Combat! Fan Fiction by Mary Wright
An Enigma
An Easy Capture
A Giant of a Man
The Last Straw
No Greater Love
Murphy's Law
Musical Chairs
Sergeant to Sergeant
A Strange Patrol
The Bridge
The Worst and the Best
An All Inclusive Tour
Purple Hearts - Combat! Fan Fiction



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May 15

To my dearest niece,

          Melinda, the fact that you are my only great-niece makes you no less special to me and your Uncle, may he rest in peace.  Your cousin John recently mentioned to me that you were wondering how your grandparents met.  I'm sorry, my dear, I had not realized that you were never told that wonderful story.  Since you were so young when you lost your parents, I imagine that there are a great many family stories that you were never told.            I shall tell you how your grandparents met, as well as how John's grandparents met, since the two stories are inseparable.   As you know, your name is a derivative of your grandmother's name.  Our mother loved the name Melissa, but dear Mel always preferred the shortened form.  Mother named all of her children with 'M', Melissa, Mary, Martha, and Martin.  Oh, there I go again, off the subject , as usual.  Sorry, dear, I will try to concentrate.  When you reach  74, your mind does tend to wander a bit. 

          When your grandparents met, I was but 17 and thought it terribly romantic.  Your  Grandmother was 22 and your great-aunt Mary was a year younger.  The  war started in Europe in the late thirties, I believe, but America didn't enter until 1941. Mel wanted to do something, so she joined the Army in 1943.  Our poor mother was scandalized, as you can imagine.  A proper young lady simply did not join the military.  And when Mel talked Mary into joining as well?  Melinda, you could have heard our mother screeching clear across town!  Mary's twin, Martin, also joined.  That was acceptable, of course, since he was a man.  As you know, Martin died in the Ardennes, but that is another story for another day.  I'm sorry, dear, I do tend to ramble.

          Mel was sent to London as an ambulance driver.  She was also a truck driver, though we were careful never to mention that to Mother.  Mary was also sent to London where she worked as a clerk-typist with the Intelligence Office.  Being only twenty months apart in age, they were very close and shared a place there in London.  There were a couple other girls with them as well, I believe, but they have nothing to do with the story.  You know how I love romantic novels, so I shall tell this as though it were a fine romance story, which of course, it is.  At least as much as I am able.

          Mel and Mary had only been in London a few months when Mel met this young man.  He was several years older than she and had been over in France, serving as an MP.  Apparently they had asked for volunteers to re-train as medics, and when he volunteered, they sent him to London to be trained.  Your grandma had just driven an ambulance in with wounded sent back from the front.  Your grandpa met the ambulance to take the wounded into the hospital:

          Mel swung out of the ambulance, brushing her light brown hair out of her eyes. She tried to keep it pinned up, but it was always coming down, probably because she always drove with the windows open.  Coming around the back of the ambulance to open the doors, she plowed right into a tall private who was also reaching to open the doors.

          "I'm sorry, ma'am."  He said in a soft southern drawl, "This area is restricted."

          "So what are you doing here?"  Mel demanded.

          "I work here."

          "So do I, mister.  You think the ambulance drove itself here?"

          "You trying to tell me that you're the ambulance driver?"

          "You got it in one try."  She grinned.  "You gonna get them out of there or what?"

          Frowning down at her, he jerked open the doors and took hold of the end of the closest stretcher.  Mel took the other end.

          "Wait a minute.  What do you think you're doing?"  He stared at her.

          "I'm giving Churchill tambourine lessons.  What do you think I'm doing?  I'm helping to carry the wounded into the hospital."

          "You can't do that!"

          "And just why not?"

          "Because...because you're a woman, that's why."

          "Oh, for pity's sake, fella.  I drive an ambulance, I also drive a truck. I change tires, I work on engines, I bandage wounds, and I hold hands when necessary.  I also cook, sew, and dance.  Are we gonna stand here arguing all day, or get these poor boys inside?"

          Not giving the dumfounded private a chance to answer, Mel swung her end of the litter out of the ambulance.  He had to do the same or risk dumping the wounded man onto the ground.  Together, they carried the four stretchers inside, then Mel headed back for the ambulance to make another trip.  The tall private followed her outside, lightly grasping her arm.

          "What's your name?"  He asked.

          "Mel.  What's yours?"


          "Your name is Mel, too?"  She stared at him.

          "No, it's John."  He looked bewildered.  "What's Mel short for?"

          "Melissa.  May I have my arm back, please?"


          Mel shook her head, climbed back into the ambulance and drove away, leaving him standing there staring after her. After that, he often met her ambulance and they would spend several minutes talking.  Finally, the day came when he wanted to do more than chat for a few minutes.

          "Hey, Mel!"  He called as she was returning to the ambulance.

          "Hey what?"  She called back.

          Turning, she waited for him to catch up with her.  He stopped and just looked at her without saying anything.

          "Cat got your tongue, mister?"  Mel grinned at him.

          "Did you know you have the cutest little dimple?"

          "Have you been into the drug cabinet or something?"  She stared at him.

          "No, of course not."  He replied indignantly.

          "Did you want something?"  She prompted.

          "What?  Oh, yeah.  I wanted to ask you something."

          "Other than the dimple?"

          "Mel, will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?"

          "Sure.   Haven't got anything else to do."  She teased with a grin.

          "Well, neither do I.  That's why I asked."  He chuckled.

          "Touche.  What time?"


          "Fine with me."

          "Where do I pick you up at?"

          "107 Rue de Pauline."

          "Okay.  Gotta run."

          He trotted back into the hospital, leaving her staring after him this time.

          "Hey, Mary.  How was your day?"  Mel asked as she entered the small apartment they shared.

          "The usual.  How about you?"

          "I have a date tomorrow."  She said casually.

          "You do?  With who?  Where are you going?"  Mary's wavy brown hair bounced as she jumped to her feet with excitement.

          "I do."  Mel laughed.  "With John.  I don't know where we're going."

          "What are you going to wear?"

          "I don't know.  Wanna go shopping?"

          "Sure.  Let me find my shoes."

          "If you'd leave them on your feet, you wouldn't have that problem."

          "Yeah, yeah.  You want to talk about your hairbrush?"  Mary grinned.

          "Umm, no." She was always losing the darn thing.  "There's one shoe under that chair."

          "Thanks.  Oh, there's the other one, under the table."

          "What did you do?  Kick them off?"

          "As a matter of fact, yes.  Ok, let's go."

          The two girls headed out, arm in arm.

          "I'll get it."  Mary called to Mel, who was still dressing.

          Laying her book aside, Mary opened the door, finding a handsome young Army private, dressed in his Class A uniform.  His smile faded and his eyes, an intriguing shade of blue-gray, looked faintly puzzled.

          "Does Mel live here?  I thought I got the right address."

          "You must be John?"

          "I am."

          "Come on in, John.  I'm Mary, Mel's sister.  She's almost ready."

          John stepped inside, glancing around with interest.  He started to say something, but just then, Mel walked into the room.   She wore a bright blue dress with a full skirt, and her shoulder length hair was caught up on top of her head.  Having only seen her in uniform, John stared at her in amazement.

          "You're beautiful!"  He burst out.

          "Thank you."  Mel looked him up and down.  "You're not so bad yourself, Mr. Roberts."

          "Thank you, ma'am."  He gave her a mock bow.  "Are you ready to leave?"

          "Yes.  See you later, Mare."  She waved on her way out the door.

          "Hey, Mel."  John called.  "Wait a minute."

          "Hurry.  A minute is all I have right now."  She stopped with one foot in the ambulance, looking back over her shoulder.

          "Tomorrow is Saturday."

          "Thanks for the news flash, fella."  She laughed.

          "I'm free in the afternoon.  Are you?"

          "I could be."

          "Want to go on a picnic?"

          Mel hesitated.   She did, but she was afraid she was getting to like this man from Arkansas a little too much.  And she had promised Mary that they would do something together, as this was the first time they'd had the same day off in weeks.

          "On one condition."  Mel bit her lip, wondering what his reaction to her request would be.

          "And what's that?"

          "You find a date for my sister, and all four of us go."

          "Done."  He said promptly.

          "Just like that?  Do you have someone in mind?"

          "Yup."  He lied.

          "Alright, then."  She smiled at him.  He smiled back, thinking he would do anything to keep her smiling at him.

          "We'll pick you up at 1?"

          "Alright.  I'll see you then."  She hopped in and drove off in a cloud of dust.

          "Me and my big mouth."  John muttered, turning to go back inside.

          Lost in thought, he failed to see the man in front of him until he literally ran into him.

          "Sorry."  John looked up.  "Hey, don't I know you?"

          "Don't think so."  The tall private stared at him in surprise.

          "Yeah. I got it!"  John felt a faint stirring of hope.  "You're Private Lamar, aren't you?  I met you at a court-martial in France.  Your buddy, ummm...Kirby, was up on charges, wasn't he?"

          "The name is LeMay.   Yeah, I was at a court-martial, but I don't remember you."

          "I was an MP then.  Came back here to retrain as a medic."

          LeMay continued staring at him, his brow furrowed in thought.

          "I think I remember.  Are you the one that had to chase the kids away?"

          "Yeah, that's me.  Listen, I know it's none of my business, but I've got a reason for asking.  Why are you here?"

          "On furlough."  LeMay answered after a moment's hesitation.

          "I've got a problem, and I was hoping you'd help me."

          "Help you what?"

          "Let's grab a cup of coffee while I explain."


          With a bemused expression, LeMay followed John back into the hospital.

          "You did what!"  Mary practically screamed, staring at her sister in shock.

          "Calm down, Sis, calm down."  Mel pleaded.

          "You've got some explaining to do, my dear sister.  So explain."

          Nervously, Mel perched on the arm of  the chair, watching Mary pace the room angrily.

          "I asked John to find a date for you for tomorrow."

          "You already said that.  Why?"

          "John asked me to go on a picnic with him."

          "So?"  Mary snapped.

          "Will you let me finish?"  Mel sighed in exasperation.

          "So finish."  Mary flung herself down on the sofa, arms folded, and glared at her.

          "I think I'm falling in love with him, Mare, and it scares me.  I'm not sure I want to be alone with him.  I thought if you and a date were along, it would be more fun than serious.  Like a chaperone, you know?  And I promised you we would do something together tomorrow.  Well, this IS something."

          "It didn't occur to you that maybe I could find my own date?  John must think I'm a real loser if he has to find a date for me."  She sputtered.

          "Oh, Mare."  Mel stared at her in dismay.  "I'm sorry.  I was so busy running away, that I didn't think about anything else.  I'll tell him I can't go, after all.  You and I will have our afternoon."

          "You are a silly goose, aren't you?"  Mary laughed.

          "You mean you'll go?"  Mel's jaw dropped.

          "Yes.  I'll go chaperone you and your young man.  But next time, I will get my own date, understand?"

          "Yes.  Thank you!  Thank you!"  Mel jumped onto the sofa and flung her arms around her sister in relief.  "You're the greatest!"

          "You just remember you said that, big sister."  Mary tried to sound severe, but spoiled it by laughing.

          "You want to wait here while I get the girls?" John looked over at LeMay.

          "No.  I'll go with you."

          The two soldiers headed up the narrow stairs, their shoulders bumping into the walls and each other.  John got there a step ahead of LeMay and knocked on the door, which Mel opened.  She was wearing a pastel blue skirt with a white blouse, her hair held back with a tie of the same color as the skirt.

          "Hi, John.  Come on in."  She stepped back, obviously distracted.  "Did you find it yet?"  She called toward the back of the apartment.

          "Got it!"  Mary called back, joining them a few seconds later.

          She stopped dead in her tracks, staring at John's companion.  He was a little taller than John, had dark hair and the most intense hazel eyes she'd ever seen.  He, in turn, was staring at her.  She wore a light green dress with a floaty kind of skirt, and her long hair was caught back with a dark green ribbon.  John and Mel looked at each other and grinned. 

          "Mary, Mel, this is Paul LeMay.  He's here on furlough from France.  He just got in yesterday."

          "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. LeMay."  Mel finally said when Mary continued staring at him.

          "Uh,  Caje.  Please call me Caje."  He tore his eyes away from Mary to smile at Mel.  "The pleasure is all mine."

          "Ready?"  John asked, taking Mel's arm possessively.

          "Yes, we're ready."  Mary replied.

          Caje extended his arm and she slipped her hand inside his elbow as they followed John and Mel down the stairs.  Once outside, both girls stopped and stared.  Waiting for them was an elegant black two-seater carriage, with the top folded back.  A pair of matched Bays waited patiently.

          "A carriage!"  The girls exclaimed in unison.

          "I couldn't find a car."  John apologized.

          "A carriage!"  Mel repeated.  "What a wonderful idea!"

          Sliding a large picnic basket to one side, John helped Mel into the front of the carriage while Caje assisted Mary into the back seat.  While the other two chatted quietly in the back, Mel watched John expertly maneuver the carriage through the streets.  When traffic thinned a little and he relaxed, she smiled up at him.

          "Did the Army teach you to drive horses?"

          "No, ma'am.  I learned that back home."  A thought struck him and he grinned at her.  "Would you like to learn?"

          "Oh, yes!  Will you teach me?"

          "Sure.  Scoot over here close to me so you can hold the reins properly."

          Careful not to let her see his satisfied smile, John slipped an arm around her under the guise of guiding her hands.  Careful not to let him see her satisfied smile, Mel inched a little closer.  She thought she heard a snort of laughter from her sister, but decided to ignore it, concentrating on what John was telling her.

          They soon left the bustle of London behind, the Bays trotting along a quiet river overhung by willows, whose long tendrils dripped into the water. Several ducks floated by, quacking to each other, ignoring the passing carriage.  Turning away from the river, John took them through a cluster of trees and back out again into an open meadow on a slight hill.  Jumping down, he secured the horses and lifted Mel down to stand beside him, the top of her head barely reaching his ears.  Behind them, Caje was helping Mary down.  Leaving the two girls standing together, the men spread a soft blanket on the grass and retrieved the picnic basket and a bottle of wine.  Extending a hand to their respective ladies, the soldiers escorted them to the blanket and seated them.

          The girls watched in amazement as John laid out a sumptuous feast of fried chicken, potato salad, hard-boiled eggs, fresh bread, and wonder of wonders, a chocolate cake.  In the meantime, Caje had opened the wine and poured it into lovely stemmed glasses, which he handed to each of them. 

          "To picnics."  Caje said, raising his glass with a smile.

          "To picnics."  They repeated, returning his smile.

          After a lazy meal punctuated with teasing and laughter, the two couples split up, John and Mel moving upstream while the others went downstream.  They hadn't gone very far when Mary realized how tired her companion was, and suggested they return to the blanket, using the excuse of not having the right shoes for walking in the slick grass.  When they got back, Mary quickly cleared the remains of lunch away and they sat down on the blanket side by side. 

          "Look up there, Caje.  That cloud looks like a turtle."  She pointed.

          "Sure does."

          "I love to look at clouds, don't you?"  She lay back, Caje joining her, his hands clasped under his head.

          "I used to do that - a lifetime ago."  He said dreamily.

          They talked quietly for a few minutes, then Caje fell asleep.  Realizing that this was probably the first time in a long time that he felt safe enough to do that, Mary rolled onto her side and propped her head on her hand, watching him.  He slept for a long time, then stirred restlessly and she knew he was dreaming about the war he'd so recently left.  When he startled himself awake, he found her still lying beside him on her back, watching the clouds, talking to him.

          "Now that one looks like my grade-school teacher.  Or a witch."  She giggled.

          "Your teacher looked like a witch?"  He asked, surreptitiously wiping the sweat from his face.

          "Actually, I think she was a witch.  I swear I saw her ride in on a broom one morning."  Mary rolled over and grinned at him.

          "I think I had the same teacher.  Or maybe her sister."  He grinned back.

          A cool breeze swept over them and the sun dimmed a little as a cloud passed over, making them both look up.

          "Looks like it's going to rain again."  Mary sighed.

          "Hey, you two!"  John called as he and Mel walked out of the trees hand in hand. "We'd better head back to town."

          "We were thinking the same thing."  Caje agreed, rising to set the basket in the carriage. 

          The sun disappeared behind the clouds completely just as John and Mel reached them.  Mel shivered, her light blouse not much protection against the breeze.  John took off his uniform jacket and settled it over her shoulders.  He tossed the blanket onto the floor of the carriage, then caught her around the waist and lifted her up to the seat.  Caje settled Mary onto the seat and climbed in beside her, tucking her against his side, under his protective arm.  Untying the horses, John jumped to the seat and set a brisk pace for town.  They barely beat the rain, the girls getting inside the building just as it started. 

          Melinda, that is how it all started.  Wasn't the carriage a wonderfully romantic touch, even though it was done out of necessity?  My dear, my poor old fingers are starting to cramp with all this writing, so I'm going to put this aside and finish it later.

May 17

          I got my flowers planted just in time, Melinda, dear.  It's raining now, so I'll try to finish this letter.  How funny, it was raining in London when I ended, wasn't it?  I guess it rains all over the world.  I remember one rain storm, oops, off on another thought.  Let's go back to England, shall we?

          "So, Mare, what do you think of Mr. Paul LeMay?"  Mel asked as she changed into a comfortable robe.

          "He's alright, I suppose."  Mary replied, brushing out her hair.

          "Alright?  That's why you're grinning like a Cheshire Cat, I suppose?"

          "I am not!"  She flared, feeling herself blush.

          "What did you talk about while we were gone?"  Mel pressed.

          "Nosey.  We didn't talk."  Mary said primly.

          "What did you do?"  Mel gaped at her.

          "He fell asleep, if you must know."

          "Oh, dear.  I'm sorry, hon."

          "I didn't mind.  He needed the rest.  The poor man started to dream about the war and woke himself up.  I don't want to know what he was dreaming.  He was drenched in sweat when he woke up."

          "Those boys have been through a lot over there."  Mel agreed soberly.

          "So what did you two talk about?"  Mary asked brightly.

          "We talked about..um, about..."

          "Melissa!  Just what DID you two do in those woods?"  Mary grinned at her.

          "Well, certainly not what you're thinking!"

          "Really?  I'm thinking that he tried to kiss you and you let him."

          "Darn."  Mel said ruefully.  "You know me much too well."

          "I am your sister, you know."  Mary laughed.  "Am I going to be a bridesmaid, too?"

          "You just might, sister dear."  Mel smiled happily.


          "I don't think so.  Maybe I'm just wishing."  She sighed.

          "Not the way he looks at you.  I think he's well on his way to being in love with you, big sister."

          Making a face, Mel threw a pillow at her.


          "Hey, Roberts."  Caje looked up from the horse he was brushing.


          "Keep me in mind if you need another double date."

          "You like her, huh?"

          "Yeah.  I like her.  Mel's a looker too."

          "You just keep your eyes off of Mel, fella.  She's spoken for."

          Laughing, Caje raised both hands as though warding off a blow.

          "Are you serious?"  John paused to look at him.

          "Yeah, why?"

          "There's a USO club here, and next Saturday..."

          "Sorry, pal."  Caje interrupted.  "Next Saturday, I'll be back on the line."

          "Oh."  John looked abashed.  "I'm sorry, I forgot."

          "Hey, don't worry about it."  Caje grinned.  "That's the way war is."

          "Yeah, I guess it is."

          They finished caring for the horses in silence, then went their separate ways.

          "Hey, Mel!"  John called as Mel was returning to the ambulance.

          "Hey what?"  She called back.

          Turning, she waited for him to catch up with her.  He stopped and grinned at her.

          "We've got to stop meeting like this."  He teased.

          "Why?  Are you afraid people will talk?"  She smiled slowly.

          "Yeah."  He reached out and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her eyes.  "Are you and Mary busy tonight?"

          "Not that I know of.  Why?"

          "Caje and I would like to take you two out to dinner."

          Mel tilted her head to one side, pretending to think about it.

          "Well"  She drawled, imitating his speech.  "I think we can work something out."

          "Seven okay with you?"

          "Seven would be just fine."

          "Great."  He gave her a quick kiss, then hurried back to his patients.

          It took Mel two tries to get the keys in the ignition, and she shook her head at her silliness.

          "Mary?"  Mel called as she stepped through the doorway of the apartment.

          "Back here." 

          "I'm afraid I've done it again."

          "Done what?"  Mary stuck her head out of the bedroom.

          "Made a date for you."




          "Tonight.  At seven."

          "Okay."  Mary tried to look resigned.  "If I have to play chaperone again, I guess I can force myself."   Her happy smile totally ruined the effect.

          Mary answered the knock on the door to find both men standing there grinning happily.  For a change, both girls were ready at the same time, and the men escorted them down the stairs.

          "No carriage?"  Mel sounded deeply disappointed.

          "No, I..."  John caught the twinkle in her eye and shook his head.  "No, I decided you were spoiled enough.  Tonight, you have to walk."

          "What a pair."  Caje chuckled, tucking Mary's hand through his arm.

          "Yes, but a pair of what?" 

          "Oh, hush, you two."  Mel scolded, laughing.

          Putting an arm around her waist, John led the way down the street, the other couple a few feet behind.  He took them to a nearby restaurant, hoping that he could cover the check.  The Army didn't pay privates much.  They enjoyed a leisurely dinner, and lingered over coffee, listening to scratchy records played in the adjoining lounge.

          The two couples slowly strolled back down the street, the girls tucked against the soldier's sides, their steps getting slower and slower as they approached the apartment.  At the building doorway, John stopped and gently tugged Mel around in front of him, gazing down into her lovely brown eyes.

          "I think I'm falling in love."  He said softly.

          "I think I am, too."  She replied equally softly.

          He pulled her close with one arm, the other cupping her face, and kissed her gently.  Sliding her arms around his neck, she returned the kiss.

          On the other side of the doorway, Caje had also pulled Mary around in front of him, both of his hands framing her face.

          "I have to go back soon, Mary."

          "I know."  She tried to keep her voice from trembling.

          "May I write to you?"

          "Yes, please do."

          "May I come back to see you?"

          "As often as you like, Caje."

          He crushed her to his chest, his face buried in her hair that she wore loose tonight, then tipped her head back and kissed her.

          "I think you'd better go in now."  He murmured.

          "Yes, I think I'd better."  She whispered.

          Stretching up on her toes, she kissed him again, then turned and hurried inside, Mel following her.  They both plopped on the couch and stared at each other.

          "I'm in love."  They said simultaneously.

          "Hey, Mel!"  John called.

          "Hey what?"  She called back.

          "I haven't seen you all day.  You've been busy."

          "Yeah, I got drafted to drive a truck most of the day."

          "Tonight is Caje's last night.  He wants to know if you and Mary will go out with us tonight."

          "Why doesn't he do the asking?"

          "For one thing, he can't talk to Mary while she's working."

          "Oh.  That's right."  Mel nodded.  "Of course we will."

          "Good.  We'll see you in"  He paused to glance at his watch.  "about two hours?"


          Mel was sitting on the sofa, toying with a pillow when Mary came in after work.

          "Mel?  What's wrong?"  Mary asked worriedly.

          "Nothing."  She tossed the pillow aside.  "Mare, this is Caje's last night before he goes back.  He and John will be here in about an hour and a half to take us out."

          Mary sat down heavily and stared at her older sister, her face stricken.

          "Mel, I don't know if I can do it."  She whispered.


          "I'm afraid I'll start bawling like a baby."

          Mel reached out and took her sister's trembling hands, clasping them tightly.

          "Sure you can, honey.  Caje needs you to be strong and positive right now.  You have to believe in the two of you.  He'll be back again.  Later, after he leaves, you can cry all you want to.  But tonight, you have to be there for him.  You can do it, love."

          "But, Melissa..."  She wailed.

          Dropping her hands, Melissa wrapped her arms around her younger sister as she had so many times over the years and held her tightly.

          "It will be alright, sweetie.  Really it will.  You go get yourself prettied up and it will be just fine."

          Her heart breaking for her sister, Mel watched as Mary stumbled from the room, wiping away the tears.

          There was a knock on the door promptly at seven and Mary opened the door to find Caje standing there, John slightly behind him.  Caje's heart shone out of those beautiful hazel eyes as he reached out and took her in his arms.  Completely forgetting about the other two, he led her down the stairs.  John watched them go, then smiled at Mel as he shrugged.

          "I guess we'd better follow them."

          He took her downstairs to where the carriage once again waited for them.  This time, they'd brought blankets to ward off the chilly night air.  For once it was a clear, cloudless night, not even a hint of rain.  Mary was already cuddled against Caje's side as John helped Mel into the front.  Having no desire to drive tonight, Mel tucked herself against him as he clucked to the horses.

          They left the town behind once more and headed out into the country.   There was a sliver of a moon hanging in the eastern sky and a vast number of stars twinkling above them as the horses ambled down the road, the clip-clop of their hooves and the jangle of the traces the only sounds.

          Caje held Mary close, drinking in the scent of her freshly-washed hair, one hand caressing her soft cheek as her head lay against his shoulder.  His hand paused when he felt the wetness on her cheek, then continued the gentle stroking.  He knew that John and Mel could hear every word he was about to speak, but it didn't bother him.  He knew how John felt about Mel as well.

          "Mary,  I want to ask you something."  He murmured softly.

          "Yes?"  Her voice was thick with tears.

          "When this war is over, if I make it through, will you marry me?"

          Unable to stop the tears that were flowing freely now, she tilted her head back and reached up to place one hand on his cheek.

          "You will make it through this war, Paul LeMay.  And when you do, you come to me and I will gladly be your wife."  She smiled through her tears.

          "That will be the second happiest day of my life, my love."

          "The second?"

          "The happiest day of my life is right now.  When you said yes."  He explained.

          John's arm tightened around Mel as the starlight glistened off the silent tears running down her face now, but he wisely said nothing.

          "Hey, Mel!"  John called.

          "Hey what?"  She called back.

          "I need to talk to you."

          "So talk."

          John put his hands on her shoulders and stood gazing down, his eyes searching every inch of her face.  Uneasy, Mel reached up to touch his face.

          "John, what is it?"  She whispered.

          Taking her hand, he led her over behind a large truck sitting off to the side.

          "John!  Talk to me.  What's wrong?"  Mel demanded.

          "Mel.  Melissa.  My orders have come down.  I go to France next week.  To serve as a front line medic."

          "Oh, no!  I thought you were going to stay here."

          "I had hoped so, too.  Melissa, darling, I want to ask you something, but I want you to wait till I'm finished before you say anything."


          "I want to marry you, and spend the rest of my life with you.  I want to have little brown-eyed boys and girls with you.  I want to spend the rest of our lives loving each other and laughing with each other."

          Mel opened her mouth, but he raised a warning finger and she shut it again.

          "I'm going to the front lines, and I may not come back.  If I don't, I want you to find someone else and have that family.  If I do make it, the minute the war is over, I'll find you and make you my wife till death do us part.  I'll not marry you now because you are much too young to be a widow.  Mel, darling, light of my life, will you marry me when the war is over?"

          "You will make it through this war, John Roberts.  And when you do, you come to me and I will gladly be your wife."  She reached her arms up around his neck, pulled his head down and kissed him thoroughly.  "We will spend the rest of our lives together, loving and laughing and raising brown-eyed boys and girls."  Drawing back, she looked at him warily.  "Um, just how many boys and girls did you have in mind?"

          "Twelve."  He answered promptly.  "Six of each."

          "Twelve!"  She shrieked.

          "Alright."  John grinned.  "If you feel that way about it, how about just two?"

          "That's better."  She smiled, nestling her head against his shoulder.

          Mary, coming home later than usual, found Mel sobbing on the sofa, clutching a pillow to her chest.  Dropping her purse, Mary flew across the room to embrace her.

          "Melissa!  What is it?  What's happened?"  She entreated.

          "It's John."  Mel managed between sobs.

          "What happened?  Is he alright?"  Mary demanded anxiously.

          "He...He got his orders."  She sobbed harder.  "He goes to France next week."

          "Oh, Melissa, honey."  Mary felt her own tears, always close, start to flow.  "I had so hoped he would stay here.  He'll be alright.  John needs you to be strong and positive right now.  You have to believe in the two of you.  He'll be back again.  Later, after he leaves, you can cry all you want to.  But now, you have to be there for him.  You can do it, love."

          To her own surprise, Mel giggled as she realized Mary was giving her the same speech she herself had given a week before.  She looked at her younger sister and had to smile.

          "That's what I said, isn't it?"

          "Yes, it is."

          "It's a lot easier to tell someone else, you know."

          "A lot of things are like that."  Mary agreed.


          "Yes, Mel?"

          "Will you be my maid of honor?"

          "He asked you to marry him?"  Mary whooped with joy.

          "Yes.  He and Caje are a lot alike.  John said we have to wait till the war is over, too."

          And that, my dear Melinda, is how your grandparents met and fell in love.  About a month after John went to France, your grandma got a letter from him.  He had been assigned to the same outfit as Caje.  Throughout the rest of the war, whenever they could, John and Caje came back to London to visit your aunts.  After the war was over in '45, if I remember the year right,  both men returned to London and there was a double wedding.  Several of the men they served with were there.   There was a lieutenant, and a sergeant for sure.  I'm sorry, dear, it's been so long, I can't remember their names or how many others were there.  Your cousin John may still have the scrapbook that your Aunt Mary kept.

          Oh, yes, you may be wondering why nobody ever called your grandfather 'John'.  If I remember correctly, one of the men in their squad, Kirby, I think his name was, started calling your grandfather 'Doc'.   And since he went to medical school after the war and became a doctor, the nickname stuck.

With all my love,

Great Aunt Martha


Story Copyright Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.