tagNovels and NovellasThe Arrangement Ch. 10

The Arrangement Ch. 10

byTara_Neale©

Sunlight was just beginning to filter through the curtains in their bedroom. Jill stared up at Daniel as he snored softly. He had been asleep for the last hour or so, but she could not. Instead she had lain in his arms and watched him sleep. She smiled as she hummed softly, "I don't want to close my eyes, I don't want to fall asleep."

Her fingers brushed his hair back from his temples. She was powerless to stop the scalding hot tears that coursed down her cheeks, but at least she was not breaking the number one rule. 'Never let them see you cry,' it was the motto she had lived by what seemed like her whole fucking life.

So why did it feel so impossible this time? These good-byes should be old hat for her. She had survived over a dozen deployments in almost twenty years. Why should this one be any different? The truth stabbed her in the heart like a butcher's knife. After last night, she ought to feel better, she thought. Not her flawed body, not even Mistress J had scared him away. His admission of how easy he found it to talk to her echoed in her mind.

But none of it was enough as she stared at the lies, the secrets, the very mockery that she had made of it all. Truth was that 'this arrangement' was eating her alive. She was head over heels in love with her husband. And despite their friendship, their passion, the ups and downs they had shared over the past two and a half months as a family, he had never once said anything that gave her hope the feeling was reciprocated.

They had over that short time built everything her friend claimed was a more solid basis for marriage, but the companionship, respect and shared goals that Ubah had espoused was leaving her cold. Perhaps it was her 'limited' Western sensibilities as her friend had called them, but she wanted those three simple words. It felt as if she physically needed them, she thought as for the first time she fought back what felt for the world like morning sickness.

She brushed her fingers across his soft lips. Lips that had explored every inch of her body last night. Lips that had taken her to the heights of the heavens and the depths of the universe. 'Why did it matter so fucking much?' she asked herself. They were just words. People said them all the time, even when they did not mean them. She knew that.

She sighed as she fought back the nausea. She should get up, start breakfast. The house would be full of their friends in a couple of hours, a farewell brunch. She had lots to do before they arrived. Besides there would be plenty of time later for her to come to terms with this situation. To learn to lie in the bed that she had made for herself as the old saying went.

She leaned up a bit, felt the slight soreness in her bottom and smiled. Damn, the pain should not be so delicious, but it was. She smiled as she brushed her lips lightly across his, making certain not to awaken her husband.

She choked on the tightness in her throat. She was a coward and she knew it. Cheating, perhaps not in the same way that Trisha had, but it was a lie all the same. She could not bring herself to reveal this final secret. And it was killing her to face the fact that in a few short hours he would be gone and as hard as it was to admit she knew there was a very real possibility he might not return, might never know how she really felt.

"I love you, Daniel," she whispered as fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. She rolled over and rushed from their bed, running for the bathroom as she felt the bile rising in her throat. It did not taste half as bad as the secret.

***

Daniel was free falling. He had jumped from hundreds, no thousands of planes. He knew the exhilaration of the wind hitting your face so hard it felt like tiny knives, hitting your body so hard that it actually slowed your fall. But this time was different. This time he saw the ground coming up fast. And there was no parachute.

He wanted to jump from their bed, follow her. He wanted to look into those amazing green eyes as she said those words again. After waiting so long to hear them, they were ricocheting inside his head like a hollow point bullet, ripping and tearing his mind to shreds. God, how he wanted to hear them again? How he wanted to watch her face light from within as he kissed her softly and returned them? He played the fantasy on that wide screen in his head.

But that was all it was, a fantasy. If his wife knew the truth, if she knew what happened that night, if Jill ever found out that he was the reason David never made it home to her and their sons, he knew it would evaporate. Be gone in a heartbeat. Be transformed, morphed, into hatred that burned brighter than the sun. That was what kept him laying in their bed. His arm slung across his face as he felt the tears burning the back of his eyes.

He listened as she flushed the toilet. Had she been ill again? It was another worry to the growing pile. He heard the shower turn on as he rolled to the side of their bed. He should check on her. He smiled at the convenient excuse. Truth was that even if the secrets kept him from doing the one thing he wanted most in this world, nothing would stop him from holding her one more time, trying to show her what he could not allow himself to say. What he had no right to feel. Not under the circumstances.

He ran his hands through his hair. He was going to miss this bed, and it had nothing to do with sleeping on the cold, hard ground and everything to do with not holding his wife in his arms all night long. He sat on the side of it for a long moment. "What the fuck are you going to do, man?" he asked.

He thought he had found those answers at the cabin. Their situation was so complicated. It was not just him; the girls, even the other wives needed her. And this secret was not his to share, not really. But his resolve to bear this burden alone was weighing him down as no command decision or pack ever had.

He sighed, he would have weeks, even months to come to terms with it. Long weeks when his arms ached to hold her and thousands of miles separated them. Time to clear his head and come up with a battle plan, for the rest of their lives. Because whether he deserved her or not, there was no way in hell he was letting her go. He couldn't, not and still breath.

***

The warm water cascaded down her face. It mixed with more tears until her head ached, pounded under the pressure of all the half truths. She breathed deeply trying to calm her rolling stomach again. She leaned her head against the cool tiles and tried to focus on just one thing. She sobbed softly when that one thing became his face in her mind. "Oh Daniel," she whispered.

She felt his strong arm about her waist and allowed herself to collapse against him. "Shh, sweetheart, I'm right here," he whispered as he buried his face against her shoulder. His other hand brushed dripping wet hair back from her face. "How bad is it?"

She shook her head, "I'm fine."

He chuckled against her skin and she felt it vibrate down her spine to curl her toes. "You're a lousy liar, baby."

She smiled, if only he knew. Everything about their lives was rapidly becoming a lie and the biggest one of all stared her in the face this morning.

"Really, I'll be fine. I just need a couple of minutes. A warm shower and I'll be fine," she said as she leaned back against him. She was quickly distracted from her rolling stomach by the wetness between her thighs as she rubbed her bottom against his growing erection.

His arm about her waist tightened as he tried to still her movements. "Damn it, Jill. Not now. I might not be able to stop my body from reacting to holding you naked in my arms, but damn it I'm not some selfish bastard. I didn't come in here to take advantage of the situation, sweetheart. I came to make sure you are all right."

She moved her hips against his hard flesh, "You're not taking advantage of me, Daniel. I'm taking you," she whispered as she placed her hands flat against the tiles above her head and pushed back taking the head of his cock inside of her. She moaned, "Oh god, that feels so fucking good."

"Jill, stop it. We can't," he tried to protest, but once more she took control of his body. He gently thrust forward, as she trembled around him. "Oh god, baby, you're driving me crazy," he whispered as he buried his face against her back. "What kind of monster am I? I just had you four times last night and even with you sick I can't stop myself from wanting you again."

"Shut up and make love to me, Daniel," she whimpered as she moved her hips back, taking him deeper inside of her. "It's what I want too," she threw her head back, the water running down her face and chest, dripping from her hard nipples. "I need you. Oh god, I need you."

She felt his other hand cover hers on the wall. He laced his fingers through hers. "God forgive me, but I can't resist you, baby. I need you too," he whispered in her ear as he surged forward, taking her over the edge and lifting her feet from the tiles. His arm about her waist held her tightly, suspended a couple of inches above the tub as he pounded into her. Their bodies found a frantic rhythm that left them breathless.

She squeezed his fingers as he pushed her body higher, another intense orgasm building inside of her. "Please, Daniel, oh god please," she whimpered.

"Please what, sweetheart? Please fuck you? Make you come again and again," he demanded.

She nodded, "Yes, oh god yes."

"Say it, Jill."

"Fuck me. Fuck me hard," she begged.

He stilled inside her. His fingers that were laced through hers trailed slowly down the wet surface of her arm. Then her side, until his hand was cupping her breast. Her nipple ached as she bit her lower lip to keep from crying out as he softly kneaded her flesh.

"That's not what I meant, sweetheart," he whispered as his thumb brushed across it. She jumped at the power that surged through her body at his tender caress.

She shook her head and whimpered. "Please, Daniel. Anything. Anything, I need you so bad."

His tongue trailed down the side of her neck, fire licked at her skin as he consumed her. "Anything, baby?" He whispered as his teeth nibbled at the same spot that had borne his mark of possession after their first encounter.

She moved her hips, trying to take more of him inside of her, but suspended as she was, she was powerless. Her nails raked across the cold tiles, "God damn it, Daniel, make me come. I need to come. Please."

"Tell me again, Jill," he whispered against her shoulder as his thumb tortured her nipple, brushing lightly back and forth across its hard surface. "What you said earlier," his hips made a slow circle, increasing the pressure, but not enough to take her over. "What your sweet lips whispered when you thought I was asleep, baby." He surged forward then, pushing her higher.

Jill's eyes flew open. Her fingers clutched desperately at the smooth surface. Her heart pounded so fast that she feared it would burst from her chest. "Oh god," she moaned as she hung on the very edge, suspended above a dark pool of love and need that threatened to consume her.

Then he was moving inside of her again. One arm wrapped about her waist, crushing her against him as he took them both on the wildest of rides. The other hand abandoned her aching breast and wound its way through her long, dripping wet hair, tilting her head to the side as his teeth found their mark. "Say it, god damn it," he commanded as he pounded harder and faster inside of her.

Jill whimpered as fresh tears flowed down her cheeks. The water was turning cold or perhaps it was fear coursing through her. She shook her head as she felt her body surrendering to its master once more. She dropped her head against his chest as he sucked and bit her shoulder. Her body trembled and ached as it took him deeper still. One orgasm rolled into the next and it seemed it would never stop.

His teeth released her flesh. His tongue licked at it, then moved slowly up to her ear. It swirled and teased as he slowed the pace. "Please, baby," he whispered as he sucked her ear lobe into his hot mouth.

Jill felt the tightness not just in her throat, but her chest as well. There was no hiding. Not this time. And truth was...she did not want to. "I love you," she whispered.

His hand in her hair tugged harder, turning her head until she was looking up into his face. His eyes held hers until she was certain that she would never breath again.

He lowered his head until their lips were practically touching. "Again," he whispered. "Say it again, baby."

Her lips took his, her tongue plunged deep inside his mouth as she felt him moving inside her body. She drank at his lips, moaned into his mouth as his body pushed her over the edge, another powerful orgasm sliced through her body, touching the depths of her soul. "I love you," she breathed into him.

"Yes," he roared. "Oh god, yes." She felt his body trembling as he emptied himself inside of her.

Her head spun a bit as he staggered under the power of his release. She clutched his arm about her waist, afraid for a heartbeat that they might fall. But he did not. They stayed like that in the shower for what seemed forever. The water was most definitely turning cold. As cold as her deepest fears in that moment.

He leaned his forehead against hers. His arm about her tightened even as his hand in her hair released its hold. He twitched inside of her a couple of times before he slipped slowly from her body, lowering her until her feet touched the bottom of the tub. He brushed her hair back softly, "I," Jill held her breath. She held it and waited. Hoped. Prayed.

"We should probably get moving," he said a moment later as he reached up and turned off the water. He grabbed a towel and wrapped it tenderly about her shoulders, drying them. She stared at his chest as she nodded silently.

"The girls will be up soon," she heard his voice from somewhere far away.

'Never let them see you cry,' took on new meaning as she wrapped the towel tighter about her. She felt him lifting her from the tub, but the moment that he sat her on the floor she turned her back to him. Silence echoed off the walls of their tiny bathroom. It enveloped them like the fog rolling off the Thames on the coldest, winter's day. Jill choked on it.

"I'll get dressed in the bedroom," he said as he bent and kissed her shoulder. She nodded as she clutched the towel tighter about her body. The moment she heard the bathroom door close, she dropped to the floor in tears.

***

Their backyard was full again. The early morning sun was blazing overhead, but its early fall warmth left a slight chill in the air. By afternoon it would be gone, but not the chill between them, he thought as he watched his wife fuss over the cutting up Britney's pancakes at the little table. She was smiling and laughing but it did not reach her eyes, that green sparkle was missing and Daniel knew why.

His wife deserved an apology. She deserved a hell of a lot more than an apology, like a husband that did not keep fucking everything up, he thought. He wished that the cup he held contained something stronger than steaming black coffee, but it was too early for a beer. And alcohol was off limits today.

His throat tightened at the thought. In a few hours, they would be gone. For weeks. Months. He sighed, maybe forever. It had never bothered him. Not like this.

"Have you told her?" Samuel asked.

Daniel shook his head, "What are you talking about now, old man?" he sighed heavily.

"That you love her."

Daniel closed his eyes and shook his head harder. "It's not that simple."

Samuel laughed, "Yeah, it is, buddy."

"No, you don't understand."

His friend put his hand on his shoulder and guided him back towards the house. "So enlighten this old fool," he said as he pushed Daniel through the gate and into the less crowded drive-way.

A couple of late arrivals smiled and waved as they made their way to Daniel's SUV. Samuel waited until they slipped into the backyard before turning on his friend, "All right, smart ass, how about you tell me what so god awful more important than telling your wife how you really feel about? Cause buddy I hate to tell you this but god forbid it might be your last fucking chance."

Daniel sucked in a sharp breath at the power of those words. He sought for words strong enough to counter balance them. But came up empty. "Do you know who her husband was?"

Samuel shrugged, "Some British soldier. What does that matter? It's not who her dead husband was that's important, it's what an ass her live one is being, if you ask me."

"Try Major David Chambers, Thirty Command, Her Majesty's Royal Marines," he whispered staring at a long crack in the driveway.

"Fuck," was Samuel's only response for several minutes.

"More like fuck me," replied Daniel as he brought the cup of coffee to his lips and drank a long swig.

After a couple of moments silence, Samuel shook his head. "It still doesn't matter, man. You were cleared. It was a fucking accident. It could have been us instead of them, just one of those things. The risks we all live with."

"I set that tag myself," he whispered. "Or I thought I did. So if something went wrong then yeah, it's my fucking fault and no bunch of paper pushers can make that go away."

"Quite being a fucking martyr, those bastards wanted to hang you and there was not a fucking shred of evidence, nothing that pointed to anything other than a technical malfunction. If they couldn't find anything, why the fuck can't you let this one go?"

"Because a man died," he shouted in a whisper. "A good soldier."

Samuel nodded as he took another drink of his own coffee. "He was that," he smiled.

Daniel turned and placed his palms flat against the hood of his car. "It's been hard enough these past five years. You don't know how many times I've replayed that whole thing, tried to figure out what I did wrong."

He paused, "But now? Fuck, it's eating me alive. Knowing that if it weren't for my mistake, he would have finished that last tour, gone home to some fucking cushy office job for a couple more years and then retired with her to that fucking house in sunny Spain."

Samuel put his hand on Daniel's shoulder, "You did your job and he did his. It was a fucking accident. One of those things. Something we all have to live with. You aren't god, buddy. You're going to have to give this one up sometime or it is going to eat your lunch."

Daniel shook his head, "But can you at least see, how impossible it makes everything?"

Samuel shook his head, "No, not really. You think he would blame you? Think David would have rather she marry that snooty, pansy professor she was engaged to? He was my friend, not yours. And I fucking promise you, he would have chosen you hands down."

Daniel chuckled, not that is surprised him that his friend knew something he had just discovered, but at the frankness that had always been the man. "How the fuck did she get messed up with a guy like that anyway?"

He wanted desperately to grasp the absolution that his friend offered. Samuel was right, he knew the other man far better than Daniel had. But the guilt he had lived with for so long had grown bigger still over the past couple of weeks. His eyes darkened and he quieted. "But if she knew," the whispered words hung in the cool air.

"If she knew what? You think it would change things? You think she'd blame you?"

Daniel heard the words that had echoed off the walls of his own mind for days. Spoken aloud, they sound so much worse. He could not force his mouth to respond so he simply nodded.

"Then you are a hell of a fool. That girl knows the score. She knows the risks he took. Fuck, the risks you're taking. And she lives with them. More than likely she'd want to kick his ass for needing one more adrenaline fix before he retired."

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