“ Rosa! Slow down! Where’s the fire?”
“Come on Suz! He’s waiting…”
Breathing was difficult. Suzie’s side ached and she started to wheeze, running six blocks and counting.
“Rosa! I’m sore from climbing the Tower of Pisa and the stairs in Assisi. Stop! I’m going to pass out!”
Rosa slowed to a stop, gasping the hot Italian air.
“Tell me why we’re running to the phone?” Suzie pleaded between breaths, bending to grab her knees.
“Okay, it’s like this. I called the USO, to leave a message for the guys, just in case they got off the ship and guess who was standing there waiting for the phone?”
Suzie’s heart skipped a beat. “Rosa, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
Rosa nodded, still panting. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner, you stinker?” Suzie started running with purpose, leaving Rosa on the dusty road. She had to get to that booth before someone hung up the phone! Could it really be him? Suzie’s heart started pounding harder. As the booth came into view; she could see a sailor guarding the phone.
Suzie grabbed at the man in uniform. “I … have to…use that…phone! Please….MOVE!”
“Sorry ma’am, the commanders wife said to guard this phone with my life.” He was so young.
“Rosa wanted that phone held for me.” Smiling Suzie poured on the charm. “Please let me catch that call.”
Hesitating, he looked around for Rosa. Not seeing her, he paused. “Well, ma’am, I hope you’re on the up and up, or I’m in big trouble.” He stepped aside as she grabbed the phone with a breathless, “Hello?”
A familiar voice answered, “Suz? Is that you sweetheart?”
“Eddie, is it really you?” The reality made her lightheaded.
“Of course it’s me. Were you expecting your other husband to call from Naples? I can have him paged if you’d like.” Eddie’s smile reached her end of the line.
“Well, there was that guy in Assisi last week. He offered to take me home and make me his baby.” She chortled.
“Suzie amore mio, will you meet me in Napoli? I’ll sing to you from every balcony. I’ve been at sea too long. How fast can you get here babe? I’ve missed you. Stai da solo?”
“No, I’m not alone silly. You had me at ‘amore,’ you wicked man. We’ll be there in forty minutes.”
“Make it twenty!” Rosa wheezed, “Tell him!”
“Okay! Eddie, Rosa says we’ll be there in twenty minutes! She drives like an Italian with her hair on fire! Don’t move or I’ll lose it! When the Nimitz left us standing there on shore two weeks ago, we had no idea there had been a hijacking. Knowing you were there in Lebanon and not here with me made me sick. Ti amo!”
“I love you too! I’ll be waiting for you Suz.” Click.
“Earth to SUZIE, let’s get moving.”
“Rosa, where’re Bonnie and the kids?”
“They’re ready to go!”
Suz threw her arms around Rosa. “Oh Rosa, what about your husband? Did he get off the ship?”
Easing away, tears filled Rosa’s eyes. “No, but it’s a blessing to see the newlyweds’ dream come true.”
A car screeched to a halt at the curb. The kids were hanging out the windows, cheering. “Eddie’s here!”
The ladies jumped into the car, full of anticipation for Suz. Rosa was driving. “Hold on everyone, Mama has the wheel and we’re going to jet!”
“Cool Mom!” Rosa’s son yelled approval.
As the Tuscan scenery flew by, Suzie wondered how Eddie managed this miracle.
“Bonnie, I’ve been praying for him to get here and now, what if I’ve forgotten what he looks like? What if he doesn’t recognize me?” Nerves were starting to take over. “Do I look okay?”
“Calm down Suzie; you’re beautiful and that man loves you girl. Relax! We’re almost there.”
Suzie saw the USO sign. Rosa started honking the horn. People pointed at the crazy Americans hanging out car windows, yelling “EDDIE!”
Suzie could see a sailor standing on the curb as they pulled up. He seemed taller than she remembered. The handsome man leaned in the window.
“Are you ladies going my way?” Eddie winked at Suzie.
Suzie jumped out of the car, flinging herself into his waiting arms. Eddie spun her around and around, both laughing. Everyone was watching, the two finally kissed and the world fell away. Eddie whispered in Suzie’s ear “Finalmente a casa, amore mio.” Suzie’s eyes agreed… home at last, my love.
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