Meant to Be Ch. 04byjerseyblue©
The air was moist, warm and thick. The big plane seemed to disappear in the heavy mist. Yet as one looked up they could see only blue sky. It was early morning at Henley Heath and it was time for another maximum effort. In a few minutes the quiet base would be filled with roar of mighty machines and the smell of exhaust fumes. Moving like ghosts, the crews approached their planes.
"Come on, Aaron," Bill Archer said. "What am I going to tell the girls?"
"I don't really care," Aaron replied, not looking at him. "You set it up. You figure it out."
Lt. Bill Archer, co-pilot of "Tantalizing Takeoff" and Aaron's best friend, had set up a double date with his girlfriend and Aaron's girlfriend, Bridget. At least, he thought she was. Now this.
"What the hell is going on between you and Bridget?" He grabbed Aaron's arm and stopped him.
Wrenching his arm free, he exploded. "Nothing is going on between us! Never was and never will be. Now leave it!" There was a look of anger in his face. No one had seen Aaron lose his temper before. It was what they all admired in him; the ability to remain calm at all times.
"Hey guys, calm down," Lt. Joe Gilles, the navigator, stepped between them. "What's the problem?"
"Nothing!" Archer fairly spat the word out.
"Hey, if it's about women, I'm your man," Gilles laughed trying to lighten the mood. He was married and had a sweet wife back home in Minnesota but here in England, every woman was fair game. He was actually hurt when Archer set up that first meeting between Aaron and Bridget, not with him. "Hey, is this about that school teacher? Man, she's a hot ticket."
Aaron wheeled and grabbed Gilles by his flight jacket. "Shut the hell up or God help me, you'll be eating your next meal through a straw. Got it?" He pushed the navigator away and climbed into the waiting B-17.
Archer shook his head and Gilles stared dumbly at him. "It's going to be a long flight today," he mumbled.
"Ouch," Vicki squealed as she cut herself with the scissors. All ready blood was coming from the wound. She stuck the bleeding finger into her mouth.
"Are you alright, dear?" her mother said moving closer to the counter. "Let me see."
I'll be fine, mother."
"You have been awfully absent minded these past few minds. Something on your mind?"
"I bet it is that nice young man."
"No, it isn't," Vicki lied. She had been thinking about Aaron a lot. She couldn't get him out of mind. It bothered her too. She felt she was acting like those silly teenage girls at the dance. She was 26, not 16 and a widow. She should be acting more mature than this, but she wasn't.
That night dancing with him and then sitting together watching falling stars was amazing. It brought out feelings in her she never knew she had or were buried way deep inside. He told her to make a wish on one of the falling stars and she did. She wished the night would never end but it did and he left. The feelings didn't.
"Are you listening to me, Vicki? I swear you're acting like moon-sick calf," her mother said.
"Stop punishing yourself. You're only human. You're a young, pretty woman and you met a man like Aaron, you're bound to have feelings."
"What are you talking about?" Vicki moved to the other side of the counter.
"I'm talking about you falling in love."
"I am not," she replied indignantly. "I love Robin. How can I love another man so quickly?"
Mother moved close to Vicki and took her hand. Looking intently into her face, she said softly, "You never loved Robin and now your feelings for Aaron are scaring you."
Vicki tried to pull away. "What are you saying? That I didn't love Robin? That's absurd."
"You had just turned 20 when you met Robin. An older man, the bright lights, he swept you off your feet. You may have thought you loved him and maybe you did. But now admit it, you are experiencing some strong feelings about Aaron, feelings you never had before and you're scared. A mother knows her daughter."
Vicki began to cry uncontrollably. She buried her head into her mother's shoulder. Between the sobs, she said, "Its happening too fast. I shouldn't feel this way but I do. What if he doesn't feel this way towards me? Maybe he cares for someone else. I feel like such a fool."
Her mother held her and patted her head. "It's the war, darling. It is bringing people together then ripping them apart. It will work out. Give it time." She took out a hankie and wiped Vicki's face. "There,there."
Vicki's mother left and went to the storeroom, leaving Vicki alone with her thoughts.
What her mother said about her love for Robin was true. At first she believed she did love him and he, her. The parties, the people, the travel, the bright lights, all dazzled the young girl from Duckworth. Then there was Robin himself. Tall, dark, and suave, he literally swept her off her feet. He was 5 years older than her and seemed to have been everywhere. She was a novice in love and he was what she expected of a lover. After they were married, Vicki noticed a change. She blamed herself for not being the wife, the lover Robin wanted. The marriage soured. She argued, he calmly reasoned. She retreated to her room and blamed herself, he casually to the Officers club with the boys. In the outside world, they were a perfect couple, she the perfect wife. She would do nothing to disprove this so she suffered in silence.
Then came the war and the news of Robin's disappearance over France. Her reaction bothered her. She didn't cry or grieve. Instead she retreated to Duckworth and shut herself off.
Now Aaron showed up and rudely interrupted the life she created. The feelings he aroused in her were new but exciting. "Perhaps it was time to live," Vicki thought. "Who knows what might happening today or even tomorrow?" She was not going to wait and give it time. She felt she didn't have that much and she wasn't going to waste a single minute. When Aaron came again and he would, she'd be ready.
Aaron was incredible angry with himself. He let a personal issue interfere with a more important job. That job was flying a B-17 and to bring it home safely. The lives of 9 other men depended on him to do his job and he felt he let them down on the last mission. The fact they all returned without a scratch did nothing to ease his mind.
The problem was very simple yet complicated at the same time. It was an age old problem. He felt he had to choose between two women and unlike Gilles, it was the right thing to do. He felt he was about to make the wrong decision.
One hand was Bridget. She was everything he could ask for. She was young, bright, and willingly. He felt very comfortable with her and she was easy on the eyes. She was just the type of girl a boy from southern Pennsylvania would bring home to meet his parents. That was why he felt she wasn't for him. He didn't want a girl from England to remind him that he could find one like her just down the street.
As he thought about it, the real problem was his growing feelings for Mrs. Victoria Scottsdale. Even from that first chance meeting, there was something about her that stuck in his mind. He wanted to know more about her. Why else would he pull that stupid stunt at the flower shop? Even that wasn't enough. No, he asked if he could see her again and then went to see Bridget, expecting some love-making. When he saw her again, they went to an old folks dance and then sat under the stars afterward. And he had a great time, no, a fantastic time. There was something about her that intrigued him that drew him to her.
The monkey wrench seemed to be that she was married. She never mentioned her husband but she had a picture of the two of them on the shelf behind the counter at the shop. He was dressed in a RAF uniform so obviously he was in the service. But where was he? She never said anything about him and he felt it wasn't his place to ask. So on the face of things, it was very stupid of him to spend any energy pursuing a married woman when an available girl was his for taking. Despite the common sense that stared him in the eyes, he knew what he was going to do.
"Glad you got my note. I hoped you were free," Aaron said to Vicki as they walked to the movies. "I only have a 8 hour pass."
How could she tell him that from the moment she got the note, she was ready to see him. She changed her outfit 3 times before she found the right one. Her light lavender dress seemed to float around her. She hoped he would like it. She even fretted about her make-up. She wanted to be perfect.
"I thought we could take in a movie, if it alright with you?"
The only theater in town was showing "Mrs. Miniver" so it was that or nothing. Aaron bought the tickets and they went in. They sat towards the back, as there weren't many people inside. They could have sat anywhere.
When the movie began, Aaron leaned over to Vicki and whispered, "What is a movie without candy?" With that he reached into his pocket and took out a Hershey bar. He broke it into pieces. "Here."
She took a small piece and put it in her mouth. It melted in it as she savored the flavor. It was heavenly.
As the movie continued, they shifted in their seats. Their knees touched and neither moved to break the contact. Seeing her hand resting on her knee, Aaron took a chance. He placed his hand on hers. She rolled her hand so he could hold it. They sat that way throughout the rest of the movie.
On the walk home, Vicki was so excited she was giddy. She couldn't stop talking. She talked about the movie, how beautiful Greer Garson looked, the wonderful taste of the chocolate. She hooked her arm around Aaron's and leaned in close. There was a spring in her step.
Aaron walked in almost complete silence. He let her talk; only answering her when she asked him a direct question. He was deep in thought, knowing what he had to say. He just needed to say it right.
They stopped at the front gate. He hesitated.
"Would you like to come in," Vicki asked as she pushed open the gate.
He drew back. "I don't think I should," he said.
"Why," she asked with a puzzled look.
He took her by the hands and took a deep breath. "I don't think we...I should see you any more."
"I don't understand," she said with a catch in her throat.
"Just don't think we should. I don't think your husband would appreciate it."
"My husband!" Vicki gave off a short laugh. "Oh Aaron, come with me." She led him on to the porch where they sat together.
As they sat Vicki began. "My husband, Robin, has been dead almost 4 years. He was shot down over France in 1940. We had been married just over 4 years."
"Now I feel even worse," Aaron said.
"No, don't say that," She caressed his face. "If I didn't want to see you, I would have told that day in the shop. The truth is I would like to keep seeing you."
"I want to keep seeing you too. For as long as you like."
They stopped talking and looked at each other. They each knew what was next. They kissed. It was warm, gentle kiss. It was just like Vicki imagined it would be. She felt like a young girl with her first kiss. Perhaps it was, it was her first kiss with the man that she falling in love with.