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After my breakdown in the bathroom, Edward gave me a moment to gather my thoughts and calm down.
I exited the bathroom and spotted the waitress standing nearby, eyes darting in my direction.
I'm sure she saw Edward exit the bathroom minutes before I did.
I'm sure she assumed he was controlling and abusive as she noticed my red nose and tear stained cheeks.
The thought of Edward ever harming me, or anyone else, was simply preposterous.
I made my way back to the table and Edward gave me a soft smile as he nudged the plate towards me and pushed that I eat something.
Shortly later, he paid the bill as I stared vacantly at the way he scribbled his signature at the bottom of the receipt. His eyes met mine and he wrapped an arm around me as we exited the restaurant.
"Charlie," I said out loud once we were in the car. "I'm ready to talk to Charlie."
Edward silently kept his focus before finally asking, "Are you sure?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm sure." I nodded and stared out the window. "Might as well since we're already here in town."
He hummed, reached for my hand and brought it to his lips.
His ultimatum echoed in my mind and I focused on breathing evenly.
I almost asked how he knew the way to my father's house, until I remember he mentioned visiting him last week before leaving for Texas.
Not even ten minutes later, Edward parked his car against the curb and I pulled my hand from his.
"Well. I guess now is the time I should ask what the two of you talked about last week and how it went."
"I didn't ask for anything specific of him." Edward stared at the house. "I just asked for him to help you to help Renee."
"And how did that go?"
When Edward refused to look at me as he tightened his jaw, I knew I had my answer.
We exited the car and Edward whispered, "Remember to breathe."
It sounded silly but it was helpful.
My first knock on the door was weak; feeble in its attempt to catch the owners attention.
The second was hard, coated in determination.
To say Charlie looked surprised to see me standing on his porch was the understatement of the century.
"Bells?" he asked. Although I'm not sure why.
"Can we come in?"
"Yeah. Yeah." His voice was low and I ignored his blatant staring at my neck.
"Edward," Charlie greeted as we walked inside.
"Mr. Swan," Edward replied as he placed his hand on the small of my back. The contact was somehow instantly relaxing.
The three of us stood awkwardly in Charlie's tiny entryway.
"I was going to call..." he started to say. And lied, for that matter.
"Stop. Please," I pleaded. "I'm not here to hear your excuses, okay?"
"She did that to you?" Charlie asked dumbly while pointing at my neck.
"Well, it certainly didn't happen on its own," I retorted, almost feeling bad for his expression that followed my tone. "She's not well."
"I know." His eyes briefly glanced at Edward who was standing behind me.
"They are going to put her on medication but they're keeping her until the twenty-second of September."
"When did this happen?" Charlie questioned.
"It doesn't matter when," Edward interrupted. "What matters is that it happened and nothing was done to stop it."
I briefly glanced behind me and gave him a small smile to let him know it was okay; I was okay.
"They need someone to claim temporary guardianship," I explained while looking at a light fixture behind Charlie's head. "I can't do it."
"She shouldn't have to," Edward answered defensively. "Hasn't she given up enough of her life for Renee?"
Charlie look slightly annoyed at Edward's words. "Are you asking me to claim temporary guardianship?"
"I'm just...asking you to take over. Whatever that entails." My tone was calm; all business. "You could get a local government agency to pay you to be her caretaker. I don't...I know you work but..." I trailed off at his blank stare.
"Bells. I guess I should tell you...your mom and I..." he stopped. "We're still married."
Edward placed his hand on my shoulder and I shook my head, sure that I hadn't heard him correctly.
"We're still legally married," he said more clearly. "We started to file the papers, and I swear I thought she had signed them but she never did. And then..." He shrugged.
"You're still married. To my mom," I repeated for clarification.
"That's what I'm told."
"I don't-" I inhaled deeply as Edward lightly squeezed my shoulder. His way of reminding me to breathe. "I don't even know what the hell to say to you right now. I guess I'm not too surprised; I should have known. But now, if anything, you're just proving that you deserve to be legally responsible for her."
"I don't know how I'm supposed to do that, Bella. I'm no more capable than you are."
"Yes! You are!" I screamed. "You're an adult and you're...you can handle her better than I can! If she tries to fucking strangle you, you can restrain her!"
"You claim that I enabled her for the past few years, but you're no better than I am," I spat. "You doing nothing - you letting her go - was your way of enabling her. Maybe you don't see it that way, but I can't see it any other way."
Charlie exhaled loudly and asked, "What about the state? There's got to be an hospital she can stay in to be looked after."
"You want her to rot?" I half laughed.
"Do you not?"
"No!" I yelled. "I know she fucked up but that was my fault. I didn't do anything to help her. I didn't...I ignored the signs. I just-"
"That wasn't your fault, Bella," Edward offered.
My eyes stung from the sight of Charlie standing in front of me, not giving a damn. "I know she left. I know she fought with you, but..."
"I'll see what I can do," Charlie said, running a hand over his mustache. "I can't make you any promises."
"Trust me, I won't hold my breath," I scoffed bitterly.
"That's it?" Edward suddenly said. "'I can't make you any promises'? Your daughter is standing in front of you, begging to help the woman you are legally married to, and you're patronizing her saying you'll see what you can do?"
I closed my eyes. "Edward-"
"That's all there is, son." Charlie's voice grew louder, trying to overpower Edward's. "I said I'll see what I can do and that's that."
"No. That's not enough." Edward dropped his hand from my shoulder. "Why is she not the most important thing to you?" Edward yelled. "Look at her!" he demanded and pointed at me. "Look at what your wife did. You're standing here, refusing to help, while your daughter is standing in front of you crying. Unbelievable."
Charlie's stare was a combination of resentment and appreciation.
My eyes would only ever hold the former while staring at him.
"Let's go," Edward instructed and grabbed my hand.
"Bella." Charlie called out as Edward opened the front door. "I said I would see what I can do. I'm sorry if that's not what you wanted to hear."
"No. But it's what I expected." I shrugged as we walked down the porch steps.
"You tried. We tried," Edward finally spoke once we drove away from Charlie's.
"But did I try hard enough?"
Edward didn't answer me.
I closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep until we made it to Forks.
When I awoke, Edward was nudging my shoulder and we were parked in front of my house.
"I thought you could get a few more of your things and take them to my place," he said before leaving the car and walking around to open my door.
Stepping out of the car, I rubbed my eyes and took a deep, deep breath. "Edward. What am I supposed to do?"
"Get your things-"
"No. You know what I mean." I stared at the ground.
"Listen to me." Edward's back was to the sun; I squinted to see his expression I could feel burning into me. "Renee isn't normal. Even with medication, she will never be normal. She's going to drag you down with her if you don't focus on yourself; if you don't separate."
She was going to drag me down.
It was the most truthful thing anyone had ever said to me about my mother.
It was sad
and my life.
"I didn't mean to drag you into this," I mumbled.
"Stop. You didn't drag me into anything," he denied. "I'm here because I want to be. Because I love you."
With a shaky hand, I shielded my eyes from the sun and the glare coming from Edward.
"Then tell me what to do. Tell me how to make this better."
"I already told you, Bella. Stay with me," he said without missing a beat. "Move in with me and we can figure out the rest."
"And Renee? She gets to stay in a state hospital? That's it? That's the solution?"
"That's all I got, Bella." He shrugged, shifting his feet, burning his eyes into me. "You think by staying with her, you're helping. But you aren't. You're only adding fuel to the fire. You're her fucking accomplice and if you don't see that..." Edward stopped to take a breath, to lower his voice. "If you don't see that, then you're not the girl I thought you were."
I shook my head, trying to erase the words he just spoke. "She'll be out in two weeks. There's still time-"
"I can't give you any more time. Shit, Bella. She doesn't deserve to have more time with you."
I bit the inside of my cheek and stepped closer, letting him envelop me in his arms.
"Do you not want to be with me?" he asked as I rest my head against my chest.
"I do. I love you."
"It's not going to be easy. You're going to need to see a therapist; someone else who can help you sort through this. But it'll all work out. I promise you."
Edward kissed the top of my head and I nodded against his chest.
I moved all of my things into his place that night.
A/N: Good thing Charlie has a sexy mustache because he is one stubborn asshole. Next update will be mid-afternoon. Thanks for reading.