The lights on the Christmas tree sparkled and dance among the green branches and colorful ornaments. Presents were piled beneath the limbs, spilling off of the red skirt and into the floor, testifying to the good year they had. The children would be thrilled tomorrow morning when they emerged sleepy-eyed from their bedrooms to see the wealth of gifts Santa had brought.
Santa had not answered Jane’s Christmas wish, though. She had put together the presents alone. It was creeping onto 3 o’clock in the morning. She would barely get three hours of sleep before the children would wake from their sugarplum dreams to shake her and announce that Santa had been there. Those three hours would not be peaceful, either. She hadn’t slept well since February when the 101st Airborne had left Fort Campbell for Iraq. She’d been brave and not cried when Henry had left home on a cloudy, cold morning. She’d held her tears while she comforted the children as they’d waved good-bye to their father. She wore a smile like cheap jewelry. Everyone knew it was a fake, but everyone was too polite to comment.
She’d been relieved when Baghdad had fallen, certain that Henry’s troop would be steaming across the Atlantic soon. The 101st was always the first platoon on the ground and the last one out, but as quickly as the Americans had routed Saddam Hussein and his sons, even the 101st wouldn’t have to stay in the desert long. She was convinced he’d be home by summer, but summer had faded into fall, and Thanksgiving had passed into Christmas. Henry was still in Iraq, only able to contact them periodically. Every time he called, she asked the same thing. “When will we hear from you again?”
“As soon as I get to a phone,” he always answered.
Her neighbor’s garish display of multi-colored lights and mechanical glowing Santa reflected in her window as she gazed outside at the quiet, comfortable neighborhood where they lived. Of the places they had lived in their twelve years of marriage, she liked Clarksville, Tennessee, best. Everything was quiet on the street. The other families had finished preparing for Santa’s visit.
She left the window and walked through the kitchen, setting her now empty mug of spiced tea in the sink. She opened the fridge, mentally double checking what she would need to do tomorrow after the excitement of Christmas morning passed.
She peeked into the children’s rooms. The boys were sprawled in their bunk beds at odd angles. She often wandered how they kept from falling out as they tossed and turned all night long. She crossed quietly and put Ian’s leg back into the bed, sliding the blanket over it. Paul turned, mumbling something in his sleep. She whispered a word of assurance to him, smoothing her hand over his hair as she pulled the blanket over his shoulders.
Betsy, her baby girl, was sleeping soundly, her thumb stuck in her mouth. Jane smiled, as she always did when she looked at Betsy. Betsy was their miracle. She had been born ten weeks early, but now was a robust an active tomboy of two. She kept up with the six year old twins nicely.
A noise caught her attention and she frowned, looking toward the front room. She quietly pulled Betsy’s door halfway closed and headed cautiously through the hall toward the glow of the tree. She tensed, wishing she had picked up the baseball bat that lay in the middle of the boys’ floor.
She saw the duffel bag around the corner of the wall first. The edge of the green bag, packed full and covered with dust, was visible sitting next to the recliner. Her pace quickened and by the time she reaching the living room, she was running. She stopped as she reached the entryway, gasping with surprise.
He was dressed in his desert fatigues and was on one knee next to the tree, examining the bounty that Santa had left. A sob caught in her throat, and she covered her mouth as he turned toward her with a smile. “Surprise,” he said just before she pitched forward.
Lightening quick, he caught her in his strong arms. He wrapped them around her waist, holding her as she leaned against his chest, looking into his face. She reached up to stroke his rough cheek. “Are you real?”
“I sure hope so,” he laughed in his familiar Texan drawl. He bent and brushed his lips against hers, a sensation she had feared she would never experience again. His lips were firm and familiar and lingered for an eternity. He pulled away, his smile in place. “You tell me.”
She threw her arms around his neck now, melding into his powerful body. “Oh, Henry! You’re here! You’re home!” She covered his face and neck with kisses. “I love you. I love you!”
He tilted and scooped her into his arms, carrying her toward the bedroom as their lips locked in a fierce exploring kiss. Their tongues brushed against one another, getting reacquainted to the taste of lover, spouse, best friend, and soul mate. Jane’s hand brushed over Henry’s cheek as he kicked the door to the master bedroom closed. “What are you doing here?”
“I won the lottery,” he chuckled, depositing her on the bed. She sat up as he stood beside the bed in the darkness, his face highlighted by moonlight spilling through the window. She reached over to turn on the bedside lamp, wanting to drink her fill of the sight of him.
Jane scooted toward Henry, her trembling fingers undoing his belt. She rose up on her knees, working upward as she freed the buttons. She kissed his neck and jaw and cheek as she moved her hands over his chest. She pushed the brown camouflage shirt off his shoulders, moving her hands over his abs and upper arms. Their lips found each other again, devouring hungrily. Teeth and tongue scraped and met and withdrew. She unbuttoned his fly, tugging his undershirt free.
His hands were caressing her, ruffling the satin of her pajama bottoms as her refamiliarized his fingers with her thighs and rear. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down as she laid back on the bed, holding him over her. Henry stretched out on top of her, his mouth leaving hers and drifting down her throat. The dark maroon pajama top melted away as his mouth and fingers worked their magic.
He blew across her nipples, watching them harden and pucker in response. He licked each one, loving the sound of her soft moan. She arched upward into his mouth as he covered her breast, suckling on her nipple. He moved his tongue over her rough areola, avoiding the nipple as his lips massaged her full flesh. He nursed at her globe, his tongue finally finding her nipple with a teasing flick.
“Mmmm, Henry,” she groaned, scraping her fingernails over his shoulder blades and caressing the back of his head. She had always loved the feel of his military buzz cut against her fingers. Her digits moved over his shoulders and caressed his chest, making circles on his pectoral muscles, progressing in a spiral toward his hard, flat nipples.
Henry’s mouth switched to Jane’s other breast. She could feel his hardness pressing against the inside of her thigh as they rediscovered each other. They were strangers and intimately familiar at the same time. He nuzzled the valley of her breasts and kissed his way down her stomach, leaving a wet trail. The air continued the touch where his mouth had been, tightening her nipples more as he tugged her bottoms over her hips and down her thighs. Her panties followed.
The solider used his shoulders to open her thighs, blowing across her wet lips. She inhaled sharply, her body tensing. “If I had known . . .” she began in a whisper.
“Shh,” Henry mumbled. The tip of his tongue danced along the slit, tasting her sweetness. She shuddered in pleasure as her red pubic hair bristled against his face. If she known he was coming, she would have been trimmed for him, but his five o’clock shadow from the plane trip against her bush created a new sensation. She groaned in pleasure.
His tongue continued its gentle teasing, waiting for her hips to begin lifting and rocking before he slid deeper. As he found her hard, sensitive nub with his tongue, his finger pushed into her hole. She cried out, biting it back in the middle to keep from waking the children. His finger thrust in and out of her as his tongue danced over her clit. Her thighs started twitching and she growled low in her throat, her body jerking stiff as she crested.
He grinned, working his way back up her body, treating her breasts once again to gentle nipping and suckling before he located her mouth again, his tongue thrusting in and out of her lips and throat the way his finger had. His knees kept her thighs apart. He sat up and she looked over his body. She wasn’t sure when he had lost the last of his fatigues and his underwear, but he was now completely naked, too. His member was swollen and pointing toward her, the purple head throbbing.
Jane reached down and curled her hand around his thick shaft, feeling its heat. She had always been amazed at how hard his cock could get. They often made it a game to see if she could make him lengthen. Her fingers barely met at its thickest girth as she stroked up and down, pausing to squeeze his heavy balls. A drop of pre-cum appeared and she lifted her head to taste the salty flavor. Her tongue circled the head, bathing it with her hot mouth before making an “O” of her lips and sliding down on him.
Henry’s rough fingers tangled in her long red hair, throwing his eyes toward the ceiling as her head bobbed on his long member. Her hand cupped his balls, squeezing and lifting them as her mouth milked him. “Enough,” he finally groaned, pulling her off. Jane lay back, keeping her hand around the base of his shaft.
Her knees lifted a little and she spread herself as an offering. He leaned forward, his hands on either side of her head as she guided the tip of his manhood into her hole. He pushed forward slowly, feeling her tight cavity open for him. The muscles, unused since February, squeezed his hot rod as he pushed deeper and deeper.
She was moaning constantly now, her words incoherent as her head tossed from side-to-side. Halfway in, he reached down and toyed with her clit for a moment, until her hips jerked upward involuntarily, driving him the rest of the way. His balls slapped her pussy and she bit her knuckle.
He dropped to his elbows, still supporting his own weight but wanting to feel her nipples rub against his chest like fire darts. His hips began flexing slowly, sliding out of the tight tunnel until just the head remained inside. There was no hurry to his movements as he leisurely moved inside her.
He loved watching her face as passion overtook her. Her lips were parted and her eyes half closed as he moved in and out, his pace quickening as her muscles relaxed. He was sliding easier now in her natural lubricant, allowing him to go even quicker. His hips slapped hers, their bodies creating a percussion rhythm to the song their mutual moans and groans created. Jane wrapped her legs around Henry’s waist, pulling him deeper and holding him prisoner. Her fingernails dug into his shoulders. Her shoulders came off the bed, rocking back and forth on the small of her back as he drove her higher and higher, pushing her toward a second and third climax.
“Ohhhh,” he grunted as his cock jerked inside her, shooting his heated cream inside her. He stayed hard and kept going, his hips rocking and slamming against her. His hard knife impaled her again and again until she screamed, unable to hold back her pleasure.
They collapsed together, panting and sweating, his body lying on top of her. She hugged his weight, grateful to feel it again. Her hands caressed everywhere they could reach. Tears formed in her eyes and streaked down her face as they lay in their intimate embrace. “How long are you here?” she questioned, reluctant to hear the answer.
“Not long,” he replied, not shifting away from her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rolled to his back, keeping her with him for the short journey.
She woke alone, her legs sticky and her privates sore. She sighed and stretched contentedly. She grinned, turning toward his side of the bed. There was no dent in the pillow and no warmth emitting from the sheets. She reached for her robe, pulling it around her body and securing the tie. She peaked in the kitchen, but everything was as she had left it.
A feeling of dread coursed through her as she moved toward the living room. Again, she was nearly running by the time she reached the end of the hall. His duffel bag was gone. She collapsed to her knees, hiding her face in her hands and sobbing violently. He had felt so real. Had it all been a dream? It couldn’t be a dream. There was a burn on her breasts from his beard. His scent lingered on her skin and her lips felt bruised and swollen from his hungry attack. Had he been paged and had to leave again? He would have waked her. He would have left a note.
It was Christmas Day night in Iraq. At the home base of the Screaming Eagles, the sun was breaking and reflecting in the Cumberland River. The families of the 101st Airborne were waking in their homes near Fort Campbell to the cries of delight from the gifts Santa had brought. They would all be aware of the empty place at the table. Many would go ahead and set a place for their solider.
In Baghdad, the Army had treated the Screaming Eagles to turkey and ham and a concert. The food had not been as good as the food their wives or mothers would have cooked, but it had been a nice change from flavorless MRE’s. They would have all rather heard the laughter of their children or even the bickering among family members than the wonderful music of the popular artist, but they forced themselves to smile and cheer. The President delivered a message to them via satellite, thanking them for their sacrifice.
Now the sun had set over the minarets of Baghdad. The call for evening prayers was being made as the commanding officer of the 101st walked among the causalities from a car bomb launched after vespers. Three of his soldiers had died in the attack by Hussein loyalists. A priest stood nearby, reciting the prayer of the dead.
The CO knelt next to the body of a young Lieutenant, swallowing back his own tears. The young man had been a quick and eager study. He had been a natural leader and had the potential to be a brilliant strategist. He was an expert with a rifle and always the first to volunteer for any mission. He was a family man with a beautiful wife and three children.
“Damn, Henry,” the CO mumbled under his breath. “May God have mercy on your soul.”