Saturday, June 16, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 18 - Edward


Afghanistan... Saturday, April 24, 2010 10:58 P.M.

Dropping my duffel onto my cot, I sat down hard with a sigh. I'd done everything I could think of to keep my mind occupied and make time move quickly. Nothing really worked. I'd been up since daybreak, gone for a run, checked in with my CO, cleaned my weapons, and washed every item of clothing I had, which were now folded away in my bag.

Glancing over at the clock on the wall, I sighed and groaned, fisting my hair – that shit was in desperate need of a buzz – in my hands with my elbows on my knees. Time was killing me. It either flew in long spurts, causing this would-be Skype conversation to loom closer, or it would crawl like a snail.

The problem was...I had no fucking idea what I wanted.

On the one hand, I desperately wanted Bella to show up online tonight. If she showed up, then that meant we were really doing this, that her amazing emails would continue, and that someone out there gave a shit – a beautiful and amazing someone.

In the short time that she'd been writing me, Bella had become so very important. It wasn't that she sent the most awesome care packages or baked the best cookies on the goddamned planet; it was her instant concern, her open heart, and her insistence that I wasn't alone. It was the soothing way that she made everything okay, how our sense of humors meshed like no one I'd ever known, and how all of it came so easily between us.

And now, I didn't feel alone. For the first time in a really long time, I had someone that truly cared what happened to me. Tanya – my own damn girlfriend – hadn't even cared where I was or what I was doing over here...and forget sending me anything. It never even crossed her mind.

On the other hand, it was that last thought that worried me the most and the reason I'd had to give Bella the option of quitting this whole thing. I didn't want her to waste her time on someone that could quite possibly not survive. She was young and so fucking beautiful and brilliant. She had everything going for her, and I could give her nothing in return. I was pretty sure that was what had finally caused my ex to give up, that feeling that life was passing her by, and for what? For someone that may never be able to come home?

Standing up and leaving my duffel right where it was, I opened my footlocker and grabbed my laptop. The barracks were sparse, most of the men down at the mess tent. It was movie night. The rest of the men were out on patrol. Walking into the CO's office, I set my computer up on the desk.

As always, I checked my email first, my heart plummeting when there was nothing new. I shook my head at just how much I needed Bella's words and her calm, but sharp humor to keep my head above water. Hell, I didn't even know how much I'd needed it until that first letter showed up unannounced.

Logging into Skype, I left the window open while I went in search of something she'd requested. Music. But not just any music...something I'd played.

Unable to help myself, I opened the picture of Bella – the one where she'd been about to go out with the girls. She was beautiful, in sparkly blue, her dark chocolate hair pulled away from her face. I smirked, rolling my eyes. If I was ever lucky enough to get out of here and meet this Mike guy, I was seriously going to check his mental faculties. He had to have been dropped on his head. Repeatedly. If not, then there was something seriously fucking wrong with the guy.

It scared me how quickly things had progressed between us. Two months? And we hadn't even met face to face. Closing the picture, I realized it really wasn't about how she looked. Though, a part of me wondered if we'd met on the street or in a bar...would we have connected just as fast? Did this whole situation seem strange simply because we'd met in an unorthodox way? Because two months in a face-to-face relationship would be completely different. And I guarantee that it wouldn't have been so damn open and honest.

I clicked through my music some more, doing my damnedest not to watch the clock. Just as I found the handful of songs that I wanted Bella to have, my computer alerted me. Incoming call. With my heart, balls, and stomach in my throat, I clicked open the window.



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