Here is an extract from "Ghosts don't dance," which is my historical romance/ghost short story; currently at 2,450 words-estimated finish 5,000 words :)
James, who had been lost in his own world, startled and said, “Yes, I am waiting for the moment, but, I didn’t wish to spoil Carolann’s joy; even though she knows my news.”
The tremor and sadness in James’s vice was evident to David, “What was this news?” he wondered as he watched his friend sip his drink, looking like a man who knew his days may be numbered.
James looked across to his love and saw she was busily chatting away like a bird in the spring air, he didn’t have the heart to spoil her moments of joy, “She is so pretty and clever even enough to hide her pain,” he thought as he viewed Carolann talking to her friends.
The evening went on and nobody other than the lovers knew what lay behind the invitations, although Geraldine was beginning to suspect something; James couldn’t help glancing at Carolann and it wasn’t a lover’s glance, this was the glance of a man who was waiting to tell something and was waiting his cue. The group danced the night away and the players left for their homes, the hall was empty and David had taken a seat by the window, where he was joined by Clive and Angela.
Clive saw the inquisitive look on his friend’s face and asked, “What is wrong, David?”
Turning to face his friends, David replied, “James has something to say; and I don’t think it is good news, Clive.”
Angela took the seat opposite David, as Clive remained leaning on the wall and said, “I thought I detected an air of tension when I came in, I wonder what is wrong.”
David smiled and took her hand, “Dear, sweet Angela, you always could pick up people’s feelings easily. I have an idea what the news will be, but I’ll let James have his moment too, it is only right.”
Geraldine and Carolann came over to join the group, as the friends gathered by the window with the sweet smells of the herbs on the wind and the sounds of the birds from the lakes, nothing could have appeared more peaceful to the outsider; but for the group gathered inside the hall, the tension mounted as Carolann said to James, “I thin now would be the time to tell our friends your news, love,” with this she gave him a hug and a kiss.
James held his love close and kissed her on the cheeks; slowly he rose from his chair and started to speak, “I decided to let my news wait for the end of the evening, this way we can leave the house with the memories of a gloriously splendid evening in our minds and not have to think too hard that this might be our last meeting,” as he finished the first part of his talk tears started to well in his eyes, “excuse me for crying on such a lovely night, but I want to remember you as you are. Last week, I got my marching orders and at the end of next week I’ll be taking a battalion to the front; from reports I read the war isn’t going our way and my battalion will be sent into action at a vital section, which cannot fall.”
Geraldine moved closer to Carolann and gave her a big hug, “You knew of this and yet, you didn’t let it spoil our evening; you are braver than I imagined, Carolann, I’m not sure I could have put the party on, let alone kept such a charming demeanour.”
David leaned forward and said, “I don’t suppose they told you what to expect.”
James took a large swallow and downed his drink in one mouthful, “On the contrary, I was told exactly what we’re up against and why the position must be held at all costs, David. The position is between the 5th Highland Regt and the 16th Regiment of foot and if it falls the enemy can send in a cavalry charge and cut our troops off; that is why the area has been shelled continuously for the last week and the staff think there is nobody alive in our trenches; our task is not only to block the gap but to hold it long enough for a counter-offensive push in a month or two.”
Clive moved from one side of the window to the other and turned, “Do you think you have a chance of holding the position?”
James put his glass on the window ledge and replied, “Not even a slight one, Clive, the position is almost destroyed and all we are going in as is cannon fodder; if, and it’s a big if, anybody does survive it will be a miracle; I was at the docks when the last troops came back and the sight of so many young men with broken bodies and missing limbs was so horrible-I cried and I am not ashamed to admit I did. Here is our youth, men who should be tilling the fields or working in the mills to feed their families; coming home wrecked, many looking as though they had aged beyond their years and most with a far away look, as if they were still fighting over there.”