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MY SOLDIER, MY WAR (Joe Filippone)

MY SOLDIER, MY WAR by Joe Filippone

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Was their passion for each other strong enough to survive the wounds of war?

Horror writer Scott Wallace's husband Kristian went off to Iraq to fight, only to return, after two harrowing years, with PTSD. The strength of Scott and Kristian's marriage was tested, but neither of them gave up on the other.

Then, Kristian is deployed once again and killed by a suicide bomber.

While grieving the death of his husband, Scott meets Henrik Hilberg—Kristian's best friend since kindergarten—and the two become friends, bonding over the loss of a loved one. But while Scott deals with depression and writer's block, he finds himself turning to Henrik—first for consolation and then, more and more often, for the pleasure of his company.

After all Scott's been through, can he remain true to Kristian's memory while letting himself live—and love—in the present?

New, expanded edition which tells much more of Scott and Henrik's story.

"Brace yourself... This is one heck of a storytelling journey!" —Casey Harris, Queer Town Abbey

"All in all, My Soldier, My War is a lovely story about love, loyalty and loss. I will certainly be looking for more from this author." —GoodReads review

"This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Filippone and it won’t be my last. Between the addictive storytelling ability this author has and his ability to bring this reader into the lives of his well-written and complex characters, he kept me enthralled with the book from start to finish." —Top2Bottom Reviews

Product type: EBook    Published by: Renaissance E Books    Published: 6 / 2014

No. words: 52000

Style: Gay Erotica, Erotic Romance

Available Formats: Palm  MobiPocket (MOBI)  EPUB  Sony Reader (LRF)  PDF  MS Reader  This book has a format which can be downloaded to Kindle


Chapter One

I was shaking so badly my teeth were chattering. I felt as if I were in sub-zero temperatures, though it was the middle of summer and stifling hot inside the airport. Yet I just couldn't stop trembling, no matter what I did. I was scared my bones would snap apart. I don't know why, but the thought of the death rattle flashed through my mind. At that, I did become chilled.
Stop it! I ordered the macabre thoughts out of my mind. This is a happy day. Kristian is finally coming home. I couldn’t help but let out a light chuckle. Guess macabre thoughts never leave a horror writer’s head.
A million butterflies took off from my stomach and zoomed around inside me. They crashed into each other as they performed loop-de-loops and other cocky aerial tricks at careless speeds. My heart raced, and sweat dripped out of places I didn't even know could sweat.
This is silly. I laughed at myself. Why am I acting like a little boy? This is Kristian. The man I've been with for ten years.
The only man I’ve ever been with.
"Why am I so nervous?" I wondered aloud.
I answered myself, knowing I must look like a crazy person.
"Because you haven't seen him in two and a half years. Or, to be more exact, two years, nine months, two weeks, three days, ten hours, two minutes, and twenty-three . . . no . . . twenty-four seconds."
I sighed. "Are you really that pathetic that you actually kept track of the time he was gone, right down to the last second?"
"Yes!" I fired back at myself in a weird attempt to prove my sanity, though I only succeeding in making several people turn and look at me. Smiling in embarrassment, I kept the rest of my internal argument silent.
Keeping track of the time kept me from losing my mind. It gave me hope that my Kristian would be back. Someday.
That had been my fear since Kristian had been shipped out to Iraq. Every day I was terrified I would get a call saying he had been kidnapped. Or killed. I never watched the news or read the papers because I worried I would see his face or name listed among the missing or dead.
These last two years were the longest and hardest for me. I truly didn't think I would make it. I know I couldn't have gone on if he died.
The only thing that made me get out of bed every day was Kristian's letters. He and I wrote each other every day, describing in minute detail all we had done. Every time I hungered for him, I would read and reread his letters long into the wee morning hours.
I checked the schedule. Kristian's flight was on time.
Still three hours to go before he even departed. I laughed at myself. Had I actually gotten to the airport thirteen hours early?
Yes, I had.
Did I really plan on staying there all day, all thirteen hours, until his plane touched down?
Yes I was. It was ridiculous, but I was so nervous. I was scared that, if I didn't leave ridiculously early, some kind of catastrophe would prevent me from meeting Kristian at the baggage claim. And, call me a fool, but I actually thought getting there early would somehow make Kristian's flight arrive early.
Falling into one of the uncomfortable airport chairs with a sigh, I stared around the large, cavernous airport. It was like a melting pot of every race, creed and sexual orientation one could dream up. It was fun watching the hustle and bustle of the terminal: the tearful goodbyes, people rushing to catch a flight that was just about to take off, the arguments with the agents over lost luggage, people sleeping as they waited for connections or to get on a plane as a standby passenger.
Needing to take my mind off the waiting and the fact that time seemed to be standing still, I took out my notebook and began to people-watch, jotting down details of anyone unusual or interesting, giving them backstories, creating reasons why they were at the airport. Perhaps some of them would become characters in my next book, which was long overdue.
The regal-looking black woman with her perfectly tailored pantsuit, designer luggage, makeup that only enhanced her natural exotic beauty and not one single hair out of place: was she a model traveling to Paris for a big job? Perhaps she was a famous actress who had just closed a critically acclaimed show on Broadway and was returning to her Hollywood Hills mansion to spend the days by her pool, sipping mimosas and reading scripts.
Or what about the older couple who were constantly holding hands and smiling at everyone they met? Sure, they looked friendly, but maybe they were international spies, scared the police would catch up with them before the plane took off and discover a king's ransom in their carry-on bags.
And what about the handsome young man who looked like his middle name was "Frat Boy?" A full ride to Harvard on a football scholarship perhaps, where he would spend his nights partying, sleep with every girl on campus and then pay off a nerd so he could pass his classes. He was a natural flirt, winking and smiling at every woman who passed by, making small talk with the ones who sat next to him. I couldn't help but smile as I imagined him becoming the newest member of the Mile High Club as soon as the captain turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign.
Smiling widely, I quickly jotted down all of these descriptions in my notebook before they vanished. Damn. It really did feel good to hold a pen and notebook again. In my opinion, that was the best kind of word processor a writer could own.
For the first time since Kristian had left me, I seriously considered getting back to work. I hadn't written a thing, not even a shopping list, since he had left. Kristian was my muse. My inspiration. My harshest critic and biggest fan. Since he'd been gone, every time I tried to write, nothing. And I had never suffered from writer's block before in my life! I hoped I would never have to suffer through that agonizing torture ever again. Now I understood why Hemingway killed himself.
I do have to admit it felt great to write again. I started to feel like my old self. Once I started, the only thing that made me stop was the painful rumbling of my stomach.
I looked at my watch and wasn't surprised that my stomach was growling like a Sasquatch. I couldn't believe how fast the time had gone. I still had an hour before Kristian was scheduled to land. Had I really written for twelve hours straight? It felt like I had only been at it for twenty minutes. That had to be some kind of weird record. I wanted to wait for him so we could eat together, but I was so dreadfully hungry I was scared I would pass out. Some welcome home present, right?
Knowing Kristian wouldn't mind, I bought one of those overpriced airport food court meals: chicken salad dripping with too much messy mayo, greasy fries, and a Sierra Mist heavy on the ice. Not realizing how ravenous I was, I devoured the sandwich, tearing into the chicken and feeling the cool mayo cling to my chin, barely hanging on, threatening to stain my T-shirt. I wiped it away and then massacred the fries and made quick work of the soda.
Leaning back and rubbing my stomach contentedly, I took out the letter I had memorized long ago and read it for the millionth time. I could hear Kristian's lyrical tenor, soft as a lark's song, almost like he was whispering in my ear.
The day we've both waited for is finally here. I'm coming home. I arrive June 24th. 1700 hours. That's 6PM in civilian talk. I've missed you so much and can't wait to hold you in my arms and kiss you all over. You better not hog the bed. I'm also excited to read your latest bestseller. With the way you write, you've probably got four manuscripts ready to go. That beats your previous record right? I have so much to tell you. Maybe your next book could be about a handsome and heroic soldier named Kristian Schon. I know you only write horror, so throw in a couple zombies and werewolves. Maybe a vampire. It'll be classic Scott Wallace. I'll see you in a few days, baby. I've missed you more than words can describe. See you in a few days. Wait, I already wrote that. Oh well.
I love you with all my heart.
Private Kristian Schon.
One long paragraph. He always wrote letters like that. That's one of the quirks I loved about him. I had one letter that was six pages long and only one paragraph. I considered submitting it to The Guinness Book Of World Records, though there were some parts that were a little too racy for Guinness.
Kristian's plane finally landed. That last hour of waiting had seemed longer than the whole two years he was gone.
It was strange, but I was suddenly really nervous. As nervous as I had been when I was fifteen and first laid eyes on the seventeen-year-old star pitcher of our school's baseball team. That was ten years ago. Ten years we had been together. I was no longer that shy fifteen-year-old boy barely out of the closet, scared people would call him a sissy and beat him up for liking guys. I was a strong, successful, confident, out-and-proud gay man.
"So, why do I feel like that boy of a lifetime ago?" I asked the air around me as I nervously played with my wedding ring, running my fingers over the smooth gold surface.
I got no answer.
Could it be, my inner voice, the nervous, eternally pessimistic one, answered, because two years is a long time? Because people can change in two years. What if he found someone else? What if he falls out of love with me?
"Stop!" I said, more loudly than I intended.
For the second time that day, I smiled like a moron at the people who had stopped to look in my direction.
"This is not the time for your pessimistic imagination," I continued in a barely audible hiss. "Kristian loves you. You and he still have many years ahead of you. You're going to grow old and wrinkly and bald with him."
This made me smile. Especially the old, wrinkly, bald part. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t picture my Kris like that. Taking a breath to steady myself, I got up from the hard seat and stood by the top of the escalator.
Suddenly I had an idea. Making sure I didn't see Kristian coming up the escalator, I rushed over to the baggage claim and stood, impatiently tapping my foot. Luckily, fate seemed to be on my side, and I smiled as I watched the innumerable duffel bags plop onto the conveyor belt. As soon as I saw Kristian's beat-up army duffel bag, proudly displaying his name and rank, I snatched it off the conveyer belt and rushed back to the escalator. Sitting on top of the bag, I crossed my legs and leaned back casually, head tilted to one side with a slight smile on my face.
Dozens of soldiers appeared and blissfully reunited with family and friends. The happy sight brought an even bigger smile to my face. Soon I would join the happy masses.
Seconds turned to minutes. The soldiers began to dwindle. Despite my best efforts, I began to grow anxious. My heart began to race, and I wrung my hands, a nervous habit I'd had since childhood.
"Kristian?" My voice was a trembling whisper in the wind. "Where are you?"
"He didn't come back."
My voice was husky. My throat was so tight it hurt.
I felt hot salty tears bite at the corners of my eyes. My lips twitched. My tears flowed freely, making my cheeks feel as stiff as a used tissue.
"Why didn't he come back?" I asked, feeling defeated and desperately seeking an answer, though not truly sure I wanted one. Don't they say ignorance is bliss?
Letting out the massive breath I had been holding, I tried to swallow over the grapefruit-sized lump in my throat. I decided to go home. I would leave the duffel bag.
At least you had these last two years to get used to being alone. I tried to think encouraging thoughts as I got up and turned towards the exit.
"Waiting for someone?" A soft lyrical tenor whispered in my ear.
I nearly choked on my breath. My heart stopped. More rogue tears dripped out of my eyes. I smiled. God, how I had longed to hear that voice.
"Kristian?" I whispered, afraid to turn around. Afraid it was just my imagination.
Slowly, I did turn, and stared upon the only man in the world I had ever loved. The man who had given me my first kiss. The man who had taken my virginity. He had been there when I had come out to my parents. Comforted me when my father wouldn't speak to me for three years and made it so I couldn't see my mother. He supported me when I was a struggling author, never letting me give up, though there were plenty of times I thought about quitting and resigning myself to being unhappy in a "real" job. Finally, my rock was back home.
"Knowing you, I bet you thought I wasn't coming." He grinned, that large goofy grin that always made my heart melt.
"You jerk," I hit his chest. "How could you do this to me?"
I was trying to sound stern, but it was damn hard not to giggle. And even harder to stay mad at him.
"I didn't want to come bounding up that escalator like a puppy. I wanted to be different," Kristian explained with a shrug. "All of this"—he gestured at the happy reunions—"It's so clichéd. Although you need to write this in your next book. Make it really heart-wrenching."
"Kristian . . . "
"I know. I know. You only write horror. So throw in a few mummies and cannibal vampires. Speaking of which, when do I get to read your new stuff?" he asked with childish excitement.
"Soon as I write something," I confessed with a sheepish grin.
"Baby, you mean you haven't written a thing in two years?"
"Guilty," I answered with a shrug.
"Well, your lazy days are over. No more sitting on your cute little ass. From now on, you're going to sit on your cute little ass and pound those pages out."
I laughed. Now that I had him back, I knew I would be able to more than make up for lost time.
"By the way, what's a writer got to do to get a kiss from his husband?" I asked slyly.
Kristian laughed and ran his hand through his short, buzzed hair. I couldn't help but stare at him. Two and half years he had been away from me. I studied him. The hot desert sun had tanned his once cream-colored skin a healthy brown and turned his hair a darker, dirty blonde color.
"I was actually expecting you to jump into my arms and kiss me passionately. When you didn't, it threw me off balance," he said, drawing me out of my thoughts.
"You think you're pretty cute, don't you?"
"Yes," he answered off-handedly, not missing a beat.
"So do I," I whispered, meaning it completely.
Something strange happened then. I couldn't move. I wanted to throw my arms around him and kiss his tanned, golden face all over, but I was as frozen as a victim of Medusa.
What was wrong with me? I had kissed Kristian millions of times. He knew every minute detail of my body. Why was I suddenly so nervous?
Because it had been two years. What if it wasn't as good as I remembered? I sighed. This was stupid and childish. I didn't have time to ponder negative what-ifs.
Kristian wrapped me up in his muscular arms and drew me tight against him. Letting out a contented gasp, I breathed in his scent and nestled into his uniform.
Finally, I felt complete. The last piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. Everything was back to normal.
We just stood there holding onto each other. Kristian's hands were lost in my hair. I was rubbing his back and listening to the gently rhythmic thumping of his heart.
Gently, he cupped my face in his hands. He stared down at me with a fiery intensity in his big baby-blue eyes that I knew all too well. My heart began to race with anticipation.
"Welcome home, soldier," I whispered as his thumb gently traced a little line over my cheek.
Slowly, he lowered his mouth to mine. I felt sparks shoot out of my body, the tips of my toes, my fingertips, even out of my hair, as he kissed me.
Our mouths were locked for eons. We attracted quite a few stares, both angry and smiling, as well as a few whistles and catcalls, but we didn't care.
"Come on," I said when we finally came up for air, "Let's go home."
"Best offer I've had in years."
Picking up his duffel bag, Kristian put his arm around me and drew me tight against him as we walked out of the airport toward my truck. We were going home.

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Renaissance E Books publishes the best in classic and contemporary popular fiction and nonfiction through its PageTurner imprint, and the best in classic and contemporary erotica through its Sizzler imprint.

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