Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 98 - Edward

~oOo~

Tampa... Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 11:56 A.M.

"Well done, men," I grunted, looking at the time on my phone. "When you come back from lunch, we'll be working with Special Ops."

"Sir!" the young men all echoed back.

"Dismissed," I muttered, waving them off.

I glanced over the list in my hand of the next class starting tomorrow. My squad got them ready to start working with Special Ops and then turned them loose. It was taking just about three weeks to get each class to that point, especially when we were rotating old squads out with new ones in. According to my CO's reports, the training program was deemed a success. So far. I figured we wouldn't really know until the men got overseas.

"Come on, Sarge. I'm starving," Emmett urged, practically begging.

Smiling, I glanced up at him from the list. "And the fact that the girls made lunch has nothing to do with your hurry."

"Uh, no. The fact that the girls made lunch and they're down at the beach in sweet as hell bikinis is what's urging him on," Jasper laughed, ducking Emmett's giant hand.

Laughing, I nodded. "Okay... let's go. We have about an hour and a half before we have to be back."

Driving over to the beach didn't take long, and I parked my SUV, noting that despite it being the middle of the week, there were a fair amount of cars there. Farther down the beach, there were two women with a few young children playing in the sand, a couple in two different uniforms – one Air Force and the other, Army – and finally the sight we'd been looking for, though they weren't alone.

"Oh, hell," Emmett groaned, shaking his head. "Rose really can't go anywhere without this shit happening," he muttered, and from the look on his face, he didn't find it funny.

Our girls were all propped up on their elbows as three very young soldiers smiled down at them. One was holding a volleyball, and that one seemed to be showing Bella every bit of his fucking attention. Not that I blamed him because she was absolutely gorgeous lying there in two pieces of very small navy blue fabric.

Bella, however, looked a touch uncomfortable, like she was just trying to be nice, especially when the boys invited them to play.

When Rose declared herself married, Alice did, too, which didn't relieve any of the tension from Jasper and Emmett beside me, but it left poor Bella without an out. And suddenly, I had the undeniable urge to put a ring on that girl's finger, if only to show the fucking world that she was mine.

"What about you, Bella? I don't see a ring..." The one boy smiled. He was young and fucking stupid and wouldn't survive a minute with her, much less me, if he reached out and touched, which it looked like he was about to do because he knelt at her feet.

Walking closer, Emmett and Jasper followed me, most likely to stop me from doing something I might regret. My hands clenched into fists as I finally got close enough to speak.

"Not yet, but she's taken just the same," I said, trying my damnedest to keep my voice level. When the kid glanced up at me, his eyes widened. "Move along, soldier," I said, jerking my chin toward the other end of the beach.

The other two men stood at attention, smacking the one in front of Bella to get him to do the same. Normally, I would have them stand down, but I wasn't feeling so gracious, especially when Volleyball Boy kept sneaking peeks at my girl.

"Name and rank." I ordered, sneering at him.

"Private Shawn Dawson, sir," he barked back.

"And you?" Emmett asked the guy in front of Rose.

"Private Ryder Biggs," he replied instantly.

"Ryder..." I murmured, pulling out my new list of recruits, and chuckling darkly when a Shawn Dawson and Ryder Biggs were right there in black and white. "Let me guess... you boys just got in..."

"Sir," they all replied, the one in the middle looking nervous as hell.

"Right," I huffed, my nostrils flaring when Shawn's eyes betrayed him again. "Private Dawson, do you have a problem keeping your eyes straight ahead?" I barked.

"Sir. No, sir!"

"Good." I frowned, looking down at Bella, who was wearing an expression I couldn't quite read. "Now, you're interrupting my lunch time. Get your gear and move on. You'll be in my training class tomorrow, boys. I suggest you get rested up. Got me?"

All three men gave me a worried glance, Shawn actually groaning aloud as he shook his head slightly.

"Sir. Yes, sir," the all barked back.

"Dismissed," I snapped, waiting until he moved on.

"You, too," Emmett's hard voice echoed as he stared at the young man who was still drooling over Rose.

Jasper didn't say a word. The look he gave the young man who could barely take his eyes off Alice said it for him.

"Hey, Edward," Bella called, poking my leg through my fatigues. "You hungry? Or were you planning to eat new recruits for lunch?"

Rolling my eyes at the girls' laughter, I gazed down at her, my mood still damn dark.

"Come on, babe. Help me carry this to that table over there," she ordered with a sigh, standing up from her towel and pointing to the cooler as the guys helped their wives up.

I picked up the cooler and followed her to the table underneath the shade of a tree. She forced me down onto the bench, standing between my legs.

"You know... I was just about to send him away, Edward," she said softly. She didn't sound upset, but her face was still unreadable as she crossed her arms.

I nodded, frowning as I placed my hands on her waist to pull her closer. I knew I'd just behaved like a jealous asshole, all possessive and shit, but damn it! I'd just gotten her. Everything about my relationship with Bella was new, sharp, and different from anything I'd ever felt. The mere thought of losing her, of seeing someone looking at her the way that I looked at her, or even worse...touching her... It all brought out feelings that I'd never felt before. I was used to men looking at Tanya, and I didn't really care back then. This was so fucking different.

My eyes focused on the sweet skin of her belly, now a touch pink from the sun, my thumb dragging across the love bite that was barely peeking out of her bathing suit bottoms. She smelled like sunshine, coconut-scented suntan lotion, and just pure Bella. It was all I could do not to touch her everywhere.

"I know, love. I'm sorry," I said quietly, finally looking up at her. "Some of these men..."

"He was a boy, Edward," she huffed, rolling her eyes. "He barely looked old enough to join the Army."

"Fine, sweetheart... Some of these boys don't know how to act around beautiful girls, Bella." My voice came across gruffer than I wanted it to. I had to chuckle when she raised an eyebrow up at me. "And apparently, I don't, either," I conceded, shrugging a shoulder. "Aw, love. I hated the way he was looking at you." I was whining, practically pouting like a kid.

Bella's laugh made me look up at her, and she leaned in to kiss my lips. "I don't want a boy, Sarge. I want a man, and I've got one. A damn fine one, at that." Her tone came out as something close to a purr, and it was all I could do not to pull her to my lap.

I smirked up at her sexy-as-hell smile, feeling all the edginess of my mood drift away. "Fair enough, sweet girl."

"And just what was that 'not yet' stuff?" she asked, tilting her head at me.

"Not. Yet," I growled dramatically at her, forcing her arms apart by tugging on them. "I've said it before, love. You're it for me. I'm pretty sure I've made that clear in every email, phone call, Skype session...carrier pigeon..." I grinned when the last one made her giggle, but she pressed her forehead to mine.

"I love you," she whispered, cupping either side of my face and kissing me lightly.

"Love you, too, baby," I said, smiling when my hands skimmed over bathing suit, skin...and more beautiful skin. Just to tease her, I let my thumb dip below her bikini line just to trace my mark on her. Her beautiful wanton moan made me pull my hands away from her altogether.

"Edward," she laughed, pointing to the table. "Lunch...before I get myself in a whole lot of trouble in public."

I opened my mouth to say something about our discussion on exhibitionism, but she laughed, covering my lips with a single finger. "Don't you dare bring up elevators, Masen. Eat. Before my time with you runs out..."

Chuckling, I kissed her finger. "Yes, ma'am."

~oOo~

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