A Broken Christmas

A Broken Christmas by Claire Ashgrove Read Free Book Online

Book: A Broken Christmas by Claire Ashgrove Read Free Book Online
Authors: Claire Ashgrove
Tags: Romance, Contemporary, Military, Holidays
forced her away, why he’d begun to keep everything to himself.
    Aimee forced down building hope. True, she had accomplished a milestone without really intending anything other than genuine assistance. Still, she had mountains to climb, and the odds of making it to the other side weren’t in her favor. As Kyle had proved with the divorce, when he set his mind to something, for better or worse, he didn’t budge.
    Not to mention, she still had Christmas to navigate, and Conner’s mother who wanted to see Kyle. None of which would go over well.
    She hurried up to their room to grab clean sweats and a loose T-shirt from his dresser. Well past midnight, the house was chilly, and she tossed his heavy robe over her shoulder as well. Though she would make it clear she wouldn’t turn him away if he wanted to share their bed, she doubted he’d accept the offer. He would want the robe on the couch.
    Downstairs once more, Aimee found Kyle sitting at the dining room table wearing only the towel around his waist. The scrapbooks she’d slaved over since the first year of their married life were scattered in front of him, boxes of photographs sitting to his left. He accepted his clothes with a faint smile and wasted no time in changing.
    Kyle lowered himself back into the chair and tapped an open page. “Remember this?”
    Aimee peered over his shoulder. She grinned at a picture of the two of them on the beach in front of a ginormous sand castle. Italy—where she’d met him and his team for a brief period of leave before he returned to Iraq. The castle had been the creative efforts of five Delta Force operatives and one recently retired, veteran nurse. “Yeah I remember that. Shortly after, you tried to drown me.”
    He gave her a false scowl. “I did not. I didn’t know you were trying to get out of the surf.”
    “Uh huh.” Aimee leaned down and brushed his cheek with a kiss. “That’s what you said then too.” Opening a more recent scrapbook, she slid into the seat beside him. “What prompted this?”
    “I haven’t looked at them in forever.”
    She glanced up at him through her eyelashes. “You do know it’s going on one, right?”
    “Yeah,” he answered quietly. “I don’t sleep so well anymore.”
    Because of his injury? Or because of all the things he wouldn’t tell her—like what happened over in Afghanistan?
    Aimee dismissed the questions and tapped a photograph of the last military formal they’d attended, where Kyle’s commander had been awarded for his dedicated service. The picture was of all five of Kyle’s team and Major Renfield. They had confirmed her pregnancy the night before, and Kyle celebrated in excess. He’d been so drunk when they got home that he passed out on the stairs, still wearing his dress uniform and shoes. Aimee laughed at the memory. “How about this?”
    “That was a fun night.” Kyle grinned, but good humor slowly morphed into faint frown.
    “It was.”
    He pulled the book beneath his nose, his frown deepening with every page he turned. His silence signaled his retreat into that place he never shared with her, and regret pulled through Aimee’s veins. If she hadn’t said anything, he might still be laughing. Might still be engaging her in conversation.
    She pushed away from the table. “Do you want me to make some coffee?”
    “Yeah,” he answered distantly.
    Was it the picture of his team? Or the memory of their far more personal loss? Aimee debated the answers as she entered the kitchen. Denton, Parker, and Jones weren’t the first teammates Kyle had buried. Two others—Racine and Starks—fell in Iraq, shortly after she’d met Kyle. She’d had to dig, but he hadn’t totally clammed up inside himself then. While things hadn’t been easy after her miscarriage, he hadn’t cinched himself up tight until significantly later. Once she’d accepted the fact she needed a bit of outside, professional help and had finally stopped grieving.
    So what happened? And

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