Screams and gunshots filled Deli’s dreams and he came awake with a start when someone touched his shoulder. He gripped the arm of his assailant and yanked them over his body, pinning them beneath him.
A terrified squawk brought him back to the present and he realized the body underneath him was soft, warm, and decidedly feminine. Several moments of heavy breathing cleared the cobwebs from his mind and he got his vision to work.
“Yes, Chief. Can you please get off me?”
He didn’t want to move. She smelled good and cushioned his hard body better than the bed where he slept. But he couldn’t hold her down.
“What are you doing here?” He rolled back over, releasing her.
“I’m waking you to check on you. Concussion, remember?” She scrambled off the bed and stood out of reach. “I see you’re okay. Do you need anything? Water, tea?”
Deli almost shook his head, but the persistent throbbing after moving quickly had set in. “What kinds of tea do you have?”
The question surprised him. He didn’t drink tea, being a beer or coffee kind of guy. But something about the mild taste of hot, steeped leaves appealed to him at the moment.
Caroline bit her lip. “Dragon phoenix, a mixture of black and green teas in little balls. Or some sweet herbal. Or huckleberry.”
“Little dragon and phoenix balls?” He smirked. “Yeah, okay, I could take a chance on that.”
She rolled her eyes. “The tea is called dragon phoenix and it’s rolled into little…You know what? I’ll just bring you some.” She spun and strode out the door before he could say anything else.
He chuckled but stopped it short when his head reminded him of his injuries. Damn, he had to move faster next time. If he didn’t, either he or the members of his team could be killed. All humor fled as he remembered the dream. He could still see Bones drop to the ground and smell the blood from his wounds.
Deli squeezed his eyes shut, but it only made the memories clearer. Tears leaked out the sides of his eyes in a sudden burst of emotion. He missed his family, the other SEALs who made up his squad and their spouses. Rimshot and Bam-Bam had found their happily-ever-afters in women who understood them. Bronco was a dad with Lindsey. Hell, even Retro and Magic had snagged the same woman in Chris “Ghost” Brickman. They all had someone waiting for them to come home.
Where was the one waiting for him? Fuck, my heart’s getting dark.
He rarely gave into the feelings of loneliness among his peers. Loving a SEAL wasn’t easy in peace time, much less when they had to go out and disappear for months at a time. And when they came back, they couldn’t talk about where they’d been or what they’d seen. If we come back. It took a very strong person to put up with that.
Despite loving what he did and his need to ‘save the world’ from the bad guys, he also wanted something specific to fight for. Or rather, someone. Family, his parents and his siblings, his squadmates and their spouses, they were important, no question. But for the first time in his life, he wanted someone who waited just for him.
Damn, this concussion has fucked me up.
Padfoot’s words came back to him, bubbling up from his roiling emotions. I learned the hard way that ignoring the emotions fucks you up worse than acknowledging them. Deli didn’t want to acknowledge them because doing so would only illustrate just how alone he really was.
But the tears and fears, once given the exit strategy, surged forward and spilled down his cheeks. Sobs filled his chest and damn near stopped his breath. Pain and loneliness sucked him down into the abyss of darkness and it only lifted when someone sat on the bed beside him.
He hiccoughed a sudden breath and opened his eyes to find a beautiful woman with a mug of tea in her hands. “Tea makes everything better. Drink.”
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