A Soldier For Bella (Love Conquers Life #4) (4 page)

BOOK: A Soldier For Bella (Love Conquers Life #4)
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She looks at her watch. “Sure. They are probably cleaning up right now. Right this way.” She leads us toward the dining room. “This is our dining area. As you can see, cleanup is under way. We have a few patients who are giving us a hard time about eating, so we tend to leave them be as long as we can. Most of them are still new here, and they haven’t become adjusted yet.”

“Is there anything we can do to help?”

“No, thank you. It takes time, some longer than others. They’ll come around.”

She ushers me toward the kitchen, where I see staff hard at work cleaning up. They’re putting leftover food away while others clean pans and dishes. Some are even preparing for the next meal. I smile proudly at how well this place is being run.

“Can I see some of the room conditions?”

“Sure. The rooms are down this way.”

As we stroll down a hall, she points out a game room where they have different activities. When it’s empty, the soldiers can go in and play a game on their own.

When we get to the end of the hall, she tells me that the rooms to right and left are for the residents and I’m welcome to walk about.

I take a right and wander down the hall, peeking in some of the rooms. I notice some of the men are resting while others are watching TV. Some rooms don’t have TVs and I need to ask why that is. I assume it’s a budget thing.

As I walk past the next room, a gentleman is walking out.

“Are you new here?” he asks me.

I smile. “No, sir. I’m Sergeant First Class Derek Thompson, retired. I’m from the VA office. I’m here checking on things to make sure you have what you need.”

“Ah,” he says as he nods. “The place is pretty nice. They take good care of us. I’ll be leaving as soon as the repairs are finished on my home.”

“Were you able to get assistance with that?”

“Yes, the VA has been great.” He continues telling me about some of the things we’ve done for him.

“Thank you very much for your service,” I say to him as I shake his hand. “Here’s my card. If you get home and find you need anything, just let me know and I’ll see what I can do to take care of it.”

“Thank you. At this point, I just want to get home to my wife and children. They visit, but it’s not the same.”

“I understand,” I say with a nod as he walks away with a cane and a prosthetic leg.

I decide that I’ve seen enough for today. When I get back to the nurses’ station, I ask about the TV situation. She tells me it’s definitely a money thing and that not only can they not afford enough TVs for each room, but the troops have to pay for the cable.

I sigh and make a note on my padfolio to see what I can do about this. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do. I’m not promising anything, but maybe we can do something to get you more TVs and then we’ll figure out the cable part.”

“Thank you, it’s a big deal for them to have a TV and I always feel bad when someone is sent to us and they can afford the cable but I don’t have a room with a TV in it.”

I nod. “Thank you for your time. Please keep up the good work. You’re all doing a great job here.”

“Thank you,” she says. Then she leaves to assist a patient who’s called for her help.

When I approach the front door, I’m stopped by Ms. Porter.

“How’d things go?” she asks me, genuinely concerned.

“You’re doing a great job here. The only concern I have is trying to get the remainder of your rooms set up with TVs for the soldiers.”

“Yes. Unfortunately we haven’t had the room in the budget to add more, but any opportunity to help the soldiers more would be a blessing.”

“Well, let me see what I can do. How many rooms do you have without TVs in them?”

“Fifteen,” she says with guilt in her voice. “Some of them are quite old and barely working, but at least they have one.”

“Okay, I’ll be in touch but know you’re doing a great job. Our troops seem to be getting some great care at your facility.”

“Thank you, Mr. Thompson. I take my job seriously. I’m here because I want to be. To me, this is a way of thanking them for all they’ve done for us.”

“Well, you have a great day and I’ll be in touch.” We shake hands, and I walk out the door feeling pretty good about this place.

This time I call Tobey before I’m even on the road.

“Please don’t tell me they’re a mess too,” he says as his way of answering the phone.

“No, they’re in great shape, but we need to get them fifteen TVs.”

“What? How are we supposed to come up with fifteen TVs?”

“I don’t know, but they’re short fifteen of them and our boys are getting TVs based on if they can afford cable service. We also have to see what we can do to provide the cable for free.”

“Shit.” He gets silent for a moment. “Well, I guess you better talk to your new ‘King of Fundraising,’” he says, referring to Carter who’s due back from his honeymoon today.

“He and Patty are coming over for dinner tomorrow night. I’ll mention it to him then. I really want to get these guys squared away.”

“Good luck,” Tobey says as he cuts the call. I shake my head and drive home to meet up with Bella.

I pull up to find Jordan standing at the front door. “How’s it going, Jordan?”

“All has been quiet. We ran the errands Bella wanted to run, and I believe she’s now getting her clothes together for this evening.”

I nod. “Thank you.” I open the door and shout, “Baby, I’m home.”

She appears at the top of the stairs. “How was your day?”

“I had one bad stop and one good stop, so I guess it could have been worse. How was your day?”

She smiles. “My day was fine. Why don’t you come upstairs and shower? Then I’ll help you forget all about your day.”

The look on her face makes me take the stairs two at a time. She giggles as she runs to our room, but I catch her, scoop her up, and carry her to our room. I toss her on the bed, and she bursts into another round of giggles.

I climb over her and stare into her eyes. God, I’ve fallen for her, but I’m not sure I should tell her just yet. “You’re so beautiful. Please tell me you’re still considering making this permanent?”

She sighs. “Can we not discuss this right now? We have a great night planned. I want to go out so we can enjoy ourselves.”

I try not to appear crushed, but I’m struggling. I climb off of her. As I walk toward my master bathroom, I say, “I’m going to take a shower.”

 

***

 

Bella

 

Damn, this is not how I was planning to start our night. I watch him walk to the bathroom looking so heartbroken. Once he closes the door, I let go of the breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. I need to fix this and now or our night is going to turn to shit quickly. I still haven’t managed to tell him about my ex and why I have trust issues and if I don’t do it soon, I’m going to lose him.

I jump off the bed and walk into the bathroom to find him climbing into the shower. I steal a glimpse of his glorious ass as I strip to get in myself. When I step in, his back is to me, so I wrap my arms around him, pressing my chest to his back.

“I’m sorry, Derek. I’m scared.”

“So you’ve said. Then again, I’ve also heard the line we’ll talk about it but yet, I still don’t understand what you’re so afraid of.” He turns to me, sliding his hand across my cheek and into my hair. He looks deep into my eyes. “You don’t get it. I’m falling for you, and if you don’t feel the same…”

“Shh, we’ll talk at dinner, I promise.” I rise up on my tippy toes and plant a kiss on his moist, soft lips. I feel the tension from his body slowly slip away as I lick his lips, asking for entry. He opens, and our tongues meet.

He pulls away and I can tell he’s still thinking about what I said. “Derek, I didn’t mean for it to come out the way it did. I don’t want our night to be ruined. I meant to make you forget your day.” I kiss his chest. “Not. Make. It. Worse,” I say with a kiss between each word as I lower myself to his now erect cock. I love that I make him so hard for me.

He looks down at me as I lick up the entire length of his long, thick cock. Taking his mushroom tip into my mouth, I suck on it and roll my tongue over it. I love hearing the moan that escapes him as I take his cock back into my mouth. Sucking him as deep as I can, I move my hand to his balls, rubbing and massaging them as I continue to suck him off.

“Fuck, Bella, that feels amazing.” He moves his hips in rhythm with my mouth, pressing his cock in just a bit deeper. “Oh God, I’m going to come, Bella.”

I hollow my cheeks and take him all the way to the back of my throat. Just as I do, his warm, salty cum explodes in my mouth. I swallow him down as I squeeze his ass, holding him to still so I can finish him off.

He looks down at me as I lick the tip of his cock with a smile on my face. He picks me up off the floor, presses me to the wall of his shower, and slams his mouth onto mine. I know what he’s telling me in this one kiss, and I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t scares the shit out of me. He massages my breast and then squeezes my nipple, causing me to moan into his mouth.

He pulls away to look into my eyes. “I’m not giving up on us. I will show you that we’re not only good together, but I’ll get you to trust me. I will figure out how to prove to you that I won’t hurt you.”

I’m fighting the tears that are starting to form in my eyes. I’m falling for him just as he has for me. I just don’t know how to tell him. I’m afraid, and deep down I’m hoping he forgets I promised to talk to him over dinner.

He collects my loofah and body wash and washes down my body, making sure he doesn’t miss one inch of me. Afterward, I wash and condition my hair as he washes his body. Once we’re both done, he shuts the water off and we climb out so we can finish getting ready.

With a towel around his waist, he goes through his routine of putting gel in his hair. I admire his muscles as he moves his hands through his hair.

“Will you stop staring at me? I’m beginning to get self-conscious.” He grins, letting me know he’s teasing. I go to the bedroom to slip on my dress and heels, and then I’ll finish my hair and makeup once he’s done.

A short time later we’re both downstairs and ready to go. Derek calls Jordan into the house and fills him in that we’re going to Marco’s for dinner and dancing. I like when he takes me there because they have a restaurant and then upstairs they have a dance floor where they hire a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

Bella

 

We arrive at Marco’s, and Derek pulls into a parking space. I’m praying he hasn’t noticed that I’ve been quiet and fidgeting the entire thirty minute ride here. I made a promise that I’m not sure I can keep at this point, and I feel like shit for it.

He watches as Jordan pulls into the lot. We both climb out of the car as Jordan falls in behind us. He informs the hostess that we’re a party of two but we have security with us. He tells her our security needs a table of his own where he can keep an eye on us and get himself a bite to eat. She nods and tells us she’ll seat us as soon as possible. In the meantime I can’t stand still.

He rubs his hand over my back. The contact sends a shiver through my body, causing me to shudder. He pulls me close to his side and kisses the top of my head. Just as I’m about to say something to him, the hostess shows us to our two tables.

The hostess whose nametag reads Melinda says, “Your waitress Tina will be with you in a few minutes.”

I smile and thank her, as does Derek. She walks away, leaving us to ourselves.

“Bella, please relax. I don’t know what this guy did to you, but this has you a mess.”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. “I’ve never talked about this with anyone other than Sandra and Patty. Kelly knows a little. and I haven’t had to talk about what he did to me because since him, guys have only wanted me either for my body or because I’m a model. It gives them bragging rights.” I look down at the table.

“Please tell me you know that I don’t want you just because you’re a model?” I can feel him staring at me, waiting for an answer, so I finally look up to see a confused look on his face, like he’d never thought this was an issue.

“I know,” I say in barely a whisper.

Our waitress arrives, and I instantly order a glass of white wine and Derek orders a scotch on the rocks. When she disappears, I flip open my menu and decide to order something different. I was originally going to order the Asian grilled chicken salad, but I’m not in the mood for a salad. Since I’m going to burn some calories dancing with Derek, I opt for shrimp scampi. I bite my lip and close my menu. When I look up, Derek is still looking the menu over, but he quickly closes it.

“That didn’t sound too convincing,” he says, bringing our conversation back up.

“I’m sorry.” I take a deep breath. “I used to date a guy named Brock, and he messed me up kind of bad emotionally. It turns out he was only dating me to try and advance his own modeling career, and I was too blind to see it.” I close my eyes, trying to compose myself. It still stings a bit. “I had finally trusted him, thinking what we had was the real deal, but when he realized he wasn’t going to get any further dating me, he left, taking everything with him.” I glance up to see a look of fury on Derek’s face. I sigh. “Derek, he not only took the furniture, but my entire bank account too. The furniture wasn’t even his. It was all my stuff. He moved in with me because he needed a place to stay.”

He slips out of the booth and sits beside me. He takes my hand in his, brings it to his lips, and gives me a soft, gentle kiss.

I look him dead in the eye. “I swore to myself I would never allow a man close enough to hurt me or leave me in a situation like that again.”

“I’m so sorry that happened to you baby, but I’m not Brock.” The waitress interrupts our conversation. He looks over his shoulder, extremely unhappy with her timing.

“A medium rare steak, baked potato, and glazed carrots,” he says to her.

He looks back to me, so I order as well. “I’ll have the shrimp scampi.”

“Be sure you put his order on my tab.” He uses his chin to point toward Jordan. The waitress nods and walks away.

“Where were we?” He pauses. “I love you, Bella, and I know I have to figure out how to show you that, but you need to try and trust me a little too.”

I nod, not quite ready to admit that I love him too. “Please just give me a little more time. I’m not going to run off, but I need to think about what you said and my feelings for you. They scare me.” He rubs his knuckle over my cheek and leans in to kiss me.

“I’ll be here when you’re ready. Now let’s change the subject,” he says, and I swear all the tension leaves my body. “You have a meeting with your agent this week, right?”

“Yeah. She says she has a new contract for me to sign but hasn’t told me what it is yet.”

“Well, that’s exciting, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I just hate reading through them. Usually the agent reads through and gives you the gist of the contract, but my last agent tried to screw me over so now I trust no one.” I flinch as I say that.

He grins. “Well, I’m glad it’s not just me.”

I slap him playfully. “I feel like I’m ruining our night.” I look down at the table.

“You’re fine, relax. Besides, it’s smart to read the contract through. You never know what they’ll try to sneak into it, and you don’t want to end up in some nude photos, do you?”

“Hell no. The bikini is as nude as I get, and those suck sometimes. I spend all that time at the salon preparing. The waxing is torture but necessary.”

“Can I admit that I love it?” he says with a devilish grin.

“I’m sure you do,” I say as I recall his reaction the first time he saw me waxed.

The waitress brings our food to the table, so Derek quickly moves back to the other side of our small booth. As we enjoy our dinner, we joke and laugh about everyday life. I fill him in on how Sid kicked his boyfriend out and suddenly decided their chemistry was no good. Derek laughed as he impersonated Sid. It was so funny the day Sid met Derek. Sid purposely hit on him just to see how Derek would react. Derek handled him like a pro, and they became friends.

We finish our dinner and Derek takes care of the bill so we can go upstairs for some fun. Once we get up there, we glance around the room, trying to decide where to sit. Every table is small and round and surrounded four stools. We choose one that will make it easy for Jordan to keep an eye on us, and he takes his place at the door. The cocktail waitress comes over and Derek orders another glass of wine for me and water for himself. He never has more than one drink if he’s driving.

“Thank you for agreeing to take me out to dinner and dancing. I know dancing isn’t your favorite thing to do.”

“I don’t mind it as long as you’re having a good time,” he says as the DJ starts playing music. It’s only about eight o’clock so it’s early for a DJ, but it’s one of the things we like about this place. We don’t have to be out late to enjoy some dancing.

The DJ throws it back and plays some Ginuwine. Derek takes my hand and pulls me toward the dance floor. He wraps his arms around me, and we start swaying to the music. We fit so well together. He looks into my eyes and starts singing along. My heart swells as he tells me how he feels about me through the song. As the song ends, the DJ picks up the beat with a faster song but to my surprise, we stay out on the dance floor. Derek usually only dances for so long. It’s really more of my thing than his.

I turn so my back is to his front. While I grind my ass against him, he places his hands on my hips and sways with me to the music. He leans his head down as he kisses my neck, and I swear I hear him groan. I finally pull away to turn back toward him, but he pulls me from the dance floor and back to the table.

“What’s wrong?” I ask with a knowing smile.

“I need to hide the hard on you just gave me, thank you.” He laughs as he takes a seat, adjusting himself in his pants.

We had just gotten comfortable when Kelly catches me off guard. She walks toward us. “Hey, girl. What are you doing here?”

“Derek and I came out for some dinner and dancing. You’ve met Derek, right?”

“Yeah, at one of your photo shoots. How’s it going?”

“Good. Join us,” Derek says to her and her date.

“Sure. This is my boyfriend, Todd.” Derek shakes Todd’s hand. They take the other two seats at our table, and the waitress takes their drink order. Kelly joins me with a glass of wine, and Todd orders a beer.

“We just got here,” she says. “How’s it been?”

“We came upstairs a few minutes ago. We had dinner downstairs first, but the music isn’t bad. It’s nice because it’s not too loud. You can actually have conversation and just enjoy if you don’t feel like dancing.”

Kelly’s wine arrives, and she asks me if I found out about my next contract yet. I fill her in that I have a meeting with my agent this week. She nods, and we turn our attention to Derek and Todd, who are talking to each other about what they do for work. Todd apparently is an accountant, and that just shocks me. To be honest, I hear accountant and I think geek, but he’s not geeky at all.

Kelly pulls me to the dance floor, and we shake our thing and have a good time. She pulls me close to her and says, “Todd told me he loves me today.”

“No way! What did you say?”

She smiles at me. “I told him I loved him.”

“Good for you.”

“Derek said the same tonight. How funny is that?” She stops dancing because she knows I’ve been panicking.

“What did you say?”

“Nothing. I didn’t need to. I told him what happened with Brock and he understands.”

She hugs me, and we start dancing again. A few songs later, we walk off the dance floor thirsty and a bit sweaty. When we arrive back at the table, we find two fresh glasses of wine waiting for us. We both take our seats as the guys continue their conversation about baseball and the local team. Derek likes sports, but he isn’t glued to the TV, which is a good thing because I’m not really much into sports. Clearly neither is Todd, because their conversation switches to something Todd had heard about in the news. I smile as I watch the two of them getting along.

While they continue their conversation, Kelly and I talk about the shoot she has with me next week. I’m modeling some summer dresses for an upcoming catalog.

“Be prepared because they have about five different dresses they’re preparing for you to wear. From what I heard on the set yesterday, they’re planning on changing your hair and makeup for some of them, so it’ll probably be a long day.”

“Days like that are so exhausting. I wish they would give me two shoot days if they were going to do that. They don’t realize how hot it is under those lights, and then to add all the changes to it.” I shake my head. “Whatever. If that’s what they want, then fine, I’ll figure it out. I just hope that this next contract my agent has is a really good one.”

She shrugs. “Has she given you any clue?”

“No, just told me it’s huge and she can’t wait to show it to me.” I shake my head. I hate surprises and my agent knows it.

Another slow song comes on and this time Todd and Kelly get up to dance, leaving Derek and I to hold our table. I get up from my seat and stand between Derek’s legs as he sits on the stool. I lean in to kiss him.

“Are you having fun?” I ask him, worried because it was supposed to be the two of us.

“Yeah, Todd’s actually a pretty cool guy.”

“Good. I’m sorry they interrupted, but I’m glad you’re having fun because Kelly is a good friend of mine. We met through modeling, and we instantly clicked. We don’t hang out much, but I do like her.”

He gives me one of his signature side smiles. “It’s fine, baby. I’m glad you’re having fun.” He leans in to kiss me, and as soon as his lips hit mine, I get lost in our kiss. He pulls away and licks his lips. “Do you want to call it a night or stay longer?”

“I think it’s time we make this a private party at home.” I bite my lip as I grin.

“Sounds good to me,” he says as he slips my coat over my shoulders. I get Kelly’s attention, and they come back over to say goodnight.

Todd and Derek shake hands as Kelly and I hug. We make a promise to have them over for dinner and then we head out the door. I can’t wait to get home and show my man what I can’t bring myself to say.

BOOK: A Soldier For Bella (Love Conquers Life #4)
2.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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