Henri figured he could run faster than the truck was moving. Granted, his leg was still painful. A splinter had worked out while on the boat trip from England to Canada. He hadn’t been able to shift since that field hospital in Italy where Dr. Abrams had helped him. Now almost eight months later, he was less than fifty miles from home and the driver was creeping along.
“Hey, you think you could drive faster?” Henri shouted.
“Non!” yelled back the old man. He was squinting at the road trying to see by the blackout lights still in use.
“Then let me drive!” said Henri. The old man pulled over and Henri moved into the drivers seat. He winced as the clutch was stiff and hurt his leg. He shifted his eyes slightly and headed down the road at nearly sixty miles per hour. The old man next to him hooted with laughter as they drove.
Natalie heard a truck door slam, and ignored it thinking it was Tilly or Quintus back from town. She put Bertie down and wondered how long Jenny, Marie and Alice would talk and knit. They were making socks. With nearly twenty-two children now to care for without parents, no one’s hands were idle at night. She had just put the kettle on for tea when the door opened.
“Maman?” the tall figure in the doorway asked.
Natalie turned, but before she could say a thing, Jenny screamed and launched herself into the arms of Henri. The rest of them stood there, not knowing what to think.
“Oh Henri!” Jenny cried, tears coursing down her cheeks.
Henri was kissing his wife he hadn’t seen in six years. Marie, Alice and Natalie all joined in the hugging and kissing.
Quintus burst through the door with George not far behind. “Maman! I heard a scream,” he said and then he saw Henri. “Henri? Is that you? Really you?” he asked and then smothered Henri in a hug.
“Damn you’ve grown!” Henri said hugging Quintus and then George with one arm. In spite of all the other family members rushing to see him, he hadn’t let go of Jenny from the moment they touched.
Sleepy children poured out of their rooms to see who was making all the noise. Natalie grabbed Bertie who had woke and then shoved two teen-aged girls to the front.
“Papa? Is that you?” asked the darker of the two.
“Lizzybit?” asked Henri as he turned to his daughter.
“Aye Papa!” she said hugging him tight.
Henri looked over her head at the other girl with her mother’s eyes. “Caroline?” he asked.
“Papa?” Caroline said crying as she too was wrapped in her father’s arms. All of them stood there wrapped in each others arms.
“Who’s that?” asked Tilly.
“Jenny’s husband Henri,” said Natalie. “Get the comfrey and the mint along with the bottle of poppy juice. His leg, it don’ smell right.” she said. Then while Jenny and the girls hugged Henri, Natalie and the rest got the children back in bed. They knew they’d get more information once people settled down.
“Thank you Maman. My leg it has hurt all the time,” said Henri hours later as he watched Natalie change the poultice. His leg had stopped bleeding and hurting at long last. The scar would be a nasty reminder that he should have moved faster.
“You’re welcome. You say a doctor, he know about us now?” Natalie asked.
“Aye. He fix up Brian when he get shot. Brian, he him sweet self and almost eat the doctor,” said Henri.
Natalie shook her head and smiled shyly. She was glad to know that at least last spring that Brian was alive. From what Henri said, all the men were now in Germany or Holland. He’d explained how the men had been secreted out of Italy during Operation Goldflake. Many of the men had been allowed to recuperate before going back into battle. Many had been at Aldershot with Henri where they recovered from wounds. Some came home with Henri, while others headed back across the channel. Brian and his sons had been amongst those.
“Maman, I think I take Henri home. You watch the girls?” asked Jenny.
“Aye. You go now. I make them wait until you come back,” said Natalie with a smile.
Henri was so nervous. He didn’t want to let go of Jenny once they got in the house. He looked around amazed that so little had changed.
“I be right back,” said Jenny. She too was afraid that if she left the room, he’d disappear like mist, but her nose told her otherwise. She changed into her nightgown and dabbed rose water behind her ears after she’d undone her hair. She walked back into the bedroom to find Henri standing right where she’d left him.
“I miss you so much,” she said and began to unbutton his uniform.
“I miss you. Think I never see you again. Each time I write, I wonder if you get the letter. Pretty soon, no one gets letters and we never get told why. Then I get to England and there is a pile of letters. I read everything in one day. Still,” he said.
“I know. Now jus stand still,” said Jenny. She had him sit on the bed so she could unlace his boots. They clunked to the floor and were followed by his trousers and then underwear a moment later. Jenny’s nightgown followed. The two of them stood there in the candle light touching. New scars, breasts, hips. Henri took Jenny into his arms and just held her. His tears trickled down her back.
“Henri, let’s lay down,” she said. The two of them let go of each other long enough to crawl in under the quilt. Henri smelled the lavender that Jenny used on the bedding and the rosewater she had daubed on her neck.
They kissed and held each other, exploring like two nervous teens. Jenny’s hand cradled Henri’s balls and Henri was certain that his cock would fall off from being so hard after nothing but a rough soldier’s hand on it for years. He gasped.
Jenny kissed her husband and brought his hand up to her breast. She felt like a virgin it had been so long. His fingers were rough and yet so gentle. After a few minutes, his hand trailed down her side and slid between her legs. It was Jenny’s turn to gasp. His fingers traced from her clit to the opening of her pussy and then slid in deep.
“You’re so wet,” he whispered between kisses.
“And you are so hard. Why not come here?” she asked as she rolled on her back and opened her legs. Henri moved between her legs and in a moment, was nestled deep in his wife. After a few strokes, he rolled her onto her knees and slid in from behind. Jenny smiled, knowing what was coming. She braced and as Henri began to thrust, she felt him shift. She shifted too, as Henri bit her neck. The two moved in pleasure and soon howled their orgasms to the rafters. Knot locked the two wolves curled up on the bed and slept.
The she-wolf licked her mate’s leg. She couldn’t move much and if she did, he bit her to hold her in place. It had been a long time since they had mated.
Later, they ran in the woods and mated again. At dawn, they crept back into the cabin and slept curled on the bed, nose to tail. Wolf sighed. It was good to be with one’s mate.
“I see one more dike, one more river or one more supply truck, I think I scream,” said Jacques.
“Non. I like every truck I see. It has food to give these Dutch. They hungry like I never seen,” said Henry. He and the soldiers had been fighting Germans and running supply trucks across the Netherlands.
The 1st and 2nd Canadian Corps were fighting side by side for the first time since training. In short bloody battles, the 2nd Division took Schipbeck Canal and straight into Groningen. More fighting ensued which lead to the capture of Deventer, Zwolle and Leeuwarden. Next stop, the sea.
The 1st Canadian Corps were rolling through the norther Netherlands. They liberated Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Everywhere the Canadians looked, they found people starving. The Dutch were at the end of their endurance. The previous winter had been one of starvation and became known as the “Hunger Winter”. People died by the thousands.
Arnhem was another house to house battle. Brian and his fellow soldiers had honed their skills in Ortona and moved rapidly. As the Germans shelled the houses, Brian and a small group of men worked to reach the various machine gun nests and tanks. Brian dived into a house to avoid a sniper to be confronted by a mother and three small children. He could tell by the smell, that none of them hand eaten. He grabbed his pack and started pulling out his rations.
“Here, eat,” he said making hand gestures. The children grabbed the food and the mother cried and whispered thank you. Brian made a promise to himself to make sure food got to anyone who needed it if he survived the day. Two days later, the town was in Allied hands. Brian made sure that every spare ration he could find went to the people. He and Henry went ‘hunting’ and brought other rations that the Germans had left behind in their haste to leave.
April 28th saw a truce in western Holland, and the first food supplies began to move in for the starving people. The Canadians were cheered as them moved with the supples from town to town. Liberation and food were a heady mix. Food drops were made by planes.
A week later on May 7th, the Germans surrendered and the war in Europe was over. While not all the fighting stopped at once, Brian and his men were still in the Netherlands distributing food and trying to keep order. At night, they went hunting. This time, their prey were German soldiers, land mines and food caches left behind by retreating Germans. No one believed the soldiers who surrendered when they talked about wolves that hunted them down. The Canadian dog handlers just laughed.
Brian threw up again. He still couldn’t keep food down crossing the ocean. He was about to pass out when he felt a hand on his arm.
“Sargent Davy?” a semi familiar voice said next to his ear.
“Aye,” Brian said trying to wipe his mouth.
“Take this,” said the man handing him something.
“Non, I’ll only throw it up again,” Brian said heaving once more over the rail of the ship.
“Believe me, take this,” said the voice.
Brian looked at the man for the first time. “Dr. Abrams?”
“Ah, so you do remember me. Take this and it will help your stomach,” he said handing Brian a glass of something. Brian took it, drank it down and handed back the glass.
“What in the hell is that?” Brian asked. It tasted nasty, but it least it didn’t come straight back up like everything else had for the last twenty-four hours.
“A family secret,” said Dr. Abrams. “Mainly ginger, lemon and salt. I’ve been handing it out all over the ship. Don’t you Canadians ever stop vomiting?”
“Non! We like land under our feet, not water. Leave that to them damn English. You never hear of Canadian pirates do you?” Brian said belching softly, but not vomiting.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Dr. Abrams.
“So, you going to Canada?” asked Brian as his head began to clear for the first time in days.
“For a bit. I need to disappear for a bit and then find a new job. It will be easier if I’m not in the U.S.” said Abrams.
“New job? Don’ you have a job with the army? Surgeon?” asked Brian.
“I do, but Dr. Abrams needs to die in the aftermath of the war. Then a younger field medic from some obtuse Canadian regiment needs to show up and continue a fine medical career,” said Abrams.
Brian looked at Abrams. “You ver old, but you don’ look old. Only smell it,” he said thinking about what the two of them discussed in that field hospital in Italy.
“Yes. And every once in a while, I have to die and be reborn. Right now the world is in chaos, so it is an opportune time for me to disappear,” said Abrams.
“You don’ have family?” asked Brian.
“No. Broke up with my girlfriend before I went to war. My real parents, well, they’ve been gone a long time. My siblings are goodness knows where and if they are alive are pulling the same games I am,” said Abrams.
Brian nodded. He knew that going back to Canada was going to be good and yet different. It had been six years and things change. “So, you want to visit a small town in Canada?” he asked.
“I’d be delighted,” said Abrams. “Call me David.”
Brian shook David’s hand and the two of them watched the waves as the boat headed west.