A/N: Hey, everyone! Hope y'all are still with me after I took so long between posts, I've been working on future chapters, including the epilogue, but I'm still a long way from being done. I'm also revising an old AO3 fic to post here, so that's been taking my time as well.

So anyway, thanks for reading, and drop me a comment to let me know what you think of Riley's first letter.

Thanks again!


Chapter 22 – Riley's First Letter To Lacy

Dear Lacy,

July 5, 1969

This is all your fault, you know. Not that I'm here in Monterey, California about to have my life rigidly controlled by some sadistic asshole in a uniform – that's my own damn fault, not yours. But thanks to you, my first Army buddy had a really mistaken first impression of me.

His name is Eddie Carrera, we met on the bus and hit it off real quick, and now we're sharing a motel room 'til Monday.

(A room with two beds, Little Miss Smart-aleck. Don't make me spank you.)

Anyway, Monday is when he plans to tell the rest of the guys in Basic all about my crazy-ass girlfriend and her taste in underwear.

He's already calling me 'Smiley Riley' and 'Twinkletoes,' thanks to the purple polish he busted me trying to get off my damn toenails.

He thought I was queer, but when I told him about you and what all we did on the pier, I think he got jealous.

Lacy, darlin', I hope you don't mind, I usually ain't the sort of gent to kiss-an'-tell like that, but I had to tell someone how special you are, and how special I felt being with you.

So don't be mad, okay?

Hold on, Eddie's flapping his gums at me...And get this...The opportunistic bastard's been reading over my shoulder, he says he'll keep my secret from the squad in exchange for 'only' one carton of Lucky Strikes.

Every week.

Asshole.

Not you, him.

Then again, three bucks a week is a small price to pay for the memory of you on the pier, with your sexy wet top and your cute bare feet, and your hair all plastered to your face when you came up from underwater.

Add in the way you looked with your lip gloss smeared all to hell after we kissed each other stupid, and it's a wonder Eddie ain't calling me 'Twinkletoes Handjob' by now.

So now that I totally humbled myself before you, what's your nickname gonna be? Lacy Longlegs? Twinkletits?

The possibilities are endless, but you need to come up with one all by yourself, like I did mine.

So tell me, how you been since we parted company the other night? How was the bonfire you told me about? I wanna hear all the gory details.

Me, I got nothing to add, the bus ride was okay, except for some of the dirty looks Eddie and me got when folks figured out where we were headed. (You woulda been pissed, seeing that, and I'd have loved to see you give 'em all a piece of your mind.)

Tomorrow is my last day of freedom for a while, so I reckon I'll end this letter now and hit the sack early. Take care, Lacy, and think of me often, so I ain't the only one missing someone.

Love,

Riley

P.S. - Eddie's been sharing marching cadences with me that he learned from his older brother, who's already finished his tour in 'Nam. Here's the first one:

"Ho Chi Minh is a son-of-a-bitch, he's got the blue-ball crabs and the seven-year itch."

Most girls would faint if some guy wrote that in a letter. I'm glad you ain't like most girls.

P.S. 2 – Write soon, okay? I'll be mailing this from the base as soon as they give us the return address you'll need to use.

P.S. 3 – I do miss you.