Page 18 of Closer

In this moment of his pure honesty, I suddenly know what I saw in his eyes when I first met him but couldn’t place. It’s the look of innocence, the look of a child – but it was so out of place in his adult body that I hadn’t recognized it at first. This guy is lost, and in need for someone to love him. And for the first time, I gaze back at him with understanding in my eyes. Brent gets it. Finding peace in what just passed between us, he closes his eyes and slowly lowers himself down onto my chest, still heaving from the after effects of our passion.

He lays his head on my breast, and gently lets his body go slack as I fold my arms around his muscular torso as far as they will go. He snakes his arms around my waist in response and we lay there are few moments, until our breathing slows to normal.

“Brent?” I whisper. But the slow and steady rise of his chest indicates he’s fallen asleep. I don’t move, even though I’m being crushed under two hundred and fifty pounds of pure muscle.

For the first time, I notice the scars on his skin. Some look old, others newer. They look like they were caused by mostly scrapes and cuts, not bullet holes or anything, thank goodness. And the thought of Brent being shot makes me feel sick. I’m glad I met him, fell for him, after he joined the Army because I would never have survived the heartbreak of constantly worrying about a man like this. I’m glad his tours are over. He’s back now, safe and sound, here with me.

I push away the nagging reminder that he’s not mine, even after this shattering sexual experience. The little voice in my head that says he’s interested in dating Amy. Somehow, I push it away, only wanting to live in the here and now. The muscles of this beast of a man may be slack and the power inside him may be dormant, but the purity and sincerity I saw in his eyes were real. Consumed by contentment, I allow myself to lay my head back and match Brent’s easy rhythm of breathing. Peacefully, I fall asleep.

I don’t know for how long I’ve slept, but when I wake up, the afternoon sun is casting long shadows across Brent’s bedroom. A blanket is draped over me and bathed in the golden light, I’m in heaven. But Brent is nowhere to be seen. I sit up, listening, and for a moment I figure I’m alone in the house. But then there’s some clanking coming from the other room, along with the delicious smell of food. My mouth starts watering. I dress hurriedly and follow my nose, entering the opening plan kitchen living room where Brent is bustling with that broad back to me. I watch him bend down and take something out of the oven. He’s godawful gorgeous, that bronzed back muscular and wide, his butt perfectly shown off in a pair of loose sweatpants.

“What did you make?” I ask. Brent starts so violently he almost drops the dish. “Sorry!” I exclaim, giggling. But my man is laughing too, putting the dish down safely on the cooling rack and turning to face me.

“I didn’t even know you were up. You move like a panther,” he grins at me. I’m shy suddenly, not knowing what to do with my body.

“It’s meatloaf, by the way,” he adds, gesturing to the dish. I gape. Did this man just make dinner for me?

“My mom’s working late today, so I promised I’d cook,” he clarifies, sending my heart plunging into my stomach. I’m such an idiot, thinking he’d cook for me, when actually this is his mother’s house. Embarrassed for even entertaining the idea, I smile and start collecting my things, which I’d mindlessly dumped on the sofa in the living room earlier, too caught up in the passion.

“I almost didn’t wake up in time to do it,” he adds, now sounding awkward. I sling my bag over my shoulder.

“Are you leaving?” he asks, eyes quizzical.

“Yeah,” I answer, trying to sound casual. “I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on. You know, school, and all that.”

“Shit, I’ve kept you from your work, huh?” he says with a grin. “Although I don’t regret it at all.”

“Me neither,” I smile back saucily. “But I need to keep my grades high for my financial aid.”

He nods, understanding, rubbing his jaw.

“Let me give you a ride back to campus,” he says, grabbing his keys.

All the way back, we don’t say a word. I can feel the tension in the air as he drives. He’s uncomfortable. What’s changed in the last few hours? I’m still me, after all, but suddenly, he feels like a different person. Brent pulls up next to where my car is parked but leaves the motor running.

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