Authors: Christin Lovell
My heart raced, my head pounded and my hands shook as I read his letter. The closer I got to the end, the more my heart ached and my stomach hurt. I was going to lose it all. A blanket of darkness, a surreal sensation, washed over me, compressing my chest.
April 16, 2013
My tour is coming to an end in two months. My contract is ending at the same time. I’ve decided not to re-enlist. I’m ready to start a new journey. I’m ready to do all those things we talked about, which is why I’m flying straight to Savannah when I leave. I should have gone to see you long before now. I promise I’ll make it up to you.
See you soon, sweetie. I can’t wait to finally see your beautiful face in person.
I swallowed hard, re-reading the last line several times. My stomach morphed into a hollow pit. I’d always known the day would come, but it still shocked me. A bucket of ice water cascading over me would have been a more pleasant experience than reading this letter.
I gazed down at my extra plush, soft stomach, double wide hips and thunder thighs. Even if I starved myself, there was no way I could lose it all in time for his arrival. Dread seeped through my veins as reality smacked me. There was nothing I could do. Losing twenty, even forty pounds, wouldn’t make much of a difference on me. It wouldn’t make me model skinny. It wouldn’t even take me from the doctor’s obese category to overweight.
These past three years, I’d been living a fantasy. It was a fantasy to believe a sexy soldier would ever commit to a girl my size, no matter how many letters or packages I sent him or
tours I supposedly got him through.
I was startled to feel a tear kiss my cheek. I bit my bottom lip, rising from the couch to do what any girl would do: call in back up.
Hannah was there in less than thirty minutes with cheap champagne and a frozen pizza.
Two Months Later
I froze, mid scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough, as the doorbell rang.
My heart took off as I looked at Hannah. We gazed at each other for a minute, but somehow we knew.
He was a day early.
“I can’t look,” I said, setting down the bowl of dough. I pushed away from the counter. A quick glance confirmed my navy blue velour pants and grey tank top were covered in flour.
Hannah walked into the entryway beside the kitchen and pushed the curtain aside to peer out the front window. “Sweet peaches and cream, he’s sexy as hell, Kellie.”
My pulse bounced rather than pulsed. I wrung my hands. “He’s early,” I stated dryly.
Hannah ran her fingers through her brown hair. Her full figure swayed a little more
than usual as she ambled back into the kitchen. “And sexy. You heard the sexy part, right?”
She watched me closely,
gaging my reaction. When I stared blankly towards the entry, panic seizing my brain, she moved closer. “Listen, Kellie, I’ve read a few of his letters, and there are two things I know for sure. One, he’s not leaving until he sees you; and two, he loves you. And no man can love a woman without finding the beauty in her.”
I frowned. “I have a pretty heart, not a pretty body, Hannah.” My voice was a rushed whisper as the doorbell rang again.
This time Rocco dragged himself to the door to issue a single, deep bark.
“I’ve told you a thousand times that you’re beautiful, gorgeous, a great catch,
yada-yada, but I know you’re not going to believe me until he says it. I’m positive he’s going to though.” She smiled mischievously. Her hazel eyes sparkled before narrowing. Her features stilled, scrunching slightly. “Now get your ass to the door and open it, or else I will.” Her hands flew to her hips, emphasizing her command.
She was right. I had to answer the door. I had to face reality at some point. I thought that point was tomorrow at 12:43
pm, when his flight landed. It was why I was baking today. The least I could do was give him an apology and a final care package.
I took a deep breath as I scrubbed my
suddenly sweaty palms on the side of my pants. My heart hammered against my rib cage. My legs felt like jello as I made my way to the door. This moment was three years and eighty-six letters in the making.
My heart pounded against my rib cage. I wasn’t this nervous in the middle of a fucking war zone. There was something about this woman though. Her letters got to me. She got to me. Over the course of three years, she wrapped herself around my heart.
She ruined me. I couldn’t even look at another woman without thinking about her. Her sweet voice with that sexy Southern drawl grabbed me every time I heard it.
She wasn’t like the others. She wasn’t like any of the women I’d met or been with. She wasn’t a uniform bunny. She wasn’t anxious to be with me for my benefits, bonuses or other bullshit. She was genuine, rare.
She was the one who got me through these past few years. Her letters and packages kept me going. She kept me going. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t say that I would even be alive. Every soldier hits an emotional wall at some point, where you feel it’s easier to die than to keep fighting day in and day out. War is hardcore. Killing for a living, constant unrest
, turns the softest of bastards into cold pricks. If not dead, I’d be a hell of a bigger asshole than I am now without her.
Simply: she saved me.
I studied the front of her quaint home. It was a small bungalow style house with a generous sized front porch. The landscaping was simple, but complimentary.
Motion caught my attention at the front window beside the door. The brown hair
brushing against the glass told me it was Hannah, not Kellie. No, Kellie was a blonde haired beauty with dangerous curves.
A year and a half in, Hannah sent me a few pictures of Kellie
, and one of Kellie and her together. She swore me to secrecy. I obliged because I was grateful. Every day I looked at those photos. One in particular I handled the most. I could close my eyes and recall it anywhere.
It was a picture of Kellie
at her brother’s wedding. She was gorgeous. Her lush figure was in a sapphire dress that skimmed her knees, hugged her body, showed off those fuck-me nude heels and every tempting curve of her above. Her blonde hair fell in large curls, framing her face and drawing attention to her teasing cleavage and plump pink lips. I dreamed of caressing her full figure for three years, I dreamed of kissing her lips and tasting all of her.
I adjusted my military issued uniform pants and rang the doorbell again. I hadn’t come all this way for nothing. I was a stubborn bastard, and I’d decided on the plane that I wasn’t leaving here without her. I couldn’t. Not even the other men’s wives did all that Kellie did. She took care of me from afar. It was my turn to return the favor. Ok, so I selfishly wanted to return the favor and demand forever. Soldiers are hardheaded. We want what we want and we know how to fight to get it.
And I wanted Kellie.
Staring at the glossy wood of my front door, I swallowed the lump in my throat. Clenching and unclenching my hands, I took a deep breath.
I can do this.
Heart thrashing, pulse skittering, I opened the door.
My breath hitched as I gazed into his soft brown eyes with determined brows framing them. Soft plump lips had me fighting the urge to kiss him.
His dark brown hair was shave
d short, not quite military crew style, but sexy as hell. It added to his badass edge, as if the army issued uniform wasn’t enough. Despite the material not clinging to his form, I could tell he was ripped.
“Damn, you’re beautiful.” His words, his awe-filled voice, took me aback.
I gazed into his eyes, locked on him. My heart hadn’t stopped, but rather, sped up. Three years had brought me to this moment. “You’re early.”
Nothing like stating the obviously, Kellie.
And then he smiled. If I ever thought I could walk away from him with a semblance of my heart in tact, I was wrong.
His eyes crinkled as his face lit up. God, he was stunning. His photos didn’t do him justice.
Abruptly, I was hyper aware of myself, of my flaws. I fidgeted, struggling to keep my mouth shut. I knew if I spoke, I would insert my foot into my mouth.
Thankfully, rudely, Hannah shoved me back and forced her way between Daniel and myself. She thrust a hand towards him. “I’m Hannah. It’s nice to finally meet you.” The woman was incorrigible. Despite our similar sizes, Hannah never lacked for confidence.
“Nice to meet you.”
Past Hannah’s curves, I caught Daniel shaking her hand, a courteous smile barely curling his lips.
“Excuse Kellie. I think she’s a little frazzled. You’re early
though. Didn’t your momma teach you never to show up early to pick up a woman? We need all the time we can get to prepare.”
Daniel met my gaze,
his smile widening, his features relaxing; his eyes glittered with some untouchable emotion. “My mom said it’s better to be early than late.”
“Humph.” Hannah assessed him as we openly stared at each other.
A moment of silence passed. I couldn’t stop gaping at him. He was here. God, he was handsome; not in a pretty boy sort of way, but in a manly, masculine, alpha Dom sort of way. I knew the moment my nerves subsided, I’d want to rip his clothes off. The man was drool worthy.
Hannah made a scene of checking her phone. “Well, if you look at that. Time just flew by. I’ve gotta go meet
boyfriend.” She turned towards me. “I’ll call you later, Kel.” She winked at me, silently encouraging me. Facing Daniel, she gave him one last once over. “Go easy on her, soldier.” Grabbing her purse off the hook by the door, Daniel moved aside to let her through.
Rocco meandered towards the man. He cocked his wrinkled face up towards him, watching him from a little distance.
“Hey, buddy.” Daniel squatted down and held out his hand out for the lazy dog to sniff him.
It only took a minute before Rocco moved into Daniel’s waiting palm. He generously rubbed down the dog, giving him plenty of attention before he stood again.
Suddenly, I recalled my manners.
“Oh! Sorry. Come in.” I shook my head in dismay.
What is wrong with me?
He bent and picked up a worn black duffle bag off the porch, snagging his hat from atop it before. He stepped over the threshold,
giving Rocco one last love pat before he dropped his stuff on the wood floor and faced me.
He studied me, and I knew his keen eyes saw every detail, every flaw. He lifted his hand and swept his fingers along the side of my face. “You’re a hell of a lot prettier in person.”
I felt myself blush. I’d dreamed of hearing those words, but never thought he’d say them. “I’m a mess. You, uh, caught me baking.”
Blindly, he pushed the door shut, his focus never leaving me. Silence passed between us, yet so much more, unspoken, wrapped around us.
Looking at him was surreal. I’d handled his pictures endlessly. I swore I had memorized what he looked like. I didn’t think I’d be surprised, yet I was.
In person, I saw his sun kissed skin, the tiny freckles from the desert sun. I saw
the depths of his irises, full of buttery soft chocolate and honey. I saw the softness of his lips, the way they timidly met the hard outline of them. I could see his five o’clock shadow up close, almost imagine what it felt like.
Without thinking I ran my fingertips across the sturdy scruff. I could tell he’d shaved before leaving, and showered. He smelled of the manly body wash I’d sent him a month ago. Beyond the body wash, I smelled something crisp, rugged, almost a tad woodsy, musky
, that meshed with something akin to sandalwood.
It was him.
That was his unique scent. I had to hold myself back from shoving my nose into his chest, which is about where it met. He wasn’t lying when he saw he was 6’2” to my tiny 5’2”. He was tall, dark and manly. He was…beautiful.
His lips curled up in a sexy smirk. “You have a bit of flour on your nose.”
Before I could wipe it away, he brushed his thumb over it.
“Um, thanks.” I tilted my head down, casting my gaze downwards with it.
“Have I told you how beautiful you are?”
My cheeks heated. I bit back a shy smile. “A couple times.” I glanced up at him. “You’re a lot sexier in person, which I didn’t think was possible.”
He chuckled, his cheeks rouging a bit. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t alone. We were both nervous. And that’s when I knew the chemistry flying between us, surrounding us, wasn’t in my head. It was real. He was real. And I never knew I could want a man so bad.
Damn she was gorgeous. Her blonde hair had dimension; I knew the lighter strands would shimmer beneath the sun. I fought the urge to set it free from the chaotic bun resting at the top of her head.