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The Long Ride Home

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Duty and DesireDUTY AND DESIRE: Military Erotic Romance
including Delilah’s short story THE LONG RIDE HOME
Cleis Press
ISBN-10: 1573448230
ISBN-13: 978-1573448239
Format: Trade Paperback & eBook
On Sale: November 13, 2012

The only thing stronger than the call of duty is the call of desire! This anthology of military erotic romance serves up a team of hot-blooded men (and women) from every branch of the military who serve their country and follow their hearts wherever they might be stationed. When the mission is done, the unit is recalled or the ship pulls into port, they set their sights on a new target—the pursuit of passion and love. In and out of uniform, stateside and abroad, these military warriors meet passion and danger head on. All’s fair in love and war—in and out of uniform. Edited and with stories by Kristina Wright, wife of a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, Duty and Desire includes stories of U.S. soldiers, sailors, aviators, Marines and Special Forces (Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and many more. Uniforms have never been sexier!

Excerpt

White-hot sun beat down on the tops of our helmets. Sweat pooled between our shoulder blades and dampened the necks of our t-shirts. However, it was a hot, humid East Texas heat—so unlike what we’d endured for the past eleven months, that none of us standing in formation really minded. We were home.

I watched it trickle down the side of one particular soldier’s neck as he stood in the row in front of me and thought, not for the first time, that I’d like the chance to lick it away.

Not that Staff Sergeant Mason Haddox had a clue how I felt. We’d been part of the same platoon—played volleyball and shot hoops, drove trucks over long, barely paved expanses of desert and mountains, and cleaned our weapons, side by side, but he hadn’t seen me as anything but another private who needed looking after.

And yet, his tall, muscled frame, black close-cropped hair and wintry blue eyes had made quite an impression on me. I’d lusted after him since the first time he’d shown up drill weekend, a month before we’d deployed. His steadfast calm during the most nightmarish day of my life had only cemented his attraction.

My nose started to itch, and I wrinkled it, hoping formation would break soon so I could scratch it. My feet were roasting in the boots sticking to the black pavement.

True to his word, our commander kept his speech short. A good thing, since SSG Haddox fidgeted, hands tightening and easing, swaying slightly on his feet as though waiting to spring into action. I knew he scanned the crowd seated in the bleachers from the corners of his eyes, hoping she’d show, that she’d changed her mind. I’d looked too and knew she wasn’t there—and wouldn’t be coming. I felt bad for him, but was also secretly hopeful that he’d be ready to let go, that he wouldn’t do something stupid now we were back.

Just a month before we began preparations for our unit’s return from Afghanistan, Haddox had gotten the Dear John letter from his girlfriend, informing him that she’d moved his belongings from their apartment into a storage unit. She’d included two keys taped to the page—one for the storage unit and one to his Mustang. She’d said she was sorry, but had he really expected her to wait all those months?

Had I been in her shoes, I would have. But then, I knew what it felt like to be so far from home that Skype and email couldn’t fill the loneliness. I’d survived it once. However, my husband’s second tour had severed our connection—that and the emails I’d discovered when I’d hacked his Gmail account. Ones he’d sent to a female corporal stationed in another province who was planning a little R&R rendezvous. As quick as that, my love for him dried up like a closed tap. I’d forwarded the email to my account, then sent it to him along with a request for a divorce.

So I knew what Haddox felt. The searing betrayal. The anger. Maybe she’d been a decent person, but personally, I consigned her to hell. The worst thing the person at home could do to a deployed soldier was abandon him when he was too far away to do a damn thing about it.

I hoped he didn’t plan to go find her now.

“Company, attention!”

I snapped into position.

“Dismissed.”

Cheers from our unit and from the family and friends who filled the armory motor pool rang in the late afternoon air. Haddox stomped away, not bothering to share a word with anyone.

My sister waved and made her way through the throng spilling from the bleachers, a wide smile splitting her face. I gave her an answering smile, but couldn’t help darting a glance to watch that broad set of shoulders move toward the open motor pool gates—the only space large enough to hold the formation and the guests who’d come to welcome the Reserve unit home.

The buses that had delivered us from the airport were pulling away. Most of the soldiers and their friends and family were heading inside the armory for the welcome home celebration, but Haddox was heading toward the parking lot.

I gave my sister a quick hug. “Go say hi to Shelby—he’s got it bad for you.”

She laughed and blushed. “Where are you goin’?” Then her gaze followed mine. “Seriously? I thought you said he was an asshole.”

“He grows on you. I’m sorry. I have to go.”

She gave me a smile and hitched her purse over her shoulder. “Don’t worry about me. But you better call.”

“Tell Shelby to grab my gear!” Out the gates I sped.

Haddox was already dropping his duffel bag into the trunk of a car—an older model black Mustang. I halted beside him, trying to figure out what I could say to keep him from driving away.

“You forget something, PFC Hollister?” he asked, glancing to the side as he slammed down the trunk lid.

“Megan,” I said, suddenly breathless. “Thought you might like some company.”

His gaze narrowed. “Did you, now? I’m gonna blow the carbon out of the exhaust. The ride’s gonna be bumpy.”

“I don’t want to get in the way—if you have plans.”

He snorted. “No plans. Don’t even have a place to sleep. Didn’t your sister come to pick you up?”

“Yeah, but she’s all right with me leavin’.”

This time, his mouth twisted into something between a smile and a snarl. “Shelby?”

“Yeah. You know they’ve been writing each other.”

His gaze trailed straight down my body, then up again. “Get in.”

I strode quickly to the passenger door, opened it, and slipped into the bucket seat. Then I tossed my hat in the backseat and began unbuttoning my ACU-camouflaged jacket.

When he slid in beside me, one dark brow lifted, but he didn’t say a thing when I threw it into the back as well and sat in my sweat-damp shirt in the musty car.

“Better roll down the windows.” Then he said a little prayer under his breath and turned the key in the ignition. I buckled my seatbelt. The engine rumbled into life. With a quick, tight grin, he jerked the stick into reverse, and then punched it forward, and we rolled out onto the street, heading west rather than east into town.

Hot wind whipped through the interior of the car, dispelling the musty air and tugging at my blond hair, which was looped into a clip at the back of my head. I reached back and released it, then laughed as the Mustang roared.

Glancing toward Haddox, I noted the hard edge of his jaw, the hand wrapped so tight around the steering wheel, the muscles in his forearm tensed. I didn’t have to crawl inside his head to know he didn’t want me there, but I was.

Maybe I could help him out a bit. And maybe, he’d see me as more than a fellow soldier who’d shared the bench seat of a deuce-and-a-half truck a time or two. One I’d been driving when he’d had to talk me through a hail of gunfire when our transport convoy had come under attack.

I unbuckled my belt, ignoring his deep frown. I turned in the seat and reached for the buttons of his jacket, flicking them open then parting each side.

He didn’t say a thing, but his nostrils flared, his jaw sawed tighter.

I gripped the front of his t-shirt, bunched it in my hand, and tugged it from his ACU trousers.

His stomach jumped, and he sucked it in, making just enough room for me to get my fingers behind the waistband as I unbuckled, unbuttoned and tugged down the zip.

“Dammit, Hollister,” he said, his voice rough as gravel. “You’re gonna get us both killed.”

“Not if you keep your eyes on the road,” I said, tilting up my chin. Then I leaned over his lap, folded down the elastic band of his boxer briefs and pulled his cock upright.

“Fuck.” The car bolted forward. I had a glimpse of the long, black ribbon of highway, then turned my attention to his thickening cock.

I fingered the curve of the satin-soft cap. “I never said thanks for saving my ass.”