In an especially upbeat mood, Hector treated Marie to a late dinner at the exclusive Regency Club. Theatergoers and late night partiers crowded the dining area, and he strutted, peacock-proud, as he introduced her to his acquaintances. Several other diners vied for her attention, but he allowed none of the eager gentlemen to dance with his lady. Tonight he seemed determined for Marie to understand that she belonged only to him.
After dessert, Hector placed his linen napkin beside his gold-rimmed china plate and ran a finger down her bare arm. “You are so beautiful, mi querida,” he said. “What news has your Brit given you lately in exchange for your charms?”
“Nothing new,” Her voice stayed nonchalant. “He left London last week.”
Hector’s eyes brightened with interest. “Where did he go?”
“Does it matter?”
He leaned across the table. “The captain is a top military officer at General Eisenhower’s HQ. Yes, querida, where he goes matters very much.”
She arched a well-groomed eyebrow and sipped her champagne. “I haven’t thanked you for the earrings.” Tucking her hair behind her ear, she turned slightly so that Hector could see his gift. “They’re lovely.”
“Where did he go?”
She pushed her lips into a pout then opened her purse and handed him the telegram. “See for yourself.” Her tone clearly indicated both annoyance and boredom with the subject of Captain Devlin’s whereabouts.
Hector read the telegram. “Edinburgh,” he said softly. “That can only mean . . .”
“Yes?” Marie feigned sudden interest, certain he wouldn’t be able to resist flaunting his brilliant deduction. He glanced around to ensure no one eavesdropped on their conversation, though she suspected he secretly hoped to be overheard.
“Hitler expects the Allies to invade two places, Pas de Calais in France and Norway. But which is the true invasion, and which the decoy designed to draw forces from the main attack? That is the burning question to which you have supplied the answer.”
He flourished the telegram and displayed his wolfish teeth. “Your lovesick captain travels with Eisenhower, does he not? His regret at missing your play reveals the true target. The Allies will attack Norway.”
“The telegram is worth something to you? Perhaps diamonds this time?”
“Sí, querida. I will shower you with diamonds.” He read the message again and chuckled. “The poor captain. Does he know you are spending tonight with me?”
Her features remained impassive except for a slight turning up of one corner of her mouth. “I warned him that if he didn’t come to my opening, I would have dinner with you. He could hardly expect me to go straight home after such an important evening.”
“Of course not.” Hector folded the telegram and placed it in the inner pocket of his dinner jacket. “Besides, there is no need to continue your little charade. The captain will not return till after the invasion. His usefulness to the Third Reich has ended.”
“But not his usefulness to me.”
Hector raised a questioning eyebrow. “Can he buy you such dinners? Give you jewels?” He lifted his glass. “Be done with him.”
“What is your interest in him?”
“He’s heir to a country estate. Marrying into aristocracy has always been one of my dreams.”
“I’d marry you myself except . . .”
“You already have a wife?”
Hector smiled broadly then playfully groaned. “How long will you make me wait, querida? You aren’t playing fair.”
“All’s fair in love and war.”
“So I’ve heard.” He wrapped a strand of her hair around his finger and pulled hard enough for her to bend her head. “Wait too long and I may find someone to take your place.”
Marie ignored the subtle threat and softened her eyes. “And regret it the rest of your days?” She stifled a yawn. “We have a matinee tomorrow afternoon, and I need my beauty sleep. Be a gentleman and take me home.”
“Who said I’m a gentleman?” Hector teased, but he rose from the table and summoned his chauffeur.
When they arrived at her building, he escorted her to the front door. She responded to his goodnight kiss with pretend enthusiasm while an ache formed in her stomach. “Get your beauty sleep, mi querida. But know that I won’t follow your rules much longer.”
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