understand why I find the 1940’s and the World War II era so romantic, you’d
have to hear a little family story.
It begins sad, as so many stories do. My grandmother was widowed in 1943 at the age of
twenty-eight with four children, two boys, two girls. Her cousin and some of her friends encouraged her to begin
dating within a reasonable time frame.
Since she already wrote to her many cousins serving in the war, one of
her friends suggested she write to one more, the friend’s uncle, a man just a
few years older than they were. So
my grandmother did and a relationship grew as the letters written on the
brittle Air Mail paper of the time flew back and forth between St. Joseph,
Missouri and the Philippines.
the time the war ended, she and her soldier wanted to meet in person but just
because the war was over didn’t mean everyone got to come home
immediately. They continued to
write and when he was discharged, the man I grew up knowing as Grandpa came
back to my hometown of St. Joseph.
He arrived late at night and when he walked to the address where he’d
sent all those letters, everyone was in bed. So he decided to just wait until morning. Despite the autumn chill in the air, he
rolled up in his Army overcoat and slept on the front porch. When my grandmother came out to get the
milk – delivered by the faithful milkman – she discovered the soldier she’d
been writing to in person. They
were married a few months later.
isn’t it? I always thought so.
Their story isn’t the story told in my new historical romance from Rebel
Ink Press, In The Shadow of War, but
the love story between Bette Sullivan and Private Ben Levy is just as poignant,
as sweet. Here’s the details, the
blurb and a little taste:
ISBN # RIP0004104
great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school
project and her questions revive old memories….
town school teacher Bette Sullivan’s life was interrupted when the Japanese
December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny
Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder,
the local Army base.
attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love
and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the
couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can
weather anything, including the war.
missed you, doll,” he said afterward. “God, I missed you.”
she smiled at him. “I missed you too, Benny. Saturday seemed so long and I
didn’t know if you could come this morning. I worried you might not make it.”
too,” he said. “I almost missed the bus anyhow because the company sergeant
griped us out because the barracks weren’t neat enough to suit him. Yesterday turned out lousy, all day.”
she asked. “What happened?”
didn’t?” he said. “Jeez, they made us go on a long hike through the back
country, for hours in the heat. I
picked up every tick and chigger in the world, I think, got mosquito bit, and
worn out. Two of the guys fell out
with heat exhaustion and ended up at the post hospital. My feet and ankles itched me like
crazy. Even the darn Army boots didn’t help me from getting eaten by the
insects. I swear the buggers
crawled into my boots.”
honey, I’m sorry,” Bette said, using the endearment for the first time. “Do the
bites still itch?”
so bad,” he said. “Back in barracks, some of the guys said to soak my feet in
bleach water so we begged some from the laundry. It helped. Then
after dinner they called me over to the motor pool to fix a jeep and I got to
bed late just before final lights out.
I’m beat and that’s a fact.”
paused and faced him. “Would you rather go rest or something?”
sugar, I’m fine. I need some Joe
and I’m hungry, too. I just got a
couple of hours so let’s go eat and spend a little time together, okay?”
fine with me,” she said.
ate at a different café and she introduced him to biscuits and gravy, something
he vowed he’d never eaten before but said he liked. Afterward, with time passing too fast, he suggested they
walk down to Big Spring Park again but she had another idea.
look so tired,” Bette said. He did
with dark smudges beneath both eyes. “If you want we can go sit in the porch
swing at Aunt Virgie’s or in the front room.”
shook his head. “I’ll catch a nap later this afternoon, if I’m lucky. I’d like a few more kisses and I doubt
your parents would like us spooning out on the porch.”
forgot they’re there,” she replied. “So, okay, let’s go to the park.”
couple beat them to the grotto, so they wandered around the park until they
found a vacant bench in the shade.
A few kids played on the teeter-totter and swings, their happy babble
setting a bright mood. Benny put
his arm around her and Bette snuggled against him with a contented sigh. For a few minutes they sat, comfortable
with the pose and content with each other. She’d already come to associate his scent with security and
she inhaled it, saving it up for when she’d be alone. As they rested in easy silence she savored the harmony and
as they lingered Bette noticed their breath came in tandem, in and out with the
same rhythm as if they were one, not two.
as she opened her mouth to remark on it Benny took her face and turned it
toward him. With slow deliberation
he kissed her, unhurried with such sweetness she forgot to breathe for a few
seconds. His lips caressed her
mouth with a fine light touch, as soft as hair blown across her face with a
gentle breeze. Such tenderness
evoked the same within and yet triggered desire, too. Benny cherished her mouth with his, his lips sending shivers
through her body despite the hot day, little spirals of chill strong enough to
make goose pimples erupt on her flesh.
responded with her mouth, a hankering for something deeper and more intimate
rising in her with the force of a rising wind. She sensed how great it would be to lose her consciousness
by drowning in her senses, by molding her body into his. Bette, virgin as the mother of God,
ached now for the pleasures of the flesh.
Every old wives tale ever heard about sex being dirty or painful or
nasty evaporated faster than snow in March and for the first time in her life,
she decided sex could be wonderful.
kisses stirred Bette’s body even as they induced emotion, too sweet to be
sinful. Her body responded to his
mouth the way a good corn crop ripened beneath the sun’s warmth. As her limbs relaxed she leaned into
him, one hand holding tight to his arm so she wouldn’t lose balance to tumble
from the park bench onto the grass.
The kiss lasted forever, but not quite long enough when Benny paused so
they could both breathe again.
she said with wonder. “Benny, that’s nice.”
she says,” he responded with mock outrage. “Just nice? I call it splendid,
fantastic, superb, supreme…”