“Pigs in a blanket?”
“No. That’s food, not a game…” Domini frowned. “Not nice, Cam.”
I’m not feeling very nice.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m tired, I’ve had a shit day, and I just want to get out of these clothes and have some peace and quiet.”
“You’re at the wrong place for that.”
She’d meant it to be funny, but it struck a sour chord in him.
“Are you hungry? I saved a plate for you in the kitchen.”
He scowled. “How am I supposed to get to the kitchen? I can’t even get across the damn living room.” Of my own damn house, he silently tacked on. Be just his luck if he tried to ford his way through the maze only to land in a big heap on the floor. Perfect capper to his awesome day.
Domini kept her tone cool. “Anton? Playtime is over. We need to get this stuff picked up. Now.”
Due to static from the blankets, Anton’s hair stuck up every which way. “Aw, do we have to? It took forever to set up.”
“I know, sweetling. We should’ve asked Cam first before we created such a mess in his house.”
His house. That barb crossed the room, sharp as an arrow, and hit him dead center. “For Christsake, Domini, that’s not fair and you know that’s not what I meant.”
She scalded him with an “Oh really?” look and vanished beneath the blankets.
He exited through the front door, grumbling as he trekked to the backside of the house and scaled the rear deck steps. He paused at the sliding glass door to rub the section of skin where the sock was chafing his stump. He couldn’t wait to get the goddamn thing off. He snagged two beers from the fridge, ignoring the piles of dishes stacked everywhere and headed down the hallway, which was blessedly free of blankets. And dishes. And people.
Cam shucked his clothes, removed his leg and used his crutches to propel himself to the bathroom. He froze in the doorway.
Whoa. Looked like a Revlon factory exploded in here. Lotion, powders and creams were strewn across the countertop. Did Domini really need all that crap? And would it have killed her to put it away when she was done with it? Especially when it seemed she stashed his shaving stuff in a completely new drawer every damn time he turned around?
He ground his teeth. He was not a neat freak, not any more than any other guy who’d spent a dozen years in the army. But he hated shit piled everywhere. He’d learned the hard way not to leave wet towels, empty soda bottles and magazines scattered around after he’d tripped and fallen on his ass a few times.
A shower didn’t calm him.
He slipped on a pair of frayed sweat pant shorts and cast a look of loathing at his prosthesis. No way was he putting it back on tonight. No f**king way.
Now what? He was in a pissy mood. He wanted to be alone. The living room wasn’t an option, neither was the kitchen. With no other recourse, he flopped on the bed.
Cam reached for his beer on the nightstand. His knuckle clipped the edge of the fan attached to the headboard, nearly knocking it off. That’d be great, if he’d have to crawl underneath the bed on one goddamn knee to plug in Domini’s pacifier.
Okay, maybe it was mean to call it that, but Domini couldn’t sleep without the damn thing on. The white noise from an oscillating fan calmed her. Which wouldn’t have bothered him, except she had to have the air blowing directly on her. Which meant it blew on him. All night. He’d woken up freezing on more than one occasion.
When he’d tried to joke, “Luke. I am your father,” into the fan in his best Darth Vader imitation, Domini hadn’t laughed. Maybe their senses of humor didn’t mesh.
Maybe nothing about this situation meshed.
Cam expected adjustments. He expected changes. He thought he’d done fairly well, considering the double whammy of a taking on a wife and a young kid all at once.
Honestly, his relationship with Domini wasn’t causing friction. When they were locked in their bedroom, locked body to body, everything was perfect.
But that’s not realistic. Your lives can’t revolve around the few hours you spend in bed.
Yeah? Her life shouldn’t revolve around Anton, either.
Talk about a stalemate.
He finished the first beer. Maybe he should’ve crashed in Anton’s room. At least he could’ve watched TV. That was just another thing he and Domini disagreed on. Cam didn’t think the kid needed a damn TV in his room. Domini claimed Anton needed his own space, his own things, and not a bunch more drastic changes in his life right away.
So Cam had given in. Sucked up his resentment. How did people do this parenting shit without going bonkers?
Most parents started out with a baby, not a surly seven-year-old. Maybe things would be different when he and Domini started having kids of their own. Right. If she stuck around that long. She’d already been making contingency plans to adopt Anton on her own and that sucked ass.
Just by happenstance, Cam discovered Domini had hired Ginger to start Anton’s preliminary adoption process paperwork. He’d been waiting in her office and noticed the bill on Domini’s desk. He hadn’t brought it up with her because he hadn’t known what to say. And part of him wanted Domini to explain, of her own volition, not because he forced the issue. Might be a long damn wait.
Cam sighed and closed his eyes. Allowing himself to drift off. Just for a minute.
The sound of approaching helicopters echoed in the distance. Extraction was here. His two young charges, still green as far as live fire ops went, popped up out of their hiding places. He motioned for them to stay put. But the lead guy misread the hand signal and started across the open field. Keeping low, like he’d been trained, yet Cam was horrified. The kid wasn’t supposed to cross an open field. Ever. Too much shit could go wrong.
Frantically, he made the “stay” signal again. Which the rear guy also misread and he followed his buddy through the exposed field.
Cam wanted to shout and drag those dumb little f**kers out of danger by their ears. But he could only watch helplessly, concealed in his own hiding place, sweating pure fear, praying they got lucky and cleared the field without incident.
The landmine shook the ground and took out the first guy. The second guy ran pell-mell through the smoke and dust, screeching for his partner and setting off another landmine.
The words, your fault, it was all your fault, screaming in his head.
Wait. The screaming sound was outside his head too.
He looked to the sky as the whistling noise of a surface to air missile hit the helicopter. The explosion distorted reality, creating a ball of orange fire that knocked Cam flat on his ass. Parts rained down on him like metal raindrops. But when he saw the broken helicopter blade flipping end over end toward him like a deadly boomerang, he broke his silence and screamed.