Authors: Kate Davies
“I was going to offer to kick his ass for you, but the diamond threw me off,” Tess said, pulling Bree down onto the nearest bench.
“Seriously.” Kelsey sat down on the other side of her. “What’s going on?”
“He was going to give this to me after graduation.” She held out the ring for them to see, still not quite believing it was real. “But then the whole army thing came out, and...”
“Oh.” Tess put her arm around Bree’s shoulders. “Still the army thing, huh?”
Kelsey nodded. “It’s always the army thing.”
“Are you mocking me?” Bree glared at them both. “You of all people know how I feel about the military.”
They exchanged a look. “Yeah, we do,” Tess said. “And we know how hard it was for you to grow up without your dad.”
“But he could have died some other way, too. If he’d been in a car accident, would you avoid cars for the rest of your life?”
Kelsey leaned against Bree. “Bad things happen, honey. But sometimes good things happen, too.”
“I think the big question is, would your mom have given up the time she did have with your dad, just to avoid the pain of losing him?”
“And how is it better for Ben—and you—to have lost ten years with Marc, just in case something might happen to him down the road?”
Bree bit the inside of her cheek. “I should go.”
Tess shook her head. “Just think about it, okay?”
Bree nodded and waved Ben over, more than ready to go.
She had a decade-old engagement ring in her hand and a million questions in her head.
And a son who deserved some answers.
Bree gripped the steering wheel tightly as she navigated the unfamiliar side roads just off I-5. She’d passed this exit a thousand times before, but never had cause to take it.
Not until now.
“Are we there yet?”
She glanced in the rearview mirror. Ben was tugging at the collar of his white button-down shirt and looking exceptionally disgruntled. She bit back a smile. “Just a few more minutes, honey.”
“That’s what you said the last time,” he mumbled, but settled back down. His shirt was untucked, and she had no idea how his hair had gone from tidy to cowlicky in one hour-long drive.
It was probably just a function of being a nine-year-old boy.
Every mile closer they traveled, her stomach tied in more and more knots. What if he didn’t want them there? What if he kicked them out? It would be hard enough for her, but if he rejected Ben...
No. That wasn’t possible. Marc had already contacted her about setting up a visitation schedule.
That didn’t safeguard her.
She touched the chain around her neck, taking a deep breath. A little calmer, she turned off the main road.
She slowed as she approached the gate, rolling down her window to give their names to the guard. Following his instructions, she pulled into the small lot to the side of the guardhouse and turned off the engine. Ben burst out of the car like he’d been captive for days instead of barely an hour. “Are we going to see Marc?”
Ben hadn’t quite gotten used to the idea of having a dad, so by unspoken agreement he’d taken to calling him by his first name. So far, it seemed to work for everyone involved.
Maybe this was a mistake. She should have waited for him to come over this weekend, like they’d agreed. Maybe showing up here unannounced was against some sort of military protocol. “I don’t know,” she answered Ben finally. “He might be busy.”
“So will we just go home then?”
“Maybe,” she said.
He pondered that for a moment. “Okay,” he said. “Can we get ice cream later?”
She smiled and shook her head. Kids could be so resilient.
It was one of the things that her mom had worried about, she’d told Bree when they’d met for coffee early in the week. Bree’s inability to let go.
“Of course, I grieved for your father,” she’d said. “But I held on to the good times, too.”
Sometimes she hated it when Kelsey and Tess were right.
Bree checked her watch, then looked at the security checkpoint again. “Ten more minutes, Ben, then we’ll go for ice cream.”
* * *
Marc scrawled his signature on the last form and tossed it in the out basket. “Done,” he announced to no one in particular.
He put the pen back in the top drawer of his desk and stood, stretching a little. Maybe he should head over to the gym for a while, go a few rounds with a punching bag.
“Sergeant.” The man snapped a salute, which Marc returned. “You have a visitor at the gate.”
“A visitor?” He wasn’t expecting anyone. Had to be someone not on his list, too, or they would have been let inside. “Who is it?”
“Bree Oliver,” his subordinate said.
Marc froze briefly. That had to be a mistake.
“Excuse me,” he said, and headed toward the door at a rapid clip.
* * *
He slowed as he approached the guard station, not wanting to be out of breath when he arrived.
There was a car, and Bree standing against it, in the temporary lot next to the station.
Ben ran around from the other side of the car, talking animatedly to his mom.
What were they doing here?
He crossed out of the gate and walked toward his unexpected guests.
“There he is,” Ben said, waving at him. Bree straightened, brushing at her skirt.
“Hi,” Marc said slowly. “What’s going on?”
“Surprise!” Ben bounced on his toes. “We came to visit!”
“I see that,” Marc replied. He placed a hand on the top of Ben’s head. “Would you like to come on base?”
“I’m sorry, we should have let you know we were coming,” Bree said. “I should have remembered how tight security is, especially since 9/11.”
Marc nodded. She probably hadn’t been on a military base since her dad died. “I can sign you in as my guests. Why don’t you drive your car through while I take care of the paperwork, and then we can head over to the playground for a little while. I’m guessing this guy could burn off some energy after sitting in the car for so long.”
She ushered Ben back into the car and followed him to the gate. Once the paperwork was done, he got in the passenger side, handed her the temporary parking pass and directed her to the playground.
“Can I go on the swings?” At his mom’s okay, Ben scrambled out of the car and ran across the playground.
The two of them got out as well, walking slowly down the gravel path to the playground equipment.
“I should have called first,” she said quietly. “But I wasn’t sure if I’d actually make it this far.”
Marc nodded. “I was surprised to see you here.”
“We won’t stay long. I don’t want to disturb your schedule or anything. But I thought it was important for Ben to see you here. For me to see you here.”
She sighed and touched her necklace, almost unconsciously. Marc felt his stomach flip when he realized what was on the thin gold chain.
“The ring,” he said.
Bree blushed and dropped her hand. “It reminds me of you.”
“Bree,” he said quietly. “What’s going on?”
“I owe you an apology.” She took a deep breath and let it out, looking across the playground at Ben. “It was unfair for me to keep punishing you for something that wasn’t your fault. Whatever issues I had with the military had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me.”
She laughed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Trust you to pick up on that. Well, I’m trying. It won’t happen overnight, but I’m trying.”
“I think showing up here was a good first step.”
Bree shrugged. “It’s a start.”
He reached out and touched the ring, sliding it gently on the necklace. “Yes, I’d say it is.”
She shivered under his touch. “Marc, do you think there’s any chance we could try again? Go back to what we had before?”
“No.” He let go of the ring. “I don’t think we can.”
Bree pressed her lips together and nodded.
Marc grabbed her hand as she turned to go. “But I think we can go forward.”
Her eyes bright with unshed tears, Bree launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck.
He lowered his head and kissed her, unable to hide the smile that threatened to break free.
She was here, in his arms again, and he had a feeling that together they’d find their way home.
* * * * *
Looking for another fun and flirty romantic read?
Check out the first installment of the
Girls Most Likely To series, available now!
Most Likely to Succeed
Ten years after being voted Most Likely to Succeed, Kelsey Moore is still living in her hometown, still working in her family’s flower shop, and too embarrassed to attend her high school reunion.
Nathan isn’t sure why he came back for the reunion after spending the past decade working abroad. But when he runs into his former lab partner, Kelsey, he’s sure glad he did. The chemistry between them is as potent as ever, and when she offers him a weekend of wild, no-strings-attached sex, Nathan knows he’d be a fool to say no.
Nathan can’t be tied to one place for long. But the more time they spend together in and out of bed, the more Kelsey wonders if their reunion could become something more permanent. That is, if Nathan is still interested when he finds out she’s been less than honest with him about her life since graduation...
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About the Author
From food to fiction, Kate likes things spicy. She writes award-winning sexy contemporary romance, and has books available in both ebook and print. Her book
was named Small Press Contemporary Romance of the Year by
magazine. When she isn’t writing about strong, sexy men and women finding their happily-ever-afters, she spends her time playing with the kids and hanging with her hero husband (How’s that for alliteration?).
You can most often find Kate in her natural habitats: on Twitter at
, on Facebook at
and at her blogs,
. Stay up to date via her website,
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Copyright © 2013 by Kate Davies
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