I'm Only Here for the Beard(6)

By: Lani Lynn Vale


She was the type of woman who would look good wearing anything.

She probably wore her hair down to the gym, too.

“Who is she?” I asked as if he hadn’t just lied to me.

Sean sighed.

“An old girlfriend.”

The emotion that was in those words made my heart hurt for him.

But not too much.

The man was drop dead sexy, built like a linebacker with a fucking smile that was so beautiful it hurt my heart to look at it. And that beard. God, a man with a beard was my weakness. It always had been.

“Your ex is in love with another man,” I felt it prudent to point out.

He shot me a glare and started walking in the opposite direction of the woman and the man she was trying everything in her power to catch the attention of. Although, the man was trying very hard to ignore her. He’d, of course, seen us standing here. If I had to have my guess, that man was likely a cop and missed nothing.

“Do you know that man?” I asked Sean’s back as he passed through the exterior sliding door.

“Yes,” he grunted.

I hurried after him as his strides became faster.

I made it to the passenger door of the medic as he put it in reverse.

For a second there, I was worried he was going to back up and leave before I’d even gotten in, but he surprised me by staying put until I had my ass firmly planted in the seat.

What he didn’t do was wait for me to put my seatbelt on. He was nearly to the intersection before I’d completely situated myself.

So, me being me, I blurted out my life story.

“I’ve fallen in love with four men over the course of my life,” I whispered. “When I was eighteen, I met a man who was four years older than me. We hit it off, got engaged, and then he cheated on me with my sorority sister,” I started. “When I was twenty-two, I met another man who I fell in love with. We were great until we weren’t. He beat the shit out of me. When I was twenty-five, I met another man I adored. We hit it off, then three weeks into our relationship I found out that he was married with four kids.” I steadied my breath. “It took me nearly four years to try again. And when I did, I watched as that man, who has become a very good friend that I never had a chance with, married another woman. So, yeah, you likely have some heartache on the horizon, but it’s not going to hurt forever.”

Or so I kept telling myself.

It’d been nearly a year since PD had gotten married to July, and it still burned to see them together. Still made my heart ache so much that it was hard to be around him.

“My wife left me.”

I blinked, turned, and stared.

“What?”

“Thought she was pregnant, turned out she wasn’t but we had already gotten married. It was stupid. Neither one of us loved the other. We cared for each other, yes, but it wasn’t love. Not even close. She was a confrontational shithead, and it took me weeks to realize that we weren’t going to work out. But I’d planned to try. Then I was deployed and was gone for six months. While I was gone, she really did get pregnant by one of my best friends. Got home to find them making house together, her belly swelling with their child. I’d apparently missed the letter telling me that she wanted a divorce. Though, I’m still wondering if she ever sent it in the first place.”

I winced.

“When was that?” I asked.

His smile was not pleasant. “Let’s see…that was my first deployment. I was twenty and she was nineteen.”

I bit my lip and reached for the bar above the door to hold on. “What else?”

I could sense there was more.

“At the age of twenty-five, my third deployment, I left a girlfriend behind. Came back home to her shacked up in my house. With another woman.”

I winced.

“My fourth deployment, I met another soldier. Her name was Masha. She and I hit it off great. We were dating by the time we were done with that deployment. But as we made plans to meet back up, I hadn’t counted on the fact that she had a husband she planned on leaving for me. I broke up with her and then promised myself I wouldn’t date another woman.”

I laughed softly. “How’d that work out?”

“Not well,” he muttered darkly. “I met Ellen a year and a half ago. I fell head over heels in love with her the moment I saw her.”

“But…”

He pulled onto the road that led back to the station.

“But she didn’t love me back,” he answered simply.

I picked up one of the curls that’d loosened from my bun, and twirled it around my finger as I tried to figure out what to say to that.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m sorry,” I answered. “I bet you hear enough of that.”

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