8 simple rules for dating my teenage daughter bloopers from twilight

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8 simple rules for dating my teenage daughter bloopers from twilight

Jan 10, EVENING a a © Jag Q 0 ffi 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (N) (S) fflD CD UPN's Funky Flubs Outtakes from “The Parkers," “One on One,” “Girlfriends,” “Enterprise,” “The Twilight Zone” and other UPN shows. (N) (S) ffl 09 That 70s Show Red acts like a child after Kitty tells him she's. Twilight Zone, The: "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" 8 Simple Rules. .. for Dating My Teenage Daughter · 80's Woman, The · 9 to 5 · 90 Bristol Court. Bunny says Charley must be living in the Twilight Zone, with regard to his old fashioned music recommendations. Blooper of Rod Serling flubbing an introduction The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything () (TV Movie) Rock & Rule () . Quantum Leap: The Color of Truth - August 8, () (TV Episode).

Then he killed Berny Bernston, my friend. He probably even killed Animal Mother, the meanest, hardest Marine I ever knew.

Every night the Phantom Blooper comes into our wire and talks to one grunt. There are no philosophers in a foxhole. Any dumb grunt who starts to think too much becomes dangerous, both to himself and to his unit. For months we have been shelled, shelled every day, shelled by the numbers, sometimes as many as fifteen hundred incoming round per day.

Rusting shrapnel lies scattered across this wire-strapped plateau like pebbles on the beach. The rinky-dinks beat on us with their hard enemy metal and we give the finger to the big guns in Laos and we say: We are blowing up our bunkers. We are tearing up our wire. Last week a secret rough rider truck convoy rolled out of Khe Sanh carrying a garrison of five thousand men eleven miles east to Landing Zone Stud, leaving behind only a few hundred Marine riflemen from Delta, Charlie, and India companies as security for the Eleventh Engineers Battalion and their heavy earth-moving equipment.

In two days the flying cranes will carry off the last piece of expensive American machinery and the last of the Marine grunts at Khe Sanh will sky out on gunships. And back in the World, no one will ever know about our self-inflicted Dien Bien Phu. Cold and wet, holding my M machine gun in my lap, I wait. At zero-three-hundred, prime time for a ground attack and our peak killing hour, the Kid From Brooklyn, our radioman, hops over the sandbagged trenchline along the perimeter and slides down into the wire while heavy monsoon rain slants down, battering him in translucent sheets.

Down in the kill zone, the Kid From Brooklyn dittybops through budding gardens of metal planted thick with deadly antipersonnel mines. Stepping cautiously through Claymores, [8] trip flares, and tanglefoot, the Kid From Brooklyn quietly and efficiently robs dead men of their postage stamps. Communist grunts hang in our wire all the time, little yellow mummies who have paid the price, enemy military personnel who got caught in the wire and gunned down, their moldy mustard-colored khaki shirts and shorts splotched with brown, their nostrils clogged with dried blood, bugs crawling on their teeth.

Enemy sappers crawl into our wire every night. Your basic operational model gook will take six hours to crawl six yards. Sappers cut attack lanes in the wire, tape the wire back, then smear the tape with mud. They turn our Claymores around. Sometimes a gung ho sapper will get close enough to heave a fourteen-pound satchel charge into a perimeter bunker.

Then we demonstrate leatherneck hospitality by grenading them and shooting them to death. Incoming patrols sometimes bring in confirmed kills and throw them into the wire as war trophies.

The North Vietnamese Army likes to probe us with ground attacks. They drag their wounded off to tunnel hospitals. They bury their dead in shallow graves in mangrove swamps. Wasted gooks unlucky enough to get left behind hang in the triple strand concertina wire until maggots hollow them out from the inside and they fall apart.

Rotting corpses can get to smelling pretty bad sometimes.

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Nobody likes to police up dead gooks. You grab confirmed kills by the ankles or by the wrists and their arms and legs come off in your hands like sticks. Besides, we enjoy throwing dead gooks into the wire. A dead gook hanging in our wire in less than mint condition is a handy audio-visual aid to keep our enemies honest. We want everybody we do business with to know who we are and what we stand for and take seriously. He took the bullet train to Kyoto, scarfed up beaucoup sake and Japanese bennies, and took long hot baths with slant-eyed naked jailbait.

Now the Kid From Brooklyn is a dedicated stamp collector. Enemy postage stamps depict exciting scenes of war and politics. North Vietnamese troops shake hands with smiling Viet Cong under a Communist red star and wreath. Columns of ragged and forlorn American prisoners of war are marched off to Hanoi prison camps.

A helicopter gunship with an over-sized U. An old papa-san walks along a paddy dike, a hoe in one hand and a rifle in the other.

8 simple rules for dating my teenage daughter bloopers from twilight

I watch the Kid From Brooklyn, hunched over a suspended carcass, indulging himself in his grubby hobby. I know that it is my job to climb down there and drag his section eight ass back behind the wire where it belongs. I need him as bait. He bends down to another shredded lump of shadow and frisks it for diaries, wallets, piasters, love letters, and crumbling black-and-white photographs of gook girlfriends.

Everything that looks like it might have postage stamps in it gets stuffed into one of the cargo pockets on the front of his baggy green trouser legs. In the monsoon rain the Kid is a black silhouette. His poncho is outlined by silver blips. He is a perfect target. Marines are not elite amphibious shock troops anymore.

We have been demoted to expendable seafood. The handset has been taped up inside a clear plastic bag. I want illumination, ladies. I want illumination and I want it immediately fucking now. An endless convoy of trucks has been hauling off live howitzer shells, wooden pallets stacked high with cases of C-rations, mountains of plywood and building beams, and tons of sheets of perforated steel planking torn up from the airfield.

First Platoon is cutting a few well-earned zulus. Time to wake them up. Time to wake the whole base up. But my night vision is not what it used to be. No sound but the rain. One word from me and the Phantom Blooper will be in the bottom of red-mud swimming pool shitting Pittsburgh steel. If a frog farts I will bury that frog under a black iron mountain of American bombs.

And even if this dirty zero-zero weather keeps the big birds grounded I can always get arty in. One magic set of two-word six-number map coordinates spoken into [11] my radio handset and the cannon cockers get wired and in forty seconds I can crank up more firepower than a Panzer division. Somewhere in the rear a mortar tube fumps. My finger squeezes up all the slack on the trigger. I take a deep breath.

Five hundred yards downrange and moon high, a mute pock. Light, vast, harsh, and white, spills out across the black sky, melts, then floats down with the rain. An illumination flare sways under a little white parachute, squeaking and dripping sparks that hiss and pop. I hold my breath and freeze. Now is not the time to make a wrong move.

The Phantom Blooper is just waiting for me to do something stupid like a New Guy. Down in the wire, the Kid From Brooklyn stops and looks up at the light. Near Sorry Charlie, our pet skull, the Kid hunkers down, pounded by cold gusts of wind and monsoon rain.

The Kid turns outboard and slowly unslings his rifle. Behind his rain-fogged glasses his eyes are big in his face.

One arm converted to pulp. Legs bent too far and in the wrong directions. Ribs curving up incredibly white from inside a glistening black cavity which, as though on fire, is steaming.

Night falls on my position. A shadow walks across my field of fire. The Phantom Blooper knows where I am now. He knows where I live. Out there beyond the wire in that deep black jungle the Phantom Blooper can hear the sounding of the gong that is the beating of my heart.

Hunkered down, I hold my breath, afraid to fire. No doubt the Beaver is sitting on his rack, drinking cold beer, and watching Leave It To Beaver reruns on his battery-powered, Thai-subtitled Japanese television. The time on deck is oh-dark-thirty. Time to walk lines. I have walked lines hundreds of times at Khe Sanh. Tonight everything is new and strange. I feel like a blind man after some sadist has moved all the furniture.

The bulldozers of the Eleventh Engineers have definitely wasted my area. Even the bunkers are not where they are supposed to be. My hometown has been taken away, stacked, burned, or evacuated. The Marine Corps moves in mysterious ways. Every twenty meters I stoop down and tug at the barbed wire with det cord crimps to see if the wire has been cut.

The tugging scares up bunker rats big enough to stand flat-footed and butt-fuck a six-by. I scan the tanglefoot to see if it looks tight enough to hold the weight of falling dead men. I check [13] the position of each Claymore mine. We paint the backs of our Claymores white so we can count them in the dark and see that they are still facing outboard. I keep one eye on the darkness out beyond the wire. While fireteams of highly motivated mosquitoes try to scarf me up as their midnight chow I wait for the shadows beyond the wire to turn into people.

At night we enter that world where all men are phantoms. There are things out there in the dark, things that move. Maybe a torn and decaying sandbag being blown around by the wind. Or a stray water buffalo. Or a patch of night thrown down by a cloud passing in front of the moon. Or maybe those black dots shimmering out there at five hundred yards are cold and hungry Viet Cong troopers silently colliding and massing for a ground attack.

Or maybe the Blooper. The Phantom Blooper could be out there, sighting me in. Tomorrow we blow the wire. Growling green bulldozers will plow down the last of our bunkers and Khe Sanh Combat Base won't be here anymore. The Marine Corps won't be here anymore. Until then, the hills are full of gooks and Khe Sanh is their hobby. Enemy recon teams eyeball us from the ridgelines, probing for any sign of slack.

They still want this fog-cursed place. Life in the V-ring: Inside the only guard bunker still standing in our area, our New Guy is busy choking his lizard. The New Guy's teenaged horny brain has left Khe Sanh and has gone back to the World and has wrapped itself up inside Suzie Rottencrotch's pretty pink panties. He groans, abusing government property, polishing his bayonet, just a little early-morning organ practice to cut the edge off the cold; the Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand.

What is the sound of one hand clapping? I hop down into the bunker. A field radio buzzes. I pick up the handset while the New Guy fumbles frantically with the buttons on his fly. Some fucking pogue lifer standing radio watch in the Sandbag City command post demands a sit-rep, then yawns out loud. Situation normal, all fucked up. He says he's a Jap. Roger that," and I put down the handset.

The New Guy is waiting for me, standing almost at attention. Since the Phantom Blooper started wasting the white grunts with the most T. The replacement pipeline pulls cherries out of high school and ships them to Khe Sanh. Half of my people are salty black grunts, but Black John Wayne has ordered the bloods to stand down and to stand by for mutiny.

The Grim Reaper, Major Travis, chooses to pretend the mutiny does not exist. Meanwhile, New Guys have to be watched. Along about midnight, when the Phantom Blooper walks and talks, New Guys wet their pants.

Nobody wants to die alone and in the dark. I try to scare the living shit out of New Guys. The wrong kind of fear can kill you but the right kind of fear can keep you alive. New Guys do not see with the hard eyes of grunts. Not all grunts see those black facts that are as hard as diamonds, only the quick. The dead are kids who can't get wired to the program, and pay the price.

Here it's grow up now, grow up fast, grow up overnight, or you don't grow up at all. The usual ration of civilian bullshit is poison here. Bullets are real metal. Bullets don't give a damn that you were born stupid. Only in Viet Nam is hypocrisy fatal.

New Guys will bore you to death if you give them half a chance. They tell you scuttlebutt. They pop up with platitudes they've found on bubblegum cards, silly shit about the origins of the universe and the meaning of life.

They tell you where they went to boot camp, about thigh school athletic awards they've won, and they show you pictures of [15] teenaged girls they claim are their girlfriends.

They tell you what they think they've learned about themselves, God, and their country, and they tell you their opinions about Viet Nam. That's why New Guys are so dangerous. They're thinking all the time about how light refracts through water to create rainbows and why a seed grows and about how they used to cop a feel on Suzie Rottencrotch and so they don't see the trip wire.

When they get killed, they have so many things on their minds that they forget to stay alive. I shove him back. After a few cadence counts, when I trust myself, I do an about-face. Shut your skuzzy mouth, fat body, and listen up.

I am going to give you the straight skinny, because you are the biggest shitbird on the planet. Don't even play pocket pool when you're supposed to be pulling bunker guard in my area. You will police up your act and get squared away, most ricky-tick, or you are going to have your health record turned into a fuck story. In Viet Nam nice guys do not finish at all and monsters live forever.

You got to bring ass to get ass. A few weeks ago you were the hot-rod king of some hillbilly high school, stumbling around in front of all the girls and stepping on your dick, but be advised that Viet Nam will be the education you never got in school. You ain't even born yet, sweet pea. Your job is to stand around and stop the bullet that might hit someone of importance. Before the sun comes up, prive, you could be just one more tagged and bagged pile of nonviewable remains.

If you're lucky, you'll only get killed. I say, "We are teenaged Quasimodos for the bells of hell and we are as happy as pigs in shit because killing is our [16] business and business is good. The Commandant of the Marine Corps has ordered you to Khe Sanh to get yourself some trigger time and pick up a few sea stories.

The only virtue of the stupid is that they don't live long. The Lord giveth and the M taketh away. Welcome to the world of zero slack. I wait until the New Guy looks up, looks at me. He snaps to attention, a ramrod up his ass, his chin tucked in. I pick up a short black cardboard cylinder from the firing parapet. I tear off black adhesive tape from around the cardboard cylinder until it breaks open. An olive-drab egg drops into my hand, hard, heavy, and cold. There is tape around the spoon; I tear it off.

I say, "I know you've seen all of John Wayne's war movies. You probably think you are in Hollywood now and that this is your audition. In the last reel of this movie I'm supposed to turn out to be a sentimental slob with a heart of gold. But you're just another fucking New Guy and you're too dumb to do anything but draw fire.

You don't mean shit to me. You're just one more nameless regulation-issue goggle-eyed human fuckup. I've seen a lot of ol' boys come and go. It's my job to keep your candy ass serviceable. I'm the most squared-away buck private in this green machine lash-up, and I will do my job.

I jerk out the cotter pin. I put the pull ring into my pocket. The New Guy is staring at the grenade. He thinks now that maybe I'm a little dien cai dau--"crazy. His trembling fingers get a grip on the spoon. I let him breathe his bad [17] breathe into my face until I'm sure he's got control of the spoon, then I let go. The New Guys holds the grenade out at arm's length, as though that will help if it goes off. He can't take his eyes off of it.

I say, "Now, if you need gear, do not go to supply. They sell all of the good stuff on the black market. Supply will not issue you any gear, but they might sell you some. No, what you do is you wait until you hear an inbound medevac chopper or until somebody says that some dumb grunt has been hit by incoming. They you double-time over to Charlie Med.

Outside of Charlie Med there will be a pile of gear the corpsmen will have stripped off of the dying grunt. While the doctors cut the guy up, you steal his gear.

The second thing you need to know is this: You need to pee, you just tie it in a knot. And the last piece of skinny I've got for you, New Guy, is this: It might as well be you. I'm not training you to keep you from getting killed. I'm training you so you don't get me killed. I say to the New Guy, "I will inspect this position again in two hours, you gutless little pissant. You will not even fall asleep. When I give you the word you will return my personal hand grenade in a serviceable condition.

You will not even allow my personal hand grenade to blow itself up and hurt itself. You will not even mess up my favorite bunker with horrible remains of your disgusting fat body. He's scared of me, scared of the frag, scared of everything and everybody on the planet. I say, "When the Phantom Blooper comes, do not work the Or call in for artillery support.

Pop frags all over the area if you want to, many, many of them. When you're standing lines you frag first and forget about asking the questions. Keep your shit wired tight at all times. But do not work the The tracers in the 60 will give away your position. Down in the wire a squad of Marines is coming in off a night ambush. Somebody pops a star cluster flare and five glowing green balls of beautiful fireworks swoosh up and sparkle down.

A bone-weary squad leader issues a military order: How long will it take me to forget your name? Most of the air is knocked out of him. I choke out what's left. I get right up into the New Guy's face. Are you going to cry? Go ahead--squirt me a few. You better sound off like you got a pair, sweetheart, or I will personally unscrew your head and shit in your shoulders!

His eyes are bulging out and he's crying. His eyes lock on me, the eyes of a rat in a trap. I stand by to make my hat most ricky-tick. The New Guy looks like he's just about ready to faint and drop the grenade. He shoves me back. He makes his free hand into a fist and hits me in the face. His eyes are turning to the dark side now; he sees himself in my face as though in a mirror. He hits me again, harder. We're relating now, we're communicating. The New Guy glares at me with pure uncut hatred in his puffy red eyes.

The New Guy shoves me back again, sneering at me now, daring me to stop him, inviting me to get in his way, meaning it, not afraid now, not caring what I might do, a little crazy [19] now, nothing to lose now, nothing standing between him and that one short step into the Beyond.

I can't keep the smile off my face, but I dot try to make it look like contempt. I do an abrupt about-face and dittybop down the catwalk. I dig the pull ring from the hand grenade out of my pocket. I flip the pull ring across the bunker to Private Owens, who actually catches it. He brings the hand grenade up to the tip of his nose and picks at the firing mechanism with a fingernail, then pokes around with the cotter pin on the pull ring, trying to reinsert it into the grenade.

When you're a New Guy, and the first shell falls, you're a man, but confused. When the second shell falls, you're still a man, although you're probably soiling your underwear.

By the time the third shell falls, fear, like a big black rat, has gnawed clean through your nerves. When the third shell falls, you, the New Guy, like a mindless, terrified rodent, are digging a hole to hide in.

You've got to keep New Guys alive until they realize that we're not going to win this war, which usually takes about a week. I've walked twenty meters away from the guard bunker when there's the hard thump of an explosion to my rear. For one second I think: But Private Owens has not blown himself up with personal hand grenade. Another shell booms in.

8 simple rules for dating my teenage daughter bloopers from twilight

Incoming means jagged steel screaming through the air, sizzling hot and invisible, hissing and smoking and searching for your face. An old deuce-and-a-half horn nailed to a dead tree bleats; too late. Somebody didn't get the word. Most days we get ten or twelve seconds' warning in which to cover our asses. I double-time in the mud, mumbling an obscene grunt bunker-prayer.

I'm just about read to bend over and kiss my ass goodbye when I stumble into a flagpole bearing a tattered American flag and a crudely stenciled sing: I dive in headfirst.

Someone says, "Hey, you fucking asshole, get your goddamn fucking elbows out of my fucking balls. The bunker stinks of sweat, piss, shit, rotting feet, wet canvas, vomit, beer, C-ration farts, mosquito repellent, and mildewed skivvies. But then since I became a night person I've had the body odor of a ghoul, so I can't complain. It's black in the bunker; you can't see your hand in front of your face. Cooing over Armed Forces Radio, the sweetest little blond wet dream this side of heaven: This is Chris Noel.

Welcome to a date with Chris. And it's one-two-three what are we fighting for? Don't ask me--I don't give a damn The next stop is Viet Nam [21] And it's five-six-seven open up the pearly gates Well, there ain't no use to wonder why Whoopee, we're all gonna die.

After the song ends someone turns down the radio and someone says, "We need us a jarhead song.


The Green Beanies have got their own song, and they ain't shit. What we need is a Marine song. A song for grunts. That could be the title! Outside, a hard rain falling, enemy shells, pounds each, heavier than the men who are firing them.

First, a long, long whistle, then the rush of air of a falling freight car, then boom. The deck shivers, and hot shrapnel sings its mean little song. Most of the shells just bang in and miss. They move the garbage around a little bit and scare everybody and then they turn into paper and somebody puts them into history books. Listening is a waste of time because you never near the shell that hits you; it just hits you and you're gone.

Anyway, we're thinking, it's a known fact that incoming artillery shells always kill somebody else. Every single time we've been shelled, the shells have killed somebody else. Not once have the shells killed us, not even one time. That's a proven scientific fact.

So we ignore the incoming, without forgetting that while our bunkers can take a hit from a gook mortar, a direct hit from one of those high-velocity mike-mike flying demolition balls will knock this bunker right off of the face of the earth. Even the dud shells go four feet into the ground. What's left of First Platoon's black street bloods hunker down in total darkness smoking Black Elephant marijuana and giggling like schoolgirls and telling sea stories.

I smoke my share of the dope and somebody else's share. The true story of the War for Southern Independence. So your Yankee auto [22] workers up in Motor City were all heads, right? And all of the good marijuana plantations were in the Deep South. In Atlanta, it was free. To the northern heads, this was incredible. A shell comes in squealing, squealing like a stuck pig, a fat iron Communist pig bred in Moscow to have a thirty-second hard-on for Americans.

But instead of boom there's only a silly whomp as the shell detonates in a mud hole. Concussion shakes the bunker. Sand falls from the ceiling of perforated steel planking, logs, and sandbags. Someone coughs, then chokes. I shake sand out of my hair and scrape damp sand from the back of my neck.

Someone pounds the choker on the back. The choker hawks up a loogie and spits it onto the back of my hand. He was a basketball hero and a celebrity rail-splitter who got--no, listen--who got himself elected President, now, he was elected President because his face--no, really, this is no shit--because his face--yes, his face--accidentally got engraved on all of the fucking pennies!

They tell me how full of shit I am and they threaten to pee. Shrapnel bites into oil drums, sandbags, and wood. John Wayne says, "Jefferson Davis got elected President of the Confederate States of America on a platform of a chicken in every pot and pot in every chicken.

Finally, someone says, "Okay, man, so what happened then? The Civil War soldiers all got hammered out of their minds together and then the war was over and everybody got laid. Someone says, "Hey, Joker, do your Charlie Chaplin! Do Charlie Chaplin in the dark! So tell us the rest of it, man. Black John Wayne says to someone, "Shoot me the handset, blood. He gives the grid coordinates and a sit-rep of all secure, grunts, and drops the handset. I say, "Pulling another hairy mission, J.

The house sat on a rise, and as such, the dark waters of the Sound spread out as far as the eye could see. The moon shone brightly on the choppy water, and as I watched the waves sparkle in the moonlight, I couldn't help but rest my cheek on her head, rubbing my face into her fragrant hair.

Aro had focused on criminal law, managing his legions of bloodthirsty sharks, and Caius had followed his heart to civil matters, enjoying the day to day drama of individuals fighting one another.

For me, the chaos of the demolished relationships and dregs of society was too taxing…the destruction of the bonds between individuals too great for me to stomach. Business law…the ebb and flow of corporate mechanisms and finances had always intrigued me, and as such, I'd flourished in the field. But no matter the number of billion dollar mergers I'd accomplished, I still accounted the acquisition of Isabella Swan as one of my finest moments.

I clearly remembered the day I'd been rushing to another meeting and literally bumped into her, scattering her manuscript and small box to the winds. I'd felt so badly about what I'd done, that I'd personally taken the time to chase down the flying pages. Isabella had laughed at me, saying that she had it all stored electronically, and had several copies for the individuals she was meeting with…holding up one of the USBs that had scattered to prove it. Instantly mortified at the clumsiness that had caused me to run into her…I'd been distracted talking to Didyme…and the fact that I'd probably ruined her presentation, I'd asked, "Who are you meeting with?

An electronic voice had sounded out the time and she'd skimmed the concrete in front of her to find the cane. Her smile had all but bewitched me when she stood.

Marcus Velathri…" she said it very properly, mocking my tone "…but I must hurry. I've been waiting on this appointment for months. This may be my big chance. Please excuse me," she indicated and after throwing me a friendly salute sailed toward the door of the building, barely sidestepping my driver and paralegal. I'd chuckled at her spirit and then moved quickly toward the car.

Determined to visit the publishing firm to find out the young beauty's name the next morning, I'd put it in my pocket intent on returning it. That was until I found Didyme reading it on her expensive laptop later that night. What had happened from there was like a well-oiled machine. The publishing house valued my representation, and all I'd done, at Didyme's insistence, was request that they read the copy. Isabella's first child's book had been published on a very small scale until Penny, at my sly suggestion, had gotten a hold of it.

Within a month of the recommendation, Random House had offered for Isabella and, after a hefty payout to the original company, had become her publisher. Aro had been as quickly enamored of Isabella as I was and the rest was history. Her soft ways and gentle heart made her a victim of much good-natured ribaldry in our boisterous group, but she was considered as much a Velathri as if she'd been born into the family. I knew though that my wife and sister-in-laws wanted to make it legal.

My thoughts were brought back to the present by the lure of the soft body I cradled. Speaking of… "Did you have any problems picking up Deme?

The Phantom Blooper

He and I had a good visit on the way here. I am so grateful he'll be returning back home. I don't rest comfortably knowing that he is so far away and by himself. Demetri was a grown man, but in Didyme's eyes, he was still her little boy. Having met many of the women that clamored after my son, I was little worried about him having problems finding company, but I did experience disquiet about him being alone. The thought that Isabella may be the solution to my son's loneliness was not one that just the females in the family held.

At least here I won't have to go bail them out of jail," I mentioned, and chuckled as she laughed, remembering the altercations the two had gotten into. Felix's size made him a target for anyone wanting to make a name for themselves. I grinned, having been wondering when she'd finally break and ask. It was hours later before I returned to the thoughts that had swirled within me before my wife distracted me.

In sleep, she cuddled further into my chest, our bare skin brushing against each other as I threw my arm around her waist drawing her closer.

A light rain pattered at the glass, beating out a delicate song. I wanted Isabella and Demetri's happiness more than anything, and if there was any chance it was together, I would move Heaven and Earth to solidify that bond.

But somehow, I sensed that her relationship with Carlisle's son would have to be mended before she could determine whether or not her future actually included him. Fate only knew just who the dark headed temptress would choose, but I swore that no matter what, we'd be there to support her.

Demetri had been my friend since college, and if there was one man to whom I would trust my life, he was it. Isabella had been my friend and the object of my pursuit for many years. Although, the relationship I coveted had never come to fruition, my feelings for her would not, could not die. It would seem that we were not to be, but it did not diminish the protective, nurturing feelings I had toward her.

She would always hold a special place in my heart…while not the lover I'd hoped…perhaps more of a sister, which meant I would defend her with my life. I grinned seeing her taking Demetri to task. If there was one I worried coming out of their "proposal" devastated, it was Demetri. I chuckled thinking back to his hesitant and choppy explanation. Jane looked to where her cousin flirted with Isabella and grinned in a pleased manner.

Perhaps he'll be the one to tame her," she proposed. He has been through much worse. Demetri had given his heart away only once…to be played.

In this, Demetri and Isabella were finely matched. Demetri's love had died at the hands of the man she'd left him for…Isabella's love had died at his own. I'd done my research on Anthony Cullen after realizing that he was the one to break her heart, to sire the beautiful child that charmed everyone.

I was but a small player in the world of intrigue that surrounded the Velathris, but I knew that Aro would destroy him if he threatened Isabella's and Carlie's peace again. But, it didn't mean that Aro had to be the only one watching over them. I was confused by the dichotomy I uncovered about him…the public persona did not fit the man that I'd discovered. One of the toughest ER nurses I'd ever encountered, one I respected immensely, had been an unexpected champion of Anthony, speaking of his unfailing generosity and patience.

Asitis,heseemstogrowsaddereachday," she'd snarled out at my questions. She'd chased me down across the ER to obtain my signature on an X-ray order. Knowing that she'd worked in one of their hospitals, I'd taken the chance to ask if she'd ever met him and her opinion. I didn't want to accept anything positive about him…believing it didn't matter if he was the freaking Pope in my opinion, it only mattered how he'd treated her…which was badly.

Turning my thoughts back to the beauty by my side, a woman who intrigued me as very few had, I smiled alluringly down at her. How much trouble are you going to give me before you finally put me out of my misery and agree to a date? I'm beginning to develop an inferiority complex with all the women that have been turning me down lately. Then she took the time to leisurely run her eyes down to my feet and then slowly up me.

It was probably one of the most erotic things I'd ever experienced and there was no doubt when she reached certain areas just how much I appreciated her perusal.

It was my turn to raise my eyebrow in a challenging manner. You're mine…" I knew, as I said the words, that nothing had ever been truer. She was extremely bright, shockingly so, really. She was also a wolf in sheep's clothing, hiding behind her beautiful face and shy smiles while she was assessing us as much as I was assessing her. Emmett had already won her over…but she was being cautious with me. Smart girl…she had good instincts.

She'd intuitively trusted Edward earlier in the day, seeking him out, and resting by him even when she had all the evidence to the contrary. Even I couldn't quite fully accredit the stories of my brother-in-law and what he'd done in a rebellious, stupid juvenile act…how he'd run from all Carlisle and Esme had instilled in him. It was difficult for me to equate what I knew of him, with what I'd learned about from back then.

Edward Cullen wasn't a saint, but what he was was a good man. Sure he had hang ups, but I wasn't as hard on Edward about the women, because, well hell, I certainly didn't want my past being brought into the light. He'd given up the drugs and limited alcohol to social levels, but, Edward still intentionally lived his sins out in the public, beating himself up and inviting criticism.

Where Emmett wanted to strangle him for the women, I wanted to throttle him for the public flagellation. In my opinion, now that he had access to Bella, he needed to stop what he'd "deemed" appropriate for his sins and start groveling where it was more proper…to her. But while he was choosing to battle his demons in public, I'd kept mine very private. Colonel Breedlove had been my trial by fire…a General now, he was something to behold, all smiles with steel beneath them.

He'd taken a scraggly boy from Texas and made me into a man, but it'd been hell while he did it. What you do on yours is yours…unless it causes the Air Force embarrassment. Keep it covered and don't drive drunk. But, it had definitely saved my life when my fellow cadets had risked it. Their fresh faced pictures were all that were left to remind others of the wisdom of our elders. I mentally snorted about calling the General an elder.

He could probably still kick my butt into the dirt and calmly drink a beer afterward. The control he'd instilled in me had saved me in many ways. As I heard Jas giggle, my heart warmed, and I saw Carlie pull her to her hip and point upwards, showing her the Big Dipper. Back to the wolf in sheep's clothing… I'd been extremely pleased when she'd decided to come and even more so when she'd come without Edward, wanting to observe her without his interference. That was an unfair statement.

He wouldn't interfere really, just that his presence would be a mitigating factor. If there was one thing I'd learned from the specialized training I'd received…it was to eliminate as many mitigating factors as possible when you were observing your adversary for the first time.

Then after your initial assessment, you could watch how the environment around them caused the milieu to change or warp and how they adapted to it. For now, Carlie could be perceived as my enemy because of what she could do to Alice. My wife was no angel, having deep scars of her own, but if I knew the true merit of anyone's heart, it was her's. The memory of pushing Bella haunted her, but the memory of not helping her when she fell, tortured Alice.

It had long before Alice knew of Carlie, knew of what had rested within her best friend. It would be easy to judge Alice, but few had survived the horror of being savagely taken, sliced open alive, or having endured the torture that caused her to scream out in her nightmares. Few had to face those fears every two years as their tormentor repeatedly applied for parole, not for the purpose of actually acquiring such, but solely so that he could taunt the two individuals that he'd destroyed…it was Alice and Edward against the maniacal beast.

If there was any injustice in this world, it was that he was allowed to stay in the room as they recounted over and over how what he'd done had colored their existence…how it had destroyed them. My blood had literally run cold the first time I attended with them, when Emmett played the tape and I heard the sobbing voice of my brother-in-law as he begged the operator to hurry and send the ambulance, begged my wife to hang on, and begged God to save her.