Masters at Arms - By Kallypso Masters


There are so many people to thank, and I’m sure I’ll forget some. First, I’d like to thank my editor, Jeri Smith, of Booksmith Editing. Your keen eye and excellent suggestions have made this book into what it is today, and have led me to improve on how the story of how these three men formed such a strong band-of-brothers bond. Thanks also for your encouragement. I look forward to working with you on the other books in this series.

To my beta readers and critiquers Fiona Campbell, Kristin Harris, Kelly Hensley, Carol Ann MacKay, Kathy McKenzie, Kelly Mueller, Lani Rhea, Kelly Timm, and Kathy Treadway. Your insightful suggestions helped save me embarrassment and to make this book and its characters so much stronger.

To Laura Harner, Carol Ann MacKay, and S.A. Moore, thanks for your help in getting my military facts straight. All remaining errors are mine, of course. (Readers: Please keep in mind that the military protocols and equipment described in this book are from 2002-2005 and may not be the same as those followed currently.)

Thanks to my many Facebook friends for encouragement and support. Thanks to Elizabeth Leighton, who came up with the title of this book; to Lizzie Walker, who discovered Master Adam’s craving for peanut butter; and to Anita Hayes who just knew Master Adam would listen to Aerosmith.

To my wonderful MPs, thank you for lifting me up, making me laugh, giving me delightful inspiration into the lifestyle, and providing me multiple social-networking fixes every day! You’re the best! Thanks to Katona Barnes and Lisa Kait, especially for completing the Mistresses Admin 3. We’re invincible!

Last, but not in no way least, to Cherise Sinclair, who wrote Club Shadowlands, the first erotic romance I ever read. Your Doms and subbies are to die for and I hope mine are one-tenth as memorable. Thanks also for your Facebook friendship, mentoring me on various aspects of the lifestyle, and for your ongoing support and encouragement. Now, please get back to work and finish Master Raoul’s story, my dear Alpha Sub. I can’t wait for my next visit to Club Shadowlands.

Section One

Prequel to Adam’s Story, Nobody’s Hero

Night before Thanksgiving 2002, Chicago, Illinois

Joni, you were my anchor. I’m lost without you.

Adam Montague slumped into the seat at the terminal, hoping to catch a couple hours of sleep before his bus left. He looked around Chicago’s busy terminal and saw the autumn decorations scattered every five yards or so. Apparently, going for the homey Thanksgiving look. Not even close. Just another crap-hole bus station, no different from the ones he’d seen a lot of during his early years in the Marines.

Twenty-two years. He’d survived the First Gulf War in 1991 and a deployment to Kosovo in ’99. Just when he and Joni started planning for his retirement, some damned assholes attacked the United States, the country he’d sworn to protect and defend. So, he’d put off turning in his retirement papers until he could see how Operation Enduring Freedom went. He’d serve as long as he was useful and needed.

Adam had been deployed to Kandahar twice since 2001. His first tour ended with a medical leave earlier this year after a clusterfuck of bad intelligence led one of his recon units into an ambush with disastrous results. He’d gone in after them and gotten only a few of them out unscathed, but he’d lost two good men and managed to get himself injured in the bargain.

So, he’d been home at Camp Pendleton with Joni more than a month last winter as his body had healed. Now he wondered if she’d known about her cancer back then and kept it from him. Would it have made any difference if he’d known? He’d have been sent back to war and she’d still have had to fight the disease alone. She’d known the deal when she married him. While he was active duty, she’d have to take a back seat to whatever crisis he’d been sent to fight in the world.

His last tour had ended with his hardship leave two months ago when Joni’s mother had finally told him Joni’s cancer had come back with a vengeance. He hung his aching head and held it in his hands hoping the heels of his hands would quell the throbbing in his temples.

Memories of walking into that bedroom in Minneapolis two months ago flashed through his mind. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block it out, but knew the sight was imprinted there forever. God, the disease had