Damaged – Forbidden Lovers Read online Natasha L. Black

Categories Genre: Romance Tags Authors:
Total pages in book: 55
Estimated words: 52238 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 261(@200wpm)___ 209(@250wpm)___ 174(@300wpm)

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Damaged - Forbidden Lovers

Author/Writer of Book/Novel:

Natasha L. Black

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The one man I can’t have. The one man I can’t resist.
Ex-Marine Tyler walked in, and my professional ethics burned down.
Muscled, tattooed, not much talk and a whole lot of action.
All it takes is one innocent touch, and he sets me ablaze. I have to have him. But I’m not supposed to sleep with patients, present or past.
We have to keep our scorching affair a secret.
I know it’s wrong. I have to break things off. I’m heartbroken, but that’s not my biggest problem.
When I pushed Tyler away, he left something behind. Something I’m not going to be able to hide for much longer.
Do I run? Do I give up the career I’ve worked so hard to achieve? Or can I have the family I’ve always dreamed of?
Because the one man I’m not supposed to want, Is the only one I’ve ever loved.
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Natasha L. Black



“CLEAR!” I hear my own scream ringing in my ears, booted footsteps running. Shouts from the crowd. My cry is lost in the noise and chaos.

There is dust in my eyes. There is always fucking dust or sand in my eyes over here. I haven’t blinked in a year and a half without grit in my eyes. Now isn’t the time to think about that. I shove my way closer, knocking people away, heedless of if it hurts them. Better bruised than dead.

Shouting in my earpiece at Robbins, “CLEAR, DAMMIT!” I screamed again.

“Negative, Leeds. They’re just fucking with us.”

I’m running, trying to get to him, to knock him out of the way.

I’m too late.

I’m always too fucking late.

There’s a shriek. I don’t know if it’s the IED or if it’s a person or what’s left of one. People are running now. Robbins is on the ground, twenty feet from the mailbox outside the bus station. Now it’s blown apart, a charred hole surrounded by ragged spikes that look like teeth. It hadn’t been a decoy. It had spewed shrapnel when it blew.

The fluid looks black, like oil spilling out of his gut because the blood is so dark pouring onto the dust. I stick my hands in to the—the meat of him—to apply pressure, try and stop the bleeding. It’s no use. My hands are coated up past my cuffs in his blood. I wipe it on my pants and stagger up to find the rest of my guys. I try shouting into my communicator, but my head is ringing from the noise of the explosion still, so I can’t hear anything.

“Gibson! Foles! Do you copy?” I barked as I stepped over and around debris, weapon fragments lodged in the ground, chunks of shrapnel littering everything and the sharp tang of incendiary explosion that coated my tongue and throat with every breath.

I found them both together, just to the side of the device. Their limbs a gruesome tangle, metal and torn fabric and blood and the stink of burning flesh. I turned and vomited in the dirt and radioed the base. By that time, Jeeps were already pulling up ahead of a makeshift ambulance. I just went to my knees in the dirt beside my men, keeping watch over their remains.

Cold sweat drenched me as I jerked awake, startled by my own cries. I scrubbed my hands over my face to clear my vision. Just a dream. Just a dream. I was thousands of miles away from that place now. Except part of me never left. Part of me had died right there with my men.

I rolled off the bed to the hard floor and started doing push-ups. I did a hundred, then burpees, then sit-ups, then planks. Anything to keep moving, to drive the thoughts away. If I worked my body hard enough, my brain got too exhausted to focus on my nightmares. So I punish my body to try and save the last shred of my sanity.

I feel the tension start to ease as the burn in my shoulders starts. I push harder, do more reps. Finally, I exert myself enough that I don’t feel the clammy coldness of fear sweat any longer.

But no matter how many pushups I do, I can still smell blood and cinders with every breath.

By the time the sun came up, I’d hauled all the bags of garden soil up from the flatbed trailer and started emptying them in the new flower beds. The sun was already broiling, and I had stopped for a drink of water when my brother walked up.

“It’s six in the morning. Insomnia back?”

“Nah, just felt like getting to work,” I said, brushing him off. He was drinking coffee and wearing an ironed shirt. How he could stand it in this heat was beyond me. Maybe because he wasn’t lifting forty-pound bags of dirt and breaking a sweat.

“You need to get back into counseling. You said it helped.”

“I’m good. I like this place and the work. I don’t need a new shrink.”

“Look, I know you liked working with the one last year—”

“I’m fine, Jer,” I said, a little sharply. I didn’t want to hear it. We had taken different paths. He cared about me, but it made me itch—him thinking he could play brother’s keeper with me.

That’s why the fresh air was good. It blew away the stink of blood that stayed with me. I kept moving and sometimes that was enough to keep the demons at bay.

I turned back to my work, and eventually he gave up and left. I was better off alone. It had taken some getting used to, but it worked for me.



“You’ve helped me so much. I can never thank you enough,” Claire said, her eyes bright with unshed tears.

“I’m just glad you’re starting to feel better. You’ve done some hard work to get here. I’m very proud of you,” I said warmly.