Excitement surges through me as I lead Layla from the driveway. Eight identical buildings on this side of the street provide a backdrop for the orange glow of the setting sun. Two little boys from a neighboring house wave as they zoom past on bicycles. A group of women, engaged in conversation, pause to yell, ‘Watch the car,’ to kids playing ball in the street. Of all the neighborhoods I researched for off-base housing, this is not only the most visually appealing, but also the friendliest. The community vibe reminds me of the area where I grew up.
Lush green grass and beautifully landscaped shrubbery front unit four. The door squeaks when I open it, setting my nerves on edge.
What if she hates it?
Layla steps inside, oblivious to the fierce pounding in my chest as I silently follow. A Downtempo Jazz beat serenades from the stereo system, and the aroma of last night’s lasagna lingers in the air. She quietly walks through the living room regarding the wall paintings and the glass topped end tables on either side of the leather sofa. The matching coffee table holds a small bouquet of flowers and two scented candles. I’d decorated, redecorated organized and reorganized in an attempt to make the space perfect. I’ve spent several quiet evenings perched in the recliner with my laptop and shared numerous afternoons with my friends in front of the flat screen. But the one thing this house needs to make it home is Layla.
The fridge is stocked with foods she likes. The bathroom cabinets have space for her personal items, there’s an empty closet in the master bedroom and several dresser drawers waiting to be filled with that sexy lingerie she wears just for me.
I watch intently as she ambles through the living room, circles the small dining room table, and peers out at the yard through the sliding glass door. “So what do you think?” My heart pounds as I wait for her answer.
“This yard is huge!”
She speaks! My sigh of relief is audible. Her face lights up and I’m absolutely thrilled.
“Ethan, this place is incredible. I had no idea you’d moved off base. That yard, though! You could throw some kick-ass parties in that yard. If I move out of my room in the barracks, I don’t even care what the house is like if the backyard can be this great. Although, I doubt I could afford something this fancy.”
Shit. “Layla, this is actually—”
“You should get a grill. And there’s space over in that corner for a swing.” She points to the far end of the yard. Her enthusiasm for what she believes is my place is fantastic, but I need to clear up her misunderstanding, if I could get a word in edgewise.
“Is the kitchen nice? I could come over and cook for you. I’m not the greatest cook, but I can make spaghetti.” She makes a quick turn toward the kitchen, but stops abruptly when I throw my hand up to the glass door, blocking her in place.
She turns to face me. Her excitement has calmed, her expression is sweet. “I really like your place, Ethan.”
I’m glad she likes it, but somehow she’s missed that this place she really likes, that yard where we can have ‘kick-ass parties’ with a grill and a swing, belongs to both of us.
“I’ve really missed you.” She immediately puts her arms around my neck and pulls me close. Her lips find mine, and in an instant, a fiery kiss consumes us, sending hot sparks through my body. My arms circle her waist and pull her flush against my growing erection.
She places feather-light kisses on my neck and fingers the collar of my T-shirt. “Can you show me your bedroom?”
Holy Fuck. Her breathy words fill my insides with heat and desire. Our bedroom. It’s our bedroom, Babe. But those aren’t the words that come out. “Sure.”
I’ll explain everything and give her a tour of the rest of the house later. Right now, I’m desperate to feel her. She squeals when I lift her abruptly and position her over my shoulder. Her hands grip the hem at the back of my shirt.
“Don’t you dare drop me!”
I palm her ass and give a playful smack as I carry her up the stairs to the master bedroom. The last bit of sunlight creeps through the blinds as I set Layla on the carpeted floor. She takes a couple of steps back, turns slowly and surveys the room without saying a word. Is she purposely trying to drive me crazy?
The rhythmic hum of the ceiling fan usually provides a soothing background lull, but fails to put me at ease. Layla and I will be spending a lot of time in this room. I’d like to know if she hates the navy and beige scheme of the duvet and matching sheets, or the rich green floor plants flanking each window. In spite of her smile I catch in the huge wall mirror near the bed, I suck in a breath, bracing myself for her disapproval. She presses her body against mine, and my arms reflexively encircle her waist.
“What do you think?”
“I think you have a real eye for decorating. I think I might like to visit you often. Very often. And I think we have a lot of lost time to make up for.” Her sweet lips seize mine in a kiss that melts my heart and heats my groin. The warmth of her breath and the slow strokes of her tongue send a tingly spark down my spine. When she sucks on my lower lip, I nearly come to pieces. Just being close to her causes my insides to burn with desire.
I need her naked. Now.
Two buttons on her shirt surrender to my determined fingers before she places a hand over mine. “I need a few minutes to freshen up.” Her breathless words torment me.
I lean my forehead against hers. “I’ve spent the past four-and-a-half months waiting to be buried deep inside you, and you want me to wait longer?”
“I’ve been on a plane for three hours, Babe. I feel icky.” Gentle fingers stroke my face, and I crumble under her soothing touch.
“Fine.” I kiss her forehead. “Two minutes.”
She looks up with raised eyebrows. “Even the Navy gives me three.”
“I’m not the Navy.” I smile and squeeze her ass. Damn, I missed the feel of her soft cheeks in my hands. With all the strength I can gather, I release her and turn away. “You have ninety seconds to undress and get your sweet ass into the shower.” I pull my shirt over my head, toss it to the floor, and I saunter to the bathroom, smiling to myself at the rustle of clothes behind me as she undresses.
I can’t get naked and start the shower fast enough. I duck under the water while it’s heating and lather in a frantic rush, waiting for her. I turn to rinse off and I can just see her through the shower glass, standing in the doorway, wearing nothing but a provocative smile. My body yearns for her.
“Move it, Ensign.”
She opens the shower door with a billow of steam, and I catch a sparkle of mischief in her eyes. I realize at this moment, falling for her is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and loving her is the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
Within the span of one year, Layla and I have been on an emotional roller coaster. I fell in love with her during a time of emotional need. When I discovered she was forbidden, I reluctantly let her go. I sent her away when I learned that doing so meant hope for us to be together. Now that she’s back, I’m free to love her without sneaking around. No more breaking rules. Now that she’s mine, I’ll do anything to keep her and even more to make her happy.