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When Gwendoline discovers Jack is a time traveler who can change history, she begs him to go back and save her brother, but it’s not that easy, and the very thing he’s destined to preserve is the very thing that could put an end to him and Gwen.
Gwendoline Tebon sat alone in her parents’ living room. Her gaze glued to the small black and white television as she soaked in every detail the anchorman reported concerning the Vietnam conflict. A slight quiver raked through her body. She wrapped her arms around herself. So many of her friends and relatives had been called to duty. Even in this small town, it seemed like every week another young soldier returned home in a coffin or injured beyond belief. She dreaded reading the local newspaper, yet found herself doing so the second it came out. First, heading to the obituaries.
She swiped the salty tears from her cheeks. Two weeks ago, her brother Marvin had been on the list. Since then, every moment filled with worry for Gary, her twin, who also fought. She feared her mother would die from either heartbreak or worry.
Not a minute went by in which she didn’t worry about Jack Cornelis, her true love. The idyllic man had been good friends with her brother, and the same age, four years older than she. Did he know Marvin had been killed in action?
Jack had always been nice to her but never paid her much attention until she returned home from nursing school months before he and her brother deployed. That night he’d come over to their home. One look into those intense, dark eyes of his and she knew he suddenly saw her differently. Her heart danced when he’d asked her out. Since their first date, they’d been inseparable all through those few months before he’d left for war.
Every day she prayed he’d be returned safely to her. Hundreds of times she’d planned their wedding in her mind. She even planned the children they would have. Two boys and two girls.
She placed her hand over her chest. The thump of her lonely, aching heart tapped against her palm, and she sighed. She’d been sure he would propose before he left for war, but he didn’t. Her brother had thought so, too. Even her parents hoped it would happen. Her dad loved the fact Jack was officer material, like him. But he also feared what the war would do to both Marvin and Jack. This, the war referred to by the phrase of hometown boy taken and comes back broken had already taken its toll on their small community.
Working as a nurse, she’d seen this firsthand, daily. It wasn’t only the physical injuries that beat the men down, the psychological impacts they suffered were far worse than any physical damage.
A heavy blanket of worry fell over her, and the beat of her tender heart tapped quicker against her hand. What if Jack came home broken? Different. Physically or mentally. Would his feelings for her change? She held hope that being a pilot would keep him off the ground and out of the worst of both physical and psychological damage, but who knew?
Gwendoline pulled a photo of her and Jack from her purse which sat on the end table. Probably ten times a day she pressed her lips to the glossy picture. She touched her fingertips to her lips. Vivid memories of his mouth on hers caused her heart rate to soar and her lips to tingle. Her skin heated as she recalled the last night they’d shared before Jack shipped off to war. They’d almost made love, so close. She’d wanted to, nearly begged him to, but he pulled back. Said the timing wasn’t right even though his desire-filled gaze had yelled he wanted to.
Tears stung her eyes as he laid out the reasons they shouldn’t make love. First, they weren’t married. Second, the last thing he wanted to do was take something from her she could never get back. He felt she deserved to have her virginity, her first time to be shared with a husband, and if they made love now and he didn’t make it home, that moment would be lost for her forever.
She’d cried so hard at the possibility of him not making it home. He quietly held and soothingly rocked her until her tears dried. Then, he’d kissed her thoroughly, as if his life depended on it. After, he drove her home and walked her to the door. His large hands cradled her cheeks as he tilted her head up and pressed his lips to hers in one last, knee-weakening kiss. When he broke away, his intense gaze caught hers. His voice shook as he declared his love for her. Her heart swelled and her eyes watered as she told him she loved him.
Then the man she loved turned and walked away, taking her heart with him.
Gwendoline pulled the photo to her lips. Come back to me, Jack.