Broken Soldier: A Novel

Broken Soldier: A Novel by Clara Frost

Book: Broken Soldier: A Novel by Clara Frost Read Free Book Online
Authors: Clara Frost
time, rather than a poodle, but Harvey didn’t seem to mind.
    “Have you been getting along better with your grandma’s dog, Harvey?”
    “Yes, ma’am. Grandma bought me some pretzel bags, and I’ve been sharing with Snowflake.”
    “Has he been nicer to you?”
    Harvey nodded. “And I haven’t eaten his food once.”
    “That’s good, Harvey. What about the kids at kindergarten?”
    He shook his head.
    “Are they still mean to you?”
    “Sometimes. I tried to share my pretzels, but the teacher got upset.”
    Emily laughed. “That’s very kind of you, Harvey. Maybe we can talk to your teacher and find something that she won’t mind you sharing with the class.”
    “Okay.”
    “How did you feel about sharing?”
    He shrugged. “It’s okay.”
    Not a perfect answer, but at least he was making an effort. It was more than she had expected so soon.
    “The next time the boys say something mean to you about your size, you just remember that Miss Emily thinks you’re the most handsome boy in class and it doesn’t matter what they think.”
    His little cheeks flushed pink and he looked away, embarrassed.
    “I’m serious, Harvey. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. People grow and change, and accidents can happen that can make you look completely different, but it’s who you are on the inside that matters.”
    “I like sharing with Snowflake,” he said.
    “That’s very good. When you share, you make friends. And when you meet meanness with kindness, you make even more friends. The boys won’t always be nice, but you need to always remember, it’s who you are on the inside that matters most.”
    His eyes seemed to light up at that, and Emily felt like she’d finally made a breakthrough with him. They weren’t finished, not by a longshot, but it was always the first step that was the hardest.

Chapter 17

    E MILY  arched an eyebrow. “Madrid? For Christmas?”

    Rafa sat on the end of Emily’s bed, his shirtless chest chilled by the pre-dawn breeze blowing in the open window. “My cousin Carmen is getting married, and I thought...” He motioned toward Emily, smiling. “I thought you might like to go with me and meet my family.”
    She lay on the bed, a sheet pulled up to her chin, her hair cascading over a pillow. He could see her thinking about it. The way she chewed her lip and scrunched her nose was impossibly cute, even in the dim bedroom.
    “I’ve always spent Christmas with my parents, but...” She met his eyes and smiled. “But I’ll give my mom a call in the morning.” She slipped out of bed, revealing her perfect figure. Two months with her and she had only grown more beautiful in his eyes. She sashayed toward the bathroom, leaving him alone on the bed.
    She was more than he deserved, he was sure of that, and now that he’d found her, he couldn’t imagine what he would do without her. But fortunately that didn’t seem to be problem, at least not so far.
    Rafa glanced at the clock. It was nearly seven. The shower turned on as he settled his right knee into the cup on his prosthetic leg. Even that part of his life was going well. The new prosthesis allowed him to jog without the pain that had been ever-present for much of the last year. He slipped into a pair of PT shorts and a t-shirt and went to the kitchen.
    The shower stopped as he was starting the bacon, and Emily emerged dressed and prepped half an hour later as he was spreading jam on her toast.
    “You didn’t need to do that,” she said when she saw him.
    He bowed, tucking his spatula behind him. “That’s the point.” He balanced both of their plates on his right arm and scooped a carafe of juice from the counter. Glasses and silverware already lay atop the little round table Emily kept in her breakfast nook.
    He ate quickly, his years of army habits not yet broken. Emily was half-finished with her egg as he crunched through his last piece of bacon.
    “You could slow down, you know.” A grin played

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