Two Week Leave

Chapter 1

Azure sat against the wall outside of Denny's waiting for her friend to show up.  She glanced at her watch again – 25 minutes late. 

Her friend, Joel, had been living on the Azores Islands as a Military Policeman in the Air Force for the past six months and had been in basic training the three months before that. It had been almost a year since she'd seen him and he was finally able to come home for a two week visit. Well, it would be a visit if he'd show up anytime soon.

Azure had grown up around Joel, his mother working for her father, and they were best friends.  Unfortunately, being close to someone of the opposite sex in grade school conjured up other ideas in the minds of classmates and they let the two of them know it.  From third to eighth grade, Azure was constantly teased about being in love with Joel and informed of the things she supposedly did with him at night – despite her being too young to even know what those things were half the time. 

All of the teasing had stopped, for the most part, when they went to high school.  She occasionally heard the "You love Joel!" comments, but had learned to tune them out over the years.  She didn't forget them, though, and it was because of everything she'd put up with growing up that she swore she would never, ever get involved with Joel. Ever. It was weird. It was wrong.  And besides, she didn't think she could ever put up with the teasing she would get if she actually did end up with him after all of that.  But she wouldn't. Because that would be sick – he was like her brother, for goodness sakes.  There was no way she would think of him as more than just a good friend… Now where the heck was he?  

Sighing, Azure slumped down further against the wall as she watched the cars driving by.  It drove her crazy that she actually had missed him and even crazier at how excited she was to see him again.  Knowing someone for seventeen years can do that to a person, she supposed.

Just as she was about to get up and head back home, she saw a familiar truck turning into the parking lot and stopping in a vacant space.  She rose from her spot on the ground and froze there, waiting for someone to get out. 

The first thing she saw was a pair of black combat boots hitting the pavement and her breath caught as he walked around his truck towards her.  He was wearing his full uniform, complete with navy slacks, light blue shirt, and a tie that hung loosened around his neck.  His hair was cropped shorter than he'd worn it in high school and he'd definitely bulked up during his time in the Air Force. 

Azure grinned as Joel stepped up in front of her.  Before she could speak, he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to him, enveloping her in a hug. 

"I'm sorry I'm so late," he said quietly, the warmth of his breath on her ear sending shivers down her spine.  "I missed you."

Azure leaned back when she felt him loosen his grip and glanced him over.

 "I thought you refused to wear your uniform when you came here with me?" she asked.  She'd begged him countless times to wear it and he'd said no – he wore it enough as it was.

Joel shrugged.  "When my parents picked me up, they took me straight to some party they put together.  By the time I was able to get away from it, I was already late and didn't have any time to change into normal clothes. Believe me, I wanted to." 

Azure smirked at him and elbowed him in the side as he hooked an arm around her shoulders and led her into the restaurant.  "Don't try to deny it – you only wore it because I wanted you to," she joked. 

"Whatever you say, Azzie," he responded with a roll of his eyes.  It was why he wore it though.  He had an extra change of clothes in the truck, but the thought of how she used to beg him to wear it kept him from putting them on.

The two got settled into a booth and ordered their meals.  Joel laughed when Azure leaned across the table to snatch the pen out of his shirt pocket. 

"This thing standard issue or did you add it to the ensemble yourself?" she asked him as she flipped over her placemat and began to doodle pictures. 

"They give them to us.  You know, I could have you arrested for what you just did if we were on base."

Her hand stopped moving after he said this and she slowly lifted her head, her wide eyes meeting his own.  "Are you serious? You could have me arrested for swiping your pen?" 

Joel had to laugh again at the look on her face.  "No, I probably couldn't. But I could get you in some kind of trouble, I'm sure. I mean, I could see that as some sort of a threat and shoot you." 

"Oh, shut up Mr. I-carry-a-gun.  You wouldn't shoot me. Then who would be around to harass you online, eh?"  She went back to drawing on her placemat. 

Joel cocked his head to the side and observed her fondly as she chewed on her bottom lip in concentration.  "Yeah, I guess you're right," he murmured quietly.  He suddenly had thoughts of himself nibbling on that pouty lip, his hands roaming her body, making their way under her shirt… 

He shook his head quickly to rid himself of the mental images running through his brain.  She was doing weird things to him.  Crazy, insane things that could very easily get him in trouble if they were to continue – or if he were to stand up. This was his friend sitting in front of him. This was Azure sitting in front of him. They'd known each other since they were three and he definitely shouldn't be thinking about these sorts of things.  He knew it was just because he hadn't seen her in so long. God, he really needed a girlfriend so he could stop these crazy thoughts.

Clearing his throat, he managed to think up something to say.  "So why couldn't Meg come tonight?"

Azure shrugged distractedly as she continued with her drawing.  "Something about her dad being an asshole and making her go out with her future step-monster, Kathy, to discuss wedding plans."  She looked up at him with her green eyes and smiled brightly.  "That's okay though, because I came!"

Joel almost choked on the sip of water he'd just taken into his mouth when she said this.  Everything she said, he seemed to throw right into the gutter.  Wedding plans which led to wedding nights… Azure coming in a different way, himself inside her.  His face reddened at this last thought and he loosened his tie a little more as he suddenly felt extremely warm.  He noticed Azure's brow crease with concern. 

"Are you okay?  You aren't getting sick or anything are you? I mean, we could leave…"  Joel shook his head quickly. 

"No, no… I'm okay.  Just got a little warm, that's all."  He breathed a sigh of relief when their food finally came. It would help to get his mind off of everything and occupy her mouth so she would stop saying things that got him riled up. 

Azure ate in silence, glancing at Joel from the corner of her eye every once in a while.  He'd gotten quiet right before their food came and hadn't made an attempt to talk since.  She'd tried to shrug it off but it made her nervous seeing him sitting there.  She was so used to talking non-stop that this silence was driving her crazy. 

The two of them finished their meals and finally Azure couldn't stand it anymore. 

"Would you tell me about where you live? I mean, what does it look like? What do you do? Didn't you ever just want to come home?" 

Joel thought for a moment.  "It was nice… Beautiful actually," he said.  But not as beautiful as you, he thought and then mentally slapped himself for it. Okay, he really, really needed a girlfriend.  

"Were you close to the ocean?" Azure asked eagerly.  

"I could see it out my window."

Sighing, Azure slumped down in her seat and rested her head against her fist.  "I wish I could see that… Do you realize how much it sucks being stuck in Nowhereville, Nebraska?" she laughed. 

"Yeah, well it was pretty lonely.  No family around or anything.  I made friends there and we would hang out and swim and stuff, but it wasn't home." He reached across the table and played with her hand in his.  "I didn't have you there," he finally said seriously and looked from their hands to her eyes.

Azure could feel the electricity surging between them as he touched her hand but as much as she wanted to, she couldn't pull away.  He stared at her after his last comment and she swallowed hard.  How was she supposed to reply to that? Why was he being so… so sappy with her? And why did it feel like she had a live wire clutched in her hand?

Suddenly, she was feeling a bit claustrophobic.  It felt as if his hand was burning her skin and she needed to get out of there – to get away from him.  Jerking her hand back, she looked up at him with wide eyes. 

"I, uh… I really should go. I have to get up early tomorrow and everything…" she lied.  Joel nodded and paid the ticket before following her out of the restaurant. He walked her to her car and stood behind her as she unlocked it.

"Thanks for coming tonight, Azzie… It was good to see you again," he said to her back.  He heard her mumble something in response but he couldn't make out what it was.  "What'd you say?"

Azure spun around to face him, her eyes looking towards the ground.  "I said it was good to see you, too."  She looked up at him and gave him a small smile. Reaching up, she tightened his tie around his neck and adjusted it to its proper place, her hand remaining on his chest a little longer than necessary.  "Thanks for wearing the army duds, too," she joked. 

Joel reached up and snatched her hand away, feigning annoyance.  "Air Force," he growled, stepping nearer to her.  He sighed as he looked down at her hand that he still held onto.  "I don't want to leave without seeing you again," he told her quietly, leaning in a little closer and placing his other hand next to her on the roof of her car.  "We could go to a movie or something," he suggested. 

Her breathing becoming shallow, Azure managed a nod.  For some reason, being around Joel now felt weird.  He'd definitely changed in more than the looks department while away. 

Joel glanced down at her lips just as her tongue darted out to moisten them and he groaned inwardly. He couldn't stand it anymore.  Leaning down, he brought his lips within a fraction of an inch from hers.  His eyes searched hers as he got closer and he saw her eyelids drooping.  He wasn't sure who closed the gap between them, but then again, he wasn't sure of anything at the moment their lips touched.  

His head swirled as he caressed her lips with his own.  This was his friend he was kissing, probably his best friend. So why was she making him feel this way? He brought his free hand to the back of her head and pulled her closer to him, deepening the kiss and probing her mouth with his tongue.  There was nothing friendly about the way he was kissing her – and definitely nothing friendly about the way she was kissing him back.

Azure was the first to pull away and lean back against her car, her breathing ragged.  "I… I have to go," she told Joel quickly and got into her car.  She gave him one last look before backing out of the parking space and driving away. 

Oooo… Ahhh…. The result of too many cheap Harlequin's from WalMart.  I feel so cheesy-fied. 

Review or somethin'.

Oh, and by the way. It's MY STORY! Don't like, steal it or anything. The only thing you can steal is the name "Azure" because I stole it too! Thank you, Pamela Browning!