I started passing out sheets of paper to each of the fourth graders in my class while they did their best to settle down after having just come back inside from recess. Once everyone had a new sheet of paper on their desk in front of them I returned to the front of the class and said, “Who can tell me why we celebrate Veteran’s Day?” November 11th was just a few weeks away.
One of my more outgoing students raised his hand and when I called on him to answer he said, “It’s so we can thank a soldier that served our country. My Grandpa went to Vietnam when he was in the Army.”
“Very good,” I replied. “It’s so we can give thanks to the men and women in the armed forces that have served, or are still serving, our country. So because Veteran’s Day is just a few weeks away I thought it would be nice for our class to write a letter to an American soldier that is still living far away from home to let them know we appreciate the sacrifices they’re making for our country. Everyone can write their own letter and I’ll collect them once you’re done and mail all of them out together. Since we don’t know their names, you can just address it to ‘Dear American Soldier’ and they will be given to any of the soldiers.”
I watched as the class as a whole all bent their heads towards their desks and began writing while answering the occasional question of what they could include in their letter. While they worked on their letters I sat at my desk and wrote one of my own.
Dear American Soldier,
My name is Sookie Stackhouse and I’m a fourth grade teacher at Bon Temps Elementary School in Bon Temps, Louisiana. In honor of veteran’s, like yourself, my class and I are writing letters of thanks to all of you for the sacrifices you’re making in serving our great country. I grew up listening to stories my grandfather would tell of his time serving in World War II and from my own father’s tales of the time he spent in Vietnam so I know, through them, of the toll a war can take.
So I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, for all that you do. Having been born and raised in Bon Temps, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for you to be so far away from home or the worry your family and friends must be filled with every day that you’re gone. The opinions people have of wars and the motivations behind them have no bearing on how the members of our armed forces should be honored and respected for having the selfless courage to put their lives on the line so that those very same people have the freedom to voice their opinions.
I will be mailing all of our letters out together and will enclose our address here at the school if any of you would like to write a letter back to our class. And, if there’s anything you should happen to need while you’re away, please let me know. i would be honored to do what I can to help make your lives a little easier while you’re so far away from home.
Once again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
My ears were still ringing from the blast of the explosion that leveled the building in front of us. Once the dust had settled we began picking through the rubble making sure there weren’t any enemy insurgents left alive inside. We’d tracked them here from some intelligence gathered by the sources we had in the area that this was the hideout for the group that bombed the checkpoint leading to our base of operations two days earlier, killing two of our fellow Marines in a suicide car bomb right outside the gates.
My hearing was slowly returning to normal when I heard a faint whimpering sound coming from underneath a larger piece of concrete. I got on my hands and knees and started moving pieces of rubble away with my hands to find a small puppy cowering underneath. Her whole body was shaking and she growled at first, afraid of me, so I removed my glove and slowly reached inside with my bare hand. She backed away as far as she could until there was nowhere else for her to go. I stilled my hand in front of her to allow her to smell me and eventually coaxed her out talking to her like she was a baby.
I picked her up and checked her for any injuries she might have and it was only when a loud crash sounded behind me from pieces of the rubble shifting did I realize she was deaf because she gave no indications she had heard the sound. I looked around at the barren landscape and didn’t see where she might have come from or who she might belong to. I knew dogs were used for fighting here and were often cruelly killed just for sport. I held her up to my face and when she leaned forward and licked my nose I knew there was no way I was leaving her behind.
She was a mutt of sorts, but I had no idea what breeds she could possibly be. She was small enough that I could tuck her into the front of my flack jacket and left her head poking out of the top like she was in one of those baby carriers I’d seen people wearing back home. As soon as all of the guys saw her they each came over talking baby talk and cooing at her causing me to chuckle because they were some of the toughest men I knew and to see them all melt at the sight of a puppy was pretty hilarious.
Officially, soldiers weren’t allowed to bring animals onto the base, but in reality no one would say anything as long as the animal didn’t get in the way of us fulfilling our missions. The commanders would walk by, give her a pet on the head, and then continue on like they never saw her so the phrase ‘Ignorance is bliss’ definitely applied.
It was two days later that the mail arrived and we were all given a stack of letters written by school kids back in the States. I never got any mail because I’d grown up an only child, left in an orphange after my parents died in a flash flood while driving home one night when I was seven. No one wanted an older kid to adopt and I had a lot of anger issues back then after my parents died so I didn’t do well with any of the numerous foster families I’d been shipped to. Eventually they stopped trying to place me with anyone and just let me ride it out until I turned eighteen and joined the Marines. The Corps was my family now.
The sense of family I felt in the Marines rid me of my anger issues so it all worked out for the best. And now that I had this little furball to take care I was worried about what would become of her when the time came for us to leave. I was also worried about the amount of crap she was being fed from the chow hall by all of the guys in my platoon. She needed to eat dog food, but it wasn’t like I could run to the grocery store to buy her any.
I grabbed one of the letters from the stack to read while I tried to think of a way to get some dog food around here, so it was like an unanswered prayer when I read the letter from Sookie Stackhouse. I was truly touched by her heartfelt thanks and hoped that her offer of sending something here wasn’t an empty promise so I immediately sat down and started to write.
Dear Miss Stackhouse,
I just received your letter and I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your heartfelt thanks. It’s nice to know that there are people out there that understand what we’re doing has nothing to do with what the political talking heads spout off about on the morning news shows, but is instead done out of a sense of duty and honor to serve our great nation.
I wish I could say that there are people in my life that worry for my well being while serving overseas, but sadly that isn’t the case. I was orphaned as a young child and grew up in an orphanage so the Marine Corps is my only family now. That being said, I was hoping your offer of support still stands.
Two days ago I found a puppy in the rubble of a building that I soon discovered was deaf. Being an orphan myself, I couldn’t bear to leave her there to fend for herself and brought her back to the base with me. While I’m worried about what will become of her when it’s time for me to return to the States, my immediate concern is her diet. The post exchange doesn’t sell dog food and I’m certain the scraps she’s been eating from the chow hall aren’t giving her all of the nutrition she needs. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would you consider shipping over some puppy chow? I don’t have anyone else in the States that I could ask to do this for me so I would be grateful if you would. I’m enclosing some money to cover the cost of the food and shipping as well as my own heartfelt thanks for both your kind words and your offer of assistance.
SSGT Eric Northman, USMC
It was almost two weeks after I’d mailed our class’s letters to the soldiers that I received a reply from SSGT Eric Northman. My heart broke for him reading that he had no one in his life that cared or worried for him being overseas. I actually cried when I read about him finding the puppy and saving her from being an orphan like himself. As soon as school was over I drove to PetSmart and loaded up on puppy chow, a dog bed, dog treats, toys and a collar as well as metal food and water dishes.
I packed it all up inside of a cardboard box, along with a few bags of snack items that wouldn’t melt in the desert heat, and before I sealed it to take to the post office I sat down and wrote another letter to enclose inside.
Dear SSGT Northman,
I received your letter today and I must admit my heart broke a little while reading it. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you to grow up without your family at your side. I’m also an animal lover so the fact that you saved the puppy from what was more than likely a horrible fate touches me beyond words.
I’ve enclosed everything I could think of that you might need to take care of her for the time being and I’m willing to send you whatever else it is you might need while you’re gone. I would be honored if you would consider me your friend and you can be assured there’s at least one person back home that is worried for you well being.
Since the mail seems to take a long time to make it’s way back and forth between our locations I’ve included my personal email address if you would like to correspond with me.
I was shocked when the mail arrived and I was handed a huge box. I opened it to find the dog food along with a bunch of other things for the puppy as well as some things for me. I was always envious when the other guys in my platoon would get a care package from their loved ones back home and I couldn’t believe how touched I was finally receiving one of my very own.
I found an envelope at the bottom of the box and opened it to discover a letter from Miss Stackhouse along with the money I’d sent her for the dog food. I couldn’t believe the emotions I felt reading her letter knowing there was someone out there that cared if I lived or died.
I set up Bonnie with her new bed and she immediately went to work on one of the rawhide treats Sookie had sent. I took a picture of her and uploaded it to my laptop while I sat down to send her an email.
I just received your care package and letter today and I wanted to thank you. Your thoughtfulness touched me more than I can say. I never received a care package until your’s and I was surprised how much it really meant to me. I would love to correspond with you and you do me the honor in considering me your friend.
I guess since we’re friends, I should tell you a little more about myself. For one, the puppy now has a name. I named her Bonnie after your hometown Bon Temps. That means ‘good times’ in French if I’m not mistaken and she’s nothing if not a ‘good time.’ All of the guys in my platoon have unofficially adopted her as well and she’s the most spolied dog I’ve ever seen. If you knew the men I’m serving with I’m sure you’d get a kick out of seeing them using baby talk with Bonnie, especially since she can’t hear them, when they’re tough as nails any other time.
I’ve been in the Marine Corps for ten years now having joined up as soon as I turned eighteen. I always thought I would make a career out of the military, but I find that I’m longing for a different kind of life now that I’m getting older. Moving every few years is getting old and I’d like to find a place to put down roots since that’s something I’ve never experienced. I also have Bonnie to consider now if I can find a way to get her out of the country. I’m quite attached to her and I don’t want to leave her behind when my deployment ends in June. My enlistment in the military will be up at that time as well so I’ll have to figure out what it is I want to do with my life after the Marines.
I guess you probably hear a lot of good ideas from your students on what they want to be when they grow up. Care to give me some examples because I could use some ideas. Have you been a teacher for very long? Do you find it a satisfying career? I earned my Bachelor’s Degree through the GI Bill while I’ve been in the Marines so if you have any thoughts you’d like to share I’d be grateful.
Once again, thank you for your thoughtful care package and I hope to hear from you soon.
P.S. I’ve attached a photo of Bonnie so you can see how much she appreciates your gifts. And if you have any idea of what kind of mutt she is I’d like to know what they are because I have no clue.
I got home from work and fired up my laptop while I went through grading the tests from the pop quiz I’d given earlier in the day. I was excited when I saw I had an email from Eric Northman. Something about him tugged at my heartstrings. I felt bad that he had no sense of ‘home’ other than the Marine Corps especially since it appeared staying in the Marines wasn’t something he wanted to do.
I also worried about Bonnie’s fate when his deployment ended and he had to return to the States. For some ridiculous reason I also felt elated that he thought enough of me to have named her after my hometown. I clicked on the attached photo and was a little disappointed that it was of just Bonnie because I wanted to be able to put a face with Eric’s name. As soon as I thought of a way to get that without seeming like I was just dying to know what he looked like, which was the case more than I’d actually like to admit, I replied to his email.
I’m glad to hear that Bonnie enjoyed her gifts and she looks very adorable in her new bed. I would guess we’d have to wait until she was fully grown to be sure, but just from looking at her I would guess she’s some sort sheppard/terrier mix. And I’m very touched that you chose to name her after my hometown.
If you’re looking to put down roots, in my opinion Bon Temps, or a town like it, is the way to go. It’s small enough that everybody knows everyone else and people tend to look out for one another. That’s not to say that there isn’t any crime around here, but it mostly consists of bored teenagers finding a way to amuse themselves. It’s also close enough to the larger towns that you don’t have to go very far to find whatever it is that you need. The only drawback is that there aren’t very many places to meet new people and having grown up here I have no desire to date any of the single guys that I grew up with. There’s just no way to forget what they were like as young boys and, sadly, most of them still act the same now as they did when they were ten years old. Amusing? Yes. Marriage material? No.
I wish I could give you suggestions on what possible careers would be a good fit for you, but I guess the one question you’d have to answer is, what one thing in life is it that brings you joy? The saying goes that if you do what you love for a living you’ll never have to work a day in your life and I can say that’s a true statement. I love children and I love being able to teach them things and seeing their eyes open up to the endless possibilities in life. I have a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the year when they leave my class with more knowledge than they came in with at the start of the year.
And you’re correct in assuming that fourth graders have a lot of different ideas on what they want to be when they grow up ranging from doctors and lawyers to NASCAR drivers and superheros. In fact, one of my students informed me he wanted to be a Viking when he grew up. I’ve attached a photo of our class from the Halloween parade we had at the school the other day. The Viking is on the left and I’m the one dressed as a fairy (in case you couldn’t pick out the one adult in the picture. :))
I’d love to see what you meant about the men in your platoon not matching their exteriors with their baby talk. And feel free to include yourself in the photo. It would be nice to have a face to go with your name.
Until next time, stay safe.
I couldn’t stop staring at the picture Sookie had sent me. She was absolutely the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. And knowing how sweet and caring she was made her all the more attractive. I gathered from her email that she was single and unattached, but I just couldn’t see how it was possible that no one had staked their claim on her yet.
I grabbed Bonnie and took her outside while calling the guys to come stand around me. As soon as I had our picture a couple of them took Bonnie to play fetch while I went back inside to upload the photo and email Sookie.
I’ve attached a photo of the guys in my platoon along with Bonnie. As you can see they all look like they’re big and bad, which they are, so trust me when I say the amount of baby talk going on around here is pretty funny. I’m standing in the center holding Bonnie so now you have a face to go with my name.
I hope this isn’t too forward of me to say, but I find it hard to believe that you’re unattached. Not only are you sweet, caring and intelligent, but you’re beautiful as well. After seeing you in your fairy costume I’ll never be able to look at Tinkerbell the same way again. 🙂
It’s funny that you mentioned Vikings because I’ve been called that once or twice in my life. I guess it’s not a far stretch since I’m 6’5″ with blond hair and blue eyes, but I really don’t see myself living a life on the open sea and raiding small villages. 😉 I guess I’m not really sure what my passion in life would be. I never had the opportunity to explore any extra curricular activites growing up in the orphanage and I’ve been a Marine for my entire adult life. The military isn’t really the place to explore your own identity because you’re taught to act as a whole and not as an individual.
Bon Temps sounds like a good place to settle down though. I imagine it would be nice to be able to know your neighbors and be familiar with everyone in town. As for meeting new people, I can think of one woman there that I wouldn’t mind getting to know better myself. I’ll have the upper hand on all of the other single men vying for her attention since she didn’t know me when I was ten. Plus I’ve got Bonnie in my corner so I already have an in.
All joking aside, I have to admit that there’s something about you that touches me in a way that I’ve never felt before. I’d like to try and explore what there might be between us if you feel the same. If not, I’ll completely understand and would love to still be able to call you my friend.
Holy Christ on a stick, Eric Northman is an Adonis! I’ve always had a thing for a guy in uniform, I mean what woman doesn’t? But the sight of him in his desert fatigues with a tan, towering over everyone else while holding a puppy? Instant swoon material! And he thinks I’m beautiful! And he signed his email ‘Yours’ as in MINE. I know I hardly know him, but I was more than willing to get to know him. How could I not? He’s caring and brave and sweet, not to mention he’s a walking demi-God among us mere mortals. I couldn’t reply fast enough.
I have to agree that after seeing the other men in your platoon, the thought of them using baby talk to a deaf puppy is pretty funny. And after seeing you, I too find it hard to believe that you are unattached as well. I find myself thinking of you often and you’ve pulled at my heartstrings from your very first letter. I would love to explore the possibility of what there might be between us. And just knowing you as I do now, I would imagine knowing you as a ten year old wouldn’t put me off either.
Since you already know how much I love Bon Temps I can hardly disagree that it’s a wonderful place to live. Perhaps when your deployment ends you would like to come for a visit. I live in a farmhouse that I inherited when my Gran died a few years ago and a Stackhouse has lived in it for the last 150 years, so there’s definitely family roots here for me. I would love it if you’d like to stay here if you visit so I can try to show you what it’s like to live in a small town. There’s plenty of room here since I live alone and Bonnie is, of course, welcome to stay as well.
Speaking of Bonnie, I looked into what needed to be done to ship an animal from your location back to the States. Not surprisingly, a lot of military members have done what you did with Bonnie and wanted to send them home. There’s an organization that deals with all of the rules and regulations as well as shipping the animals to the United States and I’ve sent away for more information. I hope that they’ll be able to help getting Bonnie sent home with you and I’ll email you as soon as I find out what needs to be done.
Over the following months Eric and I emailed each other every day and I found myself falling in love with him. I hoped he felt the same way about me too. I found out it would cost $3000 to get Bonnie shipped back to the States and I presented my class with an idea of helping to raise the money. We adopted Bonnie’s cause as a whole and dubbed it ”Operation Bring Bonnie Home”. The children volunteered to help raise the money with lemonade stands and bake sales on the weekends. We even got permission from the principal to hold a car wash at the school and sold pins with Bonnie’s picture on it. The other teachers chipped in as well and before long we had enough money to ship her here. Eric was moved, to say the least, and all of the guys in his platoon wrote letters to the students thanking them for all that they had done to help bring Bonnie to the United States. The planes bringing the animals out of the country only flew when there were enough of them to make the cost of the bringing them here worth it. It turned out that Bonnie had to leave before Eric’s deployment ended, but I volunteered to keep her until he could make it back. His email after he took her to the plane nearly broke my heart, but I tried to assure him that I would take really good care of her until he got back.
She arrived in early May and I fell in love with her instantly. She was very smart and took visual commands without any problems. I brought her with me to school one day and took pictures of her with the kids and emailed them to Eric which seemed to perk him up even though he missed her terribly.
Eric was due to arrive in Louisiana at the end of June and we agreed he would be staying with me for an undetermined amount of time. I secretly hoped that he would never leave. We hadn’t actually met each other in person, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I was just too afraid to give a voice to those thoughts and chose to adopt a wait-and-see approach to our relationship.
I was feeling pretty bummed on the last day of school knowing I wouldn’t be seeing my kids all summer and brought Bonnie in with me so they could all see her again. I hadn’t gotten any emails from Eric in several days because he was going through his out-processing, whatever that was, that he needed to do since he wasn’t re-enlisting in the Marines and it would be another week and a half before he would be coming here.
So, when the door to my classroom opened at ten o’clock that morning and Bonnie excitedly ran over to the person walking in, I was stunned to say the least.
Eric stood there, a giant amongst the fourth graders, smiling. He was wearing his dress uniform with the blue coat and white pants and I know my mouth was hanging open at the sight. I wanted to tackle him to the ground and do things that shouldn’t be witnessed by fourth graders.
Sookie was even more beautiful in person than I could’ve possibly imagined. She had her hair thrown up in a messy, yet sexy, bun on top of her head and was wearing a summer dress that clung to her body in all the right ways. I’d fallen in love with her through our emails and I hoped she felt the same. I hadn’t told her yet, but I had no intention of leaving Bon Temps. The way her whole community rallied around Bonnie’s cause proved to me that this was a good place to live and I wanted to be a part of it. I also wanted to be a part of Sookie’s life and I knew this was where her life was.
Sookie seemed stunned to see me and I hoped it was worth the little white lie I told her about when I’d be arriving. From the smile on her face I would venture a guess that she wouldn’t fault me for it. It was evident that Bonnie hadn’t forgotten me and I bent down so she could lick my face while simultaneously beating me with her wagging tail. I wasn’t sure what would be an appropriate greeting to Sookie in front of her class so I was more than pleased when she strode over to where I was standing, threw her arms around my neck, and pulled me down for a kiss. The ‘ooohs’ and ‘aahhhs’ from her students was the only thing that kept me sane enough to not rip her clothes off.
She blushed when she pulled away from our kiss and smiled looking up at me. I spent the rest of the morning entertaining the kids with stories of Bonnie overseas and the way the guys would react to her. I also answered questions about being in the military and what it was like in a war zone, making sure I kept it G-rated which Sookie seemed to appreciate. When the final bell rang I stood to the side as the kids filed out with Sookie hugging each one and wishing them a good summer vacation.
As soon as we were alone she came over and gave me another kiss, much more R-rated and was quickly getting close to NC-17 before we finally pulled away from each other. We grabbed Bonnie and headed to her car for the ride back to her house with both of us holding hands the entire time. As soon as we were inside she pulled me down for another kiss and I picked her up and held her against the wall while our hands ran all over each other. She pulled away long enough to ask, “Will you think any less of me if I suggest we move this to my bedroom? I know we only, technically, just met, but honestly I feel like I’ve known you my whole life.” Her eyes told me she was worried about what I would think of her suggestion, but they also told me what she felt for me was the same thing I felt for her.
I set her down on her feet and held her face in my hands. Leaning down I placed a gentle kiss on her lips before looking in her eyes and confessed, “Sookie, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Thoughts of you, of us, is what got me through all of those months overseas and if you’ll have me, I want to stay here and build a life with you. I love you.”
Tears spilled out of her eyes as she pulled my lips back to hers and said, “I love you too.” After that, there was no holding either one of us back. She started unbuttoning my coat while pulling me up the stairs and we ended up leaving a trail of the clothing we shed all the way to her bedroom. She pushed me to lie down on my back in the center of her bed and I was mesmerized by the sight of her wearing nothing more than a smile as she moved up my body.
My arousal was quite obvious and when she locked her eyes onto mine while she dipped her head down to run her tongue up the length of my erection I nearly came undone. It had been a LONG time since I’d had sex so when she slid her mouth down the length of me I had to fight off the urge to explode right then and there. The sensation of her gliding her mouth up and down while flicking her tongue over the tip was almost too much to bear, but when she moaned on the next down stroke I hissed out “Sookie…” and had to pull her off of me knowing I wouldn’t be able to last.
She looked confused by my actions so I quickly assured her by saying, “You’re going to make me explode but I want to take care of you first.” I held onto her and quickly turned us so that she was underneath me causing her to squeal out with a giggle. The giggle died as soon as I latched on to her breast with my mouth and turned into breathy moans instead. I couldn’t get over how beautiful she was and counted my lucky stars that she loved me too.
Once her breasts had equal attention I moved farther down her body and as soon as my tongue made its frist pass in between her legs she cried out. I had to hold her hips down while I continued to lick along the length of her folds before pulling her small bundle of nerves in between my lips. I gently sucked and stroked it with my tongue while I slid one of my fingers inside of her. She was slick with her arousal so I easily slid in a second finger and continued to pump them into her while working her clit. It wasn’t very long before I felt her muscles clamp down and she yelled out, “ERIC!” with her release.
I slowly kissed my way back up her body and smiled down as I watched while her eyes began to focus again. She pulled me back down for another kiss while her hand began to stroke along my length before placing me at her entrance. It took all of my concentration to still my body and ask, “What about protection?”
I watched a blush bloom on her cheeks when she shyly said, “I’ve been tested and I’m clean. And I started taking birth control pills a couple of months ago…just in case.”
Thank God! I thought because I didn’t want to have to stop. I kissed her again saying, “I’m clean too.” The words had barely left my lips when she pushed her hips up into mine and I started sliding into her. Many pants and hisses later I was finally inside of her all the way and held still just enjoying the feeling of being inside of her until our hips couldn’t hold still any longer.
I looked down into her eyes as I continued to thrust into her and I felt like I was finally where I belonged. Not only side of her, but just being with her. She was my home.
Sookie’s eyes started to glaze over and I could feel her inner muscles starting to spasm around me when her whole body tensed with her climax as she screamed out my name and triggering my own orgasm with a hoarse yell coming from my lips.
I leaned down and kissed her once more before moving to her side while she curled her body around mine. The feelings and emotions swirling through me while I stared at her were indescribable. Tears fell from both of our eyes when she cupped my cheek in her hand and whispered, “Welcome Home.”