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Chapter-3: Emergence

“Staff Sergeant, there’s an unidentified female at the camp.”

I didn’t even look up from my work at the sound of PFC Newton’s voice. Figuring what, or rather who, an unidentified female will want to meet with at an USMC camp, I said, “Go and get Lance Corporal Black. I’m sure she’s here for him. After his guest leaves, tell him to come and see me.” It was time I told Black to stop badgering the local females. We certainly didn’t need any additional animosity from the locals.

PFC Newton didn’t leave after receiving his orders though. His hovering made me look up and ask, “Anything else, Private?”

He looked like he wanted to be anywhere but here as he answered me. “Sir, she is asking for you.” Seeing my expression of shock, he hastened to add, “She’s not a local.”

Not a local?

As if he could read the confusion on my face, he explained. “She’s an American.”

An American? Here, in the middle of war-riddled country?

I frowned before reluctantly asking him to show the woman to my tent.

“See? I told you he’s expecting me.” I heard a woman’s voice say right outside my tent. The voice sounded hauntingly familiar.

Standing up, I walked forward to greet whoever this woman was, the sound of her voice making me remember a dream from a long forgotten time.

I stopped to take a breath before lifting the flap of my tent.

“Sir!” I heard PFC Newton salute me and then introducing his companion. “This is Ms. Isabella Swan, a photojournalist with The New York Times. She says you’re expecting her.”

She lifted her face to meet my eyes, a honey-sweet smile gracing her lips as she held out her hand for me. “Staff Sergeant Cullen, it’s nice to meet you,” she said.

One moment.

For one long moment, I stared at her. Angry, no, furious at the circumstances life had thrown at me. “Newton, please arrange for a tent for Ms. Isa to settle in,” I said after taking in a deep breath.

Then, without sparing her another glance, I walked away.



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