Aiding the Enemy (War Girls)

BOOK: Aiding the Enemy (War Girls)
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Aiding the Enemy
By Julie Rowe

Book three of War Girls

German-occupied Brussels
,
Belgium
December 1915

Rose Culver is in grave danger. For months the Red Cross head nurse has been aiding Allied soldiers caught behind enemy lines, helping them flee into neutral Netherlands. It’s only a matter of time until she’s caught. Which makes it the wrong time to fall in love with a handsome German military doctor as devoted to the sanctity of human life as she is.

The Great War has caused Dr. Herman Geoff to question everything he once believed. He knows Rose has been hiding British soldiers in her hospital—he’s even treated some of them, refusing to go against his own Hippocratic oath. As a doctor, he admires Rose’s skill and conviction. As a man, he can no longer deny his attraction to her. But when Rose is arrested for treason, Herman must choose between love for her and duty to his country...

For more tales of love and war
,
download
Saving the Rifleman
and
Enticing the Spymaster,
available now!

32,000 words

Dear Reader,

It’s possible I say this every year, but I love October. To
me, this is the month that signals the start of a season of hot apple cider,
evenings by the fire, and curling up on the sofa with a good book, dressed
warmly in sweatpants and a comfy shirt and snuggled under my favorite fuzzy
blanket. We at Carina Press can’t provide most of those things, but we can
provide the good books, and this month we have more than a few good books!

In
Running Back
, the highly
anticipated sequel to Allison Parr’s new-adult contemporary romance
Rush Me
, Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a
breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost
city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs
permission from the new owner:
the
Michael O’Connor,
popular NFL running back.

If you’re like me, there are certain tropes in romance that
you fall for every time. One of mine is the main theme of Christi Barth’s newest
book,
Friends to Lovers.
(Gee, can you guess what it
is?) Daphne struggles with revealing her longtime lust for Gib, sparking it all
off with a midnight kiss on New Year’s Eve—only Gib doesn’t know it’s Daphne
he’s kissed! Also in the contemporary romance category is
First and Again
by Jana Richards, which has a special place in my
heart because this emotional story takes place in my home state of North
Dakota.

For months, this Red Cross head nurse has been aiding Allied
soldiers caught behind enemy lines, helping them flee into the neutral
Netherlands. It’s only a matter of time until she’s caught in
Aiding the Enemy
, a historical romance by Julie Rowe.
If you’re a fan of
Downton Abbey
, be sure to check
out the rest of Julie’s historical romances.

We have two mysteries for readers to solve this month.
British crime author Shirley Wells returns to the sleepy northern town of
Dawson’s Clough with her popular Dylan Scott Mystery series in the next book,
Deadly Shadows.
And in Julie Anne Lindsey’s
Murder by the Seaside
, counseling is murder, but
it’s never been this much fun.

Erotic romance author Christine d’Abo brings us the story of
Alice’s obsession with a brooding lawyer at her firm, which takes Alice on a
journey of self-discovery through the rabbit hole and into the world of BDSM in
Club Wonderland.
Also this month, the
Love Letters
ladies, Ginny Glass, Christina Thacher,
Emily Cale and Maggie Wells, round up five sizzling-hot stories to finish off
their sexy stampede through the alphabet with
Love Letters
Volume 6:
Cowboy’s Command.

Edgar Mason is losing Agamemnon Frost despite everything
they’ve been through—the passion, the torture, the heat. Frost’s fiancée
Theodora is back, and Mason can feel his lover gravitating toward her. Every day
he sees them together, it tears at his heart. Don’t miss
Agamemnon Frost and the Crown of Towers
, the conclusion to Kim
Knox’s male/male historical science fiction trilogy.

Because October is the perfect month for the paranormal, we
have a wide selection of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal to share with
you. In Jeffe Kennedy’s fantasy romance,
Rogue’s
Possession
, neuroscientist Gwynn’s adventures in Faerie continue in
the long-awaited sequel to
Rogue’s Pawn.
And in the
sequel to
Soul Sucker
, a powerful magic user is
stealing people’s faces in San Francisco, and empath Ella Walsh and shifter
Vadim Morosov have been called in to investigate in
Death
Bringer
by Kate Pearce. Also returning with another book in her Blood
of the Pride series is Sheryl Nantus, with her paranormal romance
Battle Scars.

Combining futuristic fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy,
Trancehack
by Sonya Clark is a compelling
cross-genre romance. In a dystopian future where magic is out in the open and
witches are segregated, a high-profile murder case brings together a police
detective and a witch with unusual powers that combine magic and technology. But
dangerous secrets, a political cover-up, and the law itself stand between them.
Don’t miss this exciting new world of witchpunk!

Carina Press is pleased to introduce three debut authors this
October. Science fiction erotic romance author Renae Jones gives us a
Taste of Passion
when lust strikes hard for Fedni, an
empath who can taste emotion, but her off-worlder neighbor is horrified by the
caste system that the former courtesan holds dear.

Two urban fantasy authors debut with us this month. In
Kathleen Collins’s
Realm Walker
, a realm walker
hunts a demon intent on destroying both her and the mate who left her seven
years ago. Also debuting in urban fantasy is Joshua Roots with his book
Undead Chaos.
When warlock Marcus Shifter performs a
simple zombie beheading, he soon finds that the accidental framing of an
innocent necromancer, falling in lust, and burning down a bar are just the
beginning of his troubles.

Regardless of whether you’re discovering these books in
October or in the middle of summer, any time is the perfect time for reading,
and I hope you enjoy all these titles as much as we’ve enjoyed working on
them.

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your
thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
.
You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter
stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Chapter One

“Ambulances are at the door, Nurse Culver.”

The shout brought Rose’s head up and she paused in the process of changing a soldier’s bandage. The orderly standing in the doorway wasn’t one of her favourites. Inattentive to patients and lazy and argumentative with the nursing staff, there were moments when she believed his only purpose at her hospital was to watch rather than help his fellow man.

“How many?”

“Two, both full. Dr. Geoff has requested you.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I finish with this fellow.”

Carl’s response was a sullen sneer, but he didn’t argue, just disappeared out of sight. If only he’d leave altogether and stay gone.

As soon as she finished with her patient, she hurried down to the kitchen and out the back door to dispose of the soiled bandages in the stone-lined burn pit behind the garden.

As she dumped the bandages in, she noticed a man sitting on the ground, leaning against the pit on the opposite side. His eyes were closed.

“Excuse me, sir, but this isn’t a good place to rest,” she said in German. Any other language was dangerous to use.

He opened his eyes and got to his feel slowly. His hair was cut short but uneven, as if he’d done it himself without the benefit of a mirror. Dressed in dirty farming clothes, he looked as if he could use another twenty pounds on his tall frame to look healthy.

He examined her nursing apron then said in English, “I need help.”

“Are you injured?”

“No. I’m British and I’m trying to get out of the country.”

Hearing her mother tongue didn’t reassure her. On the contrary, German investigators had approached her pretending to be British soldiers searching for a way home before. Their subtle accents gave them away, but she needed to hear more to know if this one’s was genuine or not.

“Anyone caught helping British soldiers is arrested.”

“Yes, ma’am, but I was told you could help me.”

He sounded like he’d never been away from England, his accent that of a man from Lincolnshire, her own birthplace. Still, caution urged her to test him further. “Everyone here needs help. This is a hospital.”

He shook his head. “Look, I’m from Lincoln. A yeller belly.”

“Really?” The term was fairly well-known. “Why didn’t you come to the front door? You’re dressed like a Belgian.”

“Because front doors are for three things—brides, babies and coffins. I’m not the first two and I’m trying to avoid the last.”

A local superstition in Lincoln, not something a casual visitor would know.

Damn it, she didn’t have time for this. Carl or Dr. Geoff could come looking for her at any moment.

“Wait in the shed for me.” She pointed at the small square building in the corner of the yard. “There are a couple of apple barrels you can hide in. I’ll be out when I can.”

Tension leeched out of the man’s shoulders. “Thank you.”

“It might be hours.”

“I’m happy to wait.” He smiled. “I haven’t slept in what seems like weeks, ma’am.”

She nodded and rushed back into the hospital. The last thing she saw was the man vanishing into the shed.

Heaven help both of them if he were discovered.

After a quick wash of her hands in the kitchen, Rose joined the rest of the staff and Dr. Geoff tending the newly arrived patients. There were six all together. Four had similar leg injuries, which caused her to raise her eyebrows. Could the wounds have been purposely inflicted?

She wasn’t the only one who suspected it.

“How did all of you get virtually the same wounds?” Dr. Geoff asked in his typical gruff manner. Someone who didn’t know him might assume he was angry, but his grumpy attitude was his way of dealing with what he called the stupidity of war. Especially if men deliberately hurt themselves so they’d be sent away from the front line.

One of the German soldiers replied in a respectful tone, “We’d climbed over the top and were advancing towards the enemy’s position when we ran into a fresh string of barbed wire. The wire was attached to a grenade and while we tried to get untangled, it went off. Two men were killed instantly and we four suffered leg wounds. If Kurt, one of the dead, hadn’t been next to me, we would have all been killed.”

“His body shielded the rest of you from the blast?”

The soldier nodded.

Dr. Geoff grunted. “Be sure to write to his family and tell them he died honourably saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.”

“We will, sir.”

Dr. Geoff glanced at her. His shoulders relaxed, his gaze warmed and it seemed as if he took in every detail. “There you are.”

“My apologies, Doctor. There was a farmer at the back door requesting a midwife. I gave him her direction and sent him on his way.” How many times had she used that excuse or some variation thereof? Ten? Twenty?

“Got no time for babies, unfortunately.”

“That’s what I told him. How can I help you?”

“These four need their wounds cleaned and any shrapnel picked out. Assign a couple of the junior nurses. This one here has a broken arm. I’ll set it, then he can rest. The last one—” he pointed at the young man with a large bandage over most of his face, “—needs surgery. I think he’s lost an eye and God knows what else. I’ll want you to assist.”

“Of course, sir.”

The rest of the nurses and orderlies quickly acted to carry out the doctor’s orders, though Carl was noticeably absent. Again.

All the men were infested with lice. Strong soap and hot water took care of the vermin on their bodies, and several minutes immersed in boiling water eradicated the pests from their clothing. Rose oversaw the installation of their new patients—freshly washed of the grime, blood and gunpowder coating their skin—into appropriate beds.

She washed her hands again, changed out of her soiled apron and put on a new one, then joined the doctor in the surgical room. He’d already cut off the bandages covering the wounded man’s head and was examining the damage.

The soldier had woken up and was groaning in pain.

Dr. Geoff nodded at her as she closed the door then turned to speak to their patient. “We’re going to put a cloth over your face with some ether on it. It will make you sleep, so you won’t feel any pain while we tend to your wounds.”

The man, only a boy really, sobbed and mumbled a garbled thank you in German.

She retrieved a cloth, put it over the boy’s nose and mouth and dropped a small amount of ether on it. She and the doctor took a step back so avoid the effects of the only anaesthetic they had.

“He’s got shrapnel embedded all over his face and at least one eye is gone,” Dr. Geoff said after a few moments, his tone angry and impatient.

“Will he keep the other?”

“Probably, but the damage is done.”

They waited until their patient had stilled then did a quick pain test to see if he reacted, but aside from breathing the young soldier didn’t move.

They went to work.

“What a damned waste.”

Rose glanced at the doctor, taking in his furrowed brow and downturned mouth. “But he’ll live. You saved his life.”

“Maybe, but with only one eye and a ruined face. How much of a life will he have?”

She looked at their patient. Boney shoulders, a too-narrow chest and an absence of muscle mass told her he wasn’t finished growing. “He’s so young.” So many of the soldiers they saw were young. Too young.

“Sixteen, seventeen years old at the very most.” Dr. Geoff held his hand out. “Tweezers.”

She promptly handed him the instrument.

He plucked something out of the boy’s eye socket and dropped it into the metal pan next to his head. It landed with a metallic ping. “A goddamned waste.”

Rose looked at the piece of bloody bullet and had to swallow hard to keep down what little was in her stomach. The bright side, there had to be one. Her father always told her to look for it, especially when everything else seemed lost.

“Six months ago he wouldn’t have survived at all. We’ve learned so much.”

The doctor paused for a moment, then grunted and went back to looking for more shrapnel. “I admit surgical techniques have improved beyond what any of us could have expected, but the price for that knowledge...”

“Is much too high,” she finished for him.

“Yes.” He worked silently for several minutes, not even asking for instruments, but Rose was able to anticipate his needs. Working with the German military surgeon for over a year, doing hundreds of surgeries together, had granted her an understanding beyond words of how he performed. It had also granted her an appreciation of the man beyond the doctor. An altogether unprofessional appreciation.

She was able to hide her feelings in her vocation, hoping exhaustion would hide her body’s reaction to the nearness of his.

“I’m sorry for offending you.”

He snorted. “Don’t be sorry for being yourself, Rose.”

She stared at him, her eyes wide. He’d
never
addressed her by her first name before. “Sir?”

“You’re an optimist.”

True. “Deliberately so.”

“Exactly my point. I’d have gone mad by now if it weren’t for your ability to see something constructive resulting from this unholy war.” He frowned at her. “How many men have we treated?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“The correct answer is too many, Rose. Too many.”

Hearing her name fall so easily from his lips threatened to pull her emotions out of the cold, dark box she tried to keep them in. Letting herself feel too much in this place could destroy her in a matter of days. She’d seen it happen to other women, nurses, even men who thought tending the wounded would be an easier job than fighting in the trenches.

Dismemberment, despair and death were never easy to confront no matter where they were found.

“Yes,” she said her voice soft as she continued to hand him instruments. “But if given the option, would you walk away from this place?”

“No. I chose this duty. I wish it didn’t compel me to treat so many young men who will never know a normal life—or all too often, any kind of life at all.” Though his voice sounded tired and melancholy, his hands moved with the same confidence as usual.

She thought about the young man hiding in the shed behind the hospital, of the danger he put her in, but she couldn’t turn him away. Not when she had the resources at hand to help him. To save his life. She’d chosen her duty too, and for more than one reason.

“Duty isn’t the only thing compelling you.”

He glanced at her, his eyebrows high.

“You’re a good man,” she finished in a whisper, leaning a little closer so he would be sure to hear. “A truly good man.”

He looked at her blankly before clearing his throat and bending his head to the task at hand. Saving a young man’s life. “An idiot more likely.”

His words surprised her. “I beg your pardon?”

“Fine point tweezers, Nurse.”

She handed him the instrument.

He picked out and dropped another piece of shrapnel into the pan. “Rose, you’re too decent for this world.”

“Sir?”

The open admiration in his expression froze her in place. “There are no good men left. This war has killed them, one and all.”

She swallowed a mouthful of shock and stuttered, “I-I don’t believe that.”

She managed to hold his gaze until he shook his head and went back to work. “A woman like yourself needs to be more careful.”

She waited for more, but they completed the surgery with no further conversation. Rose appreciated the quiet; it gave her mind time to turn Dr. Geoff’s words over and over. He seemed genuinely upset with the situation, the number of wounded and their relative youth. He’d never spoken so openly about his unhappiness before.

An unexpected occurrence to be sure. Their two countries were at war, yet he had demonstrated nothing but respect for her. He had, in fact, saved her from nearly certain arrest on one occasion, when an investigating officer discovered a British soldier hiding in the hospital.

His act saved the life of one of Rose’s nurses and the British soldier. It also saved Rose from further investigation by the officer. Other German authorities watched her and the hospital with suspicion, but with Dr. Geoff, herself and an assortment of Belgian and German nurses treating so many German wounded, they seemed content to leave her alone.

For now.

She knew better than to believe she was safe. She took too many risks, helped too many British and Belgian soldiers escape the country.

“Keep an eye on him,” Dr. Geoff instructed after they’d deposited the young soldier into an empty cot. “Watch for fever or sign of infection. We may not have gotten all the shrapnel.”

Rose nodded. “I will.”

Heavy steps on the stairs called their attention to the door. Two men in German uniforms walked into view, one an officer.

“Another inspection?” Dr. Geoff asked in an impatient tone.

The officer shook his head. “I have a message for you, Doctor.”

“Very well. Let’s move to the kitchen where our conversation won’t disturb my patients.”

The officer stepped out of the room.

“Excuse me, Nurse. Please carry on with your duties.” The doctor nodded at their surgical patient.

“Yes, sir,” she said then listened to their footsteps as they went down the stairs.

There was only one reason why Dr. Geoff would take them to the kitchen and mention it in front of her. He wanted her to witness the conversation.

The room she was in sat directly over the kitchen and a vent, currently capped with a piece of wood, would allow her to hear anything said below. She waited for what she estimated was enough time for them to arrive in the kitchen and begin their conversation before moving the wood aside.

“...for your safety.”

“My safety?” Dr. Geoff sounded incredulous. And angry.

“God forbid an enemy infiltrator should make it into this hospital,” the officer said. “You could be murdered.”

“Why would anyone spend their time or effort murdering a doctor when the trenches are full of real soldiers with guns?”

“Your skills are valuable, Doctor, as is this hospital.”

Was this some kind of threat?

“I’m pleased to hear this hospital has value. Perhaps this could be demonstrated with more supplies and staff.”

BOOK: Aiding the Enemy (War Girls)
10.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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