Men and women in the armed forces are often away from home, family and their beloved pets for the holidays. But this year, three service members will be home for Christmas in heartwarming military homecoming stories by New York Times Bestselling Authors Lindsay McKenna, KaLyn Cooper and J.M. Madden.
Two veterans—one human, one canine—have returned to Montana to recover from the traumas of war. Former Army Ranger Nick Conway depended on his WMD dog Snowflake to help him navigate IEDs on the battlefield. Now he needs his best friend to help him cope with his PTSD and acclimate to civilian life. When he meets Holly McGuire and agrees to help her deliver meals to the elderly, her inner light calls to him, but his demons hold him back from giving in to his attraction. But Snowflake takes an immediate shine to the kindhearted Holly—and he has never led Nick down the wrong path.
Snow was coming down hard in town as Nick drove the van toward the shut-in area at four p.m. The smell of spaghetti and buttered, garlic toast filled the vehicle. Myra had made sweet potato cupcakes for dessert, and he stole one before they left the charity facility. It was nearly Thanksgiving and he was looking forward to taking Holly to his folks place for the afternoon and evening. The wipers were rhythmically swinging back and forth, throwing off the heavy, wet flakes. The roads were salted, but still Nick was wary of invisible black ice. In the late afternoon the heat of the day was gone and things got slick real fast.
“Oh dear,” Holly called, sitting up, pointing out her passenger-side window. “Look, Nick!”
Snowflake, who stood between them, heard the pitch of her voice change, and whined.
Nick slowed and pulled over to the curb, then looked to where she was pointing. There was a yellow Labrador moving awkwardly through the belly deep snow between two brick buildings. Her ribs were prominent even though she had a short, thick winter coat on. “She’s starving,” he muttered, scowling. “It looks like a female Lab. She’s too dainty looking to be a male.”
“She’s terribly thin,” Holly said, worried. “I wonder if someone dumped her—they do that all the time around here. I hate it.”
“No collar on her, either,” Nick agreed. The Lab was about a hundred-feet down the alley between the two buildings, slugging it out with the snow. Nick heard Holly make a little sound of urgency. She had such a big heart, and she hated to see animals or humans suffer.
Nick knew she wanted to get out and try to call the dog over to her. From the looks of the animal, her light-brown eyes wild looking, tongue lolling out of her mouth, her fur matted, he intuitively knew this was a dog that had been left behind a long time ago to fend for herself.
“She’s feral,” he warned Holly. She turned, her huge, blue eyes filled with tears. “She won’t let us near her. I’m sorry.” And he was. It wouldn’t be the first dog dumped here that Nick had found, or that Holly had come upon around the building of one of her shut-ins. They had a no-kill shelter here, and this Lab would have had a warm place to stay, food, and care if they could befriend her.
“Can’t we do something for her, Nick?”
When Veterinarian Willow James’ office is broken into, it’s natural that she turn to her soul mate, former Navy SEAL K9 handler Joe Flynn, to track down the culprits. The trail leads to a notorious Pit-Bull fighting ring. It may take a Christmas miracle and a helpful nudge from an old partner to get everyone home safely.
Willow sighed when she heard Sue’s voice call out that Flynn had just pulled in. They had just gotten caught up on their schedule and now whatever animal he’d brought in would probably throw them off again. Well, shoot.
Running her hand over her belly she smoothed her shirt. It didn’t matter what she looked like right now—considering he was probably bringing in an emergency—but she always wanted to be pretty for him, and six months after having the baby it was a little harder. Between running around like a chicken with her head cut off keeping her business running, taking care of little Raven and trying to be a present wife, she was run ragged.
Automatically, she smiled when Flynn walked in the door. Her big, handsome husband still had his shades on, but when he looked at her his hard, bearded face softened into a smile. That small connection had only gotten stronger in the time they’d been together, and she truly cherished it. Maya, the mixed breed German Shepherd mutt paced around him, prancing anxiously.
Willow’s gaze fell to the towel wrapped bundle in his arms. A black nose peeked out of the folds.
“You brought me a raccoon?” she asked incredulously.
Flynn flashed her an even broader grin and leaned over for a quick kiss. Willow wanted to linger but forced herself to pull away. She looked down at the animal.
Flynn turned the bundle until he could show her the back end. “Looks like he’s been hit by a car, maybe. I chased him across three lanes of traffic before I could catch him.”
She scowled at the knowledge. “You be careful doing that. Denver drivers can be crazy.”
Reaching out she probed at the hanging back leg. “Yes. I would say you’re right. I’ll dose him up with pain medication and splint this leg, then we can call the wildlife rehab center to come pick him up. They have their own vet that specializes in exotic animals. He doesn’t look very old so he should recover fairly well as long as he gets this fixed soon.”
Flynn nodded, manipulating the animal as she needed him moved. When she glanced up she realized he’d been staring at her for several long moments.
“What?” she asked defensively.
He’d shoved his shades to the top of his head. His dark gray eyes were lit with wonderful softness. “Nothing. I’m just peeking down your shirt. I can’t believe how beautiful you are.”
Willow grinned up at the love of her life. A year ago she never would have imagined she could be in this position, but things had seriously changed. Flynn had gone from a frequent client in her veterinarian’s office bringing her strays to her hero then her soulmate. He was everything she could imagine having. And he’d already become the amazing father she had imagined him to be.
The raccoon fought a little, trying to get free, but Flynn restrained him like a professional, biceps pumped. Willow worked quickly, giving the animal a light sedation before lightly splinting the back leg. Then she let Flynn carry the animal to one of the portable carriers in back.
Noel’s Puppy Power by KaLyn Cooper
Tanner Hill is better at communicating with animals than women. That might be why he hasn’t had a second date in over two years. He’s also been extremely busy with his kennel that has become the premier training facility, specializing in supplying dogs to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Then again, there is this psychologist he can’t get out of his head, or his heart. Dr. Bailey Conrad would never allow the loss of half her right leg to an IED in Iraq to stop her. Every day at the VA hospital, she sees patients who have lost so much more to the war effort. It’s her goal in life to help as many vets as possible to find a ‘new normal’, because she knows firsthand, it’s the internal scars that can be the most difficult to heal.
Hoping Bailey wouldn’t be grossed out, or worse yet, faint, Tanner warned, “Chrys is having her puppies—”
“Oh my gosh,” Bailey interrupted. “Are they all okay? How many did she have? When did she have them? This is such great news for your breeding program. I’ll bet you’re excited.”
“Whoa.” Tanner stopped the rapid fire of questions. “Take a breath. She was having them when you drove in so I have to warn you, the tree skirt is ruined. Giving birth isn’t pretty.”
“Ahhh, she had them under the Christmas tree?” Bailey hurried her steps. “I want to see.”
She’d obviously missed his point. “It’s going to be messy in there.”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a woman.” She took a step and her boot slid an inch, but balanced herself and kept on moving. “I know all about messes.”
Oh, he’d noticed all right. He’d seen her curvaceous little body in spandex-hugging running gear as she practiced for the regional qualifications for the Paralympics last year.
of Fate, 1983, Silhouette Special Edition) and has created a thriving sub-genre
within the romance field! As a New York Times Best Selling author, she has sold
23 million books and in 32 foreign languages in her career thus far. Her many
experiences in the U.S. Navy are backdrop for her understanding of the military
in general, and also her very successful Morgan’s Mercenaries, which is an
ongoing series in Silhouette to this day! Forty-five books strong!
Lindsay has gone Indie in 2015 and has created a new family saga on par with Morgan’s Mercenaries It is known as the DELOS SERIES. There will be paperback and eBooks created under Blue Turtle Publishing, her company for her fans. Readers who love Morgan and his family are bound to fall in love with the Culver family. Delos is romantic suspense, which Lindsay is well known for. It took her five years to create and bring DELOS to her readers. It was worth the wait, but we’ll let you decide that.Lindsay loves to hear from her readers and loves to know what they’d like to see her write next. Stay up with the latest on the Delos Series here. Please visit her Web site at www.lindsaymckenna.com. And be sure to sign up for her free quarterly newsletter. It contains exclusive content found nowhere else on the Net. Plus, giveaways and other surprises, to her loyal and faithful subscribers!