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February 24th, 1943 - 12:15 AM
Betty struggled with the ropes and Scott shook off his gag. "Betty," he exclaimed, "we have to get to that machine and turn it off before the hour is up, or we're going to be very dead come tomorrow morning."
Betty loosened her gag. "I know that, Scott, but how are we going to get to it? All I want to do is fall asleep, and the ropes are too tight and too strong." She yawned. "Scotty, I just want to rest my eyes for five minutes..."
She began to drift off as Scott screeched "Betty, you can't go to sleep now! We have to work together in order to get out of this mess and alert the authorities!"
Betty sighed. "Don't worry, Scott, I'm awake. I don't know why I've been so tired tonight. I was fine this morning. I didn't start falling asleep until after Perrey Dawson..." Betty gasped as something occurred to her. "Scott, do you think Perrey Dawson..."
"...drugged our Sparkle Colas?" he finished. "I wouldn't put it past him, or Trina Gordon, or the Nazis. They want us out of the way. The codes that I deciphered were orders to eliminate you and me."
Betty's eyes grew wide. "Scott, if they want to get rid of us, do you think that they might go after Jeff and Victor, too? After all, they were involved with Pruitt and Holstrom's arrest last summer and Victor was Jonathan Arnold for a while in Berlin."
"Victor is in Africa, and for Hilary's sake, I hope they leave Jeff alone." Scott tugged at the twine that bound his wrists but he couldn't free himself no matter how hard he pulled. The clock on the gas machine ticked ominously away.
"Scott," exclaimed Betty, "do you see that nail sticking out of my desk?"
He bit at the ropes on his wrists. "Yeah, why?"
She grinned. "It's really, really sharp. I've cut myself on it several times, but I never could remember to fix it. Now I'm glad that I didn't." She rubbed the twine around her wrists on the nail and was delighted by the results. "It slices through the ropes like a diamond through glass!"
It took several minutes for Betty to severe the twine with the nail, but those minutes felt like an eternity to Scott. "Betty," he whispered, "if we don't get out of this alive, I want you to know that I love you with all of my heart, and I always will."
Betty stopped slicing for a minute to whisper back, "I love you, too, Scott, with all of my heart and then some." She finished cutting the rope on her wrists. She and Scott managed to push the chairs forward slightly so they could truncate the cord that lashed them together. This maneuver took longer, thanks to the thicker cord that had been used to bind them, but they finally severed the cord. Betty freed her ankles and ran to Scott and began to untie his wrists. "Scott", Betty asked him as she pulled at the knots, "do you know anything about dismantling this kind of gadgetry?"
Scott rubbed his wrists as Betty began to work on his ankles. "Not a clue, Betty. I heard talk about some of this stuff in Spain, but I never actually went up against it." He leaped to his feet when Betty finished untying his ankles.
The two station managers knelt by the device and opened its control box. It was a maze of wires and mechanisms. "The best thing we could do would be to grab something that looks breakable and hope that we don't hurt ourselves along with the machine." Scott grabbed a pair of crossed wires and pulled. Betty twisted a lever on its side. Sparks flew and something inside the great steel belly went "poing". The machine sputtered for a moment and was then silent. The clock had stopped with no time to spare.
Scott swept Betty into a breathless hug. The two wordlessly looked into each other's eyes and enjoyed a long, lingering kiss. Betty wanted to stay in her husband's strong arms forever. "I'm not tired anymore, Scott," she murmured.
"Funny," he added, "neither am I."
A knock on the door of the writer's room separated the pair. They exchanged worried looks. "It could be Trina and Perrey and their men back to check on us!"
"They wouldn't knock," Scott pointed out. "They think we're dead, remember?"
"That's right," agreed Betty. "Then who could it be at this hour?"
She opened the door and Victor Comstock hurried in. "Betty, Scott," he exclaimed as he dropped his suitcase on the extra desk, "we are in very serious danger! I recognized two of the most notorious Nazi spies on the entire planet on their way here from Bella's Restaurant."
"They were already here." Betty explained the events of the past hour to Victor while Scott went to call the police and the FBI.
Victor sighed. "The government wants me to do a weekly show from here for the W.E.N.N. They want me to broadcast stirring speeches to boost public morale and inform our listening public about the Allies' progress in Europe and Asia." The brilliant journalist looked away from Betty. "I shouldn't have come back here the first time. I've placed you, Scott, and both of these stations in jeopardy."
"Victor, it's not your fault that the Nazis seem to like to use our station for their broadcasts," Betty reassured him. Their conversation was interrupted by gunshots and screams in the hallway.
Betty ran out to the lobby and smack into Trina Gordon. The young woman had her gun aimed at Scott, who was pointing a gun right back at her. Perrey held a gun on Maple, who stood in the doorway. There were bullet holes in the glass above her head. The weary redhead tried to smile. "Hiya, Betty. I thought the action was supposed to be in Europe. The Nazis seemed to have followed me home."
"Maple," Scott asked, "what are you doing here?"
"I need to talk to Victor," she said. "It's a matter of life and death!"
"And this isn't?" Betty reminded them. She turned to her spouse, who seemed to be in a kind of deadlock with intern-turned-Nazi-agent. "Scott, where in heaven's name did you get that gun?"
"I bought it after our wedding last year in case there were any more Nazi saboteurs at the station," Scott told her. "I learned how to use it when I went for my private detective's license."
Trina switched her aim from Scott to Betty and Victor, who appeared in the lobby by Betty's side. Victor's jaw dropped when he noticed Maple and Perrey. "Perrey," he shouted, "please allow this woman to leave. She is a USO performer who has been out of the country for several months and wasn't involved with the uncovering of the Nazi rings in 1941. She has little knowledge of the events that led to your coming here."
"You all know too much," the handsome blonde Nazi hissed. "Your meddling has cost Hitler time and money as it is." He aimed the trigger at Maple's bosom. "You'll be the first to go, Miss Performer. Say a prayer for the boys up there, cause you're going to join them."
"No! Not my wife! She's innocent!" Victor leaped for Perrey as he pulled the trigger. Betty tripped Trina as she fired at Scott. The bullet hit Scott in the leg. He dropped his gun as he fell. Maple went for it and Victor wrestled Perrey's weapon away from him. Another stray bullet went off from Perrey's gun as a flood of police officers suddenly overwhelmed the small lobby.
February 26th, 1943
Betty Sherwood sat by her husband's side at the Pittsburgh General Hospital. The room was overflowing with flowers from all their friends, WENN and W.E.N.N's sponsors, Scott's Aunt Agatha, and Betty's parents. "Get well soon" cards and radio scripts were stacked neatly on the bed stand.
"Don't worry, Scott," Betty reassured him as he reached up to touch her bandadged shoulder, "the injury to my shoulder is superficial and should heal in a week or so. Victor sprained his ankle when he went after Perrey and Maple is fine, albet a little shaken. The fellas from the Pittsburgh Canteen are so happy to have her back that they've been catering to her every whim for the last two days."
"So," he asked as he painfully raised himself to her level, "Victor married Mapes?"
Scott could hear the disappointment in Betty's voice. "Victor said that it just kind of happened. He's going to run the W.E.N.N while you're recovering. I'm in charge of WENN." She changed the subject. "How are you, Scott? Did the surgeons get the bullets out?"
He sighed. "Yeah, they removed the lead, but the one that hit my leg did some major damage. Dr. Drake told me that I'll be able to walk again in a few weeks, but I'll probably limp for the rest of my life. The one in my chest was a flesh wound and will be fine as long as I don't move around and get it infected. I fractured my arm when I hit the floor, but that's nothing I haven't done before."
Betty leaned over and gently kissed her ailing husband. "Poor Scotty. Perrey and Trina really had it in for you."
Scott grinned his famous cock-eyed grin. "You know what they say about a woman scorned, Betty. She kept trying to flirt with me, but it wasn't jelling. She was really after my notebooks with the decoded messages. She's the one who searched my desk, but I don't keep them there. I keep them in the safe in the office." He frowned. "Is that why you were flirting with Perrey? To make me jealous?"
Betty blushed. "I wasn't flirting with Perrey Dawson. He's a little too flashy to be my type. He just happened to be there and was paying attention to me. You were so preoccupied and distraught, and there was Trina giggling and batting her eyes and hanging on your every word."
"Betty, I was under government orders to keep my mission a secret. That's why I was assigned to co-manage the W.E.N.N with you in the first place," Scott explained. "Besides, I didn't want you to get hurt. The Nazis knew about us and what we've done in the past. I would never forgive myself if my cryptology was the cause of your death."
"It was almost the cause of yours," Betty retorted. Scott looked sadly toward the window and Betty took his hand. "I'm sorry, Scott. Nobody knows better than I do how important your work is, but I thought that you didn't love me anymore. You created a shell around your heart and refused to let me in."
Scott squeezed her hand. "How could I not love you? You're all I've wanted from the moment you kissed my cheek during that quarantine. I feel the same way that Jeff does. I want a world free from Nazis and Axis, a world where we can raise our children and listen to the radio with no hatred and no bitterness." He smiled once more. "Speaking of Jeff, how's Hilary fairing?"
"She's all right and as Hilary Booth as ever. I adapted Richard III as a war story for the 'Pittsburgh Public Library Theater' and she and Mackie were in seventh heaven. She misses Jeff something fierce, though. I can tell. I decided to send Brent Marlowe to the Philippines for the duration of the war and she was absolutely livid. She's had some interesting things to say about Josh Manley's acting, too, and most of them aren't repeatable in public."
Scott rubbed his wife's hand. "How's Giselle holding out?"
"She'll be ok, eventually," Betty sighed. "She took her father's death really hard, but those days off that we gave her seem have helped some."
A nurse in a bright white uniform stuck her head in. "Visiting hours are over, Mrs. Sherwood, and Dr. Drake says that Mr. Sherwood needs his rest."
Scott was asleep before Betty even left the room.
This war won't last forever...
How will Hilary handle living with her mother-in-law? Will Victor and Maple remain married? Is Jeff all right?
On the Edge of the Precipice Series
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