Never Forget: A Novella in the Echo Platoon Series

Never Forget: A Novella in the Echo Platoon Series by Marliss Melton Read Free Book Online

Book: Never Forget: A Novella in the Echo Platoon Series by Marliss Melton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marliss Melton
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Military
Los ,” Curtis repeated in a firm voice.
    The dog ignored him for several more seconds, then tossed his head and released the ball at the same time, lobbing it toward him.
    “ Braaf ,” Curtis said, scooping it up. Instead of throwing it again, he marched over to what had to be the dog’s crate and dropped the ball into a container mounted on the side.
    Draco pursued him, releasing a rash of angry barks. Curtis visibly cringed as if expecting to be bitten.
    Rusty strode in their direction. “ Foei! ” he shouted at the dog, which stopped his barking and backed off.
    With a look of profound relief, Curtis hurried in Maya’s direction. “Are we going home now?”
    She hadn’t wanted to leave just yet. In fact, she longed to go inside and see the restorations Bronco had told her about. This farmhouse had been virtually uninhabitable when Rusty purchased it a year ago.
    “Curtis has worked hard,” he stated turning back. A crease of what might have been worry furrowed his forehead. “Why don’t you call me later?”
    Maya had transferred his number from the business card into her cellphone contacts. “Sure.” It was clear he wanted to discuss Curtis’s first day without her son overhearing. That had to mean something bad had happened. Her hopes for a semi-permanent arrangement floundered.
    “Say good-bye to Rusty,” she prompted as Curtis turned away.
    “Bye,” he said over his shoulder.
    With Curtis out of sight, Rusty approached her quickly, and her pulse quickened. She wished she hadn’t wilted instantly in the heat, her blouse sticking to the light film of sweat that dampened her bra.
    “Here’s the money he earned today,” he said, pulling out his wallet and extracting several bills.
    She glanced down at the small wad he held out to her. “That’s way too much money.”
    “It’ll get him to come back tomorrow.”
    She hesitated at the telling statement then took the money. “That bad?” she asked.
    Their fingertips touched in the tradeoff, affecting her like a warm brush of lips.
    “It’ll get better,” he promised.
    “I’ll call tonight,” she replied.
    “Good.”
    They regarded each other another moment longer before Maya turned away, crossing the lawn on spongy knees. She slipped into her hot van next to a scowling Curtis, started it up, and cranked the A/C.
    “I’m not coming here tomorrow,” he insisted as she put the vehicle in reverse.
    Disappointment ambushed her. She guarded her response until she finished turning the van around and was starting down the long driveway. “What makes you say that?” she asked.
    “That dog is insane. He almost bit me like four times.”
    She glanced over at him, somewhat alarmed to hear it but hoping Curtis was exaggerating. “I don’t see any bite marks,” she observed.
    “Only because Mr. Kuzinsky called him off every time.”
    “He’s watching out for you then.” Relief edged her worry aside. “He’s not going to let you get bitten.”
    “Hah. I’m not going back.” Turning his head, he stared mulishly out the passenger’s side window. “I hate that dog.”
    Maya handed him the money she held between her palm and the steering wheel. “Here’s your pay,” she said breezily.
    Glimpsing his surprise as he took the bills, she hoped there’d be no more talk of not returning.
    “You need to save that,” she added as Curtis leaned forward so he could shove the bills into the back pocket of his shorts. “In two years, you’ll have your driver’s license. What do you think you’re going to drive?”
    “Not this ugly thing,” he asserted.
    “Correct.” She cast him a sugar-coated smile.
    He retreated into silence as they flew up the boulevard headed toward their neighborhood. She could only assume Curtis was weighing the pros and cons of keeping his job.
    “By the end of summer, I could save five hundred dollars,” he mused out loud.
    Victory . A warm tide spread through her. She would get to see Rusty again. It was a

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