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Battle of Britain--Chapter 15
matching clothing
rogoblue
Title: Battle of Britain Chapter 15


Rating: R (language and sexual situations)


Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue


Summary: Harding arrives in Nuremburg and gets something of a rude awakening and certain arrangements are made for Dominic’s transfer to Berlin.







“Harding’s plane has landed and his group is on their way,” Vandermeer announced from the threshold of Dominic’s office.


“Are Farlow and Esteban here?”


“As ordered, sir.”


“Good.” Dominic followed Vandermeer into the outer room. “We have thirty minutes before Lt. Colonel Harding arrives, gentlemen. Try to enjoy it.”


“Here’s the plan for Hardings’ inspection,” Major Farlow said, offering two sheets of paper.


“Keep it or give it to Harding or one of his men,” Dominic said, waving the papers away. “You and Esteban are taking the Colonel on his introductory tour.”


“Shouldn’t the outgoing CO …?” Esteban began, grinding to a halt when Dominic rolled his eyes. “Probably not in this case,” he continued. “Right.”


Farlow had watched the exchange with interest. “What’s Harding’s beef with you, Dom?”


“He’s taking over for someone he used to command,” he said. “That’s not going to sit well.”


“You headed to Berlin don’t help,” Sergeant Williams observed. He smiled at Dominic’s sharp look. “I’d rather follow a leader than an administrator. No offense, Vandy.”


“None taken, Double Dub.”


“I sorely despise that nickname,” Williams said.


Dominic shuddered at the memory of Topher’s nicknames. Facing Farlow, he said, “Take at least one less man than Harding has.”


“We have suitable men loitering, so we can form an appropriate party,” Farlow said.


Dominic took pride in how his men had learned to anticipate him. “No one with a smart mouth. Speaking of which,” Dominic pointed at Williams, “find Dickens when we’re done here and sit on him for the duration.”


“Are you sure you don’t want to take Dickens to Berlin?” Esteban asked, grinning at Vandermeer’s emphatically shaken head.


“I’m only allowed a staff of seven,” he said. “I need Vandermeer to keep me on track and to continue teaching all of us German.” He placed a hand on Williams’ shoulder. “No one suspects a soft spoken Southern boy. The value of a fly on the wall is immeasurable. Driscoll, Adams, Barclay and Park can handle themselves in any situation, armed to the teeth or with their bare hands and Crane’s insisting on two shifts of bodyguards. Wilson goes, because I need another officer and he’s the most well traveled of the available choices.”


“I wasn’t criticizing, Dom,” Esteban said.


“I know and I hope you two understand that I want experienced officers here to make sure things continue to run smoothly under Harding.”


Farlow and Esteban muttered, “Yes, sir,” but neither looked happy.


“Don’t take anyone going with me on the tour or I’ll have to listen to how I’m spying on him or can’t let go of my command.”


Dual nods ended their briefing. Free of immediate concerns, his mind turned, as it so often had over the last five days, to Adelle DeWitt. He recollected her dismay when she’d realized he hadn’t awakened her in time for them to make love. Truth be told, he’d remained angry with her for saying he didn’t care about his friends and the emotional upheaval of the previous eight hours had robbed him of an interest in sex. That hadn’t deterred her in other regards, however.


Adelle had said, “While I’m gone, I’d like you to make a few changes, if you can.”


Wary, he’d asked, “What changes?”


“No drinking, for one.”


“Alcohol helps me wind down at the end of the day.”


“Please, Laurence.” She’d lured him into a sensuous kiss—a far more effective strategy than debate.


“What else?” he’d sighed.


“Eat at least two proper meals per day and endeavor to rest every night.”


“I’ve had trouble sleeping for years.”


She’d kissed him again, exquisitely softly. “I’m simply asking you to try.”


He’d tried. Dominic hadn’t had a drop of alcohol and had eaten twice each day, but every time he closed his eyes, he saw something going wrong in the Russian Zone. Adelle was capable, resourceful and the most intelligent woman he’d ever met, but she was essentially alone among allies getting more reluctant by the day. He couldn’t help worrying more because she was a woman, even after all this time.


“They’re here,” Nelson said, dynamiting Dominic out of his contemplations. “Two Captains and three Lieutenants in his party.” He looked from the window to Dominic. “All officers?”


“Harding doesn’t have much use for enlisted men, unless they can gain him access to booze or women.” Dominic rose and straightened his uniform. “Nobody mentions Miss DeWitt.”


“Why?” Only Vandermeer had the guts to ask.


“I’m maintaining the element of surprise.”


A short, stern looking Lieutenant opened the door and Harding entered. A moue of distaste flashed across his face, as he saluted first in recognition of Dominic’s command.


Dominic returned it smartly. “Welcome to Nuremberg,”


“This city’s small,” Harding said. “Tell me there’s decent alcohol or I’ll resign my commission.”


“If you know where to look,” Dominic allowed. “I’m sure you’d like to inspect the facilities and men as soon as possible. Captain Esteban is ready to guide you.”


Farlow started but didn’t speak, having realized he outranked everyone in Harding’s party.


“I don’t know about the rest of you,” Harding said, throwing a hand to his right to encompass his men, “but I could use a drink or two.”


“Hell, yes,” said the short man and the others concurred vociferously.


“Lead on, Captain,” Harding commanded.


“Sir?” Esteban said, eyes on Dominic.


“Take him where he wants to go,” Dominic said, seeing little harm in Harding being impaired.


“Too good to have a drink with me, Dominic?” Harding snarled.


“I’m cutting back.”


Harding’s laugh stiffened Dominic’s posture. “I never thought I’d see the day. Come along, gentlemen,” he said, extending the invitation to all of the men in the room. “I’ll buy you all a drink for the pleasure of seeing your CO abstain.”


“I’ll stay here, sir,” Nelson offered, not unexpectedly because the kid’s ears got red if he drank a half a pint of beer.


Anxious to get the impending confrontation behind him, Dominic said, “If Colonel Harding is buying, you might as well order the good stuff at the Grand Hotel.” Dominic walked between Vandermeer and Farlow. “Make sure I have a buffer between me and Harding,” he muttered. “Since I can’t drink, I might be tempted to hit him.”


“I’ve been wondering about the not drinking, sir,” Vandermeer said.


“You wonder about everything,” Dominic retorted, thinking Vandermeer and Judith a bureaucratic match. Compelled by sharp blue eyes, he said, “Adelle asked me not to while she was gone. She thinks it’ll help me sleep.” The kid’s goofy grin grated on already raw nerves. “That will not become common knowledge.” Vandermeer saluted and positioned himself to Dominic’s right while Farlow sat to his left. Esteban lowered himself between Vandermeer and the short Lieutenant. With an odd formality, Harding sat across the table from Dominic.


“What’ll it be tonight, Colonel?” said Janine, their customary waitress.


“Coffee,” Dominic said.


“Again?” she asked, smiling sagely. “Who’s the lucky woman who has you sober and … alert in her bed?”


“No one currently,” he said.


She draped her arm across his shoulders. “There’s always room for you in mine.”


“For that, I am forever grateful.” She laughed and took the other orders.


Harding stared at Dominic, eyes hard. “You haven’t lost your touch.”


“Touch?” Vandermeer asked and Dominic kicked him under the table.


“Oh, yes,” Harding said, “Dominic has a dab hand with the ladies.”


Before Vandermeer could speak, Dominic said, “I haven’t had much time for women of late.”


Harding laughed. “Never trust a man who doesn’t chase women, boys,” he announced, smiling snidely at Dominic. “They’re unreliable.”


Meeting Harding’s gaze, Dominic said, “What’s your view on men who can’t keep their trousers zipped?”


A tall blonde Adonis of a captain said, “You have a smart mouth for an upstart from the middle of nowhere.”


“Who graduated first in his class at West Point,” Vandermeer said, leaning forward to see around Esteban and the short Lieutenant, “fought in Sicily and Italy and directed operations in Italy, France and Germany.”


“Kevin,” Dominic said, taking the unaccustomed liberty of using Vandermeer’s first name. “Walk Major Farlow back to our headquarters.”


Farlow leapt to his feet. “Everything will be in order for the inspection. Thank you for the drink, Colonel.”


“You’re quite welcome,” Harding said, signaling the waitress to bring another round. “You need to rein your boy in, Dominic.”


“For speaking the truth?” Captain Taggert rose from a nearby table. “We couldn’t help but hear the description of Dom. Seemed accurate.”


“I was referring to his tone, Captain,” Harding said.


“Tone?” Taggert asked, the single syllable rife with sarcasm. “Here I always thought accuracy was more important.” He glanced down at Dominic. “We got our posting, sir,” he said. “We’re heading to Paris for a round of glorified guard duty and then stateside.”


“Congratulations,” Dominic said, rising to shake Taggert’s hand, while a lot of the men mumbled about luck and unfairness.


“A pleasure serving under you, sir.” Taggert gestured to encompass far more than his table of three. “I speak for us all.” He raised his beer mug.


Dominic touched its rim with that of his coffee cup. He doubted Taggert had ever saluted anyone with such precision. When Dominic sat back down, one of Harding’s Lieutenants relocated next to him. Esteban looked unnerved at proceeding with only his Colonel riding shotgun.


“Sir, I just want to say that I admire you and what you’ve done,” the Lieutenant said.


“What’s your name?” Dominic asked.


“Gavin Daniels, sir.” He lowered his head. “I’ve followed your career since the storm across Sicily. Everyone wanted to be attached to your battalion. I was stuck in England.” To his credit, Daniels never once looked to Harding.


“Where are you from, Daniels?”


“Just about everywhere, Colonel. My parents couldn’t settle.”


Dominic’s interest grew exponentially. “How many languages do you speak?”


“I have some Russian, Italian, Spanish and a smattering of German.”


Harding tried his level best to ascertain the location of the best brothel, so Dominic took a chance. “I’m about to ask you an inflammatory question.” The young man sat up straight. Thinking Wilson would thank him in the end, Dominic said, “Would you like to come to Berlin as part of a small staff, understanding that the post is primarily political?”


Daniels beamed. “Oh my God, yes, sir. Anything to … um … I mean …”


“No need to explain,” Dominic said, “but we’re going to have to tread carefully to get the outcome we want.”


“I’ll do whatever it takes, sir.”


“So will I.”


* * *

Adelle sighed with relief as she parked outside the 5th Army’s Headquarters in Nuremberg. Tired and grimy after five days on the road, she ached from the ancient vehicle’s poor suspension.

“I’ll make my own way back to the hotel,” Cecil observed sardonically from the passenger seat. “You’ve clearly made other arrangements.” It hadn’t been an easy trip. Her travelling companion’s frequent and hostile references to Laurence had only made her feel worse for ripping apart her lover’s composure and leaving him to deal with the aftermath.

“I left my possessions here,” she said, wincing as she got out of the car. “If they can’t accommodate me, I’ll find an alternative. I’ll see you tomorrow, Cecil.”

It had occurred to her that she might not be welcome, which was why she kept the car. The young man who opened the door dispelled that concern. “Welcome back, ma’am, Colonel Dominic will be relieved.”

“Thank you, Private...?”

“Nelson, ma’am.” Taking her bag he ushered her into the building.

Corporal Vandermeer got to his feet as soon as he saw her. “Miss DeWitt, it’s good to have you back. I hope your trip was successful.”

“Unfortunately.” Vandermeer sobered immediately. “I have some difficult letters to write.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, ma’am.”

“It’s an answer at least.”

“The Colonel is at the Grand Hotel,” Nelson said. “Colonel Harding wanted to buy everyone a drink.”

“Would you like some tea?” Vandermeer asked, looking proud at being able to make the offer.

“I would, thank you.” Sinking into the nearest chair she considered. She wanted to see Laurence, which necessitated exposing herself to that odious slug of a man.

“Do you think I could use the Colonel’s facilities to freshen up?” she asked.

“Of course, ma’am. I’ll get you some clean water and I think we have new soap.”

As Nelson, who didn’t look old enough to be wearing his uniform, departed, she relaxed and thought how nice it was to be surrounded by people who appreciated her.

“The Colonel has been following your instructions,” Vandermeer said, as he handed her what looked like a new tea cup. “He hasn’t been drinking, although he hasn’t been sleeping much better.” She raised an eyebrow and the Corporal shuffled his feet. “He mentioned you’d asked him not to drink and I probably wasn’t supposed to let you know that. Sorry.”

“It can be our secret,” she offered, receiving a bright, mischievous smile in response. “Are you going to Berlin with Colonel Dominic?”

“Yes ma’am. Nelson is going home to get married, but the Colonel asked for me specially.” She tilted her head, no doubt he was an efficient administrator; but knowing Laurence there was more.

“Do you speak German, Corporal?”

“Yes, ma’am, my parents immigrated to the States from Bavaria before I was born – I learnt German at home. I’m teaching the Colonel, he’s picking it up pretty fast, though I think it’s harder, because he already speaks French.”

She had learnt both languages as a child, when she hadn’t really had to ‘learn’ in a formal sense. “Perhaps I’ll be able to help him practice,” she offered in German.

“I’m sure he’d appreciate that,” Vandermeer responded in the same language.

“I’ve set a basin and a clean towel out for you,” Nelson said upon his return. She washed quickly, failing to tidy her hair to her satisfaction while changing clothes. Her reflection in the small shaving mirror barely allowed her the wherewithal to repair the last few days with makeup. She hoped she’d pass anything other than close scrutiny.

Her back and stomach hurt, but nothing could be done about it. She had begun to menstruate earlier today, putting an end to any lingering anxiety about a pregnancy and making certain she and Laurence wouldn’t make love tonight.

She tried hard not to take it personally that he hadn’t woken her to make love on the morning of her departure. Intellectually she knew he hadn’t rejected her, but emotionally she remained susceptible to his reluctance to be intimate with her.

When she emerged, Nelson and Vandermeer clucked over her like proud parents. They offered to walk her to the Grand Hotel, but the car made the effort unnecessary. Wishing them a pleasant evening, she slipped into the night.

Harding would not be in the best of moods, having been dragged from his comfortable existence in London to take over from Laurence. She hoped that even though he was vain and petulant, he was too stupid to do any real damage.

At the Grand Hotel she observed the American officers. Tension hummed among them and some had been drinking quite seriously.

Laurence’s back faced her. Harding’s didn’t and he broke into a wide smile. “Adelle, I didn’t know you were in Nuremberg.” He rose and pulled her into an embrace which went on for too long, accompanied by a kiss to her cheek.

Struggling not to recoil, she smiled, “I’ve just returned. I heard you were here and thought I would come and say hello. I hope I’m not disturbing anyone?” She glanced at Laurence, who smiled tightly.

“Of course not,” Harding gestured expansively, “we were meeting so I can get the lie of the land. Nuremberg is about to become the focus of the world’s attention.” A wiser man would understand that the trial would draw that attention, but Harding likely believed this to be a prime posting. “You and I will have plenty of time to catch up.”

“I’ll be travelling a great deal.” she said, “I’m attached to the British war crimes unit.”

“All the more reason for us to spend time together.”

She negotiated her way out of his embrace, turning to the man who had been waiting to greet her. “Hello, Laurence.”

* * *


“Miss DeWitt,” he said, keenly aware of Adelle’s desire to be away from Harding. To his surprise, she hugged him fiercely. It seemed ludicrous not to reciprocate. “Bad news?” he murmured, stroking the small of her back gently. She nodded against his shoulder. “I’m sorry, Adelle.”


She lifted her head to reveal a face etched with fatigue and strain. “Corporal Vandermeer said he’d left a nearly full brandy for me.”


“That’s his glass there, ma’am,” Esteban said, gesturing even as he held out a chair he’d procured for her.


“Thank you, Captain,” she said, sitting with far less grace than Dominic remembered, further evidencing the difficulty of her trip, as did her tossing back the brandy.


“Have you bent Dominic’s staff to do your bidding as you did your people at the SOE?” Harding asked.


Making a face at his coffee, Dominic said, “Only me.” Everyone within earshot laughed. When Harding’s gaze trained on him, Dominic draped his arm around Adelle’s shoulders, encouraging her to lean back against him, concerned when she shivered. “Do you want another?” he asked.


“Please,” she said, shifting closer.


“You claimed you weren’t chasing women, Dominic,” Harding said.


Dominic smiled. “I’ve already caught one.” Esteban choked on his Scotch and the short Lieutenant snickered.


“Now I understand the coffee,” said their waitress, smiling at Dominic and Adelle. Adelle managed a smile, but Dominic sensed how much it cost her. “Can I get anyone a refill?”


“She’s having brandy,” Dominic said, “and now that she’s back, I’ll have bourbon.” Pleased to see Adelle’s smile become less forced, he said, “Have I mentioned I’m really glad to see you?”


“No.” Something in her tone cautioned him.


“I should’ve. I’m sorry.” Aware of Harding’s scrutiny and Adelle’s discomfort, he stared into his coffee cup. “I worried.”


She slid her arms around his neck. “Vandermeer and Nelson indicated as much, when they made me tea and allowed me to make myself presentable.”


“Settling in, Adelle?”


“Do you mind?”


Harding separated and leaned down between them. “You look cozy,” he oozed, enraged expression belying his words. “When did this develop?”


Dominic nodded to Adelle. “We were lovers for eight months in London,” she said, taking Laurence’s hand. “Very few people knew.”


“How utterly unprofessional,” Harding said, shaking his head sternly. “Dominic reported to you.”


“Our personal attachment didn’t impact our professional relations,” Dominic said and the truth of that statement still smarted. Sorely tempted to shift Adelle into his lap to remove Harding’s head from between them, he said, “The secrecy is unnecessary now. I prefer that.”


“You must think of your reputation, my dear,” Harding said.


“My reputation will only be enhanced by an association with Laurence,” Adelle said. She speared Harding with an intent gaze. “Your drink has arrived and you’ve missed your opportunity to stare at the waitress’ cleavage. That’s not like you.”


“You’re nothing but a whore, just like all the rest.”


Dominic leapt to his feet, dragging Harding up with him. “Apologize,” he hissed, “or we’ll take this outside.”


“Crane would do more than slap his wunderkind on the wrist for brawling in the street,” Harding countered.


“Do I look like I care?” Dominic said. The blonde Adonis Captain grabbed Dominic’s arm, but Lieutenant Daniels removed it. The short Lieutenant couldn’t get around Esteban. “Sit down, Colonel Harding,” Dominic said, tone leaving no doubt that he’d issued an order.


“I thought you wanted an apology.”


Visions of slamming Harding’s face into the table danced in Dominic’s head. Smiling brightly up at them, Adelle said, “I spoke with Margo the other day. ”


Harding took a step back and Dominic released him. “You … you know Margo?” he asked.


“Of course,” Adelle said, rising majestically and backing Harding up three steps to give her soft spoken comment the chance to be private. “I sent her to you to ensure you weren’t going to be a problem. It was quite a waste of her talents.”


“Sit down before she tells everyone Margo’s assessment of your performance in bed.” Dominic smirked. “Or, better yet, I do.”


“You forgot your place when Churchill took a moment to speak to you,” Harding snarled.


“I forgot my place long before that when it came to you,” Dominic said. He stepped back toward the table. “Everybody listen up and I’ll tell you a story about the incoming CO.” Glaring, Harding stalked around the table and sat down. “Well, I would, if I didn’t have to take care of my lady.” Tossing back his bourbon, Dominic held out his hand to Adelle. She put her brandy into it and raised her eyebrow. Chuckling, he made short work of that too.


“Dominic, you should accompany me on my inspection tour,” Harding said. “Your insight would undoubtedly prove invaluable.”


He pulled Adelle closer. “Esteban, please escort the Colonel and company in and among our facilities, taking whatever officers you feel might enhance the experience.” Adelle put keys in his hand. Dominic looked from them to her. “My car,” she murmured, leaning into him, suddenly looking far too pale.


“We’ll talk, Daniels,” he said, curious as to what sort of young man he was.


“I look forward to it, Colonel,” Daniels said, saluting smartly.


Without a backward glance, Dominic steered Adelle out of the Grand Hotel and followed her to her vehicle. Shaking his head, he sighed. “You took that to the Russian Zone?” She nodded, as he helped her into the Jeep. “I could have provided you with one that isn’t on its last legs.” She declined to comment. Pulling out into traffic, he said, “You look like you need warm milk and a pile of blankets.” He paused, considering. “Maybe a sympathetic ear.”


“Will you hold me, Laurence?”


“Try and stop me.”


* * *

Adelle closed her eyes and kicked her shoes off, curling into the settee beneath the blanket Laurence had draped over her. She could hear him talking to Vandermeer who had been at his desk when they returned. She hoped someone might think about a meal, since she hadn’t eaten all day.

She was tired, but feeling better. The brandy had helped, but Laurence had helped more. Although unpleasant, there had been something inherently satisfying in their collaboration to put Harding in his place. “Here.” Laurence carefully placed another blanket over her shoulders. “Are you sure you shouldn’t be in bed, Adelle?”

“I’d rather talk for a while.” She appreciated his solicitude but found exposing her vulnerability difficult – they were alike in that respect. “I’m sorry for returning in such a decrepit state. I’m supposed to be finding out how you are.”

Sitting down, he put his arm around her shoulders and guided her to rest against him. “I didn’t drink while you were gone and it’s done me good to have a clearer head. I’ve thought about what you said, trying to gain some perspective.” Lifting her head, she saw the flicker of pain that crossed his face, “Thinking of them hurts.”

“Of course it does.” He tightened his hold and she curled almost onto his lap. “It will always hurt, Laurence, because a part of your past died with them. You’ll have friendships in the future, but no one will know you the way they did.”

“I’ll always be the Colonel now,” he observed.

“Not always.” Deliberately ambiguous, she trusted him to work out she referred both to the possibility of future promotions and that she would always see him as a man first. He wound his hand in her hair, gently rubbing his thumb over the base of her skull. She breathed with him, listening to the steady beat of his heart and enjoying the stillness.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” he asked.

“Three of my agents died at Ravensbruck,” she said. “The woman I sent on the mission I had originally scheduled Ruth for and two others.” Resting her hand over his heart and her cheek on the other side of his chest she continued, “If Hearn hadn’t abused those women, Elsie would have gone to Paris instead of Ruth.” No meaning could be attributed to it. Things might not have happened any differently. What ifs held no sway over what had happened. “I have to write to the families in the morning, because I promised them news, good or bad.”

A soft tap at the door interrupted them. Laurence called out for whoever to enter and Vandermeer opened the door, balancing a tray. “It’s only k-rations,” he said, setting down the tray. The silverware and clean plates made Adelle smile.

“That’s fine,” Laurence said. “Eat and get a decent night’s sleep. Tomorrow will be hectic. Harding will see to it.”

“Yes, sir.” He paused and nodded to her. “Good night, Miss DeWitt.”

“Good night, Corporal Vandermeer.”

She picked at the food, too tired to really be hungry but aware of Laurence’s scrutiny. Finally pushing the plate away, she turned back into his embrace. “I’d very much like to go to bed now,” she said quietly. “You don’t have to join me, if you have work to complete.”

“I promised to hold you.” He tilted her head back and kissed her gently, coaxing her into a more serious effort. Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, he said, “I’m a man of my word.”

When she emerged from the bathroom, he had put the blankets on the bed and, slipping beneath them, she turned on her side to watch him undress. He dimmed the lamp, but she had enough light to see. She loved the lines and hollows of his body, strong and lean with pale skin she wanted to press against. Tugging her nightgown over her head, she cast it aside as he joined her.

“The curse?” he asked, brushing a kiss to her cheek, as he stretched one arm out under her pillow and rubbed her stomach with his other hand. She nodded, surprised to feel embarrassed.

He was slightly aroused but made no move to stimulate her or himself. She appreciated his being considerate, but began to wonder if he was simply out of the habit of sex. If so, it would do them no harm to be intimate without making love over the next few days.

“Go to sleep, Adelle.” She smiled at the command and decided to do as he instructed, on this occasion.

* * *


“Walk with me, Lieutenant Daniels,” Dominic said, as he endeavored to make his escape from the second full day of meetings demanded by Lt. Colonel Harding, purportedly to enable a smooth transition. The SOE ones had been boring, but these threatened to put him into a catatonic state.


“One more moment of your time, Dominic,” Harding said, fake smile firmly in place. It faded when he added, “I have need of you this evening, Daniels. Colonel Dominic can’t spirit you away for hours today too.”


“I only need him for a few minutes,” Dominic countered, perversely enjoying the game.


“Why might that be?”


“I’d like to pick his brain about something,” Dominic said, posture loose and tone nonchalant. “Going to Berlin presents challenges and someone who has moved around a lot might be able to help me surmount a few.”


“In your position, I would be more focused on mounting than surmounting.”


No remotely suitable response would inure to Dominic’s credit. “What do you want from me, Harding?”


He steered Dominic away from Daniels. “Do you know a woman named Maxine Elder?”


“No.”


Harding tensed noticeably before he asked, “Does Adelle?”


“I don’t know.” Harding appeared to be waiting for more. “She hasn’t mentioned anyone by that name. Why?” The moment he asked the question an amusing answer occurred to him and it took all of his discipline not to laugh.


“No reason.”


“Have you slept with Miss Elder yet?” Dominic asked. Harding’s furtive expression produced a sigh. “Should I have said Mrs.?”


“Mind your own business, Dominic.”


He sighed. “A married man sleeping with a married woman, who isn’t his wife, doesn’t reflect well on the United States Army. Don’t buy that kind of trouble.”


“Openly flaunting your mistress isn’t exactly conduct becoming to your rank,” Harding hissed.


“I’m not married. Neither is Adelle. Our relationship is unconventional and maybe a tiny bit scandalous to some people. What you’re contemplating goes well beyond that.”


“You’re going to run to Crane, aren’t you?” Harding clenched his hands into fists. “Damn it, Dominic, if I’m going to be stuck in Germany, I’d like to take some comfort.”


“Find an unmarried woman or a whore.” Leaving Harding to stew in his own juices, Dominic gestured for Daniels to accompany him.


“What’s the trouble with the move to Berlin, sir?” he asked, once they’d put some space between them and Harding.


“Nothing that I know of.” He smiled at the kid’s puzzlement. “I want Harding to wonder why I’m spending time with you. If he thinks I’ve recruited you to spy on him, he won’t balk at my taking you on.” Dominic grinned at Daniels. “With any luck, he’ll suggest it himself.”


Daniels nodded and returned the smile. “You know how to deal with the Colonel.”


“I had a lot of practice in London.” They talked of inconsequential things, as they walked in the chill early evening breeze and Dominic swore he could feel his brain waking up. “I’m going to check in with my staff. When you return, act a little nervous. Evade Harding’s questions about me and what we discussed. Every time we do this, let your performance improve. The last thing that man wants around is a competent spy.”


“Why can’t I be smoother today?”


“He has to get the idea before he can worry about it,” Dominic said, offering his hand.


“I could just let something slip to one of the guys,” Daniels suggested, as he shook it.


Dominic smiled. “I’d like to give the Colonel the satisfaction of figuring this out on his own, if it’s all the same to you.”


Daniels saluted. “Yes, sir.”


After returning it, he stepped into the anteroom to his office. “Is Adelle here yet, Corporal?”


Vandermeer nodded. “She arrived twenty minutes ago, sir, looking grim.” He sighed softly. “It’d be nice for her to get good news.”


“That it would,” Dominic agreed. “A real dinner might cheer her up. See if you can get some bread from that bakery of yours and maybe some cheese.”


“Yes, sir.”


As had become her habit, Adelle had settled on the small couch, using a clipboard Nelson had given her to write letters. She smiled up at him. “Hello, Laurence.” He hadn’t expected cheerful and he guessed it showed when she asked, “What’s wrong?”


“Nothing, I … well, something Vandermeer said made me think I’d be holding you again tonight. That’s all.”


“Is there something you’d rather do?” she said, her smile shifting to speculative as she patted the couch next to her.


“Maybe,” he allowed, enjoying her eyes latched onto him while he crossed the room to open a bottle of red wine. “How are you feeling?”


“I’m hovering just shy of miserable, physically,” her hand went to her stomach, “but I’m pleased to be writing about hope.”


“I’m pleased you’re pleased,” he said, handing her a glass of wine. “I’m so bored; I’m actually contemplating a surprise inspection to liven things up.”


“You loathe inspections, surprise or otherwise.”


“I loathe ridiculously long meetings more.” He hugged her and leaned in to kiss her softly. “That’s a great word. Loathe. In some ways, it’s more damning than hate.”


“That’s because hate is so overused.”


“Harding thinks you might’ve put a married woman in his path, this time,” he said, watching her avidly.


Disbelief quickly became laughter. “Oh dear God,” she murmured. “He is paranoid.”


“I can make that work for me.”


She tossed her clipboard aside and snuggled closer. “What are you planning?”


“I’ll brag about it, if it works.”


Tone soft and harboring a breathless quality that did incredible things for him, she whispered, “You’re keeping secrets?”


“You like secrets.”


“When I’m keeping them,” Adelle said, wrapping her arms around his neck. “I like my men to be … transparent.” As if to justify the dramatic pause and maybe to drive her point home, Adelle drew him into a long luscious kiss.


“That’s not how you like your men,” he muttered before she took his mouth on another very pleasant journey.


“How do you imagine I like my men, Laurence?” He wondered if the question was rhetorical, because she certainly hadn’t given him time to answer. That was fine with him; he’d rather kiss her anyway. Eventually, she pulled back and said, “You didn’t answer my question.”


“If you expected an answer, I guess you like them able to talk with their mouth full,” he said. Her laughter rewarded him in innumerable ways. Dominic hoped to inspire it more often. “Come to Berlin with me, Adelle.”


* * *

She could see he was deadly serious and waiting for her response. “I’d love to,” she said, smiling when he seemed as surprised by her answer as she had been by his request. “Did you think I’d refuse?”

“Honestly, all I thought about was being apart from you again. I know you’re going to be travelling and I’m going to be busy with my new command, but if our home base was the same then maybe ... ”

“We’d occasionally see each other,” she agreed. “I can communicate with London just as easily from the British sector in Berlin.” Ducking her head, she admitted, “I’ve become used to coming home to you.”

He exhaled and leaned forward to kiss her, running his hands through her hair as she wrapped her arms around him, feeling as though they sealed a promise. “I’ll talk to Vandermeer about securing somewhere with more living space,” he murmured.

“I’ll find my own accommodations,” she said, laughing. “I’ll be a very attractive roommate, never at home. But, Laurence, there will be talk about your bringing your mistress to Berlin.”

“It doesn’t make any sense to leave her behind.”

She smiled and sipped her wine, the spontaneous request making her feel warm inside. Leaning against him, she toyed with the buttons of his shirt, letting her fingertips just slip between them, to graze his skin with no intention other than to touch him. “Is this what you did with girls you stepped out with when you were younger?” Genuinely curious, never having done anything remotely similar herself, she awaited his reply.

“Asked them to move to Berlin with me?”

She tapped him on the nose with mock disdain. “Are you being deliberately obtuse?”

“Yes, because when you look stern, I want to kiss the frown away.” Relentless in pursuit of his goal, he looked surprised at her expectant expression when he eventually let her up.

“You know what I’m asking.”

“There was a lot more sneaking around, but when we got the chance to be alone...” He kissed Adelle again, tongue probing her mouth, his body pressing hers back into the soft cushions. She half reclined beneath him, parting to catch their breath before she drew him back again.

The tap at the door galled her. Smiling, he said, “Come in,” before sitting up and pulling her with him. She made a vain attempt to smooth her hair, as he consulted Vandermeer about the timing of dinner.

“We’ll eat in about an hour,” he said. “How about a walk?”

A city still in ruins provided little in terms of destinations, but for once in her life the end felt inconsequential. It was cold, but her coat and gloves were thick and Laurence held her hand as they meandered along the darkened streets.

Her trail led to Karlsruhe –close to the French-German border but still in the American zone. It would be easier to travel and Laurence would worry less. Her investigation would have to fit around his relocation to Berlin. When she had come to Germany, she hadn’t expected to have to balance a personal and a professional life.

They talked a little about his role in Berlin and though he probably wasn’t ready to admit it, she could tell he was starting to embrace the challenge set before him.

The cold bit deeply and when they returned a bemused Nelson, clearly thinking them insane to be wandering about outside, gestured toward a large brown bag. Laurence took their coats as she laid out the food and poured them both more wine. What followed was rapidly becoming her favourite part of the day, curled up with him, wrapped in blankets to ward off the chill, talking and kissing until they decided they were tired. Going to bed, falling asleep and waking in his arms.

* * *


“Are you terribly busy?”


Laurence Dominic looked up and tossed his pen aside. “My sister can wait.”


Adelle DeWitt frowned. “I won’t keep you from writing to your family.”


He laughed. “All I have to do is sign off, Adelle. I’ve hidden in here since 4:00 pm and I finished the reports I needed to write before 5:30 pm.” To her raised eyebrow, he said, “I didn’t want to face both Harding and Crane, who arrived around noon. I’m not in the mood to hear the recitation of my alleged failings again. I ought to have it memorized. Harding’s been here for four days; it feels more like forty.”


“If you’re nearly finished and in hiding, I’ll be pleased for pour you a glass of what I’ve found.” He ended his letter while Adelle busied herself with serving drinks. The smile she treated him to when she handed him a glass made his heart skip a beat. “To getting the hell out of Nuremberg,” she toasted.


“I’ll drink to that.” Once they did, he stared at his glass. “Is this …? No, it can’t be. Is it?” She smiled enigmatically. “Adelle, is this the brandy your uncle procures for you?” He considered. “The spare, right?”


“Correct on both counts, Laurence. You can imagine how shocked I was to find it in quite a little shop here.”


“Tell me which one and I’ll buy out their stock.”


“Mr. Drey only had four bottles left,” she said, sighing softly. “However, I lacked the financial resources to relieve him of more than this one.”


“I’ll send Vandermeer to … Where did you say this shop was?”


“I didn’t.” She let him stew, while she took his hand and led him to the couch. When they were seated, with heavy blankets wrapped around them, Adelle said, “We’ll walk there together tomorrow morning. I think you’ll enjoy meeting the proprietor. He’s quite a character.”


“My staff will rearrange my schedule to accommodate that excursion.” He raised Adelle’s hand to his lips and kissed each fingertip. “What did you do today, other than shop for liquor?”


“I wrote letters, some more difficult than others.” Dominic stroked her cheek and leaned in to kiss her gently. “I’m glad to have put the task behind me and be here, like this with you.”


“Like what?” he asked, frowning when she shivered. “You’re cold.” Dominic shifted her on to his lap and tucked the blanket around them tighter.


“If my past lovers could see me now, they wouldn’t know what to think,” she murmured, a small wistful smile making an appearance.


“Why?”


She shrugged, but he waited her out. “I let you take care of me, Laurence. That I didn’t allow any such thing was a bone of contention, particularly for Andre.”


“Adjusting a blanket doesn’t seem like much,” he said.


Adelle shrugged, undid his handiwork and leaned away from him. “May I look at you?” she asked, her eyes boring into his.


“You are,” he observed, not sure whether he should hope for elucidation.


Adelle deftly untucked his shirt. “I’d like to unfasten your shirt and … look at your upper body.”


He grinned. “I don’t see any harm in that.”


Bottom lip caught between her teeth and eyes tracking the motion of her hands, Adelle slowly unbuttoned his shirt. She pushed it open and her smile sent the detached, almost clinical air packing. “I could sit here for hours, just drinking you in,” she whispered.


“My lap isn’t that comfortable,” he said, swearing he felt her gaze roving over his chest and wished her hands would follow suit.


Adelle shifted her behind and smiled at his sharp gasp. Desire flared bright hot, arriving fully formed rather than building over time. “Are … are you still …?” She nodded and leaned against him. “Damn.” The feel of silk moving against his bare chest as they breathed stoked his arousal to a higher pitch than they’d achieved since her return. Reluctantly, he lifted her off his lap and reached for the blanket.


“I was so enjoying the view, Laurence.”


“Not half as much as I was enjoying you enjoy it,” he muttered.


* * *


“There’s something I can do that you will like as much, if not more.” Adelle watched his expression as she trailed her fingertips over his chest; circling his left nipple and smiling when he sucked in a breath.

This was easily the most aroused he’d been all week, She’d been waiting for his body to remember how much it enjoyed sex and her patience had been rewarded. She would leave in the morning, probably for several days. It seemed a pity to allow her body’s cycle to stand in the way of giving him what he wanted.

“Let me take care of you,” she said, kissing his check, before touching her lips to his chest.

“You have been.” He shifted his hips, but she couldn’t tell if he sought more contact or tried to avoid it. From his nipple, she ran her fingertips down the centre of his chest, shifting onto his lap once more. Her name ended in a groan, which spurred her to kiss him hungrily. Hand tangled in her hair, he responded to her ardour in kind. Aroused as well, Adelle ground her hips against his. “Christ,” he bit out, “Adelle, stop!”

Head thrown back, eyes wild, his chest heaving as he sucked in air clenched her stomach with need, the rush of power dizzying. “Let me take care of you,” she repeated, dropping her hand to rest on his belt buckle.

His eyes widened, but he didn’t speak –too wary to give permission but too in need to deny her. He watched her avidly, as she unfastened the buckle and opened his trousers. He grunt/whined, part protest, part excitement, as she knelt at his feet. The position might seem submissive, but looking up at him, she had no doubt the power was hers.

Her hand on already rigid flesh produced a familiar thrill, the regular movement drew a long sigh “Laurence, look at me.” He opened his eyes in response to the command and she leaned close, breathing in his musky scent and moistening her lips.

“Fuck,” he said, as she opened her mouth and bent over him.


* * *


Laurence Dominic knew losing his mind couldn’t possibly feel this good, but then that thought fragmented, just as the rest had. His throat hurt from trying to keep his responses unspoken and, failing that, to maintain a reasonable volume. He imagined Adelle’s throat hurt for very different reasons, before the pressure built again, before sensation obliterated everything else, before need threatened to derail automatic functions like breathing and the far too rapid beating of his heart.


He’d tried everything—swearing, threatening, cajoling, commanding, pleading and offering bribes of a variety of stripes. Adelle continued to work him over, shifting between her hand and her mouth.


“Have I mentioned how I’ve enjoyed taking care of you this evening?” she whispered in his ear, as he thrust into her hand.


“Yeah,” he panted. “God, Adelle, please, I’m going nuts here. I really am. I’m not kidding. If I’m a babbling idiot when I meet with Harding and Crane, it’s going to be your fault.”


“No one wants that,” she murmured and lowered herself to the floor again. Placing her elbows on his thighs, she gazed up at him.


“No one,” he rushed to agree. Her failure to move loosened his lips further, making him realize how far she’d taken him. He’d never talked much during sex before her. “You don’t want my abject humiliation on your conscience.” Dominic tried to look serious but knew he failed.


Her hand at his base and her mouth at the tip tumbled him from the precipice into an all consuming pleasure. He didn’t realize how much of a death grip he had on the couch cushions, until Adelle molded her body to his side some indeterminable time later. It required a supreme effort to loosen his cramped fingers, but he’d endure a whole lot more to get his hands on Adelle DeWitt.


“Admit it,” he croaked, dazed by repletion. “You’re an assassin and my heart was just strong enough to withstand your attempt.”


“I admit nothing of the kind,” Adelle said. She ran gentle fingers through his hair. “I’ll confess to wanting to please you.” Chuckling, she added, “When you look at me like you are now, I feel powerful and deliciously wicked. The combination is dizzying.”


“Dizzying is a good word for it,” Dominic muttered, as he wondered how long it would be before his legs would support him. “Adelle, I … I just … You didn’t have to do that. I would’ve waited for you.”


“You will have to deal with Harding and Crane in my absence. Giving you the relief you’re rediscovering you want is the least I could do.” She pushed away. “Let me up, Laurence.”


“Where’re you going?”


“To get you cleaned, zipped and buttoned up.”


“What about you?” he said, catching her hand as she rose. “That was more one sided than anything we’ve ever done.”


“I’ll wake you, if I feel up to it in the morning. How’s that?”


His glare made Adelle laugh. “I guess that’ll have to do,” he allowed, watching her wet a cloth and make good on her promise. “I want to kiss you.”


“I’m not stopping you.”


Gratified, Dominic cupped her throat as gently as he could and kissed her soundly. Adelle loved that juxtaposition and so did he. As they had every night recently, they settled into kissing and touching to take the refuge available in physical intimacy without the pressure of seeking culmination.


“I’m sorry, sir. They insisted.” Vandermeer’s tone left no doubt as to who they were.


“No one blames you, Kevin,” Dominic said, disengaging himself from Adelle. He seldom used his men’s first names and noted Vandermeer’s surpise and Adelle’s approval. “Carry on.” Vandermeer saluted smartly and departed. Embarrassment couldn’t hold a candle to how Adelle made him feel.


“Out of uniform, Dominic,” Harding sneered.


Movements lazy with satisfaction, Dominic stood and began to button his shirt. “General Crane, you might remember Miss DeWitt,” he ventured.


“They were lovers for months in London,” Harding interjected, his smile feral.


Crane stepped around Dominic to incline his head to Adelle. “A pleasure as always, Adelle.”


“Likewise,” she said, rising gracefully and allowing the general to take her hand and pat it with his free one.


“I’m pleased you’ve taken it upon yourself to see to Dominic,” Crane said, gesturing vaguely. “I was beginning to fear he lacked focus.”


“Lt. Colonel Dominic is quite focused,” Adelle said with a perfectly straight face.


“That will be the last time he’s referred to as such,” General Crane said, as he offered his hand to Dominic. “I’ve brought your silver eagles, Colonel. Next stop—Brigadier General.”


“Thank you, sir.” Crane affixing the rank insignia on the collar of an untucked shirt felt almost as surreal as Winston Churchill declaring him a Major while he struggled with the aftereffects of poison. Harding’s glare grounded him, though.


Crane met Dominic’s eyes. “I’ve heard tell of a spy in Harding’s organization.”


“Really?” he said, cocking his head with fake interest and he suspected Crane knew or at least suspected it. “Who?”


“Daniels.”


“That’s not possible. He’s loyal to a fault, sir.” The General smiled and might’ve winked, but Dominic still hadn’t recovered from Adelle’s expert technique. He refused to think about how she’d acquired it. That path led to madness.


“You’d take him on, then?” Crane asked.


“In a heartbeat,” Dominic said.


“Done.” Crane turned to Harding. “Problem solved. Now, if you’ll excuse us, Harding, I have some things to discuss with Dominic.”


“And his mistress?” Harding asked, sarcasm at war with scorn.


Not missing a beat, Crane countered, “Certain issues before us would benefit from her expertise.”


* * *

“You never know what you’ll discover from talking to a man’s mistress,” Adelle said, tone deliberately light, gaze rested on Harding. No doubt wondering what she might know, he swallowed and shuffled his feet and Adelle felt a tiny spurt of triumph at reminding Harding that she was someone to be reckoned with.

“Well,” he said, clearly unhappy to have been dismissed, “I’ll get back to it. As I told you, General Crane, there’s a lot of work to be done.” When no one responded, he huffed some more before turning on his heel and departing.

General Crane sighed. “I won’t keep you,” he said. “I just wanted to be rid of him for a little while.” That was a sentiment Adelle understood only too well.

“Will you have a brandy?” Laurence offered. “It’s good stuff.”

“Thank you, I will.” While Laurence poured the drinks, Crane asked her, “Why do you worry Harding?”

If they’d been in England, she might have asked whether he actually wanted to know. Things were different here. “His mistress in London worked for me.” She accepted a brandy and Laurence, to his credit, did not look as though he wanted her to stop talking. “I placed her in his path and ensured she kept him happy. I thought it the best way to manage him.”

“Did you know about this?” Crane turned to Laurence.

“I figured it out,” he said, unsure how carefully he needed to tread at this late date. “Adelle didn’t tell me. It seemed a better way to corral him than we’d worked out, sir.”

“So you didn’t say anything?”

“Informing you would have implicated you and caused a problem with our allies. I trusted Adelle to handle it.”

“I hope you thought long and hard before you took that decision.” Before either of them could respond, Crane turned his attention back to Adelle. “I assume it wasn’t a sanctioned operation.”

She shrugged. “You know what the SOE was established to do and how we worked.” Then as now, she viewed any measure taken to mitigate the harm Harding caused as legitimate. “I’ve done worse,” she added, crossing the room to the settee.

Now Laurence looked worried, but Adelle thought the General looked more troubled than angry. “You so happen to be in Nuremberg at the same time as Dominic, conveniently allowing the two of you to resume your relationship?”

“Yes.”

“Are you keeping tabs on us, Miss DeWitt? Are you the spy?”

She laughed, even though she could see how he arrived at that conclusion. “I’m not a spy,” she said, reaching for Laurence’s hand. “Our relationship is of no interest to British intelligence, if they’re even aware of it. I’m in Nuremberg to discover the fate of the SOE agents who haven’t yet been accounted for. I have a limited amount of time to find out as much as I can and contribute to any charges of war crimes in connection to their fates. Beyond that, I have no role. The SOE is being disbanded and I have no alternative employment. Until recently, I was intending to go overseas when my services are no longer required by my Government.”

“Where?” Laurence asked quietly.

“I considered Egypt,” she said. He would, she suspected, understand the pull the desert exerted on her. “Also further afield, Australia perhaps. But things have changed.” She tightened her hold on Laurence’s hand and smiled at him. “I may have no long term plans, but I wouldn’t do anything to damage Laurence’s career.”


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I loved this chapter!

Everything was excellent! Adelle and Dominic being an intimate couple and much more open with each other, Dom and Adelle both worrying Harding (anything where Harding gets played with is wonderful) and the two of them planning a future together in Berlin.

Thanks! I'm so glad it's still playing for you.

They are a couple and yet they have some obstacles to overcome.

Working together to dismember Harding makes me smile. In a HUGE way.

Him asking her to come with him and her readily agreeing is AWESOME. I'm just glad it worked for someone other than us.

I just love them messing with Harding!

Also, I love to see them be so intimate with each other. It's perfectly fitting to what their relationship is now.

I can't wait to read more!

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