Aleck burns with unquenched need and desire, a fire only Lily can slake. But Hitler's war waits for no man and more bombs drop every day. Then he gets the chance to fight back. Torn between duty and desire, Aleck walks away from the one woman who's captured his heart. There's no room for love on a suicide mission. But when fate pulls them together on a battlefield, he's not feeling so noble.
Lily is his woman. This time he's claiming her, and to hell with the consequences. No future. No tomorrow. No Regrets.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from No Regrets by Joanna Wylde
Lillie ran a hand through her wet hair, wondering if she'd ever feel truly clean again. Combat helmets really didn't make adequate washtubs. The last time she'd been filth-free was before the invasion, before she and her fellow nurses struggled their way across the mortar-shelled beaches from their landing craft.
"You're in the army now, girl," she muttered to herself, smiling ruefully. Her father had been horrified when his only daughter signed up for the army nursing corps. After nearly three months following the troops with a field hospital, she finally understood his feelings. She'd learned the hard way that war was about blood and guts, not glory... Not to mention working fifteen hour shifts through the night in the operating room. She wanted to lie down on the ground right now and fall asleep, but she'd learned to never turn down a meal.
Lillie ducked between the door flaps of the officers' mess, patiently collecting a serving of hot food that seemed strangely out of place near such death and destruction. When they'd arrived to set up the hospital four days ago the enlisted men had cleared away bloated cow corpses to make room for the tents. Now they ate hearty eggs and fresh-baked bread for breakfast. Weird.
"Thank you," Lillie murmured to the man serving her. He gave her a quick smile.
"You in the O.R. all night?" he asked. She nodded.
"Cook made pie, set aside a couple for the overnight crowd," he said, slapping a thick piece on her plate. Lillie perked up--their cook made the best pie in the whole damn division. Today might not be so bad. She turned and walked across the tent, scanning for a place to sit. There was an empty spot next to a large blond man wearing a particularly battered uniform. She didn't recognize him, but new personnel came all the time and she wanted to sit down.
He glanced up at her, offering a tight, smooth smile. Very attractive, she noted clinically. Not her type, but still...Lillie liked looking at him. It felt good to notice a man, she realized, she hadn't really looked at them since Aleck left. She pushed the thought away, Aleck was the last person she wanted to think about. Jerk. The blond nodded to the empty spot beside him and she slid into place.
"Guten morgen," he said. Lillie froze, eyes going wide. German. She glanced around, but everything seemed normal. They couldn't have been captured in the night, could they? He laughed, the sound rich and compelling, rolling right through her and making her feel good in all the right places.
"Forgive me, Fr�ulein Lieutenant," he said in heavily accented English, nodding his head at her. "I spoke without thinking, I didn't mean to frighten you. I am Doctor Fritz Muller, lately of the German army. Now I find myself tending to my countrymen in the POW ward."
She gave a sigh of relief, offering him a wan smile. Lovely. She'd done her share of tending to German prisoners, discovering early on that one blood-soaked, eighteen-year-old looked much like the next. But that didn't mean prisoners belonged in the officers' mess. Not this close to the front. If nothing else, the man was liable to get lynched. He tried to engage her further, but Lillie focused on her food, wanting to get away from him. Not that she wished the man ill and they could certainly use the help on the ward. But attractive or not, she didn't feel like making friends with him.
She left not long afterward, eating her pie so fast she hardly tasted it. Nodding politely, she walked away from the German and exited the tent. The mess had been pitched at the edge of the encampment, on high ground bordering a heavily forested hillside. The field hospital lay before her, green tents creating a miniature city where cows used to graze. The rising sun filled the air with a surreal glow, morning rendered stunning by the thick clouds of war. Back home in Washington state things looked like this during harvest time, the bounty of a thousand farmers working the fields, stirring up dust.
The dust filling the air in France wasn't from farming.
Nazi panzers, Allied air strikes, the endless shelling--they all worked to create the strange beauty that hung before her, fracturing the morning sunlight into one of the loveliest sights Lillie had ever seen.
Emotion washed through her and she felt a tear welling up. She'd lost so much because of this damn war. So many friends gone, so many young men smiling up at her only to die moments later. And then there was Aleck, the one she couldn't quite bring herself to forget, even though he'd made it plain he had more important things to do than be with her. Another tear came. Lillie brushed it away quickly, ducking between the mess and a dusty storage tent. Damn if she'd let anyone see her cry. She was here for the boys, here to be their comfort and strength as they fought for their lives.
No time for emotional crap like this.
Lillie took deep breaths, forcing herself to calm down and enjoy the brief respite from work and war. The hospital was relatively stable, the most critical patients waiting for evacuation and the rest under the care of other nurses and corpsmen. The next eight hours belonged to her, and her alone.
I should sleep while I can, she reminded herself. And stop being such a watering pot. Filled with new resolution, Lillie walked down the alley formed by the tents, still dusky in the early morning light. On the other side of those canvas walls sat her fellow officers, many getting ready for a hard day of work while others recuperated from their efforts during the night. But behind the tent everything was still and quiet. Too quiet?
Lillie felt suddenly alone, the cool morning air suddenly thick and oppressive. A tiny rock clattered, and she froze. This area should be safe--but they'd all heard rumors of Germans sneaking back through Allied lines, sworn to fight to the death for their Reich. They wouldn't hesitate to kill a woman, she knew that. She'd seen too many women's bodies on the side of the road during her travels. Lillie held her breath, listening, waiting, wondering if she was imagining things. But no Germans crept up beside her, no knives flashed in the dawn. No machine guns tore through the fragile fabric of the hospital tents, seeking out men recovering from their battle injuries.
Lillie laughed nervously and then bit her hand as the noise grew hysterical. She sounded like a crazy woman. Shaking her head, she forced herself to quiet, walking purposefully along the tent. She'd started to imagine things--she really needed to sleep. It happened. People got so tired they hallucinated. Nurses couldn't afford to let themselves go like that, though. She'd just reached the end of the tent when hard arms caught her, one covering her mouth as they jerked her back against a strong chest.
Enemies. In the field hospital.
Lillie struggled and fought, filled with an intense determination free herself and scream.. She had to warn the hospital. She kicked, writhing and grunting as the man dragged her away from the tent and into the woods edging the pasture. Within seconds she couldn't see anything, the looming trees rising around her, choked with brush. She knew the hospital was just a few yards behind, but she felt completely cut off, terrified. No wonder she'd heard so many of the fighting men complaining as they'd set up their camp, and not just because of the dead cows--this was a terrible spot, far too much cover for any passing German to sneak up on them.
Anyone could hide here.
Lillie heard her captor mutter something in her ear, felt his hot breath as he pulled her with him through the brush, but she didn't listen. She had to focus on getting away before he slipped a hot knife up into her stomach and stirred. Instinct told her she had only seconds to live. She needed to scream, to make enough noise to bring the soldiers running. Lillie fought even harder, pulling deep inside for the strength to keep it up.
"Goddamn it," the man holding her grunted, and for the first time she really heard him. English. That was an English accent, not German. What the hell was going on here?