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The Other Soldier

Cover of The Other Soldier

The Other Soldier

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Corporal Reid Macfarland has one mission: to make amends for the mistake he lives with every day. That friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan that killed a fellow soldier haunts him. Maybe if he can help the widow, he'll find some peace.

Amends are easier said than done. Just one meeting with the independent and engaging Parker Dean makes it clear that forgiveness is a little more complicated than money or "I'm sorry." If he really wants to help, Reid will need to stick around for a while. The more their daily lives intertwine, the more he realizes her forgiveness isn't the only thing he needs--he needs her.


Corporal Reid Macfarland has one mission: to make amends for the mistake he lives with every day. That friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan that killed a fellow soldier haunts him. Maybe if he can help the widow, he'll find some peace.

Amends are easier said than done. Just one meeting with the independent and engaging Parker Dean makes it clear that forgiveness is a little more complicated than money or "I'm sorry." If he really wants to help, Reid will need to stick around for a while. The more their daily lives intertwine, the more he realizes her forgiveness isn't the only thing he needs--he needs her.
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    Parker patted the sun-warmed dirt she'd scooped around the young plant, singing along with John Travolta as he bragged about making out under a dock. When Olivia Newton John started trilling her side of the story, the MP3 player cut off.

    Darn, darn, darn, darn, darn. And how typical. The man gets to finish while the woman barely gets started.

    Parker fished the device out of the bib pocket of her overalls and sat back on her boot heels. The screen had gone dark. She'd forgotten to charge the dumb thing. Again.

    She tugged the earbuds free with a sigh and stuffed the whole mess into her pocket, ignoring the dirt she should have brushed from her gloves. Just as well. If Harris had walked up on her while she was singing, he'd have demanded hazardous duty pay.

    Or not. She pressed her lips together. Harris Briggs knew better than anyone that she couldn't afford even regular wages.

    A feisty spring breeze carrying the scent of damp earth and lilacs chased the thought away. She rose to her knees and pulled off her hat, enjoying the rush of air that cooled her sweat-soaked head. Hands on hips, she surveyed the progress she'd made since lunch. A stubby string of bright green plugs stretched away from her. A little compost, a little water, a lot of sun, and next June, Castle Creek Growers would have its first crop of strawberries.

    Parker grunted and snatched up her water bottle. If only a child were that easy to raise.

    "Ma'am?"

    She jumped. The bottle slipped from her grasp and hit the ground with a sloshing thud. Lukewarm water pooled beneath her right knee. An unfamiliar male voice clipped out an apology and she lifted a hand to shade her eyes. Standing at the edge of the strawberry bed was a tall, well-built man wearing a black beret, tinted sunglasses and a class-A U.S. Army uniform.

    Tim.

    She blinked, then sat down hard. A swell of grief crowded her lungs and she struggled to catch her breath. Not Tim. Of course not Tim. It could never be Tim.

    The soldier muttered something and dropped into a crouch in front of her. His sunglasses dangled between his fingers. She lifted her gaze to his face and winced at the grim remorse she saw there.

    Don't be so pathetic, Parker Anne. "Forgive me," he said.

    She stared into eyes the color of maple syrup, eyes that looked so much older than the rest of him, and slowly shook her head. Then realized he might take that as a refusal. "No need," she finally murmured. She pushed to her feet, waving away his offer of help. "I'm fine." She stepped back from his spotless uniform and slapped at the mud clinging to her knees. Head bent, she blinked like a madwoman.

    "You sure you're okay? You went white there for a second."

    "I just--" She swallowed hard and straightened. "I thought you were someone else."

    "Yes, ma'am." He removed his beret, revealing dark, close-cropped hair. "Your husband."

    "You...served with him?"

    For a split second his features went rigid. "No, ma'am. I'm with the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Knox. But I was deployed to Helmand province, same time as Sergeant First Class Dean." He hesitated, then extended a hand. "Corporal reid Macfarland."

    She peeled off her right glove and took his hand. His grip was strong and confident, and despite the remoteness in his eyes he made her feel...wistful.

    And we 're back to pathetic. "Parker Dean," she said, and let go. "Kentucky's a long way from Pennsylvania. What brings you to Castle Creek?"

    "I...

About the Author-
  • Kathy Altman writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and the occasional ode to chocolate. Her work has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Daphne du Maurier. She's also a regular contributor to USA Today's "Happy Ever After" blog. When Kathy's not writing, she's reading, or working her day job at the Air Force. Find Kathy online at ...

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