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Bless the Broken Road

Summary:

Thanks to lunamoon for the awesome banner please show her some love Bella and her family are con artists. Her path crosses with Edward and the opportunity is too great to pass up, making him her next mark. Edward is blissfully unaware, and it will take a lot of mistakes to finally lead him back to Bella and the truth.


Notes:
No copyright infringement intended. All things Twilight belong to SM


16. Just Shoot Me EPOV

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4233   Review this Chapter

CH 16: Just Shoot Me

EPOV

I woke up the next day, yesterday’s events still in my mind. Victoria’s presence in Jasper and Alice’s life was not comforting. I wondered what it was about this woman that unsettled me so. I pushed Vanessa to the side and got dressed for my run. I ran for an hour hoping to clear my head, but it didn’t really work. When I returned Vanessa was still in bed. I showered and got dressed for the day.

I went downstairs to make some coffee, but we were out of coffee beans, along with eggs, milk, and bread. I was annoyed at the lack of food, Vanessa only had one real responsibility and she couldn’t even follow through with it. I decided to go the grocery store and pick up the items we needed. I got into my car and decided I wanted a smoothie and headed to the Robek’s by the hospital, where I worked.

While I was parking my car I noticed a canary yellow Porsche parked just a few rows from me. Instantly, I knew it was Alice’s car. This model was limited edition and most people would never pick such a loud color.

I walked into Robek’s and scanned the place, but it was too packed to really tell if Alice was in here or not. I should have anticipated that it would be packed on a Monday morning. I ordered my drink and waited to be called. I scanned the room again, and I noticed the back of Victoria’s head instantly, her red hair was unmistakable. I was even more shocked when I noticed Alice sitting across from her. I was about to head over to her when my name was called.

I got my drink and headed towards Alice, but she shot me warning look so I backed away. I left the place and headed to the grocery store to pick up the groceries we needed and went home.

I lingered in the car a few minutes before going inside. I decided to call Alice to find out why she gave me the stink eye, but she didn’t answer. I left her voice mail urging her to call me back. I was curious about her meeting with Victoria and was worried that Jasper’s excuse from yesterday was a lie.

I headed inside to find Vanessa, still in her sleepwear, watching the news in the living room.

“Please tell me you got some coffee,” she said, taking the groceries out of my hands.

“Uh yeah,” I said, still shook up about the events of the last twenty four hours. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right with this Victoria woman.

I took her spot on the couch, and I flipped through the channels, hoping to find something less depressing. Vanessa joined me shortly after and cuddled next to me.

We spent the day watching TV; we were never ones for talking. Around noon I got a text message from Alice asking me to meet her at her store. I jumped at the opportunity to be away from Vanessa and left right away.

I headed for the shopping center, in Hollywood, where Alice had her boutique. I got to Alice’s boutique and headed to the back, where her office was. She was on the phone, so I lingered at the entrance until she hung up.

“Sorry about that,” she apologized.

“No need, what’s up?

“I don’t know you called me remember. You left me a voice mail, I figured we could have lunch and hang out. I knew you would be bored out of your mind if you had to spend a day cooped up with Vanessa,” she joked.

She didn’t know how right she was.

“I need comfort food. I need a milkshake,” she mused.

I knew what wanted but I really wanted to eat somewhere less crowded.

“In-N-Out will be packed,” I warned.

“It always is, I still want to go,” she said, as she turned the radio on, making it impossible for us to talk.

We got to In-N-Out and waited patiently to order. We grabbed a booth near the back, and waited for our number to be called. In-N-Out was always worth the wait.

I kept searching for a way to bring up the whole Victoria situation without hurting her feelings, finally deciding to just ask her what they were doing together. I was about to ask when our number was called. I got up and grabbed our food, and filled our drinks.

When I got back to our table Alice was texting with someone. Frustrated, I didn’t hesitate to interrupt her texting session and place the food in front of her.

“Thanks,” she said, grabbing a fry.

“So, earlier today, what was up with the stink eye?” I said, taking a bite out of my burger.

“Yeah, sorry. I was just having a very important and private conversation with Victoria, and I didn’t want you to interrupt,” she said.

“Oh, well you could have just texted me that later. I thought you hated me or something,” I joked, uncomfortable with what was coming up.

“I could never hate you,” she said, lingering. I wondered if there was something else she wanted to say, but I ignored it for the time being.

“Good, so what did you talk about,” I asked.

“She just wanted to meet me,” Alice said, attempting to brush me off.

“Oh,” I said. “Look, I’m just going to come out and say this, more for your sake than my own. Victoria doesn’t sit right with me. I just don’t believe she’s Jasper and Rosalie’s cousin. Are you sure he’s not… you know cheating?”

“Speaking of Rosalie, did you know she and Emmett adopted a baby boy,” she gushed.

I was both hurt and happy. I knew how important it was for them to have a family, but I had also wished to be there to support my friends.

“That’s great,” I said, finally.

“Yeah, I wish I could have been there for them,” Alice said.

“How did you find out?” I wondered.

She looked slightly flushed and hesitated when she spoke, “Victoria told me.”

“Are you sure she can be trusted, and I’m not talking about the baby news,” I warned.

“I am absolutely sure,” she said, a huge grin plastered on her face.

“Good,” I said.

We finished eating and I dropped her off at her store and headed home.

I spent the rest of the week at home with Vanessa, lounging around the house. As the week progressed I found myself less apprehensive about leaving the comfort of my home. Everywhere I went I would see Bella. Every brunette, with chocolate brown eyes, and pale skin reminded me of Bella. I knew that it wasn’t normal to be seeing the ghost of my deceased wife everywhere but I didn’t care. I needed to see Bella even if it was all in my head.

The following Tuesday, I woke earlier than usual, and went for a run. I walked trough the park and saw a woman who looked like Bella, pushing a stroller. I almost called out to her, then I realized it wasn’t her.

Unsettled by my actions, I took a seat in the bench and drank my water. I wasn’t sure if I had overworked myself, or if I was finally loosing it. I walked back home, without incident and got cleaned up.

Vanessa had gotten up while I was gone and had attempted to cook for me, we ended up eating cereal.

We sat on the couch, much like we did everyday since I had been on vacation, and watched the news.

“What do you want to do today?” she purred.

“Nothing really, I just want to spend some time at home,” I said, ignoring her lingering hands.

“We should go on a trip,” Vanessa mused. “Somewhere tropical or we could go overseas, somewhere far away from here.”

I couldn’t understand her sudden interest in going away, the urgency in her voice hadn’t gone unnoticed. We had discussed my vacation before and she had agreed to stay in Los Angeles. I thought it over for a second, the only place I ever really wanted to visit was Seattle but I couldn’t go back, everything there was too painful.

“We really shouldn’t. Alice is going through a rough patch, and I should be there for her,” I said.

She sighed, her hands leaving my thigh. “I just don’t want to be in L.A. anymore maybe we should move back or try a new city,” she said.

“Why? I thought you liked it here?” I asked. If I hadn’t been suspicious before, I was now. Apparently, it wasn’t enough that I was going crazy or that my sister and best friend were having problems, now I had to deal with a crazy wife.

“I did, but this place is just not my scene anymore,” she said, inspecting her nails.

“Well, I don’t want to move and that’s final. I don’t want to go on vacation either, if you want you can go on a trip with Renee or something,” I reasoned.

She clenched her jaw and began to pout, it was times like these that reminded me of Bella when she didn’t get her way. I knew something must have been bothering her for her to want to leave. That was what she did when things didn’t go her way, she left. In my effort to be a better husband I decided to ask her what was wrong, hoping the end this whole discussion altogether.

“Is there a reason you’re so desperate to leave the city? Did something happen?” I asked, more out of courtesy than concern.

“No, nothing has happened. I was just hoping a change of scenery would help with this slump we’re in,” she responded, slightly flustered.

“We both know a change of scenery is not going to help,” I responded.

“Clearly,” she said. She got up and began to pace. “Okay, look things between us need to change. I don’t know how much longer I can live like this,” she said, gestured between us.

I sighed; I really didn’t want to have this discussion again. Vanessa and I always argued about the same thing and it always led to yelling, accusations, and empty promises. She knew how I felt about Bella, and it was a mute point, but that still didn’t stop us from arguing.

“Don’t start this again,” I warned.

She grabbed the remote and turned off the TV and began, ignoring my warning.

“Why not? We need to talk about this and just move on. We always dance around the real reason why we don’t work. You hide behind your little sluts so that you won’t have to face the fact that I’m not Bella. You live and breathe for this ghost, and I can’t take it anymore. I won’t compete with her anymore,” she argued.

I was angry at her words, what she said was true. I couldn’t deal with the fact that Vanessa was here and Bella wasn’t. I slept around so I could keep Vanessa at a distance, never letting her in. Everyday, since my bachelor party I regretted being with Vanessa. When we got married, I only did so, to keep something of Bella near by. Quickly, I learned that Vanessa wasn’t that tie to Bella, far from it. But I wasn’t about to admit this to her, instead I decided to hurt her, like she had hurt me.

“No, the reason I sleep around is because I don’t love you, I never have, and never will. You’re right though the only reason I survive each day is because of Bella. She may be a ghost to you but she’s still alive to me,” I retorted.

I could see the tears ready to shed, after I said this but I didn’t care. I had let things go too far and it was time to end things.

“I know,” she said softly.

I was taken aback by her statement. Not because it was a surprise to me, but because she had admitted it aloud

“Then why-” I began, but she had already anticipated my question and began.

“I had hoped that maybe one day your wounds would heal and that you would finally see me and not the Bella clone you wish I was,” she said her voice barely audible. The tears finally came and the remorse and guilt began again, it was a vicious cycle that would never end.

“I don’t think I can ever love another. She means so much to me,” I said, not meeting her gaze.

“What if…” she closed her eyes, and hesitated. “What if you knew the truth?”

“Truth about what?” I asked, unsure of the turn in events.

She wiped her tears and began to speak, “I had hoped to never tell you this. I wanted to keep your memory of her in tact, but you’ve managed to build your life around her. I can't take it anymore! She’s gone and you need to stop putting Bella on a pedestal, she’s was no saint,” Vanessa screamed.

I tried to reign in my anger, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to if Vanessa was going to continue to badmouth Bella.

I cleared my throat. “Care to elaborate?”

“I’m sorry,” she began, “but Bella wasn’t exactly the most honest person. The only reason she began dating you was because she thought you were her ticket to easy street. Edward, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t keep this a secret any longer. You need to move on and finally accept the fact that she’s gone.”

“You’re lying. Bella loved me,” I argued, my conviction never faltering.

“I’m not sure that’s true,” she said softly. “Since I can remember, Bella has always lived by her own set of rules. Nothing was ever good enough for her. Our father provided for us what he could and we were happy but Bella was never satisfied. At school, she focused more on being the center of attention, all the boys at her feet. When things didn’t work out she rebelled against my mom. Since we struggled a lot after dad passed, Bella took upon herself to secure her future. She would come home with extravagant gifts and jewelry, all given to her by her latest conquest. That was so Bella, manipulating others to take care of her.”

I shook my head, unable to speak. Vanessa’s words hit me like a pile of bricks.

“I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but I knew her better than anyone else. I can already guess how things were between you two. She probably made you work in the beginning?” she asked.

I didn’t respond. I couldn’t let her be right.

When she realized that I wasn’t going to respond she continued. “She probably asked you a lot of questions about yourself. When she finally did accept you she kept things simple and kept you at arm’s length. She probably didn’t let the physical relationship progress either, claiming she had been emotionally scarred or something. Am I right? I know I am,” she said, the last part more to herself than to me.

“None of that proves anything,” I finally said.

“Think about why she played hard to get? She was testing you and your level of interest. The real reason for all her questions was not to get to know you but your money. Her evasiveness was a trick to lure you. I’m sure she played the victim role very well. As for the lack of a sex life, it was another ploy to leave you wanting her more.”

I looked into her eyes, daring her to be wrong, but there was no doubt in her eyes. She stared at me her face expressionless, waiting for a reply.

My world came crumbing down. Vanessa knew Bella better than I did; she had known all her life. She knew how she operated, and she had guessed correctly at how our relationship worked.

“Edward, I’m sorry really I am,” she said.

“I need some time to think,” I said as I walked away and grabbed my keys.

“I'll be waiting!” she yelled as I closed the door.

The rush had died down so I drove for an hour, maybe longer, to no where in particular. I replayed Vanessa’s word over and over until it became too much, it wasn’t long before I needed to stop. I parked my car in the first empty space I saw. I began to bang my head against the steering wheel. The pain I felt in my head was nothing compared to the pain in my heart.

I recalled every moment I shared with Bella and wondered how much of it was true. Vanessa’s words tainting each memory as they ran through my head. I cried like a baby, much like I did when I found out Bella had died. Any shred of hope, any reason for living was slowly fading away. I suddenly I felt like I couldn’t breathe so I got out of the car.

As I walked the sidewalk, people didn’t bother to hide the fact that they were staring at me as I shed tear after tear for a love that never really existed. Every memory had been a sham. I wondered how much of the real Bella I knew. I must have doubled back at one point because I found myself in front of my car.

I sat there several minutes unable to come to terms with who Bella was and who I thought she was. I finally caved and called Alice. It was my turn to ask for help.

She picked up after several rings, instantly I heard some children’s music and wondered what she was up to. “Hey Alice, what are you doing? What’s up with that music?” I asked, unsure if I wanted to know.

She hesitated before finally speaking and said, “I’m at the carousel ride in the park, babysitting for a friend. Why?

I was appreciative of the momentary distraction, but I put that aside and focused on the task at hand. “Alice, I really need to talk to you. I think I’m loosing my mind,” I explained.

“Edward, I already knew that." She laughed nervously and continued, "No really, I love you and you know I would do anything for you, but right now is not such a good time for us to talk.”

I hated to bother her, but only she would be able to give me the clarity I needed at the moment.

“I know, Alice, I wouldn’t ask you to cut your trip short for me, but I need to talk to you… How about I come to the park. Are you at Griffith? I’m nearby, I could be there in a few minutes,” I said eagerly.

“Yeah, that’s fine, I guess,” she grumbled into the phone and hung up.

I drove like a mad man to get to Alice. I needed her to help make sense of all of this and hopefully get the peace I needed.

I parked in the first empty space I saw, stealing it from a van with a woman, who most likely had children eager to get off. I apologized but didn’t bother moving my car. I got out and saw Alice right away.

I jogged over to her and instantly, I spilled my guts to her.

“Alice, Vanessa told me some things today about Bella that are fucking up my mind. On top of that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Bella in every other woman I see. I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. I need some help, I really think I’m going crazy,” I said frantically.

“Okay, one thing at a time what did Vanessa say?” she said, calmly.

“She said Bella never loved me. She said that Bella was just using me to get to my money and that I was just her ticket to the good life,” I summarized, unable to repeat Vanessa’s words out loud.

“Edward, don’t you see? She probably just said that to hurt you. To make you forget about Bella. She feels threaten by her,” Alice said, attempting to soothe me.

“No, you don’t understand. She gave specific details of how Bella worked that coincide with how our relationship was. A lot of what she said made sense,” I finally admitted.

“Edward, if Bella was after your money, then why didn’t she just look the other way when you cheated. She must have loved you for her to react the way she did. She left you, remember,” Alice said, looking over at the carousel.

“I’m sorry am I distracting you from babysitting?” I asked, following Alice’s gaze.

“Don’t worry about. She’s a smart kid, and I can see her from here,” she said, looking away.

We were silent for a while. Alice was looking at the carousel as I was thinking about her words. Alice did have a valid point. It would have been easy for her to ignore my cheating, if she hadn’t felt anything for me. After a few minutes, I finally responded to her reasoning.

“I think you’re right, she must have loved me to leave like that,” I said.

“I’m glad you see that,” Alice said. “Now about seeing Bella, what’s going on? When did this start?”

I thought it over trying to pinpoint when exactly it was, finally I remembered.

“It started after we bumped into Victoria. I remember thinking she reminded me of her,” I responded.

“Oh,” Alice said surprised.

“Yeah,” I said.

Alice must have been distracted by my admission, because she didn’t notice the little girl heading our way.

“Alice!” screamed the little girl.

“Carly, I told you to stay on the ride,” Alice said, heading for the little girl.

I followed after her, but stopped halfway there when I got a good look at her. Even little girls were reminding me of Bella. She had similar features to Bella, and was pouting, much like Bella used to. Alice turned a round, with a strange look of panic on her face. In another situation I would have been able to find out why, but I was so stunned by the little girl in front of me that I couldn’t process it well enough.

I finally gathered myself, and joined them, interrupting their conversation.

“Hi,” I said cheerfully.

“Hey, I know you,” Carly said. Again, Alice’s face showed panic.

“You do?” I asked, playing a long.

“Yeah, your Alice’s brother, I can tell. You look alike,” she said, nodding her head.

I was instantly charmed by this little girl.

“That’s right, I’m Edward. I take it you’re Carly?” I asked, and she nodded proudly. “Wow you’re so smart. How old are you?” I praised her, her smile growing wide.

I was amazed at how much that smile reminded me of Bella.

“I’m five almost six,” she said, counting with her fingers.

“Wow, you’re a big girl,” I said.

“Yup,” she said, popping the ‘p.’

“Well, Carly, I’m sorry I can’t stay but it was nice meeting you,” I said.

“Already?” she whined.

My heart melted when I saw the sadness in this little girl’s eyes.

“Carly, he really needs to go,” Alice insisted. Her hint didn’t go unnoticed; she didn’t want me to stay.

“Fine,” she pouted again.

“Bye,” I said, walking away. I didn’t really have anywhere to go, but I knew Alice couldn’t deal with my mental state and the little girl as well.

“Wait,” she yelled, running towards me.

She caught up with me and asked me to get closer. I knelt down so that we were face to face.

“My mommy and I come here almost every Tuesday, maybe you can visit us sometime,” she whispered into my ear.

She bit down the bottom of her lips and swayed side to side waiting for my response. I was extremely apprehensive about making a play date with a six year old, but there was something about this child that made me want to say yes.

“Maybe,” I finally said.

“Okay,” she pouted. “Promise me you won’t tell Auntie Alice.”

“Sure,” I chuckled.

“Pinky promise?” she asked, extending her pinky.

“Sure,” I said, again, extending my pinky to join hers.

“Bye,” I yelled again, and drove back home.