"For the Love of a Man in Uniform" O/S Contest

Title: Deployed by Fate

Word Count: 6,381

Rating: T

Pairing: E/B

Summary: When single mom Bella gets deployed, she is forced to leave her baby in the hands of those she trusts the most. Will a member of their family end up being more than just a friend by the time she returns?

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or the cute idea that involves a paper chain.

"Come on baby girl." I lifted my two year old daughter, Ellie out of her booster seat. Dragging my feet I walked up the entryway, past the professionally manicured lawn and knocked on the bright red door of the elderly couple that had agreed to take care of my daughter during my deployment.

Being a single mother in the United States Air Force has many advantages, but with the great health benefits and the secure income comes the disadvantages like being deployed to third-world countries and dropped into the middle of a war zone. I loved my job as a systems analyst, and I was damn good at it, but I loved my little girl more.

I had just finished my first year as an officer in the Air Force when I found out I was pregnant with Elliana. Her father had been a fellow soldier that I had started to develop a relationship with. Unfortunately, he was killed in combat before we could form any serious emotional attachments and before I could tell him he was going to be a father.

Eight months later, when I single-handedly brought my baby girl into the world I knew she would be the light of my life from here on out. While raising her and focusing on my career, I hardly found the time to date or even socialize which left me with slim pickings when I found out I was being deployed. The military doesn't care much for single parents and since I've seen too many of them go AWOL in similar situations I made it my priority to find somebody I trusted implicitly as soon as I found out there was even a possibility of deployment.

Most parents in my situation lean on family and friends. Since I didn't have any living family left, I had to rely on friends, but the only friends I really had were Alice and Jasper and they had their hands full since Alice had just given birth to twin boys a few months ago. While Alice was certainly willing I didn't want to put her in that predicament, so her suggestion had been to leave Ellie with her parents. I was close with them, not as close as I was to Alice, but they were certainly a loving couple that I could trust with my daughter while I was away.

Doctor Carlisle Cullen and his wife Esme had been in my life as long I as I had known their daughter and son-in-law. I had met Jasper and Alice shortly after I joined the Air Force as Jasper was in the same program I was in. They had welcomed me like a second daughter and when I presented them with the opportunity to take care of Ellie for the duration of my deployment they were nothing but genuinely happy to help out.

Now I was standing outside their beautiful home, mentally preparing myself to be physically separated from my daughter for the first time since she'd been born. It was a task I wasn't taking lightly and could only pray that I would come out unscathed.

"Oh good, you're here." Esme greeted us at the door. A loving smile adorned her face as she took the sleeping little girl from my arms.

"She didn't get her nap today, so she'll probably sleep a little bit longer."

"Cars will do that to young'ns. We'll be just fine. Now, do you need something to drink before you go? Carlisle wished he could have been here to see you before you left but he isn't back from the hospital yet."

"Thanks, but I really should say my final goodbyes and report to the base."

I had it in my head that the less drawn-out the goodbyes were, the sooner I would be back saying hello. Logically I knew that was not the case but a mother can dream can't she.

Esme carried Ellie over to the couch where she laid her down. I bent down, laying kisses all over her sweet little face and tear filled eyes I said my goodbyes.

"I love you baby girl. Mommy will be home real soon and Esse and Poppy said they'd schedule some face time on Skype with me once I get settled. I'll miss you so much every day."

I knew Ellie's developmental age didn't leave much in the way of memories so Esme had helped me make a little book about me, us, and what our lives are like when I'm not fighting in a war. They're songs I would sing to her and recordings of my voice along with pictures. We'd also set up a Skype account so I could video chat with them, hopefully several times while I was over there.

I felt like I couldn't move. I had been kneeling over her little, sleeping body for longer than I thought when Esme laid her hand on my shoulder.

"She'll be fine. I've got lots to keep her busy. She'll miss you, but that's what these are for." She gestured to the Tinkerbell bag I had filled with memories of us.

"Thanks, Esme. I don't think I could have done this without you and I don't even want to imagine what that would have done to my career."

I gave Esme a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek before I left. Leaving my entire world in the hands of the kindest people I had ever met.

x - x

The first few weeks of my deployment were the hardest. It wasn't until a package arrived that I realized how much it wasn't just me dealing with the separation. The box arrived late in the afternoon and I was so eager to see what was inside that I tore through the tape with my knife and punctured a packet of Koolaid that was inside.

Dear Bella,

Enclosed you'll find all the things Ellie insisted you have while you're away. She went grocery shopping with me the other day and was eager to pick out some things to send to her mommy.

She's such a precious little girl and while I know this is difficult on both of you I am thankful to have a little one in the house full time again. It makes me so eager to see my son settled down like Alice is so they can continue to fill my house with little ones to spoil with love and affection.

We've also included a few pictures Ellie has been working on and she even drew one of you that is hanging on our fridge.

Take care dear and know that your little one is being loved and taken care of. We love her and you, as if you were our own.

Love and kisses,

Esme, Ellie and Carlisle

The letter was exactly what I needed to help me get through the long days and nights. We were right in the middle of training for an excursion that would take place in a month's time and I was looking forward to the end of that mission as it would take it's toll on all of us.

x - x

My first skype date came after I'd been away for three months. When the picture came into view, I saw my little girl wearing her swimsuit as they'd just been for a dip in the pool after a long day of helping in the garden.

"Momma!" she squealed as she reached for the computer.

"No, no Ellie. Remember Momma can see and hear you, but you can't touch her." Esme reminded her as she lightly restrained her little arms.

"Hi baby girl! Momma loves and misses you so much. Are you being a good girl for Esse and Poppy?"

Ellie enthusiastically nodded her head, sticking her finger in her mouth. She hadn't changed a bit. Sure she had grown a little taller and her shoe size had gone up, but she was still the precious little girl I gave birth to.

"Hi, Bella." Carlisle appeared on the screen as he gave my baby girl a kiss on the cheek. "Who's that Ellie girl?" he asked as he pointed at me.

"Momma." Her smile could light up the world and it caused all the adults watching her to gleam with joy.

Ellie proceeded to show me the drawing of me she had done that was hanging on the fridge.

"Tank you, Poppy," she said as she handed it back to Carlisle to put on the fridge. "And Esse painted my toes, see?"

Leaning on her left hand she managed to get her right foot on the table to show me her painted toe nails.

"Beautiful. Esse did a great job," I said with a wink at Esme. I knew it was hard to get Ellie to sit still for anything, so that would have been a job and a half.

"Alright, baby. Momma has to get back to work, but you be a good girl and I'll try to Skype with you again real soon, okay?"

She nodded her little head as I said a quick goodbye to both of them. Air kisses were flying as they closed their screen and I didn't let a single tear fall until I made it quickly back to my bunk. That was a rough night that resulted in an even roughter morning.

x - x

The months continued to drag on and some days were certainly harder than others. When I would get a package or a letter in the mail it helped make the times in between a little more bearable. When I found out the date I would be going home I immediately scheduled a Skype date with my favorite little girl. I had been gone a little over six months and had only had face-to-face talks with her twice. To say I was anxious was asinine.

As soon as I signed on I was met with the most gorgeous sight I could have ever laid eyes on. Ellie had her first dance recital tonight and she was still wearing her little tutu.

"You look so beautiful, baby girl." She really did. She had on a little too much stage make-up, but I knew that was part of the costume.

"Tanks Momma! I danced on stage and I din'nt falled down eben once." Her excitement was flowing through the camera and while I couldn't be there physically, this was really the next best thing.

"That's good that you didn't fall, Momma's so proud of you, baby girl."

I had high hopes that she wouldn't remember this as a time that I couldn't be there for her, but that I was there, every step of the way as much as I could be. I knew Carlisle and Esme were creating videos and taking pictures as much as they could so I could experience everything when I returned.

"Guess what, baby girl? Momma found out when she gets to come home."

"Oh! Ebward's here!"

I could hear my little girl's squeal of excitement as she suddenly disappeared from the screen. The commotion on the other end of the call was a little distracting and I knew my time was running out so I tried to stay silent and hoped that we could resume our conversation quickly.

Ebward? I immediately assumed this was the aloof son that Esme and Carlisle had that was always too busy for his family. Alice had mentioned him during conversations and I had seen photos of him as a youth, but even with all the time I spent with the Cullens, I hadn't ever met the man himself.

"Hi pretty girl, what are you doing?" asked a strong masculine voice.

When the man called my little girl pretty, it melted my heart and as soon as he appeared on my screen he started a fire throughout the rest of my body. The eldest Cullen was smokin' with his strong jaw line and deep green eyes.

"Ebward, this is Momma. Say hi." Even at two and a half, she was a little bossy.

"Hi," he whispered. Momentarily stunned speechless, I mumbled a quick hello and then Esme saved me when she appeared to tell Ellie it was time to get ready for bed.

"Night baby girl. Momma loves you."

"Say night-night to Ebward too," she yawned.

"Nighty, night...Edward."

His answering grin would be enough to get me through a few nights of good sleep, I was sure. As I ended the call I was immediately consumed with the thoughts of this attractive man that was so great with my little girl. She clearly adored him and it made me wonder just how much time he had been spending with her.

EPOV

I pulled up to my parents house after a long night of practice. I was currently working with the high school theater department as they prepared to put on their performance of Grease.

While I had been a successful musician, playing in bars throughout New York City, my life had recently come crashing down almost as quickly as the stock market during the Great Depression.

I can't really pinpoint where I went wrong, but all of a sudden I was looking at my nights and I didn't have one performance scheduled. So when my dad suggested I use my music education degree at the local high school as ol' Mr. Geysher was retiring I found myself teaching high school kids how to tune instruments instead of showing off my theory in Jazz Clubs.

My first few weeks at the high school had been tiring, but I had come to love working with the kids. While I had my own place in town I had talked to my parents about starting to spend some more time with them now that I was living so close to home and they had suggested I come over whenever I could. Since things had been so busy I hadn't gotten a chance to spend any time with them and I really had nothing else to do during the current three-day weekend so I figured I'd stop by on my way home tonight. When I called mom she'd said they'd already eaten, but that she had some leftovers in the fridge and I wasn't one to turn down a free home cooked meal...even if it was microwaved.

Walking up to the house I saw that every light in the house seemed to be on and things got even brighter as I stepped through the front door. Nobody came running to greet me and that just wasn't normal. Treking through the house I saw that my mom was sitting at the table with a little girl.

"Who's this little cutie?" I asked as I patted the little girl on her head on my way to the fridge.

"You remember us telling you we were helping out a friend," my mother reminded me as she smiled adoringly at the little girl.

"Oh yeah? Anybody I know?" I asked. My parents were very involved in the community and it was possible that I knew the child's mother.

"I don't think so dear. She's a friend of your sisters. She's in the Air Force, which is how they met and she's been sent to fight in the war."

"Where is..." I let the sentence drop off not wanting to ask about the little girl's father in front of her. Especially when I wasn't sure how much my mother even knew.

"Why don't you finish warming up your plate while I get this little one to bed." She picked up the little girl and brought her over to me. "Say night-night to Edward, Ellie."

"Night-night" Ellie yawned as she rested her head on mom's shoulder. She couldn't be more than a couple years old and I suddenly felt protective of her.

"Night sweet girl." I watched as my mother cradled the little girl against her and disappeared into the other room. How could a mother just leave her child while she goes off to fight in a war? How did my parents end up being the ones to take care of this little girl? Where was her father or her grandparents? Even aunts and uncles would have been better than complete strangers.

"We're not complete strangers," my mother whispered harshly as she came back into the kitchen to grab a glass out of the fridge. I must have started mumbling the questions out loud unknowingly. "Now you sit down and eat while I put Ellie to bed. Then you can ask me whatever questions you want when I get back."

Deciding to listen to my mother for she never ceased to put the fear of God in me, I sat down with my plate and savored the chicken and dumplings she had saved for me. When my mom came back in I let her know just how good my meal as I tried and sweeten her up a little.

"Well, you always did like your food. It's a good thing you also liked the gym or you might not be in such fine shape." She grinned at me. I had struggled a little with my weight in college, gaining the freshmen 15, but quickly found out that I could enjoy eating whatever I want as long as I worked out at the gym to stave off the weight.

Not one to beat around the bush, "So her mom just left her with you?" I asked.

"She didn't just leave her with us. She had no choice, Edward. The military isn't going to cater to a single parent anymore than they are going to cater to one with a spouse. Isabella, or Bella as she likes to be called has been over to our house many times and we have come to love her and her little girl Ellie as if they were our own. It's unfortunate that Bella doesn't have any family left and as for what happened to Ellie's father?" she looked at me, probably because she knew that would be my next question. "According to Alice, it wasn't a serious thing and he died before she even got a chance to tell him."

"Oh, my God. That's so tragic." What else was I supposed to say? It was terribly heartbreaking to hear stories like that in the news, but to know the product of a dead soldier and a mother fighting in the war was under this very roof made it all the more real.

"It really is."

I glanced at my mother and for the first time since I'd stepped foot in their house I saw that she looked tired, but alive.

"You like having her in the house, don't you?" I asked. My mother had always wanted more children, and when Alice and Jasper announced they were pregnant she was over the moon.

She smiled and nodded at me. "She's the most precious little girl. Bella has done such a wonderful job raising her and I am so glad we get to be a part of her life. Both of their lives. Bella is such an extraordinary woman."

"She must be if she's got you fawning over her. I imagine I'll meet her someday."

"I imagine you will," my mother got a happy grin on her face and I imagined she was picturing the reunion little Ellie would have with her mother when that day comes.

Our talk turned to my work and how the play was coming along. We stayed up late into the evening talking about all the holidays coming up and she insisted that I not be a stranger. As I was leaving I stopped off by Ellie's room to peek in on her. Her little body was curled up in a ball, hugging a stuffed bear against her. She looked so peaceful and I decided then that I would start spending more time over at my parents house. A child can never have too much love.

x - x

From that weekend on I spent almost all of my free time rekindling my relationship with my parents and falling in love with little Ellie. It wasn't until after first meeting her mother during a brief Skype call that I realized where Ellie got all her enchanting qualities.

Her mother, Bella, was beautiful. Actually she was the most gorgeous woman I had ever seen and I was immediately taken by her even though our call ended too soon. A week after that brief encounter I ran into my sister at Toys'R'Us and ended up striking up a conversation about Bella and Ellie. She suggested that Bella would love to hear from someone besides her and Jasper and happily gave me her email and physical addresses.

To: Bella Swan

From: Edward Cullen

Subject: First Encounters

Bella,

I'm not sure if you even remember me, but we met briefly during your Skype call with your daughter Ellie. I've been spending time with my parents and your little girl and just have to tell you how truly amazing she is, but I'm sure you already know that. She's constantly talking about you and how much she misses you.

I hope you're doing well and would hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Edward Cullen

I could only hope that I hadn't been too forward in my email. While I wanted to get to know her better, I didn't want to scare her off with my thoughts of how beautiful and perfect she was. I fell asleep to dreams of the beautiful Bella that evening and woke up bright and early to check for a reply. I wasn't disappointed in what I found.

To: Edward Cullen

From: Bella Swan

Subject: Re: First Encounters

Edward,

I was so glad to see your email in my inbox. It was nice Skyping with you, even for only a brief moment. I will tell you I was surprised as Ellie has never mentioned you in any of her letters or pictures. I absolutely love your family and wish I had gotten the chance to meet you before my deployment. Perhaps we will get the chance when I return.

Thank you for the wonderful complements on my daughter. I miss her so much everyday and it's nice to know that she's livening up the Cullen household while I am away. I'm afraid that while I do know who you are, you're a bit of a mystery to me, Edward Cullen. Care to tell me about yourself?

Sincerely,

Bella

That email was the first of hundreds. While she spent the next few months fighting for our country, she was also working her way deep into my heart. So much so that by the time we confirmed her return date, I was overcome with joy to know that I would be holding her in my arms instead of gazing into her eyes through a 15" hi-def monitor on a laptop.

x - x

Spring brought with it the news that Bella would be returning any day. Ellie's chain was getting shorter and shorter with each passing day and I was now just as eager to help her cut each loop off.

My mother had helped Ellie fasten a paper chain as soon as we found out when Bella would be returning. I remember seeing the tears she'd cried when Ellie and I showed it to her.

"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy," Ellie chanted as she ran across the hallway into the dining room where she crawled into my lap. I had been enjoying a few minutes alone with Bella before we told Ellie that her mom was on.

"I'll talk to you soon, Love." I whispered as I blew her a kiss through the screen.

"You don't have to go, do you?" she asked with sad eyes.

"I just wanted to give my two favorite girls some time to themselves."

"No! Stay Ebward," Ellie pouted.

"Yeah, stay. Besides, I want to look at you as much as I can." Bella's laughter rang through the speakers and I had a feeling she knew what it did to my insides to hear her so happy.

"Okay, okay. I'll stay. Ellie, didn't you have something to show your mommyr?"

"Oh!"

She jumped up from my lap and ran over to the corner where we had hung up the paper chain in the dining room so we could take off the chains right before dinner. I knew she would have problems getting it down so I stood up and turned around to help her.

"Now that's a sight I'd love to see more of." I heard Bella mumble. Turning around I saw her wink at me as her cheeks turned a light shade of pink.

As soon as I got the chain down from the hook I took a seat and pulled Ellie back up to sit with me.

"You'll get your chance soon, Love."

My girl just smiled at me. It seemed like we'd had just a few months to develop a lifetime love and I couldn't wait to have her here with me in the flesh.

"Momma, lookie at what Esse and I maked. It's a paper shain that we teared apart when you come home."

"Oh, baby! I love it." I could see the tears that she quickly tried to wipe away.

It killed me that she cried and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.

"Edward, don't worry about it. I just get emotional when it comes to my baby girl."

"I know, Love."

I did know. I also knew that the reunion in just a few hours would be filled with happy tears as Bella had warned me in her last email before she boarded the plane for home. I'd gotten it this morning and it really started my day off on a high note.

I pulled up to my parents house to a bouncing little Ellie; just as eager to have her mom home as I was.

"You ready to go, Ellie?" I asked as she nodded her head and ran inside to grab her bag.

Ellie and I would be picking up Bella and bringing her back to my parents house where she would get showered and changed before we had a celebratory dinner with my family, including Alice, Jasper and their twins.

"Ebward," Ellie huffed as she came and grabbed my hand. "Let's go."

"It's not time yet, sweetie. We need to eat some breakfast and then we'll go pick up your mom, okay?"

Without an answer she passed by me and headed into the kitchen where she opened up the fridge and started tapping her little foot.

"What are you doing, Ellie?" It's not like she could really reach anything in the fridge. She sure had grown up since Bella had left. Esme had shown me the picture she had taken of them the day Bella dropped her off. Ellie had turned two years old just a month before her mom was deployed and Bella had been gone just over ten months. Sometimes I thought about what my life would have been like if I'd met her sooner, but then I think about how much I missed her having only known her seven months and I can't imagine having to miss any more of her life.

As soon as Bella stepped into my line of sight I wasn't going to let her out of my sight again. I wasn't going to do anything crazy like propose to her...today, but that would definitely be coming soon. My life had been full of blessings as soon as I had returned to my home town and I couldn't have been more grateful.

Three hours later Ellie and I were being directed where to go as we arrived at McChord Air Force Base. Up to this point in my life I had never found myself on a military base, but I had a feeling this wouldn't be the last time.

"Her plane?" Ellie asked as we pulled up to the parking just on the other side of the airfield.

"I'm not sure, El."

Bella had told us to meet her here at noon since she would be getting in a little after that. There were families all gathered around the edge of the parking lot where they had soldiers lined up...waiting for their comrades to come home.

I picked up Ellie and hoisted her up onto my shoulders, grateful that my mother hadn't put her in a dress. We hadn't made a big ol' sign to bring with us, but now that I was seeing that a lot of the families had them I was upset that I hadn't thought about it before. Well, she would get her sign when we got home. Flowers. Those were the first thing I had thought to bring with me the first time I actually met Bella in person. I had read lots of stories in the paper where couples had met on the Internet. I wondered if that would be what we told people when they asked how we met.

Carrying Ellie on my shoulders and a bouquet of Daisies in the hand that wasn't holding onto her I stood at the back of the crowd. I was anxious to see Bella and with Ellie on my shoulders I knew we would be able to see her from anywhere we stood.

The crowd was calm until the huge plane taxi'd closer to us and I knew she was on it. As soon as the doors opened and the soldiers started stepping out, onto the tarmac the crowd erupted into applause and screams. Ellie's little legs started to move around a little bit as she shuffled on my shoulders and tried to get a better look.

"Do you see her, Ellie?"

"I see her. Momma!" she squealed and tried to get down. I set the flowers on the ground and lifted her off my shoulders before picking up the bouquet again. Taking her hand we moved closer to the front and as we stepped through the crowd my heart stopped. There, in all her camouflage was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.

As soon as Bella saw us I let go of Ellie's hand so she could run to her mom. Bella didn't even attempt to pick Ellie up as she dropped to her knees and pulled her daughter against her in what appeared to be a strong hug. Even though I was a big strong guy, I had found my kryptonite. My weakness was in the form of two ladies with the last name Swan. We'd have to see about changing that last part though.

After they had their reunion Bella picked up her bag and grabbed Ellie's hand before they headed over to me. I wasn't sure if she'd be all shy about seeing me or if I should expect a kiss. A first kiss would be nice, but I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be here in front of all these strangers.

Bella didn't give me much time to debate as she approached me and pulled the flowers out of my hand as I held them out to her.

"These are beautiful. Thank you, Edward. Aren't these pretty Ellie?" she asked as she handed them to her. Ellie nodded her head and took them from Bella.

"I'm so glad you're here," she cried as she opened her arms and I pulled her against me. I could feel her trembling cries as I held her in my arms. When she finally pulled back I bent down and captured her lips with mine before I wiped her tears away.

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be," I whispered as I kissed her again. Elated to finally have her in my arms.

"I love you."

"I love you too, beautiful. Are you ready to go home?" I asked as she nodded and I grinned at her. It was still hard to believe that she was really here, even with her standing in my arms.

We didn't stay at the airfield too long as I knew we had a house full of people that couldn't wait to see Bella. Taking her hand and carrying her bag in the other I led her over to my car and we started on the journey back home.

x - x

Bella and I talked for a good hour on the way back home before she fell asleep. Both girls slept the rest of the way and when neither of them stirred as I shut off the car I decided to carry Ellie into the house before I woke Bella.

As soon as I had Ellie in the house lying on the couch I ran back outside to find that Bella hadn't moved.

"Wake up, Love," I whispered as I stroked her cheek with my finger. "Sweetheart, we're home."

"Hmmunh?" she mumbled as the opened her eyes slowly and focused them on me.

"You want me to carry you inside?" I asked. She blushed.

"No, I'm perfectly fine. Just exhausted."

She sure didn't show any exhaustion as soon as we stepped into the house and was spotted by the family. They all swept Bella up into hugs before she quickly ducked away from them and followed me up to her room. My mother had suggested I give her my room for the evening since it was right next to the one Ellie had been using. While it meant I wouldn't have a place to sleep unless she wanted to sleep with me, I was perfectly content with sleeping on the couch. However, I wasn't going to be going back to my house as long as Bella was in town.

That was another thing we had started discussing. While she was here, she was stationed at McChord Air Force Base which was just outside of Tacoma. I had already started looking at housing over there and had been in contact with several schools in and around the area. This was actually the perfect time for me to move schools, I just had to convince Bella we weren't moving too fast.

Knowing that we'd already professed our love to each other through letters put my mind at ease. Especially since she had said it again when she saw me, but I wasn't naive enough to think things couldn't change now that she was home.

I was helping Ellie get her dress on when I heard Bella call for me from the hallway.

"Yes, Love?" I could see just her head as she poked it through a crack in the door.

"Could you come help me?" she asked as I quickly went to assist her with anything she might need help with. "My zipper's stuck."

I stepped through and closed the door as she turned around and all I saw was the little sliver of her back that was showing through where the zipper would close. It was enough to awaken all of my male parts, one in particular.

"Ooo." She shivered as my fingers touched her back. Trying to grab the zipper with big hands wasn't easy.

"Sorry my fingers are cold."

"It's okay," she breathed out, slowly.

"All done."

She turned around and grabbed her shoes from the chest at the end of the bed and slipped them on her feet. Dainty little heels adorned her feet and completed her simple dinner dress.

"You look gorgeous."

She blushed. Taking her hand I led her over to Ellie's room where she had left the light on and we headed down for dinner with my family.

We spent several hours just basking in the great conversation, the delicious food and familiar company. My hand mostly stayed linked with Bella's resting against my leg or in her lap. Every once in a while one of us would lean toward the other and steal a kiss while my family looked on happily. It turned out to be a great evening.

When Bella questioned where I was sleeping, I didn't answer right away and she got the hint.

"I was hoping you'd be sleeping with me anyway," she giggled.

As we got ready for bed in the en suite bathroom I watched her dress in a comfortable short sleep set and loved the fact that I would be spending the evening with her. Even if all we did was make out like crazy horny teenagers I would be perfectly content to hold her in my arms for now.

We spent the next day relaxing before I drove the two of them back to the base to get her car before I followed her to her house. We had decided I would spend the rest of the day and Monday with her and Ellie since I had already taken the day off from school and she wasn't due to report back until Tuesday morning. We would figure out where to go from there later.

By the time the end of the school year rolled around I was saying my final goodbyes to fellow teachers and my students as I wouldn't be returning to Forks High in the Fall. I had been hired as a music teacher at Emerald Ridge High School. The closest school to the little house off base that Bella and I had just purchased.

We got married at the end of July with only our closest friends and relatives attending the ceremony and reception in my parents backyard. We couldn't have been happier, that is until Bella found out about a month after the Fall semester started that she was carrying our second child. Yes, I had adopted Ellie as my own and while I was excited that our family was growing, I knew this would bring about changes. Even bigger changes when we found out Bella was being reassigned next Summer.

I was no longer a free man. I was the husband of a devoted military woman. A woman I was proud of and was honored to call my wife.

While things were constantly changing in our lives, one thing always remained a constant. Our love for each other never wavered and neither did our love for our Country.

AWOL: absent without leave