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                                                                                                                                                                                                               Back to Historical Fiction

For All Our Tomorrows

Extract - Chapter One

The oranges rolled across the narrow street, bouncing on the cobbles and bumping seductively against the feet of the two young women. Children were running helter-skelter in the Cornish sunshine, giggling with excitement, eager to catch one of these glorious golden orbs as they were tossed and rolled with such reckless generosity.

Gasping in amazement, the younger of the two women snatched one up, to sink her pretty white teeth into the flesh.

‘This is wonderful!’

Juice spurted, running down her chin to leave little orange blobs on the bodice of her print frock as she greedily stuffed segments of fruit into her mouth. Not that she appeared to care one bit, nor that her expertly coiled, soft auburn hair had shaken loose from its pins as she’d run down the steep hill of Lostwithiel Street. All she wanted was to keep pace with the trucks, jeeps, gun carriers and goodness knows what else which were parading through Fowey town, and catch another of these glorious fruits.

She lifted her face to the grinning man high above her in his vehicle, and laughed.

Her sister too was laughing as she chased one orange, clearly heading for the town quay, while tossing a second to the child running excitedly beside her.

Other women were doing exactly the same. After four years of war, many of the children had never seen such a thing in their lives before and their mothers had almost forgotten the delicious, bitter-sweet taste.

Nor had they ever seen men like these.

These men didn’t carry the weariness of war on their shoulders, nor were they dressed in utilitarian battle dress that didn’t quite fit. Even their vehicles were blazoned with stars and nicknames such as ‘Just Jane’, ‘Lucky Lucy’ and ‘Cannonball’. These men were fresh and smart and young, bristling with sexual energy which not a girl or woman in the crowd didn’t recognise as such.

Bette Tredinnick certainly did. Her hazel eyes were teasingly provocative as she tore the skin off the fruit with her teeth. ‘More please. Give me more!’

‘What’s it worth, honey?’ the marine mischievously asked her.

‘Name your price,’ Bette shouted back.

‘Hon, the captain would kill me with his own bare hands if he heard me make such a suggestion in a public place.’

Bette made a show of innocence as she shielded her eyes against the sun and gazed back along Fore street in the direction of the jeep that was leading the parade. ‘Take a chance. He isn’t listening and I’m open to all reasonable offers.’

‘See you later then, sweetheart, down by the quay.’

‘I’ll be there,’ she called, just as his vehicle swept away to be swamped by the crowd.

Sara Marrack, having made sure that both her children were each provided with the delicious treat, began to delicately peel her own orange, for once making no comment about her younger sister’s bold flirtatiousness but laughing with her, enjoying this unexpected holiday along with the rest of the flag-waving townsfolk.

Bette should be in their mother’s hairdresser’s shop, cutting and styling, and herself doing chores at the Ship Inn. But women in curlers were openly joining in the fun and the pub was fortunately closed till lunch time, so here they were, along with everyone else, stealing time off work to witness the arrival of these American marines.

They’d come by train only days ago, arriving at Fowey station in the pouring rain on a gloomy autumn day. Now the sun was shining and everyone had turned out to give them a hearty welcome.

There had been times when no one had quite believed that this moment would ever come, in spite of the preparations made in recent months by the Construction Battalion, the Sea Bees as they were called, whose task it was to prepare quarters for the expected friendly invasion. They’d erected rows and rows of Nissen huts up at Windmill, a field high above town, cleared one or two beaches of mines and coils of barbed wire so that training for some operation or other could safely take place.

No one quite knew what that might be, but it had something to do with all this talk of the Second Front.

Sara didn’t care that there were jobs she should be doing, floors to scrub, beer pumps to flush out, or that when Hugh returned from his regular weekly trip to the brewery he would take her to task for neglecting them. What did it matter if she got a bit behind for once? This was an historic day for the town. Even the teachers recognised it as such, and had honoured it by closing the school and allowing their pupils to run down the hill to meet these new arrivals who had come to help win the war.

None of the other businesses in town were doing much trade either. The women who, moments before, had been queuing with their empty shopping baskets outside the greengrocers, hoping for half a cabbage or a turnip or two for the stock pot, were now revelling in the acquisition of much choicer fruit. Children no longer had their noses pressed against Herbie Skinner’s ice-cream shop window.

Even an elderly man in the process of being fitted for a new suit at Williams the tailors, stood grinning on the pavement, uncaring of the pins holding it in place.

The townsfolk of Fowey had long since grown accustomed to disruption, to anti-aircraft guns, to the boom across the mouth of the River Fowey which had to be negotiated to allow for the passage of friendly shipping. They no longer paid any heed to Pillboxes and searchlights, and took for granted the activities of the river patrol on constant look-out for spies and saboteurs. They accepted the need for muster points and fire wardens, the ARP and all manner of other defence measures deemed necessary in case the posters plastered all over town warning of the threat of invasion, proved to be correct.

IF THE INVADOR COMES, screamed the headline. WHAT TO DO – AND HOW TO DO IT. STAY PUT was the chief message, instructing civilians not to block the narrow Cornish lanes which would need to be kept clear for military movement, for OUR OWN BOYS TO COME TO YOUR AID.

But it was the American marines who had come with their amphibious craft, rolling into their small town as if they owned the place. They were now the occupying force and the people of Fowey couldn’t believe their luck.

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An enthralling wartime page-turner.’Historical Novel Society Review on For All Our Tomorrows.

Another heart-warming tale from a master storyteller’

Lancashire Evening Post on For All Our Tomorrows

Overpaid, oversexed and over here… It might be a friendly invasion, but when hundreds of US Marines arrive at a quiet Cornish town in the summer of 1943 with only two things on their mind, making love and making war, there are bound to be problems.

Bette Tredinnick, footloose and fancy free, embarks on a whirlwind romance and finds herself bound for America as a GI bride. But will reality match her dreams?  

Her sister, Sara, is already married, but Hugh’s jealous attempts to keep her out of temptation’s reach can’t prevent Sara falling for officer Charles Denham. As D-day approaches, the GIs are facing an invasion of a different sort, but by the time the war is won, the lives of both sisters have changed forever.