Sunday, 30 August 2009

An Excerpt from “Lost & Found”

Here’s the second of the excerpts I promised you. This one is from Lost & Found and contains some adult material. Honestly, I’d be surprised if you were a regular reader of this blog and were offended by scenes of sex but you never know, so it’s probably best if I warn you.

So consider yourself duly warned – don’t read this excerpt if you don’t want to read about body parts doing things to the body parts of another person.

Lost & Found is available now from the Phaze Books website, Fictionwise, All Romance e-books and other online book stores. It is also available for your Kindle or mobipocket device. In this excerpt Chris and Beth attend her brother's funeral and then 'celebrate life' together.

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BLURB

Beth has lost the most important person in her life—her baby brother. The one person she wants to comfort her lives three thousand miles and five time zones away. And to cap it all, she's fallen out with her father again. Could things possibly get any worse?

Let Marc Nobbs take you on an emotional rollercoaster. From the heart-wrenching sorrow of a military funeral to the hedonistic heights of winning big in Vegas. From the pain of losing a loved one to the passionate consummation of a long-distance love affair. And running through it is The Colonel—a stubborn old mule who won't let some guy from across the pond steal his daughter away.

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Captain Lance Burnett of the US Army 1st Infantry Division was afforded a military funeral at his father’s request. The cortège left his parents’ house and moved slowly east through the town to the cemetery. Townspeople lined the streets and followed behind.

The honor guard carried the casket from the caisson to grave, where it waited to be lowered into the ground. The Colonel and Ellen stood on one side, the honor guard on the other. Forty yards away, a lone bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.”

The whole town had turned out to pay their respects to the fallen hero. A line of black limousines sat parked behind the small stage that had been set up for the cast of scheduled speakers. Television crews and photographers were herded into an area behind yellow ropes off to the side. Their whirrs and shutter clicks added an unwanted soundtrack to the somber atmosphere.

Chris had never seen anything like it. It wasn’t a time of private grief—it was showbiz. He stayed in the background with Beth, who didn’t care for the glare of the cameras. He held her hand as she cried silently and dried her eyes with the handkerchief that he’d given her.

Chris had often heard how grief made women appear sexy. He’d never experienced it and had always doubted it. But it was true. Beth looked stunning dressed in a small black hat, a short black jacket over a white blouse, a tight black skirt and black stockings. Chris knew they were stockings and not pantyhose because he’d seen her putting them on that morning when he’d accidentally walked in on her in the bathroom. Through her grief, Beth gave off an air of sexuality that Chris fought hard to resist. There was something carnal about the commemoration of death that made him want to celebrate life and all its pleasures. And he wanted to celebrate with Beth.

All eyes turned to the local Democratic senator, Hal Richards, when took to the stage to speak. “Captain Burnett was the sort of man that we all wish we could be. High school football star. Academically gifted. He was an exemplary solider. Strong of body and of will, he was liked and admired by both his superiors and those under his command. He was sent to fight a war in which the people of America no longer believe—but he was a courageous man and because of his courage there are people alive today who would otherwise be dead. Those people owe Captain Burnett their freedom and their lives. Like so many of our brave soldiers, Captain Burnett followed his orders and saved lives and asked for nothing in return but our gratitude and support. Captain Burnett was a proud man. A man of honor. And he did his duty. And for that, the people of this town, of this country, thank him.”

“Damn hypocrite,” whispered Beth through her tears.

“How so?” Chris whispered back.

“You should have heard him two years ago. He was in full support of the war.”

Captain Burnett’s commanding officer spoke next. Colonel Martin R. James told the crowd how Captain Burnett had displayed great valor and acted beyond the call of duty. He described how he rescued a kidnapped television crew. “His actions were that of a true American Hero.” There was no mistaking the passion and pride in his voice. “Unfortunately, those actions cost him his life. In recognition of his valor, I have this morning formally nominated him for the Medal of Honor—the highest award our government can bestow. This is the first time I’ve had the privilege to make such a nomination and I have no doubt that the award will be approved—I only wish that Captain Burnett were still with us to collect the medal from the President for himself.” He finished his speech with a salute to the casket and the words, “God speed, Captain.”

Two members of the honor guard removed the flag from the casket, neatly folded it, and handed it to Colonel Burnett while the remaining members of the honor guard fired a three-volley salute. Ellen had cried throughout the funeral. The Colonel had remained stoic until he took the flag, then he too broke down. As the casket was lowered into the ground, a sole bugle played “Taps.” Ellen and The Colonel stepped to the edge of the grave. Ellen threw flowers into it. The Colonel covered his son’s casket with a handful of soil. It didn’t take long for the crowd to disperse—the show was over. Beth remained still until she and Chris were the only people left. Tears had trickled down her cheeks and left streaks of make-up. Her eyes were red and puffy.

“You okay?” Chris asked.

Beth nodded. “I will be. Eventually.”

“Should we go?”

“In a sec. There’s a wake at my folk’s place. I just want to say goodbye properly first.”

They stepped to the grave’s edge, and Beth stared into it. The casket was covered with red roses and a sprinkling of soil. She remained silent. Chris guessed that she was talking to her brother. Finally she said, “I’m so sorry little brother. I’m so, so sorry.” She looked at Chris. “This is all my fault, you know. I should have stopped him from going to West Point. I should have talked him into doing what he wanted, not what The Colonel wanted. He should never have been over there.”

“You can’t blame yourself, Munchkin. He made his own choices.”

“I know.” She wiped her eyes with her jacket sleeve. “He thought this might happen you know. Before he left, he told me he might come home in a body bag. I told him he was being silly. All he had to do was keep his head down and stay away from trouble. And do you know what he said?”

“What?”

“He said, ‘does that sound like me, sis?’ He was right. It didn’t sound like him at all.”

“Excuse me, missy,” said an old man with a shovel who was standing behind them. “Are you going to be here much longer? ’Cause we gotta fill in this here hole before the next one arrives.”

Beth shook her head. “No. No, I’m done.” A solitary tear trickled down her cheek. She kissed the single red rose she was holding and threw it into the grave with the others. “Goodbye, Lance.” She sobbed great, gut-wrenching sobs as Chris put his arm around her and led her away. He took her back to his rented car and drove to her house.

“We should be at my folk’s. I’m expected.”

“I don’t know the way. Besides, I thought you might like to freshen up first.”

She looked at him and smiled. “Thanks, that’s really thoughtful. I won’t be long. I promise.”

Beth was as good as her word. Within fifteen minutes, they had turned into the Burnett’s street. It was lined with parked cars. “There’s a parking lot in Lincoln Gardens,” Beth said. “It’s only a short walk.”

Before they went through the gate into the Burnett’s backyard, Beth stopped and faced Chris. “Whatever happens this afternoon, whatever’s said, I want you to know that I appreciate you being here for me more than anything.”

“What do you think is going to happen?”

“I told you, my parents—well, The Colonel, actually. He blames me for Lance’s death.”

“But that’s crazy. How could it possibly be your fault?”

“I told Lance I didn’t think he ought to be out there. I distracted him apparently.” She shrugged. “He has to blame someone. It couldn’t possibly behis fault Lance was in Iraq, could it?”

“So Lance’s death had nothing to do with him acting the hero to impress his father?”

“Lance didn’t act the hero. He was a hero. He was my hero. Always has been. But, just so you know, I expect this to be difficult. He’s grieving. We all are. I haven’t spoken to The Colonel for over a week and the last time it did, it wasn’t pleasant. I’m scared of what he’ll say. Or what I’ll say. I’m afraid I can be as stubborn as he is sometimes.”

She led him into the yard, where people stood around, drinks in one hand, sandwiches in the other. There was a low hum of stilted conversation. Many heads turned to look at them as they entered and the whispering increased. Chris could guess what they were saying. “Who’s that man with Elizabeth? Have you ever seen him before? No, me neither.”

The Colonel and Ellen were on the far side of the yard, by the marquee, talking with Colonel James and Senator Richards. Beth led Chris over to them, ignoring the looks and whispers.

“I assure you,” said Senator Richards, “that there’s no need to worry. As soon as the election is out of the way, I’ll put on the pressure and get that nomination pushed through as quickly as I can. I’m sure the President’s people will see the media potential of this award. You’ll get your day at the White House to receive your son’s Medal of Honor—even if it’s the next President that hands it over.”

Ellen spotted her daughter first. “Beth, dear. How are you?” She held out her hand and Beth took it.

“I’ll be okay, Mom. How are you?”

“How do you think she is?” said The Colonel, before Ellen could answer.

“Bobby. Don’t.”

“So, you finally decided to show your face, my girl?” The Colonel’s voice cracked as he spoke. His face was drawn. There were bags under his eyes, which glistened with the tears he fought to hold back.

“I needed to stop off at my place first.”

“You needed to be by your mother’s side. By my side. But no, Little Lizzie has to stay in the background.”

“Erm, excuse me,” said Senator Richards. Looking embarrassed, he backed away and went in search of someone else to talk to. Colonel James slipped away without a word.

“You know how I feel, Daddy. Today should have been just for family and friends, not the whole world.”

“Don’t you think your brother deserved a proper send off? A hero’s send off?”

“Yes, I do. I just don’t think that’s what we had today.”

“Your brother was a true American hero. And today we him treated like one.”

Chris looked around. The chatter had stopped and all eyes were upon them. Beth’s mother was staring at the floor, shaking her head.

Beth stared at her father. “What he deserved was some dignity. He wouldn’t have wanted what happened today.”

“Lance was a military man. This is a military family. Why shouldn’t he have a military funeral?”

“I’ve got nothing against a military funeral. But what’s wrong with a small one? A dignified one? Today was all about the show. It was over the top.”

“How dare you, young lady. Your brother is going to receive the Medal of Honor. He deserved the biggest funeral we could give him. He was a hero. A patriot.”

“He wanted to be a lawyer. He only joined the Army because it’s what you wanted. If it wasn’t for you and your outmoded ideals, he wouldn’t even have been in Iraq.”

“That’s enough, my girl. I didn’t raise you to talk to me like that. I expect some respect in my own home. Especially today. But then, why should you change now? You always were an ungrateful little wretch.”

Chris stepped forward. “That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?”

The Colonel looked at Chris with a critical eye. “And just who might you be?”

“Chris Austins. Sir.”

“He’s a friend of mine, Daddy.”

“A friend?” said Ellen in a soft voice. “This is your British friend?”

Colonel Burnett shot daggers at his daughter. His eyes narrowed and anger swept across his face. “You brought a date to your brother’s funeral. Oh, no wonder you wanted to stay in the background! A date! Unbelievable!”

“He’s not my date. He’s a friend. Here to support me.”

“Support you? And where were you when we needed your support? You should be thinking about your family!”

“You’re not the only one who’s upset here, Daddy. You’re not the only one who misses Lance.”

“Stop it! Both of you!” Ellen started to cry. She put her head on her husband’s chest and he put his arm around her.

“See now. You’ve upset your mother. Perhaps you should leave. You and your young man.”

“I think he’s right,” said Chris.

Beth looked up at Chris. Her eyes were wet with tears once more. She nodded and strode towards the gate. Chris followed a few paces behind. Even when they were through the gate, he could still feel the eyes of every guest on him.

They didn’t speak as they walked back to the parking lot, nor throughout the drive home. It was only when they pulled up outside her house that Beth spoke. “You stuck up for me.” It was a statement, not a question.

“I know. I’m sorry about that. It only gave your father another reason to lay into you.”

“Don’t apologize. He’d have had a go at me over you at some point anyway. So don’t be sorry. Actually, I liked it. I’ve never had anyone stick up for me before. Except for Lance, and he’s my brother—that’s his job. Was his job. I guess he won’t be sticking up for me anymore, will he?” Her smile was the saddest Chris had ever seen. He wanted to wipe the tears from her eyes and bring back the sparkle that had been there when she’d first seen him the day before. He wanted to sweep her up in her arms, love her, and protect her. Tell her everything would be all right and that he’d look after her. But he couldn’t. He knew that in less than two weeks he’d by flying out of her life again, and he’d go back to being the guy on the other side of the computer screen.

“It’ll be okay, Beth. The pain will fade with time. You’ll remember the good times you spent with Lance. All the happy times. It’ll be okay.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Guess I’ll have to wait and see. Come on, let’s go inside and watch a movie. I need to take my mind off things. I’ve got ice cream too.”

“Ice cream always helps.”

As soon as they entered the house, Beth pushed Chris against the door, threw herself against him and kissed him. She caught him off guard and slipped her tongue between his lips. He kissed her back until he realized what he was doing. He gently pushed her away. “Beth, we shouldn’t. It’s not right.”

“To hell with what’s right. Who decides what’s right anyway? You? Me? Everyone else? I want you, Chris. I want you now. I haven’t stopped thinking about the way you kissed me last night. It was like something out of a dream—so perfect. Until you pushed me away. I know I should be thinking about Lance today, and I have been, but you’ve been there too, always at the back of my mind. The whole time I was standing next to you, all I wanted was to kiss you. Touch you. Feel you. If losing Lance has taught me anything, it’s that you have to make the most of what you have. And while I have you here, I want to do all the things we’ve talked about online.”

“All of them?”

“All of them. Every last one. I know people will say we’ve only just met, but I’ve known you for two years. And I think I’ve been in love with you all that time. I know that sounds crazy—”

“It’s not crazy.”

“Then what’s wrong? We’ve got two years to catch up on, and only two weeks to do it.”

“And that’s the problem. I’m only here for two weeks. Then it’s bye-bye and back to London. What happens then?”

“Let’s worry about that later.” She held his face in her hands and pulled his lips towards hers. They kissed again, their tongues wrestling. Chris put his hands on her hips and pulled her closer. Her soft flesh pressed against his hard body. He could feel her erect nipples on his chest. His cock throbbed and grew and was painful confined in his tight shorts. He ran his hands up her back, then down to her ass. Her skirt was thin, and what he felt through it surprised him. “You’re not wearing knickers.”

Her eyes had all the sparkle and life of the day before. Her smile was wicked and sexy. She took his hand and dragged him up to the stairs to her bedroom. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pushed her lips against his. He went to wrap his arms around her, but she stopped him and moved his hands to her breasts. Chris squeezed gently and she moaned into the kiss. She ripped open his shirt, ran her hands along his torso and through his thin chest hair. After pushing the shirt from his shoulders and letting it fall to the floor, she ran her nails down his back. Chris shivered.

Beth tore her blouse off and threw it on the floor. Chris massaged her breasts until she stepped away. She hooked her thumbs into her waistband and said, “No knickers?” She wiggled out of the skirt and it fell to the floor. “No. Just really small ones.”

She wore a tiny black mesh thong that told Chris she kept her pubic hair neat and tidy. Her bra was the same material and stretched to breaking point by her breasts. Her nipples were hard. The black material contrasted with her white flesh. Her skin was smooth and her stomach flat and firm. She turned to show him her rear. The thong disappeared between her ass cheeks so that it looked as if she was wearing nothing.

She threw herself at him and they tumbled onto the bed as they kissed. He scooped her breasts out of her bra and caressed them. He teased her by avoiding her nipples and she gasped each time he brushed them. He bent to suck on the hard buds. Her mouth and eyes opened wide and her moans of pleasure were barely audible. She reached behind, unclasped her bra and slipped it off.

“Oh... oh, my god... oh, Chris, don’t you dare stop. That feels so good.” She flung the bra across the room and put both hands on the back of his neck. She pulled him to her tighter. “Oh, yeah... Oh, that’s nice... Oh, my god, don’t stop.”

He pulled away. She whimpered a small protest, but he was only pausing to swap nipples. He alternated nipples, sucking, flicking and rubbing. Eventually, he pulled away and sat up.

“Oh, Chris,” she said. “That was so nice.”

“There’s more to come,” he said.

She smiled. “Me first.” She pushed him onto his back and sat astride him. She kissed his chest, ran her fingers down his torso, and fumbled to open his trousers. She reached inside and squeezed his cock. He lifted his hips so that she could yank his trousers and shorts down. She sat up straight and stroked his cock.

“You know, Chris. I don’t want to wait anymore. There’s so much I could do while I’ve got you like this, but I don’t want to wait.” She pulled her gusset aside and lifted herself up so that she could guide him towards her pussy. She rubbed his cockhead along her entrance and then held him still while she pushed down and engulfed him. “Ohhh, that feels so good. Do you now how long it’s been? Have I told you that? Have I?”

“Once or twice.”

“Nearly three years. Three years, Chris.” She rocked back and forth. “That feels so good. I feel so full.”

He held her hips as she rocked faster. He pushed his hips up to force his cock deeper into her. She cried out and moved faster still. Their fucking intensified, until her whole body tensed as her orgasm started. She shook as it overtook her. Chris held still while she came. She collapsed onto his chest and he held her hips and thrust up into her until he pumped his semen inside her.

She lay on top of him and breathed heavily. Chris was exhausted too. He stared at the ceiling and held her in his arms. He could have lain there all day and all night.

“Beth… That was…”

“I know. Thank you, Chris. Thank you.”

“You’re thanking me? That’s a first.”

“I thank you all the time.”

“No. I mean, it’s the first time a woman’s thanked me after sex.”

“I was brought up properly, Chris. You always thank someone who does something nice for you.” She raised her head and brushed his lips with hers. “And that was very, very nice.”

“Well, get ready for more, ‘cause I’m not done yet,” he said.

“You are for now, Casanova. I haven’t come like that for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I could stand it again just yet.” Beth stood and stretched. “Let’s go eat that ice cream and watch that movie. Then you can do whatever you want to me all night long.”

Chris got off the bed, stood behind Beth and put his arms around her waist. “We could have a shower first. You know, to freshen up.”

“Oh, no you don’t, mister. I know your game. You told me all your tricks, remember. We get in the shower, get all soapy and wind up fucking again. Well, I’m not falling for it. You’ll have to find a whole bunch of new moves.”

Chris grinned. “Guess I’ll have to.”

“Not that you’ll need them. Once I get used to your cock inside me, you can fuck me whenever and wherever you want. Just about. I’m not about to go do it in my parents’ backyard or anything stupid. But until then, you’ll just have to go easy with me. Okay?”

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