"Dear Joe, I love you and miss you and will write to you every day."
Her Joe. Killed in the trenches of World War II. Rose Kaufman thought she'd never stop grieving him. He died never having seen his baby daughter. But Charlie shapiro, Joe's war buddy, didn't die. He came home to Brooklyn and dreamed of rebuilding his shattered life. With Rose...
It's hard to believe sixty years have passed since Rose said "I do" to Charlie. Sixty years since she entered this marriage of convenience...not knowing if she'd ever love the gentle, caring man who adored her without question.
Can love be as true the second time around? For Charlie, now in his eighties, only one woman can answer that.
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October 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Soldier and the Rose by Linda Barrett
Chapter One from THE SOLDIER AND THE ROSE by Linda Barrett
"Look at that gorgeous moon," said Rose as soon as they were outside. Her voice echoed her pleasure at the sight of the full moon so luminous in the clear sky.
"I'd rather look at the gorgeous girl standing next to me," said Charlie softly.
"The...the...what?" Rose tilted her head back and studied him. He didn't flinch.
"You heard me, Rose," he replied, taking her hand and leading her away from the house. "You're the prettiest girl I've ever known. You're smart and clever and wonderful. I've admired you from the first time I met you."
She didn't say anything, and for a moment he wasn't sure she'd ever respond. But then she did. "And you've been a wonderful friend, Charlie. Someone I can talk to about almost anything...about anyone...including Joe."
She couldn't have been clearer about her feelings. About where she stood-and he stood. But his D-Day had arrived. "Are you going to mourn Joe for the rest of your life?" he pursued. "Do you want to be alone forever?"
She pulled away from him. "Why are you asking me these questions? Why do you care what I do? You're confusing me."
A breakthrough. He stepped in front of her, and she was forced to look up at him. "The answer to each question is the same, Rosie. I love you. It's as simple as that. I've loved you for a long time. And right now my heart's beating faster than a bass drum because I've said the words out loud." He reached for her hand and brought it to his chest. "Can you feel it?"
They had paused beneath a street lamp at the corner. Her fingers were splayed across his left side. He saw her nod, heard her whisper, "Yes. Yes, I can feel it racing."
"I would be honored, Rose, if you would marry me. I would be honored to be your husband. Let's you and I make a life together-and give Susan a daddy."
He felt her flinch and hardened his tone before she could respond. "Joe's not coming back, Rose," he said. "For God's sake, Susan's never even met him!"
She stepped back, and now he saw tears trickle down her cheeks. "I know that, Charlie. Believe me, I know that. But marrying you is not fair. Not fair to you."
His heart started to sing. "I'll take that chance."
"But Joe was my bershert," she protested, allowing her tears to fall harder. "My soul mate. The one who was meant to be. And your soul mate is still out there." She waved her arm at the night.
"Shh...," he whispered, putting his finger gently over her lips, and slowly bending toward her until his mouth touched hers. He heard her quick intake of breath, but she remained with him, allowing the kiss to deepen, allowing herself to relax. And when she stepped away a moment later, he didn't protest until he saw that her eyes were as big as the moon above them. Until he heard her first words.
"What have I done?" She placed her hand over her mouth.
"You've rejoined the human race," he said. "And you're not hiding away again." He leaned toward her, gently moved her hand and kissed her once more.