Halos and Heroes Ch. 21


Thank you all who have been reading and following along. I always appreciate getting feedback. It helps with becoming a better writer and it’s always an ego boost, so feel free to reach out. I will always respond!

The usual spiel: This isn’t a stroke story, (more porn with plot.) Be warned, it’s very long. 33 chapters, and many sexless ones, which is why it was originally published under novels/novellas, but readers asked for it to be put under gay male due to content, so here we go.

BREAKING NEWS: For those patient souls who made it this far, the sexiness is about to begin!

This book is dedicated to all of the brave service members and their families who sacrifice so much every day so that the rest of us can enjoy the liberties that they swear to protect and uphold.

Although references in this novel may be made to actual places or events, the names, characters, incidents, and locations within are complete works of fiction. They are not a resemblance to actual living or dead persons, businesses, or events. Any similarity is coincidental. In an effort to do the United States Army justice, and to show my respect to my country, I have applied all possible efforts to merge fact and fiction to entertain, while portraying the military, and the hardships and achievements of soldiers, with respect, dignity and accuracy to the best of my abilities. It’s my hope that I’ve done you all justice, and that all of the creative licenses taken with this novel are understood to be the efforts of imagination, and not any judgment or disrespect against the U.S. military. Thank you all for your service.


We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea.


After the buildup of sexual tension between us at the café, I’d known that Ben wouldn’t drop me off at Sofia’s, and that was fine with me. We were quiet on the way to Ben’s, though the hand not steering the truck never left mine. Occasionally, his thumb would sweep over the sensitive webbing between my thumb and forefinger, ratcheting up the tension between us another notch. By the time we reached his place, the need to touch him and to be touched had me crawling out of my skin. My disappointment tasted sour when he led me out toward the stretch of beach behind his property instead of up his front steps, but curiosity kept my protests in my throat for the time being.

I’d never had sex on a beach; wet sand in my junk wasn’t my idea of a good time. I’d fucked in worse places though, and none of those people had ever come close to turning me on the way Ben did. At this point, if he said jump, I’d ask how high without worrying what my landing would be like on the other side. A smarter man would’ve pressed for that other side to be the warmth of Ben’s bed, since the wind off the ocean was restless.

Thick layers of waves curled their white caps toward the darkening Şirinevler Escort sky. A storm was coming, but with Ben’s hand in mine I found a strange comfort in the rowdy rumble of the Atlantic Ocean. That swirling sea was a safety zone for me right now. One hazard that I could protect Ben from by simply keeping my body between his and the swirling water. Alone, by the ocean’s edge, there was no worry that I wouldn’t be fast enough to stop a bullet meant for him. As long as I could hear the waves—such a different landscape than the dusty plains of endless desert—we were safe.

There’d been a time when Florida’s briny tang of ocean water and ozone did nothing but recreate memories better left forgotten. Sand and exotic spices had created another scent of familiarity when I was stationed overseas, but life moved on.

The sudden crack of thunder caught me off guard, tearing apart my moment of tranquility by releasing old memories of echoic gunfire. My steps faltered, and I knew that Ben felt the sudden rigidity in my body when his thumb stroked over my hand to soothe me. I gave it a press in return, then let go, slipping an arm over his shoulders instead. I did it more to ground myself than to be close to him, but Ben didn’t seem to care about the reason. The move still dragged a smile out of him, and he hummed as we walked. The tune sounded like Ave Maria. I let myself be swept away by his low baritone that somehow managed to drown out the sound of Mother Nature’s grumbling.

Playing with angry elements wasn’t the smartest idea though, so I asked, “Do you want to go in?”

Ben shook his head, bending down to undo his laces so he could slip off his socks and shoes. Leaving them in a small neat pile, he rolled up his pants, then held out his hand after I did the same. It was tempting to make an asinine comment about the cliché of moonlit strolls on the beach, but I kept my mouth shut. What was the point of being rude, especially when I wanted to experience the simplicity of sand and water between my toes after so many years of combat boots and dusty desert? If lightning took us out just on principal because we were stupid enough to tempt it by inviting the water to lick around our ankles, I’d still die a happy man.

At some point we reached an outcropping of rock near the water and stopped walking. We sat on the damp stones, watching the water break hard against the shoreline. Its intensity contrasted with the quiet content I felt when Ben laid his head against my shoulder. My earlier panic dissolved like the foam tipping the waves when they hit the sand.



“What are you thinking about?”

“Nothing right now.”

I felt his smile against my shoulder. “I shut you down? Sweet.”

I smirked. “Temporarily. It’s nice to have a few minutes to myself even if it’s in my own head. I love the girls and Sofia, but they need a lot of attention.”

“Girls usually do,” Ben said. “It’s why I go for boys—less maintenance Şirinevler Escort Bayan required.” He smiled up at me. “It doesn’t make you a bad person to want something that’s just yours, Sam. Doesn’t mean you love them any less.”

I nodded. “I adore Emma and Adelyn, that little snot. I look at them sometimes and just think, mine.”

“Possessive much?”

He was teasing, but I still felt my ears heat with embarrassment. “Lil’ bit. I protect what’s mine.”

“How do you define what’s yours?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, sinking my hands back into the soft cool sand.

“Just want to know what to do to get on that list.”

My heart thudded, but I kept my voice light. “Persistence pays off…”

Ben shifted his position so he could move closer to me. “Is that so? How close am I exactly?”


Ben’s grin mirrored mine, and my heart thumped hard against my ribs as I got to see desire clouding the happiness in his eyes before his face filled up my world, too close to think. When his mouth made contact—just his parted lips against mine—rational contemplation went right out the window.

We were still for a moment, then someone moaned. For the sake of my pride I’d like to believe it was him, but I felt the rumble of my vocal cords as he took my mouth again.

Since we’d met, Ben had been trying to get me to see God. I couldn’t say I was there yet, but Heaven was close as Ben slid his free arm around my waist to hold me. The stubble along his cheeks rasped my skin, emphasizing the warm soft curve of his lips, and the sleek tease of his tongue as he invited me into the hereafter. I nipped Ben’s lower lip when I felt the light scratch of his fingernails as his hand wormed beneath my tee shirt and jacket. A hiss escaped my throat from their cool touch and he grinned at me.

I wanted to swallow him whole, needing him inside of me in any way I could have him. I breathed him into my lungs, not wanting to come up for air. No one could accuse me of doing things half assed. When I made the decision to commit to something, I went all the way.

Ben shuddered when my mouth dragged along his collarbone, leaving a damp trail of intention behind. A long finger hooked under my chin, bringing me back up so he could kiss me until dots began dancing before my eyes. His own were cloudy with arousal when he stood, dusting off the seat of his jeans. Grains of sand lifted in a gentle swirl like pixie dust; it had to be some kind of magic for me to believe we might actually have a shot.

“Now it’s time for us to go in,” he said.

This time it was me who reached for Ben’s hand, holding on tight as I allowed him to grab our things and lead me toward the house.

The rain began to fall the moment our feet touched the back steps. I dropped my sneakers on the porch and turned my face up to the rain, letting the drops splatter it like that would extinguish the fire that burned in my body waiting for Ben to release Escort Şirinevler it. As if he could read my mind, Ben dragged me toward him, disregarding the pouring rain. He was the only stable thing in my spinning world as he took my mouth hard in a kiss so hot it threatened to vaporize the water on my skin.

All I could feel, all I could think about, was him. I was so far gone I didn’t even know he’d opened the door until I found myself wedged up against the other side of it. His hands on the wall beside my head braced his body over mine. He made no move to close the gap he’d put between us, but we didn’t need to touch. The intensity of his gaze still sent a slow shudder rippling through my entire body. He wanted me. I could see that truth in the darkening of his hazel eyes as his pupils dilated with arousal. But he was waiting for something. I had a feeling I knew what it was, and the expectation made my mouth go dry.

Had Ben taken me right then and pounded my ass until I walked like John Wayne, I could have left afterward and returned to a life where I gave everything to my family, and drowned in a sea of self-martyrdom. But he held off, letting me find the way through the maze of my bullshit on my own.

It was stupid to keep going. The odds that this would work out between us weren’t in our favor, but I still wanted Ben underneath me. In me. When I slid my arms around his waist, Ben didn’t pull away. There was a noticeable vibration sliding along my arms, but I couldn’t tell if the nerves were mine or his. Ben’s tongue slid across his lower lip, and that subconscious gesture made my cock twitch.

Jesus, Ben, what are you doing to me?

“What do you want me to do?” I hated the sudden unsteadiness in my voice.

“Whatever you want. This is your bridge.”

“Is there a toll to get across?”


Ben’s soft hum of surprised pleasure swept over me with more force than the waves outside when I hooked my foot through his and used his temporary disorientation to press my advantage and reverse our positions. Having his back to the wall didn’t fade the smile curving Ben’s mouth in invitation. He still had the control, and he knew I loved it.

He relaxed in my hold, letting his head rest back against the wall while I memorized every line and angle of his face. With most of my focus on the full curve of his upper lip, it was a miracle I even noticed the subtle tremble along his skin when I tangled our fingers together and braced our joined hands over his head on the wall.

Ben’s lips parted, and I leaned in just enough to trace the edges with the tip of my tongue. Our noses bumped when he tilted his face to get closer.

“You can still walk away, Sam. Just let go,” he murmured.

“You don’t want me to leave.”

“It’s not about what I want. This is a one-way toll.”

Goosebumps prickled my skin, and my knees threatened to buckle when I brought my hips closer to his. My heart slammed hard against my ribcage. Ben was the bridge and I knew what the toll had to be.

Years of survival instincts told me that this was my moment to back off, and keep my walls and sanity intact. But even as the thought crossed my mind, my head dipped. I was going to stay and, dammit, I was going to pay whatever toll it took to get a taste of him.