Annie O’Quinn, still wrapped in the cocoon of a night full of sweet, delicious love making yawned and stretched in the big bed. She felt fingers of worry brush against her naked back when she realized her Tommy boy was not beside her. Her panic subsided when she saw his nude form standing near the window peering out through a blue lace curtain. She pushed the covers back, eased out of bed and made her way to him on tip toes. Tommy didn’t move a muscle as two slender hands covered his grey eyes. He inched backwards until he could feel her rising nipples pressed against his skin. She giggled, “Guess who,” as the heat from his body and his smell made her nipples grow hard.” He rubbed fingers through the rough edges of his beard before answering, “Hmn, must be Mrs. O’Leary, the goat woman from down the road.” A hand moved off of his right eye and a small pounded into his shoulder. Her loud, “Are you saying I smell like a goat,” caused him to laugh so hard that tears ran down his cheeks. “That’s a fine thing to say to your new bride.” Tommy turned then and warped his strong arms around her slender body, pressing every inch of the soft skin against him. He whispered, “You smell absolutely delicious, detachable and good enough to eat,” into her right ear. “I love you Annie my darling.”He stepped back a little and tilted her chin sky wards. She pretended to pout for a moment before surrendering her soft lips to his hot passionate kisses. Tears began to flow out of sapphire eyes. He murmured, “What’s wrong my darling.” She sobbed, “Everything, this damned war, you having to leave today and the thought I might lose you for good.” Before he stepped away from Annie he put a happy look on his face, “Nothing to worry about darling, Mrs. O’Quinn didn’t raise any foolish children. I intended to dig my foxhole down to China and not peek over the edge until the war is over.” She blubbered, “But you might get something important blown off. I suppose we could manage if it was only an arm or a leg.” Loud male laughter bounced around the room and underneath the bottom of the door. “Perhaps I should ask my sergeant for two helmets, one for my head and one for all my important parts.” Annie felt anger stirring again but when she looked at the grin on his face and saw the love light in his eyes it faded. A bright smile shone through her tears, “You know what I mean.” He chuckled, “All too well my darling Annie. Chin up though, when I get to Paris, I’ll buy you a black silk negligee. It will be so shear that I can see through it.” She hugged him tight and whispered, “Promise you won’t go to Paris because I want see us with you. I can picture us now walking along the banks of the Seine and listening to sidewalk troubadours sing love songs to us.” She paused for a moment before continuing, “Do you know what I’d like to do right now.” Tommy grinned, “Me too but I don’t think we have enough time for it.” She slugged his right shoulder and laughed, “Not that silly, well that to but since we don’t have time I would settle for a dance. I wished we had music.” The young soldier clapped a hand to his forehead, “In all the excitement of the wedding and last night I forgot about the present I bought you.” She sniffed, “I feel bad now because I didn’t have time to get you anything.” He looked into her eyes, “You gave me the best present in the world when you became my wife.” He grinned, “It was more thrilling undressing you last night than it ever was unwrapping a Christmas present. Tommy scooped her up in his strong arms and carried her to the bed. He said, “One two, three,” and then let her go. She squealed in delight as she landed on the mattress and bounced. The young man bent over and pulled out a parcel wrapped in gold paper and tied with a neat red bow. Annie bounced up and down on the bed, “What is it, what is it?” Two slender hands tore the paper off, two eyes opened wide when she saw the beautiful antique music box.” She gave her beloved Tommy a warm, tender smile and pulled his head down for a long, fiery kiss. Two little marble figurines dressed in wedding clothe popped up when the carved lid, inlaid with gold was lifted. A tanned, trembling hand wound the key of the box.” Two happy young people held each other tight and danced as the beautiful strains of the Vienna waltz filled the hotel bedroom. **** “Will you be a dear and get the door Bertha,” Annie opened the kitchen range door to inspect the pair of apple pies. By now they were a golden brown and filling every inch of the cosy apartment with the fragrance of apples, cinnamon and melted sugar. She folded the white dish cloth in two before lifting one done to perfection pie out of the hot oven. Bertha shouted, “Right away, sister dear,” and turned the big radio down a notch before racing to the door. Just as the last pie was set to cool Bertha’s voice come floating to her over the voice of Bing Crosby’s crooning. “It’s for you Annie.” Annie shouted, “Tell whoever it is to hold their horses and that I’ll be there in a minute. The instant her sapphire settled on the two officers standing in her door way she knew why they were here. Her hart that had been so happy a just moment ago dropped into her feet. Her faced turned whiter than a new washed sheet. It felt to her like her life was being drained from her as her eyes filled with tears. The tall soldier with captain’s bars on his collar was the first to speak, “I’m sorry to have to tell you but your husband corporal was killed two days ago at Dunkirk. The beach was strafed by a dozen German fighters. Your husband was seriously wounded when he left his shelter to help another soldier. He shielded his sergeant with his body and saved the man’s life. I have his Victoria Cross for you and a letter that was found in his pocket. Since there were no military secrets in it we felt it wasn’t necessary to censor it. He was a brave man and you should be very proud of him, his country and his fellow soldiers certainly are.” The two soldiers turned sharply on their heels and marched away. Annie tried to open the envelope but her hands were shaking too much. Without saying a word she handed it to her sister. Bertha’s hands were shaking almost as bad as Annie’s were but she finally managed to remove the blood stained sheet of paper. In a voice that trembled and through her tears she began to read. “My darling dearest Annie: Well my beautiful, sexy angel, it looks like this war is going to be a bit longer than anyone expected. These German soldiers are a tough lot and not about to give up without one hell of a fight. Please excuse the language my dear little sister if you happen to be there when Annie gets my letter. Right now I’m enjoying a nice vacation on the beach of Dunkirk waiting for a boat to take us to England. Like as not I’ll be having tea and crumpets, whatever they are with the King and Queen by the time you get this. Through all of this mess, the guns, the bombs, the blood and the death I have the memory of our two nights together to keep me sane and safe. I can still taste your wine sweet kisses on my lips. I can still feel the soft silk of your beautiful legs wrapped around me. I can still hear your sweet voice moan in passion as we surrendered too wondrous rapture. Sorry my darling but I’ve got to go now, some enemy planes are circling over head, looking for some dumb bunny to stick there neck out. Well it isn’t going to be me. I’m going to climb back into my foxhole to China until these birds go back to their nest. I kept my promise love of my life, I never went to Paris I send all my love, my heart and a million kisses. Forever yours, your Tommy boy. **** The old, rickety rocking chair squeaked back and forth, back and forth. Each forward movement was less than the last one. Each backward movement was less than the last one. At last it came to a stop. The little dancers on top of the old music slowed down as the last strains of the Vienna Waltz faded into cracks of the room. The only movement now was that of a tattered curtain blowing in the wind coming around the edges of the window. The only sound was of heavy raindrops pounding on the glass. If there had been anyone left in that dank, dingy room to see anything they would have noticed that the large picture had changed. The images were no longer those of a woman in a wedding dress and a young soldier in uniform. It was the same two people but now the young woman wore a just below the knee, blue summer dress. Long, golden tresses flowed around her angel face in the soft summer breeze. The young man’s brown shirt had the first two top buttons undone. The tail was tucked into the top of a pair of blue jeans. On the left of the happy couple the River Seine gurgled in its bed. Behind them and silhouetted the Eifel Tower stood straight and tall. The young man had his right arm around the blonde haired girl and he held a bottle of wine in his left. She had a loaf of crusty French bread tucked under her left arm. A slender right hand rested on the slight mound of her belly. A belly that was growing closer to fruition with each passing day.