Authors: PJ Fiala
Seattle, WA 2015
COPYRIGHT 2015 PATTI J. FIALA
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Cover Design by Chelsea Barnes
Edited by Wendy Garfinkle
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to similarly named places or to persons living or deceased is unintentional.
PRINT ISBN 978-1-5137-0461-6
EPUB ISBN 978-1-5137-0511-8
Library of Congress Control Number: 2015915904
I would like to thank everyone who has read my book and loved it. Without you all, my books wouldn’t exist. Thank you.
Thank you to my amazing husband, Gene. Babe, you are my life and you’ve made me the woman I am today. Thank you for being you and helping me become me. Thank you for not minding that the house isn’t always clean and dinner isn’t always made. Aw, who am I kidding? Never. Dinner is never made, by me anyway.
Thank you to my children. You guys are amazing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the people you've become. You should all be very proud of yourselves. Know that I am proud of you.
Thank you to my friends for always being there for me. I love you guys.
Thank you to my beta readers—Mitzi, Maureen, Danni, and Terri. Your suggestions and support have made this story memorable. Your willingness to read and critique are invaluable to me.
Thank you to my Booktrope family. Your hard work and dedication to authors is fantastic.
Thank you to all the veterans in this world. My grandfather, father, brother, two of my sons, and one of my daughters-in-law are veterans. Needless to say, I’m proud. Proud to be an American and proud of the service my amazing family has given. Thank you all for your sacrifices. I love you.
To my husband, Gene,
who has been a constant support in my life.
Always encouraging me and loving me all the way.
ve made this thing called life an amazing adventure.
To my children,
who have helped shape me into who I am today.
Thanks guys, you mean the world to me.
And, of course, thank you to all the men and women
who serve in the various branches of the military.
Thank you for your sacrifices and your devotion.
The tag line in my email is:
We are the land of the free, because of the brave.
I believe this whole-heartedly.
Words cannot convey the gratitude I feel for all you do.
Second Chances Series
Rolling Thunder Series
Dog Days of Summer, Book 1
the Storm Out, Book 2
for You, Book 4
DANNY TRIED TO BREATHE
through the pain of his heart slamming into his chest. Trying to clear the fog in his head, he listened to the sounds around him, trying to remember where he was. His skin wore a fine sheen of sweat as he swallowed rapidly to moisten his throat. His leg hurt and the ringing in his ears made him nauseous.
Nothing but the fucking ringing in his ears.
Breathe, just breathe
. A sharp slap on the face had his eyes flying open, looking into Lex’s face. Lex was yelling at him, but Danny couldn’t hear a word. His mouth was moving, the chords were standing out in his neck, his eyes were wild…something was wrong. Terribly wrong. Danny’s eyes darted behind Lex to see Coop and Dirks looking down at him. They wore blood and dirt and they looked scared shitless. Danny closed his eyes.
Think, dammit, think. What the fuck happened?
As his heartbeat began to slow and the ringing subsided, a whirring sound caught his attention. His eyelids were heavy as though something weighed them down and he struggled to open them. Then he remembered, he was deaf and Lex couldn’t talk. Fuck! Did someone drug him? Danny’s heart rate picked up as he fought against the fog in his brain. Trying to sit up, he felt strong hands push at his shoulders.
“Easy, Sergeant, take it easy, we’ve got you now. It’ll be fine.”
Danny looked up into dark brown eyes peering through a full face helmet. The man looked to be about his age, maybe a little older.
“It’s going to be okay, Sergeant, we’re flying you to base in Kandahar and from there, you’ll be flown to Germany. Try and relax, we’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Danny looked to the man’s left and saw a pole holding several bags of liquids and tubes running down to his arm. Behind the pole, he saw the sky and felt the pitch and sway of the helicopter. He tried sitting up again, but the man gently held him in place. “You’ll need to lie down, Sergeant, we’re almost there.”
Finding his voice, Danny said. “My leg hurts. What happened? Where are my men?” He licked his lips and looked into those brown eyes, close to the color of his own. Pleading silently for information.
“Your unit hit an IED. One casualty, two injuries. You were hit in the leg, the rest of your men are back at camp. The other injury is flying right behind us.”
IED, that’s right. Pot or water was the usual question before going out on a mission. Pot was a primary crop in Afghanistan and the insurgents usually didn’t blow up their own crops. So they were most often safe if they walked through the pot. Water meant slopping through trenches where IEDs were seldom placed. But today, they had to fucking walk into a camp and check out the residents living there. Fuckers lured them in by pretending to be in need of assistance. He remembered watching Reed and Janus walk up ahead. They’d been laughing at a joke one of them had told when the explosion blasted the camp.
Danny flew through the air and landed in a heap, the wind knocked out of him, his heart racing, ears ringing. Fuck.
“Am I gonna lose it?” He waited with his breath held while the medic’s eyes turned pitiful.
“Sorry, Sergeant, you already did.”
Danny closed his eyes.
Don’t cry. You can do this. Don’t cry.
A slight beeping sound invaded his sleep. What the fuck was that irritating noise? Slowly opening his eyes, Danny was assaulted with the smell of alcohol, not the drink, but the other kind. Across from him were a row of beds, each one holding a patient covered with bandages in various places, and lines running from IV bags into their arms. Moaning could be heard coming from some of the men. The low murmur of female voices was reaching his ears and growing louder. Danny turned his head in the direction of the voices and saw two nurses walk into the room, each carrying medical supplies.
The cute little blonde looked over at him and smiled, “Good morning, Sergeant. How are you feeling today?”
How the fuck do you answer that? Better to go with the usual, “Fine, ma’am. Thank you.”
The redhead with her smiled and walked over to a cabinet. She unlocked it with the key she was wearing on a band around her wrist and began laying her supplies in their proper places. The blonde set her supplies on top of the cabinet for the redhead to put away and made her way over to Danny. She was tiny, maybe five feet tall. Short blonde hair and cute little dimples. It made him feel inferior. No woman would ever want him now, he was damaged goods.
Danny watched as she pulled a thermometer from her scrubs’ pocket, slid the disposable end on it, and then pushed a couple buttons on the electronic unit attached to the thermometer. She looked up at him and smiled. “Need to take your temperature, Sergeant.”