Authors: Katheryn Kiden
Copyright © 2015 Katheryn Williams as Katheryn Kiden
Cover Designer: Fidem Publishing
Editor and Formatter: Ready, Set, Edit
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living, dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return it to the seller and purchase your own copy.
Fall Out is a novella meant to introduce you to the some of the characters in the series.
American Made, the first novel in the Against the Tides series will be released August 28th, 2015
THE SKYPE TONE ringing out from the speakers of my laptop has me rushing to the bedroom and leaping for the bed. I check my face in the mirror on the wall in front of me before hitting the answer button. It's hard to breathe because I know any second the call will connect and the screen will fill with Brett’s smiling face. I find it hard to believe that it has been eight months since I’ve physically touched the love of my life, but soon enough, that will be over.
Just as expected, the smile on his face is the first thing that comes into view and one immediately spreads across my face. His white shirt stands out against his dark tanned skin and I want nothing more than to hold him close so I can relearn what he smells like.
He laughs. “Are you just going to sit there and stare or are you going to say hello?”
“One more week!” I squeal, covering my mouth and laughing when I realize how loud I am. I’m sure the other guys there with him don’t appreciate the whole squealing wife thing, but I can't help it.
“Does she make that noise in the bedroom too, Coleman?” I hear someone behind the screen ask. Brett picks something up off the table beside him and throws it before turning his attention back to me and smirking.
“It’s been so long that I don’t remember, but I plan on finding out if I can make it happen more than once.”
“As long as you come home in one piece I’ll do anything you want.” My eyes widen and my face heats when I realize that I actually said that out loud and everyone there with Brett just heard it.
He sits there, smiling while he waits for me to pull my head out from behind my hands. “One hundred and sixty hours until I can finally touch you again. Seven days until I can kiss you, until I can taste you. One week until I can wrap my arms around you instead of my pillow.”
“Such a sap," I giggle.
“You made me this way. It’s your fault. All your fault.”
“You sleep wrapped around your pillow?” I throw my head back and laugh. Knowing he misses me that much might be sexy, but I can’t stop laughing. The thought of this big badass soldier cuddled up with a pillow because he misses his wife that much is absolutely hilarious.
Brett shrugs. “It smells like you,” he mutters.
“I may have brought one of your shirts with me in a bag,” he mumbles shyly.
Knox, Brett’s best friend drops down into the camera’s view and grins. “Good thing he only brought your shirt and not those thongs he mumbles about in his sleep. I’m afraid to know what he would be doing to that pillow if he had.”
“And... moment ruined,” Brett grumbles, shoving Knox out of his space. I yawn and even though I try to hide it, he sees and checks his watch. “Babe, it’s only eight there. Why are you so tired?”
My entire mood dampens when I think about the reason that I didn’t get much sleep last night. While most women who know their husbands will be home in a week would be rushing around trying to get everything set up for them, I’m having nightmares about him not making it home at all. I can’t bring myself to get everything ready for him until I know he’s on a plane and on his way home. It's how it has always been.
“Babe,” Brett says, pulling me out of my head. “I’m coming home. I promise. In six days I will be on that plane and on day seven I will be coming home to love you for the rest of my life. We’re going to have babies and grow old together just like I promised you on our wedding day. Those nightmares you have about me not being there anymore are going to go away.”
He’s right. We’ve made it this far without letting the distance get between us. He has been gone eight months without getting hurt. Surely we can make it another week; we’ve done it before.
Taking a deep breath, I force a smile and launch into everything he’s missed since the last time we talked. I watch every move he makes as I tell him about lunch with his mom the other day and how excited she is for him to be coming home. When I see him checking his watch, I stop talking and wait for him to tell me that he has to go.
“Seven days,” I repeat. It’s my mantra.
“You better save your breath, gorgeous, you’re gonna need it for when I kiss you.” His fingers press against the screen and if I closed my eyes and focus hard enough, I could almost feel his skin against mine. “I love you,” he whispers.
I smile because I never tire of hearing those words come out of his mouth. I never will, either. Each time he says them, I still get the same butterflies I felt the first time he spoke those three words. Just as I open my mouth to tell him that I love him, too, Knox pops back into view.
“Hey, I love you, too. Last chance to admit our love for each other before he comes home. No more late night rendezvous.”
I sigh, trying to contain my laughter. “Whatever will I do without those?”
“I guess you’ll just have to settle for second best as always.”
Brett’s hand connects with the back of Knox's head as he laughs. “Did you forget that she said, ‘I do,’ to me while you stood next to me? Just because the word best was in your title doesn’t mean you’re better.”
When he finally turns his attention back to me, I blow him a kiss and tell him I love him before shutting the laptop and flopping back on the bed. I roll over, looking at Brett’s empty side, and remind myself that it's only one more week. Just six more lonely nights until that spot is finally filled again.
MY BACK SLAMS against the wall and Brett lifts me off the floor to wrap my legs around his waist. They fit perfectly around him just like they always have. We’re like two puzzle pieces that only fit together; perfectly shaped for each other.
“God, I missed you,” he growls against my throat as he works his way down to my chest.
I claw at his shirt, tugging it up over his head and tossing it somewhere on the floor. My mouth falls slack and I moan when his lips wrap around my nipple; the heat from his mouth steals my breath away. His eyes never leave mine, and as much as I want to close them and do nothing but feel, I want to watch him even more.
Sliding my fingers around the back of his neck, I push my thumbs under his chin so he lifts his head back up. “You’re never allowed to leave again.”
“Last tour, last time,” Brett whispers. “Never leaving you again.”
His hips rock against mine, his erection rubbing against my clit. I’ve never been more thankful for thin shorts than I am right now. After being apart for this long, if he keeps thrusting I’ll be done before we even get started.
“Bedroom. Floor. Stairs. I don’t care where you fuck me, but we need to lose these clothes right now because I need you inside me.”
He slides me down onto the stairs and, just as he starts inching my shorts over my hips, someone knocks on the door. Brett drops his forehead against my chest and groans.
“I swear if that’s Knox I will make what we just went through over there seem like kindergarten recess.” Pushing off me, he mutters something about stuffing his head in a sandbox and disappears around the corner. I try to tell him to leave whoever it is on the other side of the door and come back to me but I’m met by silence.
When he doesn’t answer me, I pull my clothes back into place and head toward the door. If it were Knox, he would have shoved his way in and I would have heard that. Rounding the corner, I’m met with an empty hall and a deafening silence. Brett is nowhere to be seen, and the door is cracked open.
Instead of waiting for him to come back in, I pull the door back and step out into the blinding sunlight. If it weren’t for the nervous pit in my stomach, I would tilt my head back and relish in the warmth of the sun. Instead, once my eyes recover from the brightness, my joy and eagerness to call out for Brett is replaced by a struggle for a breath. Laid out in front of me is my worst nightmare. I’m guided to the seat in the front row. The casket, draped perfectly with the American flag, taunts me from ten feet away. I don’t need to see what’s inside of it to know who it is. My heart shatters in one single solitary second.
He didn’t come home to me.
I can’t wrap my mind around what is happening. Everyone moves around me, but it’s like I have earplugs in because I can’t make out anything anyone is saying. The only clear thing I can hear is the sound of the guns going off.
I shoot up in my bed, clutching the sheet to my chest as I try my best to catch my breath. It’s a hard thing to do considering the fact that I can’t stop crying. My sobs echo around me in the silence and continue until I have to rush to the bathroom and empty what’s left in my stomach. On weak legs, I manage to make my way back to the bed, trying my hardest to tell myself that it’s just a dream. The same damn dream every time and for whatever reason, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s all in my head.
I fall back into bed, shifting away from the sweat and tear-stained section of sheets and into the middle. Pulling Brett’s pillow against my chest, I bury my face in it, grateful that this is one of the last times I will ever have to go without him all night. Having him close is what I need. He’s the piece that makes me whole, and when he isn’t here I feel incomplete.
I know sleep is out of the picture for the rest of the night. Instead of even trying, I keep myself wrapped around his pillow while scrolling through photos and voice messages he’s left me. The stupid little videos on my phone make me both laugh and cry, but his voice calms something in me. It keeps me sane and every time he tells me that he’ll see me soon, I believe it a little bit more.
Thank God for technology.