Knight:A Club Alias Novel(8)By: K.D. Robichaux
Soon after I get to the fourth soldier, the medic arrives.
The critical control point is determined.
The 9-line is used to call in our location.
And the last thing I’m conscious of is Clarice’s gasp beside me as my big frame finally collapses sideways, and her small arms catching me as she cradles me to her.
“So she was with you the entire time, when probably the most traumatic experience of your life happened,” Doc states, bringing me back to the present.
I look around his office, taking in the leather seating, dark wood furniture, and filled bookcases, reminding myself I’m no longer in that godforsaken place. “Uh, yeah.” I clear my throat, sitting up and regaining my bearings. I don’t usually allow myself to delve into my memories of that day in so much detail. Maybe a flash here and there, but never from the time the day began until my lights went out. Doc and I had skimmed over it in our initial therapy sessions all those years ago. But he got most of the information about the event from Clarice’s article, with a photographic recap. She’d kept her distance as I’d asked, but the images she was able to capture were incredible and haunting.
“My first instinct would be to warn you that relationships that spring from traumatic experiences rarely last. But here it is eleven years later, and you are still close,” he muses.
“Yeah, the weeks after the IED kinda sealed the deal for me that I wanted to keep her around for the rest of my life,” I tell him, and he lifts his brows.
“Care to explain?”
“Like I have a choice,” I murmur grumpily, but it’s all for show. These are memories I dream about often, in great detail, and willingly recall every moment I got to spend getting to know the most incredible woman I’ve ever met.
Eleven Years Ago
FOB Salerno, Afghanistan
“WAKEY, WAKEY. EGGS and bakey.” I hear her sweet voice singsonging to me, bringing me out of my restless sleep. I open my eyes, and there she is, the light coming in behind her, making her look like an angel holding a tray of food. “There’re those perdy eyes. Now sit your booty up and eat this plate of breakfast I slaved over myself.”
“Clarice?” I croak, and then take in my location. I’m on a cot, surrounded by medical equipment. The tent is way cleaner than the one I’ve been living in for the past few months.
“Damn, it’s like we’re living in that movie 50 First Dates. I should record this conversation so I can just play it for you over and over. But the doctor assures me you’ll come out of your short-term memory loss pretty quickly.” She comes over and sets the tray on a chair next to me, and then grasps my arm. As she helps me sit up, she stuffs some pillows behind my back to keep me propped up.
My head pounds, and I groan, closing my eyes for a moment. And that’s when I feel her soft hand against my cheek, her thumb stroking me there as she says softly, “It’ll pass in a second, big guy. It happens every time you sit up.”
My eyes open and find hers, and the softness I see in them does something funny to my stomach. “What happened?” I murmur.
“The short version? IED. You’re a big hero and saved a bunch of your teammates. They brought you to FOB Salerno to take care of your leg and to keep an eye on your traumatic brain injury. And I’ve been playing your personal nurse since it happened four days ago.”
As she says the words, flashes of the event play through my mind, but it seems more like a movie I watched once instead of something I actually went through.
She lets go and turns to grab the tray, placing it in my lap, and when she lifts the lid, the smell of the eggs and bacon makes my stomach growl in anticipation. “The cooks have gotten used to me taking over their space for a few minutes so I can whip you up a special meal.” She whispers conspiratorially, “No one else besides you gets real fried eggs and crispy bacon done on the griddle. They get the powdered eggs from a box and limp bacon they just nuke.”
“Over medium is my favorite,” I sigh, my mouth watering as I pick up a slice of toast and use the corner to rip open the yoke.
“I know. You told me the day you got here, when they brought you the scrambled crap,” she replies, and I look up at her. “And I made it my mission that day to make sure you had every damn thing you needed. After seeing everything you did for all those men, you deserved at the very least to have your eggs over medium instead of scrambled.”
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