Heir Force Novel: Kate and Spencer at Lunch

Previously on HFN: Spencer Asks Kate to Lunch

When it was lunch time, Kate walked to Spencer’s area to find him. “Pasta Garden sound good?” He asked, his long legs slowing to match her shorter ones.

“We don’t have to go that fancy,” she replied, looking at him.

“We need someplace quiet.” He stopped walking and stilled his keys.

“We do?” Her heart skipped a beat. She wondered why they needed a quiet place, but she didn’t voice it aloud.

Suddenly it felt like there was a boxing match going on in her stomach. She gulped, trying to remain calm. Spencer beeped the locks to his sedan several feet away and rushed ahead to open the door for Kate. “Spence,” she started to protest. She used his shortened name, but in frustration, not friendliness this time.

“Kate.” Spencer looked down on her, a serious expression on his face.

“You don’t need to open my door,” she finished.

“I don’t mind, ladies first and all that.” He swept his arm toward the car.

“You’re quite the gentleman, as usual.”

“I try.” He waited for her to get in and shut the door.

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Heir Force Novel: Spencer Asks Kate to Lunch

Previously on HFN: Spencer’s Secret

Scott Air Force Base spreads across over 3,500 acres in the western part of southern Illinois and employed about 5,500 active duty personnel, another 2,300 Air National Guard and Reserve members and close to 5,000 civilian employees. Adding over 1.5 billion dollars to the area’s economy, it’s considered one of the largest employers in the state.

Several times the base has narrowly missed the base closing and realignment list. Named after the first enlisted man who died in an air accident back in 1912, Corporal Frank S. Scott, the base has since grown to include many groups under the 375th Air Mobility Wing, and under each group, several squadrons. Kate, John, Spencer, Andrew and other friends worked for the Security Forces Squadron, or SFS for short. Kate sometimes thought it was all rather complicated and was glad she didn’t have to keep it all straight.

She was having a hard enough time keeping her life straight. John and Ruth were now both gone, and she was fretful of one and relieved of the other. Each day that passed, seemed to make Kate feel worse. She said a quick prayer each night and morning for John, not sure that anybody heard them, she not being particularly religious.

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Heir Force Novel: Spencer’s Secret

Previously on Heir Force: Kate Reflects at Work

Spencer stood inside the door, thinking about what he thought Kate felt. Spencer knew why John hadn’t used the ‘love’ word with Kate and he also knew that’s what she was waiting for. But she was too proud to probe John. Spencer hoped John would step up to the plate when he returned from Iraq in three-and-a-half months. Spencer found it difficult to keep John’s secret and even harder to keep it from Kate.

Spencer followed Kate a few seconds behind her and headed in the opposite direction for his Acura. He tried to push his feelings for Kate aside. He knew John beat him to her and had to respect that. But he also knew Kate would be in for a shock when John returned. Because Spencer was going to urge John to tell Kate his secret. They couldn’t keep their relationship in limbo forever because of his secret.

Spencer worried how Kate would react if something happened to John.  How would she handle hearing the reason behind John’s secrecy?  As Spencer drove home, he fervently wished nothing would happen to John of course, and prayed for his safety.  Not only for Kate, but for a little girl in Iowa.

Spencer sighed, letting the wind blow his blond hair every which way. There wasn’t anything he could do about it now.

****

Next time on Heir Force: Scott Air Force Base Facts

Until then,

Michelle

 

Heir Force Novel: Kate Reflects at Work

Previously on Heir Force: Dinner with John

 

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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.

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Heir Force Novel: Dinner With John

Previously on Heir Force: Kate Meets With Her Boss

 

Kate and John ordered the chicken special at Ravanelli’s, a casual restaurant not far from the base that specialized in pasta and chicken. Kate didn’t like cooking chicken, so ordered it often in one form or another when eating out. She just didn’t like the texture of raw chicken, whether it was skinned or not.  Her friends called her a chicken.  She didn’t care.

John was leaving in three days and this would be their last time together before he deployed. Kate could barely eat anything, and John’s silence wasn’t helping. He seemed to be in his own world.

John picked up Kate promptly at seven and they left for the restaurant shortly after. He was wearing navy slacks and a gray and red polo.

Their meal was eaten mostly in silence, and Kate was worried. “John, what are you thinking about?”

He swallowed his mashed potatoes before answering. “Everything. Why I’m doing this, why I have to leave again, how much I hate the desert. Leaving you and my friends. Worrying my parents.”

Kate reached for John’s left hand and nodded. She thought the same thing before deploying too. And if she didn’t know better, that would be soon. She’d been stateside for five months now.

“I’m ready to get out. To do something else and stay put.”

John’s announcement startled her. This was new. “Really?” She thought maybe this is what he’d been trying to say for the last few months. And maybe what was holding him back from proclaiming his true feelings.

“It’s time.” John looked away from Kate.

“You only have sixteen months left, right?”

He nodded, picking up his ice tea. “Yep, and it can’t go fast enough.”

Their server brought their ticket and John removed his wallet, leaving a generous tip with the bill.

Later that evening, Kate realized she didn’t feel any less fear about John getting out and wondered if he was going to break up with her. He didn’t really go into what he would do after getting out or where he would settle. Or better yet, who with.

 

Next time on Heir Force: Kate Reflects at Work

 

Until then,

Michelle

 

Heir Force Novel: Kate Meets With Her Boss

Previously on Heir Force: Kate and John’s Dinner Date

On Monday morning, Kate had an email in her inbox requesting she see her boss, Sergeant Thompson. She didn’t know what it might be about. She better get it over with if he had bad news. She knocked on his door frame and waited for him to acknowledge her. He chatted on the phone, but he waved her in, gesturing to the chair in front of his desk.

She ignored his conversation as best she could, making it difficult from her perch. The sunlight coming through the windows in the office dimmed as clouds gathered across the sun’s path. She wondered if a storm was brewing in St. Louis. So much of their weather came through the big city first before it headed east toward the base. She hadn’t been stationed here yet when a few years ago a tornado touched down in Fairview Heights, a neighboring town, demolishing a small strip mall. She didn’t remember how many were injured or killed.

Kate tried to keep her legs still, but they jerked up and down. She clasped and unclasped her hands as she glanced around the office. Framed awards and photos adorned the walls and the office was decorated in typical military fashion, which was practical but not very warm. Pale walls, blue plastic molding, industrial carpet in dark blue tones.  Inexpensive dark-wood furniture made to look rich.

Sergeant Thompson finally hung up the phone and folded his hands on his desk. “Thanks for coming right away. Wasn’t counting on that,” he pointed to the phone.

“Sure. What did you want to see me about, Sir?” Kate didn’t know what to expect, so she sat forward in the chair, her boots flat on the floor like a pair of tight bookends.

“I’m hearing rumors of a personality conflict in your area. Anything you want to tell me about?” Sergeant Thompson leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head.

“Sir, I…” Kate faltered and looked at the ground. How was she supposed to phrase her answer?

Sergeant Thompson spoke, which made her look up again. “Kate, just tell me what’s going on. I think we’ve known each other long enough that you can just play it straight with me. Agreed?”

Kate studied her superior officer’s face a moment before speaking. She slumped against her chair. “Truthfully, sir, ever since John and I started dating and especially after I got my last stripe, Ruth has been awful. I try not to engage, but it’s getting bad enough everyone in the office is defending me or trying to deflect her from me. It’s embarrassing.” Finished, Kate looked out the window.

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Heir Force Novel: Kate and John’s Dinner Date

Previously on Heir Force, Ruth Strikes.

The next night Kate and John were eating dinner at Spencer’s place along with Andrew, an airman friend of Spencer’s. Kate didn’t really want to do the group thing with John leaving so soon, but they’d made these plans weeks ago around their various schedules.

And her contribution to the meal- the most important part- happened to be dessert. Something chocolate and loaded with heavy calories had been requested.

Spencer lived in a comfortable two-bedroom condo owned by a widow who lived next door. Martha and her husband bought both sides years ago, and rented out the other side to a military family or person for as long as they needed it. They never had any problems, according to what Spencer had told her and John once. Kate knew that since her husband died a year or so ago, that Spencer checked in on her and did small handyman projects for her. She always calls him her ‘nice young man’. Kate smiled thinking about it.

She didn’t mind them getting together, but the timing wasn’t the best. She would prefer just her and John go out, which they will do in a day or two. They didn’t seem to have as much alone time anymore.

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Heir Force Novel: Ruth Strikes Again

Previously on Heir Force, Kate Worried.

 

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That afternoon, Ruth struck again, with her snide comments. “You think you’re so smart, Langston. I bet you cheated. Somehow, I bet you did.” Kate ignored her sneering lie and focused on her reports. She opened the one she’d started before lunch so she could finish it– if her nemesis would leave her alone. She continued with her report of a drug incident in base housing last night.

Somebody else heard Ruth and hollered, “Hey, Langston, you gonna help me study for my test next month? I could use your brains.”

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Heir Force Novel: Kate Worries

Previously on Heir Force, we met Kate and John. Today, see why Kate Worries:

Leaning back on the car seat, Kate watched a pair of sparrows sparring on the curb, while she considered exactly how she felt. If she were to name the feeling, it would be fear. The realization made her shudder. But why? Fear of what? That John would meet someone else? That he would get hurt? That they would grow apart? There was always a chance of danger, everyday in the life of an airman, whether in their field of Security Forces or not. You certainly can’t control the lunatics in the world that hate Americans and all they stand for.

Kate met John and Spencer at Peterson AFB in Colorado a couple years ago where they were doing tactical training. Spencer and John had been friends for several years, stationed at two prior bases together, and with Kate, they made a trio. Kate had fallen for John, but liked Spencer too. Then the three got split up, sent to three different bases, and now were all together again at Scott. Kate and John had stayed in touch with letters, emails and calls. Occasionally she had emailed Spencer, too. Then John and Kate both arrived at Scott within a month of each other and renewed their friendship, which over the last year had blossomed into some sort of love relationship, though John hadn’t actually used the ‘love’ word. Yet. Kate still held hope.

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Heir Force Novel Begins

Let’s get this adventure started! A friend shared a phrase once from Joyce Meyer, “Do it afraid”, so here I am, doing it afraid! Here goes:

 

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Kate Langston sat next to John Kern, apprehension on her face. Both wore the United States Air Force uniform: black t-shirts, camouflage pants, black boots. They sat on a lumpy cushion on the donated castaway sofa, in the lounge of building 755, the Security Forces Building. Kate and her boyfriend were currently stationed at Scott Air Force Base Illinois, about twenty miles east of St. Louis, Missouri.

Kate didn’t like this situation, but felt helpless. Everything was out of her control and she didn’t like it one bit. She should be used to it by now, having lived the Air Force life for the past ten years. Her time, her wishes, and her desires were not her own.

“Just put one foot in front of the other, Kate. You’ll be fine.” John turned toward Kate, his blue eyes pleading.

“Ugh–you know how Ruth is. She’ll make my life miserable.”

“Kate, just carry on. Don’t worry about her.” John started to say more, but changed his mind.

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