A Soldier for Keeps

A Soldier for Keeps by Jillian Hart

Book: A Soldier for Keeps by Jillian Hart Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jillian Hart
    “You’re the slow one.” He countered, keeping Sean square on the shag carpet. “I’m not the lazy one without a job. Hello.”
    “I’m a misunderstood genius.” The old family joke.
    Pierce rolled his eyes.
    Roger woofed in warning, sharper this time. Trouble was on the way.
    “Mom’s coming!” They said in unison, falling apart. Although they were grown, neither of them wanted to get in the doghouse with her. He stood up, straightening his wrinkled shirt.
    “What are you boys doing up there?” She stood midway up the staircase, giving them a firm look. It was at odds with her soft curls, dimpled chin and ruffled apron.
    “He took my computer, Mom.” Sean might be twenty-four, but he sounded twelve.
    “I was going to bring it back,” Pierce found himself arguing just like old times.
    “Did you hear that, Mom? Are you going to ground him or something?”
    Pierce smiled at their mom, knowing her firm look held no substance. She wasn’t mad at either of them. She was a complete softy.
    “Pierce, you give that computer back. And boys, no more fighting in the house.” She gave them one long-lasting scowl of warning before heading back downstairs.
    “What were you doing with it anyway?” Sean asked. “You’re not exactly a computer geek. Were you writing to your girlfriend?”
    “As if a girl would have me.” The best defense was a great offense. He doubted anyone in his family, Giselle included, would understand his friendship with Lexie. “Just like no girl will have you, Sean.”
    “Hey, I’m in a dating dry spell right now.” He launched out; Pierce ducked and countered and took him down. They hit the ground, a loud thump echoed down the hall, and Roger barked enthusiastically. Mom came marching their way.
    “Enough, you two, or no dessert for either one of you.” She sounded fierce, but her eyes were laughing. If he looked hard enough, he could see she was biting down on her lip to keep from howling. “Honestly, I don’t know what it is about you boys. It’s a wonder I have a house left. Now straighten up, both of you.”
    “Yes, ma’am.” He unhooked his arm from around Sean’s neck. It was amazing what he had to put up with just to borrow a computer. The only thing missing was Tim, who would have thrown himself into the fight and caused even more havoc.
    That was the cost of war, a lost soldier’s life. Pierce knew wherever Tim was in heaven, he was missing them, too.
    Lexie drowned out the hustle and bustle of the dining hall and ignored the loud drone of conversations. Friday evenings were especially loud, since everyone was in good spirits. Instead of grabbing a table with friends orwith some of the girls from her floor, she’d taken over a small table near the window. Her laptop fit nicely next to her tray of turkey noodle casserole and a big plate of green salad.
    She took a swig of iced tea, wondering what to say in her next e-mail. Pierce was probably dining with his family right now, reunited after long months apart. It sounded as if he had a good family life, in spite of his parents’ divorce. They had that in common, too.
    There were a lot of surprising similarities between them. They had both given up on love. They were both Christians. They had grown up in Wyoming, although in different parts of the state. It felt as if she had known him a long time, although it hadn’t been long at all, which would be scary if not for the fact he would be returning to his Army life and she wouldn’t really have to take a close look at her fears of commitment and intimacy.
    Still, a lingering unsettled feeling remained. She closed her computer and tucked it into her backpack. She could put off answering him. Maybe it was caution, or maybe it was fear. Either way, she was spending way too much time thinking about him.
    An electronic ring interrupted her. Her cell phone. She dug it out of her pocket. “Hello?”
    “Guess who.”
    She recognized his friendly baritone.

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