Back Cover Blurb
It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Handsome and outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. On shore, Jim encounters Mary Stirling, a childhood friend who is now an astute and beautiful Boston Navy Yard secretary.
When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is discovered, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges—and dangers—await them.
Boston Navy Yard; Boston, Massachusetts
Tuesday, March 18, 1941
On a platform by the bow of the USS Ettinger, Mary Stirling prepared supplies no one would notice unless they were missing.
While nautical pennants snapped in the sea breeze and the band played “Anchors Aweigh” for the ship-launching ceremony, Mary set down a box containing rags, a towel, a whisk broom, and a first aid kit. Then she nestled a bottle of champagne in a silver bucket.
Something crinkled. Odd.
Mary picked up the bottle in its decorative tin shield that prevented shattering. Yesterday, she’d tied red, white, and blue ribbon around the neck. Now the ribbon didn’t lie flat, the bow was lopsided, and the foil around the cork seemed loose and wrinkled, as if someone had taken it off and replaced it.
Why? Scenarios zipped through her head, each more ludicrous than the one before. “Too much Nancy Drew in junior high,” she muttered. And too many spy and saboteur stories in the press lately. With the United States clinging to neutrality in the war in Europe, tensions between isolationists and interventionists had become sharper than the prow of the Ettinger.
Mary stroked the sleek red hull of the new destroyer, towering above her. “Into the wild Atlantic you go.”
“That is a bad year.”
Mary smiled at the French accent and faced her roommate and co-worker at the Boston Navy Yard, Yvette Lafontaine. “I doubt the Ettinger cares about the champagne’s vintage.”
“She should.” Yvette narrowed her golden-brown eyes at the ship, then lit up and grasped Mary’s shoulders. “But you look très magnifique.”
Mary knew better than to argue. “Thank you for helping me choose the hat. I love it.” The shape flattered her face, and the fawn color blended with her brown hair and the heavy tweed coat she wore. It would also go well with her spring coat—if winter ever ended.
Yvette fingered the puff of netting on the brim. “I still prefer the red one.”
“Sometimes a woman needs to . . . to accent, not match.” The glamorous brunette tapped Mary’s nose, and then she trotted down the steps. “I’ll see you at the apartment. I must find Henri and Solange.”
“See you later.” Mary spotted her boss, Barton Pennington, next to the platform. She leaned over the railing draped with red, white, and blue bunting. “Mr. Pennington!”
He smiled up at her and folded his gloved hands over his broad belly. “Ah, Miss Stirling. All ready?”
“Yes, but . . .” She held up the champagne bottle. “The foil is loose and the ribbon is disturbed. It looks like someone tampered with it.”
Mr. Pennington gave her the amused fatherly look he wore whenever she fussed over something trivial. “I’m sure it’s nothing but rough handling.”
“Very rough.” She smoothed out the wrinkles and her worries and settled the bottle in its bucket.
“You’ve done a great job again. And look at all the people.” Mr. Pennington gestured to the crowd. At least a hundred naval personnel and shipyard workers milled about.
Nausea seized Mary’s belly. But why? None of the people looked at her. None of them had come to see her. She hadn’t put herself on display. Yet logic and panic never listened to each other.
“I—I’m all done, Mr. Pennington.” Mary gripped the banister and scurried down the stairs, each step quelling the nausea.
She headed toward the back of the crowd to watch the ceremony. To one side, a cluster of shipyard workers praised President Roosevelt’s newly signed Lend-Lease bill to send billions of dollars of aid to Britain. To the other side, another cluster of workers denounced the legislation as nothing but warmongering.
Although Mary didn’t want American boys to die in another European war, the images of bombed-out London wrenched her heart. The United States had to do something or Britain would fall.
A laugh filtered through the noise, a familiar male laugh, tickling at her memory.
Across a parting in the crowd, she saw two naval officers in navy blue overcoats and caps—“covers” in the naval jargon. One man had fair hair and one had dark.
The dark-haired officer had a friendly, open face, much like Jim Avery from back home in Vermilion, Ohio. Except Jim was tall and scrawny, and this man was tall and . . . not scrawny.
Jim had attended the Naval Academy, and Mary hadn’t seen him since high school. A lot could happen to a person in five years.
Mary inched closer, and with each step the officer looked more like Jim Avery, except he held himself straighter, with more assurance.
He laughed at something his friend said, and in a flash, Mary was sitting around a table at the soda fountain with her best friend Quintessa Beaumont, Quintessa’s boyfriend Hugh Mackey, and Hugh’s best friend, Jim. All of them enraptured by Quintessa’s effervescence.
Jim’s gaze drifted to her, and he gave her the mild smile men gave silver girls like Mary, without the spark reserved for golden girls like Quintessa.
Oh, why had she come over? How silly of her. She returned the mild smile and angled her path away.
But Jim peered at her and took a step in her direction. “Mary? Mary Stirling?”
He actually remembered her? “Jim Avery?”
With a grin, he strode forward and gripped her hand. “Well, I’ll be. What are you doing in Boston?”
“I work here. Almost four years now.” She gestured to the grand expanses of scaffolding. “I’m a secretary.” No need to go into prideful detail.
“Isn’t that swell?” In the icy sunshine, his eyes were clearly hazel.
Sarah Sundin is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015). Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. http://www.sarahsundin.com.
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