I still remember the first time we met. I blame my grandmother, Nannie, for fixing me up with my best friend. I could also throw his grandmother into the mix but I am partial to the idea that it was all my grandmother's fault.

"Is that you Marline?" My grandmother questioned while squinting at the lady that was Marline.

"Why I didn't expect to run into you today, Kitty. How are you?" Marline started the whole boring conversation between grandmothers.

We had barely started the grocery list. With this conversation, we wouldn't be done for some time.

I groaned and slumped against the cart.

I gradually slid down until I was leaning against the cart, half asleep, on the floor.

"There you are Ryker. What took you so long?" Marline shouts, startling me out of my nap.

"I was doing stuff, G-ma." He shouts a little too loudly for my taste.

I groan and clamp my hands over my ears.

"Oh, Danny! I forgot you were there. You're always so quiet." My grandmother declares.

"Oh yes, Danny. Danny, this is Ryker. My grandson."

Oh no. This can not be good. When two children around the same age are introduced by their grandparents in these parts, it means they are trying to set the grandchildren up.

I turn my head to the left and see a drop dead gorgeous boy staring at me with these very intense ice blue eyes.

No, I'm kidding. He doesn't even have "ice blue" eyes. They're green. I will learn later on that they can be intense when provoked.

Ryker looks a bit jock-ish. Build wise. He has emerald green eyes and curly dark brown hair. He wears glasses that make him look sophicasted in the sense of a coffee drinker.

He cocks his head to one side and stares at me intently. He is not trying to figure out why I am sitting on the floor. Everyone in this town has gone through this. If a teenager, child, or even an adult looks bored around two old people, you know they have started their marathon conversation.

He's just taking me in, as I am doing the same. However, I can pull the "bored" look while doing this. For some reason I haven't seen him before.

"Why don't you two finish our shopping for us? I think we're going to be a while longer." Kitty proposes.

I sneak a glance at my grandmother. She saw my roaming eyes or his. Or both. Sneaky, sneaky Nannie.

I groan, trying to pull myself up. Ryker quickly comes to my side and helps me up.

"We will see you two ladies later." Ryker smoothly excuses us.

And that is our first meeting. There are plenty of boring details after that.


I still sit at my desk. It's a nice desk. Black and silver. Perfect for me. There's that little black desk lamp still on well past midnight.

That's okay. I just like staying up late. I am be able to stay up until two tonight. I might be able to get about three chapters done tonight.

That evil deadline is looming like a storm cloud. I pause for a moment to find when my deadline is up. Three days. Plenty of time. Tomorrow I'll be done. Semi-happy ending. Not totally cliché.

I turn back to the computer. I throw my head and roll my neck. I really wish Ryker would get me that Fly pen thing. I don't like writing right from the computer. But I hate transferring my writing in the journals to the computer. So I leave it the way it has always been. Write in the journal and transfer to the computer.

Arms wrap around my neck. I jump a little. He chuckles. His big, heavy head leans on my shoulder. He's trying to read what I've been writing for the past five months. I cover the screen with my hands. He knows that I don't like him reading my stuff. He makes me feel self conscious. I hate that. But after he reads the published version and he gives me that look, the one that throws a swarm of butterflies in my stomach, I know I did great.

"Are you ever gonna go to bed Danny?" His words are muffled but I can still hear the amused undertone.

"For the last time, it's Ellie not Danny you nitwit! And I had two cups of coffee an hour ago. So what do you think?" He knows that I won't go to bed until I am ready. I'm not so I won't.

He sighs, disappointed. He never goes to bed without me. He'll fall asleep on the day bed behind me. I'll wake him up, drag him to my bed, we'll sleep for what little hours we have left.

He pushes up and rubs my neck. I moan. It feels so good. I know he's smiling.

"I don't know why you haven't moved in yet. You've been sleeping over here since I moved in. And you had your own room in my own house in high school. Just move the rest of your junk in tomorrow." I tell him, still typing my long, thin fingers off.

"I really should, shouldn't I?" He muses to himself.

"Yes, now go back to sleep. I plan on two more chapters before bed."

He huffs and shuffles back to the day bed. There's a thud. That's Ryker falling on the bed.

"That bed is fragile you know." Another huff. I think there was a muffled "whatever" too.

You can do this, I tell myself.

Two hours and 8 sore fingers later, I'm half dragging Ryder to bed.

"Stupid heavy boy," I curse him as I change into my pajamas.

When I crawl into bed, he mutters, "Stupid weak girl."


When I see the shadow of Danny crawling into the bed, I close my eyes and blindly reach of that waist my arms have gotten so attached to. I only get air. I wait, thinking that maybe she forgot something.

No padding of feet or a ruffle of the sheets. There's a sniffle and suppressed sob.

My eyes snap open and I sit up in bed.

"Oh God, what did I do?"

I touch her shoulder. She shrugs my hand off, almost rolling off the bed. I roll her towards me. She cheeks are tear-stained and her bottom lip is trembling.

"Oh Ellie, I didn't mean what I said. I was only teasing, baby doll." I whisper.

Apparently, I said something wrong because she was crying even harder.

"What can I do to make it better?" Silence. "Ellie?"

"You figure it out." She whispers.

I groan. I can never read her mind.

"Why can't you just tell what's wrong, Ellie? I'll fix it baby. I promise." I declare.

"Figure it out yourself."

I don't know what to do. So I stare her. I look at those big brown eyes. Those baby pink pouty lips. The lips I want so bad to kiss. That messy hair that always seems to be tangled. I move a piece of hair out of her face. Her eyes flutter as I touch her face. It's too tempting. She's too tempting. She's the candy store when you get your allowance.

So I cave. I push down on those lips. Then I pull up. I haven't spent all of my money yet. Not even close.

"I forgive you for saying that I have a big butt this morning."

I raise an eyebrow. "That's all I'm forgiven for?" I tease. "Let's see what else I did wrong."

I lower my head. I give her a longer kiss. It feels wonderful to finally do what I want with her.

"I forgive you calling me stupid."

I swoop down. More gently but much longer.

I pull up. I study her face. She's asleep. I chuckle. Only she could fall asleep while kissing her best friend.

I fall on my side of the bed and fall asleep.


"Now why do you have to go?" She asks between mouthfuls of scrambled eggs.

I sigh.

"We've gone over this every day. It's my job, Danny." I moan.

"Ryker, it's Ellie not Danny. I still don't see why." She growls. She doesn't want me to go.

"Danny, I'm going whether you like it or not. The Army says I go. I go. Unless someone dies before I leave, I'm going. Now I don't want to hear anymore about this."

I kiss her on the cheek and go to work.



"I don't want you to go," I sob.

I clutch his uniform and stain it with tears.

"I know baby. I know. But I have something I want to give you."

He pulls out this box. He's given me many boxes so I can't tell what it is.

When he opens the box, I gasp. I don't hear what he's saying. I'm too wrapped up in that little ring.

"Danny? Danny?" Ryker snaps me out of my thoughts.

I take one look at both the ring and Ryker. Then I slap him.

"You asshole! You've had six years to do this and you choose to this now!"

Ryker is stunned.

Someone yells that the plane's almost ready.

I sigh. I don't want to say goodbye.

Someone comes by and pats Ryker on the shoulder.

I pull the ring out the box and put it on my ring finger. Quickly, I pull Ryker's face down for one last kiss.

"I love you. Stay safe. Now go." My voice trembles and cracks at the last word.

I blink away the tears. I push him towards the guys.

"I love you," He declares.

I can't handle it anymore. I run. I run all the way to the car.

I drive home.

I have to stop five times to cry.


My hands are submerged in the dirty sink water, searching for any forgotten spoons when the doorbell rings. I pull my hands out of the water. I grab a towel and walk over to the door.

There are two men in uniform on the other side.

You never want to see a man in uniform at your door. It can only mean one thing.

"Mam, are you Danielle Fischer?" The shorter man asks.

I nod and bite my lip. I don't want to hear them say it. But I have to.

"Can we come in? It may be a while."

We all take our places in the living room.

The taller man sighs.

"Ryker Jordan was killed in the line of duty yesterday."

That's all I need to hear before I can break down in sobs.

He's never going to fall asleep on the daybed behind me. He's not going to ask when I'm going to bed. He's never going to read another book I write. He's not going to tease me. I'm not going to marry him.

I don't have anyone calling me Danny anymore.

I don't have to say, "It's Ellie not Danny" anymore.

I can't blame this on my grandma.

Sad isn't it? It's true that when men in uniform (can't remember if it's the blues or the bdus) come to your door it's either death or a really really serious injury. They call if they get hurt.

I'm not entirely sure that it's possible for Danny to be on the list of immediate contacts. Trust me girlfriends don't get that honor.

So, any good?