Unraveled, p.32
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       Unraveled, p.32

         Part #3 of Woodlands series by Jen Frederick
Page 33


  That horrifying statement and her placement right next to me made me jump up. I went over to the door. What if Sam came and saw her here? It was an irrational though, but still.

  "Okay," I said, and then grimaced when I saw the tip of a knitting needle sticking out from beneath the cushion. If Carrie shifted just to her right, she might scrape her leg and then—oh fuck it. I walked back over and sat down next to her and pressed my bare calf against the needle in hopes of shoving it back. No go. The weight of my ass was preventing the needle from shifting and all I got was a sharp stab in the calf muscle.

  Carrie had watched my gallop from the couch to the door back to the couch again in wide-eyed amazement but I couldnt look away from the door, praying Sam wouldnt suddenly show up. I checked my phone. Nothing.

  I didnt know if I was relieved or pissed that the silence from her end continued. But that didnt stop the quickening of my heartbeat.

  Carrie took my resettling by her side as an invitation and pressed one hand behind my neck and slid the other across my chest. It was an embrace, and she was marking me with her stupid perfume. Id have to shower and then wash these clothes. I wanted to pick her up and carry her to the door but I wasnt ever going to touch her again.

  "I dont know why youre here or what you want but you need to leave. " I held myself stiff in her embrace so she could tell I did not want her touching me, much like I didnt want her touching anything in my home.

  "Baby," she whispered in my ear, her minty breath wafting by my nose. "I miss you so much. "

  That was it. I stood up, uncaring about the knitting needle and only wanting her to leave.

  "I dont miss you and I havent for some time. Yes, I am seeing someone else and I care about her a lot. You need to leave now," I repeated.

  She moved and then, as anticipated, scraped her leg along the needle. "Ouch, what is that?" She stood and lifted the cushion and found my mess of dark blue yarn under the couch.

  "Oh my God. " She crushed the mess against her chest. Shit, could I wash yarn? I strode over and yanked it out of her hands and threw it on a nearby chair.

  "Get out," I repeated and pointed at the door.

  "Did I turn you gay?" she cried.

  "What?" Following her train of thought was like trying to keep track of a jumping bean.

  "Did I turn you gay?" she asked again, trying to look sad but secretive pleasure flirted at the corners of her mouth. God, what did I ever find attractive about this woman? "When I had that fling with Lieutenant Maritz, did you turn to guys? Oh my God, Gray, tell me it isnt so!"

  As if she could turn me gay. Was she fucking nuts? I shook my head at her presumptuousness. "You’re a dumb woman, Carrie. It doesn’t work that way. And guess what? I dont care what you think my sexual preference is as long as you understand it isnt you. "

  Carrie swayed over to me, swinging her skinny hips in an action that mightve turned me on four years ago but now just looked like she had a weird hitch in her step. I swung the door open so she could take that hitch right on outside but she paused in front of me. The courtyard was occupied by a few people, but no one that looked like Sam. It was probably the first time in months that Id been relieved I hadnt had a Sam sighting. Every other night Id glance out there, hoping Id see her come up the walk. No dice. But with Carrie standing far too close to me, I was glad that Sam was thousands of miles away.

  "Im glad I stopped by, Gray. I had this feeling that you needed me. Youve been on my mind, and when I went down to the Enlisted Club and didnt see you, I was concerned. Im glad I followed my instincts and came here. " Carrie reached out a manicured finger and ran the tip down the front of my T-shirt.

  The sad fact was that I had allowed Carrie to turn me off of women. I started mistrusting all of them because of her stupid behavior. Id stopped thinking in terms of relationships. Id only thought they were good for fucking and not much more. If the med student treated me like a human dildo it was because thats about how much emotion Id put into it.

  Sam was right. I had grieved and I was bitter. And I needed to let it all go.

  "Thanks for your offer, but Im not interested. " How many times did I have to say that before she left? Carrie stepped even closer and the scent of her perfume made my stomach churn. I really needed her out of there and she clearly wasnt going on her own accord. Placing a hand on her chest, I stalled her progress and started sliding her out the door, slowly so not as to cause injury. I held both her biceps and easily lifted her over the threshold. The shock of it made her immobile for a minute and I was able to shut and then lock the door.

  The yarn, needles, and mangled blue material looked like a nasty collection of fibers. I didnt have the time or patience tonight. Carrie knocked on the door but I ignored her, turning up the television louder to drown out her profanities. I left the TV and the knitting and went into the bedroom. Two beers and five instructional knitting videos on the iPad later, I went to sleep with renewed hope. One day closer to my End of Active Service date and one day closer to being with Sam.

  "I REALLY NEED TO SEE you. Can you fit me in?" I begged. There was the sound of flipping pages as Dorothy looked through her appointment book.

  "Can you be here in thirty minutes?" Dorothy asked.

  "Yes. " I jumped up and started stuffing my paraphernalia in my pack.

  "Ill only have a little time for you in between my class," she warned.

  "Ill take whatever you have. I just need to see you. " I hung up before she could tell me no. Grabbing my pack, I looked twice to see if there was anyone I knew outside, and then sprinted to my truck. The drive to the shop was thirty minutes. I made it in twenty-five.

  "Sergeant Phillips," a delighted squeal greeted me from Dorothys mother. I leaned down and hugged the tiny German woman, placing a kiss on her parchment-thin skin.

  "Hey, Mrs. Bend, good to see you. "

  Mrs. Bend dragged me over to the sofa in the back corner and tugged at my pack. I let her have it. The expression on her face was one of dismay as she pulled out the mess Id made of the yarn Id bought two weeks ago at her daughters yarn shop. "Whatve you done, my dear boy?"

  "Mrs. B, pardon my language, but this shit is hard. " I tugged at one of the stray yarn threads that dangled off the needles. "I can sew on a patch or a button or even darn a hole in my sock if necessary, but this is beyond me. "

  Mrs. B flipped the knitted mess over a couple of times. Her purple fingernail pointed at a small white splotch in the middle. "And this is?" she asked.

  "Its the star, Mrs. B. " I leaned back and drew a hand over my face in frustration. "Im never going to figure this out. "

  "Now, now, no need for that. " She laid the yarn mess in my lap. "Youll have to take it apart though and restart. Let me watch you for a while to see if I can pinpoint where you’re going wrong. "

  As I unraveled the yarn Mrs. B asked, "Are you sure you want to start with the intarsia technique? Its quite difficult. "

  I nodded grimly. "You know the story, Mrs. B. " Id told Mrs. B and her daughter Dorothy the whole sad saga of my relationship with Sam and how Id fucked it all up. Mrs. B patted my arm. This was my grand gesture. I was going to knit Sam an afghan and take it to her the next time I had a three-day leave, which might not be before my contract ran out if my CO had anything to say about it.

  “Well, I think this is very sweet and if it doesn’t win her back, then I have a wonderful grandniece over in Sausilito. She’s a nurse and you two would get along great. ”

  “Thanks, Mrs. B. ” Never going to happen, I thought, but I just gave Mrs. B a smile and tried to figure out when I was supposed to bring in the opposite colored yarn. Because I was paying such close attention to her, I almost missed the commotion at the front of the store that stirred up when Hamilton and Ruiz from my platoon burst in.

  "Whatre you guys doing here?” I asked suspiciously. Quickly, I moved the yarn stuff to the side and pretended like I was just relaxing. On a so
fa in a yarn shop. With Mrs. B sitting right next to me.

  “What are you doing here?” Hamilton scanned the shop in disbelief. “Is this a store for old ladies?”

  “No, you dumbass, it’s a yarn store. ” Given that everyone else in the shop was likely over fifty, I could see how Hamilton made that error. “What’re you doing here?” I repeated. Standing up, I glowered at both of them.

  "We followed you. ”

  "What the hell!” I practically shouted it out. Mrs. B made a clucking sound of disappointment. “Sorry, Mrs. B. ”

  "We heard a rumor. " Hamilton lowered his voice but he was a drill instructor and the low voice of a DI is pretty much normal tone for anyone else. "You leaving the Corps because you want to knit? How come you can’t do both?”

  “I’m guessing that Carrie’s saying Im not re-upping for another contract because being near one of you and not having you is too painful for me. Which of you is the lucky guy?"

  Ruiz jerked this thumb toward Hamilton.

  “I’m a pretty tempting package. ” Hamilton smoothed a hand down his shirt. “I do tend to drive the ladies wild. Good to know my animal magnetism affects the lads in equal measure. ”

  Ruiz looked upset and near bursting with something to say.

  “What is it, Ruiz?”

  "Why not me instead of Hamilton? Dont you think Im attractive? Fun to be with?"

  We both stared open mouthed at Ruiz. Hamilton recovered first. “Dude, what?”

  Ruiz looked offended. "Just wondering why Hamilton?"

  “Oh Jesus H. Ruiz, really?” I ran my hand over my recently shorn head.

  “Yeah, I mean hes not better looking than me. ”

  “Thats not what your mom said last night, Ruiz,” Hamilton shot back, offended that Ruiz thought that he was better looking.

  I shook my head. Of all the comments Ruiz could make. Throwing my arm around the smaller guy, I said, “Ruiz, you’re just too short for me. ” And then I thought about Sam and her small frame, which fit me just fine. “Plus. ” I dropped my voice low enough so just Ruiz and Hamilton could hear. “Hamilton’s got a small dick and I’m the only one who doesn’t care about that. ”

  “Fuck you, Phillips. My dick is just fine. Your sister…”

  “I don’t have a sister, fuckwad,” I cut in, forgetting about where we were. "You assholes. Knitting has fuck all to do with sex. ”

  Dorothy came over with a big-ass frown on her face and I felt horrible. “Sorry, Dorothy, forgot where we were. ”

  She shook her head and gestured toward the door. “Why don’t you go outside and finish your profanity-laced sex discussion there?"

  “Sorry. ” Abashed, I started out the door. I’d have to bring a big arrangement of flowers or something next time so that Dorothy and her mom would let me back into the store. Ruiz and Hamilton shuffled behind me, mumbling, “Sorry ma’am” to everyone as we walked out.

  "No, dont let them leave," another lady cried out.

  "God, no. Who cares what they’re saying? We havent had such eye candy in here since the last Lion trunk show. "

  "Oh, honey, if youre comparing yarn to this, you need to get out more. "

  "Youre right. Hot young Marines just dont measure up to Lion yarn,” the other woman shot back sarcastically.

  Once outside I realized I’d forgotten my knitting. Thankfully Mrs. B stuck her head out the door and handed me my pack. "Youre improving. Come back next week and Ill help you again. "

  "Thanks, Mrs. B. ” I took the bag.

  "Dont forget, the color switch happens in the back. Trap the yarn, dear, in the back. "

  Hamilton and Ruiz started snickering. Mrs. B gave us a cheery wave and I stomped off to my truck without looking back. I could hear the dickwads clumping behind me like they were going on a march.

  "In the back. " Hamilton and Ruiz roared.

  Later that evening, Hamilton came over.

  "You think this is the most girlie thing ever?" I gestured with my needles. Hamilton took a long swig of his beer and then watched me fumble with the yarn for a few rows.

  "Maybe if you were any good at it. "

  "I think my fingers are too big. "

  "Thats what the ladies tell me too. "

  Shaking my head, I eyed the pattern Mrs. B had drawn for me to see how crappy the next few inches should look.

  Hamilton offered his own assessment. "Looks like a piece of dog crap if he ate the yarn, got the runs and then shit it out. "

  "Thanks, man. " I threw it down. "Fuck. What am I doing?"

  "Dont know. What are you doing?"

  "Why do we fight, Hamilton?"

  "To protect our country, preserve freedoms, uphold the honor of the Corps. "

  "But whats the point of all that?"

  "Regular access to prime pussy?"

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