Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Broken Hero excerpt
Audrey Pearson’s life changed dramatically when WWII broke out and her large home, Twelve Pines on the East Yorkshire coast, became a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Her life is no longer lavish with entertainment, beautiful clothes and surrounded by a loving family. Soldiers, physically and mentally wounded now fill her home. The smell of disinfectant replaces her mother’s perfume and gone are the friends and acquaintances - instead nurses roam the hallways.
Captain Jake Harding, a doctor training in psychiatry arrives at Twelve Pines. Audrey immediately finds herself attracted to the Captain, but he is remote towards her. Puzzled by his cold behaviour, Audrey tries to learn more about the handsome Captain. He reveals that he’s lost a wife and baby in childbirth and refuses to ever remarry. However, despite this, Audrey believes she can change his mind and make him aware he doesn’t have to spend his life alone.
The ice around Jake’s heart begins to melt. For years he has rejected the possibility of finding love again because of the pain it caused him before, but the beautiful Audrey shows him her love and she needs someone to love her in return.
Could he honestly walk away from her, from the love that could be his?
“Turn the music off, Lucy. You’re not doing this.”
Lucy gave her a defiant stare. “It’s all been arranged.”
"Then unarranged it!” Audrey stormed over to the wireless and switched it off.
“No, I shan’t.” A steely look came into Lucy’s eyes. “I want some fun. I’m sick of being surrounded by dreary people and this dreary war.”
“Don’t be so selfish,” Audrey snapped. “You’re not a child to demand a party when it suits you. I can’t believe you went behind my back to organise this.”
“You’re such a stick in the mud, that’s why. We can’t do this, we can’t do that!’ Lucy mimicked, hands on hips. “I’ve had enough of it. You’re not my mother and this is my house too.”
Val took a step forward and opened her mouth to speak, but at the same time the door opened again and the officers sauntered in talking and joking.
Lucy smiled at them. “Good, you’re all here. I’ve got a few girls coming from the village that I know, to even up the numbers.” She swivelled back to the table and switched the music on. “There’s plenty of drinks and food. We’ll have a wonderful night.”
“I’m going for a bath.” Audrey spun on her heel and left the room. In the hallway Valerie caught up with her.
“I’m sorry, Aud, I didn’t know.”
“It’s not your fault. Lucy is to blame. I cannot believe her behaviour. To be so sneaky. It’s not like her.”
There was a knock at the front door and Valerie went down the hall to open it. Three young men and two giggling teenage girls stood on the doorstep holding bottles of wine.
“How do!” One fellow crowed, his trilby hat low over his eyes and an arm around the girl next to him. He was good looking with a deep tan and flashed a bright smile. “We heard there was a party on tonight.”
They swarmed into the house, laughing and calling Lucy’s name as Valerie showed them to the dining room. She returned scowling. “I think they were drunk.”
“I don’t even know them.” Audrey mounted the stairs. “Lucy will get a tongue lashing in the morning.”
Val hesitated. “Shouldn’t we go and keep an eye on them?”
Conscious of her aches and another long day of working in the garden tomorrow, Audrey shook her head. “I need a bath and sleep. Lucy thinks she’s adult enough to handle it, so let her.”
“I guess the officers will keep an eye on things.” Val checked her watch. “Captain Harding will be home in a few hours.”
“Oh?” Audrey tried not to show interest, but she hadn’t known he was gone from the house. On purpose she rose early each day and stayed out in the grounds with Owen and Alf all day. Avoiding the Captain was becoming one of her talents.
“Yes, he went to Hull this morning. There is a doctor up from London who is holding a lecture on treating soldiers with problems of the mind. The Captain has been talking about it all week.”
Irrationally, Audrey felt shut out, and also jealous of Valerie. Captain Harding had been freely talking with Val, but he never did it with her. In fact, he went out of his way to avoid being in her presence. This week, she had tried to give him some of his own treatment. Only to find that it backfired on her, because she didn’t know his thoughts or what he talked about or where he was going. To shun him had left her in the dark even more than normal. She was a fool. She’d given him exactly what he wanted. But what was the alternative, more rejection?
Depressed, she went up a few more steps before Val caught her attention again. “Yes?”
A soft look of worry crossed Val’s face. “Don’t give up on him, Audrey. He’s a good man and worth the effort.”
“He’s not interested in me, Val. He doesn’t seek me out, doesn’t smile in my direction.”
“There are reasons, I’m sure. He’s suffered—”
“I know his past, his pain. I’ve tried to show him I understand, but he’s not willing to take a chance on love, on me.”
“Give him time.”
“I would, willingly, if he gave me a hint that time was all he needed.”
“Audrey, he’s one of those men who don’t wear their heart on their sleeve. He’s not going to show his feelings or even admit to them until he’s sure and even then he may not do anything about it.”
“So, in the mean time I’m meant to keep humiliating myself? Do you know how many times he’s rejected my friendship, my caring? I don’t know if I can keep putting myself through it, in fact I know I can’t keep doing it.” She smiled sadly down at her friend, tears blurring her vision. “I may have feelings for him, but I can’t make him feel for me.” With that she hurried up the staircase and into her room.
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