Saturday, August 18, 2012 | By: Drotuno

Coming Home Chapter 165 - Bella

~oOo~

Seattle... Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 1:14 P.M.

"Bella, have you seen the shopping list?" Edward started rifling through the papers on the counter. He was going grocery shopping for some last-minute items for our cookout.

"Here," I said, handing the paper to him. "I added a couple of things."

He scanned over it, nodding. "Sounds good. Just the one bag of ice?"

"Yeah, with what we have in the freezer, that should be plenty. I just want to make sure we have enough. We can put that in the cooler with the beer so we don't have to keep opening the fridge."

After giving me a quick kiss, he grabbed his keys and left the house.

I turned back to the potatoes. The ground beef and brats were in the fridge. I was chopping up the potatoes before boiling them for the potato salad. I knew the gang would be over in an hour or so, and I wanted to have this done and in the fridge before they got here so I didn't have to work as hard. I was also going to boil some eggs for Alice to make the deviled eggs we all loved so much. Edward hadn't tasted them yet, so I was excited for him to try them.

Besides the hamburgers, brats, potato salad, and deviled eggs, the girls were going to help me make barbecue baked beans, and Rose was bringing over some chile-lime cashews she'd made up this morning – if Emmett hadn't gotten to them by then. I also had three desserts, not including the two kinds of cookies in the cookie jar on the counter. The one-pan fudge cake had been incredibly easy to make, as had the key lime pie. The double layer chocolate and peanut butter pie hadn't been complicated, except for the fact that Edward had hung over my shoulder the entire time, wanting to taste and taste and taste. The desserts were all finished and sitting in the fridge – or on the counter, as was the case for the fudge cake.

Edward was so excited about today. When he'd learned that the girls and I would be off school because of Veterans Day, he had asked if I minded if we had everyone over to celebrate and just to hang out. He still had trouble with remembering this was his house, too, even though I kept reminding him. I knew it would take a while before he felt comfortable making plans without feeling like he had to get permission. I'd tried to explain the difference between getting my permission and being a good boyfriend and house mate and letting me know he was going to invite them so I wasn't surprised to find them in the house. But it was taking a while.

We had school tomorrow, so we weren't going to make any mixed drinks or have any hard liquor. Alice and Jasper were going to bring the beer and wine coolers, though, because it wouldn't be a party without at least some alcohol.

Edward had gotten an Xbox 360 after getting back from Forks, so the boys were bringing over their games, and Emmett had just gotten a Wii, so he was going to bring it along with the games he had for it already. The games and food should be plenty to keep us all occupied for the afternoon and evening.

Once the potatoes were boiled, cooled, and mixed with all the rest of the ingredients, I stuck it in the fridge and went to get ready. I'd be in Edward's T-shirt and a pair of his boxers since waking up, and I needed a shower and to actually put on real clothes. Edward was back from the store, and if everyone showed up before I was ready, they could all keep each other entertained by setting up Emmett's game system.

I had just buttoned my jeans and was in the middle of pulling my T-shirt on when Alice stuck her head into the room.

"Hey, Bells. We're all here. What do you need us to do?"

I smiled, pulling my ponytail out of the back of the shirt, and turned to face her. "Unless you guys have something you need cooked before later, we should be good to go until later."

She shook her head. "The eggs are done and in the fridge. Rose already put the nuts out on the table for the pigs to snack on."

Laughing, I slid the ring I'd gotten months before from Edward – the one that only came off when I showered or cooked something too messy – back on my right hand and followed Alice out of the bedroom and down the hall.

The living room was chaos as we walked in. Rose was camped out on the couch, wine cooler in hand, shaking her head at the guys, who were in the middle of what could have been considered a disaster area post-tornado or earthquake. Games were stacked on the coffee table, cables were strewn everywhere as the guys tried to figure out how best to hook everything up to the best advantage. It was loud, busy, crowded...and perfect.

For a long time, I'd been the odd woman out in our group – and I'd been okay with that, for the most part. I was happy my friends were happy. But having Edward here, right in the middle of it all, fitting in with my friends like he'd always been there...it was better than I ever could have imagined. And when he looked up at me and smiled – that slightly crooked, beautiful smile that he reserved just for me – my world felt complete. It wasn't the first time since he'd been home that I'd felt that way, but it hit me hard every time regardless.

I kissed the top of his head as I went by, laughing when he managed to snag the controller Emmett had been waving around out of his reach.

"Hey, Rosie." I sighed with contentment as I plopped down in the leather chair, leaving the couch for Alice.

"Did you hear from your mom?" Rose raised an eyebrow curiously.

Nodding, I smirked. "Yeah, she swears she wants Edward and me to come down for Thanksgiving, that she isn't going anywhere, so it looks like it's back to Florida for us in a couple of weeks. I booked our flight this morning. We leave late Tuesday the twenty-third and come home Saturday the twenty-seventh."

"We can take you guys to the airport," Alice volunteered, "if they can pick you up." She gestured to Rose, who shrugged.

"Should be fine. What time?"

"I think our plane lands at just after eight that night." I wrinkled my nose as I tried to remember which flight I'd ended up choosing.

"Yeah, it was like eight fifteen or something, love," Edward said as he passed, hearing the tail end of our conversation.

"Hey, grab me a blackberry wine cooler while you're in there, please?" I called.

"Of course. Anyone else need anything?"

Alice said she'd take a strawberry, and the guys both called for new beers.

We talked and drank while the guys finished setting up the systems and then settled in to root for our men as they started a game of Call of Duty. They had gotten lots of practice playing together in Florida, but they hadn't played much since being home, so the trash talk was fierce. The girls and I couldn't help but laugh as it got out of hand several times, with playful but competitive shoves to shoulders and raised voices...and several throw pillows were used literally – thrown at another person in exasperation.

When Edward and Emmett finally threw down their controllers in defeat, the girls and I giggled at their poor hang-dog expressions.

"Poor baby," I soothed when Edward came over and settled onto the arm of the chair.

As was always the case, Emmett bounced back immediately – a kiss from Rose always did the trick to end his pouting. "Who's up for some Wii Sports?" He rifled through the stack of games, finally pulling out a case and holding it up. "We can play up to four at a time. I want to bowl!"

Rose laughed. "I'll stick to tennis, thanks."

"Bells, Ali?" Emmett waggled his eyebrows. "Who's ready to lose?"

Shaking my head, I said, "Oh, Em, it's on, my friend."

Alice reached over and gave me a high five. "Let's kick his ass, Bella."

I grinned, winking at Edward. "Ali, sweetie, I hate to tell you, but I'll not only kick his ass, I'll kick yours, too."

Edward laughed and held his hands up. "I'm out. I'm waiting to play Em in baseball."

"It's on, Masen!" Emmett crowed, putting the game disc into the Wii and grabbing three of the remotes. He tossed one to me and one to Alice, chucking the other one not quite as gently to Jasper before picking up the last one.

We spent nearly twenty minutes getting all our characters set up. Jasper made himself look like Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, while Alice went with Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family TV series. Emmett decided on the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, calling out "Bork, bork, bork!" until we told him to knock it off, and Rose, the knockout blonde, just made a Mii that looked as much like her as she could. When it was my turn, my character ended up looking like Miss Piggy, so Edward made himself Kermit.

When all the Mii characters were situated, Emmett turned on bowling, and we all entered our spots. Alice went first, knocking over five pins on her first throw and picking up three more on her second. I followed with a seven-ten split on my first throw and a gutter ball for the second, tying me with Alice for the moment.

When Jasper got ready to go, Emmett stood just to the side, barely in Jasper's line of sight, and started dancing like a spastic monkey on coke. His hips were shaking, his arms were flailing, and if his facial expressions got any more outrageous, they'd just be stupid, rather than stupid funny.

Jasper ignored it as best he could, but after gutter-balling twice in a row, he dropped his controller and jumped at Emmett, taking him to the floor. It was a good thing the coffee table had been scooted back out of the way to make room for all of us to play because otherwise, they'd have crashed into it as they wrestled around, knocking into everything in their path.

Alice, Rose, and I were in tears we were laughing so hard by the time Edward stuck two fingers in his mouth and blew, the loud, shrill whistle stopping the other two guys in their tracks.

"That's enough, guys. If you want to keep at it, take it outside so you don't destroy our house."

I was the only one who melted as Edward called it "our" house. I wasn't sure when I'd get used to hearing that from him.

"It's fucking cold outside," Emmett grumbled from his position above Jasper, where he had the other man pinned, face-down, on the carpet.

"It's seventy-three!" Rose laughed, shaking her head. "That's not cold, Em. Man up."

Emmett looked disgruntled as he jumped to his feet, giving Jasper a hand up. "Fine. I'll be good." He looked at me and winked, grinning when I chuckled.

Emmett turned out to be a halfway decent Wii bowler, ending with a score of 205. I squeaked by Alice with a 172 to her 165, but we all beat Jasper, who fell short at 154.

As Emmett celebrated his significant win by dancing around and raising his hands above his head in victory, Jasper grumbled and got the game set up to play tennis. I handed Rose my controller. The game between the two of them was quick, and Rose beat him easily, much to Jasper's irritation.

"Okay, I give up. Someone else take my controller," Jasper said with a laugh. "Ed, you guys wanna play baseball now?"

Edward nodded, taking Jasper's controller. "Who wants to play?"

When no one else volunteered, I raised an eyebrow. "You going to slaughter me if I play against you, pretty boy?"

Grinning, Edward shrugged. "Call me pretty boy, and I might..."

I laughed. "Okay, pretty boy," I teased. "Game on."

After three innings, I was ahead by two, winning the game, but I had a feeling something fishy was going on.

"You didn't just let me win, did you?" I raised an eyebrow, making the others laugh. Edward looked sheepish. "Do-over," I grumbled, pointing my controller at him. "This time, be my opponent – not my boyfriend."

"Yes, ma'am," he agreed, winking.

He shut me down handily with a score of seven to one in less than ten minutes.

"Oh, geez... Stick a fork in me, I'm done!" I collapsed in the chair, laughing.

Rose and Alice played a game of tennis, and then the guys competed on golf while we sat back and watched. But just as their game ended, Emmett's stomach growled – loudly.

Laughing, I said, "Okay, you guys clean up in here and get the coals started while we get the hamburgers made."

The girls and I kissed our men and then made our way to the kitchen, laughing and shaking our heads at the mischief we could hear them getting into even just cleaning up the games.

"Okay," I said, pointing to the fridge. "Alice, you get the meat out. Rose, you want to slice tomato and onion?"

With nods, we got to work on dinner.

~oOo~

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