Monday, August 13, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 156 - Edward

~oOo~

Forks... Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 6:47 P.M.

Despite my never-ending respect for Bella's father, I was nervous as hell walking up to the front door. He'd been cool to me on the phone back when Bella had come to Tampa, but now that I was actually living with his daughter, I wasn't so sure how much more he could put up with. And that last reason was why my bag was still in the car. I didn't want to force my way into his home and shove my relationship with Bella down his throat, so I would be joining the rest of them at the hotel tonight.

Swallowing nervously, I gave Bella's hand a squeeze when the front door flew open. But if anything relaxed me, it was the reaction that came from the people around me. He was tall, with hair just a shade darker than Bella's, but their eyes were exactly the same – deep, dark brown, holding a warmth for the people standing on his front lawn.

"Charlie!" they all called, causing the man to chuckle.

"Hey, Dad," Bella giggled.

Emmett was the first to move, grinning as he enveloped Charlie in a rough, one-armed hug. "You're a sight for sore eyes, old man," he teased, laughing when Charlie punched his arm.

"Watch that 'old man' nonsense, Em," he warned, smirking at Jasper. "Glad to see you home safe, boys."

"It's good to be home, Charlie," Jasper agreed, shaking his hand.

I had to smile at the red tint to his cheeks when Alice and Rose flew into his embrace, kissing his cheeks. It seemed Bella received that trait honestly from him.

With a tug on my hand from Bella, she pulled us closer, letting go once her dad set his sights on us. She rushed to him, hugging him and kissing his cheek. And the love he had for his daughter was written all over that man's face as he gazed down at her.

"Dad, this is Edward. Edward, this is my dad," she introduced.

I felt like I was being inspected from head to toe under a microscope, but he held out his hand, and I shook it firmly.

"Chief Swan." I nodded to him. "It's nice to finally meet you, sir. And congratulations."

He grinned, another touch of pink caressing his cheeks. "You, too. And thank you." He turned to face us all. "Sue's been smelling up the whole house with that cookin' of hers. So everyone come on in. If I don't eat soon, I'm sure she'll break my fingers for stealing tastes."

Like children, Emmett and Jasper barreled into the house, making more noise than probably necessary, but Alice, Rose, and Bella followed them in quietly. Charlie, however, stopped me before I entered the house.

"I'm glad to see that silly-ass smile is still on her face," he stated, locking gazes with me, but his mouth curled at the corners.

"Yes, sir," I said with a nervous chuckle. As much as the guys sang Charlie's laid-back praises, I really didn't want to fuck this up. He meant the world to Bella, and his approval of me was imperative.

"Hmmph," he grunted noncommittally. I started for the door once more, but he stopped me again. "And I'm pretty sure I remember telling you to call me Charlie," he said, giving my shoulder a squeeze.

A waft of chili and cornbread ghosted out through the front door, and both of us stopped to inhale deeply.

"Yeah, she's been killin' me today," he muttered, smirking at my chuckle. "Come on, soldier. Maybe she'll speed things up now that you're all here."

Grinning, I hitched Bella's bag higher up on my shoulder and nodded. "I can understand. I've been smacked with a spoon more times than I can count since I've been home."

He laughed and nodded. "That's my girl." He snickered, wearing a proud-as-fuck expression. "Come on in, son."

~oooOOOooo~

"More, Edward?" Sue offered as she set two bowls down for Jasper and Emmett.

I was pretty sure we were all going to finish off the whole pot of chili she'd made. The last of the jalapeno cornbread was already divided up among us.

"Please," I said with a nod, handing her my second empty bowl.

Sue Clearwater was a calm, sweet, easygoing woman with a sweet smile and a twinkle of mischief in her eyes. Her skin was a light russet color, her hair long and black. It was clear why the chief was so smitten with her. She was instantly likeable. She'd welcomed us all in like we were her own, hugging Jasper and Emmett and gushing that she was happy to have them home safe. She'd greeted me with a hug, not a handshake, welcoming me to the family. With a giggle, she dragged the girls off to the kitchen immediately to catch up on all the latest gossip.

Rose scoffed, glaring at Emmett. "You are so getting another hotel room tonight, Emmett," she grumbled, rolling her eyes at his shameless grin. "You'll be smelling up the whole joint."

The table burst into laughter. Emmett's appetite and the results afterward were notorious, it seemed. The table was loud, different conversations divided several different ways. For a quiet man, Charlie seemed to revel in it. I could tell he held a special place in his heart for the girls but was just as interested to listen to stories from the guys and me from overseas.

When dinner was over, the girls and Sue ran off to a back room to talk about the upcoming wedding, leaving all the men to gather in the living room in front of the TV. Glancing around the house, I could see why Bella loved living here the last few years of her high school days. The house gave off a comfortable vibe, as did Charlie himself. Whereas my childhood was filled with rooms I wasn't supposed to be in, this house felt like open arms. But it was the framed pictures on the mantle that caught my eye.

Pictures of Bella at just about every age overlapped one another – Bella with birthday cake on her face as she sat in a highchair, with missing front teeth, with a string full of fish, with a hideously yellow cap and gown, and finally...with a black cap and gown. The latter had to have been her graduation from college. It was quite obvious that most of the photos were not taken in Washington; the sun was too bright, and desert sand replaced green trees.

"So...Charlie," Emmett started with a grin. "We hittin' the strip clubs in Port Angeles or what? Gotta go out of this long-lived bachelorhood with a bang, you know."

"No, he's not!" every female voice in the house chimed in from the other room.

I laughed, shaking my head at Charlie's expression of pure horror.

"Damn, Em, you really have a death wish." Jasper chuckled, shaking his head. "And no, no strippers. I think we're all supposed to meet in La Push, right, Chief?" he asked.

"Yes, Saturday night. It's a rehearsal dinner of sorts," Charlie replied in relief. "But tomorrow...the shooting range." He grinned. "Bells, did you bring your gun?"

"You know I did," she laughed, leaning in the doorway. "It's in the trunk with Edward's."

I nodded in agreement. Bella owned a Glock 19, bought for her by her father. It was a beautiful piece, easy to fire. Seeing her handle it, check it, only to snap it all back together before packing it had caused me to lose my mind. And it was why she was most likely standing there wearing a shit-eating grin because I hadn't been able to stop myself from kissing the shit out of her...and then some. We'd almost been late getting ready before everyone had met at our house.

I raised a threatening eyebrow up at her, but she only giggled, shrugging one shoulder.

"We'd better go," Alice said, walking into the living room to tug Jasper to his feet. "We still have to check in at the hotel."

The heartbroken look on Bella's face was impossible to miss as she sighed and nodded. "Come on, babe. I'll go with you to get your bag out of the car."

Charlie eyed his daughter and then looked to me. I could tell right then that he'd hand her the world – within reason. "Edward, why don't you take the couch? There's still the rest of the game to watch. Besides, these two will kill me with wedding talk." He gestured between Sue and Bella but also to the TV, where the football game was still in the fourth quarter.

Bella had been absolutely certain that Charlie wouldn't have allowed us in the same room together, despite the fact that her old bedroom only held a twin size bed, so we'd planned on separating for the night. It was something we'd come to terms with, but apparently, Bella's pitiful face had melted him – and that I could completely understand. The woman could get me to do anything for her with just a simple look.

However, I could also see that this was a way of getting me alone, so I thanked him, walking out with everyone else to grab my bag.

I came back inside after waving everyone else off to find a pillow, sheets, and a blanket stacked neatly on the arm of the sofa. Charlie was still in his recliner, his focus on the game. I set my duffel down and joined him in front of the TV.

The conversation started with sports, slowly moving on from there. It ran the gamut. It wasn't like he talked my head off, but we seemed to have more in common than I'd originally thought. Bella had said we were similar, but I didn't see it until we started to compare military histories.

Right around the time that Bella was just an infant, Charlie had been shipped overseas in the Gulf War. We talked deserts, orders, military strategy, and of course, getting discharged. I told him about my accident with the insurgents and the RPG, and he explained the aerial assaults that the U.S. had used in order to succeed. He was interested in what urban warfare had been like and listened as I explained it to him, including how we trained the new troops in Tampa.

Emmett and Jasper had been right. Charlie was extremely cool, with a wry sense of humor. He was so much like Bella with his quiet intelligence that it was almost scary. They thought alike, approached issues alike – with determination and strength.

By the time the game was over, Sue and Bella emerged from what I now realized was Charlie's bedroom.

"Can I have my room back now, ladies?" he teased them.

"Yes, yes," Sue sighed, rolling her eyes. "We're all done in there. I'm going home. I have to make sure my son didn't eat the entire contents of my fridge."

Bella came to stand between my legs, leaning down and pressing a soft kiss to my forehead. "I'm going to bed, babe. See you in the morning. I'll make breakfast for you guys."

Charlie's eyebrows shot up, but he looked like Emmett did at the mention of Bella's cooking as she kissed his forehead, too. However, after walking Sue to her car, Charlie waited until Bella had given me one last quick kiss before heading up the stairs. He pointed in the direction of the bathroom and told me to make myself at home.

"But not...too much at home," he warned, raising an eyebrow at me.

"Sir," I said with a grin and a nod. "Thanks for letting me stay."

He harrumphed, rolling his eyes. "Can't tell that girl no for nothin'," he murmured, finally leaving me alone for the night.

I changed into sweatpants and a tank undershirt, finishing up my nightly routine before heading out to make up the sofa for the night. The house was quiet except for the hum of the fridge in the kitchen and the tick of the clock on the mantle. The vibration of my phone on the end table almost made me jump, but when I saw that it was from Bella, I grinned. My girl couldn't sleep.

B: I love you...but I hate sleeping alone.

I shook my head, replying back instantly, never mind that she was merely upstairs.

E: I love you, too, beautiful, but I'm not getting shot.

B: LOL He'd only shoot to maim.

E: Um...no. I know exactly what part he'd maim. I'm way too attached to all of my parts, Miss Swan. As are you, if I'm not mistaken.

B: ;) Yeah, I love all your parts, Sarge. Some more than others. Can't I at least get a real goodnight kiss?

I groaned, understanding Charlie completely now. There was not a chance in hell I would be able to tell that beautiful thing upstairs no. Not at all. Ever. I was doomed to be owned by her for the rest of my life, and I couldn't find a single reason to complain about it, either, because I could well imagine the sweet, pitiful look in those deep brown eyes I loved so damned much – begging, pleading for just a simple kiss.

My phone alerted silently again, and I chuckled softly.

B: Please? Meet me on the stairs!

Surrendering to her, I sighed.

E: You'd better BE QUIET! :(

Setting my phone down, I sat up, listening hard for any noise coming from Charlie's room, but I heard nothing aside from a soft snore. Padding barefoot across the room, I made my way to the stairs, only to come face to face with Bella. She was on the last step, which put her level with my eyes.

"Hi, handsome," she whispered, reaching for my face. "I think I'm spoiled, and you've only been home for two weeks."

Grinning, I couldn't help but love hearing that from her because I felt exactly the same way. Nothing felt as good as curling myself around her every night. Despite her protestations to the contrary, I hoped I hadn't been driving her crazy since I'd moved in, but at night... At night, we were perfect and comfortable and easy.

"I heard a rumor about a kiss," I whispered back, brushing my nose up one side of hers and down the other.

"Yeah..." she breathed back, smiling like a little imp because she'd gotten her way.

It was slow, deep, and breathtaking, as always. It took all the control I had to focus on where I was and not what just her mere touch, her presence, her taste was doing to me. My hands, though, roamed without any shame – down her shoulders, across her back, and down to her bottom, cupping it fully and squeezing. I slowed her down because I really, really didn't want to get busted.

Pulling back, I rested my forehead to hers, just reveling in the flush of her cheeks and the heaviness of her breathing.

"I think Dad likes you," she whispered, brushing her lips across mine once, twice, and finally a third time.

"He won't if he sees me molesting his daughter on his stairs," I snickered. "Go to bed, sweet girl."

"Thank you for coming here with me," she breathed against my mouth.

"Thanks for the kiss. Bed. Go!" I urged softly, grinning at her happy smirk. I turned her around by the shoulders, giving her plump ass a soft smack. "Go before you get me killed."

She glanced over her shoulder. "Tease."

"What did you say once? It's not teasing if you follow through?" I hissed back, still pointing up the stairs. "Believe me, I'll be happy to make it up to you...at home."

That last statement seemed to placate her, so she blew me a kiss before tiptoeing silently up the stairs. I waited until the click of her door echoed down the stairs before going back to the sofa.

Fuck, it was going to be a long ass weekend.

~oOo~

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