Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Twelve

I finally reach the apartment and I fall down on the bed face first and let the memory of that smile carry me off into sleep. The shocking sound of my new alarm clock causes me to wake with a start. I’ve been so used to sleeping in short blocks of time that readjusting to the typical night sleep for most people has been trying. I roll off the bed and head for a shower. I check Rowan’s room and find it empty. I guess I’m going to breakfast alone this morning. I pull on my old boots under my old jeans and pull on a stone grey t-shirt. A day of construction sounds like a great distraction today.

But first I’ll need a hearty breakfast. I pull into the diner and smile when I spot the Indian across the lot. I step into the diner and head towards Lexi’s section and take a seat in a booth.

“Good morning.” Her sweet voice greets me within seconds of taking a seat. Damn she’s fast I didn’t even see her when I came in. I smile broadly up at her.

“Good morning, sleep well?” I ask her sweetly and she smiles with a slight blush as she nods.

“Yourself?” She asks coyly. I nod my reply. “Coffee?”

“Please.” I indicate nodding towards my cup. She rests her knee on the bench beside me and I let my hand gently caress it as she pours the coffee in front of me. Her free arm is leaning against the back of my neck as she watches what she’s doing. I let my eyes roam greedily over her body as it leans over me. The silky soft feel of her knee against my fingers is sublime.

“I’ll give you a moment with the menu.” She says seductively into my ear and I smile at her, before she walks away. When she returns a few minutes later she seems to notice the chair opposite me for the first time. “Where’s your brother?” She asks seemingly embarrassed by not noticing his absence earlier.

“I don’t know. He never made it home last night.” I tell her. “Damien’s not an axe murderer is he? I mean should I be worried?” I say playfully. She shrugs very nonchalantly.

“I don’t think so, but he does buy an awful lot of plastic sheeting for a lawyer.” She tells me seriously. I laugh at her playfulness and she laughs as well. I order a big breakfast and she winks before leaving me to enjoy my coffee. She returns after a minute and places a newspaper down on the table as she continues walking. I open up the paper to start reading. I barely get to the sports page before my breakfast arrives. I smile up at her as I fold the paper down.

“Anything interesting?” She enquires as she nods towards the paper.

“Nothing in particular.” I inform her seriously. I check my watch and she catches the action.

“Somewhere you need to be soldier?” She asks seeming offended by my distraction. I smile at her and tell her about the volunteer project I need to be at shortly. She looks around the diner for a moment before sliding in the booth next to me.

“That’s really an incredible thing to do.” She says proudly as I eat. I shrug it off.

“I just needed something to keep me busy while I figure out my next move. I mean what do you do after eight years in the army?”

“Well what did you do before the army?” She asks curiously.

“Nothing. I went straight from college into basic training.” I explain continuing to eat.

“What did you study at college?” She prompts. I smile.

“As little as possible. I was there on a football scholarship.” I explain with a wicked smile.

“Where did you go to college?”

“My brother and I both went to Yale.” I tell her proudly. She smiles a wicked smile at me.

“So you’re a bulldog?” She queries and my face lights up at her knowledge. I nod still chewing on my food still in shock. “I probably saw you play.” She informs me.

“You went to Yale?” I ask her in disbelief. She shakes her head and smiles at me.

“No I went to Notre Dame. I always went to watch the home games.” I look at her in disbelief that I may have passed by her at some other point in my life.

“You would’ve still been in high school when I was playing college ball against Notre Dame.” I insist. She bursts out laughing.

“Oh you’re smooth.” She smiles shaking her head at me.

“When did you graduate?” I ask trying a roundabout way to determine her exact age. Her face looks like it’s been struck.

“I didn’t.” She confesses standing up from the booth. “I dropped out during my sophomore year.” She says with a pained smile. I look at her ruefully clearly this isn’t something she likes to be reminded of. I’m about to apologize before she shoots me a quick smile and sets off to attend another table. Of course she never graduated. Who graduates from Notre Dame to become a part- time diner waitress? I wonder if I’ll ever find out what happened.

I think back to the prick on stage at the bar last night. Maybe that’s why it was such a bad break up because she’d given up so much for him. I chew on my food violently wishing I had throttled him last night. How could you let someone give up their dreams to help you follow yours then discard them. How could anyone be stupid enough to discard Lexi? I let my mind fantasize about what life would’ve been like had I met Lexi during one of those college games against Notre Dame.

Maybe she would’ve graduated, I would never have gone into the army. There is no way I would have ever been able to leave a girl like her behind. Our whole lives could’ve been different. Nothing haunting either of us. I look up and see her kind eyes staring at me. Shit. How long have I been day dreaming? She laughs at me as I look at her in shock. I glance down at my watch again. Shit. I’m late. I drop my money on the table and I jump as she laughs at me.

“Will I see you later?” I ask urgently as I stand in front of her. I can feel the eyes of the other customers watching us. She bites her lip and shakes her head at me.

“I have rehearsals tonight.” She informs me ruefully. I let my forehead down to touch hers. As I take her hands in mine.

“Then when?” I plead. She shrugs.

“I’ll be here tomorrow morning.” She whispers. I look into her eyes.

“Then so will I.” I promise her before giving her a quick kiss. I turn to leave, trying desperately to tear myself away from the place. She watches me leave with a shy smile. I’m halfway across the car park before I hear her voice call out to me. She runs at me and leaps into my waiting arms as I take her mouth into mine with a possessive passion that makes my stomach clench. I let her slide back down to the ground as we break our kiss. She slaps my arm, hard.

“You didn’t say goodbye.” She pouts. I laugh at her.

“I’m sorry Lexi.” I tell her pausing as I let her name roll off my tongue. She closes her eyes at the word. I lean close to her ear. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodbye.” I add with another kiss. I leave her as she walks back towards the diner and I smile as I pull out of the driveway and onto the street.

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