It was two o'clock in the afternoon.
Lucy leaned against the bar, sighing wearily. Her shift at the munitions factory started in four hours. She'd have to shoo away the customers so that she could close up.
Unfortunately, the pub just didn't bring in enough cash for Lucy to pay for the rent, food, or anything else for that matter. So she had to get a second job.
It was times like these that Lucy missed her mother the most
She worried constantly for her father, whether he was going to make it back alive, whether she could support Ruth and Jack if he didn't...
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a bundle of letters. Some of them were from Jack, who gushed about helping their Uncle Joe look after the pigs and cows...
...and eating Auntie Harriet's famous jam tarts after a long, productive day. They'd even sent over a few for Lucy to eat, which she enjoyed over a cup of tea and a good book.
Some of the letters were from her father.
They were vague, giving away very little about his whereabouts in case of interception, but he seemed optimistic. Which only worried Lucy more. Her father rarely ever complained...
...even when he had a right to.
He could be in a field hospital in agony for she knew, but he wouldn't dare say because he couldn't bring himself to have his eldest daughter worry about him. She had enough on her plate.
Lucy closed her eyes and pressed the letters to her chest.
It was like she was hugging them, and if she concentrated enough, she could feel their arms wrapped around her; smelling her father's pipe tobacco and Ruth's powdery baby scent...
Startled, Lucy snapped out of her trance and hastily stuffed the letter into the pocket of her apron.
She looked up, red-faced, to see a young soldier.
He was blonde and tan with sea-green eyes. She'd never seen anyone, apart from her uncle, with a tan that deep. He definitely wasn't local.
Lucy cleared her throat as she pulled herself together. "Sorry," she said, trying not to show her embarrassment. She plastered on a hospitable smile and asked "How can I help you?"
He smiled at her, showing a row of sparkling white teeth.
'Blimey,' she thought, 'where is he from, then?'
"Can I have three beers, please?" he asked.
She noticed his accent immediately. It was boxy, loud and brash. She'd read in the newspaper several months ago that the US army were stationing their soldiers in the UK to send to Europe.
He gestured behind him to his friends; a red-head with infinite freckles, and the other very handsome with black hair and the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. Both were tall and dressed in khaki.
Just like him.
"Of course," Lucy smiled, very conscious of the fact that her own teeth weren't as pearly white as the stranger's. "That will be one shilling and sixpence, please."