..................... Ollie seemed to avoid me for the next day until Sunday morning I walked out of the bathroom Ollie was sitting at the top of the stairs leaning his head on the wall listening to his I-pod I sat next to him and pulled one of his earphones out and listened as American bad ask blasted out he put his head on my shoulder we didn’t need to say anything a hand was put on my other shoulder I looked round at Nick he just nodded.
“Come on” I said getting up, the boys followed me down into the living room I looked at Dads kitbag by the door and got chills Mom and Dad were in the middle of the living room foreheads touching both of them had their eyes closed their arms wrapped round each other holding on” I rubbed my hands up and down my arms Mom looked up at Dad he smiled at her and kissed herbefore he looked at the three of us.
“Come here” we all went over to him and put his arms round us. “Remember I love you guys and I’ll be home soon. I need those letters to let me know what’s going on and pictures. He moved away and picked up his bag taking mom by the hand I took the keys for my truck.
“I’ll bring Ollie and Nick” I said closing the front door.
“Okay” the drive to the parade ground over too quick, it was a dark grey stormy day matching the mood of every person seeing off a Marine I pulled in next to Mom and turned off the engine I rested my head on the wheel.
“Come on Tess” Ollie sighed squeezing my hand “Ben coming down” I nodded. Nick looked at both of us.
“There’s Uncle Toby and Eric” Nick said pointing to the side walk where the others were all waiting I climbed out Nick put his arm round my shoulder as we walked Ollie walked next to him not a word was said by any of usDad pulled Ollie to him wrapping him in his arms and talking quietly to himmy chest hurt as the tears rolled down my cheeks Nick hugged me to him Like I said the days I was closest to Nick and Ollie was the days Dad leaves and the day that he gets home. Ollie came over his eyes swimming in tears he swapped places with Nick as Nick took his turn to go say his goodbye Ollie broke down as he hugged me I felt a hand in the small of my back I looked up as Ben kissed my fore head.
“Hey Baby” He put his other hand on Ollie’s shoulder giving it a slight squeeze as nick came over Nick and Ollie hugged each other I looked up at Dad he smiled at me his lip quivering I ran over to him he put his arms round my waist and lifted me up.
“Be good Baby girl okay, I love you so much don’t let your brothers get into too much trouble” I nodded.
“I’ll try not to” I sniffed. ”Stay safe Daddy I love you” he buried his head in my shoulder as he held me., he slowly put my down and held my face in his hands.
“Love you Tess” he kissed my cheek I walked to Ben “Look after her for me” Dad said to him Ben nodded.
“I will I promise” Ben said as Dad shook his hand before he turned to Mom.
I couldn’t watch them say good bye it tears me up inside seeing my Mom so sad, I put my head against Ben’s chest he stroked my hair, my body tensed up when they were called to line up. I turned to watch as they climbed on the buses. Aunt Dannie Sami and Mom all holding each other, the boys keep stood watching silent tears falling they know real men do cry it’s nothing to be ashamed of Cole was holding Ella Eric and Sami’s now 5 month old little girl, Ben stood behind me literally holding me up as the buses pulled away Mom came over Ben let go of me I hugged her.
‘The next time we come here he’ll be coming home” she said with a slight smile I nodded “I’ll take the boys back with me” she put her hand on Ben’s arm “You two go spend some time together” Ben pulled my keys from my pocket as we all walked away from the parade ground “Love you Tess” mom smiled as she handed her keys to Ollie so her could drive them home.
“Love you to Mom” Ben opened the door I got in he walked round.
“Where do you want to go” he asked I shrugged “I know” he drove off the base and headed for one of our favorite beaches that was now deserted and windswept only a few guys actually out on the water now it was colder, he reversed into a parking space so the back of the truck over looked the beach and the ocean he grabbed the blankets that I kept in the back and came round and took my hand he opened the tail gate and climbed in offering me his hand I took it he pulled me up the put on blanket down to sit on he sat down with the other round his shoulders. “Come here” I sat between his legs he wrapped his arms round me from behind so the blanket was round both of us. “How’s this”. I leanedback against him he drew me closer.
“This is perfect” I nodded “Thank you”.
“You’re welcome” he sighed kissing the side of my neck “I love you”.
“Love you too, you glad you don’t have to go through all this with your Dad anymore” I asked as we watched the crashing angry ocean.
“Yeah, I’m one of the lucky ones to have a Marine Dad that doesn’t have to be deployed” he said resting his head against mine. we sat there for most of the afternoon till it got to cold……………………………………..
…………………. It was almost just after thanksgiving Dad had been away for 2 months and life was back to normal well deployment normal that is. Ben skid up to me by my locker.
“Hey you know who’s birthday it is tomorrow” he grinned.
“No, no idea” I teased “but I just got this really cool new dress to where when we all go out for dinner” he pulled a face at me.
“So come on what do I get for my 18th from you” he smirked. I put my hand over my mouth pretending to be shocked.
“You mean it’s your birthday” I giggled. He pushed me against the locker grinning at me with his hands on my hips.
“Your going the right way to getting your ass smacked”. He laughed
“Oh will you two break it up for a minute” Skye groaned pushing in between us, “I need to talk to Tess about tomorrow, Birthday boy”.
“See you remember and my own girlfriend doesn’t” he dropped to his knees putting his arms round Skye’s waist “Will you swap and be my girlfriend” Skye looked at me we both started to laugh.
“Benjamin I would but I think Tess would bet the living crap out of me and you’re just to Ben for me” he got up laughing he dropped a kiss on my cheek as he saw Justin walking toward the gym.
“I’ll let you two discuss my lavish gift list and see you after school” he smacked my ass as he ran after Justin I rubbed my butt cheek and looked at Skye.
“So what’s going on with you and Justin” she shook her head and shrugged “Oh come on we were all supposed to go out last weekend and you found a reason to get out of it, then Last night at the basketball you sat on one side of the bleachers and he sat on the other “What are you fighting about” I linked her arm as we walked to class.
“I don’t know we don’t seem to get on like we used to” she sighed “I think we’ve out grown each other”.
“Crap I didn’t think you two would” I said looking at her.
“He just doesn’t do it for me anymore” she shrugged “I still like him as a friend but not as my boyfriend”.
“Have you told him this” I asked opening the class room door
“I tried but he wouldn’t listen he walked away” she said sitting down I sat on the end of her desk “And don’t get mad with me I’ve been seeing this other guy for a while as well”.
“Skye” I groaned “That’s wrong you should at least break up with Justin before…” she cut me off.
“I know don’t have a fit at me please” she said putting her head in her hands “I really like this guy he treats me good” I shook my head and sighed.
“So Ben’s in for a fun birthday dinner tomorrow night” I got off her desk and sat in the seat next to her as the teacher walked in.
“He will be when he sees the dress and the underwear you got”she winked “We won’t ruin his birthday we love him to much”.
“So who is this new guy” I whispered as the teacher started talking to us.
“Just a guy I met” she shrugged skirting the issue.
‘Oh come on do I know him” I begged.
“Tess you have something you want to share with the rest of the group” the teacher asked with his hands flat on his desk.
“No sir” I slouched down in my seat Skye managed to get away from me as school finished so I couldn’t ask her anymore about the guyBen was talking to Nick and Ollie by his locker as I crept up behind him with my rule in my hand and whackedhim across the butt he spun round.
“Ow what was that for” his said rubbing his ass.
“The crack you gave me after lunch” I winked kissing him. “So what are we doing tonight”.
“I have to go to family dinner come with us” he said half begging.
‘No I think I’ll pass on that I need to try to get Skye round to mine to talk to her” I said “has Justin said anything to you”.
“Yeah he was telling me he thinks she wants out” Ben shrugged “I’m glad there’s a heap of us going out tomorrow not just the 4 of us” he closed his locker and put on his jacket “I’ll walk out with you” he put his arm round me I handed Nick my keys so he could drive home they both had their drivers test in a couple of weeks he and Ollie ran ahead. “Has Skye said anything to you” Ben asked.
‘Yeah but you have to promise not to say a word to Justin because Skye needs to talk to him first” Ben nodded “Shes seeing another guy”.
“I don’t know she wouldn’t tell me” I shrugged I stopped next to my truck and turned to look at Ben “I’ll see you in the morning okay”.
“Okay” he kissed me “Love you”.
“Love you too” I got in my truck and Nick drove us home Mom was making dinner as we went in the house.
“Oh it smells so good” Ollie said walking over to her and sniffing over her shoulder.
“There’s letters for each of you from your Dad on your beds” mom smiled as the three of us fought our way upstairs to eagerly read I came down a short while later Mom handed me a Kleenex. “Happy tears” I nodded. “So you all set for Ben’s surprise”.
“Yeah I got my things packed” I pulled a key from my pocket “And Jess gave me this so when they take him out with his grandparents tonight I can go get his things”.
‘So he has no idea at all” I shook my head “I’ll be giving him a couple of things tomorrow but then after dinner he’ll get the big one” Mom started to laugh.
After dinner I drove round to Ben’s I let myself in with the key his mom had given me I went straight to his room and started to pack some of his clothes my phone rang I pulled it from my pocket.
Me * hello.
Jess * hi Tess just so you know Katie is in she wasn’t feeling well so she went to bed.
Me * I’m actually in Ben’s room now, you want me to go check on her to make sure she’s okay.
Jess * oh that would be good thank you.
Me * no problem I’m almost done with his things.
Jess * you guys will have a blast I’m sure.
Me * I hope so. I’ll call you back to let you know how she is.
Jess * don’t worry about it just make sure she’s okay and if I don’t see you before you go have fun this weekend.
Me * thanks.
I hung up and zipped Ben’s bag closed I went across the hall and knocked on Katie’s door I heard voices.
“Kate it’s Tess can I come in” I saidI heard a thud and a yelp I opened the door half expecting her to be doubled up in pain or something “Katie are you… O.M.G. what the hell are you doing here…………….”