Monday, August 13, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 157 - Bella

~oOo~

Seattle... Friday, October 15, 2010 at 7:13 A.M.

Quietly, I crept down the stairs, avoiding the fourth from the bottom – it had squeaked for as long as I could remember, no matter how much work Charlie put into fixing it. I could tell my dad was still asleep. His snores were loud enough to be heard through the closed bedroom door. I wasn't sure about Edward, though. He was still used to waking up early, even when he didn't have to.

When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I didn't see him sitting up, so I tiptoed over to the couch. My heart flipped when I realized he was asleep, sprawled out on his stomach in his sweats and white tank. The light blanket had slipped down until it was tangled near his thighs, and he had one hand under the pillow and the other tucked under his cheek. There was just enough light coming in through the curtained window to see the slightly wrinkled brow and small frown on his still-gorgeous face. I carefully pulled the blanket up, slipping it up and over him to drape it across his upper back. It was cool in the house, and I wanted to make sure he was warm enough.

Giving him one last look, I stepped around the end table and made my way to the kitchen to start breakfast. I was planning to do pancakes – lots of them, since I knew the rest of them would be over as soon as the girls got out of bed. They wouldn't be too loud to make, so I figured I'd be able to mix the batter and start making the rest of breakfast without waking Edward or my dad.

I had two large bowls of batter mixed on the counter and I was folding chocolate chips into one of them when I heard shuffling behind me. Before I could turn around, warm, strong arms slipped around my waist, pulling me back against a hard chest.

"Morning, Sarge," I murmured. "Did I wake you?"

His head fell to mine, his cheek ruffling my hair as he shook his head. "Nope. When did you get up?"

I dropped the rest of the chocolate in and turned in his arms, wrapping my own around his waist. When I looked up, I couldn't help but giggle. The poor man looked so sleep-rumpled that he was almost too cute for words. His hair – which had finally begun to grow long enough for my taste – was standing on end. He had a days' worth of growth on his face, which made him even more sexy. But the best part were the lines and creases across his cheek from where his head had rested on his pillow. He looked sleepy but happy, and his eyes were bright as they watched me watch him.

Reaching up, I traced one of the lines on his cheek lightly with my finger. "I haven't been up long. How'd you sleep, babe? You looked comfortable when I peeked in on you a few minutes ago."

He nodded, leaning down to brush his lips across mine. "It was fine," he said with a shrug. "Lonely." He winked at my giggle, kissing me again. "How about you, sweetheart? Miss me?"

Twining my arms around his neck, I nodded as I pulled him down to meet my lips, needing more than just a soft peck or two.

Edward took the hint and slowly caressed my mouth as he pulled me more firmly against him. When I sighed in contentment, his tongue slid between my now-parted lips and coaxed and teased until I was putty in his hands, which moved up to tangle in my hair. Tilting my head, he took the kiss deeper, ravaging my mouth with soft nips and licks with every pause to draw a breath.

When we finally pulled apart, my head was spinning, and I could feel every long, hard inch of him pressed firmly against me from our hips to our thighs. I purred, rolling my hips once, but the purr turned into a giggle when Edward groaned.

"Oh, Isabella," he huffed, pulling back and piercing me with a heated stare. "As much as I would love to continue this...there's no way I'm going to risk having your father walk in on...that particular activity."

I laughed, nodding. "Yeah...he was nice in offering you the couch. I'm not sure he'd be very happy to come in and see me bent over the kitchen table – as fun as that sounds."

Edward groaned again, reaching between us to adjust himself before backing off slightly. "So whatcha cookin'? And do you need some help?"

Turning back to the counter, I picked up the spatula and began mixing the chocolate chips in with the rest of the batter. "Pancakes, bacon, sausage, and scrambled cheesy eggs sound okay?"

"Perfect. What can I do? I'm at your service."

I directed him to get the sausage and bacon out of the fridge so we could start frying those up. I figured the rest of them would be along soon. The pancakes could be kept warm in the oven, as could the meats, but the eggs I would need to do last minute. He grabbed a cup of coffee, refilling mine and doctoring it perfectly with milk and sugar before getting to work.

We quickly settled into a routine – Edward beside me working the skillet of meat while I dropped ladles of chocolate chip pancakes onto the griddle. The other, plain batter would come next, and I planned to put blueberries in some and leave the rest plain for Charlie, who was a purist.

I had just slid the aluminum foil-covered platter of pancakes back into a warm oven when Charlie came walking into the kitchen. He was already dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved, red flannel shirt. "Morning," he mumbled, heading directly to the coffee pot and pouring himself a cup.

"Morning, Dad," I said, smiling at him over my shoulder. "Breakfast will be ready soon."

"Smells good," he grunted, taking a seat at the small kitchen table. "The others coming over to eat?"

I shrugged. "I believe so, yeah. They should be here any—"

"Knock, knock!" Alice's greeting was way too chirpy for this early in the morning.

"Yo, Bellsy, what's for breakfast?" Emmett's loud, booming voice was just as perky as Alice's.

I shook my head with a smile, turning back to the stove to pull the last two pancakes off the griddle. "The usual, Em. Morning, guys."

There were greetings all around, with kisses on the top of Charlie's head from Alice and Rose, shoulder pats from the boys, and fist bumps from Edward to them both. Sue knocked once before walking into the house, saying hello to everyone, and giving Charlie a kiss good morning.

For a few minutes, it was chaos. The kitchen was always small, but crammed with eight adults – one of which was Emmett – it felt tiny. I directed traffic as best I could, finally ordering the guys to carry the table out to the living room, where we could sit some around the table and still talk with the others, who could sit on the couch and eat off their laps.

By the time we all sat down in the living room, I was exhausted again. Charlie sat at one end of the table, with Sue to his right. I was beside her, with Edward beside me. Alice and Rose squeezed in between my dad and Edward, leaving Jasper and Emmett to grab spots on the couch, which they did happily, their plate piled high with food.

The room was pretty quiet as food was passed around. Edward groaned happily as he slid three of the chocolate chip pancakes onto his plate, dousing them with syrup. He took a big bite before he even dished up his eggs, bacon, and sausage. I took the plate of meat from him, added two strips of bacon and two sausage links to my plate of eggs and pancakes – I'd opted for one each of the chocolate chip and blueberry – and then passed it to Sue, who smiled.

"This looks great, Bella. I had planned on being here early enough to help cook, but my car wouldn't start. I had to call Jake to come over and take a look."

Edward froze beside me at the mention of Jacob's name, and I slid my hand from where it had been resting beside my plate down to his thigh, squeezing gently.

"What's wrong with the car?" Charlie asked, oblivious to how tense Edward had gotten.

As Sue began explaining about some loose spark plug or something, I leaned over and kissed Edward's cheek, moving back to whisper in his ear. "Simmer down, babe," I teased. "You'll have time to intimidate him this weekend, I promise."

Edward grinned like he'd won the lottery, and I chuckled and sat back up in my seat, picking my fork up once more. I kept my hand on his thigh as a reminder that I was there and I was his, smiling back at him when he turned his head slightly and winked.

"So, Sue," Alice started a few minutes later, "the wedding is Sunday afternoon, right? Where are you holding it?"

I listened as Sue answered Alice's question about the wedding being on the reservation, down near the ocean.

"If it rains, we have a back up plan in place to have it indoors at the community center there. The guest list is small, so everyone should know where to go if need be," Sue explained. "By the way, Alice. I got a note from your mother. I was so sad to hear that she and your dad wouldn't be at the wedding."

"Oh, that's right," Charlie said, brushing crumbs from his mustache. "Your folks are gone to Haiti, right?"

Alice nodded. "Mom said it's just a mess over there. She's heartbroken at the destruction and at how many people, how many families and children, have been uprooted, their lives changed so drastically. I think it's really getting to her already, even though they haven't been there long."

"Please give them both our best and thank them for the lovely blanket and the Seahawks tickets."

I could only imagine the reaction that gift had gotten from both my dad and Sue, since both were big fans of the Seattle football team.

"Of course! I'll be sure to tell them the next time we talk. They said they would call again in a couple of weeks, if not sooner."

Once everyone was finished eating, Rose and Alice volunteered their husbands to move the table back into the kitchen.

"We'll put the food away while they wash dishes, Bella," Alice said, standing and grabbing her plate and Edward's. "Since you guys cooked, you can relax."

I looked at Edward and shrugged, and then we stood up and switched places with the boys, settling into one end of the couch. Edward wrapped his arm around my shoulder as I leaned into him, watching as my dad and Sue helped the girls carry everything from the table into the kitchen so Emmett and Jasper could grab the table.

When my dad and Sue came back into the living room, she settled onto the other end of the couch, and he sat back in his recliner, pulling the foot rest out and relaxing back into the seat. After a moment, he looked at Edward and spoke.

"So Bells told me you decided to go back to school?"

Edward nodded. "Yes, sir. Well, technically to school, not back to school. I've not been at all since I joined the Army right out of high school."

Charlie nodded thoughtfully, stroking his mustache. "You decided against the Seattle PD? I know they can use a few new men."

Tightening his arm around me, Edward shook his head. "I thought about it and decided that wasn't the right move for me – for us." With a smile, he said, "Going to school is the right option. I've always loved music, and I think I'll love working with kids, so becoming a music teacher is the best choice all around."

"You won't miss the action and excitement?"

I started to protest because I didn't want Edward feeling pressured, but he tugged me back against him and rubbed my arm with his hand.

"It's okay, Bella. Your dad just wants to make sure you're happy, and if I'm not content with my choice, I'll make you unhappy."

Charlie huffed a bit and nodded.

Turning back to my dad, Edward said, "I won't." He shook his head and sighed. "I've seen enough action and excitement of that nature to last me a lifetime. What I want now more than anything is to settle down, have a home and a family, and spend the rest of my life making Bella as happy as she makes me."

With tears in my eyes, I leaned up and kissed his jaw lightly, the scruff tickling my lips. Settling back into my seat, I half-tuned my dad and Edward out as they started talking football. Sue was reading a book she'd picked up from the end table, so I let my mind wander, just happy and content to be where I was right at that moment.

~oooOOOooo~

I was pulling my hair back into a ponytail when Edward came into the room, dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, the sleeves pushed up on his forearms.

"Your dad and the guys are ready to go."

"'Kay," I said, standing from my seat on the edge of the bed. "Rose and Alice left while you were in the shower. They are going to check on her parents' house. Sue went back to the reservation to work on some last-minute wedding details."

"Sounds good. Ready to show me what you've got, sweet girl?"

Making my way to him, I ran my hands up his arms, wrapping my fingers around his biceps. "Mmhmm. You may have the guns," I teased, "but I'm gonna kick your ass at the range, Sarge."

Edward's eyes twinkled as he laughed, shaking his head. "We'll see about that, Isabella. Remember, I've been practicing with a gun for the last seven years."

Stretching up on my tip-toes, I kissed him and then quickly turned and jogged down the stairs, calling over my shoulder, "Yes, but I've got the natural talent!"

I heard him laughing moments before his footsteps echoed on the stairs behind me.

~oOo~

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