Status: Complete.

I Want You to Live

Chapter 7

Rusty sighed in relief when the plane finally landed. He stood to stretch out his aching, cramped muscles. As productive as the week had been, he was glad to be back. Exhaustion clawed at him. His weekend off was just minutes away and he planned on spending most of it in bed.

He wondered what Peyton was doing as he helped unload gear. He glanced at his watch, noting it was early evening. He assumed she was out riding her horses still. What he wouldn’t give to be right there with her, even with as little sleep as he had gotten over the past week. He sighed before slinging his duffel bag over his shoulder.

Yes, he had somewhat found peace during the week, but now that he was faced with reality, he didn’t know how he would survive. The sight of the other soldiers greeting their wives and kids didn’t help his mood any. It was ridiculous, really. The way he had fallen for her so hard and fast. He had always prided himself on never falling in love. It was easy for him to be with a woman without becoming emotionally attached. Then Peyton had come along and it was all over.


Great, he was hearing things now. He really needed to get home and in the bed. He was rubbing his eyes when he heard his name being called again. He blinked a couple times and finally focused on Peyton racing across the pavement.

“Peyton?” he called, not really believing that she was there. What is she doing here?

Her pace never faltered as she drew closer. Rusty dropped his bag just in time to catch her in his arms. Her legs wrapped around his waist and she wasted no time in attaching her lips to his. Tingles went down his back and he thought his legs were going to buckle from her touch. She put both hands on either side of his face and opened her mouth to allow him entrance.

Whistles and cat calls finally made her pull back, leaving them both breathless. Her face was blood red as she looked around and then back to him. A shy smile played on her lips. His head was spinning. Was this really happening? Was Peyton really in his arms?

“Hi,” she whispered, laying her forehead against his.

“Hi,” he replied, grinning from ear to ear.

He gave her a quick peck before letting her slide down to the ground. Ty walked by, slapping him on the back. He sent a nod and a wink to Peyton before giving Rusty a thumbs up behind her back. He jogged off to join a group of single guys. They were probably going to go out drinking. Any other time, Rusty would've been going with them, but tonight he hoped to be taking a certain blonde bombshell out for Mexican.

“I see your eye has healed nicely," she teased, gently running her thumb over the small scar.

He grabbed her hand and placed a kiss into her palm before linking his fingers through hers. He reached down to grab his bag and they started the short trek to his truck, hand-in-hand. There was a new spring in his step. All thoughts of his tiredness were gone.

“Where’s your truck?” he asked, searching the crowded parking lot.

“I had my friend drop me off. I was hoping you would take me home," she responded, biting her lip nervously.

“On one condition,” he said, faking a serious tone. Her eyes met his, expectantly. “You go out with me tonight.”

“I was hoping you would ask,” she confessed, her face lighting up.

Rusty still couldn’t believe she was here. So many things were spinning through his head. What about not wanting anything serious? What had made her change her mind? He reined the questions in, knowing there would be plenty of time to talk later. Right now, he just wanted to take a long, hot shower, then take this beautiful girl out.

“Let’s get going. You need to go home?” he asked as they reached his truck.

She cocked an eyebrow before teasing him, "What? You don't like what I'm wearing?" She did a slow spin, shaking her hips a little.

Rusty chuckled before taking in her appearance for the first time. He had been too surprised at seeing her there to notice. The last thing he had been thinking about were her clothes. His smile dropped and he swallowed hard as his thoughts immediately turned dirty when he noticed her short skirt. God, her legs had been wrapped around him, too. That alone was enough to make him grow hard. Shit, now she was going to think he just wanted in her pants.

“Are you okay?” Rusty looked to see Peyton watching him. He held his duffel bag in front of him and tried to think of something nonsexual. Baseball. Ty always said to think about baseball. Why baseball? Why not football or hockey? It didn't matter either way, because none of it was working. “Rusty?”

“I-I’m fine,” he stuttered out. He tried and failed to think about something other than pinning her naked body to the wall.

He groaned and leaned down to press a quick kiss on her lips. When he started to pull back, she placed a hand at the nape of his neck, pulling him back to her. She nipped his bottom lip and flicked her tongue in his mouth, causing him to forget his predicament. He dropped his bag and pressed her against the cab of his truck, getting lost in the feel of her body against his. His hands went to her hair as his hips ground into hers. Just as he remembered, she gave his chest a light shove.

Both of their faces burned crimson as she slid out from between him and the truck. She paused to briefly kiss his cheek and he caught her glancing at his crotch. He mentally cursed himself before slinging his bag into the bed. He took a moment to compose himself, both physically and mentally. He pulled at his pants, adjusting his junk before climbing in next to Peyton. He shot her an apologetic look. She gave him a tight smile before turning to look out her window. He blew out a breath and steered the truck towards his apartment.


“Are you mad at me?” Rusty started when he heard the sound of Peyton’s voice.

He turned to find her standing in his bedroom doorway, watching him. His hands instinctively reached down to tighten his towel around his waist. Her eyes stayed focused on his, disregarding the fact that he was half-naked.

“No," he answered slowly. "I figured you were upset with me, though.”

“Why would I be?” she asked. Her brows knitted in confusion.

He really didn't want to be having this conversation in such a vulnerable state. He cleared his throat, feeling awkward, and crossed his arms over his chest. “Well, about what happened earlier...” he trailed off.

A sheepish smile appeared on her face. “I'm sorry about the way that I acted. I wasn't upset, it just caught me off guard. It's been a while so I forgot how easily those things happen."

She took a step into his bedroom, casually looking around the room. He scanned it, too, wondering what it looked like to her. It was sparse, but neat, much like the rest of the apartment. It didn't exactly scream home, but it was sufficient for two bachelors.

He drank the sight of her in as she circled his bedroom. Her long, tan legs moved gracefully. The top she wore was a pale yellow, much like the color of the dress on their first date. He silently wondered if yellow was her favorite color.

Smirking, he finally spoke, breaking the silence. “If you weren’t so sexy, then it would be easier to control those kinds of things, you know."

A blush dusted her cheeks and she quickly moved to exit the room. She lingered at the doorway and threw him a wink over her shoulder. Then she was gone, her feet padding softly down the carpeted hallway. He fell back onto his bed and rubbed his face. She would be the death of him.

Not wanting to waste anymore time, he got up and started digging through his dresser. He pulled his underwear on underneath his towel, just in case Peyton decided to make another surprise appearance. Not that he was ashamed of his manhood, but by her earlier reaction of feeling his hard on, he was afraid that she might pass out on the spot if she actually saw it. That wasn't a promising thought.

Throwing the towel down by the door, he rifled through his closet and settled on jeans and a light green button down. After rolling his sleeves up, he looked in the mirror. His hair would need a cut soon. He finger combed it down and sprayed on some cologne before leaving the bedroom.

Peyton was sitting on the couch, one leg crossed over the other. She stood when he entered the room. Without a word she linked her fingers through his and led the way to the door. Rusty shut the lights off and locked up on his way out.


Their second date was proving to be just as much fun as their first, if not more so. The relaxed, colorful atmosphere in the Mexican restaurant was exactly what Rusty had needed. He sipped a beer, deciding tonight was cause for celebration. Peyton was here and that meant she wanted to try to make things work.

As the Mariachi band wound down, there was a lull in the conversation. Peyton clapped along with everyone else, eyes shining with laughter. Rusty crossed his forearms on the table and silently watched her with a smile of his own. His heart was full tonight.

He quickly dropped his gaze, pretending to be taking another swig of beer when she looked back across the table. She raised an eyebrow, a knowing expression on her face. He knew he had been caught so he just winked and shrugged, unapologetically.

The band went to take a breather, promising at least five minutes of uninterrupted time to talk. Rusty took this as his moment to turn things serious. They still hadn't discussed her change of heart.

"So, I'm curious about what made you change your mind," he started, hoping he didn't ruin the joyous moment, "you know, about me. About us." He gestured between them.

Peyton swirled her bottle of beer around, seemingly deep in thought. "I couldn't stop thinking about you," she finally admitted, "and I talked to my best friend."

"She told you to go for it?" Rusty sat up, his interest having been piqued. She told her friend about him. That was good, right?

"No, actually she told me I was crazy for getting involved with a soldier I met in a bar." Peyton held up a hand when Rusty started to protest. "But then I told her how good looking and charming you were," she teased.

Rusty chuckled at her words. "So, she approved then, right?"

"Of course, how could she not?" she answered, a mischievous gleam in her eye.

Rusty leaned back in his chair, pleased that he had gained the approval of probably the most important person in Peyton's life. Her dog liked him and her best friend liked him. That had to mean something.

"Seriously, though, Rusty. I really wasn't looking for," she paused a second, shrugging, "this. I had an extremely bad experience in my last relationship, and I wasn't interested in jumping into another one. I think you're a special guy, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes."

On impulse, Rusty stood and leaned over the table, catching her lips in a brief, but passionate kiss. The blush that he had come to love, appeared when he seated himself again. He didn't care who had been watching or if he got salsa on his clothes. After that fresh breath of honesty, she needed to be kissed.

"I think you're incredible, Peyton. No other woman has made me feel this comfortable and nervous all at once," he laughed out, linking his fingers. He stared straight into her eyes, wanting her to know every word was sincere. "I can't even begin to tell you how ecstatic I am that you're giving me a chance."

She bit her lip and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. The actions were endearing and he was turned on immediately. The fact that she had no idea how sexy she was, was the best part.

Her eyes lit up as if she suddenly remembered something. "By the way, I think I've found someone for Ty." She rolled her lips, trying to keep from grinning. "My best friend, Sylvia."

Rusty snorted. "Ty isn't exactly relationship material at the moment."

"That's why they'll be perfect," she insisted, "because Sylvia is the most noncommittal woman I know. She runs at the thought of being tied down to one man."

"Hmm, that might work out then."

"I guarantee it will," she promised, crossing her heart. The music started back up, forcing Peyton to shout her next words. "Now, let's dance!"

Rusty laughed, letting her pull him up from his chair. It hadn't taken him long to figure out he was wrapped around her pinky. He saw himself spending a lot of time doing whatever it took to make her happy.


Rusty threw his keys down on the kitchen bar and leaned against it, watching Peyton's hips sway as she sauntered to the couch. She collapsed onto it and snuggled into the oversized cushions. A smile tugged at his lips as she closed her eyes and let out a dramatic sigh of relief.

They had danced through song after song, until they were both sweating and tired. They had taken their leave afterwards and, like their first date, Rusty stopped to get her some ice cream. They had talked about their week apart, though he had to admit he had had a hard time concentrating. Her tongue and lips eating her ice cream had mesmerized him. Later, in the truck, he had kissed her long and hard, hints of Rocky Road still on her tongue. Not really a fan of chocolate, himself, he thought he might be able to learn to love the stuff.

“I’m going to change into something more comfortable,” Rusty said, pausing beside the couch. Peyton peeped an eye. “Do you want something to change into?”

“No, I’m fine. Thanks though,” she replied. She folded her legs beneath her and smiled up at him, lazily. “Do you have any good movies to watch?”

“Yea, they’re under the TV,” he hollered, already making his way down the hallway to his bedroom.

He checked Ty’s room, just to make sure he hadn’t come home while they were gone. Noting the bed was empty and still in disarray from their hasty exit, it was obvious his buddy hadn’t made it back from his night of drinking. Rusty flipped the light back off and crossed the hall into his room. His clock read 11:13. It was still early for Ty to come home.

Rusty unbuttoned his shirt and removed his jeans before opening the bottom drawer. After slipping on a pair of PT shorts and an old t-shirt, he dropped his dirty clothes into the hamper in the shared bathroom. It was already overflowing. He rolled his eyes, making a mental note to remind Ty it was his turn to do laundry.

“You don’t have a very wide selection, do you?” Peyton asked as he walked into the room and took her vacated spot on the couch. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the entertainment center. Rusty laughed at the amount of war movies lying around her. He hadn’t realized he had so many.

“What can I say? I’m a soldier through and through.”

“I can tell.” She rolled her eyes and put them back into the cabinet before getting up. He was surprised when she sat down and cuddled up next to him. He wasn’t about to complain, so he slipped an arm around her and pulled her tighter against his side.

“They’re not that bad. You should watch one," he persuaded.

“No offense, but I’m not into the whole bloody action packed thing," she replied, wrinkling her nose.

He laughed. “Not all of them are like that. Try Pearl Harbor. You'll love it.”

“I’ll try it, but I’m not making any promises,” she muttered as she went back over to the entertainment center.

Rusty almost wished he hadn’t said anything just so she would’ve stayed in his arms. She popped the DVD in the player and came back to the couch, taking her place beside him once again. He pulled the quilt off the back of the couch and wrapped it around them before hitting play. He settled back, content on just watching the movie and holding her.

That thought soon vanished when, half an hour into the movie, she started drawing designs on his thigh. Her hand slid dangerously close to his crotch and he silently groaned. He could already feel himself growing harder. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, but she didn't give any indication she knew what she was doing.

He tried to focus on the movie, but her hand wouldn’t stop moving. His hand slid from around her waist to the bottom of her skirt where her upper thigh was exposed. Chill bumps formed on her leg as he rubbed it, letting his fingers roam a few inches up her skirt. She stiffened and he expected her to stop him, but instead she tilted her head and placed a gentle kiss on the bottom of his jaw. He bent his head, capturing her lips in his. The kiss deepened and before he knew it they were lying down, Peyton underneath him.

Her fingers disappeared beneath his shirt, exploring his torso. He sat up, pulling the shirt over his head. Their eyes met and he hesitated, wondering if she was sure about this. His erection was straining against his shorts, begging to take control, but Rusty fought to keep a clear head. As if answering his question, she curled her fingers around his dog tags, gently tugging him back down. Their lips met again, but this time in a desperate dance.

He was sliding her top up when the door opened. Ty stumbled in, falling against the wall. They sat up quickly. Rusty grasped the blanket, making sure Peyton was covered. She jerked her top down and ran a hand through her disheveled hair. Her eyes were glossed over with lust and expression dazed. Rusty felt like he was in a fog.

He would kill Ty tomorrow when he wasn’t too drunk to feel it. Ty tripped his way down the hall, never noticing Rusty and Peyton sitting on the couch breathless. Rusty turned to Peyton with a sheepish smile, about to apologize. Before he could, she stood abruptly and offered a rushed goodbye before making a hasty exit. The door slammed behind her.

Rusty sat on the couch, confused. What had just happened? Was she going to end things again? Rusty groaned into his hands before slinging the cover off and going to lock the door. He trudged off to his empty bed. Yep, he was definitely going to kill Ty tomorrow.