A.N. Hey guys! This is the prologue for the story I'm writing as a "Christmas Special" that I'll be writing for all of December as my Holiday Gift to you! Plus, I'm trying to get through my writer's block, which is partially why I haven't updated my other stories (I'm really terrible, I know). This story is a tribute to all of my cousins who are currently serving the United States overseas and aren't able to join my HUGE family for the Holidays.

I'm going to guarantee right now that this story will end with a HEA (Happily Ever After) and hopefully leave you all with a warm fuzzy feeling :p

So enjoy this sneak peak and leave reviews even if it's to say 'Happy Holidays Akira!' or 'What I want for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza is…" or just leave a ':) ' or ':( '

I raced down the steps on my front porch, my feet slipping and sliding in my haste. But I was just so excited at the possibility that I received a reply.

I bounced on my feet trying to catch a glimpse down the street at the UPS mail truck. I fingered the yarn of the homemade scarf that Abby, my adoptive mother and guardian made for me. It was blue mixed with some red and green at the ends. Abby was more like a best friend or sister rather than a mother figure, especially since my own mother ruined my views of the whole idea of the maternal figure.

She and her husband, Joseph, or Joey (but only I'm allowed to call him that) took me in when my mother died of a fatal stroke. My father left us when I was little so I don't really remember him too well.i never did consider them my parents after I got to know Abby and Joe.

I'm happy now, though. Abby and Joe make me feel like I'm part of a family. They welcomed me as a twelve-year-old girl, a stranger, into their home. They cared for me and showed me to really live and have fun. Now, as an eighteen-year-old senior in high school, with a 4.0 GPA and college applications already mailed out before deadlines, my life was good; if not relatively normal. Certainly nothing movie or publish worthy.

That is, until a month ago.

It's what has kept me glued to my bedroom window, waiting for that UPS truck to pull up to our curb to deliver another one of those letters that immediately brightens my day, though I've only received a few.

I could feel my hands become sweaty despite the snow falling. My stomach growled because I could still smell the cookies Abby was cooking in the kitchen and I longed for the UPS guy to hurry it the hell up so this anxiety would stop killing me.

I just wanted to see if I got another letter, and if I did, I wanted to curl up by the fireplace to defrost my toes and fingers. With a glass of milk and plate of Abby's snickerdoodle cookies I would read the letter, analyzing it a hundred times until the paper wrinkled and tore at the corners.

I was so lost in the fantasy with a stupid grin on my face that I didn't notice the UPS guy pull up beside the curbside.

"Hey, Miss, are ya gonna take your mail or not? This freezing Connecticut weather is freezing my ass off over here!" he waved the stack of mail at me and my eyes widened in apprehension.

"Oh, right! Sorry!" I said, signing the dotted line for a small package for Joe from his parents-who insisted I call them Gran and Pappy.

I muttered a thank you to him and ran up the frozen steps, grinning at the haphazard that is Joe's attempt at putting up Christmas lights.

I opened the door quickly and blessed the wash of warmth that started to unfurl my toes. I rifled through the mail, discarding advertisements and Abby's yearly subscription of Home magazines.

But then an inch thick letter appeared on top with about fifteen stamps on it, showing its travels across seas, countries, and states. Grinning widely, I did some sort of squeal/happy dance thing. Hands waving in the air and all.

"Something interesting come in the mail?" Abby asked with her ankles crossed as she leaned on the archway that separated the kitchen and dining room with a smug look on her face, knowing very well what interesting mail I've just received.

"I'm just gonna…take this into the living room," I said and arched a brow, her brow contracting upwards in mock imitation.

"Sure, kid…you do that," she snorts as I back away form her slowly with the letter held tightly to my chest.

"Yeah, so, cookies smell good…and I'll come help-"

"Oh please..." she rolls her eyes, "Just go! I'll bring you cookies," she grinned and waved me off.

Grinning back at her, I bit my lip to stop the squeal that threatened to slip.

I ran into the living room, sitting down carefully on the leather couch by the fireplace.

I looked around to make sure no one was watching or reading over my shoulder, although I knew I'd have to call Macey later to tell her about the newest letter. But, for now I wanted to keep this to myself.

I could hear Abby working in the kitchen. I could hear the faint creaking of floorboards upstairs as Joe paced back and forth, probably on the phone with his Executive Assistant.

Knowing that I was very much alone, in theory, I tore open the envelope, smiling as I saw there were multiple letters labeled with 'Thank Yous' and specific names I've heard about from previous letters from my Captain.

My Captain?

The thought startled me and my heart started to go double time as I quickly set aside the other letters to find the one specific one I've been waiting for this past week.

I exhaled slowly as I unfolded the piece of paper, skimming my eyes over the semi-neat scribble.

Dear Cammie Morgan,

I want to thank you for the care package you sent…the guys really liked all the Axe and Old Spice deodorant you sent because…well, in Afghan, they really don't give us much, if at all. And after awhile it feels like my nose is going to fall off. 'Man stench' gets nauseating in this cesspool. We also watched a few episodes of Fresh Prince of Bellaire Season 3 that you sent us. Grant wanted to watch the Full House complete set you sent for him (I may hate you a little bit for that, by the way). Bex was excited when you actually got her Victoria Secret perfume and those pink colored…tampon things…It kind of freaked me out for a second when I thought you sent me those...it wasn't until Mike started waving them around screaming 'GRENADES' that Bex cleared up what a...tampon...is...

Anyways, about your questions…no, I can't say I'm much of a Justin Timberlake fan though I did listen to a couple NSYNC songs when I grew up. My favorite kind of food is Italian because my mother was a full-blooded Italian through and through. That's one of the things I miss out here, is this hole-in-the-wall Pizzeria in New York a few blocks from where I used to live.

Being out here, across the world from the only place you knew, you realize how lucky you had it. You realize that every minute of every day counts because you'll never get those back.

I used to watch the rest of the guys in the Company I'm in charge of write home to their families, girlfriends, wives, kids, and it made me feel…lonely, even though I'm surrounded by over a hundred men I trust with my life out here. But it was the thought that I didn't have anyone waiting for me when my tour here ends. Some of the guys would tell me that it makes them fight even harder out here with loved ones in mind and the need to get back to them safely. I used to think that it was just a distraction that could get you killed out here.

But then I received your first letter. You didn't know me. You didn't know if I was single, happily married, or seventy years old. It was your kindness and that care package you sent that made the guys and some of the girls out here really brighten up and smile for the first time in months. The first time I've smiled in months.

So, I hope we can continue to exchange letters, though I hope you know that we don't expect anything more than what you've already given us. Given me. you don't know how much I appreciate receiving your letters. It's the highlight of my day, now, when I've gotten a reply from you and I often hope it's the highlight of yours when you receive mine.

It's my turn for questions now!

What is your favorite color? What do you want most for Christmas? And if you receive this after the holidays, what did you get? What's your Adopted parents like? How does it feel to be in your last year of high school?

Well, I'll let you get back to your holiday fun!

Merry Christmas.


Captain Zachary Goode

I read the letter over and over, gnawing at my lip until Abby brought in a plate of cookies and milk with a pad of paper and a pen.

Smiling softly, I pondered exactly how I would respond to my soldier in Afghanistan.

Interested? :) ? :( ?