A chance meeting in Liverpool will change Megan Lloyd’s life in ways she could never have imagined . . .
August, 1942. 21-year-old Megan Lloyd is determined to do her bit for the war effort – and a chance encounter with an American army officer in Liverpool gives her an idea of how to do just that. Appalled at the plight of young women left pregnant and destitute following ill-fated love affairs with passing sailors or American GIs, Megan determines to establish a place of refuge for unmarried mothers - a plan which incurs her father’s intense disapproval.
But Megan finds herself unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Trauma, drama, heartbreak and moments of great joy will follow – and in the midst of it all Megan will find unexpected love.
|Publisher:||Severn House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.55(w) x 8.74(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Rosie Harris is the author of more than twenty romantic sagas which have captivated her readers. Born in Cardiff, Rosie lived in Merseyside after her marriage, before eventually moving south to Buckinghamshire.
Read an Excerpt
By Rosie Harris
Severn House Publishers LimitedCopyright © 2016 Marion Harris
All rights reserved.
Megan Lloyd was bored.
A tall, slim girl with long, sleek, dark hair caught back in a bow at the nape of her neck, she was dressed in dark blue slacks and a green cotton top that reached to her hipline. Her expressive face with its high cheekbones, small, square chin and bright, dark eyes under their well-shaped brows normally gave her an alert, intelligent look but at the moment she looked discontented and unhappy.
It was August 1942 and she had just completed a three-year degree course at Aberystwyth University and was undecided about her future.
What she wanted to do immediately was to join up in one of the services and help her country like so many of her fellow students were already doing, but her father refused to give his permission for her to go ahead with her plans.
Her father, Lewis Lloyd, was the owner of a slate quarry in North Wales. A tall, broad man in his early fifties with a shock of thick black hair and piercing dark eyes, he was both wealthy and powerful. His family had lived in the area since the Middle Ages and their imposing grey stone ten-bedroom mansion Yr Glaslyn had been built in the 1600s.
Although the war had been raging between Germany and Britain since 1939 it had made very little difference to his way of life. As the owner of one of the largest slate mines in North Wales, he was held in high regard by his employees and, since many of them had allotments or large gardens, the wartime shortages and food rationing had not made very much difference to him or his way of life.
Items such as eggs, chicken, joints of lamb and pork, and even milk as well as vegetables and fruit in season, which many people were unable to buy because they were in short supply, or rationed, were brought along to him as tokens of their loyalty by the men who worked for him.
He accepted all this as a matter of right and consequently his family never went short of anything. Occasionally his wife Bronwyn, a small, dark-haired woman five years younger than Lewis, weakly protested about them accepting these items, but he would brush her remarks aside.
'Speak sense, woman, if they needed the stuff for themselves they wouldn't be bringing it along here for us now, would they?'
'They only do it because they want to keep in your good books,' she told him.
Lewis gave a derisory laugh. 'If that's the case then believe me they're wasting their time. They won't be getting a penny more in their pay packets from me just because they bring some trifling thing along and hand it to me.'
'You do pay them, I hope, Lewis, for the produce they bring in surely,' Bronwyn admonished.
'Half the time I don't know which of them has brought what in,' he said irritably. 'I leave it to the foreman to attend to that side of things and no doubt he takes his pick of what's been brought in before it's handed to me.'
'You should thank them personally, Lewis; it is very, very kind of them to give up items of food and for the wives to give up their clothing coupons just so that we can have more.'
'The women probably can't afford to buy new clothes anyway and as for the food, most of the fruit and vegetables they bring in is what they've grown themselves.'
'All the more reason for thanking them then,' she insisted.
'Nonsense! They probably have a glut of it and they would have to throw it on the midden or dig it back into the ground if they didn't give it to us.'
'No, Lewis, you know you are speaking nonsense,' Bronwyn told him, her small mouth tightening into an uncompromising line. 'What you're saying might have been true at one time, but these days what with rationing and shortages, every scrap of food is precious.'
'They would far rather be digging in their own gardens than fighting a war over in France,' he told her derisively.
'I'm sure they would but that doesn't mean we shouldn't say thank you to them for the sacrifice they are making.'
'It's their way of saying thank you to me for giving them the opportunity of working here in safety, in a reserved occupation, rather than being sent over to France or some other place where they'd be risking their necks in the midst of all the mud and bullets.'
Although the Blitz had been raging since 1940 with German bombers attacking London on fifty-seven consecutive nights, the only disruption that Lewis Lloyd was aware of was the occasional difficulties in transporting slate to other parts of the country or other areas of the world. So many of the larger seaports both in Britain and abroad had been bombed either by the Germans or by the Allied Air Forces. In addition, shipping was constantly under attack from the air as well as at risk from submarines.
Nevertheless, Lewis Lloyd was determined that his life would continue as smoothly as possible. Megan's twenty-first birthday party that April had been the highlight of the year in Beddgelert. It had fallen in the middle of the Easter vacation and all her university friends as well as her many local friends had been invited. For almost a week the Lloyds' mansion Yr Glaslyn had been filled with her friends from Aberystwyth. Lewis Lloyd had gone out of his way to regale them with tales about the history of his ancestors.
He was proud of the fact that his family dated back to the days of Llewellyn the Great and claimed that one of his relations had been present when the famous Prince Llewellyn had returned from a hunting trip and found that Gelert his faithful dog which he had left to guard his son was covered in blood.
Prince Llewellyn had immediately thought that the dog had attacked his small son and killed it. But after the dog had died he found the body of a wolf nearby and realized that his faithful dog had, in fact, saved the life of his son. Prince Llewellyn was so overcome by grief that he began digging a grave for the dog with his own hands and, according to legend, was often to be seen at the graveside where he watered it with his own tears.
Although Megan had returned to university immediately after her birthday, it had been her final term there and in no time at all her course ended. Degree achieved, her future hung in the balance.
Now her student life was over, everything seemed to her to be dull and uneventful. Most of her friends of her own age were already serving in the forces; boys in the Army, Navy or Air Force while the girls had joined the ATS or the WAAF or the Wrens. Some had even become Land Army girls working on farms throughout Britain.
All through July and August Megan lazed around playing tennis, partying, swimming, dancing and generally enjoying herself with those who were still awaiting their call-up papers or who were home on their first leave after completing their basic training.
Megan found that it was sheer torment to listen to their exploits and adventures and it made her all the more keen to join them, but no matter how many times she brought the subject up her father adamantly refused to even discuss her joining up.
She would have loved to become a Waaf or a Wren, but her father was strongly against it. To him she was still just a 'little girl', someone to protect from the harsh realities of life. He wouldn't even allow her to work in the offices of his own slate quarry.
'What do you think the men would think if I brought my daughter into work?' he intoned furiously. 'They'd think I was mad, that's what they would think. Anyway, it's quite unthinkable to have a woman working in a slate quarry.'
'I wouldn't be in the slate quarry working alongside the men,' Megan protested. 'I would be working in the office.'
'I don't have any women working in the office. I have young men training to become office managers or accountants. They start as office boys running errands, making the tea and doing the filing. You wouldn't want to be doing work of that nature, would you?'
'Well, there is a war on, Father, and by rights those young men should be in the forces. If you prefer to employ them then perhaps I ought to take their place and join up. A lot of my friends have already joined up,' she added pointedly.
'That will do! I have heard enough from you. I've already told you, you are not coming to work at the quarry nor are you going to join any of the forces. Help your mother around the house and in the village. She'll find plenty for you to do and think yourself lucky that you are safe and that you don't have to suffer any hardships. Now that is the end of the matter and I don't want to hear another word about it.'
'I have a university degree in Economics,' Megan protested. 'What do you think I should do with that?'
'Put the certificate up on your bedroom wall and shut up. I don't want to hear any more. I have enough problems to deal with without some petty domestic quarrel taking over my mind,' he told her angrily.
Megan would have continued the argument but her mother who was also in the room motioned to her by placing a finger over her own lips to be quiet. Afterwards Bronwyn Lloyd took her daughter aside and counselled her not to aggravate her father any further.
'He has a lot of problems to deal with down at the quarry,' she told her seriously. 'So many of the ships that he uses to transport slate to other countries have been involved in incidents of one kind or another while at sea; some have even been sunk with all their cargo on board.'
'I'm very sorry to hear that but it still makes no difference to what I want to do; in fact it makes it all the more urgent. I want to do something constructive; something to help in the war effort. I don't want to sit at home while all my friends are in the services and doing war work of some kind or the other. If he doesn't want me to join the forces then at least he could let me help in his office.'
'No, cariad, that wouldn't be at all appropriate. If you are so anxious to help in the war effort then why not write to our boys overseas and help others to send them parcels of food or books and magazines and cigarettes and anything else you can think of. I am sure that your father will be happy to provide funds for you to do that.'
'Mother, I'm twenty-one not an old dear of seventy. I wonder you haven't suggested that I knit socks or scarves or something for the soldiers.'
'Well, cariad, that might be no bad thing either. I'm sure they need those sorts of items now that the winter is coming on. I know that some of the ladies in the village are doing just that and they would certainly welcome a new recruit.'
'I was joking!' She put her arms around her mother and kissed her to try and take the sting out of her words. She could tell how worried her mother was by the fact she had used the endearment in Welsh.
When she had been a child, Megan recalled, they had always spoken in Welsh but never since she had been at university.
'Well, it would certainly keep your father happy if he knew that was what you were doing. Think carefully about it, Megan. Your father is very concerned about your future. You have a lovely home here and you can invite your friends to come and stay any time you wish. Your father is very good to you and gives you a generous monthly allowance; probably far more than you would be able to earn if you went out to work. Certainly more than you would get in the forces.'
Megan didn't bother to argue. She knew that all this was true but it made no difference to the way she felt about what she wanted to do at the moment. Later, when the war was over, she would comply with her father's wishes for her to become a schoolteacher or anything else he asked her to do. For the moment she wanted to play her part in helping to win the war.
Lewis Lloyd's determination to protect her from the grim realities of the war only made her all the more keen to leave home even if it meant using devious means to do so.
Early in October 1942 she made up her mind to do something positive. She told her parents that she was going to spend a few days with one of her friends from Aberystwyth University who was now a schoolteacher.
She deliberately did not tell them that the friend lived in Liverpool because she knew that her father would forbid her to go there because of all the bombing that had taken place there over the last few months.
Even so, her father was immediately suspicious of her intentions.
'How long are you planning to stay with this friend?' he asked.
'About a week; she has a week off because it's half term,' Megan explained.
Her father looked at her so quizzically she was afraid he had seen through her plan. Her heart was beating so fast and so loud that she thought he must be able to hear it.
Reluctantly he agreed to her going but only on the proviso that she would not take advantage of being away from home to join any of the services. Solemnly she gave her promise that she would not do so.
It was a promise she had no intention of keeping. She intended to discover some way that she could play a useful part in the war. Her conscience wouldn't allow her to sit around doing nothing for the rest of the war. She wanted to play an active part. She knew that joining the forces was impossible because her father would take steps to have her discharged, but she was sure there were other things that she could do apart from those her mother had suggested.
It was difficult to find out what these might be while living in such a remote spot as Beddgelert but in a large city like Liverpool there would be several places such as a Citizen's Advice Bureau or even the Unemployment Offices where she would be able to obtain the kind of information she needed.CHAPTER 2
Megan was shocked when she arrived at Lime Street station; she stared around her wondering if she really was at the right place. Liverpool looked so very different from when she last visited there.
Her friend Audrey Wilson was waiting for her on the platform. Although the same height as Megan, Audrey was much plumper and had dark blonde hair that hung straight to her shoulders. She was smiling broadly as she greeted Megan.
When Megan expressed surprise at her surroundings, Audrey shrugged her plump shoulders and reminded her that Liverpool had suffered very badly from bombing raids during the past year.
As they left Lime Street station Megan was horrified at the sight of the devastation that had been wrought on the city by the German bombing raids. Stores where on her previous visits she and Audrey had spent happy hours browsing; cafés where they had stopped for coffee or a snack as well as offices of all kinds had either vanished or were so badly damaged that they looked like piles of rubble.
Even the people they met or passed seemed to be different from the last time she had been in Liverpool, Megan mused. Most of them looked weary, as though they hadn't had a good night's sleep for weeks. Their clothes seemed drab, wrinkled and uncared for, almost as if they'd been sleeping in them.
They probably had, she thought, and it sent shivers through her and made her all the more determined to become involved in the war effort.
'You seem to have been very fortunate, your house is still all right,' Megan commented when they turned into the street where Audrey lived.
'Yes, we've been very lucky in this part of Liverpool,' Audrey agreed. 'We're far enough away from the docks and not near enough to the industrial area for the bombers to bother about us. Mind you, we did have to spend many nights in our shelter for weeks at a time and we did have damage from bomb blast. Several times we lost our windows and tiles off the roof but that was nothing compared with what some folks had to contend with; sadly a great many of them didn't survive, especially when their homes received a direct hit.'
The two girls spent the next few hours catching up with news of what they had been doing since they had last seen each other. Then Megan explained to Audrey the underlying reason for her visit.
'Why don't you just get a job in one of the companies who are engaged in war work?' Audrey suggested.
'You mean in an office helping to do the accounts and keep the books or something of that sort?'
'Well, someone has to and those jobs are important to keep the wheels of commerce turning smoothly.'
'I know but it sounds very tame. I want to be involved in something more dynamic; something that really brings me in contact with what is actually going on.'
'You can always spend your free time as an air-raid warden or work in one of the canteens that serve the troops or something of that sort,' Audrey added helpfully.
Excerpted from Chance Encounters by Rosie Harris. Copyright © 2016 Marion Harris. Excerpted by permission of Severn House Publishers Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.