Reason number four, as she explained, they’d never actually sleep together. He had so many ideas, so many things they could do together, in bed, rather than sleep, but now didn’t seem like the time to express that.
He also hoped that her pretend shrink would say those are normal reactions to horrific situations. Years later and he still gets the dreams, just as real as the day they happened, the pain just as intense. He understood not wanting to tell anyone, not wanting to tarnish or ruin others’ innocence.
When he heard his buddies run up the stairs after her first scream, he thankfully was able to stop them before they entered the bedroom. His beautiful, he wanted to say girlfriend, was so gloriously naked lying next to him, and he didn’t want to share her with anybody else in the world, not even his battle buddies.
He tried to soothe her the only way he knew how. “I get it. You can’t scar me, because I’m already scarred. You’ve tried keeping it all in, and still the dreams come. You could try talking to me. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Her response surprised him. “Because,” she started, “I like how I feel when I’m around you – capable, comfortable, and respected. I’m afraid when you find out what a coward I was, how I was so easily mistreated, what little worth I was to others, that you will not see me the same way. I’ll become tainted, stained somehow.” After a minute’s pause she finished, “Because I’m afraid you’ll see me the way I see myself.”
What painful truth just spoken. She had just verbalized and put into black and white the grey he had been experiencing for so long. He came home to accolades and accommodations for his heroic acts, but he never felt it was heroic. He felt stupid for not seeing the enemy approaching, so being awarded for escaping something that he should have never gotten into in the first place seemed like a lousy reason for an award or special attention.
This woman kept him on his toes and kept his mind working as hard as his body. He loved that he finally found someone who could not only keep up to him, but could also outtsmart and outthink him. Someone he strived to be more like.
He knew sleep was beyond him at this point. Seeing the terror on someone else’s face was nearly as traumatic as dreaming it himself. His heart ached, burned, tore for her, but there was little he could do to stymie her fear. The only thing he could possibly do right was to help catch this perp and put him away for good.
Maybe, if the Monster was out of her life there would be room for Tucker. He wanted that so badly. At minimum he wanted to give it a shot. He imagined waking with her in the mornings, seeing her tousled hair, eating breakfast together. He could see her working out at his gym instead of down a lonely path somewhere desolate. He could see supporting her love of design and could imagine her infusing her sense of style into his home and cabin. He wanted all of that, but none of it was even possible until her Monster had been slayed, and he was more than willing to give it a try.
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