He was careless and should’ve known better. Luke stood looking out the floor to ceiling windows of the Marriot Hotel with his hands resting inside the pockets of his cargo shorts. His chest was bare and so were his feet, but his mind was covered in thoughts. Luke made a mistake, one that could cost him the only woman in the world he’d ever loved, and for what? He should’ve just given Amy the opportunity to be there, but he didn’t.
When the knock on the door came, Luke almost ignored it, but there was something in his gut that said it was important. He turned from the window and removed his hands from his pockets as he strolled across the suite. He reached for the door and swung it open to find Uncle Charley on the opposite side.
“Uncle Charley,” Luke said referring to him the same as Amy. “Come in, I didn’t expect you here.”
Uncle Charley moseyed into the suite but stood firmly by the door.
“I didn’t come to stay. I just need to deliver a message to you.”
“From Amy?” Luke asked hopeful.
“No, from me.”
Luke folded his arms across his chest and waited to hear what Uncle Charley had to say.
“I’ve spoken with Amy, but I’ll tell you now, it was not on your behalf. She means the world to me. I’ve been taking care of her since her parents passed and I love her as if she was my own daughter. So, I want you to hear me and hear me good. I’ll kill you if you do something to hurt her again. I mean it.”
Uncle Charley was practically baring his teeth at Luke and all Luke could do was nod.
“Understood,” he said.
Uncle Charley turned around to leave.
“Sir,” Luke said halting him. Uncle Charley turned back. “I want to marry her.” Uncle Charley didn’t say anything, only waited for him to go on. “I would like your blessing.”
Uncle Charley stared at Luke for the longest time. He thought about everything he’d said to Amy then nodded once.
“Remember what I said,” Uncle Charley reiterated before turning and taking his leave.
“I haven’t heard from him. It’s unusual Amy, I’m nervous.”
Amy combed over the worried expression on Mariah’s face.
“Is there any way you could ask your uncle if he’s heard anything about him?”
“Mariah, you’re most likely worrying for nothing. Isn’t Micah on his way home?”
“He’s supposed to be, but he’s gone radio silent and I have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can’t deal with this. I need to know if he’s alright.”
Amy reached for Mariah’s hand that sat on the bar. It trembled slightly and Mariah bit down on her lip.
“I’ll ask my uncle to check on him. I’m sure he’s fine. Don’t worry so much.”
“That’s easy for you to say, your man is home.”
“It doesn’t matter since right now we’re not on good terms.”
Amy blew out a breath and this time Mariah rubbed her hand.
“I get it, but girl, hear him out. The Luke Sutter I know would never…”
Amy nodded. “I know,” she smiled shortly.
“Speak of the devil,” Mariah said.
Amy followed Mariah’s line of sight to see Luke sailing through the door. His face held determination and there was a sparkling gleam in his eye. He never checked his surroundings; instead, he came right in and took his gaze to the bar where he knew Amy would be working.
“Looks like he’s headed this way. I’m going to get going. You guys be good and please don’t forget to ask Uncle Charley.”
“I promise I won’t.”
“Hey Mariah, how are you?” Luke asked as he approached.
“I’ve been better. You wouldn’t by any chance have heard from Micah, have you?”
“No, is anything wrong?”
Mariah sulked. “I’m not sure, thanks anyway.” She left, and Luke looked after her. His thoughts traveled to Micah who he was sure would be home any day, so to say he was perplexed by Mariah’s mood was an understatement. Turning his attention back in front of him, Luke’s gaze met Amy’s. For the longest moment they stared at each other, both going through a storm of their own thoughts.
“I need to talk to you,” Luke started.
“I need to talk to you, too,” Amy said.
“Please let me go first.”
“Not here,” she said taking an eye around the establishment. “It’ll have to be when my shift ends.”
Luke checked his watch. “What time would that be?”
“2 a.m. Meet me at my place.”
“How about I stick around to make sure you get home safely.”
Amy smirked and went to respond but Luke beat her to the punch.
“I know, I know, you’ve been taking care of yourself for six years. But you don’t have to anymore. I’m here, and I plan to take over those duties.”
Once again, they stared each other off, but Amy only responded with a head nod.
* * *
“You were right. It was wrong of me to leave you in the dark. I should’ve told you what was going on with me and I should’ve let you know that I needed you. I tried to shelter you, and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t confide in you when we did talk, but now I know. I saw my troubles as imperfections and I didn’t want to burden you with the storm raging inside me.”
“Let me finish, please.” Erin quieted down and Luke continued. “I’m a man, Erin. My pride was in jeopardy. Going to the army for me felt invigorating like I was taking life by the balls and fulfilling my purpose. I understood I was heading into a real war, and I’d been trained with some of the best men I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. The thing is, it wasn’t until some of those men fell during battles that I wasn’t apart of that I realized, I, like them, was human and just as vulnerable as anyone on earth.
I wanted to be a hero, to serve my country. But I wasn’t prepared for the death that happened around me. Even after all the training, nothing could prepare me for what I experienced. It was agonizing to get word that a platoon had been ambushed with some of those same men I trained with and I wasn’t there to help them. To find out an IED exploded and took out half of another squad, but again, I wasn’t there. It was like a haunting, a sort of constant nagging that I had no purpose but to watch everyone around me slowly lose their battle.” He paused. “Then Caleb’s convoy was attacked.” He gritted his teeth. “I lost it. It was all I could take, I needed,” he paused. “I needed a link to the outside world. I needed you.”
Amy went to speak again but he overtalked her.
“It was my fault that you didn’t get the chance to be there for me and I am so terribly sorry.” Luke approached her and hovered right over her face. “I love you Amy, and I can’t live or die without you. I spoke to Uncle Charley today.” Luke slipped his hand into his pocket. “I asked for his blessing.” Luke removed a clear crystal box and eased down on one knee. Amy’s eyes widened, and her mouth dropped. “Marry me, baby. No one can come between what we have, I won’t allow it. Please,” he begged.
Amy’s throat tightened, and a rush of tears dropped from her eyes.
“Oh my God, Luke!”
She covered her mouth in utter disbelief.
“I love you, too,” she screeched.
“Is that a yes? I need a yes, honey.”
Amy nodded. “Yes! Yes! Of course, I’ll marry you!”
Luke rose to his feet, and lifted Amy as he stood. She squealed, and her legs wrapped around his waist. They embraced tightly and kissed each other so hard it hurt. With their hearts slamming together and their libido’s rising, they both ravished each other. Clothes went flying overhead and across the room as neither of them could get the garments off quick enough. They parted long enough to remove every layer then pounced right back on one another with sheer agility and determination.
When Luke entered Amy, her back arched and her spine contracted at the force of his blunt entry.
“Oh my God!” She screamed, clutching his shoulders as he clutched her ass while thrusting in and out of her. Luke stood on his feet with no barrier or furniture to bare the force of their undertaking. It was all them, grinding and bouncing against each other in a fervent ecstasy. Minutes turned into hours that they joined, switched positions, and flexed as if they were in a sexual yoga class. It was bliss and the only thing either of them cared about at that moment was spending a lifetime together.