Staff Sergeant Rafe Luna thinks he’s got his life in order. Been in the Army for six years, just met some guys that could become good friends and has his sights set on being a command sergeant major. Focused on his career, he’s knocked on his ‘fourth point of contact’ (in Airborne speak) when he tries to order some food at a fair and meets the one that his heart says is meant to “be with him”.
Debbie Hansen has her focus on becoming an RN and that’s all at the moment. She’s had tunnel vision; working for her uncle during summers on the fair circuit selling French fries and lemonade and studying for her degree the rest of the year. There is no time or room in her life for a relationship with a soldier— though the soldier might have something to say about that.
What can happen when two focused individuals meet and feel attraction? Can Rafe adjust his plans to include a wife and family? Can Debbie fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse while being a military spouse and moving every few years?
In this stand-alone prequel to Jacen’s With Me series, she’ll take readers on a journey of love and discovery for Rafe and Debbie Luna, the backbone couple of her series
Excerpt from BE WITH ME:
The coffee was taking its sweet time brewing her next cup; standing and staring at the coffee maker wasn’t going to make it go any faster but if she sat long enough without the caffeine, she’d be out. Debbie knew she probably didn’t need to have another cup; she probably needed to get some sleep but she was taking her licensing exam in two days and she was terrified that she was going to screw it up. There had to be a way to cram the entire physician’s reference into her brain by test time, right?
Finally, the elixir was ready for her and she added a healthy amount of creamer and a tiny bit of sugar. Okay, more than a tiny bit but she needed the extra boost. Blowing on the cup as she moved back to the couch and her books, the door to the condo opened and she screamed.
“Ahhh!” When Debbie jumped, her coffee spilled over her hand causing her to scream again. “Shit!” She ran back to the kitchen, turned on the cold water and jammed her hand under the stream.
“Debs? Are you okay?” Luny appeared in the doorway. She looked over at her fiancé and sighed. Seeing him in his uniform warmed all her parts. He was undoing the uniform top and the open jacket with the T-shirt underneath with the pants and boots. Yum, yum.
“Huh?” she replied absently, totally distracted from her hand by his appearance.
“You screamed and ran for the kitchen. Are you okay?” He motioned to the sink, drawing her attention back to her hand.
“Damn it. Yes, I’ll be fine.” She flicked off the water and grabbing a paper towel. “When you opened the door, it surprised me and I spilled some coffee over my hand.”
Luny’s eyes narrowed as he walked across the kitchen and turned off the coffee pot. “Have you been drinking coffee all day?”
“Maybe. You’re home early.” She moved over and wrapped her arms around his waist. Ummm, comfy. She dropped her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes.
“Actually, I’m late. There was a car accident over in the Anzio housing area. Cassidy and I were first on scene so we got stuck with the paperwork.”
“Everyone okay?” she asked, not opening her eyes.
“No critical injuries. Some bumps and bruises. Car versus truck so…” Debbie nodded her head. She’d seen enough accidents during her emergency rotation. Oh, that’s another thing she needed to review. Trauma procedures for car accidents. There was a huge section on the test about management of care and safety.
“Hey where’d you go?” Luny broken into her thoughts.
“Huh? I’m right here,” Debbie answered.
Luny pulled back from her and stared at her with a frown on his face. Debbie reached up and wiped at her chin. Had she spilled coffee on her?
“You might have been here physically but mentally?” Luny shrugged. “Let me change into some shorts and then let’s watch something mindless.”
Debbie looked at Luny then the clock. Wow, she’d been studying for ten hours. Yeah, that was enough for the day. Maybe for the test too. How much more was she going to be able to retain if she couldn’t focus her eyes? She grabbed the text books from the coffee table and dropped them on top of the box next to the couch.
Looking around the room, there were so many boxes that still needed unpacking. She shifted to push one of the boxes before it fell over. They’d both been so anxious to move but neither of them had taken the time to unpack much more than the essentials or even pick a wedding date. How the hell had they been living like this for over a month? Maybe tomorrow was a day for her to relax and organize the condo. Maybe they should talk about a wedding date.
“Okay, now what’s got you all stressed out? Debs, you are going to kill that exam. You finished in the top ten of your program and that’s not an easy feat. Please relax.” Luny came back into the room.
“Actually? I wasn’t thinking about anything having to do with medicine at all. I was thinking that we should set a wedding date and maybe, oh I don’t know, unpack some boxes,” Debbie deadpanned. It didn’t take ten seconds for Luny to realize what she had said and start to laugh.
He grabbed her by the waist and spun her around, causing her to laugh too. “I love you, Debs.”
“I love you too,” she echoed. “Now how about we pick a date?”
“You say when and I’ll be there. Mess uniform?” He guided them to sit on the couch, pulling her into his lap.
Debbie thought about that for a minute. “Would you be upset if I said no?”
“Tell me what you’re thinking then.” Luny sat there patiently, his full attention on her.
“I’m ninety-nine point nine percent sure that we will be attending many events in the future where we’ll be in formal attire?” she offered.
“Yeah, that’s a pretty good assumption.” Luny wiggled and leaned back on the couch. His right hand was rubbing up and down her thigh in a soothing motion.
“What if we just had a small ceremony at my mom’s? More toward casual then formal. Nice pants, shirt for you. Tea length dress for me. No train on the dress, no taffeta, maybe some lace.” Debbie had never really given much thought about what was her dream wedding but she just wasn’t sure that all the formality was what she wanted right now.
“Not into the princess wedding day?” Debbie looked into his face to see if he was teasing her or was serious with his question.
She nodded. “I just…” she trailed off.
“You were a daddy’s girl and he’s not here to escort you down the aisle,” Luny filled in, understanding her when she didn’t understand herself.
“Is it wrong if I don’t want to have my uncle walk me down the aisle? He’s been there for me my whole life and did all he could for me to not be left out of something after my dad died. I—” she stopped and buried her face in Luny’s shoulder as the tears came.
Debbie hadn’t even known that this was in her. She thought she’d cried all the tears over her father’s death long, long ago. Luny held her and wiped her cheeks as the tears subsided.
“So a small backyard wedding. One person standing with each of us? Nice catered meal with a two-tier cake?” she suggested.
“As you wish,” Luny replied.
Serving in the military is a hard job and even harder for those that love those in uniform. Dealing with deployment to the final respects to a soldier, the military holds tight to their traditions and family formed through it all is the backbone. Someone to help you move a couch or talk you through a PTSD patch at two am. A group of seven — the heptad— have been there done that for each and every one of them.
Jeff “Mackay” MacNamara has been there for his friends when they’ve found love and now they’re there for him in WAIT FOR ME. Danny Glenn thought that he’d lose his connection with his friends but instead, it changes when he falls for Mackay’s brother in EXPLORE WITH ME. The heptad had been there for the Army for over twenty years, maybe it was time to train the next generation to take care of the soldiers; one of those is Carter May, who served with Mackay, helped out Danny and is now learning from Mooney as he falls in love and deals with hatred in LEARN WITH ME. May is forming his own family (the mil crew and civ crew) and one of them, Randolph is extremely protective especially when May’s former best friend shows up. Seems there’s more than meets the eye to Briar Mason and they’ll learn their individual and combined strengths when they face challenges in CHALLENGE ME. Formed and biological families meet and come together to support Tank and Jack as they’ve got to figure out how to STEP UP WITH ME. ALWAYS WITH ME, readers will get to see the set of twins that first appears in WAIT FOR ME, all grown up and finding their futures and loves. BE WITH ME (the only M/F) is a prequel in that it all takes place prior to WAIT FOR ME and readers see the beginnings of the heptad as well as Mooney and Debbie’s story including the arrival of the twins.
Be With Me by Kris Jacen, the prequel to the With Me series was a wonderful addition and set the stage for an understanding of the dynamics of the series. Focused on Rafe and Debbie, the readers were regaled with their meeting, falling in love, and the way they became the patriarchs of the military group of friends- their family of choice.
We met characters of the books in the series, which we already knew the lives they would have, but it was nice to see the prior to their own stories.
I adored Rafe and Debbie. Their love at first sight story was well crafted and delivered- not forced. The life of a career military family contains many pitfalls, but just as many, if not more celebrations- and the author did a wonderful job of delivery. She never underplayed the military-civilian dynamics all the while giving us a well-rounded portrayal. Debbie was a cheerful bright spot in the story, her sense of humor infectious as her love for all things Rafe . The sexual dynamics was hot and steamed my e-reader.
The crazy nicknames everyone received had me laughing and the overall story put a smile on my face.
Be With Me was…..
A five handcuff review
~~~~2020 ©Evelise Archer All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.