Lest Old Marines Be Forgot
By Heather Long
Always A Marine Series, Holiday Marines
She never stopped grieving…
It’s New Year’s Eve, and thirty years since Brenda Connors buried the only man she ever loved. Every year on the anniversary of his death, she finds herself in the hospital, suffering from chest pains. No matter how expected, it always takes her breath away. This year…this year she wants it to be different and takes the advice of her best friend and would be sister-in-law to sign up for a one-night stand. It seems ridiculous, just a year shy of her fiftieth birthday to try and seek happiness she long since gave up on. She never imagined a stern faced Marine with talent for making her laugh…
He doesn’t know what the future holds…
Married to his career and facing forced retirement, Major Tom Baxter doesn’t see much of a future for himself in civilian life. A poker game with the son of an old friend earns him some unwanted advice, but it’s advice he can’t get out of his head. He signs up for a one-night stand, to discover what life on the outside might have to offer. The last thing he expected was an elegant soul with a streak of mischief…
Ringing in a new beginning…
Can Tom and Brenda make every second of their countdown to midnight count, lest old Marines be forgot?
Their table sat in an alcove that also doubled as a private balcony and overlooked a lit garden. According to his hostess, he and his date would also be able to see the fireworks over Dallas later should they still be at their table at midnight. If not, then their reserved suite also had a balcony and a good vantage point. A marble-floored hallway led to their dining table and though the alcove was simply one of several such isolated settings, theirs possessed heavy cream curtains that could be closed to afford them further privacy.
Overall, it was an excellent choice on Luke’s part. Fortunately, years of not doing much with his salary meant Tom could also afford the evening comfortably. He finished the cup of coffee and checked his watch. Fifteen minutes to operation launch and he heard heels tapping on the marble floor caught his attention. Glancing sideways, he spotted a pair of elegant, long legs. Trailing his attention upward, he studied the woman approaching.
The body-hugging sheathe of a dress molded her curves, and what a shape she had…. Dark hair brushed her shoulders, the silvery streaks amidst the deep brown seemed almost artistic. Straightening, he frowned when she hesitated and checked her phone. The curl of anticipation in his gut flattened out.
It didn’t matter if the elegant woman searched for another date; he couldn’t take his attention off her. She all but glared at her phone. A heartbeat later, she rewarded his captivation when her exasperation transformed into sparkling laughter.
Squaring her shoulders, she lifted her chin and their gazes collided. Her smile faltered for a heartbeat, then warmed. At her look, he rose to his feet and enjoyed her long walk down the hall.
“Ms. Connors.” He extended his hand automatically, her smooth palm gliding against his.
A hint of shyness softened her expression, but she didn’t look away. “Mr. Baxter. Can I just say that you chose the loveliest spot for dinner?”
Boosted by the compliment and her lovely manner, he inclined his head. “Only if you’ll allow me to say that you outshine the location—and then some.” He’d never really been that good with flowery compliments, but a hint of color bloomed over her cheeks and he let out a breath. “Here….” To pull out her seat meant he had to let go of her hand.
She had slender fingers, beautiful and tapered, and they’d been silky-soft with the barest hint of callouses on her index fingers and thumbs. Callouses that meant she used tools, but probably didn’t build or work with anything. His brain’s need to catalog details had proven a godsend in the field, but he didn’t need to pick apart his date.
“Thank you,” Brenda murmured and slipped around him to take the chair he held out and he scooted it in just as she sat. From his vantage point, he had a direct view of her cleavage and the teasing hint of a dark mole on the curve of her right breast.
Clearing his throat, he moved back to his seat. “Of course.”