The past three days Skyler has managed not to run into the SEAL when she went on her morning runs, when pulling out of her parking spot she’d sometimes see him. Seeing him made her want to park her car and act like she was barely going out for a run even though she’s already done hers. She was being pathetic she told herself, she was looking and coming up with a fair amount of excuses just to get a glimpse of him. Like staying past her usually routine or waiting in her car, hoping he would run past it, anything just to see that sweaty body.
Right now she was driving by, watching him run along the pavement, making his way to the sandy shore and Skyler had her nose pressed up against her side window.
Her head banged against the window, blurring her vision for a few moments before they refocused, she looked around to see what had happened. She was half way in the other lane; she hit a car head on.
Damn, how had that happened? She wasn’t watching him that long to veer off her lane. The driver was already getting out of the car; she didn’t have anything on her. She had no information to give the lady.
Skyler got out of her car and rubbed her throbbing forehead and winced from the sharp pain she felt, it was already getting sensitive. As soon as she got home she was going to have to put an ice pack on it.
She looked at the woman approaching and braced herself for the argument she knew was coming. The woman looked pissed off and actually young, Skyler was going to hear it for crashing that convertible. The platinum blond swayed her hips as she closed the distance between them.
“Information please,” the blond said angrily.
“I don’t have any on me; I recently just got the car.” She didn’t but the woman didn’t know that.
“Look, I’m not leaving till you give me what I need; you’re going to pay for this.” She pointed at her and then flipped her hair and then glared.
Talk about high maintenance, “Look, I already told you that I don’t have it, I can give you my address, cell phone but I don’t have papers.” Skyler watched as the blond gritted her teeth and then let out a frustrated growl.
“I need to get going, just give me the info and we can both drive off.”
Did this woman not believe her or what? She said she didn’t have it.
“Look, I know you must be really upset, maybe we should go talk over there.” A very seductive voice said.
Skyler looked over her shoulder and saw the SEAL staring at the blond. Typical, of course he’d like that. She looked back at the blond and rolled her eyes as a sweet smile appeared on her face, she was practically drooling over him.
“Come on honey.”
That voice, why was he talking to her like that, it pissed her off. She was nobody, a stupid tart who was now battering her eye lashes at him as he hooked his arm around her and led her away.
Skyler went back into her car and park it along the side of the curb and stared at him as he helped the blond into her car. Was she really leaving? How did he manage that?
She was leaving; he waved her good bye, that stupid smile. How could someone fall for that crap? It was just a smile.
She was fuming as he approached her car and then knocked on her window. Skyler ignored him as she pretended to be occupied. He knocked again; rolling her eyes she lowered the window.
He arched his brow, “I thought I’d see if you were ok.”
She sighed, “I’m fine as you can see. Now if you’ll excuse me I have things to do and places to go.”
“Are you sure, it looks like you have a little bump on your head,” he reached out and gently ran his finger tip against the small bump that was appearing.
The feel of his finger on her was making her heart race. Why was he affecting her like this? He was just another man in uniform, the type she said she’d never have anything to do with. No, former man in uniform, still she made a promise to herself.
She smacked his hand away, “If it weren’t for you then I wouldn’t have had the accident.”
He didn’t looked discouraged from her smacking his hand away and instead smiled at her, “How’s that my fault?”
“If you would wear a damn shirt when running on the beach….,” she didn’t finish, she couldn’t believe she was telling him the reason for her accident.
“Me? Well maybe if somebody weren’t trying to avoid me for whatever reason then that wouldn’t have happened. She would have looked her fill while running with me but instead she’s hiding in her car waiting for me to pass by so she can take off.”
He had noticed? Of course he had. She didn’t know what to say, she was pretty embarrassed at the moment.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she averted her gaze and looked at her hand that was gripping the steering wheel. She was discussing this right now?
“Its fine, I’d love to admire your body sometime.”
Skyler flushed, he didn’t hide things at all and she liked that. “Well you’ll never get the chance to see.”
He braced himself against the door as he looked down at her, “Will you at least tell me why?”
Why not tell him the truth, she wouldn’t see him again, she’d see to that. She’d run somewhere else, she’d miss the beach though.
“I’ve dated your kind; I want nothing to do with them.” They were liars and cheaters and they weren’t exactly her cup of tea anymore.
“Already sworn off the jerks, why not give the good ones a try?” he smiled at her, giving everything into that one smile and she had to admit it was some how working on her, among other things, this whole time she’s tried keeping her eyes on his face and she wasn’t having much luck in that department.
“I…,”Skyler blinked, trying to clear her thoughts before she said something stupid.
“I need to go,” she told him. She ignored the smile that didn’t falter and started her car.
“Running? There’s nothing to run from sweetie, I just want to get to know you and I didn’t say I wanted more.” He wanted more but he wasn’t going to tell her that, he could tell she was a guarded person. She was ignoring him for god’s sake.
“Nothing more?” she asked him as she put on her seat belt, she didn’t believe that, they always wanted more he was just going to ease his way into her panties.
“No,” for now, he thought.
“Really?” she arched her brow as she looked up at him.
“Really,” he tried to sound as honest as he could, how she could really think he wouldn’t want more she was delusional.
“I suppose coffee wouldn’t hurt,” she smiled.
“Coffee sounds nice,” he returned the smile as he pulled out his cell phone.
Skyler gave him her number and he did so in return, “Your name?” she asked.
“Noah Morell,” he smiled. “Yours?” he asked.
“Skyler An Sommer,” he looked confused, she got that a lot with her name so she spelled it out for him after laughing.
“You have such a unique name,” he flipped his phone shut and slipped it back into his pocket.
“Thank you,” she got that a lot but when he said it, it did something to her, she felt special.
“I’ll call you then, it was nice meeting you, see you around.”
“See you around,” her smile widened, she shifted the gear as he backed up and then drove off.
She shouldn’t be this happy, it was just coffee. Coffee with a really hot attractive SEAL, she was getting nervous now. Of all the damn stuff she did in her life, in her career in the Army, this was the worst.
At least tonight she would have him off her mind, tonight she was hitting the club and hitting the main one she was suppose to go to at the very end.
She didn’t have much to do today; she didn’t have anything to do today. She already did her run, she still had groceries, she had her new clothes, maybe she could mow her lawn, clean the house up a bit?
Skyler was cursing the damn land lord all kinds of things as she struggled to get the damn lawn mower going. She never used one before but saw many people doing it, even women, how hard could it be?
She pulled the rope again and nothing happened, she sighed in frustration. She’s been trying to get the damn thing started for the past eight minutes.
“Sky?” a familiar voice called out to her.
Skyler gave one more silent curse before looking up and seeing a shirtless Josh.
“Josh? What are you doing around here?” she asked as she stood and moved the lose hairs from her face.
“I was out on my run and then saw you struggling with that,” he pointed at the lawn mower and gave a soft laugh.
“Yeah, damn thing won’t start,” she sighed as she looked down at it, piece of junk.
“Do you want me to give it a try?” he asked.
“Do you know anything about it?” she asked as she stepped aside.
He laughed low as he approached her, “Yes I do, if you want I can mow the lawn for you?”
“No that’s fine, I can do it. I just need help getting it started but thank you for offering.”
“Ok first check the oil.”
Skyler watched him as he twisted the knob and pulled out a metal stick. He checked it and then put it back in and then turned another knob and look inside.
“The oil is fine, you need more gasoline though, do you have any?”
Gasoline? Really? That’s all it needed. “Yeah, I got it out back in the shed.”
Skyler lead him out back towards the shed, the walk over there felt a tiny bit awkward or maybe it was just her.
“You normally run with no shirt?” she asked as she opened the shed and flipped the switch on, the light brightening up the spacious shed.
He chuckled as he looked around and walked over to where the red gasoline container laid on a shelf, “Lately it’s been to damn hot and I hate when my shirt sticks to my body so I decided not to wear one until it starts to get cold again.”
Skyler didn’t know why it was bothering her so much; she couldn’t put her finger on it. This really shouldn’t be bothering her; she wasn’t supposed to feel a little ticked off about this. Josh was some teenage kid with no shirt on, was it because she was older then him? No, that couldn’t be it.
They walked back to the lawn mower as she continued her thoughts. She finally looked at him, his wasn’t like normal teenage boys, then again what did she know about them now a days. His body was muscular, fit and….. .she wasn’t checking him out, was she? She averted her gaze and watched what he was doing and tried focusing on what he was saying.
“You got that?” he asked as he stood.
Got what? Was he actually explaining something to her while she was looking at his body?
She looked up at him and saw a small smile tug at the corner of his lips.
“You weren’t listening were you?”
“I got to check the oil and gas before starting it and pump the red knob at least five times and then pull the string while holding down the handle.” She looked at him as she wasn’t sure of herself and watched him just laugh at her, she wasn’t sure she got that right or not, it’s all her mind picked up while she was in her thinking state.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it,” he moved aside and gestured for her to give it a try.
Skyler moved the mower in front of her and stared down at it, so he already checked the oil and gas, she just had to pump the red knob and hold the handle down and pull the string.
She concentrated as she did this and gave the string a try and nothing happened, just the fact that she realized she was out of shape. She ran and stretched but that wasn’t enough, she thought she might pull a muscle from trying this; she should have kept her PT going after she left the Army.
She tried again and grew frustrated as it didn’t work again. This time she felt it in her arm, the right was hurting just by pulling the string. Okay, she really was going to have to start lifting weights again, this was ridiculous.
“Mind if I give it a go?” Josh gave a small smile as she looked at him and glared.
“No, I can do this. For gods sake I can disarm a fucking bomb but I can’t start a lawn mower.” Okay, she needed to calm down; she usually didn’t lose her temper that easily.
“You swear to? What a surprise,” he laughed.
She wasn’t Miss prime and perfect as he seen her a few days ago but she wasn’t a potty mouth, not usually.
“Fine give it a go,” she said angry as she let go of the handle and stepped aside, her hands on her hips as she watched him smile and grip the handle and made the motor purr.
“Show off,” she muttered.
“Look I’ll mow your lawn if you want, you’re a bit pissed right now, don’t want you having an accident if you’re not paying attention.”
Let him mow her lawn? He’d probably do a better job then her.
“Fine, what would you like in return?” she asked.
“Lunch, I’m starving.”
She could do lunch, she thought. She looked up at the sky; it was going to be a late lunch.
“Fair enough, I just need the front mowed I’ll do the back tomorrow.”
Skyler walked away and took one last glance at him before closing the screen door behind her. What do you make a teenage boy? What did they eat? She walked into her kitchen and stopped as she passed by a framed picture on the fridge. It was a picture of Allison, her senior picture. She brushed her finger tips over the picture as she remembered her sister; she looked so young, such a long time ago.
She retrieved her hand to her chest and resisted the urge to cry, she felt it coming, always felt it coming well she passed this picture. She still couldn’t believe her baby sister was gone.
She quickly passed the fridge and went to brace herself against the counter; she looked down at the squared tiles, her shoes that were now green around the edge do to the grass.
She didn’t know how long she stood there, trying to hold it back, so many things she was never going to do with her sister, all those promises they made together were never going to come true because she was now gone.
Skyler looked up and saw josh standing there, hesitating, he didn’t know whether to approach her or not but concern clearly marked his features.
Clearly she wasn’t okay but what was he supposed to ask her? “Yeah, just fine, are you already done?” she asked as she wiped her tears away.
“Yeah, I just finished,” he slowly walked closer, entering the kitchen. “You want to talk about it?” he sadly asked her.
“No, just go ahead and sit on one of the bar stools. I’ll whip something up for you, you like burgers?” she asked as she washed her hands.
“I love burgers,” he smiled.
Skyler smiled in return, odd that he could make her do that at a time like this. She felt somewhat happy as he smiled at her, this young kid brought something out in her and she once felt this way when it was just her and Allison.
She remembered the times she wasn’t deployed, Allison sitting at the kitchen table talking about her day at school or a boy she was crushing on while she made dinner for her and looking at Josh right now reminded her of just that.
“Tell me about you,” Skyler quietly said, she opened the fridge and peered over the door when he didn’t answer, she watched his smile turn down the slightest bit as he stared at nothing in particular.
She could already tell he kept things to himself just like she did. The only way to have him open up to her was to tell him something in return.
“Okay, I’ll go first.” Skyler sighed as she grabbed the package of beef; she started grabbing other things, lettuce, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, pickles, onions. She kicked the door shut and dropped the onion as she walked over to the small island in the middle of the kitchen.
“How old are you?” she asked as she sorted everything out and started grabbing what utensils she was going to need and use.
“I’m seventeen,” he answered.
“Well at seventeen I joined the Army,” she smiled as she looked up at him.
He didn’t smile in return, kept his gaze neutral as he regarded her and then asked, “Why?”
“My parents died and my aunt took me and my sister in, she didn’t have to but she did. She knew if we went into foster care then we might have ended up separated and she also promised my parents she would watch over us if anything ever happened to them.”
Skyler continued as she got the small grill ready. “I knew my aunt would struggle taking care of us, I finished school early and with her permission I joined the Army. I knew my aunt couldn’t give my sister what she needed, she was fifteen at the time, I was almost eighteen but I couldn’t wait. She gave me permission as I said and I left.”
Skyler looked up at Josh and saw that he was intrigued by what she was saying, he was staring at her, curiously, yet he was sad. She didn’t know why he would be sad.
“I provided for my sister, she had everything she needed, when I was home I took care of her and I made her dinner every night. I put money aside for her college and after she graduated she came here. She went to school about forty minutes from here. She had her own apartment that I paid for, she went to school and she had outstanding grades.” She laughed to herself; she remembered how proud her sister was when she showed her, her grades.
“She was almost done with her associates before…..she…was...murdered,” Skyler whispered the last three words. She inhaled and exhaled as she tried controlling her breathing, her eyes filled with tears, the damn onions weren’t helping her at all.
“I’m sorry,” Josh sadly whispered.
She looked up and saw that his eyes were just as wet as hers but she didn’t know whether it was because he was sad or because of the onions, she was going to go with number one.
“I know but I’m coping with it, taking it day by day,” she put the onions aside and started slicing the tomato.
“I’m a foster child if you couldn’t already guess.”
The way he said it, he was disgusted. She looked up at him and felt….it wasn’t pity. It was something else but she didn’t know what it was….maybe she envied him.
“I’ve been in the system since I was a child, my mother was a drunk and my father left.”
Skyler continued chopping the lettuce as she listened to him.
“My current foster parents are the worst ones I’ve ever had; they just want the money, the money I don’t even see.”
Skyler swallowed tightly as she focused on making the hamburger patties. She thought about this once, a very long time ago. She thought about what it would be like for Allison and her, to be in the foster care system, she heard what it was like.
When she was in high school she had friends, who were in the system, the stories they would tell her and Allison, it was one of the reasons why she joined the Army. With her aunt struggling she didn’t know whether she would kept her promise and take care of them or just give up on them and let the state take them.
Allison understood why she joined but the rest of her family, they hated it and disowned her when she joined and they said she was a disgrace for leaving Allison. Even her aunt didn’t like the idea of her serving but she knew she could help her with Allison so she agreed.
“Im sorry that you’ve gone through so much at such a young age,” she told him as she set two patties on the grill.
“Don’t feel sorry for me, they get a handful in return.”
So he wasn’t a disciplined kid, she didn’t seem surprised at that. She kind of figured, she would have been the same way, acting out, always in trouble at school.
“You’re a sweet kid,” she told him, she looked up at him and gave him a gentle smile.
She didn’t like that tone, “You don’t talk to me that way understand that I’m not your foster parents so show some respect.”
Skyler saw him work his jaw as he stared at her, his eyes glaring and then softening as she stared back at him.
“Your right, your not, I’m sorry.”
“Your sweet whether you believe it or not. I’m betting when you’re in school you try your hardest and when things don’t go your way you skip out and do whatever you want just to get back at them, to get their attention. I’m sure you don’t really do anything bad, you don’t smoke and you don’t drink, you work hard and you try to keep busy so you don’t have to return to where you currently live.” Skyler knew she was right; she would have been the same way.
Josh didn’t say anything to her; he kept quit while she made the rest of the food.
It wasn’t the least bit awkward, it was like they were keeping quit because they each were occupied with their own thoughts, she knew she was.
His life must have been hard growing up with no one loving him, never getting what you needed, what you wanted when other kids around you had it. His life was still hard but he seemed like he was coping with it just like she was coping with Allison’s murder.
“Lunch is ready,” she murmured.
Over the past eight minutes she’s watched Josh eat two hamburgers and two small bags of chips. It made her wonder.
“When was the last time you ate?” her chest tightened as she waited for his answer.
“I honestly don’t remember,” he said as he grabbed his can of soda and took a drink.
Skyler was barely able to swallow the last of her hamburger, he didn’t remember?
“What are you doing tomorrow morning?” she asked as she grabbed his plate and began to wash the dishes.
“How about you come over and eat breakfast with me?” she asked him.
He sounded confused, though she could hear the little hint of happiness because of the invitation she just gave him.
“Sure, I’d like that, that way I could learn a little bit more about you.”
Skyler was finding herself wanting to know more about him as well. After loading the dish washer she turned and leaned against the counter and looked him over, really looked him over.
Josh was young but well built; he had broad shoulders but was lean with muscle. His hair was a bit long; his skin tone had a light tan giving him a sun kissed look. Josh reminded her of a surfer with his hair and body and his wash board abs, except his hair wasn’t blond, instead it was a dark brown, almost black. His eyes were a beautiful dark blue and they really stood out.
“Tell me, do you really not wear a shirt because of the reason you told me or you just don’t have nice shirts?” Skyler had to ask, she hoped she didn’t hear the answer she knew she was going to hear.
She watched him think it over for a bit before he answered, he didn’t have to answer though, just watching him think it over Skyler knew he didn’t have nice clothes.
“No, I don’t have nice shirts or anything else,” he sadly said.
“You have that job because you’re saving up, aren’t you? You’re going to get the hell out of there one way or another.”
“Yeah I am,” he sighed.
Skyler couldn’t blame him but she wouldn’t save up, she’d joined the military if she had to, that would be her first choice.
“You can’t get anywhere in life if you don’t attend school remember that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he laughed.
Skyler didn’t think that was funny at all. “Josh I mean it, you want out of that shitty house then get your shit together or you’re going to be out on the streets as soon as you turn eighteen.”
He averted his gaze as soon as she raised her voice; she knew he knew that, what she didn’t know is why? If he wanted to be out of there so bad, why was he not going to school? She couldn’t ask him, not today. He’s already told her so much, she didn’t want to push it and have him put his guard up again.
“Tomorrow I’m taking you out, we’re going shopping and I’m buying new clothes for you.”
“What? We barely know each other and you’re going to insist on buying me clothes?”
She hasn’t insisted but she was going to if he objected. She wasn’t going to take no for an answer, she was going to take him out shopping tomorrow, she couldn’t stand the thought of him not having clothes, that thought brought the thought of Allison not having clothes, if she didn’t take care of it, it was going to bother her.
“I don’t have a choice, do I?”
“No you really don’t, not if you attend on being friends with me. Then take the offer or get lost.” She didn’t mean to sound harsh but she knew he would take the offer, she had a feeling he knew that she was going to be the one that only understood him or at least tried and the only one who even cared.
“I’ll see you tomorrow morning at eight,” he got off the stool and walked the little distance between them and gave her a simple thank you kiss on her cheek and smiled as he turned and walked away, he gave her a little wave and said, “Thanks for lunch sky,” and then existed through the door way.
Skyler stood there, still leaning against the counter, thinking about what she was going to do. She had that feeling inside her once again, a feeling she hasn’t felt in a while but she knew what it was, it was that motherly feeling she had when she took care of Allison. She thought of Allison as her own not just a sister. Was she going to feel the exact same way with Josh? The boy clearly needed someone to care for him, he needed love. Maybe she could give him just a little without getting too attached because at the end of the day she still wasn’t staying here, she was here briefly and then she was gone.