© Kim Strattford, 2018 








The Times In Between

By Kim Strattford




“I can’t believe you’re back.” Leanna nuzzled Rick’s neck, laughing as he pulled her half over him.

“I can’t believe I kept it a secret.” He looked very pleased with himself. “HQ offered me a chance to come back for training. I got my pick of sites. This was one of them. A chance to see my wife—naked, thank you very much—seemed the perfect reason to come home.”

“You have only yourself to blame for me being naked.”

“Officer thinking on my part.” He chuckled as she hit a particularly sensitive spot on his neck. “So, can we stay in bed all day?”

“We’ve been in it now for hours. I don’t see why not.” She took a deep breath as she kissed her way down his neck. She’d missed this most of all, the scent of him, the feel of his skin. She moved a little more, and her leg brushed against—parts of him were rapidly rising to the occasion. She reached down and played lightly, the way she did when she wanted him inside her—very soon. “Mmmm, being deployed for so long has made someone very happy to see me.”

“Actually, coming home made me happy to see you. Being deployed just made me miss you.” He pushed her hair off her cheek and stared at her as if memorizing her face.

She leaned down and kissed him. “We Skype all the time. You should know my face by now.”

He laughed and seemed to relax finally. “It’s different when we talk on that. The wavering image. The pixels that show up at weird times. It’s like just when I think you and I are really close enough to touch, the tech reminds me we’re not.”

“Maybe you need to upgrade your tech. It’s your ship after all, Captain.”

He pushed her to her back and moved over her, his expression turning to the mock stern one that always made her laugh. “You’re not badmouthing my other lady, are you?”

“I wouldn’t dare.” She wrapped her legs around him. “Does she do this?”

“She doesn’t.” His eyes were sparkling—she’d missed that, too. His effervescent good humor, the feeling that he didn’t just love her—he liked her. He wanted to be around her for more than just sex. Although given how good they were together in bed, it might be okay if it was just for sex.

“Does she touch you like this?” She ran her fingers down his back, light glancing touches, the way that always made him shiver.

“Oh, God, no.”

She let up on him enough for him to move a little, to...there. He slid into her and she enjoyed the feeling of having him inside her after six months away before whispering, “Does she let you inside her this way?”

“She doesn’t.”

“You have a sucky mistress.”

He laughed. “Well, what do you expect from a gal made of steel?” He put his hand over her mouth, gently but the message was clear—“Shut up for a minute.”

She smiled and wrapped her legs around him tighter, pulling him in a little deeper and he groaned. “Missed you,” she murmured from under his hand.

He moved his hand and said, “I missed you, too.” He began to thrust with more urgency, hitting just right as he moved her legs up over his shoulders. “I’m going to let go.”

She nodded and held on for the ride. He needed to do this, and she loved it, watching his face as he moved harder and harder, as he watched her to make sure she was all right.

She never worried that he’d cheated on her while he was deployed. No man who cheated would need to let go this badly. She was a lucky girl. And no matter how much he let go, he always knew exactly how far to take it—he never hurt her.

He reached between them, fingering her, and she forgot all about how lucky she was and concentrated on how good he was making her feel. She felt the lovely build-up, the feeling of stillness just before the explosion of pleasure. She cried out—loudly—as she came and hoped to hell the neighbors weren’t home.

Rick didn’t let up on her, and he was moaning, the sound changing as he found his own sweet spot and let go. He collapsed against her for a long moment, then he slid her legs down his back, and she wrapped them tightly around his waist.

“I’m heavy.”

“Not when you’re finally back you’re not.” She smiled and ran her fingers through his hair, pushing hard, the way he liked.

“Oh, God, yes. I missed this the most.”

“Big liar.” She arched up, making him laugh while he closed his eyes as if it almost hurt—he was always so sensitive after coming. “You can’t tell me you didn’t miss being inside me more.”

He rolled to the side and pulled her with him; they ended up snuggling, no space between them. “Got me there,” he said as ran his fingers down her back, scratching lightly, the way she loved. “But your head massages are a very close second.”

She smiled and went back to rubbing his scalp. He was watching her closely, an expression she couldn’t read on his face. “What?”

“Are you okay? You sounded funny the last time we talked.”

“It was just some stuff with the condo.” She didn’t want to talk about this now, not with him just back, not with it being a short trip—a surprise trip, the best kind of surprise. She didn’t want to lay that on him.

“Lee, we’re married. We’re not just lovers. I don’t want you to have to shoulder everything yourself. It’s not fair to you.”

“But we don’t have much time.”

“I don’t care. We always have time enough if you need me.” He kissed her gently. “Is it something we need to do right away?”

She looked away. Why was he doing this?

“Baby, come on. What is it?”

“It’s stupid. We just need a new washing machine. I’ve already ordered one, and Maria is letting me use theirs until it gets here. I was just tired that night.” She saw some doubt on his face. “I’m serious. It was nothing—I just overreacted when I had a load of wet clothes and a washer that wasn’t draining. You called right when I was trying to get the clothes wrung out so they wouldn’t be in the dryer all night.”

He took a slow breath, the kind that he did when he felt guilty. “Hon’, I’m sorry. I wish I—”

“You’re on the ship. I know that—I knew that when I married you. It’s your life—my life, too.” Fortunately she was an accountant, and could follow him wherever he was stationed with little problem—she did most of her work by email or fax these days—so her life was not just him. Not just waiting around for him. That would probably drive her nuts.

“That’s not the point. We need to handle this together. If I think you’re having to do everything yourself—and yes, I do know you have to when I’m not here—but if I don’t feel like you even want to involve me, it makes me a little crazy.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to involve you. It’s that I don’t want to waste the time we get on stuff like a stupid washing machine.”

He kissed her nose. “Do it anyway. Okay?”

She let out breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and nodded. Then she leaned down and kissed him, finally pulling away and giving him the sweetest smile she could. “I don’t want to talk about washing machines now.”

“Tough. Did you get a nice one?”

“No I got the shittiest one in the store, Rick. Jeez.”

He laughed and threw his leg over her hers. “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. How nice is it?”

“Well, it’ll park the car for you, I think, and make dinner.” She laughed at his expression. “Seriously? I just got a pretty basic model. I’m sort of afraid that we’ll unleash HAL if we get one that thinks too much.”

“Mutiny on the Homefront.”

“Exactly. Also, I’m not sure you can work them without a physics degree. I’ve never seen so many settings. Although wait, you do have a physics degree, don’t you?”

“I do. But I think it was wise not to risk it.” He laughed again and closed his eyes. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mister.”

He opened his eyes, met her gaze and the look was his captain of the ship look, no bullshit, no lover, just serious. “You promise you’ll share the bad stuff, too?”

“Fine.” She let her hands roam, down his front, then his side until the captain of the ship gave way to her lover. She’d missed this so much. Skin to skin, hearing him breathe, feeling his hands slide over her, the scent of his cologne and shampoo and sweat mingling to make a cologne that was indescribably his alone.

“New perfume?” he asked and she laughed—every so often they were on exactly the same wavelength.

“Yep. Do you like it?”

“I do. It’s...fresh but sexy. Not trying too hard.”

“That’s me. Low-effort girl.” She gave him a mock offended look.

“You know what I mean. That’s how you described the one you picked out for me.”

“Oh yeah. It is. Do you need more?”

“I don’t wear it on the ship much.” He laughed. “The crew doesn’t need me smelling good just for them.” His smile died. “Lee, I wish that our time together didn’t feel so much like time in between our real lives.”

“You are my real life, Rick. Here or not, you’re part of me. I wouldn’t put up with being apart this much if you weren’t so important to me.” She didn’t think most wives would. But it was part of the life, part of loving a sailor. “And maybe someday you’ll make admiral and you’ll get a desk job on shore—and we can go somewhere really cushy like Miami or Honolulu.”

He laughed. “It’s going to be a while before I make admiral. I only made captain two years ago.”

“I know. But someday. A girl can dream of sandy beaches and palm trees.”

“Do you ever go outside? We live in San Diego, woman.” He pointed to the window. “What’s that I see pressing against the glass? Oh, duh, it’s a palm tree.”

“Okay, fine. But still, Hawaii would be awesome. Speaking of awesome...” She reached down for him, feeling him come to life in her hand. With a grin, she slid down, letting her mouth settle on him, moving her hand the way he liked as she sucked.

He moaned like a teenaged boy—a sound that always made her giggle. He reached for her, not holding her down, just touching her neck, a sweet contact as she brought him all the way home, then slid back up to lie next to him. “I’m pretty sure you missed that, too, I think. Are you certain the hair massage thing is still number two in the list of lost pleasures?”

“I may have to revise that list when my toes uncurl.” He pulled her closer, wrapped his arms around her, and was probably about to fall asleep.

She took a deep breath. “There’s something I didn’t want to tell you over Naval comms.”

“What?” His voice was the half-asleep one that she knew could easily turn to a fast-asleep silence if she didn’t rouse him.

She pulled free of his arms and shook him. “Look at me.”

He opened one eye.

“We’re pregnant.”

His other eye opened. “What? Oh my God. Are you serious?”

“Would I joke about this?” They hadn’t been trying but they hadn’t been not trying, either. They’d said if it happened, it happened.

Well, it happened.

He sat up suddenly, easing her down, patting her belly as if it was a puppy.

She started to laugh. “Nine months of that? Oh, I don’t think so.”

“Should we be doing this?” He suddenly looked like he was about to get a chastity belt and put it on her. “Do we have permission from your doctor?” He reached for his phone, and she knew he was going to Google “sex” and “pregnancy.”

“Belay that,” she said, as she took the phone from him and put it back on the nightstand. “Do you think that I—Ms. Leave Nothing to Chance—would not know if it was safe to ravish my husband or not?”

His worried look began to change to a grin. “Good point.” The grin turned into a heart-stopping smile. “Really? A baby?”

“Really a baby. We made a baby. Probably doing something like what we’ve been doing all morning.”

“That’s the normal procedure, yep.” He leaned down and kissed her—there was a feeling of joy in his kiss she hadn’t been expecting. She’d felt the same little leap of joy—until it had given way to sheer terror—when she’d seen the pregnancy test change from “Might be something you ate” to “Knocked up.” “Wow.” He giggled; he actually giggled. The sound made her laugh and pull him down for another kiss.

He kissed her for quite some time, then lay down next to her, and they rested quietly, both on their backs, until he found her hand and squeezed it. “I love you. This is amazing.” Then he turned on his side. “Should I be home for this? I can get a shore posting.”

She’d thought this through, and she’d talked to Maria who had three kids, none of which her husband Jaime, also on a ship, had been around for the birth of. “You stay on that ship where you belong. This is part of the life. I may curse you out over Skype a few million times—or just let you hear your son or daughter crying like a demon—but we’ll do it like we’ve done everything else. We’ll be okay.” And it wasn’t like she didn’t have tons of support here. The spouses and partners looked to each other for everything.

He began to rub her belly and she took his hand and guided it lower. “Seriously with the belly? I believe you were going to make me come again, weren’t you? Not get all Daddy-esque on me. Or do you think I’m some kind of Buddha now?”

He grinned, but she thought he was more careful—although still damned effective—as he began to play with her, his fingers moving over her, then dipping inside her. He brought her up and up and then let her crash all the beautiful way down, and he watched her face the whole time, his smile a beautiful thing. “I love you so much, Lee.”

“I love you, too. I’m glad you’re home. Thank you for the surprise.”

His laugh was the silly giggle again. “Right back at you.”




© Kim Strattford, 2018