A/N

Thanks to my amazing beta – BlackJackLily. Any remaining errors are all my own doing.

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight. I just use Stephanie's characters for my own non-profitable amusement

This was originally written for the Fandom4Storms compilation. Thanks to those of you who contributed to that amazing cause.

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Dreams He Sold Her

Postcard: Image of four men on camels walking in sand with iconic Burj Al Arab in background

Postmarked: January 13, 2010 Dubai, UAE

Dearest Bella,

I have no words to describe how much I miss you. The two weeks we spent hiding out over the holidays were some of the best I've ever had. I wish you were here with me among the bustling city of Dubai. My work has been taxing, but that's not unusual as you know. Unfortunately, I'm also a wreck without you. I now know what it feels like to miss someone so tremendously that my heart feels as if it no longer belongs to me. I don't know when I will be back in town to see you. Just know that I can't wait to fulfill my promise to have you experience the world with me. To travel to London for New Year's or Sydney at sunrise, I don't care where we go as long as I get to share it with you. Hope to come back to you soon. Love, Edward

Sitting on my lumpy futon, I looked out over the sliver of Manhattan skyline that I could see from my tiny studio apartment in Brooklyn. I had only read the postcard about twenty times so far, and the tug of sadness was just as strong as it was when he walked out the door to catch his flight on January ninth. He'd been gone for a little over two weeks, which coincidentally was about as long as we'd spent with one another before he had to ship off to another foreign shore, working for the government on a top secret project. When he had introduced himself at the bar while I was waiting for my friend, Angela, to meet me, his charm dripped off of his well-tailored suit. Little did I know this remarkable man would transform my life so irrevocably in such a small period of time. My mind drifted to the day that changed everything.

"Excuse me, Miss, but is this seat taken?" A smooth, deep voice asked as he took a seat at one of the barstools empty beside me.

Spinning my stool slightly, I nodded that the seat was available and resumed waiting for Angela. My eyes were focused on stirring the olive through my extra dry dirty martini. The same way my mother always drank her gin until the day she died.

"That olive did nothing to you to deserve being drowned in your drink," the same gravelly voice chuckled beside me.

Finally looking up, the first thing I noticed were blazing green eyes the color of the darkest recesses of the forest in my home town. The second was that the face attached to those eyes was astonishingly beautiful. Not handsome or rugged, but jaw-droppingly, earth spinning off its axis, kind of gorgeous. Never in my life had I met someone as achingly alluring as the man seated next to me, trying to strike up a conversation.

"The olive should be savored on your tongue, not left to its own devices in your cocktail." His smirk and attempt at humor snapped me out of the dumbstruck awe I was in.

"Sorry, I was a bit lost in thought. Were you speaking to me?" Glancing around behind me, I wanted to make sure it wasn't a joke that this spectacular specimen of a man was indeed talking to the sheltered, bland brunette at his side.

"I'm Edward." He stuck out his hand, waiting for me to politely return his handshake.

"Um…" My mind suddenly ran through the various scenarios that I had been often preached about. Never to give your name to strangers, especially to a man at a bar, I could hear my father saying in the back of my brain. Once a child of a cop, always a child of a cop.

"Hi," I replied shyly, spinning my stool back towards the front of the bar, eyes trained on the drink and that poor olive I was intent on drowning. My phone buzzed across the countertop, but before I could reach out and see the message, Edward's hand grabbed it, almost spilling my martini in the process. "Hey!"

"It seems your friend, Angela, is unable to meet you here this evening. How fortunate for me," he whispered, handing me back my mobile just as I was about to make a scene.

"Oh." Disappointment washed over me, knowing I would end up at home, alone, once again. I never went out, and I was only at this fancy bar because my cube-mate at work coerced me into meeting her on the day after Christmas to enjoy the first of our two weeks of vacation following the busy Christmas holiday. Angela and I worked for the Toys for Tots Foundation as two of the many local coordinators for the New York City area. Every year we worked non-stop right up until Christmas, when the Foundation would give us two weeks' vacation after the strenuous holiday season. My grand plans this year included hanging out with my cat, Baxter, and catching up on some library books I had checked out weeks ago and hadn't read yet. Yep, big plans.

"Can I buy you another Martini?" His gravelly words tugged me out of my depressing thoughts of another New Year's Eve watching the festivities of Times Square from my six hundred square feet of 'all mine'. "Please, I just popped in for a drink and would like to enjoy it in the presence of someone as lovely as you," he pled, actually looking endearingly honest for someone I couldn't actually look at because he was blinding my retinas, as if his beauty was so brilliant it was like staring into the sun.

Throwing caution to the wind, I polished off my gin concoction in one final gulp and waggled the glass in front of me to signal the stocky bartender for another. His laughter was bright yet deep and manly, making my stomach do a little conga like dance.

"Do you speak, martini girl, or am I just that frightening?"

~0~

My gaze continued to linger on the misty, diffused light that the sunset was casting across my windowsill. The deprived brown spotted fern housed on it looked just as mournful as I felt, its leaves creeping towards the small amount of daylight I did get in here.

At the time Edward was a frightening creature to me; a wild untamed being that threatened my very existence. I'd dated a few times when I was still living in our sleepy little town of Forks, but they were guys who I grew up knowing. There was no danger or thrill since I'd been privy to every single stupid action they ever did. Moving to New York after college had been a huge step for me, and yet for as large a step as it was, I never left the comfort of my little cocoon of safety. I took the train into the city every morning and back again when my day was done. I shopped at the local grocery store which was only a block from my tiny apartment. My job at a nonprofit company ensured that I would never have much disposable income, but I loved my job, so if I had to live without cable TV or eating take out more than once a month, I did just that.

No, Edward had scared the living crap out of me and with it, brought a bucket full of sunshine into my previously monotone life filled with an ever changing array of grey.

Clutching the postcard to my chest, I fell asleep dreaming of a life basked in supersaturated color and vivid adventure.

~~00~~

Postcard Image: Double Decker Bus crossing the Thames River with the historic Big Ben in the background

Postmark: January 23, 2010 London, UK

Dearest Bella,

I'm now in London, a brief stop before I have to head to Asia for much of February. I'd love to see your beautiful expressions if you could be here, walking the misty streets with me. Exploring the city and drinking pints at the pub around the corner. I wish that I could hear your calming voice as I drift off to sleep at night, but I must confess that the reason I haven't called in so long is that my mobile was stolen from me when I was in Heathrow airport a few weeks ago as I made my way to Dubai. I had hoped perhaps I'd just misplaced it, but no such luck. My boss has told me I needed to wait until I returned to the States to get a new one, something about incompatibility and security. Know that I miss you with every breath I take. Sorry, almost started quoting the Police there. I hope to be back in New York soon. Be safe.

Love, Edward

Be safe. Those two words resonated deep in my mind, remembering the first time he whispered them into my ear. The day we met, just as I stumbled off the stool to make my way to the restroom after one too many martinis.

~0~

"Martini Girl, you're going to be the death of me. I'm rather enjoying your company and don't want to see you get hurt. Now hurry along. And please, be safe. I'll get us a table for dinner in the meantime. I think you need some food." His smile was crooked and his voice's deep timbre was playful. I almost melted into the floor right then and there.

By the time I returned he was standing in the front by the hostess desk talking on his phone. Meandering through the dense happy hour crowd, I could barely hear him over the din in the room.

"Just because you couldn't close, doesn't mean that I won't. I'll talk to you tomorrow." He snapped his phone shut with a loud click and turned to see me standing at his back. Forcing a smile to his face, he took my arm and began following a leggy blonde that must have been taking us to our table. "I almost sent out a search party," he teased, pinching me lightly in the side before pulling out my chair when we arrived at the table.

I could feel my face blush fiercely at his insinuation I'd taken too long in the bathroom. In reality there were five women queued ahead of me, par for the course.

"Um, the line was long. Sorry to have kept you waiting," I mumbled, fumbling with the napkin on my lap.

"Hey, I was only kidding. Come on, Martini Girl, lighten up. We were having a good time, right? Let's enjoy some dinner and see where the night takes us, okay?" The feel of his hand grasping my own sent goose bumps over my skin, even though they were warm and soft, unlike my father's that had been so rough and dry from working outdoors every chance he'd gotten. I wondered what Edward did for a living, how he afforded fancy suits and expensive restaurants. It wasn't until that moment I realized how out of place my own faded dress pants looked against the crisp black tablecloth, and how you could tell the blouse I was wearing came from Marshalls rather than Barneys. I felt awkward in my own skin here at this expensive restaurant I'd only come to because Angela said they made a mean martini that was served at a quarter of the price during happy hour. No, I really, really, didn't belong in this room filled with people who were way above my stature in life. Edward's hand grounded me as it continued to caress along the backs of my knuckles and down to my wrist, keeping me from fleeing the scene. It was almost as if he could sense my shame among this beautiful crowd.

"What are you thinking about? You have this… this intense look on your face."

"Um, I was sort of wondering what it was that you did for a living?" My inquiry was met with a bit of a scowl.

"I'm in corporate espionage. The government pays me quite well to look into foreign companies that may have dealings with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist cells. I'm actually only in the city working on a lead. I leave for Dubai in about two weeks." To say I was skeptical would have been an understatement. I knew I was a naive small town girl from the Pacific Northwest, but he didn't even blink. Not even a twitch as he revealed this information to me. "I'm not really supposed to talk too much about it, but well, I wanted to be honest with you, Martini Girl. Have I earned your trust enough to get your name yet?" He asked, chuckling at what must have been the disbelieving look on my face.

"Uh, it's Isabella. No, just Bella. I'm Bella," I blurted, cheeks blooming in color over my gaff.

"Hmm… I'm not sure if I prefer your name to Martini Girl, but I suppose Bella is a fitting name for such a bellissima woman."

I swooned. I hated to admit it to my normally very rational brain, but his Italian accent over that one word left me aching for more.

"You speak Italian?"

"Hmm? Oh, just a little. I had to learn a little of a lot of languages for my job. You know, things like where's the bathroom and another beer please." He was so nonchalant about his work overseas. I felt envious of his travels, never having been anywhere but Washington and now New York. We never had the money to travel when I was young, and coming to the City was as bold a step as I had been willing to take.

"Have you travelled much?" he asked softly. I desperately wanted to respond with a more mature and worldly answer, but just shook my head dejectedly and took another long sip from my drink. "Really? There's so much to see...," he replied, sighing contentedly as his eyes looked over my head, lost in thought.

I wished that I could have had some kind of adventure, something noteworthy to add to what would end up being a rather one sided conversation about the various countries he'd visited. Instead, I sat in awe of all the places he'd seen and discovered during his travels, my mind wrapping them into vivid landscapes and picturesque backdrops of a life that I could only imagine.

~0~

Resting my head against the wall, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine walking side by side with Edward, touring the Tower of London, shopping in Oxford Circus, and stopping for bangers and mash at the pub around the corner of the ancient hotel we would've been staying in. He'd sounded so sincere about the places he'd promised to take me, but could I wait long enough for him to return. And would he hold true to his word? I could only hope in due time that all good things would come to fruition.

Setting the card aside, I tugged on the bottom of the futon to pull it flat and got ready for bed, hoping that tonight my dreams would transport me to another of the exotic locales that Edward had shaped inside my imagination.

~~00~~

Postcard Image: The Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Center in North Wanchai dominates this photograph of Hong Kong's Central business district under a spectacular sunset.

Postmark: February 15, 2010 Hong Kong, PRC

Dearest Bella,

Happy Valentine's Day. I'm so sorry I wasn't in New York to celebrate with you. Hopefully the flowers arrived well before this actual postcard did. It looks like I will be in Asia for a bit longer than I had originally planned. I'm still not sure when I'll be back in New York, but know that I dream of holding you in my arms and not letting you go for a very, very, long time when I do. Maybe next Valentine's Day we can spend it in Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or floating around the canals of Venice? Or perhaps we'll just stay in bed, eating chocolate covered strawberries off one another. God, I miss you. I hope you are doing well and that you aren't missing me nearly as much as I'm missing you, because if you are, then we're both pretty miserable right now. Work sent me a new phone, but I don't have your number anymore. I can't write mine here because I can't risk having it intercepted. But I forgot you have e-mail, right? Why did we not exchange addresses before I left? Please drop me a line at my private address

Love,
Edward

The bouquet of drooping flowers still sat on the tiny table I used as my multifunctional dining table, desk, and countertop when I actually felt like cooking something fancier than ramen. The gorgeous pink and yellow rosebuds had burst open to their peak a few days following the holiday that I spent alone, wishing I was anywhere but hiding in my solitary apartment. Edward's card with the flowers was a simply stated 'I miss you'. My heart had surged knowing that he remembered the silly Hallmark holiday. When I had received his postcard with his e-mail, I sent him a note straight away giving him my phone number, hoping like hell that he would use it soon. It was now two days later and still he hadn't called or replied. While I intrinsically knew he had a serious job to do, the unmistakable silence felt a lot like rejection. Shaking the thought from my mind, I tried to focus on the fact he'd been sending me postcards from these countries, and having to hunt down a place to buy stamps and mail them off. If he was taking all that time to deliver them to me, I must be worth the trouble, right? Inhaling what was left of the fragrant flowers beside me, I rested my head in my hand and imagined him back in my apartment many weeks ago, wishing he were right beside me.

"Isabella, did you know that Brooklyn is actually located on Long Island, and it was the last of the boroughs to join what is now considered New York City?" His words were spoken across the back of my neck and shoulder as he was trying to talk his way into my bed. My brain and hands had been pushing away his attempts for the last couple of hours, but I wasn't sure how long my resistance would last against his current verbal assault.

"Why do you even know that, or find that fascinating enough to share with me?" I huffed, standing up and pulling my shirt back up over my shoulder. Edward had been distracting me all night with little bits of trivia from his ever-expanding knowledge base. Most of the evening he talked right over my head, but I found his fast paced life travelling to the ends of the earth infinitely fascinating. I was still pondering how I'd ended up being coerced into inviting him back to my place. He was a smooth operator and I really wasn't ready to hang up on him.

"Bella, get out of your head for five minutes. Come back here." He patted the spot next to him on my futon and looked up at me with most ridiculous puppy dog eyes I'd ever been witness to. I couldn't resist the pull that he seemingly had over me. Grabbing water out of my refrigerator, I stumbled back towards the bed, towards the insanely good looking man that was throwing his best bedroom eyes at me.

"Bella, you need to just relax. You're entirely too tense for someone as young and beautiful as yourself." He quickly tugged me towards him, hands softly kneading my taut neck muscles. After a while the soothing rhythm of push and pull was making me drowsy.

"Edward, as good as this feels, I'm going to have to go to bed. I'm not usually a big drinker and those three martinis, and the wine with dinner, pushed me over the edge…" My explanation was cut off by Edward's soft lips taking over mine. As soon as they descended on my own I felt drunk, not from consumption, but from the thrill of doing something that my normal self would never do. Making out with a virtual stranger on my bed after spending a few hours with him was absolutely unheard of in my life.

I was safe, routine, normal. I internally winced when I came across a few adjectives that were far more descriptive than I wanted to face up to. I was dull, boring, bland, and completely unremarkable. I wanted to live on the edge, even if it was only for one night. Throwing caution to the wind, I spun quickly, straddling Edward's lap, and kissed him with everything I had.

"Glad to see we're on the same page, Martini Girl," he chuckled, dragging me back against him as he fell onto the futon. Our limbs tangled together while our mouths never ceased their exploration of one another.

I felt a tear streak down my cheek at the memory of where it all started. Our whirlwind romance where we barely left my apartment for almost two weeks, when I started to fall in love with the mysterious man who now resorted to sending me postcards from far off lands. It was the beginning of his deluge of Technicolor to my previously drab black and white movie.

Postcard image: Shanghai Skyline at Sunset

Postmark: February 24, 2010 Shanghai, PRC

Dearest Bella,

As you can see from the postcard I'm in China now. After driving for three hours over dusty pothole riddled roads, I can honestly say I really, truly wish I was back in New York City with you. This country is an amazing place and I can only hope to share it with you someday. Work's been hard, and with you constantly on my mind, I've been distracted more often than not. I miss the feel of your lips as they grazed against my neck, the feel of your nails as they raked through my hair, but most of all I miss the way you looked at me. With your huge expressive brown eyes that always told the truth, even if you couldn't get the words past your lips. I have been meaning to call, but it seems every time I want to it is the middle of the night for you. My internet has been spotty at best, but I'm craving to hear from you, so hopefully you'll reply back soon. Know that with every waking moment, I wish I was there right beside you.

Love,

Edward

The window was being pelted with rain as it poured down out of the sky. The somber mood outside was about as gloomy as the mood inside my dreary apartment. It's been over two months since I've seen Edward, and I couldn't help but wonder what the hell I was doing. How did I end up completely enraptured with a man who was wholly unavailable, geographically speaking? We'd exchanged a few e-mails and texts, but they were few and far between. Our hours were just not compatible at the moment for talking, and I was terrible at texting on my outdated phone. I e-mailed him almost once a day, and while he replied when he could, I still sometimes felt the overwhelming ache of the distance between us. Closing my eyes, my mind drifted back to some of his promises whispered in the dead of night as we were drifting off to sleep, exhausted from our previous sexual workout.

"I want to show you the world. All of it. Every square, exotic inch of it. You haven't lived until you've seen the Pyramids at dawn, or experienced Chinese New Year in Beijing."

"We'll go to Rio for Carnival where I'll get you to dance the samba and swim topless at Copacabana beach. You'd look spectacular in the teeny bikini you'd have to wear to fit in there. We'll eat churrasco and drink caipirinhas watching the sunset over Sugarloaf. "

"You'll never believe how exquisite Prague is in the waning hours of the day. Did you know Hitler thought it was too beautiful to destroy in the war? It's one of the few cities he didn't demolish to rubble."

"The feel of a dolphin swimming past you, or watching a giant turtle majestically float by while diving in the Caribbean, just can't be described. We'll get you certified soon and we'll visit all the best reefs. Who knows, maybe I can even get you cage diving in Australia."

After each of these murmured promises, my mind would expand to allow the possibility of these escapades to filter in past my narrow-minded view of the world around me. Of course the kisses he trailed behind my ear or down my neck helped to imbed them further into my hopes, and now my dreams of a future with Edward.

~~00~~

Postcard Image: Parc Guell Mosaic by Gaudi

Postmark: March 16, 2010 Barcelona, Spain

Dearest Bella,

I'm currently in Barcelona, one of my all-time favorite cities in Europe. The front of this postcard is some of the mosaic work of Gaudi. I can't wait to take you to see his amazing cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, and Parc Guell. I find his art so interesting and unique. The city feels like it never sleeps, except for siesta time I suppose, which you need after staying up half the night eating tapas. I hope you are doing well. I think that I will be in New York soon. Hopefully late April, but I will let you know as soon as I know. You're on my mind often, and I can't wait to hold you in my arms again. Until then, I'll continue to dream I'm doing just that.

Love,

Edward

I was on the fifth time rereading my postcard from Edward and my heart clenched just as much this time as it did when I first read it last night. He was coming home. I was afraid to get my hopes up because as with everything in my life, there was one word that separated it from actually happening. Think. He thought he was going to be in town. He hoped he would be coming home to me. And this was what would absolutely break me should I allow my expectations to get the best of me. I missed his presence in my life so profoundly that even my co-workers noticed a change in my attitude. I'd began placing personal items around my normally neat and sparse desk. The neglected plant that was lacking light in my apartment was brought to the office in hopes that the sunny window near my cube would provide more sun for it to thrive. And that little plant felt like a metaphor for me. I felt like I was beginning to thrive and to dream of better things. Today I'd even ventured out of my neighborhood and stumbled upon a farmers market just a few blocks away that I never even knew existed. I'd gotten some fruit to snack on at work for the week and even bought a simple silver bracelet with a heart shaped locket that reminded me of Edward's whispered declaration the night before he departed from my life.

"Isabella, how have you so thoroughly captured me? Trapped my heart and placed it in a gilded cage? How will I survive until I see you again without my heart? With it here next to you, beating a slow rallentando tempo, just waiting for me to return to you and back to the owner of my heart? Do you see? Do you understand the depth of my feelings? Because it may very well ruin me…" Edward's breathy revelation allowed me to declare my identical feelings with him. I'd fallen deeply and quickly and never in my life had I felt so alive, so brilliantly vibrant and whole.

Feeling decadent, I took the train into Manhattan and choose to just wander the city and see where it took me. The thrill of adventure coursed through my veins, even if it was just the city that was across the river and not oceans away. I hadn't really explored the city, and for some inexplicable reason I was drawn to do so on that sunny and beautiful spring day. Getting off at the South Street Seaport, I wandered, watching as the tourists buzzed around the area, milling about the tall ships that were docked, and visiting the various shops and eateries nearby. Standing by the railing, I looked over the water and imagined for a moment what it would feel like to be on one of those ships, headed off to a far off shore. Or to be a sailor docked at the harbor like On The Town, trying to squeeze all the sights into just one day. What would I do and see if I didn't have the luxury of living in this amazing city that I seemed to have neglected since arriving.

The revelation that I had allowed my fear of living to drive my life startled me to such a degree that I had to clutch the railing to keep myself from stumbling onto the pavement. While I thought I was escaping my boring drab life in Forks, I had only really changed locations, not the adjectives used to describe it. Shaking the glum thoughts away, I tried to grab onto the gleeful ones I had when Edward was present in my life. I skipped off to a sidewalk vendor and bought myself a pretzel and continued to walk, and walk, and walk. My head constantly swiveled around, trying to take in all the sites that I'd never even noticed. After two hours of walking, I suddenly realized I was on the edge of Central Park. I wasn't sure how safe it was for me to have just walked that entire distance, but I felt good. Alive for the first time since Edward had been in my bed.

The air was crisp, and while I knew it couldn't possibly be clean, it felt like it was. The tall trees of the park looming in front of me felt a little like home, as if I was about to head deep into the woods in search of some imaginary treasure. Before continuing into the park, I looked around to see if I could find a little coffee shop to warm my hands up a bit and grab my favorite indulgence, a skinny mocha latte with extra foam. I normally didn't have the spare money for something as extravagant as a five dollar cup of coffee, but I was feeling a bit reckless and wild after having meandered through most of lower Manhattan. I witnessed cages of live chickens on the streets of Chinatown, window shopped my way through SoHo, but really wished I'd veered a little East and picked up a cannoli in Little Italy instead. Finding what I was looking for, I wandered over to the corner and waited for the light to cross the street. It was at that exact moment that time stood still. I felt like I was in the Matrix, where the action stopped and I was the only one allowed to move about the frame.

A mop of bronze hair peeked out above the crowd, walking in front of the coffee shop I was heading to. Could it be? Could Edward be in town? I rushed across the street, not worried one iota for my safety. Dodging cabbies and honking cars, I bounced on the balls of my feet to see if my eyes are deceiving me. Not caring that I probably looked like a crazy homeless woman running through the streets of New York, I started screaming Edward's name, trying to get the mysterious man with the identical hair color as my man to turn and show his face, or at least stop his frantic pace down the sidewalk.

"Edward!" I was weaving and skirting around all the other pedestrians standing between me and my goal. My mind wasn't thinking about the fact that he shouldn't have been in town right now, or the fact that something might just be amiss about the entire situation I had gotten myself into. No, its precision like focus was on getting to the man who while I had been holding his heart hostage, he had been doing the same with mine since he left.

I watched as the man turned into an awning covered door. Lurching to a stop, I read the words above the door, The Oak Room, before entering. I didn't care that the people were dressed in clothes that cost more than my annual rent, or that I probably looked a windblown mess. No, I only cared if Edward was the man I saw enter the building.

Whipping my head around, I ignored the snotty, "can I help you," that some bitchy hostess asked, looking down her nose in distain at me.

I saw the man in question across the dimly lit room, kissing the cheek of a tiny brunette woman before taking a seat next to her and a blond haired man. The woman smiled brightly and I could only wonder if I was about to make a complete ass out of myself as I walked through the dining room, trying to nonchalantly get a better view.

I almost made it. If it weren't for my feet's complete and utter lack of coordination, I could have snuck around the corner, taken a peek and walked out, knowing that my imagination had gotten the best of me.

Nope, instead I tripped over one of the table legs, taking the table cloth along with all the glasses and flatware with me. Lying face down, surrounded by shards of glass and silverware, I heard what my heart wished I hadn't.

"Isabella? Is that you?"

~~00~~

A/N –

This is a three-shot. Part 2 is with my beta and will be posted soon and part 3 will follow very shortly after that.

If you want to read this with the pictures of the postcards, check out my blog link on my profile or find it here at The Writers Coffee Shop:

http:/www. thewriterscoffeeshop. com/library/ ?sid=4942 (remove spaces)

Thanks for reading & I can't wait to hear your thoughts/ theories / Etc.