I had the chance to meet Jessica Scott this past summer, and it was a total highlight for me, even though we didn’t really get to chat or hang out. Fair warning ;-), she’s a hugger. So it’s doubly a sign how much I like her that there’s that, and I’m ok with it, and this. You all know I’m not big on blog tours (or you know, at all) – and I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these generic reveal things… but for Ms. Scott … here we go. An ALBTALBS first! A post that other people will have. O_O
There’s nothing in the world Army Sergeant Vic Carponti loves more than his wife and his country. Smart-mouthed and easy tempered, he takes everything as a joke . . . except his promise to come home to his wife, Nicole, for Christmas. As he prepares to leave for his latest deployment into Iraq, Vic will do everything he can to shield his beautiful, supportive wife from the realities of war . . . and from his own darkest fears.
As a career army wife, Nicole Carponti knows just what to expect from her husband’s tour of duty: loneliness, relentless worry, and a seemingly endless countdown until the moment Vic walks through the door again. But when the unthinkable happens, Nicole and Vic’s bond is tested like never before and changes everything they believe to be true about the power of love and the simple beauty of being home for the holidays.
“You’re not serious.”
Carponti turned around, his shoulders covered in flecks of red hair. “What?”
Nicole grinned as she leaned against the door. “Garrison is going to kill you.”
“Garrison is going to love my new hair cut. It looks just like his.”
Nicole arched one blond eyebrow. “Except for the bright red fuzzy patch in the center of your head.”
Carponti shrugged and rubbed his hands over his freshly shorn scalp. “I can’t wait to see what the sergeant major says.”
“Isn’t he going to be mad?”
Carponti brushed the hair off his neck. “We’re going to war. My hair isn’t on the list of things he’s going to worry about.”
Nicole looked down at the pile of hair on the floor and sighed. “Then why do it?”
Carponti smirked. “Because it’ll get a rise out of him and I live to make his blood pressure go up.”
She laughed. “You need a hobby. Other than blowing things up.”
He sidled across the room and hooked his thumb into the waist of her jeans and tugged her close until their hips met. “I have a hobby. Keeping you well satisfied.”
She sniffed but her lips curled at the edges. “You’re going to be derelict in your duties for a while.”
“But I’ll be home soon enough and then I’ll make up for it.”
“I think I’m going to need a deployment boyfriend.”
He grinned wickedly. “Did you already get one?” He backed her up against the wall, his body hard against hers. God but she loved this man. “Can I see it?”
A slow flush crept over her face and she tried to look away. He threaded his fingers with hers and lifted her arms over her head. Her back arched with the movement.
“Please?” he whispered against her lips. “That would be an awesome memory to take with me downrange. Just think of me, alone in the middle of the desert. One visual of you with your deployment boyfriend and it could make a lonely night go by so much faster.”
Nicole giggled until the laugh overwhelmed her and she was gasping for air. He released her hands and she threaded them around his neck. She buried her face against his throat and laughed.
“There’s something really wrong with you,” she said when she could breathe again. “I’ll send you a video.”
He brightened instantly. “Really?”
“Yes. And dirty letters.”
“Promise?” He nibbled along the edge of her jaw, guiding her slowly backward toward their bed, stacked high with his two duffle bags and all the crap he still hadn’t packed.
But he didn’t care.
“I promise. And you’re going to be late.” Her voice caught in her throat.
“Screw it,” he whispered. “This is the last chance to make love to my beautiful wife before I have to go traipsing across the desert like Lawrence of Arabia.” He nibbled at her earlobe while his hand slipped down her belly to the moist head between her thighs. “Tell you what. You send me a picture of yours and I’ll send you a picture of mine. Maybe I can get him a little horse and saddle and send you a picture. Maybe a Barbie camel. I can put him in a little man dress.”
She laughed and Carponti’s heart swelled in his chest at the sound of it.
“I’m going to hold you to that.” She traced her fingers over his scalp, her body soft and warm against his erection. “I want a picture of him in a man dress in exchange for a video of the deployment boyfriend.”
Her legs bumped into the back of the bed and he followed her down. Tangled between the duffle bags and his uniforms, he made love to her one last time before he got on a plane and headed to war.
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… >.> Maybe I can get Jessica to give us an exclusive excerpt at some point. But for now … you should check out her first guest post here, where I dared her to talk about hamsters and dryer lint 😀
LOOKIT! WE MADE IT HAPPEN! An exclusive excerpt just for ALBTALBS 😀 All of chapter two! Whoo!
“Hey babe, can you find my socks?”
Nicole narrowed her eyes in the direction of the bedroom. Since the night they’d first met six years ago, she’d learned to tell when he was up to something. And he was always up to something. The man didn’t know how to be serious and it was the thing she loved most about him.
But she hadn’t known it that night she’d pulled him and a couple of his buddies over and arrested him. She’d been a young military police officer, eager to make a difference and her very first traffic stop at her new duty station had been a car full of smart-mouthed infantrymen, fresh out of basic training.
She’d walked up to the driver’s side window and had been greeted by…a sock puppet. A sock puppet that had asked her out on a date after she’d threatened to put him in the back of the police car. Her lips curled at the memory.
Yeah, most people had romantic stories about how they met their husbands. Nicole? She had a sock puppet. She’d learned that night that when Vic’s voice sounded funny, he was up to something.
And right then, standing in her living room, his socks in her hand, she paused because her husband’s voice sounded a little too funny.
And that was never a good sign.
“What’s wrong?” she called, stuffing his socks into the bag that would keep them protected from the desert weather.
He was deploying for the third time later today and Nicole was doing her best to stay busy, to help him pack. She was determined not to spend the last twenty-four hours she had with him crying. She’d done this all before, right? This was nothing new. Nothing different. So why did it feel like her heart was breaking in her chest? She blinked rapidly and breathed deeply. She wouldn’t cry. Not tonight.
No, she’d save that for later, after he was gone. Today, she would laugh at his jokes because he needed her to laugh. She’d help him pack and savor the last hours she had with him.
Later, after she’d kissed him goodbye, the year would start and her countdown would begin. One day at a time, trying not to let the worry and the fear and the sadness crush her.
“Nothing’s wrong. I just need you to come here for a second.”
The odd catch in his voice made her instantly suspicious. Still holding the gallon bag of his t-shirts and socks she’d been packing for him, she rounded the corner into their bedroom.
And stopped short. Blinked. Then doubled over laughing.
Her husband—a decorated infantryman—stood in the middle of their bedroom wearing her panties. And not her time-of-the-month granny panties. No, not her husband. He’d managed to squeeze into the tiny little patch of white lace.
She doubled over and clutched her sides and tried not to pee her pants.
“Oh my god. I can’t breathe,” she said, trying to stop laughing.
He turned around and wiggled his ass. “Does this make my butt look big?”
Nicole gasped for air. “There’s something the matter with you.”
“Does this get you horny, baby?” She caught the edge of shadows in his eyes despite her
own tears of laughter. They were both trying so hard to laugh away the sadness of the night. She loved him even more for that. Something so simple but so important.
She swiped her fingers beneath her eyes, glad at least that she had a moment to hide the well of sadness that had surged behind the laughter. She would miss his sense of humor when he was gone. Nothing seemed as funny when Vic deployed. It was like he took funny with him every time he got on that plane. Still laughing, she crossed the small space, dropping the gallon- sized bag and t-shirt on the bed before sliding her arms around her husband’s neck. “You know that you wearing my panties always gets me horny.”
He pulled her close and she arched into him. He nuzzled her lips with his. “I’m not really sure what that says about you or me but I’m not going to complain.”
She reached between their bodies and wound her hand beneath the fabric clearly not meant to contain male anatomy and found him—flaccid.
“I think we need to get you out of these. They’re inhibiting your performance,” she said, hooking her thumbs in the waistband.
“I think that’s an excellent plan.”
He shimmied out of the panties and then surprised her by scooping her up and tossing her onto the bed.
She bounced once then opened her arms for him.
She held him close for a long moment, savoring the feel of his body on hers, knowing it was going to be the last time she would have him with her for a long while.
She knew the fear she would live with for the next year. And she hated it.
But she loved her husband and he loved being a soldier. She’d never planned on making the military a career. Vic? Vic wanted to stay forever. And because she loved him, she’d wait for him. No matter how much it hurt.
She blinked rapidly, trying to hide the tears that burned behind her eyes, and pressed her face into his neck. Her no-crying plan was failing miserably. She swiped at her eyes and tried to keep him from seeing the tears that ran down her cheeks.
Carponti might be a smart-ass but that didn’t make him an idiot. His wife was crying. He hated it when she cried. It was worse because he knew it was his fault—he was leaving again. No matter how much he tried to make light of the situation, no matter how ridiculously he behaved to coax a laugh out of her, this deployment was different and everyone knew it. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Nicole was having a hard time with it. Even Captain Davila and his wife looked like they were having a hard time.
Everyone was—her, the guys, the guys’ wives. Carponti and his boys were getting ready to head downrange into the Surge, a shit hole time in a shit hole war that didn’t make a damn bit of sense to anyone. This war sucked.
But that didn’t make saying good-bye any easier. And Nikki, God bless her, was doing her best to put on a brave and happy face. He felt her shudder beneath him and he tightened his arms around her a little more.
He didn’t want her to cry. He hated it when she cried because it usually meant he’d screwed something up. He tried not to do that on a regular basis. He never wanted to give her a reason to realize that she could do better than a redheaded infantryman. Nicole was so far out of his league, every day he woke up wondering if today would be the day that the love of his life left him for someone better. The day she would stop laughing at his jokes.
Because let’s face it, he wasn’t much of a catch. Scruffy redhead with a penchant for saying the first thing that came to mind, Carponti knew his weaknesses. And still, his wife, his
beautiful, talented wife with a degree in criminal justice, chose him. He’d married her as fast as he could just to keep her around. Even when she’d gotten out of the army to pursue her degree, even when she could be with someone smarter, better looking—not better in the sack, though. Carponti had always taken care of her that way. He marveled at the ways he could bring her pleasure — just like the sound of her laughter, the sound of her coming was its own special pleasure.
All because she’d pulled him over for driving like an ass and said yes to a date with a sock puppet. He was the luckiest son of a bitch on the planet.
He lifted himself on his arms and looked down at her, stroking her blond hair out of her face and cupping her cheek. Her eyes were a little bit red and she was trying to hide it and failing badly.
“Don’t cry, babe,” he whispered.
“I’m trying not to.” She pressed her lips to his. “Sorry.”
He grasped for anything to say to make her laugh and came up empty. She shifted then,
her body rubbing against his, and he smiled slowly, stroking his thumb over her damp cheek. “We are really wasting this opportunity,” he said, kissing the side of her lips.
“What’s that?” Her mouth curled into a faint smile, the remnants of her laugh trembling
through her body.
“I’m naked. What other opportunity did you think I was talking about?”
He loved it when she laughed. Her eyes lit up and her whole face smiled. He laughed and
shifted, rocking gently against her. “It’s a shame you’ve got on so many clothes.”
She lifted her arms for him as he dragged the t-shirt over her head, leaving her in a bra
and her jeans. She reached between them to unhook her pants but he stopped her, his hands
covering hers. He shimmied down her body. “That’s my job,” he whispered, then he flicked his tongue over her navel.
He loved the little sounds she made as he tugged her pants off. “Your panties look so much better on you,” he said.
“I’m glad you approve.” There was laughter in her voice. She threaded her fingers through his hair, her nails tracing his scalp with tiny bites of electricity.
He framed her hips in his hands and pressed his lips to her center. She arched beneath him and shifted her thighs, opening to his touch. He held her there, his thumbs holding the fabric in place when she tried to shuck out of her panties. “I want to try something.”
She pushed up onto her elbows, looking down at him, a tiny frown knitted between her brows. “What, the night before you leave, now you want to get creative?”
He met her gaze, his eyes not moving from hers, and traced his tongue over the swollen mound beneath her panties.
“Oh, I am definitely going to miss your tongue when you’re gone.” She gasped and her breath caught in her throat. “Where on earth did you learn that trick?” she whispered.
She reached down to cradle his face in her palms and Carponti was lost for a moment in the love looking back at him. His wife, his beautiful, smart, sexy, funny wife. A tiny curl of fear licked at him. What if she got tired of waiting for him?
“I watched this sex in your marriage video with Wilks last weekend on staff duty.” Nicole fell back into the bed and cracked up. “The art of making love or something. He’s going through counseling with his wife and the therapist is trying to save their sex life first. So I watched it with him. See if I could pick up any pointers.”
Nicole sighed and turned her head to look down at him. “You are a strange, strange man,” she said, smiling. But there was a fear beneath his smile. Fear that someday, the deployments would be too much. That the distance and the time spent apart would change them. That she’d stop wanting to make love, stop loving him enough to wait for him. Garrison, Carponti’s platoon sergeant, had recently gotten divorced. They both knew it was because Garrison had been gone too much. Carponti shoved aside the melancholy, focusing instead on her body. Her touch.
“And you’re wasting an opportunity to use that talented tongue of yours.” She arched into him, lifting her hips in silent offering.
The laugh snuck out of him and he rested his forehead against her thigh until he could control himself. “This has got to be the corniest thing we’ve ever done,” he said, stroking his thumb over the seam of her panties.
She scraped her nails over his cheeks, gently. “It beats spending the morning crying,” she whispered.
A lump rose in his throat and he crawled up her body, capturing her face in his hands. He kissed her then, fiercely, pouring a thousand unsaid things into that one moment. He wasn’t good with words or big gestures. There wasn’t a way for him to tell her how much he was going to miss her. How much he worried that she would be alone, that she might go through a day without laughing because he was gone. And the unspoken fear that he would leave her alone forever. He kissed her like a dying man, peeled her clothes from her body like it was the last time he would feel her writhe beneath him—because he was terrified that it was.
He paused a moment before he slid into her body, desperately grasping for something funny to say to lighten the moment, to make her laugh. But he had nothing as he fell into her embrace, sliding into her body and completing his soul.
He savored her in those final moments before her release crashed over her, shuddering through them both and taking him under with her.