Duke's Redemption

Page 73

So, I get the pot going and impatiently wait for it to finish. I’ve got the house to myself since Duke had therapy, and he said he had to run a couple errands for more construction materials for the house.
I should probably do some more painting in the living room, but I’m not feeling it tonight. I decide to go sit outside and watch the sunset instead.
What is this town doing to me?
Duke finished work on one side of the porch and put the swing back up, so I take a seat and get comfortable. It’s still warm, but the setting sun has cooled the day off quite a bit.
Man, if this is only Spring in Texas, I’m probably going to die of heat stroke come Summer.
With thoughts like that, I think it’s becoming more and more obvious that staying here is a real possibility. I know Duke said he would come to Boston with me, but honestly, what’s keeping me there? An apartment that I spend way too much on every month? No friends or family?
I have my business, but I’ve been doing just fine with running it from down here. If I need to go back for anything, that’s what they invented airplanes for. And who knows? Maybe I could even move the business down here someday.
I know it seems like an awful lot that I’m starting to plan a life around a man that I haven’t known all that long, but something about Duke seems solid and stable. And yeah, maybe this whole thing will blow up in my face.
But I don’t think so. I think I’ve finally found the man that can make me happy for the rest of our lives.
I sip my coffee and reflect on what my life has become. If you’d have told me a month ago that I would be swinging on a front porch, thinking about the man I hope to spend my life with, I’d tell you that you were insane. But here I am.
And damnit, if I’m not happy about it.
My mind thinks back to last night when Duke’s brother, Devon, ran back inside. He told Duke he forgot his wallet, but he really just wanted a minute alone with me.
In that minute, he looked me dead in the eye and thanked me. “Thank you for bringing my brother back from the edge. Since he joined the Navy, I haven’t seen a glimpse of the brother that I used to — until he met you. Thank you for bringing my brother back to me.”
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to truly comprehend the trauma that was inflicted on Duke while he was in the service. Even if he tells me everything (which I’m not sure he ever will), I know that I will never be able to understand completely. But I’m glad that me being here for him is a light at the end of a seemingly endless dark tunnel. I think at the end of the day, he is that for me too. Although I haven’t gone through the same things he has, and I wouldn’t presume to act like they’re the same, Duke pulled me out of my rut. And for that, I will be forever thankful to him.
Just as I’m about to finish my cup of coffee, I see Duke’s truck coming down the street. As he pulls into the driveway, I find myself involuntarily smiling like a damn fool. Man, this guy has a pretty good hold on me.
Little do I know that my smile is about to widen a whole lot more when I see what he’s got with him as he gets out of the truck.
It’s a dog.
I jump out of my seat and run toward him. “What’s going on?!” I ask with wide eyes and a high-pitched voice.
“Well, I found this little guy at the pound and figured he needed a good home.”
My eyes fill with tears as I look down at the tan, floppy-eared puppy looking back at me.
“Are you okay?” Duke asks as he sets the dog in my arms.
Immediately, the dog tucks his head into my neck and gets comfortable. I nod at Duke and start to cry harder. “He’s just so perfect.”
“Before we take him inside, do you want to walk him around and let him sniff? See if he has to pee? I’ll grab the stuff I got for him.”
I seriously don’t want to let him go, but I know I should try to see if he needs to potty before I take him into the house.
Duke hands me a leash to hook onto the puppy’s collar. I set him down and spend the next ten minutes walking around the yard with him as he sniffs every inch and picks the perfect spot to pee. I’d wager he’s at least a couple months old because he isn’t a ‘little’ puppy, but the way he trips over his own little feet tells me he can’t be that old.
I lead the little guy inside the house where Duke is getting his food and water bowls set up. Picking up the pup and holding him in one arm, I walk over and hug Duke with the other.
“What’s that for?” Duke asks with a smile.
“Seriously? You brought home a puppy. Just wait until you see what I have planned for you later. Hint: it’s much more than a hug.”
He leans down to kiss me. “Can’t wait.”
“But I have to ask—why?”