“You cannot kidnap Lizzy, dude. That would be a huge mistake. Not to mention illegal.”
“What are you talking about, Dare?” U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Mitchell, aka Mitch, Hamilton sat in his car across the street from an apartment building. He appreciated his team leader Sergeant Darragh O’Rourke’s early morning phone call, but the guy had it all wrong.
“I’m surprising my wife with a trip to Indigo Bay for Christmas,” Mitch explained. “That’s not kidnapping.”
“It is if she doesn’t want to go.”
“She’ll want to go.” The words, however, rang hollow.
Once upon a time, Mitch would have been certain Lizzy would say yes to a surprise getaway on the South Carolina coast. Now, not so much. He hated how the truth gnawed at him.
Rangers lead the way!
Mitch hoped he got the chance.
“What’s your plan B if she says no?” Dare asked.
Plan B? Mitch had spent weeks figuring out how to get his wife back after she left him in October. She’d said she needed someone to take care of her for once. He thought he was doing that already.
He dragged a hand over his tired face. “Uh…”
“This is too important. You need a backup plan.” The words flew from Dare’s mouth like artillery fire. “I had one when I wanted Jenny to give me another chance. Didn’t need it, but it was worth renting that Bigfoot costume just in case.”
Dare and Jenny Hanford, a bestselling thriller author, had become an official couple in September while Dare was recovering from serious injuries after a helicopter crash. The two hadn’t been together long, but they seemed perfect for each other.
Mitch had thought the same thing about him and Lizzy when he married her three years ago.
“I don’t need a backup plan.” He glanced at Lizzy’s empty parking space. Her overnight shift as a registered nurse had ended nearly an hour ago. Where was she? “Lizzy has wanted to go to Indigo Bay since we met. She won’t say no.”
“If you say so.” Dare’s uncertain tone matched the way Mitch felt.
“I do. My bag is in the truck. The gas tank’s full.” Mitch wanted to sound confident. His guys counted on him to lead. He needed to appear strong and capable.
And he wasthose things when it came to him being a Ranger.
He’d faced terrorists and insurgents while deployed with his platoon from Fort Benning. He’d been ambushed, caught in firefights, and battled for his life. But waiting for his wife was taking his nerves to an all-time high.
He missed Lizzy.
He wanted her back in their house and in their bed.
“You’ve got this.” Dare’s serious tone suggested the younger sergeant understood what was at stake. “Remember, this vacation is about Lizzy. Show her how much she means to you. Make sure she doesn’t feel taken for granted.”
Lizzy had told Mitch she’d felt like nothing more than the person who took care of the house and his sexual needs. He didn’t understand because he thought their marriage was perfect. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Failure wasn’t an option.
He’d escaped from impossible situations before. Reconciling with Lizzy should be easier than getting himself and his guys home in one piece. She washis family. The most important person in his life. Maybe he shouldn’t have walked out of that stupid marriage counselor’s office in June, but what else could he do when Lizzy was blaming him for nonexistent problems? He hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Have fun wooing your wife. She won’t know what hit her.” Sincerity filled Dare’s voice. “Call if you need me. I’ve got your six.”
“Right back at you. Enjoy the holidays.”
“The gifts are packed, and the engagement ring is in my pocket.” Dare sounded like he was smiling. Given he was spending the holidays in Berry Lake, Washington with Jenny and a recently adopted kitten, he was probably grinning from ear to ear. “Have a Merry Christmas.”
Mitch tucked his phone into his back pocket. The silence in the truck’s cab pressed down on him.
A marriage takes two people to succeed. I can’t keep holding everything together any longer. I want a divorce.
Remembering Lizzy’s words made his shoulders sag as if he were wearing body armor and a seventy-pound pack.
Divorce wasn’t the solution. Mitch loved Lizzy. He needed her. No one had ever loved him like she did. As soon as they arrived in Indigo Bay, he would show her their marriage was fine and they belonged together.