Ridley Richards planned her vacation with little fanfare. All she wants to do is watch TV and eat ice cream. The mission derails when a soldier in need of rescuing turns into a mad race away from paparazzi with an international movie star.
John Banks needs a vacation. Holed up in a small town with a gorgeous woman is not the worst way he has spent time off.
But the pressures of fame threaten his new friendship, and John sacrifices the fragile vulnerability Ridley allowed herself with him in order to save her.
Imagination is a small portion of the brain that allows the mind to perceive wonderful things basically from nothing. Small miracles take place inside everyone’s head all day, every day. Some people savor those pure moments of bliss, and some squash them like an insect under a boot heel.
Ridley’s problem in life happened to be her very active imagination. Over her twenty-five years, she’d become good at hiding those small dreams that made her eyes sparkle. In her family, all that mattered was military tradition and a strident sense of duty. That was exactly how she’d ended up within the most imagination-crushing career field known to man: the military.
Military service is an honor, a privilege, and certainly something to be proud of, but sometimes the monotonous droning of OP orders, drills, marching, and the never-ending sets of push-ups got to her. Ridley started two full weeks of leave at midnight, deep in the heart of cold, blustery January, and she planned on savoring every second.
Time is a temperamental beast, and military service seemed to progress at the pace of both a snail and a race car. People fell in love in a matter of weeks and then found themselves divorced months later. The precarious nature of the job caused the imagination of an entire life before they had even begun to live their own, in hopes of fitting in something before the end. Leave was the holy grail to any service member, and two full weeks of time off, with pay? Ridley sighed in pleasure at the thought of lounging, vegging, and absolutely not working out.
She made the call to sign out, from home, with all the alacrity she could muster at midnight and in her favorite Spock pajamas. It was winter; they were practical, and besides, the soldier on the other end of the line had no idea she wasn’t in full military regalia, let alone was Spock-clad.
“Private Jones, all you have to do is write my name in the box that says Out. Then add the time and your initials.” Ridley’s tried to keep the exasperation from her tone. She counted backward from ten in her head to remain calm. A short temper and children answering the phone do not mix. Even though she was only a few years older than him, it felt like a chasm of an age difference.
“Yes, ma’am,” came a hesitant reply.
Patience was never her strong suit, and it was basically nonexistent between the hours of ten p.m. and nine a.m.
“Private, talk to your NCO after security checks. I’m hanging up now.”
She clicked the phone off and burrowed back into the down-and-fleece haven heaped over her bed. A small sigh escaped when she settled into that perfect position her body instantly recognized as the one.
Just as Captain Kirk promised to take her to distant moons, a sound broke up the barely begun dream and jerked her upright. Disoriented, she looked around for the source of the noise and groaned. Her emergency cell phone, the one reserved for dumb soldiers doing stupid things, vibrated and jumped across her nightstand. She grabbed it just as it was about to topple over the edge and pressed it to her face.
“Hello,” she said, sleep heavy in her voice.
“Captain, you told us to call this number if something happened.”