Entry for the Straight thru the Heart Contest

Title: Flash Forward

Summary: Gone was the boy of her past, and in his place was the man she knew would be her future. In just a few days he had shown her that life was to be seen, experienced, and shared … together.

Pairing: Edward and Bella

Rating: M

Word count: 5,727

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

Palm trees, sand and salty air. That had been the plan. I should be lying on a beach right now, surrounded by beautifully tanned bodies and the roar of the surf. Moreover, I'd be sipping something from a fat glass with a little paper umbrella sticking out of the side.

That was the plan.

Before Alice.

She spent the better half of the last year begging me to come to Seattle, especially when I accidentally let it slip that I was being offered a position with a small internet publishing company that was located less than a mile from her office. She was beside herself with excitement at the possibility that we might once again be living close to one another.

I was beside myself with humiliation.

Alice had lured me here with a promise of helping me find a place to live. She neglected to mention that our ten-year high school reunion would also bring to town everyone that I had spent years trying to forget.

That's how I found myself sitting in the hotel bar, drowning my sorrows in a mixture of coconut rum and pineapple juice in a fat glass.

Without the umbrella.

My reflection in the mirror behind the bar revealed a woman who had spent the last few years clawing her way to the middle of her field. Nothing special or exemplary. Just an average editor with an average clientele. To the outside observer, I would be unremarkable. A plain, brown-eyed brunette with a small frame and almost non-existent cleavage in a red sweater and jeans.

But my red patent leather heels were kick-ass.

I suppose it says something about me that I consider my best feature to be a pair of shoes that I paid way too much money for last year.

Tomorrow would see the arrival of my high school classmates; more of them than I ever wanted to see again in this life. I'd kept in touch with anyone I really cared about.

Well, there was one exception.

Edward Cullen.

I'd had a crush on Edward since freshman year. He was the most gorgeous boy I'd ever seen, athletic, funny, and unbearably sweet. In the fall of our senior year, he asked me out and we became the "it" couple. Everyone envied our relationship and every girl wanted to be me.

If they only knew.

Edward was great. He never cheated or treated me poorly; he was just too focused on his accomplishments. If it wasn't whatever current sport he was playing, it was photography. He had an incredible eye behind the camera lens and spent hours perfecting his shots. I was the convenient girlfriend; always willing to be with him when he had a few minutes to spare and always nearby since my best friend was his sister.


We never talked about him. That was intentional. It wasn't that I was angry about the way things ended between us. It was amicable. We both wanted to pursue our education and careers, and although I never said it out loud, I wanted a boyfriend that loved me more than his camera.

I saw him twice during our first couple of years of college, but not once since then. Alice said he'd been freelancing for years now and that he had seen most of the world, good and bad. I'd seen hundreds of his photos in magazines, newspapers, and on Alice's walls. He'd sent her the most stunning picture of the Eiffel Tower at dusk. It had arrived hours before her wedding with a telegram begging her forgiveness for his inability to attend. He was stranded in some tiny, remote country that had been flooded and the only airport runway had been left underwater.

He was my only regret. Not because he was the 'one that got away', but because he was in my life at a time when neither of us was ready for the other and we never had a chance to see what we might become.

"Hey pretty lady; can I buy you a drink?"

I didn't even glance up from what was left of the yellow liquid in my glass. "No, thank you."

"Well, how about we-"

"I'm not interested." I shifted on my stool to indicate that any further attempt was unwelcome and apparently the faceless stranger got the hint. I wasn't trying to be a bitch. On the contrary, I was trying to spare him from my bitchy attitude that was sure to come later, once the liquid warmth was gone and I was once again left feeling lonely and cynical.

For now, I wanted to bask in the memories of a teenage girl and the hopes and dreams she had for the future. With or without her one regret.

I felt the seat beside me shift once again and hoped he wouldn't be a persistent jerk. He didn't say anything but tapped his fingers on the bar, gaining the attention of the bartender. I never heard him order but within a couple of minutes a beer appeared on the bar and another fat glass of coconut rum and pineapple juice replaced my nearly empty one. When I lifted my eyes to question him about it, the bartender shifted his eyes to my left and then back to me, smiling as he walked away.

"Look," I began, pressing my palms to the top of the bar, using the leverage to turn toward him as I spoke. "I said I'm … not interested."

The words slowed and died as they crossed my lips.

Edward Cullen, in all of his glory, sat beside me with his beer held aloft, a wicked grin on his face.

"So I heard." He tipped the bottle, taking a small sip before tilting his head back over his right shoulder. "Poor guy slithered off into the corner with his tail between his legs. How are you, CW?"

CW. Crazy Woman. It had been his nickname for me all those years ago. I was the only girl in our circle of friends that had the guts to join the boys in their insanity. Cliff diving when we took summer trips to the beach, racing motorcycles on back roads at midnight, defying any of the rules my dad, aka the police chief of our town, or anything else they could think of to challenge my courage. It had earned me a great amount of respect in their eyes and the admiration of my adventurer boyfriend.

I smiled widely at what I considered a term of endearment and shook my head. "I'm good. How's life treating you, Flash?"

Edward chuckled at my use of his nickname. It was the obvious choice for him; he was a photographer, after all. However, the not so well-known reason for that particular moniker was earned when he lost a bet to Tyler Crowley a week after graduation. Because of that loss, he had to streak across the screen at the drive-in movie on a busy Friday night. After all of the calls, I was sure my dad had his suspicions but he was never able to prove it. It wasn't until after we had all graduated from college and Edward was somewhere in the remote mountains of China before I 'fessed up' to the police chief about the whole thing.

"I can't complain." He took another sip of his beer. "God, how long has it been, Bella? Six years? Seven?"


His vibrant green eyes held mine for what felt like hours before he spoke softly. "Seems like yesterday."

His quiet voice and those piercing eyes seemed to wrap around me like a warm blanket. Taking a deep breath, I looked away, smiling to myself as I tried not to think about how easy it would be to fall back into that eighteen-year-old mindset.

Clearing my throat, I turned my face back toward him but kept my eyes on my drink. "So, you're in town for the reunion?"

"Not exactly. I moved back to Seattle last year. I missed my family and New York was just too busy for me, so the decision was an easy one. How about you? Alice said you're considering moving back."

"Maybe." Realization struck at that moment. "Did Alice tell you I was staying here?"

"No." He didn't elaborate, but his eyes were full of humor as he tipped his bottle. After swallowing, he met my eyes with a broad smile. "Tyler's staying here. We were supposed to meet for dinner but Lauren found out and well, I guess old habits die hard."

"Ah. So you got dumped for the old girlfriend."

"Yep. But now my evening's looking up. Have dinner with me?" He tossed a wad of cash on the bar and held out his hand.

"You're lying!" I was laughing so hard I could barely catch my breath.

Edward held up his hand as though he were being sworn in. "I swear it's the truth! There were six of them, each carrying these long sticks with the sharpest damn points I've ever seen. I had both arms wrapped around my camera to hold it secure against my chest and I was running faster than Usain Bolt. When I got to the river, I jumped in a boat, that I shit you not, looked like a banana peel, and started paddling. When I got far enough from shore that I felt safe, I stopped paddling and caught my breath. It was only then that I saw the bucket in the boat and realized the damn thing was taking on water! I spent the next hour paddling and bailing water, hoping like hell that I wouldn't sink into a river full of crocodiles."

By the time he finished his story, Edward was laughing almost as hard as I was and handed me his napkin to wipe my eyes. We had been reminiscing in the hotel restaurant for hours about where our lives had taken us and all that we'd done over the years since we'd last seen one another. Edward had me laughing one minute and on the verge of tears the next. His life had certainly been anything but dull.

I, on the other hand, seemed to have had all my adventures before we ever graduated high school. God, how I envied that life.

"You don't have to."

"What?" I was confused.

"You don't have to envy it."

I sucked in a sharp breath. "Did I say that out loud?"

He laughed, his wide smile causing his eyes to crinkle in that way that would always steal my breath. "Yes, you did. But you don't have to, Bella. All of life is an adventure just waiting to happen. Say the word, and I'll get you outfitted for my next trip."

"And where will that be?"

"I don't know yet, but I can promise that it will be incredible. It always is."

I watched his face as he glanced around the room, wondering what it must be like to live that kind of life. New places, new people, and nothing ever the same through his lens. Carefree was a good look on him.

Hell, it was a great look on him.

He was as beautiful as he ever was. Even more so now that his boyish charm had transformed into masculine elegance. His body had filled out, the angles and lines now hard and defined.

But it was his eyes.

Those green eyes that were full of life and light. The way they saw the world around him was extraordinary and it drew me in like nothing I'd ever known.

"What are you thinking about?" It was a whisper, but it was still full of the warmth of his voice. I needed to think of something to say in response, knowing that I couldn't tell him where my thoughts had actually been. I focused on the long fingers of his left hand as it rested beside my right. He slowly slid his hand over mine, turning it palm up and tracing his fingers down to my wrist and back again. I couldn't look away as he continued the slow rhythm.

I swallowed.


Lifting my eyes to his, I repeated his question.

"What are you thinking about?"

Edward drew in a sharp breath, his gaze darkening as he leaned forward. "You wanna get out of here?"

The elevator seemed to take hours as Edward's hand rested on the small of my back, just under the edge of my sweater. It was warm but caused my skin to tingle in anticipation. When the door finally opened, his fingers traced the top of my jeans to the opposite hip and squeezed gently as he walked me to my room. Taking the keycard from my hand, he had us inside the room in the blink of an eye and before I could draw a breath, his mouth covered mine.

It wasn't the sweet, timid kisses of our teens. This was solid and sure. This was Edward staking a claim, at least for tonight.

My hands found a home in that tousled, auburn hair that always looked windblown and perfect. I pulled and tugged, trying to hold him closer as his own hands began to explore. One sliding smoothly under my sweater to cup my breast, squeezing and kneading, while the other traced down my thigh, pulling my knee up and around his hip.

My hips rocked against him as his mouth pressed wet, lingering kisses to my neck and collarbone. When he couldn't go any farther, hindered as he was by my sweater, he pulled it up and over my head in one swift movement. It was just enough to give me a moment of clarity.


"Hmmm?" he hummed against the swell of my breast.

"Are we … ooooh … are we being reckless?"

His fingers had deftly unclasped my bra, and as it slid to the ground, his gaze was fixed on my bare chest.

"God, I hope so."

I'd never had anyone look at me with such raw desire. For the first time in years, I threw caution to the wind and joined Edward, living in the moment, clarity be damned.

What was left of our clothing seemed to disappear in a haze of want and need, our mouths and hands devouring one another as we lost ourselves in sensation. It was only when Edward guided me to sit on the edge of the bed that I opened my eyes and took in his magnificence. He was all hard lines, smooth skin, and elegance.

And I wanted him desperately.

Wrapping my legs around his, I pulled him forward leaving my hands free to slide up his chest and around his shoulders, bringing his lips to mine. His body pressed against me, his hips rocking slowly creating the most exquisite friction.

"Edward, please."

He didn't answer but drew back to meet my gaze as he sat back on his knees. My eyes never left his but my mind registered the movement of his hands as he tore open the little silver package, making quick work of protecting us both as his eyes darkened and roamed over me. Lowering himself, he lined his body up with mine and pressed in slowly. My fingers dug into his shoulders as my body curled around him, desperate to be closer. To be one with him.

When there was nothing but a breath of space between us, Edward pressed his face into my neck, whispering my name reverently when he began to move. He was smooth and fluid, his hips rolling at the pinnacle of every thrust. My body answered eagerly, meeting him at every surge.



My hands tugged at his hair, pulling his mouth to mine as his arm slid behind my knee, lifting it as his thrusts grew faster. More powerful, if that were possible.

The sensation was overwhelming. Edward's mouth, his hands, his body claiming mine with such passion. It was too much and not enough all at once. I felt as though my body was on fire as everything in me focused on where we were joined. Every muscle in my body tensed and I would have been embarrassed about the noises I was making but Edward seemed to enjoy it.

"That's it. Come on, baby."

It was the 'baby' that did it. I shattered around him, shaking and holding onto his arms for fear of flying apart. Edward groaned, pressing in hard and stilling as his arms shook. He kissed me softly a few times before rolling away and pushing himself to sit on the side of the bed for a couple of seconds. He stood and walked to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.

That clarity returned with crashing force.

This wasn't like me. I didn't bring men back to my hotel room after dinner and drinks.

But this was Edward Cullen.

My mind and heart were racing and I was completely lost in my thoughts until I felt the bed dip beside me. Edward lifted the comforter and held out his hand, silently asking me to turn and face him. I complied without hesitation but couldn't bring myself to look at him.

"What are you thinking?" His voice was a soft caress in the dark.

I took a deep breath and shivered, not because I was cold, but because I was suddenly overcome with nerves. Edward pulled me close, enfolding me in his arms but keeping enough distance that he could see my face. His fingers pressed gently against my chin, lifting my face to his.

"Bella? Don't regret this. Please."

"I don't. It's just so unlike me. I just … wanted you."

He offered a shy smile as his fingers stroked my cheek. "That's a good thing. I wanted you too. I always have."

"Why didn't we ever …" My words trailed off as I hoped he would understand what I was asking.

"In high school?" His eyes were searching mine, but suddenly full of amusement when I nodded in affirmation. "Well, first of all, my seventeen-year-old self wouldn't have had the control that my twenty-eight-year-old self does, so it wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable for you." He grinned wickedly as my face heated at his words. "And more importantly, I don't think either of us was ready for that. We were both so focused on where we were headed. You were dreaming of big publishing houses and I was lost to anything that was outside the focus of my zoom lens."

I nodded, knowing he was right but hating that he had actually voiced it. When I tilted my head down and tried to look away, Edward's fingers pressed my chin up so that I was forced to meet his eyes. They were blazing with honesty and passion.

"But I always wanted you, Bella. Please don't ever doubt that. You're my one regret. The only passion I had in life that I didn't pursue."

He leaned in, pulling me close, and I gasped, anticipating a hard, passionate kiss. But when his lips met mine, it was soft brushes and tender caresses. The sweetness of it brought tears to my eyes and when he stilled, I tucked my face into his neck, breathing in his scent and trying very hard not to weep.

"C'mon, CW! Daylight's wasting!"

I knelt down to pick up my shoes and heard the snap just before the sting. Of course, I lost my balance and landed on my right hip as I turned my head to see Edward spinning the towel, winding up for another snap at me. He was laughing, his eyes sparkling and full of playful joy.

"You're so gonna pay for that, Flash."

"I'm counting on it. Now, let's go!"

I followed him to his car, having no idea where we were going or what he had planned. He refused to tell me, saying only that he wanted to show me something that I'd never seen before. My surprise and cynical attitude arrived in full force when he brought me to the Space Needle and waved his arm in a flourish as though he were presenting some great masterpiece.

"Edward, I hate to break it to you, but I've been here more times that I can count. We've been here together on multiple occasions. Is your memory failing?"

He grinned and shook his head as he set his camera bag on the ground and rummaged through it. Pulling a lens out and attaching it to his camera, he finally looked up at me.

"You've been here, Bella, but you haven't seen it. At least not the way I have. I want to show it to you through my eyes. See what I see."

I quirked a brow at him, wondering what he was up to, but I couldn't look away from the wonder and peace on his face. It was like watching a child see the stars for the first time.

Edward held his camera up, his long fingers wrapping around the lens, turning it slightly. A wide smile settled on his face as he held his hand out to me, never taking his eyes off of the image on the small screen.

"Come have a look. Tell me what you see."

I came to stand beside him, peering over his arm at the screen. I expected to see the top of the Needle against the backdrop of the gray morning sky, but I was stunned by what I saw. I shifted my gaze from the camera to the actual structure, my mind somehow expecting to see the same image.

Looking back at the screen, I watched in wonder as a bird dropped tiny bits of something only she would find edible into the open, waiting mouths of her babies. Obviously, they were too far away to be heard but watching their movements, I could imagine the sounds the tiny hatchlings were making.

"You never would have known it was there. It's the tiny miracles all around us that we have to look for that make life worthwhile, Bella. Not all of it is beautiful, but it's there for us to see, to experience and share."

He smiled and turned back to his camera, snapping photos of that mama bird caring for her young. I watched him in wonder, my mind snapping images of the man before me and comparing him to the boy I had known.

They were so similar and yet so different. Or perhaps I had just been too young and naïve to really see him and all that he had to offer. He was still the same confident, funny, caring person, but now he had become wise and beautiful. The kind of beautiful that had nothing to do with the outside, but everything to do with who he was.

The fact that he was gorgeous didn't hurt, either.

We spent another two hours finding things I would have overlooked as inconsequential and unimportant. Maybe they were, but I would never see them the same way again.

When we had circled the area twice, Edward secured his camera back in the bag and locked it in the car. We grabbed a quick lunch and then made our way back to Chihuly Garden and Glass. I'd been here before as well, but I knew this would be an entirely new experience.

Edward paid our admission and then took my hand, leading me straight to the Gardens. His camera remained in the car as no photos were allowed and I wondered exactly what I'd be seeing this time. He didn't disappoint as he guided me through colors, textures, and shapes that I'd seen but never really looked at with this perspective.

I was amazed at how much of life was passing me by. At how much time I had wasted that could have been spent with my friends, my family, and … Edward.

"See the attention to detail he has here? From a distance, there is almost no way to discern which are real and which are glass." Edward moved behind me, wrapping one arm around my waist, his hand resting on the opposite hip. His other hand lifted and pointed to a group of bright red flowers. "There. What do you think?"

I turned my head slightly, bringing our faces so close that we were sharing breath.

"Is it real?" I whispered.

Edward's eyes lowered to my lips then back to my eyes. I had expected them to darken or to be full of mirth. Instead, they were open and sincere, causing my own breath to stutter.

"It could be," he answered softly. "Are you willing to take a closer look?"

The words hung between us as neither of us moved, unprepared for what the next moment might bring. I could feel Edward's heartbeat against my back as his hand lowered and grasped my fingers. Giving them a gentle squeeze, he blinked a couple of times, effectively breaking the spell that had been cast over us.

Bewitching us.

Binding us.

We walked on in silence for a few minutes, sneaking glances and occasionally catching the other's gaze. It was the most peaceful and fulfilled I'd felt in as long as I could remember. I searched frantically for the word that would give a name to the feelings that were running rampant within me, coming up empty but feeling far from it.

When we reached the exit, Edward turned to face me taking my hands in his.

"I have a meeting this afternoon about another job and then I'm having dinner with my parents this evening. I'd really like to see you again, Bella. Will you spend the morning with me tomorrow?"

"I'd like nothing better." I kept my answer short, not wanting to appear too eager, but also knowing that my voice would probably shake with excitement if I said anything more.

Edward grinned and kissed me on the cheek before leading me back to his car.

"Are you cold? We can find someplace inside if you're too cold."

"I'm fine, Edward. As long as the rain holds off, I'm good."

I was gifted with one of his sweet smiles as he rummaged through his camera bag in search of an SD card. When he finally had everything ready, Edward took a seat beside me on the bench and took his coffee cup from me as we sipped in silence for a few minutes. We'd shared pastries from that infamous coffee shop but I refused to share my coffee. Thankfully, Edward had remembered how territorial I was about it and didn't even suggest that we not have our own.

He was a smart man.

"Okay," he began, turning to face me with his camera in hand. "Tell me what you see."

"Pike's Place Market. People. Birds trying to steal bread." I turned toward him. "Hot guy with coffee."

That earned me a laugh.

"Be serious, Bella."

"I am!" I laughed while he shook his head, clearly amused. "No, really, Edward. What are we looking for today?"

"Hmmmm." He glanced around the area slowly. "Okay, I see it now."

Lifting his camera, he began shooting random things, turning at different angles and smiling.

He was stunning, and I couldn't take my eyes off him. His hands were skillfully working the lens and the seemingly thousands of knobs and settings without ever looking away from his subject. It was mesmerizing.


I looked up sharply, embarrassed at being caught ogling his hands. He was smiling softly and tilted his head toward the screen.

"Tell me what you see."

The shot was a mother with her little boy, holding a pastry of some kind while he bit into it.

"Nurture. Innocence."

He nodded, his eyes darting to the screen and then back to my face. "This one?"

It was a dog. Wet, shivering and obviously homeless. He was staring at a family that paid him no notice. It made my heart hurt.

"Sadness and longing."

Edward nodded, his eyes thoughtful and as he turned them back to the screen. He pressed a button twice and then turned it back toward me. "Hope?" he asked.

I glanced at the screen, which now displayed the same dog surrounded by the family, their attention on him, and the gentle interaction he was having with the children. I met Edward's eyes and wished that for once I had the ability to know his thoughts. His look was indiscernible but I could get lost in it for days.

A car horn sounded somewhere and I shook off my random thoughts, wondering what it was about this man that had me so scatterbrained. Clearing my throat, I reached for the camera and he offered it willingly.

"Okay, Flash, your turn." I scrolled through the pictures until I found one of a woman with her nose scrunched up and a look of disgust on her face. The vendor beside her held three fish on brown wrapping paper and was clearly amused by her offended sense of smell.

Edward laughed and immediately responded, "A tourist!"

I giggled along with him and hit the button to bring up the next photo. "Now what do you see?"

His eyes darted to the screen and then back to me as his laughter died and his gaze was intense.


It took a considerable effort to tear my eyes away from him to see what he was looking at that affected him so profoundly.


The photo was of me, sitting here beside him, staring off into the distance. My cheeks were pink from the chilly morning air and my hair was windblown and wild. But for the first time, I saw it through his eyes.




The thought frightened me for a moment. However, it was fleeting and gone as soon as I looked back at him. His name fell softly, reverently from my lips as he took my hand in his and continued to tell me what he saw.

"Sadness. Joy. Longing. Peace. Accomplishment. Humor. Beauty. Passion. My future. Everything."

His kiss was gentle and sweet. He was conscious of where we were and what this moment meant.

It meant everything.

Our words were few as we simply sat beside one another on the bench, holding hands and sipping coffee. Watching people and seeing life through an entirely new lens.

By lunchtime, Edward had brought me back to the hotel and promised to call later to make plans for dinner. He had another meeting with the magazine executives that wanted to hire him for his next shoot, and I needed some time to consider what I wanted.

I was in love with him, of that there was no doubt.

When and how it had happened, I had no idea. But there was no questioning it in my mind and my heart. And for the first time, I had no doubt that he felt the same. He hadn't said it, but then, neither had I. We both needed some space to figure out what happened next.

Less than two hours later, I was skimming a new book, hoping for the next big thing when there was a knock at the door. I hadn't been expecting his call for at least another hour, so to find Edward on the other side of the door was a surprise.

So was the duffle bag he carried.

I couldn't take my eyes off of it as he stepped into the room.

"How soon are you leaving?"

His hand cupped my cheek as our eyes met. "Three weeks."

"Three?" I was sure my confusion was evident. "Then why the duffle?"

His expression was both uncertain and eager as he lifted the duffle between us. "It's yours. I bought it for you this afternoon."

"I don't understand, Edward. I thought you had a meeting."

"I did. Well, a phone call, actually." He dropped the bag, taking my hands in his own. "I wanted to get everything in order. I'm leaving for Ireland in three weeks, Bella. I'll be there for at least a month shooting the country from one end to the other. I'll make sure you have whatever you need for your work or anything you need for that matter. I don't," he swallowed hard. "I don't want to be without you. I can't even think about it. I know it's only been a couple of days, but it has also been a lifetime."

I couldn't answer.

I could barely breathe.

Edward took my silence for reticence, and his smooth, self-assured persona cracked. His words came fast, but there was no doubt of his sincerity.

"You asked me what I saw, Bella, and every word I said was the truth. I see the girl I knew, and the woman you've become. I see my future with you. I see life. Our life, together. God, I know I sound crazy and I'm probably not making any sense. I wish I had one of those cheesy Valentine's Day cards with a chubby little cupid that could communicate exactly what I'm trying to say, but I –"

"You're making perfect sense."

"What?" His eyes were full of hope as he stared at me.

"I feel the same way, Edward. I think … I think it's love. I think I'm in love with you."

I was in his arms before I had a chance to blink, his mouth claiming mine in a kiss that was a mix of passion and tenderness. He spoke volumes in the gentle way he held me, his arms solid, yet trembling with restrained desire, his lips unwilling to release mine even for a second. When he finally allowed me a moment to breathe, he pressed his forehead to mine, keeping us close and focused on only each other.

"Please, Bella, let me love you. Come with me." A soft smile graced his lips. "Stay with me."

I lifted my hands to his face, stroking my thumbs across his cheeks as I realized just how much had changed in the last two days. I wasn't that lonely, cynical woman anymore.

I wasn't looking at life through my own narrow vision.

I was seeing everything fresh and new through his eyes.

I wanted this.



My answer was immediate.


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