This story is by Maria Salmon and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
James parked the rusted Ford in the parking lot of Lucky’s Pub. The beater was the only thing he didn’t lose when his good-for-nothing wife ran off. What did she want, anyway? Blood? For God’s sake, he said he was sorry. Selfish bitch.
James stepped out of the truck, grimacing in pain. Moving his broken ass around was getting harder and harder; but he’d get that shrapnel out, just needed the money first. And Sam. What’s it been—three or four months she’s waited? He’d make everything up to her. Starting today.
James pressed open the front door of the run-down bar to find her waiting for him, arms tightly crossed over her perfect tits, the tiny bar apron wrapped tightly around her waist, sexy as the first day she reported for duty. Fresh from basic training, Sam was tempting enough, but her sapphire eyes and nice ass were more addictive than opium.
Tapping her petite cowboy boot on the greasy floor, Sam narrowed her eyes as the door sucked shut behind him. James swore he saw a glint of defiance in her baby blues. But she was here, working in this empty dump waiting for him, just like he ordered.
“You’re three months late,” she said coolly, eyes flat. Her hair danced in the wind from the shutting door, golden strands falling over her fiery eyes.
Nice to see you, too. James limped towards her, pushing the locks behind her ears. Sam flinched but didn’t look away.
“Missed you, baby,” he said getting an instant hard-on. Her cherry-blossom scent lingered in the air between them. Didn’t matter if it was Fort Bliss, Baghdad, or Bagram. It was all the same—her scent promised heaven.
“Follow me,” she snapped, spinning on her heel, marching past the bar and into the men’s bathroom. Slowly stepping into the latrine, the sharp smell of piss made him gag, but there was a lock on the door. Good. It was filthier than that metal conex they used over in Afghanistan, but it would do. Wrapping his arms around her tiny waist, he was ready to unleash—now.
“How about a quickie?” he asked, licking her ear, powerless to control himself.
“Stop!” she pushed his hands down, trying to break free. She’s friskier than that fat dumpling the other night. What’s gotten into her?
“Slow down, babe,” he whispered, loosening his grip and twisting her to his front. Sam stilled, breathless, then tried jerking away one more time. Like playing with a rag doll.
“Where were you? You said three months. It’s been six.”
Rocking back, James let her go. “I got busy.” So this is how it’s gonna be. She’s gonna make it hard.
“Busy visiting the White House?”
“Jealous?” he teased. Sam scowled.
“I saw you on T.V.”
“Which time?” The past few months flew by, everyone wanted an interview with the newest Medal of Honor recipient. ‘Course they got it—for a price.
“With your wife,” she said, spitting out the words.
“She’s gone.” She stuck around for all the media, though. Split when the cameras left, the piece of trash.
Hands back on hips, Sam demanded, “Just say you’re sorry.”
James grunted. “I know it was hard.” That’s as close as she’ll get to an apology. Why was she being a bitch? She had months to get over this shit already.
“Hard? I did everything you wanted and look where it got me: dishonorably discharged from the Army.”
“Army wasn’t good for you anyway.” Truth is, he doesn’t want her in the army. Too many assholes pawing at her. She was better as a civilian.
“Bullshit. I loved the Army. It was good for me. You weren’t.”
Not this again. Must be on her period. “Where’s the money?”
“We’ll go get it.” Hopefully her place is nearby, they could do it on a bed for once.
“I’m keeping half.” Startled for a second, James started to laugh—this had to be a joke. First she wants and apology and now this! Half his money? For keeping it under a mattress?
Balling up her fist, Sam punched James in the right shoulder, the pain from the largest piece of shrapnel in his body seared through his body. He groaned loudly, still laughing. “Shut up! I’m serious!” she shouted, desperate.
James grabbed her wrists and squeezed, stopping her struggle. “You gone crazy? Half a million?”
Continuing to writhe, she panted, “Did the President know you were a drug dealer when he invited you to the White House?”
“You don’t know shit. Everyone got what they deserved, ‘cept me.”
Sam taunted, “Poor baby. Saving your entire opium supply chain in Afghanistan isn’t bravery, its self-preservation.”
James’ rage exploded like a grenade. Who does she think she is? Everyone made money on the side in that stink-hole, even Generals. She was a lousy busted-down Private. Roughly he picked her up and slammed her against the dirty wall, her head hitting the wall. He’d smash that sass outta her.
“Fuck you,” he seethed between his teeth, “I’m the best leader in the god-damned Army!”
“You worthless bastard! We went out on missions to protect your Afghani connections. Soldiers died on those missions, James!”
“Don’t tell me about sacrifice in war, you bitch.”
“Everyone knew those were your drugs in that footlocker, not mine. I was good soldier. You were the asshole and you got the fucking Medal of Honor.”
James said nothing. He was the bastard, not her. But he was also a hero, and killed more insurgents than his entire company. So what if some of them happened to be warlords from the other side?
“I want half. And my apology.”
Jesus Christ, he screwed up, but everyone made mistakes. So he’d make it up to her. Starting today. Even if he had to force her.
Reaching into his pocket, James pulled out his M9. Resting it on her temple, he ordered, “We’re gettin’ the money. Then you’re coming with me.”