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Part & Parcel
Cover of Part & Parcel
Part & Parcel
A Sidewinder Story
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Nick O'Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend's call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.

Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.

Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli's letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave — and from each other.

Nick O'Flaherty and Kelly Abbott had their happy ending in sight when a friend's call for help almost ended with them losing it to the blade of a knife. Now, in the aftermath of near-disaster, both men are trying to heal and move on.

Moving on together, though, is harder than either of them realized it would be. Kelly struggles with simply being a lover instead of the Doc, while Nick is mired in his recovery. The distance between them inches along in stilted silence.

Desperately seeking solace, Nick finally gathers the courage to sort through the possessions his dear friend and fellow Sidewinder teammate Elias Sanchez left him when he died. Instead of comforting memories, Nick and Kelly find a stack of letters and strict instructions from Eli that prompt them to send out a call for assistance. With Eli's letters in hand, Sidewinder sets out on one last mission together, seeking peace and absolution from beyond the grave — and from each other.

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    There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.

    ~ Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

    Chapter One

    1999

    Lights flashed. People screamed in the distance. Nick's back hit the ground, and it was all blue sky and smoke. His body was cold when it should have been hot, going colder by the second. The sounds faded, and then the light, and there was peace for a while. Just sweet peace.

    When Nick woke, pain flooded him like he'd never felt before. He jerked, fighting for breath, clawing at whatever was burning inside his right arm.

    "Hold him down!" someone yelled. "Jesus Christ! Hold him!"

    "Irish," someone breathed close to his ear. A smooth voice, one that meant safety and home. "Irish, it's Six. You got to be calm, bud."

    Nick immediately tried to still himself. If Ty was telling him to calm, it meant his panicking was a threat to someone. Where were they? Were they still out in the field? Were they prisoners again? Pain burned through him. He gritted his teeth and fumbled around for Ty's hand, desperate for something — anything — to ground him.

    "Six." Nick gasped, barely recognizing his own voice.

    Ty's fingers were hot in Nick's hands, but Ty's grip was unwavering. "We've got you."

    "Who the fuck let this bag run out?" someone else shouted. Nick belatedly recognized Kelly's voice, and damn, he sounded pissed. "Get out of the fucking way! You can't do your job, I'll do it for you!"

    Ty's face swam into Nick's flickering field of view. He had Nick's hand in both of his, holding Nick's fingers close to his face the way they'd held each other every night in captivity. Nick clung to him, breathing hard, trying not to beg for help.

    "You're okay. Hold on, Irish."

    Nick stared into his eyes, clutching at him until cold began to soak into his arm. It climbed through his veins, cloying, cloudy, seeping into every part of him and pushing out the heat and pain.

    "That's it, bud," Ty whispered. He petted Nick's face, thumb resting against Nick's cheekbone. "You're okay. It's all okay."

    Nick closed his eyes, trusting Ty to be telling him the truth.

    When he woke again, it was to a much more pleasant world. The pain was just a distant whisper at the edges of his being, and the panic had left him with Ty's assurances. He turned his head, squinting against the bright lights. He could hear someone sweeping, accompanied by the tinkle of broken glass and the rustle of plastic. And of course the beeps and whirring of monitors that he knew all too well.

    "O'Flaherty?" Kelly said carefully. His voice was a whisper, as if he wasn't sure that Nick was really conscious and didn't want to wake him if he wasn't.

    Nick turned his head to find Kelly sitting on the other side of his bed, a tentative smile on his face. "Hey, Doc."

    Kelly set aside the book he'd been reading and scooted his chair closer. He rested one elbow on the edge of the bed, giving Nick a small smile. "Welcome back, Staff Sergeant."

    "The others?"

    "All okay. You were the only casualty."

    "What'd I lose?"

    "Your pride," another voice answered. It took Nick far too long to focus on the man who'd come up behind Kelly. Elias Sanchez bent closer, as if he realized Nick couldn't see him. "Not only did you get yourself shot, but you also lost our bet."

    "Bullshit," Nick grunted, closing his eyes again.

    Eli and Kelly both chuckled at him. Eli tapped Kelly on the shoulder. "Six needs you for his report. I got this."

    Kelly gave Eli his chair, offering Nick a...

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Abigail Roux
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