Wait For Me

an excerpt

Chapter One

Fuck, this sucked. Master Sergeant Jeff "Mackey" MacNamara leaned against the bar and looked over the crowd. Oh yeah, so not how he wanted to spend one of his last free weekends. Deployment was going to be long enough without this torture before leaving. Okay, maybe it wasn't complete torture as he could watch his friends act like idiots trying to get the attention of the strippers at his best friend's bachelor party. Really? What the hell was Kevin doing?

Mackey tilted his head and tried to figure out what was going on across the room. Seemed his best friend was trying to...? Nope, no clue what the hell he's doing. Mackey sighed. Kevin just kept hoping for THE ONE--the one that was going to take him for eternity, warts and all. Maybe number three was the magic number for Kevin. Aren't we all hoping for magic with someone?

There had to be something to entertain him while he was here. The women dancing were definitely talented but they just weren't showing anything that interested Mackey. Now put a handsome guy up there dancing around in a jockstrap? That would keep his attention and if the guy had a swimmer's build and a few tattoos? Yeah, that might be a bit too much for him.

Christ. How long had it been since he'd had anyone, never mind, the one? Mackey did a mental count. Shit, almost a year. With the build-up to deployment and having to train the newbies, he'd been running flat out. Training the new officers and enlisted took so much time, effort and coordination it wasn't funny. Soon he'd have to figure out if he'd accept a first sergeant slot if offered. He wasn't sure he wanted that headache. Sure, he'd been working toward being a sergeant major since he'd entered the Army eighteen years ago but was that enough now? Being alone with no one waiting when he came home was getting old.

Wow, look at him getting all maudlin at Kevin's party. Maybe he could blame that on Kevin? Considering he promised Kevin he wouldn't let him get too stupid tonight it might be bad form to blame him. He did come voluntarily, kinda. It was a bit tacky if the best man didn't go to the bachelor party, right? It didn't matter that this was Kevin's third, still bad to skip it. And there would be no way Kevin would have believed him if he'd said he couldn't go because he had something to do at the unit. Can't bullshit someone that's "been there, done that" too.

"You don't seem to be enjoying the show?" A rumbling baritone interrupted Mackey's thoughts. Turning to see who spoke, Mackey almost swallowed his tongue. Short brown hair, fit body, not too tall or short, and warm brown eyes. Now if this man were dancing? Every thought would have left Mackey's mind except those trying to figure out how to get closer to him.

* * * *

Scott grinned at the confusion in the guy's eyes.

"Ummm, what?" the guy asked as he turned to face Scott, and this was either the best move of his life or the worst.

"I said, you don't seem to be enjoying the show? Or is it your beer? You've been looking down at it then across to the girls dancing and then back to the beer." Scott'd been watching this guy for at least twenty minutes and he was far from having a good time.

"Would you believe none of the above? Those dancers over there have some talent. I won't say they're wasting it because they're exotic dancers but even I can tell that redhead has some training under her G-string. Now if you were dancing..." He looked down at his beer, swirled it around, went to take a sip and stopped. "The beer? Well, it was good when I first got it, but it really isn't my drink of choice."

"So if it's not the beer and not the dancers, what's none of the above?"

"Aren't you a good bartender? Asking all the questions, having an open ear for someone sitting at your bar."

"Actually, it's not my bar and ninety-nine percent of the time I'm not a bartender. The hours just don't work for me. Since you don't want me to look bad, right? How about you tell me what's up? You don't look like you're going anywhere anytime soon and like it or not, I'm stuck here too." And he really was. That would teach him when Brian begged a favor to claim he had a migraine or needed to wash his hair or something.

"You're not a bartender, yet you're standing behind a bar serving drinks to a bunch of guys ogling exotic dancers." The guy looked behind him again at the group being entertained and just shook his head when one of them called out to him and raised his beer. They all appeared to be roasting the one in the middle, who Scott wouldn't say was the most attractive man he had ever seen. Unlike his friend sitting in front of him; extremely short black hair and very pale gray eyes that didn't seem to miss anything then add in a build that didn't stop. He wasn't huge but he was stacked.

"Nope, I'm not. I work for a more demanding crowd every day, and you're avoiding my question. What's none of the above?"

"Jeff MacNamara," he said, holding out his hand. "If I'm going to fill in none of the above, can I at least know your name?"

"Scott Ash." When he put his hand in Jeff's, Scott knew. His life had definitely changed.