Genre: Romance Anthology (Sweet) Publisher: Roane Publishing Release Date: January 2016 Keywords: Romance, Anthology, Sweet, military, veteran, war, POW, bravery
Promises Kept by Terri Rochenski
Ever since they were kids, Joan dreamed of being Walt Herley’s wife. But, Joan's dream is short-lived when the Korean War draft has Walt trading his groom's suit for army fatigues. After a short celebration of their rushed nuptials, Walt is whisked away to fulfill his duty to his country, leaving Joan behind with a promise to return.
With her heart a world away, Joan struggles to keep her spirit afloat while praying for the war's expedient end. Fate, however, has a plan of its own, one that threatens Joan’s faith in Walt’s promise to return.
I sat beside my sweetheart on his parent’s Davenport, my hands holding tight to the gored skirt of my new, blue printed dress. The comforting warmth of Walt’s thigh pressed against mine did little to ease the anxiety twisting my stomach. “When do you leave?” I heard his father ask through the ringing in my ears.
“Ten days,” Walt replied without taking his blue-eyed gaze off me. Lines furrowed between his brows. “Say something, Joan. Please.”
A warm summer breeze from the open window caressed my face as I considered his news and the resulting thoughts clamoring in my mind. He’d been drafted. Beckoned by our government to travel overseas and protect Korean people who couldn’t even speak English. My kind, carefree souled fiancé would be forced to hold a gun. Shoot at people, possibly kill them.
A swell of anger rolled in. I straightened and forced myself to speak. “It’s not fair. It’s not right. You know as much about shooting a gun as I know about changing a car’s oil. Besides, we’re getting married in less than four weeks.”
“I know.” Walt lay a calloused hand atop mine. “But, this is beyond my power.”
I peered down at his grease-stained fingernails. A hardworking mechanic, Walt appreciated I didn’t mind the condition of the skin that would one day soon touch every inch of my body. On the contrary, I appreciated his dedication to work, his desire to provide for our future. “Y-you promised.” My voice broke, but I continued. “You can’t leave.”
Walt’s mother, Janice, sat across from us with her husband. Her escaped sob made me clench my eyes shut to keep my own tears from escaping.
“Please.” I grasped his hands and lifted them to my breast. “You don’t have to go—”
“He’s going,” Walt’s father said.
I wanted to scream my frustration, but when Mr. Herley used that tone, no one argued.
“Like his father and grandfather, he’ll answer the call and fulfill his duty.” I glanced down at Mr. Herley’s pinned pant leg where his lower left leg should have been. A shiver swept through me, raising the hairs on my arms. Would my love return harmed by bullets? Would he return at all?