"It's awfully nice of you." Rose smiled at me and patted my small hand for good measure. "It's not all of the time Edward asks of a favor of anyone, especially his little sister." I nodded in agreement. Rose layed back in her recliner and stared out at the oceanview ahead of us, her pertruding stomach showing happily to the world. Even five months pregnant with sore feet and unattending blonde locks, she was still a sight of beauty. I learned early on how beaustiful girls were always on top, even when no one was looking. "But I'll admit, he is worried. Doesn't want you two running away and eloping." She shook her with a wild roll of eyes, as if were the most bizarre thing in the world. Everybody knew Bella. She didn't do things like that.
"Yeah, well Ed gets ideas like that sometimes." I chuckled to hide my humiliation. Rosalie was like an older sister I never had when my mom moved away to Australia. Rose and Edward were together from my sophomore year of high school 'till now, a year after my graduation of college. "Where's Sophie?" I wondered aloud.
"She went with her daddy to get ice cream. Seems I'm not the only one who gets cravings around here." She smiled, and it was serene. She and Edward loved Sophie, and I was just as drawn to her. The little hellcat could stir up a firestorm of men when she wanted. "Twenty-one..." Rose sighed. "I remember what twenty-one felt like."
"Thirty isn't so bad." I offered politely, but she only shuddered. "Edward's thirty and young, so just think about it that way." I giggled and gripped her hand tightly in mine. We shared some insane laughter afterwards about college stories and wild nights with friends, though I had not many. A few pranks and beach walks, but nothing too criminalistic.
"We have lived two very different lives." Rosalie suddenly admitted. "And yet, we are connected so thuroughly." And then came her Navy Base Counselour voice. "Fate has chosen something great...and I just know you'll be more than surprised at the hand she's going to give you."
I eyed her with more vigor than I intended. She was a sweet woman that was kind enough to open her home to her husband's little sister on base when I was eighteen. She was kind enough to walk me through all of the "changes of life" that as a late bloomer, I expeirenced in full throttle the summer before coming of age. Rosalie was spectatcular. "I suppose." Was all I could manage. I didn't believe Fate was very fond of me, because she never gave me a second look or thought. I was as normal and klutzy as can be, honestly. "I have to get going now. Have Edward call if he...has any questions." I ended oddly, not really knowing what exactly he wanted me to do.
Edward was a head trainer here at the Navy Base in Coronado, San Diego. Spending eight years as a SEAL and earning enough medals and plaques to fill his wall, he finally gave it up to settle down and do the teaching. I respected him for doing that- and I missed him like crazy when he was away for ungodly times. I hopped into my silver economy car and carefully retracted myself from their tricky driveway and started to my own condo. My brother helped me pay for my condo my first year of University here in SD, and after that, I worked part time with the Naval Spouses of America on base; it was a place where the wife or husband of a deceased, MIA, or wounded Naval Soldier could seek aide from the government. Edward and Rosalie were responsible for setting that up for me. I owed a lot to them. I looked down at my phone, which held a red bubble next to the email icon and nearly burst with excitement.
Emmett McCartney was a wounded soldier during an Iraqi mission, where his whole platoon was shot down, and twelve captured- he was a part of that twelve. I didn't let him know that I knew that, because I didn't want him to be weary. Edward was good friends with this guy, and he knew Emmett needed a silent friend along the way. I was happy to oblige. It wasn't like a cyber romance- he was across the country and we would never be seeing each other. Actually, I had only sent my email the day before, descrbing myself and introducing myself. It was strictly platonic, and we weren't even friends on Facebook yet. Although the Iraqi thing happened four years before, and Emmett was done healing, Ed being the wonderful man he was, was still worried and decided that nothing would help more than to have his little sister become...pen pals with him. Genuis, yes?
I didn't want to know what he looked like, or the stories behind his scars. I only wanted him to heal and recongize a shoulder to cry on. But if he was anything like Edward, he would believe that Navy SEALS didn't cry. Before you were a SEAL, you were a human. I hurried into my house and plopped down on my suede couch. My phone was more eager than I as it downloaded his full email a lot faster than it ever did.
Miss Isabella Marie Swan,
Thank you for your kindness. I doubt that taking up your time for useless correspondence is fair to you on your end, but I will greedily eat up every second you lend me. So, Coronado? How is that working out for you?
My buddy's wife used NSA when he was deployed from March of one year to Decemeber of the next. You guys are real heros, you know. And I'm sure, if you're Cullen's little sister, you're the brains behind the whole thing down there? California seems so long ago, I soon have forgotten what the beach feels like.
Please don't feel as if you have to do this. I have nothing heroic or poetic to tell you, and I know Edward's just worried.
I am looking forward to your next letter.
I giggled like a madwoman; I didn't know this man, but he took interest. He didn't care that my ass didn't always fill out my jeans, or that I stuffed my bra in the seventh grade. He only wanted to talk.
*Dear Mr. McCartney, Sergeant Major of the United States Naval SEALs,
Must I write that everytime we speak? It's certainly a mouthful! I appreciate your quick response. I will be honest in saying that I love to write and hear people's stories- coming from *them. So that's different than noontime gossip, yes? You, Mr. McCartney, allow me a dosage of both.
You've got a bright aura, and are intelligent enough to understand me. Not even Eddie can sometimes! Thank you for respecting NSA and what we do- not many have the same regards. I adore Coronado and the beaches SD has. When will you visit the beach again? Surely soon? A person cannot let themselves forget what it feels like to bury their toes in the sand, or getting swarmed on for their lunch by an angry mob of Seagulls. That would be just preposturous!
I wish to write more, but in fear of boring you to death, I will end it here. Please tell me things about yourself...things I could not look up on Google! :)
P.S. Call me Bella. All my friends do.
I shook my head, nearly jumping up and down. Since when did I put "smiley faces" with my sentences? That's what Edward's quarter of a million paid for in college? To ignorantly put a smiley face? But I couldn't contain the smile that his thoughtfulness brought upon me. It was nice to hear a total stranger care for me. I got up and made a quick dinner for myself, listeniing for my phone the whole time. When I didn't receive one, I ate alone like I had been for the past four years and showered. After the refreshing shower, I logged onto my computer and sifted through emails from work.
All of a sudden, an IM chat request popped onto my screen. The screenname was EmMc004, and I could only assume it was Mr. McCartney. I accepted and pulled my hair back, as if I were going to have a serious meeting or something.
*EmMc004: Miracles do happen.
I raised an eyebrow and reread his statement. BellaBooks: Pardon?
EmMc004: Sending an email and the wait would have killed me. I needed to speak with you, now. You quench the thirst of loneliness. I smiled and blushed at this. Was I already...connecting with this man? When I groveled over a smart reply, another popped up. EmMC004: I haven't scared you, have I? It was not my intentions, I apoligze, Miss Swan.
I quickly got to typing, not wanting to give him the wrong idea. BellaBooks: No, not at all, Mr. McCartney! And please, call me Bella, remember? I am glad that you enjoy my company, I certainly enjoy yours :)
And there again with the smiley face! Surely he assumed I was fifteen with no life with so many faces? EmMc004: Then please stop calling me by my last name. It's Emmett, remember? :)
I bit my lip. He just smiley faced me back. Was that a sign? Did he like talking to me as much as he said he did? I moved away from the keyboard. I couldn't slow down, not now. BellaBooks: I'll never forget from now on. So tell me, what's your favorite color? Favorite food? Craziest College story?
I wanted to keep him writing for as long as I could.
EmMc004: Blue, because in SEAL training, its the only color you ever see. I love a good hamburger. Were you expecting me to admit that I secret thing for Escargo or something? Haha better luck with the next pansy. I didn't really get to enjoy the real college experience. I did the same study course as your brother, in between missions and such. But from what I heard in your previous letter, University on campus isn't all its cracked up to be? So, I suppose you and I both came out better people without the crazy parting. Although, I did that all on my own without college and Frat boys. Have you ever attended a wild party? I can't imagine a dainty creature like yourself being there amongst the handsy pricks and sticky-fingered girls. You're just too wonderful, Bella.
I smiled like a lunatic after reading his drawn-out mantra. BellaBooks: Dainty, eh? I have to assure you, Emmett- I'm not as breakable as you think. I atteneded few frat parties and even less regular socializing groups. My inexpercience is truely, social crippling.
Which leads me to my next question. I am not wasting your time or Inbox space with my odd ramblings, am I? I'm sure Mr. Importnt Navy SEAL has so many society debts he must repent every morn that he wakes. I would hate to be the burden to that duty, Emmett. At first, I ended it with "Mr. McCartney", then changed it to McCartney, then changed it to EmMc004. But I finally decided on just his name. That was easier.
I was going to fetch a glass of water when his reply popped onto my screen two hours later, after much interestng conversation had passed between us. EmMc004: Bella, you are just about the best thing to happen to me. He replied sweetly to a question I asked out of curiosity.
I blushed and giggled as a girl who was fiddling with "cyber love" did. BellaBooks: Wonderful, because you are the same. And it was true. In my life, things were bland and at a stand still. No boyfriend, no love, no high paying job. Just simplicity...but this Emmett guy- he was complicated, and he created a flipping sensation in my stomach. We shared drawn-out farewells, and spent the next two nights the same way.
On Tuesday, my cousin Angie and her husband Ben were giving birth to another girl and needed me to watch their four daughters. Nannies were a no-no, as Jessica, Jane, Jackie, and Joy only listened to adults that they assumed weren't getting paid for what they were doing. Of course, I would never accept money from Angela or Ben, they still offered and sometimes slipped it in my bag when I wasn't paying attention. The girls loved me, and when they were civil without markers in their hands or trouble on their minds, I got along quite swell with them also. I forgot to pack my laptop in my car when I left to Ben's house and didn't think about it until I was putting Jessica and Jane in the bath, Joy and Jackie to bed. The bathroom and their bedrooms were upstairs, so that made my job a lot easier. I huffed and puffed when I finished washing their hair and let them play for a few minutes. The door to the Music Room was open, and I caught a glimpse of their state of the art computer and flinched. My computer! There was no way I would be able to leave the house to retrieve mine! I dashed into the room, leaving the door open so I could listen for the girls who were having a grand time in the tub.
I tried every password I could think of...it wasn't- Jackie, Jane, Jessica, Joy, Angela, the Bensons. What else? I shook my head and stood from the computer; why the hell would you create a complicated password on something that stayed at your house twenty-four/seven? All of my passwords on my portable devices consisted of "1, 2, 3, 4" or my last name. I could remember something like that! Emmett preferred to IM me, and I doubted he would email me if he realized I wasn't on. That was our lifeline.
So I checked my phone at odd times to see the progress. Finally, I gave in and left it on a counter and took care of the girls. I dried, clothed, and braided their hair for bed and read a story. They dozed off and I checked the other two before going back to my phone. Sure as shit, there was an email waiting for me.
To My Bella,
I waited like an idiot for an hour on the IMM system before assuming you had other events to attend to. Here in North Carolina, everybody knows your name. You're all I talk about...and I'm not sure if that's a good thing.
Do I make you feel any degree of discomfortness? Feel free to tell me, and I can lay off. I don't want to overdo this. What exactly are we doing, Bella?
My hands trembled as i started on a quick reply.
I apologize. I had to lay the girls down and the baths took longer than I thought! My laptop was completely forgotten also. Would you ever find it in your heart to forgive me? :)
You are the very last person to make me uncomfortable- I feel the exact opposite when we speak, Emmett. Believe me. :)
I'm not sure what this is. It certainly started off as a simple pen pal system. But I'll be the first to admit that I have gained a friend...or comrad in the least. You turned out to be a lot more interesting than I ever thought. Email me back as soon as you can.
I sent the letter without thinking. "Love, Bella". Would that scare him off? Well, he did address the last letter "To My Bella", so I wasn't too far off, was I?
The reply message was nothing like I expected, but at least it was a reply. "Can I have your number?" I stared down at the letters in shock, my hand shaking lightly. I had been asked for my number before, yes, but not so...blunt and openly, as if a long-time friend had just run into you at the grocery store and they wanted your new number. It was casual and dangerous, all at the same time! I added no greeting, heading, nor closing- just a set of 10 digits and a smiley face. What was with those things? They were contagious and I could not help but place them in locations that I knew would bring a smile to his face most. I jumped in fright when my phone vibrated. With a calm breath, I exited out of my emails and went to my texts.
This is better, Bella. Emmett's frank comment sent me aback. I didn't know what to text him back, so I didn't. Instead, a few minutes later, a call came in and i answered with a stifled yawn. "Hey, Bells." I blanched. Why was my brother calling? Did Emmett tell him were texting already? Well, not really. I hadn't sent a message back yet. So, just incase...
"Hey, Edward." I perfected a calm voice amist my frazzled nerves.
"Hope it's not too late to call? I just got out of work." I checked the clock up high on teh wall. It was almost nine o clock.
"Are you home yet? Why so late?" I relaxed and laid out on the couch. "And no, it's fine. I'm here babysiting Angela's daughters. Did Rose tell you she went into labor this morning?"
Edward grunted. "Well, the excitement had stopped coming from Angie's pregnancies. She'll have two more after this no doubt, so maybe i'll be giddy with anticipation then." He said mockingly. I only chckled; it was true. ANgela neer had a moment without a baby, or in a pregnant state. "And no, Rose and I are a little rocky right now. She's threatening to move back with her mom in New York. It's always a fight with her; always ends with her wanting to leave. If liviing with me is so vomit-inducing, why doesn't she truely just leave?"
I sighed, not really expecting something like that. I hadn't even noticed they were so at odds with each other. "Living with you is not so simple, Mister Edward. And Rosalie is probably just going through a tough time. Pregnancy is not an easy task, Ed. Perhaps you could suggest a visit with her mother, and that could quench the thirst of her seeing her family and completely deflate her thoughts of wanting to permenatly stay there with her evil mom." I got up and rambled through the fridge for some mocrowavable goodness.
"Yeah, I was thinking along those lines." And even if we didnt share teh same dad, there was a magnetic connection through the phone. "I don't want to be like mom, Bella. I don't my child to have to go between one state to another for visits to their parents, never staying too long in one place."
I held the quiver in my voice. "That won't be Sophie, Edward. You guys will work this out. You've been together too lo0ng not to know how to properly communicate feelings nad issues with one another. Just be patient, and listen. Rosalie can let you know what's wrong."
"Yeah, I'm sure." He quipped quicly, obvioulsy wanting to drop the conversation. "How's my little favor doing? Have you guys been talking?"
I bit my lip; how mcuh did my brother know? "Yeah, and he's a real nice guy."
"Nice?" There was a level of diselief in his statement. "Bella, girls used to drewl over him. And his smooth-talker skills...well, that was how I fianlly got Rosalie on a date. He coached me on how to treat girls, and it worked." I frowned at that. So, was i being swooned and sweet-talked? Or did he really care? I didn't know.
"We have good conversations and such. But it's never anything but platonic. This isn't cyberlove, or something." I teased.
"Why don't you add him to your oh-so-accumulating list of friends? Facebook is the perfect place to get to know each other on another level." Wait a minute...did my brother want us to hook up? Jesus Christ, was he trying to play Cupid? When I questioned him, he only laughed. "No." He smply replied. "But Emmett has been through alot, and he deserves good-quality talk time with a girl like you- someone who won't go exposing his secrets. And someone who isn't after his money. He's a smart dude. Once he finds out just how pretty you are, he'll be putty in your hands." Edward chuckled at that, and a few minutes later he hung up with a swift "Bye, sis".
I was so caught up in Edward's words, I completely forgot to send my own to Emmett.