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I turned back from the picture and looked out the window again. The rain had got harsher and lightning and thunder had joined it. A sudden bolt of lightning lit up the sky and almost simoulaneously (sp?) thunder crashed loudly. I jumped.

"Stop it Ashley! It's just a storm" I shook my head and picked up my book. Determined to read it.


Marc-Andre and I fired for all we were worth. Shot shot enemy after enemy that challenged us. I felt a bullet graze my arm, but I didn't feel the pain nor care. I was too engulfed by the rage to noticed the flesh wound. The other soldiers around us joined in the last stand against the enemy. The enemy kept coming at us without relent.

"This is Gibson to command." Captain Gibson said, "We need any and all air support in the area to bomb the outpost my squad was sent too in Charlie sector. We are in a building on the outpost's November Echo (North East). Under heavy enemy fire."


Ryan and I had decided to have a picnic dinner. I know.. What is it with picnic dinners lately? I guess it's cause this towns so small there's nothing much else to do. Plus the scenery's totally beautiful. Sadly our picnic was interrupted by the storm. Laughing we escaped from the rain and ran over to a sheltered but stop.

"So much for that!" Ryan said shrugging of his jacket "You look cold" He said wrapping it around my shoulders.

"Thanks" I said shivering. The rain was so strong that in a really short time I'd got a total drenching.

"We'll make a run for it when it lessens a little" Ryan said. He was still standing by the edge of the shelter looking up at the sky "It's so dramatic isn't it?"

I glanced up at the lightning that was zigzagging across the sky "Yeah." I said "kinda scary though"

He smiled and sat down next to me. Then put an arm around my shoulder "Don't worry. I'll protect you"

"From lightning?" I said with a wry grin.

"That'd be an achievement!"

"What? You doubt me?" He asked. "I'll show you" he said. Getting up he ran out into the rain and stood there "Come on lightning! See if you can get me"

"You're crazy!" I said laughing, but at the same time worrying the lightning would take him up on his offer. "You'll get pneumonia! Come back here!" I put my hands on my hips and pretended to look mad.

He pretended to cower like a puppy being told off. "Sorry" He said walking back over to the shelter.

"Good boy" I said with a smile

"Do I get a reward?"

"Nope!" I grinned.

"Awww. Not even a hug?"

"No way! You're all wet"

He grinned and moved toward me, arms held out.

I squealed and ran as far as I could. But, he cought me and wrapped his arms around me "Gotcha" he said

"I noticed" I said and smiled.

He pulled back a little but didn't let go. We were face to face. Ever so slowly he leaned forward and kissed me, ever so gently. Fireworks went off. Or maybe it was just the lightning...


We heard the screams of jets flying in as we heard Captain Gibson yell "TAKE COVER!"

We all complied as we heard missiles fly and explode all around us. Jet after jet released it's payload on the enemy as they ran for cover. After ten minutes of pounding, we stood up and finished off the last of their forces. We took a look around for the first time to see a block of craters and destruction worse than that of the rest of the city.

I joined Brett who was kneeling beside Matt's body. "What are we going to tell Ashley?"

I never thought about it. It was going to be some welcome home present.


Ryan pulled back a little, tho his arms were still wrapped around me. He let go a little and brushed a stray strand of hair behind my ear. "I probably shouldn't have done that" He whispered, his face so close to mine I could feel his warm breath tickling my ear. "It being the first date and all"

I smiled at that statement "I won't tell if you won't" I whispered back.

He smiled and kissed me again.


We were in the helicopter, only 10 minutes from Riverside, the town Mary-kate and Ashley were staying at. Marc-Andre and I were both dressed in formal military uniforms. Brand new medals were pinned to our jackets for bravery and valor. They felt like empty honors without Matt to share them. He deserved them more than I did. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here.

I looked over to Marc-Andre. He was staring at the folded American flag in his hands with Matt's dog tags and medals. He was probably going over and over on how he was going to break the news. I patted him on the back trying to reassure him.

"Base in sight. Get ready gentlemen." The pilot called from the cockpit.

Chapter 26

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