Valor’s Vigil is available in e-book format at the following booksellers:
You can purchase an autographed paperback of The Complete Virtues and Valor Series directly from Hallee at this link.
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Olivia Kimbrell Press
EBook ISBN: 978-1-68190-022-3
The Back Cover:
LEOPOLD SCHäFER, the only child of Major Charlene Radden and former spy, Karl Schäfer has trained his enter life for this moment in time. An American spy undercover in a Nazi uniform operating under the codename VALOR, he receives a promotion to Oberleutnant and a new duty assignment in charge of the prisoners in Occupied France’s Valeurville prison.
In the wake of Marie Perrin, codename Temperance’s arrest, Leo must handle the situation with the utmost caution. On one hand, every instinct in his heroic mind screams to protect the beautiful wireless operator from the hands of the Nazis. On the other, he cannot risk compromising his cover.
It takes quick thinking and not a small amount of prayer to shield her from the harsh interrogation tactics of the Schutzstaffel trained interrogator. While he personally sees to her health and safety, he realizes that more than his cover is at risk as his feelings for the beautiful spy grow. As her situation grows more grave, he must focus on the bigger picture and the whole mission and make the hardest decision of his life. Can he protect her without blowing his own cover, or will he place his own life in danger to keep her safe?
VALOR’S VIGIL is the exciting conclusion to the eight serialized novellas entitled the Virtues and Valor series.
Seven valorous women — different nationalities, ethnicities, and social backgrounds — come together as a team called the Virtues.
In 1941 Great Britain a special war department assembles an experimental and exclusively female cohort of combat operatives. Four willing spies, a wireless radio operator, an ingenious code breaker, and a fearless pilot are each hand-picked, recruited, and trained to initiate a daring mission in Occupied France. As plans are laid to engineer the largest prison break of Allied POWs in history, the Nazis capture the Virtues’ radio operator. It will take the cohesive teamwork of the rest of the women to save her life before Berlin breaks her and brings the force of the Third Reich to bear.
Some find love, some find vengeance, and some discover the kind of strength that lives in the human heart when all they can do is rely on each other and their shared belief. Courage, faith, and valor intersect but, in the end, one pays the ultimate price.
CONCLUDING the Virtues and Valor series by Hallee Bridgeman. Eight serialized novellas, each inspired by real people and actual events, reveal the incredible story of amazing heroines facing the ultimate test of bravery.
Valeurville, Occupied France, 1942
Leo shifted gears in the Kübelwagen and slowed the vehicle to go around the curve on the country road. As he drove with the top down, he enjoyed the warm French spring air versus the recent bitter Munich winter he’d endured. The breeze on his face as he drove made him miss his 1938 Opel Admiral convertible — the college graduation present from his parents. Nothing about the boxy Kübelwagen handled like his sleek Opel, and he looked forward to getting behind her wheel again one day.
Pulling his mind from the nostalgia of his home in Oregon, he brought himself to the present day. Rumor had it, his commander planned to promote Oberleutenant Beck to Kapitan and transfer him to the prisoner of war camp currently under construction several miles from town. With Leo’s recent rise to Oberleutenant, he knew he would receive a orders to take over Beck’s position as officer charge of the prisoners in the Valeurville prison. In that position, he could help facilitate the passing of information from headquarters to the housed prisoners, insuring the planned escape happened more smoothly. Everything he did, though, had to be completely above board and appear harmless, or else his cover would be jeopardized. If his cover became jeopardized, so would his father’s.
As he rounded another corner, he saw a woman on a bicycle. Even from this distance and behind her, he recognized Marie, aka Temperance. He remembered from a briefing long ago that a farmer in this area was friendly to the Resistance. She likely had just used his farm to send a wireless message — which meant that she probably carried her wireless machine in the basket strapped to the back of her bike.
He’d met her face-to-face once before, when he’d rigged his uniform pants to lose a button right before his promotion ceremony. It gave him access to her room — she couldn’t very well sew a button on his pants while he still wore them, unlike a uniform coat — and he was able to inspect her living quarters and make sure nothing appeared out of order to a watchful eye. It had struck him then, as it did now, how drawn he’d felt to her since seeing her photograph in her dossier months ago in a hangar in Britain.
He had two choices. He could drive right by her. Or, he could give her a training opportunity. Let her speak to a German officer and work on traveling with such contraband on her person without giving anything away.
He slowly pulled alongside her. “Excuse me, Fräulein!”
She jumped and the front tire of her bike wobbled a bit as she recovered from her surprise. When she stopped the bike and put both feet on the ground, she covered her heart with her hand and smiled at him. “You startled me, Oberleutnant.”
Leo killed the engine and set the parking break before hopping out of his car. He jogged over to her. “I am so sorry to startle you, Fräulein Perrin.”
She smoothly raised an eyebrow. He found himself impressed and intrigued by the lack of fear she exhibited. “How do you know my name, Oberleutnant?”
He smiled while he thought of a reason he would know her name. “I made an inquiry of your landlady. She was generous to give me your name.”
She looked around before looking directly at him again. He wondered how long she would do this job before her brown eyes lost all of their warmth and turned hard and cold. “Well, it’s nice to see you again, Oberleutnant,” she said, clearly wanting to dismiss him. “Did you make it to your ceremony on time last week?”
Giving in to the irrational desire to have some form of contact with her, he held his hand out, hoping she would take it. As she placed her hand in his, he noticed how small her hands were compared to his, and felt the slight tremor that belied the fear her face masked. “Yes, thanks to you.” He smiled, wishing she felt at ease with him. “You are very beautiful, Fräulein Perrin.”
Why had he said that? Immediately, her face flooded with color and she started to pull her hand away. “Oberleutnant Schäfer, I hardly think that is appropriate.”
Giving her a break, knowing she had no idea of his true identity, he released her hand and bowed stiffly. “You are correct, Fräulein. I apologize.”
She gave him a slight nod but her eyes widened and an appalled look crossed her face. “Thank you. I hope you don’t –”
He cut off her panicked apology. “Of course not. I should have kept that thought to myself even though it is a fact.”
She lowered her eyes as her cheeks tinged bright red again. He cleared his throat, seizing the moment, knowing his superiors, and especially his mother, would not approve of the direction he planned to take the conversation. “I have been searching for you, Fräulein.”
As she looked up at him, the color started to leave her face. “You’ve been searching for me?”
“Yes. I want to ask you. Would you like to go see a show with me?”
She frowned and raised an eyebrow. “A show?”
“Yes. In a few weeks, Virginia Benoit will be here to perform for our Oberst, our Colonel. Herr Oberst is her biggest fan and we are all invited to see the show … to lift the morale of the troops, you see. Tell me, Fräulein, do you know Virginia Benoit?”
He had a feeling she would not appreciate it knowing that she was being tested by him. He watched as she swallowed and clearly tried to think of a reply. “Of course I have heard of her,”
“She is from America, like me,” he proclaimed, as if giving her information she didn’t already know.
Her eyebrows furrowed. “American? Why are you here in France, then?”
He gestured in the air. “The call of the Fatherland I’m afraid. My father insisted I return a few years ago.”
With wide eyes, she let that digest. “Do you know Virginia Benoit?”
“No.” He chuckled, thinking of the size of America. “America is enormous. She’s from a state called Louisiana in the deep south near the Gulf coast. I’m from Oregon a few thousand kilometers away on the north of the Pacific coast. Also, I understand the lady is a Negro. Perhaps you’ve heard that Negros and Arians hardly ever socialize in America. Still, it will be nice to hear an American accent again, I think.”
He hated acting like a racist. He personally believed that man originated from one person – Adam – and that race had nothing to do with anything about a person’s character.
However, while under cover in this Nazi uniform, he must do nothing to rouse suspicion. Even if that generated the look of disgust that crossed her face.
She did recover very quickly, though. “I imagine you must feel very homesick at times, Oberleutnant.”
“I am homesick.” Now, that was the truth. He ached for his Oregon home. Putting a hand to his heart, he sincerely said, “It would do me a great deal of good to attend the performance with the most beautiful woman in the village on my arm.”
“Oberleutnant Schäfer, I don’t think –”
He held up a hand to halt her speech. “Please, don’t say no, Fräulein. At least let me have a little hope by telling me you’ll consider the offer. Besides, I still owe you for sewing on my button.”
While he watched her war with herself over whether she should accept his invitation, she pressed her lips together and finally nodded. “Very well, Oberleutnant. As you say, I will think about it.”
His eyebrow cocked, “You give me your word?”
After perhaps a half second of hesitation, she nodded. “You have my word.”
He clicked his heels again. “Wunderbar! I will seek you out in two days time to learn your final decision.” He leaned closer and whispered as if conspiring with her. She smelled of sunshine and lavender and he felt his heart rate increase with the closer proximity. His body’s reaction made him curious. Surely, he could think of a thousand better places and even more better times to get consumed over the attraction of a woman. “I hope you say yes.”
To convey his sincerity, he took her hand and kissed the back of her knuckles. He felt the muscles under his fingers flex, but she did not actually pull her hand away. Deciding to release her from the torture of talking to him any longer, he smiled and said, “I look forward to speaking with you again, Fräulein Perrin.”
“Good day, Oberleutnant Schäfer.”
He got back into his Kübelwagen and started the engine. Without looking back at her, he headed on his way. As he drove, he felt his face frown, thinking of the inappropriate timing for his pursuit of her attention. What had possessed him to do that? Yes, she was beautiful. Yes, he felt like he could talk to her for hours. But, honestly, couldn’t he have waited until this war ended?
Frustrated with himself, he clumsily ground the gears in his vehicle as he went around a corner. Maybe he could come up with a way to gracefully back out of his invitation. Especially before his mother or father got wind of it.
Valor’s Vigil is available in e-book format at the following booksellers: