The Mission: Ginny (part 4)

Deborah Hendrick on Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Ginny had been cleaning for a week, it seemed like. She worked on the beach house until it sparkled, and stocked the refrigerator with her brother’s favorite foods. Back at the hangar, she slaved over her Airstream until it gleamed like new, then washed the Dragonfly, because she knew that Ace would want to fly it while he was on vacation. He still couldn’t believe their parents had given Ginny an airplane for a graduation present. And every time he mentioned it, she reminded him that he’d asked for a sports car and gotten it.


“Thank you, Ace, for coming to the company party with me. This is my first chance to socialize since I’ve been working there,” said Ginny, “so I don’t want to miss it.”

“Well, you look terrific,” said Ace, understating the situation. “It’s nice to see a girl in a dress for a change, and I like your hair. If you were in sight of the men on my team, you wouldn’t be taking your brother to a party.”

For work Ginny usually dressed somewhat plainly, but for the party she wore a simple white sundress that concealed more than it revealed, but left her arms and throat bare. Weekends at the beach had left her with a golden tan and fine spattering of freckles. She left her hair down for a change, and the wealth of red curls spilling half-way down her back was staggering. For a kicker, she wore nickel-sized chunks of rough cut aquamarine earrings that were the same color of her eyes. Ace felt a premonition of chaos.

The Madden house was perfectly designed for parties, with a beautiful stepped patio and a large deck out beside the pier where Max kept his boat. The whole place was lushly landscaped in blooming tropicals to tempt all the senses. Sandy Madden was a skilled hostess who knew exactly were to place food, drinks, music to draw the guests around in a circular pattern so it was easy to eat, drift, and talk with ease. Max’s decision to give the party so soon hadn’t left her with a lot of planning time, but it worked out well with Eli being home on leave. It was good to have the house filled with young people, she thought.

Ginny’s brother stuck out his hand and introduced himself –“Andrew Creighton Gregg. Ace. I’m Ginny’s brother“–to everyone who got close to the dazzling Ginny. Sandy got the distinct impression that he was an offensive lineman. “Eli dear, won’t you go and rescue Ginny?” she said to her son.

Eli and Ace quickly took measure of the other, and discovered that they had all sorts of things in common. Eli was an Air Force captain and an F-22 pilot; Ace was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and the executive officer of a SEAL team. It wasn’t quite what Sandy had meant but the two men were having a great conversation, and Ginny was free to circulate.

Eventually Ginny found herself at Sandy’s side and they exchanged smiles. “You have a lovely home, Mrs. Madden; everything is beautiful. And the food is fabulous,” said Ginny.

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” said Sandy, “but cold boiled shrimp is always a success!”

“Mm. My mother would agree.”

“Does your family live in the area, Ginny?”

“My mother’s family is from here, but we lived everywhere. Growing up, we made a yearly summer pilgrimage to the family beach house in Galveston. It was my mother’s way of giving us a form of permanence. She came back to Texas to have every one of her children, even if Dad couldn’t be there. All four of us were born in Galveston.”

“Where are your parents now?”


Brussels? NATO? Max mentioned that you came from a Navy family. Who is your father, dear?

“I don’t talk about my family much. Those on the outside–who aren’t military–don’t understand. On the inside, I didn’t want anyone to think I was using my father to my advantage. I know you’ll understand though–he’s Vice-Admiral Creighton Lawrence Gregg.”

“Larry Gregg? Good heavens! I met your parents once, at a party in Maryland. Your mother is beautiful; redheaded too, as I recall,” said Sandy, reaching out to touch one of Ginny’s curls. “You said four children. What about the other two?”

Our oldest brother, Lanny, is married and has two little girls. He’s in San Diego. The next brother, Sammy, is also married, and has one boy. He’s in the Mediterranean right now. And Ace has just returned from the middle east. While he’s on leave he’ll go on to San Diego and see Lanny.

Eventually Ginny circled back around to Ace and Eli. “Ginny,” said Ace, “I’ve invited Eli down to the house on Wednesday. We thought we’d do some surf fishing.”


Ginny hit the traffic at just the right time and made it from the office to the Galveston beach house in forty minutes. She tried sorting out the smells as she came up the steps: garlic, lemon, baking fish. Hush puppies frying. “Good thing I remembered to buy buttermilk and onions,” she said. Of course Ace would want hush puppies. She thought she’d never seen such happy men when she found them in the kitchen, cooking and drinking Corona. They’d showered, and changed into clean clothes, but their skin glowed from the day’s sun and a salty tang hung in the air.

Eli pulled the cork on a bottle of wine and poured her a glass. He eyed her bland working clothes, and her hair was all wrong, too. Smoothed and wrapped and pinned up in an workman-like bun. “We eat in ten minutes,” said Eli. “you’ve got just enough time to change.” And put on something cool and pretty,” he said to himself.

In Ginny’s world, ten minutes was a life-time. She took a quick shower, then threw on a frothy caftan in tangerine that sparkled with golden beads and embroidery. She bent over to brush out her waterfall of hair, pulling it off her face with an ornate barrette. Ace gave her a slow wink when she padded out barefooted, and Ginny was gratified by Eli’s look of appreciation.

They ate sand trout until stuffed, and Ginny listened while the men told stories and talked shop. Ace insisted that he would clean up the mess and shooed Eli and Ginny onto the deck with the rest of a bottle of wine. “That sounds like a deal,” said Ginny, who suggested that Eli take the hammock, and she chose the white wicker chaise. They talked a bit and then fell quiet. Too quiet. Eli looked over at Ginny and she was sound asleep. Which was providential since it gave him an opportunity to study her thoroughly and commit her face to memory. She looked like something out of a glossy magazine with the deepening blue of the twilight ocean providing the backdrop. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt so relaxed, and he fell asleep too.

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Topics: The Mission

3 Responses to “The Mission: Ginny (part 4)”

Eric Says:
July 26th, 2006 at 10:00 pm

What’s a “Dragonfly”?

What kind of wine?

Should I just shut up and wait? ;-)

Deborah Says:
July 27th, 2006 at 7:47 am

The wine? It was that riesling in the cobalt blue bottle with a sun on the label … I can never remember the name.
A Dragonfly? You’ll have to wait until next week.

Eric Says:
July 27th, 2006 at 10:40 pm

I knew you were going to say that. I’m terrible at being patient.


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