Chapter 1

Homecoming

Daniel didn't have the chance to inform his mother and father that he was coming home with a new bride. He hadn't written to them about his experience nor anything of any sorts about Jackie. He was just simply too busy.

Jackie agreed to stay with Daniel and his parents until her new husband could get a job and they would then be able to buy a new home. Excited with anticipation, the young pilot never met anyone she didn't like. Even some of the crustiest old generals turned into pliable little boys upon greeting her.

She never thought much of it, assumed the men were just as adoring towards other women as well. It never crossed her mind that she was an attractive woman with a future as bright as her smile.

That's one of the things Daniel loved so much about her. When she smiled she lit up an entire room. Her presence beamed, even when she was disguised as a boy, her presence was illuminating.

Daniel never mentioned much about previous loves in his life. It was the past history and water under the bridge. Long lost to a day of innocent grandeur and naïve assumptions of forever after. Yet, in a way that assumption was still there, except this time, forever after was with his new bride.

They took a city cab to the college town home in Glendale, as small town located on the historic western New York. The community was rich with historical buildings and facts. Much of which, Daniel was well versed. New York was a sharp contrast from Texas. Instead of miles upon miles of flat open spaces and much of it was rich, luscious forest and hills. Jackie was excited about her new life, her new home and her new surroundings. It was adventurous for the young women.

The cab pulled into the dirt driveway of an old white painted farmhouse. From the onset the home looked well tended but upon closer inspection the paint was in obvious need to a new coat.

"That were you grew up?" asked Jackie.

"Yup," Daniel replied while paying the cab fare, "lots wide open spaces, with orchards in the back…A little boy's dream."

She grinned, "Sounds like so much fun."

"It is," he assured with a kiss to the cheek.

She was about to lift the door handle when he stopped her, "Nope, nope, nope…You stay right there." He quickly opened his door, ran around the back of the cab and then calmly opened her door, waving every so gentlemanly, "Madam, my I escort you to the door, Mrs. Garrett?"

The old cabbie chuckled at the young love birds, "Have fun, kids."

Daniel assured him, "We're not kids, we're just married."

Jackie graciously took his hand, still very much under the influence of the new marriage as she beamed at her husband.

Sliding her arm around his, "You certainly may, Mr. Garrett."

The cabbie emerged from his seat to open the trunk; retrieving their bags he placed them on the grass by the drive. Then tipping his cap as he said goodbye.

"I wish the best of luck to the bride and groom," he then one more request. "May I kiss the bride?"

She blushed slightly, "You may." The new blue dress Daniel had bought her made her radiate in the glow of the sun. She was strikingly beautiful. It was a little getting used too, wearing dresses and skirt on a daily bases after a life time of her old army surplus pants. Yet, she simply enjoyed the new look and new feel of the fabric.

Daniel gathered the bags after the cabbie shook his hand, congratulated him and then slipped back into his cab. He turned towards his parent's farmhouse, new wife on his arm, bags hanging over his shoulder. He couldn't wait to introduce them to her. Excited to be home and even more excited to have Jackie on his arm.

For the first time, Jackie suddenly had pit form in her stomach. She wished he had time to write them and inform his parents about their marriage. She paused before going any further.

"What's wrong?" asked Daniel.

"Just they have no idea I'm even coming much less that I'm their new daughter-in-law. Hope all this isn't too much on them."

Daniel assured her, "They will love you as much as I do, Jackie. There is nothing to worry about. Now, come on…Let's not stand in the middle of the front yard."

The door swung open and a man came running out screaming, "Daniel's home, Daniel's home, Daniel's home." His large arms wrapped around him and squeezed as hard as he could.

Jackie looked upon the strange man. He looked around Daniel's age, but his features were very strange, nearly elf like. His blue eyes were large and danced with joy. He had dark brown hair, cut in similar style to Daniel's. He wore a red flannel shirt and blue dungarees.

Daniel gently pulled his brother's arms from him, "Yes, Davy…I'm home."

Davy gleamed, "Daniel's home, Daniel's home," he kept repeating.

"Davy," Daniel turned him to his side. "I want you to meet someone. This is Jackie, my wife." In return he introduce Jackie to his brother, "Jackie, this Davy my brother. He's a little…Slow."

Davy shook her hand, smiling without a care, "I'm Davy. I'm Daniel's brother and I like you."

"I like you too, Davy," she greeted him unsure of just what to make of the situation. She assumed it was just Daniel and his parents for he never mentioned a mentally disabled brother before.

A young girl of about ten years of age emerged from the home. Dressed in cover alls and her long brown hair in pig tails. She ran towards them, grinning from ear to ear.

"Daniel's home," she shouted and then wrapped her arms around his middle.

Daniel got down to her eye level, "You been good for Mom and Dad, Dot?"

She nodded, "Sure have." The girl looked at the woman standing next to her older brother, "Who are you?"

Daniel graciously introduced them, "This is your new sister-in-law, Jackie. Jackie, this is Dot."

Jackie followed Daniel's lead and bent over to her eye level, offering a hand shake, "Pleasure to meet you, Dot."

She took the hand but was obviously not as enthused as Davy. She seemed unsure of the situation.

"What about Megan?" she asked her brother.

Daniel scoffed, "Megan? She married Jack. Remember?"

"She got it annulled," his sister informed.

Daniel shrugged, "Then she's free to find someone else."

Jackie asked, "Megan?"

"My ex-girlfriend," he told her, "she married my…Ex-best friend…And sent me a letter telling me it was over for us. I knew that I was gonna be drafted so I joined the Air Force. That way I could learn to fly the planes. Davy's idea! He likes planes as much as you do."

Jackie looked at the mentally challenged man who nodded in agreement, "I know all about planes. Single engine, dual engine, tri-engine, four engine and I know all about planes. I know about them. I know the names of the planes and the engines in the planes and I know all about planes."

"I designed racing planes," Jackie told him. "I would love to hear about everything you know."

He bounced on his heels, "Ooh, can help dee-zine one?"

"Sure," she chuckled, instantly she was taken by his innocent charm.

His mother emerged from the doorway, wearing a tan dress and house coat. A stout woman with long gray hair, placed in a bun on her head with a pair of bifocals perched on her nose.

"Daniel?" she started towards him in a quick walk. Her old knees wouldn't take the impact of a run.

"Mom," he reached out for her, pulling the old woman close as she fell into his arms, relived her son returned from war torn Europe in one piece.

"It's really you?" she asked, holding him tight.

"I'm home, Mom. I'm home."

The older woman sucked in a deep breath, wiped back her tears and pulled away from him slightly, gazing upon the attractive young woman standing next to him. "Who's this?" she asked.

"This is, Jackie…My wife."

She paused and just looked at her, unsure what to make of the situation. He never said anything about a wife. Where did she come from? Who was she and why did he marry her? All the questions swirled around in the old woman's head like a whirlwind. She took a moment a gathered herself, presenting a hand to the young woman standing next to her son.

"Nice to meet you, Jackie. Where did you meet my son?"

"On a B-17," she stated in her own blunt way.

Daniel covered for her, "Jackie and I meet at the base. She worked for the aerial analysis department. She made sure we got the best route possible."

Her oldest son bounced up and down in excitement, "She knows all about airplanes. She dee-zines them."

Jackie tried to regain her composure after the awkward introduction, "I'm Jackie Jackson-Garrett. I meet you son when we were both stationed to Bassingbourn. I helped him in navigation and photo analysis of military targets. I worked closely with him and his crew. Prior to the war, I designed and raced planes with my father."

Daniel threw in one more tid-bit in effort to impress his mother, "Her father is a general in the air force."

"How nice." The older woman wasn't impressed, "I'll have the guest room ready for the both of you."

He assured his mother, "It's just temporary, Mom. Just until I can find a place of our own."

"I should hope so," she stated referring to the marriage rather than her son moving out.

"Dad home?" asked Daniel as they followed his mother inside.

"He's at work," she replied. "Still has his tenure at the college."

Daniel replied, "Good, Jackie's going to be going to college this fall."

"I am?" she asked.

"When they take new students," he replied taking their bags towards the hall stairs.

The interior of the old farm house was very pleasant, antique furniture scattered about. An old record player sat in the corner that had recently been played. Magazines stacked neatly on the coffee table. The red plush sofa adorned with hand crafted dollies over each arm. Two recliner chairs set to the far end of the room for the mother and father, each well worn.

The rest of the home was equally charming. A wood burning kitchen stove was still in use and the pantry well stocked with home canned goods. The oak dinning room table kept neat and clear of clutter and an electric chandelier hung from the center of the room.

Daniel gave his brother a task, "Davy, could you bring these bags to the guest room for me and Jackie?"

"Okay," he replied and retrieved the bags. His boyish eyes looked at Jackie as he asked, "You wanna go to my room and see my planes?"

She looked at Daniel who merely shrugged.

"Sure," she chuckled.

"Okay," he remarked as he started up the stairs with Jackie in tow. "I have all sorts of planes. I build them myself from ba, ball-sa wood. I think that's what it's called."

"Balsa wood," she nodded. "I do modeling for my planes with balsa wood too."

"Really?" he asked. "I do modeling too. I can make any plane."

She couldn't help but laugh, "I would love to see them, Davy. Sounds like we have something in common."

He warned, "Okay, but you have to be very, very careful cause they can break."

"I'll be careful," she assured.

As the pair went out of earshot his mother asked, "Why didn't you tell me you got married? When did this happen?"

"We got married before we left London. There wasn't enough time to write. We would have beaten the letter home."

"You could have told me you had a girlfriend," she insisted.

He grasped for an answer without explaining the details of what had happened, "It was all rather sudden," he explained.

"I bet it was," she remarked. "Megan is not going to be happy."

"Megan married Jack," he rebutted, "behind my back, remember?"

"They got it annulled," his mother explained, "it was just a mistake. She has been waiting for you for the last three years to come home."

"Funny, she never wrote and Dad never mentioned that."

She rebutted, "Megan and your father never got along that well. She thought that writing to you, while you were fighting, would be too much for you. She chose to wait for you."

"She's too late," Daniel huffed, "I'm married to Jackie and I'm not getting divorced for Megan's sake."

"You can get it annulled," he mother suggested.

"I can't believe you just said that," he told her.

"I didn't approve of this, Daniel."

"Mom, I'm twenty-eight years old. I'm not like Davy. I don't need you to make my decisions for me." He then added, "And Davy never really liked Megan much but as you can see he loves, Jackie."

"That's because she designs air planes," his mother retorted, "he doesn't know her, yet."

He stood his ground, "And neither do you, Mom. But I have spent the last year with her and I know her rather well. She's extremely intelligent, as a photographic memory and is a crack pilot and engineer. You have no idea how many times she saved my life."

"Saved your life?" His mother squawked. "She analyzed aerial photos. She didn't save your life. She wasn't up there fighting the German's with you. I'm sure she's very bright but saved your life?"

"I can't tell you everything that happened because a lot of it is top secret. But yes, she literally saved my life and lives of my crew at least twice. And she probably saved our lives finding us good routes too. Cause a bad route meant heavy fighting. My last five missions were designed by her and they were best mission that I had."

It was obvious that more happened overseas than the government was willing to print in the papers. She sucked in a breath and gave a nod to her son in hopes of preventing her anger from creeping out.

"Okay, I believe you."

Daniel rubbed her back gently, "I know this is a lot to take in, Mom. Just give her a chance. You didn't lose me, you gained a daughter and Jackie would very much like to have a mom."

"I'm sure she has a mother," she replied.

"Her mother died when she was six years old," Daniel told her. "You're her only mom."

Jackie was led into Davy's room. It was much like the room of a small boy. Large posters of barnstorming planes hung on the wall. A box full of his toys remained in the room from his childhood. His bed was a twin size bed from his youth. The blue walls adorned with hand painted clouds to give the remnant of the sky. A small desk was placed up against the wall where Davy made his model airplanes. Balsa wood and glue was scattered about.

On a shelf on the opposite wall were the planes that he had made. He grabbed one of his favorites, a single engine bi-wing that was painted blue and yellow, very much like the Kadet that Jackie and her father owned.

He presented it to her, "See, I made this plane by myself. My Dad helped a little but I did it all by myself."

Carefully she took the model and gazed over the hand crafting. Such delicate details were about the plane. Even the hand painted marking stood out. She spotted one detail missing.

"This is a great model, Davy. What's the plane's name?"

He stood in thought, "Name? It's a bi-plane."

"Yes, it's a Kadet bi-plane but pilots name their planes. I have a plane just like this and it's named the Fledgling."

"Oh, you can name the planes? Can I name it?"

She chuckled, "It's your plane…You can name it."

He pondered, "How about after Daniel's plane?"

"Daniel had two bombers: Blondie's Boys and the Jackie J."

He grinned and pointed his think finger at her, "He named it after you," he teased.

Jackie nodded, "Yes, he did. Actually, Frank named it after me when I was hurt."

His big blue eyes grew wide, "You were hurt? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine now," she assured him.

"How were you hurt?" asked Davy.

"Can you keep a secret?" she asked.

He made a motion with his hand, "Cross my heart and hope to die."

"Let's not die," she stated.

"Oh, I won't," he promised. Then he climbed on his bed, sitting cross legged. Bouncing eagerly, "What's the secret?"

She sat in the chair at his desk, placed the plane on down and bluntly replied, "I was the navigator on Daniel's B-17. I dressed up like a boy and snuck into the Air Force. My father discovered me and I was put the put in an office looking at pictures."

His eyes grew even wider, "Really?"

She nodded keeping her voice down, "Yes, but it's a secret. Only Daniel and you know, okay?"

"Okay," he nodded enthusiastically, "I like you better than Megan. You're nice."

Jackie asked, "Daniel's ex-girlfriend isn't nice?"

He made a face, "Not to me."

She reached over squeezed his hand assuring, "I will never be mean to you, I promise. I'm your sister-in-law now. So, you and I are family."

"You're my sister now," the man repeated not really comprehending the difference in titles.

She assured, "I'm your sister now, Davy."

He counted on his fingers, "One, two…I have two sisters now."

"That's right," she grinned, "two sisters now."

His eyes shifted, "You're not gonna play tricks on me, are you?"

She giggled, "Of course not."

"No snakes in my sock drawer?"

Jackie shook her head.

"No spiders in my shoes?"

She shook her head again.

"Not gonna call me names?"

"I would never dream of doing something like that to someone as special as you are, Davy."

"I'm special?" asked he.

She nodded, "I think you are."

He frowned, "Everyone says I'm retarded. I know I'm dumb."

She winced, "I don't think your dumb, Davy." Assuring him once more, "Everyone thought I was special too. Except I was the other way...Too smart. Too smart to go to school and the school for the gifted wouldn't take me. So, my father taught me everything he knew."

"Was that a lot?" Davy wondered.

She snickered, "Nope."

As Daniel was unpacking their bags in the guest room his father returned home from work. He could hear the mumbling downstairs as his mother informed about the new marriage.

"He brought home a wife from England," his mother stated. "He never told us he was getting married."

Daniel's father, a tall man that shared many similarities with his son, pushed his glasses up his nose and shrugged, "It's a war, honey. Things like that happen in wars."

Standing at the kitchen sink with a potato in her hand she shook her fist at him, "Not to my son."

His father was bit heavier than Daniel, his face more weathered and his once dark hair streaked with gray. He removed his brown suit jacket and hung it up on the wall hook, rummaging through his pockets for his pipe. Suspenders held up the matching trousers and his white dress shirt gave a most neutral appeal.

Clamping the pipe between his teeth, "Bea, you're over reacting. Daniel has just served his country and we're lucky he is home. He has good taste in women…Generally…I'm sure she's a very sweet girl."

"Clyde, she's a pilot and an aeronautical engineer," his wife replied.

His eyebrow lifted, "Smart girl. She pretty?"

Peeved she retorted, "Of course she is…She married an officer. And her father is a general, makes her sound spoiled to me."

"Hmm," the father held back any opinion. "Where is she? I would like to meet her."

"She's upstairs in Davy's room. He's showing her his model airplanes."

He chuckled, "Sounds like Davy likes her."

"He likes her because she knows about airplanes," insisted Bea.

Lighting the pipe, "It's a start," replied Clyde.

Dumbfounded she shook her head, "Our son marrying some stranger doesn't worry you?"

He shrugged, "Of course I'm worried but Daniel is a man and can make his own choices. He's not like David. He can take care of himself. It's not our job to tell him how to run his life. He can marry whoever he wants."

"What about Megan?" asked Bea.

Clyde let out a sigh, "Megan? Megan broke his heart once before. She eloped to Jack and then sent him a letter from her honeymoon. After Daniel went into the Air Force she left Jack and then came here looking for him. She hasn't written to him the entire time he was in the military. I wrote to him for all of us. He never asked about her and I never brought her up. Figured it was the last thing he needed to hear while over there fighting. He found someone new and good for him. He shouldn't be hungering for a woman who will hurt him again."

"Megan has changed," Bea insisted.

"No, she hasn't," retorted Clyde, "she's still the same, Megan. I see her on campus. She still goes out with other men. She fooling you into thinking she's changed."

"Don't say those things," rebutted Bea. "Megan is like a daughter to me."

Clyde placed his hand on her shoulders lovingly, "I know she is but she's not a wife to Daniel. They're relationship is long over…Trust me."