Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary Romance, Military
Summary: Florence has been patiently waiting at home for Devin to return from his latest deployment. With the time off that she has saved up, there's a lot she's looking forward to getting to do with him again.
An unexpected phone call is the first sign of something troubling, but Florence continues to hope for the best. Trouble doesn't even begin to describe what it is that has accompanied Devin and his mates when they return under a leaden sky.
Florence enters her own private world of pain when Devin returns from a deployment but still feels a thousand miles away. All she wanted was to reconnect, spend some time together, and enjoy all his physical charms, but she finds herself without any of that.
Wanting nothing more than him, Florence sets out to uncover Devin’s inner demon, only to find more than she ever bargained for, but in the process she unlocks the path to redemption for them both.
Eventually, the unloading and post-flight complete, the crew ambled across to the small crowd waiting for them. Each one was met by the silence that they projected before them. Finally Devin appeared and made his way to Florence, a thin smile of recognition on his face. The hug he gave her was anything but romantic — it was a robotic motion, but there was obvious relief she felt through it. At least her hug and kiss was in gratitude for him finally being home and hers again.
Nothing was said between them as Florence drove them both back to the unit, where Devin disappeared inside to complete some unknown administration. Other families and partners milled around the car park aimlessly, kids screaming and playing, oblivious to the drama unfolding around them. Adults stood in small groups, murmuring nervously or sharing fearful looks between themselves. Nobody could remember a time that a crew had returned in such a state.
Eventually Devin reappeared and climbed silently in beside Florence. As they made their way home, he spoke for the first time “It’s good to be home. I have some time off.”
“Good, because I’ve got a couple of days off myself, and we’re going to get caught up again with each other. Perhaps you can explain whatever happened the other day on the phone.”
That was a mistake. Devin was about to talk when he turned and stared out the window. Florence pouted. What the fuck had she done? She didn’t mean to upset him. She just wanted to jump him. When he spoke next, it was barely above a whisper. “No.” Okay, so that wasn’t so much of a surprise. “Maybe someday, but not today.”
“Okay. Forget I mentioned it.”
“Not that simple.” With him, it sounded like the understatement of the century. “Oh, I have more than a couple of days off. I don’t quite know when they want me back at work, but it isn’t soon...” Devin trailed off, as if he had more he wanted to say, but wasn’t quite sure how to say it.
Florence thought for a bit. “I take it something happened on your deployment that affected your whole crew — you were all like zombies after you got back. I’m here for you whenever you want to talk about it.”
“Thanks.” With that simple statement, the conversation was over and he returned to staring out the window.