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“No. I’m sorry, but there're no opinions needed. You’re going to be grandparents and you can like it or not.”

“Dear, you don’t have to get defensive. I was just going to say you shouldn’t have to go back to a war zone with an infant at home.”

“She wants to,” Luke said. “She likes what she’s doing there.”

“It’s more than that,” Bridget said, getting emotional. “We’re needed there. I worked at a civilian hospital and they need us.”

“I have a few things I’m going to say whether or not you want to hear them,” Thom said in his roughest baritone voice.

“Okay, Dad, go for it. But if you’re going to be mean or criticize me, I’ll leave now and save you the trouble.”

“You think you’re so smart!”

“I’m almost twenty-five years old, I’m a registered nurse and a lieutenant in the Navy, Dad. I’m not an irresponsible child.”

“Who didn’t know how to prevent a pregnancy!”

“People get pregnant unexpectedly. It happens. I won’t be the first and I won’t be the last. At least I’m with someone who loves me.”

“You should give it up for adoption.”

“Thom!” his wife shouted. “Stop it.”

He yelled back at her that her permissive child-raising tactics led to their daughter having a bastard, and that was the last straw.

“Oh God. Come on, Luke, we don’t have to listen to this bullcrap.”

“Nice to meet you,” Luke called out, waving, then following Bridget out of the house.

The peaceful ride to Cypress Cove helped them recover. “I’m not surprised my father had a meltdown. I worried he’d turn on you.”

“I’d have been okay. You don’t have to destroy your relationship with your parents to protect me.”

“It was sort of destroyed already,” she said. “When I came home on leave before I deployed, it wasn’t a coincidence that I moved to stay with my uncle. And he was the lesser of two evils. I didn’t just leave because the tourists got on my nerves. Then I met you and everything else is history.”

“And I irresponsibly got you pregnant.”

“I don’t get it. You always used a condom.”

“Well, they’d been around for a while. I’m not exactly a playboy.” He barked out a laugh, making her laugh, too.

“I’ve never heard you laugh like that,” she said, thinking that maybe that was what was missing in their relationship, that element of fun. “What you’re saying is you used old rubbers on me.”

“They were probably dry-rotted,” he said. “I didn’t realize they had a shelf life.”

They teased and laughed together the rest of the trip.

“It’s good to be back here,” she said. “The accommodations at the barracks aren’t exactly five star.”

“I have food. But nothing like that gumbo your mother was about to serve you. That smelled awesome.”

“I should check my phone. I wonder if they blew it up.”

But there was only one text from her father which said,You made your bed, now lie in it.

Fresh air, the breezes off Love Lake, and a cold glass of ginger ale on ice added up to heaven for Bridget. By the third day of leave, sitting in a lounge chair on the terrace facing the pool, she was slowly getting back to normal. There was a period of remorse and sadness over leaving her post in Kandahar, unfinished business haunting her attempts at relaxation. Luke sat next to her, writing something in a notebook.

“If you’re up to it, we should probably go to Calista’s house in the next day or two, so you can decide if she will watch the baby.”

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