A Soldier's Woman

By: Ava Delany

Acknowledgements





To my fans, old and new. Thanks for reading. You’re the best.

To my editor, Spencer Freeman. Thanks for helping me polish my story





Chapter One





Janelle stood in the corner of the dark room, watching Ron talk and laugh with his friends. He pushed a thick chunk of black hair from his eyes, and punched his friend in the arm. His eyes twinkled, and her heart fluttered.

Though this was her first time in the house he shared with his older brother, she’d watched him this way—from a darkened corner—for most of their high school years. Why would the most popular boy in school have any interest in a chubby girl who spent her days with her head down or her nose in a book, too scared to talk to any of the boys?

“Janelle, are you gonna spend the whole time in the corner?” Debbie took her hand and tugged her toward the dance floor. “This is the last party before everyone goes their separate ways.”

Hesitant, Janelle shuffled along behind her friend.

“Look, we’ve been in college for two years now, and college is about experimenting. Plus, this is the last time all our old high school gang will be able to get together. When the boys go off to the navy, they won’t be back for a while.”

The army. Janelle’s gaze moved back to where Ron stood.

A small group sat in one corner, a bottle in the center of their circle. Janelle dug her heels into the carpet as Debbie tugged, then pulled, then yanked her toward the others.

“Come on. You’re never going to live unless you let yourself.” Debbie faced her, her bright eyes open wide. “You’ve got to let go or you’ll dry up inside.”

Janelle’s gaze flitted toward the group. Some of the popular kids from her old school sat there. She still couldn’t believe she’d let Debbie talk her into coming to this party.



“They say your cooch dries up if you don’t use it by the time you’re twenty-one.” Debbie lifted her eyebrow and smirked. “We’re all going to be hitting that mark this year, and you don’t want to be the only one with a dry and unusable cooch, do you?”

Debbie’s brown hair bobbed left and right as she leaned forward to put her weight into tugging Janelle with her. Janelle let herself be pulled again toward the circle. Her heart beat faster as her mind inexorably filled with images of what would happen if the bottle landed on her.

The spinning bottle slowed to a stop and pointed at Heather, a tan-skinned girl she’d always admired. A blond boy whose name she didn’t know leaned across the top of the bottle, and the girl met him in the middle. When his lips touched hers, she moaned, letting him grasp her bottom lip between his teeth.

Daniel, a member of the group she hadn’t seen since he’d gone off to an out-of-state college, leaned against the wall just outside the circle. “I think these two might need a room.”

Then group laughed as the blond released Heather and sat back again, shaking his head and letting out a long breath.

“I think you got him, Heather.” Daniel smirked, crossing his arms.

Heather smirked and wiggled an eyebrow, then grasped the bottle. She placed it on the tile floor, and turned to face Debbie as she once again yanked Janelle toward the circle. Without a word, the group parted to let her and Debbie sit.

Heather’s gaze shifted toward the other side of the circle. Janelle glanced up. Ron stood there, staring toward Debbie and her. Had he come here because of her best friend? Did he like Debbie? She bit her lip. Of course he did. All boys liked Debbie. She was tall, almost too thin, and her large eyes made her look like an adorable pixie—flighty and mischievous, both of which were descriptions that fit her well. She’d always thought her friend was pretty special, however that didn’t stop the healthy dose of green that shot through her veins.

The group shifted, and Ron hunkered down, squatting with his elbows on his knees, staring at… Was he staring at her? It seemed like he might be; but then again, Debbie sat right behind her from his vantage point. She averted her eyes, deliberately locking them on the bottle the girl finally let loose. It spun and spun, wobbling as it slowed.

Her sensitive skin tingled at his continued stare and Janelle feared her flaming cheeks would melt right off. When the bottle landed on her, her stomach dropped to the floor.

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