I'm addicted to commas. Can you tell??
Continued from Here.
Early 2004 - When some people might be thinking toward Valentine’s day, Meg just wanted to sleep. Whoever it was that glamorized stakeouts on television should be forced to live one out. A week’s worth of watching and waiting and time spent talking to neighbors and friends to build a case was worth it in the end.
Just not today.
After just a few hours of sleep, Meg answered her phone when it jangled, ready to commit murder. It would be justifiable homicide at 2 AM in the morning. “Addison.”
“It’s DJ. Are you awake?”
“No,” she lied. Her had adrenaline spiked at the sound of his voice, waking her instantly, “One of us is dreaming. It must be you.”
“Fairly sure that I’m awake. The sun’s up.”
“The sun’s always up where you are. I saw it on TV, so it must be true.” Meg rolled from her bed and curled her legs under her. Leaning back against the bed, she rubbed a hand over her eyes, “How’s your leg?”
“Holding steady. How’s your shoulder.” It took her a moment to realize what he was talking about. Her shoulder was fine. The hip injury still gave her fits. Knife to flesh equals a skin failure.
“I'm able to play ball." She hugged a pillow to her stomach, “Not that I'm disappointed to hear your voice, Darcy, but you didn’t call just to talk about the weather. Is something wrong?”
“No. I just wanted to hear your voice.” Meg hugged the pillow tighter but DJ continued: “I got the box you sent. Your letter was a little different than the last ones.”
“Sorry about that. I was coming off needing to give testimony in court. Not to mention a long, hard investigation. New family members and baby showers. I knew I should have waited but I had the box all ready to mail.”
“I liked it, my buddies appreciated that you sent extra.”
“Well, I figured an entire squad of apes would need the energy. And sunscreen.”
DJ’s laugh over the phone brought a smile to Meg’s face. “But Meg? About that letter. Really, is something wrong?”
Surprised that he’d even notice, Meg took too long to answer so DJ pressed.
“I’m on a short window, Slugger. Are you alright?”
“I'm good. I really am, Darcy. Are you still in Iraq or did they move you again?”
“Can’t tell you.” DJ frowned. There was more but she wasn’t telling. “I wish I could just because it was such a valiant effort on your part at changing the subject.”
“You did wake me up.” Meg offered, stifling a yawn. Adrenaline spikes were only good if you could maintain them. “Your mom showed me the last video conference you guys had together. You look good. Leaner.”
“Next time I call home, do you think you could be there so I can see you?”
“I can try. I can’t promise. I can say that I’d really like to be there.”
“Listen, Meg. I gotta wrap this up but I gotta know something and you really need you to be honest.”
“As long as you don’t ask for my bra size, I’ll do my best.”
“Why haven’t ...there must have been ...” DJ muttered and swore softly, “In all these years, was there ever any guy who grabbed your heart?”
“Yeah.” Meg answered slowly, “There was this one guy...He’s in the Army now. He doesn’t know. It would be embarrassing if he found out I never got over him.”
“Maybe he feels the same.”
“He might not.” Meg was pleased her voice remained level, “He’s a bit slow in the head. All brawn - not much brain.”
“I realize we’re both adults and this is probably a grade school question - but if I asked you to be my girl ...”
“I’d say yes.” Meg interrupted with a grin in her voice.
“I’m sorry it took so long for me to get my head on straight. I’ll make it up to you - all the time we lost. I lost.”
“That’s not necessary. We’ll start here.”
“Listen, Meg, time’s up but I just gotta know - What is your bra size?”
He heard her laugh before his call was cut off. DJ exited the communications tent happier than he had been when he entered.
Time worked for Meg and DJ just as much as it worked against them. Their letters were sweeter and DJ made certain to call again. It took another year before his video calls could be timed right for Meg to be present. DJ had the painful pleasure of seeing his girl for the first time in - a lifetime. He noticed the features of her face and realized that with the exception of laugh lines around her eyes, she looked exactly as he remembered her. “God, Meg. You’re beautiful.”
“I’d take that as a compliment if you weren’t surrounded by camels and apes all the time. You’re just starved for attention.”
Both families had welcomed the news of their relationship with a sense of ‘finally’. For her 30th birthday, DJ mailed her a ring from Turkey. “Thought it should be more official.”
When he came home on leave, time worked against them both times. The first, Meg was working on a protection detail and couldn’t get away. The second time, Meg was deep undercover and even her brothers couldn’t tell him where. She emerged just in time to meet him on the drive way in front of his parents' house as he was heading for the airport to make the journey back to his unit. The kiss was powerful, bruising and hungry. Meg was certain she had his fingerprints on her rib bones and an impression of the car door handle on her back side. Still, it was a memory she cherished.
While DJ’s original unit was in the States for down time, his Special Ops unit was based in Germany. His down time was parced out in chunks making treks home more difficult.
Meg faithfully sent her boxes and letters as often as she could. Sometimes they came a mere weeks apart, other times, months. No matter where he was in the shadows of the world, DJ relished them. She never complained about life apart from him. It just was what it was. She’d tell a story of a case that would make him laugh. His mother might send him a newspaper clipping and DJ would see the darker side.
He couldn’t get very angry that Meg had skimmed over the truth, DJ realized. He was doing the same thing. It was a matter of necessity for both of them. They were fighting wars on different fronts. DJ couldn’t think of Meg any differently. The Army admonished the returning men not to talk in too great a detail of all they had seen - civilians just wouldn’t understand. DJ had every confidence that he didn't have to worry about it with Meg. She'd already promised time to compare scars. There were more injuries and more victories. More letters and more boxes. There were times when DJ couldn’t remember where he was until the action started.
DJ could never say what it was that made him wait as long as he did. His friends had asked. His mother had hinted. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he told himself that what he had with Meg wasn’t real. Knowing that he’d been burned, considerably so, by his ex-wife, Meg never pushed. Never once did she ask him to come home. Never once did she tell him that waiting was bothering her.
In Early 2011, DJ couldn’t put his finger on what caused it. DJ found himself working around a recurring thought. When he finally took time to focus on it, all he could think of was marrying Meg. His father had invested his money so there was a nest egg waiting for him when he got home.
He could retire from the Army and probably never have to work again. His long term plans would have to wait until he could get his short term plans settled with Meg. He planned to ask her to marry him before she turned thirty-four in the summer.
“So let me get this straight,” his buddy began slowly, watching DJ pack, “you’ve made this girl wait essentially a lifetime?”
“Give or take a few months.”
“And you expect her to say ‘yes’?”
“Yeah, I was. Why wouldn't she?”
“Just pointing out the obvious, man. After all this time, she might tell you ‘no’.”
With a sigh, DJ nodded. He was well aware of the possibility, “It would be nothing less than I deserved I guess.”
There wasn’t much else to do but to take the plunge. He boarded the plane and made his way home.
Continued into the future