to finish his talk with Colleen, but Melanie tugged her out the door.
With these new orders bringing his Fighter Group as well as Colleen’s
Field Hospital Unit closer to the Channel, he knew it was only time
before the Allies crossed over to France for the invasion. Time was the
one thing he knew was running short. A smile crossed his face as a plan
came into focus. He would just have to compress months into days and
relentlessly woo her. It could be done. It had to be done. His
heart felt lighter as he looked forward to convincing Colleen to marry
was the new groom? It was time to toast his wingman.
time Daniel walked the few blocks over to the Red Lion, he felt more
than confident his plan would work. He wouldn’t try and turn serious on
her tonight, though. A little celebration was needed. Maybe it would
help Colleen to see how happy Rick and Vivian were. The Colonel
mentioned last week that he had a three-day pass he needed to use – more
evidence that the invasion would happen soon. He knew just how to use
his pass, too.
laughter greeted Daniel as he opened the pub door. Locals as well most
of the Squadron and Vivian’s unit were crowded inside the small
establishment. He made his way to the bar, slapping Rick on the back as
buddy, old pal of mine!” He laughed as Rick spilled his ale down his
uniform. “How’s it feel to be a married man?”
you know in the morning!”
surrounding men let out a gale of approval and lifted their glasses.
“To the groom!”
a drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Man, I’m glad
you’re here, Danny. Every time I say something, they toast me and I
have to take a drink. This is my third pint already.”
chuckled and shook his head. “Wish I was that lucky.”
well, I take it?” Rick passed a glass to Daniel and sighed. “Viv
wouldn’t go into any detail, but from what I could get out of her,
Colleen’s been through some heartache. Just give her time.”
“You and I
both know time is one thing we ain’t got much of.” He took a healthy
swallow of ale and set the mug back on the bar. “But I’ve got a plan
that should work. I just need to get everything finalized.”
wiggled his brows and grinned. “A plan, huh? Well, good luck, Danny
Boy.” He raised his glass.
patrons took it for another toast and shouted, “To the groom!”
guys keep this up, I’ll be too drunk to enjoy my honeymoon,” Rick
hollered back and took another drink.
the point,” someone yelled from the back.
Brits,” Rick good-naturedly grumbled.
RAF officer straightened form the bar. “Whot did you say, Yank?”
‘Here’s to the Brits.’” He lifted his ale high in the air.
Brits,” they cheered.
pilot sat down his drink and approached. Silence quickly filled the
room as he stopped in front of Rick’s stool and turned him around.
“There’s somethin’ I’ve been wantin’ to ask you Yanks.”
Rick asked. “What’s that?”
with naming your planes?”
shrugged and took a sip of his drink. “Same reason we name our dicks –
‘cause they’re there.”
patrons laughed and banged on the tables. “To the planes!” they
reminds me,” an older gent wearing the uniform of the Home Guard spoke
out. “Hear ‘bout them new knickers approved by the War Ministry?”
He took a
slug from his mug, foam coating his mustache, and looked around at his
knickers?” someone finally yelled.
man grinned from ear to ear. “One Yank and they’re off!”
chuckled at the joke, all the while keeping an eye on the RAF pilot in
front of Rick. “To the War Ministry,” he shouted, hoping to keep the
tension from boiling over between the two pilots. He lifted his glass
for a drink and locked gazes with the RAF officer.
walked up to Daniel and stopped. “Know whot’s the problem with you
Yanks?” he asked, stabbing Daniel in the chest with a finger.
What?” he asked as he eyed the pilot over the rim of his mug.
overpaid.” He ticked off a finger on one hand.
sexed!” someone nearby added to the amusement of his pals. The RAF
officer nodded and lifted a second finger.
here!” everyone in the pub yelled amid laughter.
that,” the pilot agreed. He smiled and pounded Rick and Daniel
on the back. “So why don’t you two Yanks buy me a pint and we’ll call
drink to that.” Rick slapped some bills on the bar. “To the Yanks!”
Yanks!” the pub answered.
Carl,” he introduced. “Spitfire pilot extraordinaire.”
this is Danny,” he nodded over his shoulder. “Three fifty-fourth out of
looked from one to the other. “Mustangs?”
officer let out a low whistle. “Bloody hell. Whot I wouldn’t give to
handle the stick on one of those beauties.”
his mug on the bar and half-heartedly listened to Rick and Carl do some
hanger flying. Besides, he had his own special mission to plan. Things
fell into place the more he thought about it. He knew just how to
propose to Colleen.
scent of sweet perfume floated on the air and tickled his nose. His
pulse quickened at the thought of seeing Colleen again. He couldn’t
wait to put his battle plan into action. Confident he’d soon be leg
shackled and happy for it, he closed his eyes and imagined the wedding
night. The perfume soon became cloying and overpowering. Daniel
wrinkled his brow trying to recall from where he remembered the smell.
The scent wasn’t Colleen’s, of that he was certain.
smile like that, Captain, I’d offer more than just a penny for your
eyes snapped open at the raspy southern drawl. He found himself scant
inches from a pair of blood red lips curved in a sensuous smile. His
gaze traveled upwards and locked with startlingly pale blue eyes.
see you again, Danny,” she purred.
her hand out palm down, in a fashion for him to kiss in greeting.
Instead, he turned her hand for a traditional handshake. “Ma’am.”
Captain.” She pursed her lips into a pout and tossed her black hair
over her shoulder. “Shame on you for not remembering me from the
hospital’s talent show.” Her hand rested on his arm.
remember. Miss Blake, right?” Daniel took a sip of ale. “Third place
– no, wait. Second behind Colleen.” He strived to keep his words and
his tone polite, but it was difficult given the woman clung to him like
100 year old vines.
shook a cigarette out of the pack and placed it between his lips.
Striking a match against the bar top, he lit the end and inhaled a
much-needed drag. He shook the flame out and tossed the burnt remnants
into an ashtray before turning back to the woman at his side. “I’m
sorry; you were saying?”
Black, not Blake. Though my friends call me Vicki.” She looked him in
the eye before letting her gaze travel down his body then back up,
resting on his lips. The smile she gave him invited him to call her
anything, anytime. It wasn’t an invitation he wanted to accept, but
manners dictated he at least try to be pleasant. Besides, his mama
would skin him alive if he didn’t act the gentleman, even if the woman
in question wasn’t a lady.
Miss Black. My apologies.”
Captain. After all, we were never properly introduced.” Her laugh
sounded forced and fake, the swishing of her hair too practiced. She
opened a small, gold case and extracted a cigarette, gently tapping it
on the closed cover. “Something I’m sure we can quickly remedy.”
the cigarette to her mouth and arched her brows. Silently cursing his
beloved mother for teaching him manners, Daniel struck another match
against the bar. He watched it briefly flare before touching the flame
to the tip and disposing of the match. Inhaling deeply, Vicki closed
her eyes and released the smoke up towards the ceiling. The move
exposed her neck and caused her hair to trail over her shoulder and down
against the back of her arm. Daniel noticed her eyes slightly open as
she watched him through the narrow slit of her lids. The contrived
manipulative move turned his stomach.
slowly opened and she lowered her head, tilting it to the side, her hair
brushing against his arm. “Thank you, Danny,” she whispered as she
looked up at him through her lashes and placed her hand on his arm
turned his head as Vicki leaned in closer, and spotted Colleen walking
into the pub with Ruth and Melanie. Her smile lit the room and her eyes
sparkled with happiness. Her laughter lifted his spirits and sounded
better than any sweet love song he heard over the BBC. He caught her
gaze and they stared at each other, unaware of the crowded pub, only
each other. She smiled and Daniel knew he was in Heaven.
elbowed Colleen in the ribs and nodded in his direction. Colleen’s
smile faltered and her eyes narrowed. Daniel watched her eyes move
downward and mentally followed the same path. He glanced back at
Colleen. Her brows raised a notch and guilt flooded him.
muttered. Nonchalantly he tried to pull his arm from under Vicki’s
hand. He felt her fingers tighten before letting him go.
stream of smoke blew over his head and she nodded towards Colleen. “I
wouldn’t hang my hat in that direction, Captain, if I were you.”
crushed her cigarette into the ashtray and stood back from the bar.
Daniel reached out and placed his hand on her arm, stopping her from
leaving before explaining. She pointedly looked down at his hand and
quirked a brow. He dropped his hand and sat back down. “Why not?” he
Daniel felt dumb for asking about something he felt he should already
fiancé,” Vicki answered, then sauntered off.
the ghost who haunted her? That shadowed her eyes? His heart dropped
and he felt his chance at happiness fade away. Did she really love him
or was it someone else she saw whenever she looked at him? Was this the
reason she evaded talking about marriage? Too many questions bombarded
his mind and he shook his head to clear his thoughts.
loved him. He knew that. He felt that. The emotion behind her touch,
her kisses, her words – those couldn’t be faked with such sincerity,
such passion. No, she loved him. But the question remained, did he
have all her heart? Who was this man? Was he the reason behind
the sadness in her eyes?
thought suddenly occurred to him: Could he have been killed in the
war? Was that why Colleen guarded her heart? The protectiveness of
her friends made sense now; the reluctance Colleen showed at times
snapped pieces into place. He still didn’t have all the answers, he was
only guessing at this point. But he believed Colleen loved him as much
as he loved her. She couldn’t hide all her emotions from him. Daniel
knew he needed to give her time to tell him on her own, but time had a
funny way of slipping away just when you needed it most.
watched Colleen and her friends approach from the door, keeping his eyes
focused on hers. She tried so hard to hide her feelings from him, but
he saw it there in her eyes. Her love for him, the sadness, the
haunting sense of loss, the anger, the guilt, the worry. Doubts plagued
his mind while his heart fought for reassurance. He felt torn in two
and didn’t know how to handle the sudden stab of jealousy of Colleen
loving another man and the fierce need to protect her from pain at the
prickle of tears stung behind his eyes and an unfamiliar tightness in
his throat choked him. Colleen tilted her head as she walked closer,
concern clouding her face as she studied him. Embarrassed, he ducked
his head and turned around, reaching for his mug of ale. He gulped the
last of the alcohol and slammed the glass down on the counter, signaling
the bartender for another.
demanded he ask her here and now about Sam, confront her with the
information Vicki threw at him. But his mind knew better. Tonight was
about Rick and Vivian, a time to celebrate their love and happiness.
What was it Rick had told him earlier? He searched his memory, but the
answer only frustrated him more. Vivian had told Rick that Colleen had
been through some heartache and Daniel just needed to give her time.
There was that miserable word again: time. How much time did he
have? How long would it take? A few days? A few hours?
questions tore at his mind, yet he knew she needed to be the one to tell
him what Sam meant, or still means, to her. Daniel believed in their
love and knew he’d just have to bite his tongue and be patient with
Colleen. It was just damned hard when his heart was breaking in two.
Hold on to the love shinning in her eyes, damn it! Remember the way
she smiles at you, the way she presses her body against yours. He
closed his eyes and prayed.
would say you’re judged by the company you keep, Captain,” Ruth replied
and faced the three nurses. Colleen’s eyes were guarded, her smile
brittle and tight. “Isn’t a man innocent until proven guilty?” he
Ruth replied with a tilt of her head. “Just remember, flyboy, that
you’ll be the one that feels the pain if Colleen is hurt.” With that
said, Ruth and Melanie left Colleen alone with him.
Daniel.” She looked down at her folded hands and then back up at him.
“There’s just some bad blood with Vicki and I.”
sorry. She just sat down and... Hell, I don’t know. I was raised a
gentleman.” He felt like a stammering idiot trying to explain something
he knew was innocent, but appeared otherwise to Colleen.
reached up and touched her fingertip to his mouth. “Shush, flyboy. I
understand,” she whispered.
that wonderful smile of hers and Daniel knew she did understand.
He quickly kissed the tip of her finger, flicking his tongue across the
sensitive pad. The sharp gasp Colleen let out reminded him of the fire
she held underneath the surface. Her eyes widened as she stared at
him. There was no holding back, he vowed. Daniel let all the love and
desire he felt for her show in his eyes, on his face. It was there for
her to see. The decision was now hers to make as to what to do with all
earlier in the church, I –“
the same technique to silence her as she had with him. “Later, angel.”
softness of her lips nearly drove him mad. When her warm breath
caressed his fingertip, he thought he’d lose control. When she used the
same torture method on him and hesitantly brushed the tip of her tongue
across his finger, he knew he’d lose control. Fire erupted in
his loins and he felt himself respond with a fierceness he never knew he
moved his hand to cup her face in his palm and lowered his mouth to
hers. Her breath mingled with his, warm and inviting. “Do you have any
idea what you do to me?” he whispered.
response she stirred to life in him was total possession. She was his,
and he was hers. He devoured her mouth, loving the feel of her, yet not
satisfied with just a simple kiss; he wanted all of her. The softness
of her skin, the silkiness of her hair, the heat of her body seared his
heart and soul. With one simple kiss, she marked him for all eternity.
whistles and cheers pierced the haze of Daniel’s mind. Slowly, he drew
back from Colleen, his breathing heavy. He rested his forehead against
hers and chuckled. The kiss affected her as well if her trembling hands
were any indication. Daniel placed a quick kiss on her temple and
reached for his mug of ale.
he yelled and lifted his glass high in the air. The pub echoed the
toast and drank hardily.
second that,” Colleen softly replied as she stared up at him, love
shinning in her eyes.
heart tightened and his breath hitched as he struggled to breathe.
The woman in his arms loved him! He knew that now with a certainty
only his soul could recognize. She was his angel, his port in the storm
of uncertainty. If he were to die tomorrow, he’d die a happy man
knowing she loved him. But he wasn’t going to die. Not tomorrow, not
the day after. With the same clarity that he knew Colleen loved him, he
knew he would survive this war.
Colleen tighter to his body and smiled down at her. She smiled back and
leaned into him as the wedding celebration continued. Daniel was
content to stay in one spot and absorb the proceedings around them,
always somehow touching Colleen in some small way. Someone staggered to
the beat up piano in the corner and soon everyone was singing and
dancing. The Brits sang “White Cliffs of Dover” and “Danny Boy” for the
few Irish. Colleen swayed with the music, wrapped in his arms. Every
now and again, she would look up at him and smile, and Daniel thought
his heart would burst with love just staring at her.
Scotsman in the pub shared his rendition of “Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of
Loch Lommond” and “Oh Where, Tell Me Where Has My Highland Laddie
Gone.” Daniel felt Colleen twist around and look across the pub.
“Lookin’ for someone?”
and smiled. “I want Ruth to sing Veronica Russell’s ‘It’s Been a Long,
Long Time.’ She owes me one.”
is – with Dr. Bailey and Mel.”
Colleen called out.
She eyed Colleen with suspicion. Daniel knew Colleen hardly ever called
her “Ruthie” instead of “Ruth”.
a long, long time, Ruthie.”
Ruth, sing it for me,” Vivian added from the next table. “As a wedding
blackmail and you know it.” Ruth shook her head and narrowed her eyes
at Colleen. “But anything for you and Viv.”
from the table and walked over to the piano. After a few minutes,
Ruth’s clear alto surrounded the patrons in the pub. Everyone stopped
talking and listened to the words and music. Colleen leaned against
Daniel’s chest. He knew this was where he wanted her to be forever,
what he wanted for the rest of his life. His arms tightened around her
and pulled her closer.
finished singing amid thunderous applause and whistles. “Thanks,
Ruthie,” Colleen told her. She nodded at Colleen and smiled a sad sort
of smile, just a little tilt of the corners. Daniel swore he saw tears
glitter in Ruth’s eyes before she turned away.
else stood at the piano and sang, “I’ll be Seeing You.” Colleen turned
and looked at Daniel, searching his face for what he didn’t know, but
she must have found it. She nodded once then leaned up and kissed him.
“Can you get a pass soon?”
kissed her back. “Yes. The Colonel’s told us to take what leave we can
while we still can. The invasion will be soon, I’m sure. I’ve got
three days coming.”
She looked down at her hands. “Can we go somewhere, just the two of us
before we both get pulled away? Where no one will be around but you and
touched his fingers to the underside of her chin and lifted her face.
“I wanted to talk to you about that. I’ve got access to a little
gamekeeper’s cottage close by.” Daniel searched her gaze, wanting to
make certain he understood what she had told him. “There’s no hotel, no
servants, just a one bedroom cottage.”
and wrapped her arms around his neck. “That’s perfect, Daniel.” On her
tiptoes, she placed a hesitant kiss against his lips. “How soon can you
arrange a pass, flyboy?”
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