Chapter 53 - Always
"I have a few questions."
River said as she disconnected our lips.
Of course, she would have questions. I already knew that was coming but I didn't want to stop kissing her. I didn't want to watch anything in the night sky either, all I wanted to do was press her body as close to mine as possible.
My watch beeped and she sighed.
"I guess they can wait."
She smiled as she stood up.
The meteor shower kept her attention for longer than I liked but the look on her face was worth it. It scared me to think about all the things that I was willing to do to make her happy, and all the things I had already done.
"How long are you here for?"
I didn't want to lie to her, but if I told her the truth right now it would ruin the rest of this.
I told her and it wasn't a lie.
"How long have you been here?"
She always knew more. Always.
I repeated the words which again, were not a lie.
River eyed me, she studied me in the way she always had. The way that used to make me uneasy because I liked it too much. I loved how curious she was, she always knew the right things to ask, and it still amazed me.
I could tell she wanted to ask more, she was onto something and she was aware there were things that I wasn't telling her. When she changed the subject it made me second guess the whole thing. This no longer seemed like the right way, and my mouth opened before my brain could stop it.
"I bought a house."
I blurted out as she was in the middle of telling me about one of her biology classes. The need to explain myself was too much and when she didn't press me even though she knew that I was keeping something in, the dam broke.
"Here. I bought a house here."
"Why would you do that? You aren't stationed here."
"I transferred. My billet was up, and New Haven had an opening."
That's what it was. But I was keeping that to myself.
River only stared at me. She shivered and I remembered we were outside in the freezing Connecticut air.
"Do you want to see it?"
I cranked the heater up and loaded the telescope and basket of snacks back in my Bronco.
"I can follow you there in my car, that way you don't have to get back out."
I wanted to tell her that wasn't going to happen but I thought better of it. I pulled into the diner and waited until River was in her car with the engine cranked before I backed out. My palms were sweating the entire way even though I was freezing.
I turned left into the subdivision and my gut told me this was it. She wasn't even in the same vehicle that I was but the feeling was still strong.
The realtor showed me at least twenty houses. I was close to giving up but the second I pulled onto this street, I knew.
This was our place. Mine and hers.
And I had no idea what I would do if she didn't see it too.
I pulled into the driveway and took a deep breath as I stared at River's headlights in my rearview mirror.
A house with a porch, definitely a nice kitchen, and maybe a big tub. But it could have all of those things and I still wouldn't want it if I didn't have a decent spot in the backyard so that I could watch the clouds blow by.
River and I never had a shortage of random conversations. Half the time I couldn't even remember how we ended up on certain subjects. And that particular day was no different, she asked me what my dream house would have and I shrugged, telling her that it didn't really matter to me. Which was true, but I was more interested in her answer than thinking of one for myself.
It was a simple answer, nothing too surprising about it but from the second she said it all I wanted to do was make sure she had exactly what she wanted. I looked at houses with huge soaking tubs and nice kitchens, and some with wrap-around porches but not one of those houses had a good enough view of the sky for her.
But this one, it somehow had everything.
We were standing in the driveway, both staring at the house.
I looked at her out of the corner of my eye but I couldn't gauge what she was feeling.
Her arms were crossed over her chest and she was chewing on her bottom lip.
"Want to go inside?"
She nodded and I followed her up the front steps. I slid the key into the deadbolt and said a prayer that she didn't murder me.
River stepped into the house first and I kept my distance, watching as she took it all in. I painted the walls a pale gray because the white was too bare for me and I knew she would've hated it but wouldn't have told me.
"I'm putting up crown molding in the living room next."
She nodded and walked around the couch toward the kitchen.
It was the nicest kitchen out of all the houses I had looked at. All the appliances were brand new, I could barely work the microwave.
Her eyes found mine and I could see her wheels turning. I didn't need a house like this. I needed a bed and a few take out menus. River walked into all the bedrooms, they were all pretty empty besides a couple of boxes here and there. She found the master, the only one with an actual bed and two dressers, and she walked straight into the bathroom and stared at the massive soaking tub. Even I could fit in it comfortably.
She turned around and walked straight to the back door.
She pushed it open and rushed outside turning around slowly while she looked up. This was what I had spent the bulk of my time on because I knew that it was most important.
I had just finished building the deck and hanging the colorful paper lanterns from the pergola. There was a fire pit to the far right of the yard but the majority of it was wide open. Trees framed the edges but left a perfect spot open for her to look at all the damn clouds that she wanted to. She stood in the very center and looked straight up at the night sky while I held my breath and waited for her response.
After a few more seconds her eyes found mine and I knew it was coming.
River closed her eyes and exhaled.
"Who did you buy this house for?"
I shrugged, there was no use in denying it. It was all for her.
Once I finally let myself accept it, everything was for her.