Twenty-one

The Education of Sebastian – Bonus chapter

“Yeah, this is the place.”

Ches pointed towards a low-rise, khaki colored building with a sign announcing ‘Porter’s Pub’. It was a typical student dive: happy hour and cheap beer. Sounded good.

To be honest, I didn’t really care where we went: I was just happy to have a couple of quiet drinks with my best friend.

Inside, it was a dark, narrow room set out with wooden tables and chairs, and a stage at one end.

Ches started to lead the way towards a table near the back, but before we got there, someone called his name.

“Ches! My man! What’re you doin’ here, dude?”

The speaker was obviously a college kid: long, greasy hair, looking like he’d just stepped out of a Red Hot Chili Peppers video.

“Hey, Vince. How’s it going?”

“I’m long, loose and full of juice, my friend.”

I tried not to roll my eyes, I really did.

I was feeling pretty fucking tense and on edge, excited really, but so not in the mood to party with Ches’s college buddies. It looked like I didn’t have a choice. Whatever.

Other than the ass-hat, there were four other guys that Ches introduced, and a girl whose name I didn’t catch. I noticed her running her eyes up and down my body, and it made me uncomfortable.

“This is Seb, a friend from high school.”

They nodded and muttered, eyeing my military haircut, and the girl smiled.

“I thought you said you were busy tonight, Ches, man?” said Vince.

“Well, yeah. We were just going to go out and have a couple of drinks now that Seb’s back in town.”

“Did you go away to school?” asked the girl. Her name might have been Stacey.

I didn’t get a chance to be evasive, because Ches answered for me.

“Nope. Seb enlisted. He’s a Marine – just got back from Iraq. A gen-u-ine hero, right, man?”

That shit was just fucking embarrassing – but typical of Ches.

“Wow, really?” said Del.

“Yep,” said Ches, “and looking damn skinny. Man, didn’t they feed you out there?”

“You try wearing ninety pounds of gear in 110 degrees, you fat fucker,” I muttered.

Ches laughed and patted his stomach, which was slightly larger than last time I’d seen him.

“Man is a large animal. Besides, wait till you try Amy’s cooking.”

Amy. This was Ches’s new girlfriend, and, according to him, the love of his life. I hadn’t met her yet, but if she made my friend happy, that was good enough for me. And he was – happy, I mean: happiness rolled off him in waves. Not that I was jealous. Okay, that was a lie. I was jealous as fuck, but still really pleased for him. I knew what it was like to be in love – except right now, it was fucking painful. For me, anyway.

I’d earned a few days’ leave, and had managed to be in San Diego this week. I was waiting for Caro: I’d been waiting for her for three long years.

The guys around the table eyed me like I was a fucking Martian. I could see what they were thinking: too dumb to go to college. It didn’t bother me; I just didn’t want to spend the evening talking about being a Marine. I was having a night off.

I mumbled something and stood up to get the beers, pulling my wallet out of my back pocket.

“Nah, man, your money’s no good tonight,” said Ches, pushing me down into my seat.

“Huh?” said Vince, looking annoyed.

“It’s my buddy’s birthday,” announced Ches loudly, as I stifled a groan. “Twenty-one and legal at last.”

A chorus of ‘congratulations’ and ‘happy birthday’ rolled around the table. I cocked an eyebrow at Ches, and he shrugged, a wide smile across his face. He signaled to the waitress and ordered beer for everyone. Then he pointed to me:

“It’s his birthday, so don’t let him pay for any drinks tonight, okay?”

The waitress winked at me.

“He’s so cute; I wouldn’t make him pay for anything anyway.”

“Whoa! You’re in there, man,” said Vince, as the waitress sashayed back to the bar.

Stupid fucker. I scowled at him and he leaned back in his seat, looking surprised. I hadn’t so much as looked at another woman in the three years I’d waited for Caro – I wasn’t going to blow it now.

Ches threw me a warning glance. I nodded once and looked away. I had gotten the message.

Yeah, yeah, it wasn’t Vince’s fault I was so on edge. But listening to a bunch of college kids talking about midterms and professors wasn’t really doing it for me. Technically, they were all older than me, but they just seemed really young. Ches was the only one who knew what it had been like for me since I enlisted. His dad was a Staff Sergeant, so he understood; the rest of them were civvies. And that created a distance. Besides, they were Ches’s friends, not mine.

But because they were Ches’s friends, I knew I just had to chill the fuck out.

“Hey, Seb,” Ches nudged me. “Look I hadn’t really planned on everyone being here tonight; I know you just wanted a quiet drink. But since they are here, would it be cool with you if I texted Amy to join us?”

“Sure, why not? It’d be good to meet your girl, man.”

Ches grinned. “You’re going to love her. You’ve never met anyone like her…” His words trailed off. “Sorry, man. I know you’re hoping Caroline’s gonna turn up, but come on.” He looked at me seriously. “Even if she was in town, she’s not going to know which bar you’re at, is she?”

shutterstock_129645788I ran my hands over my hair in frustration. “I know she’ll be here; I just know it. I mean, fuck, I’ve left my cell number for her at your mom and dad’s old place, her old place and at the civvy entrance to the Base. She’s gonna go to one of them, isn’t she?”

Ches didn’t answer. Instead, he became very interested in staring at a hole in the toe of his tennis shoe.

“Sure, Seb,” he said, quietly.

He was my best friend but he was a lousy fucking actor.

Picking up my beer, I chugged half the bottle.

“How’s it feel drinking legally?” said Stacey, jogging my elbow.

“Pretty much like any other time,” I snapped.

“Well, excuse me!” she snorted.

I was being an asshole.

“Sorry,” I said, grimacing at her. “I’m just…”

I didn’t know what to say to her.

She smiled. “Apology accepted. I guess this isn’t what you really wanted, is it? You know, a big crowd of strangers. We must seem pretty immature to you.”

I looked at her in surprise.

“Yeah, my big brother is in the Old Guard out at Fort Myer.”

I nodded slowly. “It’s just a bit… weird. I only flew in this morning. I’m still…”

She touched my arm. “It’s okay, I get it. You don’t have to explain.”

I smiled with relief, and she blinked a couple of times.

“Thanks. Stacey, right?”

“So you were paying attention!”

I grinned at her. “Must have been. Who knew?”

She clinked her beer against mine. “Here’s to paying attention.”

After my fifth beer, I started to loosen up a bit. Even so, I couldn’t help checking my cellphone for the fortieth fucking time.

“You waiting for someone… your girlfriend… or…?” asked Stacey.

“Yes. No. Kind of. I don’t know.”

She raised her eyebrows.

Truthfully, I was waiting for Caro. I knew Ches thought I was crazy. I mean, I hadn’t heard from her for three years but there was a reason for that: a really good fucking reason. And I knew, I just fucking knew that she’d be looking for me. She’d promised me – we’d promised each other.

It really bothered me that I didn’t even know her surname. I mean, I knew her married name, but I’d assumed she’d have changed it. And I was such a fucking idiot, I’d never thought to ask her what her maiden name was at the time.

I’d tried to find her but got nowhere: turns out you need to know someone’s name if you want to find them. Yeah, right. But I knew she’d find me back in San Diego. That’s why I’d cashed in every favor I could to make sure I was here for my 21st birthday. I’d left messages at all the places that had meant something to us: she was sure to find one of them. All I had to do was wait. Yeah. That’s all: it was fucking killing me.

Ches understood: he’d been there, and he’d been the one who picked up the pieces after Caro had left. I was a fucking wreck, but he and his mom and dad all helped. I even lived with them for a few months until I enlisted. They were my real family.

I couldn’t be bothered to explain everything to Stacey. But I was a Marine, and trained in evasive tactics.

“Do you want to dance?”

She looked surprised.

“Sure! I’d love to. I didn’t know Marines danced.”

I smiled at her and winked. “This one does.”

Stacey was a pretty good dancer and followed my lead easily. I kind of enjoyed having a girl in my arms again, even though it wasn’t the girl I was waiting for. Her hands crept around my neck and I pulled her into my chest. It occurred to me later that she probably wanted me to kiss her. Like that was going to happen.

She must have sensed my mood, because she started talking instead.

“Wow, you can really dance, Seb! Where’d you learn those moves?”

I laughed. “Ches’s mom and dad.”

“You’re kidding me!”

“Nope: Base salsa champions back in the day.”

“I’ve never seen Ches dance,” she said, eyeing him speculatively.

“Yeah, well, I think that talent skipped a generation.”

Stacey laughed. “I’ll tell him you said that.”

I smiled back. “He already knows.”

We’d danced for a couple of songs when I saw two girls join the table: one was a girl with light brown hair who threw herself into Ches’s lap. He kissed her like he needed her air to breathe, and I guessed this must be Amy.

Stacey turned to see what had caught my attention, then grinned up at me.

“Looks like Amy’s here.”

“You know her?”

“Sure! She’s my roommate. Let’s go say ‘hi’ before their lips get permanently locked together.”

“I think it’s too late for that,” I muttered, but she just laughed.

“Hey, Ames!” she called.

Reluctantly, Amy pulled her mouth off of Ches and leaned back. I saw him shifting uncomfortably and couldn’t help smiling. Dude must have had a helluva boner after that make out session.

“Hey, Stacey,” said Amy, slightly breathless, then turned to me. “You must be Seb. I’ve heard sooo much about you: it’s really good to meet you.”

“You, too,” I said grinning, as we shook hands. “Although you look too smart to be going out with this asshole.”

Ches tried to punch me on the arm, but I ducked away and Amy laughed.

“Oh, happy birthday, by the way.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, not really wanting to be reminded.

A look of sympathy crossed her face and I realized that Ches must have told her everything. It made me slightly uncomfortable but that’s what couples did, right? Shared their secrets. At least she hadn’t said anything to Stacey, and I appreciated that. Seemed like Ches’s girl was cool. I was glad about that. Ches was family: he was my brother.

“By the way, man,” said Ches. “Mom sent you a birthday card: it’s back at my place. Remind me to give it to you later.”

“Really?” I couldn’t help smiling. Shirley, Ches’s mom, always did stuff like that. “Tell her I said thanks.”

“Tell her yourself, you lazy bastard. You do know how to use email, right?”

I gave him the finger and he laughed at me.

I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to either Ches or Amy after that: they spent the rest of the evening making out. It was kind of strange for me: seeing my friend like that, and remembering that Caro and I had never been able to behave like that in public. I really resented that we’d hardly had any time to just be us. I wished again that she was here. Now that there was nothing stopping us, I missed her even more. I knew it was dumb to expect her to walk into the bar, but I couldn’t help looking anyway. Every time I saw a woman with long, brown hair, my stomach flipped over – but it was never her.

I checked my phone again: no messages.

shutterstock_135400079I’d just decided to wallow in misery and get shitfaced, when Ches announced that the party was moving to his place. I groaned, inwardly. I’d really hoped we could just go back and chill.No chance of that now.

We trailed back to the house that Ches shared with a couple of guys from his business and economics course. Gareth had already got the party started with a couple of kegs, three crates of beer, and a baggie of weed that he was using to roll joints. I looked longingly at the spliff that was being passed around, but I knew I couldn’t risk it. I only had another four day’s leave and I’d be tested as soon as I got back. I didn’t know for sure how long that shit stayed in your blood.

“Sorry, man,” said Ches, following my gaze.

“No worries, I’ll just stick to beer and my good friend, Jack,” I said, showing him the bottle of Jack Daniels that I’d brought with me in my duffel bag.

He smiled, and then looked nervously over his shoulder, shuffling from foot to foot.

“’Sup man?”

“Ah, shit, Seb. I wasn’t planning on seeing Amy tonight, what with it being your birthday an’ all, but now that she’s here…”

Yeah, I got what he was saying.

“Nah, it’s cool. Go make your girl happy. I’ll be fine. Just tell me you’ll still be up for a surf tomorrow morning.”

“Deal, my friend.”

He grinned at me, then grabbed Amy’s hand and pulled her up the stairs.

Well, fuck. I checked my phone pointlessly. No messages. This was turning out to be a real bastard of a birthday.

“Hey,” said Stacey, walking towards me with a couple of beers, “looks like we’ve both been abandoned. D’you wanna go sit outside? It’s not so smoky out there.”

I shrugged. I didn’t really have a choice. I was supposed to be sleeping on the couch, but right now it was occupied by a bunch of strangers smoking weed. Fucking great.

We sat down under a large mulberry tree and leaned against its broad trunk. I passed her my bottle of Jack and she took a large gulp and followed it up with a beer chaser. I smiled when she coughed slightly.

“You okay?”

“Sure, it just went down the wrong way,” she lied.

“If you say so,” I agreed.

She was quiet for a moment.

“Seb, can I ask you something?”

I nodded silently, wondering what she was going to say.

“This girl you might or might not be waiting for – is she your girlfriend?”

Oh, right. Pretty damn obvious question now that I thought about it.

I sighed. “She was. I’m… hoping she will be again. I don’t know: we haven’t spoken for a while – I just thought she’d be here tonight.”

She looked at me, her expression serious. “Bad break up?”

I snorted, almost amused by her question. Almost.

“Yeah, you could say that: pretty fuckin’ bad.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

I didn’t know what to say to that, so I didn’t say anything.

We sat there talking quietly, drinking the Jack. She told me about her brother who’d done two tours in Iraq; and she told me about her classes and how much she liked living in San Diego. She told me about Amy, too, and it was all good stuff. It made me feel a bit less like shit, even though she was a stranger and my best bud had abandoned me on my birthday to get it on with his girl.

Yeah, I know: I was a whiny pussy.

Fuck, Caro – where are you? The question pulsed through my brain.

By 3 am, I was feeling kind of out of it, and Stacey’s head had dropped down onto my shoulder. The party was winding down so I decided to make it official. I cleared everyone the fuck out of the house, and thanked my lucky stars I’d brought my bedroll with me.

I swept a load of empty beer cans off of the couch onto the floor and kicked them out of the way. I laid out one of my blankets and went back outside to find Stacey. She was passed out under the tree, so I picked her up and carried her inside, placing her carefully on the couch. She was kind of cute and had long, brown hair, a bit like Caro.

I pulled the blanket over her, then left her to sleep it off. It was cooler outside, but it smelled a helluva lot better than Ches’s living room, so I spread my bedroll out under the tree and stared up at the night sky, wondering if my girl was looking at the same sprinkling of stars.

–0–

I woke up about four hours later feeling like some bastard had stuffed my head with broken glass. Yup, it was officially no longer my birthday and I was as hungover as fuck.

The first thing I did was to check my phone: no messages. What a freakin’ joke. I felt like throwing the useless piece of shit into the ocean. Instead, I shoved it in my jeans pocket and stumbled into the bathroom to take a long and much needed piss.

When I wandered back into the living room, Stacey hadn’t moved. There were a couple of other bodies lying around the room, and it smelled like ass. My stomach coiled and rolled so I headed for the kitchen and drank some water. A lot of water.

There was only one thing that cured a hangover like this. I dragged myself up the stairs and banged on Ches’s door.

I heard a grunt and a shuffling sound, then Ches’s voice.

“What the fuck?”

“Come on, man. We’re going surfing. Get your sorry ass down the stairs now!”

“Are you fucking kidding me, Hunter?”

“No, you miserable fucker! You owe me.”

He moaned and complained a bit more but I banged on the door again, and heard Amy cursing under her breath. That got Ches’s ass moving. Yeah, I liked that girl.

My old surfboard and wetsuit lived permanently in Ches’s van, but my board shorts were boxed up with a load of shit in a storage unit. Didn’t matter – I’d do without.

Ches stumbled down the stairs, his hair sticking out at all angles. One advantage of a buzz cut – there’s not enough hair to get that bed-head look.

“You look like crap,” I said cheerfully, feeling slightly superior – probably because I’d had time to drink some water.

He gave me the finger and muttered something that sounded like, “fuckin’ jarhead”.

“Come on, man. I’ll buy you breakfast later. You and Amy.”

He pulled a face. “Sure, if she’s still talking to me. Or you.”

“Hey! What did I do?” I asked, innocently.

“Disturbed her beauty sleep,” he shot back. “She’s an animal if she doesn’t get eight hours – and not in a good way.”

Ches drove us out to La Jolla. I felt a bit guilty when I saw him yawning his ass off; it also occurred to me that he was probably still over the blood–alcohol limit. But once we were paddling out to the lineup, the cold water revived us both, and he was over his sulk.

“Oh man, I haven’t done this for a while,” he said.

“Seriously? You used to surf every damn day.”

“Yeah, but I’ve got school; I’ve got a job at the country club; and I’ve got Amy. Just don’t get the time anymore. But I’m glad you pulled me out here, brother.”

I grinned at him. “This wave’s got my name on it.”

A wall of green water started lifting up behind me. I stroked through the water, and as soon as I felt the board begin to tip forwards, I leapt to my feet and rode that mother almost to the beach, carving along the surface and ripping through the wave.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could be me again; not a Marine, not Lance Corporal Hunter. Just me.

After about an hour, Ches called timeout and we caught a wave back into the beach.

“Man, that felt good. Now you owe me breakfast!”

“You want to go back and get Amy?”

“Nah, she hardly ever eats breakfast. It’s a girl thing.”

We dried off using worn out beach towels, and changed into our clothes by the side of the road, not caring if we were seen.

I checked my phone again. Still no messages. Ches glanced over at me.

“Anything?”

I shook my head and stared out of the window, trying to beat back the fear that was beginning to chew at me. Caro, where are you?

“You know, Seb…” Ches began quietly.

“Don’t,” I snapped at him. “She’ll be here. I know it.”

I heard him sigh out a deep breath, but he didn’t speak again.

In silence, Ches drove us to a Burger King and we loaded up on the sausage, egg and cheese biscuit meal, with coffee.

–0–

By the time we got back to his house, Amy was up and dressed, and whipping the remaining party goers into shape. She had two of the guys collecting cans and bottles, and another one emptying ashtrays. Stacey was in the kitchen washing glasses, looking tired but not too hungover.

“Hey! Where’d you guys go?” she called out. “You’ve missed all the cleaning!”

“Surfing,” I said, smiling my ass off. “Anyway, I’m using the it-was-my-birthday so I have a get-out-of-cleaning-free card,” I replied. “But I don’t think Ches has got an excuse – he’d love to help.”

Ches punched me on the shoulder.

“And now he’s broken my arm, so I can’t do anything,” I said, pretending to wince.

“Fucker,” he muttered, under his breath. Amy flung him a look and I winked at him.

Yeah, pussy whipped!

Then we heard a knock at the front door. I was the only one not doing something, so I offered to get it.

I wasn’t expecting the person standing in front of me.

“What the fuck do you want?” I snarled, my good mood vanishing like a virgin on prom night.

An amused face smiled back at me.

“Just wanted to see my son and heir on his birthday,” he sneered the words.

“Yeah? Well you’re about a day late, dad.”

The bastard ignored my comment.

“Did that whore of yours turn up?”

All coherent thought rushed out of my brain and I swung a punch; Ches pulled me back just in time.

“Seb, no! That’s what he wants. Your dad’s an officer: it’ll be non-judicial punishment if you hit him. Walk away, man. Walk away.”

I really, really wanted to hit the bastard, to hurt him the way he’d hurt me over and over again. But I wasn’t going to let him ruin my career the way he’d ruined my life. I started to turn away, but then something in me wanted an answer.

“Why do you hate me so much, dad?”

The words came out quietly, but I knew he’d heard them. He looked surprised, then his expression darkened.

“Because you’re a fucking pansy – a useless waste of space. You made your mother miserable and you’ve been nothing but a fucking deadweight around my neck from the moment you were born. You’ve been a disappointment from day one. Son.”

Yeah, about what I’d thought he’d say.

“Good,” I said. “Because a compliment from you would fuckin’ choke me.”

I turned my back and slammed the door in the fucker’s face.

I was breathing heavily, and I could feel cold sweat on my face. Then I realized the house was too quiet. Everyone was staring at me, pity and shock on their faces. I didn’t need that. I needed her. I needed Caro.

I scowled at my audience, then picked up my leather jacket and headed towards the door.

“Seb, man…”

“Not now, Ches.”

I pushed past him roughly and slammed through the kitchen into the backyard.

My motorcycle was leaning next to the side of the house, covered by a waterproof tarp. I tore it off, listened to the roar of the engine as I started it up, then peeled out of there, going too fast.

For a few minutes, I opened up the throttle and let the speed and rush of adrenaline cleanse me of all the furious thoughts that seeing my father had allowed to flood through me. I still couldn’t understand why he’d turned up today, why he hated me so badly. But did hate need a reason? I hated the bastard right back – except I had plenty of reasons for the way I felt.

After a while, I slowed the bike and made an illegal U-turn, before heading towards the military base where I used to live.

I pulled up outside a nondescript town house that I’d visited a few days ago, and cut the engine. I knew there wasn’t any point coming here again, but I couldn’t help myself.

I knocked on the door and eventually a man in sweats staggered to the door.

“You again! Look, I told you a couple a days ago, kid. No letters, no messages, and no brown-haired broads. Now leave me the fuck alone.”

He slammed the door before I could say a word.

My Caro used to live in that house. It was the place where she’d helped me and healed me and made love to me. But there was nothing left of her there now. Just memories.

The ache in my chest pulsed, and I couldn’t help rubbing the spot, just above where my dog tags rested on my chest.

I made two more stops: at the house where Ches’s mom and dad had lived before they got transferred to Germany, and the Vorstadts’ place – people who’d been friends of Caro. It was the same story: no they hadn’t seen her; no they hadn’t heard from her; no, there were no letters or messages for me.

I felt like driving the damn motorcycle off the nearest cliff.

Caro, where are you?

Eventually, I returned to Ches’s place. Where else could I go? I had three more days before I had to report to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for the language training my CO had signed me up for.

Most of the people had cleared out: just Ches and Amy were still there. She disappeared discreetly as I slammed through the door.

Ches didn’t say anything, he just handed me a beer and sat next to me on the couch.

–0–

I spent the next two days in a drunken haze. It helped. A bit. I even stopped looking at my phone. There were never any messages, so what was the point? Useless piece of junk.

On my last evening before shipping out to North Carolina, Ches persuaded me to leave the house to meet some of his buddies for a drink. I think he was just bored of being with a miserable bastard who’d refused to shift himself off of the couch for the last 48 hours. Amy had wisely chosen to leave me the fuck alone and let Ches deal with my sorry ass. I was just about sober enough to walk to the cab he had come pick us up.

The bar was crowded and noisy. It was just what I needed: if the music was loud enough, maybe it could pound out the thoughts scorching my brain.

Ches steered me to a table and I slumped into a chair. His friends stared at me warily, none of them dumb enough to actually speak to me. I was pretty certain every fiber of my body was yelling at everyone to stay the fuck away from me.

The waitress arrived with a bottle of whiskey and seven shot glasses. Yeah, she was eye-fucking me big time, but she was a blonde, and I so wasn’t interested.

Ches poured the drinks and spoke quietly.

“Look, I’m really sorry, man. You know, about Caro…”

Pain lanced through the numbness, punching a bigger hole into my chest. My lungs felt as if they’d shrivel from the burn of hearing her name.

“Ches,” I snarled. “Don’t ever mention that bitch’s name to me again.”

He nodded slowly. “Done.”

I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand. I was so certain Caro would have been here, with me. She was a fucking journalist – how hard could it be for her to find me? Obviously it wasn’t: the only answer was that she didn’t want me. And I was such a fucking fool.

Suddenly, I felt angry. Three years I’d waited for her. Three fucking years.

I threw another shot of whiskey down my throat. When I opened my eyes, I nearly had a heart attack: a woman with long, brown hair was staring at me. For a split second, I thought it was Caro. Of course, it wasn’t: just a nice-looking, older chick. Her eyes were blue, not brown. Her eyes were the wrong color.

She smiled at me and raised her eyebrows as if she was asking me a question.

Whatever.

The answer was ‘yes’.

I pushed myself to my feet and walked over to her.

“Hi,” I managed to slur out.

“Hi yourself, handsome.”

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“Sure, honey, if you’re old enough.”

I stared back at her. “I’m old enough for a lot of things.”

“Hmm, that sounds interesting.”

She patted the vacant barstool next to her and when I sat down, she laid a possessive hand on my thigh. Even through the denim, I could feel the warmth of her touch.

We talked for about half an hour, I have no idea what about. I do remember the moment when she leaned over to kiss me, ‘accidentally’ brushing her hand over my junk.

I pulled her onto my lap and kissed her hard, feeling the vibrations through her body as she moaned into my mouth. She tasted of nicotine and beer, which made me feel slightly sick, on top of all the alcohol I’d drunk.

“You wanna come outside, soldier?” she said, her voice husky with lust.

I nodded, and folloshutterstock_112594763wed her as she pulled me through the crowded bar, dragging me into an alley at the side.

Before my brain could catch up with what she was doing, she forced my body against the wall and started tugging at my belt.

“You’d better not be too drunk to get it up, soldier,” she said, her hands rough on my body.

You don’t need to worry about that, baby.

“Holy shit!” she gasped, as she tugged down the zipper of my jeans.

We fucked in the alley.

Until that moment, the only woman I’d ever been with had been Caro. I thought this would burn away the memories. I thought this would make me feel something other than pain. But I couldn’t lie to myself. I wanted Caro, just her. I didn’t want this.

–0–

But it wasn’t Caro. It wasn’t ever going to be Caro.

9 Comments

  1. I normally hate when the hero sleeps with someone else, but this is different. You really feel Sebastian’s pain, and you understand why it happens, its been 3 long years and the wait is finally over, but she doesnt show up! I KNOW how the book unfolds, yet I was reading this POV praying/hoping that Caro would show up! That’s impressive!

  2. Thank you. It was quite hard to write, all the hope draining away, and knowing that he’ll be like that for 7 more long years. Thanks so much, Shalese. ♥ jx

  3. Poor Sebastian…I desperately wanted Caroline to be there for him…especially considering she’s the reason he’s in this predicament. Maybe you could write an alternative ending to this one shot and have Caroline come to see him on his 21st birthday. Of course, we already know how the story plays out, but it still would be fun to read 😉

  4. Ah, sorry! Caro was 3,000 miles away cleaning toilets for a living. But you can believe that her thoughts were with Sebastian in San Diego. She’d be wondering if he’d spared her a thought at all – and then decided he’d be having too much fun without her 🙁 I know, I’m so hard! But they got their HEA in the end : ) jx

  5. OMG…I am speechless! You are such an amazing writer Jane! I love, love, your writing style!!!! I loved the books without Seb’s POV, but now I can say for sure that you created a timeless masterpiece! Thanks for adding the bonus chapters. These chapters add so much beauty and profoundness to the whole story. It made my hard bleed for Sebastian, and this story will stay with me for a long, long time. I am sure that I’ll reread the books many times.

  6. I stumbled upon your name on facebook and decided to check your website. I’m reading these bonus chapters and I love them! I’m ordering the books now!!! I wasn’t sure I’d like the story line of an underage young man falling for an older woman so I decided to read the bonus chapters. Falling in love with the characters.

  7. Jane Harvey-Berrick 2nd December 2015 at 8:22 am

    Sorry, Annie – only just seen this. So glad you enjoyed the bonus chapters – and the final FINAL epilogue in SEMPER FI. Thank you! jx

  8. Jane Harvey-Berrick 2nd December 2015 at 8:23 am

    Hi Ana, I’m sorry I’ve only just seen this – especially when it’s such a great message. THANK YOU! <3 So happy that you fell for Seb & Caro's story. jx

  9. Omg. Poor Sebastian. I love him. Might have to retread the series again

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