by Bella Juarez
|Author Page: Bella Juarez|
"Hello, sweetness," Reese whispered in her ear.
Victoria jumped and the rice she was fluffing flew everywhere. Her heart felt like it had stopped in her chest.
"Damn you, Reese! You scared the crap out of me!" Victoria shouted.
"You didn't hear me come in?" Reese asked, bewildered.
Victoria had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't heard Reese until he spoke. It took her a moment to start breathing again. He was picking and laughing rice off his uniform.
"Are you okay?" Reese asked with a chuckle.
"It's not funny!" Victoria snapped as she slammed the lid down on the rice.
Reese turned Victoria to face him. She felt herself start to turn liquid as he caressed her.
"I'm sorry. I thought you heard me," Reese said quietly.
Victoria put her arms around Reese and buried her head into his chest. She started and took a deep breath to lose herself in his woodsy scent.
Victoria railed silently at herself as she willed the frustrated tears to dry. The sudden change in her relationship with Reese was causing the most stress right now.
"What's wrong, baby?" Reese whispered.
"I don't know," Victoria lamented.
"Did something happen today?" Reese asked, continuing his soft stroking.
"I didn't get anything done today. I can't seem to focus and I need to get these answers back to my advisor and the committee has to accept them. I need to get all this done in two weeks to be eligible to graduate," Victoria said.
"You have all the time you need to get this done. There's no hurry," Reese said.
"Shush. There's no hurry," Reese repeated, cutting her off.
Victoria inhaled deeply again. Having Reese near started to calm her and allowed her to think a little clearer.
"I haven't been able to concentrate all day, either," Reese said as he kissed her.
"Reese, I've got to get a job and finish. It's important to me," Victoria said.
"And you will. I know you will. One bad day isn't going to make you fail and not graduate.".
"I wasted a whole day," Victoria mumbled into his chest.
"Victoria, quit it," Reese said, stroking her hair.
"Reese, I can't keep taking your money and living here. I feel like you're paying me to sleep with you! I mean, it's not like I have that much to do and I'm living here ..." Victoria cried.
Think a minute, how are you going to get back and forth to school and pay for the things you need? It's my damn money and if I want to blow it, I can do that," Reese said.
"Reese, I've got money! I can't ... I'm moving out.".
"Victoria, quit being so stubborn and let me help you, please. I want to help you get through school. It makes me feel like I'm doing something for you. It's the least I can do after everything you've done for me.".
"I didn't do anything but keep the house clean," Victoria argued.
"No, you did a lot more than that. You're still helping me," Reese said.
"What did I do? Clean the bathroom?" Victoria demanded.
"You're helping me heal," Reese said simply.
"Reese ..." Victoria said as she started to pull away.
"I'm not talking about the divorce. I saw a lot of bad stuff when I was in Iraq. If you hadn't been here and kept me sane, I'm not sure what I would've done. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a really routine guy. You could set your watch by me. My routine keeps me sane. If you hadn't been here to help make that transition easy, I would be in some serious trouble right now." Reese held Victoria in place.
Victoria was still and quiet. Reese was so much more complicated than he revealed. Victoria needed Reese's strength, his common sense, and now his touch to keep her going.
"Listen to me. You will graduate in May if you don't graduate in December. It doesn't matter. You don't need the pressure of moving or a job. You need to focus on getting your degree. You're so close! Stop worrying about trivial crap. When you get a job and start making real money, we'll talk. Okay? Now what's for dinner?" Reese asked.
Victoria stared and blinked into Reese's hazel eyes. She knew he was making sense. She needed to swallow her stubborn pride and let him help her.
Victoria had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't heard Reese until he spoke. Reese turned Victoria to face him. Victoria put her arms around Reese and buried her head into his chest. Victoria needed Reese's strength, his common sense, and now his touch to keep her going.
Victoria blinked and stared into Reese's hazel eyes.