|6| THE MOST BELOVED |:| (***Unedited Draft***)

She smelled like him.

Jason pulled her closer by the small of her back and angled his face over hers. He stroked her tongue with his deepening their tangle of sense and reality. Her beauty was startling when she presented herself in a shy holsum way.

He could tell by the way the plaid shirt hung off her body it was the only thing she was wearing. Her shiny bronzed legs were exposed just above the knee and her breasts were freed from the push up bra. He moaned feeling her soft curves flush against his hard body. Giving and receptive he wanted her. She looked more youthful without all the makeup and her natural winding curls that hung wet against her shoulders.

He stroked her jaw with his thumb scanning her face. Taking memory of the moment.

“Jason,” she whispered, finding his eye from under her long dark lashes. “I want you.” She stroked up his neck and up the back of his neck sending a shiver through him.

He grumbled and pulled away. He limped into the kitchen where hot water was boiling for tea. There were so many reasons why he should keep his hands to himself. He was, at the very least, hired on her staff to keep her safe. At the most, he was meant to arrest her for being in league with an international criminal.

“It’s okay. The curly hair is off putting. Makes me look twelve.”

“No.” He frowned over at her truly annoyed by what she said. She tucked some of the curls behind her ear and it came right back to rest in her face. “You’re so beautiful.” He turned his face away from her and cleared his throat trying not to stare. He had to keep his hands busy or he would succumb to his own desire. What was wrong with him? He said so himself that he wasn’t a man to be swayed by a woman’s whiles. Then again he didn’t think she was trying to seduce him. What would she possibly gain? He imagined she could have anyone she wanted--

“So tell me about your leg.”

He hardly noticed the silence with his mind so loud. “Do you want tea?”

“Yes, please.” She scooted on the bar stood chair that looked into the kitchen.

War, a far easier thing to think about as ridiculous as that sounded. Unlike a lot of the other injured vets, he didn’t mind the story because it allowed him to remember the men and women who would never be able to tell their story. “A shrapnel from a bomb lodged in my leg.” He glanced back over his shoulder when she gasped. He walked the tea over to her and set it on the counter. He rubbed his damaged appendage. “Never quite healed right. Most things don’t. Hurts like hell when the weather shifts.”

Her pretty face twisted in empathy. “I’m sorry.”

“You shouldn’t be. Not for me. Should be sorry for the men and woman who didn’t come home at all. Of Fifteen only five survived that bombing.”

She pressed her finger on her chest and shook her head. “I suppose you think I’m a real clueless bimbo. All the--” She waved her arms above her head. “Social media stuff and launch parties must seem like a joke after your time over seas.”

He sipped the tea and closed his eyes as the hot liquid caressed his throat. “Actually quite the opposite.”

She frowned pulling the mug toward her. “Please do explain.”

“Well, overseas, fighting the war at least I know that’s what it is. I know who my enemy is. With all this, between crazy fans, obsessed, jealous, social expectations, you have no idea it’s a war and no idea who your enemies are.”

She frowned grazing her finger tips up and down the mug. It was distracting, but he couldn’t look away.

“I hadn’t thought of it like that. Suppose it was what came with the territory. I thought I could handle whatever this threw my way. After tonight. I don’t know.” She took a sip. “Even at the club. I put on a strong face because that’s what I had to do. It’s what my dad taught me, but when it’s your reality it’s different. I haven’t had a dream since that night. Nightmares are the only company I keep when I close my eyes.” She looked off to the side and her facial expression tug at something inside of him. He wanted to comfort her. He wanted to take away the pain, the confusion that was evident.

She wiped the silent tears refusing to look his way. That moment told him she wasn’t the mastermind behind her father’s dealings. Guilty by association? Guilty by a blood bond to the man, maybe, but she wasn’t a willing participant.

Her grabbed her mug. “Let’s sit on the couch.”

She hopped off the stool with a silly look on her face that didn’t match her bloodshot eyes. “I love fires! So warm and cozy.”

He set the mugs on the coffee table and settled in a corner of the couch and she sat on her feet next to him leaving a small gap. “My father has four children including me. His eldest son is the only child that knows about me. I met him once. I was pretty young, but I’ll never forget him because he was just like his mum. Everything from the cold bright grey eyes to his puckered lips that looked like he was always sucking on lemons. Jason laughed at her as she tried to recreate her brother’s look. He was always so arrogant and belittled me alot. One day, after we moved to the States father told me he loved his sons, but that I was his most beloved. His only daughter and he enjoyed doting on me most. He did. He was always there for holidays and my birthday. I saw him quite a bit. The older I got and the more I learned about what he did I was surprised how often he was able to see me.” She turned to face Jason and her moist eyes caught his breath. “I wonder sometimes what life would be like if the story he made for me would be true. I look normal but--” She cast her eyes to look at the fire. “I don’t even know what that means.” She wiped the tears away. “I’m not complaining. I know others have it worse.” She reached for her mug and he intercepted her arm then dragged her into his lap.

She settled into him nestling her face against him. “Just because our worries pale in comparison to others, they are still our worries.” He rubbed his thumb across her furrowed brow and her pretty honey brown eyes opened to meet his. “Are you cold?”

“Not really but sorta.”

He pulled the throw blanket off the back of the couch and let it fall over her.

“My mom’s brother was a firefighter back in her home country. He always had good stories. I’m sure you’re full of stories. Do you mind?”

“I’m afraid my stories won’t do anything to help with those nightmares.”

She yawned. “I like the sound of your voice.” She mumbled. “I feel safe when you’re around.”

He held her a little closer reveling in her innocence. What war story should he char her lightened soul with?



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