Previously, Nick and Alice headed off to college as the war in SimEurope began in earnest. Everyonewatched the events overseas closely, but everyone had differing opinions on what it meant for Simerica.Rosalie met her Mr. Right, while Shirley and Alice waited and waited for their boys to make things moreofficial. Dotty was a bit of a drama queen when her plans to visit SimEurope were thwarted, and Dannywas busy planning in anticipation of the war coming to Simerica. The whole family was deeply saddenedby the loss of generation 5 heir Jefferson.We’ve reached the point where the events leading up to World War II will start happening. I plan ondealing with several aspects of the war pretty head-on, so consider this your warning for that.Blanket warning about language, topics, adult situations, etc. James has only 1 nice point, and he likes toswear like a sailor, and Cindy’s a Romance Sim, with some type of purple-hearted want in her panel at alltimes. Oh, and just about all of generation 7 (except Nick) are 1-nice-point-newspaper-thieves.Please enjoy Chapter 28 of The Bradford Legacy.
James whistled as he walked in the front door and set the package he was carrying down on the floor as heremoved his coat. The house was oddly quiet; of course, after being used to the hustle and bustle thatthree children and their friends caused, James still hadn’t gotten used to how things had changed sinceNicky had gone off to college.“James? Is that you?” Cindy called from upstairs.“Yes, doll,” he replied. “I’ll be right up; I have something to show you.”He grabbed the package and bounded up the stairs, a little slower than he had in years past, and enteredhis room.
“What’s that you’ve got?” she asked when James set the package down on the bed.“Why don’t you open it and find out?”Cindy untied the string and began to carefully unwrap the brown paper from around the parcel. Shegasped when she realized what was inside.
“James, is this…” she breathed.“Yes,” he said, reaching around her to hold the garment up so she could put it on. “The finest cashmereand wool blend that money can buy, with mink trim. Only the best for my wife.”Cindy lovingly stroked the soft fur, admiring the quality of the garment. It had been a long time since she’dhad something this nice. Heck, it had been a long time since she’d had something new at all; she’d alwaysinsisted that the children get the new clothes, while she’d reworked old things for herself.
She gasped, suddenly, and turned around to face her husband. “James, you promised to buy me a newcoat if Nick and Alice…”James laughed as he wrapped his arms around Cindy. “Doll, you win our little bet. Nick stopped by theother day, and asked if he could have the family ring. He’s going to get it reset, but he’s going to ask hersoon.”Cindy squealed, and began to jump up and down while still in James’ arms. “They’re gettingmarried! Hey!” she exclaimed, playfully slapping him on the shoulder. “You’ve known for a few days andyou didn’t tell me!”
James just laughed. “I would have told you sooner, but I wanted to surprise you with this. You deservesomething nice, after all the sacrifices you’ve made over the past few years.”“Well, I think that you deserve a reward for all the sacrifices you’ve made over the past few years as well,”she said, pulling his head towards hers so their mouths met.“I am a fan of rewards,” he said, his lips still against hers.“I know. Now be quiet so I can give you the rest of your reward.”
“Not just yet,” he said, reaching into his pocket. “I have one more thing for you.”He reached into his pocket and pulled it back out. Taking Cindy’s left hand in his, he slipped somethingcool over her finger.“Since Alice gets the family ring, I thought you might like something shiny of your own.”
Cindy held her hand up to the light, gasping as she admired how it reflected off the stones. She shook herhead. “It’s too much.”“No, it’s not. Ever since Mama passed, you’ve been the glue that’s held this family together. I know Ihaven’t been able to give you the life I promised, but I’ve done the best I can, and I’ll keep doing my bestfor as long as I draw breath.”“James, I know things haven’t gone exactly to plan, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I mean that.”“You’re too good to me, doll.”“No, you’re too good to me. Now, go lock the door. I’m not tolerating any interruptions for the rewardyou’ve earned.”James nearly bounced as he went to the door and turned the lock. He was very much looking forward towhatever reward his wife had planned. *****
Sterling counted the last of the money in the till and placed it back in the drawer. “Spot on, as usual,James.”“Of course it was. I counted it twice already.”Sterling smiled wryly. “It’s not that I don’t trust you…”“I know that you need to make sure things add up because the store is part of your family’s livelihood.”Sterling nodded.
After closing the register, Sterling sighed. “You seen the paper today?”James nodded grimly. “Simmany’s going after SimGreece and Yugosimvia now. Do you think they haveany chance of resisting?”“Maybe? I’d feel better about it if the President had been able to get the lend-lease act pushed throughsooner.”James shook his head. “I’m having a hard time swallowing the fact that there are some people who stillthink that we should just pretend the rest of the world isn’t on fire.”“I know. They’ll be the reason we’re not ready when we inevitably get pulled into this mess.”
“Do you really think the lend-lease act is going to help though? It seems like too little too late to me.”“Well, it will give the Allies the supplies they need, which is good, but you might be right in thinking that it’snot enough. I don’t think the Allies are going to be able to stop the Axis powers on their own; we’re goingto have to send more than planes and ships at some point.”
James’ face fell, and Sterling patted his shoulder. “I know you’re worried about Nick.”“He’s just so…good. I know he’ll run off to enlist the second we get involved, and he’ll try to play the hero.I can’t help but worry. If something happened…I can’t even think it. Cindy would be devastated, not tomention Alice who I already consider my daughter. Dotty idolizes him, and Danny, well, Danny’s a horse ofa different color but I know he looks up to Nick too. I just…I can’t let myself fully want to get involved, eventhough I know we should. It’s the right thing to do.”Sterling nodded. “If and when we do get involved, it’s not going to be a quick fix. I’m sure Howie will haveto go too, and I worry about him. He’s not exactly like Nick, but he does have a tendency to think first andask questions later.
James smirked. “He gets that from Vi.”“Yes, he does. And Nick takes after your father; he puts everyone else first and wants to believe the bestin people.”James nodded. “So,” he said, changing the subject, “how long do you think that SimGreece andYugosimvia will be able to hold the Simmans off before they surrender?”“Hopefully, a long time.” ~~~Unfortunately, Sterling’s hopes did not come to fruition. Yugosimvia surrendered after just eleven days,and SimGreece succumbed after twenty-one. *****
Nick and Alice sat at the table in the dining room of Nick’s fraternity house, each pouring over theirtextbooks in preparation for their upcoming exams. Nick was staring at a book, but he hadn’t turned a pagein several minutes.“Nick?”He shook his head and looked at Alice. “Thanks.”“Thinking about the sinking of the Hood again?”“How did you know?”“I recognized that glazed-over look you get when you’re worried about the war.”
“Yeah, I was thinking about it. The whole Simlish Navy’s out looking for the Bisimarck now; I hope thatthey find it soon and send it to the bottom where it belongs.”“I thought it was damaged in the battle.”“It was, so hopefully it will be an easier target.”
Walter and Shirley came into the room at that moment, Walter with the afternoon edition of the paper in hishand. He tossed it on the table, a smug grin on his face.Nick and Alice glanced at the headline, and made exclamations of joy.“Three cheers for the Simlish Navy!”“Amen to that,” Walter agreed. “About time the Simmans got a taste of their own medicine.”
“Indeed,” Alice said. “Did the Simlish lose any more ships?”“Not during the battle,” Shirley said, eager to chip in what she had read. “But they did lose a destroyerwhen the Simman air force bombed them as they were withdrawing.”“Still, it’s a great victory for the Allies.”“It is.”
“Sorry to interrupt your studying,” Walter said.“Don’t worry about it. I was having a hard time concentrating, and knowing that the Bisimarck is at thebottom of the Simlantic will help me focus somehow.”“How about Shirley and I go whip something up for dinner, and you and Alice can clean up after?”“Sounds good to me.” *****
Alice smiled at the young man who dropped off the afternoon edition of the Portsimouth Herald. She tippedhim with the leftover change from the lunch Sterling had sent her for, and accepted the copy of the paper.She flipped to the front page, and her eyes grew wide when she saw the headline. With quickdetermination, she knocked on the door to Sterling’s office and entered when bidden to do so.
“What is it, Alice?”She handed him the newspaper. “You were right about Simmany turning on the Simviets.”Sterling jumped up and snatched the paper from him, letting out a low whistle as he read the first few linesof the main article, his expression grim.“I thought this would be good news,” she said.
“Well, in some ways I suppose it is. It means that Simmany thinks they’ve got Simland beat, which theydon’t, by the way. It might also mean that the Simviets will join the Allied forces.”“You don’t sound too thrilled about that possibility,” Alice stated.“I’m not – I don’t trust them. Still, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ and all that. Their joining the Alliescould prove useful, forcing Simmany to stretch their military resources even thinner than they already are.But nothing they say or do can convince me that they really have anyone’s interests but their own at heart.”
Alice nodded. “When I saw the newspaper, I knew you’d want to see it right away. I’m sorry I interruptedyou when I know you’re prepping for a case.”“I’m glad you brought the paper in, Alice, but I do need to finish my opening statement. I might be herepast five, so lock the front door when you leave and I’ll take care of the rest when I’m done.”“Of course, Sterling. Do you want me to start a new pot of coffee?”“That would be fantastic, Alice. Thank you.” *****
Dotty flipped the pages of the SimRadcliffe course catalogue, her eyes not really seeing any of it. Herparents were being so insistent that she go to college, but it seemed like a big waste. College was a placefor making friends and meeting boys, and with a war looming and the threat of the boys going off to fight itat any moment, she didn’t see the point of wasting all that time and money.
Danny sauntered into her room without knocking. “You decided what you want to major in yet?”“No,” she said, as if he was asking the dumbest question in the world. “How am I supposed to focus onsomething as trivial as college at a time like this?”
“Well, Dotty, the war, when it comes, won’t last forever. What will you do when it’s over?”“Ugh, you sound like Mama. You need to think about your future, Dotty,” she mimicked. “Not all of us wantto plan things out to the last minute detail.”Danny sat down on the bed at her feet. “No, but if you’re ever going to see SimEurope you’ll need a way ofmaking money. Hence, college.”
“Why do you always have to be right about these things?”“You might as well face it, Dotty, I’m right about a lot of things.”“And inflate your ego even more than it already is? Not a chance.”
Danny laughed. “What do you mean by that?”“Oh, Danny, you’re such a fool sometimes. Don’t you know that everyone refers to you as the ‘handsome’Bradford? Every single girl in school would just love to get their claws into you. And once you’re in yournaval officer’s uniform? You’ll have to beat them off with a stick.”Danny ran his hand through his hair, clearly uncomfortable. “I’d think they’d be after Nick, him being theoldest and the heir at that, and so much…nicer than me.”
“Danny, you may be smart about some things but when it comes to your people skills you’re severelylacking. Everyone’s known for ages that Nick belongs to Alice, so it was a lost cause. You, on the otherhand, never offer to walk anyone home. And even if you are my brother, I can admit that you’d be quite acatch.”“It just doesn’t seem right, somehow, running off and leaving a girl behind.”“So you think Nick would be wrong to go and leave Alice behind?”
“Well, that’s different. They’ve been together since forever, and if there was ever a couple who belongstogether, it’s them. But, as you say, I’ve never walked anyone home. Ever since I decided to go the routeof officer training school, it didn’t seem fair to get involved with anyone.”“I suppose that makes sense.”“Besides, it’s not like you have a line at the door waiting for you either,” he said, batting her foot.“Oh, that,” she scoffed. “I guess I’m just waiting for someone a little more…worldly to come along.”“More like you’re waiting for someone willing to take you around the world.”Dotty laughed. “I never can fool you, can I Danny?” *****
It was past dinnertime when Nick came home from class. While the rest of his friends were enjoyingsummer break before their junior and senior years of college, Nick was in the middle of his medicaltraining.He went into the dining room, intent on heading to the kitchen to scrounge himself up some food. He waspleasantly surprised to see his mother emerging with a plate of food for him.“I heard you come in and figured you’d be hungry,” she said, putting the plate down.“It wasn’t much of a leap, considering how I’m always hungry when I come home from class.”
James came into the room, the evening edition of the paper tucked under his arm. “You regretting youraccelerated course of study yet?”“Almost,” Nick replied, his mouth full of green beans.“Nicholas,” Cindy chided.“Sorry, Mama,” he said after swallowing.
James chuckled. “Sterling said the same thing, but he survived and so will you.”“Doesn’t feel like it sometimes.”“You just need to relax once and while. Take that girl of yours out more often. It’s been a while since yourlast date, hasn’t it?”Nick nodded. “She’s a little sore with me right now?”“What did you do?” Cindy asked.
“Why do you assume it’s something Nick’s done?” James asked his wife.“Because I’m too thickheaded for my own good, Papa. And I don’t know why she’s upset, but I’m prettysure she’s mad because…” Nick hesitated, not wanting to bring up the subject in front of his parents.“Would this have anything to do with the fact that a certain item your father gave you a while back is stillsitting in a drawer in your room at the fraternity house and not on the finger of a pretty redhead?”Nick’s shoulders slumped. “Could be,” he muttered.
“Nicholas Bradford, I swear, if you’ve just been stringing that poor girl along…”“I’m not! I promise Mama. I just wanted to get a few things settled before I did, like my internship.”“Does she know that?”“No.”Cindy raised her eyebrow, but said nothing.
“I know, I know.”“Nick,” Cindy said, rolling her eyes at James who was busy pretending to read the newspaper, “you’re not achild anymore and I can’t tell you what to do, but I strongly suggest that tomorrow when you’re done withclass you sit down with Alice and explain things to her. You need to tell her things, because she can’t readyour mind.”“Yes, Mama.”
Nick got up and took his plate into the kitchen. He didn’t return to the dining room, and Cindy took theopportunity to swat at the newspaper in James’ hands.“Thanks for backing me up there.”“You had a handle on the situation,” he said. “You know me, I’ll just muck it up somehow.”“Fair enough.”“Can I have the newspaper back now?”“Why?”
“Because I haven’t finished reading it yet.”“Is there anything in it worth reading?” she asked as she handed it back over.“Yeah, it looks like Roosimvelt is stirring up potential trouble. He’s frozen Simpanese assets here inSimerica, and it looks like Simland and a few other countries are going to follow suit.”“What’s he doing that for?”“Simpan is trying to extend its reach into SimChina, which is held by the SimFrench…”“And therefore the Simmans since the occupation.”“Yes, and I guess the President is trying to protect our interests in SimAsia by keeping Simpan from gettingwhat they need, mainly oil.”“Won’t it make them mad?”James shrugged. “Probably, but they’re far away enough that we won’t have to deal with their wrathdirectly.” *****
Alice hummed as she took her clothes out of her suitcase and transferred them to the wardrobe in the roomshe was sharing with Shirley. With her senior year and Shirley and Rosalie’s junior year about to begin,they’d decided to leave the dorm behind and rent rooms in one of the many boarding houses in town. Aliceand Shirley would be sharing a room, and Rosalie had one down the hall. The older woman who was theirlandlady was sweet, and she didn’t mind the boys coming over to visit, provided they left at a decent hour.The food was better than the cafeteria, and the rooms cozier. All in all, it was a good decision foreveryone.
Shirley came in, dragging an overstuffed suitcase behind her. She smiled at Alice.“Seen Miss Prissy Pants yet?”“No, I haven’t seen Rosalie yet,” Alice replied. “I’m sure she’ll announce her presence soon enough.”“Yeah, she’s probably busy organizing the contents of her sock drawer as we speak.”Both girls dissolved into giggles.
Shirley heaved her suitcase onto the desk, and began to remove its contents. “I actually think Rosalie willbe here later. She’s out with Bruce this afternoon.”Alice resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I’m sure we’ll hear all about it when she arrives.”“I’m sure,” Shirley agreed.
“Did you happen to catch the paper this morning? The Simmans are launching an offensive on Simingrad.”“Oh, my dad was ranting and raving about it at breakfast this morning. He’s not too thrilled that the Simlishare helping the Simviets. He doesn’t trust them.”“He may have mentioned that once or twice while I was working at his office.”Shirley snorted. “Only once or twice? Maybe I should go work for him, so I can get a break from theconstant war commentary that he keeps up at home.”“Oh, he does it at the office too, but it’s usually to the other lawyers and not to me.”
Shirley was laughing as the door to their room opened and Rosalie let herself in. She glared at her cousin.“Don’t you know it’s rude not to knock?”“You were raising such a ruckus that I wasn’t sure you’d hear me if I did,” Rosalie replied, sitting down onthe edge of the bed. “What’s new with you ladies?”Alice shrugged. “Not too much. Just talking about the war.”“That’s all everyone ever talks about anymore. Why can’t we talk about more interesting things?”“Like what, Rose?”“Oh, I don’t know,” she said, flipping her hair back with her left hand. Both Alice and Shirley gasped asthey saw what was now adorning her ring finger.
“Geez, Rose, how do you hold your hand up with that thing on it? It must weigh a ton.”“Congratulations,” Alice said, her already green eyes now greener with envy.“Thank you, Alice. Haven’t you got one to show off yet? Or is my cousin still being thickheaded?”“Rose!” Shirley spat. “None of your business.”
“No, it’s all right, Shirley. No, I don’t have a ring to ‘show off’ yet. But Nick and I have talked. He’s waitingto hear about his internship before he asks officially, and I understand that.”“But you don’t like it,” Shirley said matter-of-factly.“No, I don’t. I know that he’s quite a catch. I see how the other girls on campus look at him, and I wouldlike nothing more than to be able to wave a ring in their faces and say ‘MINE!’ to them. But I’m going tohave to wait a little longer before then.”“My cousin is an idiot,” Shirley mumbled.“Yes, he can be,” Alice agreed.
Rosalie put her hand on Alice’s shoulder. “Cheer up. He should know where he’ll be interning byChristmas, or at least that’s what Uncle James told Father the other day. You may just find yourself with avery nice present under the tree this year.”Alice smiled. “Thank you, Rosalie.”“You’re welcome. Now, Bruce’s family wants to throw a party to celebrate the engagement. What are youand your men doing next Saturday evening?” *****
“Tell me why we’re celebrating,” Alice said as Nick pulled her chair out for her.“We’re celebrating the fact that our second to last semester of college is over, that we both just aced ourexams, and that Rosalie and Shirley managed to sit in a room together without bickering for more than fiveminutes.”Alice laughed as Nick took a seat across from her. “Very true, but don’t you think this is a bit extravagant,even for an occasion as momentous as your cousins being civil to each other?”“Not at all. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m starving, so decide what you want to eat.”
Alice opened the menu, and made a face at Nick. “Why is it that my menu doesn’t have prices on it?”“Because that way you can order what you want without worrying about the cost.”“Nick…”“Alice, I don’t want to fight. Please, let me spoil you for once.”“All right.”
They enjoyed their dinner without further incident, and Alice had to admit that the food was exquisite. Shewas so stuffed that she’d passed on dessert, tempting as the fancy pastries were. While they were waitingfor the waiter to bring their check, Nick took Alice’s hand in his.“I know I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with these past few years.”“It’s understandable, with your schoolwork and worrying about the war,” Alice said.“But it’s not acceptable. I don’t want you to feel like you aren’t important to me, because you are. You’rethe most important thing in the world to me, Alice. You are my everything.”
Alice blushed. “You’re not so bad yourself, you know.”“I’ve been told that once or twice,” he smirked. “But tonight’s not about me. Tonight is about you, andsomething that I’ve waited far too long to do.”
Nick pulled out a jewelry box, and slid it in front of Alice. She kept one eye on him as she opened it andpeeked inside.“Oh, Nick,” she breathed.“Alice Kalson, will you marry me?”
Alice’s face twisted into a smirk. “You know, I should make you sweat it out a little, considering how longyou’ve waited to ask me.”“You wouldn’t.”She shook her head, smiling again. “No, I won’t.”“So your answer is…”“Yes, you big dummy!”
The waiter, who had been waiting quietly while the proposal went on, brought the newly engaged coupletwo glasses of champagne so they could toast the occasions. After Alice had finished hers, she held herhand out to examine the ring.“Do you like it?”“Nick, it’s so beautiful. How did you ever afford it?”“Well, the center stone has been in the family for generations, but I had it reset with some of the money mygrandfather left to me. You’ve been around my family to know that one of the women who wore the originalring, my great-great grandmother, wasn’t the nicest of people, and I didn’t like the idea of you wearing thesame ring she had.”“That’s very sweet of you, but I’m sure I would have liked it no matter who wore it.”
“Well, it would have bothered me seeing it on your hand every day for the rest of our lives.”Alice’s face lit up. “The rest of our lives. What a wonderful thought.”“It is, isn’t it?”Alice could only smile at him as he kissed her. *****
Nick couldn’t stop smiling. Could this day have gotten any better? First, he’d found out he’d aced his finalexams, so he could go home for Christmas break knowing that he’d probably led his class again. Second,he’d received an internship offer, which pleased him greatly. Thirdly, and perhaps the most important, thebeautiful redhead by his side had just agreed to marry him over a very fancy, very romantic (and veryexpensive) dinner. Yes, life was good.“It’s still kind of early. Do you feel like going dancing?” Alice asked.“I’ve got an even better idea,” he replied, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. “Why don’t we go back toyour boarding house, let Rose and Shirley in on our big news, and then make plans for all six of us to goout next weekend? That way we all can celebrate.”“That is an excellent idea. Will you stick around for a little while? We can listen to the radio.”“Sure. Will Mrs. Cooke let me?”“Mrs. Cooke will be so thrilled to hear that you finally popped the question that she’ll probably even let sit inthe parlor alone.”“Don’t get a fellow’s hopes up,” he said as they approached the door to her boarding house. He openedthe door for her, and the pair was greeted by Mrs. Cooke, the house mother’s expectant smile.
“I see that you’ve finally decided to settle down,” she said, eying the ring on her young charge’s hand.“Yes, ma’am. I figured I better ask her before someone else did.”“Congratulations. I’m sure your parents will be thrilled.”“We were wondering,” Nick said, putting his hand on his fiancée’s shoulder, “if I could stay for a littlewhile. We were hoping to catch a show on the radio.”“Of course,” the older woman beamed. “Shirley and Rosalie are in the sitting room with their gentlemancallers. As long as you’re gone at a reasonable hour, I’ll be happy.”“Of course, Mrs. Cooke. Thank you.” Nick and Alice turned left and entered the sitting room.
Shirley was lounging on the sofa, absently playing with Walter’s hair, who was sitting cross-legged on thefloor near her. Rosalie was sitting on the sofa opposite her cousin, ankles properly crossed and hands onher lap, with Bruce sitting at her side just as stiffly.The four occupants of the room looked up when the couple entered.“We’re getting married!” the Alice trilled, waving her left hand in the air.
Shirley jumped up, nearly stepping on poor Walter, and squealed as she rushed over to give the redhead ahug. Rosalie got up in a seamless motion, and politely kissed her soon-to-be cousin-in-law on the cheekas she offered her congratulations. The men had risen too, to clasp Nick on the back and offer him theirbest wishes.
“When will you tie the knot?” asked Shirley as the settled back into their former seating arrangements andthe newly engaged couple took seats in the previously unoccupied arm chairs.Nick and Alice looked at each other. “Early summer, after graduation,” she replied, and Nick nodded.“That doesn’t give you much time to plan the ceremony,” Rosalie interjected.“I don’t think there’s too much to plan. It will be at Nick’s house, like all his family weddings are. I’m surehis mother and Aunt Viola will see to the food. The only thing that really needs to be sorted is my dress,and I have a pretty good idea of what I want.”
“You’re forgetting something,” Shirley smiled. “Who’s going to be bridesmaids and groomsmen.”“Oh, that,” Nick muttered, thinking to himself that he didn’t want Rosalie in the bridal party. She was such astickler for rules and etiquette. Hell, she could put Simily Post out of business. “We really need to talk tomy parents before we decide that. Mama may have her heart set on what cousins she wants in it.”“Of course,” Rosalie replied. “One must observe certain conventions when it comes to occasions such asa wedding.”
The radio, which had been playing softly in the background, crackled beside them. “We interrupt yourregularly scheduled program to bring you breaking news. The Simpanese have attacked Plumbbob Harborin Simwaii. I repeat, today at approximately 8:00 AM local time, the Simpanese launched an attack onPlumbbob Harbor in the Simwaiian Islands. The Simcific Naval fleet has been devastated. Several ships,including the Simizona, were sunk in the attack. Casualty numbers are unknown at this time, but areexpected to be in the thousands.”
The young adults in the room looked at each other, fear in their eyes.“What would they do that for?” Shirley asked. “We haven’t done anything to them.”“Attacking on a Sunday? How inappropriate,” chided Rosalie. “Don’t they know that’s a sacred day forus?”
“Those sons of bitches don’t know what they just started,” stated Nick.“Nick, language,” whispered Alice, her lips white with fear.“They’re sons of bitches and I believe in calling a spade a spade. You know what this means,” he said,looking at the other two men in the room.“Yes,” Bruce replied.“War,” said Walter, his voice more passionate than Bruce’s.
“Now hold on a minute,” Shirley said. “You don’t know that.”“The hell I don’t. Those sons of bitches came to OUR country, and killed OUR citizens. We can’t let suchan insult go unanswered. And Simpan is in an alliance with Simmany. That means we’ll be fighting in theSimcific and in SimEurope at the same time,” Nick replied.The room fell silent as they listened to the radio announcer talk.
“The President will be asking Congress for a declaration of war,” Nick stated. “What d’ya say, boys? Shallwe go down to the enlistment office tomorrow and sign up?”“No!” all three ladies exclaimed at once.“Alice,” Nick said, taking her hand, “You knew this was coming. I’m going to fight, and I’m going to do it onmy terms. I’ve got enough training that I should be able to get into the medical corps, if I volunteer now. If Iwait to get drafted, who knows what will happen.”Alice swallowed, trying to force down the lump in her throat. “I understand, and I’ll support you, whateverhappens.”He leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Thank you.”
Shirley looked at Walter. “You’re going whether or not I say so, so I should just accept it and make it easierfor both of us, shouldn’t I?”Walter tenderly tucked the choppy curls behind her ear. “Yes. But if you really object…”She shook her head. “Go give those bastards the what-for.”
Four pairs of eyes shifted to Rosalie and Bruce, neither of who has spoken.“Well?” demanded Walter. “Are you coming with us or not?”Bruce hesitated. “I’m of age where I need to register for the draft, so I’ll come with you to do that. But I’mmy parents only son, and my mother is relying on me to provide for her. I’m certain they’ll make anexemption for me.”Walter looked at Nick pointedly. Nick shook his head, and he spoke. “So volunteer. Then the draft boardstays out of it.”“Exactly. I’m the only son too, and you don’t see me being chicken about doing my duty,” Walterinterjected with just a bit too much force.“I need to speak with Mother before I can do anything definitive,” Bruce said, looking at Rosalie for hersupport.“Of course you do,” she cooed. “You’re being entirely unfair,” she said, looking at the others.
Shirley opened her mouth, but Walter silenced her with a sharp look and a subtle shake of his head.“Well, don’t wait too long before you make up your mind to act, or you may find yourself without a lot ofoptions left,” advised Nick.
A soft voice from the doorway cleared her throat. “I know you’re all devastated, and rightfully so, but it’spast ten o’clock. I think the boys should be heading home,” Mrs. Cooke said gently. Bruce and Walterrose, each saying soft goodbyes before leaving.“Walk out with me?” Nick asked, and Alice nodded.
The couple walked out on to the front stoop, and Nick pulled her close. “You do understand, don’t you?”“Of course I do. Someone has to stop what’s going on in this crazy world; I’ve been saying that allalong. Just promise me two things.”“Anything, love.”“First, you take care of yourself wherever you go. No trying to play hero.”“Done. What else?”“That we’ll get married before you leave.”
Nick hesitated. “I don’t want you to be a widow before you have a chance to be a wife.”“That doesn’tbother me. I need to be Mrs. Bradford before you leave. Please?”Nick looked into her green eyes, knowing he could deny her nothing. “Okay. But you might need to movethe wedding date up. Who knows how quick things will move once I’ve enlisted.”She nodded. “I’ll take Rosalie and Shirley dress shopping tomorrow.”“And we’ll go tell my parents tomorrow night. I think the news of the wedding will soften the blow of myenlisting.”He pulled her close, and kissed her. The future wasn’t as certain as it had been just a few short hours ago. *****
Nick and Walter hurried down the street, their coat collars turned up against the cold. It barely qualified asmorning, but both men barely noticed. Both were focused on their destination and getting there as quicklyas they could.
After returning home from the girls’ boarding house, Nick had gone into his room without a word. Aftertossing and turning for several hours, and maybe getting a few of sleep, he’d gotten up and dressed.Walter had already been in the kitchen scrambling a large pan of eggs.“Figured we’d both want to get an early start. I’m sure there’ll be a line at the enlistment office.”Nick nodded, slicing a loaf of bread and popping them into the toaster. “Should we stop and Bruce’sfraternity and see if he wants to come with us?”
Walter snorted. “Waste of time. He won’t join up until he’s forced to, and then he’ll complain that all thechoice assignments are gone.”Nick simply nodded, and buttered the toast as it popped out of the toaster. When breakfast was ready, thetwo young men sat down to eat, though neither of them tasted their food. Once their dishes were in thesink to soak, they put on their heavy coats and hurried out the door towards the downtown area of the city.
As they rounded the corner they were met with a line of men, young and old, standing outside the door ofthe Army recruitment office. Nick and Walter looked at each other, shrugged, and went to stand behind theshort, sandy-haired man who was stomping his feet and blowing on his hands trying to keep warm.
It was an hour before Nick and Walter made it inside, and longer still before either one of them sat down infront of one of the recruiting officers.“So, son, tell me why you want to join the army.”
Nick looked at the man sitting across the desk from him. A million different thoughts ran through his head.He was enough of his father’s son that he felt the need for vengeance towards those who had cowardlyattacked his countrymen at Plumbbob Harbor. But it went deeper than that. Ever since he started hearingof the brutality and inhumanity of the Simman regime, he’d wanted to do something to stop it. It was hardfor him to put it into words, but he couldn’t bear the idea of raising a family of his own in a world where evilslike Hitler existed and were allowed free reign.The thought of his family mad his heart twinge. Alice knew where he was, and supported what he wasdoing, but his parents and siblings had no idea. His parents, especially his mother, would fret, but shewould be placated by the news of his engagement and imminent wedding. But they would still worry. Hecould only hope they’d be as understanding as Alice had been.All of this ran through his mind in a few seconds. To the waiting officer, he said, “I want…no, scratch that.I need to do my part.”
The recruiter nodded. “I see that you’re in medical school. How far along are you?”“I’ve finished all my coursework, sir, and I was due to start a rotation this spring.”“Pity you haven’t got your M.D. yet. We’re going to need doctors something fierce.”“I’m sure I can do just as much good as a medic.”
“Someone as close to being a full-fledged doctor as you are is not getting assigned as a medic. For you,we can get you assigned to an army hospital to finish your residency, and go from there. After you’vefinished basic training, of course.”Nick nodded. “It would be nice, to have my residency finished and be able to go into practice once thewar’s over. Where do I sign?”
The recruiter placed some paperwork in front of Nick, and he signed his name on the line at the bottom ofthe page. The recruiter then stood, as did Nick.“Welcome to the army, son,” he said, extending his hand to Nick, who returned the handshake with a graspthat was steadier than he felt.
After Nick had finished at the enlistment office, he went straight to Alice’s boarding house. She was in theliving room reading, and she was surprised to see him.“What, you forgot already that we need to go tell my parents that we’re finally engaged?”“No, I just thought by the time you were done downtown that it would be too late for us to make it toSimsfield in time.”“Well, put your book away and go get your coat. There’s a train that leaves in half an hour and we canmake it if we hurry.”
In what seemed like no time at all, Nick and Alice were walking up the front steps of the farmhouse andletting themselves in.“Anyone home?” Nick called as he hung his and Alice’s coats up on the rack.James, Cindy, Dotty, and Danny all materialized from different parts of the house.
Cindy immediately went over and hugged Nick tightly. Over her shoulder, Nick saw his father raise hiseyebrow in a questioning way. Nick nodded ever so slightly, answering James’ silent question. Cindy felthis subtle movement, and she squeezed him tighter.“You’ve enlisted then,” Danny said, picking up on the unspoken conversation going on around him.“Yes,” Nick replied. “Walter and I went down to the office this morning first thing.”
Only then did Cindy pull away from her eldest to embrace Alice. As she did so, Cindy saw that Alice nowhad a new addition to her usual ensemble. Cindy smiled.“Do you two have something else to tell us?”Nick colored a little as he put his arm around Alice’s shoulder as Alice returned Cindy’s smile.“Yes. We’re getting married.”
The news of the war was briefly forgotten as the family excitedly and loudly offered their congratulations.James disappeared to the cellar and returned with a bottle of wine so they could toast, and he even pouredglasses for Dotty and Danny despite the looks Cindy was giving him.
The celebratory mood quickly vanished as the radio news came on, and they reaired the President’saddress to Congress from earlier that day.“’A day that will live in infamy.’ That’s the understatement of the century,” James muttered.“Did he get the declaration of war against Simpan?” Nick asked.“That he did. It will probably turn into one against Simmany and Simtaly too, seeing as how they’re allies.”Nick nodded.
“So, son, was does this mean for you? I know you’ve enlisted but what happens now?”“For the moment, nothing. I’m to finish my schooling, and then I’ll go to training and get assignedsomewhere to finish my medical studies. The recruiter said they’re going to need doctors, and they’re notsending someone so close to being one off to do something else.”“So you won’t be fighting?” Cindy asked, trying to hide the relief in her voice.“No, I won’t. But I still need the military training so that I know what to do if something happens and I endup having to.”
Cindy turned to Alice. “I suppose you two will be having a long engagement, then.”“Actually, we won’t. I made Nick promise me that we’d get married before he leaves, and I intend to makesure he keeps his word.”“So you’re getting married this spring?”“Yes.”
Cindy pursed her lips. “That’s not a lot of time to plan.”“I don’t need anything fancy. Just a nice dress, our family and friends around us, and some good foodafter.”Cindy got up, shaking her head. “Just because it’s going to be soon doesn’t mean we don’t have the timeto do it right. You leave it to me, Alice, and you’ll have the wedding you always dreamed about.”
Alice was going to protest, but she closed her mouth when she felt Nick’s hand gently squeeze hers.“Okay. I’d love your help in planning a wedding. First up, is there any way I can get out of having Rosalieas a bridesmaid? I’m not sure I can put up with her lectures on wedding etiquette if she is one.”Everyone in the room laughed.“There is a solution to that, but Nick will need to agree to it as well,” Cindy said.“Oh?”“If you have Dotty as your only bridesmaid and Danny as Nick’s best man, we can say it’s just immediatefamily.”
“You don’t have to,” Danny said quickly. “If you want Walter I’m sure we can come up with a way aroundit.”“No, that makes sense,” Nick said just as quickly. “Walt’s my friend but you’re my brother. Of course I’dwant you to stand up with me.”“It’s settled then,” Cindy said, a tone of finality in her voice. “Now, what do you have in mind, Alice?There’s a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it in.”
After a while, the talk of color schemes, flowers, and invitation lists made Nick’s head ache. His father andbrother had long escaped from the ceaseless chatter of the women, but as the groom-to-be, Nick didn’thave an excuse for leaving. Finally, Alice turned to him and said, “You don’t have to stay if you don’t wantto.”He barely managed to contain his glee. After quickly kissing Alice on the forehead, he made a fast escape.
He went upstairs to his old room, where he found Danny lounging on his bed.“They done, or finally let you escape?”“Alice gave me an out and I took it. If I had to listen to Dotty swoon about how romantic a war wedding isone more time…”
Danny shook his head. “Sometimes I wonder if she’s got her head screwed on right. She’s got no ideawhat she wants to do, and therefore has no plan for her life.”Nick shrugged as he sat down on his old bed. “She’s a lot like papa, so I’m sure that has something to dowith it. He didn’t know what he wanted to do after college either.”“If she had her way I’m not sure she’d even go to college.”
“What about you, Danny? What does the war mean for you?”“Nothing, until I finish high school. After that, I’m going into the Navy, specifically to Officer Trainingschool.”Nick raised his eyebrow. “You’re going to outrank your older brother.”“Not my fault you ran headfirst into enlisting before exploring all your options.”
“I’ll be finishing up my medical school on the Army’s dime, so I don’t think my lot’s all that bad.”“No, and you won’t be directly at the front, which will make Mama and Alice happy.”“Is it wrong that it kind of makes me happy too? I want to do my part – hell, everyone knows I’ve beenranting about the Simmans and needing to stop them forever – but I don’t know if I could be an infantrysoldier. I don’t know if I could actually kill another person.”Danny nodded slowly. “I don’t think that it’s wrong, per sea, and it doesn’t surprise me that you’d say it,Nick. You’re a hell of a lot nicer than I am. I’m kind of looking forward to giving the Simpanese a taste oftheir own medicine.”
“Will you get an assignment near the front lines, then?”“No way of knowing that until it happens, but I won’t object if I do. But don’t tell Mama I said that. I’mworking up to telling her that I’ve signed on for Naval Officer Training.”“While she’s busy planning the wedding might be good. She won’t remember the next day.”Danny laughed. “Sure, I’ll tell her the colors should be navy blue and go from there.”“As long as you don’t upset Alice with it.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, brother. Alice is a keeper. If you hadn’t put a ring on her finger, I might have triedmy luck.”Nick threw a pillow at his brother. “Feel lucky I didn’t have anything harder within reach.”“I wouldn’t be worried if you did. You have horrible aim, brother of mine.” *****
Cindy was busy. In addition to helping James in his new role as blackout warden and head of variousmaterial drives, she had a wedding to plan. Alice spent what free time she had in Simsfield helping hermother-in-law-to-be, but much of the work fell squarely on Cindy’s shoulders.She didn’t mind. Planning Nick’s wedding helped to keep her mind off the fact that he would soon beheading off to war.
At the moment, her biggest concern was Alice’s dress. Cindy had taken Alice dress shopping, but nothinghad caught the bride’s eye except something that was far out of her price range, and Alice wouldn’t acceptCindy’s offer to buy the dress for her.So Cindy had gone to work. She’d raided the attic as she’d often done in years past, but with a differentgoal in mind this time. Until now, she’s mostly sought out utilitarian articles that she could rework intoclothing for the children. Now, she opened a wardrobe full of fine clothing in hopes that she’d findsomething suitable to make into a wedding gown.Her efforts were rewarded. Jan’s wedding gown, covered in hand beading and lace, was in pristinecondition. With some work, it would make an excellent dress for Alice.
The next day, when Alice came over, Cindy held up the dress. Alice tried to smile, but didn’t quite getthere.“It’s very pretty, Cindy, but it’s horribly old fashioned.”“Do you think I’d have you wear it as it is? No, I want you to look at the detailing, and the materials. If youlike them, we can incorporate them into a new dress for you.”“You’d make my wedding dress for me?”
“Of course I would! Even though I don’t like sewing, I’m good at it. I had to be, growing up on a farm andthen for my costumes when I sang at the speakeasy at first. We can probably make something that’s closeto the dress you liked in the store. The materials we need to buy won’t amount to much, with this to workfrom.”Alice took a step closer and examined the dress. This time, she took in the details, and imagined them ona dress made just for her.“The lace is lovely, and those beaded appliqués are pretty too. Are you certain James doesn’t mind ustearing apart his grandmother’s old things to make my dress?”
Cindy threw her head back and laughed. “I won’t repeat his exact words, as they’re really not appropriate,but trust me, he’s all for us using anything of his grandmother’s from the attic.”Alice smiled. “Then yes, let’s use this dress to make me the wedding gown of my dreams.” *****
Cindy and Alice worked on the dress together every opportunity they got. As they ripped and sewed fabrictogether, the two women got to know each other better. They laughed together and shared worries aboutNick going overseas. When they needed a break from sewing, they worked on redecorating the room thatNick and Alice would share after they married.One afternoon, Cindy was more distracted than Alice had ever seen her. She kept having to pick out herstitches as they weren’t right, and finally she threw the hem of the dress aside.“I’m sorry, Alice. I can’t focus today at all.”
“What’s bothering you?”Cindy sighed, got up, and walked over to the window. “I’m worried about Danny. He’s joining the Navyonce he’s graduated, as I’m sure you know. I wasn’t exactly thrilled when he told us – the Simpanese wartactics are just horrific and I can’t bear to think of him being on the receiving end of them. But I was allright, until today.”Alice wanted to ask what had happened today to change Cindy’s mind, but she sat quietly, sewing laceonto the hems of the dress sleeves.
Soon, Cindy began speaking again. “They sunk an aircraft carrier, the Simgley, and now I can’t get theimage of Danny being trapped inside a ship as it sinks out of my head.”Alice got up and put her arm around Cindy’s shoulder. “I heard about that, and I believe that most of thesailors survived.”Cindy nodded. “Only six dead and five missing. But I can’t help but worry. He’s my baby. I worry aboutNick, too, but it’s different for him. He won’t be in the thick of things, like Danny probably will be.”Alice didn’t know what to say, so she squeezed Cindy’s shoulder.
“I didn’t mean to burden you with my worries, Alice. We should get back to work on your dress.”“It’s all right, Cindy. It’s nice to know that you feel comfortable confiding in me. Shirley and Rosalie aregood friends, but sometimes I don’t feel like they really understand me.”Cindy nodded. “We come from similar places, Alice. And since you’re so willing to listen to me, know thatI’m happy to hear your fears when they become too scary to face on your own.”“Thank you,” Alice said sincerely. “I’m sure I’ll be needing that at some point in the future.” *****
Before Nick and Walter shipped out, Sterling insisted that they make sure their affairs were in order.“After all,” he’d said, “If they are you’re upping your odds that you’ll come home.”So one afternoon the two young men had gone to Sterling’s office. James had tagged along as well, butWalter’s father Harris did not.“I’m not surprised,” Walter said later as the four men enjoyed a beverage at one of the city’s manyestablishments. “He’s still trying to figure out a way to get me out of the Army.”
“But you volunteered,” Sterling said, raising an eyebrow.“I did, and he’s not thrilled about it. Ranting and raving about the Gavigan name and how we’re not footsoldiers and nonsense like that. If he has his way, I’ll be stateside the whole war. If I get mine, I’ll be in themiddle of the action.”“Be careful what you wish for, Walter,” James advised. “You might get it, and it might not be what youexpect.”Walter shrugged. “I know war probably won’t be what I’m expecting, but I want the chance to make aname for myself and not depend on riding my ancestor’s coattails.”
The other men made noises of agreement.“Any more news? I haven’t had a chance to see the papers today,” Nick asked.“Not too much. The only think of note is that the Simpanese Simericans on the west coast are being sentinland for the duration,” Sterling said.“Why? Do they have intelligence suggesting that there are spies or something?”“Even if they did they wouldn’t tell us. You know that Nick. I’m pretty sure it’s just a precaution.
“It doesn’t seem fair.”“War’s not fair, son,” James said.“Will Simericans of Simman or Simtalian decent on the east coast be detained too? Because they’re ourenemies too.”“No, they’re not.”Nick shook his head. “The only reason it’s happening to the Simpanese Simericans is because they lookso different from the rest of us. Most of them have been born here and are citizens just like me. It’s justnot right. Can they legally do that, Uncle Sterling?”
“Things are different with the country at war, Nick. I’m sure they’ll be plenty of arguments about the legalityof it in the days ahead. I say we can never be too careful.”“Still, I don’t like it.”“You don’t have to.”“Good. Because I don’t.”“War’s going to mean a lot of things that no one likes, Nick. The sooner you can get used to that idea thebetter.”“I know, Papa. I’ll try but it’s not easy.” *****
As the wedding drew closer, Alice was spending more and more time at the farmhouse. It felt like home toher, and Nick’s family was extremely welcoming. James had insisted on buying a new bedroom set forthem, expense be hanged. Danny had helped his father set it up, and Dotty had cooed over the linensAlice picked out.One day, as Alice was busy hanging pictures on the wall with Nick’s help when she heard someonethundering up the stairs.“Something’s happened,” she said as James burst into the room.
“What’s wrong, Papa?” Nick asked.James grinned before calling out, “Everyone! Get in here!”Danny, Dotty, and Cindy quickly made their way into the room.“Well, what is it?”
James drew in a deep breath. “We bombed Simpan.”Everyone’s jaws dropped. “But how? It’s so far away” Danny finally asked.“Some crazy people in the War department came up with the idea of launching bombers off an aircraftcarrier. Sixteen of them, to be exact. They dropped bombs on a bunch of different cities.”“For real?” Cindy asked.“For real.”
The sudden outburst of noise in the room was deafening. James swept Cindy into a passionate kiss thatmade their children blush, while Danny and Dotty cheered and Nick and Alice embraced.“It’s so nice to hear good news for once,” Alice sighed.“It really is. Simerica will go crazy over this,” James agreed.“It will demoralize Simpan too. I’m sure they’ve been told that their homeland is untouchable,” Dannychimed in.
“Let’s have a celebration tonight!” Cindy said. “We can have Sterling and Taddy and their families over. I’llgo make a cake!”“Ooo, cake!” Dotty exclaimed, following her mother out of the room.“Enjoy your cake while you can…I’ve heard rumors of rationing starting soon, and sugar will be one of thefirst things on the list,” James said as he exited. *****
The wedding was now just a few days away, and Cindy was busy with the final fitting for Alice’s dress.“You outdid yourself, Cindy,” Alice said as she looked at her reflection in the mirror.“It was nothing, really. You’re the one who make the dress fabulous. Now, what do you want to do withyour hair?”“Nothing too different. After all, I do want Nick to recognize me when I walk down the aisle.”Cindy laughed, as she began gently arrange Alice’s hair.
Alice stared at her reflection, and her thoughts began to drift. It wasn’t until Cindy tapped her on theshoulder that she realized her hair was in a new style.“What’s on your mind, Alice?”“Oh, it’s not much. I was just thinking about how lucky I am to be getting married here. You heard that theSimmans have launched a campaign to bomb Simlish cities with cathedrals. I can’t help but think thatthere’s a girl like me somewhere over there who’s had her wedding ruined because of it.”
“Oh, sweetie,” Cindy said. “I’m sure they’ll make things work somehow. Is that really what this is allabout?”“No. I don’t know what to feel half the time. I’m thrilled that Nick and I are finally getting married, but onthe other side I know that I won’t have much time with him before he has to go off to war. I’m happy, I’msad, I’m worried...I’m just a big mess.”“Alice, I’m sure if you talked to Shirley, or even Rosalie, they’d say the same thing. You just need to getthrough one day at a time. And remember, you won’t be alone when Nick leaves; you’ll have me, andJames, and Dotty, and Shirley and Rosalie too. We’re all here to support you.”“Thank you, Cindy. That’s what I’ll have to do, then. Just take things one day at a time.” *****
The day of the wedding dawn cloudy, but soon those clouds gave way to clearer skies. Cindy and Dotty,once she was done fawning over her new dress, were busy helping Alice get ready for the ceremony.Danny and Nick were busy making sure the chairs in the orchard were arranged properly, while James wasnowhere to be found. When the patriarch of the family finally made an appearance, both of his sons did adouble take.
“Nice hat, Pops,” Danny smirked.James narrowed his eyes at his youngest. “In my day, we talked to our elders with a bit more respect.”“In your day, dinosaurs still roamed the earth,” Danny muttered under his breath.Nick gently shoved his brother. “Behave. If you ruin this day in any way, I’m going to let Alice kill you.”“Fair enough, brother.”
The Alcotts and the Seiffs soon arrived, eager to help make sure the day went off without a hitch. Withtheir arrival, Nick excused himself to finish getting ready. The ladies went inside as well, to help with foodpreparations and to make sure the bride was set.Danny, Gilbert, and Howie disappeared to places unknown, leaving James, Taddy, and Sterling to organizethe last of the chairs.“I still can’t believe that I’m old enough to have a son getting married today,” James said.
Taddy snickered. “Better you than me. I’m waiting for Rosalie to come in one day and announce thatshe’s made all the arrangements for her wedding and all she needs me and Calla to do is to show up.”“And I’ll have Shirley handing everything related to her wedding over to Vi, and just wanting to know whenthe ceremony is so she can get changed in time,” Sterling laughed.James just shook his head. “I suppose I’m lucky in that my first is a son who is just showing up andwearing what he’s told.”
“Speaking of that, James, what’s up with the fancy hat?” Sterling asked.“My everyday one isn’t fancy enough, according to my wife, so she had Nick dig one of my grandfather’sold top hats out of the attic.”“It’s a bit of overkill, don’t you think?” Taddy said. “You’ll probably be the only one wearing a top hat. Thatkind of formality just isn’t done nowadays.”“Maybe it should be,” James retorted.
At that moment, a sudden gust of wind knocked the hat off of James’ head. Sterling and Taddy took onelook at their friend and began to laugh.“Losing something, old man?” Taddy managed to gasp out.“I had no idea you were so vain, James,” Sterling added.
Unfortunately for James, Danny and his friends chose that moment to come around the corner of thehouse. The three of them began to laugh as well.“I’m blinded by the glare!” Danny said as he dramatically shielded his eyes.James glared at his son.
“What’s going on out here? I can hear you from inside,” Cindy demanded.“They’re making fun of me,” James whined.“Well, maybe if you hadn’t been so insistent on wearing a hat to hide your receding hairline, it wouldn’t besuch a shock to your friends when they finally see you without one,” she said. “And Daniel, you do notlaugh at your father.”“Yes, ma’am,” her son quickly replied.
She leveled a look at the group assembled outside. “If any of you do anything to ruin this day for Alice, Iwill personally make sure you regret it for the rest of your life. That poor girl is upstairs fretting because heralmost husband is going off to war, and here you are laughing because James is going bald. Finish gettingthings set up, make sure you look smart, and make this day as perfect and Nick and Alice deserve.Understood?”
The crowd nodded their agreement or muttered yeses in reply to Cindy’s marching orders. With a finalpointed look at James, she went back inside.Afraid of what she’d do if they didn’t obey, everyone quickly finished the set up. James picked up his tophat, but didn’t bother to put it back on.“Why not?” Sterling asked when James put the hat on the back landing.“Cat’s out of the bag at this point. Besides, the thing smelled of moth balls after being stuck in the attic fortoo many years. No need to spend the day smelling that if I don’t have to.”
Soon, the guests were all there, and Nick and Danny were in their places. The only thing they were waitingon was the bride.
Alice was taking a deep breath in the foyer as Dotty gave her one final check.“You’re perfect, Alice. Are you ready?”“I am,” she said.
Poet and musician sing the same old tune To the sweethearts that come and go Let your intuition aided by the moonTell you little things the poet doesnt know
Darling, you and I know the reason why a summer sky is blue And we know why birds in the trees sing melodies tooAnd why love will grow from the first "hello" until the last "goodbye" So to sweet romance, there is just one answer, you and I
Darling, you and I know the reason why a summer sky is blue And we know why birds in the trees sing melodies tooAnd why love will grow from the first "hello" until the last "goodbye" So to sweet romance, there is just one answer, you and I. - You and I, Glenn Miller
After the ceremony was over, the family and their guests moved into the dining room where Cindy, with thehelp of Viola, had set up a small buffet for lunch. Once everyone had eaten their fill, Nick and Alice cut intotheir wedding cake, and everyone enjoyed a slice.
Once the feasting was done, James guided everyone into the music room and turned on the record player.Nick took Alice in his arms, and began steering her around the room in their first dance together ashusband and wife.
“You know, darling,” she said as she stroked the back of his neck. “Though I can’t help but worry aboutwhat’s to come since you enlisted, I must admit that I’m even more of a sucker for you in that uniform.”“Thanks,” he said, leaning forward to kiss her. “And your dress is wow. I don’t know how you and my mompulled it off on such short notice.”“Your mother is a formidable woman, Nick. When I told her want I wanted, she didn’t rest until she hadcreated a sketch and then the dress of my dreams. Of course, having such fine materials pilfered from theattic didn’t hurt either.”
Nick smiled. “I’m going to remember you just like this when I’m somewhere in SimEurope, patching upsoldiers who’ve given the Simmans the what-for.”Alice’s step hitched, and Nick steadied her as he mentally cursed himself for spoiling the moment.“And how soon will that be?”
Nick hesitated, but Alice’s determined expression loosened his tongue. “I leave for basic training a weekfrom today.”The flush that had been on Alice’s cheeks all day drained away. “But that’s so soon.”“I know.”
Her eyes narrowed slightly. “What aren’t you telling me, Nick?”He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against hers. “I’ve known when I was leaving for a while. Ididn’t tell you because I knew you’d get upset.”
Alice said nothing, but she closed her eyes. Nick took the opportunity to quickly glance around the room.Everyone else was smiling at them, except for Danny who was making an exaggerated face as though hewas disgusted by all the lovey-doveyness. Clearly, no one else had a clue at the true nature of their quietconversation.
“We could have moved the wedding up, if I’d known you were leaving so soon.”“It wouldn’t have changed when I was leaving.”“No, but we’d have been married for a lot longer.”“A few weeks, maybe. Look, Alice. We have a week left together before I go. There’s no guarantee thatI’ll get to come home between finishing my training and when I go overseas. Can’t we just enjoy it?”Alice looked him square in the eye, and her mouth twitched ever so slightly. “Of course.”
He breathed a sigh of relief, and leaned forward to kiss her, to the delight of the crowd. As he tucked herhead under his chin, he knew that their little argument wasn’t over. In fact, he was fairly certain that onceAlice got him alone, he’d regret his decision to keep her in the dark even more than he already did. *****
Nick frowned as he added logs to the fire. Alice was upstairs, unpacking noisily. She had a right to bemad at him, he had to concede. He had known for ages when he’d be headed off to basic training, andhe’d kept that information to himself for weeks. Then he’d gone and slipped up and told Alice that he’d beleaving a week after their wedding. At their wedding. During their first dance as husband and wife. Hegroaned just thinking about it. He’d wanted to spare her the pain, and now he was the one suffering. Heshould have just ‘fessed up when he’d gotten his orders in the first place. Alice might be upset by thenews, but he wouldn’t be wondering if he’d be spending his brief honeymoon banished to the sofa.
He struck a match and the small flame licked the kindling as it caught hold and began to warm the largegreat room. He stood before it and rubbed his hands, wondering exactly how much trouble he was in withhis new bride.
He heard the click of Alice’s heals on the stairs, and he turned towards the sound. She came around thecorner, keeping her hand along the wall as she did so. He smiled as he did so, and she tentativelyreturned the smile.“The cabin will warm up pretty quick once the fire gets going,” he said, uncomfortable with the silence. “Ican start one in the fireplace upstairs to warm the bedroom up for you if you’d like.”Alice quirked an eyebrow at him. “I was kind of hoping that you’d be there to keep me warm.”“I wasn’t sure about that, after how you reacted to my, uh, stupidity in keeping the truth from you.”
Alice crossed the room and caressed Nick’s cheek. “I may be mad at you and think you’re an idiot, but Iunderstand why you did what you did. Besides, with you leaving so soon, I don’t want to waste anothersecond of the time I have with you.”Nick relaxed into her touch. “I was worried.”“Good. Maybe you’ll think twice the next time you decide to keep something that important from me.”“Lesson learned.”“Good. Now come upstairs with me.”
Nick figured it would be in his best interests to listen to Alice, and he was right. *****
Nick and Alice returned from the mountains, both ready to face Nick’s impending departure. They spentthe few days they had left making sure Alice was settled in and felt comfortable, and doing things togetheras a family.One of the things they were able to do was celebrate the victory of the Navy over the Simpanese atMidsimway. Danny was especially proud of the branch of the military he was about to join.“Four of their aircraft carriers lost. Four!”“We know, Danny. We saw it in the papers too.”Danny continued as if his father hadn’t spoken. “And ten times as many men lost as us. This is a turningpoint, mark my words. Simpan will have no choice but to pull back. They don’t have the resources toreplace those loses.”
“And we do?” Alice asked.“We will,” Nick said. “More ships and aircraft and other war materials have been ordered. A lot of placesthat aren’t making war materials are changing over so they can. We’ve got the resources to build it.”“But who’s going to build them with all the men gone?” Dotty asked.“Women are,” James said.Dotty sniffed. “You won’t catch me working in a factory.”“Nor Rosalie,” Cindy said, raising her eyebrow at her daughter. “But I bet something like that is right upShirley’s alley.” *****
Alice was busy packing up some of Nick’s things with a heavy heart. He was leaving the next morning, andshe was dreading it.Rosalie had shown up on the pretense of offering her friend moral support, but in reality she was there totalk about herself. Alice was doing a decent job of tuning out Rosalie’s ramblings as she gently put thingsinto a suitcase.
“And of course, since you’ve gone and gotten married it will just be Shirley as a bridesmaid.”Alice nodded. “I didn’t realize you’d set a date yet.”“We haven’t but it’s only a matter of time. I’m not letting him leave without making things official betweenus.”Alice paused. “Bruce enlisted?”“No, he didn’t. He does have, however, a low draft number so I’m certain that it’s inevitable.”
There was a knock on the door, and Shirley came in. “Well, he’s gone,” she said glumly, and flopped downon the bed.The other two ladies stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to their friend.“How was it?” Alice asked.“I managed to keep from crying until the train pulled out of the station. Then I went and walked around fora while until I pulled myself together. Didn’t feel like going home yet, so here I am.”
Alice sat down next to Shirley on the bed and Rosalie sat at vanity, offering their silent support.“You know what the worst part of all this is? The bastard didn’t even bother to propose to me before heleft! I have to wait until he comes home to be Mrs. Gavigan, if he even comes home.”“Take it back,” Alice said quickly. “It’s back luck to say things like that.”Shirley rolled her eyes, but said, “Of course, he will come back. His father pulled some strings somehow,and he’s going into the Army Military Police so he won’t be on the front lines right away either. He’ll bestuck breaking up bar fights in Simdon or something between bored GIs waiting for the invasion. I’m surehe’s thrilled about that. But what does that have to do with him chickening out about proposing. Papa toldme he asked his permission, so I don’t know why he didn’t.”
Alice patted her hand. “I pretty much had to force Nick to promise to marry me before he left. If we hadn’tbeen engaged already, I’d probably be in the same boat as you.”“I could have been more proactive, I suppose. It’s just frustrating.”“I didn’t take you for one to have such stock in matrimony, Shirley,” Rosalie said.“I didn’t realize I was one until I couldn’t have it when I planned.”
The three lapsed into silence for a moment. Alice’s eyes drifted to the suitcase, and the other two ladiesnoticed.“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Shirley asked.“No, but I have to be. I’m determined to send Nick off with a smile, even if I have a breakdown when I getback here. I owe him that, at least.”“You can do it,” Shirley said, squeezing her hand.“I hope so,” Alice said as she got up and resumed her packing as the other two looked on with sympatheticeyes. *****
Nick and Alice stood on the train platform, locked in an embrace. James, Cindy, Danny and Dotty hadalready said their goodbyes, and had stepped inside the station to give the newlyweds a semblance ofprivacy.“…and if you need anything, you just let one of my parents know. They’ll take care of you like you wereone of their own.”Alice nodded, not trusting her voice.
“It’ll be okay, I promise. I’ll be stateside for the first twelve weeks, and I might get a few days leave onceI’m done basic training.”“I’m not going to count on that though,” she said.“No, that’s a probably a good idea. It’ll be short notice, and there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to gethome.”Alice just hugged him tighter.
The station master’s voice crackled on the loudspeaker, announcing the impending departure of the train.“I guess this is goodbye,” Nick said softly.Alice blinked back a tear that was threatening to spill out of her eye. “Not goodbye.”Nick looked at her questioningly.“It’s just ‘see you soon,’” she insisted. “Because you are coming home.”“I promise to do everything in my power to make sure that happens.”
The train blew its whistle.“I’ve got to go.”Alice nodded.“I love you.”“I love you too.”
Nick kissed her one last time, and broke from her arms. She smiled as best she could as he walkedthrough the train doors.
Alice stood on the platform, a smile frozen onto her face until the train pulled out of the station. It was thenthat she allowed the tears to flow.She felt and arm wrap around her in a comforting way, and recognized the scent of Cindy’s perfume. Theolder woman didn’t say anything, but her presence was enough to offer Alice a little comfort.Together, the two women who loved Nick the most in the world watched his train vanish into the horizon,each of them hoping with every ounce of their being that he would come home safely to them.
*************************************************************************************************************************And that is the end of Chapter 28. Behold my new favorite legacy couple.With the boys off to war, the next part of the legacy will be a bit of a miniseries that I’m calling The BradfordLegacy: The War Years. There will be five chapters centered around different character in generation 7.The first one will feature Rosalie and her family. No idea when that will come out just yet, but watch for it.You can leave comments on the Bradford Legacy thread at Boolprop, on my Live Journal, or on myDreamwidth, whichever you prefer.Continue on for outtakes, and a little behind the scenes stuff.
A huge thank you goes out to Cait for making Alice’s beautiful wedding gown. I have a feeling that thisdress will be “recycled” by a future legacy wife, and I can’t wait.
Yes, James really is going bald. I wrote a drabble on it a while back, and I liked it so much I just had tomake it canon. As you can see, it doesn’t bother Cindy in the least.
Alice finally got enough aspiration perks so she can conjure Grilled Cheese, so she was on a conjure-and-energize cycle for a while in college. She’s now up to 120 sandwiches, so I’m more than halfway there.Another rotation or two and she’ll be perma-plat.