The cities of London, Liverpool, Plymouth and many more were decimated by bombs during World War II. An intensive raid such as this was called a Blitz. Military, non-military adults and children died during this time.
Many futures were cut short by untimely deaths during this horrendous part of world history. In the midst of this chaos love bloomed and survived, despite the adversities the couples were forced to face.
My novel Blitz is inspired by my parents. They met and fell in love immediately prior to the war. This kicked off the inspiration for Velma and Jack’s story. I started their tale at the time of their meeting.
Not only did the happy couple have to be strong in the face of the fighting, but they also had to be strong to face up to Velma’s family. Her sisters still considered her the baby of the family and felt they had the right to dictate what she should do. Velma is faced with a budding romance, the threat of war and asserting herself so as to gain control of her own life. Can she and Jack survive these obstacles and emerge victorious?
A summer of love can last forever, but clouds of war darken the horizon. Velma and Jack’s happiness is overshadowed by an uncertain future. Jack must leave to fight the enemy. Velma remains at home and does her best to aid her country. Will they survive and live the future of their dreams? Or will bombs and fighting destroy their lives and love?
"Florence, are you there?" Velma knocked on the door. No answer. She pushed it open and called again. "It's only me."
She heard a muffled noise in the kitchen at the back of the house and grinned. Her sister must be busy with little Sam. Florence's life centered on the four-year-old. Everything faded into the background when she and Sam were alone. Velma moved down the hallway and pushed open the door at the end.
Sunshine filled the kitchen and blinded her for a moment. She stretched her arms out wide to welcome the warmth and twirled round and round, the skirt of her cotton print frock flaring as she spun. Velma stopped abruptly. The other person in the room definitely wasn't her sister. Dark eyes watched her. Male eyes full of amusement had followed her carefree dance.
"Who are you?" Her voice sounded breathless. She stopped, facing him. "I might ask you the same question." Velma tilted her head to one side as she considered the man in front of her. He'd made himself at home. The warmth of the kitchen had encouraged him to take off his khaki jacket and drape it over the back of a chair. He wore no shirt. The startling white of his vest stood out against his sunburned arms. Black braces attached to the waistband of his trousers had been released from his shoulders and looped down to accentuate the slim hips. Tendrils of hair on his chest escaped the top of the vest and Velma shivered as a tingle crept through her body.
She had to raise her head to see his face as he stood several inches taller than her. His dark hair had been combed to one side with a precise straight parting, and his face showed a deeper tan than his arms. Her gaze shifted to his twinkling dark brown eyes.
"Like what you see?"
"I'd like it better if I had a name to put to the face. Who are you?"
"Ladies first." His infectious grin made Velma respond with a smile of her own.
"I'm Velma, Florence's sister, and you are..."
"Jack. George's brother."
One of Florence's brothers-in-law. Now she knew his identity she could see the resemblance to George. Several of the Stanley brothers had attended Florence's wedding some years ago. She couldn't remember Jack. Both bride and groom came from large families so the church and reception had been pretty crowded.
"She took little Sam to meet his daddy off the bus." Jack picked up the kettle and filled it from the tap over the sink. "Can I make you a cup of tea?"
"That would be nice."
Velma watched him through lowered lashes as he turned the gas on and struck a match to light the hob. He placed the large kettle over the flames.
"Tell me about yourself."
He emptied the dregs from the teapot. "Not much to tell. I'm younger than George. Joined the RASC a few years ago."
"RASC? Sorry, I don't know what that is."
"Royal Army Service Corps. I'm a driver and mechanic. There's not much work onHayling Island. I've always been interested in engines and motor vehicles, so I headed straight for the transport section when I joined."
"Aren't you worried about being in the armed services? My brother says there's a war brewing. Germany is trying to grab more than its fair share of land."
"Worried? I'm not sure what you mean. Do you think I'm afraid to fight for my king and country?" He frowned at her, annoyance flashed in his eyes.
Oh heavens, he thinks I'm questioning his bravery!
"Of course that's not what I think," she hastened to explain. "But don't you get a bit frightened you might have to fight. Kill or be killed? I know it would scare me to death."
"There wouldn't be a problem then would there?"
Velma relaxed as Jack grinned and his anger evaporated. He poured hot water into the teapot, swirled it round and emptied it into the sink. Returning the pot to the draining board, he put in three spoonfuls of tea and poured on hot water.
"We'll leave it to draw for a few moments." He placed the teapot on the table, followed by cups, saucers, tea strainer and milk jug. "Do you take sugar?"
Velma ducked her head to hide her flush of embarrassment. Letting him make her a cup of tea indicated a closeness to each other. She considered Florence's house a second home. She should have been the one to make the pot of tea. To relieve the tension building up inside her she searched for something to say.
"Tell me about Hayling Island. George's spoken of it often. I've never been there."
"Not much to tell really." He poured tea into the cups. "It's a small island just off the coast near Portsmouth. George and I grew up there, along with the rest of our brothers and our sister. My brother Will and I are the same age. He's a postman on the island."
"I know who you are," Velma exclaimed. "You're one of the twins, the youngest one."
"People always call me the youngest." Jack laughed. "Will's only twenty minutes older than me."
"What's it like having someone who's identical to you?"
"It's nice when you're growing up. We always had someone our own age to play with. We looked alike so we played lots of tricks on people. Coming from such a big family having a playmate made all the difference, especially as our sister is the youngest. She got spoiled by everyone. Will and I are nearly thirty now and we've got different ideas on what we want to do, but we're still close."
"I know what you mean about big families," Velma sighed. "We've got the same amount as you. Ours is the other way round. Eight girls and one boy. I'm the baby of the family and at times it's not nice."
"Don't you get spoiled?"
Jack blew on his tea before taking a sip and the same warm shiver rushed through Velma's body. She liked this man a lot, he made her feel relaxed. The comfort made more acute by the thrill of excitement at being so near to him.
"Yes, I've been spoiled," she admitted. "But I also get overprotected. My sisters and their husbands think it's their duty to take care of me. They forget I'm nearly twenty-five and quite capable of taking care of myself. My older sisters have been watching over me for so long I guess it's difficult for them to remember I'm all grown up."
"You look like a full grown woman to me."