From Sanctum With Love (Masters and Mercenaries Book 10)By: Lexi Blake
12 years before
Kai Ferguson looked at the rundown house and felt an odd longing sink into his bones. He hadn’t expected this, hadn’t thought for a second that he would look at that shitty two bedroom and feel a sense of nostalgia. After all, most of the bad things in his life had happened there, but suddenly all he could see was his mom. She was all over that damn house. Though it was in a bad part of town, the yard was still neat, the front beds still had petunias blooming. Even from the driveway he could see the wreath she’d always kept.
Just because it isn’t Christmas, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate.
She’d kept a wreath for every season. She would make them with crap she’d bought at the craft store—whatever happened to be on sale. Cheap pieces of junk that she somehow turned into something lovely. The same with the flowers in the front beds. She bought the cheapest she could find, the ones that looked half dead at the nursery, and brought them back to life.
That was his mom. God, he missed her.
Though now he supposed the flowers were being kept up by whatever chick his brother was sleeping with. His younger brother had recently turned nineteen and dreamed of Hollywood stardom, though mostly what he’d managed was to look ridiculously good in a series of ads for the local gym he spent way too much time at. He was two years younger than Kai, but Kai was fairly certain his brother had started romancing women at the tender age of five when he’d charmed a kindergarten teacher into not holding him back a grade. Jared had started young and never gone long without a woman in his bed.
It had been almost a year since Kai had made love to his fiancée.
His gut clenched at the thought of seeing her. He had to though. He had to figure out if there was anything at all to come home to when it came to Hannah.
Thanks to a stray piece of shrapnel, he’d gotten unexpected leave. One week. He had one week before he had to report to Fort Bragg, and then he’d be on his way back to the Middle East. He had another year of enlistment and then he could come home and finish up what was left of his degree. Jared had made it through high school. He’d made it plain that he wasn’t going to college. Kai had done his duty to his baby brother. He’d put off his own dreams in order to keep Jared in school. Kai had put off his last two years of college and his wedding in order to go into the Army after their mother had lost her battle with breast cancer. He’d fulfilled his mother’s dying request and now it was almost time to come home.
Whether he had a fiancée when he came back was definitely in question. He couldn’t stop thinking about how angry she’d been when he’d left. She’d begged him not to go back and when he’d explained he couldn’t leave his unit, couldn’t just walk away from the damn Army, she’d sworn he’d never loved her and that she would have her revenge.
Two days later she’d called and begged his forgiveness. She’d explained it was only nerves about him being so far away, but Kai had started to think that asking her to marry him had been a mistake.
Maybe everyone was right and they were too young.
He parked his rental in the driveway behind Jared’s beat-up old Jeep and a late model Ford. Likely that belonged to whoever Jared was sleeping with. Jared never mentioned women in his letters. Mostly he’d talked about his audition for some local TV show about physical fitness or asked questions about how to do simple things like pay the water bill.
Kai groaned. His little brother’s letters had taken on a tone of desperation. The kid was nineteen. He should be able to write a damn check. Kai sent him all the money he had. Their aunt had lived with Jared until he’d turned eighteen. She’d certainly taught him how to run the house, but his brother rarely listened. No. He expected the rest of the world to take care of him because he was so damn beautiful.