Pen Name: bkhchica
Title: Heart Aches & Happy Endings
Pairing: Emmett/Bella
Rating: M/ NC-17 for Lemons
Beta: ninmesarra & prettyflour
Pre-Readers (if any): none
Disclaimer: No infringement intended on Ms. Meyer's work.

~*HA&HE*~

September 11, 2001

I rushed into my classroom, my senior year of high school, barely making it before the bell rang. I paused at my desk, staring in question at my teacher. She sat at her desk, crying into a tissue. I dropped my bag beside the chair, and slumped tiredly into my seat.

Leaning over, I whispered to my best friend, Alice, "What's up with her?"

"Oh Bella. Two planes just flew into the trade centers in New York City. Her husband was on a trip in there and was supposed to meet with people there. She hasn't heard from him yet." Alice was whispering this information to me. Her face looked so solemn, like the world was ending.

"Oh," was the smartest reply I could think of.

Our classes were cancelled for the rest of the day and the hallways that were normally bustling with loud and obnoxious teenagers were silent and melancholy in the face of the tragedy that had struck our country. I trudged to my truck and tossed my bag inside. I turned the key over in the ignition and waited for it to start. The backfire it expelled had some of my fellow classmates hitting the ground. I couldn't help but laugh at the expressions on their faces. After all, I'd had this truck for two years now; they should be used to it.

I put the truck in gear and headed out of the parking lot. I stopped by Mr. Ed's Ice Creamery and picked up a couple of shakes and sundaes. I decided to surprise the fellas at the station with them. I parked in the lot and jumped out of the truck. I tried to balance all four of the trays at once, but decided that with my decided lack of grace, I would take two at a time.

I smiled at Charlotte, the receptionist and gave her a conspiratorial wink. I left the first of the ice cream treats with her and went back for the second. Once they were all on her desk, I hollered for attention, "Hey guys!" I smiled at the resounding 'Hey Bellas!' that sounded in return. "I brought you guys some ice cream!" The desk was swarmed with police officers trying to get their pick of snack. I quickly grabbed two and made a beeline for Charlie's office.

I tried to knock on the door frame but almost dropped my shake, so I settled for verbalizing the action, "Knock, knock!"

Charlie, my dad, even though I only call him dad to his face, smiled his greeting and motioned me in. "Hey Bells. Aren't you supposed to be in school?" He noticed the cups from Mr. Ed's and asked, "Is one of those for me?"

"Yeah dad, it is." I handed him his cup and answered the other question, "They let us go early because of the trade center thing in New York. I guess a couple of teachers and kids had family in the buildings."

Charlie's face got all serious as he replied, "It's a bad deal Bells. There are hundreds if not thousands of people that work in those buildings. You did know that they collapsed, right? Any of the people still inside at that point..."

The seriousness of the situation finally and truly sunk in. "I didn't realize that, dad. That's awful. Those poor people, their families…" I trailed off as I thought about them. I was running on auto pilot as I bid him and the guys good-bye and drove home.

I needed to call Jake. I needed to hear his voice. He was my grounding wire. Some part of me realized that he was most likely at school still, since he went to the one on the rez, but I dialed anyway.

Billy answered the phone and told me that he'd have Jake call me when he got home. I thought that I should call Renee and Phil too and make sure they were okay.

Then it hit me. Renee, my mom, and her new husband, Phil, were in New York. I could swear she'd mentioned those towers for some reason. What was that? Terror flooded me as I dialed Renee's cell phone number and Phil's number alternately for hours. Charlie may kill me when he gets the next phone bill. I paused in my calling when I couldn't feel my fingertips anymore.

I called Alice and she screamed her fear into the phone, then in the next breath promised she'd be on her way.

I hung up and tried Renee and Phil again, this time getting a message that the circuits were busy. I didn't let that deter me though. I continued calling.

I heard a car screech to a stop in the driveway and a car door shut. Alice must have been speeding the whole way here. Within seconds the front door was thrown open and slammed shut with a resounding thud. Before I had time to draw a breath, I was swallowed in a hug by Alice's small arms.

"Have you called Charlie and told him yet?" Alice asked when she finally released me.

"Crap! No. I haven't. I've been trying nonstop to get Renee or Phil to answer their phones. Ugh, Alice, I know Renee and I aren't really close, but she's still my mother. I don't want to lose her. And Phil is really cool, too. And just how am I supposed to tell Charlie?"

"Umm, I think you just have to do it fast. Like ripping off a band aid. I'm sorry Bella."

I didn't answer her. Instead I picked up the phone and continued calling. After another thirty minutes of the operator telling me that the circuit was busy, I threw the phone across the room, chipping some paint away from the wall.

Alice retrieved the phone and set it in the cradle. She gripped my hand tightly and led me out of the house and to her car. She shoved me inside and drove to the police station.

Charlotte's eyebrows rose at seeing me twice in one day, but let me know that Charlie was alone in his office. Alice and I walked back to his office. Each step I took felt like I was pulling a thousand pounds of lead with me.

Dread. I was dreading this conversation. Charlie looked up at me and frowned. It was déjà vu. He looked at me and I watched as concern filled his eyes and overtook the rest of his face. "What's going on, Bella?" Bella. Not Bells. He knew it was serious.

"Remember I told you that Renee and Phil were going on a trip?" His face lost all color as his memory recalled where they'd been going.

"Oh God," he uttered it like a prayer. He stood up and came around his desk and pulled me into his chest.

"I can't get them to answer the phone, Dad. What do we do?" I asked, but was silently begging him to have an answer.

"All we can do is wait."

I hated waiting. I twiddled my thumbs. I sighed. Repeatedly. I stood up. I paced. I fidgeted, crossing and uncrossing my arms and legs. This was the worst thing I'd ever had to wait for.

Alice and I sat in the chairs by the door and Charlie resumed sitting in his big chair behind the desk. We waited for what seemed like days but was only hours before Charlie gathered us to him again and walked us to the car. He instructed Alice to take me home while he grabbed dinner from the diner. I didn't even care that it was going to be grease for dinner. All I wanted was news of my mother.

We didn't get news for weeks. Phil's mother finally called to let us know that he'd told her they were going to tour the trade centers that morning. I was so completely pissed at her for not letting us know sooner. Renee was MY mother! How dare she keep that from me for weeks! It's a good thing Charlie talked to her. I would have ripped her a new one. He had a meeting with a few of his investment advisers as well. When another few weeks went by, we resigned ourselves to the fact that they most likely weren't okay. Part of me still held out hope, though, irrational as it may be.

Arrangements were made for memorial services and I sat stonily through them. I couldn't bring myself to cry.

I screamed my rage at Jake and Alice. They understood my pain.

Jake informed me on the weekend of our graduation, May 17, 2002, that he was going to join the Air Force. He wanted to be a fighter pilot and send the insurgents straight to hell for taking my mother from me.

I understood where he was coming from, but I didn't like it. He was one of my best friends and even though I hadn't told him yet, I was madly in love with him. He was perfect. All bronze muscles and god-like. I couldn't tell him then. I didn't want to ruin his dreams; I didn't want him to hate me for trying to change his mind, or have him staying just for me. I also didn't want to ruin the friendship that we'd developed. I couldn't stand it if I told him and it made it awkward. I think that would kill me faster than the idea of him actually leaving me for a few months for training.

He shipped off to basic and technical training, making sure to visit when he was home on leave. We started dating after he finished training and eventually got married. It was with great joy two years later that I informed him that he was going to be a daddy.

He was giddy with his delight as he picked me up and spun me around.

We welcomed Janessa Marie Black into the world on March 1, 2006. She had black hair and russet skin like her dad. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

It was July 6, 2006 when the orders came in. He came home and told me he would be shipping out. He was going to on tour for nine months to Afghanistan. He would be flying into the heat of the worst battles. My stomach dropped and I couldn't stop the tears that flowed. He was going to miss Janessa's first words, steps, and so many other milestones. But, I'd always known that was a possibility when we married. It wasn't his first tour by any means, but I'd been with him in Japan and Hawaii.

Janessa and I took him to the base and said our tear-filled good-byes. I kissed him deeply before he tore away and with one last whispered, "I love you, Bells," was off to join his ranks.

My baby girl and I settled into a routine in our small house on base. It worked for us and I enjoyed every second of watching her grow, and trying to catch as many of her "firsts" as I could on film so that Jake could see them when he got home.

I knew there was a possibility that Jake wouldn't make it back. I lived with that fear every day. I dreaded seeing that car turn the corner and come down our block.

It was fitting that October 26 was rainy. The heavens were weeping for me and I had no idea why yet. It was seven in the evening when I heard the doorbell ring. I quickly laid Nessie, that's what I'd started calling her, in her play pen with her toys and opened the door. I almost closed it in the two men's faces. I knew who they were and what they wanted before they even started speaking.

Silent tears coursed down my face as I listened to them recite their speech of how sorry they were to inform me that my husband, Jacob Black, had been killed in action three days prior. They were sorry for the delay, but they had to be sure it was him. His body would be flown into the states for burial within the week. If I needed anything, please contact so and so (I couldn't recall the name). I took the packet of information they held and shut the door behind them. I sank to my knees and sobbed. My heart had shattered and I had no idea if I would ever heal.

I finally picked myself up off the floor and forced myself to call Alice. She and her husband lived on base too. I heard her answer, "Hey Bella! You'll never guess what!"

She stopped abruptly when she heard me sobbing on the other end of the line. "I'll be right over." She hung up without me saying a word. I laid the cell phone on the table and went to the kitchen to fix Nessie her bedtime bottle.

As I sat in the rocking chair to feed her, I heard the key in the door and then Alice was there. She'd used her extra key to get in. "Bella what on earth?"

I couldn't force words out. So I motioned to the stack of papers on the table. I watched as her eyes fell to the first few lines. Her already pale face lost the remaining color it had. She picked Nessie up out of my arms and handed her to Edward. I hadn't even realized that he'd come in with her. She pulled me into a huge hug.

As she hugged me, I tried to force my thoughts from the pain that was Jake right now. I thought of how perfect Edward was for Alice. He was tall to her short. He was calm to her bouncing energy. He was kind of brooding to her happy-go-lucky. He was quiet strength to her loud emotions. He was also Jake's best friend.

The thought of Jake brought me back to the reason they were here and I sobbed out my pain again. Harsh and heaving cries tore from my chest.

Jacob's body was returned to us on November 1st and the funeral was held on November 4th. I'd thought it was hard to say good-bye to my mother but that was easy compared to this.

Jake was in the prime of his life. How could I possibly say good-bye to the man that had been my best friend since I was ten years old? How could I let go of the love we'd shared for four years? It didn't seem like that was a possibility.

I cried on Charlie's shoulder and thanked him for allowing me to lean on him throughout the two weeks following the news. Once Alice had called him, he'd rushed to Billy's house and gave the news to him. He'd been on the first flight out after that to help me make arrangements to have the funeral at La Push, The beach by the rez that we'd all spent so much time together at. Cliff diving, dirt bikes, kisses, casual strolls, bonfires, and warm hands were all part of my memories of the beach. It was one of Jake's favorite places to be. It was fitting to say good-bye to him there.

After several months had passed and I could breathe without it hurting quite so much, I enrolled in college at UDub. The military was sending me a pension and since he'd been Killed In Action, I got a settlement from his life insurance policy to keep us comfortable for a very long time. It felt wrong to rely on that, though, so I pursued my degree in English.

After I completed my program of study in 2008, I was offered a teaching job at the community college in Port Angeles. It really was a no-brainer. I was able to live close to Forks where Charlie and Billy lived which allowed Nessie to see both of her grandpas often.

Life was finally settling down and I was beginning to let myself be happy without Jake. I still felt guilty for it, but I knew that he would be so angry at me if I didn't live my life to the best of my ability.

~*HA&HE*~

April 1, 2012

"Alice, this had better be a cruel April Fool's Day joke," I stopped short of threatening her with bodily harm. After all, the little pixie was expecting her third child.

"No, Bella, I'm not," she sighed her frustration. "I know you miss Jake, but it's been almost six years. You deserve happiness. And so I told Eddie that you and I would join him and his friend Emmett for dinner. It will be okay. Emmett is huge, but he's a big teddy bear. He lost his wife Rosalie, four years ago. She lost a battle to breast cancer. She would have been our age, Bells. He will understand you better than most."

I kept my anger in check. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but I just wasn't ready. Why did she have to do this to me? I was just beginning to not feel guilty every time I smiled. That should count for something, right?

All too soon we were pulling up to the restaurant. It was an upscale place, and I was glad I'd worn my 'little black dress' that Alice had given me for Christmas. The valet opened the door for me and extended his hand to help me out. I was thankful for his assistance because Alice had made me wear the three inch heels with it. Once I was steady on my feet, the boy ran around to assist Alice.

I paused in the foyer to call Charlie and check in on Nessie. With his reassurance that she was fine, I hung up. I squared my shoulders and determined to enjoy myself.

Alice gave our names to the maître d and he led us to a table where I recognized the wild and bronze hair of Alice's husband. The hulking man beside him had me gaping. Alice chuckled and told me to quit drooling. I couldn't help myself. He was gorgeous. He had a shock of black hair that just barely curled over his ears and collar; a wide smile played on his lips and was surrounded by a dimple on either side. He was all brawny muscle and when he stood, I didn't think he would ever stop. He was so tall! I was just barely 5'4 and I don't think I reached his armpit. He had to be at least 6'7. Once he was standing, he leaned down to shake my hand. I was surprised at how gentle his touch was. I had been sure that he'd break me. I gasped at the zing of electricity that shot up my arm and my eyes flew to meet his. That was his best feature. The midnight blue of his eyes showed his surprise as well.

We laughed and talked throughout the dinner like old friends. We had both confessed to being less than thrilled with the idea of a blind date. We also confessed that it was nice to be proven wrong about such a date.

All too soon I noticed that Alice couldn't stop yawning. For being so full of energy normally, being pregnant really zapped her. Emmett told Edward that he would drive me home if he wanted to take Alice home and put her to bed. Edward looked to me for confirmation, and I agreed. I thought Alice's eyes were going to bug out of her head. I was shocked myself! I had agreed to let a man I just met take me home. Even if it did seem that I'd known him forever, it was completely unprecedented.

We bid the married couple good night and waited for Emmett's car to arrive. Once it had come and we were settled inside of it, he admitted he wasn't quite ready to go home yet. He hated having an empty house full of memories. I mentioned to him that it was never quiet at my house. I still wasn't sure how much Edward and Alice had told him about me. I admit, it made me nervous to think about him with my sweet Nessie.

"Edward mentioned you had a daughter. Janessa, right?" I nodded and he continued, "She's six and you call her Nessie?"

"That's right. She's the best part of me. And all the perfect parts of her dad, too." I couldn't help the sigh that escaped and I had to fight back a tear.

His hand left the gear shift to grip mine. "I still miss my Rosie, too. I understand Bella."

"Thanks Emmett. I don't quite know what it is about you, but I feel comfortable with you. Like I could tell you anything and you'd understand. Does that even make sense?"

"It may not to other people, but I get where you're coming from. I feel the same way with you. I'm not quite ready to go home yet, though. There's a dance club a block and a half away. Would you be interested in bustin' a move or two with me?" He waggled his eyebrows at me and I giggled.

"I'd love to, but I can't dance. I can't walk across a flat surface without tripping, so dancing is a hazard to my well-being."

It was his turn to laugh and I found I liked the sound of it. He laughed with his whole body. The loud guffaws echoed through the car.

"I didn't think it was that funny," I said.

"I'm sorry," he told me after he'd gained control, "I could just picture you tripping over your own two feet. Don't think I didn't see you stumble a bit on your way to the table with Alice. And besides, Eddie-boy told me all about your gracelessness. But hey, I promise not to let you fall. And if you really don't want to dance, we can just have a few drinks."

I agreed with that plan and before I knew it, we were sitting at booth watching people grind against each other on the dance floor. He went to the bar and ordered several shots and fruity drinks. I laughed at the array of beverages the waitress was carrying on a tray behind him. "Did you buy one for everyone here, Em?"

His smile took up half his face as he replied, "Weeeelllll," he drug the word out into three syllables, "I didn't know what you would want and wanted to make sure you got something you liked." He batted his big eyes at me and I laughed in response.

"I'd have been happy with a draft beer," I told him.

Again his eyes got big as he answered, "A girl after my own heart!"

He tipped the waitress and we started drinking. It occurred to me that I should ask who was driving if he was drinking, also, but I held the question in check for a few minutes.

I couldn't believe how many drinks were placed in front of me. We each had four shots and three fruity drinks as well as two beers. I picked up my first shot and he followed suit. We downed it together, and then proceeded to the next one. Before I knew it, another hour and a half had passed and all of our drinks were gone.

I realized he was slurring his words and wondered if I was too. Apparently I'd said that aloud because he answered in the affirmative.

I again remembered that I should ask about how we were getting home, when he informed me that he'd reserved two rooms at the HoJo next door. I should have been angry, but I was beyond caring. Nessie was staying with Papa Charlie for the night, so I could do whatever I wanted tonight, even if I'd regret it later.

After another couple of drinks, we decided we should make our way to the hotel. We stumbled and I lost a shoe somewhere, but I really didn't care.

He pulled me along behind him to the elevator and we waited for the doors to close. I couldn't help but stare at his beautifully muscled form. Mmmm, I wonder if he tastes as good as he looks? My tongue darted out to lick my bottom lip and I saw his eyes darken. I stepped closer to him and brought his lips to mine. He pulled me closer to him and slid his fingers through my hair. His tongue invaded my mouth while his other hand caressed my ribs. I ran my hands along his shoulders, reveling in the strength of him. He deepened the kiss and turned us so that I was pressed against the elevator door. Hitching my leg around his waist, he ground his hips into me. He was trailing kisses along my jaw while I panted, trying to catch my breath.

Ding. The elevator signaled we'd reached our floor. We hurriedly straightened our clothes and waited for the doors to open. He grabbed my hand and laced our fingers together, leading me down the hall. Emmett used one of the two keys he pulled from his wallet to unlock the door to my room. He opened the door and pulled me inside. He told me to make myself comfortable and he'd be next door if I needed him.

I stopped him by grabbing his arm. "Wait, Em," I whispered. He stopped and looked at me. "Don't go yet." I licked my lips and was getting ready to ask him to keep me company for a few minutes when his mouth was crushing mine. He licked the seam of my lips and I gasped in surprise. He took advantage of that and forced his tongue in. I clung to him as our tongues danced together. Emmett slowed the kiss and pulled away. I continued to cling to him, panting to catch my breath.

He swept me into his arms and carried me to the bed. He took off the shoe that I still had on and glanced at my other foot in confusion. Shrugging his shoulders, his fingers grazed up the length of my leg to the juncture of my hip and thigh. Releasing the clip on my garter, he proceeded to peel my stockings off. I sat up and he slid the cardigan from my shoulders, his hands trailing along my arms, sending tingles straight to my spine. My breathing picked up again. I begged him with my eyes to stay with me. I'd deal with the consequences later.

He raised his eyebrow as though to ask if I was sure. At my nod, he began unbuttoning his shirt. I got to my knees and helped him slide the shirt from his broad shoulders enjoying the play of his muscles under my fingertips. I cast it aside to the floor. I worked on his belt, fumbling to unlatch it. Once his belt was loose, I pulled it from the loops. Since he was standing, he was right at eye level and I couldn't help but notice the bulge in his pants.

He was tired of the separation, I guess, because he pulled me in for another kiss. His hands rubbed soothing circles onto my back before they delved into my long, brown hair. He dragged his lips from mine and down along my jawline. I ran my fingers through his black curls and along his shoulders. He moaned against my neck and I shivered in response.

Before I knew it, my dress was on the floor with his shirt. I finished removing his pants and tossed them away. He kissed me again and laid me back to rest on the pillows. He hovered over me, and I drowned in the passion of his eyes as they raked over me. I reached behind me to unhook my bra and he slid it from my body. It too joined the growing pile of clothes on the floor. He dragged my panties down my legs and threw them over his shoulder. Somewhere along the way, he'd also shucked his boxers.

His eyes were smoldering with unbridled passion. My body writhed with the agony of anticipation. He lay down beside me and hugged me to his chest, kissing me senseless again. He moved his kisses to my neck and trailed them down to my breasts. He sucked the tip of one into his mouth and I arched off the bed. He gently plied the other breast with one hand while the other one traced idle patterns along my skin. Releasing one sensitive nipple from his mouth, he switched to the other.

I trailed my hand down his back and along his sides. I ghosted my fingers over his broad chest and down his abs. I felt the light dusting of hair that traveled to his member. I caressed his length and found that it was as big as the rest of him. I swallowed back the apprehension I felt at the thought of it invading my body but if he was this gentle with me already, then I had nothing to fear. He moaned against my breast and goose bumps broke out across my skin in response. I rubbed the tip of him and felt a bead of liquid. I rubbed it around and began to stroke his length.

Lifting his head from my chest, he whispered my name, "Bella…" before kissing me again. One hand reached down to remove my pumping hand and I groaned in frustration. "I'm sorry… but… I won't… last long…" he trailed off and I understood what he meant.

His hands began exploring my body again. He rolled my right nipple between his thumb and finger causing it to tighten in response. His other hand slid down my side and to my leg. He lifted my leg over his hip and reached between us. His fingers slid along my slick heat. I sighed his name against his lips. He finally inserted a finger and began pumping it in and out. I found myself grinding against him and he pushed harder. I felt the pressure of my release building and nearly came apart in his arms when he began circling my clit with his thumb. Another couple of seconds had me screaming his name as the bubble of bliss broke over me. He quickly pulled his fingers away and positioned himself at my entrance. I pushed down as he thrust up and felt my eyes bug out at the feel of his invasion. I must have stiffened as well, because he stilled and pressed his forehead to my shoulder.

"I'm so sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to hurt you…"

I shushed him by grabbing his face and turning it to mine. "You didn't," I informed him, before setting a rhythm and kissing him with all the passion that was again building up within me. We met each other thrust for thrust and came together in shouts of ecstasy.

He sagged against me for a moment before rolling to the side. Pulling me to his chest, Emmett held me all night.

The next morning, I hurried to the shower, doing my best to ignore the throbbing in my temples. I couldn't remember how many drinks I'd had, but I was reminded of why I didn't drink often. I started the water and stepped into the hot stream. My muscles ached in a good way. And the hot water soothed them.

I was startled from my memories of the night before when Emmett joined me in the shower. I blushed furiously and he laughed at my discomfort. He began to lather up his hands and wash my body for me. I sighed at the feel of his rough hands.

His hands were so gentle as he worshipfully washed me. I returned the favor, taking my time as I paid homage to every inch of him. With a growl, Emmett had picked me up and I was wound around him as he pushed into me over and over again against the shower wall. His hand tangled in my hair as he pulled gently to allow him access to my neck and the place just under my ear that had me begging for more. He brought his hand between us, using his fingers to help speed me to my orgasm. I cried out his name as my muscles clenched and spasmed in ecstasy. It seemed as though reaching my peak triggered his because he came right after me, his warm seed flooding my body.

When he finally set me down, we again cleaned each other, thankful for the tepid water that helped cool our passion.

I hurriedly dried off and dressed again in my clothes from last night. There was a knock at the door and Emmett answered it in his towel. The man had no modesty whatsoever. A bellboy blushed profusely as he wheeled in a cart laden with food. It was a veritable buffet.

I laughed at Emmett as he motioned me over while stuffing half a muffin in his mouth. I poured us both a glass of juice and coffee from the carafe then filled my plate with an omelet and some fresh strawberries. After reassuring Emmett I was full, I watched in awe as he finished the rest of the food. It was a lot of food!

We walked down to the lobby of the hotel to check out and then to the parking lot to get into his car.

"So, Emmett, I don't think I asked last night, but what do you do?"

"Oh, I'm a doctor."

"That's awesome! Are you in a private practice or do work at the hospital?"

He cleared his throat uncomfortably before he continued, "Uh, no. Um, I ah, I work as trauma surgeon in the army."

I stared at him in abject horror before I started crying. I didn't even know why I was crying. I'd just met the man last night. It's not like we were making plans to spend eternity together or anything, but I couldn't stop the tears from pouring out like water in a faucet that was broken.

He pulled into a parking lot and unbuckled both of our seat belts. Once that was done, he pulled me across the car and into his arms. He murmured sweet nothings into my ear to try and calm me. Once I'd gotten a hold of myself, he tried to apologize. He'd thought I'd already known or something; I didn't really comprehend what he was telling me.

Once we were at my house, I jumped from the car and hurried to the door. Unlocking it, I stumbled in and threw down my shoe. I realized Emmett was standing behind me and I made myself face him. I couldn't do this again. I could not be involved with a military man again. I would never survive if it worked out and I ended up widowed again. I was only 28 years old, for God's sake.

"I'm sorry, Emmett. I really like you, but I can't do this again. I can't risk being hurt like that again. I just, I… I just can't. I'm sorry."

He looked like I had killed his new puppy before he even got to play with it. He nodded his head once and told me he understood before he left, shutting the door behind him.

I picked up the phone to call Alice and told her all about it, then reamed her out for not telling me he was in the army.

~*HA&HE*~

Six Weeks Later

"Oh. My. God. You have got to be kidding me. This is unreal. One time? Really? After just one time?" I was completely mortified. I did not want to call Alice again. She was ready to pop out baby number three anytime now and I just couldn't. Besides I was still mad at her for setting me up with another guy in uniform. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated his service to our country, but I just didn't think I could be a part of his life until he was out.

I decided to call Edward instead. That was an interesting phone conversation.

"Hello?"

"Edward? Are you busy?"

"Not really. What's going on, Bella? You never call me."

"I um, I need Emmett's phone number."

Silence reigned on the line for several uncomfortable moments.

"Why?" He finally asked.

"I just do. I don't want to tell you right now, and besides, he will probably tell you later anyhow."

I wrote it down as he rattled it off. Just as I was getting ready to thank him, Edward surprised me yet again, "Listen, Bella. You know you're like a little sister to me, and I love ya, right?" he didn't pause long enough for me to answer, "But here's the thing, if you hurt Emmett again, I am going to be very angry at you."

I sighed in frustration, "I understand, but Edward? I really gotta go now." And with that, I hung up the phone.

I immediately called Emmett and asked if we could meet for lunch today. He didn't really want to, I could tell, but I told him how important it was. Once he agreed, we decided time and place.

I parked the car in the lot of the pizza parlor and sat at a table while I waited for him. He spotted me as soon as he walked in the door. When he sat down he looked resigned to more bad news. The waitress interrupted us to take our orders and to flirt unashamedly with my handsome hulk. He didn't even notice.

"What's going on Bella? We had an amazing night together, then you freaked out on me because I'm army, and then after six weeks you decide to call me again."

I could understand his reluctance to get comfortable with me again. After all, what did that get him last time? I pushed the thoughts aside and looked him square in the eye. "Emmett, I'm pregnant."

His face. It was priceless. It flamed with red color and he spluttered out an 'are you sure?'

I pulled out the three tests I'd taken and showed them to him. His response floored me.

"Marry me Bella."

"Huh?" I was sure I'd heard him wrong.

"I'm not kidding. I want to give my baby all the support that I can. Marry me. Please?"

"You mean you, ah, you want to be involved?" In all the scenarios I'd run through in my head, this one had never crossed my mind before now.

"Of course I do. It's my baby too. Right?" he questioned. I nodded dumbly. "Then, I want to be around for it as much as I can. Please. Just marry me. We can make this work. I'm already half in love with you, Bella and that's just from one night together."

I stared at him in shock. "Ok…"

He threw some money on the table and grabbed my hand. He led me to his car and drove to the courthouse.

It didn't really register what was going on inside my brain. One minute we are talking at the pizza parlor and the next he's pulling into my drive and carrying me across the threshold. My dad stared at us strangely until I realized he didn't have a clue who Emmett was. I introduced the two men and they shook hands. I stood still, remaining in shock until a little bundle of energy launched herself at my knees squealing, "Mommy!"

I picked her up and introduced her to Emmett. It was love at first sight for them. She jumped into his arms and peppered his cheek with kisses while he tickled her sides.

While those two played, I led Charlie to the kitchen for a conversation. "Dad. Don't be mad, 'kay?"

"It's never good when you start a conversation like that Bells," he grinned at me.

"I know," I whispered back. Clearing my throat I launched into my story and only skipped over the details. Basically it came out like this, "Six weeks ago I met Emmett for dinner with Alice and Edward. We ended up going out for drinks afterward and now I'm pregnant. And I think we just got married at the courthouse."

"You think? You THINK? How come you don't know?"

"I was in shock, Dad. I'm sure that we are. But here's the clincher. He's a trauma surgeon for the army." I started sobbing and my dad hugged me tight in a rare display of affection.

"Aww, Bella. You can do this. You are going to be fine. I promise. You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for," he murmured into my ear.

We turned the conversation to Nessie and rejoined my newly made family in the living room.

Charlie mentioned returning to work and shook hands with Emmett. As he was closing the door, he told Emmett, "You hurt them and I'll hunt you down boy."

Emmett calmly replied with a 'yes sir.'

He grabbed my hand and led me to the couch. "Bella, I promise I will do everything I can to make sure you are happy. I swear it! Anything you need will be yours."

I smiled at him tearfully and was getting ready to answer him when my phone rang. Recognizing the ringtone as the song for Alice, I answered quickly, "Hey Alice! Are you okay? Are you in labor?"

Her laugh echoed over the line, "No, not yet. This baby is being stubborn like his daddy. I was calling to check on you. Are you okay? Eddie told me that you called him and I was worried about you," she didn't pause for a breath at all in the spiel.

"I'm okay. Or at least I will be, I think. Umm, I'm not really sure how to tell you this, so I'm just going to say it, but promise me you won't be mad, kill me, or go into labor from it, ok?"

"Ok, Bells. Spill it. Now."

"Well, I'm pregnant."

"OH. My. God. Whose is it?"

"Um, Emmett's. And that's not all. He and I just got married by the JOP."

"OH MY GOD!" she screamed. I could hear Edward in the background asking if she was ok and she went on to explain to him my new situation. I could then hear him exclaiming and cursing loudly. "Why didn't you tell me any of this sooner, Bella?"

I could hear the hurt in her voice, and I apologized but it was no use right now. I heard her crying softly before she hung up. I guessed she was mad and sad that I hadn't confided in her exactly how far that night with Emmett had gone. We'd always shared everything with each other up until that night.

Emmett had listened to the whole thing and grabbed my hand to show his support. This was so weird to me. Nessie and I had been on our own for so long and now we had a man that I assumed was going to live with us. This was going to be quite the transition.

~*HA&HE*~

Two Months Later:

I was coming to terms that it wasn't quite the ordeal to add Emmett to our household as I'd initially thought. Nessie adored him. He didn't have a whole lot of stuff and he liked to keep the house clean. Not to mention that he spoiled me. He sent me flowers at least once a week and was constantly finding new ways to surprise me. Yesterday he brought home a gift certificate to the spa for a massage. Last week, it was a gift card for $500 to the maternity store in the mall for new clothes because even though I was only fourteen weeks, it was already hard to button my jeans.

It was odd sharing a bedroom with a man again. Especially this man. He was so much bigger than Jake had been and Jake had been huge, I'd thought. We had traded in my full size bed for a king mattress. This way, his feet didn't stick over the edge.

Every morning when he'd leave and every evening when he'd return, he put his hands on either side of my tummy and kissed our baby then he'd kiss Nessie and then me. He was the sweetest guy ever. I was really starting to fall in love with him.

Today was no different from any other day, I didn't think. But he'd seemed so nervous when he handed me the bouquet of flowers when he got home. I stuck them in a vase of water and joined him on the couch while dinner finished cooking.

He twined our hands together and asked, "Bella, do you trust me?"

"Yes, of course I do," came my automatic reply.

He sighed as he stared into my eyes. "I got orders today. I ship out next week to go to Africa. All these tribal battles are cutting into troop numbers. They want my battalion over there more because I'm the best trauma surgeon the army has."

I stared at him terrified of what this meant. Finally I shook myself out of this funk. "How long will you be gone?"

"I have no idea, baby. I'm going over with the second group of guys, and it could be just for a week or it could be for six months."

I covered my face with my hands and fought back the tears. I didn't know how I would get through this. I really didn't. Alice had been my support system the last time I'd done this, and she was still mad at me. In fact, she was so mad at me that she hadn't even called to tell me that she'd had Liam Brandon Masen yet. I'd tried calling her, but I guessed it was time to go visit.

I looked back up at Emmett and smiled through the tears that threatened to spill. "Promise me you will be careful and that you will do the best you can to come home to us?"

He pulled me into his arms and held me tightly as he responded, "I swear to you, I will do my absolute best to come back to you just the way you send me off, ok sweetheart?"

I nodded against his shoulder before I led him upstairs. He was home kind of early and Nessie wouldn't be home from her fishing trip with Papa Charlie and Pops (Billy) for another hour. In that hour, I showed him just how ok I would be, and exactly why he better come home to me.

His orders changed again and he shipped out in three days instead of eight. Nessie cried and I sobbed. As soon as he was on the bus, we left to go to Alice and Edward's house.

We pulled in the driveway and Nessie started bouncing in the seat, chanting, "Auntie Alice! Uncle Edward!" over and over. She unbuckled her booster seat, jumped from the car, and ran to ring the doorbell.

Alice answered with Liam bouncing on her shoulder. She smiled down at Nessie and ushered her in, promising her a cookie. But she left me standing on the porch. I went in anyway, and when she returned from laying Liam down for a nap, I cornered her.

We cried and apologized to each other. Alice was sorry for not calling me, the phone line goes both ways, she'd said. I told her I didn't mean to leave her out, everything was just so stressful and I was a little bit embarrassed about having had sex on the first date. So much for my notorious self-control.

I told her about Emmett's new orders and how we'd just left him at the base and we both cried all over again. Thankfully, I had my best friend back.

I loved every single email and the times Emmett and I were able to skype with each other. But the thing I loved the most were the handwritten letters that he would send me. Something about the thought of him taking time out to actually hand-write a letter did something to me. I think those letters are what sealed my fate, if I wasn't already completely in love with him, those letters ensured that he had me well and truly ensnared forever. For some reason, he shared more of himself in those letters than he did over the phone or in his emails, like maybe he was afraid someone would see them. It wasn't just dirty talk that he wrote in those letters, although there was some of that, but he told me how he'd felt after his first wife, Rosalie, had passed away. He wrote of his intentions to muster out when his contract was up and join the staff at the local hospital in Port Angeles. He told me his fears of not making it home and explained that if that happened he couldn't bare it if I hated him for leaving me alone again- like Jake had, even though neither one of them were looking to die. Those letters were pieces of his soul. And they were addressed to me.

We spent our days going to parks and museums and the movies when I wasn't working. I'd bought a swimming pool for the backyard and invited Alice and Edward and the three musketeers over for a bbq and swim. We ate dinner and were having fun splashing in the pool when I caught sight of a familiar black car driving down my road. I jumped out of the pool and wrapped a towel around me as I raced around to the front of the house, Alice, Edward, and the four kids were hot on my heels.

I thought I might pass out when I saw the car pull to a stop when it reached my house. The two men trudged up the sidewalk to meet us. "Isabella McCarty?"

"That's me," I managed to get out.

"I regret to inform you that your husband, Emmett McCarty, has been injured in Africa. They are flying him to the hospital in Germany. You are welcome to go to him there, or you can stay here and await his return."

I stared at him in confusion. Why would they send Emmett's body to Germany? "I'm sorry, can you say that again?"

This time the man smiled, "Captain McCarty is injured. His Humvee was attacked and he was shot twice. He's in Germany at the hospital there, or will be shortly."

I looked questioningly at Alice and Edward to make sure I wasn't dreaming. The two men bid us good-bye and returned to their car to leave, all while I stared at Alice.

I was shocked to feel a stinging sensation on my arm and looked down to see Alice pinching it painfully. "You aren't dreaming Bella. Go take a shower and get ready. I'll pack your bag and get a plane ticket for you. And don't worry about Nessie she can stay with us."

I mechanically followed her orders. And we were ready to go in a matter of two hours. I called Charlie on the way to the airport to let him know what was going on and he assured me he'd help Alice with Nessie if he could.

The plane ride took forever. When the plane finally landed, I grabbed my carry-on bag and departed. I really just wanted to see my husband. I rushed through the tarmac asking anybody and everybody if they spoke English. Finally finding a cab with an English driver, he promised to take me to the hospital.

The receptionist gave me directions to his room and ran all the way up four flights of stairs and found room 425. I knocked on the door and went in. He was sleeping. He had bags under his eyes, like he hadn't slept at all in the three weeks he'd been gone.

I bent over to kiss his cheek and his eyes fluttered open. "Hey!" I whispered.

He grinned and tried to apologize.

"Emmett, don't apologize for doing your job. I love you."

His eyes bugged out as he asked me to repeat it. "I love you!" I told him again.

He grinned and pulled me closer, kissing me passionately, he whispered back, "I love you too!"

He again tried to apologize, and I reminded him that there was nothing to apologize for. He was doing his job, which was important, and he just so happened to be my hero.

He grinned at that and told me that the real heroes of war were the women left holding together homes and families. Without them, the guys would never have anything to come home too.

It was my turn to smile and I blushed a little too and kissed him.

After a couple weeks had passed by, the doctors deemed him able to fly home, but he had to go directly to the hospital in Seattle. Once we agreed to that, we were signing papers and on our way back home to the states.

We were met at the hospital by our families; Charlie was holding a squirming Janessa, Alice and Edward and their three kids were there, and Emmett's mom and younger brother Jasper were there. I pulled his wheelchair to a stop in front of our group, and Charlie let go of Nessie.

"Mommy!" she shouted as she hugged me. She walked solemnly to Emmett, put her chubby little hand on the brace on his leg and tried to whisper her question to me, "Is my daddy okay?"

I watched as Emmett's glistening eyes found mine and then he pulled Janessa up into his arms. "I'll be fine baby girl. I promise. I love you, Nessie!"

"I love you too, Daddy!" she giggled into his ear.

I felt huge as I semi-waddled along with our group to Em's new room in Seattle's hospital. I was just a day shy of being thirty weeks along now and I was miserable. Emmett kept telling me I was beautiful, but I felt anything but.

It was another week before they discharged him. I didn't know why they felt he had to stay so long, but I'm not a doctor. I'm sure that his surly disposition was one reason they let him go. He was the worst patient ever. Anytime a nurse walked in his room, he growled at her, demanding to know when he could be released. I swear I heard an audible sigh throughout the hospital when we finally left.

He continued his physical therapy and within four weeks was able to lose the brace permanently. Another week and he was driving again. After two more weeks, he was cleared to return to work.

It was two weeks from my due date. I was absolutely miserable. I couldn't see my feet, I had heartburn all the time, and I needed a crane to pull me out of bed in the mornings. I was cranky and hormonal and completely irrational.

Emmett had decided this weekend was the perfect weekend to drag me all over creation to finish the mile-long list of Christmas shopping he still had to complete. I agreed only because I knew he'd never take no for an answer. Port Angeles shops weren't good enough, so he drove to Seattle and dragged me from store to store while he shopped.

When we got home, at eleven o'clock that night, my ankles were so swollen he had to help me take my sneakers off. He apologized profusely while he rubbed my feet. "As long as you keep rubbing those poor puppies, we'll call it even," I told him. My head lolled back against the arm of the couch and my eyes closed in complete relaxation.

Before I knew it, I was waking up to breakfast in bed. The smell of pancakes and bacon had me salivating. I smiled my appreciation to my thoughtful husband while he told me his plans for the day. They included wrapping all the presents he'd purchased and then taking Nessie to sit on Santa's lap.

We spent the morning talking about childhood Christmases and laughing at some of the things we'd asked for. Before I knew it, the last present was wrapped and we were on our way to pick up our baby girl.

We'd been standing in line for over an hour, waiting our turn to see the big man. It was finally Nessie's turn. She'd just climbed up on Santa's lap when I felt it. I hissed in a breath and Emmett rushed back to my side.

I glanced down and registered the soaked jeans and sneakers belonged to me. Emmett's shocked expression met my pained one. "Apparently it wasn't just a back ache," I tried to joke.

He kissed my temple and called Nessie over then rushed us to the car. He called Alice and our dads on the way to the hospital. When we parked, he helped me out, and pulled Nessie into his arms. He held onto my arm and guided me into the hospital. One look at me and the admitting nurse was wheeling me up to the maternity ward. (Thankfully, we'd pre-registered at the hospital at our last doctor appointment.)

I was directed to dress in a gown and told that a nurse and doctor would be in to check me as soon as possible. I climbed in the bed and got as comfortable as I could. Soon I was hooked up to monitors and an IV. Then the nurse's hand was shoved up my 'hoo-hah,' as Emmett so colorfully phrased it, and told us I was dilated to a seven.

Alice rushed in and took Nessie to the waiting room with her. I heard her murmuring to her about coloring books and puzzles. And the promise of ice cream as soon as her new baby made an appearance.

Emmett grasped my hand and told me how great I was doing. It made me want to slap him. After another hour, the nurse returned to check me again. She assured me it was time to push, but requested I wait until the doctor showed up.

My doctor happened to be on vacation, so I shook the new doctor's hand as he introduced himself as Dr. Cullen. In a matter of three pushes, the sound of our crying infant ripped through the room. Dr. Cullen smiled broadly as he announced that we had a healthy baby boy! As soon as they flopped our gooey baby onto my stomach, I glanced at Emmett. His eyes were shining with his love for us. "I'm a daddy again," he whispered in awe. I fell in love with him all over again.

The baby, Matthew Lee McCarty, was taken from my arms to be weighed and thoroughly checked over.

Emmett placed the sweetest kiss on my lips as he thanked me.

"You know, you're my hero, Captain," I whispered to him.

"Well, you're mine, Bella Bear," he whispered back. "I love you, so much!"

"I love you too."

Nessie was ushered into the room as soon as Matthew and I were cleaned up, Alice trailing behind her with a camera. Nessie climbed up onto the bed with me and kissed her brother's tiny cheek while Emmett and I looked on in love.

~*HA&HE*~

A/N: This was my entry into the Show Me Your Patriotism Contest. I didn't win, but I had fun writing it! :)