Saturday, August 18, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 161 - Bella

~oOo~

La Push... Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 7:15 P.M.

"Hey, sweet girl. I'm going to go grab some more to drink and another burger. You want anything while I'm up?"

Edward was leaning down, his breath ghosting over my ear so I could hear him above the din of noise echoing through the large room of the community center.

"No, thanks." I turned my head and kissed him once. "I'm good, thanks, babe."

He smiled and then stood, raising his voice to the rest of our small group at the end of the long table. "Anyone else want anything while I'm in there?"

Emmett, who had a mouthful of burger, poked his can of Coke with a finger, and Jasper said, "Make that two."

Nodding, Edward took his plate and headed back to the small kitchen, where all the food was set up.

The rehearsal had started just after six o'clock, but since it was just Charlie and his groomsmen – his best friend Billy and soon-to-be stepson Seth – and Sue and her bridesmaids – Leah and me – there wasn't a lot that needed actually rehearsing. The wedding wasn't actually being held at the community center – unless it rained – but since that's where the party after the rehearsal was being held, they'd decided it just made sense to do it all there. I'd walked down the aisle first, followed by Leah and then Sue on Seth's arm. They'd also had Claire, one of the younger members of the tribe, practice singing a pretty song that she would sing the next day in the native Quileute language.

The man who was going to perform the ceremony – the grandfather of one of Jacob's friends, Quil – had instructed them on how the ceremony itself would progress. Since both Sue and Charlie had gotten married to their respective spouses the first time at the courthouse, neither were completely familiar with the bride's and groom's perspectives. That had all taken only about half an hour, so by 6:45, they were finished and we were all in line, grabbing plates to pile high with food – hotdogs, hamburgers, homemade venison sausage, plus potato salad, chips, and an assortment of veggies.

"Oh, damn..." Alice nudged me with her elbow. "Check out who just walked in."

Coming in from the main doors of the center were Jacob and two of his friends, Paul and Jared. Each of them had a girl on their arms. I recognized Rachel, one of Jake's older sisters, with her hand in Paul's, and much to my surprise and annoyance, Jake's companion was my nemesis from high school, Melissa. She had been determined to hate me once I moved to Forks. I could never figure out why, except maybe that the others had been so enamored of the new girl that I'd usurped Melissa from her position as the number one subject of discussion at Forks High.

"Don't worry, Belly-boo," Emmett said, winking. "We got your back."

I laughed, shrugging my shoulders. "I'm so not worried about him. If I have to, I can reacquaint his boys with my knee."

Jasper and Emmett cringed as a smooth, velvety voice came from behind me.

"That's my girl," Edward said, dropping into his seat and sliding the two cans of soda across the table to the other guys.

Moments later, Jake and his group walked up to our table. His smile was cocky and sure as he grinned at me, barely sparing Edward a glance.

"Hey, Bells. It's good to see you. You remember the guys, Melissa, and my sister Rachel, right?" He motioned to the other girl, who was standing with Jared. "This is Kim, Jared's girlfriend."

Nodding, I pasted a smile on my face. "Melissa, you look great." My smile turned genuine as I faced Jacob's sister. She wasn't much like her brother, and I honestly didn't understand what she saw in Paul, but she'd always been friendly. "Rachel, it's good to see you." Turning to Kim, I said, "Nice to meet you." I was determined not to judge her before I'd even spoken with her.

She smiled sweetly. "You, too."

"Good to see you, too, Bella. My dad said you met someone?" Rachel looked at Edward out of the corner of her eye.

I made the introductions, aware of Jacob pointedly ignoring it all. Once everyone had met one another, I gestured to the empty plates in front of us. "There's plenty of food in the kitchen if you guys are hungry."

For the first time since coming up to the table, Melissa spoke. "No, thank you," she said disdainfully. "I care enough about how I look that I don't eat...that."

I had to work hard not to roll my eyes.

With her nose in the air, Melissa turned and said to Rachel and Kim, "Come on. I see some better seats over there."

Kim looked embarrassed before quietly following Melissa. Rachel didn't hesitate to roll her eyes, mouthing, "Sorry," before turning and heading across to the other two.

Once they were gone and Jacob and the guys had walked away, the subject turned to our trip home the next day and plans for the next couple of weeks. Emmett, of course, wanted to dress up for Halloween and go trick-or-treating. We finally placated him by telling him we'd all dress up if we found a party to go to, but there was no way we were going door to door getting candy.

Draining the last of my soda, I stood. "I'll be back."

I said hello to a few people as I made my way through the big room to the kitchen. They all wanted me to talk about the handsome man I was with or talk about Sue and Charlie's wedding. By the time I got to the kitchen, I was just about talked out. There was only so many times I could tell the same stories or say the same things before I started feeling like I was reading from a script.

I was bent over pulling a new Coke from the bottom shelf of the refrigerator when I heard him.

"Mm, the view is still as good as ever."

Jerking up, I nearly banged my head on the bottom of the freezer door. "Jacob," I said, not bothering to hide the roll of my eyes this time. "You really don't take a hint, do you?"

He smirked. "Come on, Bells. You know we'd be good together. The chemistry's still there."

Shaking my head, I sighed. "Back off, Jake. We went out in high school, but that was a long time ago. I'm in love, and I'm happy."

Jake took a few steps closer, but thankfully, he was still staying far enough away that I didn't have to worry about him invading my personal space. "Come on, Bells. You can't really tell me you're in love with Pretty Boy out there, can you?"

"She just said she was," the pretty boy in question stated firmly.

I looked over to the door to see Edward in all his angry, pushed-to-his-limit glory – brows lowered, eyes dark, stance widened, and arms crossed.

"Everything all right, sweetheart?" he asked me, glancing quickly at me before turning his gaze back to Jacob.

I smiled, grabbed my soda, and skirted around Jake to Edward's side, wrapping my arm around his waist. "I'm fine, Sarge. Come on. Let's go see what the others have planned."

Without another word to Jacob, we turned and left the kitchen.

~oooOOOooo~

"Oh, God, that's a pretty sight," Alice gushed.

My head swiveled to the right, where I watched Edward, Emmett, and Jasper walking through the doorway of the community center. All of them were wearing T-shirts and shorts, having lost the coin flip to determine who would choose shirts or skins. Jacob, Paul, and Jared had chosen skins.

After sitting and talking with Charlie, Sue, Billy Black, and a few other Quileute elders, some of the guys had decided they wanted to play basketball. Emmett had overheard, and suddenly, he, Jasper, and Edward had headed out to the car to change into the shorts they'd brought with them.

Alice was right. Even with shirts on, our boys were hot. Their T-shirts molded to their bodies without being disgustingly tight, and the athletic shorts showed off the muscles of their thighs – just looking at Edward's reminded me of sitting astride him, feeling those muscles bunch up and relax underneath me, helping me to move above him.

The boys shot us winks as we whistled loudly and cheered our support, and then they continued onto the court, picking up the basketball from the middle of the floor. They were joined by another guy I recognized from the station, where he was a deputy who worked with Charlie. They all shook hands and talked for a minute; I couldn't hear what they were saying, but from Jasper's gestures, he was introducing Edward.

When Jake and the guys – Paul, Jared...and I think the other was named Collin – from the reservation came walking in a couple of minutes later, sans shirts, I had to cover my snicker with a laugh. The way they walked in, half-naked and obviously feeling cocky, reminded me of Zoolander. They were strutting their stuff, preening like a bunch of peacocks, especially when Melissa, Rachel, Kim, and some other girls – because of their dark hair and skin and beautiful features, it was easy to tell they were Native American – started cheering loudly.

When they passed by the seats my friends and I had taken, Jacob shot me a wink. "Watch me, Bells. I'll show you how it's done."

I snorted but said nothing, waving to the few guys I knew and liked before turning my attention back to the court, where Edward was huddled up with Emmett and Jasper and the rest of their team.

Edward must have felt my eyes on him because he looked up, glared at Jake for a second, and then turned to face me. He rolled his eyes as he nodded over to where Jake and the guys were bouncing another ball back and forth, and then he winked at me before turning his attention back to the guys and the upcoming game.

Finally, they called the La Push guys over and talked for a minute – discussing rules and whatnot, I assumed – and then shook hands before separating to opposite sides of the court.

"Go, Emmett!" Rose cheered, cupping her mouth and making a "whoop, whoop, whoop!" sound.

Alice, Leah – who had joined us to watch the game – and I laughed as Emmett looked back and grinned, calling out, "There's my cheerleader!"

With a toss of the ball, the game was on.

~oOo~

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