Merril stared at the photos on the computer screen.
Spencer grinning at graduation, he looked utterly goofy in his graduation cap and gown.
Hanover house, the day she received her acceptance letter to Dobry.
Danny was jumping up and down spasmodically.
Justin had his fist up in the air.
Spencer was swinging her around, even in the photo, his bright smile made her heart pound.
She glanced at the clock. It was half past three, they always talked at five on Fridays. Skype.
She leaned back into her chair, deep in thought, and still missing him.
And that constant worry, that he might-
No, she refused to think like that. Spencer would come back from the war, alive.
She yelped as Lily, their golden retriever, landed on her lap.
"Yeah, let’s go for walk."
Merril fanned herself, Lily panted softly as they sat down at a bench.
She smiled softly at a couple that strolled past, their hands swinging back and forth as the girl leaned against the boy.
They were probably in high school.
Nostalgia hit her and she shivered, even as the heat beat down on her.
Spencer screaming outside her window, asking her to go to prom with him.
The acceptance letter and the wild party that Hanover and Windsor threw.
Her parents, especially her father, furious when she officially packed her bags and moved to Dobry.
"I will not have my son transfer to a girl’s school!"
"She is not your son." Spencer hissed threateningly. "Merril is your daughter, and you should be proud of everything that she has worked so hard for."
Spencer graduating, finally going to West Point and pleasing his father. Though he didn’t seem to happy to be moving to New York, and away from her.
Visiting during vacation until he had to leave…and officially join the war.
From then on, their time together consisted of ‘web cam dates’ and even the occasional letter.
For the special events.
Worry clawed at her, growing constantly, especially when she watched the news and there would be reports about bombings and many other incidents that Spencer could be in the middle of.
And she had to anxiously wait.
Wait for him to get online, and then a wave of relief would wash over.
But it would only last for so long.
Lily’s loud barks interrupted her thoughts and she was pulled back to reality.
Lily was tugging desperately against the leash and Merril yelped as she pulled her back. She was never like this.
"Lily, what is it?" Merril bent down and placed her hands on Lily’s face, her grip on the leash loosened.
Lily took this opportunity and shot down the path, barking loudly as the leash whipped out of Merril’s hands.
Merril sprinted after the golden retriever and stopped in her tracks when Lily bounded into someone’s arms.
He was crouching on the ground, a large grin lit up his handsome face.
His eyes twinkling as he took his cap off to reveal his short black hair.
"Lily, good girl!"
His camouflage clad arms encircled the dog, laughing loudly as she licked his face.
Merril stood in the path, staring in shock. All feelings of worry and anxiety were gone and were replaced by surprise and a relief that couldn’t possibly be compared to the one she felt when he came online.
His already large smile brightened even more as he stood up.
She didn’t give him any time to greet her, she dashed forward and leaped into his arms, wrapping her slender arms around his neck.
"Spencer, you idiot!" She pulled her face back, tears running down her olive skin. "Why didn’t you tell me?"
His arms clutched her close to him as she continued to cry and he kissed the tears away.
He had almost forgotten what she smelled like, how great it felt to have her lips against his.
Finally, he could hug her and kiss her. After all this time.
"Surprise, love. I’m home now."