Walking away from the mess hall, I quickly look for the building we were using as mission control for our unit. After shutting the door and enjoying a second of silence, I open the letter.
I had hoped you would be home by now, but I’m assuming this was a multiple-mission assigning and you’re looking at closer to a year. Fucking sucks, brother. Wrap up what you can and get home. Your girl needs you. I don’t want to fuck with your head over there, but I can’t impress it harder. I wouldn’t be bothering with this if I didn’t think it was necessary. Do what you need to do. Wait it out and hurry it up, call or fucking write. But she needs you and it should be something that’s handled sooner than later. I’ll keep her in my sights the best I can, Cohen. Stay safe.–Chance
With trembling hands, I refold the note and try to calm myself down. I’ve known something was wrong. I’ve felt it since the day I left. That feeling has turned my gut into a constant pain. Feeling like I’ve been needed at home is nothing compared to knowing I’m needed and not being able to do a damn thing about it.
“Fuck!” I roar and slam the door open hard enough that the very foundation the room is build on is sure to feel its force.
I set off for my CO and pray that he can tell me how the hell to speed this bullshit up so I can get home to my girl.
I’m not sure what I look like when I approach my CO, but he is more than accepting that I need to get a call home. Typically, we don’t get the opportunity to contact anyone back home. Our missions are like that. We need our focus to be spot-on. Anything else would result in one thing. Our death. We’re out “hunting” for weeks and months at a time. Searching for our target, sleeping with our backs against each other, hiding whenever we can. Crawling through the desert in conditions that are as bad as it gets. We eat, sleep, and breathe with the single-minded focus of a warrior. A killing machine. When situations at home cause our focus to waver, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to point our focus back into the tunnel-vision mindset of a robot. Which is essentially what we’re trained to be.
And with my mind spinning with a vague-as-fuck message from home, things would end up dire if I were hunting. Chance fucking knows better than to send some fucked-up shit like that. He knows that the only thing it would do is take my mind from the mission and make me become consumed with worry. Something I can’t afford to have happen.
CO Krajack has me stuffed into a room with a secure line home in minutes of my handing him Chance’s letter. My first call—Dani.
With each ring that goes unanswered, my heart starts to pick up speed, and my palms are so wet from the dread I feel pouring out of me that I almost drop the phone.
“Mother FUCK!” I thunder through the silence surrounding me.
“Breathe, soldier. Pick someone else and fucking call them,” Krajack grinds out from the doorway behind me. “Won’t do a bit of good to sit there acting like a little girl. Try your father.”
CO Krajack and my dad served together. They spearheaded our unit, and Krajack made it his life’s goal to see it turned into the baddest of the bad. Having him know Dad didn’t make life easier for me when it came time for training. If anything, he pushed me harder than anyone else. But he’s also the only one who would know me well enough right now—and correctly guess that I am way too fucking close to tearing the shit out of anything that gets in the way of me finding out what’s wrong with my girl.
I nod, grabbing the satellite phone and pressing the buttons I need to in order to connect me with Dad’s cell, praying that he answers.
“Cage,” he barks.
“Dad,” I say in a way I know he will instantly know I need him.
“Son?” His tone instantly alert.
“Tell me why I got a letter from Chance telling me to get the fuck home because Dani needs me? You know I can’t deal with this shit. If she needs me home, I’m going to be wrapped up in that and—god dammit! You know, Dad. You fucking know how my head is going to be if I don’t know what’s going on.” I feel Krajack place his hand on my shoulder and give me a firm squeeze.
“C-man, I don’t know. Mom and I just got back in town the other day. I know something happened when she left work the other day, but Axel hasn’t briefed me yet.”
“Fucking shit,” I mutter.
“You got the call. Call Axel, son. As much as I miss my boy and would love the time to talk, you need to get your head on straight so you can get the hell home. I love you, son.”
“Love you too, Dad.”