The Lonely Heroes Series
One of my toughest decisions was to join the Army after graduating high school. My second toughest was to decide it was time to get out. I wanted more than that life had to offer—namely the return of my humanity and a life beyond the pain that had leached into my soul during my deployments. Without a hint at what to do next, I said goodbye to my Army life and headed home to Missouri.
There were things I’d been hiding from my family for too many years—a secret that had nothing to do with my career as an Army Ranger. It was time I began to live my truth, but how to start, I didn’t know. I was aware of one thing for sure—I didn’t want to be lonely anymore.
I had a job I loved as a Special Education teacher at Carver Middle School in central Missouri. The kids were amazing, and their parents were supportive, unlike my last school where the parents believed their expensive tuition relieved them of their obligations to actually participate in their children’s education. Sadly, I was still alone, and I was getting a little long in the tooth to play the one-night game.
Unexpectedly, my diamond brought her brother to the Christmas Eve service at the local Lutheran church, and I found myself off-balance by the gorgeous man. I felt there was a sadness about him that made me want to hold him in my arms until his hurts healed. Of course, he was an Army Ranger, the toughest of the tough and the straightest of the straight. Between Ranger Hank, and his dog, Cosmo, I wanted things I couldn’t imagine were possible. Or were they?
This work of fiction is approximately 142,000 words in length and doesn’t end in a cliffhanger. It is the first book in the series entitled, “The Lonely Heroes Series.”
- 1 To Be Read list
As I walked around the display, I spotted a gorgeous ass standing in the same aisle as me, perusing an array of half-price candles. I followed it for a moment until it turned, and I was presented with an impressive bulge in a pair of jeans that fit perfectly. I glanced up to see the handsome, startled, face of Mr. Reed Bayless, Jewel’s teacher.
When he recognized me, I saw the panicked look on his handsome face, but thankfully, he didn’t try to hide from me or pretend he didn’t know me. He strolled over to where I was standing and offered a shy smile. “I should have known better than to think I wouldn’t get caught by any of my students while I was shopping. Where’s Jewel?” he asked, as he looked around. He was wearing a pair of gold, wire-rimmed glasses which complemented shape of his face nicely.READ MORE
He had brownish-red hair and light, hazel eyes. He was shorter than me, but not by much, and he was even more handsome than the last time I’d seen him dressed in a blue suit on Christmas Eve. That afternoon, he was wearing a cream-colored sweater and those damn jeans that fit him like they were made for his body, as far as I could see, and I tried to see a lot.
Mr. Bayless cleared his throat, and I looked up, realizing I’d been staring at the man for quite a while. “Sorry, um, what did you ask?” I inquired, feeling my face flame like it used to do when I was a kid. I felt fucking ridiculous.
“I asked where your sister might be? I don’t want to admit to her I lied on Christmas Eve. You see, I get invited to about a hundred events a school year, and I can’t possibly attend all of them, so I made it a rule not to attend any of them so no one feels slighted. I attend team sporting events if any of my kids are involved, and I volunteer with an organization which supports the Special Olympics in St. Louis, but I shy away from everything else. I don’t want to come across as playing favorites,” he explained.
I understood his logic. It would put him in a bad light if he went to one party and not another. For a teacher with the caliber of students he taught, I was pretty sure they’d all be offended, and I could tell it was the last fucking thing the man wanted to do. “She’s looking at purses because she got a gift card she wants to spend. If you hurry off that way, you’ll probably not be spotted,” I suggested as I pointed toward the “Lawn & Garden” sign.
Unfortunately, the poor man was too late to run because Jewel walked over to me with three purses in her hands. “Hanky, which…” she began as she looked up to see her teacher standing there.
“Mr. Reed!” she gasped as she dropped the loot on the tile floor of the store and hurried over to the man, hugging him around the middle. I wished to hell I could take the same liberties.
“Hello, Jewel, my diamond. How was your Christmas? Was Santa good to you?” he asked cautiously.
My sister’s first response? “Smell me!” Of course, she was wearing that god-awful, sweet-smelling perfume, and it was enough to make me gag. I guessed it was because she squirted that shit on herself about once an hour, and I always seemed to be around when she did it.
The man sniffed and then promptly backed away, turning his face into his elbow as he sneezed, hard. He sneezed twice more and then reached into his pocket, coming up empty. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out one of the new handkerchiefs my sister had made for me, offering it to him.
“Thank you,” he responded, as he turned his back and blew his nose.
Jewel quickly stepped away and stood next to me, retrieving the purses she’d dropped when she saw the teacher. “Are you okay, Mr. Reed? Are you getting sick?” she asked, concern evident in her soft voice.
Mr. Bayless smiled at her. “You smell divine, Jewel, but I’m allergic to colognes and perfumes. They make me sneeze,” he told her with a tender smile.
“Oh! We shouldn’t wear it to school then,” my sister determined. “I’ll call my friends and tell them not to wear it because you’d be sneezing your head off all day long, and we wouldn’t get any work done.”
Mr. Bayless grinned brightly at her and touched her shoulder while holding my handkerchief in front of his nose. “Thank you so much, my friend. I appreciate it,” he responded before he sneezed again.
Jewel stepped away and looked at me. “Which purse?” she asked. I pointed to the brown one, and she rolled her eyes, rushing back to the aisle to hang it and another one on the rack.
“I’m sorry to lie, yet again, but if you can imagine thirteen little girls wearing that same smell, you’d do it as well. Sasha got it for her birthday, and I knew all of them wanted it. Jewel is my outgoing student, and she wants everyone to enjoy being in class. If anyone can get the word out and save me from that smell for the next two months until they use it up, it’s her,” the teacher confided with a chuckle.
“Wait, you’re not allergic?” I whispered to him, sniffing him to find he smelled really fucking good.
“Nope. Please, I beg you, keep my secret. I’ll buy pizza on a night of your choosing,” he offered, and then looked a bit surprised.
It was the best offer I’d had in a long time, and as I looked at him, he appeared stunned he’d made it. “Well, I wouldn’t mind getting that handkerchief back… clean. Jewel embroidered it for me, after all. How about tomorrow night? There’s a great place… well, I don’t know if it’s great anymore because I haven’t been home for a while. If you give me your number, I’ll call you tonight and confirm after I check with my mom,” I suggested.
He quickly glanced around to see my sister standing in front of a mirror with the purse on her shoulder, turning to see how she looked. He leaned in and whispered the numbers quickly in my ear as I plugged them into my phone. “Okay. I’ll check with you tonight,” I told him.
He nodded and waved to my little sister as he said, “Jewel? I’ll see you soon.” She waved back, and he hurried down the aisle toward the lawn and garden department which was being used as the clearance section for Christmas decorations.
Just then, our number was called at the service desk, so we hurried to return the electric skillet and pay for my sister’s chosen purse. I was on cloud nine because it seemed like—perhaps—I might have a date for the next night. Unless, of course, I was reading the entire situation wrong, and he was straight. I didn’t know how to determine his sexuality—not that we couldn’t be friends if he was straight—so I’d go into the meal with the idea of meeting a new friend. My sister loved the man, and if I couldn’t trust her judgment, whose could I trust?COLLAPSE