Being a military wife of seventeen years, I know a thing or two about writing a love letter. Between my husband’s five deployments, we have thousands of them stored in our basement, our own little time capsule from days where pen and paper were our only means of communication. Those letters have saved our marriage more times than I can count.
The beautiful thing about love letters is that just like love, they come in all sorts of different varieties. Some are poetic, some romantic, some erotic, and some don’t even look like love letters at all.
What all good love letters have in common is heartfelt emotion.
In The Last Letter, Ella regrets writing in pen when her awkward nature gets the best of her during her first letters with Beckett. But that sincerity is what first draws Beckett to her in their letters.
Start with your feelings, and you can’t go wrong.
Some of my favorites didn’t read like love letters at all. They came from the front lines, scrawled on scrap pieces of paper between missions, the letters blurring from the touch of Jason’s fingers. They were short, and often held two distinct paragraphs—one updating me on his everyday life, and the second his nearly desperate plea for me to know how very much he loved me in case it was the last time he could tell me. There wasn’t time for flowery prose or neat handwriting. No, those letters were raw, the words ripped straight from my husband’s soul, and they are all the more beautiful and precious to me for it.
It never hurts to drop a compliment. Hundreds of times I’ve written letters to my husband that were comprised only of the things I loved about him. Everything from the way he makes sure I never run out of coffee, to the way he’s so careful not to wake me up when he rises for PT in the morning. I try my hardest to show him that I notice even the tiniest ways he loves me.
Even our letters where we disagree end up being love letters, because we never ended them in an argument. That’s the thing about writing letters in times of war, you’re careful with your words, and which ones you say last. We’ve always made sure ours were words of love, no matter how…vehemently we may have agreed to disagree on something.
Perhaps that’s the secret to writing a love letter—filling it with the truth. The good. The bad. The hopes. The gratitude. After all, the best loves are the real ones. The honest ones. That’s a letter I’ll gladly take any day.
And now, an excerpt from The Last Letter:
“Ella.” It was a plea to speak, to not speak. Hell, I didn’t know anymore.
“You don’t see me like that. I totally get it.” She reached for the TV remote.
“How exactly do I see you? Please, enlighten me.” I leaned forward, stealing the remote. She’d opened this box and had better well dish it.
She huffed in annoyance. “You see me as a mom. As Colt and Maisie’s mom. And of course you do, because that’s what I am. A mom with two kids.”
“Well, yeah,” I said. Her motherhood—that selfless devotion she had to her kids—was one of her most attractive attributes.
She rolled her eyes with a little sigh, and the metaphorical light bulb went off in my head.
“You don’t think I want you.”
She shot me a look that confirmed my guess and blushed the same crimson of her couch. “You know, you’re right. It’s late.” She faked a yawn. “Suuuuuuper late.”
“I want you.” Damn, it felt so good to say the words.
“Yeah, okay.” She gave me a goofy look and a thumbs-up. “Please don’t make me feel any more idiotic than I do right now.”
Yeah, enough of this bullshit.
I pounced in one smooth motion, taking her back to the couch, sliding over her as I gathered her wrists in one hand above her head and settled between her open thighs.
“Holy shit, you move fast.” There was no fear or rejection in her eyes, just surprise.
“Not in every arena,” I promised.
Her lips parted.
“Ella. I want you.”
“Beckett…you don’t have to.”
Yeah, that soft little sigh she did was going to be my undoing.
I let go of her wrists, letting my fingers trail down her arm until I had one hand weaving my fingers into the hair at the base of her scalp and the other at the curve in her waist.
“Feel this?” Then I slid forward, letting my dick stroke along the seam in her pajama pants hard enough for her to gasp at the contact. I couldn’t remember ever wanting to shred a piece of fabric so much in my life. “I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I want you.”
I moved again, and her eyes slid shut as she let loose the sweetest moan.
My dick throbbed, knowing everything I’d fantasized about for the better part of the last eight months was one decision away.
“Beckett.” Her hands found my biceps, her nails digging in.
“Don’t ever think that I don’t want you, because if things were different, I would have already been inside you. I would know exactly how you feel, and what you sound like, look like, when you come. I’ve thought about it at least a hundred different ways, and believe me, I’ve got a great imagination.”
She rocked her hips against me, and I locked my jaw to keep from giving her exactly what her body was asking for. “Ella, you have to stop.”
“Why?” she asked, her lips dangerously close to mine. “What do you mean if things were different?” Her eyes flew wide. “Is this because I have kids?”
“What? No. Of course not. It’s because you’re Ryan’s little sister.” Before I could do any more damage, I got the hell off her and sat back on my side of the couch.
“Because…I’m Ryan’s little sister,” she repeated, scooting so she sat upright, facing me. “And you think he’d, what? Haunt you?”
Three things: The letter. The cancer. The lie.
I repeated those in my head until I was certain I could look at her and not drag her back under me.
“When I was growing up, if I wanted something, I took it. Immediately. I had sex at fourteen with a girl in my foster home of the moment. I opened Christmas presents early if I was lucky enough to get one, and it was usually from my social worker or some charity.”
“I don’t understand.” She wrapped her arms around her knees again.
“I took it immediately because I knew if I didn’t, chances were I wouldn’t get it. It was a now-or-never kind of thing—there weren’t second chances.”
“I can’t touch you, can’t talk about it, because I’m afraid I’ll act on it.”
“And why does that matter if I want you to?”
“Because I won’t get a second chance. And I’m crap with people, with relationships. I’ve never had one that lasted more than a month. Never loved a woman I’ve slept with. And chances are I’d do something to screw this up, because it’s not just my dick that wants you, Ella.”
That O popped right back onto her face, and I closed my eyes to keep from lunging across the distance and kissing her. Knowing she’d let me—that she wanted it—sent my need from a bullet to a nuclear missile.
“And when I’d screw it up, because it would happen, trust me, it would hurt Colt and Maisie, too. You’d be on your own again, because there’s no chance you’d let me hang around and help you out like Ryan asked.”
“And there it is.”
“There it is. You’re Ryan’s little sister.”
“There were only five years between us. Not so little, you know.” She reached for the remote.
“I’m well aware.”
“So if Ryan were still alive…” She shot one last look at me.
I let everything slip for a millisecond, letting her see it all in my eyes, how badly I wanted her, and not just for her body. “Everything would be different.”
“Everything but the way I feel about you, which he probably would have killed me for. Where does that leave us?”
“You mean besides me being a dried-up spinster and you being honor-bound to a ghost?”
“Something like that.”
She rolled her head along the back of the couch, muttering something that sounded like a curse word under her breath. Then she sat up straight and powered on the TV with a click of her thumb. “That leaves us choosing a movie on demand. Because I’m not letting you walk out that door right now.”
“Nope. You walk out now, you might get all weird about this and not come back. Honor is a fabulous thing, but sometimes pride can be a lot stronger, especially when you convince yourself it’s for the good of the other person.”
Damn, the woman knew me.
“So movie it is,” I agreed. “Just…stay on your side of the couch.”
“I wasn’t the one who crossed the center line,” she teased with a smile that got me hard all over again.
Movie chosen, we sat and watched, both of us stealing sideways glances. There was that saying…the horse out of the barn. Yeah, the horse was out of the barn, and it wasn’t going back in. Not no way. Not no how.
That horse was running amok and screwing with my carefully constructed control.
But I didn’t complain when she moved over. Or when she pressed against my side. Nope. I lifted my arm and savored the feel of her curves, her trust. Still didn’t complain when she lay down in my arms. Hell no, I held on and memorized every second.
(C) Rebecca Yarros, Entangled Amara, 2019
If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.
I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to
My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.
And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.
So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.
Please don’t make her go through it alone.
About Rebecca Yarros
Rebecca Yarros is a hopeless romantic and lover of all things chocolate, coffee, and Paleo. In addition to being a mom, military wife, and blogger, she can never choose between Young Adult and New Adult fiction, so she writes both. She’s a graduate of Troy University, where she studied European history and English, but still holds out hope for an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. Her blog, The Only Girl Among Boys, has been voted the Top Military Mom Blog the last two years, and celebrates the complex issues surrounding the military life she adores.
When she’s not writing, she’s tying on hockey skates for her kids, or sneaking in some guitar time. She is madly in love with her army-aviator husband of eleven years, and they’re currently stationed in Upstate NY with their gaggle of rambunctious kiddos and snoring English Bulldog, but she would always rather be home in Colorado.