Previously on Heir Force: Dinner with John
Two weeks later, Kate received an email from John: Arrived safely. Sand still stinks. Later, John.
Kate took a deep breath. But the cloud over her didn’t disappear. She drove to the park near the apartment complex where she lived to eat lunch alone. She sat in the car, with all the windows down, nibbling on her sandwich while staring at walkers and joggers going around the track and children playing on the jungle gym. Oh, to be young again with no worries about your coworkers or best friends being in harm’s way 24/7.
The day was mild for an Illinois spring. Cardinals and robins flitted nearby, the robins looking for worms in the fresh cut grass. At least she wasn’t hot, sometimes spring was more like summer and it could change from winter to summer in a day.
Nearly every day Kate felt an unexplainable sadness. It wasn’t only because John was half-way around the world. She thought they were in love, but he never declared it. His actions showed he was, but he never actually said, “I love you.” Their relationship was like a tug-of-war—a game she never cared for. But the fact that she hadn’t known he was considering getting out of the service and that he was ready to stay put, certainly bothered her.
Back at the office after her quiet but unsettling lunch, Kate had stacks of reports to enter into the Air Force date base, Security Forces Information Management System or SFIM, for short. It was one of her tasks to enter in any disturbances or incidents around the base into the system. At least it was mindless work to a certain degree. She could type eighty words a minute with her eyes closed.
At least her nemesis, Ruth, was gone for two weeks and Kate could breathe a sigh of relief. Ruth felt that Kate got her promotion and let her know every chance she got. Kate didn’t appreciate working with a bully constantly over her shoulder. Kate literally had to get a massage once a week, to get the kinks worked out of her neck and shoulders from all the stress, and not just from Ruth; but from her line of work, the travel, her relationship with John. Kate still tried to get the Health Net Federal Services to cover her massages, especially since it was workman’s comp- in her opinion- but to no avail.
Kate took another report and put it on her stand, adding more paper to the printer across the room. Several others shared this office space on each shift and it was never very quiet; but she tuned out the scanner, phones, computer beeps and everything else making noise the best she could. She would work quickly and efficiently, enjoying the respite from Ruth. Kate just wanted to finish her day so she could go home and cry again. She hadn’t even felt this sad when her mother left her back when she was eight. She didn’t know at the time her mother would never return. Over time, she just grew numb.
Kate took a few phone calls, checked her schedule for next week and finished her paperwork which she laid on her boss’s desk. Master Sergeant Thompson had already left for the day.
Her day was nearly over and nothing new appeared that needed taking care of, so Kate grabbed her purse and hat and headed for the door.
Sergeant Coleman caught her on the way out. “Heard from John lately?” Spencer and John have served together for six years and were roommates at the prior base.
“Yeah, the sand stinks. He’s okay, I guess.” They walked down the hall together, their boot steps in unison on the tile floor.
Coleman nodded. “I’ll email him this weekend. I need to ask him a favor.” He waited for Kate to reply, but she seemed in her own world. “Kate?”
“Hmm?” She realized Spencer wasn’t done speaking with her. She stopped in front of the door. “What?”
“Are you okay? Do you want to do something this weekend?” It wasn’t unusual for Spencer, Andrew, John and Kate to get together or parts of the group, depending on who was home. Last week they had dinner to celebrate the end of an exercise.
“I’m fine. Thanks.” She turned toward the door, put her hat on, and strode into the searing sunshine.
Next time on Heir Force Novel: Spencer’s Secret