Saturday, July 21, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 104 - Edward

~oOo~

Tampa... Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 4:38 P.M.

"Sergeant Masen," Charlie greeted coldly over the speakerphone. If he'd not been the father of the girl in my lap, I'd have taken offense to it, but he was. And I totally understood it. "Could I speak with you in private, son?"

"Dad!" Bella hissed, rolling her eyes, and I had to smile, because a touch of teenager came flashing to the surface.

"It's okay, Bella. Calm down, sweet girl."

When Charlie middle-named Bella, I knew he was all business, as did she because she sagged, handing me the phone with a mouthed, "Sorry!"

I wasn't worried. In fact, had these circumstances been different, I'd have already had this talk with her father, so it was pretty overdue. I was a grown man and certainly wasn't asking his permission, but he loved Bella, and that alone made me respect the man without having met him.

I took the phone, slipping out from underneath Bella's legs, and walked into my bedroom.

"Chief Swan," I greeted, sitting down on the edge of the bed.

"Sergeant, my daughter has told me some things, and I'm not so naïve as to think that she's told me everything. Alice and Rose seem to like you, and those boys' opinions go a long way, but why don't you tell me about yourself, about your family. It'll make it easier than running a background check," he stated with a touch of humor to his tone.

Chuckling, I started talking. I told him where I was from, what my parents did, and why I'd joined the Army. He'd been told – animatedly by the girls – about Tanya, and his opinion of the Wicked Witch was pretty much like everyone else's. I explained about my mother's illness, her passing, and then of my father's failing. From my acceptance into NIU and then the settling of all of my parents' affairs, I told it all to him, not bothering to lie or sugarcoat it. He might as well know what everyone else did.

"Both parents, kid?" he asked, and I sighed at the sympathy in his voice, but I supposed it was only natural.

"Yes, sir," I replied. "Nothing was holding me in Chicago, so I decided to join up. College just didn't have the same...call to me at the time."

"The kids tell me you're coming back to Washington when your term is up. Is that true?" he asked. It was the question I'd been waiting for, because he'd want to know my intentions with his daughter. He'd want to know if I was just fucking around and about to break her heart, or if I was truly worthy of her time.

"Yes, sir." I ran a hand through my hair. "I've been weighing my options as to what I'm going to do when I get there, but I have the finances to...take my time. I've considered going back to school, since I could use my G.I. Bill. I've considered teaching music like my mother did. Or there's always the police, because my training would come in handy."

"It did for me," Charlie murmured.

"Either way, I'm not going to just sit around. I want to take care of Bella," I stated firmly. "I know the circumstances surrounding our relationship are...different, but she's everything to me, sir." I shrugged a shoulder, maybe blindly to him or maybe to myself. I wasn't sure.

"They aren't as strange as you may think. It happened quite a bit when I was in the service," he chuckled. "In fact, one of my squad members is still married to the same girl he started writing letters to way back then. They have two kids, and if I'm not mistaken, the first grandchild is on the way."

I laughed. "Nice."

"Yeah," he snickered. "Look, Sergeant..."

"Edward, please," I requested.

"Edward," he corrected. "My Isabella is a little free spirit with just enough of me in her to keep her grounded. Thankfully, she looks more like her mother." He muttered the last part wryly, and I grinned. "Anyway, listen. I've noticed what just writing to you has done for her. She's happy, son. I hear it in her voice every time I talk to her. I'd like to keep the silly as hell smile on her face that she had every time her phone went off, which I can only assume was you."

"Me, too, sir," I snickered, trying to imagine my girl sitting in her father's living room, sneaking peeks at her phone for emails from me.

"Good," he stated firmly. "Now... When's your term up?"

"October."

"Okay. If you decide to join the police force, let me know. I've got a few friends in Seattle that owe me a few favors. I'll see what I can do, okay?" he asked, and I heard nothing but sincerity over the line.

"Sir. Thank you, sir," I said softly, my eyebrows rising up.

He harrumphed a reply that I could only assume was a "you're welcome," but he wasn't finished with me.

"Two more things, Edward. One, Bella tells me you guys wanna hit the shooting range when you get here."

Chuckling, I shook my head. "Yes, sir. Jasper and Emmett are looking forward to it. And so is Bella, if I'm not mistaken."

"Excellent," he snickered. "And I'm sure she is. Helluva shot that girl is."

The pride he had for her practically radiated out of the phone, and I couldn't help but smile.

"Also, Emmett and I plan a fishing trip every time he comes home. You up for it?" he asked, and I knew this was a test.

"I've never been. I look forward to it, sir."

"Good. Set it up with Em. And take care of my little girl while she's there, you hear?"

"Yes, sir," I replied again. "It was nice meeting you, Chief."

"Mmhm," he hummed noncommittally, but then he said, "and call me Charlie."

Smiling, I stood up from my bed, because I knew he was done with me. "Did you want to talk to Bella one more time...Charlie?"

"Yeah, please," he chuckled. "And I'm glad you made stateside safe, soldier."

"Thank you, sir."

~oooOOOooo~

"I'm so hitting a Seahawks game when we get home," Jasper vowed with a single nod.

"No, man! You gotta see a Mariners game in person," Emmett argued, pointing to me.

Taking a long drag on my beer, I nodded and smiled. It seemed like ever since I'd gotten off the phone with Charlie, the whole group had started talking about home. It started with the shooting range and fishing but had morphed into everything I needed to know about where I was about to move. It was like my talk with Bella's dad made it all real, or okay...I wasn't sure which.

"Cubs fan?" Jasper asked with a laugh, kicking back on the lounger.

"White Sox," I replied. "Or at least, my dad was." I took another long drink from my beer. "I haven't followed any of it since I joined up."

The endless list of things I needed to do before and after I was released from the Army rattled around in my head. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do for a career, but that required a long talk with Bella. I had things in storage in Chicago that needed to be moved, and even though I wanted to show my girl where I'd grown up, there was also a part of me that just wanted to start my life with her immediately. I'd have to buy a car, move all my finances, and contact my parents' lawyer, which just happened to be Tanya's father, Garrett – a thought that made me cringe.

I also wanted to ask Bella if she was sure about our living together – though, after this week, I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that. My head to turned away from the back yard and into the house to watch as she and the girls made cookies for us to take in with us tomorrow. The radio was on, and they were all laughing and singing as they worked in the kitchen. Suddenly, I couldn't fucking wait until there wasn't a ticking clock hanging over our heads, until all we had was time – to get to know everything there was to know about each other, to figure out us on a daily, living basis, and to just...be.

"Oh, and you just gotta go to Joe's," Emmett stated, bringing me back to the porch and out of my daydreaming.

"Hell yeah," Jasper agreed with a nod. "Best beer and best place to play pool."

"And there's First Beach...that's where Charlie likes to go out in his boat," Emmett gushed. "It's down on this Indian reservation not far from his house."

On and on they went, talking about all the places I needed to see, but I gazed back into the house, meeting Bella's eyes. She stepped out onto the porch, taking a sip of her own beer.

"The first batch is out. Did you guys want some?" she asked, jerking a thumb behind her.

The guys nodded, standing up. Jasper slapped my shoulder. "Don't sweat a thing, Sarge. We'll show you all around when we get home."

Without tearing my gaze from Bella's, I nodded and took a sip of beer. "Yeah...I can't wait."

~oOo~

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