Apologies here for some coarse and blunt language.
Hunter stood at the basin, scrubbing at his face with fresh water and both hands. Oakley lay on her side in his bed, watching the muscles of his back as he moved through the golden sunset glow coming through the windows.
When they’d returned to the cabin after she delivered her warning her mind was swamped with concern for Greenwater, and her anxiety had her stomach in knots. Her impotence to fix it made her angry. It was a nasty mix that had her feeling nauseous.
They’d sat quietly for a half hour, Hunter sensing her mood, knowing better than to try to talk her into feeling better. After thirty minutes of that she’d had enough. She’d crossed the plank floor and locked the door, lowered the slat blinds, then basically attacked him.
He hadn’t minded.
That was two hours ago. Now she was watching him clean himself up as though he was attending the birthday party with the men.
“I’ll fall back to get you,” he was saying. “Then we’ll wait at the fence. But only for half an hour, right? Then we’re off. You did your best to get word in, babe. You should rest well for that.”
She was playing with the corner of the rough wool blanket he had. “Yeah,” was her quiet answer. “I guess.” She didn’t look up until he sat next to her, hand curving around her side at her hip. He gave her a squeeze.
“Babe, I’m so sorry. This is … this is going to be bad. And bloody.”
Oakley returned her attention to the stitching on the blanket again. “I know. As long as they take a few with them when they go.”
He leaned over to kiss her temple. “Babe, you’re scaring me.”
“I’m in love with you Oakley,” he said softly, bringing her eyes up to him in surprise.
He took her hand in his. “We started out having fun. I wanted to fuck you at first, I admit it. I liked your hair and ass and tits and those legs. Then I liked your eyes. Your smile and your laugh – you got a great laugh, babe. And every time I get to be with you I’m … I’m counting my lucky stars. And the more you tell me about you and where you’ve been, the closer I get and realize I’ll probably never get through all your layers.”
A huge lump was in her throat as she struggled to find an appropriate response to that, but thankfully, or perhaps not, he kept talking.
“I can be an asshole. I behave like a Neanderthal. I tell these guys you’re my woman, my property in their eyes. But the way I see it, you’re the centre of my world, babe. Creeper, man or beast; I’m killing anything that threatens you.”
She rose up on one elbow, sliding her hand around to the back of his neck. His eyes were on her face, desperate for a reaction. “Hunter,” she whispered, shaking her head and feeling the emotion in her tone. She wasn’t used to it, it scared her.
Did she love him? Hard to say. She didn’t let him haunt her mind all that time he was gone. Alone she worried that he might not be okay. But when he was around, sweet like this, it made her … happy, she supposed. Being held by him was safe, comforting and pleasant. And she more than enjoyed his body, how he used it and the way he showed his appreciation for her. She liked all of it, but she didn’t feel she needed him or his protection.
She just wanted it, and maybe that was the point.
“I love you too, Hunter,” she admitted, heart swelling when he grinned back, grasping her face with both hands and kissing her, pushing her back to his bed with his upper body. She let him get playful for a few minutes before reminding him what was important. “Hey, they’ll come looking for you.”
“I don’t care,” he muttered, face between her breasts, making her gasp. “They’ll understand when I tell them what I got up to.”
She yanked his head up by his hair, making him focus. “Don’t forget honey; Greenwater.”
His smile faltered and he nodded. “Okay,” he agreed softly, with her. “Greenwater.”