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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


28. Loving Ghosts

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5096   Review this Chapter

Chapter 28: Loving Ghosts

EPOV

After talking to Alice, it seemed abundantly clear that Vanessa and I were over. I knew she wouldn't take it well. Many times I had tried to leave her, but she had always managed to pull me back in. Today's events were enough for me to realize that Vanessa has never really loved me, or if she did it wasn't the right kind of love. Her hatred for Bella was so grand it lead her to spreading lies.

I knew enough about myself to realize that it was finally time to end the vicious cycle. I knew the fight would be long and hard but in the end would be worth it. I had used Vanessa as a crutch, first as punishment for what we had both done by treating her and me as poorly as I had. It was a lot easier to fill the role of the bad guy than coming to terms with the fact that Bella was really gone. For so long I tried to create a life that still had Bella ever present and but also painful enough to be considered punishment.

It was ironic that Vanessa was the one to make me realize just how important it was to move on. I pulled into the driveway and paced in front of the door before finally walking in. Vanessa greeted me right away, "Hey, Edward, how are you holding up?"

"I'm okay, I've come to the conclusion that it's time to move on," I started but was interrupted by Vanessa wrapping her arms around me.

"That's great, I'm glad we can finally move on," she began but stopped as I pushed her away.

"Let me finish. It's time that I move on from Bella and from you. Today's events helped me see the light. We don't work together, and we need to stop forcing it. I'll do whatever it takes to end this marriage even if it means giving everything up. I need a real opportunity to move on."

"No, you can't do this. After everything we've been through, after what you've just found out you still can't see that we belong together," she pleaded.

"No it didn't. It did however make me realize that your interest in me has always been to hurt Bella. From the very beginning when we first cheated that was your intention to hurt her. And even after she was gone all you've wanted was to make her suffer as if she was still around. After she died I easily filled the role of asshole because I felt it was the only thing I could be and then you came along and I saw a way of punishment, and I thought your reasons for sticking around were similar. You knew this and took advantage of it and stuck around for reasons that became clear recently, money and to inflict pain."

"Don't do this," she begged, but she didn't even try to deny it.

"It needs to be said. This self-punishment that I thought you were looking for has gone too far. I could never be with someone who can hate another person as much as you hate Bella, as much as you hate me for reasons I can't really understand. For too long I've held on to this twisted relationship and now it's time to move on. We've attempted to live a life that just wasn't meant for us. Losing that baby was painful but at least he/she would have never had to live in this loveless home," I sadly admitted.

"How dare you?" she screamed. "We were almost there! We were both becoming people who could have been good parents."

"I'm sorry but we both know it's the truth. I can be capable of being a better person just not with you around. I booked you a room at the Four Seasons; you can stay there until you are settled. Please don't make this harder than it has to be and pack what you can. I'll have someone pack up the rest and shipped."

"That's it, huh? You can't be with me because I hate Bella? Of course I hate her she has always had what I've always wanted. People have always loved her more than me and that includes you. If you think you can just end this you're wrong. It's going to cost you and I am not going out without a fight."

"I'll do whatever it takes to get back on track," I stated calmly.

"Fine, but let me tell you one thing. It's going to take a lot of ammo to get rid of me," she said, storming off.

An hour later she had a couple of suitcases stacked at the entrance and was pulling the car closer for her to leave.

I helped her load everything without a word. Before getting into her car and driving off, she slapped me and said, "I hope you rot in hell."

I didn't react. I didn't want to give her the satisfaction, and instead I let her drive off. I went back inside and felt like I could breathe for the first time in a long time. It was then that I knew that I had finally made a good decision.

That night I slept with a clear conscious and stress free. The next morning I woke up feeling with a much better attitude than I ever had. I went through my morning routine and decided to call Alice and my parents to tell them about Vanessa and me. My parents didn't try to sway me into changing my mind but didn't offer any assurance or support. Our relationship had never been as close as I would have hoped so their reaction didn't surprise me and neither did Alice's.

"Edward, you are doing the right thing. I'm so proud of you. You're finally taking a step in the right direction," she raved on once I told her things with Vanessa ended.

"Yeah thanks. I think this will be good for me," I mumbled.

"It is! Trust me, Vanessa is no good for you," she said. I always knew that my family always disapproved of my relationship with Vanessa, but Alice had never been as vocal as she had been today.

"Yeah," I stated awkwardly.

"Hey, do you think we can meet up next Tuesday at the park? I think Carly took a liking to you," she changed the subject.

"I'm not sure that's a good idea. I-"

She interrupted, "It's not like you have anything better to do. Come on it will give us some time to bond. We hardly spend time together."

"That's because you've been busy with Jasper," I countered.

"Yeah, well, I'm trying here," she said.

"I know I'm just teasing, I'll be there." I assured.

"Great," she said and hung up.

The rest of the week I had someone pack away Vanessa's things and put them into storage, and I sent her the key. I met with my lawyer and started the process. My lawyer advised me that because there was no pre-nuptial agreement and my history of cheating, Vanessa had the upper hand. I told him to do whatever was necessary to settle and to keep this from going to court at any measure.

While I worked on getting my freedom back, it seemed that my past wasn't quite ready to let me go just yet and I continued to see Bella everywhere. My visions or hallucinations became more frequent but the hallucinations never lasted long enough for me to know they weren't real. At nights my hallucinations became dreams and every night I was with Bella. My dreams had changed dramatically now that Vanessa and I weren't together, she never left me. It was more wishful thinking than anything else, but I was getting a form of closure through my dreams than anything else.

A part of me worried that these hallucination would do me more harm than good, but I needed them like I needed air to breathe. I was finally accepting that Bella was gone and trying to move on, and I knew that I wasn't really seeing her but it helped ease the pain to know that she was still with me in spirit. It felt as if Bella was guiding me through this new life, a life she would have wanted me to pursue instead of the detour I had taking with Vanessa.

Alice called me the Friday morning and didn't bother to greet me. "I think you should seriously consider seeing a therapist."

"I don't think so," I answered automatically.

"Trust me, this therapist is good, she really helps you get to the root of the problem. Jasper and I just started seeing her and already I feel a difference."

"Oh? How so?" I wondered.

"I really don't want to discuss this, but all I can say is Dr. Cheney really gets to the root of the problem," she assured.

"If I promise to give it a try will you let it go?"

"Good, I'll text you her contact info, you have an appointment with her this afternoon, but it was a cancellation so you may change days once you get started," she said before hanging up.

I laughed at my sister's eagerness, and was slightly annoyed at her forwardness but I knew she was doing it for my benefit so I didn't let it bother me too much. I spent the rest of the day on cleaning out my house and getting a storage space.

That first session was rough and emotional, apparently Dr. Cheney didn't believe in sensitivity. I walked into the gray colored room of the petite young woman and sat on the long brown couch. She greeted me as she sat down on the chair next to me. "Hello, Edward. I'm Dr. Cheney but you can call me Angela."

"Hi," I responded.

"Let's get this going, why are you here?" she asked.

Taken aback by her urgency I didn't respond right away.

"While I understand that people require sensitivity and patience in situations like these, I've come to find that sometimes people do better when more direct questions are asked to get the ball rolling. As you know everything you say here is confidential," she stated.

"Oh, okay. Well I'm here because I want to move on," I responded.

"Move on from what?" she asked writing something down on her notepad.

"My previous life, Vanessa, Bella," I responded dully.

"Let's take this one step at a time, who are Vanessa and Bella? And what made your previous life so terrible?"

"Bella was my first wife, and my only love. Vanessa was her sister and my second wife. That's why my life is so terrible because I was married to her."

"Okay, so if Bella is the love of your life why marry Vanessa?"

"She passed away, car accident," I mumbled.

"I see, let me clear some things up. From what I understand you are currently going through a divorce right?" Again she wrote something down on her notepad.

I nodded.

"With Vanessa?"

I nodded again.

"Okay let's go back to the beginning; you said Bella was your only love. Why do you say that?"

"Because it's the truth. At first when I met her it was more of a game, she resisted my charm and I was intrigued. She didn't just fall for me because of my looks or because of who I was, she actually wanted to get to know me and forced me to get to know her. She saw right through my bullshit, she was simple, sweet, caring, and honest. She was my everything."

"Interesting, what was your life before Bella? Did you date a lot? Had you ever been in love?" she fired back with more questions.

"I had been in love a few times, but not like with Bella. It was more puppy love, summer romances, but never anything serious, not until I was in college. I met Tanya, but she was just after what I could offer her financially and socially not emotionally. That wasn't love."

"So you got hurt before, how did you react?" she asked.

"I was devastated and disappointed in myself. Everyone had expected me to become this playboy and date several women before I even considered settling down but I thought I was in love. After that it just seemed easier to do what was expected of me so I wouldn't get my heart broken."

"How many women would you say you dated before Bella?" she asked.

"I wouldn't really call it dating more like casual sex. I'm sorry but where is this going?" I wondered.

"I just want to get a feel of who you were before and after Bella, that's all. How long did you date Bella before you married her?"

"We dated for almost ten months, but the two months prior we focused on getting to know each other. I proposed a year after meeting her and we got married almost six months after."

"How long did the marriage last?"

"Not even a day, on our wedding day she found out I cheated on her with Vanessa."

"I see, and what did you do then?"

"I tried to repair our marriage and move forward but she wouldn't have it. She broke up with me and almost a month later had that accident."

"How did you react then?"

"I wanted to join her. My world had no meaning if she wasn't in it. Even though she left, at least I had the comfort that she was still breathing the same air and seeing the same moon at night."

"I have to ask, you cheated on Bella with her sister and yet you still claim to love her, how does that work?"

"It was a misunderstanding, I was intoxicated and I let the worst of my hormones get to me. I know that what Bella and I had was love."

"Okay, one follow-up question and then you can go; what was one thing that you didn't like about Bella? Think about it and I'll see you next session. Are Mondays and Fridays okay with you?"

I nodded and walked out of her office. I had never been asked that before and was flabbergasted that she had. I went home and spent the rest of the day thinking about her question and I couldn't really come up with anything. The rest of the weekend I attempted to come up with an answer but I couldn't come up with one.

The following Monday I went to see Angela without an answer but more prepared for her line of questioning.

"So Edward, good weekend? Did you come up with an answer?" she asked.

"My weekend was okay, nothing out of the ordinary. I didn't come up with an answer, Bella was perfect."

"No one is perfect, Edward. There has to be something, surely you haven't placed Bella on a pedestal, have you?"

I thought long and hard, I knew she wanted a specific answer but I wasn't sure what. "Well, I didn't appreciate the way she let herself be pushed around by her family. I rarely spent time with them as a unit but the few times I did she wasn't the same woman, almost like she changed who she was to cater to their needs."

"Good, why did it bother you?" she asked.

"I don't know, I guess it was the fact that she could easily change who she was and her mannerisms to accommodate them. It worried me that she was doing the same with me."

"Okay, this is good. I want to talk about Vanessa now; it seems she has played a big role in your life."

"Vanessa is nothing like Bella, never was, I just didn't see it right away."

"It's interesting that your first statement regarding Vanessa is that she is not Bella. Why do you think that is?"

I felt under attack, she just kept asking me questions, I wasn't sure I had the answers to. "I guess it's because everyone always assumes that's why I chose her," I offered.

"Chose her for what? And if that wasn't the case what was? Why out of all the women you had at your feet did you choose Vanessa, the woman who you cheated with and the love of your life's sister?"

"I'm feeling uncomfortable, I came here to figure all this out and make sense of my feelings, but I can't do so if I'm feeling pressured."

"I apologized but I did warn you. Please answer the question, Edward. Why Vanessa?"

I stayed quiet for a few seconds or maybe minutes until I finally came to a conclusion. "It was a combination of reasons. At the time I was at my lowest point and here was this woman who knew what I was going through because she was just as guilty as I was for hurting Bella. She knew I could never love her and that I would only use her, it was obvious, but she didn't care it was almost like she wanted to be punished."

"But why did you do it?"

"I just told you."

"No you told me why you think she did it."

"I don't know I guess I wanted to be the one to punish her. It seemed easier to focus on that, than to focus on the fact that Bella was gone."

"You wanted to hurt Vanessa, punish her. What about you? You said you chose her? What were you looking for?"

"That was just a saying I didn't choose her for anything, she came to me. I guess I wanted to punish myself by having to tolerate her. I knew she was unbearable, and I guess at the time I felt all I could have was someone like her, everyone else was too good."

"So you're saying that you and Vanessa started a relationship based on hate, guilt, and your need for punishment. It had nothing to do with the fact that she looked like Bella?"

"Exactly."

"I just don't buy it, there has to be something more. Think about it and we'll address it later."

"Okay."

"Let's talk about your life with Vanessa. How did you two interact?"

"We had our moments of… pleasantry, but mostly we fought and partied a lot. I was never faithful to her but she looked past it and wanted to get married, so we did, and then we moved out here and partied some more. We slowed down when she realized she was pregnant. She asked me to change and I tried I really did. I didn't want my future child to be disappointed in me so I changed, but we lost the baby, and we were devastated at first. Vanessa changed after that, I had finally seen a softer side to her and we decided to try and make it work, but that didn't last very long. "

"What made you finally decide to split up?"

"I decided it was time after she tried to convince me Bella's intention with me were less than honest. I realized then that she would never really change and neither would I if we continued in that cycle."

"That's very brave of you," she commented.

"I guess." I shrugged.

"Before we say goodbye, have you figured out the answer to my question?"

"No."

"I think you have but are ashamed to admit it," she said.

"I just think it isn't fair of me to want something like that."

"Something like what?"

"I chose Vanessa because out of all the women I slept with, not including Bella, she was the only who sparked something in me. The night of my bachelor party, I felt something for the woman I slept with, and once I realized it was her and Bella was gone I needed to feel it again."

"You wanted to see if you actually had something. Did you find it?"

"No, it never felt the same," I admitted.

"I'm proud of you, its okay that you wanted to feel something more, and more importantly that you admitted it out loud. I know it doesn't seem like you are, but you have already progressed so much, you just need to see it. Think about everything we've discussed and ask yourself what you want and how you can get it. Our time is up, see you again on Friday," she said.

I thanked her and left the office feeling lighter.

The next day, I joined Alice and Carly at the park. The second time, Carly seemed to be more prepared for me and was even more enthusiastic about me joining them.

"Hey, Alice, Carly," I greeted them.

"You're here!" Carly rejoiced.

"That I am, little lady," I responded.

"I helped Auntie Alice pack us a picnic. I hope you like peanut butter," she said happily.

"I love peanut butter," I assured her.

"Yay! Me too! My mom doesn't really like it," she trailed off.

We sat on the picnic tables near the play area so that Alice could keep an eye on her. We mostly ate in silence except for when I praised Carly on the sandwich. Once we were done I expected Carly to run off and play, but instead stuck around and began to ask me questions.

"What's your favorite color?" she began.

"Blue," I answered automatically.

"Blue is nice," she mused. "What about your favorite song?"

"I enjoy all types of music so I don't really have a favorite song," I reasoned.

"Do you play any instruments?" she asked.

"I play a little piano and guitar, but I haven't practiced in years," I answered.

"Oh, I was hoping I could see you play," she trailed off.

"Maybe I will start playing again, who knows," I encouraged.

"Cool," she answered. "What's your favorite food?"

"I enjoy a good steak" I answered. I noticed Alice form the corner of my eye and saw her eyes get watery, but I didn't say anything.

"So, Carly, what are your favorite song, color, and food?" I asked, returning the favor.

"I like Hannah Montana, my favorite color is purple and my favorite food is pizza," she answered enthusiastically.

"That's great."

"Do you like to read?" I asked, hoping to steer the conversation away from Hannah Montana.

"My mom has read to me since I can remember. I like Nancy Drew and Dr. Seuss," she stated proudly.

"You're mom sounds like a nice lady. What else has she read to you?"

"She reads me a poem every night from Where the Sidewalk Ends, it's her favorite," she answered.

I knew the book well; it was one of Bella's favorite children's book because her stepfather used to read it to her all the time.

"Those are great."

"Yeah," she nodded. "My mommy knows them all. Are you married?

That seemed like a strange question coming from a five year old. I answered as delicately as I could. "I've been married twice but I don't have a wife anymore."

"What happened?" she asked.

I was about to answer but Alice interrupted me. "Carly, why don't you go play for a little while?"

"But-" she began but one look at Alice's stern face shut her up and had her running for the play gym.

"That kid sure asks a lot of questions," I pointed out.

"She's just curious," Alice brushed off.

"Yeah."

"So how are you? So many changes in such a short time must be overwhelming."

"It is, but I think I'm handling it okay. I've begun to remodel the house, and Angela is great."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"Who did you say her mother was?" I wondered.

"You don't know her. She's just a friend I met through mutual friends," she stated briefly.

"Oh, okay."

We stayed quiet for a few minutes and watched Carly on the swings. For a moment her smiling face reminded me of Bella and my heart wanted to burst with sadness.

Carly came back a while later and I said my goodbyes and left. Before I left Carly gave me tight hug and said she hoped to see me again.

As the next few days went by I managed to create a new routine. Each morning I would wake up and go for a jog, eat breakfast, and do some housework. I had given the cleaning ladies some time off, so that I could personally dispose of Vanessa's existence. I donated the furniture she had picked out, and bought new sets of everything. I knew that erasing her from my home would never be fully achieved, but it was important for me to feel like I was really starting over. The process was slow and tedious, going through each room and really figuring out what I wanted and what needed to be tossed, but it kept me busy and out of trouble.

My next sessions with Dr. Weber weren't as intense, we focused on the differences between Bella and Vanessa and what had attracted me to them. We discovered that despite their obvious differences in personalities there were subtly things they shared. Both Vanessa and Bella never liked to talk about each other, the past, or their mother, but when they did talk about anything they loved they became animated and used their hands a lot. They were both patient; despite Vanessa's hard attitude she always understood that I needed time. I found those similarities most important while Angela found the differences more important.

We also talked intensely about my hallucinations.

"So you've mentioned that you've seen Bella in different women, how does that work?"

"Well, it could be the way someone laughs, they way they style their hair, biting their lip, and even what they wear. It triggers a memory of Bella and for an instant I see her. I know they aren't real but they are so reassuring in the midst of all this."

She stayed silent for a moment. "I'm trying to find a way to word this without upsetting you, but do you think that these hallucinations are a coping mechanisms, a way to keep Bella around, just like dating and marrying Vanessa was after Bella's death? I know you've said her looks had nothing to do with why you choose her, but maybe subconsciously that was what attracted you?"

"I want to say no, but that reasoning seems iron-clad. It's just that it makes me feel pathetic admitting that that is a strong possibility."

"Why?"

"Because I know that no one could ever measure up to her and it seems stupid to think that I could replace her."

"Edward, sometimes we do things we know are wrong or bad for us because at the time they are able to fill the void. You knew that Vanessa wasn't the one and you did it anyway, and the result wasn't that great. Learn from this, you know these hallucinations aren't real and as long as you keep reminding yourself and finding other ways to keep Bella's memory alive in a healthy way you'll learn to cope. In any case, if you need me, you have my emergency number line."

The following weeks were similar to the last, and I met Alice at the park again with Carly. She asked me several dozen questions from a notepad she had with her. This time she chose not to play on the gym but instead wanted to play hide and seek with Alice and I. I complied and managed to enjoy myself.

It was amazing how much joy this child was bringing me, even if it was momentary. Soon it became a weekly ritual and I began to have a real attachment to the little girl.

Several weeks had gone by since I had last seen Vanessa and in just a few short days we would be having a meeting with our lawyers to discuss the terms of our divorce.

In those few weeks, I had managed to also develop a stronger friendship with Alice. The times I spent with her and Carly as well as individually helped me remember the guy I was before I had gone down the wrong path.

Soon my vacation was coming to an end and I was putting the final touches on the remodel. The only section that remained was the exterior and I was determined to finish it before I went back to work. I got up early on a Saturday morning and began with the giant backyard and planted new plants as well. I took a break to go to home depot and eat some lunch before I started the front of the house.

I planted the last of the rose bushes as the sun was setting and began to pack away my tools when I felt someone behind me.

I turned around and there she was, my recurring Bella hallucination. It scared me at how vivid and real she seemed but then realized it was a lot better to have her around than not at all, even if it was all in my head.

I walked closer to her and was ecstatic when she didn't disappear. I wrapped my arms around her and was overwhelmed at how real she felt.

"I need to remember that dehydration helps with my hallucinations. This all seems so real it almost feels like you're actually here," I noted.

"Edward, I am real," she whispered into my ear.

I felt the wind of her breath on my ear and couldn't believe how right it felt. "And you talk too! This is the best hallucination I've had," I exclaimed overwhelmed with joy.

"Edward, I'm not dead, this is really me," she repeated.

"What?" I asked in confusion.

"I'm alive, I am actually here. I'm not a hallucination," she assured.

I took a look around and couldn't believe this was happening. "I must have blacked out or hit my head."

"I'm right here," she repeated.

Worried that I would do something stupid, I ran inside. Angela said that my hallucinations were healthy as long as I was aware they weren't real but now I wasn't so sure. I wasn't sure what had just occurred by my perfect vision of Bella was trying to convince me that she was real. I grabbed a drink of water and tried to calm myself when I heard a knock on the door.

I hesitantly opened the door and there she was. I was stunned; my Bella was at my front step.