Chapter 14 - I Don't Want to Walk Without You

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Jonathon snapped his morning paper open and was greeted with blaring headlines. The military was losing more ground to the Japanese in the Philippines. It was another in a long string of setbacks the U.S. had experienced since the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor over a month ago. If this kept up, the Japanese could take over the entire Pacific, and then there would be nothing stopping them from attacking the west coast.

"What's the news today?" Billy asked, taking his seat at the dining room table.

Jonathon closed his newspaper. He didn't know if he wanted to read the depressing details over breakfast. "It's not looking good in the Philippines."

Billy sighed as he put his napkin in his lap, his eyes troubled. Annie brought out their breakfast plates and while they ate, the brothers were lost in thought.

"Would it be alright if I invite Kitty to have dinner with us tonight?" Billy asked when they were nearly finished.

"What do you mean by 'us'?"

"I mean with you and me, here at home."

"So – not a date," Jonathon said, trying to clarify what his brother's intentions were.

"No, like a family meal. I've been wanting to have her over for dinner for a while, but with Mother being sick, it didn't seem like a good idea."

Jonathon spread butter on his toast. "If that's what you want, it's alright with me, but I'm sure it'll be boring for her."

"Boring," Billy said loudly. "Why do you think that?"

"It's not like the two of you having dinner with me is going to be very exciting," Jonathon said, motioning to himself with his knife.

"You could invite someone too," Billy said pointedly.

Jonathon knew who Billy meant, and he kept his attention firmly on his toast.

"Like Helen, for instance," Billy prodded when Jonathon didn't reply.

He hadn't told Billy he'd gone to see Helen. With the attack on Pearl Harbor happening the same day, there had been too much going on for the subject to come up, not that he wanted to talk about it. And after that day, he'd been so busy he'd been able to push the entire disastrous visit out of his mind. He should have realized Billy would eventually bring it up.

"It's too late for me and Helen," he muttered, still not looking up from his buttering.

"What do you mean?"

"She's seeing someone else."

"How do you know?"

Jonathon shrugged, an involuntary motion as the image of Walt putting his arm around Helen's waist came into his mind. "I just know," he said quietly.

"Is it serious?"

"Yes," he said, finally meeting his brother's eyes. He could tell Billy was disappointed.

"Well – you could ask someone else," Billy said.

Jonathon didn't know why he wouldn't let it go.  "I'm too busy to start dating girls."

"You always say you're busy, but you don't have to work that hard."

"Yes, I do. You know things have gone crazy at the mine. I'm losing men by the handful. I had ten go to the recruiting office the day after we declared war on Japan, and I lost another fifteen the week after that. Who knows what's going to happen when they start calling men up in the draft."

Billy straightened in his seat while his eyes widened. "They won't draft you, will they?"

"Of course, not. They need me to run the mine. I'm essential to the war effort."

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