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Going through security,she answered.

Once she boarded the plane an hour later, he felt like he could safely leave to get back to Cypress Cove. It was nearly nine when he arrived. Margaret was in the rocker with her feet up, Bridget’s nursing pillow around her waist with baby Emily sleeping, nestled against her.

“I guess you’re okay?” Luke asked, chuckling.

“I’m wonderful.She’swonderful. Is Mommy okay?”

“She will be. Once she gets to her destination and we can Facetime, she’ll be fine. She’s tough.”

“I know she’s tough but I still didn’t expect that. She was really upset.”

“She surely was,” Luke said. “Do you want to stick around? I can head over to a job if you’re free.”

“I’m your nanny, Mr. Esprit. Go to work.”

He tipped an imaginary hat and left the room. Life was beginning without Bridget.


After the sultry, wet heat of the southern Louisiana bayou, the dry heat of Kandahar Province was completely different. The first thing Bridget did upon returning was find Connie and Ben by sending a group text.

I’m back. Where are you?

Her phone rang; it was Connie. “Oh my God! Where are you? I’ll meet you.”

“I just got in. I need to see Marion.”

“I’ll be right there. Ben’s scrubbed in on a case but I’ll let him know you’re back.”

In minutes, Connie and Bridget were in each other’s arms, tears flowing. “I missed you!”

“I can’t believe you’re back here,” Connie cried.

“I’m supposed to be here. I know it in my gut. And it was important to me that I got back before you left.”

“It can’t happen soon enough. My husband and kids are struggling. I need to get home as fast as I can. I’ve put in for a hardship transfer.”

“Oh, Connie, I’m so sorry. I hope it goes through immediately for your sake, but I’m so sad.”

“I know, me too. I really missed you. I can’t believe we worked together all those years and didn’t take advantage of it.” She wiped her eyes with a tissue. “How’s the baby? I bet it was difficult to leave her.”

“You got the pictures, right? She’s adorable. Luke and I decided we must be related because that kid looks exactly like both of us.”

“She is a cutie. So, tell me everything.”

After catching up with Connie, Bridget went to the commanding officer’s office. Don Krause was happy to see her and stood up to salute her when she came through the door.

“I guess this means your tickets were okay?”

“They were fine, Don, thank you. It’s quiet here. Where is everyone?”

“More troops went home. The civilian hospital has an active labor and delivery and elective surgery schedule, but that’s about it.”

“I just talked to Connie,” she said. “She mentioned it’s been quiet.”

“Connie and Ben are leaving for Camp Dwyer, to the Combat Support Hospital in Hemland Valley. We are shutting down the field office here. Colonel Casey has already moved.”

“Am I going there, too?” she asked, wondering why he had her come to Kandahar if there was no work for her.

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