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.