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Bless the Broken Road


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.

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23. A Neon Sign Wouldn't be Too Obvious

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Chapter 23: A Neon Sign would be Too Obvious


After my run in with Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett followed me home. I picked up Carly from daycare and they trailed behind. We arrived at my place and gathered in the living room, no one saying a word, except Carly who was humming while she sat on my lap.

“Should I be worried?” I finally asked.

“No,” they said in unison.

“Okay. Can you maybe give me specifics? What did you tell Jasper?” I asked.

“Who’s Jasper?” Carly asked.

“Someone we know,” I grumbled. She pouted when I didn’t elaborate but she didn’t say anything. “I’m waiting,” I said, directing my attention to Rosalie and Emmett.

“Just know that we have your back,” Emmett said.

“Thank you, I know that. I just want to know what you told him. He was so determined in telling Alice and Edward and then you talked to him and he changed his mind, just like that. I can't help but wonder what you told him,” I trailed off.

“We just told him we thought it best to keep you under wraps for now. I also think it has to do with the fact that I support you, given our rough start,” Rosalie explained, fidgeting with her blouse.

“That still doesn’t make sense. I hope you didn’t make any empty promises because I've said before and I’ll say it again, I’m not going back!”

“Calm down, you’re scaring Carly,” Rosalie warned, pointing at my frightened angel.

“Sorry honey, mommy just lost her temper. I promise it won’t happen again,” I said, trying to soothe her. She kissed my cheek and nuzzled into me.

“We didn’t promise him anything. He just realized that if I was willing to go through with this lie then it was for a good cause. I don’t know if I ever told you this but I checked up on you when you started dating.”

“I already knew that, Charlie was the exclusive P.I. you hired,” I responded without thinking.

“Wait, are you serious?” Rosalie asked.

“Yeah, you were actually the reason for reuniting me with my father,” I offered.

She smiled but brushed me off as she realized that she had been duped. “How is that possible? They guy told me his name Andrew? Only you would be that lucky,” she asked, annoyed.

“Charlie never uses his real name when investigating and you know how he works, you never see him all you get are daily reports,” I said, shrugging it off.

“I don’t like it, but what’s done is done. Come on, Emmett, the nanny only thought we were grocery shopping, we should have been back by now,” she ordered, getting up.

“Hold on, are you ever going to tell me what you told Jasper?” I asked, stepping in front of them.

“Maybe, but not today,” Rosalie replied, as Emmett chuckled.

“Why are you being so secretive?” I whined.

“You’re not the only one allowed to have secrets, Bella,” Rosalie said, walking around me to leave.

“What she said,” Emmett agreed, giving me a tentative hug.

“Bye, thanks,” I said, pausing in between.

Carly, who hadn’t left my side since we had gotten home, tugged on my shirt and said, “I want to go to the park today.”

“Not today, sweetie, mommy isn’t up to it,” I said.

She pouted some more and sported a grumpy look on her face that was comical for her baby face. She stormed off and headed upstairs.

I called Charlie, Jacob and Leah to let them know what was happening, and they came over right away.

I paced the room worrying about Jasper; I wasn’t so sure he would keep this under wraps like Emmett and Rosalie did.

It was Jacob who finally got me to stop pacing, when he started laughing.

“Why are you laughing?” Leah asked.

“Only Bella would go through such an elaborate plan to escape and move to such a huge city and manage to run into all the people she was running from,” he blurted out.

“This isn’t funny; I don’t know what to do. At any given moment Edward could be at my door, what will I do then?” I asked to no one in particular.

“You know the answer to that,” Charlie responded.

“Gee thanks,” I said.

“As long as you don’t leave, I think you’ll be okay,” Leah offered.

“I don’t think I could, it’s just scary that at any given moment my world will be coming down on me. I feel as if the walls are caving in on me, at an extremely slow pace to make me sweat.”

“I think it’s time you start preparing yourself for what’s coming,” Charlie said flatly.

“Yeah, I think he’s right,” Leah agreed.

“Better yet, maybe you should just end all this and take control, this is clearly another sign that you belong with him,” Jacob said.

Leah smacked him over the head, and mumbled, “Remember what happened last time.”

“Right, you don’t have to if you don’t want to,” he responded almost immediately.

“You know I can hear right?” I pointed out.

“Sorry,” they answered in unison.

“Jacob has a point,” Charlie confirmed.

“I don’t want to hear it. You all have voiced your opinion to me, I know how you feel,” I said.


The conversation went dead after I made it clear that I didn’t want to talk about Edward anymore. They ended up staying for dinner and the mood changed as soon as Carly graced us with her presence.

In the next three weeks that followed, I was overwhelmed with school, Carly, her party, and the fear that Jasper would reveal my secret.

The day of Carly’s birthday was one filled with joy and chaos. Only a few days before my actual birthday we celebrated in a small get together, with a few of Carly's friends from daycare and the people I called my family.

I knew something was up the moment that I heard Rosalie suggest that Carly take Jasper upstairs. I had still been feeling nervous that Jasper knew and that at any moment he could tell Alice and Edward.

I followed them upstairs and stood by the door as I heard Carly show her album to Jasper. When she was old enough I had let her take the pictures from my albums and gave her an album of her own. I enjoyed hearing my baby girl tell the stories of what she remembered and smiled as I recollected each story. My heart broke when I heard Carly ask Jasper why Edward wasn't around. I wanted more than anything to give her what she wanted but I couldn't bring myself to do it, I was too selfish. I ran back downstairs and Rosalie immediately comforted me. She managed to calm me down and I called Carly down and enjoyed the party.

I watched the innocence in her eyes as she played with her friends, as she blew the candles, and opened her gifts. I wasn't sure how I would ever be able to face her and tell her the truth about who I was and why I kept Edward away.

The day ended and time continued to move on. The panic of seeing Edward again was ever present, and I had decided to wear disguises everywhere I went, not just unknown areas. The New Year came and it was spring again. Rosalie and I had taken to going to the park on regular basis without children. Wyatt had been growing and was about to turn one.

On one of our outings we got home from the park earlier than expected, and since Emmett was busy at work Rosalie decided to join me at Charlie’s for our weekly dinner.

Charlie had gotten so busy with work, and I with school that we actually had to set a date for us to hang out. It was strange to some, but I enjoyed having some father-daughter bonding. We arrive at his place and let ourselves in only to be met with the hideous face of the woman who gave birth to me.

“Well, well, look what the cat dragged in,” Renee said with a content look on her face.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I asked, shocked that she was coming out of Charlie’s house.

“I came here to see if Charlie knew where you were. It's funny he said you were dead but you look alive and kicking to me,” she said.

“Rosalie, take the kids inside,” I said through gritted teeth.

“Momma, who’s that?” Carly asked.

“Nobody important,” I said, urging her to go with Rosalie.

“Hi, Rosalie,” Renee said. “I see you have no problems keeping up with this charade.”

“Eat shit,” Rosalie said, walking the children into the house and closing the door.

“Not only have you let yourself go and got knocked up, but you’re friends with your enemy. When did you get her in your pocket?” Renee said, stupidly.

“It’s not like that, why are you here?” I said.

“I came to find you, I want my money,” she said, grabbing my arm.

“Don’t touch me, and I don’t have your money,” I said, slapping her arm. It took every fiber of my being not to continue smacking her, but I managed to keep the violence to a minimum.

“Listen, you little brat, give me my money or you will suffer my wrath,” Renee said, grabbing a stronger hold on my arm.

“Let go,” I said, trying to get free.

“I don't want to hurt you, but I will if you force my hand,” she said, twisting my arm.

My self control was long forgotten and I slugged her, and she let go of my arm. Before I could throw another punch or respond, Charlie opened the door and said, “Enough!”

“What are you going to do, you pathetic excuse of a man?” she sneered.

The beast inside me was already loose and her words were only feeding its anger, so I didn't hesitate to slap her again for her comment. “You are not allowed to speak to my father that way,” I said, through gritted teeth.

“Oh really? How easily you switch sides. Tell me what are you going to do, besides hit me some more, Bella?” she said, cackling.

“She won’t be doing anything,” Charlie said. Renee’s smile grew wide and smug and I grew even angrier. “But I will, get it through your head. Bella finally has someone who will defend her from you and anyone who stands in the way of her happiness. Your money is gone get over it. If you don't believe me just ask her. Bella, why don’t you tell her what you did with it,” he said with a sly grin on his face. I looked Charlie in the eye and no longer saw the sweet, caring, calm, and stable father I had come to love, but someone menacing and dangerous. I brushed off the feeling and focused on Renee.

“With pleasure, I do-na-ted it to charity,” I said slowly and deliberately.

Her face became pale and panic filled her eyes. She didn't respond at first, unable to recover from the shock of my news. Internally I was jumping up and down with joy at the pathetic face she had on, it was priceless.

When she finally recovered, she said weakly, “How could you be so stupid, all that money gone. You’re lying, aren’t you? Just give it to me and you won’t have to worry about anyone finding out you’re alive,” she begged.

“I’m not lying and don’t beg, Renee, you look pathetic when you do,” I said, using the same words she used on me a few years back.

Her demeanor changed instantly, her stare became dark and venomous. For a brief moment I was scared at what she may do, but I pushed it aside because I had Charlie by my side- who was equally if not more threatening. I couldn’t allow myself to be weak in front of her, it would mean all my years of hard work meant absolutely nothing, if I couldn't stand up for myself. “You will pay for this,” she said coldly.

“No she won’t,” Charlie said firmly. “Do I need to remind you that you owe me a hell of a lot of money from when you took off? We both know my resources and means of operating are far more dangerous than yours ever were.”

“The amounts don’t compare, I want my money,” she said to him, but staring at me.

“What about the money you got from Marcus and Caius? I’m sure they have forgotten how you conned both of them at the same time. Florida is a great place to visit, there is a lot of information one can dig up,” Charlie said with a smirk on his face and that same dark demeanor.

She snorted and said, “Those two idiots are no threat to me.”

“Fine, let’s try a different angle. Remember your ‘accident’ in Montana?” Charlie asked. Renee’s face grew pale but didn’t reply. “Specifically, do you remember how much blood you got on your clothes?”

“That wasn’t my fault, and you said you were going to take care of that. I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you,” she said, her voice strained.

“Your instinct was right, just like I knew you would betray me one day. Even if it wasn’t your fault, my evidence and the way the body was found would say otherwise,” he said coldly.

I stood there stunned at the power Charlie had over Renee. He was the only person in the world who I had ever known who had the ability to render Renee powerless, and it was both scary and intriguing. I watched as she shut her eyes and nodded her head, her posture defeated and solemn.

“I’m glad you’re seeing the gravity of the matter. This is how it’s going to go, the debt is settled, and you are not allowed to interfere in the happiness of Bella. You stay the hell away from me, Bella, and anyone closely associated to her, understood?”

She shifted her stance and didn’t meet our gazes. “Fine,” she said

“Not good enough look at me,” he said. She reluctantly met his gaze and he continued, “I need you to guarantee me that Bella will no longer be on your hit list. I want you to pretend that Bella is dead and forgot that you ever came here. If anything or anyone threatens the happiness of my daughter I will not hesitate to turn the evidence in.”

“I understand,” she said softly.

“Good, you can go now,” he said.

We stood there until she got into her car and drove away. As much as I appreciated everything Charlie had just done for me, it was clear to me that everything Renee had learned had been thanks to Charlie. I was angry, relieved, and worried.

“What the hell was that?” I finally asked.

“That was me protecting you,” Charlie said.

“I understand, but what the hell were you talking about? What do Uncle Marcus and Caius have to do with anything? When did you have time to investigate all of that? More importantly, who did you kill?” I asked.

“Let’s get inside,” he said.

I followed him inside and was bombarded with questions by Rosalie. “What happened? Is she gone? Are you leaving? How did she react?”

“Charlie scared her off,” I said, measuring his reaction.

“Really? That’s great, how?” Rosalie said.

“Charlie, you want to take this one,” I offered, but he didn’t respond.

We stayed silent for a moment only the sound of the children playing was heard.

“Okay, clearly I’m missing something and you two have some things to work out,” she said as she grabbed her diaper bag and the car-seat with Wyatt inside. “I’m going to take off and you two can figure this out and you can catch me up later.”

She hugged each of us goodbye, none of saying anything until she left.

“Wait, could you take Carly please?” I said, grabbing Carly’s backpack.

“Of course,” she said, taking the bag from my hand.

“I don’t want to go.” Carly pouted.

“Please, if you go with Auntie Rose right now, we can grab some ice cream on the way home,” I said sweetly.

She thought it over and nodded her head, she gave me a quick hug and skipped over to Rosalie and grabbed her bag.

“Alright, let’s talk,” Charlie said. “What do you want to know?”

“Let’s start with Florida and work our way up,” I said.

“Well, I went to Florida to investigate Renee and to make sure all loose ends were tied,” he said.

“Okay, what did you find out about Marcus and Caius?”

“Renee was playing them both after Aro’s death; she got a lot of money out of them. Once they realized they got played they have gone crazy looking for her, you, and Vanessa.”

“Unbelievable,” I muttered.

“I managed to steer them in the wrong direction and made sure they got the news that you passed away,” he said.

“Thanks, what about the bloody shirt?” I asked, bracing myself for his response.

“That is a really long story,” Charlie said.

“We’ve got time,” I countered.

“I’m not going to lie; I was a miserable son of a bitch,” he hesitated and continued, “we were just starting out and Renee had finally sucked her teeth into this local business man in Montana. Two weeks in, he brings her back to her place and things go south and she was forced to fight back. She runs out to find me and is covered in blood. I followed her back in to find the poor dope dead. I had to protect her and make sure no one ever found out what really happened that night.”

“But you saved the clothes,” I countered.

“Like I said, I always knew she would turn on me, I just never expected her to do so quickly,” he said, shaking his head.

“Wow,” I said stunned. I was still trying to process what he had just told me. Renee had taken a life and Charlie had helped. It was a strange feeling to know that the person you thought you knew had turned out to be someone different. I had known Charlie hadn’t always walked on the right side of the tracks but this had been too much.

“Bella, you have to know that that man isn’t me anymore. I’m different you know this, you’ve seen this,” he said softly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“It’s not something I’m proud of, Bella. It was something that happened before your time,” he said.

“I can understand that, really I can. I mean I always knew you and Renee must have been good to accomplish what you have; I just never expected it had gone that far.”

“I never intended it to, it just happened. I had to do what was best for us at the time,” he said.

“I know, but I can’t help but wonder who you are,” I said, my voice breaking.

“Don’t say that, you know me. This is me, haven’t I proven that?”

“Yeah, but the man you became when Renee was here was so different. The power you have over her is scary.”

“It’s the only way to be with Renee, you know that. I had to protect you somehow and that was the best way I knew how,” he said, aggravated.

“I’m sorry, this is just a lot to process. I’m relieved, scared, angry, and sad,” I said, sitting down.

“I’ll give you time to let it sink in, but you need to understand that I’m not that person anymore. That douche has been long gone. I just want you to know that all I’ve ever done was in your best interest. And, Bella, remember that if you can get past this, other people can too. ”

“You know, you sound a lot like me,” I thought out loud.

“Yeah, I probably do, but…” he trailed off.

“But what?”

“There is a difference,” he said softly.

“How so?” I asked, shifting my stance.

“What I’ve done can’t be fixed. What’s done is done. You still have the opportunity to set things right,” he said, walking towards the kitchen.

I sat there shocked. I had never really known Charlie until this very moment. Renee had once said we were similar and lo and behold she was right. We had both been working to be better people for our children. I respected him so much more for who he was. I especially had no right to judge him for what he had done; he had done what was right at the time. I wasn’t the person to offer Charlie forgiveness; he had never done me wrong.

I finally gathered myself and headed for Rosalie’s to pick up Carly and give her an explanation. As soon as she got to me, the questions began and I answered as best I could- making sure to avoid Charlie’s secret, it wasn’t mine to tell. When she was finally satisfied she let me go and I took Carly to get ice cream as promised.

When I got home I was shocked to find Renee waiting for me.

“It’s about time you got home,” she sneered.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, grabbing hold of Carly.

“I came here to talk to you in a civilized manner, without your bodyguard,” she retorted.

“I have nothing more to say to you,” I answered, walking past her.

“Just hear me out,” she said grabbing my arm.

“Let go,” I said.

“Fine,” she whispered as she let go of my arm. “Look all I want is five minutes, please,” she begged.

“Two minutes and after that you leave me the hell alone,” I almost shouted.

I heard Carly gasp and looked down at her. “Sorry, honey, please go inside and we’ll get ready for bed.

She nodded and looked at Renee one last time before she went in. “Go,” I hurried her along.

“Wow that was just heartwarming,” Renee said hugging her chest.

“Shut up and hurry up,” I commanded.

“Fine, I’m here to make you an offer. Bella, Charlie may think we’re even but we’re not. Luckily for me you’ve aged well and can still be useful to me. Help me rebuild my fortune.”

“Stunned it took me a few minutes to finally respond. “You want me to join you? I have a daughter now; I just can’t drop everything and help you. More importantly, I don’t want to.

“Just take the brat with you; she’ll be useful some day. Or leave her with Charlie,” she brushed off my words.

“No,” I said proudly.

“Don’t you dare tell me no,” Renee responded angrily.

“But I am, now please leave,” I almost begged.

“Just think about it, you’ve nothing going for you,” she said, walking away.

I went inside and got Carly ready fro bed, she was my life support and I would never do what Renee had done to me, she deserved bettter. As I watched her sleep I knew that my decisions were for the best. I would never go back to my old life.