by Robyn Carr, author of Bring Me Home for Christmas (HQN Books)
When I was in high school, I dated a guy a couple years older than me. We dated straight through high school and college. The Vietnam war was in full swing. When my future husband was just a few months from graduation, there was a national event that would change the course of our lives—the draft. I remember sitting up late in my dorm room while my fiancé and his roommates stayed up listening for their draft numbers, announced by birth date. It was said that the first 250 numbers would be called to serve.
I married number 53.
I was one of the lucky ones—my husband didn’t go to war. A few years later I was a young Air Force wife, living in military housing on the base. I was actively involved with other military wives, providing whatever support we could for our spouses and our community. One of the things we were privileged to do was welcome home our troops. At that time, they were some very significant returning heroes. We wives had a phone tree—I answered, heard the news, made a couple of calls, then loaded the baby in my backpack and my toddler in the stroller and headed for the flight line to welcome home returning POWs. The whole base turned out; a red carpet unfurled toward the transport jet, a band played, the flag was raised, the commanding officers stood at attention and saluted. When the pomp was done, the man’s family burst free of the ranks and ran to a returning husband and father.
A little over thirty years later I welcomed my son home from Iraq. By the grace of God, he returned to us whole and ready to do more of the Army’s work.
It should come as no surprise that the theme of returning warriors, men and women who have served faithfully, would occupy much of my mind and heart. In my new Virgin River book, Bring Me Home for Christmas, we meet Denny Cutler, a young man who has twice deployed, once to Iraq and then to Afghanistan. Before his second deployment, he tried to do the brave, generous thing in breaking up with his girlfriend, the young woman he was going to marry, hoping to give her that year free of stress and fear. Well, it backfired. Completely. Becca Timm was hurt and felt abandoned; she had wanted to wait for Denny. When he returned to her, he found he was too late—she had done what he told her to do. She had moved on. So Denny went to Virgin River to make a new home for himself, to get on with his own life.
But young love can be stubborn. Denny has wondered if he made the biggest mistake of his life; Becca has asked herself if she was too hasty and should never have let him get away. There’s only one way to find out—Becca goes to Virgin River in search of Denny, looking for the answer. Are they meant to be? It’s destiny that they find their answer during the magic of Christmas in Virgin River.
Countless military families experience reunion stories on a daily basis—sometimes joyous, sometimes painful, sometimes bittersweet.
In response to my desire to honor our men and women who serve and their families, Harlequin Enterprises is hosting a wonderful contest. Between November 1 and December 15 we are asking military families to submit their own homecoming stories for a chance to win amazing prizes. The first place prize will be a family vacation for up to four people, anywhere in North America or the Caribbean; a $500 gift card from Wal-Mart, a family portrait and a signed copy of Bring Me Home for Christmas. The entry form and rules can be found at www.HoldOutForAHero.com. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges at Harlequin.
So many have waited at the military base or post, at the airport or bus depot, and know first hand how slowly those seconds tick by as they wait to bring their heroes home. Too many have experienced holidays without their heroes. We know only too well that home is not a geographical destination. Rather, it is a place in the heart where we hold our heroes with the strength of our love.
Until we can bring all our heroes home, come and celebrate the holiday with us in Virgin River. I promise you a magical time.