Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Sixteen

When we pull up in front of Lexi and Damien’s apartment building Damien jumps out of the truck. “I need to run up and grab something from my place, I’ll get her as well.” He says with a wink back at us. I turn a glare on Rowan, now finally alone.

“Want to tell me what happened to the apartment last night?” I ask him and his face breaks out in a wide proud grin and he just shakes his head. I laugh at him “I’m glad you’re happy Ro.” I tell him honestly.

“Ditto.” He says slapping my shoulder. “I’ll jump into the back with Damien so you can have your girl up front with you.” He announces jumping into the back seat I turn and smile at him. I see Damien and Lexi on the stairs and he’s carrying her bag for her. I jump out and open up the passenger side doors for both of them. I grab a hold of Lexi and lift her up into the seat and stand between her legs as I grab her face in my hands and kiss her.

Damien throws her bag in the back of the truck before jumping in next to Rowan. I release Lexi letting her spin around before closing her door for her. As we reach the city limits the entire mood of the car seems to relax. We spend the drive swapping funny anecdotes from our childhoods. Lexi told stories about her brothers and getting them into trouble. Rowan told the stories from our childhood. He remembers them better than I do anyway. He also has such a flare for storytelling.

I let my fingers entwine with Lexi’s closest hand as I drive. The sound of everyone laughing fills the truck almost the entire drive. As we get closer to the house, despite knowing my parents aren’t there I get uneasy. I glance into the rearview mirror and see Rowan is just as uneasy. I hear a seatbelt unclip and watch as Damien slides closer to Rowan and puts his arm around his shoulders comfortingly.

Rowan looks at him gratefully as I continue our drive. “Personally I can’t wait to see the assembly line that produced the two of you.” Damien announces as more laughter fills the car.

“Yeah me too.” Lexi adds. “And Rowan I’m holding you to the promise of showing me all of Links embarrassing photos.” She says over her shoulder to him. His smile breaks out wide across his face.

“Oh darlin’ you are going to die laughin’ with all the dirt I have on your boy.” He tells her proudly. I try to ignore the threat. Yet there are a few vivid memories I have that could be coming back to bite me in the ass shortly. Rowan leans forward and pats my shoulder.

“I’ve been waiting so long to be able to do this to him.” Rowan announces to the car.

“What you never embarrassed him with any other girl he brought home before?” Lexi asks incredulously.

“He’s never brought a girl home before.” Rowan says deadpan as he turns to look at Damien. I can feel Lexi’s eyes on me and I turn to look at her. She looks curious and I smile at her. Her face is a mix of disbelief and pride. I bring the hand I’m holding to my lips and kiss it as the tires hit the gravel of the driveway.

“Holy fuck.” Damien exclaims as he takes in our plantation style southern house. It’s the biggest house around and the rich soil it was built on has produced a lush farm land around the house for miles. As we drive up the driveway Lexi and Damien are both staring at the place like a luxurious palace, while Rowan and I are staring at it like a prison.

“This is your childhood home?” Lexi asks with incredulity written all over her face. I nod and smile at her. It’s a house, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt like it was a home. Not really. Suddenly Rowans high pitched nervous laughter erupts from the back seat and I slam the brakes in panic searching for the cause.

I glare at him concerned and he’s shaking his head still laughing as he points towards the front of the house. I panic searching the area, their car is gone so they aren’t here but what caused that reaction in him. I look back at him as his laughter dies down.

“Next to the steps.” He says indicating the direction with his head. Then I see it. I exhale and start moving the truck forward again as I shake my head at the sight.

“What is it?” Damien asks curiously.

“That would be Link’s army trunk.” Rowan informs him certainly.

“Why is that funny?” Damien asks curiously I turn and see the question mirrored in Lexi’s mind.

“Ro.” I say quietly cutting him off. “It must’ve arrived recently, Dad mustn’t have been able to pull it inside by himself.” I offer the lie to our companions and Rowan just chuckles a dark laugh. We pull up in front of the house.

“Okay do we want to drive to the water hole or walk everybody?” Rowan asks us like a teacher addressing a class room. I glance concerned at Lexi remembering her injuries. She smiles reassuringly.

“I could use some fresh country air for a while.” She affirms and Damien concurs. We jump out of the truck and grab what we need.

“I’m just going to take Damien inside for a moment to help my grab some things. You two go ahead, we’ll meet you there.” Rowan says to me and Lexi. I take the hint grabbing our towels and pulling her along with me. There’s a spread out formation of old oak trees around our farm that seem to be welcoming us as cool breeze leads us towards our destination.

“It’s a little bit of a hike.” I warn Lexi. Her arm winds around my waist as she smiles.

“That’s okay, this place is beautiful Link. You must’ve loved growing up here.” She says as we walk. I pull her towards the cornfield.

“Come on I know a short cut.” I tease and she laughs as she follows fearlessly into the tall stalks. We walk for a while as she tries to describe the difference between this place and the mountains in Alaska where she grew up.

“The water hole that we’re going to was mine and Rowan’s sanctuary from our house when we were growing up. Some kids have tree houses, we had this.” I say gesturing to the area around us as we finally arrive. I watch as her face light up taking in the surroundings. The sun is glistening off the water ripples being created by a gentle breeze. There are trees surrounding the entire water hole. It’s a large pond really it’s about a quarter mile in circumference. There is a small jetty over the water on one side with a couple of canoes tied to it.

Opposite the jetty there is a tree with a rope swing hanging over the water teasingly. In the almost dead center of our oasis is a floating pontoon that Rowan and I built. The willow branches of some of the trees hang low creating a curtain of sorts around half of the water hole. The sun beaming down is creating a heavenly glow over the entire scene making it look like the true oasis it has always been to me.

Standing here now on the grassy bank with my goddess makes it heaven on Earth. Lexi looks every bit the goddess today in her long white flowing dress. Her hair is being blown gently by the breeze like its invisible fingers are combing their way affectionately through her hair. Her eyes find mine and the happiness in them almost brings me to my knees in worship beside her. Her smile stops my heart as much as it always does.

She stands up on her tip toes and I kiss her softly. We break from the kiss and I pull her hand after me as I take off. “Come on, we’ll drop our stuff over here.” I say indicating to my favorite grassy bank. It’s so lush and soft and the sun always warms it so it feels like a soft blanket against your back when you lay on it. I stop and round on her grabbing her up in my arms and swinging her around. Her laughter pierces the silence around us.

I put her back down on the ground where I dropped our towels. “Let’s go for a swim.” I whisper urgently in my ear. I feel her tense completely beside me and I lean back to find a panicked look in her eyes. “What you can’t swim?” I tease lightly trying to ease her tension. “It’s really not that deep.” I add. Her eyes calm and her body relaxes as she smiles at me.

“It’s not that, I just don’t want you to react.” She says concerned.

“React to what?” I ask curiously. She bites her lip considering her options. “Hey.” I say lifting her chin in my fingers. “You can wear my shirt in the water if you want to.” I offer her suddenly thinking she might be modest. She smiles a beaming smile at me as she wraps her arms around my neck and brings my lips to hers.

After she breaks away. “You have to promise not to overreact.” She says pointedly. As she starts teasingly untying the straps holding up her dress. I would promise her anything in the world right now as long as she doesn’t stop. I smile reassuringly at her and hold up a scouts honor pose. She laughs as she takes another step away from me and eyes me seductively.

How I ever thought this goddess could be modest, I have no idea. She lets one of the shoulder straps fall loose as she nimbly works on the other. “You swear?” She queries playfully holding the last strap hostage. I laugh at her smile and shake my head.

“What do you have a tail or something?” I ask laughing. She laughs and shakes her head.

“No.” She informs me. “I did get a nasty bruise from my fall the other night.” She adds and my look drops from playful to a mask of perfect serenity. She drops the last strap and her dress falls down the length of her body to gather around her boots. I smile reassuringly at her as I let my eyes freely take in the appearance of the goddess before me. Her light blue bikini accentuates everything perfectly fitting her. Her ample breasts and curved hips seem at odds with her lean stomach muscles.

Her entire body has a graceful beauty and lean musculature from years of dancing. Every muscle is perfectly feminine but strong as well. Her tanned skin catches the sun and seems to absorb it before my eyes. Her skin tone is perfect as I follow the curve of her hips I see the dark shading and my eyes narrow on the area as she turns her body side on to face away from me. My hand flies to my mouth to stop the string of curses about to fly out of it. She flinches at the angry gasp from my lips.

I recoil myself as I take a step towards her. There is the largest dark purple bruising I’ve ever seen on one body. And I’ve seen a lot of bruises. The mark is about six inches wide give or take and travels from the lowest part of the back of her left shoulder blade, down her ribs and back, over her hip down her thigh to the back of her knee. The color changes over the terrain of the bruise as well. It’s almost completely black on her lower back and then a bright blue over the round of her hips. It goes back to a deep purple and mix of blue near her knee.

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