The Archer Brothers Series
Publication date: May 20th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
The Archer Brothers
Here with Me
A mission gone wrong
Brothers torn apart
A race against time
Here with Us
A new beginning
A life changing decision
(Here with Me)
“EVAN, I THINK WE’RE finished for today.”
My head lifts quickly as I meet her gaze. There is a look of pity masking her smile. She can pity me. It’s understandable. If I were in her shoes I’d pity the person I am right now. I chance a look at the clock and see that I still have a few more minutes. Maybe she feels how broken I am and needs time to regroup or find someone else to fix me.
“Okay,” I say hesitantly. I’m not sure I want to go through this again with another doctor, and definitely not a military one.
The doc folds the page of her notepad over and slides it into her desk. She smiles softly. “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Ryley this morning. My schedule has been cleared this week so I can help get things resolved, or heading toward a resolution. My plan is to see you and Ryley together in the next couple of days to discuss what methods need to be implemented for both of you. My concern is EJ. You need to be able to bond with him and she understands that.”
She stands, coming over to me. “My suggestion, and I didn’t tell this to Ryley, is for you to spend some time with her. She’s hurting, Evan. While you thought everything was fine, aside from the fact that you were gone for so long, she buried you and tried to move on with her life. She’s making neither heads nor tails of what’s happening right now, but give her time without letting her slip through the cracks.”
My body sighs as I stand, as if it knows I don’t have to sit in that chair anymore. My feet shuffle toward the door, leaving the doc leaning up against her desk. “Thank you,” I say before opening the door and leaving the room.
The sun is bright and penetrating when I step out of the office. I have to shield my eyes quickly before I walk out into traffic. Once my eyes adjust, I look across the street to the park hoping to see Ryley sitting over there. If she were, it’d be so much easier to talk to her right now, although the thought of bringing her to base makes more sense to me since she wouldn’t be able to run away from me. Somehow, however, I don’t think Ryley wants to be anywhere near the base – not that I can blame her. At this point, I don’t want to be there either, except it’s the only choice I have since I’m not really welcome in my own home.
With only one other destination in mind, I text the guys and ask them to meet me. We need to figure out what’s going on. Each of our situations is different, yet we’re all experiencing the same thing. I also need to bite the bullet and call my mother. I’m not sure why I haven’t yet. I guess I’ve been waiting to see if our unearthly return would make the news, but so far nothing has been reported. Every time I learn another factoid about this deployment, I’m more convinced that it was not legit.
Pulling in front of Magoo’s, it would be easy to go drown my sorrows in beer, but I need to keep a level head about the situation. If I ask the wrong person a question, who knows what could happen? As is, someone high up has taken away my life. It doesn’t matter that I’m standing here today or not. I’m not the same person and someone needs to pay.
It’s a happy relief to walk in and be surrounded by friends. The bar stools are full of patrons, men I’ve served with in the past. Tables are thrown together to make bigger spaces and the same chairs are still here. An American flag hangs on the wall with various pictures surrounding it. All these pictures have been given or sent to Rick, the owner, for display. I refuse to look at the wall that holds all our past SEALs. I know the four of us are up there or maybe Rick has taken them down. Either way, I’m not looking, at least not today.
I’ve spent many hours trying to figure out what happened and answering all the questions I could. It’s very unsettling to know that people thought you were dead.
Heidi McLaughlin is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of The Beaumont Series, The Boys of Summer, and The Archers.
Originally, from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband, two daughters, and their three dogs.
In 2012, Heidi turned her passion for reading into a full-fledged literary career, writing over twenty novels, including the acclaimed Forever My Girl.
Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, has been adapted into a motion picture with LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe, and opened in theaters on January 19, 2018, and is now available on DVD & Digital.