Reclaiming His Wife
I’m about to steal a bride from her own wedding.
The bike thunders under me, roaring down the highway like bat out of hell. My jaw is tight, my mouth a thin, grim line as my rough hands grip the handlebars. The highway lights flash like memories over the bare muscles of my forearm, illuminating scars and ink. Up ahead, I can see the Chicago skyline breaking the horizon, and my eyes narrow as my blood pumps like diesel fuel.
I’m back. Five fucking years later, I’ve come home. With more ink. With a lot more scars. With vengeance blazing through my heart.
Five years were stolen from me, after I was left to die in the desert of Afghanistan. Hell, everyone I know was even told I died back there in that place. Friends, loved ones, parents.
They fucking buried me back here. They held vigils. They made their peace with me being gone as best they could. But the truth is, I wasn’t dead, even if the Taliban prison I’ve called home for the last eighteen-hundred or so days might as well have been death. A hole in the ground. A pit. A layer of hell I fought my way through every single day, for five years, just to get back here.
Jahannam was Hell on Earth. Fuck, the place means “hell” in Arabic. Except, I beat the devil, and I took my soul back. I walked through fire and brimstone, and bled, and fought my way out of the darkness.
And I did it all for her.
For my wife.
Five years of my life gone? That’s some shit, but I could deal with that. I mean five years stolen is no small thing, but I could wrap my head around it, if I had to. But it wasn’t just five years of my life that was taken. It was five years of hers, of Juliana’s. My wife. My one and only. My everything.
War is hell. We all knew it going in. Every man and woman who serves knows the risks. I knew the outcome could be losing her, but I also knew and still know what the cost of freedom is. I know the price that’s due for our way of life. And even before I enlisted in the Marines, I knew that peace back home meant a blood sacrifice over there. So, I expected the enemy to be brutal. I excepted him to be vicious, and unmerciful.
I never expected it from one of our own, though. None of us did. My jaw tightens, and I can feel the blood searing through my veins like fire, like it always does when I think of him.
His name Darren fucking Wallace. A coward. A traitor to his brothers and his country. The snake we let in, and the snake that bit twice. First, he took five years of my life. He murdered our brothers and left me to die in the hands of our enemies. But now, he’s after something bigger. Something worth more to me than any number of days of my life. Tonight, he’s trying to take from me what’s mine.
…Tonight, Darren Wallace is about to marry my wife.
The roar bellows out of my chest in pure fury, like snarl of a beast set free of its cage. I glance next to me, seeing the wide, freaked-out eyes of a family in a minivan as they stare at me like I’m some kind of maniac. Maybe I am. Maybe five years in a pit in the desert has stripped me of my humanity a little. Or a lot. Or maybe the thought of that piece of shit laying hands on my woman has me ready to tear my fucking skin off.
Maybe after five years without her, I am a beast.
I ignore the minivan and rev the throttle, thundering the bike forward towards the city. Darren thought he could take my life. He thought he could destroy me and bury me in that hell. He thought he could leave me to die while he came back home to take what was mine.
He thought he could take my wife, and he’s dead fucking wrong.
I fought the devil, and I won. I walked through fire and death to crawl out of that hole and take back my life. And now? Now I’m on my way to take her back, too.
The engine thunders, the roar bellows from my throat again, and my eyes lock onto the twinkling lights of Chicago as the sky turns to dusk.
I’m going to reclaim my wife. I’m going to reclaim what’s mine, and there’ll be hell to pay for anyone who stands in my way.