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 way.
“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………..
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