“TR on air for you! Jesus, it’s been a few weeks, and I’m sorry, but I’m back! Can you believe it? I can’t even start to imagine all the love stories and heartache I missed. Wanna tell me about yours? Make a wish and send a song to someone out there in this great, wide world? Call me now. You know the number, and if not, find it on the website. Until then, one of my current favorites, a country hit made by P!nk and Kenny Chesney, ‘Setting The World On Fire.’ Enjoy!”
Tessa lifted the headphones from her head and glanced over her shoulder. She sat in this studio for the first time, did her show from an entirely different time zone, and she still could hardly believe it. The walls, soundproofed and painted in some weird, ugly color, were decorated with letters from her fans, or listeners… whatever you wanted to call them. She’d needed a reminder that people had missed her during the four weeks she had been… incapacitated. Pushing that thought away, Tessa spotted a small blinking icon on the screen and lifted her eyes to the glass separating her studio from the other side, where people managed the calls and E-mails, already preselecting. The situation was new to her, too, and it made her feel weird all over.Her radio show,Tagged For Life, had been a hit. Sadly, she no longer could handle all the calls by herself.
Grinning as she spotted a familiar brunette with shining blue eyes, she refocused and lifted the headphones again. The song was ending so she cleared her throat before going live again.
“I’m back, and boy, what a song. So, the first caller of the night is on the line, and he calls himself…” She hesitated as she read the name, not sure if she’d mixed up a call with an E-mail, but no, the phone symbol was still blinking. “Desert Heart. Hey there.”
Silence met her, and a weird static as if the caller was a continent away.
One word and her heart flipped in her chest, making butterflies erupt in her stomach until she felt like throwing up. Lifting her hand to the dog tags hanging over the mic, she drew a deep breath. “Hey there. I assume you call yourself Desert Heart because you’re a soldier?” She knew it was the truth, but if she talked to him the way she wanted to, the listeners would’ve wanted the info she had. And he was calling anonymously.
“Yes.” His voice was rough and yet went through her like a hot knife through butter. “I wanna tell you a love story, Miss TR.” Though her name wasn’t a secret, Tessa preferred it wasn’t used on air repeatedly, and he seemed to remember that after his first slip. Or maybe that had been intentional so she knew whom she was speaking to.
“Tell me, then,” she whispered, only to realize she couldn’t speak any quieter or no one would be able to follow any longer.
“I never thought a girl could open my eyes to love and how much I needed it in my life, but it’s true. It’s out there, and I’m calling so people know that sometimes oceans and mountains are between you and what belongs to you. That’s how love is. You belong to her or him, and she—or he—belongs to you. Who makes your heart race doesn’t matter. Only know that if they do, you need to keep them. Hold them close and remind them every day they are yours.” He paused, and Tessa heard him take a deep breath, almost as if steeling himself for his next words. “However, as I said, sometimes oceans are between you, and that means sometimes you cannot keep what is yours. Sometimes you need to let go for something more important, something not only meaningful for your very own life but in the grander scheme of things. Sometimes you have to leave your girl to go and save your brothers-in-arms, even if you don’t know if you’ll see her again. That’s what happened to me, you see. I had her for less than three weeks when she was on holiday. Three weeks, you ask? Yes. Three weeks. But I didn’t need that long to know she was my everything. I think it took less than one, actually. So, where am I going with this? Easy. Love as hard as you can because it doesn’t matter if it’s three days, three years, or three decades. It will change you. And you should let it. Even if you don’t know if he or she’ll forget you or not. No matter if you’ll see her or him again. Because… that person will always be in your heart. So, with my girl, all I can say is… I just…”
Her breath caught on the secret code they had shared ever since an almost-slip of the three special words.
His voice was shaking, but luckily the song Tessa was supposed to play already flashed on her screen so she knew to put it on, ready to play the moment he’d announced his choice. “My song choice is‘(Everything I do) I Do It For You’ by Bryan Adams, and I dedicate it to you, TR.”
“And here is your song, Desert Heart, and I’m with you… I just,” she whispered, giving the sentiment back, starting the song, and turning the microphone off before it caught her sob. Pressing the back of her hand to her mouth, she tried to get her emotions under control. Nine months had passed since she’d watched him drive off on a military bus, and more than three since she’d gotten a letter from him.
This though, this was much better, and whatever would come, she’d go through nine more just because she knew he still felt the same way she did.
Jazz hadn’t forgotten her.