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Battle of Britain--Chapter 11
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rogoblue
A quick apology for the slow turn around. RL is kicking my behind.


Title: Battle of Britain Chapter 11


Rating: R (language and sexual situations)


Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue


Summary: Adelle makes a bold statement as to the state of her relationship with Dominic and they both deal with a crisis at the SOE operative training site.






“Where are we going?” Laurence Dominic inquired.

Adelle smiled mysteriously, as she had the last three times he had asked, and continued walking along Regent Street. She’d promised him dinner, had put some fairly elaborate plans in place to ensure their absence was covered and without anyone realising they were out together.

Though their disagreement had been settled without acrimony, Adelle wanted to make Laurence understand that she viewed him as far more than a body to warm her bed. Obviously she couldn’t suddenly confess to their relationship and when they were in public she had to treat him as a colleague. Judith’s knowledge both liberated and concerned her, but they couldn’t afford anyone else in their professional circle discovering the truth.

They turned into Portland Place. “Adelle, there aren’t any restaurants. What’s really going on?” He gestured toward a rather lovely row of elegant Georgian townhouses.

“We are going to dinner,” she said, slipping her arm through his, “but not to a restaurant. We’re dining with my uncle Edgar – the Admiral. I think you’ll like him,” she added, willing her prediction to come true.

“Jesus Christ,” Laurence breathed when she walked up the small flight of steps to the impressive front door of one of the houses in the terrace.

“Good evening, Duncan,” she said to the man who opened the door, “is my uncle home yet?”

“He’s in the study finishing off some paperwork. Come on in, Adelle; I’m to give you a drink.”

“Thank God for that,” she said. Her companion tried quite hard to look nonchalant, but his restlessness betrayed a certain apprehension. “Major Dominic, meet Captain Duncan. He’s technically my uncle’s assistant – he’s been with him for 20 years and runs this place the same way as he does his office.”

“That’s as though we’re still on board ship,” the Captain said with a wry smile. “The Admiral doesn’t know anything else.” As he steered them into the drawing room, he said, “Scotch, Major?”

They sipped their drinks as Laurence took in the beautiful room. “Uncle Edgar inherited this house from my grandfather,” she explained. “Although the heir inherited the estate, there was enough other property to be divided between his four brothers. This house is probably the most valuable.”

“As long as no one drops a bomb on it.” Adelle turned at the sound of the new voice, smiling broadly at her uncle and stepping into his embrace. “Addie, you look beautiful and far too thin.”

“You always say that,” she told him affectionately. “Let me introduce you to Major Dominic. Laurence this is my uncle – Admiral Sir Edgar De Witt.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir,” Laurence said.

“I’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” the Admiral said, shaking the hand Laurence offered. “Crane’s a good man and he sings your praises.”

“Nice of him.”

“I doubt he’s nice to his officers – strikes me that he has very high standards. Besides, Adelle doesn’t suffer fools.”

“Only when I have to,” she said, raising an eyebrow at Laurence who smirked. “How’s James?” she asked. “My cousin,” she explained for Laurence’s benefit, “Captain of the Alexandria and currently on patrol in the Atlantic.”

“He’s well, had a close encounter with a U-boat a couple of weeks ago and came off the better.” The Admiral smiled at Laurence, including him in the conversation. “I’m living vicariously through him, while stuck in a stuffy office in the Admiralty.”

“You saw action during the First World War, sir?” Laurence asked.

“I did, commanded a battle cruiser at Jutland.”

“With Beatty or Jellicoe?”

“Jellicoe. He’s much under-rated, didn’t enjoy the politics of being First Sea Lord, though. Can’t blame him.” He tilted his head, regarding Laurence with what looked to be approval. “You’ve studied your military history young man, not just the land battles either.”

Two important men in her life sized each other up. Her uncle could appear austere; more used to commanding men than conversing with them, but beneath his stern exterior, he was genial and rather charming. Laurence managed to convey just the right amount of respect, while demonstrating his grasp of politics and history. As they talked, Laurence visibly relaxed and Adelle followed suit, resting her hand on his arm and allowing her eyes to savour him, almost sorry when they finished their drinks and went into the dining room.

* * *

“I’m from Michigan, sir,” Laurence Dominic said, “the Upper Peninsula, Lake Superior side.”


“I understand the scenery is magnificent there, Laurence,” said Edgar DeWitt, raising his wine glass, eyes sliding ever so briefly to his niece Adelle, as if to make sure she did too. She had, but her gaze rested on Dominic, not her uncle.


“I think so.” He couldn’t believe Adelle had brought him home to meet surrogate parents without a hint as to her intentions. “Lake Superior is beautiful and treacherous.”


“A bit of danger enhances any experience,” Adelle said, smiling at Dominic but undoubtedly aware of her uncle’s start of surprise.


“To beauty and danger then,” Edgar toasted.


The woman seated next to Dominic embodied both qualities. Her hand resting on his thigh beneath the table proved the point and begged a question. Why would the woman who’d leapt away from him when she heard Margaret Bashford’s voice on the street invite him into this intimate familial setting?


“Crane would like you on the ground in Sicily,” Edgar said. “Will you go?”


Adelle seemed at ease, but her fingers clutched his thigh harder. “If that’s where the General wants me, yes, sir. Not that I haven’t learned a lot at the SOE and, hopefully, contributed my fair share, working with Adelle.”


“My name is Edgar, Laurence. I’d be delighted if you’d use it.”


“Please do, Laurence,” Edgar’s wife Juliet, insisted. “He’ll be insufferable otherwise.”


“Habits, sir, ah, Edgar.”


“I apologize for the dearth of meat in tonight’s meal,” Juliet interjected with a hostess’ knack for smoothing over conversational glitches. “We’re fortunate to have plenty of vegetables and a cook who knows what to do with them.”


“This is more than a cut above what I’m used to,” Dominic said.


A gentle smile graced Juliet’s face. “Adelle’s talents are myriad but, alas, do not extend to the kitchen.”


Defensive on his lover’s behalf, Dominic observed, “She makes a nice fish stew.” Juliet and Edgar exchanged a meaningful glance and Adelle sighed.


“What did I just do?” he murmured.


“Told my uncle and aunt exactly how important you are to me.”


His instincts advised caution. “Is that … bad?”


“No.”


He couldn’t keep the smile under wraps. “I’m glad.”


“Laurence, would you step into the study for a cigar?” Edgar said, smiling at Adelle. “I’m sure you and Juliet have many things to discuss.”


“Obviously,” Adelle murmured, raising an eyebrow, seemingly amused to be excluded from the man’s world she inhabited every day.


Dominic followed Edgar into the study and participated in the cigar lighting ritual gladly. He hadn’t had one since Devon conjured up two on his birthday. Accepting a glass of the fine brandy from the spare’s stock, he steeled himself for a conversation he dreaded. What should he tell this man about his relationship with his niece?


“You’ll leave her,” Edgar said, “to do your duty.”


No beating around the bush, then. “I’d also come back to her, if she’d have me.”


Edgar pointed his cigar at Dominic. “Do you doubt that, Laurence?”


“She’s basically said as much.” Edgar’s expectant expression demanded more. “Adelle doesn’t seem to want a husband. I’d like a wife.”


“Would you care to guess at the number of men having … personal significance my niece has introduced me to over the years?” Edgar sat in a comfortable looking leather covered chair, allowing Dominic to do the same.


Adelle had told him she’d had three lovers, but Dominic thought Edgar meant more than that. “I have no idea.”


“One. You.”


“Sir, forgive me if I find that hard to believe.”


“Oh, I know she was with that regrettable Frenchman, the Italian artist and the Spaniard—he fancied himself a matador of all things, and perhaps others. But she never once suggested I meet them.” Appearing pensive, he added, “Are you aware of the nature of our relationship?”


“You’re her favorite uncle.”


He laughed. “Perhaps, I am. Do you know why?”


“I based my assessment on the look on her face when she speaks of you, Edgar.”


“I retrieved her from Alexandria when her parents disappeared. My brother Sebastian, he’s the religious, wanted to go. Hell, he probably should’ve, but I couldn’t bear to have Adelle told that what had happened was somehow God’s will. It wasn’t.” Spearing Dominic with a sharp gaze, Edgar said, “She was young, eighteen years old.”


“She was strong, even then.”


Edgar’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Yes, she was and she needed a companion not a guide. A friend not a guru. She still does. You serve those purposes and Lord knows how many others. Please understand how rare and special that is.”


“Why doesn’t she want to marry?”


“We haven’t talked of it, but if I were to guess, I’d say she can’t risk being abandoned by a man, as she was abandoned by over adventurous parents.”


“A man who had her would be a fool to leave.”


“Life is full of challenges and obstacles, Laurence. We can’t anticipate them all.” Edgar sipped his brandy. “You want to fight, don’t you?”


“I’m hoping I haven’t been promoted out of it.”


“Not early on,” Edgar said. “Make the most of your time in Sicily and when you make the jump to Italy. They’ll likely hide you behind a desk when they’ve got a foothold.” Smiling, Edgar puffed on his cigar. “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.”


“It doesn’t hurt to have my suppositions confirmed.”


Edgar clapped Dominic on the shoulder. “We should put these out and go and have coffee with the girls. There might even be cake.”



* * *


“You’re humming,” Judith said, as they went over meeting notes the following morning. The melody from the piano sonata her aunt had played after dinner had been going around Adelle’s head all morning. Juliet had studied music before her marriage and still played beautifully. Adelle imagined she’d never hear that piece of music again without thinking of Laurence.

“You’re happy,” Judith ventured. “It’s Laurence, isn’t it?”

Adelle had been curious to see whether her assistant would broach the subject, now she must decide how to respond. The cool professional in her wanted to brush the question aside to concentrate on their work. Another, albeit smaller, part longed, just for a moment, to luxuriate in the relationship; to be honest about it.

Her smile must have given her away. “I knew he was perfect for you,” Judith said triumphantly. “No wonder he’s happy.” She narrowed her eyes. “He said you pushed the issue. What did you do?”

Adelle hesitated, uncertain how much she wished to divulge. What should a deeply private person reveal concerning one of the most important issues in her life? ”I realised he thought I wasn’t interested in him, so I simply made it clear he was in error.”

“As simple as that?”

“Even my patience has its limits and in war time you can never be too complacent.”

Sobering, Judith said, “Harry thinks he’s going to be posted soon.” She looked upset, which dissuaded Adelle from telling her that she and Laurence expected him to be deployed soon as well.

“I’ve waited a long time to find someone like Laurence,” she said carefully, shaking her head at Judith’s smile, “but we didn’t really intend anyone to find out.”

“I won’t breathe a word,” she said earnestly, “not even to Harry. But is everything all right? When he came back here after you’d bumped into Lady Bashford, he was ... agitated.”

“He was angry, you mean?”

“Frustrated and upset as well.” Judith looked pensive. “He still thinks he isn’t good enough for you.”

While they’d channelled the anger and pain from their disagreement into sex, Adelle hoped true healing had come with last night’s dinner. After conversing with Uncle Edgar, he’d been quiet but not distant. Surely, he understood she wouldn’t take someone she was ashamed of to meet her family.

“I’m glad you were here for him,” she offered quietly. “It was my fault; I didn’t handle the situation very well.”

“He loves you, Adelle. He won’t damage your reputation.” Judith bit her lip and looked as though she wanted to ask more. Aunt Juliet had worn a similar expression when they’d been alone, but she had been far too discrete to probe. Adelle knew she’d said enough, that she could safely change the subject, but the desire to talk about Laurence wasn’t at all easily dismissed.

“You can ask one question,” she said, obviously surprising Judith.

“Really?”

“Is that your question?”

“You know it isn’t.” She leant forward and lowered her voice, her blush giving Adelle an indication as to the likely direction of her question. “What’s it like to be with him? To be his lover?”

“You’re assuming that I am?”

“Laurence told me. He said he was going to do his best to make you scream,” her cheeks flamed crimson, “and I wondered how... I mean, Harry and I have kissed and fumbled in the car but I’ve never... felt remotely like screaming.”

“Laurence isn’t my first lover,” Adelle spoke quietly, “and I wasn’t his. We enjoy being together and he has, at times, made me scream.” Not knowing if she helped or hindered, she added, “and I’ve made him beg. What happens between a man and a woman in the bedroom can be intense as well as enjoyable. You should both be able to say what pleases you. It isn’t just about making babies.”

“Don’t you want children?”

“I said one question,” Adelle said, sidestepping a question she thought she might answer differently than Laurence.


* * *


Gripping the communiqué as if he could strangle it, Laurence Dominic rapped sharply on Adelle DeWitt’s office door. Judith opened it, solving the mystery of her current location. His expression erased her wide happy smile.


“What’s happened?” Adelle asked. When he hesitated, she added, “You’ve made a habit of being perfectly frank with Judith. Why stop now?”


He’d worry about what Judith had told Adelle later. “There have been accusations of rape at the training facility.”


“How many such accusations, Laurence?”


“Three women, all claiming multiple offenses.”


“Claiming?” Adelle asked, voice low and dangerous, expression hard.


“Yes, ma’am.”


Adelle opened her mouth and shut it without speaking. “We’ll go,” she said, nodding as if to confirm her decision. “Judith, be sure all communications from France reach us with minimal delay.” Judith nodded firmly, although her fidgeting betrayed unease.


“What of the perpetrator, Major?” Adelle asked.


“There’s been no identification,” he said. “I surmise the women aren’t talking.”


“They’re afraid,” Judith offered, shivering in sympathy.


“Not all three, unless …” He saw understanding within Adelle’s eyes. Unless a significant power gap existed between the rapist and his victims.


Displaying Adelle’s usual and enviable efficiency, her car pulled away from the curb within ten minutes. Painfully aware of her scrutiny, Dominic stared out the window. “Don’t multiple victims suggest credibility?” she asked.


“Obviously.”


“Why are you tense?”


“Why aren’t you?”


“Laurence, what is it?” Adelle gripped his hand briefly. “Please tell me.”


He’d never told anyone what had happened. Not even Devon. “I’ll do what’s needed.”


“I never doubted that for an instant,” she said, concern evident in her tone. “I’d like to know what is troubling you.”


“I’m protective of women, overly protective in your eyes most of the time. I despise men who take advantage of them.”


“What of women who say they have been taken advantage of when they haven’t?”


He closed his eyes, not ready to face her knowing look. “Likewise.”


“Laurence?”


“What does it matter?” he very nearly whined.


“I don’t know, since I’m not sure what prompted your reaction.”


Forcing himself to hold her gaze, he said, “When the idiot who married Ellen realized she wasn’t a virgin, she told him I raped her. I’m lucky I wasn’t drummed out of the army.”


“Why weren’t you?”


“Army intelligence approached me while I was at West Point. They’d groomed me, so they had a vested interest and challenged Ellen’s accusations. Eventually, she admitted she’d lied. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here.” He unclenched his jaw and said, “Understandably, I think, I’m sensitive to accusations of this kind.”


“You said she wasn’t ready.”


“She wasn’t ready for a sexual relationship, Adelle. She wanted to have sex, though. She made that abundantly clear.” Reaching for her hand, catching himself at the last moment, he clenched his into a fist. He lowered his voice and murmured into her ear, “Not as clearly as you did, but I got the message.”


“Your younger self was more astute in these matters?”


“No, he hadn’t been exposed to anywhere near your level of sophistication.”


“Now you’re pandering.”


“I am?”


“Recall that I know just how popular you and your friends are in London.”


“Not me. Not anymore. I’m boring and taken.”



* * *

By the time they reached the training facility Adelle’s anger had become cold and hard. She was grateful for Laurence’s presence; trusting in his judgment and ability to give her an alternative perspective.

The head of the facility couldn’t tell them a great deal. Elsie had taken a knock during an exercise and the nurse’s examination revealed bruising to her wrists and thighs. Elsie had admitted she’d been forced and had then clammed up. The initial investigation had revealed two other distressed young women who said nothing further.

Drawing Laurence to one side, she said, “Access the duty rotas for the last week. Determine who was here and when and how they could have got Elsie alone. Interview the staff, see if anyone will talk.” Considering for a moment longer, she added, “Ruth Morrell is here; you two have a rapport, see if she knows anything.”

“You’re going to speak to the girls?” At her nod, he brushed her hand with his and said, “be careful.”

“You think I’m in danger?”

“You’re the most persuasive woman I know, Adelle. Whoever did this probably knows it too. If he’s not sure his victims will stay scared silent, he’ll target you.”

“He’s arrogant,” she said. “He wouldn’t take the risks he has run here otherwise. Unfortunately, his hold on them isn’t greater.”

Laurence’s warning stayed with her, while waiting for the three young women to be brought. Alone, she became conscious of every sound and very aware that if someone were to attack, she wouldn’t necessarily be able to rely on anyone coming to her aid.

She reflected on her own responsibility. She’d recruited Elsie and the others. They’d trusted her to train and prepare them for France, but danger had been much closer to hand and she hadn’t protected them. Adelle wouldn’t be surprised, if they questioned what they had signed up for and she didn’t blame them. During their recruitment, she made sure they understood the chances of survival were 50/50, but why on earth should they believe her?

Elsie had been crying and Louisa and Jane looked subdued and afraid. Nodding to the staff member who’d accompanied them, Adelle waited for her to leave before sitting down close but not crowding Elsie.

The young woman had worked as a seamstress in Paris and Adelle had recruited her from Margaret’s dressmaker which hadn’t gone down particularly well. Her training as a wireless operator had been completed and Adelle had anticipated sending her to France shortly as part of the expansion of their Paris operations. Mercutio’s erratic performance had inspired Adelle to sent Elsie to assist him, but the young woman before her had crumbled.

“Elsie,” she said gently, “you can tell me. The man who hurt you isn’t more powerful than I.”

“He said, if I didn’t...” She stifled a sob, a heart-breaking sound. “He said I’d head to France with some way of the Nazi’s catching me. He said he could slip something into my luggage or change my papers and I wouldn’t ever know what had caused me to be caught.”

Inwardly, Adelle seethed. She couldn’t actually remember ever being this angry, but her anger wouldn’t serve these young women. “Did he tell you both the same thing?”

“Yes,” Jane whispered, glancing at Louisa, whose anguished expression was answer enough.

“I can’t stop him, if you don’t help me.” Adelle lowered her voice and leant forward, taking Elsie’s hand in hers. “Please, Elsie.”

“He started with Louisa” Elsie said. “He said everyone will think we’re trying to avoid going to France. We’re not, I swear.”

“You know we need to stop this. Help me by telling me who he is.”

* * *

“Thomas Hearn,” Laurence Dominic said, his voice resounding like a gunshot in the silence. He’d studied the duty rosters and timetables and asked around about a couple of men, tabbing Hearn the most likely.

The taller brunette started and hugged the smaller one who began to cry. The blonde stared at the floor, but she nodded and murmured, “Yes, sir.”

“Thank you, Elsie,” Adelle DeWitt said, waiting, Dominic presumed for the girl to look up. She didn’t.

Pitching his voice low, Dominic said, “I’ve brought some men, ma’am. I can take half and round up Hearn. The others can escort the ladies back to their quarters or wherever you want them.”

“I wish to make an example of Mr. Hearn.” Adelle took a deep breath. “Leaving men to guard this door, I want you to storm away and make it known you simply cannot abide men who force women into sex and then intimidate them to silence. You will threaten whatever form of bodily harm you see fit and do mention that this sort of thing would never be tolerated in America.”

“Which is just another reason why you needed our help to fight this war?”

“You grasp the idea exactly, Major.”

“What do you hope to gain?” Adelle merely smiled at him in a frighteningly cold manner. She hadn’t tested him in a long time. Dutifully, he bent his mind to the task. “You’re baiting him to try something to show the mouthy yank what’s what.” Eyes darting to the obviously frightened women, he murmured, “Is that wise?”

The smaller brunette stood, eyes blazing above tear streaked cheeks. “I’ll help you,” she declared. “I want to see the bloody bastard brought low.”

“Louisa, no!” said the taller brunette.

“I said that word I don’t know how many times and it didn’t stop him, Jane,” Louisa said.

“You will then escort Louisa to her quarters personally, being as charming and confident as only an American Major on the rise can be. I and several armed men will already be ensconced therein and we’ll await our man.”

“I should be in there with you.”

“I will be quite safe, Laurence. Don’t fret.”

“I’ve heard that before,” he growled, thinking of the black spreading up his forearm.

The scary smile returned. “Rest assured, Major. I’m correct this time.”

“All right,” he said, unsure but having no real alternative. “I’ll be back soon.” He stepped outside. “You, you and you,” he said, selecting the largest of the men he’d brought. “No one gets through this door. You,” he put his hand on the shoulder of a wiry tough looking guy, “argue with me.”

“Sir?”

“Do it and you get the pleasure of capping the son of a bitch who’s done this.” Dominic sighed. “Something I wouldn’t mind.” Propelling the guy down the corridor, he pitched his voice far louder. “What could be more pathetic? Forcing women to have sex and threatening them if they tell. Nothing. Americans don’t need coercion, boys, because your women are more than willing and deserve better than some shit for brains raping them. You should appreciate them more. You really should.”

“British women are—.”

“Amazing,” Dominic said, “and, as you’d say, bloody well open minded. It’s phenomenal.”

“Sir, British men aren’t—.”

“All slime and unwilling to do what it takes to win this war. I hope not.” Dominic clapped the young man on the shoulder. “Thank you, private. I’m heading back to escort the fair Louisa to her quarters.” He’d never considered himself much of an actor, so Dominic had no idea how his performance had been received. When he returned to the room where Adelle had interviewed the victims, Louisa sat alone, shaking badly. “I’m going to take you back to your room,” he said, maintaining his position just inside the door. “I won’t hurt you.”

“Miss DeWitt trusts you,” Louisa said. “Why? You’re a man,” she said, the gender an accusation. “Tell me why or I swear I won’t leave this room with you.”

“We’ve worked together—.”

“I worked with him!”

Knowing he’d pay for this but unable to fathom what else might pacify Louisa, he said, “We’re lovers. I trust her; she trusts me with more than not hurting her.”

He felt her sigh of relief to his marrow. “Then I trust you, Major.”

“I’m glad.” Louisa took his arm and the long corridor, felt like a stage.

“You’re stunning,” he said.

“I’m going to take a pair of scissors to my face,” Louisa said.

His heart kicked into overdrive. “Don’t!” He grabbed both of her upper arms. She shied away and he immediately released her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you, but please don’t even think about hurting yourself.”

Eyes followed their progress and Luisa said, “I hate myself for what he did to me. I feel like a piece of meat.”

“You’re a fine woman and deserve to be treated as such.” When they arrived at her door, he bent over her hand and gently kissed it. “I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to endure, Louisa. When we find the man who did this, he’ll suffer appropriate consequences. I promise you that.”

“Thank you, Major,” she said, smiling tentatively, ducking into her room.

“Good night, Louisa,” he muttered, disliking the part of the plan that left Adelle in the care of the men he’d assigned.

* * *

Louisa had escaped through the bedroom window and, along with Elsie and Jane, had been spirited away to a secure location. Louisa might have been willing to wait with her for Hearn, but Adelle had judged it unnecessary. The young woman had chosen to help them catch Hearn. Adelle hoped it would help her recovery, but saw no need to extend her torture to a confrontation.

Sitting in the dark, with only the light of the moon for illumination, she hoped to pass for Louisa. She’d ordered the men Laurence had sent to protect the young women Hearn had perhaps irreparably damaged. Laurence wouldn’t approve, but she knew he’d stay close and if Adelle was to trust her life to anyone, it would always be Laurence.

Silence closed in all around her, but nevertheless, she almost missed the creak of the floorboard outside. The door handle didn’t make a sound and, only as the door edged open, did she realise the corridor was dark as well.

“Someone’s been a naughty girl,” a quiet voice said, “and naughty girls have to be punished.”

“What of raping scumbags?” Adelle said, as she reached for the lamp on the dressing table. “What happens to them, Mr. Hearn?”

He looked almost comically shocked. For a split second, they stared at each other. She knew his options boiled down to two—fight or flight. “Go to hell, you bitch!” he hissed, turning on his heel only to come face to face with an overprotective U.S. Army Major.

“You’re headed that way a whole lot sooner,” Laurence said, landing a blow that sent Hearn reeling across the room in her direction. Hearn staggered to his feet and leapt towards her, but Laurence intercepted him before he even got close and dragged him away.

“Major Dominic,” she said, rising, watching Hearn rub his jaw, “please have Mr. Hearn restrained and brought downstairs. We have things to discuss.” She paused in the doorway. “If he resists, hurt him.”

She poured herself a drink and placed a telephone call. When she arrived at the office set aside for their use, Laurence had tied Hearn to a chair and stood behind the prisoner scowling. She circled Hearn once, noting that he had gained another cut, meeting Laurence’s eyes for a second before stepping away to lean against the wall beside the large windows.

“Can you give me a reason why I shouldn’t have you killed?” she inquired conversationally.

“There are laws,” Hearn said, “even you have to obey them. Plus, there’s a war on and we need every able bodied man to do his bit.” He smiled slightly. “You could pack me off to France as one of your agents.”

“It’s rather sad that you think you’re qualified to be one of our highly trained agents. Besides, there are young women in France.”

Hearns smiled turned lascivious. “You’ve always been a little sweet on me, Adelle.” Laurence hit him hard on the back of the head, forcing Adelle to hide a smile. Hearn swore. “You can’t call the Police, because you don’t want flaunt sending young British women into occupied France. No scandal dare sully your precious SOE.”

“How many young women did you rape?” she asked. “I can find out, but I want to hear it from you.”

“Four,” he admitted, indicating their work would truly be done once they’d found another victim.

“You’re disgusting,” Laurence said.

“Don’t give me that! You’re sending them to France to die. What’s the life expectancy of a wireless operator out there – eight weeks? Six? You’re in the business of using people and you’re no better than I am.”

“You understand less about what we’re doing here than you think,” Adelle snapped.

“You take criminals, homosexuals, women, train them to do dangerous things and ship them off, telling them they are going to serve King and Country. Did you really think they wouldn’t be having sex to take their minds off dying?”

“What you did to those young women has nothing to do with sex,” Adelle said. “Did it make it better, that they submitted because they believed your threats, that they didn’t struggle?”

“It made it easier.” He was so utterly contemptible that Adelle felt certain that what she was about to do wouldn’t place much of a strain on her conscience.

“Major Dominic, I’m offering you the option of leaving.”

His glare made it abundantly clear she’d be answering questions about dismissing his contingent of guards from Louisa’s room. “Ma’am, I don’t think that’s...”

“I’ll be quite safe,” she said reassuringly, “but I don’t want to implicate you in my actions.” He raised an eyebrow; she gazed implacably back, leaving no doubt as to her seriousness.

“I appreciate the offer, but I’ll stay.” She smiled, not surprised by his choice and returned her attention to Hearn.

“We’re something of an anomaly,” she began, “neither a military establishment nor a civilian one. When the Prime Minister established the SOE, he fudged the question. I’d given it very little thought, until now. I don’t want the Police investigating your crimes and I can't rely on the military authorities. Sending you to France or anywhere near young women aren’t options.” She checked her watch, “In about half an hour, the Police will search your rooms, acting on anonymous information. They’ll find papers indicating that you have certain sympathies. I don’t need to have you tried and arrested, Mr. Hearn; there are other ways of making you disappear.”

“I’m not a bloody Nazi,” he argued, struggling against the ropes that held him in place.

“No,” she agreed, “but you are a rapist. You have my permission to confess to your crime.”

“I’ll deny it. You can’t just make people believe I’m a Nazi.”

“Have you forgotten what it is we do here, Mr. Hearn? How we produce papers showing our agents to be French citizens? Faking documents is the easy part.”

* * *

“Are you quite all right, Laurence?” Adelle DeWitt asked as she breezed into the room Dominic had been assigned.


“Me?” he asked, cradling the stiff drink he’d made in both hands.


“This hit close to home for you. I wanted to be sure—.”


One memory eclipsed the others. “Louisa said she wanted to disfigure herself because of Hearn. I practically begged her not to, but I feel sick.”


“Jane and Elsie won’t let her,” Adelle said, gently pulling him into a hug. “Those three will bolster each other.


“Are you sure?”


“They can’t allow her to hurt herself, because it’s a small step to feeling they ought to do the same.”


He sighed in relief, but another memory intruded. “Why did you dismiss the men I ordered to protect you? What if I hadn’t followed Hearn into Louisa’s room?”


“You did, as I knew you would.” Her smile incredibly gentle, she said, “You are remarkably consistent when it comes to the safety of women you care about.”


“Next time, let’s make my return part of the plan.” Adelle nodded and Dominic knocked back his drink. “Can we talk about something else for a few minutes?” he asked, knowing full well that the matter of Thomas Hearn hadn’t been concluded.


“What did you and Edgar discuss?”


He smiled at the personal nature of the subject change. “You and my military career.” Gazing over at her, he whispered, “I didn’t lie to him, Adelle. I told him how I feel about you and that it’s not mutual.”


“How did you arrive at that conclusion?”


“He had the same question and all I can say is that I want you to be my wife and you have little interest in that.” Not really wanting to be refused again, he continued, “Edgar advised me to make hay in Sicily and Italy, fighting rather than moving pushpins on a map. I intend to take his advice.”


“Laurence, you have nothing to prove.”


“I do. To myself and the men who follow me. I think you know that, Adelle.”


“Not to me.” His heart leapt into his throat as she continued, “I introduced you to Edgar to be sure my judgment hadn’t been impaired by the sex.” She shook her head at his chuckle. ”He adored you.”


“I adore you.”


“Have I mentioned you are dangerously charming?” He nodded, keeping his expression solemn, making her laugh. “Perhaps we should return to the topic of Mr. Hearn in order to maintain the proper amount of decorum.”


“There’s not much left to say. He’s a Nazi sympathizer and we don’t know who his fourth victim was.”


“She’ll come forward when she realizes Hearn is no longer a threat to her.” Adelle put her hand on her hip and gently tapped the glass he’d refilled with the last of the bourbon he’d appropriated. Dominic offered it to her. Just before she sipped, she asked, “Are you comfortable with Mr. Hearn’s fate?”


“Struck me as just in its way.”


“My options were limited.”


“I understand, Adelle.” A third memory broke the surface. “Where in the hell did he get the idea you were sweet on him?”


“I haven’t a clue. He’d made no impression upon me prior to tonight.”


Satisfied, he pulled her into his arms, kissed her soundly and decided to roll the dice. “Your uncle intimated you’d have me, if I asked after the war, something about you never introducing him to anyone you were seeing.”


“My uncle has been wrong in the past.”


“Is he wrong now?”


Adelle squeezed his hand and smiled slightly before turning her attention to the darkness outside the window. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve not met anyone like you, Laurence.”


“He and his wife are magnificent people. I enjoyed meeting them.”


“They very clearly took a shine to you as well.”


“I’ll be deployed in less than six months, I’m guessing.” He gazed at her, heart embarrassingly on his sleeve. “I don’t expect you to wait, but I wouldn’t be sorry if you did. I … I’ve never felt like this. I’m a grown man and I guess that’s damning in a way, but …” Dominic counted the number of blue squares in a single row on the carpet—eighteen. “You’re everything to me, Adelle. There’s no other way to put it.”


“Come back, Laurence. Just come back.”


“If I have you to come back to, I will. I feel it.” Knowing how tongues might wag if it became known Adelle spent the night in his room didn’t deter him, not with the reality of being parted acknowledged. Dominic pulled her close, kissed her hard, lifted her up and dropped her on the bed. She welcomed him with her entire body and Dominic luxuriated in pleasure for some time.

* * *

The small narrow bed made Adelle feel like a child again fleetingly. Their lovemaking could in no way be termed juvenile, though. She gladly indulged Laurence’s need to lose himself in her. Afterwards, lying tucked securely into his side, she thought about the promise he had made her and that she had offered him no such words in return.

She adored and respected him – a rare and precious combination. A name could be put to what she felt for him, but she didn’t know what good that would do. Adelle couldn’t see herself as anyone’s ‘wife’ and quite frankly doubted she would do Laurence’s career any good. So, it seemed better for both of them that she didn’t say the words that threatened to bubble forth when they were alone. On this occasion, she brushed her lips against his chest as an alternative, a gesture conveying only a fraction of what she felt.

Turning her mind to SOE matters felt safer. “Elsie was due to go to France soon,” she quietly said, “part of the expansion of our operation in Paris. I can’t send her now, perhaps not at all.” She would have to be careful with the women Hearn had raped. They would choose whether to continue with their training, but none would be in a proper emotional state to make the decision, perhaps for some time. “Ruth Morell has almost completed her training; she is the most likely person to take Elsie’s place.”

“Damn,” he said, shifting away and onto his back.

“Her instructors say she’s better than competent but question her skill and willingness to dissemble.”

“You can’t be an honest spy, Adelle.”

“Of course you can, so long as you aren’t caught. Just because she’s never had to deceive or conceal, doesn’t mean she can’t.”

“You want to send her,” he said flatly, rubbing his hand over his face.

“There’s no reason not to.” She knew he wouldn’t be happy with that conclusion. “My earlier condition remains in effect, Laurence. If she changes her mind, I’ll respect that decision; I won’t try to persuade her.”

“Ruth won’t quit.” He said flatly and with complete certainty.

“Then she’ll head for France.”


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Oh man, I love that she took him to dine with her surrogate parents! That was so sweet, and I just loved everything about it. It felt perfect!

Really great chapter you guys! I can't wait to read more!

She took him home to meet family and he passed the test. I was happy for him and glad Adelle addressed the situation with Margaret Bashford in this way. He was angry and had a right to be. This made it all right in my book.

I'll try to be quicker with posts, but now my computer is on the fritz. I seem to have an endless supply of excuses these days. Thanks for your patience and taking the time to comment.

I don't mind waiting as long as I get a great story. :)

Awww, she introduced him to her family! That was adorable. I also loved that the Hearn storyline was tied in as well (and Judith being allowed to ask one question).

This is excellent!

The family bit played well I think and Hearn fit in better than I imagined he would in this setting. It was interesting to show Dom and Adelle working together through that situation again and I needed Dom to at least ask where Hearn got the idea that Adelle was sweet on him.

I enjoyed the question Judith asked.

Thanks so much for your kind words and continued reading.

I'm not sure I should admit this but one of my favourite bits in the whole fic is that scene with Hearn. I was so pleased that we managed to find a way to fit in a version of one of the scenes I love the best. I also like that we contrasted Adelle taking Laurence home to meet her family with her doing something very morally dubious! Laurence handled both situations very well.

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