Winner of the Swirl Award for Best LGBT in 2012
When First Sergeant Dwayne Roman, a seasoned soldier, falls for another soldier under his command, he does everything in his power to keep his feelings at bay. Unfortunately, his relationship is discovered and he is asked to leave his life in the army.
The victim of the unjust laws of the land and a military cover-up, Dwayne settled fitfully into civilian life separated from the most important person in his life. After suffering three years with regret and loneliness, he saw an opportunity to regain what self-serving people took from him. He took the chance regardless of who was in his way or who got hurt.
CONTENT ADVISORY: This is an extensively re-edited and expanded re-release title.
A loud buzzing woke Dwayne Roman with a start. Gasping, he sat straight up, snatching a small pistol from under his pillow. Gazing around the room he lowered his weapon and reached for his cell phone.
"Roman," he growled sleepily, rubbing his eyes.
"Check your email, soldier. I have done all that I can do. I will go no further than this," a gruff voice said in his ear.
"Yes, sir," was his only reply before he disconnected the call.
No other words were necessary. He understood what the commander was telling him. Dwayne knew he had gone too far. He pushed when he was told to back off, said things that were out of line, he had even gone as far as threatening a superior officer with exposure in order to get the Intel he needed. All of his actions could have gotten him a one-way pass to the brig, court-martialed or, depending on whom it was directed at, even killed. But none of those consequences mattered. The ends justified the means, as far as he was concerned. Commander Biggs may have addressed him as soldier, but he was no longer an enlisted man. He had been discharged three years ago. But even if that hadn't been the case, he would have pressed on. He had been patient long enough.
Dwayne dropped the phone onto the bed and tossed the sheet from his body. Sitting on the edge of the bed he frowned as he stretched. The crackling sounds seemed to be multiplying every day. He groaned in disgust when his knees popped as he walked across the room to his computer. His inbox was flooded with information from dating sites, commercials for cable upgrades, notices from people saying he'd won millions of dollars in contests he'd never entered, and other crap he couldn't care less about. He let out a frustrated grunt and made a mental note to update his spam filter like he said he would do weeks ago.
Drumming his fingers on the desk, he highlighted all the messages except the one from the commander, Dwayne hit delete then clicked the one he needed. When it appeared he read it quickly. It was short and to the point. He smiled. The content was not what he had hoped for, but it gave him the impression that he was getting closer to his objective. His chair leaned backwards under the pressure of a loud yawn then remained at that angle while he bounced it in thought. Finally, he pushed himself up from the desk to answer the call of nature.
A short time later, he left his home and took the short walk to the Hot Toddy. When he left his life as a first sergeant behind, he'd purchased the place to keep his mind focused on something other than the pain he felt in his soul. Running the bar gave him purpose. Over the last three years it had been his only source of happiness.
He wanted an establishment where men could go have a beer and chill out without drama or ridicule. Hot Toddy was not one of the larger bars in the area, but its location made up for its size. There were only two other bars, both were larger and were attached to full sized restaurants. Saxony was a small town thirty miles south of Atlanta and just thirty miles west was the Camp Buford Army base. Hot Toddy was barely a half hour from both going either way.
Dwayne's bar was open to anyone who wanted to buy a drink. They maintained a steady flow of patrons, but he did notice a substantial growth after the president signed the DADT repeal a few years back. As a rule, he never asked his customers if they were civilian or servicemen. It had become their own take on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. However, Dwayne always knew who was who by simply watching their mannerisms.
Those who recognized him from his time in the military continued to respectfully address him by his former rank, but never inquired or made comment on how his military career ended. They came in, had their drinks, and enjoyed themselves like everyone else. He provided a non-violent, prejudice-free environment for kindred spirits to find their way to one another and he was proud of that. Dwayne had witnessed those attractions close up many times over the last few years. Between service men and civilians alike. It was during those times he missed Jeremy Styles the most. He unlocked the doors with a sigh remembering the day he and Jeremy got together.