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Andy vs. the Colonel

Andy vs. the Colonel by Gwynn Morgan
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Captain Andrea "Andy" Hollis, Executive Officer of the Twenty Fourth Signal Brigade, is a model junior officer. Growing up a tomboy Air Force brat, she's pursuing an Army career, resolving to be a soldier first and a woman second. For Andy, military correctness is the only way to go-until her principles and perspectives are put to test with the arrival of new Brigade Commander, Colonel Cory Costain, who is far too attractive for Andy's peace of mind.

An easy going extrovert who prefers to treat his subordinates as friends, Cory is determined to get his stiff and starchy Executive Officer to unbend and join the human race-and be all the woman he knows she can be.

Thrown together in the torrid tropics when war breaks out in Central America, Andy and Cory learn all is fair in love and war. But which is it to be? Cory's weapons of choice are tender words, smoldering glances, and gentle touches. It's a hard-fought struggle until Andy finds you sometimes have to lose to win.

Awe-Struck Publishing; September 2002
124 pages; ISBN 9781587493034
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Title: Andy vs. the Colonel
Author: Gwynn Morgan
A glance at her watch told Andy it was eleven thirty. Maybe it wouldhelp to get out, breathe some fresh air and grab lunch at the PostExchange snack bar. Although it was October, the sun was still bright andwarm at midday. Leaving the 24th?s offices, Andy walked briskly down thesidewalk which divided the historical two story buildings housing theFort's many offices from the parade ground. It was a smooth expanse ofgrass bordered by ancient cottonwood trees.

For a moment, she forgot the aggravations of her job and let herselfenjoy the beautiful fall day. She drank in the golden warmth and restedher eyes with the pleasant harmony of blue sky, green grass and gildedleaves. Those huge trees had probably turned a hundred times, witnessedcavalry drills and watched the mule mounted infantry that had guarded theborder during World War I. The Army had a fine sense of history whichgave Andy a secure, rooted feeling.

At the end of the block, she turned to cross the street. A pickuptruckpulled up and stopped even with her. Several years old, its once-bright,metallic-blue paint had faded and spots of rust marred its finish.

"Excuse me, Ma'am, can you point me to the In-processing Section ofMILPO?". The driver turned a pleasantly weathered face to her as hespoke. He wore a well-used gray Stetson and a plaid western shirt, mostlyblue, the shade perfectly matching his eyes. He spoke in an easy drawl,completely in tune with his rugged, outdoorsy appearance.

Andy could not hide all of her surprise. Why would a cowboy need tofindMilitary Personnel In-processing? She couldn't imagine him in uniform.Still, from habit, she answered with reasonable courtesy, pointing as shespoke. "See that fourth building on the right? In-processing's on thesecond floor, enlisted at the north end. I'm not sure if they close atlunch time or not."

"Thank you, Captain. Reckon I'll just have to go see, won't I?"The mansmiled then, and she gulped. That was a smile and a half. The images of acouple of her favorite old time western movie stars flashed across hermind.

"You're welcome. Have a nice day." Andy replied automatically, stillcurious. Why, she amended, did a gorgeous hunk of a cowboy need to findIn-processing? Well, it wasn't her concern. She turned and started away.

"Ma'am?" The gentle drawling voice arrested her step. "Thought youmight not know it, but you've got a nasty run in your hose, up the leftleg there."

For a startled instant, Andy whirled back and stared at the man. Histone and expression were both carefully neutral, but something about himstill said ?gotcha,? loud and clear.

Just who did he think he was? He might be good looking, but he reallywas crude! Andy huffed, faced around, and marched on toward herdestination. Not until she was safely inside the PX did she stop andcheck her nylons.

Darn it, he was right. She did have a run, a big one. It went from herankle clear up over her knee to vanish under her skirt. She hated toappear anything short of perfect when in uniform, and that sure ruinedthe effect. Why hadn't she noticed before she left the office? This wasturning out to be a lousy day!

* * *

But the worst was yet to come. Why should Colonel Standish be outof theoffice when his replacement arrived? He'd told Andy they were oldbuddies. Not only was he out but Stacy too, leaving only Andy herself andSergeant Rita Perez, her enlisted clerk.

Buried under the constant deluge of paper, Andy barely heard the outerdoor open and Rita's pleasant greeting, perfectly correct for someonedressed in civilian clothes.

"Good afternoon. How may I help you?"

The reply caught her attention. It pulled her to her feet and acrosstoward her open door before she actually registered anything familiarabout the low drawling voice.

"I was hopin' to have a few minutes with Colonel Standish."

"I'm sorry, but he's not in this afternoon. I think they're picking uphis household goods. His wife is in poor health, so he wanted to be therehimself. This is his last week on duty here, you know. Could someone elsehelp you?" Rita gushed, her tone almost sugary.

Why was she being so much more effusive than normal? If Rita was almostfalling over herself in an effort to be helpful, Andy had to wonder why.The young sergeant was usually much too casual, about as likely to say"Yo, dude" as "Yes, sir."

Then Andy reached the door, looked out, and understood. The visitor hadhis back to her, but she recognized the blue plaid shirt and the wideshoulders. What business did he have in Twenty Fourth Signal?

"Maybe Captain Hollis, the Exec . . . ," he was saying.

"I'm right here, Sergeant Perez." As always when caught off guard, Andyfell back on military courtesy, the stiffer the better.

At the sound of her voice the visitor turned, a smooth facing turnbetraying long familiarity with military drill. The motion was oddly atvariance with his dusty, scuffed cowboy boots and the faded jeans whichfit his narrow hips and long, lean legs like a well made glove. He lookedat her, one eyebrow cocked quizzically, surprise and only the merest hintof recognition in his faded blue eyes.

"Captain Hollis . . ." he said, with barely perceptible hesitation,"I'mColonel Cory Costain."

Andy shut her mouth sharply, the only way to keep from blurting atorrent of profanity. No! It couldn't be, it just couldn't. But it was.Same hat, same shirt, same ruggedly appealing face and lazy drawlingvoice.

Andy felt her face redden as the same barnyard epithet keptrepeating inher mind. She shut her eyes and fought the maelstrom of embarrassment andregret. And she'd been concerned about first impressions - EnlistedIn-processing, she'd said, assuming. Ohmigod! No, no, no!

There was only one thing she could possibly do: drag out the very bestof her rigid military courtesy and pretend the other incident had neverhappened. What would she say and do, how would she act if she had neverlaid eyes on Colonel Costain before? That's exactly what she'd say anddo.

Cory took a deep breath and counted backwards from ten. For a longmoment, neither spoke. They simply looked at each other. He felt sureCaptain Hollis also mulled the consequences of an event which neither ofthem could erase, however much they both might wish it. So much for firstimpressions.Oh hell, what have I done to deserve this? Earlier, he really hadn'tnoticed much about her appearance. He'd been too aware of her attitude,but now he did notice. Captain Hollis might be spit and polish, evensnooty and stuffy, but she was also attractive, damned attractive inspite of herself.

She wore no obvious makeup and her short, dark brown hair sleekedinto asimple, almost severe style. She was clearly a woman who had no intentionof flaunting her femininity, not that she needed to. A man could not denyor ignore it. She had snapped to attention when he identified himself,which put her shoulders back and lifted to prominence the curve of herbreasts.

Under that crisp and carefully tailored uniform, he'd bet she hid afantastic figure. He could see just enough hints of it to speed hispulse. Even if she did wear the lowest heels available on the officialblack pumps, her legs were definitely great. He remembered he'd beenlooking at them when he spotted that unfortunate run.

He didn't usually pay so much attention to a woman's appearance, butthere was just something about Captain Hollis. She wore the dressuniform instead of the camouflage Battle Dress Utilities or 'BDUs', inwhich almost everyone looked bulky and untidy. In the tailored uniform,she appeared neat and precise, almost recruiting-poster perfect. Thecontrast of that with her undeniable feminine attributes struck himforcibly.

She finally spoke, with almost robotic formality. "Welcome aboard, sir.I'm Captain Andy Hollis. At present, I'm the Brigade XO. When did youarrive on post, sir?"

This time he recognized her voice: the same one he'd heard on the phonewhen he called from Korea. It had nagged at the back of his mind eversince. Now he knew why. Though low pitched, it was definitely a femininevoice. How could he have missed that?

Down two strikes already. There was just one thing to do: pretend he'dnever seen her before. Cory knew he wasn't good at conning himself, buthe'd better try. He could use military courtesy too, when necessary. Hestood a little straighter, called up his command presence, and gave backas good as he got.

"I just arrived, Captain. At ease, please. This is a very unofficialvisit. Standish and I go back a ways. I hoped I couldcatch him for a few minutes, but since he's not here, I'll get out ofyour way."

Cory forced himself to relax, revealing none of the tension and dismayhe felt. This assignment wasn't going to be the comfortable last posthe'd hoped for after all, was it?

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