Enjoy this one...even though it's a contemporary romance, it's for all those WWII history buffs out there.
Faith in the Darkest of Nights, by Eryn Grace:
*** BASED ON CHRISTIAN MORALS--CHRISTIAN ROMANCE ***
For Becky Lewis and her three children, life isn't fair. Now, with the death of her military husband, she knows she's stuck living in her parent's home with them. However, in her last conversation with her husband while he was in the hospital overseas, he told her to meet his commanding officer, Captain Reese Simon.
Captain Simon, a confirmed bachelor, never knew about God's love. However, PFC Bob Lewis told him a story that changed his life. The story took place in a concentration camp in WWII Treblinka, Poland, and how, even when the night is dark and the outcome is bleak, God is with us all.
Can Captain Simon help Becky and the kids come to know the love of Jesus, given their circumstances? Or will it take an extreme crisis for Becky to understand that she is also saved?
Captain Reese Simon stood in the hospital hallway, listening to a phone conversation. He didn't want to interrupt, but the man in the bed had asked to speak to him.
The man sighed over the phone. "Becky, don't be angry, please? I'll be home as soon as I can, if I can."
Captain Simon hobbled into the hospital room from where he'd been listening. He and Private First Class Robert Lewis were both patients in the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. They called his underling PFC Bob—but that was before he was flown to Germany along with most of their unit. No need to change that nickname now. He was still the same man as before, even though the guy's injuries seemed to indicate otherwise.
"I'll leave," Captain Simon whispered to PFC Bob, since the man was still on the phone.
As Captain Simon turned to inch away on his crutches, PFC Bob motioned for him to come back into the room. "Talk to my C. O.," he said, over the phone. "His name's Captain Reese Simon."
Captain Simon went toward the bed and took the phone held out for him. "Hello?"
"Who am I really speakin' to?" The woman's voice sounded tough, with a soft southern accent. Bob didn't have an accent, so maybe he wasn't from the south, where they'd initially been stationed.
"This is Captain Reese Simon," he said. "And who is this?"
"My name's Becky Lewis. Tell me about my husband, Bob's, injuries?"
Captain Simon looked down the bed to where Bob's legs should have been. "He'll live. It'll take some time for him to come home, though."
"Will he walk?"
Captain Simon froze. "What did he tell you, exactly?"
"He said he lost his legs, but won't tell me how or any of his other injuries. He's called me every day for three days, but won't tell me anything else."
"That's confidential right now, until we can talk to our superiors, ma'am. Just you hang tight and we'll get Bob home to you in no time."
"Considerin' he hasn't been here for years, that'll be a first." She sighed, and Captain Simon heard a child crying. "I have to go. Tell him I'll call him tomorrow."
"Yes, ma'am. I hope that child stops crying, too."
"Don't you worry about my kids. They just miss a father they barely know. Good bye, Captain Simon."
"Good bye." He hung up the phone and looked down at the man in front of him. "PFC Bob. I think we have a problem."
PFC Bob smiled up from his bed, his face pale. "That we do, Captain. That we do." He glanced downward. "I do believe we hit a landmine."
"All of us." Captain Simon looked downward at his own mangled leg, wrapped in bandages and a cast.
"So was Becky nice to you?"
Captain Simon nodded. "She's just frustrated. She'll be fine and said she'd call you tomorrow. It has to be a shock to hear her husband's in the hospital in Germany."
"Yeah." He paused and took a breath. "So how are you doing?"
The Captain looked downward again. "They finally let me out of my room. I'm shipping stateside when there's transportation, then I'll go through rehab."
PFC Bob shook his head with a frown, looking as if he might cry. "Not me. I'm not going home alive."
Captain Simon straightened as if at attention. "You don't know that, soldier. Never give up. Your wife's expecting you home."
PFC Bob's eyes grew weary, looking rather sad. "Sir, the doc came to see me. It's going to be a long haul. With the loss of both of my legs…" He trailed off and turned his head away.
The thought of one of his men dying made the captain a little sentimental, but he knew PFC Bob had it in him to make it. He was a legacy—his grandfather and his father had both been in the Army. PFC Bob didn't seem to have much drive, but wanted to follow in his family's footsteps, telling everyone in his unit he was made to be a military man. He just didn't follow through with the actions to match his words. PFC Bob could make it home, if he wanted to.
"There's a reason I asked to talk to you," PFC Bob said. "I want you to send my widow a message, without her yelling at me."
Captain Simon pulled up a chair, and using his crutches, sat down beside the bed. "You mean your wife, Becky. Not your widow, because you're not dead. She lives near the base in Georgia, right?"
"No, I mean my widow, because I'm not going to make it. She doesn't live near the base, either. She moved back home to be with her parents, near Dallas. Anyway, I want to record something for my kids. I never told anyone this story, and it's going to die with me if I don't tell someone."
"You're not dying, but I'll get a tape recorder just so you can sleep." Captain Simon stood, hobbling toward the door.
"Thank you," PFC Bob said, calling after Captain Simon. "And I'd like you to hear it in case anything happens to the tape."
"Yes, sir. I'd be honored." Captain Simon turned and headed out the door, figuring it would be the last will and testament of a man who wasn't dying. If PFC Bob was that bad, they'd send him home immediately. But if it humored Bob, so be it.
Captain Simon greeted the people along the way to his room, trudging down the hallway. He looked at it this way—he could be in his bed watching television or he could be listening to PFC Bob drone on and on about some story that probably wasn't even true. For all he knew, Bob may be writing fiction, hoping his wife would sell it to make ends meet after he got back home.
Bob's recovery would be an uphill climb, but he was the one who'd detonated the mine. The guy had to go to the bathroom, and they just happened to stop at the right place on the road. Bob hopped out and stepped on the mine, blasting everyone and everything in their way. Captain Simon was driving. When the truck overturned, Captain Simon's left leg was mangled against the door and whatever else it hit. After that, things got hazy, in and out of consciousness for the entire trip to Germany. But he remembered Bob screaming, and then saying one thing over and over again. Something about hope in the Lord. That was one thing Captain Simon didn't want to hear. It actually ticked him off, because there was no God that he knew of.
Captain Simon sighed, getting the audio recorder from his room. He'd requested it for himself, to pass the time away on a new melody going through his head. The thing was digital and looked almost like a cell phone, able to record almost 400 hours to upload to a computer.
After putting the recording device in his palm, he hobbled on his crutches to PFC Bob's room. "I'm back."
"Captain. Did you bring the recorder?"
"Sure did." He took his seat and opened his hand to show it. "I'm ready when you are."
"Turn it on." PFC Bob waited while the Captain started it after his song, and then nodded.
Bob took a breath. "I want to tell my wife, Becky, that I love her. I've loved her since the moment I met her and have never stopped loving her. I thank God that He put her in my life. I never should've joined the military. Granted, it's what I wanted to do—what I felt I had to do—but my heart's not in it. Because of me, many fine soldiers are now wounded. It's my fault we hit the landmine. Actually, I hit the landmine, or so I'm told. I don't remember any of it."
Captain Simon turned off the machine. "Bob, it's not your fault. That could've been any one of us. We were told that area had been cleared already."
"Regardless, if it weren't for me, we'd all still be out there doing our job." He motioned to the machine. "Turn it on. I'm not done—I've hardly begun."
Captain Simon flipped the thing on.
PFC Bob continued. "Becky, if I don't make it back, I want you to find our kids a father figure so your parents don't have to raise our children. I want him to be someone that will raise our kids in the faith and be a better father than I've been. I also want our children to know God. Becky, promise you'll teach them what I can't teach them with their new father figure. Get them to church and have them memorize as much of the Bible as they can. I especially want them to remember Psalm 118:6, which says, 'The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?' and Psalm 31:24, which says, 'Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.' Those two verses helped my grandfather and my father get through their trials of war, when captured by the enemy. At least that didn't happen to me."
His grandfather and his father were prisoners of war? Now it made more sense. PFC Bob didn't want to become a POW. That's why he always hesitated to jump in feet first.
Captain Simon sat up, listening intently to every word. Getting into the minds of his unit helped solidify his troops. If he could get them to think alike and complement each other, he could have the best unit around.
"I also want them to memorize Psalm 23, and 2 Samuel 22: 2-4. Those are two messages that will get them through so many things. They need to commit them to memory if they're ever in trouble and don't have a Bible with them."
Captain Simon wondered what PFC Bob was talking about, since Captain Simon had never read a Bible. His family was filled with angry atheists. But he didn't want to be anything like them. Maybe he needed to know more? So he reached over, opened the drawer to the nightstand, and grabbed the Bible,
"You don't know where that is, do you?" PFC Bob asked him.
Captain Simon shook his head. PFC Bob took the Bible and showed him Psalm 23 and 2 Samuel 22. "Psalm 23 lets my kids know that God is with them, even in the toughest of times, or the darkest of nights. They should just have faith. 2 Samuel 22: 2-4 lets them know that God can handle any problem, no matter how big, and they'll be saved from evil and their enemies. They're very powerful things to memorize. I want my children and my children's children to know what's gone through the heads of their ancestors when faced with the terror of death. I want to tell them what happened, starting with their grandfather, back in World War II."
Now it was getting good for Captain Simon. He loved war stories, especially if the good guys won. He leaned back and just listened, the Bible still in his hands.
"My grandfather, John Lewis, was born back in 1923. He was a funny kid, always cracking a joke. His father was rather strict and would force his kids to memorize parts of the Bible. The guy believed anything could be taken from you except your memories. So John learned much of the Bible from his father. John didn't have any real skills for a job, and since there wasn't much money after the Great Depression, John joined the Army when he was 18. Now back then, the Air Force, as we know it, didn't exist yet."
"That's right," Captain Simon said. "It was called the Army Air Forces, but changed by President Truman through the National Security Act of 1947."
PFC Bob smiled slightly. "You know your history."
Captain Simon shrugged, not wanting to say he had a college degree in history. "It's a hobby of mine. I like anything to do with the military."
PFC Bob took a breath and blew it out. "He was put in the Army Air Forces and flew as a gunner in the Army, lying in the belly of the plane. When John was 19, the United States had already been involved in World War II since January of 1942, after Pearl Harbor's attack on December 7, 1941. They sent John's unit overseas, to help protect our allies. His plane got into a huge fight with fighter pilots near Germany in July of 1943. They fought with the other planes and were eventually taken down. John was the only one to survive, but the German SS—the secret police—took him hostage. Over the next five days, they beat John, who only recited his name, rank of Sergeant, and the Bible verses I told you about. Psalm 118:6—'The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?' and Psalm 31:24—'Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.' He was so happy to have been forced to memorize much of the Bible, because the Psalms gave him the most hope for the future."
PFC Bob paused, glancing down at the recorder. Captain Simon joined him, making sure it was recording.
PFC Bob continued. "Now, remember, he would've only been 19 at the time. His 20th birthday was about a month away, in August. He was scared, knowing he'd never see his family again. But he knew God was watching out for him and had a plan for his life."
PFC Bob stopped talking and stared at Captain Simon. "You don't believe."
"I believe you and the story about your grandfather."
"No. You don't believe God will save us through Jesus Christ. You're not a Christian, are you?"
Captain Simon shook his head. "I was raised to believe there is no God."
"You were raised wrong. I think this is my mission in life—to save you from sin. Captain, Jesus died on the cross, taking away our sin. Have you ever heard that before?"
He nodded toward the Bible. "I have a job for you. I want you to read that Book. Start with the New Testament so you'll know who Jesus Christ is. Read the book of John—all emotion is out of that chapter, I think. It's just the facts and summarizes a lot of things." He grabbed the Bible and leafed through it, showing Captain Simon the first page of the book. "You'll learn about Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the four gospels. Read those for me before I die. It'll make me very happy."
Captain Simon looked down at the words on the page before him. Could he do this? Could he read something he didn't believe in? As he looked up at PFC Bob's smile, he knew he'd do it for his troops. Maybe it would make more sense to him why some of his men wore a cross around their neck.
Captain Simon had to do something, wanting to hear more of the story. If it could make PFC Bob tell more, he'd abide by PFC Bob's request. "I'll do it, for you."
"By tomorrow. I might die soon and I want to know you've read it."
Captain Simon nodded. He was good to his word, even though he was sure PFC Bob wasn't dying. "Tell me about your grandfather."
PFC Bob's eyes closed briefly. "I'm really tired. I think they're slipping me sedatives, because I'm not sleeping at night."
Captain Simon reached up and patted PFC Bob's arm. "Get some sleep. We'll talk again tomorrow." He lifted the recorder and turned it off while Bob fell asleep. Captain Simon put the Bible away, knowing he had another one beside his hospital bed.
He shuffled back to his room, deciding along the way to transcribe Bob's words for his wife, in case anything happened to the recording. He got to his bed and opened the drawer to the nightstand beside the bed, seeing the Bible before him. He pulled it out of the drawer, along with paper and a pen, and got to work. At least it was better than doing nothing in that bed.
Web page for this book: http://eryngrace.com/faith_in_the_darkest_of_nights.html
Have a great week!