This truism is now the official motto of the Marine Corps League. The origin of the statement is credited to a gung-ho Marine Corps master sergeant, Paul Woyshner.
During a barroom argument he shouted, “Once a Marine, always a Marine!” MSgt. Woyshner was right. Once the title “U.S. Marine” has been earned, it is retained. There are no ex-Marines or former-Marines. There are active duty Marines, retired Marines, reserve Marines, and Marine veterans.
Nonetheless, once one has earned the title, he remains a Marine for life. - USMC Heritage
Last November, a friend of mine and fellow author suggested that I take a look at the 1Night Stand line. I’d heard of several of the titles, but one of the drawbacks to being an author is not as much time to read, as I might like. I finished up one book just as Thanksgiving rolled around, so I treated myself to a few books to read during the holiday. On Black Friday, I woke up with an idea. That idea became Once Her Man, Always Her Man.
The story is a classic tale of first love lost and found again. Only it comes with a bit of a twist, Luke Dexter was just barely eighteen when 9/11 happened. He lost a mother and a sister on one of the flights and it changed his whole life. His father, a retired Marine, returned to active duty with Luke hot on his heels, but Luke left someone behind: Rebecca.
It was how he left her behind that affected her so much. Luke told himself it was the honorable choice to not make her wait…whether it was waiting for him to come home or waiting to hear he died. He enlisted in the Marines and served his country. Retirement brought him back to the Dallas area, along with many of the men he served with on a mission to create a place to helped Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and more reintegrate into civilian life, rehabilitate injuries and even provide counseling for their families.
Having believed that there was no I in team for most of his life, Luke along with all of his men signed up for Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand in a show of solidarity for the men and women in his unit that needed the opportunity and outlet to make those intimate connections. Imagine his surprise when he discovers his 1Night Stand courtesy of Madame Eve is Rebecca, the girl he left behind.
The story of Luke and Rebecca as well as all of his Marines became very personal for me. Once Her Man, Always Her Man is the first of five Always A Marine
Fulfilling a favor and executing a business plan, Luke Dexter arrived at Dallas’ Sybarite Club for a one-night stand. He never imagined that in the darkened club with bluesy strains of jazz playing he’d come face to face with the woman he left behind a decade earlier.
Rebecca Rainier fell in love with Luke Dexter in high school and was crushed when he dumped her to join the Marines after 9/11. Now, waiting for a date her best friend and business partner set up, she’s unprepared when Luke walks in.
Can Luke and Rebecca bridge the pain of a decade long abandonment in one cold Texas night?
Luke’s chest hurt, but he braced himself against it. Shock wrinkled the line between her brows, the emotion far more brutal to him than a firefight in Kandahar or Kabul. She didn’t turn to look at him. But her reflection in the mirror didn’t soften. The familiar, flirtatious smile fled from the cool, firm line of her lips. Color drained from the face of the woman who shifted on the bar stool. Movement to his right caught his attention. A man approached, intent on her, but meeting Luke’s iron expression, the would-be interloper diverted to another table.
Satisfied, his attention returned to the girl—no, the woman—gazing at him, pain etching the softness of her lips. The memory of her lips got him through Paris Island. He’d thought about them, about her smile, every single, damn day.
“Hello, Luke.” Her voice poured over him like warm honey.
Life doesn’t always offer second chances….
“May I join you?” He nodded to the stool next to her.
“It’s a free country.” And just like that, she turned her back and the warm honey chilled, hardening over his chest.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He tacked the ma’am on as an afterthought. But the steel wrapped in her velvety voice jabbed his kidneys. Perching on the edge of the stool, he motioned to the bartender. “Two more of whatever the lady is having.”
She watched him from the mirror. Hungriness reflected in the gold flecked, tawny brown eyes, a perfect contrast to the tight jaw and stiff fingers wrapped around her wine glass. She tossed back a third of a glass like a shot of vodka.
A shot of vodka sounded like a great idea. But he needed his wits about him. IEDs laced the battlefield in front of him and patience and procedure and about eighty-five pounds of protective gear weren’t handy. But the trick to survival was to examine what was right in front of him and to react to it. He could do that in the field, he could do that with her. It was what he did best.
After the bartender served the drinks and took his credit card, Luke sat sideways, intentionally brushing his leg against hers. She didn’t recoil—exactly—but did shift away after a few seconds.
Definitely treading in dangerous waters.
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