Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Nineteen

“So.” I breathe out exaggeratedly.

“So?” She counters with a laugh.

“Any thoughts on what you’d like me to cook for dinner?” I ask her. She laughs a full laugh as she sits up to look into my eyes.

“That’s right. I kicked your butts.” She says proudly. I scoff. She slaps my arm lightly. “Don’t be a sore loser.” She scolds me playfully. I smile a full smile at her. “That’s better. I think I might like a grill tonight.” She says thoughtfully. I smile a beaming smile at her. That I know how to do.

“We can do it under the stars around the fire pit in the back yard.” I tell her. Her face lights up at the idea.

“Perfect.” She smiles down at me then her gaze looks back towards the bank and she laughs. “I’m kind of glad they’re still asleep and didn’t witness our little show.” She says as a blush creeps up her cheeks. I look over in their direction and laugh at the sight.

“Want to help me wake them up?” I ask mischievously. She bites her lip and nods with just as much mischief on her face. “Let’s go.” I whisper as I silently slip into the water and wait for her to slide into my arms in the water. She shivers on impact.

“It’s cold now.” She whispers as we swim towards our targets.

“Are you ever going to explain those rope swing skills to me?” I ask as we swim. She smiles wickedly at me.

“I’m just a natural talent.” She boasts pausing. “Or it could be left over from training from being on the high school dive team.” She adds nonchalantly and I stop swimming and glare at her with my best I’ve-been-played smile and she laughs softly trying to stay quiet as we reach the bank. I jump out and help her up. I shake my head as we quietly stand over Rowan’s snoring body. He and Damien are both totally out of it. I quickly scan the surrounding area looking for an idea when I feel a tap on my shoulder.

I look at Lexi who is wearing an evil grin as she points out the cooler with the melted ice sitting in it not far from us. I throw my head back trying to keep silent. I look at my evil counterpart full of pride. I grab her face with both of my hands as I plant a powerful kiss on her lips. I move my lips to her ear. “You really are the girl of my dreams.” I whisper quietly then I lean back and her eyes are filled with playful desire.

I step away from her quietly as I reach over and pick up the large cooler and try to walk back careful not to make any noise. I stand next to Rowan and I can barely contain the laughter in my body. I use my head to indicate for Lexi to step back. This is going to be hilarious but he’s going to react violently. I feel the weight of the cooler in my arms and my sore shoulder screams in protest. This is going to hurt, but it’ll be worth it. I lift the cooler and empty the icy contents onto Rowan’s body.

The reaction is instantaneous. “ARRGHH!!!” He springs up like a jumping jack and I dodge him dropping the cooler as I run. He’s on me as we race around the small bank. Lexi’s scream distracts me as I see Damien pick her up and jump into the water with her. That momentary distraction costs me as Rowan hits me like a linebacker tackling me into the water as well. I surface spluttering and laughing while Rowan continues calling me every name under the sun. Damien has a few choice words for us as well.

Lexi is laughing so hard tears are streaming down her face and she can hardly breathe. She’s standing waist deep in the water clutching her sides trying to stop laughing but she can’t. Damien splashes her with water and I can see his anger fizzle out before my eyes as he looks at her laughing. Rowan however is livid and takes a swipe at me which I duck and then it’s on as he tries to tear me apart.

I quickly get the upper hand. His attack at the airport was a fluke, he’s no match for me. I hold him under to the water in a headlock until he gives, which he does. Now he is really pissed.

“You would’ve done the same thing.” I tell him certainly. He smiles at my laughter he can’t help himself and he knows I’m right. His anger seems to fizzle out as well then his eyes lock onto my neck. His face breaks out into that shit eating grin of his.

“So what’d you two get up to while we were napping?” He asks accusingly never taking his eyes off my neck. Lexi’s laughter chokes off as she follows his gaze to my neck. Her face turns a violent shade of pink as she drops her gaze. Damien looks at her completely confused before his eyes see the mark on my neck that Rowan points out ungraciously. Something dark flares in Damien’s gaze at me for a moment before he grabs Lexi by the arm and pulls her from the water.

“We’ll meet you guys back at the house, we need to have a little girl talk.” Damien calls as Lexi picks up her dress and her towel. She barely has time to pull her boots on before he pulls her away.

“Do you know the way?” I call suddenly concerned with what’s happening. Damien doesn’t turn around but he points in the direction of the house. Lexi shoots me a quick apologetic smile over her shoulder as he leads her away. Rowan and I just stare after them for a moment before pulling ourselves out of the water.

“What was that about?” I ask Rowan he shrugs as he picks up him towel.

“He’s pretty protective of her, maybe he just wants to make sure you didn’t hurt her.” He offers. I look at him stung. He rolls his eyes. “I know you would never hurt her, but he doesn’t know you that well.” I look after the direction they left but they’ve disappeared from sight now. I help Rowan collect everything then we each grab a handle of the now emptied cooler and begin to stroll back towards the house.

“So what happened?” Rowan asks pointedly gazing at my neck again. I shrug innocently.

“Nothing like what you’re thinking.” I assure him. My smile widens on my face at the memory. That heated encounter will now permanently be etched into my brain.

“You’re in love with her aren’t you?” He asks suddenly serious. I laugh at his seriousness.

“I don’t know man. I mean love?” I say trailing off. “I don’t really have anything to compare it too. We didn’t have great role models growing up. I know I’ve never felt like this about anyone before.” I try to explain. He laughs.

“Yeah our role models were how not to treat your spouse.” He confirms. “What do you mean you’ve got nothing to compare it to. What about Stacey whatshername from college?”

“She was sweet, and I enjoyed spending time with her but I don’t think it was love.” I explain.

“And nothing since then?” He asks sadly. I smile reassuringly at him.

“I haven’t been celibate, but it’s only been to satisfy physical needs. So nothing serious, no.” He looks at me thoughtfully.

“So how do you feel about Lexi?” He asks as we keep walking. I sigh. Where do I begin?

“I can’t stop kissing her, I need to touch her all the time.” I try feebly to explain.

“That could just be attraction, you would crave that after our upbringing. I bet there wasn’t a lot of hugging in the army.” He challenges. I laugh.

“No not a lot of hugging in the army. Its more than just physical attraction. I feel like I can’t breathe until I see her smile, then her smile takes my breath away it’s a vicious loop.” I exhale and see his eyes watching me curiously. “I’ve only known her for a short time, but I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. The other day I got so lost in a day dream about how different my life would’ve been if I met her in college.”

“Go on, I know there’s more.” He teases. I smile brightly.

“She’s so goddam sexy, and challenging. She’s strong but there’s a delicacy to her as well. The thought of her being hurt by anyone turns my blood to boiling lava. I wanted to rip that singer’s head off the other night. Then at the same time I just want to hold onto her and keep anything bad in the world from ever touching her again.” I finish off. I can’t think of the words I need to express everything else. I look over and see his beaming smile.

“You’re in love with her.” He concludes matter-of-factly. I laugh at him.

“How can you be sure?” I query. He smiles.

“We’ll do a quick test.” He says pulling us to a stop. I eye him warily.

“When did you first see Lexi?”

“Ten days and sixteen hours ago.” I answer flatly. He smiles.

“Favorite color?”

“Her hazel eyes.” I shoot back feeling like a complete tool.

“Could you handle seeing her in love with another man?” My heart drops.

“No.” He smiles knowingly.

“Now for the piece de resistance.” He pauses for effect. “Tell me the happiest moment in your life before you first danced with Lexi.” My mind goes completely blank. Shit. He bursts out laughing at my pause. “See, its love.” He reaffirms. Panic shoots through me.

“What do I do?” I plead as we start walking again. He tisks as he looks back at me.

“You need to figure that one out bro, it’s different for everyone.” He says sympathetically. I sigh in frustration. How can I love her so quickly, it’s like part of me has always loved her and was just waiting for the rest of me to catch up.

“My poor pathetic brother.” Rowan teases beside me as we keep walking.

“Like you’re in any better shape than I am.” I shoot at him and he feigns shock for a moment.

“Is it that obvious?” He asks rhetorically and I glare at him. “It is isn’t it? Man I’ve got it so bad for him.” He concedes and I laugh at him.

“We’re in the same boat up shit creek.” I tell him. He laughs

“Yeah except we’ve lost the paddles and the boat’s sprung a leak.” We laugh together until we emerge from the cornfield beside the house.

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