I do not own the rights to 'Black Sheep Squadron.' That honor goes to Stephen J. Cannell, writer & producer.
I grew up watching this show on syndication with my Marine Corps dad. As with most TV series, it pretty much stretches the truth. The real Black Sheep Squadron (which is still in existance, BTW, and is still VMF 214) did not have such easy access to nurses or any other forms of recreation as they did on the show. However, for the sake of pure entertainment, we'll pretend they did. And, I'm pretty sure the real Pappy Boyington did not have the most gorgeous blue eyes like Robert Conrad's. Oh, and Marine Corps pilots really are a bunch of cocky SOBs. That part, the show did get correct! Thanks for reading.
This beach was beautiful. Although she was thousands of miles from the country she called home – although no 'true' home awaited there – and smack dab in the middle of the Pacific sector of what had been called 'The Latest War to End All Wars,' she was content. The water was sparkling blue, the slight breeze bringing the waves ashore with a comforting whoosh. The sun was warm, it was her day off, she had a good book – what more could one ask for?
Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy thane,
You do unbend your noble strength, to think
So brain-sickly of things. Go, get some water,
And wash this filthy witness from your hand.
Why did you bring these daggers from the place?
They must lie there. Go, carry them and smear
The sleepy grooms with blood.
MacBeth's lady always fascinated her. Although women were supposed to be the weaker of the two genders, this woman was quick-witted enough to have someone else framed for the murders in her household to save her family.
For some reason, she could never see herself doing that for her own fiancée.
Maybe that was something a wife picked up over the years. She hoped.
While Abby never wanted to be put in that particular situation, her level head and quick thinking had gotten her far indeed – graduating nursing school in Chicago at the top of her class, then just as meticulously rising to the top of the nursing staff at Chicago General, specializing in emergency trauma, a relatively new field in medicine. And all before she reached 30.
Although this side trip into World War II was inevitable – her father saw to that – at least it was a great learning experience. Vella La Cava was just a wee bit too far away from the bulk of the action, it was as close as the armed forces would allow female nursing staff – her father saw to that, too.
And if Abby were so inclined to think about it, her high-ranking Naval father still held a heavy hand in her life, whether she wanted him to or not.
But, today was too pretty for such serious thoughts.
Abby turned a page in her well-worn book, idly running her toes through the soft white sand, getting more of it on her towel than necessary, but not caring. Some of her dirty blonde hair had come out of her customary bun and was whipping around her face, and she had to keep brushing it out of her eyes. The raucous sounds of men at play – some volleyball game or other – carried along the winds of the beach, but she paid none of them any mind.
Until the ball plopped right into her lap, throwing sand all over her and her book.
"What in the hell?" She tossed her book aside, trying her best to wipe sand out of her eyes with hands that were just as coated. She jumped to her feet, the book and ball falling to her feet, the ball rolling away.
"She's mine! I saw her first! No, she's mine!" reached her ears.
Pilots. Go figure.
And, it had to be pilots. Vella La Cava was home base for none other than the notorious Black Sheep of the US Marine Corps.
The best way, Abby knew from years and years of experience, was to meet them head-on.
"I do not belong to any of you, and as soon as I get this blasted sand out of my eyes, I'm going to make sure I kick someone in the ass!"
There were choruses of "Ooooo!" and "I'm sooo scared!"
Abby thought about informing the bunch that, despite her average size, she had three brothers that had taught her the art of self-defense, but decided against it. She might need that card one day and kept it close to her chest.
By now, her eyes were watering so much, she hoped to heaven these imbeciles didn't think she was actually crying.
"Here. Try this." His voice was deep as he pressed something into her hands.
He'd make a good MacBeth. Or maybe Othello.
Abby most certainly didn't express those thoughts either. As haughtily as she could manage in shorts and a tank top, tears streaming out of her eyes, she snatched it from him. A shirt. Definitely a man's shirt. It wasn't dirty, but it smelt most certainly . . . manly – soap with the faint smell of engine exhaust.
Not that she noticed or anything.
As she wiped her eyes, she tried to control her temper. It was probably an accident, they couldn't' help it, yada, yada, yada.
Somehow, she doubted it.
And pilots always brought out the worst in her.
When she could see again, she hoped her eyes weren't as bloodshot as she was afraid they would be. Six pairs of eyes watched her, all clearly enjoying themselves. Actually, they were enjoying themselves so much, Abby had to restrain the urge to see if one of her boobs had popped out of her tank top.
Unceremoniously, she handed the shirt back to the one closest to her.
"You alright?" The same deep voice.
She looked at him. Actually, she looked up at him. He was a good several inches taller than her, clearly having a grand time at her expense.
Be polite, he tried to help. Better than some of those yahoos ogling behind him.
"I've been better," she grumbled. It was the nicest comment she could manage out of all the ones floating around in her head. Plus, she was eye-level with his bare chest, and she wished he would put the damn shirt back on!
Of course, she'd never met a Marine that was out of shape, pilots included.
Too bad Tony was a Navy paper pusher . . . oh crap, I shouldn't think that!
He grinned at her, his dark eyes crinkling at the sides, almost as if he could read her thoughts. His dark hair was tousled from the breeze and probably from their rousing game of volleyball.
Abby knew from experience that pilots were a competitive bunch.
And this was most definitely a man who knew he looked good.
Damn cocky pilots!
She tore her gaze away from his chest long enough to give him what she hoped was a scathing look.
It didn't seem to faze him.
She bent over to pick up her book, wiping sand from its pages. However, she quickly stood back up amid catcalls and whistles from the men standing behind Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.
"Haven't seen you around here before, baby. You must be new."
She shot him a dirty look as she shook her book by the binder, more sand sprinkling onto her towel. "I've been here for weeks. And I'm not your baby."
"Seems to me she's someone's baby. Look at that rock." One of them, a rather surly looking fellow who was probably handsome if he remembered to smile, called out.
Abby glanced at the ring that had been on her finger for almost two years, two long years without a date set from either one of them. But she sure wasn't going to tell these . . . these Marines that!
"So, baby . . ."
"Captain Reilly to you, buster." Abby had finished shaking sand from her book and stood with her arms crossed protectively in front of her.
"Oh, wow, she's a captain!" Someone was definitely in awe. And, he looked like he was about 14 years old with his blonde hair and gangly limbs.
Man, oh man, the older she got, the younger they looked!
Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome rocked back on his heels, clearly amused. "A captain, huh? How do I know you're not just saying that? Your . . . ah . . . uniform seems to be missing its stripes." He eyed her bare legs and tanned arms.
There were sniggers all around.
Abby narrowed her blue eyes. "OK, buster, there's no need to get cheeky. I'm pretty sure I outrank you." She didn't usually pull the rank card, but this man and his minions galled her, to say the least.
He held up his hands as a peaceful gesture. "Sorry, Captain Reilly. Wouldn't want to make you any madder than you already are. We just haven't seen you around, that's all. And we've . . . uh . . . seen all the nurses."
"I bet you have." Boy, did she know. Most of her fellow nurses spent more time carousing with this bunch of ruffians than they did working. Not that she cared. They tried to get her to come along at first, but when it became obvious she'd rather eat nails than hang out with pilots, they left her alone.
Most of them left her alone anyway. Friendliness was not an alpha trait of hers.
He cocked his head at her, his hair falling over his forehead. "How 'bout a drink?"
"It's not even noon!" Abby sputtered. She'd heard of their drinking escapades, legendary in the South Pacific.
More laughter all around.
He sidled closer, probably so his little friends couldn't hear.
Abby resisted the first impulse to step away from him. Towards safety.
Instead, she stood her ground, staring up into his face. The first thing she noticed was his five-o-clock shadow, and she wanted to tell him to step closer to the razor next time he shaved.
But, from what she heard, shaving was low on the totem poll for the Black Sheep of VMF-214.
He smirked at her. "Now, later? Who cares? Come over to the Sheep Pen, and we'll see what's on tap."
He sounded so sure of himself that Abby rolled her eyes skyward. She'd heard notorious stories about that place, and she'd rather keep it that way – just stories. "I know my peers have tried to prove otherwise, but you and your friends here," she tossed a hand in the general direction of the remaining bunch, making sure she spoke loud enough for all of them, "are not God's gift to women. Me, included. I will not now, nor will I ever, go with any of you anywhere." Now, her anger was trying to get the best of her. But, she was better than that. She wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
Uncertainty danced across his dark eyes, and Abby dug a little deeper. "Oh, never been rejected before in front of your pals, huh? Well, buster," she pointed at him for emphasis, "you've just ruined my peaceful morning, and I don't appreciate it."
"That's Lieutenant Anderson to you." His voice was a tick colder than it had been.
OK, she had that coming. And, it was nice to know she outranked him.
She'd managed to avoid the lot of them so far since she'd been on this island, and she preferred to keep it that way. In one swoop, she reached over and picked up her blanket and book, turning her back on them to stomp away, not quite convinced she had gained the upper hand.
But, she smiled wickedly when she saw it, not two feet from her. Deftly, she kicked the volleyball, which soared in the air and landed in the surf, perilously close to floating away.
With a toss of her head, she stalked down the beach. There. That showed them. Now, maybe they'd leave her alone, and she'd finish out her little stint on this island in relative peace.
She could feel their eyes on her, but she didn't care. However, when she got out of sight, she sighed.
Why did pilots always get the best of her?
"Well, I'll be a sonovabitch," Captain Jim Gutterman took off his ever-present cowboy hat and ran his hand through his thick hair. "I don't think she liked us too much. Hey, Casey, it's going the other way!"
They were glad to let the young lieutenant go after the ball before it drifted out to sea.
"Can you blame her much? I mean, Bobby practically threw the ball at her, and she'll probably have sand in her eyes for a week." T.J. Wiley didn't like to be picked on, and he had a tendency to take up for those who did.
"I did not!" Anderson protested, still watching her stalk down the beach.
"So, the old charms didn't quite work like you thought they would, huh?" Jerry laughed, totally amused with the situation. He agreed with T.J. The broad should have fought back.
Anderson really seemed at a loss. "Probably a boring stick in the mud anyway. Did you see what she was reading? Macbeth." He said it as if it were a mortal sin, shuddering as he said it. He would never admit to these guys that he'd read Macbeth and rather liked it. Better keep that to himself.
"Oh, Lord forbid women have brains," T.J. rolled his eyes at his friend.
"Well, this one had brains and an attitude the size of Texas," Boyle added. He caught the soggy ball as Casey tossed it to him, not letting his short stature hinder him from making a general pest of himself during the volleyball game.
Gutterman smiled. "Whatta ya say we teach her a lesson or two? Bring her down off her high horse?"
"Uh oh. I don't like the sound of that," Casey said, wringing out his shirt.
"Me, neither," T.J. muttered.