Nobody's Hero
tomorrow.”
    Ah, so math was safe for Adam. No wonder he
enjoyed running the club’s business so much. She imagined that
skill had served him well in the Marines, too. Procedures. Duty.
Code of Conduct.
    “Why did you choose to join the Marines and
not another branch?”
    “Family tradition. There’s been a Marine in
the Montague family since back to the Civil War when my
great-great-grandfather served.”
    “Wow, that’s a long history. I don’t think I
know what my family did before World War I even.”
    “Well, sometimes the blood gets watered down
through the generations. You have to go further back to find
someone to be proud of.”
    Oh, here we go . Best to avoid his
mother at this point, given his nightmare in the hospital. “Tell me
about your dad.” His body grew rigid, and he went straight on the
defensive.
    “He was a dickwad. Drank too much. Abused my
mother. Is that what you wanted to know about me, hon?”
    Had his father abused Adam, too? “Oh, Adam,
I’m so sorry you had to go through that. But you aren’t your father
and you’re not responsible for the choices he made. Is that why you
don’t drink?”
    In a flash, he placed his hands around her
waist and tried to lift her off his lap. He grimaced in pain at the
exertion.
    “Don’t lift me! You’ll hurt yourself. I’ll
get up.”
    She scooted off his lap and stood, then sat
down beside him on the edge of the bed.
    “I’m fine.” He gritted his teeth through the
obvious pain, then stood and made his way toward the door. Why had
talking about drinking set him off? “Get some sleep, Karla. I plan
to do the same.”
    But I want to sleep with you, Adam.
    “Adam.” She waited for him to stop and turn
toward her, his hand resting on the doorknob. “You might win this
battle with your retreat, but you haven’t won the war—and you
won’t.” I’m the most formidable foe you’ve ever encountered. “Run, if you must, but you can’t hide from me.”
    He blinked a couple of times, then turned the
knob and left the room, softly closing the door behind him.
    Adam Montague, I am going to hunt down all
your ghosts, including Joni, and put them to rest so you can get on
with your life.
    Your life with me.
     
    * * *
     
    Had Karla just declared war on him? Over
what—not telling her more about his fucking childhood? Or how his
drinking had turned him into the very monster he’d been running
from his entire life?
    Adam remembered the night he’d gotten drunk
with some buddies at the enlisted men’s club and scared Joni so
badly she’d threatened to leave him if he didn’t stop drinking then
and there. They’d only been married a few months. Hell, they were
still practically strangers, given how quickly they’d married after
meeting. He wasn’t even sure what had set him off, maybe her
telling him he had to quit drinking. He did remember spanking her,
harder than ever before. Not an erotic spanking, but a damned near
abusive one. He’d lost control and struck her in anger, something a
Dom should never do.
    He’d stopped drinking the next day, after
he’d sobered up and had seen how hurt Joni was, emotionally, if not
physically. He hadn’t touched a drop again until after Joni died,
when the thought of life without her scared the shit out of him and
sent him on a two-week self-pity drinking binge. In the early years
of their marriage, Joni had pulled him back from the brink of
disaster. She’d even helped him decide to make his career with the
Corps, when he could have just finished his first stint and moved
on to something else. She’d sworn she was proud of him for making
that decision, but he knew her input had a lot to do with it.
    Adam made his way back to his room, reaching
up to rub the back of his neck and finding a new scar from one of
the cat bites or scratches. Imagining Karla’s delicate skin ripped
open by the cat’s teeth and claws caused his gut to churn.
    The day of the attack, Adam and Marc had left
the girls

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