Troy stood outside the heavy steel door. He could only imagine what the two men looked like on the other side. Why had he been brought into the middle of this family affair? It was all kind of fucked up, thatâs for damn sure. But rather than being led into the interrogation room, he was led past the door of fun and games and into the observation lounge. Troy used the term loosely. Very loosely as it was more like closet.
âWait here please. Iâll let the Sheriff know youâre here.â
Shit for brains let Tom know he was there alright. The A-hole pounded on the window. I could have done that asswipe. âThanks,â he said aloud.
âNo problem,â the officer stated before going back out to the front desk.
Alone now, Troy let himself look at the angry bull of his ex in the next room. Bull is the only way he could describe him. Marshall looked a little worse for the wear at approximately six feet even, give or take an inch, broad strong shoulders, muscular arms and thighs, hair longer than usual, but what got Troy was his eyes. Even though Troy knew, without a doubt, the male could not see through the window, he felt as if he was staring directly at him. Yeah, the place was a closet, but he hadnât said a word and Marshall knew someone was on this side of the glass. It didnât deter Troy from staring at him or wishing things had been different when they signed up for opposing branches of the military, but looking at Marsh now, all the old feelings came back. It made him twitchy and twitchy was not Troy being in control.
Drawn into the soldierâs pain, somehow Troy felt he could remove that pain and replace it withâreplace it with what? What the fuck was he supposed to replace it with? Roses and sunshine? Troy snorted. Somedays he did good just getting his own ass out of bed and downstairs to his pretty ladies. How the hell was he supposed to help Marshall who was as fucked up as he was? It takes one to know one. Maybe it takes one to heal one. Is that what youâre supposed to do for me Marsh? Heal me? Troy scoffed at the idea, as much as he wanted it to be true. Maybe they could heal each other. That thought was the only light in his dismal existence as of late.
âTroy.â Sheriff opened the door letting in the bright light from the hall, dream revealing brightness. âThanks for coming. Iâm sorry I had to drag your ass out of bed at four in the morning,â he nodded towards the other room. âI know you two have a history, but if you canât help himâI donât know what weâre gonna do. Marshallâs got himself into a situation. I might be able to get him out of it, but only if I can prove heâs gotten some help.â
The despair rang true from Tomâs lips. The sheriff worried about his nephew. Maybe he had been close to the ingrate at one time before Afghanistan. Weâd all been close to people before Afghanistan. Iâd had Jay during, but that was a lifetime ago. Iâd cared for him, but he wasnât Marshall.
âWhat exactly do you think I can do for you, Tom? All that history might help, or it just might fuck us both in the ass and not in a good way.â
It was the first time heâd seen the man appear defeated. Nah, Tom wasnât defeated. He was tired, true. Never defeated. He didnât have it in him to give up the fight, but Tom did snort in what could be termed as laughter.
âIâm hoping you can work with Marshall. He goes by the handle Ricochet. I know itâs a lot to ask.â
He left unsaid that heâd owe me big time. One of those call me when youâre in deep shit type situations. It was tempting. Especially looking into those haunting eyes.
âWhat happened to him and his unit?â
âDonât you want to ask him?â
Troy smirked. âYouâre telling me the official version. Heâll tell me the real story. They ainât necessarily going to be one and the same.â
He stood there staring at Marshall, aka Ricochet as Tom told him the story of how a cocky, know-it-all kid became a soldier, went up the ranks quickly and how his unit got sent behind enemy lines by mistake. Mistake my ass. Unless you lived it, you didnât understand it so he nodded now and again or asked a question and took it all in.
âIf I do this you stay away?â Troy stated, though he framed it in the form of a question.
âFuck no Iâm not going to stay away. Heâs my family.â
âHeâs under my protection. Iâm not going to intentionally hurt him, but he will be hurt. Just watching him struggle in there I can tell he wants to fight. He needs it right now. Iâll spar with him until he has fought all the anger inside, all the ghosts. Heâs going to be bruised and broken down. But I wonât kill him. Nothinâ like that. I wonât let him hurt himself.â That was the last thing he needed. A fucking suicide. He didnât think Marshall, no, Ricochet, was suicidal though. âI canât even imagine how angry heâll be when he sees me,â he said mostly to himself.
No, this guy was something else entirely. The more Troy watched him through the window, the more he wanted to get him alone. What have you seen to do this to you? He knew what heâd seen. What heâd heard. Heâd been way up the ranks. Privy to shit some Generals didnât have access to. It came with the territory of being able to hack your own ass and knowing more languages than was sensible. It was why he was still on active duty, yet not. Why his pay grade was classified.
âTrust me Tom. Iâm not going to hurt him. He needs a lot of therapy. More than I do and he needs time. I donât know what the fuck he saw, but itâs eating away at him from the inside. Until he can tell someone, or work through it, heâs going to be what you see in thereâan angry, confused half-cocked jackass who cannot be around people. If you want any chance of him being able to come back to your family, let me try to help him.â
Troy turned back toward the window. Blue gray eyes stared straight back at him, boring into his soul. â