by Blainer Reimer
Genre: Historical Romance
Love is a Wounded Soldier combines the old-fashioned romance of a Nicholas Sparks novel with all the gut-punching grit of Saving Private Ryan to bring you a story of heartbreak and hope.Excerpt:
Despite growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, and having to cope with the untimely death of his mother, Robert Mattox has retained his innocence and idealism. He woos and marries his first love, Ellen, and it appears his life is set for a happily-ever-after ending. But World War II is raging, and its vortex snatches him away from his young bride. He finds himself fighting in Europe, witnessing and participating in the unspeakable ugliness and brutality of war. His love for Ellen holds him back from utter despondency, and his will to fight and live draws strength from his desire to return home to her. When he finally does return home to Kentucky, he’s exhausted, jaded, and scarred—inside and out. His worst fear is how Ellen will respond to the changes in him, but when he gets home he finds that Ellen is different, too—much different. Can things between them ever be the same again? Or will their love be the war’s most tragic casualty?
It would be one thing if her father rejected me, but quite another to have the object of my desire outright refuse me.
“Well, go along,” he nodded toward the house.
I turned to go, trying to swallow a grapefruit of angst as I walked back toward the house with fear and trembling. At that moment I began to understand what a woman is.
A woman is a terrifying thing. A woman is a velvet hammer that softly pounds your will from around your heart, leaving it bare, vulnerable, defenseless. When a woman gives you her heart, she gives with it the feeling that you are the sole monarch of an infinitely precious domain. A woman is drink, a tonic to one, poison to another. A two-edged sword that can mince the strongest heart, or surgically repair the fainting one. A woman can inflate the value of your life to unfathomable worth, or make you wish you’d given up the habit of living long before you met her. A woman is a driving rain that drowns your spirit, or a refreshing sprinkler of sustenance to your soul. A woman is the sun; the power of life and death are in her hands.
A feeling of absolute helplessness pummeled my guts as I took off my coat and boots. My destiny was in her hands, and it seemed my mind, soul, and body rebelled at the thought of having so little say-so in how this was all going to end.
Mrs. Moore and Ellen had started with supper. I walked into the kitchen and stood in the middle of the floor, feeling awkward, conspicuous, and unsure.
“Hungry?” Mrs. Moore smiled at me as she transferred a steaming pot of cooked potatoes from the stove to the strainer.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied woodenly, failing to recognize that at the moment, my throat was so tight I couldn’t have shoved a pea down it with a ramrod.
I moved to the table where Ellen was slicing bread and pulled out a chair, but didn’t sit down. I stood indecisively, not wanting to talk to her around anyone else, but not sure what to say when I did. She looked up briefly from her work and smiled at me, her hands never stopping. A gold necklace draped her smooth neck, the opal pendant nestled like an inlay in the nook of her collarbone, which looked like an elegant embossing, strong and beautiful. She noticed me staring and looked again, and I wanted to avert my eyes, but knew it would look juvenile, so I held her gaze as she looked at me with a pleasant look of perplexity. The time was now.
“Can I talk with you, you know, uh, alone?” I asked, so nervous I feared she might feel my pulse through the floor. She quickly masked her initial look of realization and unease with an expression would have passed for calm if she hadn’t reddened slightly and bit her bottom lip nervously as she hung up her apron and excused herself. I followed her into the empty parlor. She turned to face me, but we both didn’t sit down.
“So I, uh, was talking to your pa,” I began, looking down at my hands as I picked away at a loose thread on the arm of the red and gold sofa we were standing beside.
“Uh-huh,” she said, her eyes showed a hint of pity for me and encouraged me along. I decided I at least needed to be man enough to look her in the eye, so I didn’t look down again, just stared straight into her soul.
“Well, he said it would be alright by him if I courted you,” I unloaded.
“Uh-huh,” she said again, looking more relaxed now.
“And so I was just wondering if, if…” Drat! As badly as I wanted to ask her flat out if she wanted to go with me, I just kept thinking that the more directly I phrased things, the more directly I could be refused, so I switched horses in midstream and tried to be a little humorous.
“I was wondering if maybe I could set an appointment to ask you if you’d like me to court you,” I propositioned safely. A smile flitted briefly over her face, like the shadow of a bird is there and gone, and you wonder if you really saw it at all.
“Why certainly, Mr. Mattox!” she replied, the anxiety having been replaced with her usual coolness. “Does Sunday after next, at two o’clock, work for you?” she queried.
Befuddled by her reaction, I struggled to regain my mental footing and managed a delayed, “Yes, yes, that will be fine,” trying not to look too stunned that she hadn’t caught on to the absurdity of my suggestion. A dopey smile not unlike the one her father had been wearing only 20 minutes previously played on her lips, and finally, it broke into a broad smile and she laughed a throaty, contagious laugh I was sure I could listen to until the trumpet sounded.
“Robbie!” she chided softly. “Of course I’ll be your girl!” She moved in closer to me, her chin tilted slightly up as her eyes invited my touch.
“That makes me a—a very happy man,” I smiled at her, keeping my tone low, as she gently bumped the full bust of her dress up against me, deliberately, carelessly, like a drunk might ease his car against the bumper of another before coming to a stop. My hands gripped the tops of her arms where they met her shoulders as I drank in the smell of her perfume.
“You have strong hands, Robbie,” she said, and I sheepishly relaxed my hold on her, scolding myself for handling a woman with the same grip as I would a bull calf. She giggled.
“Kiss me,” she commanded, even as I was wondering if I was the only one in the room thinking about that. My arms slid down over silky waves of hair to rest on the small of her back. Hers rested on my shoulders, around my neck, and I pulled her in with no resistance. Not wanting to be presumptuous, I pressed my lips cautiously against her forehead, pinning a few rogue hairs between them. I kissed her again and kept my lips against her, holding her to me tightly. She moved her head back slightly and I reciprocated, just far enough so our eyes could focus on each other.
“Robbie,” she whispered, the sweet ambrosia of her breath battering my senses. She pushed her lips out toward me expectantly.
“But your pa…” I protested weakly, not wanting to cross any boundaries the preacher might not want me to.
“Robbie!” she breathed impatiently, and I sensed this was not the moment she had planned for discussing ethical matters, so I tentatively leaned forward and lipped the full, pink softness of her mouth. My body almost shook with desire. My mind felt utterly helpless as it got swept away in a current of passion, yet my body felt invincibly potent and virile as I held her to me. Someone called that supper was ready, and we parted reluctantly, breathlessly.
“Am I the only one feeling a little dizzy?” she whispered to me as we walked to the kitchen.
“I do believe I’m a wee bit intoxicated at the moment,” I said, letting out a boyish giggle that almost had me looking around to see if there was a ventriloquist nearby. She laughed. She was beautiful.
Can Robert and Ellen find their happily ever after?
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