"Lieutenant Brook. General wants to see you in the office," said a gruff voice. It was Kapp, one of the soldiers in my regiment. I nodded and straightened my uniform. General Rogers had only wanted to see me once before, and that was just to check how functional our regiment was as a team. A regiment that trusted each other and were friends worked better as a unit during warfare.
I manoeuvred through the base, dodging moving vehicles and other soldiers. We were busy that day. The Taliban were making strong moves and five soldiers had been killed the day before in an ambush. Revenge whipped in the air.
Entering the General's tent, I stood to attention and saluted. "You requested to see me, sir?" He ran a hand over his chin. He was a fairly handsome man in his mid-thirties, donned in the military uniform and his fair hair was cut to the male crew-cut regulations. His eyes were surprisingly dark and were shadowed by thick brows.
"We got a call."
"From the FBI, they have ordered you to take the next copter back to America. It's an emergency," Rogers voice was clouded.
"What do the FBI want from me?" I asked, confused.
The General sighed. "I wasn't given that information. The copter leaves at oh-three-hundred. Pack your things." I nodded sharply and turned to leave. "Brook, if the FBI's callin' you in, it ain't gonna be good. Just... take care of yourself and if it is bad, don't feel it necessary to come back until your next tour."
I nodded. "Is a phone call permitted sir? I want to call Richard." He nodded and I left his tent and headed back to my regiments' building. I went to the end of the corridor and looked at the phone that hung there. Tapping in my home phone number after making sure the call was international, I listened to the line buzz.
"Hi, you've reached the Brook House. Sorry, but we're not in at the moment so leave a message after the tone." It was Richard's voice recording. We'd recorded it after moving into our new house in St Augustine near Jacksonville two years previously. We'd bought the house because it was close enough for Richard to commute to the Police Station but was far enough from the city to be reasonably priced and it wasn't as busy. The line beeped.
"Hey Rich. When you get this I'll be in a copter on the way home, so don't call back. But, yeah. I've been called in by the FBI. Just checking that you're okay and to warn you that I'll be home in twenty hours. Bye, send my love to Lissy." I hung up and pushed a stray lock of hair from my face. I headed back to the women's quarters and grabbed my bag, stuffing the few belongings I had with me into it roughly. I gently placed a picture of Rich and Lissy on the top.
Rich was my husband. He had messy black hair and hazel eyes and was surprisingly pale. He had a scar above his lip from where he'd cut himself shaving. In the photograph, I remembered having to pick his outfit for him because he had no clue how to dress himself so he didn't look like he got dressed in the dark. He was a Detective Inspector at the St Augustine Police Department, or was until we had Lissy. Lissy was my one year old daughter, born just after we moved house. She was rather small- caused by being born premature- and had no features of ours. She was black-haired and mixed-race and had black eyes that sparkled with mischief. Though truthfully- if you couldn't tell already- Lissy was adopted.
"Hey Wren, what are you doing?" Carolyn called. She was another female soldier and was one of my best friends. After spending the majority of my twenties in the army, most of my friends were there. There was Carolyn, an African-american woman from New Orleans; Kath, a Texan woman with gorgeous brown hair; and Hai-Lin, a Chinese immigrant who had lived in America for fifteen years.
"I've been called in. I'm heading back to America early," I grinned. She squeaked excitedly.
"I thought you were going back in three weeks?" Despite arriving for my third tour only a month ago, I was due to have a two-week leave to see my daughter and I was to return home on the next official copter back to America. That was when they would take back the bodies of the fallen.
"It's urgent. The FBI want to see me."
"Ooh, gimme some details girl."
I sighed. "I don't know what it's about Carolyn. But I'm honestly scared. I can't get through to Rich and no details were given to Rogers... I... If they're calling me in urgently when I'm going back in a couple of weeks, then it's definitely not good." Carolyn's smile disappeared and she sat on the bunk opposite, crossing her legs Indian style.
"Yeah. But... call base when you find out. I want to know. If it's bad, then I want to be there for you," she smiled weakly. I nodded and returned the smile feebly.
"They'll never let you off base until the tour's over."
"They'll have to if I resign my post."
I looked up, eyes wide. "Carolyn, you worked so hard to reach the Captain's post. I refuse to let you quit to see me. My parents will help me."
"What about your sister?" she asked. I snorted lightly. My younger sister, Robyn, was possibly the least likeliest person to help me if it got bad. She was always the 'problem' child- not that I wasn't. From the age of fourteen, she was smoking, drinking herself into blackout and doing drugs. When she turned eighteen- the year that I left for the Army aged twenty- she ended up on the streets, using prostitution to get money for drugs. We still tried to get her on the right track again, but she refused to listen. She called in every once in a while to keep tabs, but we hadn't seen her since she began selling herself and she only ever talked to my parents.
In fact, Robyn was Lissy's mother. She got accidentally got pregnant after selling herself to a client. As soon as Lissy was born, she ditched her on my doorstep with a note tucked into the blankets. It said Lissy's name and that she was mine now and that she was sorry she had to leave her. I officially adopted Lissy a month later after the paperwork went through.
"Yeah, like that will happen," I muttered. "Look Carolyn, I'll call when I get details but if you quit I swear to God I will beat you over the head with a bat." She raised her hands in surrender.
"Okay, jeez. I won't quit. But if you don't call, I will tell everyone that you were the one who put cockroaches in Kapp's bed," Carolyn warned.
"Watch me, Brook."
I glanced at the clock. "Enough banter Carolyn, it's half past two. I have thirty minutes to pack and get to the plane." She nodded and hugged me.
"Call me... or else," she winked.
"I will. Y'all better not have any parties without me."
"Parties? We'll celebrate you just being gone," Carolyn joked. I glared at her and playfully punched her shoulder.
"I honestly wouldn't be that surprised if you did."