One Lavender Ribbon - Heather Burch Page 0,1

1944

Dear Gracie,

I fear where this war will lead me. I fear the dark unknown that hovers in the distance and takes men captive—if not their flesh, their very hearts. The thought of you keeps me moving forward, forces me to refuse the desperation that threatens. Before we met, I was alive, but empty. From the moment I saw you, there was no doubt you were all my heart had yearned for. My mind slips back to that day. You and Sara were at the park. Your golden hair danced in rhythm to the gentle wind. Your white sundress flowed around you, and as you laughed, all the world sprang to life. I desperately wanted to come and speak to you. But I dared not. Perhaps you were only a figment of my imagination, and if I approached, you would disappear like fog on a cool morning. I watched you walk away and could feel my heart going with you. For many minutes I waited, staring at the horizon, hoping you would reappear over the hillside, but you didn’t.

Gracie, of all the things that have brought me suffering, being apart from you is the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. But please know, I would suffer this a thousand days to spend one day with you. And there will come a time when we will walk together along the ocean, watching sunsets and sunrises. But we will be together in honor. You told me in your last letter that your mother was pleased with my decision to join the Army. I pray it is so. I refuse to be at odds with her. You and Sara are all she has. Of course she wants the best for you. I know you have been melancholy about my decision, but it is the only way.

I will come back to you.

And I make you this promise: upon my return, we will celebrate for an eternity. We will celebrate life and love, and nothing ever, ever will pull us apart again. Pray for me, Gracie. Give Sara my love.

Forever yours,

William

In one long whoosh, all the air left Adrienne’s lungs. Her grip softened on the letter as her gaze drifted to a dark spot in the hallway. She stared into the nothingness, unable to focus. Only able to feel. What’s it like to get a letter like this? Have someone hold you in such adoration that he’d die a thousand deaths to spend a day with you? She couldn’t imagine. The love she’d experienced with Eric had proven to be a lonely road on her part and a self-absorbed dictatorship on his part.

Each fingertip throbbed where she touched the letter. The pulses sent unnamable sensations flowing through her, potent and uncommon and able to caress the desperate places of her heart, allowing her to wish. To hope.

Allowing her to dream.

Lightning flashed outside, causing Adrienne to jump. The living room lit up in strobe light flashes, a giant camera snapping photographs of her holding a letter so intimate, she felt like an intruder in her own home. Adrienne pressed the faded page to her heart in an attempt to absorb all that it was. Her free hand reached to touch the rusted metal box that had likely been its home for more years than she’d been alive. Beyond the window, the storm continued its assault.

She drew the envelope closer in the lamplight. For the first time since she’d bought the rundown Victorian house, she was thankful for the quirky wiring. Without it, she’d have never found the letters.

But still, she added calling an electrician to her ever-growing list. She looked at the envelope more closely.

It had grayed over the long years, but the names and addresses were legible, the postmark unmistakable. Nineteen forty-four. That would have been World War II. When she read the address line, her breath caught. Her home, 722 Hidden Beach Road, and the names: To Grace Chandler from William Bryant.

The roar of the ocean momentarily grabbed her attention. She paused and listened to the angry sea as a barrage of palm fronds smacked the side of her house. Adrienne set the box down on the wooden coffee table and leaned back, melting into the couch.

How many times had she entered the attic and flipped the breaker, unaware of the delicate silver package hovering above in the rafters? If not for the spider and Adrienne’s ninja skills with the designated spider-broom, the box would still be up there, safely hidden from prying eyes,