“Sergeant Major, the squad is ready.” Riggs says as he grabs my bag and carries it out of the room. I place the bundle of Katie’s letters in my daypack and sling it over my shoulder. I’m keeping the essentials with me as we travel back home, the rest of my stuff going into cargo.
I wrote one final letter to her, and I’m mailing it out today. It will take me a couple of days to get back home, but if I time it right, she’ll get it after I arrive.
I’m not allowed to tell her exactly when I’m coming home. Troops can’t divulge any movement in an area, even if it means telling family when we’re leaving. It’s too dangerous and would give away positions, so in order to keep everyone safe, the date is secret.
As luck would have it, I’m touching down in South Carolina first, our entire platoon meeting at Parris Island. Once I dismiss my men, they can travel back home while I finish up my paperwork for retirement. Nothing moves fast in the Marine Corps, but it shouldn’t take too long. I’ll just have to sign documents and then I’ll be able to leave.
I’ll be free to do what I want. And at the top of that list is Katie Lovely.
I keep worrying about what’s going to happen when she sees me. Will she be upset I just showed up at her house? Will she turn me away? Will she run up and hug me and tell me she’s been waiting?
Our squad had a few hours of leave and I was able to find a phone and call her. She’d given me her number a long time ago when I asked for it, ‘just in case.’ We only had a few hours to talk, but every second of that, I spent on the phone with her.
We talked and talked, but I can’t remember what was said. I just remember my face hurting from smiling and my belly aching from laughing so much.
Her voice, goddamn, her voice. I could have lain there for days just listening to her. It made going back to letters a little harder after that, knowing what it was like to hear her say my name, knowing how pleasurable it was to listen to her soft giggles.
One day I’ll tell her about how many times I jerked off after that phone call, remembering her soft sighs and thinking about her mouth. Jesus, I came so many times, it was comical. But afterwards, when we left, I was sad for a few days because I wasn’t able to hear her voice again. It was a big crash after such an amazing high.
When I got her next letter, though, it was nice to read it with her voice in my head. It was if she was reading it to me, and it made it a little easier to take.
“Is that all, Sergeant Major?” Riggs has come back in and awaits my instructions. I hold out the letter to him.
“Make sure this gets in the outpost today. The squad that’s staying behind still has mail going in and out. And tell them I want whatever is sent to my attention returned to the sender. Understood?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major.” He takes the letter and leaves as I join my squad.
* * *
I’ve been on the plane for a few hours now, and everyone is settled in for a long flight. I close my eyes and lean my head back, trying to get some sleep. I do the same thing I always do every time I close my eyes.
I think about Katie.
I remember her bright eyes from the pictures she sent me. Her gorgeous red hair, her delicate fingers twisting a lock around them. Her soft creamy skin begging me to kiss it. Her full lips smiling at me, laughing in a few of them. I have etched into my mind every single detail of her. I could die tonight and if a few pictures and her voice were all I ever got, I’d die a happy man.
I know this is all crazy and seems so ridiculous, but I’ve fallen in love with a woman I’ve never met. Yet she knows me better than anyone on this planet. She has seen what’s truly inside my heart, and she’s brought out the best parts of me.
Katie did all this from the other side of the world. I can hardly imagine what holding her in my arms will do to me.
I run my finger along the edge of the envelope. I’ve been staring at it for over five minutes now. The return-to-sender message stamped across the front makes my head spin.
I haven’t gotten a letter from Mark in over a week, which isn’t normal for us, and now I got my last one back in the mail. My stomach rolls at the possibilities of what this could mean.
“You ready?” I glance over my shoulder to see Tammy standing behind me, all dressed up and ready to go out in a black, form-fitting dress that shows off her long legs. I’m sure her husband is going to give her shit about wearing that dress, but that’s probably why she did it. She likes when he goes all caveman on her, and I have to admit it’s cute when he does. It’s something I’d love to have for myself one day.