Disclaimer(s): All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. TY lovely Twilight ladies for the great sample, this disclaimer is also not mine.

June 2001

Two weeks. I hadn't been home since I'd left for the Army four years ago in a last ditch effort to escape what my life had become. My last two week leave before my final tour, then I'd be stateside again, permanently. I'd decided it was time to finally come home so I could set things up for my return and start working toward my law degree.

The flight attendants made their final sweep of the plane as we began our descent into Tampa. De-boarding the plane, I scanned the terminal for my father, half expecting to see him standing there like he used to when we'd pick up my mother.

Instead, I saw a young man holding a sign with my full name on it, Johnathan Edward Masen. What a fucking great start to my leave. Maybe I should have joined my buddies in Vegas. At least they'd be there to pick me up.

Arriving at my childhood home, I noticed that everything looked the same as it had when I'd left. The lawn was perfectly groomed; the house looked immaculate against the blue of the Gulf. Glancing over at our neighbor's, I looked to see if old Mrs. Denali was working in her garden, but what I saw was a sight for sore eyes.

There on the front porch was a young woman about my age, conversing with a few guys who were getting into a car. She was short, maybe a foot shorter than me, with long brown hair. Unlike your typical Floridian, she had pale skin that illuminated her blush as the boys teased her. They resembled your typical frat brothers with their polo shirts and khaki shorts. After they backed out of the driveway, she turned to go back inside and caught me looking at her. Instead of storming off like I expected her to, she lifted her hand and waved at me as she smiled and disappeared inside.

Trudging up to my room to drop off my shit, I decided to lie down. Hopefully my dad would be home and have time to spend with his only son when I woke up. Yeah right.

Waking up several hours later, I heard music blaring and ventured out onto my deck. Apparently the college kids next door were having a bonfire. I threw on a sweatshirt and wandered down to the water to see if the girl I had seen earlier was in attendance.

Chatting with the same guys from before, she was standing off to the side, gorgeous and irresistible. One of the guys had his arms wrapped around a leggy blonde and the other was intently staring at my beautiful brunette. My?

Deciding a leisurely stroll near the group gathered there couldn't hurt, I headed away from my house. As I passed by the fire, I glanced in their direction and caught her watching me. Flashing a grin at her, I was pleasantly surprised when she looked between the group she was with and then back at me before heading in my direction. I slowed my pace so she could catch up.

As she stepped in front of me, I took a moment to admire her beauty. She was even more stunning up close. Her pale skin was striking in contrast to her black gauzy dress that barely met her mid-thigh. Her shiny brunette locks flowed over her shoulders, and I found myself subconsciously inching toward her.

"Hi," she answered, a little out of breath, "I'm Bella."

"Edward," I said, taking her small hand in mine and walking toward the water. Loving the feel of the wet sand between my toes as I walked along the shore, I hadn't bothered to put my shoes on. None of the places I had been stationed could compare to the soft, white sand of a Florida beach.

As I looked into her eyes, a feeling of completeness swept over me, as if all was right in my world. Though I didn't necessarily believe in love at first sight, there was something to be said for knowing when you meet someone that they were going to be an intricate part of your life.

It'd been years since I'd been in the company of a woman for anything more than a casual lay, so I didn't know exactly what to do as we walked in silence for a little while. I could already tell I wanted more from her. Luckily she must have noticed my distress and started telling me about her friends and how her parents had purchased the beach house a couple of years ago. Apparently her father was some big surgeon that put in a few months in our cardiac department every summer.

"So you're in school to be a teacher?"

"Yeah, I really enjoy spending time with kids. I love seeing their faces light up when they figure out something they've been working on." Pausing for a moment and catching my eye, she continued, "How long have you been in the Army?"

I told her about my last four years and how I would be finishing up my time this winter. I'd find out my discharge date mid-September, and I couldn't wait to start a countdown. While I loved the time I'd spent serving my country, I was ready to start on the next chapter of my life. It had always been my plan to follow in my dad's footsteps and study law at UC Berkley before joining him at the firm in Tampa. Of course, a lot of things changed when I was in my late teens.

As we approached her house, Bella pulled me out of my thoughts, grabbing my hand and leading me toward where her friends were gathered. We must have been walking for quite a while since the sun had already begun to set. She introduced me to the bunch: the big guy, Emmett, with his arm permanently attached to the blonde, Rosalie; Rosalie's brother, Jasper, who was inside the house; and the guy I'd seen eye-fucking Bella, who liked to go by the name of Fig.

"His real name's Mike," Bella whispered to me as she tugged on my hand so I bent down, allowing her breath to wash across my ear. "His last name is Newton, so he likes to be called Fig Newton. Don't ask," she giggled as she rolled her eyes and pulled me over to sit on one of the benches. She sat down next to me, her thigh was resting comfortably against mine. I didn't know what it was, but I had a strong urge to lay my hand across her knee. Before I could make a decision, a shaggy blonde guy emerged from the house and joined the group. He examined me closely as Bella introduced him as Jasper.

She jumped up and gave him a hug before grabbing some sticks and handing one to me with a couple of marshmallows. While we waited for our marshmallows to melt, we continued our discussion about our pasts and, thankfully, she didn't bring up where we'd ended our earlier conversation. I wasn't sure if that was really something I wanted to bring up on our first date or meeting or whatever the fuck this was. I wanted to do something special with her, but I'd have to ask her out first.

Jasper passed out chocolate bars and packages of graham crackers. Bella smashed her marshmallow between the chocolate and graham cracker and took a bite before any of it hit the ground. I shoved mine in my mouth and watched her snake her tongue out to get the marshmallow that was on the side of her lip. Being the fucktard I am, I subconsciously tapped my mouth with my finger, motioning that she had some there. Realizing a moment too late that I really should've just reached across and removed it myself, I imagined what it would be like to lick the sweetness that had been on her perfect face.

She swiped it with her finger and brought it to her mouth. Glancing up at me as I watched her intently, she leaned her head toward mine. Before I could stop myself, my lips were on hers. She tasted like sugar and chocolate and salt, it was fucking divine. Deepening the kiss before I finally broke away, I remembered that we weren't alone and didn't want to go too far.

"Want a taste?" she whispered as she held up her finger. I dove right in and continued to lick and suck her finger until any remains of the sticky sweetness were gone.

We sat there for a few minutes longer before she said she should probably head inside. She was supposed to be volunteering as a candy striper at the hospital the next day. I offered to walk her and she agreed, taking my hand as we walked to her door. I gave her a few chaste kisses while I summoned the courage to tell her I wanted to see her again.

"Bella, can I see you again? I mean, would you be interested in going on a date with me?" Totally stumbling over my words, I realized it'd been so long since I'd asked a girl out, rarely even speaking to one unless it was in a bar with my buddies and we were looking for company for the evening.

"Edward," she said as she laid her hand against my cheek, "I'd love to go out with you."

"Tomorrow night?" I asked with a little bit of hesitation. I couldn't wait to see her again and I was still with her.

"Sounds great! You just want to pick me up? Should I wear anything special?"

"Nope, it's very casual."

I kissed her once more before I walked back over to my house and up to my room with a spring in my step.

The next morning when I entered the kitchen after my run, I was surprised to see my dad seated at the counter reading the paper and finishing his breakfast.

"Edward," he greeted, never looking up.

"Dad," I replied tersely, grabbing a plate and taking it out onto the back deck. Today would have been a perfect day to take Bella out on the boat, except she would be stuck at the hospital all day.

Moping around the house for most of the morning before doing some research, I spent the afternoon starting my college applications. By four o'clock I was showered and dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and a white button up shirt with my sleeves rolled up, watching Bella's house and waiting for her to get home.

At a quarter after five I saw a white Audi convertible zip into her driveway. I watched as Bella jumped out of the car in a pair of scrubs, glancing at my house and running inside.

I gave her another thirty minutes before I knocked on her door. She answered with wind-blown hair, dressed in a pair of short cut off jean shorts, a white tank top, and a grey sweater. She was stunning. God, I already loved this woman and we hadn't even been on a date yet.

Waving her hand in front of my face, she tried to get a response from me. "Hello, Earth to Edward."

I grinned at her as she shook her head and closed the door behind us.

"So, where are we headed for our first date?" she asked, following me over to my Jeep. Opening the door for her, I gave her a little boost to help her get in. I'd never been an ass man, but after what I just held in my hands, I might have just been converted.

"I thought we'd head down to Clearwater Beach, grab a bite to eat, and maybe catch the sunset at the pier. How does that sound?" I explained as I jumped in and buckled my seatbelt. She nodded as I pulled out into traffic.

We arrived at Frenchy's and managed to snag a parking spot right on the beach, a rare thing in the middle of June. The wait time wasn't too bad and we were quickly seated. The waiter immediately started eye-fucking Bella as he approached our table. Couldn't the guy see we were on a fucking date?

We spent the evening playing a series of twenty questions, and I couldn't get enough of her. She told me about growing up as an only child, and how different it'd been when Rose and Jasper moved in next door to her childhood home years ago.

"Stop laughing. It's not my fault that I fell off the jungle gym and broke my arm."

"Wait, so how'd you get inside to tell your mom while she was in the shower?"

"Jasper," she said with a sigh. "He's always been a knight in shining armor to this damsel in distress. Rose never let him live it down when he walked in on my mom while she was shaving her arm pits." She breathed in, gasping for air and wiping away a few tears. "We were nine! How was he supposed to know that women don't naturally have hairless armpits?"

"So, did you and, uh, Jasper ever date?" I asked, trying to sound casual.

"No," she shook her head in protest. "It wasn't ever like that between us. He's my best friend, but I dated a football player most of high school. When we went to college, we studied two different things, so we rarely saw each other even though we both attended the same university."

Dinner passed quickly, with good food and great conversation. I took Bella's hand and led her out of the restaurant onto the pristine sand, overwhelmed with how natural it felt being with her. Though we'd barely known each other twenty-four hours, it seemed as though we were always meant to be.

We walked down the beach and away from the crowd, finding a spot that allowed us a perfect view of the sunset. I plopped down into the sand and pulled her to sit between my legs and lean against my chest. We stayed like that until the sun had set and twilight was upon us. Her parents were due to arrive in Florida next week, and she wanted me to meet them. She also mentioned wanting to meet my dad. I told her I'd check with him, but that she probably wouldn't get a chance to meet him while I was home. I didn't think that deterred her because she didn't seem too worried about it.

Driving her home after we spent several hours stargazing, I dropped her off at her front door with another kiss and a promise that I'd call her the next day.

The rest of the week went by in much the same fashion. She'd spend the day at the hospital volunteering in the children's ward, and we'd spend the evenings discovering each other. A couple of nights her friends joined us and I enjoyed spending time with them. On the nights when it was just the two of us, we'd find a secluded spot on the beach and make out like teenagers. As much as I wanted to take that next step with Bella, I wanted it to be special and was waiting for the perfect opportunity.

Jasper pulled me aside on the first night we spent with them, warning me not to hurt her. It was obvious that he cared for her, maybe as more than a friend.

Since finding out my dad was going to be leaving the next day for the week and I would have the house to myself, I planned a special dinner for Bella on Saturday night. Wanting to spend part of the evening in the hot tub, I practically begged her to bring her swimsuit.

When she showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and an overnight bag, I was pleasantly surprised. While I had never mentioned why I hadn't let things go further during our make-out sessions, I couldn't deny that this was certainly the perfect opportunity I had been waiting for. We hadn't really discussed our past conquests and though it wasn't a conversation I was looking forward to having, I knew it was necessary.

I gave her a quick tour of the house, introducing her to the staff as they departed for the evening and headed into the kitchen to start preparing the steaks for the grill. She followed me, wrapping her arms around my waist and kissing along my jaw before offering to help. I suggested that the sooner we ate, the sooner we could be enjoying each other in closer proximity.

We worked in synchronicity as we moved from the kitchen to the back deck. While I put the steaks on the grill, adding the veggies and potatoes, Bella cleaned up in the kitchen and set the table so that we were both facing the water.

Taking the seat next to her, I served the food and noticed how domestic our evening had been. For the first several minutes we ate in comfortable silence and watched people stroll along the beach. Faint music drifted over from her house where her friends were gathered. She placed her hand on my thigh while we continued to eat, completely distracting me.

I gave up on eating and instead wrapped my arm around her, resting my chin on her head while she finished. When she was done, she pushed her plate closer to the middle of the table and tucked her head into my side, wrapping both of her arms around me.

Placing the tip of my finger under her chin, I urged her to look at me, capturing her lips with mine in a chaste kiss. I skimmed my hand along her collarbone and wrapped my fingers around her neck, bringing her closer to me. Licking her bottom lip and begging for entrance, she invited me in as her tongue entered my mouth.

My lips left hers and began to explore the delicate curve of her neck and the softness of her shoulders, thankful that she had worn a strapless dress. Her fingers ran smoothly through my hair and I could hear soft whimpers escape her lips as I showered her bare skin with wet, open mouthed kisses.

"Edward," she gasped as I sucked on the sensitive skin below her ear.


"Hot tub? I mean, gah, didn't you say you wanted to do the hot tub tonight?"

"Well," I replied with a smirk as I rested my forehead against hers. "I'm certainly interested in doing something in the hot tub."

She giggled as she lightly pushed against my chest and stood up with our plates. I grabbed the wine glasses and followed her inside.

Grabbing her bag and gesturing toward the bathroom where she could change, I turned around to head upstairs to my room. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that she had started to follow me. Vehemently shaking my head, I turned around to stop her.

"Baby, you know if you follow me we won't make it to the hot tub tonight," I told her as she laid her hands on my chest and kissed my chin.

"But, Edward, baby," she purred, "what would be the harm in that?"

"Nope, not gonna happen. Get your ass in that bathroom and I'll be back down in a minute," I said as I reached around and smacked her ass.

She turned around and entered the restroom where she proceeded to start stripping before she even closed the door. That woman would be the death of me.

A few minutes later, I came downstairs and noticed she was already outside. Hurrying to meet her, I paused and basked in the sight of Bella, her hair pulled into a messy bun and wearing a red string bikini I hadn't seen before. Smiling seductively at me as I laid out two towels, she beckoned me to join her beside the steaming water. I realized the reason I hadn't seen it before as she turned to climb into the tub. Reaching out and pulling her against me, she squealed and struggled in my arms as I felt her bare ass cheeks against my stomach.

"Bella," I growled. "Is there a reason I haven't seen this suit before tonight?"

"I didn't really think you'd want every other guy to see me like this," she said seriously.

I put her down so she could get in the hot tub. Following her over to the side, I sat down and she stood in front of me.

"So, I'm not every other guy?" I questioned, wrapping my arms around her as she straddled my lap.

She shook her head and kissed me, ghosting her hands along my shoulders and running her fingertips over the tattoo that spelled the word grunt on my forearm. It was the only tattoo I had. A bunch of guys in my unit had gotten them while we were in basic and I had ideas for more, but just hadn't gotten around to getting any more.

"No. You're my guy."

"God baby, you don't know how good it is to hear you say that."

"I know," she said, kissing me again. "I feel like we've been dancing around sharing our feelings for days. Edward, I knew the first day we met that you were special. One week, that's all it took. One week for me to fall for you."

"It hasn't even been a week, baby," I reminded her as I placed chaste kisses on every inch of skin that wasn't under the water.

We made out for a few minutes, kissing and touching everywhere until Bella started grinding her pussy against the prominent bulge in my trunks. My hands rested under the water on each ass cheek as she ran her fingers through my hair. Leaning back, she untied the top of her bikini, letting it fall away from her body, revealing her perfectly proportioned breasts. I sucked and licked the newly exposed skin as I made my way to her pink nipples and sucked one into my mouth while she continued to writhe against me.

After much attention had been paid to her top half, she re-situated herself. She stood on the seat with her feet on either side of my thighs, and damn if her pussy wasn't right in front of my face. I looked from her face back to her pussy and she picked up one of the strings hanging at the side of her hip and tugged it, revealing the right half of her lower stomach and more bare skin. Kissing my way across it, I brought my hand up and tugged the string on the other side, causing her bottoms to drop into the water.

Fuck me.

Bella was bare as the day she was born, and her scent mixed with the salty ocean air as I drank in the sight before me, exquisite. She was a drug I was in desperate need of. I was glad that my mom had designed the back deck into sections, and the part where we were was the most secluded. There was no fucking way that anyone would be getting a free peep show of my Bella.

I shook my head to clear the thoughts of my mother and focused on the glorious woman that stood before me. I kissed her pussy lips before placing my hands on her hips, urging her to sit back in my lap. I was surprised when I glanced up at her face to see her gazing back at me with a confused and sad expression.

"Baby, as much as I'd love to do that, you're much more important to me than a fuck in a hot tub, okay?" I murmured as I tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She nodded as I leaned in and kissed her before whispering in her ear, "Stay the night with me. Let me love you. Let me make love to you, Bella. Please?"

"I love you, Edward," she whimpered against my ear.

"I love you, too." Relief washed over me as the words were spoken. I always imagined that I'd be nervous or uncertain when I first spoke those words aloud, but here, with Bella, they just felt natural.

I got out of the tub after she climbed off my lap and grabbed the towels, drying myself off before I assisted Bella out of the tub and dried her off. She wrapped the towel around her and held my hand as we walked inside and up to my room.

I went to the bathroom to hang up our suits, and when I came out she was already in bed with the lamp on, watching me. I had put on some boxers while I was in the bathroom and left them on when I crawled into bed with her. I pulled her to the middle of the bed with me.

She'd let her hair down and it was now fanned across my pillow. That mixed with her wearing one of my grey army shirts was a sight to behold. Seeing her naked was beautiful, but looking at her in my clothes was a fucking close second to the sexiest I'd seen her look.

"Did you ever think this would happen?" she asked me as she traced the tattooed letters on my arm as it laid across her hip.

"No, but I wouldn't trade this past week for anything. Meeting you is the most important thing I think I've ever done. I just wish I didn't have to go back," I stated honestly. For the first time in my life, I regretted the path I'd chosen. If my life hadn't gone to shit in high school, with my mom's death and the downward spiral I continued on until I enlisted immediately after, I'd probably have gone into the Air Force like my father and be stationed at MacDill AFB and maybe would have met Bella a couple summers ago .

Her fingers danced across my arm and along the muscles of my chest, causing a shiver to run through me as she ran her fingers down my stomach.

"Sorry," she breathed.

"Don't be, you have no idea how good that feels."

"How long has it been since you've been with someone, Edward?"

And the moment's gone. I shook my head, because as glad as I was that she wasn't beating around the bush, I wasn't ready for her to find out what kind of guy I used to be. The military had changed me and now she'd changed me even more. I knew in this moment that I'd never want to be with anyone else. One day I was going to marry her and we'd get the chance to live out our happily ever after.

"About six months. When I found out I'd be leaving the army in a year, I decided to start straightening up my act then instead of waiting. I got tested after the first of the year and when I was given a clean bill of health, I counted that blessing. Since then there hasn't been anyone worth being with until I met you. What about you?" I gulped, cringing at the prospect of her answer. "How many guys have you been with?"

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she prepared her answer.

"Just one. The guy I dated in high school. In college I didn't really have time, and I guess, like you, I really didn't meet anybody that I felt a connection with. I've never felt a connection with anyone like I do with you, Edward."

Scooting closer to me, she kissed me deeply before snuggling my neck and molding her body to mine. I heard her sniffling as I felt her wet lashes brush against the skin of my neck.

"Baby, what's wrong? Don't cry," I said as I wiped her tears away.

"What are we going to do, Edward? Now that I have you, I don't want to let you go."

"Hey," I said as I looked her in the eyes and held her chin in my hand. "I'll always be here," I whispered as I tapped her chest over her heart. "No matter where I am, I'll know where my heart is, because I've left it with you."

Her fingers traced along my lips before she reached behind her and pulled off her shirt. I threw my arms around her and kissed her as my tongue found its way inside her mouth. She shoved her hands inside my boxers and grabbed my ass with a pinch, making me buck against her. Eventually she had my boxers half way down my legs and I kicked them the rest of the way off while my hands roamed her body. My fingers traced a line from her collarbone, down between her breasts, and found their home between her thighs where she was ready for me.

I rolled us so that she was lying underneath me and kissed my way down her body. Even though I knew she was ready for me, I felt the overwhelming need to mark her as mine. I caressed the skin below her belly button, loving the way it felt like satin against my overheated fingers as they dragged between her lips and sunk inside her. She squirmed as my mouth followed my fingers and I kissed along her lips, finding her sensitive nub and nibbling it with my teeth. My destination was in sight as I continued to lick across her body and found the crease between her sex and her thigh where I sucked and sucked, intent on marking her as mine. Once I was satisfied that I had left a well formed mark, I crawled back up her body as I reluctantly turned away from her to grab a condom from my nightstand, but Bella stopped me.

"No," she said as she shook her head and wrapped her hand around my shaft. "I want to feel you, all of you," she stated as she pumped me a few times and I grew harder in her hand.

"Are you, oh shit," I gasped. "Are you on birth control, baby?"


Laying my body over hers, I rested most of my weight on my arms while she positioned me at her entrance. I kissed her as I sheathed myself inside her warmth and cherished the closeness of her body.

We fit together perfectly as I thrust inside of her. Where with other women I had been too big or they had been too tight, Bella and I were a perfect fit. Two pieces of the same puzzle, and our lovemaking was beautiful. I started out slow, finding the spot within her that would make her cry my name before I started moving faster.

Apparently slow and steady really does bring a fast orgasm, because her body was clenching around me and pulling me further into her as she reached her peak. Satisfied that I had made her come, I continued to thrust into her as I drew out her pleasure and loved her with my body.

"Harder. Oh God, Edward," she whispered in my ear. "I'm close again, baby."

I felt my balls tighten and thought of anything but the perfect woman beneath me as I waited for her orgasm to begin and explode within her.

We came down together, exhaustion overtaking her, I pulled out once I softened and grabbed some tissues from the nightstand to clean us up before we fell into a peaceful sleep.

Bella woke me up a few hours later and we made love again as the morning sun came up casting shadows across our naked bodies.

When I woke to an empty bed, I got a little worried until I could hear the shower running in my bathroom. I didn't really think her body could handle another round, so I settled for reminiscing about our night together. Deciding that if I joined her, we wouldn't be showering.

When she got out, she mentioned that she'd go down and fix breakfast while I took a shower, then she'd join me back in my room. Sure enough, when I was out she was sitting in the middle of my bed with a tray that held a carton of orange juice, a couple glasses, an array of fruit, scrambled eggs, and several pieces of bacon and sausage.

"Maria is here, yes?" I asked as she nodded her head and punched me in the arm as I took a seat beside her.

"You could have told me so I didn't go traipsing down there in just your shirt."

"You weren't wearing panties?" I asked as I snaked my hand up her thigh and she shook her head. "And now?" I asked as I reached her hip and felt no remnants of anything except my baby and my shirt. "Is this my birthday present?" I asked as she gasped, taking a sip of her juice and some of it trickled down her chin.

"It's your birthday?" She asked as I nodded and licked up the orange juice that had trailed down her chin and neck.

"Were you going to tell me?" she asked as she moved the tray from the bed to the nightstand and placed her hand on her hip.

"I just did," I teased, but that wasn't appeasing her. "It never really crossed my mind, okay? In the Army we might go out to a bar or something, but we do that every night, so it's not really a big deal."

"I think it is. I wish I would have known so I could have gotten something for you."

"Bella, I think you're missing the point. Being with you, in my bed, and spending all day making love is what I want. Please don't make this out to be something else, okay? Please?" I added with a pout.

Somehow, whether it was the fact that she loved me or because I threw in the pouty lip, she agreed and we spent the rest of the day in bed. I promised her that on Sunday we would go somewhere for brunch before dinner with her parents.

I was a little nervous to be meeting her father, and my nervousness increased as I approached their house.

Jasper answered the door and looked none too pleased with me.

"Hi Jasper," I greeted hesitantly.

"Edward," he said as he moved aside and let me in.

He started to walk off but turned back around to me. We'd only had a few chances to interact without Bella present, and they always seemed to be a bit awkward, so I wasn't sure what he was going to throw at me.

"You mind if I ask you something?" he asked and I shook my head. "She loves you, and I just want to see her happy. Please don't break her heart, okay?"

Bella came down the stairs as I nodded at Jasper and smiled at my girl. He'd just confirmed what I already knew. He was in love with her, too.

Bella and I ended up at a diner that my mother had been fond of. The waitress remembered me from my rebellious days when I was in high school. Luckily she didn't bring them up, but instead chose to talk about how much she missed seeing my mom when she'd come in for breakfast and that she was glad to see me.

"Edward," Bella paused as she reached across the table and took my hand in hers, "what happened with your mom?"

"She died when I was sixteen. Things were really tough after that because my dad refused to forgive himself, and that pretty much left me with nobody. That's when I started getting into trouble and the ultimate reason I chose the army. I had high hopes that they'd shape me up or ship my ass somewhere else that would."

Bella stood up from the booth and came to sit next to me. She snuggled into my side as I wrapped my arm around her. It amazed me how she knew exactly what I needed even before I did.

After we ate our meal and I paid, I gave the waitress a kiss on the cheek, causing Bella to giggle as she held my hand and we walked out of the restaurant, on to our next destination. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the beach outside her house as we waited for her parents to arrive. When they got there, a sophisticated couple descended the stairs and called her name as the rest of her friends came out and watched the reunion.

She ran over to them and embraced the couple before turning to me, motioning for me to join them.

"Carlisle Cullen, and this is my lovely wife, Esme," he said as he thrust his hand toward me. "I hear you've made quite an impression on my little girl. Is that true?"

"Daddy!" Bella scolded him with a laugh.

"I'm just teasing you, Edward. Please come inside so we can get more acquainted. You're on leave?"

"Yes, sir, I am."

"Well, we really appreciate everything you boys are doing over there. I sure hope that you're enjoying yourself while you're at home."

"I think I am," I replied as I wrapped my arm around Bella and we followed her parents inside.

The evening was filled with laughter and tears as I was reminded how a family acted around the dinner table. When it was time for me to leave I didn't want to spend the night alone, and was relieved when Bella said she'd walk me home.

When we arrived at my house, I opened the door but she stopped in the entryway.

"Sorry, Edward, I don't think I can stay with you tonight. My parents," she started to explain with a sad look on her face.

"Hey," I interrupted, trying to lighten the mood as I pulled her against me. "It's okay, I'll still see you tomorrow after you get off work, right?"

She smiled as she kissed me and promised she'd call me tomorrow to make plans.

I never knew how lonely this big house could be. I also never realized that I could miss Bella more than I did last week when she was at work. She was a part of me now, and I couldn't wait to get back to Germany so I could start the last leg of my tour and get back home to her.

She ended up spending the evening with her parents and her friends while I watched a couple of Friends reruns before going to bed early. At some point in the early morning, I was woken up by my phone buzzing; it was Bella.

"Hey baby," I answered with a yawn. I really didn't want her to know I'd been sleeping, even though it was pretty obvious.

"Sorry to wake you."

"Nah, that's okay." Yawn. "I'm just recuperating from my Bellathon," I replied with a chuckle and heard her laugh on the other end.

"I'm so sorry, Edward, I meant to call but the time just got away from me and before I knew it everyone was headed to bed and it was after one in the morning."

"It's fine, baby, will you be able to come over tomorrow night?"

"Yeah," she sighed.

"What was that for, baby?"

"Nothing, I just miss you already and can't even imagine what it will be like when you're not even a phone call away."

"Don't be thinking like that then, alright? We still have the rest of the week and all day Saturday."

"Oh, yeah! I talked to the hospital and they said I could have Friday off, so I'll be able to spend the last couple of days with you, starting Thursday night."

"Sounds like a plan, baby. Sleep tight. I love you."

The days in the middle of the week were a blur. I ran into an old buddy of mine that I used to get in trouble with. He invited me to a kegger and I told him I'd think about it, but had no intention of getting mixed up with that crowd again.

By Friday, I had an internal clock that was ticking and the deadline was when my flight was leaving at 0800 hours Sunday morning.

Bella and I spent Friday and Saturday holed up in the house striving to get our fill of each other, but it was never enough. She'd go home every night and I'd lie in bed, dreaming about what our life would be like in five years with two kids and a dog, how we'd spend Saturday mornings watching cartoons with the kids in our bed and then kick them out to go spend the day with their grandparents so we could work on lucky number three.

On Sunday morning, I loaded everything into the same car that had dropped me off two weeks ago and called Bella to see if she was still coming with me to the airport. Just as she answered, I saw her sprinting across our lawns and she jumped into my arms as she attacked me with kisses. I managed to get us in the car and we were on our way.

Arriving at the airport, she walked me as far as she could and people all over the airport watched our exchange as many often do. When you see a young soldier in his uniform and a woman standing next to him with tears streaming down her face, it's hard not to look.

I glanced behind Bella and saw that my father was there. Shockingly, he held his hand out and I shook it.

"I'm proud of you, son."

"Thanks, Dad. Uh, this is Bella."

She held out her hand to him. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Masen."

"You too, Bella. Well, I really do have to go before I'm late. Edward, I'll see you in six months."

He reached out to shake my hand and I pulled him in for a hug.

"I love you, dad. Take care of her if you happen to see her again, alright? She's kind of important to me."

"Will do, and sorry about being a dick earlier. I really am proud of you."

We both chuckled as he pulled away and left us to say our goodbye.

Bella dug around in her purse and pulled out an envelope with my name on it as she told me she'd write me all the time.

"This is the first of many, but don't read it until you're on the plane."

I pulled her to me one last time and kissed her passionately.

"I'm going to marry you when I get back," I promised as I broke the kiss.

"Whatever brings you back to me, but that seems like something nice to look forward to," she said with a giggle. "So this is it, huh?"

"No, baby," I said as I held her face in my hands. "This is only the beginning."

"I'll see you soon," she said with a sniffle.

"See you soon, baby," I kissed her one more time before I turned around and walked through security. I turned around once I was on the other side, but she was gone. I was glad, because as I sat down on the plane I knew that if I had seen her again I may not have gotten on the plane.

Tapping the pocket of my army jacket, I felt the weight of the letter resting over my heart.

Even though I wanted to read it as soon as I boarded the plane, I waited until we were in the air.

I pulled the letter out as the plane took off and traced my name in her elegant script. I sniffed the letter and let her scent wash over me as I glanced through the open window and saw the waters of the Gulf.

Six months. I could handle this for six months.

Special thanks to all the people that helped whip this up in a nice pretty bow. Kassiah, Aciepey, Twisherry and my beta Jessica1971. To anybody that preread it for me because I never shut up about it, you're the best!

Thanks for reading what was originally a One Shot for the PervPack's an Officer and a Gentleman Contest, and is being continued. You will find a lot of similarities to Dear John in this First Chapter, but this story is NOT going to be anything like the book or movie. Rest assured that I almost couldn't read the end of that book it broke my heart too much.