Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers

Cheryl Reavis

March 2017 $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-762-5

No man left behind . . .

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No man left behind . . .

Marine Sergeant Joshua Caven

Josh finally has his shattered personal life in some kind of order. He has found the family he never knew he had, and thanks to them, he can do his duty and complete his deployment in Afghanistan, knowing his baby daughter is safe. It should be smooth sailing . . . until Chris Young—the living, breathing reason his wife abandoned him and their baby—is assigned to his unit.

Corporal Danny Benton

Danny knows the Marine Corps basically saved his life, but he still feels guilty for joining—escaping—and leaving his younger brother to deal with their alcoholic father. But there’s nothing he can do except be the best Marine he can be and to come home and marry his girl. He has no reason to think she won’t wait for him—until a Dear John letter arrives.

Hospital Corpsman Chris Young

It’s hard enough to be a sand sailor working with a group of Marines, but when his unit is headed up by the man he unwittingly betrayed, it definitely gets uncomfortable. Then an encounter with local hostiles goes horribly wrong and both men are wounded. And while Chris’s wounds aren’t serious, the guilt is eating him up. Because his Sergeant is in the hospital, fighting for his life. All because he saved Chris’s . . .

A Marine does his duty, no matter what. But what none of them expects is to have their upended lives suddenly made even more complicated by . . . love.

An award-winning published author, Cheryl Reavis’s literary short stories have appeared in a number of "little magazines” such as The Crescent Review, Sanskrit, The Bad Apple, The Emrys Journal, and the Greensboro Group’s statewide competition anthology, WRITER’S CHOICE. Her contemporary romance novel, A CRIME OF THE HEART, reached millions of readers in Good Housekeeping magazine. She has won the Romance Writers of America’s coveted RITA award four times, and she is a four-time finalist.


Coming Soon!



Helmand Province, Afghanistan

JOSH CAVEN THOUGHT he heard a baby crying. He stopped ab­ruptly, raising a clenched fist to signal his fire teams and dropping down on one knee until he could decide where the sound was coming from. Normally, the compound should have been empty—if there was such a thing as "normal” in this place. The heat and the smell of wounded earth, manure and stagnant water rose around him. Cornstalks creaked from time to time in a random, nearly non-existent breeze. He forced himself to ignore all of it.

He could hear the baby again, a crying, hungry baby, and maybe other children as well. He wasn’t sure. It was a hard thing, never being sure. Friend or foe? Alive or suddenly dead? In his experience, com­pound inhabitants—especially the ones with children—left for some­where safer during the day and then returned at night.

So why hadn’t they?

The crying stopped before he could tell where exactly it was coming from, then after a long interval of silence, the baby started up again. It was clearly in distress, and man, he hated that sound. His mind went immediately to Elizabeth, his tough little girl. She had never cried much, not even when he had taken her to the base clinic for her baby shots, or worse, when Angie had left them both, left him with nothing but an empty bed and a few scribbled lines on the back of an unpaid credit card bill. And every single day since he’d deployed, he wondered if Elizabeth might be missing him now, crying now.

No. Grace, his "almost” mother, had her. For a long time, even be­fore he ever reached out to her, he had believed Grace James to be his birth mother. But she had turned out to be his first cousin, once re­moved or some kind of thing. All he knew was DNA didn’t lie, and as Grace had put it, regardless of what the genetic link actually was, "You are ours.” Elizabeth would be fine with her and Grace’s two teenage daughters. It was still so new to him, suddenly having the kind of hands-on, loving and involved family he’d always wanted, for himself and subsequently for Elizabeth. He already thought of all of them as "his girls.” He would never have had that kind of family with Angie. He had always known it, even in the beginning when she had wanted him and the marriage, even before she’d abruptly left him and their baby for another man.

He looked sharply to his left at a different sound. Women’s voices, one of them sounding as upset as the crying baby. He could hear alarmed chickens and see a dog that hadn’t barked. There was no doubt now that the compound was occupied, and his choice was clear. Stay in the cornfield where there would be no cover in a firefight and no way to use the metal detector to locate random IEDs, or head for the com­pound walls and the maze of dirt alleyways where IEDs were certain to be planted. He glanced over his shoulder. His guys were belly down and ready, waiting for him to make up his mind. He mentally took note of where they all were, especially Danny Benton, the seemingly fearless youngest Marine in the squad. He had been unusually quiet of late de­spite the onslaught of pity mail he’d been getting from Grace and the girls at Josh’s request. He located the sand sailor, too, while he was at it. It paid to know where the Navy corpsman was, even this one, the one who may have thought he was signing up to sail the high seas but had ultimately gone over to the "Green Side” and been assigned to a Marine infantry unit in Afghanistan. The one Angie assured him knew and under­stood her better than her Marine husband ever did.

One of God’s little jokes.

The clueless husband and his wife’s lover in the same squad. Josh had done the impossible in order to get back to his guys. He’d found a stable and loving place for Elizabeth—in his own family—so he could carry out his mission, and no way was he letting everything come un­done because he and Angie’s whatever-he-was had permanently crossed paths. The sand sailor had kept his mouth shut—so far. Josh would have to give him that. No one knew they had a history, and wouldn’t, if he could help it. Any interactions between them thus far had been all busi­ness. Marine business, period.

"Corporal Benton!” Josh yelled, the Marine equivalent of a pissed-off mother using both given names—or so he’d heard. He’d never had the experience himself. "Stay alert!”

Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have thought it necessary to give Danny a thump on the head. The kid was a sergeant’s dream. He was always focused. He knew what to do and he was eager to do it. All his guys knew what to do. They were watching, listening, for some sign of move­ment in the compound or in the cornfield and they were watching out for each other—except maybe Danny. In Josh’s experience, it always meant something when a Marine got quiet. Woman trouble. Family trouble. With Danny it could be either or both, but it only took a second of inattention to lose the advantage or a life.

"Damn it, kid,” he said under his breath. "Whatever it is, now is not the time.” Josh finally had his own personal life under control—mostly. His baby girl, Elizabeth, was safe, and Grace understood that Angie was to have no part in Elizabeth’s care. Now all he had to do was stay alive.

Stay ali—

Gunfire erupted from two different locations—PK, AK. It was imme­diately returned, blindly and with little effect. He could hear Danny yelling for the corpsman, then incredibly Danny got to his feet and headed in a direction behind Josh.

"No!” Josh yelled, because Danny was moving out of position and he had the SAW, the weapon with the firepower they needed if they were going to get out of this.

"Doc’s hit!”

Josh twisted around to see. The sand sailor was writhing on the ground and clearly, from the kicked up dirt, he was still in the Taliban’s sights.

"Your eleven! Spray it down! Keep them off Doc!” he yelled to Danny, who didn’t hesitate to do it.

Josh waited, then lunged to his feet and ran the distance to the downed corpsman, who was bleeding from three places Josh could see. The man’s entire thigh was bright red. He had managed to grab a tourni­quet, but he couldn’t get it fastened around his leg. Josh yanked it out of his hand, placed it above where he judged the wound to be and pulled it tight. Their eyes met briefly in the process. There was no time to cut his pants leg so he could see. Josh had to get him to a safer place, and they both knew it. He could hear Danny firing the SAW behind him. But then the firing abruptly stopped. No covering fire from any direction. Women and kids screaming. He didn’t take the time to see if Danny was down, too. He grabbed the corpsman by his shoulder strap, intending to drag him farther down into an irrigation ditch. He felt the first bullet hit him in the left arm above his wrist, leaving it useless.

"Leave me!” the sand sailor said through clenched teeth. "Go!”

But Josh couldn’t go, wouldn’t, even if he could. In the absence of covering fire from the SAW, three more rounds slammed into him, at least two of them hitting his body armor and knocking the wind out of him. The fourth one hit his helmet, and he fell forward.

Dumb ass sand sailor—

SERGEANT CAVEN? Sergeant Caven! Bird’s coming!

Who was that? Danny? He couldn’t see. Why couldn’t he see? Bird’s... coming. It was bad... then.

Damn it, Danny! Talk to him!

You’re okay, Sergeant Caven! Bird’s coming! It’s on its way!

He knows that—stop yelling at him! Give him something to focus on.

I’m sorry, Sergeant Caven! I’m sorry! All those damn kids came piling out—little kids—and a woman carrying a baby! I couldn’t—I didn’t—!

Kids? What kids?

Shut up about that, Danny! Something else! Focus!

Focus. Focus. Okay. Okay. Here goes. My girlfriend—Tiffany—she dumped me, Sergeant Caven. And, Allison—you know. Lisa’s sister—Lisa’s going out with my little brother—Joe B?

I said tell him something he can focus on! He knows who Allison and Lisa are!

Okay, okay! Allison told me. About Tiffany. I said I wanted Joe-B to go see why she wasn’t emailing me, but Allison went—oh, hell, she didn’t want me to tell you that. She didn’t tell her mama, either. Mrs. James—Grace—would have a fit. See, Tiffany, she’s still working at that bar and everybody says Grace is kind of touchy about bars, so nobody thought Grace ought to know about it and—and, and, oh, hell—

Keep talking to him!

Josh tried to understand what Danny was telling him and couldn’t. There was only one thing he needed to know.

"How... many? Who... ?” he managed to ask. He still couldn’t see. His head hurt and he tried to reach up to touch it, but somebody caught his hand, and the answer was drowned out by a burst of gunfire. Then more gunfire. And somebody yelling. He knew those sounds. All hell was breaking loose.

"We got ‘em, Sergeant Caven,” Danny said close to his ear. "We got all of ‘em.”

It was a lie. But a good one. He didn’t care about the enemy. He wanted to know about his guys.

"How many... ?” He hadn’t heard an IED go off. It was all ma­chine gun and automatic weapon.

"You and Chris,” Danny said. "And me. I got a ding in the arm is all—”

"Good. That’s good...”

He felt so... strange... .

No, no, no, no, no! Sergeant Caven? Sergeant Caven—!

He could hear his name but he couldn’t make himself answer, no matter how hard he tried.

The fog cleared for a brief moment.

"Hey, Sergeant! Guess what! I got a letter from my dog!”



Chapter One


"DANNY... GOT A... letter from a... dog.”

He could hear a rustling noise nearby.

"What? Did you say something?” a woman asked urgently.

His throat burned with a fiery rawness unlike any he’d ever experi­enced, the pain completely overriding the effort it would take for him to answer her. Who was she? The voice was... familiar. He tried to swal­low. It made the searing pain in his throat even worse.

"I can’t... see,” he said anyway.

"Your eyes are bandaged,” the woman said. She caught his hand—the only one that seemed to work—when he would have reached up to verify it, and she didn’t let go. She was closer than he’d realized, so close he could smell her. Citrus. Like lemons. No. Like... grapefruit.

"Do you know where you are?” she asked, and the question made the panic rise.

"No, I—no! What is this—place?” He was being bombarded with sounds he couldn’t identify—an annoying and rapid beeping somewhere close to him that seemed to get faster and faster, something with wheels rumbling by somewhere farther away. And voices. People talking. Some­body laughed. He didn’t understand. He couldn’t remember anything. He—

"Easy,” the woman said softly. "You’re all right. You’re safe now.”

All right? How could he be all right? He couldn’t see! And he hurt so bad.

"Who... are you?”


"What? What?” he said because either she wasn’t answering him or he’d suddenly lost his hearing, too.

No. The rapid beeping continued. He could hear that just fine.

"Sandra Kay,” she said finally, and she seemed to be waiting, for what he didn’t know.

"Sandra Kay Williams,” she said finally.

He tried to remember who that might be and couldn’t. His memo­ries seemed to have been scattered around on the floor of his mind, and he had to shuffle through them until he could pick out something he understood. He finally found one.

"Where is... Elizabeth?”

"She’s fine.”

"Not what... I asked.”

"Sorry. She’s with Grace and the girls. In Jacksonville.”

He tried to decide whether or not this was acceptable.

Grace and the girls.

Grace. Anybody else would probably have called the police when he showed up the way he did and announced that she was his birth mother. He had scared her that day when that was the last thing he’d meant to do. In spite of that rough beginning, she had done everything she could to get the mess that was his and Elizabeth’s life straightened out, and then she’d made room for them both.

Allison. The lion-hearted Little Professor who had gotten perma­nently lost in her big sister’s shadow and who had been the first to claim him as family.

And Lisa. She and her posse were as fashion-conscious and popular as Allison was indifferent and nerdy, and somehow she’d fallen hard for Danny Benton’s skateboarding and sometimes hell-raising little brother, Joe-B—when she was as far out of his league as it was possible to get. He knew it, and so did she, but so far, it wasn’t fazing either one of them.

Grace James and her daughters cared about Elizabeth—and him. However scrambled his brain might be right now, he still knew that. What he didn’t know was his current location.

"Then... where is... this?”

"Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” she said, as if he were giving her some kind of test she needed to pass. "You were wounded and sent to Landstuhl first. In Germany. It took some doing, but they finally patched you up enough so you could make the trip here.”

"I... don’t remember. I don’t remember...”

What is that beeping!

"Well, this is the first time you’ve been awake. You started fighting the tube they had hooked up to that breathing machine, so they took it out. That was yesterday morning. The doctor said it was a good sign and you might finally wake up—and here you are.”

"I don’t... understand.”

"You were wounded, Josh. You were on a patrol in Afghanistan—”

He tried to reach up with his good hand again. "I don’t—I can’t—”

"Listen. Listen to me. You’re going to be all right. You’ll remember. It‘s going to take—”

"How long... was I out?”

"Weeks. Three... no, close to four, I guess. I’ve lost track of time. It all runs together in a hospital. You know, same old same old. And you can’t half tell if it’s night or day.”

I’ve lost track of time.

What the hell did that mean? Why should his time be hers to lose?

He kept trying to see, still panicked because he couldn’t. No light. No shadows. Nothing. But he didn’t say anything. He could hear her shifting around in the chair she must be sitting in.

She wasn’t hospital personnel, then. He had spent a lot of time in a base hospital when Elizabeth was so sick, and in his experience, hospital personnel did not sit.

"Who are you?” he asked again, and this time she didn’t hesitate to an­swer.

"Your mother. I’m your mother.”

"I don’t have a mother.” That, he could remember, too.

"According to Angie, you’ve got more damn mothers now than you know what to do with.”


"Is she here?” He could hear a beeping noise nearby accelerate.

"Of course not. We’re taking a big enough chance with me here.”


"Oh... somebody thought I might be more trouble than I’m worth. They wanted to know if I had a good...rapport with you. I lied and said yes. At least I think I lied. I don’t even know what ‘rapport’ is.”

He found another memory. It was dim and dented, but not broken. His birth mother. She was his birth mother, not Grace. He swore under his breath. How could he remember that and not remember what had happened to him?

"Why are you... here?” he asked as another memory came flood­ing back. He was nothing to her. They had parted ways almost immedi­ately according to the adoption papers.

"I didn’t want you to be by yourself,” she said, and he actually would have laughed if the attempt hadn’t hurt so much.

"Plenty of people in Walter Reed... National Military Medical... Center,” he said.

"And Landstuhl. But not your people.”

My people.

"You remember who I am or not?”

He didn’t answer the question. They’d met face-to-face for the first time since the day he was born right before he deployed. He’d been upset about Angie getting drunk and trying to crash Elizabeth’s birthday party. And...

"You came to... Germany?” he asked abruptly.

"Yeah. The military doctor Grace talked to—the one who called to tell her you’d been wounded—he sort of hinted it might be a good idea.”

"Before it was... too late, you mean.”

Yes,” she said bluntly. "But she couldn’t go. She had Elizabeth and the girls. She let me go in her place. It seemed an... opportunity—what with me being all guilty about giving you away like I did. I wanted to make it up to you.”

"I didn’t... know... you were there.”

"Not then. But you do now.”

"How bad is it—me?”

She didn’t pretend that she didn’t know what he meant. "You’ve got all your man parts. You got hit in your left arm—they’ve got it all hog-tied. A few other places were nicked here and there that aren’t as bad. And your head. That’s why you can’t see for now. Leave the band­ages alone!” she said sharply. "I’m not letting you mess up all that hard work they did at Landstuhl. We’ve got to do this right.”


"Yeah. We. Now shut up and rest. I mean it.”

He started to say something else, then didn’t. Yet another memory of her suddenly rose in his mind. An old photograph of the woman who was his real mother when she was a young girl. And the words "Lizzie gone bad” written on the back. And here she was suddenly, smack in the middle of his life, what was left of it.

Just another one of God’s little jokes.

"I’m going to go tell somebody you’ve beamed down to the planet,” she said, and finally let go of his hand. "I can’t use the call button.”

"Why not?”

"I tend to swear when I don’t like what they say. They disapprove. Don’t you mess with that bandage while I’m gone.”

But he didn’t think she left. He could sense that she was still there, and she was doing that thing women do, the thing he hadn’t known about before he and Elizabeth moved into a house full of their female relatives.

Crying without making a sound.

HE DIDN’T REST. And she was gone so long he had begun to think she wouldn’t be coming back after all, despite what she’d said about not wanting him to be alone.

My people.

My mother.

What a laugh. Even on paper she wasn’t his mother. She’d used Grace’s name and photo ID when he’d been born. She’d signed the adoption papers with Grace’s name.

But she acted like a mother. Hismother. She meant for him to leave the bandages on his eyes alone and she made no allowances for how shot up and pitiful he was. She had spoken, and he had damn well better listen. Mother or not, Sandra Kay Williams had some serious intestinal fortitude, he’d give her that.

Hospital personnel, apparently alerted to his new state of conscious­ness, kept coming in and out of the room. Some talked to him while they fiddled with the equipment; some didn’t. The ones who talked seemed happy that he was awake and less happy when he said he didn’t want the pain medication they were trying to give him. He’d just woken up; the last thing he wanted was to go back to sleep, whether he was hurting or not. His left arm didn’t work and his gut felt like it was on fire from his throat down. He couldn’t see, damn it! And nobody wanted to talk about any of that. He needed to get his bearings. He needed to know what the deal was. Most of all, he needed to remember what had happened. He could rest easy about Elizabeth, but not about the thing that made him feel so rattled—when he didn’t even know what it was.

"Is he fading in and out?” a male voice he assumed belonged to a doctor said.

"No, sir,” somebody else said. "Looks like he’s here to stay.”

"Go ahead and shoot him up. He’s hurting way more than he’s go­ing to tell us. Systolic’s way up. Can’t let him blow a gasket. Did you hear what I just said, Sergeant Caven?”

"Yes, sir. Blind... not deaf, sir.”

"Oh, great. A Marine with a sense of humor. Just what we need around here, right, Lieutenant?”

"Yes, sir,” a woman’s voice said. "Don’t get too many of those.”

"We’re not going to feed you much for a while,” the doctor said. "So don’t get your hopes up.”

Somebody lifted, then poked his left arm, and he jumped.

"We’re going to have to do some more work on that wrist,” the doc­tor said, maybe to him, maybe not. "Urinary output looks good. Okay—moving right along, children. Welcome back, Sergeant. Some­body put the call button where he can reach it.”

"I... swear,” he said, and the doctor laughed.

"Heard about that, did you? Your mama is hell on wheels. You, too, from the looks of it. I didn’t expect to see you back so soon, much less hitting on all cylinders. One thing you need to remember—I’m the boss. The more you behave, the sooner you’ll get out of here, understood?”

"Yes, sir. Understood, sir.”

But he didn’t understand, not really. Afghanistan. He could remem­ber that. Sort of. Heat. Mud walls. Cornfields. And... nothing.

He could hear the medical entourage shuffling out of the room—one of them had squeaky shoes. Somebody was whispering. He idly wondered what the whispering was about—him or a hot date.

He took a deep shuttering breath. He was so tired suddenly. Things... everything, damn it, still hurt. He was riding along on a con­stant wave of pain now, and he couldn’t pretend otherwise. He tried to shift his position, interrupting the rhythm of the constant beeping in the background. He should have paid more attention to the hospital shows he’d watched on television. Then he might have some idea what the hell he was hooked up to.

Someone came into the room. This one had a male voice, too, and he insisted on asking him kindergarten questions—his name, his birth­day, his current location. He could have said his birthday was only his best guess, given what he knew about the woman who had given birth to him, but thanks to her, he could easily tell the dude where he was.

There was some fumbling at the bedside, and the male voice wished him pleasant dreams and a restful night, leaving him washed in a sudden soft haze of... less pain, less worry about...

"You were right,” a voice said, making him jump. "Oh, sorry,” his mother continued. "I forget you can’t see.”

"What? Bandages—didn’t give you—a clue?”

"Well, what do you know? Sarcasm. My only child is running ram­pant with it. I wonder where in the world he gets thatfrom? Did I say you were right?”

"Yeah.” He didn’t invite her to elaborate because it didn’t seem to matter.

"That thing you said about Danny and the dog—and right out of the clear blue when I thought you were dead to the world. Scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. I thought you woke up crazy. But he did get a letter from a dog—his dog. I’ve been talking to Allison—had to call and tell the folks at home you woke up. Allison was the only one there. You should have heard the squealing. It’s a wonder I’m not deaf. Grace and her big ex-Marine boyfriend—”

His mind began to wander, because he was tired and because he knew a lot more about Grace and her "boyfriend” than Sandra Kay did. Josh was the reason they’d met in the first place. Sergeant Kinlaw had been trying to help him find Grace—because Josh thought she was his mother—but then everything went to hell in a handbasket, and some­how, to Josh’s amazement, Grace and Kinlaw had... .

"There’s... no such thing,” he said abruptly before Sandra Kay tried to make him tell her what he was thinking.

"Sure there is. I know you remember him. Big guy named Kinlaw—Sergeant Joe Kinlaw.”

"No. A Marine is always... a Marine. No ‘ex.’”

"Well, that explains a lot. Kinlaw’s forever looking after some down and out Devil Dog. He’s the one who helped Angie get herself into rehab when she hit bottom. And boy did she ever need it. Anyway, Kinlaw and Grace took Elizabeth and—”

"Angie wasn’t—?” he asked with some alarm.

"No, not Angie. Will you pay attention? Kinlaw and Grace. Everybody knows your No Angie rule. Kinlaw and Grace took Elizabeth to the park, and Lisa was off buying out the mall or something. Oh, and what’s-her-name was there. You know. That little girl Marine, the one that’s got that big crush on you—”

"What?” He couldn’t concentrate. He could feel himself slipping away, and all the while, what was left of his mind tried to make sense of "crush” and "little girl Marine.”

Elizabeth? She already had the makings of a good Marine. Allison, too.

No. Elizabeth wasn’t there... she was... at the... park...

"Muley, that’s it. Muley. Crush. You,” she said pointedly. "Why in the world would anybody call that cute girl ‘Muley?’ It’s not her name. Her name is Cassandra—you know, sort of my name backwards. Sandra Kay, Cassandra? Oh, wait. I get it. It’s some kind of Marine thing.”

"How do you know—?”

He lost his train of thought.

"How do I know what?”

He had to struggle to answer. "What her—name is.” It wasn’t what he’d meant to say, but it seemed to fit.

"I talked to her on the phone a time or two when I called to give Grace progress reports. Grace is still letting the walking wounded crowd come to her house for cookouts and spaghetti suppers and all that stuff. Anyway, I wanted to know what the ‘Muley’ thing was all about, so I asked her. Amazing, the things you can find out if you ask. But let’s get back to Danny Benton’s dog. It was an English assignment.”

"The dog... is taking... English?”

"No, smart ass. Allison is. Danny’s girlfriend dumped him and he... Hey. They gave you something, didn’t they?”

He tried to answer and couldn’t.

"Well, that’s it for now, then,” she said.

He could hear her fumbling with something nearby.

"No. Keep—talking.” He didn’t want her to go, which was alarm­ing enough, almost as alarming as the fact that she was leaving. And he didn’t know why it helped, hearing her voice and her own smart-ass remarks, but it did. She was no June Cleaver, and that was a fact, but somehow he didn’t mind.

"I’ve talked enough. If I keep it up, they’ll throw me out of here.”

"I want to know—about the dog.” He actually wanted to know about Muley but he wasn’t about to say so.

"I bet you do. Well, you can’t. Good night, Sugar Pie.”

He wanted to protest her choice of endearments—maybe he did. But then, he went to that place where nothing mattered for a while, rousing again when he heard her say—whisper—something.

"Not now. He’s asleep.”

The whispered words intruded into his supposed rest, and more im­portantly, they were a lie. Still, he made no attempt to "wake up” for whatever person his mother was trying to get rid of. It was easy—too easy—as she had said, to lose track of time. He wasn’t sure if she hadn’t left after all. He took a quiet breath and let go of as much worry as he could, feeling himself drift away again.

You had a visitor.

No whispering this time, and it took him a moment to decide if he was awake or asleep. Time wasn’t the only thing that got lost in here.

"You had a visitor,” his mother said again.

Not asleep, then.

"Are you awake or not? Sometimes I can’t tell.”

"Me, either,” he said. "Who... was it?”

"Marine. Kind of cute.”

"Male or female... ?”

"Not a clue,” she said in a tone of voice he was beginning to recog­nize as... he didn’t know what. Giving her long lost son a big dose of annoyance, he supposed.

"And I didn’t ask,” she added.

He stopped just short of laughing.

"I thought you were... a... name-getting kind of person.”

"I am. But, he was too...”


"My best guess,” she said.

"Okay. He was... too, what?”

"I don’t know—jumpy, I guess. Yeah. Jumpy. Good looking son of a b—gun, though. Seemed all worried about what he was going to find in here. Or maybe who? He was in a wheelchair, so he couldn’t make a fast getaway if it was something bad. You know anybody good looking, jumpy and in a wheelchair?”

"Not the last time I could remember... anything.” His right hand suddenly clenched despite all he could do.

"Still hurting, I see,” Sandra Kay said.

He didn’t say anything, because he couldn’t.

"That bad,” she suggested.

"Don’t call—anybody. I mean it.”

"Fine. You suffer. I’ll sit here and watch.”

"You—could—always leave.”

"And you could always make up your mind. Don’t leave, leave. It gets confusing. Anyway, I’ve done enough leaving where you’re con­cerned. I’ve claimed my spot in here, and I’ve claimed you. And if the day ever comes where you can get into a wheelchair, I’ll take you for a ride. You know. Go sightseeing.”

"Too... funny.”

"Laughter is the best medicine. Or so I’ve heard.”

"Who’s laughing?”

"Me. I like you, Sergeant Caven. I didn’t think I would, but I do.”

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Vietnam took her first love away from her.

Now it may take her next love, too.

Our Price: US$14.95

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The Marine

Cheryl Reavis

November 2016 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-716-8

Semper Fi.

Our Price: US$14.95

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