Home > Wish You Were Mine(5)

Wish You Were Mine(5)
Author: Tara Sivec

“Promise me we’ll be best friends forever, no matter what,” Cameron demands, looking up at Aiden, and then turning her head to look up at me.

Aiden and I share a look over her head and we both shrug.

“Sure, Cam. We’ll be best friends forever, no matter what,” I agree.

“Yep, no matter what. Even if you are a girl,” Aiden adds.

Cameron frowns and pulls away from us, punching him in the stomach. I laugh out loud when Aiden bends over, clutching his stomach and howling in pain. Cameron finally gives me the same smile she gave Aiden a few minutes ago, and the weird feeling I had goes away when she holds out her hands and I toss the basketball to her.

“Rule number one, Aiden. Never tick Cameron off or she’ll punch you,” I tell him, patting him on the back and grabbing his arm to help him stand back up.

“Thanks for the warning,” he groans, rubbing his hand across his gut as we get into position in front of the basketball hoop.

Cameron, Aiden, and I spend the rest of the day playing H-O-R-S-E, and just like always, Cameron wins every game. Aiden doesn’t whine or complain, he just keeps challenging her to another game, and just like that, I don’t mind agreeing to Cam’s request that the three of us should be best friends forever.



Chapter 3





You ruined my life.


I read aloud and roll my eyes at the one-sentence, typewritten note I just opened from the unmarked envelope, shoved between the stack of bills that just came. I’d like to rip the paper to shreds and toss it into the garbage, but instead, I shove it into a manila folder in the bottom drawer of my desk with all the others until I have time to make copies and give them to the local police.

“Well, at least this one is direct and to the point,” my friend and coworker, Amelia, says from her seat in the chair across from my desk. “Why can’t they be more specific? Tell us exactly how you ruined their life. Did you pull out in front of them at an intersection? Were they behind you in line at the grocery store when you took eleven items to the ‘ten items or less’ line?”

I can’t help but laugh at the serious look on her face. It feels good to laugh. I haven’t had much to laugh about lately, and I can always count on Amelia to cheer me up.

“I will have you know I only took more than ten items through that line once and it was an emergency.”

“Was it a wine emergency?” she asks with a raise of one eyebrow.

“Maybe…” I trail off with another laugh.

“You have too much stress in your life right now. I think what you need is a visit from your special friend.”

She gives me a knowing wink, even using air quotes around the words special friend.

“Let’s just call it what it is. Grady is a booty call. I need a visit from my booty call and I’m one step ahead of you. I was just getting ready to send him a text.”

Amelia gives me a high five and I try not to feel guilty when I send the text. He knows the score. He agreed to it and I have nothing to feel guilty about.

After we share a few quiet minutes, Amelia gives me a soft smile.

“Don’t let it bother you. You know some people just don’t understand what you do here.”

Amelia Sparks came to our camp with her five-year-old son three years ago, needing something to help them both cope when her husband came home from deployment, and we became fast friends. So when Amelia lost her job as a hostess at a restaurant in downtown Charleston last year, I immediately offered her the position of activities director, which had just became vacant. She’s been a godsend in more ways than one, around here at the camp and in my life, especially lately. Just looking at her now, so different from when I first met her, I know the feeling is mutual.

When she first walked into this office, her long brown hair was in a messy ponytail, there were bags under her eyes, which were bloodshot from crying, and she was so skinny I immediately took her into the house and made her sit down and eat something. She whispered when she spoke and she was too nervous to meet my eyes when I tried to engage her in conversation. It took me a month to finally get her to tell me that her husband wasn’t handling being back home very well. He was always angry and always drinking, taking his pain and his fear out on her and their son, Dylan. With the help of our counselors, she and Dylan found strength and happiness, despite what was happening back home. Amelia learned how to take charge of her life and let go of the husband—who refused to get help—and put their family back together.

Her freshly highlighted brown hair falls in gentle curls around her shoulders, her makeup is beautiful and flawless, and the weight she put back on when she said good-bye to her depression gives her curves that I envy. She smiles easily and often, and she does whatever she can to pull me out of my own unhappiness, living her life to the fullest and making sure I’m doing the same.

I’m not, but it’s not for lack of trying on Amelia’s part.

“I’m fine,” I reassure her with a smile, sliding the bottom desk drawer closed. “It’s not the first angry note we’ve ever received, and it certainly won’t be the last.”

Now that my parents are semiretired and I’ve taken over running the camp for them, I continue handing the notes over to the police as a precaution, just like my parents have always done. Nothing bad has ever happened and I highly doubt anything ever will, but you can never be too safe when you run a camp filled with children. It still pisses me off that anyone would be angry about what we do here. Whether it be people who are against the camp in principle, someone who has a political agenda and hates anything involving war and soldiers, or someone who knew someone that went here, we’ve seen it all.

My parents turned the plantation my mother grew up on into the Rylan Edwards Camp for the Children of Veterans and Deployed Soldiers. When my father came back home from the war, he seemed like he had healed from the torture and abuse. But he was anything but fine. He spent months trapped in his own personal hell in his mind, seeing things that weren’t there and pretending like everything was fine so he could win back my mother’s love. His only focus was getting back to the woman he was forced to leave behind when he went off to war, and nothing else mattered to him, including his own health. With my mother’s help, he learned how to let go of the past and the pain, walk back into the light, and learn to live without regret. As soon as my father became well again, they knew there was nothing they’d rather do with their lives than create a safe place for other veterans and their families, to help them heal and teach them how to live again, without the pain and the guilt.

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