Corporal Nicholas ‘Saint’ Santiago needs to go home to reclaim the man he used to be. To be the man he was before Operation Enduring Freedom slowly hardened his heart. He needs to reconnect to the values and the reasons he is doing what he does. Saint also needs to try to forget the courageous woman he knows was meant to be his.
Petty Officer Angelina Jones’ life changed the moment Saint saved her life. She survived the blast but now has to deal with the fact that she will never be whole. Knowing Saint received a ‘Dear John’ letter, Angelina has no intention of being his rebound romance. She needs to be loved for herself. She needs to forget about the one man she knows was meant to be hers.
They each try to find someone to help them forget.
But what does fate have planned for them?
A shout from Hamilton brought him back to the here and now. “Hey, Saint, do you see any trouble coming?” On guard at the west wall, Nick shook his head. Not that it was much of a wall, a couple of sandbags holding up a makeshift bullet riddled wooden fence, an illusion of safety and security.
“No, it all looks clear.” Well, as clear as normal, Nick thought. The Seabees and the Army Corp of Engineers had done their best to give them a clear line of site, but the rubble of buildings and piles of rock where there used to be a town never seemed to go away. Rebels constantly hid there, randomly firing at their FOB, a forward operating base in Helmand Provence, making it almost impossible to build a more secure perimeter.
Nick could see kids playing in the dirt. In the distance the locals were harvesting the poppy fields. Some of the largest poppy fields in the world were right outside the walls of the FOB. Beautiful when in bloom, they were more pervasive and did more damage than the terrorists.
“When aren’t there threats?” Every damn day there were threats. “Why, is there a problem?”
“The brass is making noise. When they do something stupid, we end up paying for it.” Hamilton sounded disgusted. As Hamilton spoke, shots were fired over and through the fence, adding more holes to the dilapidated barrier. Nick and Hamilton hit the ground, rolling toward the sandbags to return fire through the cracks. “See what I mean?”
“Yeah it’s been a while since they shot at us, at least a couple of days.” Nick’s sarcasm caused Hamilton to laugh.
“Probably someone is coming to pick up something from the poppy fields and they want to keep us from seeing who.” Hamilton glanced at him. “You doing okay?”
“Gettin’ there. It was just a shock, ya know?”
“Yeah, damn women. The least they could do is be faithful while we’re out here fighting.”
“Yeah, it sucks. I just can’t help thinking it’s my fault.”
“Fuck. How the hell could it be? You weren’t even there. The bitch knew you were gone, were going to be gone.” They fired shots, aiming at the muzzle flash in the distance. More Marines headed their way, sprinting from cover to cover. Perez came running, bringing out ammo and providing more fire power.
Another crack and Perez went down with a cry.
“Fuck! Medic! Man down!” The cry went out, passed through until the call went to the corpsman, while Nick tried to stem the blood flow. Hands pushed his away. Nick looked up. Petty Officer Jones, better known as Doc, had bandages ready.
“Help me roll this on until we can get him out of here.” Her voice sent a ripple through him. Nick had always ignored the attraction he had felt for her. He’d had his girl back home, and fraternization out here could get him thrown in the brig. Not to mention the brig out here was a hell hole.
Nick was leery about approaching Doc now. The Dear John letter had been a shock. He had known Leila for years. Hell, they had been friends since they were little. Her betrayal was unexpected. Nick didn’t even really know Doc. He could trust her with his life, but he wasn’t ready for another go around with his heart, no matter the attraction he felt.
Nick looked toward the fence line, rifle at the ready. Shots were firing sporadically around him. That’s when he saw it, the trail from a grenade launcher, unmistakable. Shit!
Beverly Ovalle lives in Wisconsin with her husband Edmond of 24 years and two Chinese Water Dragons. Having her own Dragons is expected as she is dragon crazy and anyone that walks in her house can tell. Her son Nicholas visits when he is on leave from the Marines. Her daughter Susannah visits to the ‘old’ people.
Beverly has traveled around the world thanks to five years in the US Navy and has worked for the government in one capacity or another for the past 30 years. Beverly and her brothers have travelled most of the continental United States as children due to the station wagon from Hell. Still active with veterans, she is adjutant for her local AMVETS.
Beverly has been reading romances since her Aunt introduced her to the gothic romance in the fourth grade and is still reading every chance she gets.