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“Oh my God, look at you,” Bridget said. “Is that the way we’re supposed to dress for Walmart?”

“Ha, no. I had business at the hospital today and have to shop. You’re already out and about, I see.”

“Luke is making me acclimate.”

“No, don’t believe it,” he said, piling items on the conveyor belt.

“It’s true. He made me run four miles with my blade this morning, and now were here, shopping for party food.”

“You’re amazing, Bridget. I can’t evenwalkfour miles.”

“If you want to run with me, let me know. Luke bought me one of those insane jogging strollers so now I have to use it. It’s got a hitchhiker for another baby and we can stick your son in that.”

Flaring her nostrils, Katrina didn’t know what to say.

“I can see you’re thrilled,” Bridget said, laughing.

“I was going to suggest having a glass of wine together,” Katrina said.

“That, too.”

They paid for their order and said goodbye while Katrina piled her purchases on the belt next.

They loaded everything into the back of the truck.

“How did it go?” Luke asked. “You seemed more relaxed after seeing the old guy in the hat.”

“It was okay. I’m glad you asked me to go. And seeing Katrina in there reminded me I’m part of the community here. This is where I live. I’m not sure how long it will take for that to be a reality for me.”

“There’s no time frame.”

“Okay. I have to keep reminding myself of that,” she replied.

That night in bed, curled up on her side with her back up against Luke’s back, Bridget thought about how drastically her life had changed. Before she met Luke, her life was transient and selfish. She went out to clubs in San Diego on the weekend, sometimes drank too much and got to work the next day by a miracle. Her life wasn’t that different from the other single young women with whom she worked. When an itch arose, you scratched it.

She thought of General Alex Elgrim. That relationship might have gone somewhere if she’d stayed in New Orleans during leave instead of coming to Cypress Cove and getting pregnant with Luke Esprit’s baby. She tiptoed out of bed, slipping her prosthesis on so she wouldn’t wake Luke by hopping across the floor. Grabbing her phone, she hid in the bathroom. It was nine in California, so she sent him a text.

Alex, I’m Stateside again. Just thinking of you.

She quickly shut the sound off, so an alert didn’t come through if he texted her. But in a minute, she got the return text.

Wow, Bridget! I heard about your incident. How are you?

This pissed her off. He’d heard, but never got in touch? She texted that right back to him.

You heard I lost a leg and an eye, but never got in touch?

First, he sent a heart emoji. I’m sorry. I figured you had enough on your plate. And you had the baby and the baby daddy. Susan and I are back together, so it was just better if I didn’t contact you.

Closing her eyes, she remembered sex with Alex Elgrim. She never felt like she was much more than a hand job with him. He didn’t care about her satisfaction. As far as she could determine, Alex Elgrim was the last loose end. Deleting the conversation, she let him have the last word and blocked his number. She was free.

During sex with Luke, he was all about her satisfaction. The difference, she decided, the information hitting her in the chest, was that Luke loved her.

She tiptoed into the bedroom, carefully took off her leg, and climbed into bed, spooning Luke, working her arms around his body. He twisted around, sliding his arm under her, and finding her mouth with his, he kissed her like they hadn’t kissed in a long time.


Two Years Later