I’m in Texas. Go big, or go home, right?
I light a buttload of candles around the tub that’s now filling with water and bubbles. My bathtub is fixed, so I’m going to enjoy it with some wine and a good book.
When the water is getting close to the top, I shut off the faucet and step in. It’s the perfect temperature. And lo and behold, both my boobs and knees are underwater once I sit down. I pause before grabbing my book and enjoy just being underwater from my neck down.
I close my eyes as my mind begins to drift. It doesn’t take long for my thoughts to hone in on Duke Samson. I wonder what he does on Thursday afternoons. Does he have a girlfriend that he’s taking out?
If he’s only taking her out once a week, she must be pretty damn understanding. Or maybe it’s just a booty call.
Either way, why do I care? I’m not sleeping with him. And as much fun as that sounds, I have no intention of it.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t sit in my bathtub and fantasize about what it would be like to go to bed with Duke.
And I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
“Haveyoustillbeenhaving the nightmares?” Dr. Tucker asks.
I sit across the coffee table from my therapist. My knee bounces up and down as I glance at the clock.
“Getting right into it today, aren’t we, Doc?” I ask.
She gives a soft laugh. “Duke, I’ve learned that with you, I have to make every moment count.”
She’s probably not wrong. When I got injured, the Navy insisted that I start therapy. For the first few months, Dr. Tucker and I just stared at each other as I sat in silence for the entire hour. I’m not a big talker anyway, but talking about my problems or vulnerabilities? Forget about it.
But with time, I think Dr. Tucker has helped me. I’m still sort of a basket case, but I’m trying to work through it. And I’m certainly better than I used to be.
The doc asks again. “Duke, how are your nightmares?”
“Which ones?” I ask, only partially sarcastically.
“Any of them, but let’s start with the ones reliving the explosion.”
“I still have them, but not as frequently,” I lie. The truth is that I have nightmares every single night, and almost every evening involves ones that are reliving that day.
Dr. Tucker digs deeper. “So, you’re sleeping more than five hours a night.”
I simply nod.
I’m pretty sure her bullshit meter is going off because she starts scribbling something in her notebook.
She then asks, “Are the nightmares ending the same way they typically do?”
“With my entire squad dead at my feet? Yes.”
She twirls her pen between her fingers. “But Duke, you know that’s not how that day ended. You were able to warn everyone and save your squad.”
“Not all of them,” I mumble.
“You can’t blame yourself for Dixon,” she tells me.
“I don’t. I blame the bastards who did it.” That’s only partially true. I do hold blame where it should be, but I also do blame myself. I was his commanding officer. I should have protected him.