The Secret of Highway House

Highway House is a name that, if things had been different, every one of you would have heard of, every one of you would marvel at and every one of you would know the story of. Why there might even have been a Highway House day, or a Lizzie McMorely day! But you don't and there isn't, and this is why.

Lizzie McMorely, newly graduated from Oxford, is recruited to train as an assassin at Highway House. But when sent out on her first ever mission; the assassination of Adolf Hitler, several factors Lizzie hasn't been trained for come into play: luck, betrayal and love.

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12. First Proper Date

In the days that followed Lizzie found her social calendar bursting at the seams, far more so than it ever had back in England. Here she was the shiny new toy in the ever glowing circle that surrounded the elite in Berlin’s extremely hierarchical society. Hans' friends that had previously shunned her now, having learned that she was not trying to break up his engagement but was in fact an advocate of it, welcomed her into their glamorous lives. Anneliese and Katja saw her, Lizzie was sure, as a life-size doll which they could dress up in the latest fashions and bring to parties to show her off. She didn't mind, her brain was far too busy to mind as it plotted and schemed possible ways to manipulate her new position to aid the task at hand. But a fortnight into the frocks and the dinners and she was still yet to experience a brainwave idea that would both complete the mission and get her out alive.
On an entirely separate note however, Karl had, most predictably Julia would say, asked her out for a drink. So it was on Sunday evening that she stood, shivering a little, on that same corner that she had on the evening that she had first met him. But this time it was not a taxi she was awaiting; Karl was picking her up. She felt nervous thinking about it because whilst Julia Wreath might be comfortable with such occasions, the only date that Lizzie McMorely had ever been on, with Hans, did not in her mind count as an actual date but more of a forging of connections. Exactly on time a black motorcar rounded the corner and pulled up next to her. The driver's door opened and there stood Karl, his dark hair untidily strewn across his brow.
"Good evening Julia." He winked, and Lizzie for the first time since taking on a new identity felt surprised at hearing that name. With everyone else she felt different, she felt like Julia, but stood with Karl she felt more like herself than ever.
"Good evening." She smiled and allowed him to help her into the car. "Where are you taking me?" She asked once they were driving.
"You'll have to wait and see." He answered mysteriously and smiled as he watched her frown, not liking being kept in the dark. As well as conflicting with all of her instincts as an assassin, not knowing her destination also allowed Lizzie to worry over her choice of dress. She had gone for the bright red chiffon dress that reached almost to the floor with a black belt drawing it in at her waist. She was dressed up, too dressy she worried, but then again Julia was always a little overdressed, just that bit more glamorous than everyone else and she hoped that she had pulled it off.
They pulled up outside a beautiful restaurant by the name of Verzaubert, or in English "Enchanted", white marble pillars stood either side of the enormous marble arch that marked the entrance, from which tiny lanterns hung making the steps leading up to it glow orange. Karl took her arm and led her up to the foyer.
"Table for two, eight o'clock, Fuerst." He told the man at the desk whose formal dress code, consisting of a black tuxedo and red bow tie, indicated to Lizzie that this was a very expensive and upper class restaurant.
The man led them across the white marble floor to a small table in the corner by the window, which was decorated wonderfully with a gold table cloth and little tea lights in the middle. Karl pulled her chair out and helped her into it, apparently oblivious as to how happy and special that simple act made her feel. He ordered them both champagnes, which came in gold tinted glass flutes with little white bows tied onto them. 
"So Julia, what brings you to Berlin?" He asked curiously.
"My parents thought it a good idea for me to socialise with people my own age." She invented. "We live in a large house in the country, you see, and there's no one much around to talk to." She pictured Highway House as she said it.
"Well you certainly seem to be doing that!" He grinned. "You seem to have easily become part of Berlin's self-proclaimed A-list gang, something which a great many girls of your age across the city would give anything to do."
"Yes I have rather. But I suspect they'll get bored of me sooner or later." When he looked confused she added, "I am new that is why they like me, that'll wear off, especially when Katja is so determined to find me a good match and all along I've been seeing a journalist." She winked, "You are ruining my prospects Mr Fuerst."
"It’s not my fault Miss Wreath, take pity on my poor heart for it has been captured and held hostage by a beautiful young lady." He said pulling such a pitiful face that they both ended up laughing.
It was over their dessert that they found themselves on the subject of the war.
"The funny thing is," Lizzie said, “that just a few summers ago my Aunt was telling me that in England they called it the war to end all wars, yet all it has done is lead to another one just a quarter of a century later."
"I do not know what I think really." Karl dropped his voice. "Germany is crippled as she is and we have been promised that she will be strong again, but at the moment I can only see her getting weaker. I cannot fight," he added bitterly, "the Von Heinzers are very influential people and they have managed to make sure that their friends and family and pretty much anyone they have ever come into acquaintance with does not have to. They can’t afford to let their media coverage slip just because of something as trivial as a world war. So I am stuck here."
"But you are not even sure of your views on the war?" Lizzie frowned.
"Either way I should be fighting for my country. People call me a coward but I wish I could fight, I may not believe in this war but I stand by Germany."
"I don't think you're a coward." Lizzie smiled slightly hoping to make him feel slightly better.
"Thank you Julia. I am sorry for making the evening turn so serious." He smiled apologetically.
"In times like these we sometimes have to be serious." She said.
"You know Julia," he said, "I think you are far cleverer than you give yourself credit for. You talk as if you are just another society girl, but you see things that others don't, there is something about you."
Lizzie felt her smile falter a little and she quickly forced it back into place. "Well thank you Karl, but I think it's just called being cynical, not clever."
"Maybe," he smiled, "but I would like to get to know you better either way, perhaps another date next week?"
She relaxed a little. "If you promise not to be so serious." She winked.

 

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