Authors: Rachelle J. Christensen
by Rachelle J. Christensen
“Romantic and full of tough decisions, life’s twists and turns, and above all the rest—hope. Like the magical music box, Rachelle Christensen weaves a melody into the pages that stays with you long after the last page.”
—Lucy McConnell, author of the Billionaire Marriage Brokers Series
“The Soldier’s Bride is a touching romance that captures the imagination—from the first hint on the breeze to the final twist at the end. The story will fill your heart with warmth and remind you of the first love in your life . . . and the last. Kudos to Rachelle Christensen for weaving a romantic tale that could only be carried on the wind.”
—C. L. Beck, author of numerous stories in the Cup of Comfort series.
“Once each person gives the music box to someone else, a piece of their heart has healed in a way that they will never return to the person they once were.”
—Karrie Glazner, Amazon reviewer
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.
Published by Kindle Press, Seattle, 2016
Amazon, the Amazon logo, Kindle Scout, and Kindle Press are trademarks of
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This book is dedicated to the veterans of war. My father, Tim Jolley, is one of those veterans and I’m so proud to be his daughter. I love you, Dad.
To Soldiers all over the world who have fought, suffered, and sacrificed for freedom. And to the Soldier’s brides who have fought, suffered, and sacrificed many times alone, raising a family, picking up the pieces of their life’s memories and continued on strong, for freedom.
The music chamber vibrated, ready to receive the melody. Donovan fixed the brass windup tool and adjusted one more of the metal teeth resting against the drum—the tiny canister that would hold his masterpiece. The lamp on his worktable cast shadows that blended with the age spots bridging the thin tunnels of blue veins crisscrossing his weathered skin.
This project had been different from the others. The shelves in the room were lined with beautiful creations of every shape and size. Gold leaf, sculpted marble, carved cherry wood, and polished silver caught his eye as he looked from one end of the room to the other. The vessel that would carry this music was not extravagant, ornate, or expensive. But he never argued with the music. Every tune knew where it belonged, who it needed to touch.
He breathed in deeply and began humming. At first the sound bumped up against the brass, but he opened his palms and focused, humming louder. The humming deepened, changed to singing. Singing without words, singing with magic.
He trembled. His voice shook, and after one last long note, he stopped. His shoulders turned inward, and he slumped back into the chair behind him, heart thumping against his chest in a staccato beat. He turned the crank. The music began where he had left off, the tinny sound turning in the air before him as it rose up the scale with a power of its own.
Donovan listened until the melody stopped two heartbeats before it would begin again. His fingers tightened around the chamber, and he slowly rose from his chair. The window across the room rattled as the wind shook the frame, eager to take the music and give it to the one waiting for his magic.
Donovan wound the crank one last time when his work was finished. This was the hardest part. The temptation was always so great to listen again—to get lost in the power of the tune he had helped to create. But he wouldn’t succumb for he knew the wind was waiting for its chance to breathe its own bit of magic into the melody.
He rested his hands on the music box. He felt weak, the very marrow of his bones drained of energy. It may have been his last song, but he smiled anyway. His soul belonged to the music. Clenching the sides of the chair, he listened. Donovan felt the power crackling in the air around him. Not a single note of this melody was ordinary. It would transform, heal, and change every listener.
Evelyn stood in the one-bedroom apartment looking at a music box on the kitchen table. Slightly larger than a shoebox, constructed of pressed paperboard, and covered with ivory parchment, a narrow line of embossed gold decorated its outer edge. It wasn’t extravagant or expensive, but Evelyn held it close—it was her most precious gift in the world.
“Oh, Jim, it’s beautiful! Is this to celebrate—”
“Our five month anniversary.” Jim finished her sentence.
“You remembered.” Evelyn touched his cheek.
“Always.” He kissed her, and then bent over the jewelry box. “Look at these compartments.” He lifted the lids of the two side compartments, each lined in cheap red-velvet paper.
“I like the color,” she said. She brushed aside the foreboding gloom that haunted her as she counted down the time they had together. Five days left.
“I hoped you would. Push this lever over.” Jim pointed to the center of the jewelry box and let his fingers glide over her hand.
When Evelyn pushed the metal button on the raised middle compartment, the center of the jewelry box clicked open to reveal a narrow chamber with padded ridges to hold rings and other precious treasures—things that nineteen-year-old Evelyn did not own. A tiny ballerina on a dais near the back popped up and began dancing an elegant pirouette in front of a mirror attached to the inside of the lid.
“Oh, it plays music. Jim, where did you find this?” Evelyn located the brass windup key at the side of the box as it busily churned out a melody she’d never heard before. The music climbed tentatively up the scale and then scattered down with a resonance as deep as Jim’s voice. The wind seemed to listen, too. It took the tune and carried it on a lilting breeze out the window above the kitchen sink.
“Now, that’s my secret,” he replied.
“You and your secrets.” She put her arms around her husband and kissed him, then pulled back to look into his clear blue eyes, seeing the love he felt for her. “I love it. Thank you.” They swayed to the music and listened, and she wished that time could stop in that moment.
“Now you’ll have a place to keep that locket and know my heart is with you.” Jim held her close and hummed along with the tune. He’d given her the heart-shaped locket with his tiny portrait inside on their wedding day. They’d started their life together in the shabby apartment in Colorado Springs with hopes of a bright future, but the war had changed their plans.
Evelyn swallowed her tears as she felt the rumbling of his bass voice against her cheek. She leaned back to look at him. “You keep your heart right in your chest beating strong and come home to me.”
Jim chuckled. “But don’t you know? I gave my heart to you for safekeeping the day we met.”
She laughed, determined to hold on to the echoes of their happiness blending with the melody. She thought of her good husband, the man who made her a cup of peppermint tea every evening, kissed her first thing in the morning, and sang with her in the church choir. Jim wanted to be a father, and he would be a great one, but he was leaving, and Evelyn felt like they were running out of time even though their life together had just begun.
Maybe the war would end soon. She rested her head on his chest. Her hair fell in soft auburn waves over his hands. “My mama told me not to believe everything you read in romance novels ’cause there ain’t a man off the paper that comes close.’ But she didn’t count on a flesh and blood, real-life hero like you, Jim Patterson.”
Her words blended with the music drifting on the sweet sounds of spring. The words were what Evelyn’s romance novels called true love, like two pieces of a puzzle coming together to form a perfect picture. Evelyn loved how Jim could nearly finish her thoughts and almost read her mind by the expression on her face. She knew he loved her—mind, body, soul—the same way she loved him.
Nearly two months later, Evelyn woke up with her stomach full of the turbulence Jim had often described from his flight training. She counted back the days on the calendar and trembled with the news she would write to Jim—that he would be a father. Good news she would send that there would now be two people in the Patterson household loving and praying for him while he was away. Her heart rose into her throat.
She was alone and scared of the future, but she wouldn’t write those words. She’d always pictured a complete family when she’d thought about her future as a wife and mother. Evelyn put a hand to her stomach and squeezed her eyes shut. She would bring this baby into the world by herself, but one day they
be a complete family.
Evelyn opened her eyes and pushed herself to do something absolutely normal, like scrubbing the kitchen sink. Trying to get used to Jim’s absence was like wearing shoes a size too small. It pinched at the edges of her life and made everything feel tight and cramped. Staying busy didn’t help—walking in too-tight shoes only caused blisters.
She had a cool cloth on her face when she heard a knock at the door. Rising on shaky legs, she breathed in and the edges of her mouth turned up in a hopeful smile. Maybe it was Lucy from the post office. She was always the first to hear the news. Evelyn put a hand to her stomach thinking of her own developing news. She opened the door. The world tilted when she saw the messenger—not Lucy—holding a yellow card. A telegram. Not bright yellow like welcome-home ribbons. Dark yellow. Like death.
The laces of those too-tight shoes wound, wound, wound around her body. They hardened the hollow spaces of her heart into one deep cavern. They pulled her nightmares of losing Jim into focus. They choked the breath caught in her throat. The melody of her life went silent, and Evelyn’s world went dark.