Code 11 - KPD SWAT, Book 2
Nico met the love of his life when he was seventeen.
Immediately, he realizes that the gap in their ages is too significant to make a move on her until she’s legal in the eyes of the law. So he joins the United States Navy, killing time until he can come home to her again.
But a tragedy strikes while Georgia is alone and vulnerable, and with no other recourse, Georgia leaves, disappearing without a trace.
After months of searching, he finds her, but quickly realizes that she needs the time to herself to work out her problems on her own.
So he leaves her be, knowing that if she ever felt anything for him, she’d come back home to him.
But it takes her years to return, and in those years, Nico changes, too.
He’s seen too much. Done too much. Lost too much.
He lives his life as a SWAT officer for KPD, goes through the motions of everyday life, but only as half a man. And not even the good half. The US military saw to that.
When the two finally come back together, one question remains. Will she love him as the man he is now, or leave him because he’s not the same man he used to be?
* * * * *
Listen to a sample:
I want to have enough money to decide for myself if money solves everything.
Thirteen years old
“Hey,” a girl’s voice called from in front of me, causing me to look up.
The Hispanic girl smiled at me, walking forward.
She’d been at tryouts today with me. I thought her name was Nikki, but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure.
My brain was still a little foggy from having to run two miles in a time limit I’d never had to meet before.
“Nikki, right?” I asked for confirmation.
I’d meant it to come out a little cooler sounding, but nothing really sounded cool when you had to fight to breathe. I’d at least made it, though.
The poor girls that didn’t make it had to run an extra mile. I’d have collapsed.
She nodded, walking up to me with her soccer cleats in her hand. “Yep. You’re George, right?”
I snorted. “Actually, it’s Georgia. Although, I’ve gotten George before, too.”
She walked at my side through the gym door, laughing when we got an eye full of butt crack when we entered.
There was, apparently, a problem with the ice machine, according to the man’s shirt that said, ‘We’ll always keep you cool, even when you’re hot.’ Under that denoted him as working for Freeze Me.
Classy, I thought.
“So, I know this may sound really weird, but do you wanna go watch a soccer game with me?” Nikki asked as we turned into the girl’s locker room and stopped at our prospective bags.
We didn’t have actual assigned lockers, which was why the room itself looked like thirty five girls exploded all over it.
“When?” I asked hesitantly.
I had to walk home. If I had to walk home after a soccer game, it’d be even later. Then my dad would probably be really, really mad.
She looked at her watch. “Oh, about fifteen minutes or so. It’s on the soccer field we just got off of.”
I thought about it for a moment.
My parents weren’t expecting me until later and, up until now, I’d never had free time to do anything.
Cattle liked to be fed on time.
But I’d gotten the day to myself because my father had hired an extra hand to help out when I started soccer. I’d begged and begged to start on a club team, and he’d finally relented.
Although it was only because my mom had begged him until he’d relented.
Mom had convinced him that it’d help with my college tuition.
I, on the other hand, was just doing it for fun. If a scholarship came out of it, cool. If not, no big deal. I was going to bust my ass and get out of this town no matter what it took.
“Sure,” I said softly. “I think I’d like that.”
She smiled. “So, where do you live? I can see if my brother will give you a ride home.”
We both grabbed our bags and were walking out to the parking lot before I replied.
“Off of 31, on County Road 3311,” I answered hesitantly.
We’d just moved in there and I wasn’t a hundred percent certain on the actual address yet.
I caught her gasp and turned to see her staring at me like I’d grown a second head. “You live at the old Pool place, don’t you?”
I nodded cautiously. “Yeah, we moved in last month.”
“That’s where I live! Well…not there, exactly, but down the road from you!” She grinned.
I turned to her. “You’re kidding me.”
I’d never gone further than our mailbox in all the time we’d been there. I literally never got any time to myself. All of it was spent doing chores of some sort. Although, I had noticed all the tractors moving around the land to the side of us, just yesterday, when I was riding the fence line.
She shook her head. “Nope.”
“That’s awesome,” I muttered as I walked to the back of the cars.
My eyes lingered on a really pretty truck. It was an old Ford with a lift on it. If I could have a truck right now, that’d be the one I’d choose.
“Yeah, this is my brother’s truck,” she said as she saw my eyes lingering on the beauty. She grabbed my hand and led me down the hill that would lead to the field, and I was surprised to see the stands on the opposite sides already filling up.
“Wow, they were cutting it kind of close with our tryouts, weren’t they?” I asked.
Nikki snorted. “Yep.”
“Who’s playing?” I asked as we walked through the gates.
Nikki scanned the rapidly filling stands for a seat and spoke. “Kilgore and Hallsville. My brother plays for Kilgore.”
The whistles started to blow and both teams spread out to their team’s side of the field.
“Hurry,” she said, dragging me forward.
I hurried or I would’ve fallen on my face. Nikki was strong.
I was on the first row of bleachers and walking directly behind Nikki when I saw him.
Tall, dark, and handsome.
Long, strong legs. Big, broad hands. Narrow hips. Hard jaw.
His hair was clipped tightly to his scalp, and the jersey he was wearing fit him perfectly, unlike the other members of the team.
I watched as, with one swift move, he reared back with the ball over his head, and threw it to the referee that was in the middle of the field.
My jaw dropped with the sheer amount of force he was able to put in to the throw.
He’d flung it clear across the field.
I’d only be able to do a quarter of that. On a good day. With the wind blowing.
He further impressed me when he scored only seconds after the referee blew the whistle, signaling for the game to start.
His way of celebrating after scoring made me crack up. He was running in circles with his hands above his head, and I wanted to laugh out loud, but managed to control it. Barely.
He was walking back when it happened.
My world shifted on its axis.
Nikki yelled, “Yeah, Nico!”
This Nico, the one I’d been practically drooling over since I’d made it here, looked at the girl beside me and smiled.
Then his eyes turned to me, and he stopped, blinking rapidly, before one of his teammates jumped on his back and got him moving again.
He grunted and started walking, but his eyes.
Oh, my God, his eyes.
They stayed on me the entire way.
And I could do nothing less than stay connected with him.
“Who’s that?” I asked, my voice cracking slightly when I said it.
Nikki snorted. “That would be my brother.”
Honest to God, the last thing I needed to know, was that that boy lived less than four miles from me.
Sweet baby Jesus.
However, during halftime, when Nikki dragged me out into the field, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I had eyes on me.
Turning to chase a ball that’d been kicked off the side of the field, I stopped as it came to a stop at just this side of the home team’s benches.
What I hadn’t expected was for Nikki’s brother to pick the ball up just as I bent to do the same.
I didn’t expect him to hand the ball to me and not let go.
I didn’t expect to fall head over heels in love with him.
I didn’t believe in love at first sight.
But right then, in that moment it took for him to finally let go of the ball, I was a goner.
Five years later
“I don’t want to go, Nikki,” I groaned.
“Come on, please? I’ll love you forever,” Nikki begged.
I sighed and got up, slipping my feet into the slippers I’d brought with me from home.
“You totally owe me. Like big time,” I snapped as I walked out of her room and down the hall.
I found the stairs easily, having taken them quite a few times in my five years as Nikki’s best friend.
We stayed over at each other’s houses quite a bit. Today just happened to be Nikki’s day, so we stayed at hers. Her brother had come in for leave this weekend, and Nikki wanted to spend some time with him.
Not that I’d seen him do more than sleep in the past twenty four hours.
When I’d come over Friday night, he’d been asleep on the couch.
When I’d woken up this morning, he’d been sleeping on the floor beside the couch.
And when we’d eaten dinner, he’d moved to his room because we were being too loud.
Now, it was nearly midnight and I fully expected him to still be sleeping.
Not standing at the open door of the refrigerator in his boxers drinking directly from the milk carton.
“That’s gross,” I said as I walked into the room.
He looked up at me over the carton and winked, drinking deeply before he put the cap back on and shoved the carton back in the fridge door.
“I was thirsty and there were no cups,” he explained lamely.
I glared at him. “I’m sure there’re some in the dishwasher, if you’d cared to look.”
He wrinkled his nose and crossed his arms over his muscular chest.
My mouth went dry as it only served to bring my attention from his face, where I’d been doing a damn good job at ignoring his near nakedness, to the bulging muscles of his arms.
He looked drool worthy.
Nicolas, Nico for short, was twenty three to my eighteen.
He was Nikki’s big brother and so far out of my league that I couldn’t help being slightly depressed about it.
I’d been in love with Nicolas Giuliani Pena for five years, and was just as much in love with him now as I was when I first saw him.
He had no clue, of course, because I was incredibly good at hiding my emotions.
I had to be with my father. Otherwise I’d be dead meat.
Well, pulverized meat was more truthful.
My dad liked to hit me. He liked to hit my mom, too.
But that was neither here nor there.
What was here, was Nicolas and his sexy as sin body.
“Yeah, but I can’t see in the dark and I left the light off so I didn’t wake you up,” he countered.
“Oh, Diablo, you’re so thoughtful sometimes,” I teased as I started filling up a glass of water. “I brought my blow up mattress, though, so I wasn’t out on the couch today.”
There were times that I didn’t necessarily ‘plan’ on staying over, and those were the days I stayed on the couch. It was nice that he didn’t want to wake me up. The man was considerate, I’d give that to him.
“Why do you call me Diablo?” He asked inquisitively, leaning his lean hips back against the counter.
The motion really accentuated his abdominal muscles.
And try as I might, my eyes slipped down.
The light from the fridge gave off a soft glow that seemed to make Nico’s golden brown skin glow. It made the deep ridges of his abs seemed more pronounced. Or, at least, that was what I was contributing it to. There was really no way that a man, one who’d been beyond ripped before he entered the Navy, could come back looking that much better.
“When you’re playing soccer, it’s like the devil’s on your heels. You leave everyone behind like you’re running for your life,” I answered him honestly.
Did I mention that Nico was a soccer star, too?
He could’ve gone pro, but he’d decided to go Navy instead, much to his mother’s disapproval.
Rosa Pena was a hell of a woman, but just like any Latino mother, she loved her children with a fierce protectiveness that bordered on going overboard. She wanted what she wanted for her kids, and that wasn’t joining the Navy.
I walked up to the kitchen counter and grabbed a glass from the cabinet. The kind that Nico hated because they were too small. ‘A waste of my time,’ he liked to say.
It happened to be the one directly in front of where Nicolas was standing, so my body grazed his as I leaned up and over him.
He didn’t move, and I didn’t ask him to as our bodies grazed.
Goosebumps started to chase down my spine as I felt his overheated skin against mine.
I held back a shiver as I stepped away from him and started filling up the glass.
Once filled, I closed the fridge door, plunging the room into darkness. Then I leaned back against the counter next to him, shoulder to shoulder.
“How do you like the Navy?” I asked into the dark.
I felt him take a deep breath next to me.
“It’s okay, I guess. I don’t really know what I expected…not what I’m doing, that’s for sure. I’ve met some really good friends, though. One of them actually lives fairly close to me. The others live in Las Vegas. Two brothers, if you can believe it,” he murmured.
He didn’t see how the sound of his voice sent goosebumps dimpling all over my skin.
My elbow hit the digital camera I’d left on the counter earlier and I grinned.
I’d been wanting a new picture of him for a while, but he never let me take one, something about national security and all that B.S.
My camera was my pride and joy.
I’d saved up for nearly two years to buy this bad boy and I’d just gotten it last week.
I couldn’t think of a better subject.
I turned the camera switch to the ‘on’ position and backed away from the counter.
Aiming it at where I thought his face would be, I depressed the button and a bright flash lit up the kitchen.
I smiled when I saw the picture.
It was a good one of him, most definitely with it being dark.
“You know,” Nico sighed. “You can’t post that picture anywhere. You can have it, just don’t put it on any social media. Or anything. Ever. Okay?”
Curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn’t help what I asked next. “You’re not like a hit man or anything, are you?”
He chuckled. “No. I’m not a hit man. I’m a SEAL. And we can’t just have our pictures floating all over the internet. Our lives could depend on it.”
That was new to me.
“When did that happen?” I asked.
Setting the camera down on the counter, I leaned up against the counter again. This time we touched from shoulder to thigh.
“A year or so ago,” he said.
I could practically feel him roll his eyes.
“So, when do you have to go back? You practically wasted your first two days on the couch,” I teased.
He sighed. “I have…had a week. I go back on Friday.”
I turned to look at him. “You’re going to make our graduation?”
He looped an arm around my shoulders. “Yep.”
I shivered at the touch. A touch that I’d wanted for so long.
Although not quite the touch I yearned for, it would do.
I leaned my head onto his shoulder, staying like that for a few long moments before he pulled away.
Except it wasn’t to let go of me, but to turn so his body was in front of mine, leaning into me, pushing my hips into the counter.
“You’re legal now,” he whispered.
I felt his breath on my lips.
If I leaned closer…I’d be able to touch my lips with his.
Our mouths touched briefly, but just as quickly, he was gone.
And Nikki was in the kitchen, the lights flaring bright.
“Water, woman! How hard is it to grab some water? Oh,” Nikki exclaimed. “Nico, you’re finally awake!”
We both blinked at Nikki’s impeccable timing of turning on the lights.
Then we both got our first good looks at each other.
I was in my usual of a long t-shirt of my brother’s that reached my knees and some really short shorts. Ones that could pass for panties, if I was being truthful.
He was in a pair of boxer briefs. The type that left very little to the imagination.
His hair was shorter than I was used to, buzzed closely to his head.
He had on a pair of dog tags that hung between two defined pectoral muscles, and his smooth toffee colored skin looked gorgeous. Although, he did have a new scar that ran the length of his arm.
“Well, my clock’s a little backwards from what I’m used to. I was up all night last night, but I didn’t have the energy to wake up with y’all this morning,” he said, explaining away his tiredness.
Nikki walked into his arms and hugged him fiercely. “If you can manage it, mama’s making chorizo and eggs in the morning. The kids miss you.”
The ‘kids’ were Nikki’s and Nico’s sisters. There were six of them in total, including Nikki and Nico, ranging in age from nine to eighteen.
Nikki was the second oldest, and one of five girls, similar to what I was with my own family of all brothers.
That’s why we’d gotten along so well, because we both had overprotective brothers that didn’t like that their baby sister was old enough to date.
“I’ll try, sis. I really will,” he promised.
I was looking down at my hands, trying to will them not to shake from the moment we’d almost shared.
“If Georgia tries a piece of the chorizo, I’ll promise to stay up,” he declared.
I made a gaggy sound. I hated chorizo. A Spanish form of sausage, it made me want to barf every time I smelled it.
Nico, however, loved it. He loved it so much that he wanted me to love it, too. Except it smelled like ass and I didn’t want anything to do with it.
Nikki laughed as she grabbed her cup of water and left the room, leaving the two of us staring at each other.
I’d planned on leaving before breakfast.
I had to go help my brothers with the farm work, because they couldn’t get it all done by themselves.
“I can’t stay. I have to be out of here by five. We’re moving the cattle to a different pasture in the morning,” I explained.
I was already tired.
It’d be a long day tomorrow, but I’d get through it. I only had four more days, then I was away to college.
I could do four more days.
Nico smiled at me, a warm me to my bones and more, kind of smile. “Maybe a graduation dinner before I leave on Saturday. To celebrate.”
“Friday afternoon is the only day I can do,” I said. “The other three days I’ll be branding cows,” I explained.
He nodded. “Friday.”
Except, the next morning, something happened that would change the course of my life. Taking away everything that I thought my life might be, even my dreams.
Nico being one of them.
I never made dinner.