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Lillian Saxton made her debut in Wading Into War when she hired private investigator Benjamin Wade to find a missing reporter with knowledge of her brother’s whereabouts in Europe torn apart by World War II. Now, Sergeant Lillian Saxton, U.S. Army, stars in her own mission.
What if the only way you could discover who killed your brother was to lie to your commanding officer?
May 1940. Western Europe is on edge, wondering when the Nazis will strike. America is neutral, woefully unprepared for war, and President Roosevelt tries to steer the dicey waters of international diplomacy and keep the United States out of the conflict. It is in this environment when Sergeant Lillian Saxton, US Army, receives a cryptic message from an old flame who now lives in Germany: meet in Belgium and he’ll not only give her the key to the Nazi codebooks but also information about the man who murdered her brother.
Lillian conducts all her missions with panache and confidence, even when bullets start to fly and enemy agents zero in to kill her. She’s more uncertain of how she’ll react when she sees the man who broke her heart or how she’ll get out of Belgium when the Nazis launch their invasion.
The door opened a crack. Half a face peered out. Lillian made eye contact and the person’s eye widened in surprise. He grunted and tried to close the door quickly. She rammed her shoe in the space and prevented it. Next, she slammed her shoulder into the door. Taking the other person by surprise, she flung the door open, banging him in the face.
Lillian stormed into the room. A distinct odor, a new one, met her. She recognized it but had no time to determine what it was. The man had quickly recovered and was moving towards her.
She recognized him as Brown Suit in the instant before his fist flew at her. It came from her right side. She raised her right arm to deflect the blow while, at the same time, pivoting on her right foot. She used his momentum in her favor. His fist met air and he momentarily lost his balance. That gave her time to crash her left fist on his face.
Years ago, when Lillian had joined the Army, she knew her size and weight would never prevail for long in a fist fight. Lillian felt confident in her abilities if her opponent was a woman. When fighting a man, however, she knew her size and weight meant she needed to end it as quickly as possible. Speed and dexterity were her greatest allies. She knew her blows couldn’t end fights with a single thrust, so she honed her ability to rain multiple blows on her opponents.
Her left fist landed on Brown Suit’s jaw. She brought her knee up a second later and smashed his chest. Finally, with her right arm now free from deflecting his one swing, she placed her hand on the back of his neck and shoved him downward.
Brown Suit toppled to the floor on his hands and knees. He held his head at such an angle that Lillian knew she had stunned him good. She took a step back to regain a proper fighting stance.
His hand shot out and clipped her ankle. She lost her balance and stumbled backward. She reached out for something to stop her movement and found only air. Lillian backpedaled a few more steps, her thick heels clogging on the wooden floor. A few more feet and she hit the back of a couch. This stopped her backward movement and gave Brown Suit time to stand.
Still not quite on perfect balance, Lillian gambled. Brown Suit expected to body slam her. In response, she fell to the floor, landing on her back. A few puffs of air escaped her lungs but she was rewarded by the surprised look on his face as he sailed over her, arms outstretched.
Lillian rolled over and got to her feet. Brown Suit hit the wooden back of the couch and fell to the floor again. A grunt of rage erupted from him but she didn’t press him nor did she move closer. His hitting her ankle told her he knew how to fight. Better to get a good handle on her surroundings than to risk another swipe at close quarters swipe.
The interior of the apartment was spare. The couch she had met. Only a coffee table fronted it. The large room had a small kitchen off to her left. A modest wooden table and chairs were to her immediate left. On the far wall was a door that likely led to the bedroom.
Lillian looked around for a weapon. She found none. Not even a plate or a knife on the counter. Only a radio. She judged it too heavy for effective use.
Brown Suit now stood opposite her. His hair had fallen in his face and he swiped at it. A stream of blood coursed from his lip. The red spot left by her fist was already starting to bruise.
“You’re an interesting one,” he said. “How did we miss you?”
We? Lillian didn’t have time to think about that now. She studied his face, watching his eyes and his body for the next move. What she saw took exactly one second to process. It was a subtle change in his expression. A relaxing of his grimace. And a slight shift of his eyes to a spot behind her.
She ducked. In the same moment, she swept her leg out behind her. It met something solid. Another person’s leg. She heard a cry of surprise from that person—a man. She hoped her action might give her a precious few seconds to readjust to this new scenario. Two to one. Not good.
The other person lost his balance and fell. He landed almost directly on the seat of one of the kitchen chairs. The momentum and his weight cracked the wood. It gave way and splintered into pieces.
It also gave her a weapon.
She reached out and grasped one of the broken chair legs. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted Brown Suit was reaching his hand into his suit pocket. Chances were good he wasn’t trying to be gentlemanly and offer her a tissue.
Holding the chair leg like a baseball bat, she swung. With his hand buried deep in his suit, there was nothing he could do. The wood connected with Brown Suit’s face. He crumpled to the floor.
Not waiting a second, Lillian pressed her advantage. The other man was now on his knees. She recognized him as the man reading the newspaper in the lobby. Unfortunately for her, Newspaper Reader had already drawn a pistol and was bringing it to bear on her.
She shifted her grip on the chair leg from a baseball bat to a fencer’s grip. She extended her arm and jabbed at the gun hand. Newspaper Reader, having just witnessed Lillian swing with two hands, was momentarily surprised at her action.
He swatted away the chair leg. That was exactly what she had hoped for. She wanted him to think that was her only move.
Lillian let the shattered chair leg leave her grip. She leapt into the air and brought her leg around in a roundhouse kick. The thick heel of her shoe found its mark. Already on his knees, the man huffed in pain and crashed to the floor.
She landed on both feet. In a single movement, she kicked the pistol across the room. She pivoted and assumed another fighting stance just in case either man had more fight in him.
And that’s how Honeywell’s men found the situation when they stormed into the room, guns drawn.
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