Big thanks to Dollybigmomma, who is here visiting me, keeping me sane while my husband is away for work
Love you, lady.
Chapter 30 – Secrets and Lies
I was ready for this all to be over. My morning sickness was finally starting to subside, but my anxiety about the whole messed-up situation hadn't. Edward was hesitant to warn James about Victoria following him. He sent his PI to look into it, to see if that was really what was happening.
I really wished we would have asked for the file on James, and I wondered if Edward would be willing to contact his father and ask for it. I really doubted it, though. He had done his best to stay far away from his family, and I really couldn't blame him.
I tried to avoid the files, but once again, I found myself staring at them, daring myself to dig into them further. I still hadn't had the nerve to read them completely through.
"What do you have there?" Jake asked. He was on guard duty for the time being.
"Edward's father kept extensive files on everyone. Elizabeth's is rather disturbing, and I'm trying to work up the courage to see what else is in it. I know he's been interfering in our lives since she was born, out of some twisted sense of family obligation. I'm not sure I want to know the extent of the betrayal of those around me. I already know that her school and her doctor were involved."
"Holy crap, are you kidding?"
"Not even a little bit."
"That's messed up."
"You're telling me. I'm afraid that I'm going to read these and find my whole life in New York is a lie, that all the acquaintances I've made, the friends who I'd thought really cared about me and my daughter, are actually just working for Carlisle. I can't return to that, Jake."
"Well, you're always welcome here," he said with a huge grin, and I knew we were. I also knew when it came to Edward's citizenship that it was going to be difficult to push it through. The fact that we had a daughter together proved that he wasn't trying to use his work visa to find a spouse to perpetuate citizenship. That was frowned upon and could complicate things. He being sent back to England while we waited for his papers to come through was a very real possibility. They didn't care that we were married and wanted to be together. That was the one major difference in England; they'd allow us to stay together while I obtained citizenship over there. I was not sure that would be the case here.
"What's this?" Jake asked picking up Renee's file.
"That's my mother's file," I said with a bit of disdain.
"Does is say how she died?"
"Oh, yes, it does. French guy on a beach in Florida," I spat, not realizing how bitter I was until that moment.
Jake looked utterly confused, so I just passed him the file. "She's alive?"
"Yup," I slapped the counter feeling aggressive and decided to get myself a snack. Frequent snacks were what the OB/GYN prescribed for my nausea.
"I don't understand," he muttered.
"That makes two of us. I want to confront my father, but I'm not sure if I want to hear his side of things. I have a feeling he'll only confirm what's in that file."
Edward walked in the front door and noticed the tense atmosphere. "Did something happen?"
"No," I said at the same time as Jake said yes.
"Well, which is it?"
"Her mother is still alive!" Jake sounded appalled.
Edward pulled me into his arms and kissed me softly. "You know she's not worth your time or worry."
"You knew about this?" Jake asked shocked.
"Yes, we both found out together. I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that there's no reason to pursue her. There's nothing she could say to Bella that would excuse her actions. It's best if we leave it be," Edward reiterated again, but I wasn't so sure I agreed with him.
"Do you still want to talk to your dad about this?" Jake asked.
"Yeah, I do."
Edward looked exasperated, but picked up his coat, "Very well. Jake, would you please join us?"
"Heck yeah, I've got to see this."
My dad's schedule hadn't changed for years, and just like before, he had the evening off. We dropped Elizabeth off with Leah and headed over to his place. We parked on the street in front of the house, and I saw the curtains move in his front window. I held the file tightly against my chest and tried once again to settle my stomach in vain.
When Edward stepped out of the car, my dad came out of the house scowling. I could already tell this wasn't going to go well. Thankfully, Jake hopped out and greeted my dad, while Edward grabbed my door, like the sweet gentleman he was.
When he wrapped his arm around me, I drew strength from him and knew I'd get through this, no matter what my father had to say. I wasn't sure if I wanted him to say he'd kept my mother away from me or not. Either way, the outcome was going to be bad.
"What are you doing here?" my dad scowled at Edward.
"My wife has a few questions for you. I'd appreciate it if you'd put aside your prejudice for the moment and answer them."
"Questions about what?" he snapped at Edward, but then his eyes took in the file in my hands.
"Renee, I want to know about my mother."
"I told you, she died a long time ago. Did you need her medical information or something?" he asked eyeing the file again.
"No, Dad, I know Renee didn't die. I know she's alive and well, living in Florida with some French guy named Philip Dwyer."
My father's face nearly turned purple he was so mad. "You have all the information you need then. Get out!"
"Wait, what happened?" I asked frantic.
"Chief Swan, my wife still has some questions for you..."
"I don't have the answers!" he shouted.
"Charlie, she knows it's not your fault. Just give her a minute," Jake said settling my father down a bit.
"Fine, but we're not talking about this in the front yard with all the looky-loos," he grumbled and led the way into his house.
I sat down and opened the file on the coffee table, exposing the contents of it. The pain was evident on my father's face. "Did she ever try and contact you or me after she left?"
My father shook his head, but it wasn't convincing.
I waited silently for verbal confirmation. "She didn't want to see us. She just wanted a few of her things. I sent them and told you that I was donating them."
"So you guys divorced?"
"Yes, not long after she got out of the rehab center. I realized our marriage was a lost cause. Renee had left long before she walked out. She wasn't cut out for family life. I think it's what got her started on the drugs in the first place. I wasn't surprised when I was served with divorce papers. I was shocked when they included her terminating her parental rights, though. She gave me full custody. I was ready to fight tooth and nail for you, but she just walked away. The guy she was with didn't want kids. They wanted to travel the world, and you would've just gotten in their way. I wanted to deck the bitch when she said that. I knew it was over for good then. There was no way I could ever take back someone who could walk away from their family so completely."
"So she never tried to contact us?"
"Once she settled in Florida, she called and asked me about you. I told her you thought she was dead. She said that it was probably for the best, and she's never called again."
"So she let me go because she thought it'd be easier on me to think she was dead?" I asked hopefully. Maybe she hadn't walked away and never gave me a second thought. Maybe she'd thought she was doing the right thing.
"Sweetheart, I don't want you to get your hopes up," my dad cautioned.
"But-" I started, but my father cut me off.
"I don't want you contacting her, Bella. She'll just use you and hurt you. She's been around that selfish foreigner far too long. You need to stay away from them."
"I think that's something we'll decide on our own," Edward said with a false calm. I could tell the tension was building again, and it was just a matter of time before things exploded between my husband and father again.
"This is all your fault! She would've never known if it wasn't for you. She would've been fine going through life thinking her mother was dead, and you've ruined everything!" my father shouted at Edward.
"I have a right to know," I insisted. "You never planned on telling me?"
"You didn't need her in your life. No good can come from knowing her, Bella. I was protecting you. If it wasn't for that self-important for-"
I'd heard enough of his rant. "Edward had nothing to do with this! I can't believe you were going to hide yet another family member from me, from Elizabeth! First my husband and her father, and now her grandmother, is there anyone else I don't know about? An aunt, uncle, long lost sibling, or cousin?" I snapped. I was sick of him keeping everyone from me. "Where do you get off deciding who gets to be in my life? This is my family! It's my choice who I interact with! You've hurt me more than Renee ever could, because I trusted you!"
"Look what you've done. You've turned my baby girl against me!" he focused his anger back on Edward.
I was two seconds away from slapping my father and shouting, "Hey, asshole, you're the reason I'm upset! You're the reason I don't want to talk to you. It has nothing to do with Edward!"
Instead, Edward hooked his arm around my waist and pulled me towards the door. "Come on, beautiful, let's go. I don't want you getting too worked up. It can't be good for you two." His hand brushed over my tummy, reminding me how important it was for me to settle down. I took a few deep breaths and ignored my father's ranting at Edward. He wasn't letting it bother him, so I wasn't going to let it bother me, either.
Jake stepped between my dad and where Edward was leading me away. "Charlie, I've known you my whole life, and I'm telling you right now. You need to let them go. You're both too worked up to hold a decent conversation. Maybe call her in a few days when you can think of something to say without yelling. I'll tell her to do the same."
"You're taking his side? You're going to let that man take my little girl from me? I never thought you'd be bought off, too!" my father sneered.
"I was not bought off. I know he makes her happy. I know he loves his daughter and takes care of his wife. You need to accept it. You need to accept that he's part of your family, or you won't have one. Open your damn eyes, Charlie. She's happy. He loves her and his kids, just let it be."
Edward opened my door for me, and I settled into my seat, looking back at my dad's sad face. He looked so pained, and I hated that I was leaving him all alone, but I couldn't stay when he was being so rude. Edward had held his tongue. He didn't deserve my father's hatred, and I wouldn't stand for it.
The ride home was quiet. Edward kissed my fingers as he drove.
"Do you think I should contact her?" I asked him.
He glanced at me and gave me a worried smile. "Our fathers seem wary of her. I know both are a bit mental, but maybe if we were cautious about it. We could maybe see if she'd like to talk to you, but not give her too much information, so if she actually is the type of person they think she is, you can pull back. I do think we should hold off on introducing her to Elizabeth, though. Maybe not tell her much other than who you are and see how she feels about talking to you. Would you be alright with that?"
I nodded my head yes. He was right. As much as I'd love to believe that my mother would value having a real relationship with me, I didn't truly know her. The last thing I wanted to do was be taken by who our fathers believed to be my scam artist of a mother. I couldn't help but hope that what they thought wasn't true, though, and that maybe, just maybe, she'd want to know me and had missed me, too.