If you’ve finished The Light Over London and wondered about what happened to louise after she moved to california, please enjoy this exclusive bonus scene.
Los Angeles, August 1946
The papers in Louise’s hand crinkled as she clutched at them. She was the next in line, waiting for a registrar’s window to open up. She’d been waiting for more than a half hour, but that didn’t matter. She was here.
“Forms please,” the brown-haired clerk said, her tone throughly bored.
A redheaded man peeled off, and Louise stepped forward, taking her place at the window between two tall men.
“Here you are,” Louise said, sliding them forward.
The woman looked up. “You’re British?”
“I love your accent,” said the clerk. “You sound so sophisticated.”
Louise laughed. “Thank you.”
“So you’re registering for,” the woman looked down at the paperwork, “your first semester?”
“Math?” The woman looked impressed. “Not many women doing that.”
“Well, I hope there will be more soon.”
The woman made a few marks and confirmed her registration, chatting away about nothing in particular in the way Louise had noticed Americans were wont to do. She liked the friendliness of it. It seemed to fit the warm sunshine of this new city she’d arrived in a week ago, exhausted after a steamer journey and a cross-country train ride. She hadn’t seen an orange grove like the one on her postcard yet, but there was still plenty of time to explore her new home.
Her new home. She breathed deep at the thought of it. She was starting her life over again. Paul was part of her past—a part she would was guaranteed to forget—and it was time to put him behind her. The scars of the wounds he’d wrecked on her would always be there, but they were scarred over now, tough and durable. The women in her unit had healed her heart part way. Her time with Kate after the war had bridged the gap between her life with Paul and her life after. Now it was time to build up her new future.
“Here you are,” said the clerk. “You’re all registered. Welcome to UCLA.”
She gathered up her papers and turned, only to run straight into the man next to her. His hand shot out, steadying her on the straw and cherry red espadrilles she’d picked up at a shop yesterday because everything she’d brought from England had seemed so drab in this colorful place.
“Woah there, my apologies, Miss,” he said.
Steady on her feet, she looked up. “Thank you. I should’ve looked where I was going.”
“It’s my mistake. I’m always taking up more room than I should be.” He wiggled his elbows that, she now realized, were attached to a particularly broad pair of shoulders. Everything about this man was somehow more that the men she was used to back at home. Tanner skin. Thicker hair. Taller stature. When he flashed her a smile, she could see that even his teeth were straighter and whiter.
The tiny tingle of attraction fluttered in her stomach, but for the first time in years she didn’t ignore it. She embraced it because this was a new life. A new Louise.
“Did you serve in the war?”
Her brows shot up. She’d expected him to comment about her accent as the clerk had. “I was in the ATS, Ack Ack Command.”
“You were a Gunner Girl,” he said, a grin breaking out over his handsome face. “A lot of us boys slept a lot easier at night knowing you girls were doing your jobs.”
“Where were you stationed?” she asked.
“Captain Timothy Marshall, U.S. Army Thirteenth Armored Division,” he said, giving her a little salute. “I fought in the Rhineland.”
“Colonel Louise Keene, Battery 518, B Section. I was stationed... It seems like everywhere.”
Tim stuck out his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Louise Keene.” He glanced around at a couple young men who were glaring in their direction. “We seem to be holding up traffic. Can I walk you out?”
She bit her lip to hold back a smile but nodded.
“No respect for their elders, these kids,” said Tim pleasantly as they fell into step next to one another. “They’ll be wondering what all of these old soldiers are doing in their freshman classes.”
“You’re in your first term too?” she asked.
He laughed. “You'll get teased because it’s math here, but I hope you’ll never stop saying maths.”
He shrugged as he held open the door for her. “Because then you wouldn’t be you. And that would be a shame.”
She slid her sunglasses off the top of her head and into place, tiling her head up to the sky. “Do you ever get used to the weather?”
Tim squinted up at the palm trees. “I didn’t really think about it until I left for Europe. Every day it rained in Germany, I wanted to be right back here.”
“You’re from California?” she asked.
“Pasadena, just west on the 110 Freeway.”
Maybe the overabundance of sunshine imbued her with a giddiness she hadn’t felt since the war ended. Maybe it was because she’d just registered, crossing the final T in her plan to fulfill her dreams. Whatever the reason, she turned to Tim and said, “I only arrived in Los Angeles last week and I hardly know my way around at all. I would love a tour from a native.”
If Tim was taken aback by her forwardness, he hid it well. Instead, he clasped his hands behind his back and rocked back on his feet. “Well, I wouldn’t want you to be lost. Maybe we should get a cup of coffee now and we can talk about where to take you.”
“I think that would be a very good idea,” she said.
“Then let me lead the way.”
She looped her hand through the elbow he offered, taking the first step to the rest of her life.