The smells of fresh air, salt water, seagulls, and fish washed over him and he breathed deep. Roasting hot in the desert he’d made this image his mantra, his oasis. He’d imagined the coarse desert sand beneath his fingers was softer and studded with broken shells. Instead of gunfire in the distance he told himself he heard the lapping of waves against the shore.
Being here now, with Zoe, was another image he would add to his memory bank for later times of crisis.
The sand was easier to navigate than he thought it might be, to his relief. The last thing he wanted to do was drop the kayak, or fall and either embarrass himself or hurt Zoe.
“Want to set your end down first?” she asked. He knew it was a nice way of telling him what to do.
She lowered her side and then flipped the kayak over. Dropping the beach bag, she grinned and spread her arms wide, her face tilted up to the blue sky and puffy white clouds.
“God, I’ve missed this. It’s been so hot, and we’ve all been working so hard to keep going that I’ve felt guilty sneaking away to the beach. But I need it.” She knelt on the sand, taking out their towels and setting them out.
“I know what you mean.”
She looked up at him, her face shadowed by the bill of her baseball cap. “Yes?”
He reached down for a bottle of water. The walk had been invigorating, he told himself, ignoring the tweak of pain along his hip bone. The kayak would be great exercise without straining any muscles. “I’ve missed the beach.” Brayden kept his deeper thoughts to himself.
“Let me put some sunscreen on you,” she said.
He held his arms to his sides as she lifted the spray bottle from the beach bag. He winced at the unexpected coolness of the mist. “Want me to do you?”
She laughed softly. “Maybe later. Sorry I fell asleep last night.” Zoe skimmed her fingers over his arm, tracing the tribal tattoo that banded his biceps.
All of a sudden the air between them changed, charged into something sensual and heated.
He sensed her desire…watched her eyes darken. In the times they’d been apart, he’d never once cheated on Zoe. Marriage to him meant commitment, and a promise of fidelity.
Excerpt from Coming Home by the Sea by Traci Hall
Included in Love in Times of War
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Love in Times of War
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Sail into danger, explore passion and intrigue in these twelve love stories about the heart of men called to serve in dangerous locales and the valiance of women who long for them to come home. You will find yourself inspired by this collection, written by multi award-winning, USA Today and International bestselling authors.
"This anthology consists of twelve wonderful stories with the inherent theme of love and war contained in them. Out of the twelve authors, Uvi Poznansky is the only one that I was familiar with previously. So, in addition to becoming acquainted with new authors in this set, my 'to be read' pile has grown considerably. That is not a bad thing with the wind chill of a minus 10 as I write this review!!"