Title: The Pendant’s Promise
Author: Judythe Morgan
Genre: Military Romance
When Green Beret Major Alex Cabot is classified as MIA, presumed dead, Lily finds herself pregnant and alone. She fabricates a marriage and widowhood to protect her child from social stigma and begins a life of lies.
Her safe world shatters twenty years later when her daughter’s fiancé turns out to be Alex’s godson.
When they meet face-to-face again, the years melt away, the passion returns. But he believes Lily betrayed her promise to wait for him. She’s convinced revealing the truth could cost her the only man she’s ever loved and the daughter she’s lied to all her life.
Can the lies be forgiven, and the pendant’s promise fulfilled, or is it too late?
July 4th — another holiday in hell.
Major Alexander Charles Cabot, or Ace as his buddies nicknamed him, rested his back against the wall of his solitary cell in Hanoi’s Hoa Lo Prison. He and his compadres heard it’d been dubbed the Hanoi Hilton. A Hilton it was not.
Hours earlier, rapping on the walls, in a Morse code of sorts, passed the word they’d lost another comrade. The communication tap signals began again. He swiped away whatever oozed from above his eye and cupped his hand over his ear against the wall. His heart raced. His body stiffened.
Tap-tap tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap tap, tap-tap tap …
He decoded the sounds. God Bless America. Next year stateside.
Doubt gnawed like a dog on a T-bone. Years had run one into the next in a gory haze marked by the patchwork scars he bore. The best he calculated, he’d already spent five miserable years in this dark hole with nothing more than a flea-infested straw mat. Five years of smelling his urine, feces, and vomit. Five years of hearing men’s screams and death’s silence.
Today’s interrogation had been more brutal than most. No broken bones, as far as he could tell. New bruises on his gut and, no doubt, a new scar would form above his eye. But he’d given only his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth. He’d pledged his allegiance, sworn his oath. He’d die before he betrayed his country. Or Lily.
Sliding onto the mat, he slung one arm over his face and gave a despairing sigh. Maybe tomorrow they’d leave him alone. He swallowed back tears, pillowed his aching head on his arm.
Pain curled him into a fetal position. He squeezed his eyes shut as blackness threatened. Why hadn’t he died with John in the crash?
Lily. Think of Lillian Reed. Lily was waiting.
Fourteen years later, 1986
Lillian Reed Johnson walked toward the green awning in Arlington National Cemetery where General Benjamin Mackland’s casket lay. Her neck tingled. She turned and caught a glimpse of a military sedan on the road. Red flags hung from the bumper, designating the occupant’s rank as brigadier general.
Was he watching her? Lieutenant Colonel David Sands, Mack’s former aide-de-camp, blocked her line of vision, and she couldn’t be sure.
The G3 Plans and Operations gang from Lily’s Eighth Army days in South Korea had gathered to say their goodbyes to their former boss. All except one.
And being together with the G3 gang again rekindled memories of the missing one’s stay among them. In only a few short weeks, Ace Cabot stole her heart and altered her life forever.
Scents from sprays of gladiolas and wreaths of carnations and roses hung like a mist. Lily focused on the buzzing bee darting in and around the flowers. Anything except Mack’s casket and thoughts of the Green Beret she’d never stopped loving. The chaplain’s words droned on and on until, at last, the “Attention” command sounded.
Seven soldiers raised rifles, aiming at the white clouds in the cobalt sky. She rose slowly, pressing her heels into the artificial turf for balance, and glanced Aggie’s way. She couldn’t imagine the composed, competent Army wife being anything less than perfectly collected, but was ready to assist if the woman, more mother than friend, needed her.
Aggie stood solemn and stable, her face set. Beth flinched as the first volley fired over the rows of crosses in the surrounding field. Lily took her hand and squeezed. Sunlight glinted on the rifle barrels as two more volleys completed the twenty-one-gun salute.
The smell of gunpowder filtered through the air as the cannon shot faded into silence with a heavy finality. Taps followed, echoing across the headstones on the green rolling hills.
White gloved hands folded the American flag with practiced precision. Fold, smooth. Fold, smooth. The rectangle flipped into a tight triangle. The receiving officer bowed and gave the keepsake to Aggie, offering condolences. The same, white-gloved hand pressed Lily’s in a brief, formal handshake, and unstoppable tears rolled down her cheeks.
People lined up to offer their sympathy. The hairs on Lily’s arm begin to prickle, and tension filled her chest. She searched the faces. No one appeared focused on her, so she lost herself in the whispered words, consoling pats, and loving hugs. When the last person left, they walked to the waiting limousine.
“Grandma Aggie, is that someone Grandpa Mack knew?” Beth asked.
Lily tried to spot who Beth meant. “Where?”
Beth indicated the same vehicle Lily spotted early. Now an officer stood beside the black sedan with general’s flags from earlier.
“No.” The caustic tone in Aggie’s voice had Lily turning.
A startling mask of anger replaced the shroud of grief on the older woman’s face. It lasted only a moment, but Lily stepped back from the intensity.
She lifted the veil on her hat and squinted toward the general observing their departure. The sun distorted her vision, but something about the man’s stance and the way he wore his beret made him seem familiar.
Her pace slowed. Unbidden, the memory of Ace waiting by a jeep flashed through her mind.
David stepped beside her, clasped her elbow. “How are you doing?”
“Okay,” she said and wanted to mean it. “It’s just… that general up there reminds me of Ace.”
David tucked her into the curve of his arm. “He’s not. But if Ace were alive, he’d be here. That guy’s probably waiting for us to leave so he can visit a fallen comrade.”
She shifted from his embrace. As much as she needed the comfort today, she didn’t want to send wrong signals. Again.
“I know,” she murmured, but the words rang hollow. Even though Ace had been buried in a Vietnam jungle for twenty years and despite what his return might have meant, the hope that he’d survived lingered in her heart.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
LINK for paperback: http://www.amazon.com/The-Pendants-Promise-judythe-morgan/dp/0615645917/
What makes your featured book a must-read?
THE PENDANT’S PROMISE provides a historical perspective of military life and social mores during the Vietnam War. If you grew up in that era, the story will stir memories. If you’d didn’t, the story will provide a glimpse of these times.
This was my debut novel. As a military daughter and wife, I wanted the story about not only the drama and heartache of military life, but also the promise of happily ever after.
THE PENDANT’S PROMISE is a must-read if you’re looking for a blend of romance and women’s fiction in a military setting that gives you a peek inside a family of military men and women. One Amazon reviewer says this: This book is a keeper in your head and in your heart. You won't be able to stop thinking about it.
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