It was an unexpectedly late night for Tucker. When he woke merely 20 hours ago, he had no idea what lie in store for him that day. He was simly hoping to get a few solid hours of training in for his new recruits and a few more with his sexy new friend. His biggest concern of the day when his eyes opened that morning was whether or not she would show, if she would be in the mood for his planned exercises, and if he could talk her into dinner again. These worries were so minor in comparison to what they were facing now.
Thinking back over the day, he was thankful that they were able to make it to the cabin without being tailed. Boss had more than earned his pay that day, and he was so thankful to have that old pain in the ass in his life. He waited, on edge, to hear back from Brad whose electronic genius was already out with his other buddy, Taylor, installing the surveillance systems. Taylor had been in the Secret Service for a stint, and Tucker knew that nobody would be able to harm Brad or Boss with Taylor looking after them. Brad had also made it earlier that evening. Brad was one of his buddies that escaped capture with him overseas. Tucker knew what it was like to be held against your will, fearing the worst, enduring the pain. Tucker and Brad had both escaped the same hellish experience, and eventually they were able to get reinforcement to save the rest of the troop, but those first nights will never be forgotten. They haunted him in his darkest moments, snuck up on his on the brightest of days, and invited themselves to his dreams at night.
He could only imagine what Ann had been through, but he also knew that he and Brad were an unstoppable team, and together they would keep an eye out on Ann and stop the devil that resided so close, the Monster that scared and hurt her. He hated this man he had never even met yet with an intensity that surprised even himself.
It was nearing four in the morning when Boss finally called with an update. Taylor and Brad had successfully installed the cameras at all the locations, working like the heroes they were, and Boss was tailing the Monster. The thought kept him nervously pacing the living room, but he had full faith that Boss would always keep a step ahead of the Monster. When they had the opportunity, they would slip the tracking device on the Monster’s vehicle, too.
Tucker was doing an unnecessary check of his property when he heard the screams, all his fears confirmed. His heart lurched, and he sprinted up the stairs. When he entered the room moments later, feeling more like years, he saw her writhing on the floor, the bed cover knotted around her, and she screamed yet again.
She was clearly dreaming. Damn it, she had the dreams too. His heart sank at the realization.
Tucker crawled up next to her, wanting to fix it but not knowing how. Not believing there was a way for himself, but hoping there could be a way to spare her from the dreams. He gently woke her, but she was still rigid, even after wildly surveying the room and recognizing that she was safe. She curled up in a ball, unable to face him, and covered herself with the blankets, breathing heavily, sweat beading on her forehead.
He didn’t try to stop her or uncurl her from the blankets. He knew this feeling all too well.
Wanting to comfort her, his tongue started to speak words he had kept hidden for so long. “I get the dreams, too,” he began. When she didn’t respond, he continued, “While overseas, some rebels were able to capture my unit.” His heart ached with each word, but he couldn’t stop them from flowing out. “Those sneaky bastards caught all six of us, and hauled us off to hell. For three days we nearly preferred death over tolerating the pain of the day again.” He could feel the injuries in his dreams, and he vaguely recalled them now. He felt his throat constrict. Unable to swallow, his next sentence came out hoarse.
“That was nearly a decade ago, and sometimes I still get the dreams. Sometimes they come so often I prefer not to sleep.” And that was the honest to God truth. Feeling the heavy weight of his words, he looked to give her some hope. “That’s how the gym was born. I poured myself into that building, night and day until it was a success. I took on every client possible, and eventually I took on a few that succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. But, still, when things are just right, I get the dreams too.”
She pulled the blanket away from her face but kept it covered with her hand. She didn’t speak. He got that. He knew there were some things that just didn’t have words. Some feelings too intense to describe.
Not knowing what else to do, he just kept talking. “One of my buddies from that night is here, too. I owe my life to Brad. You don’t have to worry. Nothing will get past him. Or me. Boss and Brad are nearly done installing the equipment, and Taylor will be back soon, too. They’re all the best at what they do. We’ll get this figured out, together. I promise” he said with a tone that relayed he wouldn’t accept anything less.
After another stretch of silence, she finally croaked out, “I’m sorry that happened to you. And your friends.”
“Me, too,” he admitted as much to himself as her.
She reached her hand out and took his in hers, no words necessary. She knew. She could get things about him than no one else really could. It was such a comfort, and it drove his determination to see this whole ordeal through to the end.
He sat on the floor, watching the stars work across the sky for endless minutes. Maybe hours. Eventually he saw the headlights coming up the drive, and he knew he needed to break the hold she had on his hand and meet up with Boss, Brad and Taylor downstairs.
“They’re back. I need to debrief with them. Would you like to come down, too?”
She simply shook her head no and pulled her hand back. For some reason that sent a sting of pain straight to his heart. He couldn’t exactly identify why, just that he wanted to hold her hand forever and give her comfort that would heal the old wounds. But in order to provide the safety to attain those things, he needed to go downstairs and hear how things went.