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Her Touch(10)

By:Alexa Riley

I playfully put my foot on his chest as I stand over him. “I can’t help it if being out of the Marines is softening you up. Little bitty thing like me can take you down now,” I tease.

“You’re gonna get it, sunshine.” He grabs my ankle before I can react, pulling me down onto the mat. The movement causes me to fall on top of him. He starts tickling me everywhere, and I try to get away. I’m squirming all around, but laughter overtakes me.

“I give, I give,” I say through laughter. My face starts to hurt from smiling so much. “You’re the worst,” I say rolling onto my back, completely giving up.

“You love me,” he teases, and I look over at him and give him a small smile. My hearts skips a beat because I do love him.

The last three weeks have been wonderful. In these weeks I have fallen for him. Hard. Even if he only sees me as a little-sister type as he walks by me and pulls my ponytail, or teases me about my choice of TV shows. I can’t stop the feelings I’m having. At first I thought maybe I had a silly schoolgirl crush, but each day my feelings grow deeper and deeper. I don’t love him like the way he’s teasing.

He fits here with Dad and me. The three of us work together. I’m dreading when he might start to date. It’s a thought that lingers in the back of my head. I’ve been going to work with Eli almost every day. I love it there, but there’s always some woman trying to get his attention.

One is a nurse, Sherry. She’s after him. I’ve even seen her text him a few times. I wonder if Eli gave her his number because of work or something else. I’ve never seen him flirt back. It drives me crazy thinking about him belonging to another woman. He’s mine. I knew it from the first few hours of knowing him, and I’m sure if I told anyone what I’m feeling, they’d say I was crazy. But I don’t care.

Rolling to my side, I reach out and touch the scar running down his cheek, thinking about how I always want to kiss it. How I want him to tell me his story, but I know he won’t. Something about the way he is with me lets me know he wouldn’t want that darkness touching me. I don’t care about that. I just want to know everything about Eli. All of it. What brought him here to me.

“You think you’re all healed?” I ask. He never talks about his recovery with me. He’ll work out with me, or he’ll let me watch him work out, but he doesn’t share much about his time overseas. I only catch what he tells my dad from time to time.

“Not sure I’ll ever really be healed.”

My heart breaks a little at that. I want to heal him. His hand comes up, pressing down on mine, covering his scar with my palm. He leans into my hand and closes his eyes.

“You guys wanna do steaks tonight?” I hear my dad call out from inside the house. Eli drops his hand away from me instantly. He gets to his feet, and the moment is broken. Just when I think I’m getting through to him, it fades away as my dad enters the garage.

“Sounds good,” Eli says.

He reaches his hand down to help me up, and I take it. I get to my feet next to him, but he steps away from me and starts picking up the workout area.

“Can you make your pasta salad, bug?” Dad asks, rubbing his hand over his belly, like he has a big belly or something. My dad might spend his days at a desk, but he’s fit. I’ve heard more than I care to from women about how attractive he is. People are often shocked he can even be my dad because he’s only thirty-eight. But he had me young and raised me on his own, never mentioning my mother. I often wondered if it was because he missed her, or something else. I know he doesn’t like talking about it, so I never bring it up.

“Sure, when I get back.” I lean down, picking up my water bottle up from the floor and taking a sip.

“Where you off to?” Eli asks.

“Alice and I are going shopping. My birthday is around the corner and I’m in need of a new dress.”

“You don’t like dresses,” Eli says, catching me off guard. I can’t read the way he’s saying it. I haven’t worn a dress lately, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Or maybe he doesn’t see me as a girly type.

“Never had a reason to wear one.” I place my water bottle on the bench, and my dad lets out a sigh.

“I knew this was coming.” Eli and I break eye contact to look at my dad, and my heartbeat starts to pick him. Are my feelings for Eli that obvious? My cheeks warm. “Bug, I know I said you could date at seventeen, but I was hoping I’d have more time,” he admits, thinking I’m going shopping for dress to wear for a line of upcoming dates or something.