Authors: Makenna Jameison
Return of a Soldier
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Makenna Jameison.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
ALSO BY MAKENNA JAMEISON
Christmas with a Soldier
Valentine from a Soldier
In the Arms of a Soldier
Summer with a Soldier
pushed the curtains aside and glanced out the window in my living room, wondering when Trent would arrive. I could practically picture him walking up the flagstone path to my front door—handsome in his dress uniform, with his short brown hair, dark eyes that smoldered as they gazed into mine, chiseled face, and athletic physique. His body would tower over mine as he pulled me into his strong arms, and when our lips finally met, our kiss would be as magical as it had been at Christmas. I could practically smell the spicy scent of his cologne and hoped that when we saw each other again, it would be as if he’d never even left. That somehow, despite the passage of time, we would still be enveloped in our own little world and nothing between us would have changed.
It had been months since
Trent and I had seen each other—four months exactly since I’d first met him on that snowy December day. What had started out with a road closure as I headed back into town and an ill-fated hike through the forest had ended up being the most romantic night of my life. Trent and I hadn’t exactly gotten along when we’d first met. I’d accidentally rear-ended his car, and since he’d been returning to town for his father’s funeral, he wasn’t exactly in the best of moods. We’d decided to take a shortcut through the woods to get back to town, but after we got lost, we were forced to spend the night together in an abandoned cabin. Things had started to change between us as we spent the evening talking over a bottle of wine that Trent had in his rucksack (a thank-you gift that never made it to its intended recipients). As one thing led to another, we’d slowly gotten to know each other. On the rug in front of the roaring fire. Making love again and again. Trent had come over for dinner on Christmas Eve and ended up spending Christmas and the next several days with my daughter and me, the three of us wrapped up in our own little world.
He was supposed to come back a short time later, during his R&R, but scheduling conflicts had kept him in Afghanistan
longer than expected, and what we thought would be goodbye for only a short time had turned into several months. We’d kept in touch, writing to one another weekly, and talking on the phone. I blushed recalling some of the letters and emails he’d written describing exactly how he wanted our first night back together to unfold. Not that I couldn’t wait to have him back in my arms again either, but I felt slightly nervous, as if the reality couldn’t possibly live up to the expectations we’d each built up in our minds.
My mind was drawn back to the present as I watched m
y six-year-old daughter Hannah riding her new red bicycle up and down the driveway. I’d just given it to her for her birthday last month, and now that the weather was nicer, she couldn’t get enough of it. If I let her, she’d spend all day zooming up and down the driveway, wobbling slightly on her training wheels, the red and white streamers attached to the handlebars whipping around in the air. I loved seeing her so happy and couldn’t wait for the many more stages she’d go through as she continued to grow. Luckily we lived in a small town where I knew all of my neighbors and had family close by. She was finally old enough that I could let her play in the yard while keeping a close eye on her without worry of her wandering off. It was hard to admit that my baby was growing up, but I cherished each and every day that I spent with her.
Hannah alone since she was born. My ex-boyfriend had never been involved in her life and had tragically died when she was just three. Luckily I had family close by to help out, but I hoped to someday have a father-figure in her life. Hannah had taken a great liking to Trent, but it was hard to explain to a young child why he was here at Christmas and then suddenly gone.
Hannah hopped off her bicycle, leaving it right in the middle of the driveway, and ran over to inspect something in the flowerbed.
The first signs of spring were finally starting to arrive this April, with crocuses popping up and the ground no longer covered in a fresh layer of frost each morning. The tulips that I’d planted last fall would probably be making their appearance in the next few weeks, and I could see tiny buds popping out of the trees in our small yard. I smiled, knowing that I’d soon be able to enjoy plenty of time outdoors with Hannah. She ran off into the side yard, and I headed outside to retrieve her bike. I’d have to explain to her again that she couldn’t leave it right in the middle of the driveway. All I needed was for Trent to come pulling in and miss it, running over her newest prized possession.
I stepped off my front porch, the wind swirling my
lightweight green-and-white patterned dress around me. It was a little cool outside for something so summery, so I’d slipped a white cardigan on as well. Cute ballet flats added a finishing touch, and I imagined running over to Trent when he finally arrived, throwing my arms around his strong shoulders as he spun me around in the air. Suddenly I heard crying from the side yard, and I ran over to find Hannah sitting on the ground with a skinned knee. “Mommy!” she wailed, holding up her arms to me.
“Honey, you have to be careful,” I called out, hurrying over to kneel down beside her. Her little knee was covered in dirt, but it was mostly a surface wound. Still, I’d have to get her inside and
get it cleaned up. At that exact moment I heard Trent’s Jeep pulling into the driveway.
I thought. So much for a romantic reunion of running directly into his outstretched arms. I heard Trent’s car door slam shut, and I called to him. “We’re over here!”
A few moments later, h
e came walking around the side of the house carrying his rucksack and a dozen red roses. He paused for a moment to set his things down on the grass, and my breath caught as I watched him. He was just as handsome as I remembered. His chiseled face and strong jaw had a trace of dark stubble covering them, giving him a slightly rugged appearance, and they were set off by his shortly cropped dark hair. His deep brown eyes were gazing at me, and he had a huge smile on his face.
Hannah glanced up at him, her tears starting to slow as she became distracted by his arrival. “Mr. Trent?” she asked.
“Hi Hannah!” he called out with a big grin, walking over toward us with his long stride. “Was that you or your mom that I heard crying?”
She giggled as she struggled to her feet, and I smiled as she suddenly shyly clung onto me. “Hi Meghan,” he said, his voice deep.
He took my hand and bent down to kiss me, a sweet, satisfying kiss that ended all too quickly. I felt butterflies in my stomach as I met his gaze, and I could see the promise in his eyes of what was to come later when we were finally alone.
t looks like you hurt yourself,” he said, stooping down to Hannah’s level.
I was running around the yard and fell.”
“Is that your fancy new bicycle in the driveway?”
“Yes! Mommy gave it to me for my birthday.”
“Oh, and how old are you now. Five?” he asked, knowing full well that Hannah had just turned six.
“No,” she cried out, giggling. “I’m six.”
“Six? Wow! That is definitely a birthday that deserves a new bicycle. Maybe you can show it to me later?”
“Yes, let’s get you cleaned up first, though,” I said, guiding Hannah toward the house. “Mr. Trent just got here, so let’s give him a chance to sit down.”
Mommy! He wants to see my new bicycle!”
, Sweetie,” I said with a gentle laugh. “We’ll show him in a little while. How about a snack first?”
“We made cookies!” Hannah shouted.
“Cookies sound perfect,” Trent said with a grin. Hannah ran off toward the house, her bruised knee now long forgotten. Trent and I followed behind, with Trent stopping to grab his rucksack and the bouquet of roses. “These are for you,” he said, warmth radiating from his dark eyes as he smiled down at me.
“They’re beautiful,” I said, taking the flowers from him and inhaling the intoxicating floral scent.
“So are you,” he whispered, brushing my hair back as he bent down to softly kiss my neck. I smiled as a warmth surged through me and met his gaze.
Hurry up!” Hannah shouted from the front porch.
Trent laughed as I shook my head in disbelief at
our interrupted moment. “Come on,” I said, taking Trent’s hand and tugging him along beside me. “We won’t get a moment of peace and quiet until she gets a cookie.”
, I can understand that,” he chuckled.
Hannah saw us coming and ran into the house, the screen door slamming behind her. I turned and gave Trent a smile before following her inside. “Welcome home.”
“I’m sorry this was such a crazy evening,” I said apologetically later that night, looking around at the mess Hannah had left in the kitchen: a pitcher of lemonade spilled all over the counter, floor, and front of my dress; sopping wet paper towels scattered about from when we’d tried to clean everything up, and dishes piled in the sink from our not entirely relaxing evening. Our practically untouched glasses of wine still sat on the kitchen table, a reminder of the leisurely dinner that I’d been hoping to have. My sister had picked up Hannah a short while ago. She’d been planning to pick her up earlier in the evening so Trent and I could enjoy dinner alone his first night back, but she’d gotten delayed, and the three of us had eaten together.
Trent and Hannah had gotten along amazingly well all afternoon
. He’d gone outside to play with her while I prepared dinner, and she’d been perfectly happy to ride around the neighborhood on her bicycle with him watching and then to blow bubbles together in the backyard. When I’d told her that she wouldn’t get to see her cousins until after dinner, she hadn’t seemed fazed at all and insisted on showing Trent how we set the table.
I glanced over at Trent as he tossed the wet paper towels into the trash.
“It’s fine,” he replied, giving me an easy smile. “I understand how things are with kids.”
I sighed. “I know, and you’re great with Hannah. I just hoped your first night here would go a little bit more smoothl
y,” I said with a small laugh. I grabbed some cleaner from beneath the sink.
“You’re soaking wet. Why don’t you let me clean this up while you go change
“Are you sure? It’s your first night here, and I’m already putting you to work.”
“Already, huh?” he asked with a grin, his voice deep. “What else did you have planned?”
I laughed and
met his eyes, suddenly realizing that this was what a typical Saturday night could hold for us—laughing over Hannah’s antics, easily falling into an evening routine, just enjoying our life together. It was silly to imagine what any future for us might hold at this point, though. Trent had only just gotten back, and although I was looking forward to spending every spare second with him, I didn’t know what a career in the military meant for him or for us as a couple. Our initial reunion had been prolonged already, and as difficult as the past four months had been, I knew it would only be harder to be apart from him for a long deployment. There was so much to think about. Now was hardly the time though, when I was dripping in lemonade, and he’d barely just arrived. We had two weeks to get reacquainted with one another and figure out what our future held.