I put a lot of thought into the type of hero that I wanted when I started to research The Star. He had to have lightening sharp reflexes, a command of steel and a presence so sure that you were instantly comforted or terrified. Luckily in this case, it’s the former.
So if I knew this guy could take care of a billion dollar jet, I knew that Estella was going to be in good hands.
I shiver as the wind blows, creeping under the battered umbrella and the collar of my coat. Sunset is breaking the horizon apart. “I better go Dean, I’ll see you soon.” I lay the small bunch of flowers against the fresh bundle that my mother had left earlier in the week before heading to the car.
That’s when I see him. The stranger standing beside my car. My heart picks up speed as he begins to walk towards me. He’s dressed in dark clothes, perhaps denims and a jumper with an unzipped parka that’s now wet from the rain, like his hair.
The tall, handsome blue eyed man stops a few yards from me.
He looks past me, to the spot I’d just stood on, then back at me, those intense eyes, lit like the brightest sky send a rare shot of warmth to cradle the hope that’s almost dead inside of me.
I nod with understanding. The man, who had only appeared as short sharp descriptions in even shorter emails, had become like family to Dean. He had said that Calder was the best comrade from another country’s army anyone could have.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” his American accent is a rich vibration of power.
I nod again, my voice hidden in the depths of my surprise.
“I got home from my tour last week. Bought a ticket and here I am.”
I try for a smile. “I’m Estella.”
“I know who you are Ma’am.”
My eyes fill with tears; I brush them away quickly. “Um, I’m sure my parents would like to meet you; do you have time to visit them?”
“Your mom and dad are on my list,” Calder says, “so are you.”
And that’s when I lose it. “I really wish I wasn’t…” I whisper, “then Dean would still be here.”
Calder looks at the grave again, his shoulders squaring. “Even if he was… I know that I’d want to meet you, the way your brother talked about you, the way he cared for you even though he was thousands of miles away.”
To me, there is nothing sexier, than someone, man or woman, answering the call of duty, on or off a battlefield.
“Where you there?”
“When it happened? No, I was flying in another part of the country with my own unit.”
I exhale deeply, eyes blurring and come to a halt.
“Hey…” Calder’s hand goes to my shoulder as he faces me.
“If you say something like, it was quick and painless…” I draw myself away.
“I’m not going to say that…” he says darkly as we both know the awful truth. The casket had been sealed for a reason.
“Good, bullshit doesn’t help.” tears sting the backs of my eyes as I try to walk away.
“Stop,” Calder turns me around, putting both his palms against my face, “you’re not sleeping are you?” I lower my eyes, “nightmares?”
“You can tell me.”
“No,” I say shakily, “what you guys face is worse than whatever I’m going through.”
“Estella,” he says quietly, his thumbs brushing my cheekbones, the tears, “war zones are wherever you make them.”
Calder is a man that can cut paper just by looking at it. But when he’s with Estella, he’s got a brooding warmth that just wrote itself. He was a delicious creation that has stuck with me long after I submitted the story to Delilah for consideration.
I think I fell a little bit in love with him because he shows us that war is a miserable effort, but love, that’s a victory worth pursuing.
Like the heat? Tahira Iqbal is a multi published writer. You can find her work within various Cleis Press anthologies with her stories focusing on high stakes, high passion and keeping it all in high gear. For more details go to www.tahiraiqbal.com or search ‘Tahira Iqbal’ on Amazon to download one of her short, hot, digital stories for your e-reader. Available now, for your reader pleasure are The Merger, (office sex just got sexier) and The Collector (erotica with a supernatural twist).