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The Lieutenant's Lost and Found Family

Written by Christy Jeffries

Chapter Five

Two blocks later, they reached what appeared to be the end of the parade. Harper dropped to her knees, adjusting the wonder suit, as she’d called it, and the dog turned his soulful brown eyes at Nolan as though to say, Please get me out of this ridiculous outfit.

I’m working on it, buddy, Nolan tried to communicate back.

“So then what do we do now?” Abby asked him, nodding toward the child who had her arms lovingly wrapped around his dog’s neck.

“Do about what?”

“About Clark.”

“You mean Thor.” Nolan wasn’t trying to be contradictory, but who in the world would call a dog Clark? The name made no sense. “I can give you the reward money I’d offered on the lost posters I hung all over the coast of North Carolina.”

“I don’t want your reward money. I want—” A crease appeared above her pert little nose. “Wait. Did you say North Carolina?”

“Yes. I’m stationed at Camp Lejeune. Didn’t the animal shelter tell you that Thor was a hurricane refugee from there?”

“They mentioned him coming in on some type of pet rescue flight. So you lost him?”

“No. I was on deployment and my neighbor Burt, the guy you saw in the pictures, was supposed to be watching Thor. But, well, with the mandatory evacuations and all the flooding, the streets were chaotic and I guess the emergency responders didn’t know Thor was still in the house. Animal control officers found him wandering the streets and took him to a temporary pet shelter, which was bursting at the seams. They then put him on a Paws in the Air plane and flew him to their sister shelter outside of Boise. At least, that’s what the foster coordinator at the Spring Forest animal rescue was able to piece together.”

“You mean you tracked the dog all the way here?” Abby’s eyes narrowed, but her full lips opened slightly, drawing Nolan’s gaze to her mouth.

He took off his ball cap and ran a hand through his hair. “I’m recon forces, ma’am. Tracking down information is my job.”

“I wasn’t calling into question your abilities, or even your dedication to your dog.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest and his attention went from her lush pink lips to the rounded breasts pushed up against her thin sweater. “I was just pointing out that there’s quite a bit of distance between where we both live.”

Sensing a battle, Nolan crossed his arms over his chest this time. “And I’d willingly travel twice that distance—and more—to find my dog.”

“But what if your dog is happier here?” she challenged.

“Sorry, ma’am. I plan to take Thor home to North Carolina with me.”

Unfortunately, the little girl had just walked the dog over to them and the tears filling her eyes indicated she’d heard Nolan’s words.

“Is he trying to steal my dog?” Harper didn’t even come up to her sister’s waist, but her voice was powerful enough to make everyone on the street turn and stare in their direction.

Nolan’d escaped from behind enemy lines and survived an IED explosion. But the sound of Harper’s tears gutted him, making him wonder for the first time whether this mission he’d embarked on might actually be harder to pull off than he thought.

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Christy Jeffries

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