STOUTHEARTED Short Story Featuring Bradley!

Please note, this short story has not been edited. I'm having trouble staying in front of the computer for long periods of time, so sitting in front of it for long periods of time isn't going to happen.

This is a short story. It will not be expanded upon. I just wanted a chance to focus on Bradley and Kyle's relationship before the events that take place in STOUTHEARTED, while also showcasing what Bradley was going through before he left on his rescue mission. I wanted it to showcase their relationship before everything went to hell, so this is a scene that is a lot lighter than the one that takes place in STOUTHEARTED:

Silence surrounded me as I slipped outside of my living quarters, immediately drawing me back to the Outbreak. It was haunting, the silence, the way it clung to the air – the way it made you even more alert to the world around you.
I closed my eyes and leaned against the building, crossing my arms over my chest.
“So much has changed,” I mumbled.
And it had.
Everything that I’d known before the Outbreak seemed to get swallowed by the darkness. What little I’d managed to keep safe – Kyle – could leave me at any moment. We kept sending men out on rescue missions, and it seemed as though each time, less and less of them made their way back home. Kyle’s turn was coming soon, and I wasn’t ready to lose him.
A few feet away, the sound of a twig snapping beneath the weight of a booted foot alerted me that I wasn’t alone. “I was wondering where you were,” Kyle’s voice tore through the silence.
“I needed to clear my head,” I answered. “Why? Did you really miss me that much?”
“Oh, but of course,” he teased. “What’s going on? You haven’t seemed like yourself all day.”
He reached up and pulled my arms free, entwining his fingers with mine as he stood in front of me. Almost immediately, my body reacted to his touch. With him, I felt safe. With him, I felt at home. “You’re trying to distract me, aren’t you?”
His lips rose into a smirk as he leaned forward and pressed a quick kiss on my cheek. “It’s working, isn’t it?”
I lowered my head and smiled, knowing that if I meant his stare I’d give into him. “You know what’s wrong, Kyle. How many men have we sent out now? How many of them have returned?”
Kyle released one of my hands and lifted his hand to my chin. “Hey, look at me.” He gripped my chin firmly within his grasp. “I’m not leaving you. Do you hear me? You can’t get rid of me that easily, love.”
Before the Outbreak, I would have believed him, but afterwards? I knew better than to think that anything was guaranteed.
Life was fleeting. We were pieces of a bigger story, one that would eventually come to an end, so we had to take what we could when we had it. And now that I’d had Kyle, I wasn’t willing to send him off into the unknown.
The world out there? It hadn’t fully recovered from the Outbreak. Namely the East coast. The land was barely clinging to life. We didn’t know what to expect. The Hovercopters we’d sent out there with our men had never returned. We’d lost track of them shortly after they’d landed.
All we knew was that, whoever was out there? They had come to expect us.
By continuing to send our men out there, it was basically accepting a suicide mission.
“I’m just worried, Kyle. We don’t know what’s out there. We don’t know if it’s a trap. All we know is that our men haven’t come back, and we don’t know what happened to them.”
“That’s exactly why I need to go,” he answered. “Someone needs to find them and bring them home.”
“That someone does not need to be you, though,” I countered.
Maybe it was selfish, but I didn’t care.
When you managed to lose everything else that you cared about? You did everything you could to hold onto what little remained. Everything.
Kyle pressed his forehead to mine and leaned in, his warm breath beat down on my face as he spoke. “You’re right, it doesn’t have to be me, but it’s my turn, Bradley. Just like it’ll be your turn in a few months. This is our job. This is what we choose to do. I love you, and you know that, but if I can, I’m going to bring our guards home.”
He didn’t allow for me to speak as he grabbed a hold of my chin and leaned in. His lips met mine in a frenzy, immediately overpowering all worry in my mind. When I was with him? When his lips met mine? Nothing else mattered.
I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him closer. I felt his heartbeat pounding against my chest, mimicking my own.
Kyle pulled away suddenly, a grin wide on his face. “Let’s go back to bed, okay?”
“You are the king of distractions,” I joked. “I’m not dropping this conversation that easily. I’m not going back to bed until you promise me you’ll come back.”
It was stupid. I knew that his promise would mean nothing, but I still needed to hear it.
I needed to believe that he’d do everything he could to ensure he’d make it back to me.
I needed to believe that he still stood a chance at succeeding where the other guards had yet to succeed.
I needed him.
“I’ll be fine,” he promised. “I’ll be back before you even have time to miss me.”
I’ll be back before you even have time to miss me. His words repeated in my mind as I stared back at him.
“Okay,” I answered. It wasn’t much, but it would have to be enough. “Until then, I’m not letting you out of my sight.”
Kyle tightened his grip on my hand. “Trust me, I’m counting on that.”
Please do not post this story anywhere else. It is ONLY meant to be posted here on my blog. It'll also be included in the omnibus edition of THE OUTBREAK DUOLOGY, which I'm still writing more bonus content for.

<3 Nicole

No comments:

Post a Comment