“You or ten thousand dollars? Tough trade,” Scott said.

Ed tugged aside the heavy parachute strapping to get to his shirt pocket.

“Oh, by the way, you got a piece of mail this morning, and I told Corporal Mitchell I’d give it to you.”

He didn’t have to look at the return address. The familiar pink paper told him all he needed to know. He held it close to his nose to inhale the rose-scented perfume she always doused on the stationery. God, how he loved her. He’d spent many a lonely night on the bunk in his crowded barracks reading her sweet messages and staring at the lovely face in the picture she’d sent.

“Ed, I’ve made up my mind about something. I’m going to live through this thing, and then I’m going to Florida.”

Ed glared back at him. “Florida? You ain’t going all the way to Florida to find some girl you don’t even know except from her letters. What if those ain’t her real pictures she’s been sending you?”

Ever the practical thinker, Ed was, but he didn’t want to hear practical thinking. He wanted Miss Cassie Wright. She’d been his pen pal for a year, chosen for him at random by her high school social studies teacher. Oh, yes, fate had been smiling on him that day.

“Florida,” Scott repeated, while tapping the corner of the envelope against Ed’s chest. “You mark my words, buddy. I’ll even invite you down to go fishing with me in the Gulf of Mexico. How about that?”

Ed grunted and shook his head but didn’t make a comment, because their lieutenant was giving the order to board the planes.

“When we hit the ground, keep your ass covered, buddy, because you’re going to Florida with me,” Scott said.

He stepped up to the large opening behind the wing and gave a thumbs up to his platoon. This was it. No turning back. He took a deep breath to summon his courage and climbed inside the plane with the sweet scent of Cassie’s perfume still lingering in his mind.

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