Cowboy Boots and Combat Boots

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Chapter Thirty Nine

The wheels of the plane touching down rouse me from my sleep. I feel an irrational anger towards the airplane for rousing me from a dream that’s so beautiful that it hurts to be woken from. I look out the small window beside me at the familiar scene of heatwaves rising from the tarmac that the merciless sun is beating down on. A voice announces our arrival over the intercom and it causes my heart rate to increase.

The anticipation of what I’m about to face is suddenly overwhelming. The ding of the seat belt sign being turned off echoes through the cabin as I stand and grab my knapsack from the overhead compartment. I straighten out my uniform as I stand in the aisle. We’re taught to always look presentable in the army. We’re delayed for a moment as we wait for the attendants to open the doors.

I feel my hand move to the pocket over my heart and unclip it. I pull out the photo of Lexi’s smiling face and I smile back at it. I hear a sigh over my shoulder as I turn and see an older man staring at Lexi’s photo as well. He smiles a knowing smile at me. “She’s beautiful son.” He says to me with that familiar look of gratitude I see in older men when they look at a soldier in uniform. I smile back at him humbly.

“That she is.” I confirm seriously. As I re-pocket the picture. Our line starts moving slowly.

“That picture’s seen better days though.” He says with a soft chuckle. I nod smiling back at him over my shoulder as we make our way towards the exit of the plane.

“It’s been through a lot.” I explain simply and he nods at me understandingly. As I enter the tunnel I adjust my knapsack and straighten my shoulders and march head on into whatever I’m about to face. As I exit the gate I glance around the terminal lounges feeling strangely on guard, prepared for an attack. I look down the length of the airport lounge gates and my eyes see something that looks like a bird flying through the terminal.

I look closer and my heart nearly jumps from my chest as I take in the beautiful sight running towards me. Her long tanned legs in cowboy boots and cut off denim shorts take long graceful strides as her flowing white top flows against the breeze her speed is creating. My breathing hitches as I finally take in her heart stopping smile and piercing hazel eyes as they lock onto mine. Her long auburn hair flows out behind her making her look ever like the goddess that she is.

I’m completely awestruck at the sight of her and I’m frozen in place. Barely able to believe this isn’t a dream. My eyes sting from the tears filling them, I try desperately to blink them away. Because if this is just a beautiful dream I don’t want it blurred by tears. My heart is pounding in my chest so fast.

“Link.” Her sweet voice calls down the terminal. I think my breathing has stopped. She gets closer and I let myself believe that this is real. She leaps out from a few feet in front of me and I catch her as her body slams into mine. I wrap my arms tightly around her and squeeze as her arms wrap around my neck and hold on just as tightly. I can finally breathe with her in my arms again.

I inhale the scent of her peach scented shampoo and I breathe out and exhale of pure relief.

“You’re real.” I gasp into her neck as I hold her tightly against me. My tears flow unrestrained down my cheeks as I feel the warmth of her body, feel the rapid beat of her heart against mine. “You’re really here, this isn’t a dream.” I whisper the words like a prayer in her ear. She leans back to look in my tear filled eyes. Her smile nearly knocks my feet out from under me.

“Shh baby, it’s okay I’m here with you.” She coos as her hand caresses my cheek. Her eyes moisten and her smile is blindingly bright. In all my dreaming I could never match the perfection of that smile, and here it is. I shake my head in disbelief. Then I rest my forehead against hers as I hold her body in my arms. She laughs a soft laugh and I open my eyes and look at her. My lips rush to hers of their own volition.

Her lips match mine in a desperate attempt to make up for the two years they were kept apart. Our tear trails merge on our cheeks and I can hear applause start up around us. The whole world fades away and all I can see is her face, all I can feel is her body clinging to mine, all I can taste is her kiss. My whole world is her, and I’ve been fighting through a blood spattered hellish nightmare to get back to my world. Back to her arms, and it was all worth it for this moment right here.

We’re lost in our reunion and I continue my claim on her lips like they’re my reason to live. Her laughter against my lips breaks our kiss and she leans back with a wicked smile playing on her lips. Her hands wiped both our faces from the left over tears. Her eyes sparkle with that challenging glint. “Missed me huh?” She asks and bites her lip to try and suppress her smile. I laugh as well.

“Every second.” I confess with conviction. She releases her legs tight grip on my waist and slides down me very deliberately. I groan and narrow my eyes at her.

“Did you miss me?” I ask coyly. She smiles and nods as a seductive smile plays on her lips. She pulls my head down and I feel her lips graze on my ear.

“I intend to show just how very much I missed you as soon as we’re alone.” Her seductive whisper nearly causes my knees to buckle then she grabs my earlobe between her lips and nips it lightly with her teeth. I wrap my body tightly around her again and I bury my face in the side of her neck. Her arms tighten around the back of my shoulders in a fiercely protective hold. I feel her body shake with laughter beneath my hold.

I let go and stand in front of her, I bring my hands up to her face. I lean close wearing my own wicked smile. “Let’s get out of here then.” I whisper urgently. She smiles brightly as her arms wind around my torso and squeeze. I try not to wince as her arm crushes against a recent injury. I let my free arm drape around her shoulders as we start to walk towards the exit. We barely make it to the escalator before my lips take hers again. She’s on the step higher behind me making us nearly the same height.

We’re so lost in each other I’m surprised by the end of the escalator nearly causing me to trip backwards as it rams into the heels of my boots. She laughs as we break our kiss before we injure ourselves. Her smile is beaming as she looks up at me as we walk along to the baggage claim. Then her look flashes to guilty. “I hope you slept on the plane, because we kind of have big day ahead of us.” She informs me playfully as her eyes drift over my shoulder behind me.

Confused I turn to follow her gaze. My smile widens as I see Rowan and Damien both walking towards us. Then my confusion returns as I take in their appearances. They’re both wearing tuxedos. Damien’s is black and Rowan’s is off white. “You didn’t tell him did you?” Rowan shoots at Lexi as they reach us.

“Of course not.” She claims incredulous. Rowan looks back at me and smiles before throwing his arms around me. I hug him tightly and grit my teeth against the pain piercing my side from his grip on my wound. He laughs and steps back.

“Thank God you’re finally here I’ve been waiting forever to ask you this.” Rowan says in feigned annoyance I look at him in confusion then I look to the others for explanation. They both shrug and shake their heads at me. Rowan drops to one knee in front of me and presents a shiny metal flask.

“Lincoln Beauregard Jefferson.” He addresses me from the floor and I start laughing at him as he tries to maintain a serious façade. I hear Lexi giggling beside me. “Will you make me the happiest man in the world and agree to be my best man?” Rowan finishes his declaration and hands me the hip flask with the words best man engraved on the side. People have stopped to watch the display he’s putting on.

I laugh as I take the flask from him. My heart swells with pride and I smile at him. I pull him up to his feet and embrace him in a bear hug again. “Of course I will. I would be honored to stand by you in this.” I tell him assuredly. He squeals as he jumps back away from me and starts fangirling. I look at Damien and smile approvingly as he moves in to hug me.

“Thank fuck you’re back Link.” He says with seriousness as he backs away his smile turns playful. “Because your brother refused to marry me until you came home.” He adds with feigned annoyance at Rowan. I laugh as I slap Damien on the back.

“Well congratulations to you both. And Damien, best of luck to you.” I add laughing. Everyone laughs as I move towards the baggage carousel. “So when’s the date?” I ask over my shoulder and I’m met by three pairs of wickedly guilt filled eyes.

“Ah today.” Rowan announces. My eyes go wide as I look at him and realize now why they’re dressed like that, and Lexi’s warning about a big day ahead becomes clearer. I smile at them all and laugh.

“Well good thing I didn’t miss my flight.” I tease Rowan. He scoffs then looks pointedly at Lexi.

“You were never going to miss the flight that delivered you to her.” He informs me indignantly. He’s right. Lexi blushes as I smile at her. I grab my bag and it’s taken from my hand almost as quickly.

“I’ve got this.” Damien announces as Rowan pulls my knapsack off my shoulder.

“And I’ve got this.” Lexi steps up to me and winds her arms around my waist.

“And I’ve got you.” She whispers and I smile at her. We all walk together out to the truck and I try not to let my eyes well up at the sight of it. I don’t even try for the keys, instead I climb into the back with Lexi. I sit there holding her barely aware of our movement.

The truck pulls up outside a strange house. Lexi smiles at me as I look at her confused.

“This is us.” She tells me as she opens the door and jumps out. I follow her instantly. Rowan and Damien jump out too and Rowan throws the truck keys at me as he follows Damien towards the Mercedes parked on the curb.

“Lexi.” Rowan snaps seriously and we both turn back to face him. “Do not get lost in the throws of passion.” He barks seriously. “I mean it, you have one hour to meet us there.” He adds wagging a finger at her. Lexi laughs as she takes my free hand and pulls me towards the house.

She opens the door and I drop my bags as I look around the interior of the house. I look at Lexi and smile as I see photos of me on the walls of the hall lining a staircase. There are photos of the two of us together as well. I smile at the memories of them. There are photos from my childhood and photos of Lexi from hers. I’d recognize that smile anywhere. “Welcome home Link.” She whispers nervously.

I look at her as she stands at the base of the stairs looking nervously at me trying to gage my reaction.

“When did you move?” I ask trying to gather information. She shrugs.

“About eight months ago. Damien moved into Rowan’s apartment. They tried to get me to move in there with them but that would’ve been a terrible idea.” She informs me with a smile and I laugh at the thought. “I knew you were looking for a house before you left. I wanted to find the perfect house for both of us. I wanted to give you a real home to come back to.” She confesses. Then she looks guilty and her eyes seem rueful.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her concerned as I take her face in my hands.

“All your stuff is already here. I hope you don’t mind that I went ahead and did that. I couldn’t really ask you if you wanted to live with me over the short sporadic phone calls we shared while you were away.” She confesses and she starts trembling she’s so nervous. I smile at her with nothing but love.

“How is it possible to be away from you for two years, and standing here looking at you now I’m more in love with you than ever before?” I ask her earnestly. She smiles as her trembling stops.

“So you do want to live with me?” She asks with a smile and I laugh at the thought she could ever have thought I didn’t. I nod at her seriously. “And you like the house?” She queries. I nod again.

“I love the home that you’ve made for us. It’s perfect, you’re perfect.” I tell her. Her smile beams at me as she starts pulling me up the stairs. She’s mapping out the house for me as she leads me quickly through. We arrive at door. I’m still looking around at everything in awe. She opens the door to the master bedroom and I smile as I see the window that overlooks a lake running through the property the house sits on.

I stand by the window looking at the trees and green fields bordering the property line and the lake edge. Her arms wind around me then she indicates her head towards a tree over hanging the lake. “I thought that would make a great tree for a rope swing.” She says with a smile and I nod as I turn back to face her.

My eyes catch something on the bed and I smile at it. The Red Baron sits proudly on top of the pillow staring back at me. Lexi follows my line of sight and laughs as she hugs me.

“We have to get going shortly.” She exhales ruefully. I look down at her and flash a wicked grin.

“How much time do we have?” I ask suggestively. She smiles seductively at me.

“I think we’ve got just enough time for a shower.” She whispers and I scoop her up off the floor into my arms.

Epilogue

After the deeply intimate ceremony celebrating the commitment of Rowan and Damien we wish them a great honeymoon before stealing away back to our home. Lexi and I spend the entire night letting our bodies express their deepest desires for each other. She was true to her word clearly expressing how much she missed me.

I lay here watching her in the morning sunlight and I carefully get up to get dressed. I haven’t slept all night and she only fell asleep an hour ago. I smile at her as I pull on my clothes. I leave a quick note explaining that I’ll be right back. Then I quietly leave the house to fulfil my secret mission. I find my first target easily. The second is a little more difficult.

“It’s perfect.” I congratulate the sales attendant as she polishes the ring and boxes it up for me. I race home hoping to get there before she wakes. I set up my surprise for her and I leave it in the room next door as I make my way back into the bedroom. I peel my shirt and boots off and crawl in behind her. I wrap my arms around her and she rolls over to look at me. She smiles before her eyes fill with suspicion.

“Where were you?” She asks sleepily. I laugh as I smile at her.

“I had to go check on something.” I say vaguely. I can see she’s about to challenge that. “You know.” I say cutting her off. “This place is kind of big. How many bedrooms did you say it has again?” I ask coyly. She seems to settle.

“Five, including ours.” She informs me. I nod thoughtfully.

“Where you planning on having a lot of house guests?” I ask playfully. She blushes and bites her lip and her smile turns shy. She nods weakly.

“Really? How many others were you planning to have live with us?” I ask feigning ignorance at her shyness.

“At least two, possibly three.” She confesses then bites her lip again. I look at her with fake incredulity.

“House guests?” I ask suspiciously. “And how long were you planning to let them stay?” Her smile turns playful. She jumps up and on top of me straddling me.

“I think the average stay is about eighteen years.” She says playfully. I smile brightly at her but I stay silent. “So?” She asks me. I look back at her.

“So?” I shoot back playfully. She slaps the side of my arm and I laugh at her annoyance.

“Don’t mess with me right now Link.” She fires challenging me. I fix her with a serious glare.

“Tell me what you want from me goddess.” I plead urgently. She leans closer to me. Locking her eyes on mine as she takes a deep breath.

“I want to have your children. I want to fill this home with our loving family. I want to wake up in the morning to a smiling face bearing a smaller pair of your deep blue eyes staring back at me. I want to hear our children’s laughter as the dog chases them around the backyard. And I want to fall asleep every night in your arms.” She confesses boldly. I smile brightly at her.

“Are we taking that road trip soon?” I ask coyly, completely changing the subject. Her face flashes with uncertainty.

“Why, are you in a hurry to get out of here?” She asks with a trace of nervousness lacing her voice. I shake my head.

“I’d really like to meet your father.” I tell her seriously. “There is a question I’d like to ask him.” She looks at me with confusion and annoyance evident on her expression.

“What are you talking about? What question?” Her voice trails off as her face lights up with recognition and her breathing gets ragged as her smile sets on me. I smile at her and lift her off me back on to the bed beside me. She looks confused as I get up from the bed but her breathing is still ragged.

“Wait here, I have something that will help us get started on filling the house.” I tell her with a playful smile as I duck out of the room. When I re-enter her face turns into one of joy as I cradle the first addition of our family in my arms. I sit on the bed next to her and she reaches her arms out towards the golden retriever puppy. He seems to want to go to her just as much.

“Oh Link he’s adorable.” She coos as the puppy licks her face. Her eyes are filled with joy. Her smile is blindingly bright as kneels up on the bed cradling the puppy in her arms and brings her lips to mine. Then she backs away and looks at me seriously.

“So do you want kids or just this little guy?” She asks looking at the puppy cradled in her arms. I groan with pleasure at her.

“You have no idea how much I want to make a baby with you, possibly two or three.” I tell her with a wicked smile. She laughs at me then flashes her wicked challenging smile at me.

“I’ll make you a deal.” She informs me playfully. “If we manage to keep this guy alive and happy past a year then I’ll let you put as many babies in me as you can stand.” Her direct challenge makes me laugh and I bask in the glow of the love I have for her.

“Deal.” I accept playfully. Her eyebrow crooks up as she puts the now sleeping puppy down on a pillow on the floor bedside the bed.

“So what was that question you’re so keen to ask my father?” She asks with a smile. I shrug nonchalantly.

“It doesn’t matter anymore I think I was wrong about my way of thinking.” I tell her waving my hand in the air. Her face falls slight before she catches my smile. Her face beams again. “It’s just as a southern man I was raised to ask a father’s permission to marry his daughter.” I tell her like it’s a hypothetical story. “But those northern girls aren’t like the ones I was raised with.” I explain coyly. Her face flashes with playfulness.

“Is that so?” She asks crawling on to my lap to straddle me. I nod. “How are they so different?” She asks playfully as her lips wrap around my earlobe.

“Well, they’re far more aggressive to start with.” I begin explaining and I hear her laughter in my ear.

“Go on.” She prompts seductively letting her tongue trace my ear. I groan and try to hold on to my composure.

“They’re impossibly sexy.” I add as she continues her assault. “Unearthly beautiful. So strong and challenging.” I add like a confession.

“That sounds like you might be in love with one of these northern girls.” She whispers seductively in my ear before kissing my neck. I wrap my arms tight around her. I nod weakly against the side of her head as she kisses my neck.

“It’s a conundrum, because I’m so intimidated by this girl and the complete power she has over my happiness.” I explain desperately. She lets go and leans back to look at me.

“How can one little girl hold so much power over a man’s happiness?” She asks seductively. I smile at her as I reach into my pocket and produce the ring box in my hand. I open it towards her.

“If she were to refuse me, I don’t think it would be possible for me to ever be happy again.” I confess. Her eyes fill with tears and her smile is interrupted by her ragged breaths as a tear falls down her cheek.

“I don’t think she’ll refuse you. I think you have as much power over her happiness as she does over yours.” She reassures me through her eyes and sweet smile. I smile brightly at her as I look in her eyes.

“Alexandra Marie Harrison.” I say pausing as her hand comes over her mouth as she begins crying with joy. “Will you marry me, making me the happiest man in the world for the rest of my life?” I ask her heart felt. Her head is nodding vigorously as she removes her hand from her mouth and wipes her tears.

“Of course I’ll marry you. I’ve been wanting you to ask me that since you first asked me to dance.” Her words make my heart fly as I take her hand and place the ring onto her finger. She gasps as she tries to stop her tears. Her hand now adorned with the engagement ring caresses my face. I bring her face towards mine taking her in a powerfully possessive and joyful kiss. This is exactly how I want to kiss her every day for the rest of our lives together.

The End.

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