Freedom of Love (Letters From Home Series Book 2)

By: Maryann Jordan

Dedication





As a high school counselor, I worked with many students who joined the military after high school. A few of them I stayed close to and watched as they matured during their enlistment. I know letters from home meant so much to them and they were the idea behind these stories. For those, and all who have served, I dedicate this story to them.





Author Notes





When writing military romance, I desire to accurately portray the soldier’s jobs, duties, and situations, but know that in some areas I will fall short simply because I have never walked in their boots. I hope my readers will focus on the love story, while appreciating the service our men and women in the military.





Chapter 1




(January – Molly)


“Will the defendant, Molly Thurston, please rise.”

My legs were jelly as I rose from the hard, wooden chair I had been sitting in, glancing at the young, seemingly uninterested, public defense attorney standing with me. He appeared as bored with my sentencing as he had been during the proceedings. My fingers rested on the heavy, wooden table in front of me unsure if my legs would hold me up.

I focused my eyes on the judge, his short, silver hair and black robe fitting the image of any TV judge, but his dark eyes peering at me over the glasses perched on his nose made me realize this was no show.

Palms sweating, heart pounding, I listened as the judge sentenced me to ten months for involuntary manslaughter, the minimum I could be sentenced. I wasn’t surprised—I had agreed to plead guilty. And why not…Sam was dead and it was my fault.

The sentencing was still a bitter pill to swallow, but it was too late now to turn back. Not that I would anyway. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the tearful face of my fifteen-year-old sister, Rachel. Offering a wan smile that I know did not reach my eyes, I turned back to face the judge. The air in the the room felt thin as I tried to fill my lungs, desperate to not pass out.

The rest of the day was a blur, filled with being led around by sheriff deputies, moving from one holding cell to another. Cinderblock walls…bars…and a bench to sit on. A female guard came by to bring me a sandwich, but I was only able to eat a bite, fear keeping me from swallowing.

Just when I thought I was forgotten, a deputy came for me one more time. Finally, transportation to the penal facility. Escorted into the security van, I was handcuffed to the bar at the end of the seat. Keeping my head down as we left the jail, I avoided looking at the people on the street. The free ones who were going about their daily business.

I was the only inmate in the van as we traveled down the road. Eventually looking out the window as I felt the vehicle slow, I watched with trepidation as we approached my imposing home for the next ten months. A shudder swept over me and I swallowed deeply, glad I had not eaten the meal offered earlier or I was sure it would be re-appearing on the floor.

Moving from checkpoint to checkpoint, the van came to a halt outside one of the many brick buildings. The evening sun was already disappearing behind the mountains in the background and the long shadows only lent to the dismal vision in front of me.

My cuffs were released from the security bar and I was hustled inside. Lifting my gaze, I knew my freedom had truly been lost.



Sleep did not come that first night as I lay in bed. Despair filled my throat, threatening to choke me. Afraid to move and possibly disturb my cellmates, I lay as still as possible. For all my fears of prison, mostly fueled by TV and movies, I had been relieved to find that because I was not deemed a threat to society, I was assigned to a minimum security facility.

Finally, sure that my cellmates were asleep, I rolled to my side as quietly as possible. Tucking the blanket up to my chin, I shifted my gaze around the room as my eyes grew more accustomed to the dark.

I had never gone to college but had seen pictures of dorm rooms and had to admit, this room appeared similar to those images. Well, except for the barred window and the steel door that was locked.

The four beds were not bunked and each prisoner had their own locker and nightstand with two drawers. There was a sink in the room and a toilet in a small closet for privacy. I had been told I could have the door closed when using the toilet but that it must stay open at all other times. The cinderblock was painted pale blue and when I had been given white sheets to make my bed, I was grateful to see that the mattress was clean. A thin, narrow window was at the top of the cell, next to the ceiling. It ran the length of the room but was only about six inches tall. Sighing, I was glad for the sliver of a window. Just the thought of having a smidgeon of natural light was welcomed.