelieving.

Bella responded quickly, telling Jane that she didn’t have any opposition to the Cullens’ "vegetarian" diet, so she had not had any human blood. Jane was quite surprised, as well as curious...possibly too curious.

Jane stared at Bella, confused. She was thinking about the impossibility of a newborn to be so easily satiated without human blood - it was unheard of, as we well knew, and it wasn’t going without notice.

Jane’s gaze remained fixed on Bella, as she continued with her questions. "So, Bella - have you acquired any interesting abilities with this new life?" Jane asked intently.

"No...just the immortality..." Bella answered quietly.

Uncertain of whether she believed her or not, Jane glanced around at the rest of the family. We all stood quietly, appearing indifferent.

Jane turned back to Bella, who was becoming more nervous. "So you don’t have anything special that you gained from your change? You seem awfully nervous, Bella. You wouldn’t be trying to hide something from me, would you? I have ways of finding things out, you know," she threatened.

Bella glanced over at me, hesitating. Before she could speak, I interrupted.

"Jane, Bella remembers all too clearly what you are capable of from the last time we saw you. You can threaten her all you want, but we know your ability doesn’t work on her. Yes, you could use it on me, which is exactly what she’s afraid of, but it would be a waste of time. Bella simply does not have any extra gifts, as some vampires just don’t. You know that’s possible just as much as I do, and I don’t think Aro would appreciate hearing from Carlisle that you decided to torture members of his family merely for your own entertainment. Please stop trying to intimidate her," I finished, trying to remain calm.

Jane glared at me. "I disagree, Edward...he’d want me to be thorough, after all, to make sure we weren’t missing anything..." she trailed off, her gaze locked on me.

Thankfully, before she decided to act any further, Carlisle interrupted her. "Jane, as a trusted friend of Aro’s, I politely and respectfully ask you not to proceed - we have been perfectly cooperative, and there’s no need for you to inflict your abilities upon my family."

Jane paused, struggling with herself. She’d thoroughly enjoyed watching me writhe in agony on the marble floor in Volterra, and was full of anticipation at the thought of inflicting her ability on me again. She had a certain level of respect for Carlisle, though, since he’d lived among Aro and his brothers before. She held her master in the highest regard, and ultimately, decided to refrain from using her gift on me this once, only because of my Carlisle’s connection to Aro. She focused her attention back on Bella.

"All right, Bella. I will relay this information to Aro." She moved back towards the door, back to Felix and Demetri. "Come, we must go now. Thank you Carlisle. It’s been nice meeting you, to finally see for myself who Aro speaks so highly of."

"Thank you, Jane, the pleasure’s been all mine," Carlisle replied, as he reached out, and opened the door for them. Jane nodded once as they drifted through the door, disappearing into the cover of the forest.

Carlisle glanced over at me, waiting until we were sure they were far enough away to ensure they wouldn’t hear us. "Did she believe us?" he murmured quietly.

Sighing, I reached out to Bella, pulled her close to me, and gently kissed the top of her head. "Not at all," I whispered, slowly shaking my head. This could be the beginning of a very big problem.

Eventually, I had been able to calm Bella down. After Jane and company had left, she had become very upset - she felt as if she was doing nothing other than continually causing problems for our family. After much convincing, from myself and Alice, she had accepted that this was not her fault, and that no one thought any such thing. We had reassured her, saying that if she didn’t believe us, then she could go hunt, and instantly she would know we were telling the absolute truth after listening to everyone’s thoughts. We all just wanted for her to be happy. Finally, she appeared to believe us, and quieted, though it was obvious she was still troubled.

Sensing Bella’s vulnerability, Alice had pounced. "Bella, you know what would take your mind off of all this? Wedding plans, that’s what. It’s well overdue, we’ve got to start nailing down details. Come on, Bella, there’s no time like the present!" Alice gently pulled Bella from her seat before she could object. She dragged her to her room, otherwise known to Alice as ‘wedding headquarters.’ Paying close attention, I let them go, listening for when Alice would get out of control, knowing I would step in when needed.