Mitchell Caulfield’s soul is as wounded as his body once was. The former Air Force pilot, forced to retire after being shot down over Afghanistan suffers from PTSD. Working as a bodyguard to supermodel Riley Forbes, Mitch accompanies the model and his wife home to the ranch for Christmas. There he meets Riley's cousin Grayson, a former rodeo star who now runs Forbes Ranch. Can the magic of Christmas bring two men from diverse backgrounds together? And will they open their hearts to the possibility of love?
Gray paused with his hand on the doorknob of Mitchell’s bedroom. Since his arrival, the bodyguard had disturbed Gray’s sleep, something most ranchers wouldn’t hold with since they tended to rise early. Gray could sleep through the moaning if he had to, but the sounds were so agonizing, he felt bad for the guy. The former Air Force pilot had to be in the midst of some pretty gruesome nightmares for him to make that much racket.
Popping the door open silently, Gray poked his head around the edge and peered into the dark bedroom. Mitch lay sprawled face down on the king sized bed, a sheet twisted around his lean hips. He had a pillow squished between arms, holding it tightly between his chest and the mattress. The other pillow and the comforter were tossed to the floor, probably kicked there by Mitch’s violent movements.
As Gray watched, Mitch thumped his head on the mattress. His guttural sounds were the most heartbreaking Gray had ever heard. He slipped into the bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Waking people from nightmares could be tricky business, and Gray needed to figure out the best way to rouse Mitch from whatever horror held him in its grip.
He approached the side of the bed closest to Mitch’s head, figuring it would be best to steer clear of the pilot’s long, muscled legs. Sweat dampened the close-cropped dirty blond hair, a lock spilling over onto Mitch’s forehead. Gray pressed a knee to the edge of the mattress, hoping the dip in the mattress woke the man. Instead, he moaned once more. Barely coherent words tumbled from his mouth and Gray froze, filled with horror.
“No, please! Don’t kill him! He’s just a boy! Please!”
Gray knew the pilot had been shot down over Afghanistan. He’d been captured but rescued all within the space of a day. However, it seemed that in that twenty-four hour span of captivity, he’d experienced more than any human should. Certainly, his experiences now seemed to translate into violent nightmares.
“Mitch? Mitchell?” Gray leaned closer, hesitant to touch the man.
Mitch rolled to his back, arms spread wide, his head thrashing on the mattress. “God, noooo!” he moaned.
Gray realized his words weren’t reaching the pilot. Tentatively, he reached out and stroked his fingers lightly, in what he hoped was a soothing manner, over the side of Mitch’s damp face. Moving with the speed of a striking snake, Mitch grabbed Gray’s wrist in a vise-like grip as he rubbed his face against the palm.
“Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me here to die.”
Naked fear dripped from every word sending a wave of sympathy over Gray. He was locked into an uncomfortable position, one knee and one hand on the mattress for balance, the other hand held between Mitch’s. Before he could figure out how to get out of the awkward pose, Mitch yanked his hand, tumbling him down onto the bodyguard’s hard frame.