Authors: Sarah Sundin
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #Historical, #Romance, #General, #Friendship—Fiction, #FIC02705, #Letter writing—Fiction, #FIC042030, #1939–1945—Fiction, #FIC042040, #World War
© 2012 by Sarah Sundin
Published by Revell
a division of Baker Publishing Group P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
Ebook edition created 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in association with Books & Such Literary Agency, 52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170, Santa Rosa, CA 95409-7953
Map design: Stuart and Tiffany Stockton, Eagle Designs
“I love the nostalgia and drama of the WWII era. No one takes me back there better than Sarah Sundin.
With Every Letter
is a beautiful love story and has everything you want in a novel: romance, suspense, and characters you care about from the very first page. A marvelous beginning for her new series. I can’t wait to read the next book.”
, award-winning and bestselling author of
The Unfinished Gift
Praise for Sarah Sundin
“Sarah Sundin is an extraordinarily gifted storyteller who puts the reader in the cockpit of B-17 bombers as easily as she crafts an achingly emotional World War II romance.”
, Holt Medallion Winner, Best Historical
“Sarah Sundin is a master at lyrical writing, and she has that rare talent of being able to combine humor with heart-pounding action.”
, author of
Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana
Refuge on Crescent Hill
“Sarah takes us on a captivating romantic ride through the fascinating and horrifying days of World War II. A must-read.”
, author, the Sydney Cove series and Alaskan Skies series “A great read for those who love romance, WWII-era settings, or just satisfying stories.”
RT Book Reviews
Blue Skies Tomorrow
“A riveting tale based on the real-life adventures of her great-uncle, Sundin’s novel features characters living large under emotional and physical stress, while the setting provides invaluable details and insights into the wartime mind-set.”
, starred review on
A Memory Between Us
“A captivating story that offers an unflinching look at the ‘good old days’ that weren’t always so good—and assurance that even when times are hard, God is faithful.”
Blue Skies Tomorrow
Dedicated to the five hundred brave, compassionate, and pioneering young women who served as flight nurses in World War II. I pray their stories will inspire a new generation.
Walter Reed General Hospital
Army Medical Center
October 2, 1942
Lt. Philomela Blake believed mornings should start gently, with the nighttime melting into golden sunshine and birdsong luring to wakefulness.
Most nurses on the morning shift assaulted the patients with electric light and harsh voices, but not Mellie.
She pulled the cord of the blackout curtain and sang “At Last,” and the volume of her tune built with the intensity of light. Hurting and healing men deserved a soft hand.
On the nearest bed, Corporal Sloan shifted under the blankets. He’d undergone an appendectomy late last night. “Any dame . . .” He cleared his throat, his voice raspy from the ether. “Any dame with the voice of an angel must have a face to match.”
Mellie’s song and her hands stilled. How many soldiers dreamed of a beautiful nurse who might fall in love with them?
He rubbed his eyes, looked at her, and his smile flickered.
Papa called Mellie his exotic orchid, but American men seemed to prefer roses.
Mellie opened the blackout curtains all the way. “How do you feel this morning, Corporal?”
“Um, fine. Fine, ma’am.”
“I’ll be back with your morning meds.” She patted his shoulder and headed down the aisle to the nurses’ station. Her cap felt loose, so she adjusted a bobby pin that clamped it to the helmet of thick black braids coiled around her head. Her crowning glory, Papa called it.
Poor Papa. Acid ate at her stomach, and Mellie dove into song to neutralize it. The Filipino folk song “Bahay Kubo” reminded her of traipsing through the jungle with Papa on his botanical excursions. It reminded her of his love, as warm as the Filipino sun. It reminded her to pray for him. If only he hadn’t sent her stateside a year ago. If only he’d come with her. No news had arrived since the Japanese conquered the Philippines a few months before, and the State Department and Red Cross hadn’t found out Papa’s fate. How could she go on without him?
Work kept her busy, but worry pricked up and made her restless.
She opened another blackout curtain and gazed out onto Walter Reed’s manicured grounds. A year in Washington DC was enough. So much more of the world waited to be explored. The war thrust barriers between her and adventure, but it offered new paths as well.
The door to the ward opened, and Lieutenant Newman, the chief nurse, leaned in. “Lieutenant Blake? Please come to my office on your lunch break.”
“Yes, ma’am.” The meeting had to be about her upcoming transfer to the Air Evacuation Group forming at Bowman Field in Kentucky. A smile climbed too high on Mellie’s face, and she covered her mouth.
When the Army Air Force announced plans to train nurses
to assist in air evacuation, Mellie had begged the chief for a recommendation. Flight nurses would fly into combat areas, load the wounded, and care for them in the air. They would be stationed all over the world. Perhaps even in the Pacific, close to Papa.
Next month, Mellie would begin training. That thought put an extra trill into her song.
“Must you?” At the nurses’ station, Lieutenant Ingham scrunched her heart-shaped face into a frown. “That infernal singing. Honestly, Philomela, we’re all sick of it.”
“Sorry.” Mellie’s cheeks warmed, and she picked up the tray of meds she’d prepared earlier. How could she stop doing what she was born to do, something that provided relief to her patients? When she sang, pain-wrinkled brows smoothed. She returned to the ward and her song, but in a softer voice.
Philomela meant “nightingale,” and her first storybook was
by Hans Christian Andersen. The emperor of China treasured a pet nightingale and its song. But when he received a mechanical singing bird, he forgot the nightingale, which retreated to the lonely forest. While the little bird in the story longed to return to court, Mellie felt most at home in the forest, bringing musical comfort to passersby.
Next month, she’d enter a new forest.
“I can’t believe you missed last night’s meeting, Philomela.” Lieutenant Newman’s big blue eyes stretched even wider.
“I thought it was optional. For a morale program.” Mellie shifted in her seat in the chief nurse’s office.
“It is, but I want everyone to participate. You do want to participate, don’t you?”
“Well, I . . .” She lowered her gaze and straightened the skirt of her white ward dress. “I didn’t really consider it.”
The chief walked to the window and heaved a sigh. “Oh, Philomela, I don’t understand you. You’re an excellent nurse, but I simply don’t understand you.”
“It’s a letter-writing campaign, isn’t it? To men we’ve never met?”
Her lovely face lit up. “Yes. To the officers in my husband’s unit. It’s an Engineer Aviation Battalion based in England. It will all be anonymous. Isn’t that fun?”
England sounded like fun. Writing to a strange man did not. “I wouldn’t know what to say to someone I’ve never met.”
“Say anything you like. I imagine you write a nice letter. You speak excellent English for a foreigner.”
Mellie restrained her sigh. Always with one foot in one land, one foot in the other, never belonging in either. “Actually, ma’am, I’m an American. I was born in the Philippines, yes, but my father’s American and my mother was half-American, half-Filipino.”
“Yes. Well then.” The chief fingered the window casement. “Well then, I’m sure you write a lovely letter.”
Mellie rolled the hem of her skirt in her fingers. “But I’ve never . . . I’ve never written to a stranger before.”
“He’s hardly a stranger. He’s an American officer. All the other nurses are excited about it. I need one more volunteer, or one poor gentleman won’t receive a letter.”
She stretched her skirt back down over her knees. “That would be horrible, but maybe . . . maybe someone would be willing to write two letters.”
“Come now.” Lieutenant Newman sat on the edge of her desk, right in front of Mellie, and she leaned close. “Please, Philomela? I would be so disappointed if you didn’t partici
pate. Especially after I recommended you for the Air Evacuation Group. I didn’t mention how you don’t have any friends here. Perhaps I should have.” She glanced down to the desk and traced her finger back and forth, as if erasing her recommendation.
Mellie’s throat swelled shut. “But—but why would any man want to hear from me?”
The chief flashed a bright smile. “Remember, it’s anonymous. No names, no pictures. Just a nice letter to encourage our boys overseas.”
Mellie dropped her chin and squeezed her eyes shut. She felt so awkward in social situations.