There were only two people who could be calling for me.  I bolted from the Adirondack chair, leaving behind the blanket and book I borrowed from Miles’ library.

I ran back up to the house, tripping my way up the stairs, and nearly sacking Matt as I blew past him to get to Miles’ office.  I flopped in the chair in front of the computer. “Dad?”  I asked in strained breath.

“Yeah, you ok?”  He laughed.  His resonant and relaxed voice instantly put my heart at ease.   I knew without even having to ask that he and David were just fine.  The lines around his eyes were exaggerated-his smile, genuine.  Fortunately, weapon systems weren’t the only technological advancement during the war on terror.  Upgrading to face to face phone calls was a much relished luxury.

“So, how are my favorite Jarheads?”  I asked.

“Sweat all day, shiver all night.  I‘m probably having more fun than you,” he said.  The sad part was, he probably wasn’t exaggerating.  He loved being a Marine so much, that I almost believed he was having a good time of it.

“Oh…So it sucks,” I laughed.

“How is everything going for you there? Have you been out on the water yet?  I hear Alex is quite the sailor.”

“Alex sails?”  I asked, surprised.  “We’re supposed to go out today,” I grumbled.  “I’m hoping the weather over rules the plan.  But, other than the threat of forced sea-faring, it’s been surprisingly relaxing.  Mr. Hamlin has tons of really old, original edition books.  I started on Pride and Prejudice today.”

I’d started reading it once for an essay I had to write, but my inner romantic never appeared long enough to make it through.  I copped out with the Sparks notes abbreviated version.  This place, the house, the garden, even the Hamlin‘s air of manner, reminded me of a time period where a Mr. Darcy could really exist.  I decided to give it a second shot and read the entire story.  It feels more real somehow when the pages are yellowed and the binding creaks.

My dad’s voice grew softer.  “Well, that sounds great Katherine.  I’m glad it all worked out.”  I attributed his tired voice to the long days and the fourteen hour time difference.

“How’s David doing?  Is he around?”  I asked.

“David’s doing well for his first deployment.  He’s going over some road maps for an up coming convoy, so he can’t talk, but next week you’ll talk to him, ok?”

“Fair enough,” I replied.

I tried not to sound sad when dad drew our talks to a close, but I wasn’t ready to let him go yet; to send him back to the war.

“Hey, Katherine” he started, “I love you, ok?  No matter what, that will never change.  You make me so proud, you’ve turned out to be quite an amazing young lady, don’t ever change a thing.”

I didn’t like how he said no matter what.  It vaguely sounded like he wasn’t sharing something with me.  The words sent a rush of chills through me and an overwhelming feeling of fear struck deep in my stomach.  “Is everything ok?”  I asked.


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