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Since she was stable and eager to get back to the United States, they would discharge her to a military transport medical team as soon as possible.

“You heard,” the nurse said. “Luke, I’ll call the chaplain for you because it looks like you’re getting back on a plane for home.”

“Can’t he come with me?” Bridget asked.

“I’m sorry. But we’ll make sure he’s with you as soon as you get to Walter Reed.”

“It’s okay,” Luke said, holding her hand. “I’m so relieved you’re okay.”

Bridget snickered. “You must really love me, Luke. I’m a mess.”

“You’re alive, and you’re coming home. Our baby needs her mother. And I need my partner.”

“I need you, too.”

She lay back on the pillow, shutting her eye, sweet Luke making everything seem like it will be so easy. That was his gift, but she was so scared. She hadn’t fully absorbed the extent of her injuries. The most awful part of it was that she would have to leave the Navy Nurse Corps.

“What did Margaret say again?” Bridget asked.

“One foot in front of the other. One day at a time.”

Chapter 7

Mardi Gras preparations floated in the air, while Luke began building the ramp next to the staircase on the side of the house. The sound of the high school marching band practicing “When the Saints Go Marching In” echoed through the village that Saturday morning. The music made him smile, memories of thirty plus Mardi Gras floating through is head. This would be the first one he’d spend with a woman he loved.

He bent over, hammering a length of wood when a huge diesel truck pulled into his driveway. It was Justin Chastain, Bridget’s cousin, toolbox in hand.

“Hey, buddy. I heard there’s construction going on here at Esprit Manor.”

Luke stood up, surprised to see him, just as two more trucks pulled in.

“Who’d you hear it from?”

“Val, who else.”

“Val and his big mouth. I’m building a ramp for Bridget. She’s coming home soon.”

Justin put the toolbox down and grabbed Luke in a bear hug, too emotional to speak, just as his brothers Dave and Chris joined them.

“Why didn’t you say something? We had to hear it from asshole Val,” Chris said, hugging Luke, too. “We would have been here in no time, doing whatever you need. But not a word.”

“I don’t know. I was like a maniac. I didn’t know what to ask for. You all have your own problems.”

“Luke, you built my barn,” Justin said.

“Not completely,” Luke replied.

“You renovated our cottage,” Dave said.

“You paid me for it,” Luke said, and they laughed.

“You’re building my house,” Chris added. “We didn’t have a clue.”

“I’m sorry. I’m learning one of my character flaws is communication.”

“Can I see your plans? Because knowing you, I know you’ve got plans,” Chris said.

He opened the roll of blueprints for the ramp. “She won’t need it for long. She’s already got a blade runner prosthesis so if she’s running around Cypress Cove, I doubt she’s going to be rolling up and down this thing in a wheelchair much.”

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