Sunday, June 3, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Prequel: Edward

Afghanistan... Tuesday, February 02, 2010 at 9:26 P.M.

"Sarge!" Wells called from the barracks doorway.

"Yeah?" I grunted as I cleaned my rifle, glancing up.

"Mail, sir." He grinned, getting ready to sling it toward my bunk.

It sailed perfectly onto my bed, and I went back to finish the task at hand before opening it. Even though the envelope had landed upside down, I knew exactly who the letter was from, and it had been well over three months since I'd heard from her. I'd rather have emailed with her, but she barely knew how to do her homework on her computer, much less access her email.

I sighed, set my weapon to the side, and braced myself for whatever news Tanya had for me. There was no telling, since her last letter had been filled with complaints of my absence. I ripped the letter open, pulling out the single sheet of paper.

Dear Eddie,

I thought I could do this, but I can't. It's too hard. You could've gone to Harvard, been with me, but instead, you chose to run off to play soldier. It's not fair. School is hard enough without an absent boyfriend to ruin my social life. I'm missing out on parties, dates, and events in Boston, and I feel silly without an escort. And believe me, I've had plenty of offers!

You did this to us. I begged you not to, but you didn't listen. We could have had it all. We could have married, had kids, and moved back to Chicago. You could've worked at the firm like my dad and your dad. It was what we were supposed to do, and you ruined it.

I need to be free to make plans. To live my life. I don't want to wait around for you to realize you left behind something special. By the time you do, it'll be too late, Edward. You'll be sorry now that I'm gone.

I have good news, though. A modeling agency has taken me on here in Boston, but I need that picture you have of me. It's the only one. You know, the night we attended the ballet together? I need it back, please. It's one of the best pictures of me, and I'd like to show them. So if you could just send it back, I'd really appreciate it.

This really is for the best. Maybe you'll see me in the magazines soon! Wish me luck!



My temper flared briefly, but then I just wadded up the page and tossed it to the foot of my bed, where it rolled off onto the floor.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" I groaned to myself, shaking my head.

A large form stopped at the foot of the bed, bending down to pick up the letter. Emmett McCarty was a giant of a man in my squad but seemed as laid back as a teddy bear. I knew that he and Jasper Whitlock both came from Washington, but I didn't know much more than that.

"Bad news from home, Sarge?" he asked, frowning down at me.

"Home," I scoffed, rolling my eyes. I had no home anymore. The Army was my home, and currently, home was in the fucking desert, in the middle of a damn war, and a cot surrounded by several other men. "It's nothin'," I muttered, waving it all off because I hated discussing my private life...with anyone.

Not to be deterred, Emmett opened up the letter anyway. His face grew fierce as he read each and every selfish word from a woman I'd thought I cared about. It was actually interesting to watch him go from the laid back guy that loved a good laugh to the angry man standing at the foot of my cot. He became rather intimidating – and downright fucking scary.

"This is your...girlfriend?" he asked incredulously.

"Was. Was my girlfriend, apparently," I sneered, not at him but at the offending piece of paper in his hand.

"Well, fuck, Ed... How long were you together?"

I shrugged, frowning down at my thin blanket. "Off and on since high school, but we've known each other our whole lives."

His eyebrows shot up, but he nodded, scanning the letter again. "So let's see... After all that time...what? Five, six years? She dumps you like this?" he asked, but I didn't need to answer him. "Aw, hell no!" He turned to face the other side of the barracks. "Yo, Jazz! Get over here!"

Jasper walked up, glancing between us. "What's up?"

"Check this shit out," Emmett growled, shoving the wrinkled paper at him, only to turn to me. "Don't sweat this, Sarge. I got you!" he said with an evil as fuck grin crawling up his face.

"Damn," Jasper murmured, frowning at the letter. "She didn't even ask how you were, dude."

I snorted into a rough laugh, raising an eyebrow up at them both. "Not her style."

"Eh, you don't need this shit," Jasper said in his usual slow drawl, looking to Emmett. "Paybacks?"

"Hell, yeah, paybacks," Emmett chuckled darkly. He turned to the full room. "Yo, guys, listen up. I need pics of pretty girls. You know, real ones, not that bullshit porn you keep in your footlockers. Wives, girlfriends, sisters...I don't care. Just pictures you can live without. Let's go!"

My hand hit my forehead, but I could see what he was up to.

Jasper chuckled, taking a knee beside my cot. "Grab a pen and paper. I'll tell you what to say..."

I huffed a laugh but shook my head no. "This isn't necessary. She's cheating..."

Emmett came back, dropping what looked like twenty photographs onto my cot. "How can you tell she's fucking cheating?"

"I know her," I murmured, shrugging a shoulder. "You have to read between the lines. That bullshit about plenty of offers? Yeah, that gives her away. She's taken up more than one...offer." I rubbed my chin, frowning at the pile of pictures. "I'd have to call...home to be sure."

The word "home" stuck in my throat, because Chicago didn't represent anything other than the past to me. Even less now.

Emmett glanced up at the clock. "Go call. We'll get you more pictures – and then you'll teach her about...offers." He grinned again, and it was so very easy to grin back. "See Alberts over there?" he asked, gesturing to the soldier three bunks down. "He writes about thirty girls back in the States. Met them through some website or some shit." He laughed, shaking his head. "Hell, he can barely remember their damn names. Keeps a fucking chart."

I huffed a laugh, standing up to make my way to the phone.

"You, Sarge," Jasper chuckled, slapping my shoulder. "You're gonna claim the same shit. You write so many girls that you have no idea who this...Tanya is," he said after checking the envelope for her name. "Give her a little taste of her own selfish medicine."

As wrong as it was, it was absolutely fucking irresistible.

"And then," Emmett continued, still wearing his shit-eating grin, "you're gonna tell her to pick out her picture and send the rest back."

The laughter that burst out of me felt good. Tanya had been nothing but trouble since I'd told her my decision concerning joining the Army. I'd offered her an out when I joined, an out during basic training, and an out just before I shipped overseas. Told her that she didn't have to wait, but she clung on, only to give me shit about it. She hardly ever wrote, never asked if I was okay, and she damn well never answered when I called.

As I walked away, I heard them chat to each other.

"Who writes a 'Dear John' letter to a man at war?" Jasper muttered.

"It's 'Dear Eddie,'" Emmett corrected. "And you should call Alice. Maybe she and Rosie can add some stuff to our boxes next time. He needs paper and shit."

Shaking my head, I left the barracks.

My phone call was quick and to the only place I could think to call – Tanya's father's office. It had been my own father's office, too, but that was before. The receptionist was an old friend from high school who just happened to be a good friend of Tanya's, as well. Katie.

"She said...what?" Katie squealed. "Oh, no, no, no... Edward, sweetie...that's all sorts of wrong. Are you okay?"

"Eh, I'm fine. I'm just...confused," I sighed. "Why break up now?"

"She's cheating, honey. She just doesn't do single," Katie groaned. "She mentioned something about a professor and extra credit, and I'm pretty sure she didn't mean for her grades... Ya know?"

I scowled, glaring down at my lap, but I had been right. I wasn't heartbroken, which surprised me. I felt betrayed, though. I was weary of her selfish behavior, and suddenly, my decision to join the Army felt all the more...right. Had I attended school with her, moved from Chicago to Boston with her like she'd wanted, we'd have been toxic by now.

"Thanks, Kate."

"Please be careful over there, Edward. Just get home in one piece, yeah?" she soothed. "Want me to tell Garrett you called?"

I grimaced at the sound of my father's best friend's – and Tanya's father's – name, sighing deeply. "No, just...forget I called."

"Sure, sweetie. Take care."

"I'll try."

I hung up the phone, angrier than I'd been before I'd called. Standing up so quickly that the chair almost toppled over, I stalked back to the barracks. Assembled on my bed now was what looked like fifty pictures of various women. Emmett and Jasper gazed up at me, expectant expressions on their faces. They looked mischievous, like two little boys about to set firecrackers off in the church. The thought made me smile. It made me appreciate having someone in my corner.

I nodded once, sitting down on my cot. "Yeah, let's do this... What do I say?"


KimiD said...

I am totally in love with this already~! Already love you two alone but together... dy-no-mite~! Cannot wait to read the whole thing... KimiD

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