Home > Color Me Lucky (The Monroes Book 4)

Color Me Lucky (The Monroes Book 4)
Author: Jen Talty




Wendel “Navy” Sinclair blinked, trying to block a bright light shining from above. It stung his eyes, burning, making them as dry as sand. He tried to lift his hand to shield it so he could focus on his surroundings, but a sharp pain rippled across his shoulder.

He groaned, turning his head to the side.

It wasn’t the sun that beat down on his face. How he wanted to go back to his dream where he was sipping a fruity drink in a plastic cup on a beach somewhere south of the border, staring at a bunch of shirtless men playing volleyball on the beach.

Life didn’t get any better than what went on in his mind when he slept during this drug-induced state the hospital had provided.

The combination of antiseptic and death filled his nostrils. He exhaled, trying to expel the demons.

It never worked.

Every muscle in his body ached. He shifted, wishing he hadn’t as his back twisted in excruciating pain.

No. It felt more like someone had torn his legs from his body as if he were a wishbone on Thanksgiving Day.

And then tried to glue them back together.

“You’re awake,” a familiar voice said. “How are you feeling today?”

“Like I was ejected from a plane and landed in a tree with a faulty parachute.”

The memories flooded his brain like a wave crashing on shore during a summer storm. Every morning for the past two weeks, as soon as he oriented himself to the present, he relived the horrific moments before his world changed forever.

The bullets tearing through his plane.

The first engine cutting out.

Then the second, forcing the plane into the dreaded out-of-control flat spin.

He’d been lucky he’d had the ability to even pull the eject cord.

And then everything had gone black.

For nearly two weeks.

“A sense of humor is a good thing,” Doctor O’Leary said.

“I’m not sure sarcasm is considered humor but whatever.” Navy’s vision adjusted to the brightness of the sterile hospital room. Thanks to his long-time buddy and philanthropist, Casper Walgreen, Navy had himself a nice little private room in Germany with all the bells and whistles that went with being rich, even though he wasn’t.

And he had the best doctors money could buy that the military would allow him to work with.

This was one of those moments when it was nice to have friends in high places, and Navy would find a way to repay Casper if it was the last thing he did.

“I’ve got good news.” O’Leary took his stethoscope from his neck, put it in his ears, and took the round part and placed it on Navy’s chest.

How any doctor could talk to a patient while listening to their heart was beyond Navy. But he went with it.

“Yeah. What’s that?” Navy asked.

“You get to start occupational and physical therapy today.”

“You mean I get to be tortured.”

The doctor tossed his listening apparatus over his shoulder. “Pretty much. And your therapist will tell you that pain is weakness leaving the body, but we both know that’s bullshit. But like I told you yesterday, while your injuries are substantial, and right now your ability to move is limited, you will be walking out of this hospital; I have no doubt.”

“But my career as a Navy fighter pilot is over.” He hadn’t muttered the words himself, though he’d been mulling them over ever since the doctor told him he’d had a twenty-two-hour surgery to remove a piece of his plane that had nearly severed his spinal cord.

It had done enough damage that he currently couldn’t walk, O’Leary told him because he could still feel pain, wiggle his toes, and woke with a partial erection, he had no reason to believe Navy wouldn’t recover his mobility.

However, as of right now, from the waist down, he was fucking useless.

“I never said that.” The doctor lifted the clipboard off the edge of the bed and jotted something before hanging it back up.

“Be honest with me, Doc. What’s the likelihood that I will be back in the air?”

“I have no idea. It all depends on your body and how you recover.”

“Have you seen anyone with my injuries go back to being a fighter pilot? Or active duty in general.”

O’Leary put his hands in his white coat and let out a short breath.

Navy really didn’t need the doctor to say another word. His fate had been sealed. His career was over at twenty-six. He stared at the doctor and pretended to listen intently to his encouraging words.

“You have a long road ahead of you. It could take a good year before you’re even close to being ready to take the physical. But you’re strong. So it’s not impossible.”

“But improbable.” Navy held up his good arm. The one that hadn’t been nearly torn apart. “My father raised me to be pragmatic, and while he always taught me to push the envelope, he made me understand I need to know my limitations.”

“No offense to your father, but we don’t know what those are until we get you into rehab and work your body.” O’Leary tapped his temple. “Half the battle is in the mind. Admitted defeat will kill your progress in therapy.”

“I never said I was going to curl up and wither under a rock and die. Nor did I say I was just going to give up. That isn’t in my DNA. The Navy taught me to have a go-to-shit plan. If I can’t be a fighter pilot, I need to prepare myself for that. You have to understand that since I was four years old, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

“Is that why they call you Navy?”

Navy laughed. “No. My buddies at prep school gave me that nickname my freshman year. It’s all I ever talked about, and they just started calling me that and it stuck. Now, even my family calls me Navy. Beats fucking Wendel.”

“Yeah. That’s certainly not a name that’s a chick magnet if you know what I mean.”

Navy blinked. His current boyfriend, if he could really call Shamus that anymore based on their last few arguments, resented the fact that Navy chose to keep his sexual orientation a secret.

Well, it wasn’t that he kept the fact he was gay as classified information; he just chose not to flaunt it.

In public.

At any time.

With anyone.

Not even his family.

And while the military was a lot more forgiving these days, the world hadn’t changed that much, and he’d personally seen what can happen to a gay man in the military when they were outed. He chose not to have those things happen to him. Of course, he was sure some of his friends knew, but no one ever asked, and he never told.

“Nope. It’s not.” Navy swallowed the shame pill. He wasn’t embarrassed by being gay. Not by a long shot. That wasn’t even the point. It was the looks. The odd glances. The weirdness of having to explain who he was when heterosexual men didn’t have to do the same. Whenever anyone asked him if he had a girlfriend and he responded with: No. I have a boyfriend. People always paused, clearing their throat and then said something stupid like: Oh. That’s cool. I have an uncle who’s gay.

Instead of something normal and simple like asking him what his boyfriend’s name was or something.

He told himself he was a private man and that he preferred to keep his love life close to the cuff. Navy told himself a lot of things that were utter bullshit, but this one he knew was partially true. He didn’t kiss and tell. That would be rude. But if he were being totally honest with himself, part of his issue was the way he’d been raised.

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