Watching his entire unit get cut down in Afghanistan has left Sgt. Sebastian McElvoy questioned his sanity and whether or not he deserved to survive. Coming home to the wife he loves, the joy and peace that Rayna gives him fills him with guilt. The urge to control takes over in the bedroom, and he wonders if this is a healthy outlet for his feelings.
Sebastian isn't alone in wondering if the changes in him will allow them to resume their life together. Rayna looks at her husband and sees a man who is a ghost of his former self with an appetite for things they’ve never tried before in the bedroom. However, she can’t help but think this is the therapy he needs, allowing him dominance in the bedroom. She’ll do whatever she can to save him from his feelings and open her mind to her husband’s heightened libido.
Rayna and Karen studied the banner outside of Rayna’s house. “It’s crooked, don’t you think?” she asked her mother-in-law.
“Oh Rayna, you’re such a perfectionist,” Karen insisted. “It’s beautiful. Red, white and blue, just what Seb wanted.” She smiled and rubbed her arms. “Getting kind of chilly out here. C’mon, I’ll make us some coffee.” She wrapped an arm around Rayna’s waist.
They walked inside. Rayna sat down at the dining room table while Karen prepared a large pot of coffee. “How are you feeling, dear?”
“A little nervous….and excited,” she admitted with a shrug.
“So am I.” Karen sat a cup of coffee in front of Rayna before seating herself next to her. “So we’re meeting everyone else at the airport today?”
Rayna nodded. “I’m just happy this is his last tour. I don’t know what I’d do if he left again.”
“He seems content now, and for that, I’m grateful. He’s done what he’s been wanting to accomplish ever since he graduated high school. Serve his country, just like his Uncle Roy and Leo.”
“He’s coming home, and I honestly don’t know how to act around him.” Rayna closed her eyes.
“I’m sure a lot of the other wives feel the same way you do,” Karen told her. “Maybe not every wife, but I’m sure there are quite a few out there. It’ll all fall into place.”
“Do you think he’ll ever be happy once he’s home again?”
“Of course he will.”
Rayna took a sip of her coffee. She held a trembling hand out. “Look at me. Less than two hours before we’re supposed to pick him up from the airport and I’m a nervous wreck.”
“Breathe, Rayna. It’s all downhill from here. Now are you two sure you don’t want some alone time tonight?”
She shrugged. “Sebastian told me he wanted to be surrounded by family because he knows everyone misses him. All his nieces and nephews have been bombarding me with phone calls. There’s so much he wants to do with everyone, but I know he’ll be fatigued once he arrives. Heck, he’ll probably pass out as soon as he gets home.”
“No, I doubt that,” Karen wriggled her eyebrows. “I would think he’d want to spend some alone time with his wife.”
Rayna smiled, remembering she wore the sexy little red number beneath her black jeans and red top.
* * * *
Rayna found it difficult to contain her excitement as they stood and waited near the escalator. She’d tried everything in her power to make Sebastian’s return home as stress-free as possible and worried how he would cope with his family members as well as hers.
“Do you see him?” Karen asked as she clung to Rayna.
Rayna shook her head. “No ma’am, not yet,” she answered as butterflies blossomed in her tummy. Her breathing became shallow, and it felt like someone had suddenly placed a weight on her chest. Mentally, she went over everything they did in preparation for Sebastian’s return. Sebastian stated he wasn’t much for going out tonight, so she and his mom prepared his favorite Italian cuisine.
“There he is!” her eighteen-year-old nephew, Malcolm pointed out across the crowd. “Uncle Sebastian!” At nearly six feet tall, the young man had a good amount of height on her.
She stood on her tip toes but still couldn’t see Sebastian.
“Oh! I see him,” Rayna’s niece, Carolyn cried out.
Karen gasped and immediately burst into tears when she saw her son.
Rayna hadn’t been able to see him until the large family in front of them moved slightly to the right, taking their large red balloons with them. “Sebastian.” The fluttery feeling in her stomach moved to her chest as tears immediately began to fall. She felt immobilized. Her mouth gaped open as Sebastian maneuvered his way to them. That’s when she noticed him limping slightly.
“Rayna. Mom!” He rushed right up to them, dropping his bags and grasping each woman in his arms while the rest of the family damn near hopped on top of him, displaying their affections to the man who’d fought for their country.
“Uncle Sebastian!” Carolyn hugged her Uncle tight.
Sebastian kissed his mother on the cheek as the woman broke down sobbing in his arm. When he set his gaze on Rayna and released the hold on his mother, Rayna’s heart skipped a beat.
Immediately, she saw the scar, but it made no difference to her. It didn’t take away from his appearance. In her eyes, he was as handsome as ever.
“Rayna, I’ve missed you.” He told her, as he wrapped both arms around her body, lifting her off the floor completely.
“And I’ve missed you,” she gushed while he brushed his lips against hers with sweet caresses. She responded with a slight moan and squeezed him tight, noticing his rich, musky man scent and the faint smell of his cologne. Breathlessly, they separated, staring longingly into each other’s eyes. She cleared her throat and glanced over at her family to remind herself they weren’t alone.
He squeezed her tight. “You’re a sight for sore eyes,” he breathed.
“How are you, baby?” she asked, placing a palm against the side of his cheek.
He narrowed his eyes. “Better now that I’m back to my family,” he said in a gruff voice.
The baritone of his voice sent feelings of need spiraling throughout her body. Her nipples tingled and grew harder. These were feelings that shouldn’t be seen in front of the younger members of her family. Now, she worried about every little thing that would happen and secretly wished they hadn’t arranged for everyone to come to their home.
Once again, his dark gaze settled on her, and she found herself squirming beneath the weight of his stare. Somehow, Sebastian seemed different and she couldn’t really put a finger on it.
“Come on people, take me home,” Sebastian prompted as they turned and made their way through the crowd of other families.
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