Status: Complete.

I Want You to Live

Chapter 23

Peyton shot up in bed, gasping for air. Her heart rate slowed as the nightmare slowly faded from her thoughts. It wasn't the first time she had dreamed about something happening to Rusty. It was a mostly normal occurrence. Something that she didn't think twice about anymore. That wasn't what catapulted her back to reality, though. Her mind raced as her breathing returned to normal. What was wrong?

As soon as the question entered her mind, a sharp pain tugged through her abdomen. She clutched her belly, pulling her knees up to try to find some relieve. It only lasted a few seconds, but it felt like hours. A pained moan slipped through her lips and leaving her breathless once again.

Rusty stirred next to her before he softly called her name. She could see him push up onto his forearms, head turned in her direction. His hand rustled the sheets as he felt for her. Hearing her moan again, he pushed himself on upright and flicked the lamp on. His eyes were puffy and narrowed against the light, but the sleepiness was rapidly chased away as he eyed her with concern.

"Peyt? What's wrong?" he asked, grasping her arm.

She grimaced with tears in her eyes and shook her head. "I don't know," she whispered through gritted teeth.

Another pain shot through her and a whimper escaped. She squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the pain to pass. Placing her clasped hands between her knees, she bent her head to rest. Horrified, she jerked them back and stared. A dark, sticky substance now stained her skin. The coppery smell of blood filled her nostrils.

"You're bleeding!" Rusty exclaimed, slinging the covers back and scrambling from the bed. The sheets tangled around his feet and he hit the floor with a resounding thud. He scurried back to his feet and around the bed, pulling the covers away from her body. His eyes widened in terror at the sight. "What happened? Are you okay?"

His voice sounded miles away as she stared at the blood between her thighs. It formed a large puddle on the sheet and coated her tanned skin. She began to hyperventilate as the realization washed over her. There was so much. It was now seeping up her long t-shirt. Bile rose up her throat, threatening to spill out. She clamped over her mouth, pressing her lips into a fine line.

Another cramp ripped through her midsection and she reached wildly for Rusty. An ear piercing scream sliced the air. This pain was on a whole other level from the others. Her hand connected with warm, solid skin and she clung to it desperately. Rusty rushed closer, snatching her close to him.

"Hospital," she ground out, eyes still clenched shut.

Her eyes popped open when he stepped away, but she saw him rummaging for clothes. Shortly after he threw his own on, he helped her into a clean shirt and a pair of his loose PT shorts. Peyton attempted to slide out of bed, but Rusty took matters into his own hands when he scooped her up and rushed her down the stairs and out the door.


Hours later and Rusty held Peyton's elbow, helping to support her as they made their way back into the house. The sun was beginning to make an appearance as she settled onto the couch. Rusty had offered to carry her upstairs to the bed, but she had declined. It was painful enough without seeing the large stain again, reminding her of what could've been.

She was pregnant, or had been at least. It was glaringly obvious that she was miscarrying, but it still came as a shock when the doctor told them. They hadn't even had the slightest idea that she was growing a baby. Hindsight, it should've been easy to see. She had been cranky and nauseous. The morning sickness should've been the most obvious sign, but both her and Rusty had assumed it was only stress related.

"What do you need?" Rusty asked, voice strong, but gentle. His hand caressed her cheek as he knelt in front of her. His eyes told her he was hurting just as badly.

It took her a moment to reply, not entirely sure what the right answer was. What did she need? What could possibly make the hurt go away? Funny how they hadn't ever spoken of babies before, yet at that point, it was all she could think about. It was all she wanted. All she needed. That was what would make her feel better.

"Just hold me," she told him, tears filling her eyes. He obliged, resting next to her and pulling her into his arms. He rocked her, whispering sweet words into her ear as he stroked her hair.

Her stomach still hurt and there was still so much blood, but the doctor had told it was normal. That she would continue to bleed throughout the next few days. She had only been eight weeks along. The ultrasound confirmed it. The baby had barely been so tiny, barely discernible. It was devastating to see the small blob on the screen. How different that moment could've been for them.

Rusty had asked if she wanted him to call Sylvia, to let her be there for her. Peyton had said no. She didn't want to share this tragic experience with anyone except him, no matter how close her and Sylv were. This was something that only Rusty understood. He was enduring this battle with her. It had been his child, too.

He was maintaining a solid front, but Peyton knew that inside he was falling apart. Rusty had never cared to show his emotions, but he was controlling them for her benefit. He always knew exactly what she needed, and right now, she needed his calm and strength.


The night air caused chill bumps to form on Peyton's exposed flesh. She wore her mom's old, scratchy poncho over her shoulders. The fabric was itchy, but comforting. It smelled of horses and lilacs and simpler times. This was one of those times she wished her mama was around to tell her what to do. To tell her how to cope with the pain.

Rusty had fallen asleep next to her on the couch. He had stayed right by her side all day and evening, letting her mourn. She had tried to get some rest, but it was to no avail. The hollow feeling left behind wouldn't let her sleep. So, she had decided to get up and get some fresh air. Her tossing and turning would've woken him and she knew he was mentally and emotionally drained as well.

She placed a protective hand over her stomach, knowing it was futile. The child they had conceived was no more. It was a sorrow that she had never experienced before and there weren't words to explain it. It seemed silly, when she thought about it. Before that morning, they didn't even know it existed. How could she have fallen so in love with the tiny being at just the mere thought of its existence.

Would it have been a he or a she? Maybe a little girl with eyes the color of thunder clouds and blonde pigtails that bounced as she rode her pony. She would have a laugh that tinkled like wind chines and take ballet lessons. Her daddy would forever be her Prince Charming.

Or possibly a boy with clear, blue eyes and mean streak a mile wide. He would stand up for the kids smaller and helpless than he. Maybe he would play baseball and be some young lady's knight in shining armour.

Peyton closed her eyes and wept for never knowing. Whoever the tiny person would've been, was only for God to know now. How cheated she felt, as if He had only been teasing them with the prospect. They would've made wondeful parents. They were financially stable and more in love than a lot of couples these days.

The back door sounded, signalling that Rusty was awake. She kept her back facing him, not wanting him to see her all tore up again. He had already spent the day watching her cry until her eyes were raw. She felt guilty for being such a burden.

His arms wrapped around her waist. Instant warmth enveloped her. She nestled back into him, attempting to draw strength from his touch. "I wish I could make it stop hurting," he whispered, voice catching.

The sweet statement only caused her to whimper in response. Her husband, always the protector, always putting her and her feelings before his own. She recognized him for the blessing he was.

"I've been so selfish," she apologized, "I haven't once asked how you're feeling."

He produced a small laugh next to her ear. His chin rested on her shoulder. "I don't really know how I feel. I guess I'm just numb right now."

A silence stretched between them, making them both wonder what the other was thinking. Peyton noticed Rusty seemed tense, but she wasn't sure if he was inwardly grieving or if something else was on his mind. It didn't take long to find out.

With a loud sigh, he spoke, "The fighting is getting worse overseas. I haven't heard anything yet, but I have a feeling I'm going to be leaving soon. Maybe for longer than usual."

Peyton stayed quiet, letting that sink in. It hurt to think about him being gone, especially so soon after their loss, but she knew this was his job. This was what he loved doing. "I'll be alright. I knew what I was getting myself into."

Rusty turned her to face him. His eyes searched her face, looking deeply into her eyes. "It's different now," he stated quietly, "I used to live for being deployed. Now, the thought tears me apart. I don't want to be away from you."

His words warmed her heart and she laid her head on his shoulder. The quietness of the night enveloped them once again. She breathed in the cool mountain air. Her gaze swept over the grass. The way the moon made the early morning dew twinkle was beautiful. She could stay right there for the rest of her life, but she knew that impossible.

"My enlistment is over in a few months. I can either choose to reenlist or to be discharged. If I choose to leave, then it would be my last deployment." Peyton drew back in surprise. He had never once mentioned leaving the Army. She had assumed this would be his career. He looked down at her with a soft, knowing smile. "I've just really been thinking about it. I know plenty of men who have families and stay in the military. I've also seen plenty of families torn apart, by the war and divorce."

"You love what you do. I would never expect you to give that up," she told him, hoping he could see how serious she was. "We could make it."

"We could, but what about when we do have kids? I don't want them to spend their lives saying goodbye."

The thought caught her off guard. Rusty had never actually mentioned wanting kids before. "You know what the doctor said," she spoke quietly.

"I know, but he didn't say it was impossible," he insisted, sounding hopeful. She was a little taken aback by how strongly he seemed to have wanted the baby, too. "He just said it would be harder. That we might have to look into other options."

She dropped her head, feeling ashamed. The shame was ridiculous. It wasn't her fault that her reproductive system had been damaged. It was just another side effect of her abuse. Just another reason to despise Brodie even more. It was heartbreaking how she felt like she was being punished for something that was never her fault to begin with.

"It's too soon to worry about it anyways," he told her, pulling her back against him and rubbing her back. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."
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I've been thinking about ideas for a sequel if anyone would be interested. Comment and let me know what y'all think! If I don't hear anything then I'm going to assume that is a no. lol Thanks again and check out my other stories!! =)