Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 36
“He wears boxers!” I protest.
But otherwise his description of what Tony is probably doing right now sounds entirely too realistic.
“Even worse,” he says in disgust. “Sounds like the perfect stereotype of every lazy heterosexual man mooching off his girlfriend that I’ve ever heard of.”
I have no idea how Lance accurately knows what my boyfriend does— or doesn’t do— all day. I suppose I’ve complained about him one too many times.
“Well, I guess I have nothing else to do now except go home and hear about his progress in Call of Duty,” I say, with a sigh.
“Does he spend any time looking for a job?” he asks.
I shrug. “Probably not.”
“And it’s been how many months now since he lost his?”
“Too many. But Lance, I know it sounds like an excuse— that I’m giving him, not even that he’s giving himself, which might be part of the problem— but I really think he’s depressed. He just mopes around all day and gets so irritated over nothing.”
“That could be, but it doesn’t change the fact that I hate to see you like this. You are such a go-getter and so ambitious, and he’s admittedly a pessimist who intentionally or unintentionally mooches off you.”
“Well, when you put it like that…”
I slump down further in the chair, not at all excited about going home. I guess I can’t argue with Lance. Reality is in his favor.
“Well, Love, I would take you out for a drink to drown your sorrows and cheer your spirits, but I’m doing something much more exciting,” Lance says.
From the tilt of his head and the smile that he’s obviously trying to hide, I know he doesn’t really believe it.
“There’s a conference and seminar for physical therapists,” he says. “The military is presenting an award to a hot shot doctor who has worked with some of the same patients we do and who is going to start sending us even more referrals.”
“What kind of a doctor?”
“A reconstructive surgeon or some other such fancy title,” he says. “But that’s about all I know. Apparently his work is fascinating. I know it’s no hot date with your Studmuffin Moochie, but it really could be interesting. And enlightening for your career. You should come.”
I look at him dubiously. I’m not sure what reconstructive surgery has to do with physical therapy, but I am intrigued by anything that can help my career.
“Why not?” I look down at my phone one more time, but there’s been no new activity. No sudden bursts of apologetic text messages from Tony. And I was stupid to think that such texts would come. “What else do I have to do?”
“Exactly,” says Lance.
I slide my phone into my back pocket as I follow him out the door. I’m not sure that this conference sounds very exciting but I figure it beats going home to find Tony in his boxers playing Call of Duty.
The conference is in a different part of the base than our clinic is located, so Lance and I arrive there a little late. We have no choice but to sit in some folding chairs in a makeshift row that someone obviously set up when they realized there would be more people here than anticipated. It’s a bit too close to the front for my comfort but at least we don’t have to climb over too many people’s laps.
“Excuse me, pardon me,” Lance says as we make our way to the empty seats.
I admire his confident way of not caring that people always turn around and inspect him. I guess he’s used to it by now. Even though it’s become officially okay to be a gay member of the military, that never stops people from staring.
The doctor on stage is already speaking.
“I would like to present my finest example of these techniques of which I’ve been speaking,” he tells the crowd. “Let me first introduce him by showing some photos. This is Harlow Bradford, eight months ago.”
A slide show begins, featuring photos of military servicemen in uniform, in diving and jumping gear, on a mountain, in front of and inside a helicopter, and more. It’s a picturesque scene of camaraderie and heroism.
“Look at that hunk of military man meat,” Lance whispers, pointing at the face that appears in each of the slideshow pictures, while knocking his knee against my own.
“Shhhhh!” I tell him, but I can’t help but stifle a giggle.
“I’d definitely be asking him, now that we’re allowed to ask and tell…” Lance continues, and I look away from him so that I don’t laugh out loud.
The Harlow guy featured in all the photos is definitely a looker— as are many of the men in the pictures, including two guys in the majority of the photos who look as if they could be his brothers.
“Harlow Bradford is a real American hero— a veteran of multiple wars and an elite member of the United States Navy SEALs. He spent years rescuing injured servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. Until…”
At this point, the doctor pauses dramatically. I’m beginning to feel like I’m watching America’s Got Talent or a televangelism special, and I’m a bit annoyed by the antics.
“…until Harlow’s helicopter was shot down after he had successfully rescued victims of another fallen plane, and he suffered catastrophic injuries. His face and skull were burnt and damaged nearly beyond recognition.”
The next photo is indeed of a nearly unrecognizable face. It’s burnt, scarred and ruined. I can’t help but join the collective audience gasp. Not even Lance has anything to say, for once. I’ve never seen anyone look so bad and end up living, which I’m assuming this man did.
“By using a mix of technology, science, and medicine, including skin grafts, 3D printing, and surgery, I was able to restore Harlow’s face to almost like new.”
Some members of the crowd clap, but the doctor waves a hand, signaling that he’s not finished.
“This level of facial reconstructive surgery had never previously been achieved,” he continues. “And that’s why Davis Technologies is on the cutting edge. It’s also why we’re committed to helping members of our military, such as Harlow.”
Everyone claps loudly now, and I join in, a bit skeptically. There’s something gloating and almost showboating about this doctor, and I’m not sure I like him. But he’s definitely done something amazing for this man’s face and future, and for that I feel compelled to applaud him.
“And now, I introduce the one and only Harlow Bradford, who is here in person for today’s presentation.”
The audience gasps and I almost feel sorry for the man who is about to step on stage as this doctor’s pet project. But I suppose it’s good that he’s alive, and that his face has been restored to its previous handsomeness. I feel like I’m watching a tragic-turned-hopeful freak show of sorts, but I know I couldn’t turn away now even if I tried.
Like everyone else, I’m fascinated and curious to see what he really looks like in person. And I can’t help but wonder about the man behind Dr. Davis’ renowned mission.
As I straighten the collar of my uniform, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and notice that my hand is shaking.
Stop being a pussy , Harlow , I tell my reflection.
I’ve been to war, fought in battles, and barely survived full enemy attack. Yet someone once said that public speaking is the biggest fear of all, and I’m beginning to believe they were right. This is not the first time I’ve appeared at a conference for Dr. Davis, but I’m beginning to think it will never get easier.
“They’re ready for you,” one of the conference organizers tells me, and I pull my shoulders back and walk onto the stage, hoping that I look much more confident than I feel. Here goes nothing .
Dr. Davis introduces me to the crowd of people who have gathered to hear him talk and see him win an award— the reason that both he and I are here tonight. He had been discussing his state-of-the-art facial reconstruction methods, using my photos to illustrate his talents, but now it’s time for him to point t
I look at the large projection screen above me, where my face— the “after” version— is still prominently displayed. Purposefully not giving myself enough time to change my mind, I step forward, joining Dr. David at the podium, and the crowd politely claps.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Harlow Bradford,” Dr. Davis says.
“Go Harlow!” chants everyone in the front row, and I turn and nod at my boys.
The SEALs. My figurative brothers, and of course Jensen and Ramsey, my literal brothers, have shown up to support me, as they do at many of these presentations and conferences. No one can believe how well I’ve pulled through, not even my own brothers. Not even me.
Jensen’s not in the service anymore. Instead he works for a private contractor, training recruits to do what we do. But he’ll always remain part of the unit in spirit.
And Ramsey, our oldest brother, is the one who got all of us started down this exciting, yet sometimes insane, journey, by joining the Navy out of high school and inspiring Jensen and me to do the same. We were so excited after all three of us had survived the difficult training, passed the grueling tests and become SEALs together. We had a great run of it, but apparently all good things must come to a fucking end.
My unit is about to deploy again, and I’m pissed that I don’t get to go with them. I’m still officially on medical leave, although my recovery was much faster than anyone in the Navy predicted.
Dr. Davis certified me as physically and mentally fit to return to service, but he says that there’s some kind of hold-up with my official clearance. I’ve been wondering if it’s because he works for the Air Force and I’m in the Navy.
But he assures me that has nothing to do with it, that the different branches of the military share resources and that he’s the best of them all so they send service members from all branches to him. He tells me not to worry; whatever the little glitch is, it will be cleared up soon. So, I have nothing to do now but twiddle my thumbs and wait for Dr. Davis to let me know when I can officially return to active duty status with my unit.
Turning my eyes away from the front row, I look at the women in the audience: some of them are service members in uniform or fatigues while others are civilians in regular clothes, but all of them seem to be staring up at me in awe. I know I could take any one of them home tonight, if I want.
I remember last night’s conquest, a busty redhead who giggled too much. Everything was “nice to meet you, tee hee,” “I like your bachelor pad, ha ha ha,” and even “your big cock feels so good inside me, hee hee.”
It got to the point where I couldn’t stand how silly she sounded, but it didn’t matter. I never see a woman again after we fuck. And I make it my goal for us to fuck as soon as possible. Which, in all honestly, isn’t very difficult. Chicks line up to fuck me.
As Dr. Davis was just explaining to everyone here, I’m an American hero, after all. And while I’ve never had any complaints in the looks department, thanks to the miracles of Dr. Davis’ work, now I’m even more attractive than I started out, which is one of the few good things that came from my disastrous injury— the other one being that I didn’t die. I only came close.
I was never that interested in relationships anyway— I’ve only seen bad things come out of them. I just like to have a short and sweet rendezvous now and then. But I probably won’t be taking any of these chicks home tonight. It ruins it for me when they see me as a medical project, a pity-party-turned-miracle-boy.
There is one woman in the audience who catches my eye. She’s sitting off to the side near the front, in a makeshift aisle. She’s dressed in civilian clothes and she looks like just my type. I can tell she’s nice and curvy even from her seated position, and she has olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes.
“Let me show you an example of how far Harlow has come,” Dr. Davis says, snapping me out of my thoughts of the lovely mystery lady and back into reality.
That’s right , I remind myself. I have more important things to do than think about banging this woman in the audience.
It’s time to shine, to impress Dr. Davis and the military Powers That Be that judge my recovery performance, and complete my mission of re-joining my unit.
Distractions from any mission can be deadly, and I know that fact all too well by now to let myself daydream over some chick, no matter how hot she is. I have more important things to do, which require all of my focus and energy.
Here we are at the center of the dog and pony show. This is the part where I perform like a puppet on Dr. Davis’ string. He plays a video now on the projector screen, of the “before” Harlow, trying unsuccessfully to grip and use a pencil.
“Not only was Harlow disfigured in the helicopter accident, but he was set back developmentally as well,” Dr. Davis explains, as my video plays on the big screen that everyone is watching.
“He suffered brain trauma which resulted in physical deficits, which is part of the very reason I’m here today, talking to so many of you who are physical and occupational therapists. Because, as you can see, at first Harlow failed at such basic tasks as using a pencil. He couldn’t even write his name. But now, Harlow has progressed considerably, in every measurable area. Just look.”
Dr. Davis motions me to his podium and hands me a blank sheet of paper. I already know the drill. He also hands me a pencil and I write my name on the sheet of paper.
The crowd goes wild, as they are supposed to. The ladies are undoubtedly thinking, this hunk knows how to write his name again. He’s ready to get back to saving our country !
I never thought I’d get so much attention for the simple task of being able to write my name. But compared to how far I’ve come— the Harlow of eight months ago who could barely even pick up a pencil— it really is quite the achievement. So, I try to bask in the applause, although I still have mixed feelings about it.
“And now I will open up the floor for some questions,” Dr. Davis says.
“What will you need those of us at Kirtland Air Force base’s physical and occupational therapies to do for you?” asks a man towards the back.
“Great question,” Dr. Davis answers, “and a subject I was going to address next, so I’m glad you asked. Based on additional funding I’ve received—in large part due to the progress of Harlow and many others like him—I will be working with quite a few new wounded warriors. From every branch of the military.”
His statement reassures me that the fact that I’m Navy and he’s working on an Air Force base isn’t the reason for the hang-up with my paperwork. Always the worrier, I can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as he continues.
“Many of the service members are airmen stationed here of course. But others come from all over. So, once these service members are out of their initial trauma recovery that takes place at Walter Reed Hospital, they will see me for facial reconstruction and then, depending on their status and treatment plan, some will see you for physical and occupational therapy. Harlow himself, in fact, will be receiving more physical therapy here, to help him progress even further.”
That’s the first time I’ve heard of this , I think, trying not to let disappointment show on my face for everyone in the audience to see. The hope that had just welled up in me suddenly pops like an overfilled balloon. I should know by now not to get too excited about anything; the future is always as uncertain as my fate was that day when the helicopter went down.
At this point, I’m trying to grapple with the reality of my continuing forced recovery period, which I honestly don’t think I need. I wonder how long my re-entry will be delayed based on this physical therapy I just found out I need.
A few other people ask questions, and then I notice that Lovely Mystery Woman has her hand raised. We lock stares for a brief second before Dr. Davis calls on her. I ha
Despite knowing I should concentrate on the conference and not on fucking her silly, I can’t help but imagine bending her over and taking her from behind. I’d hold onto her voluptuous ass while my erect cock made its way, like a magnet, to the opening of her pussy. I’d tease her for a minute with the head of it just inside her pussy lips and then I’d spread her open and shove myself deep inside her…
“How long until this type of treatment is available to every man and woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving our country?” she asks Dr. Davis.
Dr. Davis looks rather confused— or is it annoyed?— by the question. And I personally feel rather surprised that she’s asked such a serious question. My own confusion probably stems from the fact that I had just been imagining her mouth open wide to moan out her orgasm as I fucked her— or perhaps to eagerly accept my cock— rather than challenge the doctor who is the guest of honor at this conference.
“Of course, I’m only one doctor, but I’m doing my best to work with everyone who needs my services,” he says. “There is a lot of demand. A very long waiting list for the type of expert level skill I provide.”
“Is there a specific reason that you chose Mr. Bradford to receive your services, out of everyone who needs them?” she continues, barely waiting for him to finish.
What an odd question , I think, and one that I cannot help being annoyed at myself. Does she think I’m unworthy of this doctor’s help? She doesn’t even know me.
“Mr. Bradford was in great need of my services,” Dr. Davis answers. “And he had impeccable timing. I had just finished perfecting and patenting my technology.”
“I see,” the woman says, but it doesn’t look like she’s convinced. “And what is the success rate? How many other members of our armed forces have seen the level of success that Mr. Bradford has experienced?”
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