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Friendly Enemies

Author(s): Bruce Cooke

At the outbreak of war, Peter Stevens and Jennifer Stewart meet in Darwin and fall in love, never suspecting the trauma ahead. When Peter is captured in the desert and listed as dead, Jennifer's heart is broken. After another relationship ends in disaster, she thinks she's a jinx to every man who loves her.

Peter's life is saved by Hans Schneider, a German who has suffered the horrors of Auschwitz and falls foul of a sadistic Gestapo officer. When the Gestapo officer dies, Peter must get Hans away. He takes Hans back to Australia, where, after hearing news of the bombing of Darwin, he fears that Jennifer is dead.

This gripping tale of love and war plays out on an epic canvas that spans from Nazi Germany to Australia.


EXCERPT:

Peter followed his directions and decided to get himself a cup of tea while he waited for the DC 3 to arrive for the Sydney leg. The place was abuzz with conversation mingled with the noise of clinking cups and trays, and the air was filled with cigarette smoke stinging his eyes the moment he entered the building. He joined the queue, bought his tea and then looked around for a possible seat.

It was her blonde hair that attracted his attention. Ever since he had lost her he always let his gaze fall to any blonde, conjuring up pictures of her face in his mind. He smiled to himself as he thought of her sparkling blue eyes and lovely features and then had to physically bring himself back to reality.

Her memory would always be with him. He knew that and the pain still lingered, even if it had been over four years. Maybe one day he could let go but still felt that day was a long way off. He looked a second time as she had her face obscured slightly as she peered at the rain belting on the windowpane of the canteen.

He was almost about to look elsewhere when he noticed her fingering something hanging from a small gold chain around her neck. Jesus, it looked like a ring, his ring.

She turned her head back and then he saw her again. She looked just as beautiful as he remembered and he thought he was dreaming. Often at night he would lie in his bunk and see her face, feel her lips on his, touch her skin, reach for her then only to wake to the realization she was gone forever. Feeling his heart leap to his throat, he waited for this illusion to vanish but it didn't. His hand started to tremble as he waited trying to clear his vision.

"Jennifer," he whispered and then slowly started to move toward her. This is a mistake, he told himself as he got closer. It can't be, but it was, it really was.

His trembling hand let the cup slip from his fingers and go crashing to the floor. She turned toward the disturbance and as their eyes locked, all the color drained from her face. It was as if the background noise had suddenly vanished and they were the only two people in the canteen. He reached her table and stood transfixed as she slowly rose.

"Peter," she gasped, "It can't be, they told me you died, I rang your parents, they told me - - -" She stopped, unable to go on. Both had tears in their eyes and they just stood there looking at each other, frozen by a chain binding their hearts together once more. She lifted her hand and stroked the side of his face as if to see if it was really him. Then they slowly slipped their arms around each other and embraced, feeling the hot tears on each other's cheeks, not speaking, just letting their emotions filter through their touch. By now the tears were really flowing and they both struggled to regain their composure, neither embarrassed, neither caring about others eyes watching.

"I've carried your face in my mind all through the war, Jennifer. I went out into the desert by myself and cried when I thought I'd lost you."

She was smiling through the tears now, her eyes shining with the moisture reflecting in the light as she looked at him.

"You couldn't believe the depression I've been in just thinking of you. I tried to tell myself it was just a fleeting romance and to forget the whole thing but I couldn't."

He cut off her words as he gently kissed her, oblivious to the personnel standing in the canteen. People turned away, embarrassed by the intimacy of their moment

"If you think you're going to get away again then you're crazy," he said looking into her blue eyes. "We're going to start all over again and I'm going to romance you until you scream for mercy."

"Yes please," she said now clasping his hand tightly. She lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it gently. The gloom of depression suddenly vanished.


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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-0-9804739-1-9
Genre: Historical
Date Published: 03/07/2008
Publisher: Eternal Press

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