Saturday, March 9, 2024

#NewReleae #KindleUnlimited #MustRead - Broken Wings (10th Anniversary Edition) by Erika Ashby

Title: Broken Wings (10th Anniversary Edition)
Series: Broken & Mended Book 1
Author: Erika Ashby
Genre/Tropes: Contemporary; Military Romance; Second Chance at Love; Close Proximity; Friends-to-Lovers 
Release Date: March 9, 2024
Cover Design: Sommer Stein at Perfect Pear Creative Covers
Graphics by: Devin McCain at Studio 5 Twenty-Five





Lynsie Fox has what she considers to be a perfect life. Married to Lincoln, a military pilot, she's living the Army life she's always loved. Being a sucker for great love stories, Lynsie makes it her mission to find Lincoln's best friend and copilot, Dax Adams, a good woman.

Losing the one woman he's ever loved, Dax attempts to be a good sport by playing along in Lynsie's matchmaking scheme. However, Dax is certain he will never get the woman of his dreams.

But life doesn't always fly smoothly. When turbulence strikes, Lynsie watches her world crash and burn around her, leaving her empty with broken wings. Despite her grief, can she mend the pieces back together and learn to fly again?



Prologue


Lincoln


Summer 2007


“Dude, this sucks.” I sigh, plopping down on Dax’s bed. Two years of fixed-wing pilot training together and my best friend is getting assigned to another base, states away.

“Such is life, man,” he replies, seemingly unbothered, but I know better.

“Glad you’re just as heartbroken as me,” I mutter, and he drills me clean in the face with a balled-up T-shirt. The force of the blow catches me off guard, and I fall back on his bed. Like a ninja, I roll to my side, retrieving the dirty laundry, and sling it back, missing Dax as it makes a thud hitting the wall behind him. “Lucky throw on your part.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.” He snorts.

“God, I’m gonna miss you. You’re like my yang.” I place my hand over my heart, clenching it into a fist. “You keep me balanced and from losing my shit. How am I going to keep from losing it without you?” I’m being slightly dramatic, but moments like these call for such antics.

“I have a feeling you’ll manage just fine.” His words are reassuring as always.

“But what about you? How are you going to survive without meeee?” I drag the last word out with a high pitch. 

Dax zips his suitcase shut, sits down beside me, and lets out the longest sigh I’ve ever heard. 

“Tell me how you really feel.” I cross my leg and pretend to doodle on a notepad, putting my imaginary shrink hat on. 

He shakes his head, laughing, and pushes my shoulder…hard. 

“Hey, you made me drop my notebook.” I bend over, acting like I’m picking it up, and he pushes me all the way off the bed.

“There you go.” He laughs. “Maybe you can find it better down there.” 

I quickly jump up onto the bed and pull out one of our famous wrestling moves from our childhood, putting him in a chokehold from behind.

“Tell me you’re going to miss me, too.” His hands grab at my arms, but I refuse defeat. He will show weakness. “It’s okay to be sad,” I coo, gently patting the top of his head. He relaxes his body, and I take the chance to give him a good going away noogie, dragging my knuckles back and forth quickly.

“You win. You win.” He slaps his hand three times on the bed, and I release my hold.

I plop down beside him and expel the sigh I’ve been holding. “In all seriousness, I am going to miss you. We’ve been inseparable our entire lives, and now it’s our passion pulling us apart.”

“Yeah, I think we’ve been in denial about the inevitable.” He shrugs. “But I think it’ll be good for us. Maybe the distance will bring growth and give us the ability to fully spread our wings.”

“Tell me more, oh knowledgeable one.” I laugh.

He glances down at his watch and stands. “Time for me to hit the road.”

“Yeah, I know.” I push myself off the bed, standing beside Dax. I tilt my head back, looking up at him as he towers over me. It’s not by much, but he’s always felt like a giant in comparison. He’s got his normal Dax fa├žade in place, and I can tell this isn’t as easy for him as he’s making it out to be. He has a girlfriend back home whom he’s refused to let go of, and I get the impression this transition will also greatly interfere with that. The realization makes me feel like an ass for being so selfish.

“Dax, I’m sorry.” I admit, placing a hand on his shoulder, gripping it tightly.

His hazel eyes finally connect with mine. “For what?” He raises a brow in confusion. Normally, I’d take this time to make a condescending joke, but I’ve done enough of that already.

“I’ve been thinking about how much this is going to suck for me. Haven’t really considered everything you’re giving up in the process, as well. And I’m not referring to me.” I smirk. “How does this move affect things with Amber?” I usually don’t like discussing his girlfriend because I don’t particularly care for her. It’s not because she’s any sort of threat to our friendship. He just seems to have blinders on when it comes to her, and I can’t figure out why. But he’s my best friend, and just because I’ve avoided love to focus on my career, I can’t hold his lack of abstaining over his head.

His shoulders slump, and he lets out an exasperated sigh, running his hand through his hair.

“Do I need to get my notebook back out?” I raise my brow.

He laughs and shakes his head, then looks away as if he’s trying to piece together an acceptable answer. When his gaze meets mine, indecisiveness heavily weighs him down. “Honestly, I don’t know. I’m supposed to stop by her apartment on my way to see my parents before continuing my trek up the coast.”

I nod and offer a smile as some sort of reassurance. “It’ll all work itself out the way it’s supposed to. I have faith.”

“Thanks, man.” Dax pulls me in for a hug. “I’m going to miss you too, Lincoln.”

He finally releases the words I’ve been trying to pull out of him. Victory is mine!


****


I THROW MY flight suit on, eager to get a head start on making a good first impression and personally introduce myself to my new commanding officer. On my way to the front door, I stop to take in the silence that surrounds me. I know it’s temporary, but I already feel lonely.

“Suck it up, buttercup,” I mumble, using the words I know Dax would say. He’s right. This is an opportunity for each of us to fully immerse ourselves in our careers without our friendship possibly holding us back. I shut the door behind me, deciding not to be sad and lame, but to make the best of the situation.

The sun beats down on me as I walk to my truck. Almost as if it’s a laser and I’m its target. I rest my hand around my door handle and lean my head back, reveling in the heat, letting it recharge me. Here’s to new beginnings.

I make the short drive from the barracks across base to the hangar I will be reporting to daily. As I turn onto the mass of concrete sprawled out in front of me that leads to the enormous metal building, an overwhelming sense of emotion hits me. This is it. This is what I’ve dreamed of ever since I was a little boy. I’m a pilot—an aviation warrant officer. Life can’t get any better than this.

I park my truck and walk in through the massive, lifted doors where mechanics work on a couple planes. These men and women are the true heroes. They work behind the scenes, making sure us pilots are operating safe flying apparatuses. I nod at those I pass, making my way to the offices on the adjacent wall. A nameplate reading Maj. Clark marks the third door down the corridor. Light shines through the half-cracked door and voices spill out as I inch closer.

A familiar voice says, “I think working at the salon in the PX will be a great start.” 

I can’t help but wonder who Major Clark is talking to. Curiosity gets the best of me as I sidle up to the door.

A female voice replies, “Me too, Dad.” 

The conversation seems to be coming to an end, and I take the opportunity to knock, stepping into the doorway. Major Clark’s eyes dart in my direction from behind his desk, and the brunette keeps her back to me.

“Sir.” I clear my throat. “I hope this isn’t bad timing.” 

He shifts his gaze from me to his daughter, then back to me.

“Not at all,” the female says, standing. “I was just leaving.” She glances over her shoulder at me and smiles. She rounds his desk and bends over, giving him a hug, then kisses his forehead. “Bye, Dad. I love you.”

“Bye, honey. I’ll see you at dinner.”

I try not to keep my eyes trained on her, but I can’t peel them off of her for the life of me as her petite stature saunters toward the doorway I’m standing in. She stops in front of me and glances down to my badge. Her green eyes slowly rise back to mine, and a smile tugs at the corner of her mouth.

“Fox.” She drags the three-letter word through her pouty lips as if she’s practicing it as her last name.

“Yes, ma’am.” I smile with a nod. “Lincoln Fox.” I stick my hand out, and she quickly accepts the gesture.

“Lynsie Clark.” She smiles back.

The scraping of a chair jerks our heads toward her dad’s desk as he stands. “Officer Fox, I’ve heard a lot about you.” His tone is even.

“Sir, all good things, I hope.” I chance a peek at Lynsie. She looks up and smiles, and I realize I have her blocked in. I shift to the left, offering her the space she needs to leave, and she mouths ‘good luck’ before walking past me out the door.

I straighten my stance and give my full attention to my commanding officer. I’m convinced I’ve just blown that good first impression I was after. Major Clark takes a few steps toward me, then crosses his arms and leans against the edge of his desk.

“Yes, all good things.” 

Redemption swarms within me. Maybe I haven’t ruined it, after all. 

“And how about we keep it that way?” he warns, raising a brow, and I don’t have to ask what he’s referring to.

I gulp. “Yes, sir.” Clearly, his daughter is off-limits. Which is a shame since my career indicates that I like to push them.







Erika Ashby grew up an Army Brat, spending most of her childhood in Oklahoma, where she finally put roots down. She currently lives in Edmond, OK where she faithfully attends North Church with her kids. She's a blessed mom of 4 who loves Jesus and serving others. Her hobbies include attending dirt track races, concerts, reading, DIY, and making red dirt shirts. It wasn’t until the ripe age of 27 when she realized she had a hidden passion for reading. Up until that point in her life, she claimed to have hated it. Shortly after, she was hit with another revelation: the desire to tell stories. Knowing she had failed all writing assignments in school, she set out on this journey mainly to prove to herself she could do it. So, here she is today, proving it. Erika wants to encourage anyone with a dream to go for it.



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