Happily Never After by Lauren Landish Read Online (FREE)
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Lance – One Month Ago
My dress whites feel over the top, but I promised my father that I’d wear one of my dress uniforms for my homecoming, and since it’s the last time I get to wear this high-necked, choker-collared thing, I might as well please him.
I chuckle as my taxi driver glances back at me for the fourth time since he picked me up from the airport in Portland. “Mind if I ask you something?”
“Go ahead,” I reply, watching the highway roll by. We come over the bridge and around a curve, and there it is. Roseboro. My new home, apparently.
At least, temporarily.
“That’s a SEAL trident on your chest, ain’t it?” my driver asks, and I look down at my left chest, where the gold badge sits above my dual lines of other medals and pins I’ve picked up over the past ten years. “Were you in the Teams?”
“I was. I’m on terminal leave. My time with Uncle Sam is over.” It doesn’t sound real to say it, and the words sit hollowly in my heart.
“Oh. Mind if I ask which Team?” the driver asks.
I force a laugh. “You know the old line, don’t you? I could tell you—”
“But then I’d have to kill you.” My driver laughs, nodding. “Yeah, I’m old enough to remember that movie. I was a Marine myself. You boys were the only squiddies we really respected. If I can ask, why’re you leaving? That’s a Lieutenant Commander’s board on your shoulder there. Most who get that high are lifers.”
I clench my jaw, looking out the window unseeingly. “I . . . lot of memories. I’ve done my bit, and now I’ve got family matters to attend to,” I reply honestly. “Guess it’s time to handle the hard fight now.”
He hums, likely hearing that there’s a lot more to the story but respecting my privacy. I’m sure he had similar issues when he came home from his tours with the Marines. You can’t just fall back into civilian life. There’s an adjustment period where you lock up your reality in ‘the sandbox’ and acclimate to life stateside.
The rest of the drive goes quickly, and we barely skim the edge of Roseboro. I’m slightly disappointed. I wanted to see my new ‘home town’, but I’ll have time for that now, I guess. Home. Doesn’t sound right, doesn’t feel right. But hopefully, it will. It’s not too long before we’re pulling up to a gated road.
“Whoa. Is this the right address?” At the driver’s nod, I pick up my phone, telling him, “Okay, then. Let me get us buzzed in.”
But the call isn’t necessary because the gate swings open as soon as he starts to roll down his window. He glances back at me in the rearview and I offer a shrug. I don’t know any more than he does at this point, having never been to this house.