A hero for his country--home to win her heart!
Jonas Kirkpatrick left town to be a soldier without ever looking back. But Shannyn saw him every day in her little girl's green eyes....
Six years later, Jonas has come home, changed utterly from the carefree boy Shannyn once knew. Hardened by war, Jonas can't allow himself to open his heart.
Until he discovers what he left behind--the unbreakable bond with a child he never knew existed, and the enduring love of the only woman who can make him whole again.
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March 10, 2008
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Excerpt from The Soldier's Homecoming by Donna Alward
Shannyn Smith heard the door open but didn't dare tear her eyes from the column she was adjusting. "Good morning," she said to the figure she knew was in front of the reception counter. There was a glimpse of muted green in her peripheral vision as she input the last series of numbers. "I'll be right with you."
She turned in her office chair, put a stack of patient files on the desk and clicked the mouse, minimizing the table and bringing up today's appointment schedule. Of all days for their receptionist to call in sick, forcing her to fill in. She had monthly reports due. "And you are?"
When no one answered, she lifted her eyes. And the world started to spin dangerously. Dark hair. Green eyes. The khaki color of army combats.
"Sgt. Kirkpatrick to see Ms. Malloy," he answered brusquely. But she knew he recognized her too when his Adam's apple bobbed up, then down as he swallowed hard. "Jonas," she whispered. That was all. She couldn't bring herself to say more, not with him standing in front of her as if he'd materialized from a dream.
Six long years. Six years since he'd said goodbye to her. Six years since he'd been transferred to Edmonton, leaving her behind here, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and never looking back.
His words were cold and impersonal. Shannyn knew she couldn't expect anything different, nor did she want to. It had been so long since they'd seen each other. He'd moved on. Perhaps even married. Just because the shock of seeing him made her heart give a little flutter, didn't mean it did the same for him. And simply seeing him now suddenly complicated everything.
A counter separated them, which was a good thing, Shannyn realized. On the heels of her shock came an irrational spurt of pure joy in knowing he was alive. Despite how things had ended, she'd wondered at times where he was, or if he'd been killed or wounded. The elation of seeing him in the flesh shot through her veins. Yes, it was good that the reception counter was there. If not, she'd have been tempted to jump up and give him an impetuous hug of relief. That would be vastly inappropriate. They were old lovers, a flash from the past. And that was all they would remain. She'd worked too hard to build her life after he'd moved on, so she remained firmly in her seat. He certainly hadn't cared enough to keep in touch, had he? Not a single letter or phone call. Right now it shouldn't matter in the least that he was standing in front of her.
Except it did.
"You look well," she managed, trying a professional smile that fell a little flat as it encountered his stern expression.
He looked amazing, in fact. His hair was military short, but still thick and sable colored. His eyes were large, a beautiful shade of moss green with thick black lashes. When they'd met, it had been his eyes that had been the clincher. It had been his eyes that had stayed with her all this time, making it impossible for her to forget completely.
His tall, firm body was dressed in everyday combats, nothing special, even though he was neat as a pin. She noticed the three stripes on his sleeve. When he'd gone back to Edmonton, Alberta, he'd been a private with his eyes set on being an elite soldier. The best of the best. Obviously his career had progressed. Time had passed.
"Is Ms. Malloy running behind?"
She discovered it was a conversation she didn't want to have. After years of wondering Her weak smile faded and she recoiled. That was all? She hadn't expected old-home week or anything, and didn't want it, either, but pleasantries would have been appropriate under the circumstances. Some acknowledgment that he remembered her.
Clearing her throat, she looked up at the screen. "About ten minutes, that's all. You can have a seat in the waiting room."
He turned from the counter without a word, walked toward the blue padded chairs, and Shannyn stared, her stomach tumbling.
He was limping.