Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 113 - Bella

~oOo~

Tampa... Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 10:14 A.M.

The girls and I were already hard at work in the kitchen by nine o'clock. Edward had left me sprawled on the bed when he'd gone to work, giving me one last kiss. I'd stayed there in the quiet of the bedroom, wrapped in his shirt and the scent of him – of us – in the sheets, until Rose had come and knocked on the door, seeing if I'd gone back to sleep.

"Okay, so we have ten freezer bags full of different soups and chilis, right?" Alice asked, looking down at the paper in front of her as she marked off muffins from the list, because we'd done those the minutes the boys had left for work.

Opening the freezer door, I did a quick count and then nodded. "Yup, ten. Plus two lasagnas, a tuna noodle casserole, and a roasted tomatillo and chicken chilaquiles."

"What else are we doing?" Rose asked, sipping from her mug of coffee and looking over Alice's shoulder at the list.

"Beef stew is the main thing today, because that will take the longest," I said, closing the freezer and opening the fridge. "I also want to make my fish cakes, meatloaf, the filling for the chicken pot pie that the guys can add a pie crust to later, and chicken florentine rice casserole."

Alice laughed. "That should all last them a week or two."

I sighed. "I know. It's not enough, but it's the least I can do," I said, thumping my head to the freezer door.

"Bells..." Rose moved up to me and rubbed her hand up and down my back. "They'll love it, I promise. You know how much Em loves the tuna noodle stuff, and the chilaquiles are one of Jasper's favorites. And you know your man will like anything you damn well make," she teased. "So chill out."

Shaking my head, I sighed again. "I know, I know. I'm just thinking about Saturday. I hate the thought of leaving."

"Believe me, sweetie, we understand," Alice said, joining us and wrapping an arm around both of us. "But I promise, you'll get through it, and then..." She sighed, squeezing my waist. "Then? Our boys will come home for good."

The thought of Edward coming home to me permanently was enough to chase away all the negative thoughts for the moment, so I smiled and stood up straight, hugging my friends to me.

"Thanks, guys. Now, let's get to it!"

Since the stew took the longest, we started with it. Once the lid was on and the stew ready to cook for the first hour and a half, I pulled out the ingredients for the fish cakes. Sitting down at the table with the girls, I started tearing the sandwich bread into pieces to make into breadcrumbs.

While I worked, Alice opened my laptop, which I'd brought in with me earlier. After a few minutes of searching and scribbling notes onto another sheet of paper from her notebook, she said, "Okay, I have a few numbers to call about pictures, so I'm going to go into the living room and make some calls."

"What can I do, Bells?" Rose asked, looking down at our list of meals.

"Get out the food processor, please." I pointed to the lower corner cabinet. "I need to grind these up, and then the rest is done in there, too."

We were in the middle of forming the fish cakes when Alice walked back in with a triumphant smile, waving the paper around. "Got it! Six o'clock. That should give the guys time to grab a shower on base before meeting us at the photography studio." She looked at our hands, which were covered in the fish cake mixture, and chuckled. "I'll text that info to the guys."

"Thanks," Rose and I told her, grinning when we said it in unison.

"Okay, back to work," I said, laughing.

~oooOOOooo~

By four thirty, all the food we'd planned to make was done and in the freezer. Rose was already in the second bathroom, taking her shower. Her hair, longer and thicker than mine, took the longest to dry and style, so she had wanted to get started first.

"I'm going to take a shower," I told Alice, grabbing my phone from the table.

She waved me off, barely looking up from the magazine she was flipping through.

On my way back to the bedroom, I texted Edward.

B: Getting in the shower so I can get ready for pictures. Your clothes are ironed and ready. You guys are planning to shower there?

I took my phone into the bathroom with me in case Edward called, but honestly, I didn't expect to hear from him until after five o'clock. I didn't rush through my shower, but I didn't draw it out, either. After washing my hair, I exfoliated, moisturized, used my strawberry-scented body wash that Edward seemed to enjoy smelling on me, and then I climbed out of the shower, wrapping one towel around my hair and another around my body. Picking up my phone to go back into the bedroom, I saw that I had a text waiting.

E: Yes, ma'am. I have a pair of jeans and a T-shirt to wear over to the studio. Don't forget dress socks and shoes. (Although, I have a feeling that if nothing else, Alice wouldn't let you! **laugh**) Love you, sweetheart. Emmett's done in the shower, so I'm heading in next. See you in a few.

Smiling, I reached into the closet and grabbed his black dress shoes before I had a chance to forget. I doubted we'd get a shot where our feet would be showing, but God forbid we did and we weren't prepared. Alice would never let us live it down. Socks from the dresser went into the shoes, and then I turned my attention to my own wardrobe.

I planned to take a white dress to change into for a few pictures, as well, so I was going to keep my lingerie simple with a white lacy bra and white boy shorts. That way nothing showed up through my clothes. Once those were on, I went back to the bathroom to fix my hair and makeup.

Almost forty-five minutes later, I was dressed and ready, so I grabbed Edward's shoes, my dress bag, and purse with my phone, wallet, comb, and lipstick. I met the girls in the hall and held out the bag. They each had a second dress in their hands to put in with mine.

After compliments all around, we made our way out to the car. Alice had looked up directions, so she was going to drive. Rose sat in the passenger seat since she could work the GPS best, and then we were off. It was about a thirty minute drive according to the map from Google and the GPS once Rose had put the address in, so I just sat back and relaxed.

~oooOOOooo~

"Oh, hell..." I groaned, watching Edward walk back out of the dressing room in the studio in the black on black I'd picked for him to wear. A simple black dress shirt, top button undone, paired with a black jacket and black dress slacks all combined to make him look deadly sexy. He had used words like stunning and beautiful when he saw me get out of the car, but I had nothing on the man in front of me.

"Oh, good!" the perky little blonde assistant said when Edward had made his way to stand by my side. "You guys are up first since you're ready."

By the time the photographer posed us the way he wanted us, I could tell Edward was really uncomfortable. I was sitting on a stool with him on a slightly taller one behind me, in one of those classic poses. Edward's hand, which was resting on my shoulder, wasn't relaxed. When I looked back at him, I could tell that he was tensed up all over.

"You okay, babe?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

He nodded stiffly. "Just making sure he gets a good picture."

Shaking my head, I turned back and smiled, waiting for the camera to flash. As the photographer adjusted lights and the background, I realized Edward was still still as a board. I knew that would make for...not-so-great pictures, so I called a halt to everything.

"Can we just stand up instead of sitting?" I asked the photographer, who agreed with a nod and a smile.

Once the stools were moved away, I stood in front of Edward, leaning my shoulder onto his chest and tilting my head toward his. The photographer took a few test shots and asked if I'd like to see them. When I said yes, he brought the camera to us and let me flip through the pictures.

Edward still looked really uncomfortable.

"Thanks. Give us a second," I told the photographer, who moved back to his spot to wait.

Turning, I slid my arms around Edward's waist. "Babe, you have to lighten up. This isn't a life or death situation. I know you can relax in front of the camera. I've seen it, remember?" I teased, waiting until he'd cracked a genuine smile. "See? There it is!"

He chuckled, spinning me back around. Wrapping an arm around my waist, he seemed to take a slow, deep breath, and then he said, "Let's do this."

Whatever had made him decide to relax had worked because for the next ten minutes, the photographer all but shouted out commands, and we followed, both relaxed and having fun. There was one picture I was sure would be a bust, because I had reached up to try to get my fingers into Edward's hair, and both of us were looking down, but the photographer had declared it perfect.

While Alice, Rose, and their husbands got their first set of photos taken, I changed into the slightly more casual white dress I'd brought. Then I combed my hair so it looked a little more relaxed and not so "done up."

"Take off your jacket for these," I requested, tugging at his lapel.

"'Kay," he agreed, taking it off and draping it over the back of the chair. "This dress is pretty, too. Really shows off the tan you've managed to get since you've been here." His finger traced along the top edge, making me break out in goose bumps.

Nodding, I said with a grin, "I thought it would."

When Rose and Emmett were done, the photographer called us in again. Edward explained we wanted these to be a little more casual and sweet, not as formal, and he nodded, telling us he understood.

Fifteen minutes later, he stepped back and motioned us over. "I think that's good. We got some great shots."

He showed us a few of the images, including the one that I knew would be my favorite, before sending them to the computer for his assistant to help us with our ordering.

"I like this one," Edward said a few minutes later.

He was pointing to the one I'd noticed on the camera before. In it, he had an arm stretched around the front of my waist, his hands clasped on my other hip. One of my hands was tucked into his, and his head was tilted into mine. I had a small smile on my face, but Edward's sweet, sexy half-smirk, half-smile just melted my heart and made me fall in love with him all over again.

Cupping his face, I leaned in and gave him a sweet kiss. "Love you," I murmured against his lips.

Turning back to the woman at the computer, I pointed to not only that last picture, but the others I liked, and said, "We'll take these."

~oOo~

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