Editor’s Note: Things are constantly changing in the military and at the time I started this book, most leave paperwork was done with forms in triplicate copies. Today, many forms are filled out by computer, but for the sake of my story, I kept it old school to add this scene. And leave usually isn’t granted by a First Sergeant either, but can be recommended to an airman’s commander. I just love fiction, don’t you?
“All right you two, step into my office.” Sergeant Nelson had a large mug in his hand, smelling strangely of coffee. Spencer grinned over at Kate before they sat in the chairs in front of Sergeant Nelson’s desk. If you didn’t know Sergeant Nelson personally, you might mistake him for a football player. He was tall with short brown hair going gray and was broad through the chest and shoulders. Spencer always tried to keep on his good side, just in case he found himself playing football on the opposing team. One never knew with those requisite ‘team building’ days, what activity you might find yourself doing.
“So explain this to me again. Something about Kate adopting and you’re needing to go along why?” Nelson took a sip of his java and set the mug down, then leaned back in his chair.
Kate deferred to Spencer. So Spencer explained John’s situation and the will and that he had all the paperwork and was a witness and proof of Kate’s identity.
“So, you’re mostly moral support.”
“I guess so, if that’s what you have to write down.”
“I don’t have to write down anything; I can just give you leave. Or not.” He turned to Kate, “Are you prepared with childcare and all that’s necessary to take care of this child?” He waited for her answer.
Kate gulped before answering. “No, I’m not. I just found out I was adopting, more like inheriting this child, a few weeks ago.”
“This child’s not yours?” Kate saw a quick look of surprise on the sergeant’s face before it disappeared.
He leaned toward the desk again and picked up his mug. “Well, this makes things interesting.”
Spencer and Kate looked at each other, not sure what he was thinking. It certainly wasn’t their doing.
“So, let me get this straight.” He gestured toward Kate. “You’re the adoptive mother, the legal guardian of a daughter who isn’t yours, but who’s been ‘willed’ to you so to speak. Did you know about her before?”
Kate shook her head, afraid she would start crying or screaming. Most likely screaming. This was so not her month.
Nelson rubbed his forehead. “And you,” he turned to Spencer, “did you know about her?”
Spencer hesitated before answering. “Yes, but she wasn’t mine either and I was sworn to secrecy.”
“Why?” After a few seconds, he said, “Never mind. Irrelevant. And not my business.” He leaned back in his chair, his hands folded behind his head. “I don’t know that this is ever happened before. But I do know that emergency leave has been granted to airmen adopting overseas or even stateside for that matter. But for both of you to go for the same reason and not married; I don’t know.”
“Sir, could you just grant me regular leave, but let us go to the same destination? Nobody had any idea Sarah’s parents would die within months of each other. It’s not like we planned this.”
Nelson leaned forward and steepled his hands, resting his elbows on his desk and sat quiet for a few minutes. “That I can do. And for Kate, emergency family leave.” He picked out some forms from a folder in a metal stand resting on his desk and handed them over. “Just fill out the usual boxes and I’ll sign them. Kate, you can have three weeks, Spencer one.”
“That works, sir. Thank you.” Spencer took the form and pen Nelson handed over and began filling in the blanks. Kate took hers and did the same.
Until next time,