Authors: Serena Pettus
Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by LATIN GODDESS PRESS INC.. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Sassy Ever After remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of LATIN GODDESS PRESS INC., or their affiliates or licensors.
For more information on Kindle Worlds: http://www.amazon.com/kindleworlds
Kiss My Sass
By: Serena Pettus
Cover Art by:
Anna Crosswell with Cover Couture
Six months ago…
“Dude, it’s hotter than Satan’s nut sack out there,” Luke complained, plopping down on his bunk. It sure wasn’t any cooler in their tent, but at least the sun wasn’t beating down on him.
“No kidding!” Matt lay sprawled on his own bunk, a half empty bottle of water in his hand. They’d come off of their watch duty, grabbed a quick bite, some water, and trudged through the dusty camp to get some much needed rest. “Whoever thought a war in a desert was a good idea should be shot.”
Luke’s inner wolf gave a whine in agreement. The poor beast was damn near desperate for a run, but with no trees in sight, there was no chance for Luke to let him out. “If only there was a way to let our wolves out for a run. I know I’d sleep better if I could let him release some of that restless energy. Of course, if we weren’t in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, then maybe a little lady action would work too.”
“I hear ya.”
Luke growled, tossing a flat pillow at Matt’s head. “You just had a visit home! Don’t even try to tell me you didn’t find a willing woman to spend some time with. I know you better than that.”
“That was nine weeks ago…but you’re right. Ashe was great.”
His friend’s tone of voice didn’t go unnoticed, and Luke rolled to his side, taking in the frown lines on Matt’s brow. Something was bothering him, and now that Luke was paying attention, he could scent the worry coming off his best friend.
“I’m sensing there’s more to this hook-up than you’re letting on.”
Matt sat up, scrubbing a hand over his cropped hair before dragging it down his face. “We actually spent a few nights together. It was perfect. She was gorgeous too. I’m talking long, silky hair, a full, lush figure, and so damn sweet she made my teeth ache.”
“Is she your mate?” The way he was waxing on like a lovesick fool, Luke figured that Matt and his wolf must be suffering from the separation.
“Unfortunately, no. That’s the problem, man. You see, I’ve kept in touch. We both wanted to be friends, but agreed that an actual relationship wouldn’t work. She was only working the wedding to make some quick money. Ashe was traveling, seeing the country before heading back to her hometown, but I can’t remember the name of it. She had begun her a backpacking adventure after finishing college. Kind of like a last crazy adventure before settling into the grind,” Matt laughed. “She was so happy, never letting anything get her down, and I gravitated to her light, to her seemingly endless energy. Ashe sucked me into her orbit even though I knew nothing could become of us.” He sighed. “Remember yesterday, when I called home? Well, I’ve been calling Ashe too. She keeps her cell on all the time, so she can talk to me no matter when I’m able to call. Yesterday, she told me she was pregnant.”
“I’m guessing she’s not aware of shifters?”
“You’d be right. I’m not sure what to do. Sending someone she doesn’t even know to break the news just feels wrong. Besides, I’m not even sure if she would remember anyone from Blue Creek, though I do think she and my great-aunt Barbara hit it off over drinks.”
“There’s always the chance the baby may not be a shifter.” It was a slim chance, but it was all Luke had to offer. “How do
think she’d take it?”
“I don’t know. The other problem is that she’s not my mate. I can’t offer her the white picket fence dream most human females want.”
“I understand. Surely she would be able to accept this too once everything is explained. You met at your buddy’s wedding, right?”
Matt gave a nod, a small smile tipping the corners of his mouth. “Yeah, Justice married into the Wolfe Pace, though distantly into their family by a second cousin. Ashe was one of the bartenders. The woman was amazing! She flipped and spun the bottles, making a show of the cocktails she made, all the while never missing a beat in her conversations with the people around her. She isn’t much over five feet, but her personality more than makes up for it.”
Luke listened to his friend describe the mother of his child, and couldn’t help but envy him. While his friend had been granted leave to go home for a wedding, Luke was on his sixth month in this hellish place.
His wolf reveled in the violence, especially whenever Luke was lucky enough to engage in hand-to-hand combat. There was nothing like getting his claws dirty. However, he also had no trouble seeing how easily humans could develop some form of PTSD while serving during this war.
The gunfire, explosions, planes flying over, and various alarms and sirens were enough to set anyone on edge, but it was those rare times when all was quiet that could be the worst.
“Now I only have two weeks before I get to go home. I guess I’d better figure out what to do.”
Luke smiled at Matt. “That’s the great thing about having friends. I’ll tag along with you, if you don’t think she’ll mind a third wheel.”
The gratitude he saw on Matt’s face told him he’d made the right choice with his offer. “That’d be great man. Something tells me I could use a wingman on this one.”
“Okay, so tell me, is Ashe her real name or a nickname? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool name, but I’m thinking it’s short for something.”
“Ashelynn. Her name is Ashelynn Greene. She told me she was from some little hole-in-the-wall town down south, but I can’t remember the name of it.” He sighed. “All I have is her cell number, and a picture of us together at the wedding reception and one of us on a hike.”
“It’s better than nothing, besides—” Luke’s statement was cut short when a hail of gunfire erupted all around their camp. “Fuck, we’re under attack!”
Luke and Matt were both on their feet, armed and sprinting out of the tent in a matter of seconds. They’d no sooner stepped outside than an explosion nearby shook the ground.
“Bastards are using grenades!” Matt shouted. “Watch your ass.”
Just like every other time they found themselves in a close battle, Luke and Matt split up and did their best to help their human comrades.
With their added strength and speed, they held one hell of an advantage over both friend and foe. Add in the lethal claws they could call forth at will, and they were killing machines.
Only their commanding officer was aware of their shifter status, since he was a grizzly himself, but everyone else in their unit was human.
It didn’t take long to spot Benson’s hulking form amongst the chaos. Presently, he was engaging two members of the enemy ranks, while a third was lining up a shot aimed at his back.
Without even thinking, Luke raised his gun, fired, and the would-be assassin dropped to the ground. Benson held one man in the air by his neck, shaking him until he went limp, while stomping his size fifteen boot onto the chest of the other man lying in front of him.
The battle raged on, blood soaking into the earth where men lay dying all around. The enemy had emerged from all sides, making it hard as hell to figure out which way they’d come from. Once things were done, Luke and Matt would do their best to pick up a trail and see if they could gather enough men to return the favor and maybe get some intel on any other groups potentially lurking around the area.
A sudden jolt and burn in his shoulder caused Luke to stumble to the side. Luckily the bullet had gone straight through, but the snarls coming from his wolf did not bode well for the bastard who’d fired on him.
By now many were out of ammunition and had resorted to physical attacks using whatever they could find as a weapon. This made it easier to locate the fucker who’d shot at him.
Luke felt his beast rise to the surface, pushing to be released, but he could only allow a partial shift. Just enough claw and fang to scare the shit out of the man he was charging. One swipe of Luke’s claws and his throat was open, his life ending swiftly as Luke moved on the next.
He was dispatching yet another scumbag when he spotted two others trying to slink away. Darkness had settled, but his vision allowed him to see clearly.
It’s time to hunt
He was almost twenty yards or so from the camp when he heard the shouts of alarm right before two explosions rocked the camp and sent tremors through the earth, dirt and fire shooting into the air.
Giving up his pursuit, Luke raced back, the stillness following the blast raising his hackles. There was no more gunfire, and the sounds of battle had ceased.
Already the flames were consuming the tents. The crackle of a radio led him to where Benson was leaning heavily on the side of a crate.
“We need medi-vac,
! Send all available units to our location. Multiple wounded and dead.” Benson’s eyes shot up at Luke’s approach and he lowered the radio. “You and Matt good? I see your shoulder’s bleeding.”
“Just a through-and-through, I’m fine. Have you seen Matt? I was chasing down two who were fleeing when the explosions happened.” Luke’s worry quickly turned to bone-chilling fear as he took in all the men littering the ground, some in obvious agony and others having succumbed to their injuries. “I’ve got to find him. I’ll be back.”
Matt being a shifter, he should have been up and around with Luke and Benson. Not seeing or hearing the man he considered a brother had Luke in a near panic.
“I’m going to start triaging as best I can. Holler if you need me, and try to do the same once you find him,” Benson ordered.
The carnage left now that the smoke was clearing was the stuff of nightmares. Men lay about, their bodies mutilated and burned almost beyond recognition, shrapnel and other flying debris having impaled some, severely injuring others.
He was passing by one of the other trucks, which had been tossed onto its side in one of the blasts, when he caught Matt’s scent…along with the stench of burning flesh. His friend was hurt, bad.
Rounding the vehicle, Luke raised his head to try and sniff out Matt’s location, the acrid smell of smoke, gunfire and death making it difficult to figure out the direction.
Something pulled at his pant leg and Luke looked down to see Matt. “
Matt’s lower half was under the cab of the truck, his left arm was gone just past the elbow, and the skin on the left side of his body was a charred mess. Blisters were growing rapidly on the side of his face, and chest, where his clothes had all been destroyed. The aroma of burnt flesh and hair would be something that would haunt Luke’s nightmares forevermore, because it only took a moment to realize that his best friend was dying before his eyes.
Dropping to his knees, Luke grabbed Matt’s hand. “Matt, hang in there. I’ll get Benson over here and we’ll have this truck off of you in no time.”
Matt’s hand tightened when Luke made to stand. “No use,” he whispered.
“Don’t say that. You’ll heal faster if you shift. We’ve got an extraction team on the way. You can do this.”
“My legs are gone too, Luke. I can barely feel my wolf anymore. I’m dying,” he rasped, wincing and going stiff with obvious pain.
. You’re about to be a father, you can’t give up.
Call that mangy mutt forward and
him come out. Don’t you
die on me!”
Matt gave a strangled cough, making Luke’s chest clench in dread. “There’s nothing either of us can do about this, brother. I need to ask you to do something major for me,” Matt pleaded.
“Anything, you know that.” There was no way Luke would deny Matt his final request, no matter what it was.
“Find Ashe, and make sure she and my kid are taken care of,” he begged. “I have to know they’ll be safe and cared for.”
Matt’s voice was growing softer as his grip loosened on Luke’s hand. His friend was slipping away before his eyes. “You know I will. I’ll take care of your child like it was my own.” He’d do
for his friend. The least he could do was deliver the news himself, and ensure they were okay.
“Thank you.” Matt’s gurgled reply was his last, as he closed his eyes.
Luke could almost see Matt’s spirit leaving his body and his wolf issued a mournful howl. He hoped his friend would be able to find peace, and look down on his child from time to time. It wasn’t fair to be presented with a family, only to have it torn from him, so Luke vowed to give Ashe and her child everything he knew Matt would have, and more.