“I think you should go now,” she whispered.
I glanced at the clock on the wall and nodded. “Yeah, I need to get back to Brady’s place so he can have his turn up here with you.”
She shook her head, refusing to look at me. “No, I mean, you need to go. I don’t want you here and I don’t want you around Emma.”
My heart skipped a beat and I was afraid that I might start bawling like a baby if I didn’t try to remain calm. She just woke up. She’s confused and she’s been through a lot. That was all this was.
Before I can speak and reassure her that I wasn’t going anywhere ever again, she continued. “You made your choice to leave and now I’m making mine. I don’t want you anymore, I don’t need you anymore, and my daughter sure as hell doesn’t need someone like you in her life that thinks he can just walk away whenever he wants. Get. Out.”
As her voice grew stronger and louder with each word, it garnered the attention of one of the nurses that was walking by. She immediately came into the room and asked Gwen if there was a problem.
Not wanting to make a scene, I walked out of the room wondering how in the hell I would ever be able to change her mind.
Even though she flat out told me not to come back, there was no fucking way I could listen to her. No matter how hard Brady and I tried to convince her that she wasn’t alone and that she should lean on us, she didn’t want to hear it, especially from me. In her mind, she had failed her daughter and it broke her heart.
And it broke mine to see her like that. Everything about my life had changed the moment her and her attitude walked in the door and the first time Emma demanded that I give her money for her swear jar. It wasn’t just about me anymore and about my future. The only thing I cared about was making sure these two women, who meant more to me than anything else in the world, were happy.
After Gwen got out of the hospital, I went to Brady’s place every single day. And every single day, Gwen would lock herself in her bedroom and refuse to talk to me. I knew it would be hard to convince her that I wanted to be in hers and Emma’s life and that I had made a horrible mistake by walking out on them, but as I’ve said before, I’m a Navy SEAL and we don’t give up very easily.
Brady decided not to kick my ass for sleeping with his sister and instead gave me a few pointers. I knew showing up with flowers would never be a good fucking idea so instead, I just showed up.
Every day for a month.
I turned down the mission to Kuwait and took that month off to show Gwen that she couldn’t get rid of me that easily. Since she wouldn’t speak to me, I spent the time with Emma making sure she was healing okay from the day in the wine cellar, letting her teach me how to be a father and tucking her in every night. Eventually, Emma wouldn’t let Gwen hide out in her room and forced her to interact with me. To say I was scared to death to finally talk to her is an understatement. I had so many things I wanted to say to her and I didn’t want them to come out wrong. But most of all, I needed to know if she could handle a life with me. And if that’s what she even wanted anymore.
As I hold Gwen in my arms and stare around my rental house at the Christmas decorations and other womanly touches that Gwen and Emma have scattered everywhere, I smile thinking about the day she finally gave in.
Brady left a little while ago to finish up some paperwork at the office. I knew he did it to give Gwen and I some time alone together now that she’s started to warm up to me a little more and I don’t know whether to thank him or kick his ass. By the way Gwen is glaring at me over by the door, I’m guessing she’d have no problem doing the ass kicking.
“Thanks for tucking Emma in, you can go now,” she said, pulling open the door and waiting for me to leave.
I took a deep breath and walked up to her, stopping when we were to-to-toe. “I love you.”
Gwen scoffed and opened the door wider. “Like I said, you can go now.”
Reaching around her, I grabbed onto the door and shoved it closed. “And like I said, I love you.”
She rolled her eyes and started to walk away from me, but I quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her against me. “You can’t keep ignoring me.”
She tried to struggle out of my arms, but I held tight, missing the feel of her against me so much it hurt.
“Oh believe me, I can definitely keep ignoring you. You can stop with the act any time. I know you have somewhere you’d rather be and as you can see, Emma and I are fine now. You don’t need to stick around anymore.”
She put up a brave front, but I could tell saying those words hurt her and it meant that she still had feelings for me. It gave me the courage I needed to lay it all out on the table.
“Fine, you can ignore me. I don’t need you to talk anyway, just listen,” I started. She huffed and crossed her arms between us since I refused to let go of her.
“Walking away from you and Emma was the biggest mistake of my life. I didn’t know until I was gone that everything I’d ever wanted was right here in front of me. I was afraid. I was afraid to tell you how much I wanted you only to have you tell me that you couldn’t handle a life with me because of the job I have. You and Emma are important to me, I love you both, but my job is also important. I don’t want to let you and Emma down, but I also can’t let my men down and I don’t know how the fuck to have both. I don’t know how to do this, but I want to try. I want to wake up to you every day when I’m home and I want to play fucking Barbies with Emma every night before bed. I want to take away every one of your bad memories and replace them with good ones. I can’t promise you when I’ll be here or when I’ll have to go away on a mission, but I can promise you that every second I spend with you, I will never let you forget how much you mean to me.”
Gwen’s eyes closed halfway through my speech and I had a moment of doubt that it was too much for her too soon. She was still healing from the nightmare of Ellie and she was knee-deep in getting the charges against William ironed out and here I was adding one more thing onto her shoulders.
After a few minutes, she looked up at me with tears in her eyes.
“God dammit,” she muttered.
I figured the only way to fix this now was to backpedal. “Look, I know it’s a lot to take in but –”
My words were cut off when she unfolded her arms, grabbed onto the front of my shirt and pulled my mouth down to hers. As soon as our lips touched I was lost and forgot everything else I hadn’t even told her yet. I deepened the kiss as her arms slid around my shoulders and I knew right then that no matter what, I would do everything I could to convince her that I meant what I said.
My hands slid up the back of her shirt and I groaned into her mouth as soon as I felt her smooth, warm skin. I’d missed touching her so much. Being around her all these weeks and not being able to touch her was pure torture. She leaned her body into mine and forced me to walk backwards until my back slammed into the closed door, our kiss never breaking. Her palms slid down my chest until her hands found their way under the hem of my shirt and I shivered when I felt them against the skin of my stomach. I let go of her and grabbed onto her face with both of my hands, pulling her mouth away from mine so I could see her eyes.
“Does this mean you’re going to start talking to me again?” I whispered against her lips.
“This means I forgive you, but you’re still an asshole for thinking I wouldn’t understand how important your job is to you,” she told me in irritation. “I spent most of my life being told what to do and how to live, how could you ever think I would do that to you?”
I rested my forehead against hers and closed my eyes. “I know you would never try to change me, but how can you possibly be happy with a man who never knows when he’ll have to leave? I can get a call in the middle of the night and be in another country by lunch time.”
She pulled back and put her own hands on either side of my face, forcing me to look at her. “It’s what you do. It’s your job and it means everything to you. I know Emma and I do too, but it’s different and I get it. We’ll take any part of you we can, don’t you understand that? I’m not saying it won’t suck sometimes, but we’ve been through worse. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re some pretty kick ass women and I think we’ll manage just fine on our own every once in a while. As long as you promise to come back to us.”
Crashing my lips to hers, I pour everything I have into the kiss, letting her know that her words mean more to me than she’ll ever know.
“I love you, Austin,” she whispered against my lips. “But if you ever do something stupid like that and walk away again, I will kick your ass.”
I laughed as I pulled her against me, knowing I would do whatever it took to avoid pissing her off ever again.
With Gwen’s legs still wrapped firmly around mine, I walk us over to the couch and sit down with her on my lap, straddling my legs.
Brady decided when Layla’s tour was over a month ago that he was going to move out of his apartment and in with her. It only took a little bit of begging to convince Gwen to move her and Emma into my rental house until I could find something more permanent for us. Everything I’ve ever wanted is here under this roof and I’m never going to fuck that up again.
“Welcome home, Lieutenant,” she tells me with a smile as she runs her fingers through my hair.
I smile back at her when she uses my new title. Even though Captain Risner wasn’t too happy about my decision to skip the mission in Kuwait, he granted my time off and surprisingly still gave me the promotion when I finally went back to work. I found out Cole was reinstated when the mess with Ellie was happening and I’m pretty sure he had a hand in convincing our Captain that even though I have a family now, I could still do the job better than anyone.
Just the idea that I have a family makes my heart skip a beat as I stare up at Gwen’s face.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help you decorate the tree, but at least I made it home in time for Christmas,” I tell her, sliding my hands up her bare thighs and swallowing thickly when I get to her ass and realize she’s not wearing any underwear.
“Lucky for you, I didn’t put the Barbie Dream House together yet. It’s all yours, baby.”
She lets out a gasp when my hand moves between her legs and my fingers slide through her sex.
“Lucky for Emma, I brought home a bunch of G.I. Joe guys to fill up the fucking Barbie Dream House,” I tell her as I slowly push one of my fingers inside of her.
She lets out a moan and grinds herself against my hand, reaching between us to quickly undo my pants and wrap her hand around my dick that has been hard as a rock soon as I saw her standing in the doorway of the living room.
Lifting up her hips, I pull my hand out from between her legs as she guides my cock to her entrance and slowly pushes herself down on me until she’s seated fully on me and we both groan.
“I can’t believe you’ve worn me down and I let you buy her army men,” Gwen mutters as I grab onto her hips and move her up and down my length.
“Darlin’, my rental house is filled with Barbies and pink shit, I’m pretty sure you’re the one that’s worn me down,” I inform her as I thrust my hips up and pump myself in and out of her at a faster pace.
Her hands clench tightly into my hair and she whimpers against my mouth as she slams down on top of me until we’re both sweaty and gasping.
“Fuck it, let’s just call it a tie,” she mumbles before letting out a breathy moan as her orgasm quickly rushes through her and I feel her tighten around me.
I never thought anything would be more exciting than going on missions. As I feel Gwen come apart and listen to her say my name over and over, I realize just how wrong I was. Half of my life is filled with combat, training, gathering intelligence and firing tactical weapons and the other half is filled with love, mind-blowing sex, Disney movies and Barbie Dream Houses.
Gwen’s right, we can definitely call it a tie.
“Deal,” I groan as I come inside of her and she swallows my cries of pleasure with her mouth.
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