Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Ten

After settling into Rowan’s apartment he’s left me alone to make myself at home while he goes into work for a few hours. The spare room in this two bedroom apartment is the only understated thing about this place. All the appliances are new and the latest technology is everywhere. The décor and artistic flare of the place is completely unique and out there. I realize that this is my brother’s sanctuary. I finally figure out where everything is then I decide to take a run to get to know the area.

After a few hours of running I head back to the apartment. I get there to find Rowan sitting at the kitchen counter with tubs of Chinese food on the bench in front of him. He looks at me shocked as he takes in my appearance.

“Have you been running for almost four hours?” He asks incredulous. I shrug.

“No idea.”

“Well when I disarmed the alarm on the way in before it tells you how long ago it was set. Which was almost four hours ago. And you look like your ran through a waterfall.” I smile at him shaking my head.

“I guess I had some energy to burn.” I explain and his jaw hits the counter top.

“Damn I need to find a soldier if they’ve got that sort of stamina.” He teases and I laugh.

“I better take a quick shower.” I say moving past him.

“Well hurry the fuck up man, the food’s going cold and the game is about to start.” He calls out after me. I take his advice and hurry back to join him in the living room where possibly the biggest TV I’ve ever seen in person is displaying the Monday night game in full resolution. It feels like we’re on the field. I grab a container of food from him and he hands me an icy cold beer.

I down the beer in a few seconds, I guess I needed that. I look at him and he rolls his eyes at me.

“Freezer.” He says as he takes a mouthful of food. I jump up to grab another beer and then we sit and enjoy the game, calling out the refs over their ridiculous calls. I’ve missed this. After the game he flicks over to find jeopardy on another channel. We both have a few beers under us by now. Our answers are moronic as we try to play along screaming abuse at the flat screen. We burst into a fit of laughter when we actually guess one right.

A sudden wave of exhaustion hits me and I look over at him. He seems tired too.

“I think I might turn in.”

“Yeah man me too.” He agrees. “Oh I’m off to work tomorrow so if I don’t see you before I wake up. I shouldn’t be home any later than six.” I pat his shoulder.

“Okay, goodnight.”

I wake up to find the light is brightly assaulting the window of my room. I get up to organize myself. I’ve been back almost a week now and I still haven’t got a clue what I’m going to do next. I head out to check on a few things. I purchase a cell phone, I check on my safety deposit box at the bank then I check on the nest egg I have in my savings account. After eight years of having everything provided by the army, and not having any real expenses. I’ve built up quite the nest egg.

Between my regular salary and hazard pay from special op’s missions I’m not in a hurry to find work by any means. I am ready to start enjoying my freedom though. I make my way through a few real estate offices with no real idea what I’m looking for. I get back to the apartment frustrated as I jump online using Rowan’s laptop to explore real estate listings.

For a moment I consider living somewhere other than Nashville, but I would never want to live too far away from Rowan. Not now that I’ve just got him back in my life. I’m frustrated by not knowing what I’m doing and not having a plan. In the army it was simple, you had orders and your followed them. You had a mission, and a goal. Now I have freedom of choice and I have no idea what to do with it, it’s been so long.

I swipe the flyers from the real estate’s off the bench and they land on the kitchen floor. I jump down to pick them up and I see something interesting on the back of the flyers. A call for volunteers for community housing projects. They need people to volunteer on crews to help rebuild homes in the counties outside the city. I call the number on the flyer to speak to one of the foreman. He seems impressed with my skills and asks if I can do two or three days a week with his crew. I agree there and then, desperate for a distraction of purpose.

After speaking with the foreman and getting directions to join him tomorrow I feel a sense of calm settle into me. I may as well be helping others while I figure out my plans. I hear the door behind me open up and I’m surprised by how late it is as Rowan walks in looking like he’s had a rough day.

“Rough day at work honey?” I mock. He glares at me.

“Just for that comment, no pizza for you.” He snaps. I apologize as I hand him a beer from the fridge.

“Fine, one piece.” He concedes and we laugh. “I need a bath, a bottle of whisky and a massage stat.” He declares and I laugh at him.

“I can run you a bath, but I’ve only got beer. As for the massage, I can pummel you until you can’t feel your body anymore.” I offer sarcastically. He shrugs.

“Might work.” He surrenders.

“Oh come on cheer up, a few turns around the dancefloor with Damien will make it all better.” Bingo. I think as I watch his face light up like a Christmas tree.

“That’s right we’re going to the bar tonight.” He starts fangirling and I have to look away. “Oh that boy is not going to know what hit him tonight.” I cringe as I see the dangerous mischief in his eyes.

“Fine, but if I get a call from the police station to bail you out again I’m leaving you there this time to teach you a lesson.” I explain harshly.

“That was you.” He laughs walking down the hallway.

“Oh yeah.” I laugh back. I finish off the pizza and set about having a shower and getting ready. I know I’ve got at least another hour before Rowan is even half way ready to go so I clean up the mess I left in the kitchen. Then I burst into laughter as Rowan struts down the hallway wearing skin tight jeans and a black fishnet shirt with his nipples hanging out of it.

“What? Its tits out Tuesday.” He smirks and I shake my head still laughing.

“You’re my brother and I love you, but if you leave the house wearing that you’ll be doing it alone.” I threaten him playfully. He feigns a betrayed look before he cracks up laughing.

“I really just wanted to see your face.” He teases before wandering closer to the bench. “What’s this?” He asks picking up the volunteer flyer. I explain briefly about my day and my plan to volunteer building houses to keep me busy for a while. “That’ll be good for you. You were always better with manual labor.” He agrees with a hint of sadness in his eyes as he sees the reverse side of the flyer with the real estate listings.

“Hey, I’m not going anywhere. I was just looking into things.” I explain gently. He nods handing me the flyer. He disappears from the kitchen to finish getting ready.

Rowan finally emerges from his room to walk the small hallway like he’s on the run way at a fashion show somewhere rather than in his apartment. I suppress a laugh as he twirls and sticks his hip out in a pose. He looks every bit the male model tonight. His skin tight dark blue jeans. He’s wearing a white tank top that is stretched tightly across his chest. Then he’s left a short sleeved black dress shirt completely open to expose the top beneath. Suddenly he shoots me a dark glare.

“I can’t believe you’re not ready yet.” He hisses taking in my shirtless appearance.

“I only have one more thing to add.” I shoot at him as I pick up the white dress shirt.

“No I have a better idea.” He calls stopping my actions as his darts back down the hall to his room. He comes back and flings a black tank top at me. I look at him.

“It’ll be too small on me.”

“Exactly, then over the top you can leave the white dress shirt undone.” He instructs. I’ve learnt it’s quicker to give into him rather than try to argue. My dark blue jeans are hanging over my shined boots. I put my hat on and walk towards the door. Rowan stops me. He undoes the cuffs on my sleeves and rolls them up to my elbows leaving my forearms exposed. I suddenly remember something and I dart into the bathroom for a splash of aftershave.

I reemerge to be greeted by Rowans signature grin. “Told you that scent was hot.” He affirms. I smile gratefully at him as I motion to my body.

“Well?” I ask seeking his approval. He spins his finger motioning for me to turn around while he studies me.

“I don’t think I could’ve done any better myself.” He says approvingly. I hit his arm as we head for the front door. The bar is actually not that far a walk from Rowan’s apartment. He said that’s why he bought the apartment because of its location. Its half way between the bar and his office. I love his priorities, he definitely believes in a work life balance.

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