His Scottish War Bride
Copyright © 2018 Pamela Ferguson
Published by Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications
Maggie Cameron MacPhee stood on the deck of the President Tyler and gripped the railing, excitement bubbling through her as the ship slipped past the Statue of Liberty into New York harbor.
“It’s big, isn’t it?” her shipboard roommate, Gwendolyn Lombardi, gushed.
“Haven’t ye heard, lass? Everythin’ is bigger in America,” Maggie replied, squinting against the early April wind as she eyed the towering Manhattan skyline.
The war brides around them giggled. The day they’d all been dreaming about had finally arrived. World War II in Europe had ended, and they were being reunited with their American GI husbands. Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium—the brides were from more countries than Maggie could count. They’d travelled together for two weeks on the slow-moving ship, enduring storms, seasickness, colicky babies, and cramped quarters.
But that was all behind them now.
Maggie gave her head a shake, her dark hair whipping about her face. She’d grown out her locks since leaving the Women’s Royal Naval Service. As much as she’d loved being a dispatch rider, remaining a Wren after war’s end was out of the question. She was a married woman now, and her place was with her husband.
Their wedding ceremony the previous May had been before the magistrate, a small affair with everyone dressed in uniform. She and John had been married only a few months when he’d received orders in October to return to America. They’d been separated so long now that their wedding felt like a dream. And due to the unpredictable postal service, weeks would pass without any word from her husband, making her wonder if she was well and truly married. Then a mountain of letters would arrive, and she’d spend the evening sorting them and savoring every word. His mother and sister had even written her, sending assurances of a warm welcome.
Eventually, the Red Cross had put things right. In a flurry of activity, they’d bustled her to South Hampton and aboard the President Tyler for the journey to America.
“We’ll have that Highland honeymoon one day,” John had said on their last night together, his deep voice warming her from head to toe. His strong arms had held her close. “Promise you won’t go gallivanting off to Loch Ness after I leave.”
“Why ever not?” she’d demanded. She’d been thinking of doing just that once the Wrens released her from duty.
“I’ve seen you ride that motorcycle of yours, Mrs. MacPhee. You take risks.” He’d dropped a kiss on her lips. “And I’ve seen the look in your eyes when you hear bagpipes.”
In the end, she’d promised not to travel to the Highlands, and he’d promised to meet her ship and take her on an American honeymoon. As the President Tyler inched closer to the dock, she glanced about nervously. She couldn’t bear to be one of those brides whose husbands didn’t show up. The London newspapers had been full of stories about British women who’d made the long sea voyage, only to turn around and take the next ship home. How could any man break his vow to a woman who’d given up her country to join him?
Never make a promise ye can’t keep, Maggie Cam, her father used to say. Man forgets. God doesn’t.
Tears stung her eyes as she thought of her father, killed in a torpedo attack early in the war. Would he have approved of her choice to leave the Scotland he so loved? Her heart squeezed. Perhaps not. And he certainly wouldn’t have approved of her marrying outside the church. But she felt quite certain he would have approved of John. Her husband wasn’t like other soldiers she’d met. His quiet dedication to duty, his respect for the ways of the British people, had impressed her more than any fancy dinner or night of dancing ever could.
She pulled her coat tight against the early morning chill as she surveyed the docks below. The port bustled with activity. Shiny black cars drove back and forth, well-dressed people milled about. New York was a vibrant city, intact and prospering. Quite unlike London, recovering from years of bombing and suffering still from food and material shortages. Should she have remained in England longer to help with the recovery? Her guilt for leaving had warred with her love for John until the moment she’d seen the ship in South Hampton. Once she’d come aboard and joined hundreds of other war brides, the answer had become clear.
She scanned the crowded pier for John’s fair hair and broad shoulders. How would she find him in that hodgepodge of humanity? She’d kept her word and foregone a solo motorcycle trip through the Highlands. Would he keep his word and meet her ship?
“My Paolo is from Kalamazoo, just like the song,” Gwendolyn said. She hummed a few notes of the famous Glenn Miller tune as they waited for Red Cross workers to lead their group of brides closer to the lowering gangplank. “He’s got a job in a factory making guitars. What’s your husband do?”
“He works in a bank,” Maggie said.
“Oh, my, posh.” Gwendolyn gripped Maggie’s arm, eyes sparkling. “Imagine! A banker’s wife!”
Maggie pasted a smile on her face while inwardly she winced. Always be proud of yer travellin’ heritage, her father had said, leaving her with another Scottish travelling family before reporting for duty with the Royal Navy. She’d signed onto the Wrens shortly afterwards, determined to learn proper manners and comportment during her military training. She’d tried her best to imitate the speech of the educated girls from London and had even copied how they styled their hair and dressed. While her efforts had earned her the appreciative glances of GIs, none of her fellow Wrens had been fooled. They’d all known she’d grown up following the motorcycle circuit, working as her father’s trusted mechanic. How else could she have gotten the job of dispatch rider?
Read His Scottish War Bride to find out what happens next.