A couple of days ago in honor of Veterans’ Day, I posted a bit of the new Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour novella. As some of you may realize I am an American expat. For the past decade, I lived in London…and now happily transplanted to Wales with Cookie Monster. Today is Remembrance Sunday…the time when the UK honours its war dead.
So I wanted to do something to honour the fallen protectors of my adopted homeland as well. Luckily, I have a great excuse…Sergeant Major David James Smith, Four-Two Commando, Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The dead husband of Jill, The Arrangement’s heroine.
One day I plan to write a novella, a retrospective detailing their tempestuous love and marriage. But with Ægir’s Wife and Home for Heroes in the works…now is NOT the time to start another project. Instead I thought I would give you a glimpse of the man through the eyes of those who knew him best…
Jill swiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand as she watched the moving van pull away from the curb. She was going to miss her new best friend Simone. And all the promises in the world to stay in touch via social media and video calls would not be the same as sitting around the kitchen table over cookies or cake with the woman.
Even if it was only for a few months while Daniel finished out his time with the U S Navy and made a smooth transition of the SEAL team to Travis, his lieutenant. Then they would all be reunited at the eco-village in West Texas owned by Dr. Brent Masters, Daniel and Samuel’s new boss.
Things were changing again. So fast that it left her head spinning. Leaving the Navy, another set of twins added to their family and now with Simone and Samuel’s news. Well, she only hoped that the Apocalypse that Brent was preparing for was a long way off…another lifetime maybe.
She sighed as she felt more of those tears gathering…as she replayed Samuel’s parting words to her, “You know he’s damned glad that you’ve found the happiness you deserve again.”
She turned and smiled up into Daniel’s blue eyes as she gripped their little girl tighter. He smiled in reassurance as he lifted their son. He shook his head and grimaced, “Someone needs changing.”
She chuckled and held out her arms. Men. Somethings never change. But Daniel shocked her by scoping their daughter Darcy out of them. “I got this one, darling,” he chuckled as he bent to kiss her forehead.
It was another reminder…as much a like as her husbands were, they were totally different men. She reluctantly relinquished her hold on the child. Her arms felt incredibly empty and she wrapped them about herself as she leaned against the column on their front porch.
Since…well just since everything that had happened, all they had discovered of the past, she and Samuel had had more than one talk about him. About David. Her first love. The father of her adult sons. The man that she had spent close to twenty years loving.
Her throat tightened and she gave up the battle, surrendering to the tears. As happy as she was with Daniel, his four girls and now their own babies, she knew that a part of her heart would always belong to David. How could it not after all they had gone through, all they had shared?
In the blink of an eye, their lives flashed through her mind. Watching him rise up out of the clear water of Cancun, his brown eyes laughing at something his mate had said as he shook his short brown waves. The look in those eyes when he had first seen his son…wonder, awe and fear. The way he had held tighter and longer on that last good-bye…as if some part of him knew…
Not that everything had been perfect. Far from it. They had been kids. Kids with more responsibility than sense. And sometimes the pressures of serving Her Majesty and raising four rambunctious boys had seemed bigger than both of them. One time in particular still felt raw after all these years.
But in the end they had gotten past that. They had explored hidden desires together, grown closer as a couple and shared more than another decade of happy and sexy memories.
Duty, honour and love. The things that both of her husbands did have common. The very things that had brought her back across the pond to follow another warrior just as she had once followed David.
Whether it was the good old red, white and blue or god, Queen and country, her men were the last of a dying breed. Men for whom the duty to serve outweighed their own needs for money or glory. They were both remarkable leaders in the field…or the home front. When they gave their word…they kept it. Even when it was hard. Hell, even, when it was impossible, they found a way.
Talking as she had over the past couple of months with Samuel, listening to his stories of David’s final days and hours, how she and their boys preoccupied his thoughts, brought him happiness and comfort as he planned the future that was never to be, it was painful at times. But it brought solace and closure that she had craved for so long.
“I’ll always love you,” she whispered into the sea breeze and for the briefest moment it felt as if it were his caress upon her cheek. More tears spilled from her green eyes as her reverie was broken by a scream from the living room.
She shook her head and brushed away the tears with the back of her hand. it seemed that Ashley and Britney were at it again. She had almost forgotten the jealousy of older siblings that always meant weeks and months of misbehaviour after the birth of a new child.
His brown eyes danced as he watched her perhaps rounder bottom jiggle a bit within the confines of tight jeans.
Regrets…a life time of them. Maybe that was what tied him to this realm now? It certainly was not concern for her as it had been for so long.
As his friend had told her, he was delighted that she had found new purpose for her life. He was even more pleased that her calm, orderly and loving manner had brought so much to the new officer that he remembered as honourable but troubled.
The woman was certainly in her element with a house full of boisterous children that was for certain. She had done such a brilliant job with their boys. It was not like he could take much credit for that. He had been away serving Her Majesty more often than not while they grew up.
Despite that DJ, Declan, Damien and Darren had turned out to be pretty decent men…and Royals. Well, except for Darren. Of course, DJ still had his demons, but most of those were his fault.
Even if it he had it to do all over again, there was not much he would change. One foolish mistake…but even that had not turned out so bad. Thanks to her love and understanding.
The truth was…he had had a good life. He had a career he loved with men and women he respected and trusted. He had lived in a country that he had been honoured to serve. And he had loved and been loved by a remarkable woman. Not bad for an old bootneck like him.
David glanced into the house as the other man joined her as Jill separated the battling tiny terrors, ‘Sometime during the rest of your time here, you better learn to share, Commander. Because I am not spending eternity without her either.’
He watched them laugh and his heart or where it would have been caught just a bit…maybe even this tiny bit of jealousy was enough to taint his soul and tie him here? Whatever it was did not matter that much as long as he got to check in on her every now and then.
‘Until next time,’ he whispered though he knew they could not hear or feel him as he disappeared out of the nothingness from which he had materialised. He’d just check up on his boys…or maybe some old friends.
Especially the young man who had lost his leg in the explosion that killed him. Sometimes he thoughts maybe dying was easier than living to come home…to a world that was not as you remembered it.