I was filled with horror, as the man above me laughed at my cries for help.
"Think you're clever huh? Playing hard to get, huh?"
"Let go of me!" I yelled, trying to kick him.
He just laughed, and began to rip at my shirt.
Suddenly, someone appeared behind him.
"The hell you think you're doing!" I heard the guy growl, in the familiar drawl that I had come to love. Before the guy even had a chance to turn around, the other guy lamped him in the side of the head. He crumpled on the floor next to me, and I didn't miss my chance to escape.
I pelted away down the road, listening to the scuffle fade away.
Stopping behind a tree, where I could see the base about 3 miles away. I caught my breath, waiting and listening for someone, anyone.
Then I could hear the gravel crunching slowly, up the road.
"Who's there?" I breathed, pressing myself against the trunk, as the footsteps came closer.
"Hoob!" I gasped, pushing myself away from the tree. I threw my arms around his neck.
"Beau, are you okay?" he asked softly, pushing me away so he could look at me. I wish he'd not asked. I burst into tears, throwing my hands up to my face.
"No! I thought he was..."
"I would never have let him, don't you worry about that Beau." he pulled me close to him, stroking my hair. He held me close as we walked back.
When we got into our billet, I just sat on my bed. My jacket was ripped slightly at the collar, and my lips were a little red. I couldn't get his taste out of my mouth, the feel of him laid over me. I went to the loo and stared at myself in the mirror, thinking about what could have happened if Hoob hadn't come along. I felt sick to my stomach and I couldn't stop the urge to be sick. I hurled everything I had in me, into the toilet, tears pricking my eyes like they did when I usually threw up.
"Beau?" he asked, standing at the door as I brushed my teeth.
"I can't get him off me." I tried to smile, but it failed miserably.
"Beau, baby come here." I looked at him meekly as he opened his arms.
"Did you just call me baby?"
"Uh. Yeah.. I guess..." he replied, as I snuggled into his chest by the toilet door. "Come on, you should sleep."
He guided me over to his bed, and he laid down next to me. I guess it was so I could cuddle him. He pressed his chin into my hair and whispered some comforting words to me, as I sniffled quietly.
"Hoob, I'm sorry I punched you today."
"Don't worry about it sweetie... I'm sorry I was so mean to you..."
"You saved me tonight.."
"And one day you'll do the same for me."
I couldn't help but hope that I'd never have to fix him up, and I fell into an uneasy and perturbed sleep.
I'd had nightmares all night that night, and when I was woken up in the morning I had a heart attack. I was still bleary eyed and I was woken up to just a silhouette standing at the bottom of my bed. Before I could even think about who it was, I lashed out and hit them in the jaw. I sent the silhouette sprawling on the floor.
"Holy SHIT! Sunny!" Joe Toye's raspy voice groaned from the floor. I leapt out of my cot, throwing myself to his side.
"Oh my God, Joey I'm so sorry, I thought you were the guy from last night!" I cried, flapping about around his busted lip.
"What guy?" he asked, slapping my hands away gently.
"I had a run in with a drunk guy... Hoob, erm.. rescued me..." I blushed, fiddling with my torn collar and looked around at Hoob, who was sat on his bed, tying his boots up. He paused and looked round, throwing me a wink and I blushed even more and turned around quickly.
"Joey I am sorry! I really didn't mean to hit you.."
"Don't worry about it, it wasn't your fault." he replied, rubbing his mouth. "That's one hell of right hook you got there Sunny."
"Thanks Joey." I leant back against my bed, before stumbling over my shoes. "Oh, that's where they are."
Most of the guys stumbled along to the mess hall, after a night of drinking, they all looked like hell. I walked slowly, not quite feeling myself after last night.
"You're birthday wasn't too great huh?" Hoob tried to joke. I smiled weakly.
"Yeah, it sucked..."
"Well, don't worry, next year, it'll be better baby."
"There you go again with the baby thing... is it cause I'm the youngest?"
"No.. I just.. I dunno.."
He slowed down, and so did I. I was wondering what was wrong with him. By now we'd come to a complete stop. He was just looking at me, with a puzzled look on his face.
"It was too late to buy you a birthday present, so I hope this will do."
I couldn't ask him what he was on about, because he grabbed my face with both hands and planted one, right on my mouth. With all the suddenness that he'd kissed me with, he broke away and blushed.
"I'm sorry... I shouldn't have... did I mention I was sorry?"
"Hoobler..." I blushed too and rubbed my forehead.
"I should... I should go.."
The two of us didn't speak to each other for months. It took us until the end of jump training to even really look at each other and say morning. And during that time, I'd gotten closer to Don and Eugene Roe the other medic.
And, as I lay, bloodied and broken, in the arms of Renee, Gene and Hoob, I remembered the day we graduated jump school, as being one of the best days of my life. I smiled weakly, barely knowing where I was. I could feel the strangest things, but I suppose that was because of blood loss and that Gene and Renee were trying to stop me from bleeding to death.
"Hoobler go wait outside, we'll tell yo what happens."
"I'm not leaving her."
"It's not for 'er. Eet is for you." I heard the faint voice of Renee tell Hoob. I used the last of my strength to raise my arm, just slightly, and grasp his little finger and ring finger.
"I promised I'd not leave you... will you forgive me if I go away now and you.. you die?"
"Yes.." I felt myself breathe. His chapped lips met my bloodied ones, and his footsteps, as well as everything else, faded once again to darkness and silence. Once again, my life played out before me, and all I could focus on was the jump wings ceremony.
"Don I am so excited! I could cartwheel all over the place!" I grinned jigging my legs as we stood waiting for our jump wings to be pinned on. Colonel Sink came over to me and Don last.
I stood proudly before the Colonel, as he pinned on the silver badge.
"You've done me proud Beauclaire. Keep it up little lady." he smiled.
"Yes sir, thank you sir."
As soon as we got back to our billet, (we had a few hours free before our party in the evening) I went wild. I was so proud of everyone and myself, I couldn't calm down. I was so excited.
"Oh my god... Sunny, what the hell have you been drinking?" Don snorted as I jumped from bed to bed.
"I can't help it!" I laughed, diving on his back. "High Ho Silver!"
"I'm not a fucking horse!" he laughed too, whirling me around. He set me down and I wobbled that much, I lost my balance and fell over a bed... right into Hoob's lap. I blushed, and so did he, and the silly feeling I got when he first kissed me came back.
"Nice of you to drop in." he smirked. I blushed a little more, when I caught his gaze lingering on my lips. Don helped me to my feet and I grabbed some things from under the floor boards under my bed.
"Where are you going?" Don asked as I walked out of the door with my little bag.
"To find Shifty."
Shifty, was like the right side of my body. Without my southern soldier boy, I couldn't function. I knocked on the door to his hut, and Georgie called me in.
"Sunny! How about that gentlemen! You hear us talking about you?" he grinned, throwing his arm around me.
"Oh, you were talking about me?" I asked, mock offended.
"Yeah, we were wondering why you and Hoob don't talk no more." Floyd Talbert answered, lighting up a cigarette.
"Oh.. well.. because.."
Georgie grinned, excited at the prospect of some juicy gossip.
"Because what Molly-Anne Beauclaire?" he smirked, tightening his grip around me so I couldn't go any where.
"Well... he kissed me once."
The boys all stopped what they were doing and looked at me, like I'd just arrived at Toccoa all over again.
"He... kissed you..." Floyd asked me, putting out his cig.
"Yeah... once..." I went bright red. "So what?"
"So nothing, you could have mentioned it to one of us though." Don told me from behind. He handed me a small box and leant against the door.
"Yeah.. but what was I meant to do? I didn't know what to say and neither did he... why are you interrogating me anyway! I only wanted to talk to Shifty... wait, what's this for?" I questioned now, looking at the box in my hand. Don told me to open it and I did.
Inside was a hibiscus flower hair clip. It wasn't real; it was made from silk, and the colour matched my cornflower blue dress I was going to wear to the party.
"Consider it a late birthday present. We all chipped in, we know how much you like those flowers."
I smiled and hugged them all one by one, "I love you guys... you're like... I dunno... what I'd do without you, is only a guess."
"Well little sis, you certainly cheer us up." Georgie smiled patting me on the back. "So, you wanted Shifty? Hey Shift, c'mere!"
Shifty trotted over like a loyal dog, and as soon as I had asked, he'd sat me on his bed and started to do my hair. I first found out about his incredible ability to make hair look decent, when I was struggling with the knots in my hair a few months back. He'd done his mother's hair for her when she used to go out and he agreed to do mine too. I asked for victory rolls, as they had always been my favourite. It didn't take him long to put them in, and behind the roll on the left side of my head, he slid in the hibiscus clip. I looked in the mirror and applied my make-up. But I couldn't help but see how much I had grown.
I wasn't the wiry little kid with the curves any more. I was the tall girl, a full five inches taller than what I had been, 5foot when I first got here. I was stronger, more built up, with toned stomach and leg muscles. My whole appearance had changed. I was growing up and the boys had noticed it too. On more than one occasion, I had caught Floyd staring at my behind as I leant over the table to show Hoob or Don something at dinner.
The dress I had bought last year, which had never been worn before, was somewhat of a tighter fit around my chest and hips, showing off more of my curves than I would have liked.
The lads.. well they didn't seem to mind at all. Obviously.
I'd pinned my jump wings to the front of my dress, and I thought I catch hell from Sink because I wasn't in uniform. So imagine my surprise when he announced how nice I looked in the middle of his speech.
"Miss Beauclaire, the dress suits you." I blushed, dipping my head for a moment.
"Thank you sir, I thought it would make a change, sir."
"A welcome one it is too. Now y'all deserve this party and remember out motto: CURRAHEE!"
I smiled and turned around just in time to bump into Joey. He smirked drunkenly at me, patting my back.
"So, kissing with Hoobler huh?"
I blushed and glared at Georgie, "Did you tell him?" he nodded, "Oh for Pete's sake! Why can't you keep a secret? Yes Joey I did, last year, I might add and I haven't since."
He slurred something else, but I'd turned around and caught sight of Hoob. I got the dizzy feeling in my stomach again, and he smiled at me, throwing a wink to me after. My face heated up even more. I felt like I was 14 again, with a stupid childish crush on someone who was way out of my league.
"Looks like our little Sunny has got a crush!" Georgie laughed nudging me.
"Fuck you Georgie." I shot back. I sighed, turning around to Georgie. "I dunno.. I'm stuck..."