The Arrangement Ch. 10

byTara_Neale©

"Just think you boys need a reminder of what it is your fighting for, that's all," she said with a wink as she wrapped her arms about his neck and drew him down for a lingering kiss.

Daniel shifted uncomfortably on the hard plastic chair. The feel of his wife's round bottom combined with their friends' intimacy had him half hard in a heart beat. He leaned his head into her hair and nuzzled against her. His wife turned to face him, wrapping her arms about his neck.

"Can't argue with a wise woman, can you, commander?" she teased as she lowered her head to brush a soft kiss against his lips.

"Gees, could you people get a room?" boomed Trav.

Simone looked up and pinned him with one of her stares. "Fool," was all she said as she turned back to her husband with a smile. "Now where were we?"

Samuel laced his fingers through her long braids and drew her back down for another kiss, "Just about here, my little witch."

"Aw, fuck it," Trav whispered as he looked up at his wife. Daniel smiled as he watched the silent interplay as Trisha was the first to move, drawing her husband towards her.

He turned to his own little distraction, "I'm going to miss you." It was not the admission he wanted to make, but given the circumstances it was more of one than he had any right to make.

Jill smiled at him as she toyed with her lower lip, biting it the way he longed to. He knew it meant she was thinking. Funny, how much he had come to learn of this woman over such a short time. But he knew it was not enough. If he had a thousand years, it would never be enough. But he did not. He had one lifetime and that could be shorter than either of them wanted to admit. His throat tightened as his hand caressed her lower back, just beneath the heated cotton of her dress lay a reminder of how impossibly short that time might be...and all the reasons he had no right to her.

None of it mattered though, because his wife felt too damned perfect in his arms for him to ever let her go. Closing his eyes, he said a silent prayer asking forgiveness, before he sought the sweet taste of love once more on her lips. When she moaned softly as his teeth bit at her lower lip, he took it as a sign from the heavens and swept inside the deepest recesses of her mouth. His tongue waging battle with hers, demanding surrender, total and complete.

"Yuck, you old people are disgusting," said a petulant voice.

Daniel reluctantly broke the kiss and looked up at his pre-teen daughter. He offered her a half apologetic smile, but she just shook her head.

Althea, who stood just behind Jesse, just giggled. "Get used to it, girlfriend. I've been putting up with those two for almost thirteen years," she said nodding towards her parents.

"Like we don't put up with you too, missy," huffed Simone with a wink at her daughter before she opened her arms. "I think you're just jealous. Don't worry, you're still daddy's favorite little girl. But mommy is his favorite big girl."

Samuel chuckled as he shifted in the chair with the added weight of their daughter. "Big girl is right," he said as he slapped his wife's bottom.

"Oh yeah baby, just more of me for the loving, old man."

"How do you put up with it?" asked Jesse with a frown.

Althea looked at her parents with a smile. "I don't know. You get used to it, I guess. Actually, kind of nice sometimes. Better than those stupid romance novels you like to read all the time."

Daniel raised his eye brows, "What novels is she talking about, Jessica?"

Jill softly nudged him in the ribs and he looked up into those green eyes as she shook her head. "We'll talk about this later, young lady," he said. Turning to his friends, "Hate to rush you guys off, but I'll be seeing enough of your ugly faces soon enough. So if you don't mind, I'll spend these last couple of hours with my girls," he nuzzled the side of his wife's face and whispered, "All of them."

Samuel nodded and pushed his wife and daughter up. "That's the smartest thing I've heard out of your mouth in weeks, buddy."

Trisha blushed and stood up, "Well, girlfriends. See you tomorrow?"

Simone wrapped her arms about her husband's waist and nodded. "You remember what I said."

The red head nodded and snuck a glance at her husband, "I'll think about it."

Simone shook her head as the younger woman scurried away to pick up her son, who was once more being bested by the tiny twin terrors.

"Aw, man, I told you, it ain't fair. Two against one," moaned Travis.

Jill chuckled, "Yeah, like any man would complain about those odds." The guys' mouths fell open as Jill and Simone laughed.

***

Jill finished washing the last plate and put it in the dishwasher. Her hand trembled as she closed the door and pushed the start button. She stared out the kitchen window as the soft whir of the machine ricocheted around the empty room.

"Britney and Ashley are down for their afternoon nap," his deep voice washed over her like the in-coming tide. She merely nodded past the lump in her throat. She leaned back against him as she felt his hand run slowly up and down her arms.

"I said good-bye to Bel, but it might not be a bad idea if you spent some time with her later. Maybe let her sleep in the bed with you." His voice broke as he added, "She asked if I was going away forever the way her mother had. I guess she was so young the last time I deployed that it doesn't make sense to her."

Jill fought back tears and squeezed his hand where it rested on her upper arm. "I'll talk to her. When they are this age, time does not mean much. But I'll try to help her understand."

He brushed a kiss on the juncture of her neck and shoulders, what had become a favorite spot since that first afternoon they made love. "Of course, Jesse is acting like it's no big deal, but keep an eye on her any way."

She nodded. "I know D.J. was always the same way like it didn't matter. But when his dad," her voice failed. She felt his arms wrap tighter about her, squeezing her tenderly. "Yeah, I'll see what I can do, if she'll let me."

"I'll speak to Simone as well, ask her to see if she can talk to her."

Jill swallowed the foul tasting bile as another round of nausea hit her. She squared her shoulders, refusing to give into it, worry or self-pity. She plastered a smile on her face and turned in his arms. "Do you always fuse like an old woman when you leave, commander?"

His laughter zinged down her spine to curl in the pit of her stomach, churning with everything else. "I do," his fingers brushed hair back from her face and sent shockwaves of need to her tight nipples and lower still. "But I know you will handle it all, Missus Monroe," he smiled.

She nodded as she looked down, "That's the arrangement, commander. What this is all about," she whispered as she fought to hold back the flood that threatened to break the carefully fortified banks of her heart and mind.

He sighed and caressed her shoulders. "Jill, this is about so much more than some stupid arrangement that you brokered with my mom and Simone. I think we both have known that for a long time, sweetheart." He drew her closer to him and pressed a tender kiss to the top of her head. When words failed her, she nodded slowly.

She tried to turn away when his fingers under her chin lifted her eyes to his. "I'm sorry. I know I hurt you this morning and I had no fucking right to be so god damned selfish. You're fucking amazing and you take my breath away sometimes. From the moment you stepped off that damned plane, nothing has been the same. The girls, the other wives and yes, me, we all need you, sweetheart. You deserve so much more than this."

She held her breath as his fingers brushed softly across her bottom lip. "But I need some time to think. There are so many things I can't even tell you." He was quiet as he stared up at the ceiling and held her for moments that felt like eternity. "Just know one thing, Missus Monroe, this old sailor knows that you are so much more than I will ever deserve."

Jill released the breath that she was not even aware she had been holding. Since their girl talk, her mind had been warring with Simone's words. Her friend might have meant them for Trisha but she knew their wisdom applied equally to her own situation. And while Daniel's speech was not the words she had hoped for, she felt the hurt and insecurity with each word he had forced out. Pain that she knew she held the power to soothe.

She stood on tip toes and brushed a soft kiss across his lips. "One thing you don't need to think about, commander, is the fact that your daughters and I love you very much. We'll be waiting when you get back. So go do what you need to and come home."

Daniel nodded and deepened the kiss. Jill wrapped her arms about his shoulders and did all that she could to show him the truth in her words. They were both breathless when she drew back long moments later.

"You better go or you'll be late. I don't think another romp in our bed is sufficient explanation for tardiness. That would be setting a bad example for your men, commander."

She smiled at the lightness of his laughter. "I don't know I think that might be the best example of all, Missus Monroe," Daniel teased.

She swatted at his arm as she pushed him away. "Naughty boy."

He winked, "So does that mean Mistress J has some new kinky punishment awaiting my return?"

"Damn straight, she will if you don't get that cute ass moving."

"You think my ass is cute?"

"You're fishing again, commander," she teased lightly.

"It's one of the things SEALs do best, ma'am," he winked. "You were too sick to eat any but I did quite well catching our dinner if you remember."

She nodded, "I do and next time I'll make sure not to have food poisoning on you."

She knew that she should push him out the door, but she was as reluctant as it appeared he was to say their final good-byes. She enjoyed the gentle teasing that seemed so natural with them. She wanted to hold on to it, to him for just a moment longer.

Looking up into those blue depths, her heart froze in mid-beat. Her fingers brushed gently across the tiny lines that furrowed his brow. "I love you, Daniel," she whispered as she forced herself to turn and walk from the kitchen, down the hallway that seemed so long that morning. Forced herself to not turn and run back into his arms.

***

Daniel stood frozen in the kitchen as he watched her soft bottom sway as she walked away. He knew he needed to get going, but everything inside of him screamed at him to throw caution to the wind. To chase after his wife, spin her in his arms and kiss her until they were both silly. To spill every single word of his love.

But he did not. Now was not the time. And he was right earlier. Until he had gotten some things straight in his own mind he had no right to tell her any of it. So he let her go and watched as she knocked softly at Bel's door before slipping inside. Just like she has slipped so quietly into his heart.

"Fuck. You're getting too old for this shit, man," he cursed as he headed out to the utility room just off the kitchen. Grabbing the duffle bag he had stowed there he forced himself to open the backdoor, but he could not stop himself from turning for one final look at the house that she had made into a home.

"Home, damn straight I'm coming home to you and the girls, Missus Monroe," he whispered. He chuckled, "Mistress J and I have some unfinished business too."

Samuel and Travis were waiting by the car when he pushed the gate open. "About damned time, man. Had to make sure the little lady had something to remember you by?" teased his best friend.

Daniel laughed, "Do you ever think about anything else?"

"Does any man?" Samuel replied as Daniel opened the back of the SUV and threw their bags inside.

"Sane ones," replied Travis. "You two might have forgotten, but we have a little thing called a mission. A job that this country is counting on us to do. So can you two pussy whipped bastards get it in gear?"

Samuel and Daniel exchanged stares as he threw his bag in with the others. Threw it a bit too forcefully.

"Everything all right, Trav?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah, just peachy keen, commander."

"You sure about that?" Samuel replied.

"Other than the red fucking Ferrari that was parked outside my house when we got back this morning. Yeah. Yeah, everything is just fine."

Daniel nodded. "There aren't many of those around these parts are there."

"No, no, there aren't. So if you two don't mind, I'd just as soon get out of here and leave the Missus to her thing."

"Trav, you don't know it was Clay and even if it was, you don't know what he was doing there," offered Samuel.

"Come on, man, quit being so naïve. If I hadn't come back when I did, my wife would not have even had the decency to wait until I left this time. As it was the damned thing was circling the block when we got back from your house this morning. Like the fucking vulture he is. Well, as far as I'm concerned, the son of a bitch can have her. As soon as I get back, I'm filing for divorce, but if that lying, cheating bitch thinks she's getting my son, she has another think coming," the man's face got redder and redder with each word, until his skin was as dark as his hair and molten with anger.

Daniel sighed. "Trav, I know how you feel. Trust me, I really get it. And maybe you are right. But I have to ask, man, are you sure you can manage this? Hell, you know, I won't blame you. There's no shame in taking some time off to take care of business at home. If I'm honest, maybe I should have done the same. Maybe Rachel would be alive today."

The man shook his head. "No man, I need out of here. I need to fucking kill something. And it'll be a far site better if it is some self-righteous zealot than that slimy two-faced prick and my loving wife," he said sarcastically.

Daniel and Samuel exchanged glances again as he closed the back of the SUV. He felt the weight of command as he pondered the decision. But in the end, he gave into Travis's reasoning. "Keep your head out there, man. Don't fucking make me regret this decision," he said as he slapped the man on his shoulder. Travis nodded and muttered his thanks as he climbed into the back seat. Daniel shook his head as he opened his own door, "I have enough fucking regrets as it is," he whispered under his breath.

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