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“Yes, you did. It was hard enough when you left but then to have you drop out of sight for four months, that was a lot to recover from. I’m in protective mode here. You told me I’m going to be a father, so I’mgoing to be a father.”

“You will be. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. I just have to report to Camp Pendleton. They’ll email me my orders tonight and I’ll get the date I have to report. Hopefully, I’ll have time to come to Cypress Cove.”

Relieved, Luke took a deep breath. That was all he wanted. There wasn’t a playbook to follow that gave directions on how to act in a situation like this. He wasn’t exactly a boyfriend who could make demands.

“Look, I don’t want to be that guy, but you have to see me, Bridget. It’s really screwed if that isn’t a priority.”

“It’s a priority. Like I said, though, we’ll make plans once I find out what my orders say. If I have to report to Camp Pendleton in two days, I’ll only have enough time to say hello to Mom and Dad and get on a flight to San Diego.”

“If that’s the case, I’ll come to New Orleans. Your folks can meet the baby daddy.”

That euphemism struck Bridget as hysterical and she laughed out loud.

“Okay, that’s a deal. And if I have a longer leave, I’ll come to you. We can cohabitate.”

“Is that right,” he stated. “You mean conjugal visitation and all that?”

That was the most sexually charged comment he’d ever made to her.

“I think that can be arranged,” she said, suddenly hungry for Luke Esprit. “I didn’t think you were interested.”

“Bridget, what the hell are you talking about? Give me an example.”

“You never say anything about us being together,” she said, aware of how lame it sounded.

“You’ve never given me the chance. You ghosted me for four friggin months.”

“I’m so sorry. I’ll start giving you the chance,” she said, a flush of desire cruising through her body.

“It’s a deal. Call me when you get the orders. I need to get to a job site in ten minutes.”

“Okay, I’ll text you when I get the email.”

She hung up, the strange feeling of disconnect with Luke Esprit lingering. There was a push-pull thing going on with him she couldn’t figure out. A guy to spend the rest of her life with? Probably not. But she had sealed her fate by having slept with him and now she was pregnant with his kid. She and Luke Esprit had a lifetime of involvement in front of them.

Ben and Connie needed to know that they wouldn’t be working together again, so she called them next. Ben answered right away.

“I’m leaving tomorrow. Can you meet me at the OC in ten minutes?”

“I’m not an officer.”

“You’ll be my date. We need to talk. Where’s Connie?”

“She’s covering in the ER for a callout. Do you want to meet me at the hospital and we can have our drink in the cafeteria?”

“Sure, that’s a good idea.” She just remembered, no alcohol because she was pregnant. Fortunately, she’d been too busy working seven days a week, twelve hours a day since she’d arrived in Kandahar. “I’ll text Connie now.”

“Wait for me and we’ll walk over together. There’s an alert tonight.”

“I was with the CO when the bomb hit,” she said.

“You were with Casey? What’s going on, Bridget?”

“Come get me and we’ll talk.”

He was there in ten minutes. The temperature had cooled off considerably, unbearably hot during the day and freezing at night. They were warm wearing armor, but she still shivered.

On the walk to the hospital, Bridget told Ben she was pregnant and had to leave the base the next day.

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