been deep under cover as a special operator in the Army. On the plane ride
home, all I want is a hot shower and a long sleep. But a Dear John text message
leaves me stranded. I need a ride and a place to stay, and the pretty stewardess
is more than willing.
supposed to be a simple trade—the
passenger in seat 34B for my sister. But the sexy soldier is more than I can
handle in all the best ways. He trusts me, but I can’t save
him. No one can. Sometimes trouble has a way of following you home.
the Way Home is a dark new adult romance intended for readers over eighteen.
be comfortable strapped into a Chinook, with full body armor and another
hundred fifty pounds of equipment on top of that. I could HALO down to a
cross-fire insertion, no problem. But flying coach on a standard commercial
airline was killer.
seemed tiny, as if I’d walked onto a display version of a real airplane. My legs
were folded like a pretzel to fit into the small amount of legroom. My head
cleared the headrest by almost a foot. And my body jutted into the aisle, but
there was nothing to do about that without pushing into my buddy James beside
pretty stewardess walked by, her hip brushing my shoulder.
“I’m sorry,”she murmured.
her name tag read. She was slender and careful, but that didn’t matter
when I was taking up half the aisle with my shoulder.
managed to say. It came out more like a rumble.
lightest whisper of cloth, her blue uniform against my fatigues. A wisp of heat
and a faint smell of peaches. It was too much. As if I were goddamned Sleeping
Beauty, my dick woke the hell up.
smiled then, and it was way too late to pretend I wasn’t getting
hot at the sight of her.
those lips. And the little upturned smile, the one that said she knew exactly
what I was thinking.
maybe not exactly. No way were her thoughts as desperate as mine. Eight months
away from the States had taken its toll, with not even enough time or energy to
beat off with regularity.
privacy, either, but then we didn’t care about that. You couldn’t be
fastidious in a godforsaken jungle. They send a bunch of eighteen-year-old
testosterone junkies into the wild, what else is gonna happen? There’d been a
all go into a firefight, walk out with no bullet holes, then head back to our
bunks and jack off like we were synchronized swimming.
first two tours in Afghanistan, James and I got picked up to work as part of a
joint task force. Guess we impressed somebody. We couldn’t even
drink back then—at least,
not legally—but we
were handed some of the most lethal weapons and secretive recording equipment
then we had continued to fight, but not on any sanctioned battlefield. Our ops
were secretive and lethal and mostly not even acknowledged by the US
government. We lived and worked in the darkest parts of the world, then came
home on leave so we could remember why we did it.
My twenty-third birthday had come and gone,
spent with some of the most disgusting human beings I’d ever
met and had to pretend like I was their new best friend. I shuddered just
remembering some of the things I’d witnessed, unable to do anything without blowing my
seen some bad shit in my life, but nothing compared to those sights. When I
closed my eyes, I could still see those young girls. Way too young. I wanted to
wash myself off just for being around that, even if we had taken it down in the
accomplished. Go home.
So it was
a real fucking surprise when my body was suddenly interested in the
sweet-smelling, hot-as-hell stewardess.
“Can I get you something?”she asked. “Water? A soda?”
my mouth was dry. “No,
smiled again. God, she really needed to stop that. “I think I can rustle up some pretzels
if you ask nicely?”
Nope, wasn’t doing that.
“I could use some pretzels,”James said from beside me.
Really? “Nah, we’re good. Don’t worry
“All right. You boys let me know.”She sauntered off, leaving
both James and I staring. Man, that skirt hugged her so nicely…
“What the hell was that for?”James said. “She would’ve come
“And then what, asshole? You’ve got Rachel.”
“And you’ve got…what’s her
been lying for a few months now, ever since I’d landed
at the base in Germany where I could check my messages. Dear Clint, I’m sorry
to tell you like this but…A Dear
John text message. A remote control breakup. It had happened to enough of our
friends that I knew what the reaction would be if I told people. Pity, from the
guys who could still look at me. Avoidance from everyone else, as if the
condition of being dumped was contagious.
So I hadn’t told
anyone, not even James. And hell, maybe it wouldn’t be that
bad. Me and Chels had a good thing going. Maybe not good, but it wasn’t bad
either. And separation was always hard. For all I knew, we’d patch
things up right away and then I’d be glad I never told James, who would’ve given
her a hard time after that.
probably going to pick me up at the airport, just like we’d
planned, and here I was checking out another woman. The eight months had done a
number on both of us, that was all. We’d work it out.
down the aisle at the stewardess—Della—who had
bent to speak to another passenger. “The point
doing her job. She doesn’t need us bothering her.”
“Hey, you were the one groping her.”
“With my shoulder?”
“And flirting,”James added.
“I was not flirting.”I would have known if I’d been
flirting, right? And I definitely hadn’t done that. She was working. The last thing she needed was
two horndogs using up her time or ogling her. “And stop looking.”
nothing wrong with looking, man. It’s harmless. You think when our girls are back home, they
I did not
like where this conversation was going. One of the main reasons to send a Dear
John letter, as opposed to waiting until I got back, was for another guy. It
pinched something in my chest to imagine Chelsea moving on that quick. I turned
my irritation on my best friend. “Do you
actually hear yourself talk?”
“I stand by my assertion. I don’t care if
Rachel checks out some hot doctor at her hospital. Long as she saves up the
horniness for when I get back.”
“Yeah, okay. You write that on your
“Shit, it’s my anniversary?”
“Hell if I know.”
quiet a moment. James was probably working out the dates in his head, trying to
figure out if he needed to pick up a present from the airport gift shop. Me? I
pretended to be asleep. Shut my eyes, even when the stewardess came back this
way. But I could still see her long legs and black heels, and I had to admit: I
was peeking. I couldn’t help it. There was something about her…the way she moved…so alluring…
“She walks like a stripper,”James muttered when she’d passed
snapped open. “I am
seriously going to punch you in the face right now.”
“What? I didn’t mean it
in a bad way. It’s a good walk. A good, professional
“Your nose will be broken, and then you’ll have
to explain to Rachel why it’s broken.”
“Okay, I’ll stop.
But only because Rachel would freak out. She worries about me.”
said the last part carelessly, but I still felt it like a blow, as if he’d beat me
without even trying. Rachel didworry about him. A lot. It was a point of
contention between them, but also a sign of how much they cared about each
Chelsea worried about me while I was gone? Hardly.
cleared my throat. “How do
you and Rachel reconnect when you get back home?”
“You really want me to answer that
“What else is there?”
“Nice. I mean…hell, I don’t know. The emotional connection.”
narrowed his eyes in suspicion. “Are we
secretly on Oprah? Look, man. The emotional connection is the easy part. You
like a girl, you spend time with her, you get closer. That’s the
connection. And the sex doesn’t hurt. Well, unless you want it to.”
said, but unease speared through me. It sounded so simple when James spelled it
out. You like a girl, spend time with her. I’d had
that with Chelsea once, hadn’t I?
over, I looked forward and back. The aisles were clear. No sign of Della or any
other flight attendant. Frustrated for reasons I couldn’t
explain, I settled into my seat—as well
as I could—and closed my eyes. One thing you
learned in the army was how to sleep, even if you were uncomfortable, anytime,
time, apparently. But I kept my eyes shut and pretended.
Warren writes unapologetic erotica, including power play or erotic pain and
sometimes dubious consent. There's struggle in the sex. There's pain in the relationships.
Her books are raw, sexual and perversely romantic.