Marka put her head on his shoulder and her arm around his waist. He leaned against her like a child.
“We’ll get through this,” she said calmly. “You’ve been through worse.”
“But I knew how to cope! They shoot, I shoot back! I’m trained for that!”
“And there are people trained to handle this. Let the police do their jobs. Meanwhile, talk to me. I promise, I’m a good sounding board. I don’t judge or condemn. I listen and guide you to a solution. I’m not going to give you a lot of psychobabble, that’s not how I work.”
“So, you won’t sit there telling me I’ve repressed memories of the war or that I need coping mechanisms to help me. Or any of that shit?”
“None of that shit. I think your coping mechanisms are fine. You’re not hysterical, you’re not drinking yourself into oblivion. You’re calm, enjoying a great sandwich and a cold drink.”
“Which does contain alcohol.”
“True, but you haven’t hammered back a case of beer or a fifth of tequila. You could get up and walk a straight line to the door.”
“I can do more than that,” he conceded, gesturing with his glass. “As a matter of fact, I could still shoot straight, ride a bike. . . .” He eyed her past his drink, holding the glass to his forehead. “I could take you home and make sweet love to you all night and never run out of ideas.”
His voice dropped into a husky, melted chocolate range that made Marka shiver with anticipation.
“You could, but I have to get back to work.”
“Damn. I already had planned how I was going to entice you with kisses and make you weak until you succumbed to my manly charm.” He burped.
“Some charm, Romeo.”
“I’m patient. I can wait.”
“I need to get back for my group session. Come on. Let’s get you to bed.”
“I think I’m supposed to say that to you—then join you there.”
“Can I know you more than a couple days first?”
“Sure. I just get more adorable.”
He stood, staggering slightly. The bartender helped her get him out to her car. When she leaned in to fasten his seat belt, he touched her cheek, brushing her hair back.
“I’ve wanted you since I saw you on TV,” he confessed. His lips brushed hers.
A trail of sparks fluttered down Marka’s spine making her shiver. His kiss held promises of his skill. She had no doubt that he could make love to her all night and never run out of ideas.
“That’s the sweetest thing any man ever said to me.”
“I thought my telling you were beautiful was the sweetest thing.”
“It was—until now. Let’s get you home.”
“I can’t go home. My home is a war zone with a dead guy at the bottom of the cliff.”
“Back to your room,” she amended. “No one’s died there yet.”
“You don’t know that. Someone could’ve died there.”
“Let’s not dwell on that, shall we?”
“We shall not,” he replied regally.
He lapsed into silence, only rousing when they got back to the front door. By some miracle, Jeff and two of the orderlies got him out of Marka’s car. She pulled away and headed to the parking lot as they half carried him to the elevator.
“She’s nice,” Frank said as the orderly on his left hit the ‘up’ button.
“Yes, she is,” Jeff admitted.
“She’s pretty and she smells great too,” Frank continued.
The other men laughed. Part of him knew he was acting foolishly, but that guy was under the influence of alcohol. The coherent fellow, the one with the big mouth, extolled Marka’s virtues the entire way to his room.
The orderlies took off his shoes and jacket before laying him on the bed. Jeff shut the drapes and closed the door behind them. Frank lay there a couple minutes with the room spinning, until he fell asleep.
The sound of his front door opening woke him. He tried to sit up, but felt like he had a bag of wet sand on his head. Groaning, he rolled to one side and nearly fell off the bed. Someone rushed in, stopping the downward spiral, steadying him. He smelled sunshine and flowers.
“Hey, yourself. Feeling better?”
“Should I? What time is it?”
“A little after five. Kim faxed a copy of the police report and photos of the damage.”
“Oh, yeah. I was supposed to call my insurance guy.”
“Taken care of. Kim found the paperwork in the glove compartment and I called for you. I pretended to be your personal assistant.”
“Too bad you didn’t pretend to be my wife, then I could join your delusion and take you to bed.”
© Dellani Oakes