Twilight, Texas # 5
By: Lori Wilde
Releasing October 28th, 2014
It's Christmas in Twilight, Texas. The Cookie Club is baking, the town is decorated, and Delta Force Operator "Hutch" Hutchinson has finally, reluctantly, returned home . . .
. . . only to get pepper sprayed by the delicious- looking stranger who's taken over his house. She says her name is Jane, and she immediately sets down ground rules. Top priority: no touching. For Hutch that isn't easy—he was wounded in action, but one part is still working very well.
Then Hutch learns the truth. Jane harbors a frightening secret—she's really Meredith Sommers, on the run from a dangerous ex-husband and desperately in need of the safety Hutch can provide. In that moment, he vows he'd do anything in his power to protect her. And as Christmas approaches, they discover that their love can conquer the past and overcome any obstacle—but what price will they pay?
Apparently, they’d all decided he wasn’t talking because he didn’t want to speak. More than anything in the world, he wanted to get his voice back so he could visit the families of the men who’d fought beside him. Face them. Tell them how brave their sons and fathers, brothers and uncles had been. How much heart, will, and iron control they possessed.
The pilgrimage would be filled with unthinkable pain both for him and for the families, but his pain did not matter. Hutch knew the families could never really begin the healing process until he made that journey. It was his sworn duty.
But right now, he wanted his voice back so he could yell, rant, curse God, tell everyone to go to hell. A soldier couldn’t debrief without talking. Everything he’d experienced out there in that goddamn Afghan desert was still locked down deep inside him. Without a voice to shout, how did a man resolve his pain?
The five other members of the support group—the exact same number of soldiers who’d lost their lives because of Hutch—stared at him, waiting for him to speak. He could see it in their faces. They were aligned with Jenner.
He was as alone as when he staggered down the streets of Aliabad, unaware that he’d even been hit, but vaguely realizing his helmet was gone because the relentless sun burned his scalp. The bodies of his team were strewn around him—dead, dying, screaming in agony, calling his name, begging for his help.
He’d been talking when they were ambushed. Trying to lighten the dark mood after the top Al-Qaida operative they’d been sent to extract from Abas Ghar turned out to be long gone. He’d been running his mouth about something stupid. Who was hotter, Olivia Wilde or Emma Stone?
Poetic justice that a piece of shrapnel lodged in his throat during the ambush, silencing him forever. Muteness was his cross to bear. His life sentence. He could not speak. He didn’t deserve to speak.
Jenner advanced, claiming ground until he stood directly in front of Hutch. “Tell me about your mother.”
Fury was a noose, strangling him. Hutch knotted his fists, shot to his feet. The folding chair collapsed backward behind him. The smack of impact vibrated the air.
Instantly, the soldiers reacted. Leaping to their feet, going for guns they did not have, ready to battle unseen enemies. Even the legless GI, who apparently had forgotten he had no legs, was now on the floor cussing a blue streak.
Hutch moved to help the guy back into his chair, but he got off only one step.
Jenner nodded at the two soldiers who had been sitting on either side of Hutch, and they took him to the ground.
He had violated Cardinal Rule #1 in dealing with a roomful of PTSD sufferers. No loud sudden noises. He lay there struggling to breathe against a GI’s knee jammed into his lungs, and a hammy palm pressing his face into the concrete floor, getting a whiff of Jenner’s boots that smelled of dog turd.
Yep, he fucking hated group therapy.
Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 70 works of romantic fiction. She is a two-time RITA award nominee, a four time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee and has won numerous other awards. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and holds a certificate in nursing forensics. An animal lover, Lori is owned by several pets, and lives in Texas with her husband, Bill.
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