As the events of the frightening fears that Cory isn’t going to return home after the attack on the hospital unit in the Middle East, his mother and other loved ones gather in an attempt to bring news.
Tara, the former love of Cory’s life, sits there with an uneasy feeling churning in her stomach with the suspicion that her mother’s deceived her about going out for drinks. Much to her surprise, Tara’s met by Cory’s mother, Lorraine, or Lorrie for short. Something is off in the air as they sit and chat while Olivia, Tara’s mother, pays close attention to her cell phone.
Olivia orders the first round of drinks and tries to buy time to keep Tara distracted. Unfortunately, by the time the second round is finished, Olivia’s phone dings.
Here, getting into position now, the message states as butterflies flutter in Olivia’s stomach.
“So don’t get mad, but we have someone coming who wants to see you,” Olivia mentions.
She mixes alcohol with suffering, and Tara’s eyes grow to the size of silver dollars.
“I said no way. I’m out of here!” she shrieks, shooting out of the booth.
“Leaving so soon?” a voice says after she bumps into someone.
“Rick, what are you doing here?”
With a smile, he plays his part perfectly. “I’m your date, hot stuff. Didn’t you know?” he teases, moving each time, trying to get past him.
“Move, Rick. I’m out of here.”
“What if I get in your way?” Standing about six feet behind Tara, a frail, rickety voice calls out.
Unable to move, Mrs. Dubois puts her hands over her nose and mouth.
“Don’t play games with me. Whoever you are, you can’t be Cory. He’s dead.”
Tara tries to hide her hands, which are trembling with hope.
She listens as he steps closer.
In a calm and stern voice, Cory calls out in a husky tone, “Tara, turn around and face me,” he orders, stopping inches from her body.
Unhurriedly, Tara turns around. She drops her head, her eyes clenched shut. She can’t take being disappointed, but a set of hands take hers and leans in for a kiss on the cheek.
“Open your eyes,” Cory whispers softly and sweetly in her ear.
Tara forces her eyes to obey. She lunges forward after they focus to see Cory is the person holding her hands.
With eyes wide open as a state of shock takes control, Tara screams, “You’re alive!” she cries, crashing their bodies together forcefully, sending them to the floor.
Barely able to catch his breath, Cory’s body feels every inch of the cheap carpeted floor and pain radiating through his body.
“Yeah, sorry for the delay, but they wanted to get my discharge papers finalized before being sent home. I’m here, though—barely—but I am home, for good.”
She has no control over the grip around his neck.
“What happened?” she asks, burying her face against his side as tears stream from her bloodshot eyes.
“I got shot trying to protect patients and nearly bled out. Luckily, the few who weren’t slaughtered managed to save all those who could be saved.”
Rick leans over, using his large dark hands, breaking Tara’s grip so Cory can get off the floor and continue the story.
“After the surgeons and nurses patched me up, I laid around until I was well enough to fly to Germany to receive proper treatment and therapy for my injuries. Your mom calling got things sped up when she flooded Senator Suiter with calls. You owe her big time; the doctor she called had a friend pull some strings, and here I am,” he finishes in a raspy voice.
Rick snatches a chair from a table across from the booth and waits for Cory and Tara to sit down.
Tara reaches out with her perfectly manicured hands, “I can’t believe it. You’re really here.”
Taking her hand, Cory gives her a soft-hearted look to assure her it’s real. “I am here, and if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to start over. Nearly getting killed puts things in perspective. I love you, and I don’t want to go another day without you.”
Tara can’t control her strength when she tightly clings to his arm and nearly digs her nails in. Finally, Tara leans her head on Cory’s shoulder.
“You don’t need to ask. I’ve always been yours and yours alone.”
His head against hers, Cory relaxes with his eyes closed, knowing it’ll be a long and challenging road, but together, they can face it.