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Her Christmas Soldier

Her Christmas Soldier

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I don’t do forever. I don’t do Christmas. And I definitely don’t do emotions. I was a foster child that never had a home, never celebrated a birthday and never felt loved.

Main Tropes

  • Protective Man
  • Curvy Woman
  • Military
  • Pen Pals
  • OTT
  • All the Feels

Synopsis

I don’t do forever. I don’t do Christmas. And I definitely don’t do emotions. I was a foster child that never had a home, never celebrated a birthday and never felt loved. So when my troops get a Christmas tin full of cookies, I send a thank you email. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you get a gift, right? But before I know it, I’m writing back and forth with a sweet, young woman that has hearts in her eyes. I wish I could give her what she wants, but I know that’s not me. She’s too young and too happy for the likes of me. She’s better off without me and I’m better off alone. That is, until she shows up at my door and gives me a glimpse of what I’ve been missing. I can be her Christmas Soldier… but now I’m wondering how I’m going to let her go.

Intro to Chapter 1

Chapter 1

CASSIE

“How did I let you talk me into this?” I
say into the car. I have my phone on Bluetooth, talking to my sister, Alison.

“Uh, because I
wasn’t going to let you sit around here and mope, that’s why.” She snorts.

“I wasn’t moping,” I
lie to her. Obviously I was moping. Actually I was downright about to go out of
my mind.

“Cass, you know that
you couldn’t have set here in our Christmassy filled house, opening Christmas
gifts and making cookies knowing that Gavin was at his house alone. Let’s be
honest. It didn’t take much pushing to get you to go there.”

She’s right. I know
she’s right. I would have gone crazy knowing that Gavin Dawson was alone for
Christmas. I pull to the side of the road when I get to his street. “I’m on his
street,” I tell her, almost holding my breath.

She gasps, and I
hear her clapping her hands together excitedly. “Oh, Cassie, this is so exciting!”

I just shake my head
and roll my eyes. “Ya know, you are probably supposed to be talking me out of this, right? I’m going to a man’s house, one that I’ve never met and offering
to stay a few days with him to bring him Christmas cheer. Like, any other sister
would be dead set against this.”

“Cassie, we’ve been over this. You’ve been talking to him for over a year now. He’s a decorated soldier that is coming home for Christmas. I’ve read all your emails, well most of them anyway, and he seems harmless–“

“Harmless! Ha! He’s
a trained to kill soldier. You don’t know he’s harmless,” I huff at her.

“Fine, come on home
then. If you truly think you should be scared of him, then turn the car around
and come home.”

I hold my hands over
my face. I know he’s not harmless. But he’s a good man. A year of emailing back
and forth would have indicated if he was some kind of psycho or something. He’s
not. He’s a good man.

“No, I’m going. I
have to,” I tell her. I don’t have to explain it to her. She gets it.

“Good for you, sis.
I know you’re nervous, but you’re going to be fine. I’m going to miss spending Christmas
with you, but this is definitely more important.”

Which reminds me. I
cover my smirk with a cough. “I’m having your Christmas present delivered to
you. Actually, it should be there any minute, so I’m going to let you go.”

“Wait, Christmas
present, what are you talking about?”

I hear the doorbell
ring, and I can’t stop the wide smile from forming. “That’s probably it. I love
you, sis. I’ll text you later.”

I hit the hang up
button and look at the road in front of me. It’s starting to snow, and already
the roads are covered. What are you doing, Cassie? He lives a
half mile up the road. You can do this.

Needing some
motivation, I open the email app on my phone and go to the Gavin Dawson folder.
As soon as I do, I go straight to the email I’ve been rereading for weeks.

Dear Cassie,

I can’t believe we’ve
been emailing back and forth for over a year now. I also can’t believe that I’m
leaving the Army at the end of next month. I know it’s going to be different.
This is the only life I’ve known since I was eighteen years old. So twenty-two
years of doing this, something I love, it’s going to be hard leaving it behind.

I know you asked me
about my Christmas traditions. First of all, I love how much you love
Christmas. Just reading about it in your emails makes me smile. So I don’t want
to bum you out when you read this. But I’ve never celebrated Christmas before.

I was raised in foster
care and well, we’ll just say it was never a priority with our foster parents.
And then when I got into the Army, they do what they can to celebrate it, but
well, it’s just not something I’ve ever got into.

Are you still talking
to me? I figure you’re going through all my emails and deleting them and then
you’re going to block me after that. I’m sorry. I do want you to know that
knowing you, talking to you, it’s probably the closest thing I’ve ever gotten to
that Christmas magic that people talk about.

I’m going to miss
emailing you when I get out. I hope you know how much I appreciate you. Who
knew that first tin of cookies you sent me would lead to us “talking” over a
year later? I’m a lucky man that your Christmas tradition of sending cookies to
people in the Army landed in my lap.

Anyway, now that I’ve
completely gone way too sappy, I need to change the subject.

I hope you are doing
well, and I’m glad you’re loving your kindergarten class this year. I may not
“know” you, but I do know those kids are sure lucky to have you for their
teacher.

Anyway, I’ll talk to
you soon.

Your friend,

Gavin Dawson

My head falls back
onto the seat. It still pains me to hear that he’s never celebrated Christmas.
And that’s why I’m here. Of course it bothers me that he never mentioned
meeting each other. I had hoped that when he got out, he would at least want to
meet. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Heck, we’ve never even swapped
pictures. It’s like he knew we were only short term, and that’s all he wanted,
but I let myself hope for something more.

Regardless, I know
that as his friend, I can’t let him spend Christmas alone. I look into the back
seat of my car at all the Christmas supplies. I brought everything. A tree and
all its trimmings, a wreath, tins of cookies, hot chocolate and presents. I’m
ready for this. There’s no turning back now.

I shift the car into
drive and pull out onto his road.

Gavin

I’ve been home less than twenty-four hours, and already I’m about to go stir crazy. I sit
in the La-Z-Boy chair and rock, hoping to pass some time. I’ve already gone
grocery shopping, cleaned the house from top to bottom, and chopped wood since
I got home, and now I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself. I’ve been
an early riser for so long, I don’t know what it is to sleep in anymore. It’s
early in the morning, and even though I would never have cared before, I can’t
help but notice it’s Christmas Eve. And instantly my thoughts go to Cassie and
what she’s doing right now.

She’s probably
cooking, baking or doing something to celebrate the holiday. There’s a longing
in my chest that causes me to rub my hand over it. The first time I felt the
twinge, I thought I was having a heart attack. But the closer I got to my
discharge date, and the more I thought about not talking to Cassie anymore, the
worse the twinge got. Now it’s like a constant pressure right over my heart.

I lace my fingers
together and put them over my stomach, rocking back and forth in the chair.
Cassie. That’s all I’ve thought about. My twenty-two-year career in the Army I
can survive without. It will take getting used to, but it’s doable. But I’m
beginning to wonder if I made the right decision about Cassie. This last year I
got to know her more than I know anyone. Fuck, more than my own foster brother.
There were times I was vulnerable with her, and heck, that’s not me. I’m not
that way. But she was too easy to trust. She was too everything. Too loving,
too sweet, too smart, too caring. With very little ease, she burrowed into my
life, and now I’ve fucked it up.

I told her we
wouldn’t be talking anymore when we got out. I knew it was the best thing to
do. She’s way too young for me and way too sweet. I’m like a cankerous old man,
and all I’ll do is bring her down. Nope. I made the right decision. It’s better
this way. With another rub to my chest, I can’t help but wonder when I’m going
to believe it, though.

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