…….. The 4 of us walked into the Mess hall like I had with Adam the night before I was talking to Dad while Adam was in front with Mom, Dad being a serving Marine had to be in uniform.
“So I didn’t get to ask you before but did you manage to see Ben” Dad asked quietly I started to smile. “Okay question answered”
“I can’t believe he’s almost done” I sighed “It still doesn’t seem real” Dad started to laugh.
“At least you took a chance on a Marine not like someone we could mention who had to be press ganged into it” Mom flicked him the finger “Always the lady” he laughed.
“I warned you she wasn’t a lady” Adam laughed “you still wanted to date her”.
“Hey we meet again” I jumped as Ben slid next to me in the line.
“Hey you” I grinned Dad looked round and put on a total blank expression.
“Gunny” Ben said giving Dad nod as Gabe and the others from the night before came over.
“And Ben does it again” Jon laughed “Hey Tess”.
“Hi” I smiled.
“Did you tell him that we didn’t like him because he was twice as hard on us this afternoon” Gabe asked looking at me.
“I might have mentioned he had a bit of a rep for being mean” the 6 of them groaned. “Sorry” I said shrugging.
“It’s okay we’re good after Friday” Jon smiled he was looking at Dad. He leaned back to Gabe “It could be worse he could be an instructor” Ben nudged me I nodded and smiled.
“That has to be your Mom or your sister” Jon said nodding towards where Mom and Adam were talking well having a slight argument over something.
“Yep that’s my Mom” I said proudly.
“Now we can see where you get your good looks” Jon smiled
“I think he has something to do with it as well” Gabe said as Dad turned to say something to me.
“Okay now I can see why she said her Dad was bigger and tougher than he is” one of the others said.
“Hey Ben you really want to come up against him if you want to ask her out” Jon smiled “and don’t forget the girl back home”.
“I don’t think he’d be too tough I mean a Marine must want a Marine to date his daughter” Ben smiled Dad bent his head to me
“I take it they haven’t guessed that his girlfriend back home is called Tess and so are you” he said quietly, I shook my head.
“No Ben and Gabe have been doing a good job of not letting on” I nodded we went and sat and ate Ben ended up having to sit next to Mom he was chatting politely with her as Gabe sat next to Dad I was sandwiched between Adam and Jon.
“So I take it you’re a Marine brat, I noticed your tattoo on your back before” Jon smirked.
“I think you could say that between my Dad my grandpas and both my uncles then him” I poked Adam in the ribs all my cousins are enlisting when they graduate and my 2 brothers”.
“Wow that’s a lot of Marines” he laughed “So if it’s not a personal question what is he to you” he nodded in Adams direction.
“He’s my Godfather” I shrugged.
“So he was right about all you need is marines, I’m a single almost Marine” he said looking at me.
“Yeah all I need in my life is Marines and a pro footballer but that’s a whole other story” I laughed “But I’m not single sorry”.
“Oh well I thought I’d give it a shot before one of the others got in” he shrugged “Hey Ben” Ben looked up as Jon shook his head Ben looked at me and pouted making me smile…………………
The next few days Mom never seemed to be off her phone between calls with Dawn and Chelsea, Dad and I managed to sneak away ending up sitting in a tattoo shop Dad getting the words DEVIL DOG across his lower back.
“Mom’s going to kill you” I laughed as I watch him getting it.
“She’ll be good” he smiled “She’ll be trying to work out what to get for her next one”.
“How do you know I’m not working out what I want” he raised his eyebrows.
“Because you’ve probably already worked out what you want” he sighed.
“I was thinking to add a star and an initial every time one of the boys graduates from boot camp”.
“Starting with Cole next year” I nodded. “Nice idea, but please don’t but Ben’s on. I mean put a star but not a name or initial”.
“I know you’ve always told me the rule” I smiled; I got up and walked away from him to the guy sitting on the desk at the front. “Any chance of getting a quick something added to mine”.
‘What have you got” he asked I turned round and lifted the back of my shirt” What do you want adding”
“Under the stars already there I want these names” I said writing them down and handing him the paper.
“It’ll take me 10 minutes to add theses sure no problem as long as he doesn’t have a fit” he nodded to where Dad was lay down.
‘He’ll be good” I said following the other guy 10 minutes later I walked out Dad was leaning on the counter with his arms folded
“Okay I didn’t expect you to go add to it now” he groaned.
“What all it is, is writing” I shrugged Dad started to laugh.
“I’m half expecting your Brothers to have one when we get home” he said as we walked back to the car okay I want to see what’s written it’s driving me crazy” I stopped by his truck and lifted the back of my shirt, he pulled off the dressings. “Aww sweet” he smiled I looked at him his eyes had glazed over.
“O.M.G. you getting choked up over my tattoo” I laughed.
“Seeing those 5 names means a lot Tess” he said hugging me he turned me round again to see the 5 stars each now with a name underneath the word Dad written under the larger star in the middle of the row with Adam, David Toby and Eric under the 4 smaller ones each side of it”…………….
………….. I was woken up by Mom at 5.30 the next morning it was Family Day.
“Good morning” I smiled as I stretched she put a cup of coffee on the night stand next to me “What did you think of the tattoo dad got yesterday”.
“I loved it and what you did I remember when I got this” she lifted her hair to show the 3 hearts on the back of her neck with DAD ADAM and TOBY under each of them. “Once your grandpa had got over the shock his little girl had got tattoos he loved them”.
“I’d loved to have seen his face when he first saw them” I laughed sitting up and picking up the coffee.
‘Oh he yelled at me as we were leaving the airport he’d just got back from Iraq after 16 months” she smiled as she remembered “It was the first time he’d met Logan properly and the first time your Aunt Dannie had seen him and it was the big one in the middle of my back he saw first”
“He was okay though” she nodded.
“Toby ratted me out there on the spot about the ones on my neck as well, so after a sigh and a few shakes of the head he turned and asked Toby why he’d been a Marine for 3 years and not got one yet”.
“Gotta love Grandpa Jack” I smiled as Dad leaned on the door frame
“You know Ben’s going to be waiting for you righton 6.30” he smiled “his Mom and Dad and Katie are down stairs the just got here from their hotel” I got out of bed and grabbed my clothes from the dresser.
‘I’ll go get ready before I come down, you can send Katie up though if you want so she doesn’t have to sit with the old folk” I grinned.
“Hey” Mom Gibb’s slapped me as I walked past her.
Katie came upstairs and sat talking to me while I got ready talking 100mph.
‘You nervous to see Ben as a Marine” I asked she nodded. “He’s still the same Ben he’s still your big brother”.
“I know it’s just been so wired that he’s not been around” she sighed.
“I know but we both know what this means to him” she smiled as Dad knocked on the door
“Ladies time to go” he smiled putting on his hat we followed him down the stair I hugged Mac and Jess they were both so excited we got round to the parade ground where we had to meet Ben. Adam was already there talking to some parents Dad and Mac were talking remembering the time when they were there all be it a few years apart Katie was looking round for Ben she let out a squeal of delight as she spotted him talking to Jon and his parents she canon balled into him he swung her round in his arms hugging her.
‘You know I’d never thought I’d have missed you pipsqueak but I did” he said kissing her head. Jon smiled at her.
“This must be Katie” Jon grinned she looked at him and nodded as Mac and Jess went over to him he hugged them both introducing them to Jon and his family “Dude I thought your girl would have been here”.
“Oh she is” Ben grinned as I walked over “Hey baby”.
“Hey you” I laughed as he picked me up and kissed me the thing I’d been waiting for, for the past 11 weeks 6 days he setmy feet back on the ground his lips still not leaving mine my arms wrapped round his neck he pulled away and rested his forehead against mine.
‘That’s better” he sighed “I love you”
“Love you too” I smiled.
“Hey can you put my daughter down for 30 seconds” Dad teased, Ben straightened up as Dad shook his hand and saluted him. “Looking good Ben”
“Thanks Gunny” he nodded as Mom hugged him I looked at Jon who was standing with two of the other guys from the previous nights. “Guys Meet Tess my girlfriend” Ben laughed.
“Oh you’re so wrong” Jon groaned “I was hitting on your girlfriend and you never said a word” he sighed. “I’m sorry Tess”.
“It’s okay we didn’t want some guys getting pissy because my girlfriend was here from Sunday” Ben shrugged.
“Oh that means you know…” Jon looked in Adams direction.
“Afraid so” Ben laughed“I’ll let you guys in on it he’s not that hard headed in real life, We’ll see you later”.
‘Okay see you” Jon nodded as we walked away Ben pulledme to him and kissed me again, “I’ve missed doing that so much”.
“I meant to ask did the cold shower work the other night” I asked.
“Yeah till I went to bed and saw you in the picture” Ben smirked "but from tomorrow i won't need a cold shower" he kissed my neck after giving me a sly wink and smile……………………………………….