I'll Never Stop Loving You by Melissa Storm
- Sweet Romance
- 20,000 Words
- Very Mild Heat Rating
Her picture saved his life. Now he’ll risk everything to find her.
When James Morgan left for Korea, his heart belonged to another woman. But all that changed when he found the picture of a beautiful, exotic woman one of his troop mates left behind.
The tattered photo gives him the resolve he needs to make it home alive, but once he gets there, he has no idea how to go about finding the mysterious woman who unknowingly saved his life.
Gloria Flores is distraught when her brother dies fighting a war she never supported in the first place. Still, it falls to her to pick up the shattered pieces left in the wake of his untimely death. In order to heal, her family must relocate once again, but Gloria is tired of being the protector. She’s hurting too, and something seems to be tying her to the small Texas home town. But what?
Will James find the woman he so desperately seeks, and will he be exactly the person she needs too?
Read an Excerpt
Green had never been Rico’s color. Yet, here he was dressed in it head to toe, ready to fight and die by a color that had never done him any favors—for a country that had let him down every bit as much.
“Don’t go,” Gloria whispered in her brother’s ear so as not to upset their younger siblings. “You don’t have to go.”
His eyes searched hers and he spoke softly. “But, mi hermana, don’t you understand? If I do this, things could change for all of us. It’s just a couple years of my life. Then all our lives will be better. We could be citizens, Gloria. Think of how much easier things will be then.”
She forced a smile. Rico had always been too optimistic for his own good. Didn’t he know he could die cold and alone halfway across the world? And for what? The chance that maybe maybe—because it wasn’t even a full-fledged promise—they could become citizens of a country that would still discriminate against them for their tan skin and south-of-the-border accents?
Still, Rico needed her support now. He’d already made up his mind, and the last thing he needed was to be distracted on the battlefield by any lingering worries. He needed to fight like hell and come home alive and free. Who was she to say the government wouldn’t deliver upon its hints at citizenship?
“Come back safe, Ricardo.” Somehow using his full name felt like offering a blessing. She squeezed him tightly, then watched as he turned and walked into the admin building and out of his family’s sight.
Her younger brothers stood silently—a rare sight—while her mother murmured a Hail Mary under her breath and clutched at her rosary like a security blanket. Papa couldn’t take the time off work, not even to bid his son farewell.
They stood and stared at the closed door for what felt like a very long time. Finally Gloria wrapped an arm around her mother’s shoulders and said, “Come, Mama, let’s get you out of this cold.”
It didn’t matter that the temperatures were in the high seventies or that somehow the simple, closed door made them all feel closer to Rico. The exertion of this outing had already begun to take its toll on her ailing mother. The prayers now came out raspy with long pauses in between each line as she struggled to catch her breath.
Gloria offered one herself and tried not to think about everything that could go wrong for Rico, for Mama, for all of them.
Oh, what would she ever do without her brother?
* * *
Everything about his new quarters felt different. Sure, it was set to Air Force regulations. The furniture—if you could call it that—looked the same, the walls were the same boring shade of egg white, but still it felt different. The air smelled of tobacco mixed with soggy plant life, and boy, was it humid. The sun didn’t shine quite as bright either, as if it too knew there was a war on and didn’t want to fully open its eyes to see the carnage.
But things wouldn’t be so bad.
He told himself he’d become an airman because of his love of flying. But, truth be told, an even larger part of him wanted to avoid the realness of up-close combat. Dropping bombs from a safe distance, he could do—but looking into the bloodshot, sleep-deprived eyes of the enemy as he gunned him down across the field? No, he was far too afraid of what he’d learn about the enemy, about his fellow soldiers, and—most of all—about himself.
All that would start tomorrow. Tonight, he only had to find a way to get some sleep in this strange new place. A place he’d either be leaving as a decorated hero or as stuffing for a body bag.
James sank onto the thin plastic mattress. The springs sighed beneath his weight, but otherwise held steady.
“You ready to go get them commies?” Tommy Morrison, his friend from back home, asked as he scribbled away at a notebook in his lap.
“Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose. What you got there?”
Tommy held up the notebook and flipped through a few pages. “Letter to Diana. I want her to know we arrived all right.”
James grinned. “You’re going to marry that girl, aren’t you?”
“Soon as we secure victory.” He tore a couple pages from the spiral pad and handed them to James. “Here. May as well write your girl a letter, too. Deborah, is it?”
He accepted the pages and grabbed a pen from his pack. “Thanks. Just my luck to find the perfect girl the night before deployment, isn’t it? Think she’ll wait for me?”
“Who’d wait for a buffoon like you?” Tommy laughed as he continued to scribble away at his notebook. “Nah, you know I’m only giving you a hard time. Of course, she’ll wait, Jimmy.”
James smiled as he pictured Deborah running into his arms at the airport the moment he arrived back on U.S. soil, her blond curls bouncing as she shook her head with laughter, her cherry lips eagerly searching him out, saddling him with a whole battalion of long-awaited kisses.
But what could he say to her now? He didn’t want to write unless he found something romantic, profound, or, heck, even informative to say. However, words did not come easy as the nib of his ink pin floated hopefully above the blank page.
Why was this so difficult?
He ran his fingers up and down the sides of his bed as he thought. The cool metal framing beneath his mattress felt good against his warm skin. Suddenly, his hand snagged on something decidedly not metal.
“Tommy, I think there’s something under here.” James said as he stooped down on the floor and lifted the mattress for a better look.
“Ah-ha.” He quickly found the tattered picture one of the previous residents had, no doubt, left behind and showed it to his bunkmate.
“Pretty. Who do you think she is?” Tommy tossed the photo back to James.
“Careful, would ya?” James took a moment to study the large walnut shaped eyes, the full lips, and dark hair of the exotic beauty in the photo. “Maybe somebody’s girl back home, but why would he leave it here?”
“I reckon it wasn’t on purpose. He probably…”
“Yeah.” A moment of silence passed between them as they both thought of what had likely happened to the photo’s previous owner. What could very well happen to either of them.
After a few beats, James broke the far-too-serious silence. “I think I’ll hang on to this,” he announced, tucking the photo into his pack. “A lucky charm.”
“Suit yourself.” Tommy set his pen to the page once again, tuning his friend out.
James leaned back on the mattress and put his arms behind his head. While the discovery of the photo had been exciting, he still had no idea what he was going to write to Deborah. Maybe things would come clearer in the morning.
With time he drifted off to sleep. Dreams, not of his sweetheart all the way back home, but of the mysterious beauty from the photo, greeted him as he slumbered in the strange bunk.
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