.............. I couldn’t take in what was being said as Ana and J.J.’s sisters burst in to tears. Mom had her arms round Ana she was crying along with her. Gramps crouched down by me he put his hand over mine and Riley’s and smiled at me.
“He’s coming home a little battle scared but he’s coming home… How about that for a graduation present” he chuckled.
“I damn I’d forgotten about that” Flynn whistled “What times commencement”
“3pm honey” Mom smiled getting up and fetching the whiskey and some glasses. She handed everyone a shot before looking at J.J.’s parents “All I can say is I’m sorry but this is a sort of tradition in our family” she held up the glass.
“To the Marines we’ve lost and loved and the ones coming home to us” She said looking at me
“Ooh Rah” Dad, L.J. and Gramps cheered as we all knocked back the whiskey Brody and James looked at each other with a total WTF sort of face as the rot gut whiskey slid down their throats.
“And now you know why I said sorry” Mom laughed. I got up and walked out of the front door into the warm sun I heard the door close behind me.
“You look like you need a hug from your favorite Uncle” I looked round at L.J. and nodded as he pulled me into his arms and hugged me tight. “See he’s obviously ready to face us if he fought his ass off” he teased “Now me and your Dad get to kick it a little”
“L.J.” I groaned.
“Would we?” he asked innocently
“Yes” I sighed resting my head against his broad chest.
“So you get your favorite Marines watch you graduate… well me and your Dad anyway oh and your grandpa’s” he chuckled “So what’s with the dude in the cowboy boots and the hat” he whispered as we sat on the tailgate of my truck I swatted him glad of his annoying questions to keep me from breaking down.
“That’s J.J.’s brother and he is a cow boy” I said tipping my head back and letting the sun warm my face “They come from a horse ranch in Texas”
“Oooo cool I can see Beth’s ass on a…” I swatted him “Ow”
“Too much information” I smiled “I love you” I hugged him “and I’m sorry for getting you in trouble when you were away”
“Hey they all knew to steer clear of me I think even the enemy did as well” he winked…………..
…………… I spent the next 24 hours watching the clock the same way I normally did when it was Dad coming home. The one thing I did remember was in 3 more days we were taking Flynn to Parris Island to begin his journey to becoming the Marine he wanted to be, after that I kept myself busier I ironed the knee length marine blue strapless dress I had for under my graduation gown at least 6 times to the point Mom had taken the iron and locked it in her truck. I kept catching myself smiling at the thought of J.J. being her within hours of my high school graduation.
“You know I think they’ll lock you up if you keep smiling like that Baby girl” I jumped and looked round as Grandpa stood in the kitchen door way. I ran to him and hugged him. It was the first time since we were in Minnesota I’d seen hm.
“You know I think today could be one of the best days of my life” I said stepping back he held my hands out and looked at me.
“You look beautiful honey” he sighed “You make this old Marine feel really old… My Great Granddaughter is graduating high school”
“You all had kids young you’re not that old” I said kissing his cheek.
“I know” he laughed “Anyway I was sent to tell you to get your ass outside for pictures with your Brother” He put my Gown over my arm and handed me the cap.
The two of us walked outside to where Flynn was protesting at how many people were trying to take picture. J.J.’s Family was there as well Ana and Mom had hit it off like they’d known each other all their lives. Rachel was still glaring at me like I’d done something wrong.
“If you want me to kick her ass then I will” Riley said quietly in my ear “She’s frankly pissing the hell out of me” I smiled not taking my eyes from Rachel.
“Not yet” I shook my head “I don’t think she’ll do or say anything when she’s out of her comfort zone… she’s on our turf now”
“Give me the word” she walked over to Flynn and kissed him.
“Okay we need the three of you together” Dad called out waving at me. I walked over to them and we had pictures taken. “Right the twins” Riley walked away leaving me with Flynn. He put his arm round my shoulder.
“You don’t want to be here right now do you” he said under his breath.
“I want to be at the parade ground waiting” I sighed.
“It’s not long Sis”
“I know” I turned him round and hitched up the skirt on my dress and jumped on his back “I’m counting down the time”.
The ceremony seemed to drag on I kept grabbing Flynn’s arm and looking at his watch. He slapped my hand when I did it for the tenth time in less than 5 minutes he pointed his finger at me I groaned and looked away. Gramps got up to give his usual speech he always did. Finally we were all done and heading out to eat.
I pushed my food round my plate.
“Honey you have 2 hours that’s it” Ana chuckled from across the table.
‘I know which means they’ll be touching down anytime now” I moaned. Flynn stood up and nudged me to stand with him I nodded we’d talked about saying something and tapped his glass making everyone look at him.
“Okay… I need to say a few things then its B’s turn” he took a deep breath “first Mom and Dad all I…” I poked him in the ribs “Ow… sorry we” I smirked and nodded and checked his watch again making him slap my fingers with a spoon everyone was laughing “Okay all we can say is thank you and we love you for raising us the way you have I hope that we’re going to make you guys proud”
“You already do” Dad smiled winking at us Mom was in tears already.
“To our Grandparents and Great grandparents you guys rock you’re inked up Marines with tough assed wives and if it wasn’t for you guys… Well I think the Marine Corps would be a lot quieter… we love you”
“Okay this bit she doesn’t know about” he pointed to me “B you’re my best friend we know when we hurt and we will always have each other’s back no matter where we are” I nodded and swallowed hard “so” he pulled off his shirts and handed it to Riley and turned round on his left shoulder blade was a Large Script B with it’s a twin thing written under it. “You have my back” he choked up ‘Love ya sis” he turned back around and hugged me I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.
“Damn it” I sniffed “Wow how do I go one better” I laughed “But it must be a twin thing” I looked at Riley and turned to the side and lifted my arm holding a large napkin over the front of my while she pulled the zipper down on the side of my dress to show a tattoo of a set of dog tags with Flynn’s name on one of them and Dad on the other” Flynn started laughing.
“Inked up like the rest” Mom laughed.
“When did you get those” he asked as Riley zipped my back up.
“A month ago” I smiled He hugged me. I pulled Flynn to the side. ‘Are you going to do it?”
“Yes” he nodded I grabbed his wrist and looked at the time “Okay I’ll do it now” he chuckled “You didn’t tell her did you?” He looked at Riley
“Okay” he took a deep breath “You have it” I reached for my purse from under the table and let him dig into it. I stood on the chair.
“Right I need to say one thing” I smiled “Riley I love you and how the hell you put up with having me and him in your life is… well you need a sainthood” she blushed beet red “I consider you my sister” I watch mom look at Patty and smile “like your Mom and Dad are second parents to me and Flynn”
“Okay I’m crying now” Patty sniffed Mom put her arm round her best friend
“But I think you need to look behind you” I pointed over her shoulder she turned round as Flynn dropped to one knee the room fell silent.
“twelve weeks and I get back from Boot camp a Marine for 10 days” he grinned “I want to make you the wife of a Marine in those 10 days” he opened a box and held it out to her there was a white gold band with a single Sapphire set into it with Ooh on one side and Rah on the other. “Marry me Riley” she just nodded slowly as Mom and Patty burst into tears. He pushed the ring on her finger and picked her up and kissed her. “If you don’t like the ring blame B” Riley looked at me “She designed it with a little help from me”
I Love it it’s so different” she hugged me to her almost choking the life out of me………………..
……………. “Remember to breathe” Flynn laughed in my ear he was on one side of me as Dad was on the other. I nodded and took a deep breath
“I feel over dressed in this I should have changed” I groaned looking down at the dress and the four inch heels I had one still from graduation
“Okay that Marine wants to see his hot piece of ass girlfriend when he steps of the bus so suck it up” Riley laughed from behind me Dad and Flynn shot her a look “What” she held up her hands.
“Just like you r mother” Dad laughed earning a Gibbs slap from Patty. “Ow”
“She’s your god Daughter” she smiled
“Oh I think I want to throw up” Flynn groaned “B Stop stressing” I shook my head and pointed everyone looked in the direction as the first bus came into view.
Dad tightened his grip on my waist as Marines got down from the buses I didn’t need a sniper to spot him he was the second guy down from the bus he looked tired and drained and like he hadn’t slept in a week. They were let go and the families converged on the waiting Marines I took a step back. Flynn looked at me my fingers gripping his arm.
“Let them go first” I whispered my eyes fixed still on J.J. His Mom was the first one to reach him he pulled her to him and I watched him sob his shoulders moving as the rest of his family held him tight. The realization he was home and safe hitting him for the first time. Brody said something too him that made him look up and over to me.
“Go get your Marine Baby girl” Dad whispered in my ear before kissing my cheek. I started toward him I felt like Bambi on ice like my legs were about to give up on me. J.J. moved faster picking me up off my feet and burying his face in my hair the rest of the parade ground was gone in my eyes as he moved his face till his lips met mine his arms still holding me off the floor my hands on his face my tongue dancing with his I didn’t care who saw us or what they thought he was here, safe and I was in his arms………………………