Red Flag

Chapter 5

He pulled her into his chest, tried to hold back his tears. He could feel her sniffling against his broad shoulder, where she was nestled tightly in his arms. He squeezed her tighter, holding her firmer against him. He was so incredibly proud of her for all she'd done, against so many odds. Yes, he had faltered in his belief that she could achieve her goal at some point along the way, which would then become his mission above all else. But she'd done that and so much more.

A stifled sob escaped her lips, and he nestled his head against hers, breathing in her familiar scent, drawing her as close as he could get her. He wasn't sure when it had become so familiar, but he suddenly realized it was. He craved it, in some way. It was a source of comfort during these trying days.

He noticed the softness of her hair. He'd never been quite this close to her before. Yeah, they'd kissed just days ago, but this was different. This was an embrace. He held her, took comfort in her arms. They'd been through so much together in so little time. What felt like an eternity wasn't more than a mere few months. And he would do anything for her now, whatever she asked, he would do before even thinking twice.

She leaned into him, gripping his back as if it were her life line. She was so tired, but so relieved. It has worked, they'd done it! Her mind couldn't grasp the true meaning that all of this entailed, and she tried to hold a back a sob. Tears streamed down her face, but she wasn't sad. She was….happy.

He wrapped his arms even tighter around her, and she felt she was close enough to crawl under his skin. She was buried against his chest and shoulder. She felt incredibly safe, comforted. She knew he felt the same joy she found in her heart.

There was something about the feeling of his arms around her. She could stay like this for an eternity. This man she'd bumped heads with, this man she'd begged to trust her, this man who had protected her above all else, was an ally unlike any ally she'd ever had. They had their moments along the way, but at the end of the day, this day, they were a team. They'd come all this way, achieved all this together.

She could smell his after shave still; feel his breath on her neck where he nestled further into her when she let out another soft cry. This hug, this embrace, meant more to her than she could express. She could feel the head radiating off of him, feel the strong muscles of his back under her small fingers, feel very bit of the front of his body against hers. He rocked them gently, comforting her in her fatigue and tears of relief.

"Hey," he whispers against her ear, his voice full of emotion and rasp. It gives her chills. "You okay?" He asks, concern evident in his voice. She nods against him, not trusting her voice. There's so much rushing through her head, and yet she just wants everything to slow down, enjoy this moment, their victory, this feeling. She rubs his back slightly, gripping him tighter.

His arms are wound snug around her and he can feel her relax into him. He holds her for a while, swaying her. She needs this moment, they both do.

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