Winner of the Swirl Award for best LGBT Romance!
Jaxx Steele’s Care Package
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Butler Army Base, 2003
“Come in!” Sergeant Roman called, lifting his eyes to the door.
Private Styles entered the room and stood behind the chair that sat in front of the large oak desk. At perfect attention, staring straight ahead with his chest out and back straight, he was the epitome of a model soldier. Roman had to force away the grin that threatened to spread across his face.
“At ease, soldier.” He waited for the man’s posture to relax with his arms behind his back and legs shoulder width apart before continuing. “You are here because you’ve requested an audience with me. Is that correct?”
“I have granted your request, Private Styles. Please feel free to speak freely.”
“Yes sir,” he said, softening his tone. “The private would like to know if he has been an adequate soldier, Sergeant.”
Sergeant Roman was taken aback. He dropped his pen, pushed back the papers he’d worked on, then leaned his chair all the way back.
“Of course. In the two years you’ve been in my unit you’ve become a very good soldier,” he answered. “I am proud to have you in my camp.”
A small smile came and went quickly before the young soldier continued. “Have you had any disciplinary problems with this private, sir?”
Roman’s brows knitted in confusion. “No. Your behavior has been exemplary from day one.” He sat his chair up to lean casually on the desk. “Where is this line of questioning going, Private?”
Styles took a deep breath and lowered his head to gain eye contact with his superior officer. His voice was tight when he spoke.
“This private would like to know what he has done wrong, sir.”
“Wrong?” Roman’s head tilted to the left feigning misunderstanding. “What makes you think you’ve done something wrong?”
He leveled a perplexed look on him. “I was in my bunker, and I overheard the men talking about you making plans to transfer me to another unit on the other side of the base. If I haven’t done anything wrong, why are you getting rid of me?”
The anguish in his voice was like a vise around Roman’s heart. He blew out a long breath, sliding his hand over his head, then down his hairless face.
“It was for your own good, private,” he answered in a sigh.
“My own good? How can that be?”
“I’m trying to protect your future in the Army, Styles. You need to be away from me to have that.”
Roman shook his head. “The tension between us has grown, Styles. Are you going to deny it? It’s only a matter of time before someone else sees it. As senior officer in this situation the duty is mine to—”
Private Styles stared at him wide eyed then his face exploded in anger. He spoke in an urgent whisper.
“I don’t care about duty or my future in this damn Army either for that matter…not if it means I have to leave your side.”
“I thought it would be best to put some distance between us. It will help the situation in the long run.”
Styles gasped. “What? The long run? You thought it best? How can you—” He choked on his words. His breathing quickened as he walked back and forth, muttering incoherently. Styles’ demeanor no longer resembled a soldier’s, but rather that of a confused, dismissed lover.
Roman fidgeted in his chair, trying to calm his rapidly beating heart. He could see that the man was getting upset, and he too felt the sting of his words, but Roman was in charge. It was up to him to be the composed one.
“It is my duty as your commanding officer to—”
Roman’s mouth snapped shut. The passion in the other man’s outburst stopped him in his tracks. The pain his words inflicted was evident on his face. That had not been his intention. All he wanted to do was make sure that they had a future where they were, and some sacrifices had to be made to ensure that.
“Private, you are dangerously close to being insubordinate with your tone.”
Styles held the bridge of his nose as he took several deep breaths and blinked away obvious tears. Leaning forward, holding the chair for balance, his gaze was intense and his words were slow and deliberate.
“I want you to tell me that you don’t want me. That you think it is best for us to be apart. Give me the order to leave you. I want to hear it from your lips, not read it off a piece of paper, and I will go and never bother you again,” he finished, pointing at the door.
Roman left his chair as the request ran through his mind. Styles was distraught over his decision. The look he landed on him seared his soul. Roman had to turn away from it. His sense of duty rose within him, in battle with what his heart felt. Private Styles’ suggestion was exactly what he should do. He was a seasoned soldier in the United States Army. Protocol dictated nothing less, and so did the law of the land. Roman turned around. Styles stood waiting for his response. He was young, too young to have so much passion for Roman. His mouth was parted and his bottom lip quivered slightly. For more nights than he could count, Roman had stroked his cock thinking about that very mouth bringing him to completion instead of his hand. The brilliant blue eyes that stared back at him haunted his dreams nightly. They sparkled with distress and unshed tears. Seeing the anguish there was like a knife in his heart. He just wanted to ease Styles’ pain. Knowing that he was the cause of that hurt was his undoing. He quickly closed the distance between them and slipped his hand behind his subordinate’s head.
“God help me, but I cannot give that order,” he said, then fused their mouths together.