The Big Band Series, Book 2
Despite their different backgrounds, Randy Jones agreed to take Cassie Ann Porter for better and for worse. He never considered how much worse things could get, but he finds out after he returns home from serving in the army during World War II. Unable to find a job, he has to depend on his wife to support the family, which includes their two daughters, who at first refuse to have anything to do with him.
Cass works at the shipyard, one of many women employed to fill in while the men were gone to war. Her employer doesn’t replace her and the others because he can pay them so much less than he would men, yet she would like nothing better than to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.
When a good intention goes wrong, Randy wonders if he and Cass have made a mistake in going against society’s rules. Can the “worse” ever get better?
She had come at him like a battering ram aiming for a steel door. The force from the impact pushed him back two steps. It knocked the wind out of him and caused the brooch pinned over her heart to dig into his chest.
After living with people who would not notice, or care, if he went missing, Randy welcomed Cass’s enthusiasm. He dropped the coat slung over his arm and embraced his wife. Despite the presence of his in-laws, his lips pressed against hers.
Randy relished the feel of her curves against his body. He had awakened too many mornings without her by his side and had gone to sleep too often with his arms longing to hold her.
Six years earlier, when he stood before the justice of the peace in the presence of their friends and agreed to take Cass as his wife, he had done so with the intention of letting no man separate them physically, as well as in his heart. But when he received his draft notice, he had been given little choice. He either had to serve his country or go into hiding, facing jail time.
The two years he had been away had been the longest and loneliest of his life. He wanted to reassure Cass of his devotion to her and make up for the nights they had been unable to come together.
The sound of a throat clearing pierced through the mental shield Randy had erected to block out everyone but his wife. The reminder that they were not alone did not diminish Randy’s desire for Cass. But out of respect for those present, he broke the kiss.
Cass buried her head in his shoulder. The tears he had seen in her eyes before she closed the gap between them soaked his collar. His own tears rushed down his cheeks.
“Told you she wouldn’t miss you,” his brother-in-law called from inside the house. “How ’bout we go to the juke joint and get a drink?”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
Cass’s mumbled reply was unnecessary. After being away for two years, four months, and twenty-seven days, he had no intention of leaving her anytime soon. Hell, she would be lucky if he let her out of his sight long enough for her to visit the outhouse.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Randy reassured her before kissing the top of her head.
The peck was as chaste as the kiss he would give to his mother-in-law. Yet an energy shot straight to his groin, awakening the part of his body that had been denied a woman’s warm touch during his time away from Cass.
“You’re not going away again?” A voice that was transitioning from its high-pitched, childish squeak to the deeper tone of an adult, drifted from inside the house. Her question diverted his attention from thoughts he could not entertain until Cass and he were alone in the small bedroom they used whenever they visited her parents.
Randy glanced over his shoulder and through the crowd that had gathered to welcome the youngest son of Mack and Sarah Porter home. His brother-in-law stood by the front door, where his daughter had attached herself to his waist. Tears coated his round lenses.
The man’s brown hand brushed the girl’s wavy, reddish-brown hair that was pulled back into a ponytail. “Not if I can help it,” Joe Frank replied.
With a smile that brightened the sunlit room, the girl laid her head on her father’s chest. The lines that creased her forehead quickly faded.