Slow Build

“What made you love him?”

I look at Lance, “Really” We’re gonna talk about my dead husband today?”

“Why not? You know I won’t leave it alone.”

“Yes, I know. You’re like a goddamned pitbull at a bone.” I ignore his smile. And I think back. I don’t mind talking about Nolan. Not really. It’s just that I’m not used to sharing, of having anyone ask me to share. “It was never one thing with Nolan. I met him in a military camp in Afghanistan. I’d spent five as a prisoner and a fugitive and I was as feral as a person can get and retain their mind. And I had started to lose that as well.”

Nolan just keeps his green eyes steady on me. Waiting. He’s so good at waiting.

“It wasn’t a sudden thing. It was a slow build and then wham! It was the way he didn’t treat me like a broken child but like I was normal. Even though I was far from it. It was they way he’d match me shout for shout, like he knew I could handle it. It was the way he’d look me in the eyes when I’d get the shakes and say, ‘Don’t let the demons win Ciara.’ And then he’d leave me be. It was his laugh and his smile. The way he carried himself with this quiet confidence. He knew what he could do. He didn’t need to brag. The first time I realized I loved him we were getting ready to do a night jump down in Columbia. He was giving us the last minute sit rep and it just hit me. Right here in the gut. I loved the big bastard. And I was terrified. For the first time in years I had something to lose. I had to jump before he did and I just froze. The last two jumpers on the plane and I froze looking at him with this sinking pit of ‘Oh Shit’ lodged in my stomach. He looked at me, smiled, and over the wind yelled, ‘don’t let the demons win!’ Then he shoved me off the ramp.”

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