Veronica Rossi

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Anna asked.

Mom looked like she’d been crying, but she said, “Nothing, sweetie.”

“Who is Dad talking to?” I asked. I knew she’d protect us from whatever was happening, so I went straight for facts. If I gathered enough facts I could figure it out on my own.

“Some friends of his from work.”

“Uncle Jack?” I asked. Jack wasn’t an uncle but we called him that. He was my dad’s foreman in the roofing business.

“No, honey. From the Army. His old work.”

It was September 11, 2001, and the call he’d made was to his commanding officer in the Reserve. I’d figure that out later.

And I’d learn that he’d done ROTC through college, then served with the Fifth Special Forces Group in Desert Storm. I’d learn that his shoulder injury had come from shrapnel embedded in his rotator cuff. I’d learn, just from watching him, from listening to him talk to his buddies, about Ranger School. Jump school. The Ranger Battalions. The Scroll. The Creed. That Rangers lead the way.

But I didn’t know any of that then. I knew my dad as a roofer. A fisherman. A lover of Pearl Jam and Giants baseball. He was the guy who launched me over the waves on the beach, and who bench-pressed Anna because it made her giggle in a way that nothing else did. He was my mom’s best friend, with some additional elements like kissing that seemed pretty gross because, you know, I was six. But I learned something new about him that morning.

I learned that when bad things happened, my dad stepped forward first.

I learned he was a hero. A real one.

And that I wanted to be like him”

Veronica Rossi, Riders
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Riders (Riders, #1) Riders by Veronica Rossi
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