Steve crossed his arms, and waited.
Tess bit her lip. “I don’t….” her eyes narrowed and darted around the placemat in front of her, “I can’t…”, her jaw clenched, then her shoulders surrendered, “I’m tired”.
She nodded and he leaned forward. She swiped at the tear streaking down her cheek then stiffened as he wrapped his arms around before collapsing against him in waves of violent sobbing.
“Shhh”, he soothed. “It’s okay”.
“It ju-ju-ust, h-ur-urts”, she wailed into his shoulder.
Steve tightened his blanket grip around her, “It always does.” He smiled and let her cry, gently stroking her hair, feeling his shirt turn from damp to soaked, but eventually sensing the struggle settle within her.
“God. Every damn time.” she mumbled then pulled back and looked him in the eye, “Why?”
Steve laughed and pulled her close again, “Life”.
Tess sniffed against his shirt, “Boots-and-all?”
Steve patted her hands, “Yup baby, boots-and-all”.