Engineer Edie Michaels loves her life--she has a good job, close friends, even a chance at romance with former soldier Beau Daniels. But she could lose everything if her secret comes out...that she's the German daughter of a devoted Nazi.
And when her father sends spies to force her loyalty, everything Edie values is at risk.
Time in a Nazi POW camp changed army medic Beau Daniels. When he discovers a letter of Edie's written in German, he can't help his suspicions. Is she truly the woman he's started to love? Or has she been the enemy all along? With Nazis on Edie's trail, the pair must fight for truth, for survival--and for love.
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Harlequin Enterprises, Limited
July 01, 2012
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Adobe DRM EPUB
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Excerpt from Hearts in Hiding by Patty Smith Hall
Early spring, 1944
Maybe coming through the front door would have been a better option.
Beau Daniels glanced up at the bundle of cotton ruffles standing over him, the cold press of metal against his chest, the light scent of vanilla drifting around him. Whoever she was, she smelled of freshly baked applesauce cookies, his favorite.
"What do you think you're doing, coming through the window?"
The woman jabbed him lightly, the dull point barely creasing the muscles of his chest. If this woman thought to defend his aunt Merrilee's home with what--a poker?--she was sadly mistaken. "Well? Are you just going to sit there like a bump on a log?"
"Would you give me a second here?" If he had any sense, he would yank that pole out of her hands and toss it out the window, but that might not be wise. He wouldn't put it past the woman to crack his skull with the thing. He tugged at the thick canvas twisted around his legs. "I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm in a bind at the moment."
"Well, serves you right!" she let out, her voice as unyielding as the metal rod she had pointed at his chest. "Breaking into someone's house like that."
Defenseless! Beau scoffed at the description of the situation. If General Patton had this woman in his ranks, the Germans would be retreating back to their blessed Fatherland. "I wasn't breaking in."
"Really?" Her throaty chuckle twisted his gut into a pleasant knot. "The next thing you'll be telling me is that window was unlocked just for you."
"That's right." Untangling the curtains from his legs, Beau pushed the blackout material to the floor and stood. "When I was a boy, they couldn't afford an extra key so my aunt told me to always check the windows."
"Really," the woman answered with a hint of sarcasm. "Well, if that story's true, I'm Tokyo Rose. Pleased to meet you."
Beau tilted his head and studied her. Light from the low-hanging moon streamed in through the uncovered window, swirling around the woman, her black hair a velvet river spilling over her slight shoulders, the long sleeves of her shapeless robe falling down just over the tops of slender knuckles. She wasn't anyone he knew, and he pretty much knew everyone in the town--or at least he had until ten years ago. "What's your real name, Rosie?"
"That's none of your business."
Though he enjoyed the friendly push and pull with her, he didn't have time for games. "Look, miss," he replied, leaning back against the wall and straightening his right leg out in front of him. "I knew who I was fighting when I shipped over to North Africa. Figure the same holds true here at home."
She was silent for a moment, as if giving that idea some thought. "I live here."
Beau shook his head. "Sorry, but I don't believe that."
The poker trembled slightly in her hand. "Well, it's true!"
"My aunt owns this house, has owned it since her husband bought it and signed it over to her a few years ago."
"Everybody in town knows that."
Beau gritted his teeth together as the cramp in his leg increased. Lord, I know better than to ask for patience, but I could sure use it with this woman. Maybe if he yanked her weapon out of her hand... "Well, I know about it because I was there. I saw Merrilee's husband sign the contracts."
"Former husband." Pressing the steel tip against him even harder, the woman took a step toward him. Her light scent filled his lungs, making him hunger for something, only for what, he didn't know. "So you know where John Davenport is?"
Not anymore, Beau thought, though up until eighteen months ago, John had been with him, working in San Diego. That was before John had been approached by the Navy to supervise operations for the Seabees at Port Hueneme. Which had led to the promise--watch over Merrilee.
A promise he intended to keep. This time.
"So Merrilee's your aunt?"
"Yes," Beau ground out. The cramp in his knee had quickly turned into an ache. He touched his affected foot down on the floor and lifted up a quick prayer that he didn't fall flat on his face.
She eyed him for a few seconds before nodding toward his leg. "Are you all right?"
The concern in her voice caught him off guard. Well, he didn't need or want her compassion. Beau straightened. "I'll manage."
"Are you sure?"
There it was again, that tiny note of worry. Maybe she wasn't the murdering sort after all. "You think you could ease up on that poker. I haven't spent the last couple of years ducking German snipers just to get clobbered in my aunt's front parlor."
His statement made her blink, the weapon wobbling slightly in her hands. "Is Ms. Merrilee really your aunt?"
Finally they were making some headway. Maybe now, she'd put that poker down. "I'm Beau. My father is her older brother."
Instead, she dug the sharp point firmly into his chest, tipping him back against the parlor wall. "You're James's son."
Grudgingly, Beau nodded. So she knew his father. Well, wasn't that just a kick in the pants? Meaner than a timber rattler, his old man, and always making trouble. Had been for as far back as Beau could remember. "What is my father up to now?"
But the woman ignored him. "Merrilee didn't say anything about you coming home to anybody here in the house."
"I wanted to surprise her." Pins and needles raced up his leg in a flash of heat. Beau dug the palm of his hand into his thigh and rubbed the contracting muscle.
There was a note of disbelief back in her voice. Gracious gravy, at the rate this night was going, Beau wasn't sure he would believe his story, either. "My aunt loves surprises, and she'd see me being here in Marietta as nothing short of a miracle."
"I can't imagine any miracle coming from James's side of the family."
He drew in a frustrated breath. "We're getting nowhere with this. Why don't you just go wake Merrilee and ask her yourself?"
"And leave you down here to grab whatever you want, and run off before Merrilee has time to even make it downstairs? I don't think so."
"Lady, I'm not going anywhere." Beau took a step forward, then fell back against the wall. "I don't have any place else to go."
Head down, he massaged the strained muscle in his thigh and grimaced. How pathetic was he, telling a total stranger the truth like that? Must be more tired than he thought.
He stole a glimpse at the woman. She had moved closer, her free hand extended as if worried he might topple over at any second. "Are you sure you don't want to sit down?"
"No," he bit out, then admonished himself. She might be only trying to help, but it was too late. He didn't need her help, and neither did Merrilee. That was his job now, to take care of his aunt, make sure that she was provided with a steady income.
Clenching his lower lip between his teeth, he glowered at her and stretched up ramrod straight. "Look, I couldn't go anywhere right now if I wanted to. So why don't you run upstairs and get my aunt so that we can clear this mess up, okay?"
The woman hesitated for a moment, then began looking around the room. "I don't think so, mister. But tell you what--I'll be happy to go get Merrilee just as long as I know that when I come back, you haven't hightailed it out the window."
"I give you my word."
She scrunched up her nose as she focused her attention on the couch next to them. "That's just not good enough, what with a war going on and everything."
He really shouldn't have asked God for patience, at least not tonight. "What do you suggest then?"
Her lips turning up into a pretty smile, she tugged, pulling a length of rope from the cushions. "I knew Claire left her jump rope down here.
"Can't have you running out." She glanced at him, pulling the rope into a tight line. "If you're as innocent as you say, you won't mind being tied up while I get Merrilee."
"And if I refuse?"
"Then I'll have the police on the phone before you make it out the window."
For Pete's sake! The Germans didn't give him this much trouble! But if agreeing to her demands brought this evening to a quick end, he'd do more than agree. He stretched out his legs, crossing one ankle over the other. "Here."
The shadows masked any surprise in her expression. She slid a measure of rope between his legs and pulled the cord tight before knotting it. "Are you comfortable?"
He shrugged off the tightness in his chest at the note of concern in her voice. "This is ridiculous."
"Maybe." A faint wave of awareness shot up his arm, then receded as she looped the rope around his wrist. "But I figure if you want to see Merrilee bad enough, being tied up for a few minutes won't be such a hardship."
Beau balled his fists, tugging on the ropes. Blast the woman! Already, he could feel his windpipe closing up, almost as if the cords dug into the tender flesh of his neck, cutting off what was left of his air supply.
It wouldn't do any good getting worked up like this, though he hated it nonetheless. The doctor told him he'd have these moments when the memory of his imprisonment overwhelmed him. But if he wanted to see his aunt, he would have to find a way to get through this. He blew out a sharp breath, but it did nothing to calm him. "Fine. Just be ready to get me out of these when Merrilee recognizes me."
"Deal. But if she has any reason for not wanting you here, I have to call Sheriff Worthington. You understand?"
There was no accusation in her words, but a consideration that calmed his battered senses. Beau glanced up at his captor. Starlight dusted the circumference of her dark eyes, turning them the color of sweet tea, and for the briefest moment, he wished he could trace the gentle slope of her chin, feel the warmth of her skin beneath his fingertips. Would that chase the chill from his soul?
What nonsense! Beau gave her a smile he didn't feel. "So Mack's finally the sheriff. I figured he would have moved on to something different by now."
"On a first-name basis with the police." She snorted softly. "Why doesn't that surprise me?"
"Well, you know," he answered with a shrug. "The rotten apple doesn't fall far from the rotten tree."
She hesitated for a fraction of a second before lowering her head, her fingers fumbling with the corded knot. "I hope not."
"No," she answered, ducking her head. But he could have sworn he heard her whisper more. Something that made him wonder.
"If that's true, then there's not much hope for me."
Beau stopped fighting against the coarse cotton of the rope. What exactly did she mean? What had happened to cause this woman to consider herself doomed? The question sat at the tip of his tongue, but when he looked up, he found her staring through the darkness at him and his breath caught in his lungs. Blast, if the woman's loveliness didn't give the stars a run for their money.
She drew in a shallow breath, then stood. "I'll be right back."
Beau watched as his captor quietly turned and left, the slight creaking of the footboards mapping out her path down the hall and up the stairs until finally drifting out of earshot. He leaned back against the wall, stretching the ball of his right foot toward him. The cramp gathered strength behind his knee, and he gritted his teeth against the onslaught of pain. What had he expected, a brass band to greet him at the county line? A cloud of suspicion had followed him out of town years ago. It only seemed fitting that he would return to the same.
The crickets chirped a soft melody outside the open window, lulling him with their bedtime serenade. He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, the fierce cold that had held him in its icy grip for the last nine months thawing slightly. He was back in the only place that ever felt like home, thanks to Aunt Merrilee. He only prayed she wouldn't toss him out before he had the chance to prove himself.
Beau breathed deeply, the pain in his calf easing a little.