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“Knock, knock.”

She looked up from her suitcase and he stood in the doorway in all his glory, and she immediately relaxed, seeing his handsome face and amazing body. And that smile.

“Luke. Come in. No baby?”

“No, she’s home with Margaret. If you’re up to it, I thought we’d stop for lunch on our way home.” Glancing around her room, he saw the suitcase and the storage box that held an additional prosthesis, ready to go. “Your big day.”

“It is. The beginning of a new life,” she said, wary. “Are you ready for this?”

“I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life.”

“I hate to start a big conversation just as we’re headed out the door, but are you ready to live with a maimed woman?”

Where was this coming from?he wondered. “Whatever shape you’re in, I’m ready. My family will be complete when you’re home with Emily and me.”

“I’m sorry I’m being this way.”

He wrapped his arms around her, his chin on her head, and she finally relaxed and threaded her arms around his waist.

“Bridget, you’re fine. You’re reentering life after months of uncertainty. Everything is different. We’ll get through it, okay?”

“I’ve been reading about shit like, do I leave my leg on when we have sex? Or what do I say when people ask how it happened?”

“If anyone asks, you’ll tell them your leg got blown off while you were serving your country.”

Sputtering, she laughed. “I wonder if this was your destiny and why you bought a house with an elevator.”

“Possibly. The universe knew I was going to be with the hottest babe in Cypress Cove.”

“Okay.” She moved out of his embrace. “It’s now or never.”

“Let’s go.”

He grabbed the case and the storage box and held out his arm for her to take.

“I’m going out on the arm of the hottest guy in Louisiana.”

“Ha! The keyword here is hot,” he said, chuckling.

“Look at us,” she said, pointing to their reflection in a glass window wall that separated the main lobby from the reception area. “I expect to see the old me and instead, I see this.”

“It’ll take time. This is all new.”

They stopped by the office and signed more papers. She’d be going to a commercial physical therapy center three times a week in Saint John’s Parish until she felt confident she didn’t need it.

“You’re a registered nurse,” Randy said. “You get to make some choices for yourself.”

“Thank you for everything,” she replied.

“Thank you for taking care of Bridget,” Luke said.

They shook hands, and the couple walked out for the last time.

Saint John’s Parish looked like heaven after Afghanistan and hospitals. The view out the car window after the grittiness of New Orleans and the unpopulated landscape of the drive through the bayou inspired Bridget.

“Let’s do stop for lunch,” she said. “I think I need to return to Cypress Cove gradually.” She looked over at Luke and laughed. “This place looks like paradise.”

“Gotcha. Cypress Cove might be culture shock.”

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