Authors: Sherry Silver
Tags: #historical fiction, #romantic comedy, #short story, #espionage, #war, #new, #wwii, #historical romance, #romance novel, #fiction novel
By Sherry Silver
In World War II Washington, Miss Della Davis toils on the night shift in the President's typing pool. She likes the quiet as she goes about transcribing sensitive documents into an embarrassingly erotic government code. She also likes a certain Secret Service Agent Jones, who frequents her lonely office with a debonair smile and a sack of hamburgers. But Della wants more. She yearns for intrigue and danger. To be a woman for her country. Agent Jones has one thing on his mind--to make Della forget about her career and yearn only for him. He sets up an elaborate sting. Will she take the bait or are women the smarter sex?
Copyright © 2012 by Sherry Silver
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, products, companies, events, organizations or locales is entirely coincidental.
I would like to thank my critique partners for their support and giggles: Alleyne, Carolyn and Diane
To every woman who has served her country.
July 1944, The White House, Washington, D.C.
Miss Della Davis yanked the pages from her well worn Royal typewriter and separated four onion skin papers from the carbons. She slipped the documents into a manila inter-agency envelope and shoved it into her grey metal out-basket. A breeze wafted in from the huge Palladian window. She leaned her long neck back and inhaled. Finally some relief from subtropical summer in the District of Columbia.
She pulled a picture postcard from the corner of her desk blotter. A photo of the snowcapped Swiss Alps. She flipped it over.
The chocolate and cheese are delightfully divine and so are the gentlemen. I think of you every time I see a cuckoo clock. Wish you were here.
Della sighed. Her cousin Gertrude lived the life she dreamed of. A secretary for the state department. A different embassy every year. Gertrude was seeing the world, experiencing everything Della longed to.
She glanced at the calendar. July second. They should be posting the interagency transfers soon. Della squeezed her eyes shut.
Please don’t let them pass over me again.
One of these days, she’d get a good government job that let her see the world too. But not as a secretary in a foreign embassy. A position with the Office of Strategic Services. She would dabble in intrigue. Della longed to be a secret agent. A spy. Code Cracker. A woman for her country.
Bending down, she fished her navy blue pumps from under her desk and shoved her swollen rayon-stockinged feet inside. Damned war. All nylon was now used to make parachutes. These ugly rayon stockings were tight at the ankles and baggy at the knees, and though her legs were admittedly chubby, she did not have disproportionately fat ankles. She stood up and stretched, yawning.
As she made her way over to the window, distant footsteps on the marble floor approached from the corridor. After checking her brown hair in the reflection back from the glass, tucking an errant strand back into the chignon, Della peered out at the big summer moon illuminating the White House lawn. Two young marines patrolled the grounds. She watched as Fala, the President’s mischievous little black Scottish terrier, sniffed around the trees, accompanied by Mr. Roosevelt’s Oriental valet.
The footsteps arrived.
Della’s heartbeat quickened. She inhaled deeply as her mouth watered. The greasy aroma of hamburgers wafted sensuously, beckoning the twenty-two year old secretary.
“Hello, Miss Davis.”
Smoothing her wrinkled floral shirtdress, she turned toward Secret Service Agent Ashley Jones. Damn he was a looker in his navy pinstriped suit. Around six feet tall. Blond crew cut. Impossibly blue eyes. Broad shoulders vee-ing down to a trim waist. And single.
“Good evening officer. It appears to be a beautiful night out there. Is it?”
“Hot and muggy. Full moon. Mother’s Day.”
Della loved his deep voice. So masculine and full of testosterone. Whenever he spoke, she smoldered.
She on the other hand, had a meek voice that tended to crack. “It’s not Mother’s Day.”
“Sure it is. First payday of the month. That means the liquor stores are doing a bustling business. Add the full moon and that means trouble.”
“But why the Mother’s Day reference?”
“Copper speak. When the fistfights and robberies and fornication ends, some will be crying for their mommies.”
Della tried not to screw her face up. Not the kind of conversation she was interested in having with such an eligible bachelor. “What’s in the sack?”
“Come closer and you can touch it.”
She blinked her long brown lashes which felt like they had clumped from the mascara she’d brushed on thirteen hours earlier. Miss Davis sashayed her voluptuous body across the tan carpeted floor. Stopping in front of him, very close, she looked up into those dreamy pools of blue that he was ogling her with. She felt his hot breath as he parted his lips, revealing slightly crooked front teeth.
A guy with an overbite. Oh they were the best kind of kissers.
Agent Jones grasped her hand, rubbing her wrist with his thumb.
Miss Davis felt weak at the knees.
“Have they posted the transfer list yet?” he asked.
“No,” she lamented.
“Well, everything crossed you’ll get the position you want. But I’m sure going to miss you...”
Della blinked and smiled. “Thanks.” She snatched the paper bag from him and turned, spilling the contents out onto her desk blotter. Eight little bundles wrapped in newsprint tumbled out. Rolling her eyes and smiling demurely, she sensually unwrapped a tiny hamburger with onions and catsup on a roll. The hungry secretary paused to admire and inhale the aroma of the heavenly feast.
“Come on now, don’t be hoggish. I haven’t seen the boss yet.” He teased.
“You’re too late. Mr. Roosevelt is upstairs having cocktails with the Hitchcocks. Done with business for tonight.”
“How do I know you’re not pulling my leg, just so you can gobble all of my burgers?”
She giggled and plopped down in her rolling desk chair, propelling it back far enough to cross her long legs. She glanced up to see Jones enjoying the show.
Della made yum noises as she took tiny bites, savoring the salty greasy meat. The little fried onions had just the right crunch. She made eye contact with Agent Jones as she licked her lips and ran a finger across her bare skin peeking from the square neckline of her summer linen dress.
“Thanks.” She wiped her hands with a pink cotton hankie.
“Have another,” he offered.
“No. I’ve got work to do.” She loaded the remaining hamburgers into the sack and stapled the top shut.
To keep her from eating another.
She handed it to Agent Jones. “Here you go. I know how much the President appreciates you sneaking these little heart attacks in a sack to him. That diet the doctor has him on makes him mighty cranky. I can’t see as I blame him. I mean, gee, he’s the leader of the free world and some peon doctor is telling him to eat poached skinless chicken and celery sticks.”
“I agree. Poor guy. How come you always pull the late shift?”
“Low girl on the totem pole. Besides, I like working after hours. I can get so much more accomplished. The phone doesn’t ring
; the other secretaries aren’t here to gab drivel.”
“You know how they get. Going on and on about shoes or recipes or men.”
“And you’re not interested in shoes or recipes or men...”
“Exactly. I’m focused on my career. Advancement. I’m serious about serving my country.” She glanced wistfully at the postcard.
He said, “Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around. Just the other day, Rosie the Riveter was in here eating burgers with me. And now she’s been promoted to screwing--”
Fala yelped as if in pain then barked insistently outside the window. Miss Davis and Agent Jones hurried over and peered out. They observed two marines chasing a figure across the lawn.
Agent Jones exited the office and ran outside.
Della pulled her top desk drawer open and removed a pair of scissors. She haphazardly chopped the used carbon paper and crumpled it into the drab green metal waste basket, shoving it way to the bottom, covering it with benign trash.
She snatched the inter-agency envelope and made a beeline for the map room. Before she could reach the hallway, a sharp pain hit her in the back. Della froze. She turned her head. No one was in the room. Slowly reaching her right hand over her left shoulder, she felt the sticky liquid. Pulling her hand in front of her face, she screamed at the sight of her own blood.
Focus! Focus, Della Davis. President Roosevelt is upstairs. Must get him to safety. First, sound the alarm.
She ran to her phone and picked it up.
“Good evening, this is Beth, how may I direct your call?”
“Beth! It’s Miss Davis. Loose Lips Sink Ships in my office. He’s upstairs in the family gathering area. I think.”
Her voice cracked.
“Keep it under your Stetson in the family gathering area!”
the switchboard operator replied.
Miss Davis dropped the phone and ran.
She took the stairs two at a time to the informal seating area at the end of the hallway just outside the family quarters. President Roosevelt was at the tea cart mixing his special blend of gin and vermouth. Music wafted from the radio. Something heavy on the clarinets. She dropped the manila envelope on his lap and seized the back of his armless wooden wheelchair. “Loose lips sink ships!”
He responded to her code with, “Set free a suffering humanity.”
She shoved him past Alfred and Alma Hitchcock who were seated on a red velvet loveseat munching tuna fish sandwiches.
“Miss Davis, where are you taking him?” Mrs. Hitchcock asked, wiping her mouth with a blue linen napkin.
“Evacuate!” She turned her head toward the Hitchcocks and implored them to “Follow us!”
Della shoved her boss’s chair to the closed door of the Monroe room. He twisted the doorknob. They burst into the small sitting room Mrs. Coolidge had decorated as a memorial to President Monroe. The Hitchcocks were right on her heels. “Close the door behind you!” she whisper-shouted.
“Barricade it!” Tears slipped down her face. From the pain of her bullet wound, and the sheer
terror and shock of living in this horrible moment in history. She must get the President to safety. She just had to.
Mrs. Hitchcock wedged a Windsor chair under the knob as Miss Davis opened a hidden panel next to the fireplace. The President stretched his arm inside and fumbled on the wall to switch the light on. They entered the hidden passage and descended down a wooden ramp to the basement of the White House. From there, Miss Davis maneuvered them through the labyrinth of underground Washington. The path was familiar to her
; she’d drilled on this dozens of times. Every White House employee had been trained how to evacuate the President in times of attack.
Miss Davis flipped a new light switch on and the previous one off as they passed through each chamber. Their footsteps echoed in the dank cobwebby catacombs that were once the original aqueduct for the city built out of a swamp. The whole town was built atop a giant grid of honeycombs. One could surreptitiously emerge anywhere in the District of Columbia.
Panting, the portly Mr. Hitchcock wrestled the wheelchair out of Miss Davis’s grip. “I shall propel Mr. Roosevelt as I have more ballast behind me.”
Lightheaded, Miss Davis didn’t fight with the British civilian who had assumed her duty. She grasped the back of his black suit jacket, his wife took hold of the back of Della’s dress and they stumbled onward, like a drunken caterpillar.
Mrs. Hitchcock leaned close to her ear and said, “Miss Davis, I do believe you are bleeding, my dear. From your shoulder blade.”
“Why do you think I’m evacuating the President? I’ve been shot!”
“What’s that? You’ve been shot you say?” Alfred asked. “Lord Jesus, help us to safety!” The old boy found momentum and picked up the pace.
Finally reaching the basement of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where United States currency is manufactured, Miss Davis let go of Mr. Hitchcock and shoved ahead. She grabbed the envelope from the President’s lap. “Stop. Wait here. I have to make sure the train is secure.”