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Pretend I’m Yours
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Against my better judgment, I’m her hero now.
I couldn’t go back to the military after my injury.
It may have started out as pretend, but I will make that girl mine, body and soul.
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I splashed water over my face and looked at myself in the mirror. Dark circles were under my normally bright blue eyes, but even today they looked dull. Not to mention the creases in my forehead made me look older than I was. The scar on my chest stared back at me. A bullet wound that was lucky to have missed my heart but left me a permanent reminder regardless.
I sighed. I might have been a little worse for wear after getting out of the military, but that was to be expected. It wasn’t easy being a Navy SEAL, and I’d seen my fair share of combat over the course of the ten years I was enlisted.
But it wasn’t the Navy that had left me so despondent. It was the fact that I was home. I didn’t want to be home. Home was the last place on the planet I ever thought I’d return to.
The city life bustled outside, but I stayed in my hotel room. I didn’t want to go out there and see people. I didn’t want to buy drinks and pretend to be having a good time. I didn’t want to even think. I missed the regimented routine of a mission.
Thoughts were relentless, however, and they focused on one person and one person only. Anna Marie, my ex-wife.
Anna Marie and I had been high school sweethearts after growing up two doors down from one another most of our lives. Neither of us really knew how it happened, it just did. We fit together so well, and our plans for the future matched perfectly. We knew we wanted to have a family, we knew we wanted to stay in Chicago, and most importantly, we knew we wanted to be together.
She was beautiful. Tall, blonde, and fun-loving. She wanted to be a model more than anything, and I had no doubts in my mind that she would make it her career. She was a natural in front of the camera, and I didn’t pretend not to notice when she turned heads everywhere we went.
We were the prom king and queen, and on top of our game. The day she and I married was the best day of my life.
But it wasn’t to last.
Anna Marie found that modeling wasn’t an easy career to break in to. There were thousands of other models, all fighting for their place in front of the camera, and many of them had the money in their families to put them there. Though we loved each other dearly, it was no secret that money wasn’t a luxury we’d been given in life.
We had enough to scrape by, but with Anna Marie missing work to audition for modeling gigs, things were getting strained between us. I’d never been a stellar student and college wasn’t in my plan. The job I had working at the factory close to our small studio was barely covering rent. I knew I had to figure out a way to make some cash that would support her, and the answer seemed to be coming from the military.
The promises of the benefits they would give me for enlisting were more than enticing when I thought about how happy Anna Marie would be. She would get her career, I would get to see the world, and after a few years of me being away, we’d get to finally live our happily ever after.
At first, she didn’t like the idea. But I managed to convince her, and by the time I was twenty-one I was on my way to basic training. It wasn’t easy, that was for damn sure, but I thought about my bride back home, and how much I wanted to make her dream come true.
I thought about what we’d be able to do with our lives when she was a model. Treating one of the best cities in the country as home base, we’d be able to travel to our hearts’ content. I’d show her all the places that I’d see in the military, and she’d look even prettier in my eyes.
Life was set to be perfect.
Until it wasn’t.
I served four years with the SEALs, but when I came home on leave, it quickly became evident that the money wasn’t going to be enough. Anna Marie was stressed out and angry most of the time, blaming me for not having the funds to support her.
It hurt to hear the words coming from her lips after all that I’d done over the course of those four years, but once again the answer seemed to be in signing up again. After all, we’d managed to make it work for four years, so what was another four?
It would all be worth it in the end I told myself again, when I got to see how happy I’d made my beautiful bride, and she’d get to realize her dream. I went back in for another four, thinking that that would be all that I had to do to make her happy.