Status: Complete.

I Want You to Live

Chapter 10

The days flew by until almost three months had passed since Peyton had started seeing Rusty. They hadn't officially discussed being a couple, but it was obvious the feelings were mutual. All of their free time was spent with one another. They had become inseparable. Rusty had even taken to helping with the horses on his weekends. Although he never mentioned it, Peyton suspected he had grown up around horses. He was way too comfortable with the large animals for it to just be a coincidence.

They enjoyed most evenings at Peyton's home where there was more privacy, but occasionally he invited her over to his and Ty's apartment. Sometimes Ty would be there to whip up some Cajun dish, and others it was just the two of them.

Ty teased them both mercilessly about her stealing his best friend, but everyone knew it was all in good fun. He approved of their relationship and Peyton found the tall, slightly abrasive, Cajun carving a special place into her heart, as well. She often wondered about the man and the past he rarely spoke of. There always seemed to be a sliver of pain lurking just behind his mishevious green eyes.

Her time spent at the apartment grew even more scarce as the days went by. It seemed even her evenings with Rusty were growing shorter as he stayed later and later on base. When questioned about it, he would shrug and give her a tired smile before simply blaming their training schedule. Peyton couldn't help but be slightly suspicious of whether there was more to it than that, but she never pushed. When he was with her, he was always with her, mentally and physically.

Rusty never let things go any further than an occasional heated make out session. Even those never got anywhere close to the night they almost burnt the kitchen down. As frustrating as it was sometimes, Peyton appreciated the extra effort he was making. She knew how hard it was for him to stop sometimes, and she knew that he was only doing it for her sake. He wanted her to feel secure. She had never felt safer in her whole life.

Peyton smiled at the thought of her soldier as she parked her truck outside his apartment building. Her heart pounded excitedly when she caught sight of him jogging through the rain, head ducked into his windbreaker. He pulled the door open and gave her a quick, wet kiss.

He smiled sheepishly as she blinked rapidly and wiped rain droplets from her face. "Sorry, I haven't gotten around to buying an umbrella yet."

"It's okay," she laughed, taking his hand and stepping down from the vehicle. "You won't really need one for a few more months anyways."

They raced, hand-in-hand, to the door of the apartment. Ty swung it open just as they made it to the small doorstep.

"Get in here, mon cher," he greeted, placing a chaste kiss to her cheek.

"It's good to see you, Ty!" she exclaimed, giddy to see him. "It's been a couple weeks."

"I wish she were that excited to see me," Rusty grumbled, hanging his wet jacket on the hook next to the door.

"I see you every day," she pointed out.

Rusty took her jacket from her and hung it next to his before rolling his eyes, dramatically. "Damn, I didn't know the newness had already worn off."

Ty placed a loose arm around her waist and sent Rusty a sly smile. "I'm just waiting for my chance to swoop in and snag her from you, brother."

Rusty playfully shoved Ty and he went back into the kitchen, cackling. Peyton smiled up into Rusty's sulking face as she stepped into his embrace. "I've missed you," she whispered before placing a lingering kiss onto his pouting lips.

"You just saw me last night," he teased, but a pleased look crossed his face.

"I know, but that feels like such a long time ago," she whined with a pout of her own.

He chuckled and pushed back her wet hair before sliding his hands to her cheeks. He kissed her tenderly, gently running his tongue between her lips. She sighed into his open mouth and leaned against his body. Warmth radiated through his damp shirt. Just as she was getting lost in the kiss, Rusty pulled back.

She tugged on his shirt, wanting to continue, but he gave her a quick peck instead. "Supper is almost ready."

He steered her through the small entryway and into the kitchen area where Ty was busy cooking. Spicy smells met her nose and her mouth immediately started watering. Ty had proven to be a phenomenal cook. After eating all of his good meals, she had decided she might like to visit the Bayou someday.

"What gut busting concoction is on the menu for tonight?" Rusty joked as he peeked over Ty's shoulder. Ty attempted to snap him with the hand towel thrown over his shoulder, but Rusty easily dodged it.

"You mean mouth watering," Peyton corrected, earning an eye roll from Rusty.

"Thank you, Peyton," Ty said gratefully before sending a scowl to Rusty. "This is why I like her. She always has my back."

"You like her, because she's smoking hot and makes me happy," Rusty retorted. Peyton felt her cheeks burn under the compliment.

"Same thing," Ty answered with a shrug. "Set the table, it's ready."

Peyton leaned back with a satisfied groan. She was pretty sure she had developed a food baby after eating so much of Ty's shrimp gumbo. She laughed when Rusty did the same, rubbing his still flat belly. Ty watched with a pleased smirk before sipping his beer.

"I don't see how I'm not fat after all these years of your cooking," Rusty groaned, linking his fingers behind his head.

"How long have you two been together?" she asked, curiosity piqued at his statement.

"Well, we've never technically made it official, seeing as I'm not into committing to one person and all," Ty joked, leaning his chair back and taking another swig.

"Didn't your mama teach you better," Rusty reprimanded, kicking the tilted chair. Ty's eyes widened and he had to grab the edge of the table to keep from falling backwards. Beer sloshed onto his hand.

He flicked the liquid towards Rusty and sent him the one finger salute before answering, "She tried, but I proved to be a most stubborn scoundrel."

Peyton giggled at the exchange between the grown men. She was always entertained watching the two interact with one another. They couldn't seem more different, but they had obviously forged a special bond. She wondered momentarily what they were like out in the field. Did they still have this easy banter or were they all business? She had a hard time picturing the two serious.

"To answer your question, we went to Ranger school together," Ty said, wiping his sticky hand on his shirt.

"I hated him," Rusty stated, causing Peyton's gaze to dart between the two. Ty narrowed his eyes at him. Rusty maintained a straight face as he looked back and forth between the two. He finally shrugged. "What?"

"I thought you were kidding," Ty said.

"I punched you in the face!" Rusty cried, throwing his hands up.

Peyton spit out her mouthful of tea. Her eyes grew round as she stared at Rusty. "You punched your best friend in the face?"

"We weren't best friends yet," he mumbled, looking rightfully ashamed.

"So, what happened?"

"We became best friends," Ty inserted with a smirk and raised eyebrows. Peyton scoffed in disbelief. Men were so weird. "A guy that can throw a punch like that? Yea, I definitely wanted him on my side."

Peyton shook her head and scooted her chair back as she began clearing the table. The duo reminisced on old times while she washed up the dishes. She paused, hands still in the warm suds and watched Rusty laugh with his friend. His cheeks crinkled and eyes squeezed shut as he bent double at whatever story Ty was telling. Ty was still chuckling as he took a long pull from his drink.

It was one of those moments that made your heart swell and emotions bubble over. The kind that you wished you could pause and live in forever. A year ago, she would've laughed in someone's face if they had told her she would be standing here, washing dishes for a couple of soldiers. Or that she would be falling in love with one.

The knowledge that she was falling for Rusty didn't scare her anymore. Not after spending the last three months with him. Not after he continued proving himself over and over again. Everything about them was just so right. She had never experienced anything like it before, and from what Rusty had told her, neither had he.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Rusty whispered as he nuzzled the back of her head and wrapped his arms around her waist.

She finished up the last plate and dried her hands before turning to face him. He placed a slow, lingering kiss on her lips. When he pulled back, her head was spinning with desire for him. She glanced to the table to find it empty. She hadn't realized the two men had finished their conversation.

"I was just thinking about how incredibly lucky I am," she responded, leaning her head against his chest.

"Why's that?" he inquired as his hands dipped to rest on her lower back. His thumbs rubbed the exposed skin where her shirt had ridden up, making her arch into him.

She tilted her head back, lips parted as a sigh escaped her mouth. "Because of you," she breathed against his jawline.


“Rise and shine, sleepy head.” Peyton squinted her eyes against the bright morning sun. She blinked a few times before Rusty’s handsome face came into focus. He was leaning over her, grinning from ear to ear. It was way too early to be that cheerful.

Groaning, she rolled over and snuggled back into the covers. She buried her face underneath the pillow. "Go away," she grumbled, her voice muffled by the pillow.

Rusty laughed and tugged at her pillow, but she clung to it for dear life. “If you don’t get up then I’m going to be forced to pour cold water on you," he threatened, giving up on their game of tug of war.

“I bet,” she muttered under her breath. She sighed in relief when she heard his footsteps fade. He was going to give her a few more hours of sleep. What an incredibly sw–

"Rusty!" she shrieked as ice cold water landed on her, chilling her to the bone. She sat straight up, gasping for air. Her shirt and hair were stuck to her body. Her narrowed eyes found Rusty doubled over, laughing so hard he was gasping for air. "I am going to kill you!"

Rusty shot down the stairs, his long legs taking them three and four at a time. Peyton raced after him, trying to keep up with his long strides. The whole time they were both laughing and shouting at each other. He was apologizing profusely while she proceeded to call him every name under the sun. They danced around the kitchen island, Rusty always one step ahead.

The chase went on for ten minutes, around the dining room table and throughout the whole house until they ended up back in her room. He collapsed on the bed, pretending that he was too tired to go on. Peyton knew better, though. He was part of an elite group of soldiers. She could guarantee he could run around this house all day and barely break a sweat.

“I give up. I’m yours to do whatever you want with,” he moaned.

Their eyes connected as he rolled onto his side. The double meaning wasn’t lost on her. Her heart pounded as she closed the distance to the bed. Was she ready to take that step? Rusty had been nothing but the perfect gentleman. He had patiently been keeping his distance, making sure things never went too far. Why shouldn’t she share this moment with him? He had proven himself over and over. Not once had he complained or made her feel guilty over it.

Taking a deep breath, she crawled onto the bed. He rolled onto his back as she straddled him. His hands came to rest on the backs of her thighs and he stared up at her with lust filled eyes. She bent down and touched her lips to his, hesitantly at first, but quickly growing with passion. His grip on her legs tightened as the kiss deepened.

She brushed her lips across the line of his jaw, feeling his stubble burning her mouth. Her lips would almost certainly be chapped tomorrow. She tracked down his neck and to the base of his throat where she felt his heart beating rapidly. In turn, hers started pounding, attempting to match the pace of his. Her fingers slid down his torso to the hem of his shirt where she started tugging it upwards. She crawled backwards, planting feathery kisses across his stomach. Peyton felt him shudder and she smiled against his skin, gaining confidence.

His natural, musky scent filled her senses as she grazed her teeth along the ridges of his toned stomach. The dusting of hair tickled her face as she nibbled across his waist, inches from the fabric of his shorts. His member hardened beneath her chest, causing her to pause in panic and excitement.

Rusty took the moment to sit up and pull her towards him. He devoured her mouth with his own, only stopping long enough to remove his shirt. She immediately began tracing his muscled chest with her hands, loving the way his muscles pulled and released with every move he made. His hands slid beneath her shirt and tickled her spine as his fingertips danced up her back.

"I can't get enough of you," he rasped, giving them a moment to regain their senses.

Peyton didn't want to stop, though. She craved more. More of his touch. More of his kisses. More of him. She yearned for him so badly she felt she might burst. The sensation was new and enticing.

Boldly, she rubbed the bulge underneath his fly. The touch elicited a throaty moan from him and he dug his fingers in, causing her to arch into him. The sound caused chills to run down her spine. She was surprised by the sudden urgency to make him do it again.

She roughly shoved him back down, catching him off guard. His hands dropped to his sides as she fumbled with the button on his shorts. It took her a few tries before she was able to release it. Her hand trembled as she pulled the zipper down. He lifted his hips when she yanked at the shorts. They finally slid free and she threw them off to the side before caressing his arousal once again.

Peyton paused her assault to take in the sight of his half-naked frame. His eyes were closed tight and forehead wrinkled. She noticed his hands clenching the sheets of her bed. Her fingers absentmindedly traced the dark tattoo adorning his right side. Another, smaller one, resided on his chest just above his heart. His dog tags rested next to it and she observed, for the first time, various scars covering his body. She silently promised to one day take her time to really explore, and to kiss every last mark on him.

For now, though, it was the rather impressive shape beneath his boxer briefs that had her attention. Her eyes widened. She had only ever been with one man, and she didn't remember his looking so, well, large. The moment finally sank in and she realized what she was doing.

Feeling queasy, she sat back onto her butt, putting a little space between them. Rusty opened his eyes and raised up onto his elbows, having felt the shift of her weight. He seemed undaunted by his barely clothed state. She wished for his confidence right then. His brows knitted in concern and he sat up the rest of the way.

“Peyton?" He reached for her just as the first tear dripped down her cheek. He swiftly pulled her into his tight embrace, shushing her. "Hey, it's alright, baby. You’re not ready and that’s fine.”

“I’m sorry. I want to be. I really do, Rusty.” Peyton sobbed against his naked chest.

She snuggled close against him, feeling her tears roll down her face. It seemed like she was always crying around him and he was always holding her and trying to comfort her the best he could. She knew he was too good for her. She had known it the minute they met, but she couldn’t let him go. Not now.

“Don’t worry about it," he soothed her with his rumbling voice. "It'll happen one day, but until then I'm in no hurry. I'm good with slow."

Peyton peeked up at him, fearing she would see the opposite of his words. Impatience was not there, though, instead his grey eyes held only sincerity and understanding. She shuddered the final tears out and forced herself to get her emotions under control.

"Now, you go get ready so we can hit the beach,” Rusty told her as he pushed her hair away from her damp cheeks. He planted a kiss on her forehead before grabbing his shirt and shorts and leaving the room.

After the door shut quietly behind him, she curled her knees up and rested her head on them. She felt so stupid and embarrassed. She had undressed him for Christ sakes! It made her feel like a tease and she hated to think of how Rusty felt. The poor guy had been more than ready and once again, she had let him down. He was always a good sport, but she was terrified that he would grow tired of waiting. What scared her more than that, though, was the thought of never being able to move past that point.

She had honestly wanted Rusty. Her panties were wet to prove it. The sight of him in only his underwear and his hidden arousal straining had turned her on. With every fiber of her body, she had wanted to make love to him. She still wanted to, but the icy fear left behind by Brodie held her back. As usual, everything came back to that sick son of a bitch.