Staff Feature: Shannon Redmon
Adelaide tossed her letters into the fire, the flames growing higher with every written sacrifice. The words he once whispered into her ear burned to gray ash. Like their relationship. She wanted nothing more to do with him after the shock she received tonight—Ben’s arms wrapped around another woman.
The long-legged blonde had stolen away the only man Adelaide wanted. All the I love you’s, skype calls and affectionate words were nothing but lies. Every bit of ink had filled her with hope at one time, but now his sentiments vanished into the white smoke floating up her chimney.
She hoped the black marks left from her squalled tires provided a permanent reminder of how he ran over her heart. The look on his face flashed through her mind. Shock, as his hands dropped from the woman’s waist. The image of them together made her nauseous. She loved the man, and now her heart ached in places she never knew she had.
Her fingers pulled another letter from the envelope.
My dearest Adelaide,
All I think about is you. Being in your arms, your lips on mine. I long for the days for my training to be over, but now all I dream about is you.
“Lies.” She flung the paper into the fire as a heavy knock landed on her door, then opened.
First Sergeant Ben Wilds didn’t wait for her to let him into her private domain. He strolled right in with a confused look on his face. “Why is there smoke coming from your chimney in the middle of July?”
He halted, dropped his gaze to the letters in her lap and then to the fire. She’d almost emptied the decorative box he’d given her for precious keepsakes.
“Are those my letters?” he asked.
She swiped the tears from her cheeks. “These are broken promises that need to be burned.” She tossed another one into the fire without even reviewing the contents. “How dare you pledge to love me forever only to cheat on me.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not cheating on you.”
“I saw you with my own eyes. Who was she anyway? Some bimbo you met on base?”
Ben crossed the room and took the remaining letters from her hands. “She’s my sister. I wanted to introduce you tonight but you left in such a hurry. I didn’t have time to give you this.”
He pulled another letter from his jacket pocket and handed the envelope to her. She reached for the folded papers but he snatched them back. “You aren’t going to burn them, are you? Because I put a lot of time and effort into writing this.”
“Depends on what you wrote.”
He hesitated, and she caved. “Fine. I promise not to burn it.”
He conceded and took a seat on the stone hearth beside her, the box between them.
Adelaide slid her fingers underneath the seal, eyeing the same hearts he always drew, then removed the thick package from the envelope. “This is a lot. Can’t we just talk?”
“Please, read it.” He touched her hand with his, and she unfolded the pages.
My dearest Adelaide,
The time away from you has been pure torture. When the sun came up and set each day, I knew I was that much closer to being with you again. My training has taught me many things–discipline, hard work, devotion to my team, but most of all, that I never want to spend another day without you. Although the latter will be a challenge since I made the special forces team—
She looked up at him. “You did it? You made the team?”
He nodded. “Alpha. They told me right before I came home.”
“Where will you be stationed?”
“Fort Bragg. Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
She reached across the box and squeezed his fingers. “I’m so proud of you. You’ve accomplished your dream.”
He brushed another tear from her cheek. “Then why are you crying?”
“Because our relationship is over, isn’t it? I mean, where does this leave us? I’ve been miserable with you away and can’t take—”
Ben tapped the letter with his finger. “Keep reading.”
Adelaide lowered her gaze back to his neat handwriting—much easier on the eyes than hers. He was the organized one, always following the rules.
“—and I’m moving onto the base. They’ve secured me a house with two bedrooms near several other members on our team but the place will never seem like home unless you’re there.”
Her vision blurred the next few lines, but she blinked back her emotions and continued.
“I love you, Adelaide, and I want you with me for the rest of my life.”
A tear dropped to the page and smudged the ink. “I want to be with you, too.”
The words of his letter soared within her, and she couldn’t get to his lips fast enough, but the large box between them hindered her attempt. She pushed the object out of the way and leaned closer, crunching the pages between them. His cinnamon scented breath brushed hot on her cheek.
“Why did you want me to meet your sister?” she asked, inches from his lips.
“To get her blessing.” Ben reached into his pocket, pulled out a small box and opened the lid. An orange glow flickered across the diamond ring he presented. “I’ve wanted to ask you since the day I read your first letter. You’re the only woman for me, Adelaide. Will you be my wife?”
The pages in her fingers fluttered to the floor, and she closed the distance between them, the yes on her lips finding his.
Ben pulled back. “I can’t wait for you to be my wife.”
She waved the smoke from her eyes and stared into the embers. “Are you sure? After all, I burned your letters.”
He lifted her fingers and kissed them. “That’s okay. We’ve got a lifetime to write more.”
She is a member of the Suspense Squad. Connect with her at her website, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.