Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

I’ve never written a story for a boxed set, so this was a novel experience for me. My book, The Wedding Gift is one of 20 in the Wedding Dreams Boxed Set, releasing April 18. 3000 pages of sweet to spicy tales of nuptial bliss, and sometime, not so blissful.

My story is about Gage Cassidy, a wounded warrior, his fiance, Elle Sweeney, and a marvelous goggle-wearing therapy dog named Sigmund. I hope you enjoy this little taste…

“What I don’t understand is why he’s pushing me away.” Elle Sweeney shoved her phone in her back pocket and bent to straighten the kindergarten kid-sized chairs. She worked her dark blond curls into a ponytail as she used her hip to shove a pint-sized desk back into an orderly row.

School had let out for the summer two hours ago and her room was in disarray. Elle had conducted a cute little awards ceremony and she’d accepted a bazillion hugs from her students.

In the now quiet classroom, she had only her aide, Sally, and a burgeoning sense of helplessness and frustration to keep her company. She’d texted Gage the second the kids and their parents had scattered, and, now, an hour later, it was apparent he was ignoring her.

God, she’d been so happy to see him. The drive to the airport in Denver had passed in a blur of eagerness and anticipation. He’d requested only she meet him, instead of his entire family making the trip. And his mom and dad had agreed.

The sight of him riding the escalator to baggage claim had finally caused the tears to spill over. Rugged, handsome, weary, but looking so damn good in his BDUs. It was only after he’d swept her up in a hug she realized how gaunt he’d become. He’d buried his face in her neck for several long minutes, hiding his tears against her skin. She hadn’t bothered to hide hers.

Their kiss was like a recreation of the very first time he’d kissed her. Tentative, sweet. It felt like coming home. Every inch of her body tingled when he’d wrapped her in his arms for the first time in a year. Deployment was hell, but oh, God…that first kiss. They’d spent the night in Denver, in a luxury suite she’d been saving for months to pay for. They’d checked in early to the knowing smile of the desk clerk. And for a time, life had been rosy, filled with pent-up passion and words of love. Until he’d rolled to his side and fell into a fitful sleep without…

The nightmares began that night. His moans had jerked her awake and she’d held him tight while his heart slowed and he withdrew into himself. He’d refused to talk about it. She had no experience dealing with returning warriors, so other than whispering words of love, she didn’t know how to calm him. How to help him reclaim the funny, happy man he’d been before he left for war.

“Is he seeing someone?” Sally Gagnon asked. At fifty-something, Sally had started working in Elle’s classroom as an aide, helping with whatever was needed for a class of twenty kindergartners.

“No. My dad is standing by, ready to help, but Gage is uncomfortable even talking about setting an appointment.”

“Well, I guess I can understand that. But I’d bet your dad would remain impartial.”

“He should be able to, but can you imagine talking to your future father-in-law about intimacy issues brought about by traumatic wartime experiences?” Heat flashed up Elle’s chest, neck, and face. The curse of being pale. Those blushes were unconquerable. She couldn’t believe she’d said anything to Sally. But frustration was getting the better of her. They’d had a spectacular physical relationship before he’d shipped out. But in the month he’d been home, they’d only made love three times. Each time had left her…lonely.

Sally shuddered then laughed. “I see your point. Does Gage have a dog?”

That was an odd question. Elle tipped her head to the side. “Cricket passed a year before Gage was deployed. He hasn’t had the heart to get a new dog.”

He’d loved that old Black Lab so damn much. He’d been devastated when the vet had told him Cricket had cancer. His hand had shook as he signed the consent forms to euthanize his pet. More than a pet, really. Cricket had been his best friend, other than Elle. He’d sat, his back to the wall, with the seventy-pound dog on his lap as Cricket breathed his last.

Gage had broken down as soon as they’d left the vet’s office. They’d driven to the dog park Crick had loved. They sat silently on a bench, watching other dogs playing with their humans. Gage had hurled the dog’s leash into the small pond, then kicked a tree hard enough to rake bark from the trunk. Thankfully, Gage had been wearing the steel-toed boots required for his job at the mine.

It had been the first time she’d seen him so upset. But not the last. Normally, Gage was even-keeled, but in the month or so he’d been home, he’d become more and more fidgety and out of control. He tried to hide it from her by constantly heading to the river trail to jog for hours. He’d come home too exhausted for words. Just thinking about it now made her eyes sting and ache with unshed grief.

“Listen, my daughter has been training dogs for stroke and cardiac patients,” Sally offered. “She told me last week she was fostering a shepherd-boxer mix that had been trained for PTSD victims. Have you heard anything about therapy dogs? Is that something your dad could recommend?”

“I haven’t heard of them. Dad’s never mentioned them. But I haven’t really talked to him about Gage’s problem. Somehow, it feels disloyal.”

Sally laid her hand on Elle’s forearm. “Grab your purse. I’m going to introduce you to Emily and Sigmund. Men are basically boys at heart. And what boy doesn’t want a dog?”

This set is on preorder right now for 99¢. You can buy it at all these retailers.

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsKobo

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsiBooks

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsGP

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsNook
Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsAmazon

By the way – The authors of Wedding Dreams are sponsoring a great giveaway. You can enter for a chance to win an iPad mini by clicking this link 

 

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