Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Seventeen

“How?” I breathe out desperate to understand how her fragile body could handle something this horrible. She shrugs as she turns back to face me her eyes lit with reassurance. She caresses my face.

“It really doesn’t hurt that much anymore, unless I bump it against something.” I can’t tear my eyes away from it. “I was dropped from really high in the air, someone missed a count. It was an accident, but I landed right on the edge of the stage. That really round black part here.” She says point to her lower back. “Is from the lighting fixture I landed on before it broke off.” She’s laughing and I stare at her in disbelief. Her hand takes mine in hers and she brings it to her bruised skin.

I shy away from touching the area but she holds firm to my hand as she guides it in a caress over the bruised area. Her smiling face doesn’t falter one bit. “I promise it doesn’t hurt, it just looks really bad.” She whispers urgently trying to dissuade my fears. I let acceptance run through me as I exhale and smile at her. She smiles even more brightly at me. I glance back at my hand resting on her bruise colored hip and I’m still annoyed that such an atrocity could happen.

The coloring is dark and cold and in complete contrast with the warm tanned perfectly toned skin of the rest of her body. That’s when my eyes catch it, or them. On the inside of her hip near me the perfect tan colored skin is interrupted by a white marble colored scar running a few inches vertically down her hip underneath the bikini bottoms. I let my eyes inspect her more closely and I find a matching scar if only a little longer on her other hip.

My blood is starting to boil inside me as I find more scars on her body. There are two more just above her breasts near the inside of her shoulders, they’re perfect imperfections on her skin. Each a clean line and different length. My fingers gently caress one in between her ribs. My heart is aching in my chest as I recognize the scars for what made them. My eyes find hers and she gazes down at my fingertips on her ribs and her eyes fill with a haunted panic.

She looks away from me nervously as she tries to get away from my grasp. I release her immediately. She turns her body away from mine and I find more of the perfect scars. My poor sweet goddess. What happened to you? I push my revulsion and anger at the thought of someone hurting her deep inside of me and I make a bold move.

I rip my shirt off and throw it at her playfully and she pulls it off her head and turns to face me and I hit her with my most wickedly playful smile. She smiles a small smile back at me as I remove my jeans leaving me standing before her in only board shorts. I take a careful step towards her and her smiling eyes are saddened again and I stop my advancement. I follow her sad gaze as she takes in my own scars on my chest.

Not quite as elegant as her scars, but many more of them and very confronting the first time someone sees them. I watch her carefully to make sure she’s not afraid of my appearance. She takes the steps towards me closing the gap between us, her hands lay gently over my chest for a moment before she winds them up behind my neck. I lower my lips to hers in a pleading kiss. Her kiss is the taste of salvation and I feel like I don’t deserve it and yet I can’t get enough of it at the same time.

She breaks away and I smile at her as she smiles back at me. “Shall we go for a swim?” She asks in a seductive tone indicating her head over her shoulder to the water’s edge. I shake my head following her gaze. She looks at me confused.

“There’s rules to this oasis.” I explain coyly as she studies my face. “First rule, you have to enter the water by that.” I tell her playfully looking behind her at the rope swing in hanging from the tree. She laughs as she follows my gaze. I start to pull her towards the tree as we laugh. I let go of her hand as I climb the tree to reach the branch to grab the rope. I jump back down gracefully with the rope in hand.

“Let the master show you how it’s done.” I smirk at her with a wink. She takes a step back gestures towards the rope. I take it between both hands and pull tightly to check the integrity before I give her a quick kiss and jump up on the rope. The breeze rushes past me as I take the long swing over the water. I let go at the perfect moment tucking into myself for an impressive cannon ball dive.

I surface and look back to the tree where my goddess is shaking her head in mock disappointment then she holds up her fingers scoring me a six for my swing. I throw my head back and laugh before challenging her to do better. Her hands go to her hips and she narrows her gaze at me. I watch as she reaches out grabbing the rope in her hands. She shoots me a confident playful smile before jumping up on the rope.

She swings out in a perfect grace like she’s flying, she waits until the last possible second before letting go and somersaulting in the air before extending her perfect long form to barely make a splash as she enters the water. My jaw is still hanging open when she surfaces a foot in front of me with a proud smile. I continue to look at her in amazement and she laughs at me.

“Well?” She prompts playfully. I try to act nonchalant.

“Eight, maybe eight point five.” I say coyly and she splashes water at me. I laugh as I reach out and pull her towards me. We swim until my feet reach the bottom and I bring her in closer to me. She wraps her legs around my hips as I let my hands run over her upper body in gentle caresses. Her hands lace and lock behind my neck as she lets her head fall back to look at the sky. I’m affronted again with the scars by her breasts and quickly tamp down the emotion their sight triggers.

I watch her with full admiration as the water drops on the line of her neck catch the sun. She pulls herself back up to look in my eyes and she smiles at me. I return the smile, but she doesn’t seem to believe it.

“What’s wrong?” She asks playfully. “Are you upset because my rope swinging skills surpass yours?” I narrow my eyes at her as she laughs. I shake my head and smile at her.

“I think I’m just a little tired today.” I try to explain away the exhaustion of keeping my emotions in check.

“Did I keep you out too late last night?” She asks with a seductive lilt to her voice. I laugh.

“No, Rowan and Damien.” I say by way of explanation. She tries to suppress the laughter as a blush stains her cheeks. I want to hear her laughter, I want to see the happiness that lights up her eyes when she does. “I swear I thought a band of pirates had broken into the apartment. There was so much noise and destruction.” I tell her and she bursts out laughing as she leans her head down against my shoulder. I laugh too, I let my happiness fill me and suppress all other worries as I hold my goddess in my arms in the middle of my childhood oasis.

We float there for a little while as our lips explore each other’s in a relaxed tenderness. Suddenly I feel her lips smile against mine as she starts laughing. “The pirates are here.” She whispers and I laugh turning to follow her gaze as Damien and Rowan appear on the bank with our towels on it. I watch as they lower a cooler and strip off in excitement calling out to us.

“You know the rule Rowan.” I call out instructively as I watch him pull a confused Damien towards the rope swing. Rowan goes first jumping in a cannon ball like mine. Damien laughs at Rowan’s boyish playfulness before taking the rope and swinging out and dropping into the water beside him. I watch as they laugh and splash each other. Then Damien grabs him forcefully taking my brother in a kiss.

I look back to my goddess who has also turned away from their interaction. Her face looks a little worried. Her gaze falls on me. “I think my friend is in love with your brother.” She confesses. My eyebrows rise up in surprise.

“How can you tell?” I ask her seriously as I glance back at them for a second trying to see the sign. She smiles at me.

“I’ve known him for a long time. I know he comes across as rude and harsh and kind of a dick.” She says with an affectionate laugh. “But he has the biggest heart, he’s just protective of it. I have never seen him like this with anyone before. The way he looks at Rowan.” She says with her voice filled with awe and love for the two swimming in the water not far away from us.

“Well I think my brother is smitten with him too. I’m sad that I haven’t been around much in his life the past few years, but he’s always kept me up to date. I have to tell you, that I’ve never heard him talk about any guy the way he has about Damien. Hell even the way he talked about him before they met.” I add assuredly. Lexi smiles brightly at me.

“Well if there’s nothing to be done.” She says coyly reminding me of our reaction when the boys first got together. I laugh just as I take her lips back in mine. I cannot stop kissing this woman. It’s like a drug I can’t get enough of.

“Hey let’s have a rope swing diving competition before lunch.” Rowan calls from not far away. I break away from Lexi’s lips to shoot him a bad-timing look. He ignores it and laughs.

“I’m in.” Lexi calls back to him before fixing me with a challenging glare.

“Me too.” I accept.

“I forfeit.” Damien calls looking directly at Lexi. She laughs then smiles a shy secretive smile before letting me go to swim to the bank. I vaguely wonder about the exchange. We all get to the tree except for Damien who stays in the water nearby.

“Stakes?” Lexi ask Rowan and his face lights up.

“Damien baby you’re our adjudicator. Call ’em like you see ’em. Best score of two dives wins. Loser cooks dinner tonight.” Rowan announces to us.

“And the winner?” I ask. He shrugs.

“Gets to choose what’s being cooked for dinner, bragging rights and a congratulatory kiss from the hot stud of an adjudicator.” He says laughing throwing a wink at Damien.

“You think you’ve got this in the bag huh?” I challenge him. He nods and smirks at me. “Then by all means set the bar for us.” I say throwing the rope at him. Rowan jumps up and swings far out over the lake before dismounting in a graceful dive. Lexi and I clap as he surfaces proudly swimming back to the bank. I go next and I swing backwards letting myself fall in a backward dive. I swim over to catch up with Rowan as Lexi flies out over water she lets go of the rope and looks like a twister in the air as she spins around at least five times before dropping like a perfect pin into the water.

Damien bursts out laughing. “What the hell was that?” Rowan demands as she surfaces. She shrugs coyly and Damien answers for her.

“That boys was a ten. You better step it up.” He calls out as we pull ourselves back out to the tree. Lexi joins us as Rowan grabs the rope swing and takes off again at speed as he somersaults in the air then cannonballs into the water. He surfaces feeling justified as he swims to Damien’s side in the water. I take off next pulling myself upside down and dropping off at the end into one and a half somersaults before diving into the water. I surface again and swim over to join my brother and Damien.

We all watch as Lexi takes the rope, she backs up a bit further. Then she jumps high securing her thighs around the rope as her graceful body flies out over the water upside down. She tucks into herself and a blinding fast triple somersault happens mid-air before she hits the water barely breaking a ripple again. I hear Damien’s laughter as Rowan and I watch her surface with our jaws hanging open. She smirks at us both as she swims past us towards the bank. We swim after her.

“I’ve changed my mind Link.” Rowan says as we swim. I look at him.

“About?”

“I thought she was your dream girl, now I’m convinced that she’s entirely too good for you.” He says laughing loudly as we swim. Everyone is laughing at his comment and Lexi looks back over her shoulder as she exits the water. That seductive smile seems to move me through the water like a shot and I’m on the bank next to her in a second.

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