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May, 1942


Regan O'Reilly sat in her office on the second floor of the Woolworth's Five and Dime Building, staring out of the window. Spring had burst through everywhere. Birds were singing, flowers were blooming and the air was warm with promise.

Everywhere but here, she sighed.

She took out her compact, not wanting to look, but forcing herself to do so. What she saw didn't make her feel one whit better. The pancake she'd applied so carefully did little to hide the shiner on her left eye.

Regan flinched inwardly when she thought about how she'd acquired it.

She did a lot of work for Amalgamated Insurance Company, retrieving lost and stolen property. Nine times out of ten the property had been stolen by the owner himself, and this case was no different.

When she'd confronted the man with her proof, he'd become angry, and then lashed out at her. She'd been able to duck the blow, but not the wild swing from his mistress. She'd walked right into it, Regan reminded herself, disgusted. She'd slapped the woman right and left. The floozy had then burst into tears and thrown herself into the arms of her married lover. What an act!

That's when Regan drew her gun from its shoulder holster and warned the two of them not to move. Her eye stung and it was watering badly. At least all she had to do was dial the switchboard operator and ask her to get the police. She couldn't possibly foul that up, could she?

Sometimes she had to ask herself if it was all worth the bother. Then she'd get a nice fat finder's fee in the mail and she'd go right back to it.

She'd come by her profession honestly. Her father was a Boston cop and so was her uncle. Her brother had gone into the family business, so to speak, but had been killed in the line of duty. That was a pain that threatened never to go away. Along with this damn eye, she thought irritably.

Regan gave herself a good mental shaking; it wasn't like her to give in to melancholy. She forced herself into her morning routine, pouring coffee from her thermos and opening the newspaper she'd gotten from the stand on the corner. The first sip of the bitter black brew helped beat back the fog.

The war news was either good or bad, depending on how you looked at it. The Battle of the Coral Sea had been fought the week before with heavier losses on our side. Despite that, the Navy was claiming victory because when we’d stopped the Japanese from taking Port Moresby, we'd stopped their expansion into the Pacific. Now, they had no base from which to attack Australia.

The next article to catch Regan's eye was the signing of the bill creating the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. Now this was something. But before she could finish the article, she heard footsteps coming up the stairs.

Regan didn't think anyone would be coming to see her. She did most of her business with Amalgamated over the phone or in their offices. Anyone else who wanted her services called to set up an appointment. Her ad stated that clearly.

The footsteps stopped outside her door.

Regan felt her nerve endings begin to tingle. Never one to ignore a warning sign, she slid out of her chair and stood to the side of the door. She pulled her gun out of its holster and had it in her hand, ready to fire.


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