Thanks: To my truly awesome Beta Team. Thanks to Carol, Marsha and Phil for the editing and for the questions, comments and encouragement. You guys ROC!
Authors Note: This is a stand-alone story. It is not actually part of the Valiant Series, though it does tie in and Randi and Gwen do make an appearance or two. The Storytellers Cardinal Rule is still in effect.
12 December 1939
Do you remember playing war as children? You were the nurse, and the rest of us were the soldiers you took care of. The war here in England is a horrible thing, and I am reminded daily that it is not the game we thought it was as children.
I have only been here for fourteen months, but I will be very glad when my stint here is over, and I can return to an American base. The war has changed everything. Already the people here are tired, and the stench of fear hangs heavy in the air. Still, like the bulldogs they are, the British are hanging on. I am glad to be able to help while I am here, but I will be equally glad to get home. Give my Christmas greetings to the family.
I miss you.
December 31, 1939
A late Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you. I was so glad to get your letter. I hope your holiday was at least a safe one. I am counting the days until you are home again. How long is your leave before you report to your next duty station? And do you know where you are going yet?
Bobby and Jason have both decided to join up. You know they always had to follow in your footsteps when we were kids. I imagine before long the whole gang will be enlisted. I thought of joining, but Uncle Sal convinced me you needed me here safe more than I needed to be an Army nurse. And he wont pull the strings for me he did for you, Lieutenant. One day, youre gonna have to tell me how he got you into the Corps.
Mrs. Wieden did a nice job with the kids Christmas program, but everyone missed your singing "O Holy Night" with the choir. They are already looking forward to next year.
There is so much more I want to say, but I cant seem to find the words. Ill try to do better with my next letter. Be safe, and come home to me soon. I miss you.
22 April 1940
Sorry to be so long in writing. Things here are unbelievably hectic. I think of you every day, but finding the time to write in all the chaos is almost impossible. I appreciated the cookies, as did every man in the unit I have been assigned to here. But I live for your letters. Please dont wait for me to answer before you write. Even if it is only a postcard saying "hello", just please keep talking to me.
Thing here are bad, Laura, though they wont let us say what is really happening. Officially, I am only an observer here... a neutral, but it is sometimes impossible to stay neutral in this job. I have been on several missions unofficailly, which I will tell you about someday. For now, suffice it to say that I have seen and heard things that will give me nightmares for the rest of my life.
Enough of that. What is new at home? My orders have come through, and they are sending me to Hawaii in November. I will have two weeks at home before I am scheduled to report. Maybe you can come visit me there.
There isnt a lot Im allowed to talk about, but I can tell you I really miss you.
Your friend, Jac
June 16, 1940
Trenton Carver started showing up around here, acting like he was coming to call. Now you know I never liked Trenton very much anyway, and he is getting annoying. Most of the boys we grew up with have left and joined up, and the couple girls our age are already married and settled down. He has more than hinted that it is time for me to do the same and he thinks Im gonna do it with him. I dont think so. There is only one person in the world for me, and it is not Trenton Carver.
I was glad to hear from you. I have tried to send you out at least two postcards a week, so I hope you are getting those. I will send you snippets of news as I get them. So you should be getting something from me every week.
Hawaii sounds wonderful. I went to the library to do some reading about it when I got your news, and I would certainly love to come visit you there. I will ask Uncle Sal to talk to Daddy about it. If Sal approves, Daddy is more likely to say yes.
I do know if Trenton Carver doesnt leave me alone, I am gonna have Uncle Sal introduce him to Vinnie. Ill bet he gets the message then.
More next time. I miss you terribly.
July 4, 1940
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!! Im sure not as much for you, since I have been watching the newsreels, and know that things in England are really bad right now. I say a prayer for the folks over there every night, and a special one for you. I miss having you here to talk to.
Things here are so different. People are determined that this is not our war, but it will be. Anyone with half a brain can see it coming. I worry about you over there. Are you getting enough to eat? Have you been hurt? Are you having to kill to stay alive?
Im sure the sentiment is kill or be killed, but I really do worry about that for you. Of our whole gang, you were always the most sensitive, and even though the boys always wanted to kill the enemy, they followed your example of taking prisoners instead. I doubt very seriously that you get to make those kinds of decisions in the situation you are in now, and that worries me.
By the way, Vinnie has talked to Trenton. I dont think hell be much of a problem anymore.
Think of me often, as I do of you.
August 9, 1940
I have my first teaching assignment. I will have a class of first graders at our old school. Funny how a viewpoint changes with maturity. I went looking around the old classrooms, and I dont remember them being so small. I sat down at the old desk we shared in first grade. Remember that? And how my feet didnt even touch the floor? I always envied you your height, you know.
I hope you are still getting my cards and letters. I have taken to writing you a card everyday, and try to post one or two letters a week. I havent heard from you in a while, but I try to remind myself that it is probably very difficult to get mail out of England right now.
Still, I cant help but worry. You are in such a dangerous place, and sometimes at night, all I can think about are the reasons you wouldnt be able to write.
Im sorry. I really dont mean to whine. I just miss you so, so much. Let me know when and where to meet your train. Im counting the days. See you soon, though not soon enough.
11 August 1940
Tell Trenton Carver that if he doesnt leave off bugging you, I will not have to introduce him to anyone. I will take care of him personally.
Laura held the short missive in her hand, rereading it with a hint of a smile. I wonder if Jac meant that about being mine, or if the s was dropped because the note was written in haste. The sentiment about Trenton is pretty possessive, though. A sigh. A girl can only hope.
The small blonde woman was walking home from school. It was just the first of October, and the air was brisk and cool. The sun felt good as it warmed her back, and reflected the golden flecks in her deep green eyes. The colors around her were beautiful, but Laura scarcely noticed in her desire to hurry home and write Jac.
The schoolteacher was just stepping onto the porch when a voice hailing her from behind caused her to stop and sigh.
"What do you want, Trenton?" This was the first time shed seen him since Vinnie had talked to him two months earlier.
"I thought you might want to see a movie tonight," he shrugged diffidently.
"No, Trenton. I do not want to see a movie with you tonight or ever. I thought I had made myself perfectly clear." Laura hated to be harsh, but this one had managed to step on her last nerve. She was worried enough about Jac over in England in the middle of the war without having to further concern herself with the attentions of an unwanted suitor. "Now please, just go. And dont come back again, or I will be forced to let Jac take care of the problem."
"And what is Jac gonna do?" he asked snidely. "The lieutenant is in England."
"I believe the lady asked you to leave, little man," a deep growl resonated from behind him. Laura drew a deep breath. She had seen Vinnie step out of the shadows, and was frankly relieved. She certainly didnt need to be reminded that her best friend was in England. The teacher couldnt help but tweak her nemesis a little though.
"Yes, but Jac will be home soon, and can still kick your ass. And Trenton... Jac is a captain now. Make sure you get it right. You know how gung-ho the Marines are." With a smile, and a finger wave to Vinnie, the blonde turned and walked into the house she and her father shared.
October 1, 1940
Given the uncertainty of the mail, I am not certain you will get this before you come home, but I promised to keep writing, and Im not gonna break that. I hope when this gets to you, it finds you well. I think of you daily, and pray for you every night.
I told Trenton today that if he didnt back off, you were gonna kick his ass. What is his problem with you, anyway? He has always had a chip on his shoulder where you are concerned, but your enlistment seems to have increased his anger towards you exponentially. Oh well, it doesnt matter. Vinnie was there to impress upon him the error of his ways. Did you say something to him? Or Sal? Cause I got the distinct impression he was keeping an eye on me.
Anyway, I am enjoying teaching. It is challenging, and I love my kids. I dont remember us being quite so rambunctious, but since I have reached the ripe old age of twenty-two, Im sure the mind is just not what it used to be either.
Take care of yourself, Jac, and come home to me soon. I miss you.
It was almost cold out on Halloween, though Laura had to smile the enthusiasm her kids were showing for the holiday. The talk all day had been about their costumes, and where they were trick-or-treating and how much candy they would get. She smiled again in memory, as she remembered the year she and Jac had been pirates. Shed wanted to be a princess, but Jac had refused, and so shed become a pirate too. That was a lot of fun. Wonder what kind of talk it would stir if I dressed up as a pirate again this year. She couldnt help the chuckle that escaped at the whispers and raised eyebrows that little escapade would cause. It would almost be worth it. Then she stepped inside the warm house she called home, and pulled out a sheet of stationary paper to begin her missive to Jac.
October 31, 1940
Happy Halloween! I was just sitting here thinking about the fun we had with this holiday as children. My first graders are so much fun to watch and listen to. It reminds me of....
The phone rang sharply right then, and totally derailed her train of thought. With a growl, the blonde woman laid her pen down, and went to the hall table to answer it. She picked up the instrument, and said cordially, "Hello?"
"Hey, beautiful!" a soft voice returned. "Know anybody that can give a Marine a lift?"
"Oh my God." A small hand rose to cover Lauras mouth, as her mind struggled to believe what her ears were telling her was true. "Oh God, Jac. Is it really you?"
"Yeah, honey, its really me. Im gonna start walking toward your house...."
"Ill be right there with the car. Dont you dare move." Laura slammed the receiver into the cradle, and raced to the garage, snatching her purse and keys up as she ran out the door. The sedan cranked right up, and the teacher was thankful for her fathers insistence of keeping it ready to go at all times.
Laura made it to the train station in record time, and she stopped the car. She stepped out and froze momentarily, simply looking at the returned soldier. There, leaning next to the lamppost in the relaxed attitude Laura had known all her life was Jac. It was the one thing that reassured her this was still the person shed known growing up, because everything else about her was so different.
The uniform was sharply creased and pressed. There were ribbons on it that hadnt been there when shed left for England, and there was a small scar along one temple. The short dark hair had the faintest touch of silver at the hairline just above her ears, and the eyes....
Blue eyes that had aged so drastically in the time Jac had been gone softened and twinkled when they turned in Lauras direction. The twinkle was invitation enough, and Lauras feet found wings, and she ran into Jacs waiting arms. The Marine braced herself, and picked the slight woman completely off the ground when she leaped into her arms.
Laura wrapped her arms around Jacs neck, and let the tears fall in minute relief. "God, I have missed you so much," she whispered into the nearby ear. "Im so glad youre home."
The captain couldnt speak she was so overcome with emotion. Instead, Jac held her best friend tight, and slowly rocked the two of them silently back and forth. The rest of the world simply faded away in the face of their reunion.
As twilight faded into night, the two sat on the porch simply enjoying the completeness of being together once again. The warrior sat absorbing the peace she had been lacking since shed left the woman at her side. There was so much she wanted to say, but she had no idea where to start. So she simply sat and held Lauras hand, content.
"Can you tell me anything about what it was like for you over there? I watched the newsreels and tried to imagine, but...."
"Please dont," came the soft whisper. "I would rather you not have to know what the horror of war really is." Jac swallowed. "Many times when I was in the midst of a fight, I would think of you sitting here, and it would bring a smile to my face. It gave me peace to know you were safe."
"And what do you think it does to me, knowing you are in the midst of all that ugliness? To know that you could be taken away from me permanently?" Laura jerked her hand from the Marines and jumped up from her spot on the swing. She walked to the steps, and stood looking out at the moon without actually seeing it. A shudder passed through her frame, then she leaned back into the strong body that had come up behind her, and stood hesitatingly with a tentative hand on her shoulder. When Jac felt her friend lean into her touch, she put her arms around her in a gentle hug, and then stepped back.
"Im sorry," the tall woman started, but Laura cut off her speech.
"No, Im sorry. I know this is important to you. For whatever reason, being a warrior is really part of who you are... it always has been. It just scares me... knowing...." Another shudder racked her body, and she turned into the Marines waiting arms and cried the tears and fears shed held inside since the war in Europe had started months earlier.
Jac just held her and let her cry.
"Hello, Uncle Sal." The quiet voice was enough to capture the boss attention, and he looked into the blue eyes hed known from her birth with a glad smile and open arms.
"Jac! Come in, come in and let me look at you!" His booming voice would have attracted attention had anyone been around, but Jac had chosen to visit the restaurant when it was closed. She was glad for that decision when he lifted her off her feet and squeezed the air from her lungs.
"Sal," she wheezed. "Put me down." He did so, with a kiss to either cheek, and took a step back to look her over. Unconsciously, she straightened, and he could see in an instant how well she had adapted to life as both a man and as a Marine.
"You are happy then? Even though...." He gestured to her bound chest and short hair.
"They wont let me fight as a woman, Sal, you know that. And it is what I was born to do. If I have to pretend to be something I am not, then so be it."
"That is so unfair."
"Yes, it is, but thank you for helping me get this far. You will never know how much I appreciate your getting me the chance, even though I know you disagree with the lie."
"All I did was arrange the opportunity, child. Everything else has been you alone." He looked at her more closely, and could see the different decorations she wore that attested to her bravery and combat skills. "And you were obviously right in your belief that this is your destiny. I do wish the lie wasnt necessary, but I can see why it is." He paused. "What does Laura think of your new look?"
He had his own suspicions of exactly what the young teacher thought and felt about Jac, but he wisely kept them to himself. The one time in his life hed tried to play matchmaker, hed gotten his ass whipped by his sisters husband, Jacs father. He had been one of the few with balls enough to stand up to Sal, and they had become best friends.
"We havent talked about it," she shrugged.
"Are you afraid to ask?" he probed.
She looked at him oddly, wondering where his train of thought was leading him. "No. Should I be?"
"I suppose not." Sal changed the conversation. "What are your plans for the rest of your leave?"
"I dunno. Most of the gang isnt here anymore, and Laura is in school during the day. I suppose I should go close up the house, since it looks like it may be a while before I get back here again."
"Yes," he agreed emphatically. "I think it is time."
So Jac spent the days of her leave cleaning out and shutting up her parents place. They had passed away while she was in college, and shed been sent overseas immediately upon graduation. Her nights were spent with Laura, sitting on the front porch talking and reminiscing. It was pleasant, and Jac found it easy to return to the friendship she had always shared with the blonde woman.
As the end of her two-week leave time drew to a close, Jac noticed a distinct change in Lauras behavior. Several times the green eyes would fill with tears, and the blonde woman would look away before she could speak. Other times she seemed on the verge of speaking, but would close her mouth again without saying a word.
The Marine struggled to understand what Laura was fighting to say, but she just couldnt make her mind wrap around it. She figured her friend would share what was bothering her when she was ready and able to do so.
Finally, the night before she was scheduled to ship out for Hawaii, Jac invited Laura to take a walk with her. The younger woman agreed immediately, and snatched a sweater from the closet before taking the Marines strong hand. Jac raised an eyebrow at the choice of covering, not believing it would be enough, but she didnt say a word. She simply grasped the proffered hand, and led Laura down the steps and into the waiting darkness.
They walked along quietly for a while, absorbing the familiar sights and sounds of the neighborhood. Then Laura sighed, and said softly, "Can I ask you a kind of personal question?"
A dark brow rose, prompting the teacher to giggle like a schoolgirl. "How personal?" came the rumbling response. They had reached the small wooded area at the end of the street where they had played war and hide-n-seek and tag during all their growing up years. Laura took the lead, and pulled Jac onto the well-known path that led them to a small meadow in the center of the wood. Here theyd had camp-outs and games of baseball.
The blonde turned and faced Jac, and the Marine wondered where the conversation was going. The small woman shivered as a cold wind blew through the grove, and the warrior removed her tunic, and wrapped its warmth around Lauras shoulders. The teacher closed her eyes, soaking up the heat and scent that suddenly surrounded her senses. Slowly, Laura eased her hands up the chest of the uniform shirt, and felt the hitch in Jacs breathing at the light touch.
Jac, for her part, could feel the tingling all the way down to her groin. For even though the touch could hardly be felt through the shirt and the bindings, the act itself was amazingly erotic for her. No one had ever touched her that way before.
"Isnt this terribly uncomfortable?" asked in a quiet voice. Now it was the warriors turn to shiver. "Dont you hate having to do this?"
Jac was quiet for such a long time, Laura was sure the Marine wasnt going to answer her question. Then the blonde felt the chest beneath her hands move as Jac took in a deep breath, and she looked up in question. She wanted so badly to simply reach up, and lock her hands behind the dark head and....
"Im used to it," came the deep voice, "so it doesnt bother me too much. I do wish it wasnt necessary, but you do what you have to do, ya know?"
Laura nodded her head in silent agreement, and allowed the warrior to take her hand, and lead her silently back to the road that wound back to her house. Jac walked her friend up the steps and to the front door, opening it before backing up slightly, and slipping her tunic from Lauras shoulders.
"Would you like to come in?" the teacher asked, shy for the first time in all the years theyd known one another.
"No, Id better not. Its late, and I have a very early start in the morning." Jac lowered her eyes the raised them again to meet Lauras. "It would be best if we say our goodbyes here. A Air Corps buddy is giving me a lift out to California tomorrow, and we are due to leave at dawn." The Marine swallowed hard as tears filled the green eyes, even as a blonde head nodded agreement. "Thank you for two wonderful weeks. You have given me some memories to treasure while we are separated again."
Jac stepped forward then, closing the distance between them and reaching out for a hug. Laura leaned into the embrace, trying to convey her heart with a single hold. They stayed locked together for a long moment before the younger woman pulled back somewhat. She ran a hand across the scar, and threaded her fingers of both hands into the slightly longer hair at Jacs temples.
"Im gonna miss you... so much. You stay safe, and come home to me, all right?"
Laura couldnt say the words, so she pulled the warriors head down until they were breathing the same air, hesitating just slightly before brushing her lips across Jacs. She felt the Marines hands clench convulsively around her waist, and she deepened the contact, letting her lips linger before reluctantly easing away and stepping into the house. She then leaned against the closed door to keep from collapsing into a heap in front of it. Shed thrown her dice on a gamble. Now all that remained was to see what kind of payoff shed get from it.
Jac reached a hand up to tingling lips, stunned speechless and unable to move. One part of her thought seriously about opening the door, and marching into Lauras room and resuming that kiss. The other part, the sensible side, decided to take it slow and easy, knowing that any number of emotions could be behind the affection. She would test the waters, because if she was reading her best friends intentions correctly, they would one day be much more than just best friends. And that was a dream she had given up and left behind long ago.
With her hands in her pockets, and a smile on her lips, the Marine headed jauntily down the steps and out to meet her destiny.
November 14, 1940
Thank you for two incredible weeks. I have so many wonderful memories as well, and I will hold them dear to my heart during the long separation ahead.
There are so many things I want to say to you... so many things we should probably talk about. But I find myself tongue-tied, and completely unable to find the words to make sense of anything right now. Thank you for the roses, by the way. I cant tell you how amazing it was to find them waiting for me this morning.
Um, if the invitation is still open, I would like to try to come visit you this summer. Daddy and I have talked about it, and Im pretty sure I can make the arrangements. Let me know if this will work for you.
Take care of yourself. I miss you already so much.
November 21, 1940
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you had a nice holiday. How is school going?
Everything here is so very different from anywhere I have ever been. Everything is so green and fragrant. The air is so clean, and the atmosphere so relaxed. If I hadnt seen the war with my own eyes, I wouldnt believe there was one going on. Everything is just so casual here. It makes me twitchy. I wish you could see the fleet at anchor, though. It is an impressive sight.
I can see I am gonna be "that sorry son of a bitch" to the guys in my outfit. They are gonna be drilling til they drop. War is coming, and when it does, I want them to be ready to fight. And if I have to be a bastard to insure that, then so be it.
The summer would be fine for you to come visit. Im not sure there is much difference weather wise, but it is so beautiful here a little more heat wouldnt lessen your appreciation for the natural splendor of the tropics. Let me know when you get some specific dates, and I will make arrangements for you on this end. Ill also take some time off.
Im glad you liked the roses. I miss you.
December 19, 1940
Do you know how remarkable it is to wake up every morning and find a different flower on the porch? I find myself becoming a morning person, just so I can see what will be waiting for me when I step outside.
The first snows have fallen, and it is very cold. I try to visualize you out in the tropics in your shorts and funny Hawaiian shirt, and find that even with the picture of that sitting in front of me, it is a real stretch for my imagination. I wish you could be home for Christmas. There is no one here to go sledding or skiing with, and I have the overwhelming urge for a good snowball fight. Know anyone whod be interested?
School is out until the New Year, and I find myself with way too much time on my hands to just sit and think. Most of my time is spent thinking about you. Well, anyway, take care of yourself, and think of me often while you are sitting there on the beach getting a tan. I miss you.
P.S. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
06 January 1941
Yep, I have become "that sorry son of a bitch". My guys are drilling their butts off, but we are the sharpest unit on the Island. The picture I sent you was taken at Waikiki Beach on the first and only liberty we have had so far.
I have made a few friends, but most of the guys here do not understand the urgency I feel about the war or the readiness of our forces. Mostly I keep to myself. Its easier that way.
I am glad you like the flowers. I seem to remember you having a fondness for them, even as children.
I think of you everyday, and remember the last night we were together. Sometimes, though that makes me miss you so much, I want to go AWOL and come home to you. I just keep telling myself that you will be here to visit soon, but it seems like time is dragging.
I really miss you.
February 14, 1941
Oh. My. God.
Oh, Jac... I cant begin to tell you the stir youve created in the school with the flowers and chocolates that arrived on my desk today. Everyone is trying to figure out who the special fella in my life is. Heh... if they only knew.
What you make me feel, just by your words and actions is just so incredible. I wish there was a way I could convey that to you, but just thinking about it makes me tongue tied and giddy. You should be getting something from me very soon, though. I am hoping it makes it for your birthday.
Good news... Trenton Carver enlisted last week. Apparently he finally got the message that I am so not interested in him. We can hope, at any rate. Anyway, hes gone, and Im glad, because he was becoming a nuisance again.
The girls and I got together last week, but I find their company more than I can bear sometimes. It makes me miss you so much. Be safe. I love you.
Jac sat on the lanai just breathing, absorbing the importance of the words on the page. She loves me. She reread the letter, smiling at the warmth that Lauras speech infused in her. She loves me! The Marine donned her running shoes and took off down the beach. SHE LOVES ME!!
01 March 1941
The guys in my unit are dying to meet you. You completely succeeded in embarrassing me in front of them, so you are their hero now.
Glad to hear about Trenton. I hope he got the message, because Id hate to have to find him and kill him.
I am at a loss of what to say to you. I have read and reread your last letter so many times already it is starting to fall apart from usage. Just for the record, I love you too. Already I am counting the days til you come visit. I miss you.
April 21, 1941
My dearest Jac,
Happy Easter! The snow is gone and the spring flowers are in full bloom. The scent reminds me of the time we attended Mass together, and the Uncle Sal threw that huge egg hunt for the neighborhood. Hes been keeping an eye on me, I think. He calls faithfully every week to make sure things are okay, and there is nothing I need. You wouldnt know anything about that, would you?
I got a note from Jon yesterday. He is headed your way. The Navy is transferring him to the USS IOWA. Hes looking forward to battleship duty, and to seeing you again. Have you met up with Bobby? I think he is on the Arizona, but Id have to check with Cindy to be sure. She is supposed to be moving out there to join him next month.
I think it is kind of funny that most of the gang followed in your footsteps as far as serving goes, but that you are the only Marine among a sea of soldiers and sailors.
The kids are getting excited. There are less than seven weeks of school left, and we are all so ready to be done with it. I should talk... Im counting the days more than they are. I will be boarding the five oclock train on June 9. I should be arriving in Honolulu on June 14. I am so excited about this trip. I have missed you so much it makes my heart ache just thinking about it. I love you.
Jac looked at her watch, then back out the window. This was one of the few times in her life where she wished shed picked up the habit of smoking. At least it would give her something to do while she waited for the minutes to crawl by.
She looked at her watch again, frustrated to see that not even a minute had passed since the last time shed glanced at it.
She sighed as she recognized the voice of her efficient, but troublesome corpsman. To his credit, after his second screw-up and a threat from her to personally insure his life as a eunuch, the man had straightened up and settled down. He was becoming an honor to himself and his unit. Still, she wanted her reunion with Laura to be private.
"Im sorry, sir. I wont intrude, but I wanted to say thank you."
"Youre welcome, Jacobs. Youre shaping up to be a fine corpsman, and Im glad to have you in the unit."
"Well, not many COs would have been as understanding, sir. I appreciate the opportunity you gave me."
Jac looked at her watch again and sighed. "Who are you meeting?" she asked the Navy man.
"No one, sir. I drove in with Dr. Thomas. We are picking up some kind of special medicine or equipment he had shipped over."
A dark brow rose. "On a civilian carrier?"
"I dont know, sir. I just got the command to come along. I didnt ask questions."
Then a plane landed, and Jacs attention was drawn away from the corpsman. He watched the Marine captain for a long moment, before walking back to the waiting doctor. Jacobs recognized the look in Jacs eyes, and knew his superior officer would never miss his presence.
Jac waited until the airplane taxied to a stop, and the attendants were rolling the stairs out toward the still Clipper before she exited the terminal, and stood waiting on the tarmac for the passengers to begin disembarking. Jac shoved her hands in her pockets to hide their shaking. The blonde head emerged and hesitated, blinking into the late afternoon sunlight. The Marine couldnt help the grin that crossed her features, and she saw it echoed on Lauras face. With a glad little squeal, the teacher moved down the steps, slowing to keep from plowing over the people in front of her. When her feet touched the tarmac she ran right into Jacs waiting embrace. For a long time, they stayed locked in one anothers arms, absorbing the sense of completeness that filled them both.
Slowly they pulled back, spending an additional moment simply gazing at one another, saying things with their eyes and hearts that their mouths werent quite ready to say aloud. By mutual consent their lips brushed, then they pulled back, unwilling at this point to share with the rest of the world the love they were just beginning to acknowledge between themselves.
Jac picked up Lauras luggage, and they moved to the waiting jeep. The blonde looked at the vehicle, then down at her dress. With a shrug, she sat and tucked it tightly around her legs. The jeep roared to life and they headed down the beach strip.
The hotel they stopped in front of was quite plush, and Jac turned to Laura as she stepped from the vehicle and lifted the younger womans suitcase from the back. "Lax as the rules are here, you couldnt stay with me. And while I could have booked you as a guest at the BOQ, I wanted a place where we could have a bit of privacy together." They stepped through the doors into the open lobby. "I hope you dont mind."
Laura looked around in awe. There was enough foliage to create the illusion of still being outside, and the small waterfall tucked into one corner only added to the ambiance. "Its lovely, Jac. Simply stunning." She turned and laid a hand on the strong arm, glad that the summer uniform allowed for more skin on skin contact than did the heavy woolen tunic Jac had worn at home. "Thank you for thinking of this."
The Marine smiled then, the expression lighting up her whole face and causing her eyes to twinkle. "I have thought of little else but you and this visit forever. I telegraphed Sal and asked for some recommendations. Next thing I knew, I got a return telegram indicating the arrangements were made. Im still not sure what he did, but knowing him, it will be something special."
They went to the front desk, and were cordially greeted by a soft-spoken young man. He shook his head. "Im sorry. There is no reservation for a Laura McIntire."
The warrior stepped up, and laid a hand on the blondes back, smiling in reflex when she felt Laura lean into the touch. "How about Jac Chambers?"
The clerk looked again, then nodded vigorously. "Yes sir, Captain Chambers. We have the honeymoon suite all ready for you and your bride. If youll just follow me, sir." He snapped his fingers at a boy standing nearby, who politely but firmly took the bag from Jacs hand. The Marine looked at Laura, whose expression was a mix of amusement and astonishment. The teacher took Jacs larger hand in her own, and trailed behind the man.
He led them along an open lanai, and into a more private corridor. At the end of the hallway he stopped, and opened the door with a flourish. The boy brushed by them to set the suitcase inside while the clerk spoke. "Congratulations to you both. We hope you enjoy your stay with us, and celebrate many happy years together."
Jac tipped both him and the boy, and then without warning, scooped Laura up in her arms and crossed the threshold, shutting the door firmly behind them.
They stayed frozen that way for an endless moment before theirs hearts took away conscious, rational thought, and they obeyed the instinct born deep in their souls. Laura tightened the hands she had casually wrapped around the strong neck, gently urging the dark head forward. Jac clasped the blonde woman to her more tightly, even as she ducked her head, and claimed the lips shed dreamed of kissing again for more than half a year.
The Marine tentatively brushed her tongue along Lauras soft lips, and was rewarded with a slight whimper and an open invitation. Jac deepened the kiss slowly, gratified by both the sounds Laura was making and her enthusiastic response. Finally, a need for air and shaking knees forced them to draw apart. They looked at each other, breathing heavily.
"Hi," Jac whispered softly.
"Hi," Laura replied in equally low tones.
The warrior moved to the couch, and gently lowered her beloved to stand beside it. She kept her hands resting on Lauras hips, however, and noticed the teacher kept her hands linked behind the dark head. There was more she had to say, she knew there was, but those kiss-swollen lips were so inviting and so distracting and so.... With a moan, she leaned down and recaptured what was for now, her hearts desire.
The kiss extended for long moments, and when Jac withdrew, she did so slowly with small teasing nips. She kept one arm wrapped around the tiny waist, and lifted the other hand to lightly stroke the fair face. "You are very beautiful," smiling affectionately at the blush that covered Lauras face. "I have missed you so much."
The smaller woman stepped closer, eliminating any sense of distance between them, and burying herself in Jacs strong embrace. "I missed you, too. I live for your letters, but nothing is better than where I am right now." She looked up, and green eyes met blue. "Ive come home."
The rush of emotion through Jacs system brought tears to her eyes and left her gasping for a breathless minute. The Marine dropped onto the couch, and pulled Laura into her lap, wrapping her strong arms around her and hiding her face in the blonde hair. The teacher sat silently, holding on with quiet strength as she felt the soundless sobs shake the firm body surrounding her. Gently she rubbed Jacs arms and chest in an almost absent, comforting pattern.
Gradually, the shaking lessened and stopped, and Jac lifted the hand now resting on her chest and brought it to her lips. She tucked the blonde head beneath her chin and said softly, "So have I." The afternoon passed quietly as they sat watching the waves crash onto shore in peaceful contentment.
As the sun began its decent into the horizon there was a light knock on the door. "Room Service." Dark and light brows rose in tandem, then the warrior slid Laura gently to the couch and rose to answer the door.
"We didnt order room service," Jac said to the still unopened door.
"No sir. This is courtesy of," a pause while the hapless waiter fumbled for the enclosed card, "a Mr. Sal Travotti."
Now the second dark brow joined the first, and Jac opened the door. The cart carried a dozen red and white roses, a bucket of well-iced champagne, two glasses and a covered dish of some kind. The Marine stepped back to allow the man admittance, then signed the check and closed the door behind him. She looked at Laura, whose eyes had grown wide and round when she saw the laden cart.
"Are you all right?" from Jac.
"I think so," the younger woman swallowed. "A little overwhelmed, I think. I, um...."
The warrior crossed the room, and took Lauras cold hands in her own, chafing them gently. "Can I be honest with you?" She waited for beguiling green eyes to meet her own and a blonde head to nod before she continued speaking. She got down on one knee, looking up at the woman who had become her whole world. "I love you, with everything that I am. I would very much like for this scenario to be a real part of our future together. But I would like to take things at least a little slowly. I think we deserve that. We deserve a bit of romance."
Laura reached her hands out, cupping Jacs face tenderly and gazing at her wordlessly for a long moment. The Marine swallowed, terrified of rejection. The teacher sensed the fear, and smiled at her beloved in reassurance. "You are my life and my home, and when the day comes that you ask, the answer will be yes. I love you, and I will not give you up." Her tone became fierce at the last. Then she pulled the warrior up to stand beside her, and Jacs hands naturally wrapped around Lauras waist while the blondes locked around Jacs neck. "You have been romancing me since we were children, but we can take it as slowly as you like, as long as we are together."
The dark head ducked, and captured soft lips in a possessive, passionate kiss.
They moved the cart to the lanai, and Jac popped the cork on the bottle while Laura placed the roses on the small indoor table, and took the covered plate with her to the chaise outdoors. She seated herself, pleased when the Marine sat and wrapped around her while handing her a flute of champagne.
"To the realization of dreams, and infinite possibilities," Jac toasted them, smiling at the startled and then gratified look Laura gave her. They sipped their drinks, then the blonde put the plate of finger foods between them, and they slowly began feeding one another tidbits.
"Tell me something," the Marine asked as she rose to refill their glasses. The food was gone, and she put the empty plate on the cart, then stepped back out into the beautiful moonlit night. Her attention was captured by the picture Laura made sitting in the half light, and she murmured, "So beautiful."
The teachers eyes were focused on the phosphorescent waves, and she answered, "Yes, it is." Then she turned and found Jac outlined by the moonlight, her strong body in sharp silhouette, and her fiery gaze locked on Laura. The blonde blushed, and responded, "But not nearly as lovely as you are."
Taken completely by surprise, the Marine turned a deep red. "Um," she cleared her throat, hoping to regain a bit of her composure. "What did you mean by what you said earlier?" Laura looked at her questioningly, not understanding the query. "About me romancing you since we were kids," Jac clarified. "I mean I know my being a girl or a boy has never mattered, but...." She broke off, not sure where she was going with the conversation.
Laura rose from the chaise, and took Jacs hand, leading her back to the chair and seating her before curling up in the warriors lap. "I think I can explain better here," she said in response to the bemused expression on Jacs face.
"Do you remember the day you moved into the neighborhood?" The Marine nodded, but waited silently for the teacher to continue. "The boys wouldnt let me play with them, but you let me play with you. You watched out for me in school, you helped me find the prettiest flowers, you found things we both enjoyed and could do together. You have always taken care of me. By the time I found out you were a she and not a he it didnt matter. I was head over heels in love with you."
Dark brows shot up. "Honey, it became obvious I was a girl when you were what... nine?"
"Um," an embarrassed chuckle. "It was obvious to you then, and probably to the rest of the world, but no. I didnt know until I was eleven. I announced to Daddy I was going to marry Jacqueline Chambers, and he told me then that it wasnt possible, since you were a girl too. He never did explain why well enough to convince me of it, though." She paused, deep in thought. "Although, come to think of it, I was about ten when Jacqueline disappeared and Jac took her place. He suggested I might find Jac a suitable match. I didnt tell him they were one in the same. It was then I realized that your identity was a secret that you wanted kept."
"How did you know?" the softly voiced question broke the silence that had fallen over them at Lauras confession. "Everyone else accepted that I was who I said I was... the male heir come to learn the business while Jacqueline stayed in Italy learning the ways of the old country. Why didnt you?"
"You told me... in your eyes, your mannerisms, your touch, and your treatment of me. It never changed, and I knew it was you."
"It didnt bother you... my pretending to be a man?"
Laura gave the question due consideration. "Does being a Marine make you happy?" A nod. "And could you do what you do if you were a woman?" A negative shake. "I fell in love with the person you are, the person you have always been, and as long as you are true to yourself and honest with me, then what you choose to show the world is a moot point."
The acceptance from the one person from whom acceptance mattered caused another rush of tears to her eyes and a thrill of warmth to her soul. Jac responded by wrapping the blonde in a fierce hug, trying to convey with her embrace the feelings coursing through her heart and soul.
Laura felt the shift in emotion, and turned in the warriors arms so they were sitting face to face. "I love you. I always have."
The meeting of their lips this time was explosive and passionate, and Laura moaned at the intensity of emotion the invasion of Jacs tongue caused to tremble throughout her body. The Marine couldnt stop the answering moan that came from deep in her chest, and let her hands loose to wander just a bit. When she could no longer breathe, Jac drew back and cleared her throat slightly, hesitating at the raw passion she saw reflected at her from green eyes gone gray in the dark.
"Id um, Id better go. There is so much... I mean. I want... I, um...." She went with the gentle tugging on her neck, and resumed the kiss. It was soft this time. Slow and gentle and full of love, and Jac felt her resolve to leave melting like dew in the sunshine.
This time it was Laura that pulled away, and she slowly stood, and brought the Marine up standing beside her, gently chafing both hands. "I know I said we could move as slowly as you felt comfortable with, but I hope very soon you will be relaxed enough with the idea of us together to stay the night. Even if all we do is sleep together, I have dreamed of going to bed wrapped in your arms, and waking up still in your embrace. I wont lie and say Im not hoping for more than sleeping, but I covet whatever time together we can share."
Jac swallowed hard then, having never expected to hear such frank talk come from Laura. "Get your shoes on," she ordered, then realized she wasnt a commanding officer here. "Im sorry, I mean, would you like to join me for a little ride? I should go to my quarters to pick some stuff up if Im going to be staying here." The last was finished in a whisper. Lauras face lit up when she understood what Jac was saying.
"You mean it? You really want to stay with me?"
The Marine took the fair face in her hands, and brushed their lips together. "I have dreamed of nothing else for years." Jac was swiftly coming to the realization that slowly wasnt going to be that slow at all. They really had been a courting couple for years, and the culmination of that was going to lead to consummation in the near future.
The blonde didnt say another word, but took the warriors hands in her own, and led them back inside.
When they reached the base, the guard on gate duty halted the jeep. Jac held up her ID, even though the soldier was one of her own men. He took it solemnly, looking at it carefully, and then at her, nodding slightly as he handed it back. "Who is your guest, sir?" He held up the visitor log.
"This beautiful creature is the woman I am going to marry." Lauras blush could be seen even in the moonlight and both Marines, guard and Captain, smiled delightedly. Jac brought their linked hands to her lips, and brushed a kiss along the back of the teachers knuckles.
"That is wonderful news, sir. Congratulations! But, um, does she have a name?" The man scratched his head with the pencil. "I need to write it down."
"I am Laura McIntire, soon to be Chambers." They spoke at once, though the blondes words overwhelmed the Marines answer.
The soldier touched a hand to his cap in salute. "It is a pleasure to meet you, maam. Here is your visitors badge." He looked at the Captain. "Youre clear to proceed, sir. Her badge is good for the duration of her stay here."
"Thanks, Mac." The jeep drove forward, and headed toward officer quarters. Mac just stood at the gate shaking his head.
"Wait til the guys hear about this."
The BOQ looked a lot like a motel or an apartment building, but Jac drove past it to some small square houses set separately on small lawns down the beach stretch. At the last one, she stopped and pulled the jeep in, shutting off the motor, and jumping out. She walked around and offered her arm to the blonde. "Home sweet home. Cmon. Ill give you the nickel tour."
It wasnt much. A tiny living area that held a small couch and a chair and bookcase in one corner that was filled to overflowing with books. There was a small table with two chairs in the kitchen area, and an equally tiny bathroom. The bedroom held a large bed, in deference to Jacs height, and a table and lamp. Laura looked around in interest, then found her attention caught by the beach right outside the glass doors.
"This is nice, Jac. Still a neat freak, I see," said with a hint of teasing.
"Yeah," with a sheepish grin. "Old habits die hard." Jac took a small bag from the top of the closet shelf and began placing neatly folded garments inside. "Its not much, but it is private and its home. I can actually relax here. No one bothers me, and the neighbors move in and out with regularity."
"Will this be where we live?"
Jac actually froze, realizing how easy it would be to simply keep Laura by her side. But military life was far different from anything the teacher had ever experienced, and Jac wanted to ease her into it. Still, the question had aroused her own curiosity.
"Would it bother you if it was?"
Laura looked fully into Jacs face then, gauging the seriousness of the tone, and realizing her answer was important to their future together. She stepped closer, laying her blonde head on the broad chest, and greedily breathing in the clean scent surrounding her. "As long as we were together, a part of each other, you could be holding a blanket around us for shelter, and I would be content." She pulled back and looked directly into the warriors eyes. "Where you go, I go."
Jac leaned down then and sealed the sweet promise with a kiss. "I like the sound of that. Cmon, lets go back to the hotel. Ill bring you back during the day and give you a full tour of the place. Its a nice base. I think youll like it," thinking about a special stop or two she wanted to make.
Mac waved them out as they passed by, and the trip back to the hotel was quiet, broken only by the sound of waves and the odd vehicle. They entered their suite from the lanai, just as they had left it, and stepped inside, conscious of one another in a way they had never been before.
"Do you mind?" the blonde asked softly, turning her back and pulling her hair to one side. The Marine was quick to comply, and unzipped the dress from neck to hips. Then she placed a soft kiss on Lauras neck, nipping lightly before stepping away. The teachers quickly indrawn breath caused her to smile. "Ill be back in minute," Laura whispered, before moving into the bathroom and closing the door.
Jac slowly unbuttoned her shirt, realizing that this would be the first time that anyone had ever seen her as a woman. Uncle Sals influence was far reaching, and it had insured numerous things to protect her, and her secret. Laura would be the first to actually see the truth, though it wouldnt be a revelation. The Marine found reason to smile at that. The teacher had kept it to herself for years; it was only fair.
The shirt came off, and Jac hung it neatly in the closet, still deeply lost in thought. She slowly began to remove the bindings that had become such an integral part of her life. The Marine never even heard Laura come out of the bathroom until the light touch on her back made her startlingly aware. She stiffened, and the warmth was removed.
"Im sorry, Jac. I thought you heard me. "Ill...."
"Wait," the warrior spoke softly. "If you could just hand me my pajama top.... Ive never been undressed in front of anyone before."
"No one? Ever?" the blonde asked even as she turned and handed the clothing to the tall woman, watching as Jac shook her head.
"I couldnt. Not and keep my secret."
"But what about...." She broke off, too embarrassed to continue.
"Sex?" Jac finished buttoning the top and turned around shrugging. "I thought I had no chance with the only person I was interested in sharing that with. And when I needed relief, well, knowing myself hasnt been a real problem."
Laura looked puzzled for all of the split second it took her mind to follow Jacs words, then she blushed. "You mean you...."
"Yeeesssss. You mean you havent?"
"Um, no. Not really."
Jac wrapped her arms around the younger woman from behind and just held her. "Then it is something I look forward to exploring with you. Cmon. Its getting late."
Jac went into the bathroom and shut the door, emerging mere moments later. Laura was standing at the table, a puzzled expression on her face. "Problem?" she asked, wondering what as going through the teachers mind.
Laura reached out a hand, absently tracing Jacs face, continuing down her neck and across her shoulder. "No," she answered softly. "I am simply humbled by the fact that someone as beautiful as yourself has never been fully appreciated for who you are, and you are allowing me the privilege of being the first. Thank you."
Jac wasnt sure what response to make to that, and said gruffly, "Youre welcome." Then she extended her hand and led the blonde to the near side of the bed.
The Marine walked to the other side, and they crawled in, one on either side. They lay stiffly on their backs, not touching for a long moment before Laura broke the awkward silence.
"Okay, this is not what I had in mind."
Jac sighed silently, glad that Laura didnt have trouble speaking her mind, then thought back to their earlier conversation and smirked. Most of the time anyway. She was looking forward to more research together on that subject. The warrior rolled onto her side, propping her head up on one hand. "What *did* you have in mind, hmm?"
Laura moved closer. "Move to the middle of the bed." Jac complied, and found herself the recipient of a rather aggressive teacher. In under a minute, they were completely situated to Lauras total satisfaction, though the warrior couldnt find fault with the arrangement.
Jac lay flat on her back, half covered by the smaller woman who now draped over her, a possessive arm around Jacs waist, and the blonde head resting comfortably on the breast over the strong heart. The Marines arms came to wrap naturally around Laura, and the smaller woman sighed.
"This is *much* better."
"Um hmm." Her hands ran lightly up and down the fair arms and silky gown. "Did I mention how beautiful you look in this?" plucking lightly at the silky material.
"No," the blonde head shook, "but thank you." Laura paused, absorbing the sensations surrounding her, then turning her head into her soft pillow and kissing Jacs breast. "You are so soft. This is so different from how you feel in uniform." She paused. "I like this side of you. Im looking forward to exploring the many different facets of you."
The hands that had stilled their wanderings at the touch of lips on breast resumed, and Jac brushed a light kiss on the blonde head tucked beneath her chin. "I am looking forward to a good many explorations with you, but later. We both need some rest first." She would have said more, but a light snoring greeted her words. Jac smiled in the darkness. "I love you, Laura. Goodnight, beloved."
The waves gurgled their laughter, and the moon winked as two souls continued to twine together in their dreams.
Morning found them curled up together in the same positions theyd fallen asleep in the night before. Jacs arm was screaming in protest, but she couldnt help the smile that crossed her face at the realization of exactly WHY it was screaming. Lauras blonde hair was mussed, and she was smiling in her sleep. The Marine tightened her hold reflexively, and the teacher mewed and curled deeper into the embrace. Jac lay there for long moments, simply drinking in the sensations coursing through her body, before noticing that their breathing was in perfect synch.
A few more minutes of stillness, and Jac found there were several other body parts that were demanding attention. As gently as she could, the Marine extricated herself from Lauras clutches, tucking the sheet around her, and using her pillow as a substitute for the blonde to clasp. Laura mumbled her dislike for the new situation, then settled back into a deeper sleep.
Jac made her way into the bathroom with her kit, deciding to take a quick shower and dress privately. She still wasnt comfortable with being viewed as a woman, even by Laura. Especially by Laura, if the truth be told. Shed survived as a man in a mans world for too long. What if Laura decided she preferred Jac to Jacqueline?
She stepped into the hot shower with a furrowed brow. It didnt take long... short showers were the norm in the military. Jac stood in front of the mirror naked, consciously seeing herself as a woman for the first time in a long time. A knock on the door brought her out of her musings, and she snatched the towel off the rack and wrapped it around herself hastily. She took a step to the door. "Yes?"
"I need to pee," came the sleepily mumbled response.
Jac was caught. She could open the door, and let Laura in, or open the door and let herself out. Either way, she would be exposed to the woman she loved in a way she wasnt really prepared to be. Of course, she could just get dressed, but even with practice, the binding took time, and....
"Please Jac, I really need to use the bathroom."
With a sigh, the Marine grabbed her kit and opened the door. Laura walked right into her arms, kissing the light swell of breast peeking out of the towel. "Mornin" she muttered into the soft skin, before heading for the toilet. Jac stood stock still in wonder. The clue by four that had just smacked the back of her head solidified the truth in her mind, heart and soul.
It really didnt matter to Laura if Jac was male or female. Laura loved the person Jac was. The Marine closed the door to give the blonde woman some privacy, too overcome to do much more. She smiled when she heard the shower running, guessing correctly that the teacher was trying to make sure she had a chance to get dressed privately.
She thought about waiting, then decided she really wasnt ready for that big a step just yet. So she was dressed in her casual shorts and a t-shirt, with the funny Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned over it when Laura stepped out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel. Jac felt her heart rate increase exponentially at the sight.
"Ahem," clearing her throat and feeling like an awkward teenager. "What would you like for breakfast?" Lauras head jerked up at the first sound of Jacs voice.
"Oh, I, um...." Crimson color flooded the fair face, make the blonde brows stand out in vivid relief. "I uh...."
"Tell ya what," Jac said, coming up behind the shorter woman and placing her hands lightly on Lauras shoulders. "You go get dressed," turning her back towards the bathroom, "and I will call for room service. Then we will go see what kind of trouble we can find today." She dropped a tender kiss on the juncture of Lauras neck and shoulder, smiling when the blonde trembled at the soft touch. Laura turned and wrapped tender arms around Jacs neck. Soundlessly, she drew the dark head down, their eyes meeting before closing as their lips joined in a prolonged morning kiss.
"I think I can do that," came the squeaked response when they separated. "I should probably get some clothes first. I knew there was a reason I came out here," muttered almost inaudibly under her breath.
The Marine smiled, and moved to the phone, watching the soft sway of hips as the blonde walked back into the bathroom. The day was looking really good so far.
They spent the better part of the day on base. Jac wanted to show Laura off and around, and the teacher was equally anxious to understand the warriors world. Laura found herself accepted by the wives of the other officers, something of a surprise given what shed expected. It was the colonels wife who explained the reason.
"You see, dear, Jac is a very private man. You are the first inkling weve actually gotten that he is human. Besides, he is a fine officer, and has made life easier for many of us by making things easier for our husbands. You must be pretty special if he is serious about you."
"Oh," came the deep voice as Jac returned from the bar where she had been getting drinks. "She most definitely is, and I most certainly am." In a display of public affection Laura had never hoped to see from Jac, the warrior wrapped strong arms around her from behind, and brushed a kiss across her cheek.
"Oh, do tell," from one of the younger wife. "Serious enough for marriage?"
Jac just grinned.
"That was a lot of fun, Jac." They were strolling the beach at sunset, having left the Inquisition as the Marine referred to the introductions, sometime earlier. It wasnt something she had been thrilled with, but it was a necessary evil as far as her military career was concerned. Now that it was past, Jac was relaxed about it. Laura had charmed them all, and it was clear she would be accepted as one of them when the couple wed. The wives were already planning showers and such. Jac had to just smile.
"Im glad you had a good time. You made quite the impression, you know."
"Hmm," Laura replied thoughtfully. "I can see military life will be an interesting new experience."
Jac stopped then and pulled the smaller woman to her, turning her to face the sunset, and cocooning her in strong arms. "Every day with you is an interesting new experience for me, love. I treasure our moments together."
Laura rotated in the embrace until she was nose to nose with Jac. The sunset fell unnoticed behind them as their lips blended in a uniting of souls.
The next few days passed in much the same way. Their days were spent together discovering the sights of the island while they adjusted to the new dimension of their burgeoning relationship. Nights were spent in a comfortable tangle of limbs and deep restful sleep. Jac had not yet let Laura see her, though the teacher had offered several tantalizing glimpses. The Marine found herself becoming anxious to reciprocate.
On Lauras fifth day on the Island, Jac decided to take the younger woman on a picnic to a private retreat. The warrior had stumbled upon secluded cove on day quite by accident, and had been back several times to immerse herself in the peacefulness and solitude she found there. Jac was hoping her luck would extend to today... she had plans for Laura.
She smiled when the blonde emerged from the bathroom in one of the casual outfits theyd found on a shopping excursion the previous day. When Laura had asked, Jac had indicated that casual would be appreciated for the days outing, and the teacher had fallen into the spirit by donning some of her recently purchased Island clothes.
The short skirt and halter top were quite colorful, and very brief. Laura was extremely self-conscious about how much of her was actually showing for the instant it took for her to catch the appreciative and frankly lustful gaze cast her direction by Jac. Then she smiled and blushed, suddenly shot through with warmth at the ego boost.
Jac reached out her hand, and they walked down the beach to the small marina where the warrior had reserved a small motorboat. Twenty minutes later, they were pulling into the secluded cove, and Jac was tying the boat off to anchor. Laura realized then that no one could see the launch and unless you knew where this place was, the odds were you would never find it.
She followed Jacs example, and left her shoes in the boat. She stepped out into warm water and smooth sand, and began the short wade to shore. Jac set out the blanket theyd brought, and Laura began to lay out the picnic lunch the hotel had provided for them.
There was nothing to disturb them here... only the rush of waves, and the occasional odd bird. They exchanged tidbits and touches, the last that lingered as they slowly put the food aside and began to concentrate of the tastes and sensations of one another.
Jac ran a hand along bare ribs up to cup the roundness of a soft breast. Laura moaned softly, pushing the Marine onto her back and deepening the kiss. The warriors other hand caressed the firm behind, pressing the smaller body harder into her own. Sensation exploded and drew mutual moans from both women.
Small hands began their own investigation beneath the Marines t-shirt, and Laura gave a frustrated growl when she ran into the bindings. Jac pulled her lips from Lauras mouth, gently moving across her jaw line and captured an earlobe with a gentle bite. She slid a hand up the bare back to the knot that held the top closed, loosening it until the material fell away. The warrior rolled them over, sliding the fabric off Lauras chest, gazing down at bare skin with eyes filled with love, lust and more than a little appreciation. "So beautiful," she murmured. Her hands moved lightly down the silky skin, following the path her eyes had just traversed, gently circling rapidly hardening nipples before moving down to trace the defined abdominal muscles.
Laura whimpered, eyes darkening in swiftly building passion, and reached for Jacs shirt. The warrior leaned back to allow the garment to be pushed over her head, then leaned down to recapture the soft lips beneath her while sliding a hand up to cup a bared breast. She ran a thumb along the erect nipple, reveling in the sensations and sounds surrounding her.
"Please," Laura whispered. "Please, Jac." She tugged on the bindings, drawing the Marine down to her. "Please." She tugged harder.
Jac hesitated, unsure what Laura was asking for. She rose up slightly, keeping up her light touches while meeting the green eyes. "What, love? What do you need?"
"I need to feel you, Jac. Please."
The Marine stiffened and started to pull away. Laura held on, not wanting to lose the connection. Jac smiled, brushing the back of her fingers against the smooth face. "I have to sit up a bit to loosen the binding, sweetheart." She straddled the teachers slim hips and sat up on her knees, grasping for the pins that held the elastic bandage in place. Without warning, Laura sat up, and reached out to still Jacs suddenly nervous hands.
"Let me," she whispered, looking into the blue eyes and laying her soul bare.
Jac faltered, then closed her eyes and nodded. She felt the fabric loosen and bit her lip, the nervousness making her want to throw up. She decided that probably wouldnt win any points in her favor, so she simply concentrated on breathing.
A tentative touch on her freed breast made her gasp, and her eyes flew open at the explosion of sensation she felt from the simple, light touch. Laura looked up, and caught the look of wonder that crossed the Marines features, and gently cupped her face with one hand while continuing her explorations with the other.
"You are very beautiful, Jac. I love you."
Jac laced a hand into the blonde hair, and drew Laura to her. "I love you, too." Then lips met in a fervent embrace, and the world narrowed to the discovery and explosion of passion between them.
A gentle nibbling woke the warrior from what had been the most incredible dream, until she opened her eyes and realized that her dream was reality. Sparkling green eyes gazed back at her, and the ardent expression swallowed her whole. She pulled Laura to her, kissing her gently. Then she sat up, and....
"OW!" Jac muttered, sand rubbing her in some very tender, very inappropriate places.
"You should complain," the blonde answered. "*Yours* will wash off." She cast a dirty look at Jac. "My butt is sunburned."
Jac glanced down the length of their bodies, pleasantly stimulated by the sight of them twined together. Then she noticed the shapely, very pink ass cheeks. She schooled her features, knowing the laughter that was itching to escape at both the predicament and the look on Lauras face was likely to keep any further intimacy at bay for the duration of the teachers stay. Instead, she kissed the sunburned nose, and commented, "Cute ass. Guess we should rub it with aloe every hour or so." Jac wriggled her brows lecherously, hoping to get a smile from Laura. Her tactic was well rewarded when the blonde chuckled softly.
"Do I sense distinct hedonistic tendencies emerging from my stoic warrior?"
"Um hmm," came the lazy rumble from deep in Jacs chest. "I am finally able to indulge in the fantasy I have only dreamed about until now. I intend to become a full-time hedonist," leering.
"Well, cmon hedonist." Laura eased up on her hands and knees and stood. "You need to rinse the sand off, and I need an aloe rub."
"I know just the place."
The evening before Lauras scheduled departure, the colonel and his wife held a huge soiree in her honor. Jac honestly didnt expect anyone to come. She was, after all, the heartless son of a bitch. The Captain had no idea of the true respect and liking both those who worked with her and those that were under her command had developed for her. So she was quite shocked at the turnout.
Laura snickered at the look of honest astonishment the Marine mask couldnt quite hide when Jac saw every single man in her unit plus many of her fellow officers present. She recalled the conversation theyd had while getting ready just a short hour before.
"Im sorry there was no good way to turn this little party
down, love." Jac stood behind her, and met Lauras eyes
in the mirror. "I would much rather spend the night making
love to you before you leave."
"I like the sound of that," the blonde answered quietly. "I
dont know what I am going to do without you when I get
back home." Tears flooded the green eyes. "God, I am
going to miss you so much."
Jac pulled the smaller woman firmly into her body, moving
them backwards until she could sit on the end of the bed
with Laura in her lap. Then she captured the soft lips
passionately, and kissed the blonde until hands were wandering
freely and breaths were ragged.
"I am going to miss you too." She paused, dropping her eyes
to the ground before raising them again and meeting Lauras
steadfastly. Then she stood and set the teacher on the bed
and turned to kneel in front of her.
"Of course, you could just stay here and marry me." The
warrior opened the small box she had removed from her
pants pocket. It was a large clear stone, surrounded by pink
baguette diamonds in an exquisite setting. Laura gasped.
"It was my mothers," Jac said softly. "She always loved you.
You were the daughter of her heart." Slightly shaking hands
lifted the ring from the case. "Will you...?"
Laura extended her left hand to receive the offering, cupping
her right to Jacs face in a tender gesture. She pulled the
Marine into her until they were breathing the same air. "Yes,"
she mumbled, as she felt the band slip over her knuckle and
come to rest on its new home. "Yes," she said again before
their lips met, and they spent some moments in loving discovery
of their rising passion.
Finally, Laura pulled away with a gasp. "Ahem, if we dont stop
now we wont make it to this little shindig. Not that that would
be a bad thing, but we need to at least make an appearance.
They have been nice to me, and I dont want to appear rude.
Besides, it is better for your career if we go."
"Looking out for me already, huh?"
Jac smiled. "Well, I doubt very much anyone is going to show up.
Its pretty informal, and I really havent made friends here. So
lets go and get this over with. We should be back in time
for dessert on the beach."
Jac extended her arm and Laura gladly took it and the couple slowly made their way through the crowd as the Marine made introductions. When they reached the colonel and his wife, the older man chuckled and slapped Jac on the back.
"Well, Captain, Id say from the look on your face that you didnt expect quite the turnout you got here."
"Id have to say you were right, sir," Jac sheepishly admitted. "I just figured...."
"You just figured since youre a hard ass that likes his privacy no one would give a shit. Oh, ahem, excuse me, ladies." The Colonels wife had smacked him on the belly to remind him of his language. "The fact is, Jac," the colonel continued, "you have earned the trust and respect of every man here. And besides," nudging the Marine in the arm, "everyone wanted to meet the woman who laid claim to you."
Jac blushed, and Laura giggled, and the movement caused the diamond ring to catch the Colonels wifes eye. She squealed, and clasped Lauras hand, pulling her away from the warrior.
"Oh. My. God. Ohmigod! This is fantastic!" She looked around and started motioning. "Girls! Look at this... its official." The girls cheered and the fellows whooped, and for a moment the sound was overwhelming. Then one of the younger Marines yelled out above the noise.
"KISS HER CAPN!!"
The sound grew exponentially, and Jac crooked an eyebrow at Laura in question. The Colonels wife released the blondes hand as she turned toward the Marine, and Jac rested her hands on Lauras slim waist. The teacher ran her hands up the t-shirted chest, and locked them around the strong neck, urging the dark head down to meet her lips. Jac hesitated, then brushed her lips once, twice, and then took soul-sweeping possession of Lauras mouth for a long passionate moment. Only when she felt the small hands start to loosen and begin wandering did she pull back. And their audience, which had fallen silent at the intensity they displayed, whooped and cheered even louder than before.
June 30, 1941
My dearest love,
We are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, and all I can think about is you... us. I keep looking at the ring on my finger, trying to reconcile the fact that dreams, my dreams, are becoming my reality. I wish there had been a way for me to stay, but it is for the best that I go home and take care if all the loose ends. Besides, I dont know if Daddy would ever forgive me if he missed the wedding.
I love you and miss you so much. I dont know how I will make it until September 23. Are you sure you will be able to get off then? I would just die if something came up to postpone this. We are supposed to be together, and every day of separation is like a lifetime to me.
Think of me. I love you.
30 June 1941
I stood here watching the plane until it disappeared from sight, and already my heart aches from missing you so much I want to go be sick. September 23 cannot come soon enough for me. Make sure you plan the wedding of you dreams, love, because this is gonna be a one shot deal. You are mine, and I intend to have you with me forever.
I love and miss you.
July 7, 1941
I am going to try to write you everyday. When I am writing, it brings you nearer to me, and I find I crave that solace, if only for the few minutes I spend writing to you. I have set things in motion for the wedding arrangements. If there is anything special you want, please let me know. Otherwise, I would like to keep it simple and intimate.
I miss you. I think of you out there and wonder what you are up to. I think it was very nice of the colonel to offer you leave time off the books for our wedding trip, since you came in and did war games with them for those two days while I was there. I dont think he expected you to whomp his team so badly though. God, I was proud of you.
I love you, and think of you every waking moment, and most of the sleeping ones too. Be safe.
31 July 1941
My adorable one,
Apologies for the delay in writing. We were out in the field for two weeks, and apparently there has been a slowdown between you and us in the system somewhere. So I am sending you several days worth of letters in this envelope. Most of it is goopy love stuff, but it tells you how I feel. I hope the Marines dont discharge for goopy, because I will be history if they do.
God, I miss you. I would look up at the stars at night, and think about us gazing at them together on the beach here. Cant begin to tell you how hard it was to concentrate on maneuvers when I had us to think about instead. I am counting the days until you are here with me again. The time cant pass fast enough for me.
All my love always,
August 14, 1941
My treasured Marine,
Is it only the middle of August? We have been separated FOREVER. I know I have lived lifetimes while we have been apart. I miss you so intensely. I ache in the mornings waking up alone from dreams of us together. Thank you for the flowers though. I cant tell you how that helps.
Things for the wedding are falling into place. Uncle Sal has been a peach. I dont think I could do all this without him.
Thinking of you every minute. I love you completely.
Yours for eternity,
August 19, 1941
Enclosed find the deed and title to your parents house. The offer is extremely generous, above what you were hoping to get. Please sign these in front of a notary there, and send them back to me as soon as possible. Your signature is the last thing we need to finish up this bit of business.
On a personal note, I am so very happy that we will be welcoming Laura into the family soon. I know the Virgin will bless your union. You have always been faithful. See you soon.
01 September 1941
My dearest love,
This will be my last letter before I head for home for you. God, Im down to counting the minutes now. In less than 33, 120 minutes, I will hold you in my arms, and I am going to kiss you until we both
collapse from lack of air. Id suggest you start practicing holding your breath.
My guys are going out on maneuvers and patrol this week. No one is real happy with me right now, but we need the practice. I want them to be ready for the conflict that is coming. I remember how Poland changed Britain, and Dunkirk multiplied that a thousand fold. I dont want these guys caught unprepared.
Sorry, I didnt want to get into military stuff with you. I just need to tell you I love you... I miss you... I want you... I need you. Is it too much to add that you are my life?
"Honey, you need to calm down," Hamilton McIntire coaxed his daughter. "Youre going to make yourself sick with all this pacing and worrying. Jac will be here when he gets here and not before."
"Your papas right, Laura. Relax," Sal confirmed from his place on the couch. The two men had been talking since Sals arrival forty-five minutes earlier. "We dont even know for sure if Jac is flying in today or not. Ricardo had strict orders to pick him up and deliver him here straightaway."
"I should have gone with him, Uncle Sal." The two men exchanged glances and hidden smiles.
"And driven Ricardo nuts with your impatience? Ah... no. They will be here when they get here. Why dont you relax and...." The sound of a car pulling into the drive cut off Sals words, which was just as well. Laura was no longer in the house to hear them. He looked at Hamilton, and they burst into chuckles.
"Ah, young love."
"Yes," Sal replied. "Im glad these two are finally together. It has been a long time coming."
The doctor looked at the businessman and nodded solemnly. "Indeed it has."
Laura remembered to give a brief prayer of thanks for the dry steps as she raced out the door and hit the ground running. Ricardo didnt have a chance to stop the car properly before Jac was out and bracing for the impact of Laura jumping into her arms. For a very long moment, they were locked in a hug so tight even a whisper of sound couldnt have penetrated between them. The sensation of being together again felt so good, so right, that they stood absorbing it... not noticing the watching eyes their reunion was attracting.
Then Jac pulled back very slightly, just far enough that she could ensnare the soft lips shed been dreaming about in an ardent kiss that went on... and on... and....
"Oh my God, Jac," Laura said enthusiastically. Then she went right back to the mouth she was intent on devouring. "Sweet Jesus, love. I have missed you."
"God, Sweetheart. If we dont move this inside pretty soon, were gonna be giving the whole neighborhood a show," Jac muttered on an uneven breath.
"Let em watch. I have missed you too much to care." This said in a breathless whisper right into Jacs ear, causing shivers to chase up and down the warriors spine.
"And Im not sharing with the rest of the world. Cmon." The blonde slid down the warriors body, noting the response with a smile.
"Im glad you got here for rehearsal tonight."
"Me too. I want some time alone with you."
"Not tonight, love. You know that." She smiled as the Marine gave her the most adorable pout. "But we will have the rest of our lives together."
Jac had to stop then. The smile that blossomed on her face was blinding in its intensity. "Do you understand just how happy that makes me?" Without preamble, she leaned down and gave the teacher a fiercely passionate kiss. "God, I love you," when they broke off from one another.
"Whoo," Laura replied, fanning herself. She leaned in and wrapped an arm around Jacs waist, and laid her blonde head on the broad shoulder. "I love you too."
"What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder," the minister intoned. He looked at Jac and smiled brightly. "You may kiss your beautiful bride, Captain."
Jac returned the grin, and easily lifted the veil. "I love you," whispered as she caressed the smooth cheek that flushed pink with her words. The green eyes darkened, and Laura slid her hands up the decorated tunic, coming to rest in the dark hair.
Their lips met and the world faded out. Then the silence was broken by a loud cheering and they separated with a chuckle, and turned to face the applause. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to present to you Captain and Mrs. Jac Chambers." The organ music swelled as the ovation grew louder, and they made their way down the aisle together, heading out the door to the small reception.
It was supposed to have been a small party, Jac mused as she and her bride slowly walked through the rather crowded restaurant that was closed for the wedding reception. Laura looked at her sheepishly when the Marine raised her eyebrow and motioned to the number of guests that had accumulated.
"Sorry, I know we wanted to keep it small, but there always seemed to be one more name to add to the list."
The warrior wrapped Laura up in her arms oblivious to the indulgent stares they were receiving. "Love, you could have invited the world. I dont care. They want to share our day, and thats fine. I have you to myself for the rest of our lives."
The music started then, and Jac led Laura to the floor for their first dance as a married couple. Slowly they drifted in and out with the sound, reveling in the closeness and intimacy that cocooned them safely from the rest of the world for that single moment in time.
Then the tune shifted, and other couples began to join them on the dance floor. Hamilton approached, and tapped the warrior on the soldier. "May I?" Jac lifted the blondes hand to her lips, and brushed a kiss across the back of her knuckles. Then she placed the hand in Hamiltons and stepped back.
"Happy, Little Girl?" the father asked. Laura looked up at him with sparkling eyes and a big smile.
"Yes, Daddy. It is a dream come true."
They danced in silence for a moment, then Hamilton said softly, "You are a beautiful bride, daughter. I only wish your mother had lived to see this day."
Tears welled but didnt spill, and she smiled at the sentiment. "Somehow, I think Mama knows, and is having a celebration of her own in heaven."
"Ill just bet youre right," the doctor agreed. "Their reception for yall probably bigger than this one." He chuckled, imagining the picture.
They finished the dance, and Hamilton escorted Laura back to where Jac was standing with Sal, patiently waiting. "Take good care of her, son. Shes one of a kind."
"Yes, sir," was the reply, acknowledging the truth in both statements.
A short time later, Sal as best man, clinked his glass for quiet, then raised it in toast. "I know our newlyweds are anxious to leave." Snickers and catcalls followed this pronouncement, and Sal himself chuckled at the rising twin blushes crawling up Jac and Lauras faces. "They have a long trip to get home, but before they leave, I have something to say."
"Get on with it before we die of old age over here," the Marine muttered, though it was loud enough for the man to hear her impatience, and he chuckled again.
"First, though, we need to let them cut the cake."
The couple stood, and took the knife together, cutting a sliver and putting it on a plate. Jac reached a piece over to Laura, who nibbled her fingers as she took a small bite. The warrior shivered in reaction, and got a wicked twinkle in her blue eyes. When the blonde offered Jac a bite, the Marine reached for her hand, and sucked the fingers into her mouth, laving them tenderly with her tongue to insure they were clean before she let go. She heard the almost inaudible moan, and grinned wickedly at her bride.
"You just wait," Laura muttered, her eyes having darkened in passionate reaction.
"Oh, sweetheart, I am counting the minutes."
"Ahem, now that everyone here is in need of a very cold shower," Sal croaked out, watching a furious blush climb up both faces. "God, we need to get yall out of here." Laughter followed this statement. "But first," he lifted his glass, and everyone joined him, Jac and Laura wrapping their arms around each other and waiting.
"The road ahead is unknown, but together, you can face anything that comes your way. I wish you happiness and joy in your life together, strength for the trials that await you, patience to support one another through the sorrows and triumphs, and everlasting love to bind you together through it all. Many happy years together, my children. Salut!"
"Salut" The toast was echoed round the room, and everyone took a drink, waiting for Jac to answer the words. She unwound her arm from Lauras, setting her flute down, and wrapping herself around her bride. Then she cleared her throat, and started speaking in a low voice.
"Life is an amazing thing. And it has given me the most precious gift to treasure. Thank you, friends, for sharing this day with us." She lifted her glass, and smiled. "Now stay, and enjoy. My bride and I have somewhere else to be."
The guests followed them out to the chauffeured car that was standing by, pelting them with rice. Jac did her best to protect Laura from the onslaught, and then they were safely ensconced in the back of the vehicle, surrounded by blessed silence.
They did a bit of necking, conscious not to let it go too far, even though Ricardo discreetly averted his gaze and kept his attention on the road. Laura reached up a hand and traced the warriors full lips, gasping a bit when Jac nipped at them gently. Then the car was stopping, and Ricardo was exiting the drivers door to open the back.
Jac stepped out first, and held her hand out to Laura who accepted with alacrity. They stood together for a minute in front of the stately hotel clasping hands. Then they headed for the door together.
People stopped to watch the happy couple cross the foyer and enter the elevator. Sal had given Jac the key to the penthouse before the wedding. Smiles broke out all around at the sense of perfect joy they exuded.
Laura was hard-pressed to contain herself for the relatively short ride up to their suite. The Marine jiggled the key in the lock, then turned and swept her bride off her feet and carried the small blonde into the room. Laura grabbed Jacs head fiercely in her hands and began to devour the warriors sweet lips. Jac groaned and leaned against the door to close it, hoping it would hold her up long enough to take a deep breath.
The blonde possessed her completely, then slid down the hard body. "Dont. Move." She growled seductively, and the Marine stood frozen at darkened eyes and commanding tone.
Laura reached up, and removed the pins holding her veil in place, lifting it off her head and carefully setting it to one side. Her hair fell seductively down around her shoulders in soft waves, and Jac drew a deep breath, having a sudden desire to run her hands through the silken waves.
Laura turned and presented her back to Jac, who stepped away from the door abruptly. "Buttons only, Marine. No touching." The warrior whimpered, but complied, wondering when she had lost complete control of this situation.
The blonde stepped away from Jac when the last button was loosened, turning slowly to look into blue eyes over her shoulder. Then inch by agonizing inch, Laura slipped the silky material from her body. When the strong back appeared the warrior clasped her hands into fists to keep from reaching out and stroking the smooth skin. The sight of lacy panties and garters made her moan, and the little shimmy Laura gave when she stepped out of the dress pushed her hard and fast over the line.
Jac grabbed her from behind, pulling the small body into her own with a growl. One hand buried itself into the blonde hair, bringing the lips back to meet her own in an ardent kiss. The other hand reached up to cup a pert breast, firmly stroking the already hardened nipple. Laura groaned, and wrapped her hands in the short dark hair, matching Jacs tongue stroke for eager stroke. Then she pulled away and turned and pushed the warrior back against the door.
The blonde held up a finger in command, and twisted away from Jacs touch. She unhooked the first stocking, rolling it slowly down her leg. She lifted the leg onto the nearby bed, and bent at the waist, affording the Marine ample opportunity for a luscious visual. The second stocking came off with equal teasing, and Jac was biting her lips and clawing at the door to stop herself from interrupting the delicious torture Laura was inflicting on her.
Laura wriggled out of the lace panties, flinging them at the warrior who caught them with ease, growling deep in her chest again at the myriad of sensations that flooded her being. The blonde sauntered up to her, and ran a hand up the covered chest.
"Do you see what happens when you tease me and then make me wait for satisfaction?" in a husky rumble. She unhooked the uniform at the neck, and trailed her hands down to the first button, popping it open effortlessly, and gliding down to the next. "I dreamed of you last night," she continued in a low voice. "I dreamed of us." The remaining buttons were quickly released, and Laura pushed the jacket from broad shoulders. Jac had the presence of mind to catch it and toss it back onto the small couch. Then she held up her hands.
"Hold that thought." And she quickly removed shoes, socks and sword. "Okay, Im all yours."
"Oh, love. That was never in doubt," smiling when goosebumps trailed over the warriors skin at her words. Gently she began to unwrap the binding in a motion that would become their ritual. "You have always been mine," Laura continued as the binding dropped to the floor. She felt the shiver and heard the sharply indrawn breath when she bit down lightly on the sensitive earlobe while tenderly cupping the newly exposed breasts. Her hands slid down the washboard stomach, and into the waistband of the trousers. She undid the button, and unzipped the zipper, sliding her hands inside to slowly push them down the long legs. "And tonight, I plan to claim your body, heart and soul as mine forever."
Jac was brought up speechless at this matter-of-fact statement, and she simply reached for Laura, bringing their bodies into full-length naked contact. Then she lowered her head and took possession of her lovers sweet mouth in the beginning of a wordless conversation that would last until the sun came up.
The remainder of their trip was filled with frequent laughter, conversation and tender lovemaking. It was just coming on to noontime when the Clipper touched down on the Island runway. They picked up their luggage, and headed for the small cottage that would be their home. Jac slowed as she drew close to the house, recognizing that something was not like shed left it.
"Wait here for me, please," she turned to Laura, her brow furrowed. "Somethings just not right."
The blonde took a hand and smoothed the wrinkles from Jacs forehead. "Be careful," knowing that the Marine wouldnt ask if there wasnt a real concern. Jac kissed the soft fingers, and hopped out of the jeep. The door was still locked, and she opened it slowly and glanced in. Then she turned right back around, and went to the vehicle, lifting the waiting woman into her arms.
"Ja... wha... bu... Jac!" Laura squealed as the Marine swung her around, and bumped the door wider before crossing the threshold and kissing her soundly. Then the warrior gestured to the banner strung across the small ceiling, and echoed its sentiments. "Welcome home, Mrs. Chambers!"
Laura indulged in a long, fervent hug. "Welcome home, Captain."
Fall passed slowly, though there was no noticeable difference on the Island. Laura and Jac settled into a comfortable routine, and the blonde was made welcome in the circle of officer wives on the base. She enjoyed her status as a newlywed, though she took a lot of teasing because of it. She was amazed at what sorts of topics were considered fair game, and reminded herself daily that no one knew Jacs secret.
"I never thought to be discussing the best sexual positions to avoid pregnancy," Laura commented to Jac one evening as she was putting their plates on the table. Jac had just taken a drink from the glass shed filled. The Marine spewed iced tea across the table, and snapped her head around to look at Laura.
"You heard me. The wives meeting today entailed a discussion on the best sexual positions to use to avoid getting pregnant." She paused a moment. "Actually, it was to avoid getting pregnant too soon after giving birth, but the concept was the same."
The warrior held her head in her hands and rocked slowly back and forth. "Ow. I do not need to know this."
"Oh, I dunno," the blonde replied with a smirk. "Some of them sounded at least interesting, if not practically feasible."
"Uh huh," Jac sighed. "Maybe you should write a book."
"That would require extensive research, love."
The Marine leaned over and stole a kiss... a kiss the blonde willing gave and deepened for a long moment. "I was hoping youd say that," Jac said huskily on a breathless note. Then she kissed the tip of Lauras nose, and pulled her chair out. "Cmon. Im starving."
The Monday after Thanksgiving, Jac and her unit were sent out on a bivouac that was scheduled to last until Saturday morning. Nothing major... just routine patrol and recon exercises. She had arranged to postpone it until after the holiday, and left out that morning already counting the minutes until her return and reunion with Laura. The warrior finally understood why some of her men resented having to leave, and was glad she had managed to spend the holiday with her beloved. Then she put it aside, and focused her mind on her work.
Laura for her part was a little lost and confused, until around mid-morning when a knock at her door pulled her out of her doldrums. It was the other wives, and they had decided to initiate Laura in Girls Night Out.
"But its eleven-thirty in the morning!" she protested, even as she went into their small room to get dressed.
"Were starting early. Lunch, beach, shopping, dinner, maybe a bar or two before the night is over. Now cmon, girlfriend... Lets go!"
Laura briefly had time to wonder what Jac would think of all this before she was whisked out the door and into a whole new world of experiences.
The blonde slapped at the alarm, holding her head and moaning. "God, that has to be the stupidest thing I have ever done." Then she sat up and rushed to the bathroom, hurling the remainder of the contents in her stomach. "No, *that* was the stupidest thing I have ever done. Oh my God. Please kill me now."
She spent a good portion of the day nursing a hangover that had her swearing she would never touch another drop of alcohol. When it got dark, she crawled into bed, reaching for a lover who wasnt there, and clinging to the pillow that still held her scent.
The following morning she felt better, though she still had a massive headache. Laura had just taken some aspirin when a knock sounded at her front door, causing her to cradle her head until it stopped. Then she walked over and opened it, surprised to find the Colonels wife standing there looking very somber.
"Betty, please come in."
"I wont take but a minute, dear," the older woman answered, crossing the threshold and hesitating. "This just came for you. I was in the office when personnel received it, and offered to bring it over."
"What is it?" recognizing from the tone that the news was serious. "Jac??" Laura asked in a voice that betrayed sudden, overwhelming anxiety.
"No, dear," realizing and understanding all too well the terror the blonde was feeling. "Here," and she handed Laura a pink telegram.
03 December 1941
Laura stood looking at the words on the page. "Oh my God," she whispered softly. "What am I going to do? I cant go off and leave Jac with no word." She looked down at the telegram again. "But I think I need to go." She looked up as Betty took her arm and led her to the couch.
"The Clipper has left for the day," the colonels wife announced, "but we can get you a seat on the one going tomorrow. This is a family emergency, dear. Mike will give Jac emergency leave to follow you as soon as the unit gets back in Saturday."
Laura nodded her head in agreement. "Let me see if I can get a call through to Sal. He wouldnt notify me unless it was serious. Id rather wait for Jac to come home if I can. But if not...."
"If not, Ill have things set up for you to go ahead alone tomorrow morning," Betty finished, patting the younger womans knee before she stood up. "Let me know what you decide, dear."
Impulsively, Laura embraced the colonels wife for a brief moment. "Thank you, Betty. I appreciate this."
Betty smiled and returned the hug. "You are welcome, dear."
It was Saturday afternoon before Jac walked in the door, calling out, "Honey, Im home," before realizing there was no one there to answer her greeting. She frowned, wondering what could be more important than her homecoming to Laura. Then she spotted the pink slip on the table, along with a handwritten note.
Most beloved (it read)
I am so sorry not to be here when you arrive home. I had
such plans for us this weekend. But as you can see from
the telegram, Daddy is dying. I managed to get through
to Sal on the telephone, and even now I may not make it in
time to say goodbye.
I need you, love. I need you with me so badly. Betty has
assured me Mike will get you on the first Clipper headed
Stateside. Let me know, sweetheart. I am waiting for
you. All my love always.
Jac turned her attention to the pink slip in her hand, but before she could begin reading, a knock sounded at her front door. With a growl of frustration, she yanked it open, only partially surprised to see her commanding officer standing there.
"Cmon, son. Lets go make arrangements to get you home to your wife. She needs you."
"Jac nodded agreement, and shut the door behind her before following the colonel to his car.
The warrior rose in the dusky light of pre-dawn, exhausted from tossing and turning all night in the bed alone. It was a little different when she was out on maneuvers, but here at home in their bed, she missed her lover with an intensity that physically hurt. She was just a little disgusted with herself for craving Lauras presence, then smiled.
"Ive just gotten spoiled having her near me."
She laughed, glad that she had been so wrapped up by Laura that her happiness was twined so deeply with the blonde. She grabbed her sneakers.
"May as well shake the cobwebs loose. I got a whole day to kill here before I can head home to her."
The Marine headed out the door at a slow jog, not knowing that the world as it was would end in a few short hours.
She saw the planes as she made her way, sweaty and tired, back toward the house. The first explosion caught her off guard it was so unexpected. By the time the attack was in full force, Jac was in the jeep and headed for the middle of the melee. Her last coherent thought was regret that she wouldnt get the chance to grow old with Laura.
Jacobs found her sometime mid-morning, pale and cold from blood loss. He ripped her shirt open, and she was too weak to stop him. The corpsman paused at the sight of the binding, then cut through it unceremoniously to get to the injury that was bleeding so badly. He halted momentarily at the sight of the freed feminine breasts that were revealed, then quickly patched the wound. Jacobs scrambled for binding, neatly wrapping Jac up before closing her shirt.
"There you are, sir," the corpsman acknowledged. "Let me get you to the jeep, and well get you home."
She bowed her head at his ready acceptance of her, and his willingness to keep her secret. Then she met his eyes squarely. "No, Corporal. Help me up. Weve got work to do before we can get these bastards back for this."
He looked ready to protest, but a look reminded him that she was still her commanding officer. "Aye, sir."
The small figure swathed in black held onto Sal. "Oh, Uncle." The older man engulfed her in a hug, and kissed the top of the blonde head.
"He is in a much better place now, and Im sure your mama welcomed him with open arms. He held on long enough for you to say goodbye. I think knowing you had Jac made it easier for him."
Laura nodded into his chest. "I know it makes it easier for me. I will just be so glad when he gets home." Referring to the warrior as such was completely natural for her, and even though Sal was the only other human being who knew the truth, Laura continued to speak of Jac in her male persona. "I need him."
A beating on the door, and a raised voice caused Sal to move away from the blonde to answer it. "What the hell?" he muttered to himself before flinging it open to reveal an agitated. "What, Ricardo?? We dont need to leave for the funeral parlor yet."
"No, sir." The usually implacable man gasped and swallowed. "The Japs, sir! The Japs just attacked Pearl Harbor!" Sal turned and caught Laura as her knees buckled and she crumpled to the floor.
"Im sorry, maam. I really am." The uniformed man tried again to hand Laura the pink telegram she had learned in short order to loath the sight of.
He sighed, understanding her response. Here they were mere days from the attack, and already hed had to visit the homes of three others from the area whod been stationed at Pearl. The attack and subsequent declaration of war had thrown everything into chaos.
The Colonel hesitated, not wanting to force the truth upon the obviously grief stricken woman, but unable to leave until his duty was fulfilled. He looked at the chaplain for help.
"Mrs. Chambers, may we come in?"
She nodded and stepped back, and the two officers followed her to the small front sitting room. "I am sorry for the loss of your father," the chaplain began, seating her on the sofa and taking a seat beside her. She looked up at him then, startled.
"He was a fine man. We played golf together occasionally." She nodded and looked back down. She never heard Sal come into the room, though both the military men gave him a cursory nod. "And I apologize for having to compound your sorrow at such a difficult time." Sal slipped down beside Laura, and took her gently in his strong arms. The man had aged drastically in recent days, and he was sure the presence of the military here, now was nothing but bad news.
The chaplain extended his hand to the Colonel, and the other officer placed the pink paper into the Captains outstretched palm. Laura twisted her hands together while the tears rolled silently down her face. Her body remained rigid, though she felt the comfort Sal was trying to provide. The rustle of paper caught her attention, and she clenched her hands until the nails cut into the palms.
Laura hadnt moved, and was still sitting stiffly beside Sal. The chaplain looked at the older man, then at the Colonel and raised his hands. He was at a loss. The Colonel cleared his throat.
"Mrs. Chambers, I have a longer missive for you personally from Col. Mike Weston. Would you like to read it privately, or should I read it aloud?"
Still, she didnt move, not acknowledging his words or their presence at all. He cleared his throat again, and removed the single spaced typed page from its envelope.
"Tell me it doesnt end there," the warriors hoarse voice begged the bard. "Please love."
The pain in Randis voice made Gwen look at her Marine, seeing deep-seated pain in the depths of the blue eyes gazing back at her. The bard laid a gentle hand on Randis face, stroking her cheek in tender compassion.
"It hurts," Randi whispered.
Gwen reached up and pulled the dark head down to meet her lips, stopping when they were a hairsbreadth away from touching. "I love you." Then their lips met timelessly before they pulled away from one another.
"I love you, too," Randi said quietly. She looked down and sighed. "This story doesnt have a happy ending, does it?"
"Sometimes, life hurts us... really badly. We know that from personal experience. We were very, very lucky."
"I know. I was just hoping they would be too."
"Let me finish telling you their story."
Laura was aware of the falling darkness, and the fact that she was alone in the room, but she couldnt bring herself to care enough to do something about it. Shaking hands picked up the letter, rereading it before slipping the paper back into the envelope. She smoothed the official missive, which she had crumpled instinctively when the chaplain had placed it in her hands.
She set the papers aside, and walked to the window, looking out without actually seeing any of the life that continued to roll on around her. Everything had changed, and yet it was still the same as it had been before the officers had brought the news. Pearl Harbor had changed everything, and nothing.
Laura was so deep in thought she didnt hear the uneven footsteps that crossed the floor behind her. Gentle hands fell on her shoulders. The pair stood in silence until the darkness was complete. Then the taller turned and limped slightly to the fireplace. It was something they had added to the house here, though the natives thought they were more than marginally crazy.
Once the fire was lit, the figure stood back up, and moved back over to the window where Laura stood patiently waiting, her gaze still locked on the world beyond it. Strong arms wrapped around the blonde and she leaned back into the body behind her.
"Memories, my love?" Calloused hands ran tender touches along smooth skin, causing goosebumps to chill in their wake. Laura nodded, turning her head to bury her nose in the warm chest and inhale the scent she found she craved voraciously a very long time ago. Her body shook in remembrances that were not at all pleasant, and the warrior behind her just held on through the storm.
"Let it go, sweetheart. We are here together, the war is over, and nothing is ever going to separate us like that again."
"I know that, I try to remember that, but it is especially hard living here at this time of year."
Jac contemplated the words seriously for a long moment. "Would you rather leave Hawaii, maybe go back home?"
Laura gave that equal thought. "No," she finally replied. "Here is the best place for you to be, and it is where you came back to me again. This is our home." She smiled now. "I wish you could have seen Sal arranging to get me here when Mike called."
And though she was familiar with the story, Jac encouraged the blonde to share. She always heard a new facet of the story, and the telling seemed to make the memories of the whole time easier for Laura, for them both to deal with. "Please, love. Tell on."
For three days, Laura hadnt spoken, hadnt eaten, hadnt moved from her vigil at the window. She was on the verge of collapse, and nothing Sal could say or do had any effect. His one mention of Jac had caused the only reaction hed been able to draw from the young woman, but he wasnt ready to risk a second black eye just yet.
He crossed the threshold on the morning of the fourth day to see her standing in the same place that hed left her the previous evening. Even as he watched, sheer exhaustion overcame her, and her knees buckled, sending her to the floor in a heap. Sal signaled Vinnie to pick the small woman up even as Ricardo dialed the young doctor who had replaced Lauras father.
The doctor set up an IV to pump the young woman with fluid and nutriment, and prescribed bed rest. Sal took him by the arm and led him out of the bedroom door where Laura lay asleep.
"She is dying," the doctor replied to the unspoken question. "She has no will to live." Tears flooded the old mans eyes and he shook his head in sorrow. "Im sorry, sir," the doctor muttered. "I wish there was something I could do for you... for her."
"Thank you, son. You did your best. The rest is up to her, and I dont think there is anything alive that can make that kind of difference for her."
It was mid-afternoon, and Laura had been asleep for almost nine hours when the jangling of the telephone jolted most of the lethargic household awake. Sal had been dozing on the couch, and he heard Ricardo move from the chair hed been resting in to the hallway to pick up the noisy instrument.
"One moment, please," Ricardo murmured. He stuck his head beck in the library where Sal was now sitting trying to get his bearings. "Sir, its a bad connection, but I think it is Hawaii calling."
The older man whipped his head around, and rose. "Are you sure?"
"No sir," the driver answered honestly, "but that is surely what it sounded like in all the static."
"VINNIE!" Sal stepped from the room, and lifted the receiver, directing Ricardo at the same time. "Go sit with him, and be ready to bring her downstairs if I call you." Vinnie had stepped from the room, but halted at the railing when he saw Ricardo headed up the stairs to join him.
"Hello? Hello? Hello? Who is this please?"
"... o? ... is ... Mi... esto... " Then there was some unintelligible yelling, and the static faded into a background noise. "Hello? Is anyone there please? This is Colonel Mike Weston calling from Pearl Harbor. I am trying to reach Laura Chambers... Mrs. Jac Chambers."
"Hello? Hello, Colonel? This is Sal Travotti, Jacs uncle. My niece is sleeping. It is the first rest she has had since the news about Jac arrived four days ago. Can I help you?"
"Mr. Travotti, it is urgent that I speak with her immediately. Can you please wake her?"
Sal was torn, but figured there was no way to give Laura any worse news than what shed already suffered through and nodded up to his men to bring the blonde down to the phone. He turned his attention to the receiver.
"I have someone bringing her down, Colonel."
"Thank you, Mr. Travotti. It has taken me hours to get this connection, and I really need to reach her."
"Well, she is on her way down the stairs so it will just be a moment longer." Sal didnt find it necessary to explain that Laura was being carried down in Vinnies strong arms. "Here she is, Colonel." The large man eased Laura into the chair near the telephone table, and Sal handed her the receiver. Then the three men backed into the library to give her a modicum of privacy.
"Hello." The complete deadness of her tone made the warrior flinch, and she had to swallow twice before she could speak.
A gasp, and then Laura whispered, "Jac?"
"Oh, Laura," but a crash on the other end of the line caused her to hand the phone to Mike. Sal, for his part, rushed out of the study to see his niece huddled on the floor in a state of absolute shock. He motioned Vinnie to pick Laura up, and sent Ricardo out after the doctor while picking up the receiver.
"Mr. Travotti, your nephew is alive. We need to arrange to get his wife out here to him before he swims the Pacific to get back to her."
"Thank the Virgin," the older man muttered. "I will make arrangements to get her there on the first flight out tomorrow. You will take care for Jac to be there to meet her, yes?"
"I wish it was that easy. The Clipper has been allocated for military only flights."
"You let me worry about that, young man. You just make sure that he is waiting for her at the gate." Sal paused, reaching for the pad and pen on the table. "You have a number I can reach you at, Colonel?" The sound of scratching could be heard in the room as he jotted the information down on the paper. "Uh huh, and when can I reach you at this number?"
"Anything you send through this number will reach me within a few minutes. That is the direct line into the communications center."
"Very well, Colonel. Expect a call return call shortly with Lauras arrival information." He paused and cleared his throat. "Can you tell me what happened, Colonel?"
Mike sighed, embarrassed. "No, sir. It is not my story to tell. Youll have to ask the Major to give you the details. Though odds are it will remain classified information for many years to come."
"Yes, sir. And I need to make sure he gets home safely now. It has been an exceptionally rough couple of days, and he has been awake since his return trying to contact his wife." Sal thought about that, and considered what the folks at Pearl had suffered through recently. He wasnt sure he needed to bring memories of something even worse up to Jac to satisfy his own curiosity.
"Very well, Colonel. You do that. I will be in touch shortly."
The doctor was escorted in the house by Ricardo right then, and Sal joined him on the short flight up the stairs. He needed the young man to understand what was at stake now.
It was a matter of few phone calls to the right people, and Sal had a Clipper seat reserved for himself and Laura the following morning. Of course, the phone calls took hours, and a number of threats and favors, but in the end, the blonde woman was headed for Hawaii the next morning with Sal there to insure her safe arrival.
They arrived on the west coast, and he walked her to the second plane, which was waiting for her to board while being readied for its departure. "You will be all right, my dear," walking her up the stairs, and escorting her to her seat. The military personnel gave her a cursory glance before turning their attention back to the preflight preparation. Sal was more than a little concerned. Laura was moving about like one in a trance, and he wasnt sure what he could do to change that.
A sudden rocking of the plane got his attention, as footsteps clambered up the stairs, and a red headed military kid stuck his head into the hold, smiling when his eyes lit on the blonde woman. Sal stood immediately, stepping between his niece and the Sergeant.
The young man stopped a respectful distance from them and inquired politely. "Beg pardon, sir. Would you be Mr. Sal Travotti?"
The Sergeant stepped back and saluted shortly, then extended a hand. "Corp... I mean Sergeant Ian Jacobs at your service, sir. Colonel Weston sent me Stateside to escort Mrs. Chambers home."
The older man looked squarely at the young man whose eyes told stories that belied his age. He nodded after a moments consideration, and stepped aside to allow the Sergeant to move closer to Laura. Still he noticed the young man kept a respectful distance and spoke softly to her.
"Mrs. Chambers? Mrs. Chambers? Its me... Corporal Jacobs. Do you remember me, maam?"
It took a minute for the green eyes to focus on the red headed man nearby speaking softly to her. Laura was trying to hold herself together by sheer will. She felt overwhelmed by everything that had happened, and was trying to reconcile the truth in her mind.
"Corporal?" She cleared the hoarseness from her throat. "I thought three stripes meant Sergeant," with the first hint of her old spirit that Sal had seen since word had arrived of Jacs death.
The man flushed. "It does maam. Im still trying to get used to it," with a slight smile. "But you knew me as Corporal."
"Guess Ill know you as Sergeant now." He chuckled at her matter-of-fact response.
"Yes maam. I guess you will."
"Why are you here Sergeant?"
"Colonel Weston sent me to escort you home to your husband, maam. They couldnt let him leave, but the Colonel and Mr. Travotti wanted to be sure you didnt have to travel alone."
"Uncle Sal?" The blonde turned questioning eyes to the man who had faded into the background listening.
"There is no need for me to go to Pearl, child. Its not a place for nonessential personnel to be at the moment. Besides, you and Jac need some time together, and Im thinking space is at a premium right now."
Laura stood then, and embraced the older man as tightly as she could manage. "Thank you, Uncle. Ill never forget everything you did for me."
Sal drew back, and cupped a fair cheek in his large hand, pleased to see the beginning of returning color in her features. "You take good care of my nephew and love him, Little One. That will be thanks enough for me." He clasped her hands and patted them, before releasing them and turning toward the waiting soldier. "Take her home to her husband, son. She is a gift beyond price."
"Aye, sir. The Colonel made that very clear."
"Have you seen my husband?" Laura asked the sergeant suddenly.
"How did he seem?"
"The war has changed a lot of things, maam. He needs you." The red coloring the young mans face almost matched his hair.
Sal chuckled. "That hasnt changed at all. Hes always needed her."
Now it was Lauras turn to blush, and she was almost glad when the pilot indicated their readiness to leave. Sal leaned down and kissed her cheek, and she kissed him in return. "Be safe," she whispered.
"Travel well," he offered in return, before walking out the door and down the steps toward the terminal. Laura and Jacobs sat back in preparation for the long flight ahead.
She was straining to see out the windows as they neared the touch down point. A bump, then a second, and they were on the ground. Laura recognized the straight military bearing headed toward the gate even before the plane stopped rolling. The rush of emotion made her feel lightheaded and giddy, and she took a deep breath to assure herself that her heart was not imagining her new reality. She was aware that Jacobs was speaking to her, but she wasnt understanding a word the man was saying.
The plane ground to a halt, and she felt the stairs bump against the outside of the Clipper. She stood, waiting for the officer to open the door, before rushing out into the sunlight. Laura halted for the briefest moment, but that was enough time for Jac to make it halfway up the steps. A cry fell from the blondes lips, before she rushed into the strong arms that had been returned to her by Fate or God or some other miracle. At the moment she didnt care HOW as long as they WERE.
"Oh, God, Jac! Youre alive! Youre alive!" Laura captured the Marines lips in a passionately intense kiss, and the two lost themselves in the taste and feel of one another for a timeless moment.
The embrace felt so good, neither wanted to move, but Jac soon became aware of the personnel waiting patiently behind them trying to exit the plane.
"Cmon, love. We need to move." She was more than a little concerned at the pallor and thinness so evident in her lovers body. There was so much to catch up on, even though their separation had been fairly brief. For now though, they were together, and for them, that was enough.
"So they did have a happy ending."
"Um hmm, though they suffered a lot during their marriage. The first four years Jac was fighting the war. Laura ended up with books of stories to write. Theirs is one of the most interesting of the Soulmates pairings."
"Will you tell me more about them sometime? Or can I read their journals?"
"Let me see what I can do, love."
"Cmon, sweetheart. We need to leave if were gonna make it to the ceremony in time."
"Im glad you decided to wear the dress uniform, Jac. You look dashing in it." She fingered the small decorations, taking the Medal of Honor from shaking hands with equally nervous hands of her own.
"I owe them nothing less than the best I can give," came the whispered reply.
Laura fastened the medal, and patted the broad back, dusting some nonexistent dust from the shoulders. "You gave your best, and you came home to me. I couldnt ask for more."
"I made a promise to you, and I kept it."
"Yes, love, you did." Their lips met softly then, both conscious of the need not to mess the uniform.
"I kept all your letters, you know," Laura commented as Jac held the door for her to leave the house.
"They tell the real story of the war. I have talked to my publisher about publishing them as part of the historical novel theyve commissioned."
The Marine looked ready to swallow her tongue before an evil twinkle entered her eyes. "Only if you include the ones you wrote to me as well. I kept all of your letters too, ya know."
"Did you?" was the soft question, knowing that some of the places Jac had been in made keeping those notes nearly impossible.
"Yeah, that long distance love kept me going a lot of times. They brought me home to you."
"Hmm," remembering *some* of those letters. "Maybe I should just make something up. Some of those conversations were private and meant for your eyes only."
Jac smiled as a beautiful blush colored Lauras face. "Cmon, love," she said tenderly. "Lets go honor those who gave their all so that we could continue to have our frequent conversations."
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