For the next several days I’ll be doing a FREE CHAPTER READ of each of my books. First up is my latest release – Broken Soldier. Keep reading to get to know Connor and Shawn….and then stay tuned for Rogue Soldier – to be released soon!
Sergeant Connor Finley and Sergeant Shawn Weller are dedicated soldiers working covert ops for Shadow Unit — a joint UK/US anti-terrorism task force.
Partners in the field and out, they had been through hell together for the last four years and made it through standing side by side. But when their latest undercover op to bring down an arms dealer plunges them into a world of drugs, sex and violence, Shawn must literally get in bed with the enemy in order to complete the mission. And Connor is forced to watch, helpless, as his partner is broken into pieces.
Will love be enough to put them both back together or will this be their final mission?
WARNING: Contains scenes of drug use, graphic sex and realistic situations
With a quiet groan, Connor blinked open his eyes in the morning, squinting against the sunlight. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and rested his head in his hands. He’d hoped that after Shawn had gotten through the cold sweats he’d be able to sleep through the night. But instead he’d been restless, moving about, mumbling in his sleep, keeping Connor awake as well. He’d almost gone and slept on the couch, to give Shawn more room, but was afraid that his partner might need him again. So he’d stayed. What little sleep he did get was plagued by nightmares, of him and Mandy arriving too late at Chan’s house and finding Shawn, unable to revive him. Of holding his lifeless body in his arms and screaming.
Connor rubbed his eyes and lifted his head then pushed himself up and padded into the kitchen, leaving a finally sleeping Shawn in the bed. He was actually desperate enough for coffee this morning, needing the caffeine, forgoing his usual morning tea. How in the hell the American’s drank the bitter liquid by the gallons was beyond him.
The smell of the brewing coffee seemed to rouse Shawn. He rolled over and blinked up at Connor.
“Morning, sunshine,” Connor smiled. “How’re you feeling?”
Shawn closed his eyes and grimaced. “My head is killing me.”
“Hang on, I saw some aspirin in the bathroom,” Connor told him, then went to fetch the bottle of pills and a glass of water.
He put the glass on the nightstand then sat next to Shawn on the bed. He started to unscrew the cap on the bottle when Shawn snatched it out of his hands.
“I can get it myself,” he snapped and Connor’s brows furrowed at his irritable tone.
“Yeah, of course,” Connor replied, standing up again as Shawn shook out two pills into his hand. “I’m going to get breakfast started. You feel up to taking a shower? Might make you feel a bit better.”
Shawn shrugged as he swallowed the pills and drank the water. He pushed the sheet down and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He wavered when he stood and Connor was there with a hand on his arm and another on his back, steadying him. He blinked in surprise when Shawn shook off his touch and pulled away from him.
“I’m fine! I don’t need your help,” he bit out then pushed past Connor.
Connor raised his hands up in the air and took a step backward, watching as his partner walked unsteadily into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. Connor forced himself to not get angry at Shawn’s attitude this morning. It had been a rough night for them both and neither of them felt up to par. He hoped the shower would do Shawn some good, clear his head.
Connor had gotten dressed in an olive green t-shirt and black shorts and had scrambled eggs and toast ready by the time Shawn emerged from the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist. He hoped he could entice his partner into eating something more significant than soup today. He set their plates down on the table as Shawn pulled on a pair of khaki shorts and a dark blue t-shirt. Connor put his mug of coffee down next to his plate and a glass of orange juice for Shawn.
“Come on, mate. Sit down and have some breakfast with me,” Connor encouraged him, and after a moment’s hesitation Shawn joined him at the table.
He was glad to see Shawn’s appearance improving. He’d removed the two butterfly bandages and the swelling next to his eye had nearly subsided. The bruises were still there but starting to slowly fade. He’d forgone trying to shave around his injured jaw, so his stubble was heavier than normal. There were still dark circles under his eyes from the lack of any restful sleep and he could tell the headache hadn’t dissipated by the crease between his eyes and the way he rubbed at his temple.
Connor cleaned his plate of his breakfast and sipped at his coffee while Shawn managed a few forkfuls of eggs and a bite of toast. Connor frowned when Shawn sat back and pushed his plate away.
“Can you try and eat a little more?” Connor asked gently and was unprepared for the explosion that followed.
“Back off, Connor!” Shawn yelled, sweeping his hand out and sending his glass of orange juice flying off the table and onto the floor, where it shattered, liquid splashing everywhere.
“Oi!” Connor jumped up in disbelief at his partner’s action. “Bloody hell, Shawn!”
It was like a switch suddenly flipped and all the anger drained from Shawn’s face. He looked down at the mess on the floor and back at Connor. “I’m – I’m sorry, Finn,” he apologized sincerely. “I don’t know what…” he trailed off, confusion in his blue eyes, rubbing at his temple again.
Connor shook his head, his anger dissipating as well. He put his hand on Shawn’s shoulder and squeezed. “It’s okay. No harm done,” Connor reassured him. “I know you’re still not yourself. Why don’t you go relax on the couch while I clean this up?”
Shawn nodded and did as Connor said, sitting down heavily on the couch, closing his eyes and tipping his head back. Connor watched him with concern as he started to clean up the broken glass. Shawn in a volatile state was never a good thing.
There was no television in the house, but there was a good selection of books, one of which Connor chose and settled himself in one of the chairs. The overhead fans were going and he’d opened up the glass doors, letting in the breeze from the ocean. He could almost fool himself that he was on holiday. If not for his agitated partner across from him.
After breakfast, Shawn had taken another two aspirin and stretched out on the couch with his eyes closed. He lay quietly for some time before sitting up with a frustrated breath. He’d tried reading as well then, but it became quickly apparent that he couldn’t focus, his restlessness growing. He randomly flipped through the pages of a photography book that was laying on the table, his leg jumping until he finally stood and started to pace across the living area, his hands now clenching and unclenching.
Connor’s concern continued to grow as Shawn walked back and forth in front of him. He could see the beads of sweat on his forehead and the damp patch on his back between his shoulder blades. He was about to suggest they go for a walk to try and calm Shawn down when Connor’s phone rang. He picked it up off the coffee table and looked at the display.
“It’s Mandy,” he told Shawn, then stepped outside to take the call.
“Connor, Hi,” came her voice. “Just wanted to check in, see how things were going.”
Connor blew out a breath. “It’s been rough, honestly. He’s in a bad way, Mandy.”
Connor heard her sigh. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No, you and Chloe have been brilliant, getting us set up here, the clothes and food. We’re good. We just need to ride this out.”
“Well if you need anything, or just someone to talk to, I’m here.”
Connor smiled. “Cheers. I appreciate –“
A sudden crash from inside the house had Connor whirling around in alarm. He quickly spied Shawn in the kitchen, tearing open drawers and throwing their contents onto the floor.
“Shit!” he swore and ended the call with Mandy.
He sprinted back into the house, more of Doctor Tengku’s words coming back to him.
“When the cravings for the heroin reach their peak, he may become violent, accusing you of hiding and withholding the drugs from him. I’m giving you a sedative in the event he becomes a danger to you or to himself.”
“Shawn! Stop!” Connor yelled.
But his partner ignored him, pulling open another drawer and throwing the silverware out in his search for non-existent drugs.
Connor grabbed one of Shawn’s arms and Shawn yanked it away, turning on Connor.
“Where is it?” he demanded, shouting, turning back to open another drawer, tearing through its contents.
Connor snatched up the small black case from the counter that Doctor Tengku had given him. He withdrew one of the two filled syringes and slipped it into his shirt pocket.
He reached for his partner again, trying to calm him down. “There’s nothing here, Shawn.”
“Liar!” Shawn yelled and Connor’s breath caught at the frenzied, fevered look on his face, his glassy eyes.
He snagged Shawn’s wrist and didn’t let go this time when Shawn tried to pull away.
“Give it to me!” Shawn shouted. “Why are you hiding it from me?”
Connor shook his head. “I’m not –“
Connor cut himself off as Shawn let out an angry yell and swung a wild punch at him. Connor was forced to release Shawn’s wrist to avoid his partner’s fist, which would have caught him right in the face. He stumbled back a step, hitting the refrigerator, nearly losing his footing on the items strewn about on the floor. Just as he straightened up, Shawn grabbed a coffee mug off the counter and hurled it at Connor’s head. Connor dropped to a crouch and the mug smashed into the refrigerator.
Keeping low, Connor went at Shawn like an American football player, ducking under his partner’s arms and catching him around his middle. Shawn’s back hit the edge of the counter and both of them slid to the floor. Shawn’s fists began pummeling at Connor’s arms and chest as Connor got Shawn first onto his back then flipped over onto his stomach, straddling his waist. Shawn tried to buck him off, yelling angrily and Connor was amazed at the strength the desperate craving for the heroin gave him.
“Please, Finn, please,” Shawn pleaded with him, breathing hard. “I just need a little bit. Just a little and I’ll be fine…”
Connor quickly pulled the syringe out of his pocket and used his mouth to pull off the cap, which he spit out onto the floor.
He swallowed hard. “I’m so sorry, mate,” he said, voice rough, then injected Shawn with the sedative.
“I need it, Finn, I need it…” Shawn mumbled as his eyes closed moments later, succumbing to the effects of the sedative.
Connor slid off of Shawn’s body then, slumping against the counter next to him, his face in his hands, gutted to the core by what had just transpired. A lump formed in his throat as he lifted his head and looked at his partner, lying there unconscious. Shawn’s face was drawn, flushed and wet with sweat, battered and bruised with dark circles under his eyes that had looked at him with such pain and desperation.
Shawn was the strongest, bravest man Connor had ever known, now reduced to this broken soldier before him.
All because of duty and loyalty to his unit and his mission. For the first time Connor feared that Shawn had been shattered into too many pieces to ever be put back together again.
His chest constricted at the thought, the grief and anger inside him suddenly too much to contain any longer. He grabbed for Shawn’s hand and held on tight as he broke down, the first sob tearing through him. He cried for Shawn, who was fighting a battle he might not be able to win and he cried for the two of them, wondering how they’d survive if Shawn didn’t.
He cried until there was nothing left inside him, until his eyes ran dry and his throat burned. He gathered Shawn into his arms then and held him tight, wishing he could take his place, but instead willing every ounce of strength he had into him, the only thing he could do.
Two hours later a soft sound from Shawn had Connor stirring from where he’d been laying on the couch, trying to get some rest. After he’d composed himself he’d carried Shawn from the kitchen to the bed and gotten him settled. He’d sat next to his sleeping partner, just watching over him until the ringing of his phone disturbed him. It was Mandy, calling back for the third time, worried about the way Connor had just hung up earlier, ready to jump in a car with Chloe and come out to the house. Connor was touched by his teammates concern and reassured her everything was fine, not going into details about Shawn’s breakdown, respecting his partner’s privacy. He’d gone to lay down on the couch after he ended the call, feeling a headache starting to pound in his temples.
He sat up now, rubbing at his dry and tired eyes, hearing Shawn shifting around again. He made his way over to the bed and kneeled down next to it just as Shawn opened his eyes. He blinked at Connor several times and Connor could see the confusion on his face turn into shame as he remembered what had happened. His eyes filled with emotion and he reached out for Connor, who took his hand.
“I’m so sorry, Finn,” he whispered roughly. “Did I hurt you?”
Connor shook his head. “No, mate, I’m fine. How are you?” he asked, glad to see that Shawn was no longer sweating and his eyes were clear.
Shawn swallowed. “Better, I guess. How did I get over here? Did I pass out?”
It was Connor’s turn to look ashamed. “No. I had to sedate you. I’m sorry, Shawn. I didn’t want to…”
Shawn squeezed Connor’s hand. “It’s okay. I needed it. I was out of my head. Do you have any more?”
“One more dose,” Connor replied.
“Good. I might need it,” Shawn said. “I can still feel it, the craving, in my head.” He rubbed at his temple and winced.
Connor’s forehead furrowed with concern. “Can you sit up? I want you to drink some water. Then let’s get you outside, get some fresh air. Lay with me on the hammock for a bit.”
Shawn nodded and with a groan pushed himself upright as Connor grabbed two bottles of water from the refrigerator, frowning at the mess on the floor that still needed to be cleaned up. But that was the least of his concerns right now. Taking care of Shawn was his first priority.
Shawn drank down nearly the entire bottle of water before nodding at Connor, who helped him stand and the two of them made their way outside. Shawn lifted his face up to the sun and took a deep breath of the warm ocean air as they walked over to the hammock. It took a bit of skillful arranging and balancing, but soon Shawn was settled on his back between Connor’s spread legs, his head resting on Connor’s chest.
Shawn closed his eyes with a sigh as Connor began massaging his temples. “Feels good,” he murmured.
“MacDonald said we’ll be on leave when you’re healthy again,” Connor told him, wanting to keep his partner distracted from his pain. “What do you want to do?”
Shawn thought for a moment. “Take you to the States,” he answered. “We’ll get a couple of motorcycles and just ride and ride. Right off into the sunset,” he grinned.
Connor’s hands dropped down to Shawn’s shoulders as he considered what Shawn had just said. “We could you know. Ride off into the sunset,” he said seriously. “Leave Shadow Unit. This life.”
Shawn twisted around to look up at Connor. “And do what, Finn?” he asked. “We’re soldiers. Have been since we were both eighteen. This is all we know how to do.”
Connor’s jaw tightened. He knew Shawn was right. He rested a hand on the side of Shawn’s face, his voice somber. “I just don’t want it to be the last thing we ever do.”