“Up All Night” | Reid + Callie • Part II 
a Blood Money free short

Callie Bauer is new to being a soldier’s girlfriend and the time apart, when the boyfriend in question, Captain Reid Okumura, is deployed overseas, has been difficult. She’s not sold on a relationship that is mostly long distance, but she’s willing to let him convince her of the benefits to being the girl to which this all-alpha military man comes home.

NSFW WARNING: Includes a sexy drive in a truck on a country road, where mouths and body parts are most definitely involved. 

Fourth of July • 01h11m

We are, we are, we are tonight,” a low baritone crooned across the truck’s speaker system, melting into the warm night air whipping Callie’s hair around her shoulders as she sped along the highway under a starry summer sky. Georgia in July was hotter than a sonofabitch, as her grandfather had been known to say once or twice or thirty thousand times when he’d been alive and farming in rural Savannah, and Callie found she couldn’t disagree with him. She’d already whipped off the denim jacket she had nervously donned when she was dressing in front of her bedroom mirror an hour earlier, the back of her neck damp under the weight of her hair.

One glance at the speedometer showed she was speeding. More than a little, less than a lot, but she tapped the brakes nonetheless, though doing so made her scowl. She went to push her glasses up her nose and encountered nothing but air. Oh, right. Contact lenses this evening. Also lipstick. And the happy yellow sundress dipped low over her chest and hit high on her thighs, reminding her how not her she looked right now.

Her community expected to see buttoned-up Ms. Bauer, the high school English teacher who ruled her classroom with an iron fist and took no sass from any of her teenagers while introducing them to Of Mice and Men and The Martian Chronicles. Right now, Callie appeared…young. Definitely younger than her thirty years, but she felt like a teen herself at the moment, excited and fluttery and stupidly hormonal just knowing who she’d be seeing in only a few minutes.

He did that to her.

With a quick peek in the rear-view mirror to make sure the roads were truly empty, she pressed the gas with one sandaled foot and sped forward. Faster. She needed to be at that airfield faster, sooner, now, God damn it. He’d probably already landed, might be standing around, the only one with nobody there to greet him and she’d messed up this first test.

What kind of girlfriend failed to pick up her man returning from a six-month tour overseas? A crappy girlfriend, that’s what kind.

In fairness to Callie, she was new to the whole military-girlfriend thing, and there turned out to be way more rules regulating the Significant Other Code of Conduct than anticipated. Rules like making yourself available at strange hours for FaceTime calls from the Middle East, or getting the oil changed in his oversized pickup, or, you know, meeting his effing plane on the tarmac as promised. But she’d dallied too long dolling herself up for him, and now she was late in getting to him, driving his damn truck because he’d made her take the keys before leaving in January, claiming, “I’d just feel better about you getting around in a vehicle that can take a hit and come out the winner. Drive the truck while I’m gone and be safe, baby.”

What the hell was she supposed to say to that—no? Ha. Gripping the wheel now as she glimpsed the lights of the airfield up ahead, she muttered to the empty cab of the truck, “You try telling the Cap ‘no’ sometime, see how it goes.” But she wiggled in her seat as she approached the gatehouse and greeted the soldier who asked for her ID through the open window, turning down the radio with the flick of a finger.

“Meeting the Thirty-Third, ma’am?” he asked after swiping her license over the scanner and handing it back.

“Yes. How late am I?”

The soldier smiled. “Plane’s still on the strip, making its way over. If you hurry and park over in section A2, you’ll be there before the hatch opens.”

Adrenaline shot through her as Callie thanked him and followed his instructions to park in the indicated A2 lot. Leaving her jacket on the passenger seat, she hopped out of the cab, slung her purse across her shoulder, and dropped the keys inside after locking up. Then she made a mad dash for the double doors of the building that functioned as the airfield’s office, canteen, and waiting area and pushed through them to run out the other side and onto the tarmac, where approximately two dozen people stood watching the back hatch of a cargo plane slowly descend with bated breath.

Callie’s breath caught as well as she skidded to a halt, arms half-raised and staring, unblinking, at that hatch. It should’ve only been a fling between them, something sexy to pass the time while she was on winter break from her students and him in between tours of duty. Granted, it had started out as precisely that—a fling—but by the time he’d packed up a week after their first night together, her chest had ached at the thought of him leaving, at the idea of him in an active war zone, in danger and, potentially, never coming home again. And when that thought hit, when she wondered if she wouldn’t see him again and a sharp pain seized her heart, she’d looked him dead in the eye and told him, I would very much like to keep you, Cap.

God, the look on his face at her words. Surprise, satisfaction…relief. Of course, that was right before he’d handed her his keys and she got an inkling of what sort of male she’d claimed—a pushy, possessive, protective alpha of a man.

Oh, well, she mused now with a grin. Could be worse.

Booted feet and bodies clad in desert BDUs appeared in the open hatch, duffles slung over their shoulders as they clomped down the gangway to the tarmac. At first, the soldiers of the 33d Air Division were indistinguishable from one another, Callie’s gaze flitting from the first to the next and the next again, but a split second later, she found him.

He was already staring at her, straight black brows knitted in a stern frown. Breaking away from his comrades, he strode to her, long legs eating up the ground, and she fluttered. She fluttered hard, right up until the moment he tossed his bag aside, wrapped both arms around her waist, and slammed his mouth to hers.

Her feet left the earth as he lifted, his lips moving without finesse, demanding instead of coaxing, but she didn’t care. Knocking the hat from his head, she speared her fingers through the thick midnight of his hair, fisting her hands in the decidedly-not-regulation-length strands, and moaned. Just a little, just the tiniest whimper of a sound, but he heard it over the shouts and laughter swirling around them. He heard it, and he growled, rumbling deep in his sturdy chest, so was it any wonder she moaned again?

His tongue entered her mouth, tasting without teasing—a tease in and of itself—as though he’d been starved. Perhaps he had; Callie only knew that if his hunger matched even a fraction of her own, they would need to gorge themselves for days in order to sate it. With licks, nibbles, thrusts that were an explicit mimic of the sex she needed them to have, like, now, Captain Reid Okumura took ownership of her lust and gripped the reins in his capable hands.

Hands that practically bruised her ribcage, so tightly did he hold her. When his lips slipped to the corner of her mouth to drop wonderfully frantic kisses over her cheek, her jaw, down to the pulse point pounding in her throat, she heard him exhale on a shudder, but he didn’t let go, simply buried his face in her neck and breathed her in. “Baby, it’s one in the morning. What the fuck are you doing here?”

Okay, so, not quite what she’d thought his first words to her might be, but Callie could work with this. “Picking you up. Otherwise known as doing something nice.” Her toes tapped the tops of his boots, and she petted the hair she’d mussed, toying with the silky strands as her cheek rested against his. “I like being nice to you, Cap. Don’t be a grump about it.”

Reluctantly, he lowered her to the ground and lifted his head to glare at her again, big, rough hands moving to cup her jaw. “One of my guys would’ve given me a ride home. It’s late, and dark, and we’re in the middle of nowhere, and what if something had happened to you while driving?”

“I thought that was the point of lending me your ride, so that I’d be safe,” she teased gently, letting her palms rest on his chest as she stared up into dark eyes narrowed with ill-concealed concern. “Were you worried about me?”

“Yes.” But his gaze softened, warmed, thumbs stroking over her cheekbones. “Hi, Callie.”

“Hi, Reid.” She beamed up at him, all that teenage fluttering returning full force when he mirrored her smile, lean cheeks creasing in such an undeniably masculine manner it turned her insides gooey. “I think I missed you.”

“I know I missed you.” Leaning in, he brushed his lips over hers in a dragging, drugging kiss. The pads of his fingers pressed into her skull, tangling in her loosened hair and bringing her flush against his tall frame.

The attraction between them had burned bright from the first moment they’d laid eyes on each other, but over the past six-plus months—separated by an ocean, a war zone, and the subtle insecurity of starting an actual long-distance relationship based on a week of fantastic sex—that connection had somehow intensified. Leaning into him, Callie deepened the kiss with a stroke of her tongue over his firm lower lip and marveled, not for the first time, on how perfectly the stars had aligned on New Year’s Eve, that she’d found Reid.

The only reason she had been in the Fickle Flyer, a pub and pool hall near the Robins Air Force base, was because her neighbor Dan needed someone to lock up for him when he abandoned his post behind the bar to go ask his nurse girlfriend—working a shift at the local hospital—to marry him. She had agreed to help him out, not knowing how drastically her life would change when the most beautiful man she’d ever seen in her life had sauntered over to the barstool next to hers and settled in for an evening of spelling bee-style drinking games.

That man had been so obviously military, with his high-and-tight haircut and confident swagger, but she’d overlooked those traits in favor of looking him over. As a teacher near the base, she had more than her fair share of opportunities to date soldiers but avoided doing so as a general rule. She’d never wanted to be the little woman left behind to wonder and worry…yet here she stood in exactly that role.

Reid was worth it, though. Angular jaw, sharp cheekbones, strong shoulders, broad palms. Her gaze had catalogued every detail of him in three seconds flat at that pub, noting the stamp of his Japanese-American heritage apparent in his elegant bone structure and dark eyes, and damn, she just hadn’t known men like him existed in the normal world. His deep voice had rumbled over her senses as he spelled words, took shots, and generally displayed a quiet humor and quick brain that drew her in even more than his gorgeous face and hot body.

The sizzle of instant chemistry had made her wet. The tequila had made her bold. When the two of them were the only souls left in the Fickle Flyer, the clock counting down to the new year, Callie had thrown caution to the wind and dared to seduce him, hoping only that he’d give her what her body craved for the space of a single night.

Turns out Reid had a few seduction plans of his own, and the rest…? Well, it wasn’t history, because they lived and breathed it in the here and now, with her rising up on tiptoe to get a better taste of him as his big hands left her face to stroke along her spine. Crazy, how quickly they’d clicked; crazier still how standing in the circle of his arms inspired within her a terrible lightheadedness and a wonderful gravity. As his lips drifted across her cheek, over her temple and up to her forehead, she sighed contentedly, a strange sense of peace filtering into the cracks of her excitement. “Okay, fine, I know I missed you, too.”

Another press of lips to her forehead. “You coming to pick me up…it’s the best. Thank you, baby.” He stepped back, raking her head to toe with his intent gaze. “You look fucking good enough to eat.” Shaking his head, he bent to shoulder his dropped duffle but left one hand secured to her hip, fingers digging in as though he were afraid she’d disappear if he let go.

Her heart stuttered. “Promises, promises,” she taunted lightly before pulling the keys from her purse and dangling them in front of him. “I suppose you’ll be wanting these back.”

Reid grinned, a flash of straight white teeth, but didn’t move to reclaim the keychain. “You can hold onto them a few minutes longer while you escort me out of here.”

“Your chariot awaits.” Sidestepping a few lingering families, Callie led him off the tarmac and through the building into the parking lot, uncompromisingly aware of the weight of his hand where it rested at the base of her spine. When they reached the truck, Reid tossed his duffle over the side into the bed, then turned to fix her with a solemn stare. A flush that had nothing to do with the hot summer night swept over her skin. “What?” she asked, self-consciously tugging her hair over one shoulder.

“I’ll take those keys now, please.”

She handed them over.

“You drive my truck this whole time, or just tonight?”

“The whole time.” Though she’d hated it at first, leaving her little Mini Cooper all cooped up in the garage rental off her apartment complex. Big vehicles weren’t exactly Callie’s jam, but a small part of her—strange and foreign and almost certainly controlled by lust instead of logic—had shrugged and thought, Why not do what the man asks and use the damn thing? So she’d given herself a week; if she still detested climbing up into the tall cab of the pickup and navigating corners and parking spaces more widely than ever before after a week’s time, she would surrender the truck to garage and return to the Mini. Except one week had turned into two, and then into four, then twelve, then twenty-five, and now here she was, utterly at ease with the big hunk of metal.

But if she were honest with herself, it wasn’t because she adjusted to the truck that she had kept driving it. It was because it was Reid’s, and she missed him, and she was…charmed. Yes, charmed, that in the brief time for which they’d known each other, he cared enough to do what he could about her personal safety, even when he wasn’t around to take on the responsibility in the flesh.

His insistence that she use the truck made her feel cherished. Callie liked that feeling. She liked it intensely. “I drove it every day you were gone,” she told him, clasping her hands in front of her to keep from waving them aimlessly. His sudden presence, after so long apart and coupled with the acute knowledge that, really, they barely knew each other (aside from a week of screwing and then months of emails and calls on a near-daily basis), left her off balance and more nervous than she’d thought she might be.

He didn’t look away from her, keys clenched in one hand and the other pressed flat over his midsection. “Why’d you drive my truck, Callie?”

“Because you asked me to.”

“You don’t think I know what a dick move it was to pull that alpha-male shit on you?” He shook his head and stepped closer, pinning her between the driver’s side door and his long body. “I left that day kicking myself for being an ass…but you drove my truck, anyway.”

She swallowed around the lump in her throat that had formed at the hints of confusion and uncertainty she heard in his rumbling voice. “Yes, I drove it. Because I missed my man,” she confessed in a breathless rush, unable to quite say the word boyfriend aloud, “and the inside of the truck smelled like you, and I didn’t have anything like a pillow or a shirt I could sleep with to remind me of your scent, so every morning I would hurry through getting ready for work and then drive the long way to the high school because that gave me more time in your space, you know? I’m sorry, I probably put a ton of miles on—”

His mouth abruptly cut off her steady stream of cathartic confession, lips angling over hers with a groan as he gripped the back of her neck. Reid kissed her the same way he’d kissed her for the very first time, hungry and possessive with a whisper of wonder threaded through the beats in which his tongue slicked against hers, daring her to play with him.

Callie wanted to do nothing but play, but as he’d pointed out, it was the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, and in only thirty minutes they could be back in her apartment, rolling around in bed together.

Oh, God, she hoped they’d be rolling around in bed together. If he was too tired after his flight to get inside her…

Breath hitching, she broke the kiss, brushing her fingers over the light stubble roughing his jaw line. “You remember the route back to my place?”

“I can get us there.”

“Then please do, posthaste.”

Eyes gleaming, he smiled and walked her to the passenger door, helping her up like a gentleman and closing it behind her before crossing over and climbing inside himself. He huffed out a laugh as he moved the driver’s seat back—waaaaay back, because Callie wasn’t exactly a leggy gal—adjusted the rear-view mirror, and slid the key into the ignition. The radio started up immediately, quiet yet echoing in the silence of the truck’s cab, and he shot her a grin. “Didn’t have you pegged as a country-music girl.”

She didn’t blame him. As a transplant from Portland, Oregon, with no southern roots whatsoever other than her dearly departed grandfather, she’d cut her teeth on indie rock, punk, and a smattering of folk. But there was something about living in a region where men held doors, tipped hats, and called you ma’am that inspired Callie to tune into one of the local stations and listen to songs about soulmates and porch-swing sitting. “If you knew everything about me already, Cap, you’d be bored off your rocker. Let’s keep the mystery alive a little longer, shall we?”

With a low laugh, he drove them out of the lot, nodding to the soldier at the gate, and sped onto the open highway, with only the occasional flash of oncoming headlights and the distant glint of red taillights to mark that they weren’t the only ones on the road tonight.

Callie fiddled with her window, opened it a crack and saw him do the same from the corner of her eye. Again, nerves knitted her stomach, but she drank in his handsome profile and the soft curve of his mouth. “You’re smiling,” she accused.

“I’ve been told that’s what happy people do. Smile.”

The nerves settled. “You happy, Cap?”

Reaching over, he laid his hand on her bare thigh, just above her knee but below the hem of her flirty yellow sundress. His fingers bore more calluses than she remembered from back in January, but his skin was warm, his hold firm, and she felt her knees part ever so slightly, ever so naturally. It was natural to relax under his touch, to try to melt into him, part of that connection that had drawn them together on New Year’s Eve.

He cleared his throat gruffly, and she saw he wasn’t smiling anymore, but staring out through the windshield with a serious expression, though he didn’t seem troubled. Just thoughtful. She was about to asking him what, precisely, held his thoughts when he spoke. “Did I demand too much of you?”

She frowned at him. “What do you mean?”

“We jumped into this relationship fast, and there were times when I wondered if I should back off. Maybe not message you for a couple weeks or something, give you an opportunity to see if the initial rush wore off once reality set in.”

Reality being the extreme long distance, and Reid’s inability to offer much in the way of details as to what the 33d was doing in that region of the world. “I don’t remember you not messaging me.”

“Yeah, well, I suck at backing off.” His cheek creased in a rather rakish grin as his thumb began to gently stroke her thigh. “So I decided to just live with the guilt of pushing you into being my girl, instead.”

She shifted in her seat, that small touch alone turning her on. “If I remember correctly, I was the one who said I’d be keeping you. I think that makes me the pusher.” Or whatever why wasn’t his hand moving higher couldn’t he tell how much she needed his fingers on her— “Your girl is really hoping you’re not going to be too tired when we get home to…” Biting her lip, she wriggled in place, because his hand shifted to palm her inner thigh, definitely under her skirt now but still not where she was wet for him.

“To what, baby?”

Tossing him a glare at his taunting tone, she spread her legs wider. “To fuck me so hard I can’t walk straight for days.”

His fingers clenched as he sucked in a harsh breath, all hints of teasing gone. “That’s what you need, huh? A hard fuck from your man?” Fingers spreading until the tip of his pinkie met the ruffled edge of her skimpy cotton panties, he kneaded her thigh and growled his next words, causing her to tremble in her seat. “I’m happy to do that for you, baby, but how about you scoot on over and make sure I’m good and ready to see to your needs the second I turn off this truck.”

Needing no further prompting, her hand shot out fast as lightning to his groin, hefting the weight of the hard cock she found straining beneath the placket of his uniform pants. He groaned when she squeezed, relinquishing his grip on her thigh to white-knuckle the steering wheel with both hands.

“You gonna be able to keep us safe on the road while I touch you like this?” She toyed with the button-and-zipper closure.

“Callie, I’ll always keep you safe.” A glance at him proved he clenched his jaw, his gaze fixed firmly on the dark, barren highway in front of them. “Take me out,” he demanded gruffly. “Take me out and show me what I’ve been missing all these months with only my own hand for comfort.”

The impatient writhing of his hips made her smile, and, biting her bottom lip, she shoved up his jacket with one hand and thumbed free the button of his trousers with the other, tugging down the zipper. The seatbelt dug into her torso as she leaned across the upholstered bench seat, breath buffeting the erection she gently eased away from his abdomen. He was hot in her palm, thick and heavy, and her empty center clenched mournfully. Ohh, how she wanted him inside her—needed him, because she’d also only had her hand for solace since January. “God, I missed this dick.” Then she lowered her lips to the head of his cock and sucked him deep.

“Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.” The steering wheel creaked in Reid’s hands. “Callie, baby, I’m driving. It’s too much—”

She hummed as he touched the back of her throat, squeezing the base tight in a circle made by her thumb and middle finger.

With another muttered curse above her, he flicked on the turn signal, and she sensed the truck turning off the highway and onto a gravel road, then the soft roll of grass beneath the tire treads. Killing the ignition, both of Reid’s big hands landed on the back of her head, sifting and gathering her hair. “You missed this dick, you said? Yeah, use your pretty mouth on me, baby. Show me how much you missed it.”

Her thighs clamped together as his words left her drenched. With his fists carefully controlling her movements, Callie moaned and let herself enjoy him for several long, luscious minutes. Satin on her tongue, her lips stretched just the right amount and his scent—the scent she’d ached for after he had left months ago—filling her lungs, he slid deep, deeper, until she swallowed around him and was rewarded with his positively tortured groan.

“Baby. Baby, if you don’t stop, I’m gonna come.”

She didn’t stop.

“Callie.” Using the fists wrapped in her hair, he drew her off his cock with a gasp before shifting his hold to grip her jaw. His eyes were wild in the shadows of the darkened cab when they met hers, his lips parted as he panted out each breath as though he’d raced miles to get here, to her. “I need to be buried deep as fuck in your pussy when I come the first time.” She bit back a whimper born of acute lust as he continued, his fingers almost bruising on her chin, and she loved loved loved it, the absolute evidence of his desperation for her. “So tell me there’s a condom in that purse of yours, okay?”

Swallowing hard, she reached blindly into the purse at her feet and withdrew a foil packet, placing it silently into his palm.

“Good girl.” He released her abruptly, fumbling with his seatbelt and hers before shoving open his door. “Now, get out of the damn truck.”

Thank goodness for warm summer nights, she thought as she rounded the truck and watched Reid release the tailgate, because she was about to have sex under the stars. In the space of a heartbeat, he’d lifted her onto the lowered gate, gripped her knees, and spread her legs wide. He rid her of her panties in short order, dropped the damp cotton next to her on the tailgate. “Cap…” she murmured breathlessly, warningly.

He seemed to understand her warning, recognizing that denying her relief was killing her—and not slowly, either. “Don’t worry, baby. I’m gonna take care of you.”

“I know you will,” she assured him as she watched him shrug out of his BDU jacket, attention rapt on the packed musculature of his upper body he revealed after efficiently stripping out of his T-shirt. His dog tags were the next to go, shoved into his pants pocket before he ripped open the condom and sheathed the achingly hard erection bobbing before him.

But just when she thought he would simply thrust into her—and seriously, she had no plans to complain, because going down on him had turned her on to an insane degree—he flipped the skirt of her dress up around her waist, palmed her inner thighs, and buried his face between her legs.

“Oh, fuck,” she hissed, fingers clenching in his hair as his tongue dipped deep, then licked her thoroughly from bottom to top. Hot, wet, slick and sinful, his mouth didn’t miss a millimeter of her sensitized areas, and when he finally sucked her clit between his lips, flicking it hard with the firm tip of his tongue, she cried out. “Reid,” she whimpered, knowing how much he liked hearing her moan his name, wanting to offer him a fraction of the rush he was currently giving her. “Reid.”

“Yeah, I know.” He nipped her inner thigh before lifting his head, licking her arousal from his lips, and that was so sexy she wanted to die. “I know. I can’t wait anymore, either.” Tugging her to the edge of the gate, he notched his hips between her thighs, using one hand to tease his cockhead against her opening. “Can you hear how wet you are?”

She could. Oh, God, she so could. Her slickness would’ve been embarrassing, if she had anything to be embarrassed about, but her overwhelming desire for Reid inspired only happiness and hope. And, maybe, a little bit of pain; she needed to be filled by him already, to restore balance to her topsy-turvy world, and tears pricked the corners of her eyes. “Please, Reid.” Her breath stuttered in her chest. “P-please make it stop hurting.”

“Don’t hurt, baby.” His brow furrowed in a sharp frown, and he placed one hand at base of her spine and slowly, perfectly, sank into her.

Callie trembled.

Reid shook. “This,” he bit out from between gritted teeth, “won’t last long.” And then he began to move. In and out, steady and strong, his thrusts checked off every item on her wishlist: to stretch, to fill, to stroke. His body seduced hers, drawing forth noises she’d forgotten she made when her man fucked her so well. Her nails raked across his naked shoulders, and she barely noticed when he drew down the straps of her dress to bare the breasts she’d purposefully neglected to bind with a bra.

His mouth found her nipple, tongue and teeth foregoing simple teasing and pushing her instead toward a fast finish. In a flash, he switched to the other breast, as if sensing how close her orgasm loomed. He grunted against her skin when she speared her fingers through his hair and tugged hard at his scalp. “Rub my clit,” she begged as her hips lifted to meet each pump of his. “I’ll come, I swear I will. Just rub my clit.”

He didn’t deny her, the darling man. Shifting a hand between them, he used his talented touch on her clitoris, rubbing rough and quick to topple her over the edge. She wailed his name as she came, clamping tight around his cock inside her and demanding his release, which he surrendered with a shout. It was sexy, and stunning, and she wanted to laugh with the perfection of this moment.

His head rested heavy between her breasts, lifting with each panting exhalation as she fought to catch her breath. “I’m getting you all sweaty,” she murmured.

“I like sweaty.” After pressing his open mouth to her sternum and tasting said sweat with a flick of his tongue, he pushed himself up, wrapping both arms around her. “Hang on to me.”

She did, linking arms and legs tightly to him, and he picked her up, their bodies still joined. Trusting him to not drop her, to take care of her, to never put her in a situation where she was uncomfortable, she rested her head on his naked shoulder and clung like a starfish, dropping gentle kisses over muscle and tendon and bone as he walked them around the truck to the passenger side. He shifted her to open the door, then settled her onto the seat, the plush upholstery soothing against her bare bottom when compared to the cold metal of the tailgate.

Her inner muscles clamped around his semi-hard cock when he slowly, slowly withdrew, unable to keep from shivering at the sensation of no longer being intimately filled, but his hands soothed, rubbing up and down her spine as he adjusted her dress to cover her once more. Straps to shoulders, skirt to mid-thigh, and so long as no one peeked beneath the hem, her panty-less state was a non-issue. Letting him tend her, she studied his face, beautiful and serious in the deep shadows of the midnight countryside. “We haven’t talked about how long you’re here for.”

Tucking, buttoning, and zipping himself into relative decency, Reid braced his hands on the door frame. The stance caused the muscles in his biceps to flex and curve in a wanton bid for her attention, but she couldn’t ever keep her gaze in one spot when it came to this man. Too many sigh-worthy parts on his magnificently fit body, and him standing shirtless in the starlight certainly didn’t keep her sighs in check. His head tilted slightly to the side. “No, we haven’t. Would you like to?”

“Talk about it?” Her breathing hitched, and she reached out to trace a fingertip over the tribal tattoo spanning his left pectoral and his entire upper arm. His skin was so warm, so inviting, she wanted to press her face to where she touched and dissolve into him. “Yes.”

“I have leave accrued. About five weeks.” The corner of his mouth curled up in a sweet smile. “Thought I might take my girl on an extended vacation before her school year starts up again.”

She loved that idea. Really, really loved it. Except… “And what about after that vacation?” She softened the question by leaning in to kiss the spot over his heart.

Cupping the back of her head to keep her close, he threaded his fingers through her tangled hair. “I’m looking into options that keep me on base at Robins.” He waited a beat, dropping his chin to rest atop her crown. “Close to you.”

Her breath caught, and she turned her cheek to press against his chest, eyes fluttering closed as she considered what that meant for them. “Is that even a thing you can do—stay stateside? I don’t want you to not be able to do your job, Reid,” she whispered, though it cost her to say those words, and to mean them. “Your job is important.” He wasn’t only a captain in the Air Force, she knew, just as she knew there was a reason the 33d had returned home on an airfield unconnected to the main base at Robins. He was too intelligent, too skilled, and too authoritative to lead a simple life of service; he’d hinted that things may not be what they seemed with his most recent tour overseas, but he was limited in what he could tell her, given their nascent relationship.

A soothing stroke over her scalp. “Callie. Look at me.” When she reluctantly drew away, he held her face in both hands, long fingers spanning her jaw and curving around her neck. “I’m thirty-four years old. I’ve given the Air Force more than a decade of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love my guys, my assignments, my day-to-day. But. But.” He bent, and his forehead met hers. “I didn’t know there was more to want—more to love—until I met you.”

Her heart pounded in her throat. “Reid.”

“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to explore this possibility, so long as I can explore it with you. You in, baby?”

Hands splayed over his firm pecs, soaking in his delicious body heat, she closed the distance between her mouth and his, breathing her answer against the lips she loved so much. “I’m in, Cap. I’m so in.”

2015 © by Edie Harris