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Authors: Soraya Lane

The Returning Hero

BOOK: The Returning Hero
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You can’t help who you fall for…

Six months after her husband’s death, Jamie knows she has to start living again. And when fellow soldier Brett Palmer turns up, Jamie
knows
it’s fate. Brett is the only other person who can make her feel alive again.

Brett swore he would protect Jamie, but being so close to her is driving him insane. So Brett does everything he can to fight their connection. Until the words slip out—he’s always loved her. With a second chance staring them both in the face, there is no going back….

The Soldiers’ Homecoming

Brett, Logan and Sam were best friends, and three of the finest soldiers in the Australian SAS K9 division. But then one day, Sam was killed, tearing their friendship group apart and leaving Brett and Logan with memories that would haunt them forever.

Now back in Australia, Brett and Logan are adjusting to life outside the army. But they hadn’t counted on two gorgeous, intriguing, captivating women who swan into their lives and present them with challenges they’ve never faced before!

Don’t miss
THE RETURNING HERO
March 2014

And look out for Logan’s story,
HER SOLDIER PROTECTOR,
coming in April 2014

Dear Reader,

I’ve loved dogs all my life, and when I started to research this book and discovered just how much dogs do within both the United States and Australian armed forces, I was blown away. These courageous dogs are taught how to detect explosives and, along with their handlers, save the lives of so many soldiers. These dogs ask for little more than love, shelter and food, and in return they are the most faithful and tireless of workers.

Their handlers are also incredibly brave and courageous. They are the most elite of soldiers—men capable of the highest level of service within the armed forces—and the love they have for their four-legged comrades is second to none. Their dogs rarely leave their side, and they treat them with all the respect and love they deserve.

I hope you enjoy this story of love and second chances, and of course the love of man’s best friend—the humble dog. In this book you will meet not only the hero, but one of the hero’s closest friends, too, and I’m pleased to tell you that there will be a second book to follow.

If you enjoy this story, I’d love to hear from you. I also encourage you to visit my website and find out more about my past and upcoming releases.

Soraya Lane

THE RETURNING HERO

Soraya Lane

Writing for the Harlequin(r) Romance line is truly a dream come true for Soraya Lane. An avid book reader and writer since her childhood, Soraya describes becoming a published author as “the best job in the world,” and hopes to be writing heartwarming, emotional romances for many years to come.

Soraya lives with her own real-life hero on a small farm in New Zealand, surrounded by animals and with an office overlooking a field where their horses graze.

For more information about Soraya and her upcoming releases, visit her at her website,
www.sorayalane.com
, her blog,
www.sorayalane.blogspot.com
, or follow her at
www.facebook.com/SorayaLaneAuthor
.

 

Recent books by Soraya Lane

 

PATCHWORK FAMILY IN THE OUTBACK*
MISSION: SOLDIER TO DADDY
THE SOLDIER’S SWEETHEART
THE NAVY SEAL’S BRIDE
BACK IN THE SOLDIER’S ARMS
RODEO DADDY
THE ARMY RANGER’S RETURN
SOLDIER ON HER DOORSTEP

 

*
Bellaroo Creek!

 

These and other titles by Soraya Lane are available in ebook format from
www.Harlequin.com
.

For Hamish & Mackenzie. I’m so fortunate that you both share my love of dogs!

In Dogs We Trust

The unofficial motto of the soldiers within the Explosive Detection Dog Service

Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

EPILOGUE

EXCERPT

CHAPTER ONE

B
RETT
PALMER
LEANED
against the door of his vehicle. Visiting had seemed like a great idea before he’d left home, but now he was here…turning up unannounced wasn’t so easy. Perhaps if he’d planned what he was going to say, had a good reason for not touching base with her before now, but he’d just jumped in the car and decided to chance it.

He sucked back a big breath and forced himself to walk forward. He’d known Jamie Mattheson for years, so it wasn’t like she’d get a shock to see him, but still. It wasn’t as if he’d ever spent time with her on her own, either.

Brett swallowed the memories, refusing to go back in time, and jogged the last few steps to the front door. He knocked. No one answered. There wasn’t even so much as a shuffle from inside. Brett knocked again.

He could either get in his car and leave, or head around back to see if she was there. The sun was already out in full force, typical of Sydney at this time of year, and he had more than a hunch that she could be out in the garden.

Brett stepped back down and walked around the side of the house. It was looking nice, but then he knew Sam had painted the weatherboards before he’d left for their last tour, had made sure he’d done all the maintenance so Jamie had nothing to worry about while he was gone. He’d put money on it that she’d prefer the house to be falling down around her if it meant she could go back in time and have her husband back.

Brett pushed the side gate open and looked around the corner.
There she was.
Standing with her hands on her hips, like something was really frustrating her. Then he saw the something, sitting in front of her, alert, nose pointed in the air.

Bear. She had Sam’s dog. How the hell had she ended up with Bear so soon?

“Jamie,” he called out, not wanting to startle her but not wanting to be caught staring at her, either.

The dog had given up sitting patiently and was now barking and thundering toward him. He’d been his best mate’s dog, but right now he was protecting his new owner, and Brett wasn’t exactly game to take the massive canine on.

“Bear, it’s me,” he called out, as the black dog hurtled toward him. “Bear! It’s okay, boy.”

The dog slowed, still looking protective, but Brett was comfortable that he was no longer about to be attacked.

“Brett? What are you doing here?”

Jamie was suddenly rushing across the lawn to him, arms outstretched.

“Hey, sweetheart.” He held his own arms out, one eye on the dog, until she threw herself against him.

Brett held her tight, holding on to her like his life depended upon it. He’d been best man at their wedding, vacationed with them, had dinner at their house…and now he was comforting a widow.

“It’s so good to see you.” Jamie stepped back, but she held on to his hands, firmly, like she’d never let go.

Brett looked into her eyes, saw tears there that she was bravely holding in check. This woman had been his best friend’s wife, and he’d never, ever wanted to be in this position. He was just grateful that he hadn’t been the one to tell her the news when it had happened.

“You’ve got Bear.” He knew he was stating the obvious but he still couldn’t believe it.

He turned half his attention back to the dog, who was keeping a close eye on them.

“And I have no idea what to do with him,” she admitted, stepping back and letting go of Brett. Jamie had her hands back on her hips as she stared at the dog. “I’m doing my best, but he’s, I don’t know, smarter than me, I guess. We’re not communicating that well.”

Brett dropped to his haunches, eye level with the canine. “Hey, Bear. Remember me, bud?” The dog let out a low whine, looking up at Jamie then back to him again. “I know you do. Come here.”

Bear slowly walked over to him and sat down on Brett’s feet. He gave him a scratch, liking that the dog had accepted him. God only knew they’d spent enough time together when he was serving.

“I’ll teach you everything I can, Jamie. He’s a pretty special dog, but he’s used to certain commands and lots of them.”

She laughed. “Yeah, sometimes I wondered if Sam thought he was more special than me. Probably showed off photos of him to everyone and forgot all about his wife.”

Brett reached for her, took her hand again as he stood to full height. “You know that’s not true. You meant everything to Sam.” He chuckled. “To be honest, we all had to tell him to knock it off most of the time. He talked about you
way
too often.”

She laughed, gripping his hand tight. “You always were the charmer.”

He put his arm around her, needing to hold her, to show her how much he cared. “I miss him, Jamie. I miss him so bad that I can’t…” Brett blew out a breath, dropping his chin to the top of her head. “I just needed you to know that I’m here for you. It’s taken me a while, but I’m back now.”

Jamie looped her arm around his waist and steered them toward the house. “How about we have brunch?”

“Here?”

“Yeah, why not,” she said. “Besides, I haven’t had anyone to make pancakes for in a while.”

Brett signaled to the dog to follow them, and walked behind Jamie as she went into the house. She was dressed in a tiny pair of cut-off denim shorts and a loose-fitting T-shirt, and he wished she were covered up. She was his friend’s widow. She was beautiful. Her legs were so long and tanned…. He forced his eyes to the sky.
Jamie was Sam’s wife.
Just because he’d loved her from the moment he’d met her, thought she was the most caring, gorgeous woman he’d ever spent time with, didn’t mean it was okay to start giving in to his feelings now.

Sam had been gone only a little over six months. He’d been his best friend. And Jamie was his widow, he reminded himself again.

But deep down, Brett knew exactly why he’d put off coming for so long.

* * *

Jamie hadn’t stopped moving since they’d walked inside. She couldn’t. Because if she stopped even for a second, she’d either start crying or throw her arms around Brett and never let him go.

Having him here was unexpected, unusual, and yet exactly what she needed all at the same time. Since Sam had been gone, she’d had an emptiness inside of her that had ached every single day, but seeing Brett…? It was like the pain was finally easing. Because she could talk to Brett about her husband, really talk about him, and he made her feel like Sam could still walk through the front door, hassling Brett for chatting her up like he usually did. Jamie took a deep breath.

“Maple syrup?” she asked.

He laughed. “Yes, ma’am.”

Jamie flipped a pancake and turned around to look at the man seated at her counter. He looked like he always did—handsome and tanned—but there was something different about him now. Something she couldn’t pinpoint, except for maybe a hint of unhappiness that kept crossing his face, that made his smile never quite reach his eyes like it once had. There was so much she wanted to ask him, but she wanted to wait until the time was right.

“So tell me how you ended up with Bear?” Brett asked.

She smiled at the dog lying near her feet. He might be hard to communicate with, but he sure was loyal and she loved him for that.

“The detection dog unit contacted me, told me that he had to be retired after the accident, and they wanted to offer him to me first.” She shook her head, turning her attention back to her pancakes. “Sam loved him so much, so I couldn’t say no. And it is kind of nice having the company, even if we haven’t quite figured each other out yet. He’s only been here a few weeks because he had to be in quarantine for a while.”

BOOK: The Returning Hero
9.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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