This story is lovingly dedicated to the war correspondents, male and female, through whose eyes America witnessed World War II. Their courage, resourcefulness, and sheer audacity in the face of danger inspired me to write this story, and it is to them I owe any success it might have:

Margaret Bourke-White

Iris Carpenter

Lee Carson

Dickey Chapelle

Martha Gellhorn

Marguerite Higgins

Lee Miller

Ann Stringer

Ernie Pyle

Part 1

Lillian Cooper, war correspondent and reporter, brushed a curl of her bright red hair away from her face as she wrote her article. The noise and confusion of the little Italian café in which she sat faded away as she tried to put into words the suffering of the French people in German-occupied Paris, and it wasn't until she felt a hand on her shoulder and a familiar voice calling her name that she looked up and smiled.

"General Drake! I've been waiting for an hour, what kept you?" The older man sat down at her table.

"I was unavoidably detained. How are you, Lillian?" He asked the question meaningfully, and she knew it referred to the time she had spent in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp three months ago, gathering stories and writing a series of articles about it. She gave a fleeting smile, but not before a cloud passed over her face.

"Fine, thanks."

"I know you sent that series off to the London Press, any word yet?" She shook her head, but her eyes lit up and some of the harsh lines around her mouth eased.

"Nothing. But they have to publish it; no one can ignore something like this!"

"I'm sure they will." The general gave her a fatherly smile, but his expression turned businesslike as he asked, "Are you still leaving for England today?"

"Of course. I haven't seen my sister in a year, and she just had a new baby. Evvy needs help around the house, and I'm all she has left."

"But it's so dangerous traveling in Italy and France now, what with the German occupation. Can't I change your mind?" It was an old argument between them. She smiled and shook her head.

"I'm afraid not."

"Then maybe this will." He laid a German newspaper on the table and Lil's eyes widened as she recognized her picture on the front page. Her face blanched as she read the article accompanying it, which offered an extremely large amount of money for the English woman Lillian Cooper, dead or alive. General Drake watched her as she read, waiting until she looked up to explain.

"I don't know how, but someone found out about that last stunt you pulled, secretly publishing anti-Nazi articles in an underground newspaper in Germany." This too was an old argument.

"It wasn't just anti-Nazi," she said seriously. "Some of it was humor, world news, book excerpts…it kept those people going for another day and you know I would do it again if I had the choice."

"Well, this is a lot of money mentioned here. You're going to be hunted by every Nazi in Europe." She made a face.

"If I had known I was worth this much to the Germans, I would have asked for a raise at the newspaper."


"I'm still going, General. The Nazis have taken too much away from me; they're not going to stop me now." For a long minute he studied her closely, the haunted look in her green eyes, her face which had gone white, and the dark circles under her sleepless eyes, hidden with makeup so well that they were impossible to see unless you looked closely. Knowing how stubborn she was, even in the face of everything she had lost, he couldn't deny her this. Tom Drake smiled.

"I thought you would feel that way. But you still can't travel a thousand miles through German-occupied territory alone with a price like that on your head. So I've arranged for an escort to get you safely to England." He expected she would be angry, and she didn't disappoint him. Her eyes flashed as they met his.

"An escort? General Drake, I don't need a babysitter. I've avoided Nazis before." Her voice had a definite edge to it.

"The last thing your father told me before he died was to take care of his girls, especially you."

"My father always knew that I could take care of myself!"

"This is an order, Lillian. It's for your own safety."

From his seat a couple of tables away, Mike watched the animated argument between the petite redhead and General Drake. She was determined, he would give her that. And contrary to what the general had told him, she looked like someone who could handle anything. His mind drifted to the conversation he had had with the general the day before.

"Come on, Mike." Drake pleaded. "It's only for a few weeks."

"No way. I'm not taking some girl to England just because she can't look after herself. Even if she is Lillian Cooper."

"Lillian doesn't even know I asked you, and she won't be happy when she finds out."

"So why bother? I'm sure she'll be okay on her own. She's been doing just fine for the past two years." Fine. General Drake wondered sometimes if she really was.

"Anthony Cooper saved my life, and I owe this much to his daughter. I'm not going to take a chance with her. I'd take her myself but you know I've got work to do here. Besides, you'll be in London on assignment anyway. Think of it as killing two birds with one stone." Mike frowned, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

"She'll get in the way."

"I can guarantee you, Lillian won't get in the way. All you have to do is make sure she gets to England safely, drop her off at her sister's, and then continue your work in London." Mike sighed.

"Fine. I'm in." The general nodded, satisfied. Mission almost accomplished.

"There's just one more thing. Lillian is not to know anything about your assignment or your work in London." Mike's eyebrows went up.

"Why not? Don't you trust her?"

"Of course I trust her. It's not that. But if she knows about your mission she'll want to be a part of it. And she can't handle that right now. She needs to rest and take care of herself. It's far to strenuous for her."

"Seems to me that should be her call to make."

"I'm making it for her," the general said in a tone of voice that sounded final. "Not a word, Mike."

"Okay. So when do we leave?"

"Tomorrow." The general almost laughed at his expression of surprise. "Don't worry about it. It'll all be over before you know it. A quick, simple assignment."

When Mike looked around him in the café the redhead had realized that she was fighting a losing battle and the general looked his way and nodded. On cue, he got up and made his way over to them.

"-and this man will be your escort. Mike, this is Lillian Cooper. Lillian, this is Captain Michael Ryan." She looked up, and emerald-green eyes met dark hazel ones. Quickly she sized him up. Clean cut good looks, dark hair, mocking, teasing eyes, and the most conceited grin. American, probably, she thought. She was shorter than him by almost a foot, and she refused to tilt her head back to look at him, lifting her eyes and glaring instead. He smirked. He'd seen pictures of her of course, but he hadn't realized she was this short in person.

"Am I a little tall for you, Red?" Lil's eyes narrowed. Usually she didn't mind being 5"1, but right now she would love to reach up and wipe that cocky smirk off his face. And Red? No one teased her about her hair and got away with it. She smiled sweetly.

"Don't worry, Captain. I'll cut you down to size."

The general almost choked on a laugh. He had known that throwing these two together would be interesting, but he had never expected such a strong reaction to each other in the first five minutes. Too bad he couldn't be with them on the trip, it definitely promised to be interesting. He quickly put on a more dignified expression.

"If you two work together as a team, everything will go smoothly and it'll be over before you know it." Mike nodded.

"We'll be okay. Trust me." Lil snorted and muttered audibly,

"Famous last words." He shot her a sarcastic grin and wondered what exactly he had gotten himself into. He took another good look at her. She was something else, all right. Short, with flaming, golden-red hair and green eyes fringed with long lashes against ivory skin. A real handful, with a mouth to match. Probably would be pretty if she wasn't scowling like that. Still, even scowling, there was something about her…

"So, when do we leave, Red?" He emphasized the last word. She rolled her eyes.

"We should be leaving for the train station now. And don't call me that."

"Why not?" The words were a challenge, and she met it.

"Because I said so, flyboy." She turned to General Drake.

"Thank you for everything, General." Her tone was just a little dry. "I'm going to get my bags." She turned to Mike. "Meet me at the door." Lil made her way to the front, leaving the two men together. Mike was the first to speak.

"Quick, simple assignment, huh?" The General shrugged, not attempting to hide his grin anymore.

"I didn't say it would be easy. Come on, I'll drive you to the station."