37 Winter TN 1939
Jack pulled his coat tighter around him to block the bitterly cold wind blowing up the bluff. He took a moment to enjoy the scenery, as the sunlight shimmered off the snow-capped mountaintops around Canterbury. Patches of snow also lay on the ground around him and his aide, who was quietly shivering some distance away. Jack smiled in spite of the cold; he had never seen snow before.
He turned to the gravestone in front of him, and said softly, "You were right, Denise. It's lovely here."
Denise Sinclair had been Jack's friend long before she became governor of Coronado and his boss. As long as he had known her, she had spoken fondly of the bluff where she had played as a child, and the memory of this place had brought her comfort even as she lost her battle to cancer. After the memorial service for her in Coronado, Jack had complied with her last request and escorted her remains to this place, accompanied only by an aide who was still getting used to his new job.
Jack was himself adjusting to his own new job, and wondered for the umpteenth time why he had let her talk him into this. While he would never say so publicly, the thought of what lay before him often filled him with dread. He had never wanted or even considered this job, and frankly hadn't the slightest idea what to do first.
He felt his heart racing again, and took a few deep breaths to calm himself. He hadn't been this unsure of himself this much since he had been asked to take charge of the Hong Kong Crusaders when the War of the Alliance began. He remembered that night after he had been offered the command, and how Denise had stayed up all night with him talking about it. Even though they hadn't known each other well at that point, and despite his protests to the contrary, Denise had reassured Jack that he was ready for such a responsibility, and that he would do a good job.
Jack realized just then she had done the same thing when she asked him to take this job. As sick as she was, she had prepared him as well as she could, all the while reaffirming her confidence in him. At the beginning and the end of their friendship, Denise had somehow seen what Jack was capable of, and had known that he would rise to the challenges before him. She knew him better than he realized, Jack had to admit, and she was right about him more often than he had known.
The chirp of a satellite cellphone broke Jack's reverie. The aide answered, then called out, "Excuse me, Colonel - er, sorry, Governor Sanlander? It's Colonel Brooks."
Jack rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "All right," he said, "I'll be right there." He looked at the gravestone once more and smiled. "Goodbye, Denise. Rest well."
As he turned away, he hoped she had been right one more time.