“Your.” I looked up at him. “You’re famous.” I gasped at him. He laughed.
“You can say that.” He smiled at me before looking through more of my picture some more.
“You’re freaking Thomas White!” I gasped at him as he smiled at me.
“That is my name.” He smirked.
“You are famous with the rich.” He nodded.
“My father-in-law helped me with work after I lost my leg in Desert Storm. I guess it snow ball from there.” I pulled a face at him.
“But you do photos right? Why would you want to hire me a 19 year old that draws tattoos?” He looked at me.
“You would be surprised how many people would kill to have a hand drawn photo. You have the talent here. I would be more than happy to help expand on it. I’m sorry I never got your name.” I put my hand out shaking my head trying to clear it.
“Sorry. I’m Bailey, Bailey Williams.” He smiled at me.
“Thomas White but everyone calls me Tom expect my wife who still calls me Tommy.” I look back at the card. “You’re in shock?” I nodded pulling my hoodie up on Fin’s shoulders as his blanket.
“That oblivious?” He nodded.
“It’s crazy first. Trust me. I was terrified when I first started. But it passes. I don’t think I could change that now.” I looked at him.
“But the corps?” He smiled.
“I lost my leg. I couldn’t go back I didn’t want a desk job. But I got honorably discharged. That’s what made it okay. All 26 years of it.”
“Do you regret it? Any of it?” He looked at me with a thoughtful face.
“No. Not one minute. It was worth all of it. Every minute of it. Don’t regret a thing.” I looked up at him as he stared ahead of himself.
“Tom?” He shook his head and looked at me.
“Sorry.” I shook my head.
“It’s okay. Can I, can I ask you a question?” He nodded at. “Marine’s girl to Retired Marine.”
“Was it hard to leave your family? Your son?” He nodded at me slowly as he thought of it.
“It was terribly hard. One of the hardest thing I will have to do. War nothing compared to leaving them. I promise it not get easier. It doesn’t. But as time goes on you will find a way to cope with it. I remember in all my 26 years it always felt like a bullet to the heart every time I left my wife even when she was just my girlfriend. When my kids were born it got worse. But I can’t regret leaving them. My wife is one of the strongest women I could ever meet. Yet she has a heart of gold.” He smiled at me as I smiled at him. “You remind me of her. You care for someone even when they don’t treat you with an ounce of respect. I have marines that can’t even do that. It’s something to proud of.”
“Thank you.” I smiled down at Fin stroking his hair as he slept happily with his pacifier in his mouth.
“If you ever want to go bigger than just drawing and designing tattoos give me a call. The jobs always open. I would be proud to have you on team. Don’t fear to give me a call.” I nodded at him.
“Thank you, for everything.” I buckled myself in and moved Fin so I could tighten his seatbelt. The Captain was talking about how we were going to be making our landing soon. Tom smiled at me.
“It’s nothing. Do call I would love to have you on my team.” I looked at the business card before nodding putting it in my pocket.
“I’ll have to talk to my boyfriend first. We’re a family.” I nodded trying to explain myself. Tom put his hand on my arm.
“I understand. It’s a marine thing. You don’t have to explain it to me.” I put my sketch book back into my bag. Fin woke up as the plane started to make its way down to the airport. His pacifier fell out of his mouth as he started to cry as his ears started to feel the drop.
“Almost down Fin. Hush baby it’s almost done.” I picked up his pacifier that was lying on his alligator and put it into his mouth as he held onto me crying as we landed in California. “All done see. No more.” He lifted his hands up to me to pull him out of the seat and into my arms. I held him close as people started to move out of the plane. I pulled the bag out from under the seat and shoved Gator, Fin’s alligator, into the bag zipping it shut before pulling it to wrap around my body as it hung from my shoulder. I lifted Fin up moving to stand ready to walk into the aisle. I looked at Tom as he stood up. “You okay?” I asked him turning to help him up. He nodded.
“My leg gets stiff if I don’t walk. These are long flights.” He sighed as I helped take a couple of steps forward.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” He shook his head.
“I just need to walk it out.” Tom’s wife came to our line of seats.
“How was the flight?” She smiles at all of us.
“Good. I’m a little sore.” Tom said as we both walked out of the seats.
“On no.” She pouted at him kissing him. She turned to look at me.
“Thank you.” I smiled at her. I smiled as Taylor came walking over.
“Oh Bailey the pleasure was mine. As I said before don’t fear. I’d be proud to have you on my team.” Tom’s wife looked at him.
“I think I might.” Taylor smiled saluting Tom back as he saluted him. Taylor kissed me pulling my bag off my shoulder and pulling it on his next to his bag.
“Ready baby?” I nodded. I smiled one last time at Tom and his wife as their son came walking over to them. I walked off the plane as Taylor kept his hand on my lower back the whole time as if to make sure I was there near him. We got to the gate when Taylor stopped me. I looked up at him before he kisses me.
“I missed you the whole time.” He kissed me again before kissing Fin’s head.
“But I was only a couple of rows away.” He shrugged.
“But you weren’t next to me so it wasn’t close enough.” He whispered kissing me again.
“I love you.” I smiled at him.
“I love you too.” I smiled at him as he draped his arm over my shoulder as we made our way to where we had to pick up our bags and Fin’s stroller. Taylor found our bags and the stroller easily. He put the bags on the floor so he could put the stroller together and smiled at me as I laid Fin in it as he sucked away on his pacifier. I picked up my bag as he shook his head at me. “Come on my brother should be waiting in the lobby area for us.” I nodded as we started to walk again. Taylor smiled at a guy standing a little away from the doors going out of the crowd LAX airport. He had dark brown hair and a strong jawline and the same blue eyes as Taylor. He had to be older but you could tell they were related.
“Hey Bro, long time no see.” He smiled at him moving his hair out of his eyes. Taylor walked over giving him a brotherly hug before turning to look at me.
“Eli this is Bailey. Bailey this is my older brother Eli.” I smiled at him.
“So you’re the guy my brother never shut up about.” I blushed at him. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“You too.” Eli keened down to look at Fin.
“Hey Buddy. How’s my nephew?” Fin smiled at him before looking up at Taylor. “He talks?” Taylor nodded.
“I think he is just tired from the flight still.” Eli nodded. He took a bag from Taylor. “Did you put the car seat into your truck like Mom wanted you too? Because if you didn’t Fin isn’t getting into that truck without it.”
“Calm down Tay I put it in this morning. Mom checked.” He smiled at us. “And Taylor I’m 26, older than you, don’t treat me like a child.” Taylor shrugged.
“Just looking out for my son.” Eli nodded.
“Alright come on you three let’s get you all into the truck and back to the family home.” He smiled as we made our way into the parking lot of the airport. Taylor put his arm around me as we got to a dark blue pick-up truck. “Just throw the stuff into the back.” Eli nodded pulling the back open looking at us. I looked at my bag then at Taylor.
“You can put it by Fin’s feet. You don’t have to put it in back. It’s alright.” He whispered to me. I nodded quietly as he took it opening the side door putting it down right in the foot space under the car seat. I picked Fin up and sat him in the green car seat before buckling him in. He smiled at me through his Sarge, from the movie Cars, pacifier making me smile. I kissed his head before Taylor dropped the rest of our bags in the back as Eli collapsed the stroller putting it in the back. Taylor took me around to the other side of the truck and opened the door.
“You alright baby?” He whispered taking my hand so I could lean on his to get into the truck.
“Yeah I’m fine.” He looked at me.
“You would tell me if you weren’t, right?” He asked in a quiet tone so his brother and Fin couldn’t hear.
“Of course.” I whispered looking down at my lap. He nodded kissing me gently before closing the door staring at me through the window.
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