I could feel my heart kick up as I felt Tanner's warm breath on
my cold face. I swallowed as I looked up at him. His lips were
only inches away from mine when he spoke. "I'm sorry." He
whispered as his whole body shivered as a breeze brew on us.
"Don't be. Come on inside so you can warm up. Do you have a
change of clothes?" I asked gently as I rubbed my hands up and
down his arms trying to get his body temperature up. He nodded.
"They are in a bag under the passenger seat in a camo bag." He
nodded. I pressed my lips to the cold skin on his arm.
"Get what you needed for Hunter and I will get the bag." I smiled
at him. He nodded as his teeth started to chatter. "Hurry before
you lose your ass." I giggled pushing him as he went to the back
of his truck. I opened the passenger door and pulled the bag out
from under the seat. I closed the door quickly as the temperature
was dropping fast. Asher was fast asleep sucking on his blink as
he lay under a blanket in front of the fire. Tanner stood holding
a bow with Hunter's kit on top.
"Where is his room?" He asked between his teeth chattering.
"His is the door at the end of the hallway." I pointed to the
hallway. He nodded walking down the hallway. When he came back I
had a towel as he was soaking from the melting snow on his
t-shirt and jeans. "Here, this will help." I said handing it to
him. He pulled off his t-shirt making me stop in my tracks. He
was best friends with my brother and Hunter was 6 feet of
muscles, but Tanner made him look small. I swallowed as I looked
at his upper body. Every muscle was toned and he had a dark tan,
my guess from being in Afghanistan. I shook my head knocking
myself out of the spell he had me under. He rubbed his chest dry
as I picked up Asher gently. "I am just going to put him in my
room. Will you be okay?" I asked looking at his face. He had a
cut on his forehead. He smiled.
"I will be fine, go put the little guy down. " He smiled rubbing
the little hair he had dry. I nodded and quickly put Asher in the
crib in my room before grabbing the first aid kit from the
bathroom. When I came back into the front room Tanner was sitting
on the floor is a pair of sweat pants.
"Hey." I smiled walking over to sit on the couch. He looked up at
me and smiled.
"Hey." He sighed looking back at the fire that was now roaring in
the fire place. He still had no shirt on, and I liked it that
"Tanner, look at me." I said gently put my hand on his shoulder.
He looked at me. I put my hand on the side of his face. "You have
a cut." I said touching it causing him to flinch. "I'm sorry." I
whispered. I opened the first aid kit and got a wipe out to clean
the cut. I looked at his bare shoulders and noticed the tattoo
that was on his left shoulder. "Hunter said you were coming for
Christmas this year." I smiled putting some butterfly band-aids
on the little gash. When he fell he must have hit a rock or
something. He looked at me.
"I told him I wasn't going home for it because me and my parents
aren't really on good terms right now. He said that he won't let
me spend it alone so he said I could come." He smiled pulling his
knees up and folding his arms on top of them.
"No one should spend Christmas alone. It's not right." I sighed
closing the kit and looking at him. He looked so lost. "Tanner,"
he looked at me. "Why are you and your parents fighting?" I said
putting my hand onto the tattoo on his shoulder. I stroked my
fingers over the words.
He looked at me as my thumb ran over it. His eyes filled with
tears before he looked away and closed them. "They hate that I
became a Marine. They couldn't stand the idea were since my
brother was killed about 3 years ago." He took a deep breath
trying to calm himself down. I sat down next to him on the floor.
He looked at me with his jaw clenched as he fought his lip that
wanted to wobble as he fought the tears. "His plane got shot
down and he didn't make it. I was only 17." He closed his eyes as
a tear rolled down his cheek. "I barley know you and you already
had me soaking wet, half naked, and know I'm crying." I reached
my hand and wiped the tear that was on his cheek. I rubbed my
thumb on his cheek.
"It's not your fault Tanner." He leaned his face into my hand as
he closed his eyes.
"He was my best friend. He told me were thing, I loved him. But I
always knew that my parents loved him more. He was always there
to protect me as I grew up, I felt like my world was shattering
when they told me he was gone. I always felt like he was just
going to walk through the door every morning, but he never did."
I watched as the tears rolled down his face as mine rolled down
mine. He looked at me. "When I joined I did it to honor my
brother. To make him proud of me. My parents hated it. They
thought I was throwing my life away for something I never wanted.
I thought I was just going to go through the 4 years then go to
college and start over. But as time pasted I loved it more and
more. I found my dream job." He started to laugh. "I just don't
feel like I made Wyatt proud and now, as the time he died comes
closer I feel like I let him down." He put his head on his arms
as his shoulder shook as he cried.
"But Tanner you could not make made him prouder." He looked at me
as the tears rolled down his face. "He loved you, your happy.
Isn't that what matters?" He nodded turning to me. "Then I bet he
is proudest he could be." I felt the tears roll down my face as
my own words stung me. Tanner looked at my face before opening
his arms and patting his lap. I crawling into in and snuggled
into his skin as my tears fell.
"Seems we both need a little bit of comfort." He smiled laying
his chin on top of my head. It felt like we sat there for hours
as he both cried for the lost, him of his brother and me of my
trust. I felt so tired but I didn't want him to go. For the first
time in a long time, I felt safe………..