Please welcome my birthday guest - Jamie Lynn Miller!
Hello everyone! Many thanks to Nicole for asking me to be one of her party guests. Happy 40th, Nicole! Just remember, “Growing old is mandatory. Growing UP is optional.” :-)
For my party gift I wrote up a brand new snippet with Connor and Shawn from my new release, Broken Soldier. It’s hard to remember to celebrate birthdays when you’re chasing down terrorists…
Sergeant Connor Finley fell back against his bed roll with a grateful sigh, staring up into the millions of stars shining brightly overhead from where he lay on the edge of the sand in the Sudan desert. It was the end of a successful mission, and for once no one was chasing them or shooting at them. It was a rare opportunity to relax and Connor was going to take full advantage of it.
Connor looked across the small fire at his partner. From the looks of it, Sergeant Shawn Weller had the same idea, also laying on his back, arms behind his head, eyes closed, a content expression on his face.
A companionable silence had fallen between them, which is why the single beep from Shawn’s watch sounded so loud in the quiet desert night.
Connor raised his head and looked at his own watch as Shawn sat up and started rummaging around in his backpack. Midnight.
Curious, Connor rolled to his side. “What is it, mate?” he questioned his partner.
Shawn held up a finger and continued pulling out items from his bag until he turned around and triumphantly held up a small box wrapped in plain brown paper. He moved over and sat down next to Connor and held out the box to him.
“Happy 35th birthday, Finn,” Shawn smiled.
Connor grinned in return and accepted the gift. His birthday. And a milestone one at that. He’d nearly forgotten. Easy to do when you were chasing down terrorists.
“Well go ahead, don’t just stare at it, open it up,” Shawn told him.
Connor shook his head at Shawn’s eagerness and tore off the brown paper to reveal – a box of Earl Grey tea bags. Connor’s laugh was loud and surprised.
“How on earth did you get this?” he questioned Shawn, smiling.
Shawn shrugged. “Mandy gets the credit. I told her what I wanted to get you and the next thing I know the box is in my locker at HQ.”
“Well then I’ll just send her the thank you note,” Connor joked then chuckled at Shawn’s offended expression. “No, seriously, thank you, Shawn,” he said sincerely, as a pang of homesickness hit him, looking at the box. “It’s been ages I’ve had a proper cup of tea.”
“You’re welcome, buddy. Though how you can drink that…” Shawn trailed off and made a face like he was sucking on a lemon.
Connor laughed. “You’re such a heathen! Have you ever even tried drinking tea?”
“I prefer my drinks to be a bit more…manly,” Shawn answered with a smirk, pulling out his silver flask filled with whiskey and taking a long swallow.
Connor shook his head then picked up his tin cup from where it was sitting next to the fire, still filled partially with water. He pulled out his canteen and filled his cup up the rest of the way before carefully placing it on the edge of the fire to boil. He didn’t care if it was 85 degrees out and he was in the middle of a desert. It was his birthday and he was having a hot mug of tea.
A few minutes later Connor busied himself with carefully removing his cup and dropping a tea bag in. He didn’t let it steep for long, eager for a taste of home and nearly burned the inside of his mouth on the hot water. He closed his eyes with a pleased sigh as the familiar flavor of the Earl Grey exploded across his tongue.
Shawn laughed. “Dude. It looks like someone’s giving you the best blow job of your life.”
Connor cracked one eye open. “See what you’re missing out on by not drinking tea?”
Shawn snorted and took another swallow of his whiskey as Connor smiled and closed his eyes again.
They drank in comfortable silence for several minutes before Connor set down his empty cup and turned to his partner.
“Thank you,” he said softly.
Shawn smiled. “You already said that.”
Connor shook his head. “No, for this.” He waved a hand between them. “For us.” He paused for a moment. “This life we live…it’s hard and it’s lonely. I didn’t think it was possible to find happiness among the death and violence that surrounds us. But I found it. With you. You’re my gift, Shawn,” he finished, voice rough.
Shawn was very still beside him, staring at Connor intently. He could tell his words had affected his partner, he saw it reflected in those piercing blue eyes. Not that the hard-ass, tough-as-nails solider would ever admit it out loud, though. Sure enough…
“Thanks for that Hallmark card moment, Finn,” Shawn cracked.
Connor shook his head in exasperation. “Fuck you,” he laughed.
Shawn moved then, straddling Connor’s waist and cupping Connor’s face in his hands. “God, I hope so,” Shawn ground out, then he was kissing Connor hard.
It wasn’t long after that Connor admitted Earl Grey tea had nothing on Shawn.
Sergeant Connor Finley and Sergeant Shawn Weller are dedicated soldiers working covert ops for Shadow Unit -- a joint UK/US anti-terrorism task force.
Partners in the field and out, they had been through hell together for the last four years and made it through standing side by side. But when their latest undercover op to bring down an arms dealer plunges them into a world of drugs, sex and violence, Shawn must literally get in bed with the enemy in order to complete the mission. And Connor is forced to watch, helpless, as his partner is broken into pieces.
Will love be enough to put them both back together or will this be their final mission?
Jamie Lynn Miller:
Jamie Lynn Miller has been writing fiction since childhood and decided to take the plunge and go pro in 2008, finding to her amazement that people truly enjoyed her love stories. She’s a romantic at heart, and her tales reflect the desire we all have to find “the one,” persevering through trials and heartache for that happy ending.
Jamie has a degree in fine arts and has spent the last twenty years working as a graphic designer, though she’d much rather be writing. She was born in Chicago and still lives there today with her husband and their two furry, four-footed children, er… cats.
If she’s not brainstorming story ideas, you can find Jamie at a sci-fi convention, in front of a furnace doing glass blowing, or on a mat twisted into a yoga pose.