Loving Colt(2)

By: C.A. Harms

“That sweet man just bought the two of you dinner.” She placed her hand on my shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “There’s kind people out there, sweetheart. Colt Thompson is a good man.”

Her final words left an emptiness in my chest. A good man. I wasn’t sure they existed anymore.

Besides my father, I didn’t know many others. Troy, Maddison’s father, was a good man—a man who gave his life for his country and never got the chance to know he was gonna be a father.

My brother was also a good man, but other than those few, I was starting to feel as though good men were only mythical.

Chapter One


I sat in a musty chair at the side of the motel bed, staring at my little girl curled tightly in her favorite blanket in the center of it. The moonlight peeking in through the parted curtain highlighted her little form.

My mind raced with fear and uneasiness. How did I get to this point? How could I have let it all go this far?

I had moved across the country to be with Troy. We were introduced by a mutual friend when he was on leave with a fellow soldier. They were vacationing in Florida, and I was hooked the moment I saw him. Blond hair, blue eyes, and a sweet smile. I had no hope. I was a senior in high school and fell hard for the marine from Cali.

After high school graduation, the choice was easy. I chose the college closest to the man who held my heart. Every chance we got, we were together.

The only family he had was his mother, who at the time was in her late sixties. Troy was a shock to her when he was conceived but, as his momma put it, he was the best gift she had ever received.

Now she was in a nursing home with dementia and, on her good days, she remembered she once had a son. She got worse and worse daily.

We had planned to get married one day, and I would have followed him anywhere. He was deployed at the beginning of my senior year at San Diego State University.

A little over a month later my world was shattered.

PFC Troy Aaron Walters died on active duty.

The moment I heard those words, a piece of me died too. Five days after I lost my best friend, I found out I was carrying his baby. And once again, I shattered. It wasn’t because I was pregnant, but because Troy would never get to meet his child.

For weeks I could barely get out of bed; on most days it was a struggle even to open my eyes. I thought about going back home, but I loved California. I loved my school and my friends. Leaving there would be like leaving him behind, and I couldn’t stomach that. It was the place that held all our memories.

So with the help of some good friends and the counselor at school, I pulled myself together.

The day my daughter was born was one of the greatest days of my life. On that day, I knew a piece of Troy was given back to me. I could look at my little girl and see the man I fell in love with. She was the little slice of heaven he had sent back to keep me going.

Maddi stirred on the bed and mumbled a few words before her breathing evened out and she drifted off into a deeper sleep.

Tears burned at the backs of my eyes, as I thought over the events of the last year. Looking back, I know I should have just gone back home to Florida.

After Troy’s death, I focused solely on Maddison Erin Walters—my angel, my gift from Troy. She is and will always be the center of my world.

I never even considered dating or getting involved with any man after Troy. It was the furthest thing from my mind until nine months ago. Just after Maddison’s fourth birthday party, she and I had gone for ice cream. On the way home, we were stranded with a flat tire.

Seth Trowbridge, the sweet-talking man, came to our rescue. We had been friends for a long time but, until then, I had never given his flirty behavior a second thought. I blamed it on those damn blue eyes. Those eyes pulled at something deep inside me, and I suddenly felt alive again. He laid it on thick that day. I fell for it, even though I told myself I wasn’t ready.

I should have walked away the first time he raised his voice at me. I blamed it on the alcohol he had consumed. He was a different person when he drank, and after that night outside of the restaurant, I knew what I had to do. I had to get away. I had to save myself from being another victim at the hands of an abusive man.

I spent over an hour watching Maddison sleep soundly in the motel bed. A heavy weight pressed in all around me, as I let “what ifs” play out in my mind. It was a game I played often with myself.

What if Troy had made it home safely?

What if I had just gone home after his death?

My mother and sister both called me often, trying to convince me to pack up. My brother always threatened to come kidnap me and force me to move back to Florida. I was the middle child, surrounded by those who felt they needed to shelter me. I just needed to feel like I could do it on my own.