The Soldier & the State Trooper

an excerpt



Chapter One

Christie stretched his arms over his head, arching his back languorously. Mmmm. The sun on his face felt so good. It was warm and light like a gentle touch. It...

Sunlight. On his face.

Oh God. He was going to be late signing out on leave.

Christie flung himself off the bed toward his closet. He grabbed the first pair of jeans he could lay his hands on. Thank God he didn't need to be in uniform. There wasn't time to iron one. He'd already missed the 0630 Physical Training formation. If he made it to the base before the 0900 formation he might skate by with just dirty looks from First Sergeant Bartone.

If the first sergeant didn't decide to give him an article fifteen.

Crap. If Christie got that, he'd end up losing his leave as well. He could barely afford the gas to get to work now. An article fifteen would cut his pay in half for forty-five days.

Christie yanked a favorite soft green oversized sweater off the back of the closet door. First Sergeant Bartone was a stickler for his troops being on time. The last man to earn the first sergeant's ire over a lack of timeliness had been a big mechanic named Ingals. The poor guy had to wear a wall clock around his neck for a week as his "corrective action" for being thirty seconds late to Physical Training. Considering how late Christie was running, the first sergeant could easily give him extra duty.

A few months before, that would have just been something for his buddy Evans to kid him about afterwards. Now-

A sharp wail echoed from the other room.

Frankie.

Christie pulled on his jeans. If he got extra duty, he wouldn't be able to pick up Frankie from daycare before it closed. The daycare charged you a buck a minute for being late. After fifteen minutes they called social services on you, and your chain of command. Christie shuddered. That would suck big hairy donkey balls.

The first thing First Sergeant Bartone would ask would be why he hadn't activated his family care plan. Sure. Like Aunt Cate could just give up her life for forty-five days to come out here and hold his hand. Ha! Like he'd even ask her to after all she'd already given up to raise him after his parents died.

The first thing social services would ask would be if he had a history of abandoning his daughter.

So.

Yes.

Once.

But how was he supposed to know Evans's beater was going to break down on the way back from their errand in town? He'd run the two miles back to post in twelve minutes flat. Best time ever. Too bad it wasn't on a physical training test. At least it got him back before the worker called Child Protective Services.

Christie didn't go anywhere in Evans's car anymore. They took Christie's brand new, very reliable Neon if they had to run an errand in town for their squad leader or the platoon sergeant.

He threw his sweater over his head. Pulling socks up as he stumbled across the hallway, he fell through Frankie's door. Miss Kitty, a calico short hair that adopted his little family the day they moved into their new military housing, peeked at him through the slats of his daughter's crib.

"Good morning Miss Kitty...I have to grab Frankie and run honey, but I promise I'll be back in just a little while with your breakfast."

Great. Now he was talking to the cat. Christie really needed to find a sitter and get out of the house once in a while.

Scooping Frankie out of her crib, Christie took a moment to snuggle her warm sleep-sweet little body against his chest. He pressed his nose into her silky black curls and breathed in her baby smell. Nobody had ever told him he'd get addicted to the way she smelled. To be fair, Carolyn and Lisa hadn't had time.

Christie was supposed to be the happy go lucky poppa who visited once a year when he was on leave and sent lavish birthday presents. Caro and Liss knew how to be moms. What did he know?

Blinking rapidly, Christie hurried over to the changing table. He quickly stripped Frankie out of her sleeper and sopping-wet diaper. Once her little bottom was clean, dry, and again encased in a diaper, he popped her into a butter-yellow onesie. Tiny little matching pants followed by even smaller socks a moment later completed the outfit. Christie checked the diaper bag's contents against the list he'd gotten from his Aunt Cate to be sure it was stocked for emergencies. Everything was squared away like a baby first sergeant was coming to inspect. Christie gave himself a little pat on the back.

Frankie started to fuss, so he slid his hand under her to pick her up from the changing table. It slid in a warm gooey mush that coated the table's surface. Christie closed his eyes and prayed for strength. Today was laundry day. He dug around in the diaper bag. Coming up with a mismatched pair of red pants with yellow ducks on them and an orange shirt with big purple polka dots on it, he resigned himself to carting around the world's tiniest clown.

At least she wasn't wearing a big red clown nose.

Though that would have made Caro laugh till she peed on herself.

Christie didn't have time to hunt down another top, so he wiped off the edge of his goo-smeared cuff with a couple of baby wipes.

Missing Caro throbbed through him, feeling worse than the tooth that had needed a root canal last year. There were a thousand things he still wanted to do with her.

God. And that drunk who hit the car killing her and Liss was still around to do stuff with his family. It wasn't fair.

He squeezed Frankie into the slightly too small clothes. Her little Buddha belly peeping out at him stirred up memories of Liss rubbing Caro's pregnant belly. He swallowed the tightness in his throat and scooped up Frankie and the diaper bag. He grabbed his wallet and keys from where he'd thrown them on the kitchen counter the night before and they were headed to the car.

Christie buckled little Frankie into her car-seat, marveling at how much like her mother she looked, with her fair skin and bright blue eyes. She fought him every step of the way, wiggling, waving her little arms and even catching him on the chin with a well timed kick.

Caro, a little help here?

Caro? Hello, ghost girl, how is it you're able to be around to screw up every potential date I've run across lately, but not here when I need you?

"Geez Christie, you're a grouch this morning! Could you possibly think in a surlier tone of mind? No?"

Cut the crap Caro, and just work your magic.

"Fine, fine! Just be quiet and let me sing to her."

For Caro singing to the baby meant making up her own version of some lullaby. Today it was her special version of ‘Hush little baby'.

Hush little Frankie

Don't say a word

Your Poppa's gonna buy you

A mockin' bird

An' if that mockin' bird don't sing

Momma's gonna put you in the baby-swing

An' if that baby-swing don't soothe

Momma's gonna sing an' get you in the groove...

The jazzy swing to the music calmed Frankie, her little body relaxing into the car seat and her eyelids getting droopy as her kicks slowed until they seemed to keep time with the music. After Caro sang through it a few times, the baby was content with the bottle she was drinking from and the comforting presence of her favorite stuffed animal wedged in next to her as an impromptu pillow. Her little eyelids fell half shut.

Finally, they could get going. Christie closed her door quietly and then raced around to the driver's side. He blew out a frustrated breath as he slid behind the wheel.

Christ on a cracker. Frankie would know what Caro sounded like when she sang but she'd never really know Caro. She wouldn't know Liss either. Not as her moms.

Christie bit his top lip. If he got to post on time, and signed out on leave for the next month, he'd have time to get used to this slightly hollow and lopsided world without his best friend alive and sparkling in it somewhere, keeping it tilted at just the right angle.

*~*~*

Robert kept one eye on the scanner as he perused the morning's headlines. He couldn't believe they'd finally passed the LGBT Civil Rights Amendment. It tickled him to no end to know he now had as much right as anyone else to marry in the country that he spent every day keeping safe. He tipped his Sugar Creek to-go cup toward the paper as if toasting it. He thought about texting his youngest sister and asking her to pick up a couple extra copies of it...and then realized she would do that without any prompting from him. Nikki was a goddess, or at the very least a demigoddess. Robert had unabashedly worshipped at her feet since the day his mother brought her home from the hospital. Even when she was manipulating him into spending his entire annual vacation babysitting his niece for the second year in a row.

A silver car blew past him fast enough to rattle the pages of his paper through the open window. His scanner clocked the little Neon at seventy-two. Idiot. The speed limits were there to keep people safe.

Robert flipped his lights and siren on as he pulled onto the road.

The Neon quickly maneuvering to the shoulder of the road mollified him somewhat. He ran the car's plates through his computer, giving a cursory glance to ensure the driver had no outstanding warrants.

The car was registered in Gouveneur, NY to one Christie Collins, age twenty-six. Not reported stolen, no priors on the driver.

Robert unfolded himself from behind the wheel of his vehicle and placed his state trooper hat on his head. It was time to present Ms. Collins with the natural consequences of her actions. As he passed the rear of the car he saw a baby seat in the back of the car. Robert's temper spiked again. He rapped on the driver's side window, looking down as he finished filling out the handwritten portion of the idiot woman's ticket. The window whirred down, and then a faint sniffling sound came to his ears-if she thought a few tears were going to get her out of a justly deserved ticket she was dead wrong.

"Ms. Collins, I'm appalled that you would drive so far above the speed limit with an infant in your vehicle. I need your license, registration, and proof-"

The baby started wailing.

Robert knew he'd spoken sternly, but he hadn't intended it to be harsh enough to frighten the baby. The requested items were thrust at him even as she turned away toward the baby.

"I-I'm so-sorry officer. D-don't cry Frankie, it'll be okay. I promise it'll be o-okay honey. It's not the same as before. There w-wasn't an accident sweetie. Do you remember the flashing lights? I remember them too, baby. "

The voice wrapped around Robert as softly as the cashmere throws his Gran Olava used to put over him when he'd fallen asleep on her sofa. A warm heaviness invaded his groin.

Sweet Goddess, a woman was turning him on.

She had unbuckled her seat belt to twist her upper body thru the gap in the two front seats. In fact, she climbed half into the back seat, making shushing noises to her baby in between weepy sniffles and nonsensical babble. Her firm, round ass was in the air, wiggling back and forth until it ended up pointing straight at him as she bent over the driver's side seat. Robert's cock finished hardening in a rush. He whipped his trooper hat off to hold in front of his crotch.

"I-it's okay honey, don't cry. They can't fire me from the Army. And if the first sergeant takes my leave away for being late signing out I bet the daycare will let you come back e-early. Don't cry honey. I don't think they'll take you away b-because of o-one sp-speeding ticket...even if I can't pay it. I'll j-just get an article fifteen and..."

Robert felt about two inches tall. If she'd been in uniform he probably wouldn't have started writing the ticket, but it was too late now with the way everything was computerized and every printed ticket needing to be accounted for. He sighed. The least he could do for her was to give her a clear explanation of how she could get out of having to pay the fine. Hell, Judge Wallace was such a big supporter of the armed forces he'd probably completely wipe the ticket off her driving record.

"Look honey, I'm sorry you're late signing out on leave, but that's still no reason to speed, especially not with the precious cargo you're carrying. If you go to traffic court on the 17th, Judge Wallace has a rep for being extremely lenient with armed forces service members. Just explain to him what you were explaining to your baby there, and he'll most likely waive your ticket."

Robert walked back to his cruiser and printed the computerized section of the ticket off. After stapling it to the handwritten portion, he made sure to circle the part explaining how to contest the ticket. He highlighted the date and time of her court appearance. Satisfied he had done everything possible to help her, he walked back to stand next to her open window.

"Here's your ticket ma'am."

That got him a watery sounding chuckle. Robert looked up to assess whether she was becoming hysterical. What could end up being as much as a two hundred fifty dollar ticket, depending on the judge's ruling, was nothing to be laughing over. His gaze slid up from her lush pink mouth and honed in on mesmerizing blue-green eyes. He could easily imagine those gorgeous eyes looking up at him while the full lips were wrapped around his cock and all that sexy stubble...Robert's eyes flashed back to the stubble covered jaw.

Well.

Better than having to deal with finding himself suddenly bisexual at thirty-three years old. Robert knew he owed his dad a six pack of expensive German beer. It was stupid to bet against Robert Sr. when he started predicting how one of his kids would meet their ‘special' someone. He'd told Robert he would fall in love at first sight.

Christie Collins. But he had a kid. No ring though...divorced? Widowed? Sweet Goddess, Robert hoped he was at least a little bent. It would be a waste if that man was completely straight.

*~*~*

Christie laughed nervously at the stunned expression on the handsome trooper's face. It wasn't the first time someone had taken a glance at him and mistaken him for a woman. It likely wouldn't be the last. He made a valiant attempt to corral his careening thoughts.

His laughter trailed away when the state trooper resettled his uniform hat on his head. The action revealed the prominent bulge the man was sporting. Christie nervously licked his lips.

The trooper had obviously seen something he liked while Christie was bent over leaning into the back seat. Christie hoped he didn't get angry about it now that he knew the person he'd gotten turned on by was a man.

"It's okay officer. I get that a lot. I hated my name when I was younger. I was gonna change it, cause there's already enough confusion over how I look. My mom really loved it though. I promised her I wouldn't change it before she died."

Christie glanced up at the trooper again. The flashing lights of his patrol car shone in the edges of Christie's vision. He gestured in their direction.

"She was killed in a car wreck. Drunk driver. That's why I hate the lights. Flashing. Umm, I won't change my name. That's what I meant. I keep it even though it causes me trouble sometimes. Once a guy didn't believe I was a man until I actually showed him the goods...er, sorry. That's probably not appropriate. I-I talk too much when I'm nervous. Umm. Could I have my ticket now? I really need to get to post."

The man, Trooper Lindstrom according to his name badge, gave Christie what looked like a half-lustful/half-incredulous look as he handed over the ticket. He then briskly popped his mirrored shades back on, silently tipped the round brim of his beige hat and strode back to his car. Christie watched the man's powerful looking thigh muscles bunch and release as he strode away.

After the trooper pulled out and around him, Christie sat for a few minutes, resting his hands on the steering wheel as he took slow, calming breaths. He tried biting his lip, but the pain wasn't enough to put him back together this time. He let his mind wander to the gorgeous trooper who had just screwed any chance he had of getting to the base before 0900.

Christie must have mistaken that look.

It couldn't have been lust.

The gorgeous trooper was probably straight.

What a waste.

Christ on a cracker, he'd even tried to be nice about the whole thing.

Christie refastened his seat belt, put his car in gear, and eased back onto the black top. He held his speed down the whole way to the base, carefully staying at least four miles below the speed limit the whole way. There was no way he could handle being pulled over again.

Christie had seen what they did to Jackson after his wife left him. The one time the guy got drunk and passed out on his own patio, his bitch of a neighbor called his command. Those bastards put his kids in foster care, saying he was neglectful and he had to wait until he got done with his enlistment to get them back. People just didn't get it.

It was hard enough to have a family in the military with two parents in the family, and only one a soldier. It was a hundred times harder when the one parent is the soldier. If they said Jackson was neglectful for falling asleep after a few beers-with his kids already in bed asleep-Christie could just imagine what would happen to him for speeding with Frankie in the car.

Shit.

He couldn't think about that without losing it again. Instead he'd just think about Trooper Hardbody. That was worthy of at least a little smile.

It was too bad all that gorgeous hot maleness was probably two dates away from a wedding with some girl. Christie glanced in the rearview mirror, smiling when he saw Frankie was contentedly sucking on two of her little fingers.

"Well, my little mouse, it's not like I could really have asked him out while he was writing my ticket anyway. He might have thought I was trying to bribe him with my luscious self."

Frankie pulled her fingers out of her mouth and smiled at him. He didn't care if the lady in the grocery store last week had told him that it was only gas. He knew better. His girl was laughingly agreeing with her poppa. She was a smart girl after all. Blowing spit bubbles, slobbering food all over yourself, and wetting your pants didn't become a sign of mental deficiency until sometime after your third birthday.

Christie's smile was bittersweet. If not for Liss and Caro dying in such an untimely manner, he might have missed every one of those sweetly gummy smiles. Tears prickled at the edge of his eyes. Resolutely wiping the back of his hand across his eyes, Christie determined to live every moment as the gift it was. Caro and Liss had put so much off for later. When they had enough money saved they would do such and such. When the baby was old enough to remember, they'd travel. They hadn't gotten a later. It would be a fitting tribute to them to savor every moment he had with Frankie, and all the people in his life.