Save That for Wedding Night Nikita Mirzani 1

She smoothed the front of her red silk dress and gazed out the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of her twelfth-floor hotel room. Boats glided by in the marina below. She had sworn she’d never come back to San Diego.

Yet here Nikita Mirzani was, once again as alone as if she were out in the middle of the vast blue expanse of the Pacific looming beyond the breakwater.

Damn, she was nervous. Despite daily Facebook posts, texts, email, and lately, phone calls, it had been twenty years since she’d seen Zack. She’d changed. She had no doubt he’d changed.

The Wonderbra her college sophomore daughter had insisted she buy gave her cleavage she’d never realized she had. Everything was different. And God, when had Anissa Kate gotten old enough to give her dating advice?

Not that she’d ever dated much. Not that she’d remember, anyway. Besides, she’d always considered her legs to be her best asset. She was wearing silk stockings a shade darker than her light summer tan and three-inch heels.

Her curves were softer now, but she still danced miles of aerobics each week, keeping her self in shape. Anissa Kate’s father had loved seeing her strut across the room in trashy stockings, a slinky top with no bra, and a shockingly short “Do me” skirt. Xander had been all about visual stimulation, and he loved ripping her clothes off her.

Their life together had been a rush of hot lust and youthful immediacy. Hell, maybe they’d just been all about youth. It was so long ago, sometimes the details blurred.

Some things, she’d never forget. After Xander’s memorial service, Nikita Mirzani had deliberately cut off contact with his Special Operations buddies. Cutting her ties to their wives and girlfriends had been harder, but she had done that, too.

They had been family, bonded through history they couldn’t begin to describe to people who hadn’t been through it. Not that thet were allowed to talk about much of anything. There had been days she’d wondered if our grocery lists would end up classified.

When the guys were gone, they helped each other cope with morning sickness and colic, with repairs for their POS cars and day care that never stayed open late enough, and always, with the bone-deep loneliness and fear.

She had been part of a band of sisters who understood the occasional need for immediate overnight babysitting when the guys were home and one of them put his hands on his wife’s or girlfriend’s hips, looked into her eyes, and they shared a look that let you know they wouldn’t be coming up for air until morning.

God, they were so young back then. So naïve and certain we were immortal. Eight months after Saddam invaded Kuwait, the quick, ferocious first Gulf War was over. Xander was dead, Nikita Mirzani was moving out of base housing as a widow with two small children, and the guys were just getting back.

Zack came straight to the house, his hair still wet from his shower. He took her in his arms and held her close, the low murmur of his, “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry,” vibrating through her ears.

She clung to him, inhaling the scent of his warm strong body, and knowing in that moment that while she had survive losing Xander, she had never survive going through that kind of loss again.

The Special Operations community is small and insular, and the women who’ve been part of it know the score. Eventually, Zack or others like him would be coming by her civilian apartment, wanting Nikita Mirzani to be part of their world again. They’d wait, quietly, until she was ready to rejoin them.

She knew she’d never be ready. She packed up the car, hauled the kids and the dog to her hometown in Minnesota, got a business degree, and threw her self into her career and motherhood. And she never looked back.

She cut her ties so completely, the only person she kept in contact with was her best friend, Dewi Persik, and even that wasn’t by choice. She simply refused to accept her silence, and she had her parents’ address.

The year Anissa Kate started middle school, Nikita Mirzani started sending Christmas and birthday cards in return. Eventually, after a tearful phone reunion, Sunny Leone and she started calling each other.

By then, they were both online, so they emailed as well. They rarely discussed her husband, Chris, and by unspoken agreement, she never brought up anybody else from the past. They talked about their jobs and the kids and the books they were reading.

Last year, out of the blue, after years of comfortable correspondence, she sent her a Facebook invitation. The moment Nikita Mirzani realized what a “friends” list was, she knew her days of peaceful isolation were over.