Rebel with a holiday…
Ryan Edward Brun—Rebel to his friends—has always loved Christmas. Whether raising money for Toys for Tots, delivering presents dressed up like Santa Claus or driving his platoon crazy with Christmas ‘surprises,’ he never lacked for Christmas spirit—until he lost his legs to an IED.
Operation Good Cheer…
Noël Torres has watched over Rebel for months, holding his hand when he wanted to give up, and bullying him when he got lazy. But with Christmas right around the corner and decorations filling every room in their wing of Mike’s Place, the barren oasis Rebel surrounds himself with breaks her heart. He won’t call his family, he’s not sending out cards, he won’t pull any pranks—she decides to get this Marine back into the holiday action.
An elf on a mission…
With the help of some kids, a few good Marines, and Santa Claus, Noël is determined to give Rebel a very Marine Christmas…
What happens when you’re avoiding all things Christmas and barricade yourself in your room at the rehab center? You get your feisty take no prisoners case nurse in your face in her unique style to find out why.
Noël is subtle but determined to find out why Rebel is avoiding the holiday everyone said he loved. She is more frustrated with the fact that he skipped his physio and as a result was having cramping and his stumps were raw and irritated. She has her ways however and this is a favorite scene.
“Hell, you’re going to make me talk about it.” Damn it. He didn’t want to get into this.
“It’s a little childish to hold me hostage in the car.” And she never behaved like a child.
She leaned her head back against the seat and directed her attention to the landscape beyond the windshield.
“Fuck.” He punched his fist at the roof of her car then flexed his sore hand. “I skipped physio because they plastered Christmas everywhere. Music. Decorations. Hell, one of the therapists was dressed like an elf.”
Merry-fucking-shove-it-down-your-throat season! Resentment flash-fired through his system and he barely managed to restrain the urge to punch the roof of her car again. Once made a point, doing it twice meant losing control.
A Marine didn’t lose control.
“Okay.” Noël shut the car off and climbed out, leaving him to stare at the empty space where she’d been. It took her a minute to extract his wheelchair and then she arrived at the door. “Let’s go.” The temperature outside had dipped again, flushing icy air into the heated interior.
Still gaping at her, Rebel didn’t argue as she helped him swing out and into the chair. One pause to grab his prosthetics and then she locked the car with a flick of a button and headed for the main doors.
“That’s it?” He half-turned to keep an eye on her face.
“It’s cold. We need to go to Ortho and you still have physio.” She didn’t slow her pace. The automatic doors opened with a swish and the cold wind chased them inside. Instead of heading to the residential wing where his room was located, she turned right to follow the indoor walkway leading to the gymnasium and physical therapy wing.
Ortho was along the way.
Clamping his teeth shut on his next words before they could escape, he drummed his fingers on the arms of the chair. Noel always had a comment or, at the very least, a comeback. The silence wore away at him. Ortho took fifteen minutes and the tech promised to refit the sockets and they could swing by to try them on the next day.
The tension winding in his gut tightened the closer they got to the gym. Even the long walkways hadn’t escaped the glitter of Christmas. Evergreen garlands with red velvet bows hung every six feet. Any second now, he’d have to endure rocking around the Christmas tree when all he wanted was to run the holiday over with a reindeer.
Further irritated by the musical direction of his thoughts, he almost missed the main doors to the gym as Noel bypassed them.
“Hey, you missed our stop.”
“No I didn’t.” She went another hundred feet and bumped the big metallic button on the wall with her hip to open another set of doors.
“Um, this is the officers’ wing.” Officers and enlisted did mingle, but senior staff had their own workout area and he was a non-com— or at least he had been.
“Really? And since I just started working here yesterday, I guess I missed the memo.” Snappy, insubordinate, and bordering on rude— just the way he liked her.
Decorated in dark wood tones and lit by high windows, the gym was curiously quiet; no one worked out on the machines and no music piped in over the speakers. Better yet, no pine-scented anything waited to burn his nostrils. The hot ball of knots in his gut loosened.
Kara Childs strolled up to meet them, dressed in her familiar scrubs and wearing a friendly, if cautious smile. Of all his physical therapists, she definitely ranked among his favorites. “Well, well, well— look what the Noël dragged in.”
Heat burned the tops of his ears. Like Noël , Kara had been gone for the holiday weekend but, apparently, she’d heard about his mutiny.
“Great, you got my text.” The welcome in Noël’s voice stroked over his ragged nerves.
“What text?” When had she had time to text?
She squeezed his shoulder. “I sent a text to Kara while the ortho looked at your fitting. Told her you needed to make up for some lost time and would prefer the North Pole-free gym.”
His bad mood did a full one-eighty, and relief radiated down his spine until he nearly sagged in the chair. “Thank you.”
Long, Heather. Have Yourself a Marine Christmas (Always a Marine series Book 20) (Kindle Locations 311-349). Decadent Publishing Company, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Even while giving in to his petulance regarding the holiday Noël is plotting a way for him to find his Christmas spirit again.
The revelation that he feels a lot more for her than just his case nurse, a shopping trip and a little girl’s Christmas wish become the catalyst.
Lots of heat between Noël and Rebel, add in some tears both sad and happy. It all combines to make this one of my favorite Christmas stories!
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.