“Duke, for just a moment, I’m not going to talk to you as your therapist. I’m going to talk to you as a friend… and as someone who has been married for over thirty years.”
“If you don’t want to confide in Avery, fine, but just know that the relationship may not progress any further if you don’t. And if it does, it may not do so in a healthy way. Part of being with someone is accepting their flaws. I want you to think about if Avery came to you with the same type of story–something bad that she did in her childhood. Would it make you think any less of her?”
Letting out a loud sigh, I say, “No. But it’s not just my childhood. Look at all the things I had to do with the SEALS. My career accomplishments read like a horror story.”
“Things you were ordered to do. Things that were ultimately for the greater good. What if Avery was a cop? Would you judge her for shooting someone who was shooting at her?”
“Alright, Doc, your logic is starting to get really annoying.”
“I’m sorry, but if you like this girl, maybe you should start knocking down some of those walls that you’ve built so high.”
Quietly, I ask, “What if she doesn’t like what she finds in the rubble of those walls?”
“Then, she’s not the one for you.”
“So, you think I should just go over there and tell her everything?”
“Duke, I can’t make that decision for you. But I do think you should take the night and sleep on it. Maybe tomorrow will give you a little bit of clarity.”
She looks at me for a moment longer before turning back on the tape recorder, as though this little side conversation never happened.
Soon enough, our session is over, and I’m walking into my trailer. Somehow, it now seems more empty than it ever has before. Maybe it’s just me.
Or maybe I miss Avery like crazy, even though I haven’t been away from her all that long.
Maybe I’m just a total fucking idiot.
Yeah. Pretty sure that’s the one.
Heat smacks me dead in the face. I take a deep breath, but the air is so thick it’s almost stagnant. It’s inescapable. The gear we’re all wearing doesn’t help matters.
We’ve been ordered to clear a building since we got word that the target we’re looking for could potentially be inside.
I signal to my team to keep moving forward down the quiet street. Typically, quiet would be a good thing, but when it’s the middle of the day in the town square, quiet is scary.
Quiet means danger.
We walk further, but I give the signal to stop when a woman appears out of one of the buildings. She’s crying. The Southern gentleman in me feels the urge to check and see if she’s okay. But I’ve been in a war zone long enough to know that nothing is ever what it seems.
Unfortunately, Dixon missed my signal and continues toward the woman.
I call his name, but he continues on.
A knot forms in my gut, somehow knowing this isn’t going to end well. I slowly take a few cautious steps toward him while silently instructing everyone else to stay back.
My heart thumps in my chest as my eyes dart from Dixon to the woman.
“Dixon!” I call. “Stand down!”
But he keeps walking toward the woman as if being pulled by some invisible force.
As we both get closer, I notice something under the woman’s jacket.
It’s a bomb.