Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bromance in Military Romance

by Laura Kaye

One of my favorite things about writing military romance is getting to write about a group of guy friends bonded indelibly by the experience of war and, often, loss. Military units create bands of brothers that are just wonderful to write about and, honestly, I enjoy writing a good bromantic scene as much as I do one between the romantic leads.

So, today, I thought I'd share one of my favorite bromance moments from my recent release, Hard As You Can (Hard Ink #2). In this scene, Nick and Shane (the heroes from books one and two, respectively) are using boxing gloves to work through the issues that have kept them from fully connecting as friends and partners in the year since they've been discharged from the Army. Read on...

They circled, attacked, and retreated over and over, neither man holding the advantage for long. Nick clipped him in the mouth, and Shane felt the skin split and the metallic tang of blood on his tongue. So evenly matched, their fight turned into a war of attrition that threatened to go on and on. Exhaustion making his arms heavy and his responses slower, Shane used the memory of the train of unanswered calls and emails, each one leaving him feeling more alone and isolated, and found the will to keep going, keep fighting, keep exorcising the demons in his head that never let up for five fucking seconds.

It was just . . . all . . . too . . . goddamned . . . much. Wham. His fist connected with Nick’s cheekbone like a sledgehammer. Nick’s head whipped to the side, and his whole body spun as if in slow motion.

Nick caught himself just before he face-planted, though he stumbled until he crashed into the bench press. For a long moment, Nick braced his gloves against the leather-covered bench and seemed to gather himself. He rose and faced Shane, and it was clear from the stiffness and slowness of his movement that he was hurting.

Shane didn’t take a lick of pleasure from that fact. Just the opposite. The sight of his best friend bloodied and injured at his own hands drained the fight from him. Becca was going to have both their asses in a sling when she saw that the nearly healed cut on Nick’s cheekbone was open again. The initial wound wasn’t Shane’s doing—that had been between Nick and Beckett.

“Goddamnit,” Shane rasped, wiping the sweat off his brow with the back of his forearm. His mouth took over where his fists left off. “I needed you, Nick. I fucking needed you, and you weren’t there.”

Nick’s head dropped heavily on his shoulders. For a long moment, labored breaths aside, he was still. Then his gaze cut up, and Nick nodded. “I know. I . . . know.”

Shane waited, expecting more. Expecting . . . something. Anything. That Nick had needed him, too. That Nick was sorry. That he understood just how deep his silence had cut. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

“What else is there to say?” Nick pulled off his gloves. And there it was. Same story, different day. Guy still didn’t get it, did he? Shane tugged off his gloves, returned them to a shelf against the wall, and shook his head. “Not a damn thing, I guess.” Shane reached for the door handle.

Jesus. What do you want me to say?” The agonized whisper had Shane turning back to his friend. “Do you want me to say I was so fucked in the head I became depressed? Do you want me to say I should’ve figured out what Merritt was doing? Because I know that shit is true. And that, since I didn’t see the forest for the trees, I was so guilt-ridden I couldn’t face you guys? That I thought you’d all blame me for ruining your lives and killing our friends?” Nick’s eyes were bleak with anguish.

Shane’s gut went tight as a hollowness settled into his chest. “Nick—”

“Or maybe you want me to say it was easier to ignore you than face the possibility that I’d lost you, too? Because you had to hate me as much as I hated myself, right? Or, how ’bout that the pain of the surgeries and the PT was so intense I got hooked on painkillers for about three months until Jeremy realized what’d happened, flushed them down the toilet, and called my doctor behind my back?” Nick scrubbed his hands over his face, smearing the blood on his cheek, and clawed his fingers through his dark, sweaty hair.

Christ. How the hell had the guy carried all this around for the past year without caving under the weight of it? Just went to show that you never really knew the size of the load another person carried. Except—Shane should’ve known. He was supposed to be Nick’s best friend in the world. His brother. Damnit. Shane should’ve forced the question.

As Nick stood there pouring his soul in a bloody mess onto the floor between them, it occurred to Shane for maybe the first time ever that he’d failed Nick as much as he’d always thought Nick failed him. If he’d only pushed through his own hurt and anger, maybe he would’ve realized that under normal circumstances, the Nick Rixey he knew would never shut him out. But things hadn’t been normal, had they? Not by a long shot.


Shane released a long breath, then crossed the space that separated them and lowered himself heavily onto the bench. “Sitcha ass down before you fall down.”

Nick sat and dropped his gloves. Bracing his elbows on his knees, Shane watched a bead of sweat drop to the concrete. “I wish I’d known.” From his peripheral vision, he saw Nick nod.

“I know. I wish I’d been strong enough to tell you.” Shane’s thoughts were in a whirl. Which made sense since the earth was shifting a bit underneath his feet, at least where his beliefs about Nick were concerned.

Knock, knock, sounded against the door that led to the hall. A moment later, it eased open, and Becca stuck her head through the breach. Did she hear . . .


Her expression was a study in worry and concern. How much she’d overheard, he didn’t know. But it was something, for sure.

“Um. Everything okay?” she asked, clearly knowing the answer to the question. She stepped the rest of the
way in and let the door fall closed behind her.

Nick’s glance slid from her to Shane. The man’s eyes repeated the question. Are we okay?

Shane didn’t want an audience to say the things he needed to say, and the words weren’t there just yet anyway.

So he said, simply, “Yeah, man. We are.” It wasn’t enough, but it was a start.

Did you have a favorite line from the excerpt? Or do you have a favorite fictional bromance?

Thanks for reading!

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About Hard As You Can:
Five dishonored soldiers.
Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.

Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he's shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister's sake, Crystal can't get too close. Until her job and Shane's mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed. 

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He's exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can--and never let go.

Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Buy Hard As You Can at Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo


  1. My favorite bromances have resulted in post-military service careers and/or organizations, like "Mike's Place" from Heather Long's "Always a Marine" series or "Lost 'n Found investigations" from J.M. Madden's "Lost and Found" series, or Tonya Burrow's "Team HORNET" or "Wilde Security."

    Sometimes the team has served together in the same unit, sometimes they have done complimentary jobs, but they esprit de corps which is so difficult to capture in many civilian jobs, just develops organically.

    And, you can't beat the dark humor and pranks they play on each other!

  2. Yes, I love that, too, Michelle! Thanks!