We had that relationship where the little boy would push the little girl down on the playground, and then kick dirt on her. Then he’d tell the whole school that she smelled like poop. When we were around the others of our group, we’d fight like cats and dogs. In private was an entirely different matter. He was sweet and funny; we laughed, and he listened while I cried.
Ember sent me a text earlier tonight saying her brother was being recalled back into the military. She told me they were having a party for him as a going away sort of thing, but I declined. I didn’t think I could do it. That is, until about five until midnight when I gave up, and went anyway.
Which led me to now. I was at Max’s door. No one was at Ember’s besides those that belonged there. Max had gone home nearly an hour ago. I’d been standing here for over twenty minutes, trying to work the courage up to knock.
My phone jingled in my pocket, and I dug it out to look at it. It was from Max.
Max: Gonna be gone for a while. Give me a call if you need me. I’ll check my messages when I can.
Simple. Pure Max. He knew I’d worry if I couldn’t get a hold of him, and he didn’t want me to. Over the past six months, I’ve shared many nights on the phone with him. He talked me out of my night terrors numerous times.
There would be times I’d wake up and have him on the line without even realizing it. I’d wake up to him talking to me quietly, soothing my fears down. He’d stay on the phone with me for nearly an hour waiting for me to calm down enough to go back to sleep.
Before I had Max, I would lay awake for hours, until daylight kissed the sky, scared to get out of bed. I’d been on medication, but all it did was keep me in a dreaming state, reliving my personal nightmare over and over again, unable to wake up fully.
The past six months have been miraculous, and it was all because of Max. I was ready a month ago, but I was too scared to admit it. Now, he was leaving and he could very well not come back.
I was scared shitless.
Scrounging up the courage that was rapidly depleting, I knocked on the door. Heavy footsteps sounded behind the door, and I waited while the lock was turned, and the chain released. It felt like an eternity before the door opened.
Max was a beautiful specimen of a man. Tall and lean, muscles in all the right places. Not bulky, but definitely not scrawny either. He had dirty blonde hair cropped closely to his scalp. He had lean narrow hips that tapered up to a well-defined chest. His eyes were hazel, ones that changed with his moods, exactly like his sister’s. A scar ran along his chin down the left side of his jaw, and disappeared behind his ear.
His eyes lit when he saw me in the doorway, and a little piece of hope took root in my chest.
“Hey.” I said.
He regarded me for a few moments before stooping down and grabbing me up in a bear hug. His arms tightened around my back. My hands were trapped between us, and my face squeezed up into the crook of his chin. My feet dangled a good ten inches off the floor.
At four feet eleven and a half inches, it was standard procedure to encounter a person taller than me. Max, however, towered over me with his six foot one inches. His face buried in my neck, and I giggled at the ridiculousness of being held nearly a foot off the ground.
“What are you doing here? Did you have a nightmare? I’m so sorry; I didn’t realize my phone was dead until I got back in from the party.” Max rambled with his head still buried in my neck.
Was it just me, or did he sound nervous?
His voice sent shivers down my spine. He had such a low, deep voice. He could easily compete with that country singer, Josh Turner, who could kill a low note. Such a rich, deep voice was made for seducing women. All he had to do was say my name, and I was gone. During our many late night conversations, I would calm just by listening to the deep cadence of his voice, droning on and on about nothing consequential.
He seemed concerned that he might have missed my call.
My heart swelled.
“You didn’t miss my call. I’ve been outside for twenty minutes trying to work up the courage to come knock on the door. Ember told me you’re leaving. I didn’t want you to leave and not hear from me before you left.”
He set me down on my feet and searched my eyes, looking for something. “That’s all you wanted?”
Heat crept up my neck, and Max laughed when he saw the blush.
“Are you trying to tell me you finally want me, and I have to leave the damn country in the morning?” He asked gruffly.
My mouth opened and closed like a fish. My face felt like it was on fire, and I didn’t know what to say. I mean, yes, on one hand, I wanted him as I wanted my next breath. On the other hand, however, I was scared shitless that he was going to leave and never come back.
“Yes and no.” I finally got out.
He raised a brow in question, so I continued.
“I want you more than I want my next breath.” I squeezed out.
“Baby, you can have me. I only have one night, but you can bet the cookie stash in your nightstand drawer that when I get back, I’ll be in your bed. If we do this, your mine. Don’t mistake this as some one-night kind of thing. You will be mine.”
I was left speechless. I mean, sure, he did say he wanted me before he found out about my attack. When I’d told him some of the details, he’d backed off, and I took that to mean that he was no longer interested. He answered my calls in the night, and I leaned more towards thinking that he felt sorry for me, rather than wanting me.
Guess I was wrong.
“I’m a hot mess, Max.” I said to him.
He gave a throaty laugh. “Honey, we’re all hot messes. Some more than others. You and I are probably neck in neck in the screwed up race.”