Hot Velocity(5)

By: Elle James


“No kidding.” Gunny sounded more upbeat than T-Rex had heard him since he’d returned to the States. The hand squeezing his heart loosened a little. “Glad to hear it.”

“I’ll be throwing a football for slugger before long.”

“Please tell me you didn’t put ‘Slugger’ on his birth certificate.”

“No. The wife wouldn’t let me. Officially, he’s Lance Gallagher. But I drew the line at Junior. Nothing shoots a man’s ego down more than being called Junior.”

“True.”

“So, how’s your TDY going?” Gunny asked. “About ready to head back to home station and ship out again?”

“Past ready.”

“That boring?”

T-Rex had to think about that. “Not really boring, just not what I want to be doing.”

“What? Kidnappings and big-game hunters not exciting enough?”

“How’d you know about that?” T-Rex asked.

Gunny snorted. “I read the news.”

“I could do without some of the excitement. I want to get back to the front line.”

“You know you won’t find the guys who did this to us,” Gunny said, his voice softening. “You could hunt every last member of the Taliban and still not know whether you got the guys who staged that trap.”

“Maybe, but if I don’t try, they get away with what they did to you.”

“Oh, is this about me?” Gunny laughed. “The way you blew up in front of the command psychologist, you’d think it was all about you.”

T-Rex’s hand squeezed the cell phone so hard, he was surprised it didn’t crack. What he was feeling was in direct response to what had happened to Gunny. The man had taken the full brunt of the attack. He’d suffered spinal cord damage and might be a quadriplegic the rest of his life. The thought of the father of four spending his life in a wheelchair made T-Rex want to rage at the universe. “It’s just not fair. I should have been the one injured. I didn’t have a baby on the way.”

“You didn’t get to pick,” Gunny said. “It’s the way the cards fell. Or the grenade, in our case.”

“Anyway, things might be settling down here. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.”

“Yeah, but I doubt the commander will want you back so soon. He was pretty hot when he sent you off.”

“If he knew what a boondoggle it is, he wouldn’t have sent me.”

“Boondoggle?” Gunny snorted. “Sounds like another day in the life of a marine. You’ve got enemy hiding in the hills, you’ve been shot at and you’ve taken out some of the bad guys.”

He had a point. Still, T-Rex would rather be back where his world had come apart. Then maybe he could put it back together. “I don’t know which strings our team lead pulled to get a loan of highly skilled military men to work for the Department of Homeland Security.” Luckily the team had been there, or there could have been a bunch of kids dead or trapped in a mine. “It’s like the Wild West out here in Wyoming.”

“Dude, Wyoming is the Wild West. Who lives there, anyway?”

“Exactly. Mostly a bunch of cowboys. There’s not much more to do out here than ranching or work for the pipeline.”

“What’s wrong with that? You’re in the most beautiful part of the country. Take in some fishing in your time off. If you get to know Wyoming, you might not hate it as much.”

“I don’t exactly hate it.” He didn’t. In fact, the area was beautiful. If he wasn’t in the military, and maybe when he retired, he might consider living there. The rugged mountains were majestic and appeared serene. “I just want to get back to the real war.”

“And some unhealthy fixation on retribution against the Taliban. Do you think you could do more good for the US in a foreign country than here at home?”

“There are other people who defend the home front.”

“Clearly there aren’t enough people with your skills in Wyoming.” Gunny sighed. “Look, I’m not going to change your mind about the need for you to be where you are now. Let’s change the subject.”

T-Rex relaxed some of the tension from his shoulders. “Good.”

“Good,” Gunny agreed. “What have they got you doing now?”

T-Rex hadn’t realized he’d slowed nearly to a stop on the main road until a honk reminded him he was in a truck and he should be driving to where he was supposed to go. He pressed his foot to the accelerator and the truck leaped forward. “I’m on my way to the County Records office to look up who owns property along an existing gas pipeline.”

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