Posting another Crashed Excerpt… Crashed is the final story in the Barnes Brothers series…my contemporary romance series about five sexy brothers.
FYI, if you’re a librarian, bookseller or reviewer, you can request to review it from NETGALLEY! It will only be available another two weeks (roughly) so grab it while you can!
He’s not looking for a happy ever after…he doesn’t think he deserves one…
“I’m fine!” Travis thought about getting out of the hospital bed to shout the words into his handler’s face but he had a bad feeling he might collapse where he stood.
If he did, it would kind of negate the entire point of his argument.
“Bullshit.” Miles stormed across the room and bent over the bed, gripping the bedrail with a hand that become thin since the last time Travis had seen him. “You are going to take some time off this time, Travis. Take time off—real time, or you’re out. For good.”
“I just took a couple of weeks last year.” He glared into Miles’ haggard face, taking in the bags under Miles’ eyes, the pale cast to the older man’s skin. “Shit, you don’t look much better than me.”
“I’ve been sick, dumbass. I also ride a desk. I’m not trying to infiltrate human trafficking circles. My life isn’t at risk every second of every day while I’m on the job,” Miles snapped. “When you’re in that line of work, you have to have razor-sharp instincts. Once mine started slipping, I made the decision to move off the front line.”
“I’m not slipping,” Travis growled. “The intel was shit and there were more potential targets than anticipated. And what the fuck are you bitching about? I got the information you needed. I got in, got out.”
“You got in, got shot, you … ” Miles stopped and turned away, stomping over to the window to glare out over the skyline of Mexico City. “Travis. You can’t keep this up. With your last injury, that bullet you took put you down for three months. This time, you were on an op that should have been a cakewalk for you. You—fuck. Never mind. But you’re done. You’re taking time off. Six months, minimum, and if you even try to argue this, I’m cutting you loose.”
Travis hauled himself into a sitting position, ignoring the nauseating pain through sheer will alone. Sweat dripped down his brow, the thick, clammy sweat that came from illness or exhaustion—or both. He ignored that, too, staring at Miles’ back with something bordering on desperation.
“Miles … shit. Look, okay, I’ll be careful. You’re right. Maybe I was a little reckless this time.”
“Stop.” Miles turned and pinned a hard look on him.
Something in his old friend’s eyes made Travis do just that.
“You think I’m blind to how much you’ve changed in the past few years? How much you’ve changed since that night you saw Isabel?”
Travis jerked his gaze away, fixing it on the overbright sunlight streaming in through the window. “She’s got nothing to do with this.”
“Bullshit.” Eyes hard, Miles cut between Travis and his determined study of the view of the city beyond the window. “Fuck me, it started before that. You’ve been half-dead inside ever since you learned the truth and it’s gotten worse every single year. For more than a decade, I’ve been watching you self-destruct, but this past year? It’s twice as bad. I think what really pushed you over the edge was seeing your twin get hitched. What’s the matter? Are you that fucking jealous of seeing your brothers all happy?”
Travis shoved out of the bed, temper exploding out in a rush of violence. “Keep it up, Hawkins, and we’ll see how fast I can put you on the floor.”
“You can’t stay upright for more than a minute.” Miles crossed his arms and leaned against the wall, giving his watch an insulting glance as if to measure the time. “Maybe we should make a wager on it. If you can come over here and make me eat my words, then fine, you can come back to work once the doctor releases you.”
Travis clenched a hand into a fist and cursed, each one blistering and hot. But he didn’t take a single step; he could already feel his legs going wobbly and weak under him, adrenaline deserting him.
“I don’t begrudge my brothers any happiness,” he bit off, furious Miles would even insinuate it. “Especially not Trey. He’s been through enough hell. He damn well deserves what he’s found with Ressa.”
“I never said you begrudged him, or any of them,” Miles said quietly. “You’re too good a man for that sort of pettiness. But even the best of us can feel envy and I know you too well, probably even better than your brothers, better than your own twin at this point, because you don’t let them know you. Ever since you got back from Trey and Ressa’s wedding, you’ve gotten quieter, darker, sadder. And we both know why.”
Travis wanted to tell Miles to shut the fuck up.
Not because he was wrong, but because Miles was right.
About most of it.
“You’re wrong about one thing,” he said, dropping back down onto the bed, grunting as it sent pain screaming through him. “I’m not a good man.”
A good man wouldn’t have turned his back on the woman who’d loved him, not when she’d needed him the most.
“Travis … ” Miles sighed. “You made a mistake. You were just a kid. And shit, you’re easier on me than you are on yourself. I’m the reason you made the mistake. Can’t you forgive yourself? It’s been almost fourteen years.” “Ask me in a hundred and fourteen.” He flipped the thin, scratchy blanket over his legs and flung a forearm over his eyes. “You win. I’ll take some time off. But I can’t go back to my family with my head in the shape it’s in. Figure something else out. Shoot me the details when you do. Now get out and let me sleep. I’m tired, Miles.”