Soldier Mine (Chapter Five: Claudia, page 1 of 7)

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I buy Todd's phone in the morning, before work and set him up on a monthly plan. I'm out all of my savings, but holding the device brings a smile to my face, along with a trickle of hope.

What I'm not expecting to see when I arrive to work is Petr. He's seated in the same booth as yesterday. Mornings are quiet on Saturdays, when the downtown businesses are closed or opening late. I pause as I walk through the door. He's facing the door this time and waves.

I did my own research online to verify his story and ensure he wasn't a psycho. He's not. If anything, he's the town's much loved war hero, a man wealthy enough to pay for other injured soldiers and vets to receive additional medical care.

He's what I would've called a good guy before my life went to shit.

But seeing him here … knowing he knows where I work and when I might be in … it stirs my sense of paranoia, the instinct that's kept me alive and also interfered with my ability to trust anyone.

Without returning the wave, I go to the staff area at the back of the kitchen and tuck my coat into my assigned cubbyhole. I pull on my apron and finger his card. I left it there purposely yesterday instead of taking it home with me, as if the card itself was one of the two people who invaded my life yesterday.

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