This was my donation to this year's Fandom4LLS fundraiser. Thank you to all of you who donated to this incredibly worthy cause. Your help is greatly appreciated by all of those fighting so hard to find a cure and by all of those who have loved ones affected by these diseases.
I owe a huge thank you to my beta My-Bella and my pre-reader Hope4more, for all the time you put into the edits and re-edits and for making sure I put all those annoying commas in all the right places. Both are amazing friends who I couldn't do this without!
And special thanks to Alicetheannoyinglittlepixie for the awesome banner she made me to go with this one shot. You can check it out over on my blog.
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The original aspects of this story—all of the original characters, plot, names, nicknames are all the property of the author—Eternally Addicted. Unauthorized use of such material is plagiarism. In simple terms—it's theft. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise mentioned in this story. No reproduction, downloading, copying, reposting, or any other kind of redistribution of this story or its contents is permitted without my express written authorization.
Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I can't even breathe
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream
"No, no, no," I cried almost hysterically as I pounded against the chest of the man in the blue uniform standing in my soon to be mother-in-law's living room. "You're wrong. You have to be wrong," I yelled at him. "I don't believe you."
This couldn't be happening. This couldn't be real. We had been waiting too long for this day to come for it to all be lost now. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. There was no way Edward was gone. I'd know it. I'd feel it in my heart.
"Bella, honey, why don't you come with me upstairs to the guest room and lie down for a while?" my mother said softly, trying to calm me down. Her voice cracked while she fought back her own emotions.
"No! I'm going to the church for the rehearsal. He will be there. He would not leave me on the day before our wedding day." I sobbed and slumped to the couch, pulling my knees to my chest and giving into the onslaught of emotions that were overwhelming me.
The television beeped as the news reporter's voice came through the speaker saying, "We're interrupting your regular programing to bring you some breaking news we've just received from the Pentagon."
Raising my head from where it had been buried against my knees, I twisted around so I was facing the TV. Sitting there fixated to the television, I silently prayed, God please let him be okay, over and over again in my head while my heart was shattering and my stomach lurched violently, threatening to spill all I'd eaten for breakfast.
"We've just received word that a United States military transport plane has been shot down near Baghdad. According to reports from a military spokesman the aircraft went down very early this morning near the U.S. air base, located just north of downtown Baghdad."
A man dressed in military fatigues appeared on the screen. Even though I wasn't sure what his exact rank was, I knew by the number of stripes attached to his sleeve that he was a high ranking officer.
"All I can confirm at this time is that we are checking into reports that the plane went down north of Bagdad."
"Can you tell us how many soldiers were aboard and where they were headed at the time?" the news anchor asked.
"The early info I have received states that there were thirty-two soldiers aboard, including the pilot, co-pilot, and thirty soldiers who were reportedly all heading home after the completion of their tour of duty. The plane had originally been scheduled to take off yesterday but we had received some Intel on a possible bombing so we held off on letting it take off," the spokesperson replied.
"So what changed that you allowed the flight to take off this morning?" the news anchor inquired next.
"Due to the information we received after the overnight and early morning recon patrols that had been done across the area, there was no sign of an imminent attack. There was no sign of any movement at all by the insurgents that were within striking distance of the airbase. Because of this we felt it was safe to go ahead and let those soldiers who had completed their tour of duty head back home to their families. We had a clear window for takeoff and we took it."
"Any idea who or what group is responsible for the air strikes at this time?"
The military spokesperson cleared his throat and responded, "No. Not at this time. We have reports claiming that two different militant groups have declared responsibility, but at this time it hasn't been confirmed which one was the one to carry out the task or if perhaps it was some sort of a collaboration amongst them."
"Is there any other news on possible survivors? Was the craft completely destroyed? Do you have anything on that?"
My heart felt like it was going to jump right out of my chest as it beat faster than it seemed possible while I waited for the military spokesperson to answer the newest series of questions presented by the reporter.
"No. The only information we have right now is one eyewitness account that claims they saw the plane go down in a ball of fire from a distance. He is being questioned thoroughly and in great detail. At this time all we know is that this person heard an explosion and looked up seeing the rear of the transport plane burst into flames and the plane then began to nose dive to the ground."
"Oh, God," I cried and felt like I was going to collapse. "This can't be happening to us. We've waited too long for this day to come. I can't lose him now."
I took off running up the stairs of the Cullen house until I reached the third floor where Edward's room was. A loud sob left me as I entered his room and was hit with his scent that still lingered there. I fell into a heap on his bed. Grabbing his pillow, I clutched it to my chest and buried my face. The tears fell in a torrent as I sobbed uncontrollably. I just couldn't stop. The pain was too great. I just couldn't bear the thought that Edward might never come home to me.
I didn't know how much time had gone by when I heard a knock on the door. I tried to open my mouth to speak, but all that came out was a strangled cry and a few hiccups.
The door opened slowly as Alice's head peeked around the edge.
"Bella, you awake?" she whispered. I nodded and as soon as our eyes met she flew across the room to me and engulfed me in her arms.
"What am I going to do, Ali? I…can't…can't go on without him. He was…" I had to stop and catch my breath as I choked on my sobs. "…supposed to be done. He served his time. He has to come home to me, Ali."
"Shhhhh. We'll get through this together." She wrapped her arms even tighter around me.
As we sat there holding each other, the last six years of my life started to flash before me. Everything from my first day in Forks, our first date, first kiss, to our senior prom. The day Edward left, and the day he proposed to me, but my thoughts kept coming back to that first day in biology, my junior year of high school, when I'd first met Edward.
My father hadn't been quite ready to retire, but he'd been tired of the hustle and bustle of being a big city police officer. It had been taking a toll on him and that had put a strain on his relationship with my mother as well as our entire family dynamic. His answer to it had been to move from our home in Phoenix to here, the small town of Forks, Washington.
I'd been so nervous and worried about changing schools. I hadn't had many friends in Phoenix, but at least I was comfortable with how I was treated. I knew what to expect.
Biology had been my first class of the day. I remembered how I'd been chewing on my lip so hard I nearly bit threw the skin as I had walked into the biology lab and handed my new student slip to the teacher, Mr. Banner. I wanted to bolt for the door when he'd first directed me to sit at a table near the back of the class next to this boy with a rusty shade of brownish hair, doodling on his notebook and not paying an ounce of attention to what was going on around him.
When I pulled my stool out to sit down, it scrapped loudly across the floor making a sound similar to that of a fork being raked across a chalk board causing everyone to stare at me. Feeling horrified by the unwanted attention I wanted to bolt from the room once again, but knowing I couldn't I forced myself to sit on the stool. In that same moment, Edward looked over at me. His lips were turned up into this smile that seemed to only form on one side of his mouth as he held out his hand and introduced himself to me. The second I took his hand and looked into his eyes I saw this amazing twinkle that to this day I still can't explain why or how, but it somehow eased all my fears, letting me know instantly that everything would be okay.
That day was the beginning of my and Edward's relationship. We'd started out as friends, even though we both had later admitted that we'd been attracted to one another from the start. But we had taken our time getting to know each other before we had taken that next step and became more.
Edward had been so sweet and caring as he helped me learn my way around the school and the town. He made me feel welcome and introduced me to his sister Alice and his best friend Jasper. It wasn't long before the four of us were practically inseparable.
The longer I knew him the more I saw just what a caring, unselfish, loving, and wonderful person he was and falling in love with him had been so easy. Easy as breathing.
The day he told me he wanted to join the Army came to the forefront of my thoughts as Alice and I continued to hold tightly on to one another. It had been just a few months before we were set to graduate from high school. I remembered how scared I'd been for him. I'd been terrified that he'd be sent into a war zone and I'd never see him again, that we'd never get to live out the future that we talked about so often. I'd even gotten mad at him for wanting to go off and put his life in danger while he left me behind without him.
He explained to me how serving his country had been something he'd dreamed of since he'd been a little boy and how he wanted to use his time in service to learn a skill to help people, to become an Army medic and save lives. He also told me that he wouldn't do it if it would cost him me. How nothing in this world was more important to him than me. And I won't lie and say I didn't think about begging him not to go, because I did. More than once actually.
However when his mother, who I had grown to love as much as I did my own mother, told me stories about how he would play with his little green plastic army men and trucks for hours and hours at a time when he was little and how he would tell her that was what he wanted to be when he grew up, I knew I couldn't take that dream away from him. I knew that if he loved me enough to give up that dream for me, that I loved him enough to let him have his dream.
And I did. Now four years later he was supposed to come home to me. To his family. We were supposed to begin living out our dreams. We'd put a down payment on a small, but nice apartment in Port Angeles and I had already moved in. He was going to begin working at the fire department there as a paramedic after our honeymoon and Alice and I had opened our full service Beauty Salon, The Magic Pixie, six months ago after we'd graduated from UDub. Our slogan was, you bring us your beauty wishes and we'll work our magic.
While we made all our decisions concerning the business, Alice was the creative force behind it. She knew everything we needed to know about hair, nails, and makeup, and I was the one with the business degree and would handle the bookwork and financial end of things. We had worked hard, busted our asses in school and with a little help from Edward and Alice's father, had secured the loans we needed to get us started in bringing our dream of owning a business together to life. But now…the thought of doing it all without Edward by my side…just didn't seem worth it.
"I just don't know if I can go on without him, Alice. All my hopes and dreams for my life all surrounded him. Without him I have nothing," I cried.
"I know how hard this is for you, Bella. He's my brother and I can't imagine never seeing him again either. And I know as much as it terrifies us all that he might not come home, that it's vastly different for you. But something else I also know is that my brother will move heaven and earth to get home to you. He'd walk through hell for you and I know you'd do the same for him. He's wanted to marry you for so long."
"I know. But I'm so scared. What if you're wrong? What if he can't?" I said as the tears poured from my eyes again and I buried my head against her shoulder.
I wanted with all my heart to believe that she was right. In my head I did and in my heart I did too, but there was also a part of my heart that was so scared and so afraid that I was about to lose the one thing, the one person that meant the most to me in this world. And right now that was the part that was winning, controlling all my thoughts.
"You have to believe that he can and will, Bella. You can't give up hope and that is partially why I came up here"
"Partially? What are you talking about, Ali?" I was confused by what she'd said. I didn't understand why else she would have come up here unless she had heard some news.
"Um…there's been some news," she whispered.
I pulled away from her so I could see her face as I searched it for any clue as to what she was going to tell me.
"The latest reports say there were some survivors, but they haven't been identified yet. It also said the media may not be allowed to release their names at all but at the very least won't get to until the families have been notified first."
"Do…do you think Edward could be one of them?" I asked her desperate for some hope that Edward would return to me.
"I don't know. But what I do know is that he wouldn't want you sitting here crying and being afraid. He'd never want you to give up hope. He'd want you to go to that church with the confidence that he will be there to marry you like he is supposed to."
I nodded knowing she was right.
"I know that's what he'd want. I'm just so scared. I don't know if I could survive it if he's not."
My heart started beating faster at just the thought of it and I had to take several long pulls of air to keep from going into a full-fledged panic attack.
"So what do you say, soon-to-be-sister? Are you going to sit here and cry or are you going to get your ass to the church and be ready to marry my brother?"
I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of Edward's sweatshirt I'd stolen from him when he'd been home at Christmas. It was grey with the word 'Army' stamped on the front in big bold black letters.
"I don't know if I can," I mumbled lowly. I was still trying to keep myself from completely losing it. Fighting to hold on to just an ounce of hope.
"I know this is so incredibly hard, Sweetie. But what do you think Edward would do if he showed up at the church and you weren't there? We have all of his stuff ready to go to the church and Jasper and Emmett are at the airport still, waiting to rush him right to the church if he gets in. They will stay there as long as it takes or until we get some kind of concrete word from the Army."
Alice removed her arms from around me and she placed them on my cheeks, one on each side forcing me to look straight at her.
"Do you love my brother, Bella? Do you want to be his wife?"
"You…you know I do. How could you even doubt that?" I replied narrowing my eyes at her, trying not to get mad that she could even think to ask me such a thing.
"Then you have to pull yourself together and be there ready and waiting for him. Go to that church and be there, even if you have to stand waiting at the alter for him. Show him that you never doubted he'd come home to you. Show him you never gave up on those dreams that the two of you are supposed to share."
I let her words sink in for a few minutes. The more I thought about them, the more I knew she was right. If I didn't go to the church today, what kind of message would I be sending to Edward? I had to go there and be ready to marry him just like I'd dreamed of for almost as long as I'd known him.
"Okay," I whispered.
"Okay?" she asked.
"Yes. You are right. I have to show him I have faith in him. In us."
"Then, let's go," she said, standing and holding her hand out to me.
There hadn't been any new news since we'd arrived at the church. I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself all dressed in white, clutching the box that had tucked inside of it every letter Edward had ever written me over the past four years. I opened the box and pulled out the one on top. It was the last one I had received from him, just a little less than a week ago. My eyes immediately went to the end of the letter and what he'd written there.
Just six more days, my love. We've waited so long to begin our lives together and I know it's not been easy on you to wait for me. But the wait is almost over and in just six more days I will be there holding you in my arms and pledging myself to you for the rest of my life. Well legally that is, because you have to know I gave you my heart to hold for forever a long time ago back in that biology room. Take care of my heart, Bella, I've left it with you. See you next week. All my love now and forever, Edward.
Swiping at the tears that came with reading his words of love, I set the box on the vanity, I took a deep breath and slowly made my way across the room and out the door, while praying I would see him waiting for me at the front of the church.
My father was standing at the end of the long row of church pews, waiting to escort me down the aisle. I gripped my bouquet tightly in one hand and gripped his arm with the other.
The church was huge and as I walked down the white lined row between the pews, I could see a man in a military dress uniform standing with his back to me. Because of his hat and the short length all men in the military were required to keep their hair, I couldn't tell if it was Edward or not, but I began to hope that he had indeed made it home to me.
I suddenly couldn't wait any longer to know so I let go of my father's arm and began to run towards the front of the church as fast as I could in the heels Ali had forced me into.
"Edward," I called as I got closer, but the man never turned around. "Edward," I screamed louder, needing to see his face, to know it was really him.
This time the man did turn to face me and what I saw sucked all the air out of my lungs. I couldn't breathe and it felt as though my heart had stopped beating. All of the emotions I'd tried to hold at bay over the course of the day hit me all at once causing my head to spin and everything around me to blur.
All the fear. All the pain. All the horrible images that I had been forcing to stay out of the forefront of my mind, all came surging at me at once, and my entire body felt like it was made of lead as I saw that it wasn't Edward. It was the same man who had visited the Cullen's home this morning, standing at the front of the church holding what appeared to be a folded American Flag in his hands with a solemn expression on his face. My head grew foggier and I felt myself collapsing into a heap on the floor.
Sounding as if it were coming through a tunnel far away, I heard the preacher speak, "Let us bow our heads and pray."
Gasping for air, I tried to hold on as my heart felt as though it was literally cracking in two. I could feel someone's hands on me calling to me softly as I cried and called out, "No, why'd you have to leave me, why'd you have to go? You promised me forever," until everything went black.
"Bella…Bella…Bella" I heard again, coming from a faint voice. "Sweetheart, please wakeup."
I thought surely I must have been dreaming as I was certain it was Edward's voice I was hearing and I knew that just couldn't be true. He was gone. Gone forever and I'd never hear that velvety voice of his again.
"No, no, no, Edward, come back to me. It can't be true," I mumbled, shaking my head back and forth.
"Bella, love." This time the voice was a little louder and I felt as if I was being jostled around slightly and then pulled into someone's arms.
It was then I was certain I had to be dreaming. When I felt that unmistakable buzz of energy that coursed through my veins every time Edward touched me, there just couldn't be any other explanation. And if in my dreams was the only place I was ever going to see his face, those grassy green eyes, or feel that buzz of energy that only he could stir inside of me and feel his arms around me, then in my dreams is where I wanted to stay.
"Go away," I mumbled. "I don't want to wake up. He will still be gone if I do." I squeezed my eyes shut tighter in hopes that I'd fall into a deeper sleep and soon the feelings I was having would be accompanied by images of the man I loved more than anything in the world.
"Oh, Bella." I heard in Edward's voice again followed by a soft chuckle. I also could have sworn I felt his arms tighten around me. "You never were one who liked to wake up. But I can promise you this time if you do, it will be so much better than any dream you could ever possibly have. Can you do that for me, love? Can you open those beautiful brown eyes that I love and let me see them?"
"I'm scared to," I whispered as I choked back a sob. I was trying to reason within myself that if I was dreaming all of this and I opened my eyes Edward would be there. But then I also knew that if I was dreaming and I really woke up, then I would have to deal with the harsh reality that Edward was never coming home to me again.
"Why are you scared? Is it because of the dream you've been having."
Dream? I was becoming more confused by the second. My mind was becoming more alert and what "dream" Edward was saying was not making sense. Why would I be scared of my dream? In my dream Edward was alive and here holding me talking to me, asking me to wake—
"What do you mean?" I asked for some kind of clarification, because besides my mind becoming more alert, my body was too, and I was beginning to become convinced that I was actually being held within Edward's arms and it just didn't make sense. Maybe I was losing my mind. Maybe my grief was messing with me so completely that I was hallucinating and hearing things now too.
"What I mean, my love, is that I've been lying here next to you for about an hour now and you've been thrashing in your sleep and crying out my name. So I can only assume that you've been having a horrible dream. And given what you've seen on the TV I can certainly understand why you would.
"But I am here, Bella. I am home, sitting here with you in my arms in my bed, in my parents' home, and we are going to be married tomorrow."
"What…how…" I gasped as my eyes flew open. "Oh my god," I sobbed, wrapping my arms around him. "Please tell me this is real. And if it's not I don't ever want to wake up."
"Oh, Bella, it's very real. I promise," he said holding on to me so hard it was almost painful. But I didn't care and if there were any lingering doubts, the second his lips touched mine I knew there was no way this was a dream, because as fantastic as kissing Edward was in my dreams, there was nothing that compared to the real thing.
"But how?" I asked, pulling back briefly so I could get the words out. "The TV said…" I paused pressing my lips back to his, "and the man was here…"
His body shook as he chuckled while trying to continue kissing me at the same time.
"Don't you laugh at me, Edward Anthony Cullen, I've been terrified," I scolded him, before going back to kissing him.
"Sweetheart," he managed to get out. "I can't talk and kiss you at the same time."
It felt so amazing to be kissing him and feeling him in my arms and his around me. He hadn't been home for nearly a year and that combined with the fear that he'd never be coming home made it hard to stop and because I was so caught up in the fact that he was really here, it took a few seconds for what he'd said to register in my brain.
"Oh. Sorry," I murmured when it hit me.
I began raking over every inch of him with my eyes and hands. I was running my fingers through his hair, my hand across the light stubble that was beginning to form along his jaw, and down along his chest where I fisted my fingers into his jacket as tightly as I could in order to hold on to him.
"It's okay," he said softly. He shifted us around so he could lean against the headboard of his bed. Pressing a soft kiss to my forehead, he began to fill me in. "The short of it is, I wasn't on the plane that was taken down. Remember how I told you last time we talked a few weeks ago that most all of my troop was reenlisting?"
"Yes, but I still don't understand," I told him, linking our fingers together.
"That's…" His breath hitched in his chest and I felt him swallow roughly as he tried to control his emotions. "It was them on the plane. Me and…" His voice quivered as he spoke. "Me and the six other guys who were not reenlisting were sent to Fort Brag three days ago to go through our final medical exams and processing since we were not returning to duty in a few weeks like the rest of the troop would be. We had to undergo the medical and psychological exams required, along with filling out our final paperwork in order to get it all submitted so we could be processed out as active soldiers and become reclassified as inactive."
Maybe I should have been thinking about the grief all those other families were suffering and about the pain Edward himself must be feeling over the loss of so many men that he knew. Men who had been by his side for most of the last four years. But in this moment, I was so overwhelmed with relief and so grateful he hadn't been on that plane, that right now more than anything, the only thing that mattered the most to me was that he was here, home and safe. Alive.
"Why didn't you call me?" I asked him. It may have seemed a bit selfish but it occurred to me that not only me, but his parents and brother and sister could have been spared all the pain and sorrow we'd been feeling since we'd heard about the plane going down. "You were here in the states and you didn't let me know? Let your parents know? And how did the Army not know you weren't on that plane?" I couldn't help feeling a little frustrated right then that the Army hadn't known that when they sent their representative here to inform us that they believed Edward had been on that plane.
"I couldn't, love. They took all of our personal items and had us in a holdover bay until everything was thoroughly checked over to make sure we weren't smuggling anything into the country and to make sure we weren't spies of any sort."
"My God you just served your country for four years and they actually believe you could be a spy?" I exclaimed in disbelief.
"They have to, Bella. Unfortunately with the kind of world we live in today, every precaution must be taken to protect our country and the rights and freedoms we are allowed here."
"I guess I can understand that," I conceded even though I still didn't like that he had been back in the states for three days, unable to contact me or anyone in his family. "How was it they didn't know you weren't on the plane? I just can't help but think of all the grief and heartache we could have been spared if we'd known."
"I know, baby, I know. My guess is they only had a list of the entire troop and not the plane manifest, which would have shown exactly who was on the plane. I imagine they are gathering all of that information now. And when I was finally released my cell phone battery was dead and I didn't have time to charge it before I was on a flight and on my way home to you. They were literally rushing us from the holdover bay to the airport and we were on a flight faster than I had ever seen. And once I was on that flight all I could think about was getting here to you."
What he said made sense.
"Do you know anything more about the plane going down?" I asked him, thinking of all the families that wouldn't be getting the happy ending that I was.
"No. Everything is being kept very hush, hush until they are certain of all the facts. But I am sure when they are certain they will let us know."
I nodded, knowing he was probably right.
"Um, I'm..." it was hard to think about all those men who'd lost their lives let alone talk about it. "I'm so sorry that all of those men who you knew were lost. Knowing how I felt when I thought I'd lost you, my heart breaks for their families and I know it must be incredibly hard for you too."
"It is," he murmured so softly I barely heard him.
I wrapped my arms around Edward's neck and hugged him as hard as I could. I had heard stories about some of the men in his platoon and I knew Edward would miss them dearly. It was one of the things I loved about Edward. When he cared about you, you knew it. He had a big heart that was so full of love he was ready to give to those he cared about.
"You know I'm here for you to help you through this however you need me to be, right?"
"I know, baby. I just need some time," he said placing a soft sweet kiss on my lips.
"Okay, whenever you're ready to talk or whatever, just let me know. I love you," I told him. I knew he knew that I loved him, but I sensed that now more than ever he needed to hear it as well.
"I love you too, Bella. I'm sure in time I will be ready. But not now. Right now what I want to focus on is you and me and you becoming Mrs. Edward Cullen. How's that sound to you?"
"Sounds perfect to me," I said and for the first time since we'd received that horrible news, I was able to smile, knowing Edward and I were going to have the chance to make all the dreams we had come true.
He began kissing me and was rolling us over on the bed when his sister began pounding on the door and hollering that we had better be decent because she was coming in.
"I see some things never change," Edward said through his chuckles as Alice flung the door open and bounced herself down on the bed next to us.
"What?" she asked in mock ignorance. "If I didn't come in, the two of you would be bumping like bunnies and miss your own wedding rehearsal," the over energized brunette claimed. "Don't even try to deny it," said as I started to open my mouth and do just that. "You both know I'm right."
"Yes," I snickered. "Because the all-knowing Alice Cullen Whitlock is always right."
"I most certainly am," she declared proudly. "Now off this bed, we need to head to the church."
"Is everything already set up for tomorrow?" Edward asked, causing Alice and me to both look at him and wonder why he was asking. I could practically see the gears in his head spinning with whatever plan he was hatching.
"Of course it is." Alice looked at him like he had three heads. She was the most prepared person we knew.
Over prepared was more like it.
"Good. There's not going to be a rehearsal."
Edward stood, pulling me with him and behind him as he proceeded to head down to the living room where the rest of both our family members were.
"Edward Anthony Cullen," Alice was growling behind us. "What the hell are you talking about?"
He stopped us in the middle of the living room. Every eye in the room was fixated on us. He cupped my face between his hands and then asked, "We've been waiting a long time for this day, haven't we?"
"No buts. All of our family is here. Everyone we love and that is important to us is here. I don't want to wait another second longer than I absolutely have to, to make you my wife. I'd marry you right here this instant if I could. But I think my life might really be cut short if I did," he said throwing a cocky grin at his sister when he said the last part.
"Are you saying you want to get married tonight?" Esme came up to her son and asked.
"Yes, Mother, that is exactly what I'm saying. We can still have the reception tomorrow like planned, but after everything that has happened today, I don't want to take any chances of anything standing in the way of me marrying this beautiful woman who I've known I'd one day marry from the moment I laid eyes on her."
He then turned his gaze back to me. His green eyes were blazing with love and determination. He then dropped down on one knee, mimicking the exact position he'd been in the day he'd proposed to me. "What do you say? Isabella Marie Swan, will you marry me? Tonight?"
With tears streaming down my face, I leaned down and kissed him before releasing a resounding, "Yes!"
"Well hot damn," Emmett exclaimed and then let loose a loud whistle.
Edward rose to his feet, picking me up as he did and spinning me around in his excitement.
"Put me down," I whispered when I saw Alice was crying too.
"Ali, you okay? I know you planned a perfect wedding for us and all, but—"
"But nothing," she said shaking her head. "That was the most beautiful, romantic thing I've ever seen. I am so happy for the both of you."
We hugged each other tightly and it was only a second or two into the hug when I felt Edward's arms wrapping around us both. "I love you both so much." He kissed us both on the head and then said, "Now let's get this show on the road. I've got a wife to claim."
"If I could have everyone's attention, please," Emmett's booming voice rumbled through the reception hall while Edward and I stood in the center of the dance floor waiting for him to announce us. "If you will turn your attention to the dance floor you will see the bride and groom are about to partake in their first dance as husband and wife. However before they do, I'd like to say a few words if you all don't mind."
"We do!" Jasper called out from the other end of the table. The room erupted in laughter.
"Tough shit then," Emmett replied.
Edward buried his head against my neck chuckling at his brother's antics. "He better hope Mom didn't hear that," he whispered. His lips brushed against the bare skin of my neck as they moved with his words and sent a tingle of energy right down my spine.
"Emmett Alexander Cullen," Esme snapped, chastising her oldest as she reached over to pinch his side.
"Ow, Mom. I just want to say something nice about my brother, is that so wrong?" Emmett whined.
"Be respectful," she scolded before taking a sip from her champagne glass and winking at all of our guests.
"We've already heard from the other best man and both the maids of honor, so now it's my turn to have my say about my baby brother and one of my best friends.
"Edward may have been a bit indecisive about some things in his life, like which branch of the military to serve in or not being able to pick a best man and having two instead, but the one thing he never hesitated on was who to give his heart to." Emmett paused for a second, setting down his glass and taking a long swig out of the bottle of water sitting in front of him on the table.
Picking his glass of champagne back up, he went on. "It was clear to everyone around Edward and Bella, even if they didn't know it yet themselves, that they had fallen head over heels in love instantly."
"I knew it," Edward whispered in my ear as his arms tightened around my waist and his fingers toyed with the wedding band that was now where it would be for the rest of my life.
"So it's no surprise to us that these two have finally tied the knot," Emmett continued. "As all of us also know, my brother just returned home from serving this great country we live in for four years. And yesterday morning when we all thought there was chance that we'd lost him, I realized that I had never told him how proud I was of him. So, Edward, bro, I want you to know that I am incredibly proud of the man you are, of the service you gave, the risks you took to protect our freedoms and more than anything I'm proud that you are my brother. I just wanted to make sure you knew that.
"Here's to Edward and Bella. May they have a long happy life together and may they get busy on making our parents some grandkids so the pressure is off of me and my Rosie."
Everyone raised their glasses and toasted to Edward and my happiness. Edward spun me around, dipped me backwards and laid a toe curling kiss on me.
"He didn't mean to start here," Jasper hollered at us causing us to pull apart.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, as they share their first dance as husband and wife, Edward and Isabella Cullen," Emmett declared as the music started to play.
"I love you, Mrs. Cullen," Edward said as he looked into my eyes and I saw his were nearly as full of unshed tears as mine were.
"I love you too, Mr. Cullen."
"Forever, Bella. I never have to leave you again."
"Forever," I returned knowing he was right as I held him closer to me while he spun me across the floor.
Each time he'd come home on leave only to go away again, he'd taken another piece of my heart with him. But this time when he'd come home, he'd brought my heart back to me carrying it safely inside his. This time there'd be no more goodbyes.
I'd dreamt of this day many times, but today it wasn't just a dream. Today this was real and this time he was home for good.
Hope you enjoyed this little love story.
For all my wonderful readers of Somewhere I Belong, look for the next chapter to post very soon. Also watch out for My-Bella's one shot from the fundraiser, Mr. Unconventional, which will be posting very soon as well. Put her on author alert so you don't miss out.
Thanks for reading and as always, let me know what ya think.