A few hours passed until I had all my questions answered to my satisfaction. Apparently, he had left the Knight's home to go back to his mother's house. That was a train wreck so while he was still seventeen, he enlisted for the Marine Corps.
He forced himself to graduate high school a year early so he could begin his recruit training as soon as possible. The past five years he has spent working and traveling wherever he was called. With his training resources, he was able to track down old friends and found Bart and Colton which led him to me.
I cannot imagine having that life, but if anything, I guess it proves how much he cared about us.
"So now what are you going to do?" I asked after a moment of reflection.
He shrugged. "I may start attending college at the new semester, or I may get a job and go straight to work."
"But you have to go to college. You need to study and get your degree and – " I stopped talking when he started laughing.
"I've been all over the world, Karlie. I've had my life put in danger. I've tasted real life. I don't feel like sitting behind a desk and reading from a text book." He shrugged again with a small sigh. "I don't know. After what I've been through, school seems rather meaningless. I'd rather just get to it."
"After what you've been through?" I asked quietly. His face immediately stilled as his eyes flooded with apparent memories. He had not really talked about his active duty. "Do you want to talk about it?"
He chuckled with a small smile as he lightly shook his head. He patted my legs indicating that I should move them. I stood up from his lap, and he stood up as well. He pressed a small kiss to my forehead. "Thanks, but there's nothing to talk about."
"Okay," I said, not quite believing him. "Let me know if you ever change your mind. I'm a good listener."
His arms wrapped around me. "Yes, yes you are." He rubbed my back gently before stepping away to clean up the room. Frowning, I decided to help him.
He truly had grown up, not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. In a way, he became all the more attractive for it. In another way, the change broke my heart. He was no longer innocent and playful. The childlike personality was now stoic and strong.
I looked up at the sound of the front door opening. Bart tiptoed in looking around while Colton smoothly walked on in behind him. As soon as their eyes met mine, they both lit up, and Bart fully stood up.
"You're alive!" Bart shouted.
"Yeah," I replied.
"Where's Parker?" Colton added after he noticed the absence of a certain male.
"Oh God. You killed him, didn't you?" Bart said shaking his head. I let my shoulders slump and gave him a look letting him know I wasn't in the mood.
"You think I could survive five years in the Marines and not live through a few hours with Karlie?" Parker said with a wry smile as he reentered the room.
"You're alive!" Bart shouted raising his hands in the air. The two quickly hugged and separated to fall onto the couch.
"You okay?" Colton asked as he lightly elbow tapped me.
"Yeah," I said trying to smile. He raised his eyebrows in questioning. I rolled my eyes and tugged him towards my room.
I pushed him down on my bed and closed the door slightly. I left an inch open so I could see if anyone tried to eavesdrop. . . and by anyone I mean Bart. With him in the house, you had to be careful.
"He's just so different," I said laying down on my bed and picking up a teddy bear to pick at.
"Yeah! Who else?"
"I know he's matured, but I don't think he's all that different. He's still the same kid we knew."
"Nuh uh. I talked to him. He's like, a grown up now."
Colton laughed and stole my teddy from my arms. He twisted it around to face me and used it as a puppet, making it dance while he talked. "Oh no. He's an adult now. Ahhhh, what are you going to do?"
I gave him an unappreciative glare. He responded by having the bear turn around all shake his butt at me. He rubbed it right in my face.
"Stop," I laughed and pushed it away.
"Being an adult is cool, Karlie. It means you and Parker can have your own kiddies now."
My eyebrows shot off my forehead in shock. "Huh?"
He laughed. "Cute. But seriously, you two were inseparable as kids. True, he may have matured a bit, but he's still the same guy. Give him a chance. You two look good together," he said and patted my knee.
I turned my head to stare at the ceiling. Parker had kissed me twice. . . on the forehead. Did that mean he was interested in me? I guess he did want to date since tonight was supposed to be our date. I don't know. I never noticed Colton left until I felt the bed slump down under a new pressure. I looked to see Parker sitting down.
"Hey," he said quietly.
"Hey," I said back with confusion. Why did he sound sad?
"Why'd you run off when the twins came back?"
"Oh," I shook my head. "I just needed a moment to talk with Colton."
"Ah," he said and slightly nodded his head. "You scared me. I thought you still wanted them to think you hated me."
I laughed. "No. I never. . . . hated you." I think. "I just need a quick word with C. . . . . . did you say you were scared?" I chuckled.
"Hey now," he said and tickled my stomach ruthlessly. I laughed harder due to the tickling and the irony of the situation.
"Haha. The big Marine is a big scaredy cat. He can face guns and mean people but not a girl."
I raised my arms to tickle him back. In one swift move, and I mean swift, he caught them in his hands and raised them over my head. I had no idea real people could move that quickly and efficiently. If I was not so scared, I would have been impressed.
With my arms pinned above my head, he stood and leaned over me. He had practically climbed on top of me and was straddling my waist. His eyes were dark and serious. My heart raced within my chest as my breath caught.
If he noticed how he was making me feel, he did not give any indication. He slowly leaned forward so he was but an inch away.
"Being in the Marines taught me to not fear death. If I do not fear it, I do not need courage to face it. But you? I'll admit it. I've always been scared that I would lose you or you would leave me. Always, Karlie, but this big scaredy Marine is man enough to face his fears. So even if you did hate me or reject me, I would still put my heart on the line and tell you that I love you."
If there had ever been a deeper whisper, I had not heard it. If there had ever been a more heartfelt message, it had never been directed towards me. If I ever wondered what if felt like to have my breath taken away, I now knew.
His eyes bore into mine with a reassuring intensity, reinforcing the truth behind his words. . . . it was more than words. It was reality coming right from his heart to mine. He gently let one of my hands go and brought his now free hand down to my cheek.
I do not know how he could go from playful to rough to tender so quickly, but he did. And he perfectly demonstrated each one. He leaned in just a tiniest bit more. My imagination tempted me to think I could feel a feather's light touch of his lips against mine. I was tempted to see if they were touching, but his eyes held me captive.
"I'll say it again, Karlie. I. love. you," he whispered. I felt my eyes close.
Please kiss me. Please kiss me.
The next thing I know, the warm pressure of his body is removed from me. My eyes shot open in time to see him step off my bed. He turned towards the door and a second later it was abruptly opened as Bart walked in.
"You ready to go, Parker?" He then turned his attention to me and smirked. "Hey Karlie. Warm night, huh?"
I could tell he was talking about the flush on my cheeks. It wasn't my fault, I swear! Ughhh. I shot him a dirty look in reply. He laughed, and was punched in the arm by Parker. At least he would defend my honor.
The two started goofing around like they were in a boxing match. Bart may have been five inches taller, but Parker definitely looked more dangerous.
"Let's go! I have an essay to do when we get back!" I heard Colton shout from the living room.
Bart scoffed and turned to leave. Parker gave me one last look. He briefly blew me a kiss as a goodbye, and then he was gone. I finally wanted him to stay, and he disappeared. I was desperate for a kiss, and all I got was a ghost of a one.
I sighed deeply and reclutched my teddy bear to my chest. It was then that I noticed that the stuffed animal had been the same one he gave me for my birthday when we were kids. I still had it, but now, just like then, I was overflowing with want: I wanted him.