Saturday, July 21, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 103 - Bella

~oOo~

Tampa... Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 4:16 P.M.

"Oh shit!" I gasped, sitting up from my spot on the couch, where I'd been resting my head in Edward's lap as we watched a movie.

"What's wrong?" Edward looked worried and confused as did the others, who were scattered around the living room to watch with us.

"I just realized I promised to call Charlie yesterday, and with our trip to the zoo"—not to mention the time with Edward after in the bedroom—"I just forgot." I'd called him right after we got to Tampa, and he'd asked me to call in a week, just to check in. I was, after all, in a strange city with a strange man, I thought with a snort.

Edward reached over and grabbed my cell phone from the table beside the couch, handing it to me.

Hitting speed dial four, I spun around on the couch and lifted my feet to Edward's lap, wiggling my painted toenails at him. He winked and began rubbing the top of my feet softly as I waited for Charlie to pick up.

"'Lo?" My dad's gruff voice made me grin. The man hated talking on the phone, and it showed.

"Hi, Dad. Sorry I didn't call yesterday. We went to the zoo, and time got away from me." I rolled my eyes at Edward's naughty expression, grinning.

"Hey, Bells. Glad you called. I was getting ready to call an old Army buddy of mine there in Tampa to check on you."

Laughing, yet deadly serious – 'cause I knew my father – I told him, "You wouldn't dare. You know how I'd react to that."

Edward and the rest of the group were looking at me curiously, eyebrows raised in question. I waved them off to let them know it was no big deal.

Charlie laughed softly. "No, I don't suppose you'd react well to that. So how's it going, kid? That boy treating you well?"

I smiled as I looked at Edward, who was switching between watching my face and looking at my legs as his hand moved up and down between my feet and the hem of my shorts. "Yeah, Dad, he is. Edward's great. It's...better than I ever dreamed it might be, actually."

That earned me a shy smile from my sexy man at the other end of the couch.

Clearing his throat, Charlie finally sighed. "Good. I just want you to be happy, Bells. If this Edward guy makes you happy, that's what matters."

My dad and I had grown close after I'd moved in with him, but neither of us had ever been particularly demonstrative about our emotions, so his admission was just a damn sweet thing.

I swallowed past the lump in my throat and said softly, "Thanks, Daddy."

When he finally spoke again after a moment of semi-uncomfortable silence, his voice was back to the even, dry tone he so often had. "How are my other girls doing? And what about those boys of theirs?"

Grinning, I said, "Hold on, Dad. I'll put you on speaker so they can all say hello."

Clicking the little button, I held up the phone and looked to my friends. "Say hello to Charlie, guys."

"Charlie!" Alice and Rose squealed. They adored my father. He'd become like a second father to Alice when we became friends, and then in college, the first time I'd brought Rose home, she had charmed him by fixing an annoying problem on his squad car that their guys hadn't had time to fix yet. He'd all but adopted her since her parents weren't around anymore.

"Yo, Charlie," Emmett boomed, his grin nearly splitting his face in two. "Caught anything good lately?" He was Charlie's fishing buddy, which seemed incongruous with his loud, boisterous personality, but it had been that way from the start.

Jasper's much quieter, "Hello, Charlie," spoke volumes of Jasper's respect for my father. The two of them loved to sit and chat. They could talk for hours about history. Military history was their favorite, of course.

Charlie laughed, relaxing a little. "Hi, gang. Everyone having a good visit?"

I stayed quiet as Alice and Rose began talking over each other, telling him about our trip so far.

My dad made appropriate noises as he listened, showing he was paying attention. When the girls finally ran out of steam, he said, "Sounds like you're having a good visit, then. Boys, it was good to hear you made it home safe. You glad to be in Tampa?"

"Hells, yeah," Emmett answered first. "Sunshine, the ocean, and the only sand to be had is on the beaches. Not to mention the pretty girls in bikinis."

Rose reached up and smacked the back of his head, rolling her eyes.

Jasper chuckled at the pair and then told my dad, "It's nice, but I think we'd all rather be home."

"That's for damn sure," Edward mumbled, squeezing my knee gently.

"Yes," Charlie agreed, sounding thoughtful. "I remember having that same feeling."

There was a moment of quiet, before Edward took a deep breath, blew it out silently, and then said, "Uh, hello, Chief Swan. It's nice to finally speak with you. Bella's told me a lot about you."

"Sergeant Masen," Charlie said, his tone once again reserved. "Could I speak with you in private, son?"

"Dad!" I hissed, not wanting him to make Edward feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

"It's okay, Bella," Edward murmured, even as I was shaking my head. "Calm down, sweet girl."

"Isabella Marie..." Charlie's voice was no nonsense now, a tone I hadn't heard in quite a while. "Let me handle this. I'm your father. I have every right to question a man my daughter is seeing – especially if she met him over the internet and just saw him in person for the first time a week ago."

I was whining when I argued, "We met over letters, not the internet, Dad. And you know he's a good guy. Jasper and Emmett told you that!"

"It's still my prerogative," he told me, sounding like he was scolding a toddler. "Now give him the phone, please."

Sighing, I handed Edward my cell phone, mouthing, "Sorry!" as he took it from me and slid out from under my feet.

He just winked and clicked off the speaker, moving the phone to his ear as he headed back to the bedroom. I could hear his quiet voice as he spoke to my father once he'd turned the corner into the hall.

~oooOOOooo~

The first five minutes after Edward walked back to talk to Charlie flew by. I went back and forth from talking with the group to watching the doorway to the living room, hoping everything would be okay.

The next five slowed down considerably. I could hear the conversation around me, but I tuned them out, focusing all my attention on the spot where Edward had disappeared from my view.

When nearly fifteen minutes had passed, my knee was bouncing as I tapped my heel on the floor in front of me, and I was damn close to actually wringing my hands.

"What in the hell is taking so long?" I hissed, interrupting whatever story the guys were telling Alice and Rose.

Emmett laughed. "Bellsy, you gotta chill. You remember what Charlie was like the first time Rose brought me with her when you guys went to visit. And you're his daughter."

I looked back to them and sighed.

"Yeah, B, Em's right," Alice said, smiling sweetly at me from her perch on Jasper's lap. "He's just doing the protective father bit. You have nothing to worry about. Edward and Charlie will get along fine."

"She's right," I heard from across the room. "You had nothing to worry about, sweetheart."

I was up and out of my seat in a flash, throwing myself into Edward's arms. "Tell me everything!"

He laughed, shaking his head. "First, your dad wants to say goodbye."

There were snickers in the background as I sheepishly took the phone from Edward and put it to my ear.

"Hi, Dad," I sighed.

"Don't you be trying to pry information out of that man, Isabella," Charlie said in return. "Our conversation was private."

"But—"

"No, no buts." Then his voice softened. "It sounds like you've got a good one, Bells. Enjoy the rest of your visit, and then come see your old man when you guys get back, okay? Maybe for the Fourth?"

I laughed, shaking my head. "Okay, I'll talk to the girls and see. We may have to do laundry there, though, if you want us there on the Fourth."

"Sounds good. Now, I'm going to the diner to get something for dinner, and then there's a night game on I want to watch. I'll talk to you again soon."

"Thanks, Dad," I said softly. "Talk to you soon."

I hung up the phone and sighed. "He told me not to ask, so I won't. But you'll tell me if I have any reason to be concerned," I asked as I looked up at Edward's sweet, handsome face.

"If there were anything to be worried about, I'd tell you, beautiful." He smiled, brushing his lips across mine. "Now, how about we finish the movie, huh?"

Nodding, I let him lead me to the couch, where I curled up sideways on his lap, wanting to be as close to him as I could be. My dad's mention of the Fourth had been a reminder that I had less than a week left with Edward. That thought made me almost physically sick to my stomach, so I was determined to stay as close to him as I possibly could until then.

~oOo~

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