(A couple of years ago I wrote a story titled, not surprisingly "If Only in My Dreams" about a young soldier in Iraq at Christmas time and the letter he got from his wife. I wanted to follow up on it last year but ran out of time. So here we go, dreaming again. Or are we?)
Lieutenant Dan Miller shifted in his sleep. He sensed that he was waking up and he strove to hold on to where he was, in a deep, beautiful dream. In it he wasn't patrolling first the streets of Baghdad and then the countryside. He wouldn't be listening intently and keeping his fingers crossed as an Intelligence officer assured him that opposition at the site to be raided would be minimal.
He wouldn't be inhaling dust from the road patrols, eyes straining to detest the presence of an IED. He wouldn't feel his heart hammering as he strove to keep his fear under control when the bullets were flying; fear for himself but overriding that, fear that he would get one of his men hurt. So far there hadn't been anything more than scrapes and bruises but could their luck last forever?
He thanked God for Sergeant First Class Mentor, his platoon sergeant. The older man had watched him like a hawk; made sure he didn't make any spectacular fuck-ups and taught him all the things a young officer needed to learn to be a leader in combat. He also thanked God that the incredibly stupid individual rotation policy of Vietnam was on the scrapheap. They came as a unit and they would go home as a unit, a unit trained and tested.
Dan strove to keep his eyes closed. If he could, he could remain in this peaceful, even blissful world. It was that letter, that wonderful letter from Lisa that was doing this he knew. The picture of his son brought a warm smile to his face that he could feel even in his sleep. And the pictures that Lisa had sent of herself! Nothing overt, nothing remotely pornographic, just incredibly erotic. Even with his eyes closed the image of her on their bed with her nightgown open just enough to hint at the secret places of her body made his cock stiffen in longing.
If he could just keep his eyes closed he could see her. Hell, he could feel her, as though she was in his arms right now. He could touch her body, still firm even after childbirth. His lips, his hands explored her, touching her smooth tanned skin. He felt his cock begin to stir. Then his eyes fluttered and he could not stop a groan as his fight to remain in his dreams surrendered to reality as well as a persistent poking in his ribs.
"Dan. DAN!" came a fierce whisper. "Wake up and stop that awful noise! You're going to wake up Dan-Dan."
Dan's eyes popped open. For a moment they couldn't focus. When they did his mind couldn't grasp what he was looking at. Light, twinkling lights of different colors. They flashed on and off, dancing against a field of green. One bright light shone at the top of that green.
It was a TREE! A CHRISTMAS tree. With that realization came full awareness, awareness that included the soft body pressed against his side.
He looked at that body. His wife Lisa's face smiled up at him. His arm around her shoulders tightened automatically and he crushed her to him, kissing her.
She kissed back. He drank those kisses in like a thirsty man would drink down cold water. He pulled her tighter, turning his body towards hers until she pushed him away. Startled he looked at her as she giggled.
"Honey! I appreciate the thought," her fingers grazed the front of his slacks and she winked at him, "But you nearly squished someone."
Dan looked down to catch a little face splitting in a tremendous yawn. Their son, snuggled in both of their laps, struggled to open his eyes. After a few moments he seemed to decide that struggle was too much effort. He gave a little mumble, rolled towards his mother and fell back asleep.
"Should we put him to bed?" whispered Lisa.
Dan shook his head. "Not quite yet. Let me enjoy this a bit longer." He stroked his son's head, marveling at the hair that had sprouted during the long months of his deployment. He looked around the room. Perfect. Just what he had dreamed about for Christmas. The fireplace smoldering; almost out but the glowing coals still warming and providing the only light other than the Christmas Tree lights. Even his feet up on the coffee table, ankles crossed, was how he had imagined it with his wife and son tucked against him.
It was so perfect. It was his dream. He looked down at Lisa again. Not just his dream. It was hers too; the woman who's love and support had kept him going. He lifted the arm that circled her enough to brush the soft strands of blonde hair back from where they had fallen across her face.
Lisa brought her hand up from where it had rested on little Dan's tummy and touched his face.
"Hey you." She stretched for another kiss. "Gosh we all fell asleep. But after all, it is nearly two in the morning. Let's go to bed."
Dan nodded, reluctant though he was to move. They untangled and got up, careful not to jostle Dan-Dan.
"I'll put him to bed," Dan whispered happily and he gently rocked his sleeping son in his arms.
"Okay. Meet you in the bedroom." Lisa walked ahead. Dan noted happily the movement of her body. Even wrapped up in a near ankle length robe she was as sexy as those dreams had remembered her.
Dan laid the little boy on his bed, covering him with his favorite Chicago Cubs blanket, now a good deal more worn than it was when he had first seen it in a photo Lisa had sent him for last Christmas. He stood there for what seemed like hours, drinking in the sight of his son. His son. As he had every day since he received notice of Dan-Dan's birth he said a short prayer giving thanks. Then he turned and went down the hall to the other bedroom.
The bedroom door was nearly closed. Lights flickered through the opening. Dan pushed the door open and stopped.
Lisa was lying on the bed. Her thick, warm housecoat was gone and in its place was the sheer white nightie she had worn when she had sent him pictures last year. In fact, she had taken up one of the provocative poses she had used then, a pose that had burned itself into his memory in the long months that had remained of the deployment.
.... There is more of this story ...