Calvin and Camden Luna -- why yes, their dad is a big baseball fan-- have moved around the world with their parents. Their father has been in the military since before they were born. Proud of their father and uncles and all they've done, neither of them is sure the military is for them. Cam is a fantastic baseball player and Cal loves the science of everything. Haven't they given enough?
Tristan Nolan and Maddy Holt both grew up as military kids too, but neither of their fathers moved them around as much as the twins. Maddy wants to save the planet and capture the heart of Calvin Luna... if he'd only open his eyes. Tris has grown up wanting to follow in the footsteps of those before him. But can he be himself -- out and proud --serve and protect his country and end up with the one he's loved for as long as he can remember?
What can happen when you grow up a military brat with the ties that they have with their fathers' close friends and their families? Find the love of your life almost from the start? Or find out that maybe you're all too close for anything else?
Cam -- age six
"Stupid Aunt Trish. Do ya see them?" Cam was behind the couch with his twin, Cal. They were sneaking around because their Aunt Trish convinced their mom that sugar was bad, and they should only have a tiny piece of cake. Cake! Their mom listened and they barely even got frosting. Their dad and uncles were outside, and their mom and aunts were in the room with the new baby. Cam didn't really see what was all that special about the baby. He wasn't even crawling around like Haley.
"Uh-huh, they's not here," Cal answered. As they started to move out from behind the couch, a throat being cleared stopped them in their tracks. Busted! Cam just hoped it was an uncle and not their dad.
Cam and Cal turned around and looked up. Uh-oh. Cam tilted his head all the way back and was facing Aunt Brittany's dad-- and he had on a soldier face. That wasn't good. Cam and Cal got to see their dad with his soldier face one time at his office. Cam remembered sitting on the couch in his office, hugging his stuffed racoon, watching a soldier stand in front of his dad. He knew right then that he never wanted that face turned on him.
"Boys? Do you think your mother would want you talking like that?" Aunt Brittany's dad asked.
"Umm, well... no, sir?" Cal stuttered out.
"Camden?" the man raised his eyebrow as he said Cam's name. He wanted to do that someday.
"No, sir, umm, Colonel." Cam hung his head. "Are you going to tell our dad or mom?" He knew it was going to be one of them.
The man kneeled down and leaned toward the boys. "I bet you want more cake, don't you?" he asked like he was sharing a secret.
"Maybe..." Cal replied.
"How about you two call me Papa Andy and we'll see about more cake? You barely got bites. Come with me." Papa Andy stood and held out his hands to the twins.
Cam looked at Cal and they nodded before putting their hands in his. They walked with him into the kitchen and he helped them up to the table before Papa Andy -- Cam kinda liked having another Grandpa since he didn't get to see his other ones a lot-- moved over to cut more cake.
"Dad? What are you doing?" Aunt Brittany asked as she walked in carrying the baby. Busted again. They were never getting more cake. Cam sighed loudly followed by Cal.
"Boys? What are you up to?" their mom asked as she followed their aunt.
"Ummm--" Cal didn't seem to know how to start so Cam helped him out.
"anything. Papa Andy--"
"Papa Andy?" Aunt Brittany interrupted.
"You have something different for my grandsons to call me?" Papa Andy asked. "And to answer your question, I'm having a snack with my oldest grandsons." Cam looked at him and saw the look on his face. He knew that look and it wasn't one to argue with.
"No snacks, Dad. I need to talk to the boys. I've got a mission for them," Aunt Brittany said. "Boys, can you go sit on the couch?"
As the boys were walking slowly to the couch, the screen door opened, and their dad and uncles came in.
"Dad!" the twins yelled and ran to their dad.
"Did you two get into some trouble? I know the look on your faces. What did you break?" their dad asked as he dropped to one knee.
"We didn't do nothing," Cam said.
"You didn't do anything," their dad corrected.
"Yup, that," Cal answered.
"Aunt Brittany says she's got a mission for us," Cam told his dad.
Their dad looked up at Uncle Kevin, questioningly. "Mission?"
"No clue, Mooney." Uncle Kevin shrugged and look at their aunt. "Britt?"
"If the boys will come over here, I've got an Avenger-size mission for them." She turned and moved over in front of the couch and just stood there.
"Go ahead, boys. I don't think your aunt is up to anything," Uncle Kevin said.
Cam and Cal climbed up on the couch and sat there. Cam was trying not to squirm, but all the adults were staring at them.
"So I've learned my lesson, boys, Avengers over Justice League, right?" she asked. They nodded, but Cam was still a little suspicious and he was sure that Cal was, too. She squatted down in front of them and put the baby in Cam's lap. "Tristan is going to need someone to help him that isn't his dad or papa. Do you think you two can be his best friends and help him?"
Cam looked down at the little boy in his lap and ran a finger down the baby's cheek. "I'll be with him always, Aunt Brittany."
Cal reached over and touched the baby's other cheek. "Me, too."
Cal -- age eleven
This was so stupid. Why did he have to go to Maddy's Princess party? He wasn't a girl. Him and Cam were invited to a campout this weekend but nooooo, they had to drive to Kentucky to go to a birthday party. Whatever.
"Calvin, if you don't behave yourself and stop pouting, I can guarantee your happiness at home will be greatly impacted," his dad said from the front seat.
"But Dad--" It didn't really matter, did it? His dad was deploying again.
"You've always liked to see your uncles and aunts and the other kids. What's the problem this time?" his mother asked. She was trying to calm everyone down. Like always.
"Nothing," Cal bit out before looking out the window and ignoring Cam kicking his leg.
"Come on, going to see everyone. We'll be the top of the pile." Cam moved his foot closer again and right before he could connect, Cal lifted his foot and stomped on Cam's. "Ouch! What the--"
"Camden! If you finish that sentence, I will find a bar of soap and--" Wow, Dad was not in a good mood.
"Raphael Stefano Luna!" his mother interrupted his dad but at least Cal was out of the hot seat. How's that feel, Dad?
"Now, one of you will tell me what is going on before we get to Uncle Brian and Aunt Holly's. Well?" Dad asked.
Cal could feel Cam looking at him but didn't turn his head. Why did Dad have to go again? At least this time they weren't moving. He was sick of moving.
He felt Cam's foot move again and got ready to stomp him, no matter the punishment. He just wanted to be alone if he couldn't be with his friends.
"It's nothing, Dad. We'll be fine... like always. Mom will take care of it," Cam finally said. Why'd he have to open his big mouth?
His dad let out a big sigh and ran his hand over his face. "Is this about me deploying again?"
"We know the drill, Dad. We'll be good for Mom. Take out the trash. Pick up our clothes. Not fight in school. Do our homework. We know. We're good Army brats," Cal said in a monotone. Why couldn't they just drop it?
"We're here!" Cal yelled as his dad pulled over in front of Uncle Brian's house. He knew they were at the right house since it used to be their house. Throwing open the door, he burst out and ran toward the door with Cam close behind. When he got to the door, he started pushing on the doorbell repeatedly.
"Cal! Slow down. You didn't even want to be here," Cam pointed out.
The door flew open and there was Maddy all dressed as a princess. "Prince Cal! Why aren't you dressed up?"
Cal looked at Maddy and pushed passed her, roughly. "Happy birthday, Maddy," he growled.
"Calvin Daniel Luna!" his dad yelled at the same time Uncle Brian yelled "Madelyn Angela Holt! You know you're not supposed to open the door."
"Daddy!" Maddy cried out before tears dropped down her cheeks. Cal wasn't going to feel bad. Really, he wasn't.
Cal watched his father take a deep breath. Oh, he was mad... or upset? Whatever. He turned and ran into the kitchen. Just as he got to the slider that he knew would lead him to the backyard, he slammed into a body. Before he could hit the floor, hands grabbed him and pulled him close.
"I got this, Mooney. Go relax," his uncle Mike said over Cal's head. "Let's go chat, young man."
"Uncle Mike--" Cal started only to stop himself when he looked at his uncle's face.
"Outside. Now." Uncle Mike held out his hand in the direction of the backyard. "Have a seat."
Cal threw himself into a deck chair and crossed his arms. He looked over the yard and saw that the play area was still there. He wondered if he could still fit into the tree house and hide. Maybe he could sleep out here and pretend he was back with his friends. Here he had to be the good military brat; smile while Dad went away again.
"So you want to explain your fit back there? Saw it all and I know that your father isn't one to yell for no reason," Uncle Mike said. Guess he was going to play good cop before his father was the bad one. Hmm, different from other times Dad's left.
"Nope," Cal bit out. He watched as his uncle raised an eyebrow at his response. Uncle Mike was the easy-going one, normally. Guess today wasn't that day.
"You want to rethink your answer? Because I can guarantee if you don't readjust your attitude? The foreseeable future will not be a happy one." Uncle Mike sat there for a minute before saying, "Well?"
Cal chewed on his lip for a minute. "Dad's leaving again. Yeah, it's what he does, fine."
"Cal, he's done that your whole life. Why is it different this time?" his uncle asked quietly.
Cal could feel the tears coming. He was almost twelve; he shouldn't be crying anymore. He sniffed and wiped his cheek against his shoulder before he turned and crawled into his uncle. It took him a few minutes before he could talk.
"Dad's going to miss my science fair this time. I've been working really hard on my project and I might go to the county and then maybe the state. And I want him here for it and yeah, Mom will be there, but I want him. He's always going but this time we don't have to move but I don't want..." Cal turned his head into his uncle's chest and just cried.