Perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Robyn Carr, this sexy yet sweet military romance reunites a headstrong dancer and a rugged army soldier after one steamy encounter tears them apart.As a dancer who creates mesmerizing visions onstage, Neve James is looking for the same kind of stability in her love life. Her pen pal, Rory McRoy, is on leave from deployment in Afghanistan, so she heads to Boston to surprise him. After corresponding for months as part of a “Support Our Troops” initiative—and exchanging dozens of “Read When You’re Alone” letters—Neve knows what Rory likes, and she intends to fulfill his every fantasy. But all they get are a few blissful moments together before they’re interrupted by a woman claiming to be Rory’s fiancée.Rory has fallen hard for Neve’s letters. When he finally meets her in person, he has to have her, right then and there—until Neve takes off in a fit of anger. Forced to return to Afghanistan before he can fix things between them, Rory waits four agonizing months to prove that he’s not the man Neve thinks he is. But by the time he arrives in New York, she’s already made up her mind. Luckily, Rory never backs down from a challenge, and he’s prepared to put everything on the line for love.
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Rory made it to Neve just as her right temple connected with the hard tile floor. “Shit.” He scooped her into his arms. “Neve. Baby. You okay?”
She didn’t respond.
Rory’s pulse pounded, his lungs went tight. Suddenly it wasn’t Neve in his arms—it was Ghost, a sneaky soldier nicknamed for his ability to slip in and out of places undetected, his body lifeless, his eyes locked in the stare of the dead. Rory shook his head trying to clear the disturbing image.
“Give her to me.” Nate squatted beside him, tried to take his sister.
“No.” Rory stood on shaky legs, carried Neve’s limp body to the sofa, and sat down, cradling her on his lap, concentrating on his breathing, focusing on Neve, on staying here in the present and not returning to the past. “Get me a cold wet cloth and a glass of water.” The cloth for her, the water for him.
Surprisingly, Nate did so without arguing. “You know, my buddy’s wife went through this same thing when she was pregnant,” Rory told Nate as he brushed some dark curls off of Neve’s beautiful but too damn pale face. “She couldn’t keep any food down, got weak and dehydrated, kept passing out. She had to be hospitalized for intravenous hydration.”
Nate ran back with the wet cloth and placed it on Neve’s forehead. “If she is pregnant I’m going to beat the crap out of you, you irresponsible asshole. You should have used protection.”
Rory had suggested it, had told Neve to wait. But while talking about trust and each of them having an experience they’d never had before, she’d slid down, taking him inside of her body, with no barrier between them, like he’d dreamt of and fantasized about so many times. So hot, so wet, so fucking amazing, he couldn’t muster the willpower to stop her. God help him, he’d had the best sex of his life that night. But afterward he’d started to wonder, What if? And when she wouldn’t give him a straight answer . . .
Nate knelt on the floor beside the couch, leaned in close to Neve, and said, “Come on, you pain in the ass. Wake up.” Then he kissed her forehead. “Shit.” He shot to his feet. “She’s burning up. We’ve got to get her to the hospital.”
Burning up? That’s when Rory noticed the heat radiating through her bathrobe.
“Come on.” Nate opened the door. “We’ll take my car.”
His police car.
Siren blaring, Nate drove like a maniac, navigating through heavy traffic like a pro, getting them to a hospital in less than ten minutes. All the while Rory held Neve on his lap in the backseat, cuddling her close, checking her pulse and shallow breathing, telling her she was going to be okay and they’d have her to the hospital soon, more to reassure himself than her, because she remained unresponsive for the entire trip.
Once they got to the Emergency Room, everything happened so fast. He carried Neve in through the electric doors. Nate yelled, “We need some help here,” and they were directed into a large room with three empty beds. He placed Neve on a stretcher to the right. Hospital staff, male and female, dressed in green or blue scrub uniforms, some with lab coats or colorful scrub jackets, hurried in, moving quickly and efficiently. Nate answered questions about Neve’s past medical history and gave the name of her general practitioner. A tall black woman called out orders.
Rory’s head spun from all the activity, the swarm of people he didn’t know, the unfamiliar sounds. On edge, his heart started to race. His hands grew damp. He wanted to leave, to run to someplace calmer . . . quieter . . . but couldn’t. Because Neve lay there, limp and silent, at the center of the mayhem, her head drooped to the side, eyes closed.
He pinched his ear. Touch seemed to help. Get control of yourself. You’re back in the States. Safe. Relax. Easier said than done, especially the first couple of weeks, sometimes months, after returning home from a combat deployment.
When he could finally get a word in, as he and Nate were being herded out into the hall, Rory made sure to mention, “She may be pregnant.” His son or daughter might, at this very second, be fighting for life, same as Neve. His heart squeezed at the thought. Please, God. Let them be okay.
Rory and Nate stood in the hallway outside of Neve’s room, quietly, idly, waiting. A security guard moseyed over, probably to ask them to move to the waiting room. Nate put his hand on his gun and gave the poor guy a look that had him returning to his post without uttering a single word. When the door opened, they braced for news. A woman came out carrying vials filled with blood and what looked like a urine sample, then hurried off without so much as glancing their way.
Rory, sweat soaking through his shirt, checked his watch. Fifteen fucking minutes had gone by. He needed to know what was happening, something, anything. About Neve. About his baby. Damn the hospital staff, who knew they were out here, worried, waiting for any bit of news. Yet no one had the decency to come talk to them, to put their minds at ease. Enough. Rory took a step toward the room, only to be grabbed back by Nate. “Don’t.” As quick as he’d grabbed Rory, he released him. “Let them do their job.” He stood there stiff—his back against the wall, worry etched on his face—and crossed his arms back over his chest.
A minute or so later Nate pushed off the wall and started to walk. “Dr. Glassman.” He held out his hand to a tall, gray-haired, nicely dressed man walking toward them. When the doctor had finished putting on his white lab coat, he shook Nate’s hand.
“Happened to be on my way to the hospital to do rounds when I received your message.” He took his stethoscope, which he’d been holding in his hand, and wrapped it around the back of his neck. “What’s up with our girl?”
“She’s got a bad case of the flu. Said half the kids in her gymnastics studio are down with it,” Nate answered.
“It’s a pretty virulent strain this year.”
“And she may be pregnant,” Rory added, because if she was, the medical staff needed to avoid any testing or treatments that might harm the baby. His baby.
Dr. Glassman turned his gaze on Rory, looking him over. “And who might you be?”
Nate answered. “This is Rory McRoy, a friend of Neve’s.”
Damn right. A close friend, regardless of what Neve thought. Rory held out his hand, and Dr. Glassman shook it, his grip firm, confident. Rory liked that.
Rory nodded. “Got back from Afghanistan yesterday, sir.” Three days of travel, hours spent waiting around, no bed in sight. Then he’d been delayed on base, which caused him to miss his flights to New York. He’d spent last night in an airport hoping to fly stand-by.
“Thank you for your service, son.” The doctor turned toward Nate. “Tell me what happened today.”
Nate told him everything he’d observed from the time he arrived at Neve’s condo until their arrival at the hospital.
“When did her symptoms start?”
“She first mentioned them to me about a week ago, but I think she’d been feeling poorly prior to that.”
Dr. Glassman shook his head, a concerned expression on his face. “So soon after her procedure, she should have called me immediately. Where is she?” he asked with a sudden sense of urgency.
“Procedure?” Nate looked confused. “What procedure?”
Dr. Glassman looked up. “If she didn’t tell you, I’m not at liberty to discuss it. Not without a signed release giving me permission. I’ll have my secretary check to see if we have one. In the meantime I’ve got to speak with her ER attending right away.”
“She’s in there.” Nate pointed, and a few seconds later Dr. Glassman disappeared behind the door.
Procedure? The word pounded in Rory’s head. His chest tightened, his stomach cramped. Had there been a problem with her pregnancy? Had she gotten an abortion? At four months? No. With Neve’s history, she’d never intentionally kill their baby . . . would she?
Wendy S. Marcus is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. A nurse by trade, Wendy holds a Master of Science in Health Care Administration, a degree that does her absolutely no good as she now spends her days, nights, and weekends mucking around in her characters’ lives creating conflict, emotion, and, of course, a happily ever after. Wendy lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her dog Buddy, and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting/facebooking with her online friends.
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