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“I didn’t know that. I just hoped it would all turn out all right—”

“And my daughter died,” Mab spat. Perhaps she was being unfair to Beth, who had only tried to keep faith with an uncompromising oath. Even in the scarlet rush of rage, Mab knew that. But she didn’t care. Beth had made a choice, and Mab’s daughter was dead. Her husband was dead.

Beth was shaking her head stubbornly. “I took an oath.”

“You expect us to break our oaths when it’s convenient to you.” Osla’s ivory complexion had gone red. Mab realized, distantly, that she’d never seen Osla Kendall furious before. “You were just begging me to give you information on the Fleet Air Arm, because of Harry, and I did it.”

Beth’s lips parted, but she didn’t say anything.

“You sad little hypocrite,” Osla said.

“I shouldn’t have asked you.” Beth’s eyes were locked on the floor. “You should have told me no.”

“I did it because our oath isn’t as black and white as you’re making it out to be, and we’ve all worked at BP long enough to know it. There are ways to share discreetly without ever, ever compromising secrecy.”

“I couldn’t think of a way—”

“You could have. But you didn’t try. You told yourself it would be all right. And when it all went to hell, you still let me keep calling you a friend.” Mab shivered with rage, thinking how much she had relied on Beth this past year. Trusted Beth, while blaming Osla.

“It was one raid!” Beth’s voice rose. “Should I have warned you every time there was a raid over London, when you two were hopping up there every night you had free?”

“Everyone who goes to London knows it’s a risk,” Mab snapped. “London, Birmingham, Liverpool—they’re constantly targeted; everyone who reads a newspaper knows that. You go to little places like Keswick or Coventry to be safe. You know we thought we were safe there—”

“You shouldn’t have. You went to enough places that had been hit before. It finally happened and you’re blaming me because you rolled the dice and lost. Coventry had been hit so badly already—”

“But no one anticipated it being targeted again. Not another big raid like that . . .”

Beth’s hands twisted around each other. “I couldn’t do it.”

Mab lunged at Beth, or would have if Osla hadn’t shoved her back. Mab inflated her lungs to shout, Boots circled barking and growling before his mistress—then a knock at the door froze them.

“Girls?” Their landlady’s voice floated through. “Bletchley Park’s transport pool sent a car for Miss Kendall and Mrs. Gray—it’s waiting out front. You’re being called in at once.” Pause. “Is everything all right?”

“Quite all right,” Osla called. Mab thought her voice scraped like a handful of pebbles.

They listened as their landlady’s footsteps pattered away. Osla and Mab looked at each other, then at Beth.

“Let’s go,” Mab said. “I don’t think there’s anything more to say here.”

Beth’s lips trembled. “I’ve done nothing but what I thought was best.”

“That’s right. You did nothing, you Judas bitch.” Mab yanked the door open. “Are you coming with us in the damned car or not?” Because even if she would rather have run Beth over than share a backseat with her, Bletchley Park was going to need her today.

But Beth sank down on the bed, laughing on a note that sawed across Mab’s ears like nails. She was laughing but she was crying too, hands pressed to her temples, head shaking back and forth. Boots whined again, but she ignored the dog. “You have no idea,” she said between the bubbles of laughter, as tears dripped down her chin. “No idea what’s happening, none, none. My God. Dilly, why did you go, why did you have to go . . .”

“Girls,” their landlady called from downstairs. “The car—”

They waited a moment, but Beth kept rocking, crying, bubbling with that strange bleak laughter. And finally, Mab and Osla had to leave her behind.

Chapter 65

Miss Kendall. Mrs. Gray.” Commander Travis sat weary and upright behind his desk, his office crowded with blandly suited intelligence swots. “You’ve been asked here to provide corroborating information. We’ll be quick; we’ve all more important things to do tonight.” He leafed through a personnel folder, and even upside down, Osla had no trouble reading the name on it. Osla’s roil of anger and exhaustion gave way to confusion—why, a matter of hours until the attack launched on Normandy and all Bletchley Park was plunged into madness, was Commander Travis nose-deep in a file on Beth?

“I understand you two ladies have billeted with Bethan Finch for the past four years,” he said. “What can you tell us about her?”

Osla and Mab exchanged looks. Mab clearly had no idea what to say, either. However angry either of them were at Beth, outpourings about new grudges and old griefs were not relevant.

He clicked his tongue, impatient. “When did you last see her, and how would you describe her emotional state?”

“We saw her just before coming here,” Mab said at last, voice crisp, “and she was completely hysterical.”

A man behind Commander Travis made a hmm noise. “Would you agree with that, Miss Kendall?”

Osla didn’t really want to, but yes—hysterical was an accurate way to describe Beth’s laughing-crying jag. “I suppose so. She doesn’t normally flip her wicket like that,” Osla felt compelled to say. “She’s very level.”

“What did she say when was she hysterical?” That was one of the intelligence men. Osla recognized him—the smarmy fellow who had hinted she’d stolen files outside her hut. “Did she spout any wild theories? Talk about someone from her section?”

“No.” Mab had drawn herself up cool and correct. You would have to know her very well, Osla thought, to know that she was still boiling with fury.

“Did she say anything about messages she’d broken?”

Osla pushed a curl behind one ear. “No.”

“We understand she had a rather long-term liaison with a colleague in Hut 8.” Pinstripes put a nasty edge on liaison. “A married colleague—Harry Zarb? The wog.”

They both nodded reluctantly. No point denying it; everyone at BP knew.

“I understand he broke it off when he enlisted, and she became upset.”

“The break came more from her than from him,” Osla said.

Mab shrugged. “Yes, she was upset.”

“She was already behaving erratically before this romantic disappointment, I believe? The death of her mentor Dilly Knox—did it make her unreliable? Unstable?”

Mab and Osla looked at each other. “That was part of her work, so it never came up.”

Pinstripes bent over, murmuring. “We already had the other girls in, Miss Rock and what was the other one?”

“—Phyllida Something—”

“—and they said Miss Finch used to talk to Dilly after he was dead, as though he was still there in ISK working. Miss Rock said it gave her the shivers.”

“Talking to people who aren’t there—that’s not the strangest thing you’ll see in this place by a long shot,” Osla began, but Commander Travis waved her off. He looked like a man who wanted nothing more than a few hours’ sleep before the invasion, who had instead been dragged backward out of bed through a thornbush to be at this desk. What is going on? Osla thought in mounting unease. Beth couldn’t possibly be in trouble over the Coventry raid; she’d get nothing but approval if her superiors knew she had kept the raid secret even at the risk of her friends’ safety.

“I think we have more than enough evidence of worsening erratic behavior,” Pinstripes said. “The real question—”

Commander Travis looked at Osla and Mab. “Did Bethan Finch ever violate the Official Secrets Act by repeating secret information outside Bletchley Park?”

Osla looked at Mab, who looked straight ahead and said, “Yes, she has. Once.” Three women in a pitch-dark room, whispering classified information among themselves to feel safer in a cold, violent world.

Travis turned to Osla. “Miss Kendall, can you confirm this?”

An hour ago, Osla had flung the postponement of the German invasion in Beth’s face. There was still the rock of anger in her middle about the Coventry raid, but she would never have chosen to tell Bletchley Park’s higher-ups about Beth’s single incident of indiscretion. She still wouldn’t have. But now they were all staring at her cold-eyed, and Osla knew she couldn’t lie. They might have very critical reasons to need the information—and if she lied, she could be charged with a crime. “Beth disclosed secret information once,” Osla said reluctantly. “It was off BP grounds, but only to the two of us, in private, no possibility of eavesdroppers. She never did anything like that again.”

“Irrelevant,” Pinstripes snapped, and someone else began to lecture, “You two girls should have—” But Osla cut him off.