Here is the first installment to something I felt compelled to write. It's finished and all will be uploaded within the next week. Reviews might speed up the process, so I suggest you leave some! Rated M for later content. It's taking place as WWII in the United States is unfolding. Remember to review.
Disclaimer: I own the story, not the characters or the heroic deeds of many individuals during this time period.
Darien was walking the streets of Langley, awaiting the day for his departure to Europe. It was 1943, the United States was mobilizing for war. He, a surgeon, enlisting for the front lines days after Pearl Harbor. He was looking for a definite job anyway. He was wearing his uniform, headed to the recruitment office for any assignments. As a medic, his training was less extensive than that of privates, corporals, pilots, or other such positions that required a straight shot.
He took a left and continued on down the street. It was a beautiful autumn day, the leaves were falling to the ground where he proudly crunched them with his shiny new black military assigned shoes. His dark thin hair rustled in the wind. He was young, hopeful, and determined, like many enlisted men of the time.
He spied the recruitment office up ahead. He was almost there when a blond whirlwind came around the corner barreling in his direction. Before he knew it the object ran into him at full speed, nearly knocked him to the ground. He grabbed the door knob for balance. He looked down at the pile of blond hair and it moved, issuing a groan.
"Are you running from something miss?" he asked.
"Oh my gosh!" she said, startled, jumping away from him. "I am so sorry! Honestly, I was running errands and I am on a tight time schedule…" she began to ramble. After finally calming down she was still enough for him to get a good look at her.
Her hair was long, longer than anything he had ever seen before. It came to her elbows and it curled slightly. She was diminutive, barely reaching his shoulders. Her skin was pale compared to his which was tan from basic training. He was most stunned by her eyes. They were of a pale blue, reminding him of the sky.
"I really am so sorry," she replied again. Darien scowled slightly.
"Well, apology accepted, just be more careful." Darien nearly hit himself. Why would he say something so rude? He was an officer, and a gentleman at that! The girl closed her mouth and it went into a pout. She turned away from him and faced the door. With his hand still on the door knob, Darien opened the door, letting the girl go inside first. It was the least he could do.
The girl went up to the counter where a woman sat in front of a pile of folders. "Excuse me, my names Serena, my father came earlier about a job?"
"Oh yes! Well, he said you are a very efficient typist and not so great with machinery, so it's the typewriters for you young lady!" the secretary said in a jovial tone. "Once a week should be good for right now. I hear you are enrolled in college after all!"
"Yes, I just started," she answered. Darien stood behind her, one eyebrow cocked up. "And my assignment?" The secretary was shuffling through the folders. She held up a finger to signal for her to wait.
"And what can I get you while I look for Miss. Serena's folder?"
"I'm Darien Shields, I just transferred from Annapolis?"
"Ah, yes!" The secretary looked up, eyeing him appreciatively. "They know how to make them up there don't they?" Darien heard this Serena snort. "Well, here's your folder miss." The secretary handed over a crisp folder to Serena. "Just fill those forms out and have them back in a week."
"Thank you," Serena replied. Clutching her folder to her breast, she pealed out of the room, the door slamming behind her.
"Jumpy little thing, don't you think?" the secretary asked.
"I suppose," Darien answered, turning away from the closed door.
"Late again! Serena, when will you learn? You're going to be late to your own wedding!" a black-haired beauty exclaimed.
"Calm down Raye, I was at the recruitment office! I had to pick some stuff up for my new job! And then I ran into this officer jerk. I can't wait until they deploy all of those men! All they do is walk around and cause trouble for girls like us!"
"Oh, relax! I happen to quite like the military men," a girl with shockingly blond hair commented. "Better than those uptight fools we go to school with!"
"You would Mina."
"Oh, be quiet Lita! You always officer hunt with me!" Mina spat back to the tallest of the group, her hair pinned back in curls. Mina turned her head away and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Regardless, this one was especially rude." The girls were sitting around a table at a local diner, a place they frequented after classes. What made the place especially endearing was the newest bar clerk who was super cute. Apparently, he had been in the army since leaving high school and was a private waiting for a promotion and deployment. There were a lot of officers floating around these days.
"I was thinking, maybe I should go up and finally speak with our cutie today," Lita told them. "What do you think?"
"Lita, is that really a good idea?" Amy, the mild-tempered pixie of the group said. "I mean, won't it be awkward if we come back after he says no?"
"What is he going to say no to Amy? It's just talking! Jumping to conclusions, aren't we?"
"Just the pen-ultimate, which you will eventually reach."
"I say you should talk to him," Serena answered.
"What about me?" Mina asked her. "Do support me?"
"I support both of you!"
"Then order from him, we shall!" Mina exclaimed, standing up, thrusting her fist into the air. She and Lita exited the booth and Serena moved closer into Amy.
"Oh my God," Raye hissed, following a target with her eyes. "Who is THAT!?"
"What are you talking about?" Serena asked, looking at the menu.
"I don't know but I sure want to find out," Raye answered. "He's way cuter than that other guy. No, he's not cute, he's handsome. I've never seen anyone look so good in a uniform. It looks like he is a marine."
"I have trouble believing that he could be that good looking."
"You haven't even looked!"
Serena rolled her eyes and looked up from her perusing to stare at the back of the rude man she had encountered earlier. She hadn't really gotten a good look at him beforehand, and now she could only see his back. He had black hair that hung around his ears and was wearing a cap over it. He was tall, but she already knew that. She had run into him.
"That's him! That's the guy I ran into earlier!"
"Enlist me for that then!"
"Hey, Mina and Lita are motioning us over," Amy pointed out. The girls got up, gathering everyone's bags. They headed over to the stools, each filing in besides Lita and Mina.
"Everyone, this is Andrew," Lita said. "He's staying here in Langley gathering recruits!"
"Amy." She held out her hand and he took it. Raye did the same, offering hers. He smiled and Serena melted slightly. He was very charming.
"And this is Serena," Mina interrupted her thoughts. Serena held out her hand, but a voice interrupted her and Andrew's first interaction.
"Well if it isn't the blond hurricane, Serena!" a deep, provoking voice said. Serena turned to see the man from earlier today. She had heard his name but it escaped her at the present moment.
"Hey! You know, you're really rude!"
"At least I don't run into people at full speed!" A few of the girls laughed and Serena sent them admonishing looks.
"You two already know each other?" Andrew asked.
"You could say that," Serena replied.
"Darien, I thought you just moved here?" Andrew continued.
"I did. I went down to the recruitment center today and we had a little bit of a run-in."
"How do you two know each other?"
"Andrew's my future commander once we go to Europe," Darien answered. "Well, I am a member of his squad. I am a medic so I have my own set of rules."
"You're a doctor?" Raye asked, her eyes glaring at him with a look of pure admiration.
"Yes. I work at the hospital when I am not on my days off. Primarily with sick officers, the influx has created problems at the hospital."
"I can't believe you're a doctor! Doctor's are supposed to be polite and supportive," Serena replied.
"Who says I am not either of those things?" Serena let out a sigh and turned to Andrew.
"Can I please have a chocolate shake and an order of fries."
"I will have a soda please," Lita chimed in after that. All of the girls ordered, Serena receiving hers first. She downed it before anybody could snatch a French fry and then polished off her drink.
"How long will you guys be in town?" Mina asked.
"Until we are deployed I think," Andrew answered. Mina nodded and continued to slowly sip her drink, drawing out her and Andrew's time together.
"Well, speaking of deployment, I have to go and write a paper for literature," Serena informed them. She grabbed her folder from the recruitment center and her school books, placing on her light jacket.
"Stop by anytime!" Andrew told her.
"Okay," Serena said happily, showing him her biggest smile. She pivoted on her feet and headed for the door. The bells jingling as she left. Darien watched as her skirt rippled around her, hair doing the same.
He wondered if he would ever see her again.
Serena, bored in class a few days later, was staring wistfully out the window. Clouds were gathering in the sky, showing signs of a storm. Serena sighed. She hoped they could hold out long enough for her to get home. She still had to go to the recruitment office later today to drop off her completed forms.
"And the formula for this particular equation needs simplifying." Serena hated maths. She listened to the teacher drone on but none of it ever sank in. She was more of a free thinker, a free spirit riding on the wind. She looked at the clock. Five more minutes of pure torture!
A note floated to her desk and she looked up. Mina was looking at her, her eyes relaying that she should read it. She opened it up under the desk, making sure the teacher was otherwise occupied.
"The girls and I are going dancing at the Riverbend tomorrow night and you're coming. Convince Amy to come along!" Serena read to herself. She looked at Mina and nodded. She stashed the note in her pocket and shut her notebook. The minute and had crept around the clock, taking baby steps. Two more minutes.
Serena's thoughts rested on the new clerk at the diner. He sure was cute. He had sandy hair and curious green eyes that she could not get enough of. She had stopped by to see him yesterday, enjoying the feeling of having him all to herself. She had yet to tell Mina of her escapades, but she was afraid of having her head taken off.
"Class dismissed," rang through the room like the bells of heaven. Serena bolted out of her seat and out the door. Mina soon followed. "You want to come over and study for a bit?"
"Can't," Serena answered, holding up the folder. "Going to the recruitment office to hand these in."
"You're pretty adamant about that job, aren't you?"
"If you want me to continue going to the diner, I am going to need some spending money. And it is only once a week until the telegrams pick up anyway."
"I guess I will see you tomorrow then. And don't forget to tell Amy!" Mina warned her. They headed in opposite directions, Serena sprinting down the stairs. She wanted to get there before the ominous storm hit.
She barreled down the sidewalk like there was a tiger nipping at her heals. But that's what storms were for her, giant tigers created of clouds, thunder, and lightning. She could only run so fast before her pray would down her. Once she reached the corner the recruitment office was on, she slowed. She remembered what happened last time and did not want to have a repeat of the situation. She peered around the corner and seeing no black-haired, tall, and handsome man in sight, she continued. She stopped moments after having the thought.
She pondered on the revelation. Yes, he was very handsome. His dark hair and tanned skin. His smirk that seemed to invade his face when he spoke with her. Even though the event had only happened twice, the smirk was always prevalent. He had broad shoulders and she could imagine the muscles that filled out his uniform.
Serena shook her head and continued on. She opened the door to the recruitment office and walked up to the desk, standing before the same secretary as before. "And what can I do for you?"
"I have those forms, you asked me to fill them out?"
"Oh yes, Miss. Serena!" She opened the folder and looked at every sheet of paper carefully. "Everything seems to be in order. You can start this Monday then? After school?"
"Yeah, okay!" Serena replied enthusiastically.
"I will see you then," the secretary told her. Serena nodded and headed out the door. Once outside, a chill ran up her spine. There was a booming and then a loud crack, followed by droplets. They grew steadily until there was a decent amount of water falling from the sky. Serena was running every which way, trying to hide from the impending thunder. Her house was still fairly far away. She needed to try and ride the storm out. After a crack of lightning and another boom of thunder. She sped in the opposite direction, hoping to come upon some place.
What she did was run straight into the park. With no cover in sight, she became even more panicked. She was drenched to the bone. Her sweater was soaked and her hair clung to her like a second skin. She hugged herself trying to keep the warmth that was escaping her.
And then the rained stopped. Well, that was a lie. It stopped in a circle around her. She looked up and stared into stormy blue eyes. How appropriate considering the situation. "Are you okay?" Darien's concerned voice asked her. "I saw you run into the park!" he shouted above the rain.
He wasn't wearing his uniform today. Instead he had on a sweater and navy pants. His hair hung in his face. He had on a white lab coat, which he presumed was for his job. There was another loud crack of thunder and Serena jumped, wrapping her arms around his waist. She feared how forward she was being, but didn't care. The tiger had her in his jaws and was about to bite down.
Darien was paralyzed. He had been walking home from work, smart enough to bring an umbrella, and he had spotted his favorite target sprinting into the park. He though it odd because it was raining hard and the park was not a safe place to be. He had run after her, nearly being hit by a car, and continued into the park where he found her near a memorial to some commissioner or other. And now she had her warm, wet body pressed up to his and he didn't know what to do.
But he was glad she was safe.
"Let's get you somewhere warm. The diner's near here, right?" She nodded her head. He coaxed her to let go of him, putting his arm around her as a substitute, and led her out of the park and back into town.
Serena clung to him as she walked, getting him effectively soaked. He didn't complain. She looked up at him, and deciding to press her luck, asked him a question. "Why are you helping me?"
"Because, we don't exactly get along."
"I have met you twice and we've had disagreements. That doesn't mean I don't like you," Darien chuckled. Serena relaxed a little more into his side. "In fact, you're one of the first people I ever, sort of, met here."
"You called me a hurricane and told me to watch where I was going!"
"Well, you are a hurricane and I think my comment was just made clear by your little jaunt in the park." Serena pouted. "Now, don't pout. Even though you look just as pretty."
"You think I'm pretty?" Serena asked. Surprised at his own words, Darien just shrugged. Serena's pout was replaced by a satisfied smile. Darien thought she was pretty.
They were a block away from the diner and Darien loosened his grip on her soggy shoulders. She loosened her hands around his waist. Once in front, Darien collapsed the umbrella and they both hurried inside.
"You guys look like you jumped into the fountain!"Andrew shouted. There were very few other patrons in the diner. A few were standing around the jukebox, going through songs, while another group was settled in a booth, books all around them.
"It is raining Drew," Darien replied. "You could at least get the lady a blanket." Andrew nodded and went into the closet and pulled out a towel.
"This'll have to do," he said, handing it to Serena. "You need one too?" he asked, pointing to Darien's wet clothing. He shook his head. It was only in the spots Serena had been glued to his body. Serena settled into one of the stools. Andrew brought to her a cup of coffee and the sugar and milk canisters. She nodded her thank you. Andrew poured Darien a cup of black coffee and put it in front of him. Darien sipped at the coffee, eyeing Serena.
"I'm gonna be okay you know. We're inside."
"I'm a doctor. This is what I do."
"I am just a little afraid of storms."
"Okay, not the point!" Serena grumbled. Darien smirked. Serena fumed. And Darien went right on smirking. "So, Andrew, when are you off doing army stuff?"
"In the morning and early afternoon. I work here during the evening." Serena nodded, her legs swaying on the stool. She sipped at her sugar-loaded coffee. Darien had watched her put in four lumps. And they weren't diminutive lumps.
"Don't you have any free time?"
"Sure. Usually on the weekends."
"Oh, Andrew! The girls and I are going to the Riverbend for that party tomorrow! You should come!"Serena said excitedly.
"I might," he responded. Darien's eyebrows met at the center of his forehead. Why didn't she ask him? Did she not want him to go? Darien took another sip of his coffee. "The rain is starting to slow down. You should really get home and change Serena."
"Yeah," she said, slipping off the stool.
"I'll walk you home," Darien offered, getting up after her. She nodded, handing back the towel to Andrew. In a daze, she headed for the door. Darien reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of bills, putting them on the counter for he and Serena. Andrew nodded him off and he followed Serena. "Wait a second!" he called after her. She stopped and turned. He removed his white coat and gave it to her. "You probably going to need it."
"But it's your lab coat," Serena told him.
"I know what it is, now put it on!" She obliged him and slipped it on. He opened the umbrella and she stepped outside under it.
"Thank you," Serena said quietly.
"You're quite welcome."
"I guess I was wrong."
"You are quite a gentleman," she told him. He could see that she was visibly blushing.
"I try," he answered. "So where do you live?"
"Eight blocks away or so." Darien nodded. "We have to take a right here." They waited to see no cars driving down the street and they crossed over. Subconsciously, Darien wrapped his arm around Serena again, pulling her closer to him. Serena leaned her head on Darien's shoulder and they continued on in silence until Serena felt the need to speak.
"Do you like it here in Langley?"
"It's a quaint town. I was going to move a few towns across, but I didn't want to be in with the thick of the army."
"Do you like being in the army?"
"Yes. I went to the naval academy and became a doctor in an expedited program. Five years."
"How old are you?" Serena asked curiously.
"Eighteen," Serena said proudly. Darien chuckled. "What's so funny about being eighteen?" she asked.
"Nothing. Nothing at all." There was an occasional small rumble of thunder in the background, but nothing of the magnitude of before. Serena sniffed at his coat. It smelled of a hospital, but otherwise there was something she liked in that smell. Not the hospital smell, what she presumed to be Darien's smell. It was indescribable, something she'd never smelled before, but it was wonderfully comforting. "What are you studying?"
"I want to become an elementary school teacher," Serena replied. "I like working with children." Darien nodded. "Have you always wanted to be a doctor?" He nodded. "Your parents must be really proud of you! My parents are always telling me to do better. And you're a doctor!"
"My parents are proud of me, I think."
"They died when I was very young."
"I'm sorry," Serena whispered.
"It's okay. I don't remember much. Besides, I am sure your parents are very proud of you. You are in college. That's an accomplishment."
"A teaching college."
"You're there, right?"Serena shrugged. She looked up, her house only a block away.
"We're almost to my house," she told him. He looked up to where she pointed. He nodded. She was shrugging out of his coat as they walked along. "Thank you," she told him as they approached her gate. "It was really nice of you, to…you know, rescue me."
"Anytime," he told her.
"Darien?" she asked, staring at the ground.
"Do you want to go dancing with me tomorrow?" Serena asked, her eyes shut, fingers crossed. The silence was excruciating. Darien stood unmoving next to her. This couldn't be a good thing.
"I can't promise I am a good dancer, but I can try." Serena's bubble of happiness traveled up her body into her fingers and head. She looked up, smiling as wide as she could. She hopped up on her tip toes and matched her lips with his.
The happy feeling floated to Darien, invading his body, traveling down to his toes. She took a step closer and he encircled his arms around her, taking her closer to him. The happy feeling lit both on fire. Serena finally descended off her tiptoes and came down from the cloud known as "Darien." Blushing profusely she unlatched the gate and ran up the path.
"Serena," his deep voice called after her. "Six o'clock tomorrow?" She nodded, biting her lip. She opened the door and slipped inside, removing her shoes.
"Serena," a soft voice called out. Her mother came from the sitting room. "Who was that young man?"
"His names Darien Shields. Dr. Darien Shields, he was just deployed here. He works at the hospital."
"He's in the army then?" her mother asked. She nodded. "How did you two meet?"
"At the recruitment office. When I went to get my forms. He walked me home today from the diner. I think we're going to go out tomorrow."
"Bring him by then. I am sure your father would want to meet him," her mother informed her, a small smile playing on her face.
Serena waited at her front door, hopping from foot to foot. Her mother and father sat at the dining room table, anxiously awaiting her date. Serena looked at the grandfather clock once more, it was almost six o'clock. Was Darien punctual? She realized how little she knew about him. And how much she wanted to know.
The doorbell rang and Serena looked through the peephole. Darien was standing there, hands in his pockets, holding a small bouquet of flowers. Excited, Serena swung open the door. "Good evening miss," Darien smiled, and handed her the flowers.
"Come in, please," Serena instructed him. He nodded and stepped inside. She shut the door behind him going to find a vase in the kitchen. Darien followed her, not knowing what else to do. He had on one of his military outfits. Special patches and insignias showed his rank and position in the marines.
She took the flowers and walked into the dining room, setting them down on the table. Darien followed and entered a room where two adults sat. The man had his hands joined together at the head of the table and the woman was sitting straight up in her chair watching Darien.
"Darien, these are my mother and father."
"Nice to meet you sir, m'am," he said politely. He took her father's hand first and then kissed her mothers. Serena was impressed.
"It seems you are taking my daughter out these evening to the Riverbend," her father told him. Darien just nodded. "And that is all?"
"Yes sir," Darien replied.
"I understand that you are a doctor at the hospital and are planning on being deployed to Europe, is that correct?"
"When orders are received, yes, I am in one of the battalions headed for the invasion."
"And you went to the Naval Academy?" Darien nodded again. "I expect her back by ten." He turned to Serena with the next statement. "No exceptions young lady," he warned her. Serena nodded obediently. Her mother got up and walked over to Serena and gave her a hug.
"Tell all of the girls I said hi. No, run along before they start without you." Serena nodded and looked at Darien who just smiled. He walked over to her and offered his arm. She took it graciously and they were out the door.
"Thanks for the ambush."
"You handled it well. A natural charmer." Darien chuckled and shook his head at that statement.
"Do I charm you?"
"Sure you do."
"Well then, mission accomplished." Serena blushed. "So, what is this Riverbend?"
"It's a banquet hall where they hold all sort of town events. They didn't start throwing regular dances until the officers came into town. It gives them something to do rather than go out and drink in bars."
"Always a bad thing," Darien scolded, a smirk on his face.
"Do you drink?"
"Occasionally. Not often though. No need." Serena nodded and they continued on down the street. "Have you leaved her your whole life?"
"Yes, my father is the resident taxation authority, I guess you could say, for the county."
"I will make sure never to make him angry then." Music floated to their ears and Serena told Darien they had to make a left. "Who usually goes to these things?"
"College aged boys and girls and a few officers. Maybe one or two married couples."
"Do you know any married couples?"
"Acquaintances," she answered. The music was getting louder. Swing music. Soon, Serena heard shouts coming from the Riverbend of girls giggling at random jokes and gossip. She saw the lights against the dusky sky, revealing pinks and oranges, the sun dipped below the horizon line.
The couple entered the Riverbend and the music and conversation invaded their senses. Serena was soon swamped by many girls, including her four friends that had been at the diner the other day. Darien spotted Andrew and a few other officers sitting at another table. He walked over to them and sat down at their table, ordering a soda. He kept an eye on Serena, who was still chatting with her friends.
"Oh, Serena, you lucky devil, how did you ever arrange to come here with Darien?" Mina asked, a mischievous look on her face. "I thought you two disliked each other."
"More of a misunderstanding."
"And you even got Andrew to come!" Lita exclaimed.
"It wasn't that hard, I just asked."
"Serena, where did you meet Darien?" her old friend Molly questioned. "Because sign me up."
"The recruitment office!" Mina answered for her.
"Serena, I didn't know you liked Darien," Raye said in a lower tone that only Serena could here. Serena turned to her and realization hit her. Raye had shown a heavy interest in Darien.
"I am so sorry Raye! I had no idea that you-."
"No, no! It's okay, really…" Raye trailed off. "Besides the way he looks at you, he never showed any real interest." Serena's face fell. Raye had liked him first.
"Miss?" a voice asked. Serena turned to see a man standing behind Mina, trying to get her attention. "A dance?"
"Sure!" Mina answered enthusiastically. The man took her hand and led her out onto the floor. Soon all of Serena's friends were getting picked up to dance. Only she and Amy were left standing.
Darien saw Serena standing alone with one friend and motioned to Andrew. Understanding, they both left the table and walked over to them.
"Amy?" Andrew asked. Delight showed on Amy's usually stoic face. She took Andrew's hand as he twirled her out onto the dance floor.
"Serena?" Darien's deep sensual voice came from behind her. She giggled and turned around. He took both her hands and thrust her out onto the dance floor.
Mina winked at the two as they traveled across the floor in time to the swing music. Darien wasn't the best dancer, but neither was Serena. She knew enough to make it look good though. Her dark blue dress flared out around her.
She had to admit, Darien and she did look stunning together. Her dress was a small v-neck that hung off of her chest and was bunched at the waist, then flaring out to her knees. She had on little closed toed high-heeled shoes that propelled her a couple of inches higher so she was exactly at Darien's shoulders now.
The music slowed to a different tempo and Darien drew her closer against him. One hand rested on the small of her back, the other held his hand. Her free hand rested on his shoulder, her head just below his chin. "We should go out more often Serena."
"I agree," she answered. Serena relaxed and nearly fell asleep listening to Darien's slow steady rhythmic heartbeat.