Friends for life and born on the same day, Meg, Iris, and Val meet every St Patrick's Day on Princes Bridge Melbourne to throw in a coin to remember their dead fathers. When the Second World War breaks out, one of them makes a terrible mistake that results not only in estrangement but in a love that no one ever imagined. This story is filled with undying love, friendship, betrayal, retribution, tragedy and reunion.
People seem to have lost their inhibitions," she said. "Did you notice how couples kissed openly at the dance? They wouldn't have done that before the war started."
He smiled sardonically before answering. "That's because some of them realize that the people they love might not be here in a year."
"It was romantic to see them like that." Subtle? Me? Not likely.
He sat there grinning. Kiss me damn it, she thought. Their eyes locked but he made no move. This was the moment, she decided. Now or never. Snuggling up to him, she lifted his arm and placed it across her shoulder.
"I didn't invite you in to drink tea. Okay, we had a bargain, but do you always have to be such a gentleman?" By now she was getting exasperated. He wasn't helping one little bit.
It was as if he found her quite amusing. "What do you mean?"
"If you have to ask, you're not as smart as I thought you were."
"Do you still have that mean left hook?"
"Why don't you try to find out?" There it was, a challenge, but would he take it?
"Why don't I?" He pulled her closer and placed his fingers under her chin, lifting her face. His lips found hers and she closed her eyes, savoring the gentle pressure he applied. Slipping her tongue into his mouth, she suspected he was probably surprised she could be so forthright. She'd never been this way before. He pulled her further into his arms and she felt protected, loved. He pulled back and looked into her face.
"That was nice," Meg said, running her fingers along his cheek.
He smiled "Yeah."
She took a deep breath, wondering how he would feel about what she was going to say next. Women weren't supposed to say such things.
"Make love to me." She suddenly felt vulnerable. What if he refused her?
He dropped his arms and placed a hand on each of her shoulders, staring at her for what seemed like endless moments. "Would mind repeating that?"
Meg lowered her gaze to her feet, regretting her words. "Um… I said make love to me. You don't have to if you don't want to…" She could feel the heat drifting up her face as she looked at him. "God now I feel like a fool."
His eyes sparkled and a slow grin spread over his face.
"You're no fool, but do you remember our bargain?"
Encouraged by his smile, Meg nodded. "You said I would have to ask if we were ever to make love. So, I'm asking." There, it was out. It had to be plain to him now. Please don't reject me? She took a deep breath.
"That's not what I recall. I think it was a little stronger than that."
Her face must have looked like an over ripe tomato to him—she knew what he meant. The corner of his eyes crinkled up as his grin got bigger and bigger.
"All right, you said I had to beg."
He opened his hands as if appealing. His white teeth shining in the light as his grin was now bigger than Luna Park.
"You're not really going to make me are you?"
He nodded. She could see he was really enjoying himself. "You agreed to the rules."
"You can't," she protested.
"It's important for me to know this is what you really want."
"It's not what you want?" Meg was devastated. Contemplating turning her back on him, she was so surprised by his answer.
"I've wanted to for the last six months, now down on your knees woman. I want to hear it."
He may have been determined, but at least he was smiling. Was he really serious? Guess she had to play his game.
"I'm never going to let you forget this humiliating experience, Ken Phillips."
Meg stared at him for a few more seconds as he waited, still with that adorable grin on his face, then she dropped to one knee with her hands together. Before she could speak he took her hand and lifted her to her feet.
He laughed loudly as she stood. "Not for one minute did I think you would. Now I know you really care for me." Then he lifted her up and carried her into the bedroom.
The room was in darkness except for the moonlight shining through the open window.
"I haven't done this for nearly twelve months, Meg, I hope you're not going to be disappointed."
"I could say the same to you."
He gently dropped her onto the bed and leaned over her, brushing his lips against hers. His fingers fumbled as he tried to undo the buttons of her dress. She reached up steadying his hand, then shakily helped him out of his shirt. Her fingers fell onto his belt and Ken assisted by undoing his buttons then letting his trousers fall to the floor.
He stepped out of his trousers and quickly removed his shoes and socks, then turned his full attention to her.
As the moonlight filtered across their bodies, they looked at each other. Meg's heart fluttered as he stood before her. Was it anticipation, or something more? As she lay on the bed, her eyes scanned his length—his beautiful body, his sculptured muscles and—his erection, bulging beneath his underpants. Embarrassed, she wrenched her gaze away.
He must have noticed and took her by surprise when he asked, "You're not embarrassed are you?"
"A little." Her mouth was suddenly dry. She was through talking and wanted to give her attention to this wonderful man she was with.
He placed his fingers over her lips. "Close your eyes."
What game was this he wanted to play? She did as he asked.
"Do you feel embarrassed now?"
Shaking her head, she felt him lean into her, his arms sliding under her back. God this was good to feel his near naked body against hers. She lay in anticipation, her eyes closed as she sensed him above her. Her whole body began to quiver as she felt his soft hand stroke her abdomen.
On the other side of the world there was a terrible war raging. Men were being killed, mothers losing sons, wives losing husbands but all of it was purged from her mind he began to make love to her.