The Texas Soldier's Son

By: Karen Whiddon

“Jacob is your son.”

A thrilling new Top Secret Deliveries story

Army ranger Kyle Benning never expected to live again…or have a family. When he was believed dead in an explosion, Nicole Shelton gave birth to Kyle’s baby. Now she’s a widow and a prime suspect in a murder case! Everything Kyle once knew is as dangerous as a war zone, but he battles trauma and a killer to rescue the woman he still loves.





“Nice place,” Nicole commented, glancing around the small room.

“Yours is much nicer,” Kyle pointed out. Not to be cruel, but because it was.

But then she lifted her chin and willed herself out of it. “Thank you. It isn’t what I would have chosen, but it’s a decent house.”

Decent.

A flash of anger ripped through him. He realized he couldn’t just sit there and act as if they were casual acquaintances, like nothing had ever happened between them. As though she hadn’t been his entire reason for living.

“I can’t do this,” he growled. “I know you’ve moved on, I get it. For you, it’s been a long time. For me, it feels like it was just yesterday when you kissed me and told me you’d love me forever.”

She took a shaky breath. “I understand,” she began.

“Do you?” Though he kept his voice low so as not to disturb Jacob, he didn’t bother to hide his anger or his pain. “I don’t think you do. I want to be part of my son’s life. But right now, I don’t think I can be part of yours.”

* * *

Top Secret Deliveries: Under extraordinary circumstances—babies!

* * *



Dear Reader,

As a writer, every now and then it feels like a story is given as a gift from the cosmos. The Texas Soldier’s Son is one of those books. Writing it felt like telling the story of good friends—maybe even family. I was there with them, just recounting what happened. Moved to tears with them, frightened for them, rejoicing with them and falling in love just as they did.

Sometimes life can turn on a dime. One phone call and your entire world changes. Those of us who’ve experienced something similar can often remember what clothes we were wearing, and replay the exact words in our mind even years later. Hold the ones you love close. Celebrate every moment you have together. Because I can promise you that you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

With much love and light,

Karen Whiddon







CHAPTER 1

“He’s dead?” Nicole Shelton-Mabry gripped the phone so hard she thought it might break. “What do you mean, he’s dead? He was fine when he left for work this morning.” If by fine, one meant hungover. Last night her husband Bill had staggered in at 3 a.m., slurring her name, already in a rage by the time she’d hurried downstairs. The black-and-blue bruise on her upper arm had been his response to her tentative hello. Luckily, once he’d vented his anger, he’d stumbled to the couch and passed out before he could hit her again.

The pain had blossomed like an explosion. Since she had experience covering bruises, and luckily this time he hadn’t got her face, she knew she needed to put ice on it. Wincing as she explored her arm and shoulder with tentative fingers, she supposed she ought to be glad he hadn’t broken anything this time.

Prone on the couch, he’d let out a snore. She’d stood staring at him for a moment, hatred mingling with her pain, and wished she’d had enough guts to grab her cast-iron skillet and slam it into his skull until he’d never be able to hurt her again. Instead, she’d gone to the freezer and wrapped ice in a dishtowel, glad baby Jacob still slept in his crib upstairs.

She’d taken a deep breath, crossed the room and carefully removed Bill’s wallet from his back pocket. He loved to carry wads of cash and his drinking made him careless with his money, so she’d been removing as much as she safely could each time he passed out.

This time she took an extra twenty in addition to the hundred and five. He’d never asked her about his money and she figured he probably thought he’d spent it at whatever hellhole he frequented the next town over. Topless bars were his favorite and he didn’t dare go anywhere around here where someone he knew might see him. After all, he had his position as church deacon to consider.

Replacing his wallet, she’d hurried to the laundry room and shoved the bills in her hiding place, a brown envelope tucked in the pocket on the back of the washer behind the laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. The one place Bill never went was the laundry room. Instead, he’d shove his smoke-scented, bourbon-stained clothes at her with an order to get them clean.

She’d been taking money from him for several months. Soon, she hoped to have enough to get her and Jacob on a bus that would carry them to a new life somewhere far, far away.

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