The Last LetterBy: Rebecca Yarros
At least that’s what my brother says they call you. I asked him if any of his buddies needed a little extra mail, and yours was the name I was given.
So hi, I’m Ella. I know the whole no-real-names-in-correspondence rule. I’ve been writing these letters just as long as he’s been doing what he does…which I guess is what you do.
Now, before you put this letter aside and mumble an awkward “Thanks, but no thanks,” like guys do, know that this is just as much for me as it is for you. Considering that I’d be able to have a safe place to vent away from the curious eyes of this tiny, nosy town, it would almost be like I’m using you.
So, if you’d like to be my ear, I’d be grateful, and in return, I’d be happy to be yours. Also, I make pretty awesome peanut butter cookies. If cookies didn’t come with this letter, then go beat my brother, because he’s stolen your cookies.
Where do I start? How do I introduce myself without it sounding like a singles ad? Let me assure you, I’m not looking for anything more than a pen pal—a very faraway pen pal—I promise. Military guys don’t do it for me. Guys in general don’t. Not that I don’t like guys. I just don’t have time for them. You know what I do have? Profound regret for writing this letter in pen.
I’m the little sister, but I’m sure my brother already told you that. He’s got a pretty big mouth, which means you probably know that I have two kids, too. Yes, I’m a single mom, and no, I don’t regret my choices. Man, I get sick of everyone asking me that, or simply giving me the look that implies the question.
I almost erased that last line, but it’s true. Also, I’m just too lazy to rewrite the whole thing.
I’m twenty-four and was married to the twins’ sperm donor all of about three seconds. Just long enough for the lines to turn pink, the doctor to say there were two heartbeats, and him to pack in the quiet of the night. Kids were never his thing, and honestly, we’re probably better for it.
If pen pal kids aren’t your thing, I won’t take offense. But no cookies. Cookies are for pen pals only.
If you’re good with single parenthood in a pen pal, read on.
My twins are five, which, if you did the math correctly, means they were born when I was nineteen. After shocking our little town by deciding to raise them on my own, I just about gave it a coronary when I took over Solitude when my grandmother died. I was only twenty, the twins were still babies, and that B&B was where she’d raised us, so it seemed like a good place to raise my kids. It still is.
Let’s see…Maisie and Colt are pretty much my life. In a good way, of course. I’m ridiculously overprotective of them, but I recognize it. I tend to overreact, to build a fortress around them, which keeps me kind of isolated, but hey, there are worse flaws to have, right? Maisie’s the quiet one, and I can usually find her hiding with a book. Colt…well, he’s usually somewhere he isn’t supposed to be, doing something he isn’t supposed to be doing. Twins can be crazy, but they’ll tell you that they’re twice the awesome.
Me? I’m always doing what I have to, and never what I really should be, or what I want to. But I think that’s the nature of being a mom and running a business. Speaking of which, the place is waking up, so I’d better get this box sealed up and shipped.
Write back if you want. If you don’t, I understand. Just know that there’s someone in Colorado sending warm thoughts your way.
Today would have been a perfect time for my second curse word.
Usually, when we were on full-blown deployments, it got really Groundhog Day. Same crap, different day. There was almost a predictable, welcoming pattern to the monotony.
Not going to lie, I was a big fan of monotony.
Routine was predictable. Safe, or as safe as it was going to get out here. We were a month into another undisclosed location in another country we were never in, and routine was about the only thing comfortable about the place.
Today had been anything but routine.
Mission accomplished, as usual, but at a price. There was always a price, and lately, it was getting steep.
I glanced down at my hand, flexing my fingers because I could. Ramirez? He’d lost that ability today. Guy was going to be holding that new baby of his with a prosthetic.
My arm flew, releasing the Kong, and the dog toy streaked across the sky, a flash of red against pristine blue. The sky was the only clean thing about this place. Or maybe today just felt dirty.
Havoc raced across the ground, her strides sure, her focus narrowed to her target until—
“Damn, she’s good,” Mac said, coming up behind me.