Preview – A Special Ops Christmas

This excerpt is from A Special Ops Christmas, when Aiden and Vivianne connect over the miles on the phone – he’s desperately trying to get home for Christmas, knowing their relationship is hanging by a frail wisp of a string.

The phone rang, jolting Vivianne. She picked it up, looked at the screen, and dropped it by accident.

“Aiden!”

She snagged it off the floor, cursing the way her heart jumped. Everything felt right for a second, before she reminded herself that things were over between Aiden and her. They’d tried. They’d failed. She controlled her voice to answer simply, “Aiden.”

She wanted to hang up on him for sending that last email.

“Babe… I know you’re hurting, and I know I’m not there, but can you give me a little while longer?” His voice was rushed and raspy, as if he’d been under stress. Sometimes he sounded like that when he returned from a mission. She could see him plain as day, as if he were right in front of her. Closing her eyes, she savored his image for a second.

Then she cleared her throat and wondered out loud. “A while longer before what?”

Panic spiked in her chest. Did he somehow know about the baby? Maybe he knew and was worried she planned to abort it. She felt sick again and even headed toward the bathroom, but walking and taking several deep breaths helped. Of course he couldn’t know. No one did except her boss, who wouldn’t say a word to anyone yet, and mom… her mom! Her mother wouldn’t call him, would she?

After the long pause, he said, “So…so things are okay? You’re not…doing anything?”

His voice held so many questions and layers that she felt he was talking over her head. It had to be about how she had mentioned a divorce. “Doing anything like what? What do you need more time for?” He could have meant filing divorce papers. She wanted to make him say it, though.

He was the one who had strayed. And wasn’t he the one who had brought up calling it quits? She wasn’t sure how to deal with this kind of pain much longer. It was love and hate mixed together, battling and tearing her apart in the process.

“I just want more time. I don’t want you to make any decisions about us until after the holidays, when I get back. Please give us one more Christmas, baby. It’s our season, remember? Give us a little time to remember how good we can be. I love you.”

Everything closed in on her so hard she couldn’t talk. She squeezed her eyes shut, holding it all in, even as an ocean of want, hurt, and longing swelled up inside her.

“Vivianne? I love you.”

She tried to breathe and tried to answer, but it came out like a sob. This man didn’t sound like the same one she’d been emailing with the last three months. That man had walls around him and wrote curt emails and didn’t like to call her because they argued. In short, he had tried to make their problems go away by avoiding them. So how could she trust him again?

“Remember our first Christmas together, when we were dating? We walked down to the park after midnight, and it started snowing. Just like the night we met. Like God’s own blessing on us, you said. We danced under the streetlight.”

She did remember. Even now she could see the flakes catching the light, sparkling like white diamonds out of the darkness around them. Their breath had billowed out as they laughed and talked.

“Yeah,” Vivianne said on a tearful laugh, “and the snow was all gone by morning.” The enchantment had been just for them.

They’d danced in the falling snow during their first weekend together at Big Bear too. Their happy memories were like those snowflakes: there were thousands of shared magical moments. But now they were all melting, vanishing, just like snow always did.

Or were they?

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