Authors: Abigail Roux
PO Box 6652
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Shock & Awe (A Sidewinder Story)
Copyright © 2013 by Abigail Roux
Cover Art by L.C. Chase,
Editor: Rachel Haimowitz
Layout: L.C. Chase,
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After barely surviving a shootout in New Orleans, Sidewinder medic Kelly Abbott has to suffer through a month of recovery before he can return home to Colorado. He’s not surprised when fellow Sidewinder Nick O’Flaherty stays with him in New Orleans. Nor is he surprised when Nick travels home with him to help him get back on his feet—after all, years on the same Marine Force Recon team bonded the men in ways that only bleeding for a brother can. He’s very surprised, though, when Nick humors his moment of curiosity and kisses him.
Nick knows all of Kelly’s quirks and caprices, so the kiss was a low-risk move on his part . . . or so he thought. But what should’ve been a simple moment unleashes a flood of confusing emotions and urges that neither man is prepared to address.
Now, Kelly and Nick must figure out what they mean to each other—friends and brothers in arms, or something even deeper?—before the past can come back to ruin their tenuous future.
Kelly had to lean against the railing of his front porch while Nick dealt with the lock and the alarm to his cabin. He pressed his hand to his chest, resting his palm over the healing bullet wound just under his left pectoral. It had been a long plane ride, even in first class, and the hour-long trip from the airport hadn’t been much better on him. He was exhausted, and all he wanted was his own bed.
Nick left the luggage at the door and hustled inside to turn off the beeping alarm. Kelly didn’t have to tell him the code. They all knew where the keys to their castles were: Ty’s and Owen’s security codes, Nick’s yacht, and a mental map of Digger’s bayou booby traps.
The beeping from inside stopped, and Nick returned to roll the luggage out of the way. Kelly wrapped his arm over Nick’s shoulders, and they hobbled through the front door. He could walk on his own when they’d left the hospital in New Orleans, but after so much travel, he wasn’t actually sure he could anymore.
“Thanks for doing this, bud,” Kelly muttered.
“Hey,” Nick grunted. “We both know you took that bullet for me. Least I can do is get you home.”
Kelly didn’t argue. He couldn’t claim he’d taken the bullet on purpose, but if he hadn’t been there, it would have lodged in Nick’s head, and they both knew how that would have ended. He leaned on Nick until they reached the worn leather recliner in the living room, but he hesitated as Nick tried to help lower him into it.
Kelly laughed. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to get out of this thing if I get down.”
“It’s not like you’re going anywhere.” Nick tightened his grip on Kelly’s waist and eased him into the recliner. “And I’m not carrying your ass upstairs right now, so sit.”
“You’re a horrible nursemaid.”
Nick pulled the handle on the side of the chair and shot Kelly’s legs out.
As soon as the chair stopped wobbling, Kelly closed his eyes and relaxed into its familiar folds. He listened to Nick banging around, bringing their luggage inside, going through the refrigerator. Nick gasped and closed the refrigerator door quickly. They’d been gone a long time; Kelly had no doubt what the inside of that thing smelled like.
Nick finally came back into the living room with a glass of water. “You ready for meds? I’m going to put you to sleep and go get some groceries. And . . . maybe some rubber gloves.”
Kelly mustered a smile. “Sounds good.”
Nick tapped one of the painkillers into his palm and grinned. “Bank shot?”
Kelly opened his mouth, and Nick tossed a pill into it, then another, snickering as he handed Kelly the glass of water. He threw a blanket over him, put the television remote and his cell phone within reach, then patted Kelly’s head.
“I’ll be back before you wake up.”
Kelly closed his eyes, relaxing so the pills could to do their work. He knew he didn’t have anything to worry about as long as Nick was on the job.
When Kelly awoke, it was to the sound of humming and the smell of bacon frying and a hint of Lysol. It took him a moment to remember where he was and why he was sore. He stared at Nick, who was curled on the couch a few feet away with a book.
“Hey,” he said, his voice hoarse.
Nick jerked, glancing up at him. He set his book aside and scooted forward, but he didn’t stand. “You okay? Need more pills.”
“No, I’m good. What’s that sound?”
Nick went still and listened briefly, then shook his head. “I don’t hear anything.”
Kelly held his breath and realized the humming sound had faded. So had the smell. “Are you cooking bacon?”
Nick began to chuckle, then fought hard to stop. “No. Do you want me to be?”
“No. Yeah. Wait, no, no.”
Nick waited patiently, still smiling.
Kelly just stared at him, trying to get his brain to work. He wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating, if his brain had picked up on all the things Nick had been doing while he’d slept and then replayed them to him, or if he was just losing his mind. He wasn’t sure he cared, though, because now that he was fully awake, he was in pain again. “Okay, I need another pill,” he finally said. Nick reached for the pill bottle. “But half of it this time. I’m tired of you laughing at me for being drugged.”