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Honor by Joseph, Jo-Anne (1)

Prologue

The End

In the choice between whether to run and hide, or stand and fight, I will always, always choose to fight. I’ll fight tooth and nail, until there is no skin remaining on my bones, for I am not a coward.  I am a warrior. -- Wyatt

This story starts where all such accounts start, in the end. It begins with me bleeding out onto a costly carpet in a lovely apartment in Seattle.

They say a man in love is equivocal to a madman. He’ll do everything he can to protect those he loves. He’ll destroy anyone and anything in his path if he has to. The world is full of madmen. They hide behind the facade of being stiff and emotionless when in fact they’re insane. Fucking crazy-ass shits who would pop a bullet, or take one, if it means someone they love won’t have to.  

Maybe that is why I find myself in perilous situations time and time again. For love.

The love of my country.

The love of my family.

The love of a woman.

I guess I realized I was mad from the day I met Hayley Wells, with her pretty blonde hair and blue eyes that saw into my soul.

My need to protect her has always been my weakness and my strength.

She has no clue how hard I’ll fight for her, with every breath and all I fucking am. What’s mine will remain mine until my heart stops beating.

I shouldn’t say things like that. Not when I’m lying on the floor bleeding out, the loss of blood making me dizzy and creating an iciness which seeps into my bones.

I’m paralyzed to move.

I’ve been shot twice before. I know what it feels like to be shot. The smell of the gunpowder, and metal searing through your flesh, exploding in your muscles, tearing through them painfully, the heat and cold rushing through you. I’ve been shot. Yes, I bear the scars of a survivor. Battle scars are etched across my body like ink would another man's skin.

But I’m not so sure I’m going to survive this.

I can hear the sound of sirens in the distance, and I think that maybe all is not lost. I wish I could open my eyes, but when I do, everything spins and blurs into each other.

All I need to know is that she’s safe, that they’re safe, so if I die today, it will not be in vain. I can’t move nor pick my head up, and my thoughts are hazy.

My body is cold. So cold. I wish someone would throw a blanket on me. I can hear faint sobbing, a voice calling to me to which I cannot answer.

You’re going to be injured more times than you’re going to be saved. My father's words come back to me. Death is not the end. I used to tell myself that every single day when I served in the army, when the line between life and death was so thin, it was almost nonexistent. I know what it’s like to give up your life so others can have theirs. But this time it’s different. I want to live; I have to. I am needed.

I feel like I’m going to pass out any minute now. The darkness threatens me.

I should say a prayer, something to mark this end.

But I can’t.

I gasp, my chest constricting, and everything is going black . . .

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