Author: Teresa Mummert
"What do you think I do for a living?" he laughed. "It's not hard. You just have to say the alphabet in your head as you say the words."
"What is the point of all this anyway? We have been at it for hours and I can't remember half of them."
"It keeps people from misunderstanding each other. If I spell something out with the phonetic alphabet, you know without a doubt what I mean to say."
I sighed and sank back into the couch against his side. He lifted his arm and draped it over my shoulder as he began the alphabet again. I drank a long sip from my beer as I listened to him, his chest rising and falling against my side. My eyes became heavier as I struggled to focus on the muted television in front of us.
I couldn't fight sleep any longer, but I didn't want to pull myself from Shane's side. I let my eyes drift closed as I listened to the steady sound of his voice.
I felt him take the bottle from my hand, hearing the clink of it as it was set down on the coffee table.
My eyes fluttered open as Shane pushed off his jeans and kicked them to the floor. He ran his hand over his hair and blew out a deep breath. I snuggled into the cushion as his arms wrapped around me and pulled me against his chest.
March 26, 2010, Morning
Jenn curled into me and sighed as her fingers played with my T-shirt. Her leg was hitched over my waist.
"Are you not wearing pants?" I craned my neck to look at her.
"I was hot. You throw off a lot of heat."
"Yeah, well, your feet are freezing."
She smirked as she placed the soul of her foot on my calf.
"I wish you weren't leaving," she said as she tried to keep her foot on me while I squirmed.
My body stilled and I took a deep breath as I squeezed my eyes shut.
"I have something I need to tell you, Jenn." My voice was somber and I knew she could feel the quickening of my heartbeat beneath her hand.
"What is it?" Her finger ran absentmindedly over the scar on my chest. I grabbed her hand, wrapping my fingers around hers to stop her. "It's Chelsea. You're getting back together with her."
"No." My arms tightened around her. "Never." I kissed the top of her head as I tried to figure out how to break the news to her. "Remember when I told you I had been to Iraq?"
My fingers squeezed hers as I blew out a long breath.
"I have to go back."
She pulled from my grip and sat up so she could look me in the eye.
"That's not funny."
"I know it's not."
Her face went blank as she searched my eyes for the truth.
"When?" Her voice was barely a whisper as she pulled her hand free from mine.
"Please let me explain. Chelsea left me because I went to war."
"You have been lying to me this whole time?" She stood up. "When?" she demanded.
"Jenn, I was scared to death." I stood from the couch and reached my hand out to touch her arm, but she swatted me away. "Tomorrow. I leave tomorrow, just like I said."
"Don't," she gasped, as tears began to pour from her eyes.
"Please," I begged as I reached for her again.
"I trusted you."
"You can trust me, Jenn. I didn't want to hurt you."
"I'm hurt, Shane." She sobbed, wiping the tears from her cheeks. I sank back down on the couch and dropped my head in my hands. I didn't know how to fix this. I didn't even know what this was. The lines of our friendship were blurry at best and I didn't know if they even existed after my confession.
"What were you going to do? Just disappear and let me think you were in North Carolina?"
"I was going to tell you, Jenn. I just wanted as much time with you as possible without all of this."
"This wouldn't be happening if you were just honest with me in the beginning."
"And told you what? That I was heading back to war? That I may not live to make it back to see you again?" I stood and took a step toward her. "Do you think you would have gotten to know me if you knew then that you could lose me?"
"You got to know me knowing that when I found out, you could lose me."
The stabbing feeling in my heart began again. That painful, gut-wrenching heartache that only Jenn could inflict. I was losing her before I even had her.
"Jenn, I need you. I can't go back there not knowing if you are waiting here for me. I know we haven't had much time, but I feel like you know me better than anyone. You have no idea how badly I needed someone like you in my life. I found you. I didn't want that taken away." I was laying all of my cards on the table. I couldn't leave things unspoken between us. There was no time for games.
She looked up at me through tear-filled eyes.
I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her against my chest as she sobbed.
"It's not fair," she cried.
"I know." I rested my head on top of hers.
"No. It's not fair that you would assume I would do what she did. I wouldn't do that to you. I'm not her."
My grip tightened on her and she whimpered but didn't ask me to ease up.
"I don't want to lose you."
"You won't," she whispered as she pulled back to look into my tear-filled eyes. "I'm sad that you have to go, but I will still be right here when you get back, if you want me."
I let go of her waist and placed a hand on either side of her face before nodding slightly and leaning closer until my forehead rested against hers.
"I want you," I whispered. Her eyes fell closed as our lips touched. Her fingers slid from my chest up the length of my neck as she pulled me closer. He mouth parted and I ran my tongue over the edge of her upper lip. Our gentle kisses became hungry as her tongue brushed against mine and a quiet moan resonated from the back of her throat. I slid my fingers into her hair as we both gasped for air, consumed by each other.
Her fingers found the base of my shirt and she gripped it tightly as she pulled it up toward my head. I took a small step back from her, my eyes locked on hers as I finished pulling it over my head and threw it to the ground beside me
Jenn sucked her lower lip between her teeth as her eyes danced over my body. Her fingers wrapped around her own T-shirt as she took a deep breath and pulled it over her head, letting it fall from her fingertips to the ground below.
"You are so beautiful." I took a step forward and placed my hand on her lower back to pull her body closer to mine. Her fingers fell on bare flesh, sliding over my scarred heart. "I always thought a piece of my heart had been missing. Turns out that piece was you."
She smiled and placed a small kiss on my broken heart. I sucked in a harsh breath before placing my fingers under her chin and tilting it up to me and pushing my lips hard against hers. She gasped as the length of me pressed against her and she could feel how badly I wanted her. My hand trailed up her spine, tickling her and causing her body to bow into mine. I smiled against her lips as I found the clasp to her bra and unhooked it, letting it fall loose across her chest. My fingers wandered over her shoulders, pulling the straps down her arms with them. She moved back a fraction of a step to let it fall to the floor before pressing herself back against me. I groaned and turned us so her back was to the couch before lowering her down and resting my weight on top of her.
"I'm going to miss you so much." My forehead was on hers as we both took in the magnitude of what was happening between us.
"Shh…" She pressed her lips up to mine as I settled between her thighs. Flimsy scraps of fabric were the only thing separating our bodies, my dog tags hung down on her chest. The cold, tiny piece of metal was a stark contrast from the heat radiating between us. My tongue pushed against hers as her hips raised and grinded against mine. Her hands ran over the muscles of my back as they pulled and stretched under my skin. I trailed tiny kisses over her jaw and down her throat. She tilted her head to the side as her nails dug into my skin. She was desperate to be closer, but I was taking my time, tasting every inch of her, memorizing her body with my lips. I ran my tongue down the length of her collarbone, locking my eyes on to hers. I slid my hand up her waist and cupped the weight of her breast, rolling my thumb over her nipple causing it to pebble under my calloused finger. My lips replaced my rough finger as I pulled her nipple into my mouth. Her fingers found their way to my hair. I didn't want her to feel like we had to do this just because I was leaving. I pulled back and looked down at her.
"We don't have to do this tonight." My fingers splayed across her stomach. I wanted her more than I wanted my next breath, but not if it would make this harder for her.
Jenn reached between us, her eyes locked on mine as she looped her fingers in her white cotton panties and slid them over her hips. My lips crushed into hers painfully hard, causing them to swell under my kiss as I shoved down my gray boxers and kicked them onto the floor, pulling her panties over her feet and tossing them as well. She hitched her leg over my hip as my fingers tangled into her messy brown hair. She raised her head to meet mine, and I pulled back slightly to look in her eyes as I slowly pushed against her entrance. Her eyes fell closed as her body adjusted to me.
"Look at me," I whispered as my body stilled.
Her eyes slowly opened, brimming with tears as everything that was happening overwhelmed her.
"I'm hurting you." I pulled back, but her hands gripped my back, her nails digging into my flesh.
"No. Please don't stop. I need you."
It felt so good to hear her say she needed me as much as I needed her. I lowered my face to hers and kissed her softly on the lips as her hips rocked into mine until I filled her completely.
The sound of our heavy breathing and the quiet jingling of my dog tags as we moved together filled the room. I forced myself to keep my eyes open so I could memorize every curve of her face. I wanted the image burned so deeply in my memory that when I closed my eyes to sleep at night, she would be the last thing I saw and the first person on my mind when I woke.
Our bodies worked together as all of the wanting and need built inside of us until it was unbearable.
"Shane," she whimpered. My lips brushed over her forehead and she was unable to hold her eyes open any longer as waves of pleasure rippled through her body. My breathing was heavy and ragged as I kept my pace steady, making sure she had experienced every last wave of release before I gave in to my own.
My body fell heavily against hers, covered in a thin veil of sweat. I brushed her hair back from her dampened forehead and traced the arch of her eyebrow with my thumb.
"So beautiful." I kissed her closed eyelid as she smiled.
"You make me feel beautiful." Her eyes slowly opened as she watched me study her face.
"I don't want to hurt you."
"Do you have any idea how hard this is going to be for you?" I pushed off her and grabbed my boxers, pulling them on quickly. I grabbed the Christmas blanket that lay draped over the back of the couch and pulled it over her body. She stood and pressed her body against mine from behind, wrapping her arms around my waist.
"It's going to be okay. I promise you." She kissed my back as my hands came up to hold hers.
"I can't lose you now, Jenn. I didn't even know I wanted anyone else until I met you. I was perfectly happy being on my own. Now I can't even stand to think about what it will be like to walk away from you."
"It's not forever, Shane. I have been waiting my entire life for someone to look at me the way you do. I can wait a few more months."
I turned around, wrapping her in my arms as I breathed in the smell of vanilla mixed with my minty soap.