Disclaimer: All characters belong to Stephanie Meyer. The plot, along with a couple of characters that might be added in future, is mine.
We stayed online for a few more minutes; both Sue and Major made me swear to not let her out of my sight unless I had to work. Bella rolled her eyes, but she knew that between the three of us, she had no chance. Both of us were bummed that she couldn't see the kids. I wanted to see that spark in her eyes again. Nevertheless, she understood why they sent the kids away.
"You tell them that I love them to the moon and back," she instructed tearfully. "And that when I get back, the three of us will go to the cabin for a few days."
"Okay, Baby," Charlie said.
"I love you guys."
This chapter contains a discussion where the third party has an accent. This is why you will read the grammatical and syntactical errors.
The ten days after Bella woke up went by easily. She became more and more independent. The only shade left from the bruises was the lightest of yellow, and ever since the doc cleared her to move, Rose and Emmett took her for walks around the camp. I'd join them every now and then. Things were almost wrapped up for us to leave with our only needing a few more signatures, and then all that was left was the packing. Black and I came to a silent agreement: stay away from each other until it was absolutely necessary to meet.
My girl was ecstatic that we were leaving the following day. Yes we had a long assed trip with a couple of stops in between, but no one cared. Black- true to his word- kept our departure a secret. For some odd reason, he knew the same people Major knew along with a few of his own. In between the two of them, he managed our leave. I just hope that we'd be able to pull it off.
Everyone had somewhere to go… apart from Whitlock. Jasper was orphaned when he was nine years old. A truck driver, who lost control of his vehicle, hit his parents; they were on their way to pick up Jasper from school. Having no living relatives, he went into the system and was fostered for the first time a few months before his eighteenth birthday. One night, the sociopaths who took him, drugged and tied him to a bed while he was asleep, and then they tortured him by putting out cigarettes on his body and slicing him with a razor. Somehow he managed to get away, knocked out his captors, and went straight to the police. The community hospital treated him for free and kept him as a resident for the last four months until he became an adult. During those months, he lost himself in high school books and managed to get his GED. He enlisted the day of his eighteenth birthday.
"You're coming with us to Forks, Whitlock. End of discussion." Bella and Jasper argued for the past three hours.
"Swan," he sighed.
She stood in front of him and pointed her finger right in his face. "Who's the superior in here?"
"First Sergeant," he smirked, and I chuckled. She glared at me.
"Aside from that?"
"That's right," she hissed. "You're coming with us and spending three weeks in a house with Edward's and my family. Our mothers will smother you to death with affection, and our fathers will take you fishing and hunting. You'll eat with us on Christmas and New Year's Days and open presents without complaint!" She turned to leave and stopped with her hand in front of Leah's cage. "And that's a fucking order!"
Later that night, we were sitting at our spot with her head on my shoulder and my arm around her waist.
"I can't imagine him alone Edward," she confessed. "People like him deserve to be surrounded by love."
"And he shall have it," I murmured. Like you…
"Plus, I think that my best friend Alice and he are perfect for each other." I chuckled and kissed her temple.
Everyone had loaded their things into the cars, and most folks were already seated when we reached them. The carefreeness was everywhere. The Marines were laughing and joking, sharing their plans of what they were going to do during their short reprieve.
My parents arrived in Forks the day before yesterday. Ever since our mothers had laid eyes on one another, they were like conjoined twins. They even kicked out the men and had a girl's night, whatever that entailed. The kids were having a field day being spoiled rotten. Mom bought Lisa a child set of gardening tools, and Dad brought along the Cubs' baseball card collection from 1907 up to now. The gift was very expensive and even though both Mom and I informed him of that fact, he still bought it. It was Major's turn to have the coronary. Dad swore that he would make sure Chris knew that the Cubs were my favorite baseball team. Charlie corrupted his only son, so it was only fair for my father to do the same with Charlie's grandson: tit for tat.
"Staff Sergeant Swan," a private called. "Staff Sergeant!"
Bella paused right outside the car and turned around. "Yes, Private?"
"Ma'am there're three people at the gate looking for you- two men and a woman," he rushed. "One of the men said that his name was Aban."
Bella gasped and started running towards the gate. I followed right behind. I kept calling her name, but she didn't stop.
"What're you doing here?" she asked one of them.
"She you," he smiled. "Ah…" he turned to look at the other two, especially the young woman.
"Hello," she said lowly, looking at the ground and then at Bella. "I Sabeen"
"Oh," Bella breathed. "Are you okay?"
"Goot," she replied. "I come here say tank you." She turned to the man, who had yet to speak. "Guteba?" she snapped lightly.
He turned his gaze towards the desert, sighed and closed his eyes. "I say sorry," he looked at Bella. "I no wanted to, eh,…" he looked at me briefly. He scratched his chin. Sabeen whispered something in his ear. "I no wanted to hit you."
"You son of a bitch," I yelled, and I had him on the ground instantly.
"Sir," I heard Whitlock call as he grabbed me.
"You were the one, who took her?" I snarled. "I'll fucking kill you! Let me go," I struggled.
"Edward," Bella whispered and came in front of me. "Please," she shook her head. "Don't."
"Bella," I pleaded.
"They're not here to hurt me," she patted my chest. "Let them talk and then go." I looked in her eyes for a few seconds, nodded reluctantly and glared at the fucker.
"When were you released?" Bella asked the girl.
"A veek ago," she started, "Aban take me home and talk for you," she took the other man's hand and kissed it. "I ask him to brink me here to say tank you ant Guteba say sorry. He no bat," she paused, "he sat here," she finished by placing her hand over his heart.
"I am sorry for Amera," Bella said, "and Marwa. If I knew that she was going to do what she did, I wouldn't have left."
Sabeen translated Bella's words and Aban shook his head before he spoke.
"She would have done it," I said. "She knew that neither of them would survive."
Bella said nothing; she just nodded. "What are you going to do now?"
Sabeen smiled. "I go school. Aban ant Guteba fint work and fix house."
"Good, good," Bella smiled lightly. "I'm going home today."
"Ve know," Aban said. "Hert at ratio. I afrait late here come. I wanted to look at," he said shyly, pointing at Bella. "You ko home, babe, papa, mummi."
Bella shot forward and hugged his middle tightly. "Thank you Aban… for protecting me as much as you could…for helping me." Aban started talking again and the words that came out of his mouth couldn't be truer. Sabeen waited until he was done.
"Var is not kaint. Iraqi, Americano are hurt. You ant I no different. All is politics ant lant. Noting else. I am heppy I met you ant tank you for helping when you titn't af too. I will never forget you."
"Neither will I," Bella smiled. "We've got to go now." They nodded. "I wish the best… to all of you. Be careful but most of all… be happy." She hugged the girl, and she in return giggled and blushed furiously at something that Bella whispered in her ear.
We were already four hours up in the sky. There would be only one stop in Germany for an hour, and then we were off to New York. After that, we would split up. Emmett and Rosalie would make a brief stop since New York was her hometown. She wanted visit with her father mainly and then fly to Tennessee to spend New Year's Eve with Emmett's family. Hunter's sole purpose was to propose and get married as soon as possible. I took a look at Whitlock and saw him sleeping with a small smile on his face. He would never admit it, but I knew that he was happy to have a place to spend Christmas. He had his own place, but sometimes that's not enough. I knew the feeling quite well. Loneliness is the greatest enemy a person could face.
Jasper requested that after we landed we hit up a couple of stores inside the airport to save time. He wanted to buy some things he needed and presents for our parents. When we started to protest, he raised his hand and shook his head. In my head, I remembered his words.
You want me to come, then you'll let me do this. My mama always told to never go empty handed to a house when I was invited.
I was the one to nod in agreement since it gave me an idea that I truly hoped to pull of.
Bella took a deep breath next to me and turned in her seat to look at me. "Edward?"
"Yes Sweetheart?" I smiled.
"I would have done the same thing," she confessed. I furrowed my eyebrows because for a moment because I didn't understand.
"What Amera did…." My breath got caught in my throat. "If I had lost everyone I loved, then what's the point to continue living? I'd never recover from the loss."
She closed her eyes and laid her head on my shoulder. "Ayòò aniinishni."
"What does that mean?" I asked her.
"Nothing important," she yawned.
Following her example, I closed my eyes as well, and for the rest of the flight, I dreamed of childish laughter, the woman I loved more than anything, and the life I'd fight to have.
"Please fasten your seatbelts," the stewardess announced. "In a few minutes, we'll be landing at Sea-Tac airport."
"Happy?" Whitlock asked a very hyper Bella.
"You've no fucking idea," she laughed. "We'll hit the shops here at the airport, and then we can catch the bus to Port Angeles. From there, we hail a cab to Forks," she instructed. "Okay?"
Both Whitlock and I nodded. On our way to get our luggage, I switched on my phone and saw that I had a voice mail. I dialed the service.
"Hello Son," my father said. "I have no idea why I called since I know that you won't get this message until you're home. Tomorrow is the 24th of December. Sue and your mother went to the cabin, so it's just Charlie and me. Emily has the kids," he paused and exhaled. I was sure that he was smoking. "I miss you so much Edward. I know that you've gone away many times, but this one hit me a bit harder. If I had only one wish before I died, it would be for you to retire and stay home…" Oh dad. "I love you, Son. Merry Christmas and be safe…"
I switched off the phone and sighed.
"Everything alright?" Bella asked gently.
"I think Major gave too many beers to my dad," I chuckled.
"They're gonna lose it when they see us."
"Our mothers are at the cabin, and your cousin has the kids. Only the men are home." She grinned.
"Hey Whit, hurry up," she called behind her shoulder. "We've got one hour to do the shopping."
"We're not at camp anymore Darlin'," he drawled. "Ya don't have to be bossy."
"That Southern drawl of yours," she smirked, "ain't working on me, Hon." She turned to look at me. "I'm taking him to the store. Are you coming?"
I shook my head. "I need to buy something for my mother first. Go ahead, and I'll find you."
Once they were gone, I sought out a jewelry store. Luckily, I didn't have to look for long. There were some things on the store's window for display, but I didn't stop to look.
"Hello Sir," a middle aged woman said.
"Ma'am," I greeted.
"What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for something unique," I paused, "for someone special."
She cocked her head to the side. "A ring maybe?"
I smiled. "No… not yet at least."
"Why don't you look around? Maybe something will catch your eye."
There were earrings, rings, bracelets. Everything was delicate and quite stylish. However none of them would do. I sighed. I knew nothing about jewelry, and I wish I paid more attention when mom talked about it.
"How about this one?" the woman asked taking me out of my thoughts. She placed a necklace on the counter. "This is made of white gold. The green hearts are emeralds and a small diamonds dangles in the middle." It was perfect for her. "It's a bit pricey…"
"I'll take it," I grinned like a fool. "The price isn't an issue."
"Perfect," she replied and started wrapping it. "On leave?"
"Just returned from deployment."
"Welcome home then, and thank you for your service."
"Thank you, Ma'am. It's good to be home." I handed her my credit card, signed the receipt, and left. Before I went into the toy store, I stopped to put the necklace into my backpack.
"No," I heard Bella huff. "A plain Barbie is enough!"
"But she's fucking ugly," Jasper argued. "Look at her," he pleaded. He held a box with a big doll, wearing a dress with a lot of froufrou or whatever it was called- a hat on her head and tiny pouch on her hand. "She is gorgeous."
"You're not paying $110 for a fucking doll when there's a perfectly good one for $30."
"She's a replica of a Southern Belle, Bella," he insisted. "A) She's unique, b) she doesn't look like a drag queen, and c) I- hell, even you- can tell her about that era as a fairytale."
"Jasper," she resigned. "You don't have to buy expensive gifts for children in order for them to like you. They'll love you even if you give them a chocolate bar."
"Buying this doll is nothing compared to what you've offered to me openhanded the past two and a half years," he said and shook his head. "I've never had the chance to buy presents for kids, and I have all that money sitting in my bank account. You promised me that I'd be smothered and spoiled from the Swan/Cullen clan. Allow me then the privilege of spoiling your kids just this once."
"Fine," she sighed.
He ended up buying the doll for Lizzie and a fire engine track with a remote control for Chris. On my last Skype session with my folks, right before they left for Forks, I told my mom what I wanted her to get for the kids on my behalf. A charm bracelet for Lizzie and my precious Mariners cards collection for Chris. That would make my dad a bit happier. Once we were done, we decided that we'd buy something for the rest the following day. Last minute shopping sucked since you had limited choices, but Bella informed us not to worry. We had an Ace on our hands called Alice.
"Boys," she beamed, "time to go home."
"Finally," I breathed. Unfortunately it took us more time than expected, so we missed the last bus. "So what's our other option?"
"How about renting a car? I could use it to visit areas around Forks." Jasper suggested.
"That could work," she said as we stepped outside. Fuck it felt so good to be back. "The questi…"
"Yo, Pale Princess!"
Bella stopped dead on her tracks and turned around. A behemoth of a man was standing six feet away from us with his hands crossed over his chest and a huge grin on his face. He had long black hair tied in a ponytail at the base of his neck. Truth be told, he kind of looked familiar, but I couldn't figure out where or if I'd seen him before. My girl threw down her things and ran towards him without a single word.
"Who the hell is that?" Jasper asked.
"Fuck if I know," I hissed lowly. Bella jumped in his open arms, and he started spinning them around. Her frame was so tiny compared to his.
"You've got some competition there, First Sergeant," he chuckled. My death glare was enough to make him laugh harder.
I watched him like a hawk. I hated the fact that someone else held her like she was something precious. This was my kind of hug. Nevertheless, I had to keep my shit together because maybe he was a close friend or a family member.
Family, you say? My mind mocked. Bitch please!
Bella untangled herself from his arms, and he pulled back. His face went from happy to angry. "You do that shit again, and I swear to fucking God that I'll hunt you down and kill you myself," he said as he grabbed her from her shoulders and shook her hard enough to piss me off even more.
"Sir," I snapped. "I suggest you remove your hands off of her if you want to keep them!"
He raised his eyebrow at me. "Is there a problem a son?"
Son? Fucker I'm older than you!
"Sam, knock it off," Bella laughed as he slapped his on his chest. "Guys, this is my cousin Sam. These fine gentlemen are Sergeant First Class Edward Cullen and Sergeant Jasper Whitlock."
He approached and shook our hands. "Thank you," he said hoarsely. "Thank you for finding her and bringing her back. Thank you."
He cleared his throat and grabbed Bella's things. "Let's hit the road. We've got quite a bit of a drive ahead of us." We placed our things into the trunk and drove away.
"I hope you don't mind some cuddling?" Jasper joked since Bella sat in the front seat.
"Fuck off Whitlock."
"You wound me," he faked hurt and placed his hand over his heart. "I thought we had a connection." At once we all started laughing.
Sam was the owner of a garage and a bar down at the reservation. He talked about his fiancé Rachel and their forty-day-old daughter Marie. Bella was moved that they named her after Bella by using her middle name. When he was about to say something about his brother, Bella cut him off, which was actually strange. Not much else was said for an hour into our drive when we stopped for gas and to use the restroom. When we were done, he was waiting for us holding two bags with containers. Our stomachs grumbled.
"I thought you'd like something to eat."
We settled onto our seats while Bella opened the bags. There were three different kinds of pies: chicken, apple and cheese. When she opened the last one though, I nearly started crying. Inside there were homemade cookies sent from our mothers. I wanted to see them so much.
"Sam," she said, "floor this shit and take us home."
"Welcome to Forks," Bella said brightly. "I know that you can't see shit now, but I'll take you on a small tour tomorrow while we go shopping. Now," she continued and looked at me. "We have two options. We either ring the doorbell or sneak up on them."
"Sneak," I said at once and smirked. "The guys had a rough night."
"Give them a break," Sam chuckled and stopped the car outside a two story house.
The whole external was lit with hundreds of Christmas lights. Two bicycles- a blue one and a pink one were outside on the porch along with several decorations scattered all over the place: miniature elves, reindeers and a Santa. Even the mailbox was decorated with garland. It felt almost like home. Sam made us promise to stop by both at his garage and bar for a cup of coffee and beer. We agreed of course. He unloaded our things while he gave Bella a bear hug that put Emmett's to shame and bade us goodnight. Out of instinct, all three of us took out a packet of cigarettes and lit one.
"Excited to finally be home?" Jasper asked.
"How many time have you asked this question?" she giggled.
"Three- four if you count this one. It's just…" he stopped and shrugged his shoulders.
"What?" she pressed.
"Had they been my family in there, I wouldn't have waited. Instead, I would have burst through that door," he pointed toward the house, "and hug the shit of anyone."
"True," she said. "The reasons I'm taking a moment are simple. I need to calm down because I am so close in breaking down, and also I need to prepare for the shit storm called Charles Logan Swan. He's going to throttle my neck and then a certain someone is next."
I snorted. "He could tr…"
Suddenly the front door opened.
"Busted," Jasper said lowly.
"Edward," my father rushed. He jumped the two steps and ran toward us. He took me in his arms and hugged me to the point of suffocation. I didn't care. "My boy," he cried lowly. "My boy!"
It brought tears to my eyes. "Hi Dad."
He took a step back and looked into my eyes. "Good God," he breathed and hugged me again. "Thank you!"
"I missed you so much Dad, so very much."
"Oh Edward," he sobbed. "Come here you," he sniffled after a minute or so, and I felt a small hand wrap around my waist. He was hugging Bella as well. After he released us, my dad cupped Bella's face. "I'm so glad you're okay, my darling girl." I was startled for a moment since he was never open toward strangers. Whether she was Major's kid or not, she was still a stranger to him.
"Thank you Sir," she replied politely.
"Enough of that shit." Oh yeah. He loved her already. "Call me Carlisle… for now," he winked at me, and I smirked. "And you are?" he asked looking at Jasper.
"Sergeant Jasper Bryan Whitlock, Sir." He extended his hand, but my father surprisingly hugged him intead.
"Welcome home Son," he patted his back. "Come on; let's go inside because I already feel things shriveling from the cold." I threw back my head and laughed. Both Bella's and Jasper's faces were priceless.
"Being the gentleman he was, he took Bella's things. Once we entered the living room, all three of us stilled.
"Wow," Jasper whispered. The decorations weren't anything extravagant: a Christmas tree, the burning fireplace with stockings dangling from the mantle and small lit tea light candle holders scattered around the room. What struck me the most though was the fact that our stockings from Chicago were there too: my parents and mine.
"Welcome to the Swan abode," Bella smiled. She picked a pink fluffy pillow off the couch and smelled it. Jasper went and stood next to her, placing his arm around her shoulder.
"This is home."
"It truly is," she sighed happily. "And just so you know," she punched him playfully," you're a Swan for life now."
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. When he opened them again, they were glistening with tears. "Thank you… Sis," was all he said. Her huge smile was enough of a response toward his endearment.
Dad decided to interrupt the moment by clearing his throat to get our attention.
"You must be so tired," he started. "The girls cleaned the house yesterday before they left for the cabin. The beds are made so go ahead." I nodded and looked at Bella.
"Follow me…" To the end of the earth Sweetheart. "I'll show you the guest rooms," Bella whispered.
Jasper took the guest room in the ground floor while Bella and I took our things and headed upstairs. Once we reached the top, she paused and took a couple of deep breaths.
"Fuck," she breathed.
"Calm down Sweetheart," I said lowly. "I know it's overwhelming."
"I'm fucked. Charlie…"
"Will do nothing but hold you," I reassured her. "Trust me."
She turned around and hugged me tightly. "Thank you for saving me."
I sighed and lifted her chin with my finger." Haven't you realized yet that there's nothing I wouldn't do for you? I would go to the end of the world for you. You have no idea what you mean to me."
Her chin trembled and she sniffled. "You're turning me into such a girl."
I chuckled and kissed her forehead. "My girl."
"This is the kids room," she pointed on the left. "The bathroom is next," she continued, "this will be your room, and this is mine," she finished and I was perfectly sure that she blushing. "The rents are on top." She looked at me for a second and turned on the light in the room. "I'll bring some towels in a second."
"Go to Charlie, Love." I said and pushed her toward the stairs. She nodded, and then out of the blue, she kissed my jaw and left.
My father entered the room not long after. He sat next to me and hugged my shoulder. "It's so good to have you back, Son."
"I missed you, you old fart," I smiled sadly.
"Your mama thinks otherwise."
"Not that shit again," I groaned. I patted his knee. " I love you Dad and thank you."
" For what?"
"For being the best father a man could ask for. I wouldn't be who I am without you and Mom."
"Edward," he choked.
"No… let me finish," I interrupted him. "A few days before we left, I made a decision," I looked at my hands. This was it. "This was my last tour of duty."
"I'm done Dad. It's time to move onto new things. The transition will be difficult, but…" I didn't get to finish. For the second time, he gave me a bone crushing hug.
"This," he chocked, "is the best news I could ever get." I chuckled. He pulled away and placed his hands on my cheeks like he did when I was a little boy. "You'll marry that woman, Edward."
"That's the plan," I smirked. "All I have to do is convince her."
"It won't take a lot of effort."
"We'll see about that," I smiled. "She's the epitome of stubbornness. Anyway, what time will Mom be here?"
"Around eight. They'll prepare for dinner and then go to the kid's school. They sort of have a celebration. They were supposed to have had it last week, but the school flooded."
"Perfect," I sighed happily. "I can't wait to see them."
"You like them."
"I love them, Dad," I said truthfully. "They are a part her. How could I not?"
Suddenly a loud wail echoed in the house, and my movement was instant. I was out of my room running towards the Major's room instantly. She was curled up against him shaking violently. Charlie held her as if she was a tiny baby.
"Shhh," he shushed her. "It's okay, Baby Girl."
Those few words made her cry even harder. On the one hand, I wanted to go and take her from him and comfort her, but on the other hand, I knew that he was the one she needed right now-her father.
As if he knew I was standing there, he lifted his head and looked at me. He sighed and smiled sadly at me. "Thank you," he mouthed. I nodded in response and waited for tomorrow to come…
I couldn't wait…
First of all, a huge I am sorry for the delay. As most of you read in my previous AN, I came back from my vacation in Holland Dec14, and four days later, my father passed away suddenly. It took me a while to start getting used to the fact that I won't see or talk to him anymore. It will never get easier though….
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and wishes.
Now let's talk about this neglected baby of mine, lol. I had to divide the chapter because it was getting dangerously huge. Combining both E and B points of views can be a bitch. Anyways… Homecoming is done and maybe a couple of moms may have a small heart attack… Another good thing is that you are going to find out about Jacob's part in this story. Only a couple of you have made the connection waaaaaayyy back. However there are a couple of hints in here too. :D
Bella's part is coming fast, so there may be no teasers…
A huge thanks you to Monique and my beautiful MIL, Michelle Rhodes. I love you to the moon and back!
You'll find me on Facebook as Penelope Griva and on Twitter as MrsECullenPen.
By clicking the magical button that says Review this chapter will bring you closer to your update and of course you'll get your teaser…
Until next time…