Today's excerpt is from Feathers by T.E. Hodden, part of the
Hearts of Valor anthology.
We hope you enjoy today's tease!
Archie was sat on a bed. He lit up like a lime light in the theatre when he saw Billie. His chirpy face glowing as he locked eyes with her. He sat up in his bed and waved her over. Kerry watched the smile growing on Billie. It was like her heart was thawing. Pride, joy, relief, and sorrow all mingled, as she let out a giggle, that became a laugh. She hurried over to him.
Sam touched Kerry's arm, he was nodding at some of the other men from his regiment. They lingered back for a moment, as Archie and Billie shared their first, precious few words together. They watched the reunion from afar.
“Sammy!” One of the living ghosts hopped down from a bed. His arm was in a sling, half his face hidden by bandages. “What are you doing back here?”
“Archie sent word. I had to come check on the lads, didn't I Sarge.” Sam patted the shoulder of the staunch looking soldier.
“So which of these is Mrs Sam?” The Sergeant said, straightening up to a parade ground posture.
“Wendy.” Wendy said, offering her hand. “But we are still engaged.”
“Oh. So poor Sam is still waiting on tickets to Gretna Green, eh?” The Sergeant beamed.
“And this is our good friend Kerry.” Wendy added.
“Sarge, what happened?” Sam said, his voice low.
“We had a bit of a push. It turned nasty.” The sergeant was choosing his words carefully, keenly aware of the ladies present. “We got caught in a tight spot, and the shells pummelled us.”
“What about Chris?” Kerry said.
The sergeant looked at her. There were a few Christophers in his care.
“The Professor.” Sam said.
“Oh.” The sergeant nodded. His smile was grave. “He'll live too.”
“He's here?” Kerry said.
The sergeant looked to an empty bed. He stroked his moustache in thought. “Probably in the gardens.”
“Go on.” Sam said, ushering her away as he followed the sergeant.
Kerry walked through the ward, following the shuffling fellows on their way to the garden. The morning was bleak and cold, under a cloudless sky the colour of dust. The skeletal trees cast long shadows over the trim lawn painted with silver. The winter sun was swollen and bright, low in the sky. For a moment Kerry just stood and watched the tide of people ambling and strolling through the gardens, trying to let slip their burdens.
She could not see Christopher among them. She saw a cluster of familiar figures gathered around the small pond. They were jostling and playing as they always had. They looked like they could have still been in short trousers, kicking a ball around the alley, or chalking cricket stumps on a fence.
But Christopher was not among them.