Unraveled, p.20
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       Unraveled, p.20

         Part #3 of Woodlands series by Jen Frederick
Page 21


  “And he wasnt?"

  “No. He was crazy and wild. There wasnt a challenge that he didnt like to accept. He never believed in turning the other cheek. He wanted to suck the life out of every moment like—” She stopped then and swallowed hard. “Like—”

  “Like he thought he was going to die young?” I finished for her when she couldn’t.

  “I dont think he was actively pursuing it but living on the edge was a very real thing to him, not just words in a song. Its why he was so keen on the ROTC. Why he volunteered for pararescue training right out of Basic. Why he asked for deployment again and again until I feel like they sent him over just to shut him up. ”

  I didnt say anything right away, just mulled over what she didn’t say. How she was disappointed at being left behind and didn’t understand what it was that drew Will away from her. “I knew guys like that. Bo is kind of like that. He never saw a fist that he didnt want to test. ”


  “Yeah, the big blond guy. ”

  “He seems so laid back, like you. The other guy, Noah, is intense. ”

  “And Will was intense?”

  She thought for a moment. “He was focused. ”

  “On things other than you,” I said gently.

  “He focused on me,” she protested and then swayed a little, dizzy from the sun, maybe needing some sugar.

  I didn’t challenge her. Instead, I grabbed her arm and steadied her. Holding her with one hand, I fumbled in the cooler and pulled out an ice-cold Coke. Popping the tab, I held it up to her lips and tipped it back. She sipped a little and allowed the sweet syrup to coat her tongue.

  "More," she commanded. She drank deeply, not realizing how thirsty she’d been until I’d forced the cold Coke down her throat.

  Taking the can from her, I put the opening to my mouth, placing my lips right over the area she’d drunk from and swallowed the rest of the soda in one gulp. Crushing the can in my hand, I threw the empty aluminum toward the other end of the canoe.

  "Im sorry," I said finally, meeting her eyes. "I didnt mean to suggest that he didnt love you. "

  "I know,” she sighed. "Im just sensitive about it. My mom always said that he shouldnt have gone into the Army and that it was selfish of him to do so. Is that how your girlfriend felt?”

  “No, she was excited. ”

  “How come you joined?”

  I lay back down and tugged her on top of me. Rubbing my thumb up under the hem of her thin cotton T-shirt that said, “I’d rather be knitting,” I stroked that small piece of warm flesh, enjoying the shiver it caused.

  “My pops was an enlisted. Retired from the Marines after thirty years of service. Highly decorated. My dad retired from the Marines after twenty years of service. Neither of my elder two brothers joined. They set up a custom chop shop in southern Cal. Pops would tell me how great the Corps was, what a fraternity it was. When I was seven, he gave me a knife that had Semper Fidelis engraved on it which is Latin for always faithful. When I was seventeen he took me to the recruiting station and pretended to be my father and got me signed up before my dad even knew what hit him. But for a while it was all good. My old man was proud of me and Pops was over the moon. Then a year into my contract with the Corps, my dad runs for and wins a congressional seat. After that the Corps isn’t good enough for me. He drops hints there’s something better out there for me. Says I should go to college. Be a lawyer. ”

  “Son of a bailiff,” she murmured.

  “What’s that?” I cocked my head because I wasn’t sure I heard her right.

  “Your name, it means son of a bailiff. ”

  I grunted. “Didn’t know that. I think my mom read a romance book and fell in love with the hero. We all have romance book hero names. Lucien is the oldest. Then James and then me. Grayson. ”

  She gave me a tiny smile that made me want to lick her lips. “I like it. ” Her eyes went unfocused and then her smile turned almost sly.

  “I don’t know what you’re thinking right now, but it started out dreamy and turned to naughty. ”

  She laughed guiltily. “You can see all that?” She pressed her hands against her cheeks as if she could hide her blushes, and then I couldn’t resist. Her lips were pink and a little shiny from the Coke or maybe her saliva. I dragged my tongue lightly over them until she parted her mouth and her small tongue met mine. This time our kiss wasnt fervent or grasping. It was slow and thoughtful like our conversations. Her flavor, mixed with sugar of the cola was the best thing I’d had on my tongue in forever.

  I didn’t know what I’d been hoping to find here, so many miles from home, but it wasn’t Sam and her understanding smiles and sweet touches. I wasn’t sure why Will had run from this, because maybe, if I’d had Sam, I wouldn’t have wanted to enlist. Her hands brushed over my closely cropped hair and down my face. My muscles tensed as she ran her fingers over the planes of my chest and then lower. I held my breath in anticipation, hoping she wouldn’t stop at my waistband. When she drew back, panting a bit, I whimpered like a disappointed baby.

  “I want to hear the rest of the story. ”

  I sighed but got the message. “So at Christmas time, Pops asked me if I’d signed my reenlistment papers, and I hadn’t. ‘What are you waiting for, boy? Your CO to come over here and give you an engraved invitation?’” I mimicked my Pops gravely voice. “My dad interrupted him. ‘Speaking of your CO, I’ve heard talk that you should be going to Officer Candidate School. ’ Pops replied in his gravely voice, made so by all the yelling he did as a drill instructor, that OCS was for washed out enlisted and that a true Marine was a grunt. He reminded my dad that I could be NCO, a non commissioned officer. Then the two got into a yelling match about how I was going to uphold the Phillips family name the best. ”

  “Sounds painful,” she winced. Based on earlier conversations it was clear she knew all about painful family engagements.

  “The worst thing is that they both love me so I know they want the best but they’re engaged in this power struggle over what I should do next. ”

  "Wills dad wanted him to be a lawyer. Our parents are law partners. I think Will was trying to escape that as much as anything. He wasnt cut out for the office and legal briefs. "

  "How about you?"

  "No. But Bitsy, my sister, might be one. Heck, she might even be president someday. For sure a judge. Shes so smart. So my parents dont hassle me about it. They do think I should go back to school. I dropped out after Will died. ”

  "I cant imagine. "

  "You ever do it? Death duty?” she asked.

  "No, and I never will. I think you suffer more PTSD delivering constant news of someone dying than you do by being there. "

  "It cant be fun. I wish Id held it together better. The chaplain kept saying I was so young. "

  "Lots of young widows out there now. "

  We both stared at the water, thinking of the story I’d told that first night.

  I spoke first. "Having her try to kill herself was like failing again. We couldnt save him and we almost lost her. " My hands were fisted on my knees. Reaching over, she laid her palm over my balled hands. I had a very tough time processing grief but Sam understood. She got me in a way I don’t think anyone had before. Not my pops or my parents or even my brothers. She rested her head against my shoulder and squeezed my hands tight.

  This girl stirred some kind of tender emotion in me. Her observation the other day about the difference between wives and girlfriends was spot on. Carrie had been so hungry for the wife position but it was because she wanted a higher status. And she ended up with none

  “Youd have made a good military wife," I told her. Sam thought about others. That was the mark of a good military wife. Military people had to be selfless. Both the people who served and those that stayed behind. It had to be a calling for both of them.

  She gave a small laugh and shake of her head. "What makes you say that?"

"You care a lot about the other people, almost more than yourself. And thats not always a good thing. You keep downplaying your loss, saying somebody elses loss was greater or somebody else had it worse. "

  "Im just really fortunate, you know? And I guess Im tired of feeling sorry for myself. Ive done that for two years. And I have a lot of regrets. I dont want to have any regrets anymore. "

  "What do you regret?"

  "I regret not moving to Alaska when Will got shipped out. " She plucked at her shorts. "He wanted me to. We couldve gotten married then, or I couldve just moved there. Its not like I wasnt without resources like some of the others. " Sam turned a bit and shoved my sunglasses off my face, so she could look in my eyes. "Tell me about the girl who cheated on you?”

  The question caught me off guard, and I stuttered my response. “Wh-what do you mean?”

  “You dont do relationships. You have ultra-impersonal sex hook ups. And you flew off the handle when you thought I was cheating on someone. It’s a big issue with you. Can you tell me what happened?”

  No, not really. “I’d rather make love to you. ” I brushed my hand up her back and up to the base of her skull. She rolled her eyes but didn’t pull away.

  “I can’t imagine how you ever survived deployment to the Middle East. ”

  "You may be surprised to hear this, but I can go without for long periods of time. ”

  “Is that right?” she mocked.

  “That’s right. I have a very active imagination. ” With a small movement of my hand, I had her face tilted at the perfect angle. I could kiss her lips or snake my tongue along the column of her throat. I choose the latter.

  Against her skin, I told her what I envisioned. “You’re taking your T-shirt off. You’re braless and the fabric catches on the bottom of one your breasts so that it bounces when the shirt finally comes off. I catch it in my mouth, sucking on your nipple. You moan loudly when my mouth covers you. ” I reached between us and unzipped my shorts, pulling out my hungry, ready cock. Her hand wrapped around the tip and squeezed. Choking back my groan, I continued. “Your shorts come off and as you’re standing in front of me, I can see by the wetness between your thighs that you’re aroused. ”

  Her hand paused mid stroke. “Um, don’t stop,” I choked out.

  “How can I be standing in the boat? I barely made it over to your side without tipping us over,” she asked.

  “I bet you never fought dragons when you were a kid either, did you?”

  “Oh right, we’re imagining things. ” She smirked. “Go on, I’m naked and wet. ” The words sounded so dirty coming from her that I felt myself jerk in her direction. “You like that?”

  I laughed hoarsely. “Yup. ” Hearing my partner tell me exactly what she wanted and how she wanted it has always excited me. Half the time I was talking to crank her chain but the side benefit was that it worked me up too. I moved my hand to cover hers. She picked up the motion again, and we covered my length together, rubbing it up and down. My head fell back and I returned to my fantasy.

  “You’re standing there naked, and you pull on your ti-nipples. ” She probably didn’t like the word tits. “And with the other hand, you start stroking yourself. I’m watching carefully so I can make the same moves when it’s my turn to touch you. Then you bend down and take me in your mouth. ”

  “Am I still fondling myself?”

  “Yes, you have great balance. ”

  Sam bent over and placed my hard shaft inside her mouth. Our fingers were still entangled and I could feel her lips and tongue all over us. She sucked me hard, my dick popping out of her mouth with a loud noise. “What happens next?” she asked. Had she done that on purpose because she knew how much I enjoyed the sounds of our sex? I let out a shaky breath. I allowed my hand to fall away and she began to work me over. Her fingers couldn’t quite fit all the way around the shaft but she kept making twisting motions and, combined with the suck of her mouth, I was pretty close to shooting my load. It was hard to think. “Yo-you’re sucking me and I can hear how wet it’s making you as you finger yourself. ” Gathering her hair up in my hand, I pulled her off my cock and up against my chest. I took her mouth in mine, bruisingly, but she only kissed me back harder. Somehow we managed to get her shorts off without falling into the lake. In another second, I tugged a condom on. Letting her set the pace, I focused on kissing her, exploring every inch of her mouth. Under her shirt, I rubbed her nipples until they were plump and erect.

  My heart was pounding like I’d run a dozen miles as I waited for her to sheathe me with herself. When she did, I groaned, long and loud. I’d spent a week imagining Sam in all kinds of filthy positions. Initially she moved slowly, enjoying the feel of her inner flesh rubbing against my cock but we were both too worked up to be leisurely. Rocking against me, she clutched at my shoulders, her elbows digging into my chest as she used me for leverage. I loved it. I wanted to bottom out inside her, to get deeper into her than I’d ever been.

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