I don’t know for how long I’d sat there. When I started to move, however, the sky was already becoming brighter in the East, reminding me that I needed to get going. Reluctantly, I’d scrambled to my feet, dusting off my jeans. Instead of making things easier, my visit to Chicago had only managed to complicate matters further.
To my own surprise, I had not killed Antoine. Not because I didn’t have the chance – or even the abilities – to, but because I had consciously decided not to. This act had unknowingly set my thoughts in motion and had forced me to rethink some of my views.
Firstly, I had to give up the idea that everyone is either inherently good or evil. It was an easy way to think – black-or-white – but I now was forced to abandon that viewpoint. As much as I still hated him for killing me, I could not deny that Antoine was not the pure evil, characteristic movie villain that I had wanted him to be. He had his own reasons for being the way he was and though they might not excuse his behavior, they did make me understand.
A second implication of this view was that I myself didn’t have to be either black or white. I could stand up to Edward, be my own person and still not go around killing people. I could be a vampire, suck animals dry and still care about the wellbeing of a boy I had met only moments ago. As logical as this might all seem in hindsight, it was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders as soon as I realized this.
Another painful, but necessary thing I was forced to acknowledge was that, perhaps, Edward didn’t have to be either. He could not treat me as his equal and still care about me. He wasn’t the angel I had once believed him to be, but he wasn’t the monster I’d painted him off as lately either and I knew I would have to apologize to him sooner or later.
Unlike the journey to Chicago, the journey back was.. almost peaceful. I wasn’t consumed with hatred – for Antoine, for Edward, for myself and what I’d become – anymore and I found myself enjoying my new life for the first time. I took in the world with new eyes, figuratively and literally, and found that being an immortal wasn’t all that bad. I got to sense things that I would have never sensed as a human, got to experience things that I had never even dreamed off. And again unlike the journey to Chicago, I was back in Forks before I knew it.
Despite having had my eyes opened, I was still anxious to return to the Cullens. With the way I had left, I could only imagine how they would respond to the news that I had, in fact, not killed Antoine. Then there was also that small thing about having to face Edward. Needless to say, I was almost shitting myself..
The door opened before I even had a chance to ring, a tiny body flinging itself around my neck. ‘You’re back!’
I waited until she untangled herself, then followed her inside. I was surprised to find all of the Cullens in the living room and the sneaking suspicion that they had been waiting for me crept up on me. Narrowing my eyes at Alice, the pixie only smiled innocently.
‘It’s good to have you back,’ Esme said, smiling as she gestured for me to sit down.
A moment of uncomfortable silence followed as I took a seat on the still empty couch, hoping someone – anyone – would say something. When another moment passed and still no one spoke up, I realized they were all waiting for me. Awkwardly, I cleared my throat. ‘I found him. He was in Chicago, as I expected, at the club that I saw in my out-of-body experience.’
‘Did you give him a good beating?’ Emmett wanted to know, earning himself a stern look from his wife.
‘Actually.. I decided to let him live.’ I took to staring at my feet, not wanting to meet their eyes. Surely they thought I was mad.
Seconds of silence ticked by and when I finally chanced a look up, I was met with the surprising sight of six smiling vampires.
‘We knew you would make the right choice,’ Carlisle answered for all of them.
‘I don’t understand. I thought you would think I’m crazy for not killing him after what he did to me.’
‘It’s only too easy to give into our vampire nature. Resisting to become the monster, resisting to lose yourself, you have proven that you are strong, Dalia.’
I smiled at Esme, grateful for her kind words. ‘I’m sorry for running out on you guys like that.’
‘We had all the faith in you that you would do the right thing,’ the Cullen patriarch provided, smiling friendly at me. ‘We’re glad to have you back.’
Another silence ensued, but this time, it wasn’t uncomfortable. Because for the first in a long time, I was back in Forks and things were normal. Yes, I was a vampire and yes, the people I would now lovingly call my family were also undead, but I felt at ease. I felt home. There was only one thing left to do..
Looking up, I took in the one vampire that had been uncharacteristically silent throughout the entire conversation. He didn’t meet my eyes, but I knew he felt my eyes on him all the same. ‘Can I speak with you for a moment?’
He nodded and silently made his way out onto the veranda. Facing the tree line at the far end of their garden, Edward did not look up as I went to stand beside him. He was obviously still angry with me..
Staring off into the distance myself, I wondered what he was thinking about. Was he, like his family, happy to know I didn’t kill Antoine? Was he happy to see me back? Was he happy I had even survived? I sighed, wrapping my arms around my body. ‘I am sorry for the things I said before I left. I was angry and upset.’
I waited for an answer, but he kept silent, his eyes remaining fixed on the trees.
‘It wasn’t fair of me to expect you to respond to my every thought.’
‘You were right,’ he sighed, but didn’t turn to face me. ’I didn’t treat you as an equal. You are capable of making your own decisions and are capable of making the right decisions. I shouldn’t have treated you like a child.’
‘You’re forgiven, Fitz.’ Smiling softly, I intertwined my fingers with his. ‘Friends again?’
This time, he did turn to me, his eyes filled with a confusion I didn’t understand, his brows pushed together in a frown. ‘Dalia, I meant what I said before you left. I lo..-’
Holding up my hand, I shook my head. ‘It’s okay, Edward, really. You have Bella and I might find someone in the long run, too. As long as you’re my friend I..-’
‘Bella and I broke up.’
‘Because I finally realized what had been right before me the whole time.’
Before I even had time to voice my objections, his lips had found mine. And I can tell you; in all my dreams, I had never dared to hope kissing him would feel this good. His perfectly sculptured lips moved across mine smoothly, sparking an unknown warmth in me and leaving my skin tingling and pulsing wherever his had touched it. Wrapping my hands in his hair, I couldn’t suppress a soft moan as he bit down on my lip. Before things could get more heated, I broke away, panting softly. I certainly had not done his kissing skills justice in my many daydreams and fantasies..
‘I love you.’
The wide smile on my face grew even more and I pulled him in for another kiss. ‘I love you, too, Fitz.’