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She told him which roads to get on and before long they were on the other side of Jackson Square.

“They live in the French Quarter,” he stated.

“Yeah, the reason I was eager to get the hell out of town when I was home on leave.”

“It’s sure quieter at my place.”

“You can leave my stuff in the truck,” she said. “I’m not staying here one night.”


He thought once she got inside, she might change her mind, but the focus was on figuring out what the plan for baby Esprit would be. She made it clear she couldn’t think of anything else.

Thom and Gretchen Benoit waited at the open door for their only child to return.

“It’s a relief she’s wearing a uniform,” Thom said, watching her get out of the truck.

“You really thought she’d leave without approval?” Gretchen asked, disgusted.

“Who’s the guy?”

“I asked my brother,” Gretchen said. “Val said he’s a respected contractor in Cypress Cove.”

“Figures. Uneducated hick.”

“You don’t know that, Thom.”

The past four hours had been hell since they got her text, thinking the worst. “At least she doesn’t look sick. I’m grateful for that,” Thom said.

“Hello!” Gretchen called out to their beautiful daughter.

“Mom, Dad, meet Luke Esprit.”

They stepped aside to let the couple in before any handshaking began.

“Cut to the chase,” Thom said. “What’s going on?”

“Can we sit? I’m exhausted,” Bridget said.

“Yes, of course. I forgot you were on a plane for a day.”

“Let’s sit in the kitchen. You must be starving. I ordered in for you. Your favorite, gumbo and rice.”

“Yum, Mom, thank you.”

“Have a seat, Luke,” Thom said, pointing to the stools around the island. “Beer?”

“No, thank you. I’m driving.”


“We’re going back to Cypress Cove tonight, Dad. I’ll get it out now. Luke and I are expecting a baby.” She let them gasp and continued on before the recriminations could begin. “I didn’t realize I was pregnant until two days ago and after speaking with my commanding officer, we agreed I should come home, return to Camp Pendleton until the birth, and then I can return to Kandahar.”

“Wait… you’re going back?”

“Yes. I’m leaving the baby with his father,” she said, smiling at Luke. “I wanted to see you before we go back to his place because I want to help him set up a nursery. I’ll come back in about four months.”

“Are we allowed to have an opinion in all this?” Gretchen asked.

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