Soldiers & Soulmates

Delib­er­ate­ly, Char­lotte moved her palms to the broad wall of his chest. His heart beat out of con­trol under­neath her fin­ger­tips. She pushed against him and pulled back, break­ing the kiss.

Gray, we must stop,” she said gen­tly, sound­ing per­fect­ly in con­trol but know­ing her heart beat as fast as his did.

He looked at her in con­fu­sion a moment, then those beau­ti­ful blue eyes flick­ered with desire. The yearn­ing she saw almost broke her resolve and Char­lotte forced her­self to keep from hun­gri­ly kiss­ing him again. Instead, she brought a palm to his cheek, feel­ing the slight stub­ble against it.

Are you all right now?”

His hand went to her wrist and encir­cled it, his thumb slow­ly stroking the del­i­cate under­side, mak­ing her pulse jump.

I would say I’m sor­ry … but it would be a lie,” he said, his voice low and rough.

She bit her trem­bling low­er lip, not trust­ing her­self to speak.

His oth­er hand went to her waist a moment and then he pushed him­self to his feet, bring­ing her with him. Her thumb stroked his cheek once, rev­el­ing in the feel of him.

You were hav­ing a night­mare,” she said soft­ly.

His brow creased. “I can’t seem to rid myself of them,” he admit­ted. “There were times I had to fol­low orders that were giv­en … and even times I issued orders myself … that caused the deaths of men under my com­mand. It’s impos­si­ble to let go. I hear the anguished cries of the dying. The dreams can be vivid.” He swal­lowed. “I’ve tried to stop feeling—because with feel­ing comes vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. I already hurt so much for those who were lost.”

War is sav­age. The atroc­i­ties you saw may nev­er leave you. But Gray, you and your com­mand­ing offi­cers only did what you thought best. The loss of life is inevitable in bat­tle. Please don’t keep hold­ing your­self respon­si­ble.”

He shook his head. “I’m sor­ry you saw me like this.”

I only hope I brought some com­fort to you. I was afraid to awak­en you.”

Instead, he’d awak­ened some­thing with­in her that would nev­er give her rest.

*Excerpt com­ing March 2020

*Excerpt com­ing April 2020