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ISBN-10: 1-77115-425-X
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 429 Pages
Published: August 2018

From inside the flap

Anne Thompson’s life in 1956 was typical of a normal, solid, middle-class English woman. Then, for a lark, she wrote a letter to an American Air Force corporal, David Beckman, based in France, and he becomes a pen-pal. This sets off a chain of events, pushing her on an amazing journey through a life she could never have imagined.

If Anne had used her gift of heightened intuition, sometimes able see into the future through dreams and visions, and looked ahead, she would have been stunned by what lay in store for her. Would she have had the courage to face it? David Beckman, fell in love with her before he even met her in person, and when he came to England on leave, swept her into the tumultuous circle of her destiny.

Anne’s friend, Julian Sinclair, charming, good looking and aristocratic, was a successful, journalist/photographer. Anne, at nineteen, seven years his junior, was too young for him to consider having anything other than a platonic relationship with her; fighting against his deep attraction he thinks wise to ignore. They spent their time together, discussing philosophy, politics and the arts. Anne’s parents had made sure their young daughter had been well-educated. Anne, intelligent, strongly opinionated and beautiful, was an amusing companion for Julian. Anne hated the English class system, the poverty it produced. Julian argued it was not just relegated to Britain warning her not only in England is there a class system. This was a source of minor conflict between them.

A mysterious, handsome Indian Sikh, with beautiful dark luminous eyes appears one day while she is on an errand for her mother. Scrutinizing her as she waited for her order, he tells her, “You have the gift. Follow your heart. You will cross a vast stretch of water. There will be tears, but when destiny’s circle is complete, you will be happy.” After paying the shopkeeper, she looks around, but the Sikh has vanished. Was he real or a figment of her fertile imagination?

Swept away on an emotional tide, over which she feels she has little control, she ventures on a diverse journey of despair and joy, learning many hard lessons. Her life becomes almost intolerable until she meets an American Air Force pilot, who befriends her. Through twists of fate, coincidences, the Cold War and political upheaval leading up to the onset of the Vietnamese War, all four men influence her life for better and for worse.

Over the years, the Sikh seems to appear at times of crisis. Who is this mysterious foreigner? Where does he come from, and why did he choose to come into her life?

Destiny (Excerpt)

Chapter One

Stockport, England-1958

It had been about a year ago that Anne Thompson began corresponding with an American Airman stationed in France. Her girlfriend talked her into it for a lark. She had a pen-pal stationed at the same base, and he'd asked if she had a friend who might like to write to his buddy. It was fun corresponding and exchanging photos. Now she was sitting on a bench waiting at the Stockport railway station on a chilly, early November evening, for the train to pull in bringing this stranger to visit her.

She tried to imagine what he would be like. Now and again, she had a sort of second sight, a heightened intuition, able to tune in on people and situations. Her friends liked to scoff and tease her about it, but secretly heeded her advice. Having no siblings, when she was a young child, she was often lonely making up imaginary playmates. They were quite real to her, but over time the grown-ups convinced her they were figments of her imagination, but were they? There were occasions when her dreams became a reality, a form of Deja vu. As she grew older, books took the place of her invisible playmates. Beginning elementary school and learning how to read, her mother, an avid reader herself, took her to the library every week, introducing her to the classic romances like, Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, the Bronte's, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. By fourth grade, she added historical, political fiction and non-fiction to her reading. She also loved to dance and went to a local ballroom on Saturday nights with her few friends. Her dancing skills she acquired at any early age. In their younger days, her parents had taught ballroom dancing part-time in the evenings, and more often than not, before she started school, took her with them, the adults teaching her how to dance. She was like the dainty little mascot of the dance club. As the night wore on she would curl up on one of the loveseats around the dance floor and go to sleep.

Her parents made sure she received a good education as theirs was sadly lacking, both leaving school at fifteen to get menial jobs, to help support their poor families: brothers and sisters. Through hard work, innate intelligence and self-education, they elevated their station in life. When Anne won a scholarship to a respected girls' school their hopes were realized and, as her father said, she would learn to speak properly without a trace of an accent. They sacrificed small luxuries and budgeted to provide funds for the uniforms and necessary equipment.

This proved frustrating for Anne, because after graduating from grammar school at sixteen, she wanted to attend Manchester University, but her parents could not afford it. She had to settle for attending a local business college two nights a week, and working during the day for two dental surgeons who trained her as a chairside assistant-receptionist. Eventually she became their office manager, keeping books and dealing with the red tape the National Health Service required, but somehow, she felt her destiny did not lie here. Where she would go, what she would do was just a hint concealed within her subliminal consciousness.

Tonight, however, no dream or intuition prepared her for the meeting with the young G.I. corporal, David Beckman, a twenty-two- year old from Connecticut, obviously literate from his letters, and looked fairly attractive in his pictures. She hoped he was a decent sort as she was stuck with showing him around for five days while he was on leave. Writing from France, he told her he was taking leave to see London for a couple of days then would like to come north, and meet her and her family. Was it possible she could take a few days off from her job?

Her boss, Frank Wallace, the one she mostly worked with, happened to be taking a short holiday at the same time, so he told her to take a few days off. Anne's co-worker, Wynn, could fill in for her with his associate Dr. Holiday.

She huddled down into her wool jacket, pulling up the collar and glanced up at the large railway clock suspended from the iron support beams of the station roof. It was ten minutes after seven. The train was overdue.

The Station Master walked past breaking into her thoughts. "Evenin' Miss," he said, in a broad, Lancashire accent, touching his hand to his uniform cap. "Train's runnin' a bit late but should be 'ere shortly"

As if on cue, she heard the train approaching the station.

"Well, here it is at last," she said, standing up watching the large locomotive rumble in and come to a stop with a blast of hot steam. "Have a good night station master."

Little did Anne know, the train pulling into the station that night, an American on board, would set off life-changing events for her.

A young man wearing a U.S. Air Force uniform, with two stripes on the sleeve, stepped out of a compartment. He was holding onto a large duffel bag. He searched the platform and saw Anne walking toward him. Commuters, coming home from work in Manchester, stared at him, curious. Not too many Americans came to the industrial town of Stockport. When Anne and David came face-to-face she wasn't sure how to greet him. The decision was made for her when he set down his duffel bag, hugged her and kissed her lightly on the cheek.

"Hello, Anne." he said, quickly appraising her well-proportioned features, warm-blond hair and aquamarine eyes. "Your picture didn't do you justice. You're beautiful."

"I'm happy to meet you at last," Anne said shyly, taken aback at his direct approach, and what she thought a definite overestimation of her looks. "Welcome to dirty old Stockport. For once it isn't raining. Shall we see if we can find a taxi?" He nodded and picked up his bag. "This way," she said, leading him toward the steps away from the cindery smell of coal. They walked along the dingy, smoke-stained passageway to the exit, where black taxis waited in line for fares.

She said, "Did you have an uneventful journey?"

"Long--tedious, but no problems. I took the train from Chateauroux to Paris then down to Calais where I caught the ferry over to Dover. The Channel was choppy, but I didn't get sea sick, but a few of the other passengers were a little green around the gills."

"I would most definitely be one of those," she said with a grimace.

David smiled. "Not a good sailor, huh?"

"No. I take after my Mum. When she was a young woman, she and her friends used to go to the Isle of Man for their holiday every year. She inevitably got seasick and was terrified of drowning. She can't swim, you see. None-the-less, apparently, it was worth the short time of discomfort as they always had loads of fun and went back.

David laughed. "She sounds like a determined lady. My mother is the same except she is determined to rule the roost. Dad just grins and bears it.

"Anyway, I got the train to London, found a small, fairly inexpensive hotel a few blocks off Piccadilly Circus close to the underground station that was convenient for sightseeing."

The next taxi in line pulled up and the driver stowed David's large bag beside him on the front seat and turned on the fare meter while David opened the back door for Anne to get in then slid in beside her. She gave the cabbie the address for Alma Lodge, where she had booked him accommodations. It was a quiet, small, boutique hotel in an expanse of well landscaped grounds close to her parents' suburban home. The ride through town was not as awkward as she feared. David was talkative, and full of questions. He was not sophisticated or handsome, but his face was attractive; brown eyes, dark wavy hair, slim and stood around five-ten, a few inches taller than Anne in her two inch high-heeled shoes. She liked him.

The American's opinion of Anne showed in his admiring glances. He was already a little infatuated with the young English woman from her letters and photos. In person she was more than he had hoped for. Her British accent, spiced with a slight hint of a brogue, was fascinating. She was wearing a dark-blue tweed suit and a pastel blue sweater over her neat trim figure.

Anne waited in the hotel lobby while the owner showed David to his room. She hoped it would meet with his approval. A few minutes later he descended the staircase smiling.

Good. She asked, "Is your room all right?"

He held up a thumb and forefinger making an okay sign. "Very nice, thanks. Would you like to go for a drink? I'll unpack later."

"If you aren't too tired, I think my parents would like to meet you. Mum probably has a light supper ready for us." Anne knew her mother would be dying of curiosity about the young man, and her father anxious to see if the American was a gentleman.

"No, I'm not tired. Sounds good. Let's go." David linked Anne's arm through his as they walked the tree-lined streets to her home.

The Thompsons' two-story, semi-detached, red brick hose, had a bay window overlooking a small, neatly trimmed garden surrounded by a three-foot high brick fence.

"Your house looks really nice." David commented as they walked through the gate. "Does your Dad like to work in the garden?"

"He does like to potter in his spare time. Before the Second World War the fence used to have decorative iron railings across the top, but the government took them to use the metal for the war effort. They were never replaced."

Double gates on one side allowed access to a driveway and garage. Light spilled through an etched, partial glass front door. Anne opened it with her key and they heard a TV going.

"Mum, Dad," she called out. We're here."

The TV was turned off and her parents appeared in the entrance hall to greet them. Her father was in dress pants and dress shirt, open at the neck, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his tie pulled loose, obviously relaxing after work. He was fairly tall with salt and pepper, wavy hair. Her mother, slender, barely five feet tall, had golden-blond hair and bright, friendly, blue-green eyes. Anne looked a lot like her mother.

She reached out to shake hands with David then introduced her husband. "I hope you're hungry, David. I have some chicken sandwiches and a Devonshire cream, sponge cake." Turning to her husband she said, "Dad, would you bring in the tray? I put up the card table in the living room so we can sit near the fire. You both must be chilled. You know our lovely English weather," she said rolling her eyes.

"Yes Ma'am. Thank you." David said politely.

Their house was neat as a pin, cozy and tastefully furnished. A couple of hours went by quickly while they sat chatting getting acquainted. Anne's father was the manager and head of sales and tailoring at two exclusive, men's wear shops in Stockport and Manchester. Mrs. Thompson had a part-time job as a seamstress, but was mostly a homemaker. David found her parents to be warm and gracious hosts.

Anne stifled a yawn as an antique clock chimed ten. Her mother said she was calling it a night. David said he ought to head back to his hotel. Mr. Thomas offered to give him a lift, but David refused saying he would enjoy the short walk. Anne showed him out, stopping at the doorstep. David thanked her for a pleasant evening. They said good night and he kissed her lightly on the mouth.

"Ring me in the morning, and we'll make plans," she said. "You have the phone number?" He nodded. She watched him walk down the pathway into the night. When he passed under the street light, he turned back and waved at her. She wondered, who was this stranger and why did come into her life? She did not believe in coincidences. There was a reason everything happened.

Mrs. Thompson had not yet gone to bed when Anne went back inside the house. "Well," she said, putting away the supper things. "Do you like him?"

"He seems quite nice," Anne replied. "He's very pleasant and not bad looking."

"Nice teeth," her mother said. Anne burst into laughter. This was her mother's primary concern and evaluation of most young men Anne went out with. During the war most dentists were off fighting, or flying bombers. Consequently, older English people did not have good teeth, and because the English drank so much tea, their teeth were generally stained beige. Since Anne worked in a dentist's office, she and her parents took advantage of free, good dental care.

"He is a pleasant young man, isn't he?" her mother remarked. "He'll make a nice friend." She paused for a second looking at Anne questioningly. "Not as nice looking or exciting as Julian though, is he?"

Mrs. Thompson was referring to a young man Anne went out with occasionally, she had been introduced to by her boss. Both men had spent two years in the RAF straight out of university doing their Government National Service. Julian went into pilot training, flying Lightnings, small fighter jets, and Frank, her boss, went to RAF Dental School.

"Mum, Julian is older, more educated than David and from a different class. It amuses him to hang out with me, and he likes to see you and Dad when he's in town.

"Well, maybe so, but you never know. He may have other plans for you."

Anne just shook her head. Her mother was an incurable romantic.