Her eyes were extraordinary. The bronze hue painted upon her lids accentuate the freckles scattered about. The black lengthening of her lashes frame the sapphires, glistening with tears.
Her mouth was lined with a shiny gloss. A smear at the corner of her bottom lip had my own lifting in a grin. Out of habit, I cup her chin, thumbing the sticky gloss.
"Always a mess, Haze." I chuckle, quickly wincing. The fiery redhead's shock has worn off and her short-temper is taking center stage. The curses falling from her mouth could make a sailor blush, but the tears are what concern me.
Crocodile tears snake down her freckled cheeks. The wonderfully applied eye make-up withstands the assault. Her small fists beat my chest with a surprising amount of force from such a petite doll. But I should know better. This is Hazel Murphy.
"Why! Why are you here, you..." She loses her voice, all her efforts channeled into causing me bodily harm. I bring her close, wrapping an arm around her waist and the other pressing her shoulders into me. She shakes, clutching my uniform within her fist.
I hold her head against my chest, not caring about the fact that her snot and salty tears are most likely ruining the black material. Haze could never ruin anything. Not even this Marine uniform.
"You...Kam. Died. You died." She cries into my chest. I tighten my grip on her red curls, releasing a shuttering breath. I know. That's what a lot of people thought. So imagine the shock when I crawled my ass back to my base camp after being a prisoner for six months. Yeah. One way to cause a panic.
I take in Haze's vanilla perfume, willing the memories to fade into a part of my mind where I can deal with them later. She's who I want to be consumed by now. Hazel Murphy. My reason for surviving.
"Hazel? Who's this?" The moment she stiffens, an ugly dread slithers around my pounding heart. She wiggles out of my tight grasp, whipping around to address the man standing before us, clutching two flutes of champagne.
She hates champagne.
"F-Frank. T-this is K-Kam-" She stutters, tugging a curl. Her nervous tell. Stepping forward, I introduce myself with an open hand. "Sergeant Kameron Taylor." We shake hands, his grip shaky and sweaty.
"Ah, yes. Nice to meet your acquaintance Mr. Taylor or, um, Sergeant Taylor." He fumbles over, shifting. I only quirk a brow, letting him squirm. Movement from my left gains my attention and I glance down to see Hazel twisting her hands. An important detail I missed on my first appraisal of her glints up at me.
A huge, ole diamond ring. On a special finger. Oh. I see.
I fix a smile, bending slightly to retrieve my fallen cap. The dread has taken root and has started it's constriction. A tight squeeze has me nearly breathless when I hear him. "Hazey, honey. You okay?"
I need to leave. Now. Before I do something I regret. Like punch poor Frank in the face.
I glance down at Haze, memorizing how much she has changed. Then, before I can lose my nerve, offer a small grin. "I have to go Haze." A panicky look enters her blue orbs, but ebbs away as Frank places his arm around her waist. Oh yeah. I need to leave.
Before she can protest, I turn on my heel, skirting past the other socialites. Murmured 'thank you's follow in my wake and I have to restrain the eye roll. My mom had told me she'd be at this gala, representing the charity she kick-started. Must have escaped her mind to tell me of her pending marriage to the Polish turd.
I tug on my cap, ignoring the valet's questioning to bringing around the car I don't have. The shine from my black dress shoes hits my eye, the sharp clack against the dirty cement comforting me.
I briefly glance up, barely seeing the stars through the light pollution layered over the city. A slight scoff escapes me as I think. What was I expecting, her to remain hopeful after two years of believing I was dead? To be able to pickup where we left off?
The gentle night breeze does nothing to settle the demons set ablaze in me. The barest amount of hope I had was wiped away like a fleeting drop of rain. My heart twists, my fingers fumbling with the ring I had in my pocket. For her.