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Lost and Found

An emotional, second-chance Heads or Hearts romance. 

Oceans and secrets have kept them apart…

Young lovers Mary and Tom plan to elope, but their escape is blocked by Mary’s control freak father.
They never dream it will be eight long years before they see each other again. By then, Mary is living in the US with her military husband Ed and her young son Ethan, and her world is turned upside-down when Captain Tom Pirelli of the Australian SAS arrives on her doorstep.
Now, in the midst of heartbreaking news, she has to make a seemingly impossible decision – but will Tom forgive her when she reveals the truth?


Lost and Found



THE SOFT red glow of a night vision light filled the Sea Knight helicopter’s cabin. Dressed in camouflage gear and floppy bush hats, the six members of the elite joint forces anti-terrorist squad sat alert and ready.

            ‘Five minutes out,’ came the crackling message from the pilot through their headphones.

            Tom Pirelli checked his equipment one more time. Everything was ready. His gear was strapped down and the J-hook on his automatic weapon was secured so that it couldn’t pop loose or hook him up when the team made their fast rope descent to the drop zone in the South-east Asian jungle below.              There was nothing to do now, but wait, and for a luxurious moment, he allowed his thoughts to turn away from the grim task ahead to a picture of his home – his family’s tea plantation on a sleepy green hillside, high on the Atherton Tableland in Far North Queensland.

            He’d been thinking about home a lot lately. The morning mists, the welcoming smells of baking in his mother’s kitchen in winter, and in summer, the lacy splendour of tropical ferns in his Nonna’s greenhouse.

            It was a long time – too damn long – since he’d seen his family. But since he’d joined the Australian Special Air Services, he’d been posted to so many foreign hot spots and had been home so rarely, he’d almost forgotten how much he loved the old place. Yeah, it had definitely been too long.

            A rap on his shoulder snapped him back to the present. Ed McBride, one of the US Rangers who’d teamed with the SAS for this joint forces mission, was leaning towards him.                                 

‘Can you do me a favour, man?’ Ed shouted above the whining engines and the roar of the rotors.

            ‘What kind of favour?’ Tom’s eyes narrowed as he tried to read Ed’s expression – not easy given that his face was blackened in readiness for the night’s task.

            ‘Take this.’ Ed thrust a watch into Tom’s hand – not a high-tech serviceman’s watch, but a gold civilian job – an old fashioned one at that. The kind that accompanied the golden handshake when old codgers retired. ‘Can you stick it in your pocket and look after it for me?’

            ‘You don’t need me to look after your stuff.’

            ‘Come on, man. Just this once. In case anything happens to me.’

            Tom frowned. ‘Don’t talk rubbish, mate. This mission’s going to be a cake walk.’

            ‘I know, I know, but just humour me on this and take the damn watch.’

            Turning the watch over, Tom saw that the back was engraved and he used his penlight to read the inscription. To Robert Edward McBride. In appreciation. January 10, 1925.

            ‘It was my great-grandfather’s watch,’ Ed yelled. ‘It’s been handed down through the family. My Dad passed it on to me and I want to keep it safe for my boy.’

            ‘For your son?’


            The team didn’t talk too much about their families – it was if talking about home might soften them somehow and in this deadly game they couldn’t afford any kind of distraction. But Tom knew Ed had a wife and son back in Virginia. He’d seen a photo of the little fellow. The boy had been wearing his father’s cap and his face was in shadow, but he’d gained the impression that the youngster was sturdy and cute, with a cheeky grin.

            He shoved the watch back against Ed’s closed hand. ‘You keep this for your kid. It’ll be perfectly safe with you.’


            The urgency in Ed’s voice sent a chill spiking down Tom’s spine.

            ‘Do it for me,’ Ed pleaded.  ‘Just this once.’

            ‘Don’t talk crap,’ Tom shouted angrily. What was eating Ed? Special operatives never lost their cool. Never showed fear. Or doubt.

            But deep down he knew what Ed was trying to say. It was a feeling a soldier could get – a premonition that something was going to go wrong.

            ‘Please, Tom,’ Ed insisted. ‘I thought we were buddies.’

            ‘Well, yeah, of course we are. We’re more than buddies. We’re mates.’

            It was true. He genuinely liked this American with his constant smile, spiky blonde crewcut and marine blue eyes. Ed was a crack soldier and an all-round great guy. Easy-going, salt of the earth, apple pie and fourth of July all rolled into one six-foot, muscle-bound package. A walking-talking-fighting Good Guy.

            Tom hadn’t expected to become close friends with the American, but he and Ed had formed a unique bond. They respected each other. Without question they trusted each other’s considerable battle skills, and they shared a similar outlook as well as a similar string of military decorations. But beyond that they shared something more important – a sense of humour that had helped them in the grimmer moments.

            Until now.

            Tom looked again at the gold watch. There was nothing particularly fancy about it. Its value could only be sentimental. And this was not a time for sentiment.

            ‘One minute out.’

            The signal was given for the team to unbuckle their seat belts and move to the ramp at the rear of the chopper.

            Their craft dropped to a hover and the men stood, bracing themselves. Ed would be the fifth man to descend the fast rope, while Tom, who was the squad’s leader, would bring up the rear.

            ‘Please!’ Ed yelled once more, holding the watch out to Tom.

            Already, the assigned soldier was shoving the coiled rope off the ramp and leaning out as he watched it fall to the ground. Then he signalled to Zeke, the first man to descend. Zeke grabbed the rope with both hands, hooked it with one foot, pivoted, jumped clear of the ramp, and disappeared, sliding down.

            Tom sighed. ‘OK, give it here,’ he said, taking the watch from Ed and zipping it quickly into an inner pocket. ‘But I’ll be giving this bloody thing straight back to you just as soon as this mission is over.’

            He lowered his night goggles and Ed’s teeth flashed green as he grinned. 

            ‘Thanks bud,’ he called back to Tom, then, still grinning, he turned, ready to descend.