Stop 4 The Unbreakable Bond Forms Between Marc and Adam
Welcome to the fourth stop in Kallypso Master’s “How it Began” two-day blog tour. Thanks for having me, Hooked on Books. If you’re just joining in, you can get a list of the tour stops in order at my Ahh, Kallypso…the stories you tell blog page.
Now for the next excerpt in the “How it Began” blog tour. We’re now in Section 4 of Masters at Arms, the darkest day for the members of this unit of Reconnaissance Marines. In this first of two excerpts, we’re in Adam Montague’s head. We get a glimpse here of Grant, who will show up later at the club and is expected to have her own Romance as a Domme (no, NOT a switch, a Domme) in 2015. As for Wilson, he’s a mystery. Hasn’t shown up to tell me his story yet. We’ll have to wait and see.
When the smoke grenades detonated, Adam thanked God the wind had died down, because the white smoke probably would stay in place long enough to get everyone to safety. He ran across the street and hunkered down in the stairwell and began to climb toward the roof.
Seconds later, Wilson and Grant rushed down the stairs bearing a litter. Fuck. Adam stood ready to provide cover fire for them. Who’d gotten hit? The Captain and the remaining Marines inside the staging building also peppered the area with gunfire as Adam followed the grunts with the litter back across the street. Once inside, he looked down at the unconscious Orlando.
“Doc radioed for the 9 Line Medevac, Top,” Grant reported. Even though he didn’t want any of his Marines to be injured, he thanked God it hadn’t been Grant. He wasn’t sure he could live with himself as it was for placing her in this much danger.
Now he needed to get Orlando on a chopper out of here. Adam looked through the doorway, expecting to see his corpsman. And where was Miller? No sign of anyone else coming off the rooftop.
“Where’s Doc? Miller?” Adam barked.
“I thought Doc was right behind us. Maybe he stayed with Miller, Top,” Wilson said as he covered Orlando with another blanket. “Miller didn’t make it.”
God fucking damn. He’d lost another Marine. “I’m going back over there.”
“I’m going up with you, Top,” Grant said. Before he could stop her, she grabbed another litter and started across the street.
Adam followed, providing cover. He needed to get to Doc. The corpsman’s job was to save lives. He’d be upset about losing Miller, even if he couldn’t have prevented it. Although Doc had been trained to use his rifle, the corpsman wouldn’t be thinking about protecting himself right now. No Marine left behind.
They headed across the street, insurgent gunfire spraying bullets at them as they ran. At the top of the stairs, they turned the corner and found Doc lying face down. A few feet away lay Miller, his head blown apart.
Fuck. He’d get Miller out of here as soon as he took care of Doc.
Doc’s right side was covered in blood that had soaked into his digitals and had begun to pool by his outstretched arm. His medical bag lay beside him. Several pieces of shrapnel had embedded themselves deep in the back of the SAPI plate, but some must have entered the side of his torso where the plate didn’t provide protection.
Doc gasped for air. “Get the scissors out of his bag!”
Adam ordered as he surveyed the damage. God damn it! A chunk of cement and steel protruded from the side of the corpsman’s chest, under his arm. While Grant rooted in the bag, Adam reached out and placed his hand on Doc’s shoulder. “Hang on, Doc. We’ll have you out of here in no time.” Adam accepted the scissors from Grant and cut the digitals away, being careful not to jar the projectile.
No telling how much of it was buried in his chest or which organs had been damaged. A number of small pieces of shrapnel were embedded in his skin, as well. Pressing the push-to-talk button on his shoulder mic, Adam shouted, “Wilson! Check the ETA for the 9 Line. Doc’s in bad shape.” Adam didn’t know if Doc had even gotten off the request before he’d collapsed.
He took a bandage from the bag and cut it to the center, then pressed it on the skin against the wound around the metal, sealing the wound as best he could without shifting the metal protruding from his side. He hoped.
The radio squawked. “Three to four mikes,” Wilson reported.
“Doc! Stay with me!” He hoped the man had those three or four minutes. Blood trickled from the corpsman’s mouth. The steel projectile must have punctured his lungs. Adam was fucking helpless. To his surprise, Doc gave them a thumbs-up sign. He’d thought the man had been unconscious. Then Adam heard the Blackhawk approaching. Thank you, Jesus.
Small-arms fire reached a fever pitch around them. His other units must have located the insurgent holdout. He hoped there were no more casualties. This had been the worst battle his unit had fought this entire deployment.
Another clusterfuck. He’d almost gotten them all home safely this time.
Wilson arrived a few moments later leading the medevac team. Adam backed away from Doc’s side as the medical team set their own litter and supplies down, unloading the instruments they’d need to save Doc’s life. Please, God, don’t let me lose D’Alessio.
A little later, Navy Corpsman Marc “Doc” D’Alessio wakes up in the field hospital to find Adam Montague, his master sergeant waiting there and Marc fears the worst.
“’Bout time you woke up.” Master Sergeant Montague moved his chair closer to Marc’s bed.
Marc smiled. “Getting lazy in my old age, Top.” His voice sounded raspy and weak.
Montague grunted. “Don’t tell me about old.” Marc looked at his master sergeant and thought he did look older than the last time he’d seen him. Dark circles under the man’s eyes told of sleepless nights. Worry. Or worse.
Miller. Oh, Dio, they’d lost Miller. But what about Orlando? The others? Had anyone else died? Is that why the master sergeant had come to visit him personally? Marc couldn’t form the words to ask. “How you feeling?”
Marc shrugged. His chest didn’t burn as much as it had earlier.
“You’ve been out of it a couple days. Quite a fever. They said they’ll keep you here until they know there’s no more infection.”
Marc nodded. Even that small exertion made him tired. He tried to take a deep breath, but couldn’t quite fill his lungs. He closed his eyes and took several shallow breaths, fighting the panic over feeling smothered all the time. Why didn’t Top tell him about Orlando? Had the kid made it? Christ, he had to know. “How’s Orlando?” he whispered. Montague ran a hand through his hair. Marc’s heart hammered, reigniting the fire. Oh, Dio, no! He took several more shallow breaths, trying to regulate his heartbeat and relieve the stress on his heart and lungs. Was he ready to hear the words he’d been dreading since he’d come to?
“I should have said something sooner. I’m sorry. They couldn’t reattach the foot.”
The breath Marc had held whooshed out, releasing some of the burning from his chest. “He’s alive?” Montague’s eyes opened wider in surprise. “Oh, hell, yeah, Doc. Shit. I thought you knew that much.”
As best he could, Marc breathed a sigh of relief.
“You did great work. You always do. Grant told me you shielded Orlando and took the brunt of the mortar attack yourself.”
Marc looked away. If someone had told him a year ago he’d have been prepared to lay down his life for another, he’d have said they were crazy. But for the first time in his life, with this small band of Marines, he felt a part of something so much bigger than himself.
A noble cause. A desire to think of his buddies before himself. The master sergeant looked away and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection sooner. You’re Gino D’Alessio’s brother.”
“Yeah.” Marc had been wanting to ask Montague about him since before they deployed, but there never had been an opportunity.
Fire burned the backs of Marc’s eyes. He closed the lids before he embarrassed himself. He’d always wanted to know the details about how Gino had died. Now, he needed to know how he’d lived and fought. Had he wanted to serve?
He opened his eyes and stared at Montague a long moment. “Top, was Gino a good Marine?” Montague looked down at the floor, unable to maintain eye contact. His voice was a harsh whisper. “Damned fine Marine. One of the best men who’s ever served under me.” He looked up at Marc. The pain in his face took Marc’s breath away again. “I’m sorry I got him killed.”
Marc didn’t understand. It was an ambush. Bad intel. How could that be the master sergeant’s fault? “I trusted the wrong people.” His Top looked down at his hands. “We’d worked with these Afghan soldiers for months. They swore we had friendlies in the village. I led my men into a fucking ambush. Called for air support. No gunships available. Called for Hotel Echo…” he said, referring to high-explosive artillery shells. “Nothing. I should have made sure those things were in place before we went in. I shouldn’t have trusted anyone.”
Would Gino have been alive if there had been backup? Maybe. But the master sergeant wasn’t to blame for the lack of it. Marc knew enough about the insanity that takes place in a combat zone to know those things just happened sometimes. You can’t predict and plan for everything. You couldn’t know who to trust. The enemy and the US-backed foreign military all looked alike. Infiltrators were common.
“I don’t blame you, Top.”
The master sergeant reached up to rub the back of his neck again. “Your brother was one of my best.” He glanced up at Marc. “I’m not just saying that to make you feel better, either. He was my lead scout in the recon unit. When we drew gunfire, he and another member of the team hunkered down behind some boulders. They returned fire. But we were taking it from all sides. From the village. From the caves in the cliffs above us. Total clusterfuck.”
He paused, looking down again, deep in thought. Then he looked back at Marc. “Clearly, you’re brothers.”
Puzzled, Marc furrowed his brow. “I don’t understand, Top.”
“When an incoming mortar round dropped on them, your brother shielded his buddy from the blast. Just like you did for Orlando.”
Marc could see the scene as if he were there. Tears welled in his eyes and he turned away. Gino, the brother he’d admired growing up, who had done everything right. Gino who loved serving as a Marine. Gino who had even died right, saving someone else. Images of his big brother’s body being blown apart by flying rock and debris as he’d tried to protect someone else forced Marc to place his arm over his eyes, hoping to block the image out. No such luck.
Marc regretted that they’d fought over some damned woman the last time they’d been together. He’d never again let a woman come between him and the ones he loved.
Free and Almost Free Books Available in the Rescue Me Series For those wanting a free glimpse into the Rescue Me world, you can get started with the FREE introduction, Masters at Arms. This book introduces six characters who will go on to have happily ever after Romances shared about them. (Adam & Karla, Damián & Savannah, Marc, and in a small part here but with more to come later, Grant.)
Here also are the direct links to this new title at
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masters-at-arms-nobodys-angel-kallypso-masters/1114072854
Free eBook in the Rescue Me Series! At each of the 15 stops, I’ll be gifting one randomly chosen reader a copy of a book in the Rescue Me Series (a $4.99 value), chosen from Nobody’s Hero, Nobody’s Perfect, or the soon-to-be-released Somebody’s Angel. Fill out the Rafflecopter for your chance(s) to win! As with all of my giveaways, this is open internationally. And we’ll also send through the mail some cool swag items, including this red Ka-thunk! pen, hand fan, a Masters Brat button, and other cool stuff!
Next Stop! Your next stop in this blog tour will be at Sweets Books (http://sweetsbooks.wordpress.com), the previous stop was http://joannawlkr.blogspot.ca/ . You also can get links to all of the blogs at my own Ahh, Kallypso…the stories you tell blog. . By Friday, we’ll be sure to update with the direct links to each of the entries so you can follow easily and start gathering those answers to the 15 trivia questions!