Thursday, July 19, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 102 - Edward

~oOo~

Tampa... Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 8:34 A.M.

"Where's Edward?" Jasper asked as Bella set a plate of pancakes in front of him at the same time I opened the front door quietly.

"He had to run an errand this morning," she told them, keeping her face perfectly void of all expression because no one needed to know that I'd gone to go get the SUV detailed, especially considering it was my car we'd end up taking today.

"He said he'd be back soon," she said hurriedly when Emmett opened his mouth to complain. "Once he's eaten, we'll go. I promise."

I had to smile because she talked to them like they were children at the same time that she cared for them, fed them, ruffled their hair. No wonder they adored her like a little sister.

She looked just as beautiful this morning as she had the night before, only this time, she was casual – dressed in sweet, small khaki shorts and a bluish-green tank top, her hair swept up into a long ponytail. A split second of disappointment constricted my chest when I saw that she'd covered up my mark on her neck with makeup, but I supposed that it was for the best. I'm sure we'd never have heard the end of it.

I closed the door, causing them all to turn around.

"There he is," Bella said, beaming and giving me a wink, only to turn to Emmett. "See? I told you. Stop acting like it's the end of the world. We'll get to the damn zoo. Your women aren't even ready yet."

"Yeah, but..." Emmett started, but he shut the fuck up when she raised a deadly eyebrow up at him.

Chuckling, I took a seat beside Jasper at the kitchen counter, kissing Bella when a hot cup of black coffee and a plate full of pancakes and sausage landed in front of me.

"Thanks, love," I snickered, leaning in to her kiss to my cheek.

"It's too early for PDA," Emmett muttered, laughing when Bella flipped him off.

"Maybe...it's too early for my cooking. Hmm?" she said in an overly sweet voice, which caused him to pull his plate closer in a protective manner. "And maybe you're being a hypocrite. Need I remind you of the time you and Rose got us kicked out of IHOP? Huh?" She spun to face me. "They practically dry-humped each other to death in a booth at four o'clock in the morning."

I laughed, as did Jasper, who said, "Oh yeah... I remember that."

"Don't be jealous," Rose scoffed with a laugh when she and Alice emerged from the hall, dressed similarly to Bella.

"Jealous? I was drunk and starving," Bella laughed, rolling her eyes.

"So not jealous," Alice giggled. "It was like watching a National Geographic episode on monkeys mating."

That cracked the whole house up into hysterics, including the couple in question because neither took offense.

Once everyone had eaten and the kitchen was clean – thanks to me and Alice – I found Bella in my room putting on her sneakers.

"How bad was the car?" she giggled, her cheeks tinging pink.

I laughed, raising an eyebrow at her as I sat down to put my own sneakers on. "Pretty bad, sweet girl," I told her, grinning like the proud ass that I was. She came to stand between my legs, and I couldn't help but kiss the spot on her neck where my mark was very well hidden. "It smelled delicious in there, though," I crooned, tracing the edge of her ear with my nose. "Like the two of us. I hated to clean it, really," I told her, keeping my voice low as my hands traveled down her sides to her sweet bare legs. "It made me hard just in the five-minute drive it took to get there."

Bella laughed, though it was soft, sexy, and a touch naughty. "You tipped the guy extra, didn't you?"

"Yeah, totally," I chuckled with a single nod. "Come on, love. Let's go play," I said, patting her thighs lightly, only to skim up to the edge of her shorts just to make sure she was following my request.

She gripped my hands, giggling. "No, Edward. I'm not wearing any, but that means you can't ruin my shorts, either!"

Grinning up at her shamelessly, I shrugged. "I can try."

"No!" she huffed dramatically, pulling at my hands until I finally stood up. "Come on."

"Fine," I conceded, standing up in front of her. "I can't wait for Emmett to piss you off. Maybe you'll throw him in with the lions or some shit."

~oooOOOooo~

I glanced up from the bench I was sitting on when I heard the girls squeal. I had to laugh, because all three of them, plus Emmett, were covered in these brightly colored parrot-like birds that were drinking something out of the tiny cups they were holding. The sight only made Emmett look all the bigger and the girls look just too cute for words.

"You know, this is like a level of Angry Birds!" Emmett boomed, reaching for one of the little guys, and I could've sworn that the bird's eyes widened in fear.

"Em, don't you dare!" we all yelled at him, which caused a few to fly off to the next human with a cup of nectar.

He laughed, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. "I wouldn't have done it!" he argued with a chuckle. "Besides, there are no little green pigs around that need killin'."

"Unbelievable," Jasper murmured, showing up with more little cups.

I looked down at my leg when one of the birds landed on my knee. "You picked the wrong guy, little man...or woman. Damn, how can you tell?" I asked him as he tilted his blue and red curious head at me. "I don't have anything for you."

"Here, babe," Bella giggled, holding out a cup so he could drink and sitting gently down beside me.

"What's next, beautiful girl?" I asked, kissing her sun-kissed bare shoulder, not that I cared one bit, because the whole day had been amazing and relaxing, with no agenda whatsoever.

We'd all laughed, played, and basically annoyed everyone else in the damn zoo. And we didn't care. Jasper had made friends with an orangutan, who'd tossed a burlap sack up to him, only for him to throw it back. The girls had hated the snake exhibit, but we'd all loved the big cats. There was such power and royalty in their glares, their paces, and their low, growling chuffs at us.

"Flume!" Rose and Alice suggested from across the way.

"Uh...no," Bella said with a finality to her voice. "Have you seen those people coming off that thing? They're soaked. Not a chance."

"But it's hot!" Alice whined.

"Then ride it," Bella whined back mockingly, turning to me. "Um, not happening. No underwear...and my makeup won't survive it," she chuckled in a whisper, gesturing to her neck.

There was a part of me that should've been ashamed about that, but I could only laugh at her.

"Shut it, ass," she laughed, shoving at me, which caused the bird on my leg to fly off.

"Look. You scared away my little friend," I chided at her, rolling my eyes and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Come on, love. They can get all wet and shit. I need ice cream."

"Bottomless pit," she giggled, standing up and tugging me with her.

The line for the flume was endless, but Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rose all insisted on waiting for it. So Bella and I sat off to the side, sharing an ice cream cone. She sat sideways on the bench, her legs draped across mine.

God, it was so damned comfortable with her. It had been instant, and I couldn't help but revel in how lucky I was. The chemistry, the ease of just...us was perfect. It had merely started with a letter. The fact that she would be leaving in a week made me pull her legs closer, gliding my fingers around her bent knees as she people-watched with a funny little smile on her face.

Reaching out, I played with her ponytail, wrapping it around my hand over and over.

"Ever wonder what people's stories are?" she asked softly, giving the ice cream a lick, only to hand it back to me. "I mean...like the man and woman over at the fence. How long do you think they've been together?"

I smiled, glancing over at the couple she was talking about. If I'd had to guess, I would've said they were in their sixties or seventies – most likely the latter. I shrugged, nibbling at the cone.

"Maybe always," I guessed. "Or maybe this is a new start. Perhaps they're both widowed or divorced."

"Maybe," she mused, laying her head on my shoulder and fingering the hem of my T-shirt. "Twenty Questions, Edward," she said softly, not bothering to look up.

I kissed the top of her head, chuckling a bit. "You mean we haven't run out of questions?" I countered, dropping another kiss to her hair, which smelled like pure sunshine after being in it all day.

"No," she giggled, poking at my stomach playfully.

"Hit me."

She lifted her head, looking me in the eye. "Did you expect...this?" she asked, motioning between us. "When we first started... Did you think we'd be..." She dragged out the last word, like she was trying to find the right way to end the question, but I knew what she meant.

"Nope," I said, kissing her lips quickly. "I didn't know what to expect, but this never occurred to me. This is...everything and more, sweetheart. I didn't know it could be like this, much less with someone I'd never met face to face. And then, I saw you, and..." I swallowed thickly, shaking my head and sighing deeply. "No. No, I didn't expect this," I stated. "It's everything and then some. You are more than I ever thought to dream about, ever even knew could exist, and I love you more now than ever." I shrugged a shoulder, not knowing any other way to put it. My love for her was huge – enormous, really – but so very fucking simple.

She kissed my lips, pulling back to gaze at me, her eyes a touch watery. "I love you, too, babe." She grimaced a bit, her nose wrinkling adorably. "This week's gonna fly, isn't it?"

"Yeah," I groaned, throwing the remains of the ice cream into the garbage next to me and pulling her sideways onto my lap so I could hold her tightly with both arms. "I promise you, my love, that we'll make every second count. I refuse to take this birthday gift for granted since it was the best one I've ever gotten. Every spare moment of mine is yours. Then we have to fight just a few months...less than a hundred days. And Bella... I'm coming home to you. Understand?"

She nodded, grasping either side of my face. "Yes," she breathed against my lips.

Pressing my forehead to hers, I said, "You know the rules, Bella. Answer your own question."

She giggled softly. "Um...no. Not at all. You're not the only one that got a gift, Sarge. But I also can't wait until you come home to me."

I grinned, patting the side of her leg. "Good. Me, either, sweet girl...me, either."

~oOo~

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