I love this song. It’s epically sad, but it’s such a great song. And we get a taste of new country in the mix. I’m sure some of the other ladies are cringing, but… that’s the beauty of the song fic—you never know what you’re going to get as the motivation.
For this one, I’m diving into a prologue for the book I’m writing for the KW Brotherhood Protector series. Now that I’m into it, I kinda wanted my hero, Sam, to reveal a bit more about his time with the Army Ranger Battalion. So, here goes…
“Hey, jackass, you ready?”
First Lieutenant Samuel “Midnight” Montgomery grunted as his buddy punched him in the shoulder, nearly knocking his compass out of his hand. He fumbled with it, shoving the guy back once he’d clipped the unit onto his vest. “You are such a mother fucking pain in my ass, you know that, Grey?”
Grey laughed. “Fuck off. We both know you love me.”
“Yeah, like a freaking STD.”
He turned but grinned. Lieutenant Rick Samson—or “Grey” as everyone called him because of the white scruff of hair on his head, despite being twenty-nine—was a thorn in Sam’s side. And the closest thing to a brother he’d ever had. They’d been together from the start, and he couldn’t imagine a mission without the other jerk having his back.
“They’re called STIs now, you ass. Speaking of which…” He kicked at Sam’s ruck sack. “Did you pack your spare pair of boxers? We both know you’re gonna shit your pants on this one.”
“Got’em right beside your special cream.” He motioned to his buddy’s crotch. “Doesn’t look like it’s making anything bigger, though, bro.”
“Good.” Grey grabbed his junk. “Because if this gets any bigger, I’ll be splitting the ladies in half.”
Sam chuckled, checking his straps then closing his sack and tossing it over one shoulder. “I swear this shit gets heavier with every jump.”
“Just wait until you get the rest clipped on.” Grey’s smile faded as he pressed his lips together. “So…thirty big ones tonight.”
“Is there even air that high up?”
“That’s why we have oxygen tanks. But yeah, it’s kind of crazy. Can’t the plane avoid detection enough at twenty-five? Do you know how fucking cold it is at thirty-thousand feet?”
Grey rolled his eyes. “I know how cold it is. I was in the same briefings. Been doing the same training. It was a rhetorical question.”
“I just hope the intel’s worth it. The last couple of missions have been a bust.”
“On the plus side…two weeks off after this one. I say, we head to Vegas, grab us some pretty little college babes that think military guys are hot as fuck and do all those things we dream about.”
Sam grinned, moving in beside Grey as they headed for the plane. “You know half of what you want to do is illegal in most states, right?”
“Only if I get caught, brother.”
Sam gave the guy another shove. “Let’s just get through this mission, then you can brag about how you’re a master between the sheets.”
“You know, haters are just gonna hate…”
Grey just kept on talking, ribbing the other guys once they’d taken their seats. The easy banter helped pass the time until they were standing in front of the open door—wind eddying through the space, nothing by inky darkness beyond the doorway. Grey looked back at him, giving him a guarded nod, before moving forward. Just another minute, and they’d be out the door.
Sam steadied his breathing in the mask, frowning when Grey stumbled on his next step forward. He nudged his buddy, motioning to him. “You okay?”
Grey arched his brow. “Are you smoking something? Of course, I’m okay. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“It’s not like you to stumble.”
“These packs don’t exactly make walking easy.”
“Still…” He grabbed Grey this time. “Is your hand shaking?”
Grey tugged his arm free. “I’m fine, Sam. Done this a hundred times before.”
“Doesn’t matter. You know it’s different every time. Any one of us could have adverse effects to the altitude on any given mission.” He held up his hand. “How many fingers.”
“Would you stop it? I’m fine. Better than fine, actually. Now, let’s do this.”
Sam looked over to the PT tech going down the line, nodding at Grey. The man focused on his friend, checking his gear then rattling off some questions. He gave Grey a nod, then shifted over to Sam.
“Lieutenant Samson’s fine.”
Sam narrowed his gaze, watching Grey take another unsteady step. “Are you sure?”
“As sure as I can be. If you think…”
His words died beneath a series of shouts as their commander motioned for them to go. Grey shuffled forward as the men in front stepped out, disappearing into the clouds as Sam moved to the door. He clenched his jaw, hoping he’d only been imaging things, then jumped, inhaling at the sudden rush of adrenaline that coursed through his body. There was a few moments of weightlessness then he was jerked upward, the force of the chute opening stealing his breath. Damn things packed a punch, and he knew he’d be sore for days after.
Sam gathered his bearings, using his night vision to pinpoint the rest of his team. He headed toward them as they sounded off, nothing but silence when Grey’s turn came. Same scanned the area, catching a glimpse of movement below him. A chutes billowed upwards, the tangled strings keeping it from properly deploying.
He hit the button on his headset. “Grey! You’re tangled. Release the main chute and deploy your backup. We’ll adjust our descent rate to meet up with you.” He waited, but Grey didn’t answer him. “Grey!”
A beep sounded in his ear. “I don’t see any movement, Midnight.”
“Shit. Okay, I’m releasing my main chute. I’ll head for Grey and we’ll tandem down. We’ll adjust the plan once I’ve got him.”
Sam muttered a curse then released his chute, dropping into free fall. He fanned his body out, then drew his arms together, increasing his speed as he angled toward his friend. He did his best to slow his descent as he neared the other man, hoping he didn’t hurt Grey when he grabbed him. Grey’s head was bowed to his chest, his body limp.
Sam opened his arms, catching the other man around the waist and propelling them forward. He grunted as the impact knocked their heads together, blurring his vision for a bit before he managed to shake it off. He released his friends chute, clipping them together before pulling his reserve. The material fluttered out behind him, once again jerking him up. Grey moaned, squirming against Sam’s hold.
“Easy. You’re suffering from hypoxia. Just…hold still.”
Grey mumbled something Sam couldn’t make out but relaxed. Sam talked to the others, doing his best to follow behind them. But the added weight altered their path enough he knew they wouldn’t make it to the landing zone.
The land rushed past, every minute drawing them closer to the ground. Sam cursed under his breath, doing his best to calculate their new arrival zone, when lights flashed from the ground.
His radio buzzed a second before one of his teammates sounded in his headset. “Incoming. Defensive manoeuvres.”
Sam angled them to the right, hoping to get clear, when bullets ripped through the canopy above him, dropping them toward the ground. He pulled on the ropes, slowing them as best he could. Jagged rocks rushed up toward him, the rocky landscape filling his view. He made one last attempt to veer clear before parts of the chute caught on an out jut, halting their descent and slamming them against the cliff. Pain ricocheted through his head, then the straps gave way and they fell.”
Sam jolted back, blinking against the wash of scenery until it stabilized. A young woman stood beside the booth, coffee pot in one hand, a slice of pie in the other. Lines creased her forehead as she stared at him, her fingers white-knuckled around the plate.
He glanced around the diner, the few people still in there looking over at him before turning away. Sam swallowed hard, nodding at the woman. “Sorry. I guess I dozed off.”
She gave him a timid smile. “You were talking. Calling for someone named Grey. I wasn’t sure…”
“It’s fine. I could use some more coffee, though. And is that my pie?”
“Sure.” She placed the plate in front of him as she refilled his mug. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
She nodded, but it was obvious she didn’t quite believe him, as she wandered off, moving to another table.
Sam stared down at his hands, hating the way they shook as he took a swig of his drink. Six months and the damn dream still haunted him—used every opportunity to chip away at what little sanity he had left. And god knew he didn’t have any to spare.
He scrubbed a hand down his face, catching a hint of movement in the window beside him. He looked out, inhaling at the silhouette wavering by the lamp post next to his truck. A familiar set of eyes stared back at him, the ghosted echo of his name curling around him.
Sam closed his eyes. It wasn’t real. Just a figment of his imagination. A by-product of guilt and pain that manifested as the image of his dead team mate. He’d been told it would go away—fade like his buddy’s voice had faded from Sam’s memory. He just needed to be patient.
Sam stood, tossing some money on table before heading out into the snowy night. Another six hours and he’d be in Montana. The one place he swore he’d never go back to, and the only place that might save what was left of his soul. A new job, a new beginning. He only hoped there was enough of him left to save.
That’s it. I’m sure the other ladies have some amazing stories waiting for you.