“I’ve never been able to hold back with you. It’s always been full measures or nothing. No halfway bullshit.”
She ran her fingers through my hair, and I groaned when she scratched her nails lightly over my scalp. God, it felt so damn good.
“I’ve always loved that about us. We’re all in. Always.”
“But that’s not ugly. Nothing you’ve told me is ugly.”
My stomach dropped, and we passed through the station on route to Peak Eight. I looked up to the green mountains, their beauty overwhelming, their sheer size distorted because we were too close to accurately gauge their mass.
“Even knowing everything we have, this incredible love that we share, our beautiful life that we’re building…” I shook my head and looked down at her knees.
“Josh.” She tipped my chin. “I’m here. No matter what you’re about to say.”
“Medevacing the wounded… Ember, I’ve found my purpose. I’ll always go when they call. How many deployments can you wait through? How many times can I leave you?”
Fear streaked through her eyes, but she masked it before I could question her. “As many as it takes. I would rather sit home and wait for you, than spend a lifetime with anyone else.”
I pulled her onto my lap, gently squeezing the sweet curves of her hips.
“Behave,” she whispered into my ear, but ran her tongue along the edge.
My fingers flexed, teasing under the edges of the black skirt that had slid higher on her thighs as she sat. I couldn’t help it—her skin was a magnet for my hands. “You like it better when I don’t,” I answered.
She locked those blue eyes on mine, and for that second, I wanted everyone to go the fuck away so I could get my remarkable girlfriend out of her clothes. Not a girlfriend for long. Not if I found the perfect moment for that little velvet box hidden upstairs.
Mrs. Walker. December-fucking-Walker. Sounded perfect to me.
“Earth to Josh and Ember,” Jagger called, waving his hand like he’d been at it a while.
“Yeah, yeah, a toast,” Ember said, wiggling against my now-hard lap. I locked her down with my hands, and she threw me a smug grin, well aware of what she’d done.
Jagger raised his beer. “To friends. Hell, that doesn’t even cut it. You guys, all of you…I wouldn’t be here”—he looked over to Paisley—“or even the man I am, without you. So more than friends…to family.”
We glanced around the fire at the family we’d made, and I felt it—one of those moments you can’t forget, the kind that stay with you when it’s long past, so you try to memorize everything. It was a deep peace, a contentment laced with the silent knowledge that we wouldn’t be together again for far too long. “To family,” we all said in scattered rhythm, and I kissed the underside of Ember’s jaw.
Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She’s a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.
When she’s not writing, she’s tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years. They finally can call Colorado home along with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog.
Stalk Rebecca here: