Book: Recovery (2015)

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The restrooms were clear, the only occupant the dead sentry I’d killed while rescuing Katie.  Once we had checked each of the closets I led the way to the maintenance area where I had to shoot my way through another electronically secured door.  Inside, I found some power tools and large screws and tossed them into a canvas bag.

Approaching the VIP area I alerted Martinez on the radio to let her know we were coming in.  We held back until she acknowledged, just in case.  It’s rare, but I’ve known guys who were the victim of friendly fire because they just suddenly appeared right where nervous men were watching and waiting for the enemy.  Not that I didn’t trust Katie and Martinez, but why tempt fate when all I had to do was make a simple call.

“All quiet.  We’re alone,” I said when I walked into the room.  Both women visibly relaxed.

“We need that door fixed and we need food,” I continued.  “Am I going to catch a load of shit for being sexist if I ask you two to put a meal together while the Colonel and I go up on the roof to work on the door?”

If it had just been Martinez I wouldn’t have worried about it.  But with Katie… well, there’s a reason I’ve been married as long as I have.

“No worries, sir.  We’ll take care of the women’s work,” Martinez said before Katie could open her mouth.  “You go kill a bear or whatever.”

The two women snickered as they turned and pushed through into the kitchen.

“Makes me think I should have gone to the Bahamas,” Crawford mumbled as we began climbing the stairs.

“Welcome to my world, sir.”  I said, stepping through the opening and dropping the tool bag.

It had taken a long time to clear the massive building.  The clouds were gone and the sun was well above the horizon when we stepped out onto the roof.  It was going to be another hot day.  Sweat immediately popped out when I left the shelter of the stairwell, but I’d take heat over cold and wet any day of the week.  As long as you have enough water, heat is just uncomfortable.  Cold and wet?  That’s downright miserable when you’re in the field.

Crawford lifted the top edge of the door and walked it into place while I dug through the tools.  While he held, I drilled several new holes in the doorframe then drove long, thick screws through into the surrounding structure.  Door secure, we packed up and headed down to eat.

The meal they had prepared was simple, and unsure of the last time I’d eaten I devoured every bite.  Katie is normally a very lite eater, consuming about a third of the calories that I do, but she ate like a ravenous teenager.  So did Martinez.  I noted this, wondering if it had something to do with whatever effect the virus was having on them, but chose not to bring it up and spoil their meal.  Dog devoured whatever it was they had put together for him, burped loudly and stretched out under the table.

Bellies full, Crawford and I cleared the table, returning the dishes to the kitchen and washing them before all of us headed down the hall to select our rooms.  He and Martinez each took a room, Katie following me down the hall to Room 5.  We walked in, Dog leading the way, and I locked the door behind us.

“Wow!”  Katie said, looking around.  “I always knew there were good things in store if I stuck with you.”

She looked over her shoulder at me, smiling as she headed for the bedroom.  I followed after tightly closing the heavy drapes that covered the window looking out onto a greenbelt.  By the time I caught up with her she had already stripped off her meager clothing and cranked on the shower.

“Hot water!”  She said, holding a hand under the stream. 

She grabbed a wrapped bar of soap and bottle of shampoo off the granite counter and stepped under the steaming water.  I tossed a fluffy towel onto the top edge of the shower wall, stripped and followed her in.

Sometime later I stepped out, dripping water on the shiny floor and rummaged through the cabinets.  Thankfully there was a supply of disposable razors.  Back in the shower Katie shaved my head, careful to avoid all the gashes in my scalp.  Twenty minutes later I was clean and had a freshly shaved dome and face.

Leaving my stinking clothes where they were I carried my weapons into the bedroom while Katie finished showering.  I deposited everything on and near one of the nightstands before crawling into the bed.  Dog tried to join me but I made him stay on the floor.  He curled up at the foot of the bed with an indignant grunt.

The linens were crisp and smelled like an April shower.  The mattress was firm and the pillows were soft.  The ceiling fan over the bed turned lazily, stirring the air and keeping me just cool enough.  I lay my head back, thinking I’d close my eyes for a few moments until Katie joined me.

I woke to a dark room, still in the same position.  Katie’s nude body was sprawled across me, her steady breathing telling me she was asleep.  Careful not to wake her, I craned my head around to see the clock on the nightstand.  11:37.  Had to be PM since it was so dark.  We’d just slept almost fourteen hours.

Katie has always been a lite sleeper, and as I turned back to lay my head down she raised her face and kissed me as her hand began wandering down my body.  Soon I didn’t care what time it was.

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