Always a Marine
Have Yourself a Marine Christmas
Rebel with a holiday…
Ryan Edward Brun—Rebel to his friends—has always loved Christmas. Whether raising money for Toys for Tots, delivering presents dressed up like Santa Claus or driving his platoon crazy with Christmas ‘surprises.’ He never lacked for Christmas spirit—until he lost his legs to an IED.
Operation Good Cheer…
Noël Torres has watched over Rebel for months, holding his hand when he wanted to give up, and bullying him when he got lazy. But with Christmas right around the corner and decorations filling every room in their wing of Mike’s Place, the barren oasis Rebel surrounds himself in breaks her heart. He won’t call his family, he’s not sending out cards, he won’t pull any pranks—she decides to get this Marine back into the holiday action.
An elf on a mission…
With the help of some kids, a few good Marines, and Santa Claus and Noël is determined to give Rebel a very Marine Christmas…
Have Yourself a Marine Christmas
Always a Marine
Release Date: November 26, 2013 – All Links Pending Release
About the Author:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
Enjoy the following excerpt for Have Yourself a Marine Christmas:
Jingle Bell Rock blasted through the speakers and more than one voice jammed out to the familiar tune, echoing the song up and down the hall. The music still invaded his room, even after one of the nurses had closed the door for him. Rebel thumbed the volume louder on the television, hoping to mute the insidious little ditty before it wormed farther into his brain.
A cramp fisted in his thigh and Rebel dropped the remote, digging his fingers into the recalcitrant muscle. He gritted his teeth and a hiss of air escaped—his only concession to the pain radiating up from his calf to pinch his quadriceps. It’s all in your head, Marine. Suck it up. He had no calf muscle to cramp.
Because he had no damn calves.
Staring steadily at the news report offered him a grim distraction. Trouble in the Baltics and civil war raging in an African nation earned top news bites. Somewhere, someone always hurt worse than he did. Swinging his legs over the edge of the bed, he tried to distract himself, but the thunk of the faux foot on wood didn’t have the same effect.
The door opened, adding fresh punch to his misery as Frosty the Snowman followed behind the luscious, caramel-skinned torturer who looked after him.
“Close the damn door.” He regretted the snarl the moment it passed his lips. The aggravating pain in his quad wouldn’t let go and had begun to radiate up his back. Flattening his prosthetic foot had zero effect and the socket friction on his skin compounded by the damn song replicating like a virus across the walls of his mind.
“Good afternoon to you, too.” Noel Torres pushed the door closed with a thump. “Cramps?” She didn’t wait for his answer before crossing the room and adding her nimble fingers to the job. Seizing his thigh in both hands, she dug her thumbs right into the center of the knot, brutalizing him with a fresh wave of agony. “You know the drill, Rebel.” Snappy and crisp, her eyes clashed with his. “Breathe.”
He could no more ignore the order than he could the heady scent of her perfume—not that he was expert in such matters. Noel’s was an exotic, distinctly feminine scent he associated only with her, and for the last year it had been his salvation. Deep breaths calmed his racing heart as her thumbs continued to apply pressure to the violent spasm seizing his muscle until bit-by-bit, it eased.
“Breathe,” she ordered him. “In for four. Hold. Out for four.”
Struggling to follow the command, he kept his attention on her. Dressed in deep yellow polo shirt that truly brought out her skin tone, and her long black hair pulled back in a severe ponytail, she looked all of twelve years old.
Yeah, if twelve looked hot and edible…. He scowled at the new direction his mind wandered and Noel squeezed his thigh. A burning lance of sensation stabbed him and then the muscle let go entirely and he wanted to weep.
“You’re holding your breath again.” She frowned, but shifted her grip on his thigh and begun to massage it.
Reminded, he exhaled a hard sigh. “Hurts like a bitch.”
“Of course it does, you’re tense and getting worked up. You know your mood has as much of an effect on your recovery as your exercise regimen.” Disapproval hung off the last two words and Rebel huffed. “And don’t you take that impatient note with me. Did you really think they wouldn’t tell me you skipped physio three days this week?”
“I was tired.” He tried to look around her, but she only adjusted her firm touch to knead the taut muscles of his other thigh.
“Bullshit. Your physio is not an option. Get a grip on your panties, Marine. You don’t get to play the I’m-too-tired card. We put a pin in that one months ago.”
Three months before, he’d been in the midst of a black depression and slept day in and day out. He refused to go to therapy, refused to engage with his psych evaluation, and damn near ended up on forced medication. Noel hadn’t allowed him the luxury of mind-numbing drugs. Instead, she’d all but dragged him out of bed, helped him into a wheelchair and took him for a walk in the park—pushing him around like a baby in a pram. Humiliating—but effective. He returned to therapy the next day—and she’d smiled at him.
The soothing stroke of her fingers unlocked the tension in his gut. “How was your trip?” he asked. Maybe distraction would work.