This is the opening section of Moonlight Mistress, out December 2009 from Harlequin Spice.
There were no trains to Strasbourg.
The hand lettered sign on the station wall might be wrong, or something might have changed. Lucilla Daglish clutched her single carpetbag more closely to her skirts, to more efficiently protect her scientific glassware from the anxious crowd, but also for reassurance. People jostled against her on all sides, all of them speaking in high-pitched, anxious tones that blurred into a babble conveying nothing but fear. Two different babies wailed, and a larger child screeched between gulping sobs. A fat man, reeking of stale pipe smoke, elbowed her sharply in the kidney as he pushed his way behind her.
Mentally, Lucilla cursed herself as she tried to explain her problem to the ticket agent. Had the man in the booth needed to know about titration or some other element of practicing chemistry, she could have explained to him at great length. However, her more basic conversational German was lacking. Perhaps she had misunderstood his meaning, or he had misunderstood hers. Perhaps her fear had led her to misspeak.
Summoning different German vocabulary, she phrased her question again. She was an Englishwoman. She wished to travel to Paris via Strasbourg. She had a ticket. Here was her ticket. Here were her papers, proving her nationality.
No, it was the Gnädige Frau who did not understand. There were no trains to Strasbourg. There were no trains at all. Germany had declared war on Russia. There would be no trains until further orders were received.
“I am not at war!” Lucilla exclaimed, in English, knowing the agent would not understand her frustrated outpourings. “Why can I not travel out of this country? Surely you have no use for me here?”
c. Victoria Janssen 2009
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