A night witch has a life-or-death choice to make. A German is driven by vengeance. Working together, can they defeat the Third Reich?

Russian-Japanese pilot Aleksandra Rybakov searches for her place in the world and finds it as a Night Witch. After a fatal crash during the Battle of Kursk, she is offered a second life with the bonus of immortality by the Norse goddesses Freyja and Idunn, but there’s a catch. To defeat an army of monsters, she must find her courage and believe in herself or lose everyone she loves.

German resistance fighter Jakob Matthau saw his life ripped away when his parents were thrown into a Nazi death camp. Fueled by anger and vengeance, every battle he wins is one step closer to freeing his family. When the beautiful Night Witch Aleksandra introduces him to a world filled with magic and monsters, can they win the most difficult battle of their lives or will billions die in Hitler’s final solution?

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Prologue

Asgard, home of the Norse gods

Freyja stared at the idyllic scene unfolding before her. Her best friend, Idunn, poured four cups of tea from a treasured teapot, the delicate pale green porcelain almost transparent. The heady aroma from the many flowers blooming around Idunn's cottage filled Freyja with much-needed serenity. Something wasn't right with her plan to harvest gather human souls and turn the tide of the world war unfolding on Earth. Someone seemed to be thwarting her every move to build an army of noble fighters.

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Her gaze landed on Natalya and her husband, Mikhail. The former Russian Night Witch had proven to be a worthy first choice for her new army. Natalya had handled the transition to near immortality with an amazing assuredness, erasing any doubts Idunn had when Freyja first told her about the daring plan. Mikhail had been an added bonus, the catalyst to changing her mind about forming an all-female team.

Of course, stealing warriors’ souls from Óðinn was never a good idea, but Freyja couldn't just sit back and let the ruling Aesir god destroy Midgard and the humans living there. Óðinn's high from the chaos and destruction had become an uncontrollable addiction. With each stolen spirit, both Freyja and Idunn risked Óðinn's wrath, which was never a good thing. His punishments were more than horrific. Óðinn was not a god of justice; instead, his world was full of vengeance, hate, and gluttony.

She had managed to not be on the receiving end of his punishments, but the same couldn't be said for Loki or Thor. The magic she wielded, her seidr, gave her foresight and the power to change events and, so far, had stood her in good stead. Now, however, Óðinn had that same magic. Hers was the more powerful of the two, but she could never make a mistake, especially when playing with peoples' lives.

Her gaze followed Mikhail's hand as he fed Natalya a small bite of cake, his actions filled with love and adoration for the pretty blonde. It wasn't the first time the thought returned, unbidden. Freyja couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have a man love her so unconditionally. Of course, Mikhail and Natalya had just married so the tenderness and gentle actions were to be expected.

"Freyja, are you going to stand there all day and stare or come over here and join us?" Idunn's sweet voice wafted through the silent glen. "I baked your favorite lime tarts." Idunn held up a plate filled with the delicate pastries.

Freyja took a seat next to her best friend. Grabbing one of the tarts, she ate it in two bites. "Ohh, that is so delicious." Before she'd finished chewing, she reached for another.

"Maybe if you took smaller bites and actually chewed the food, you would taste it better. I made plenty, so you don't have to scarf them down like a starving animal," Idunn chastised and took a dainty sip of tea, the steam curling around her head like a pale gray halo.

"I'm perplexed, and you know I don't react well when that happens." She stared a moment at the treat then with a slight one-shoulder shrug, she once again bit the tart in half. "It is delicious, though," she said with a full mouth. "Better than the last batch."

"I used less sugar this time, and I quite agree. A tart should be...well, tart." She chuckled at her own humor and reached across the table and chose two round, white cookies, balancing one of them on the edge of the plate. "You must try one of these. It is Natalya's recipe for..." She frowned.

"Russian tea cake," Natalya said, reaching for one herself and biting into it. She chewed with a happy expression on her face. "My babushka—my grandmother—made these when I was young. As soon as our chores were finished every Saturday morning, my sister and I would run down the lane to her house. She always had a fresh batch waiting for us to devour. My stomach would ache from eating too many, but I never cared. They were simply divine."

Freyja bit into the powdery cookie and slowly chewed, her eyes widening in delight. "Oh my, they are very tasty." She ate the rest and moaned, her hand covering her abdomen. She should have eaten at noon instead of peering nonstop into the God's Glass. So much sugar on an empty stomach wasn't pleasant.

"Here," Idunn said as she placed a steaming teacup in front of her and moved the tart plate back to the center of the table. "Drink the tea. It will help settle the queasiness. You skipped lunch again, did you?"

"I have to figure out what's wrong—"

"Wait," Natalya interrupted. "What's wrong now? It's not Lilyann, is it?"

"No, no, your sister is fine. She's begun training a new navigator for one of the pilots in your squadron. Her navigator was injured by a bullet on the first sortie over Kursk. She is to begin a new job soon but wanted to be the one to tell you."

"Kursk? So, Stalingrad's truly saved?" Natalya asked, her fingers curling around Mikhail's. "Should I be worried about this new job?"

Freyja nodded. "If the Red Army can continue pushing the Germans back, the city is saved. It is now July on Midgard...sorry, Earth, and the battle began on July 5th. They have been fighting four days, but that's where it goes wrong. As for the job, it's no more dangerous than flying."

Natalya frowned. "What are you talking about? What goes wrong?"

"The path diverges between what I have seen with my magic and what is shown in the God's Glass."

"That can't be good," Mikhail muttered as he leaned forward and pulled Natalya's hand against his chest, which now rested against the edge of the table.

Freyja shook her head. "No, it's not. I must figure it out before sending the two of you on your next mission." She glanced over at Idunn. "Do you suppose Skuld is seeking revenge because we meddled in her foresight?"

"It's possible. Skuld gets quite annoyed when people change someone's future."

"My Lady!"

Freyja turned in her chair to see her assistant Alva pass underneath the arbor and hurry toward them. "What is it?"

The Huldra held out a folded piece of paper. "This was just delivered...well, truthfully, it appeared out of nowhere—"

"Alva, slow down and start from the beginning."

She nodded and inhaled. Freyja caught sight of the tip of Alva's tail disappearing under her skirts, telling her just how flustered the usually calm Huldra really was. "I had just finished making your bed and was gathering your clothing so I could begin the wash when I heard a tiny pop near your desk. I walked over to investigate and found this." She held up the piece of paper, which Freyja took. "It wasn't there when I straightened up your desk not ten minutes earlier, yet that's where it was—lying on the desktop. I figured it was important and brought it straightaway."

Freyja unfolded the paper. "Thank you, Alva." She quickly scanned the elegant handwriting, not recognizing the flourished script. She forced her gaze back to the top, this time reading the words aloud.

"I'm sending this warning to you, Freyja, because Óðinn must be stopped. His thirst for power has gone beyond what is acceptable, even by Asgardian standards. I cannot begin to describe the horrific deaths and abject degradation I have seen, nor will I go into detail about the bestial experiments being done in his name in Midgard. I know of your quest and your extraordinary Night Witch. She must stop the kidnapping of soldiers by the German SS before Hitler's army of werewolves is complete."

Freyja flipped the paper over, but the back was blank. There was no name. Who had sent this warning?

"We will go immediately," Mikhail said. "I am familiar with the horrors these beasts can create. They are almost unstoppable and have only one goal—to kill. They cannot be allowed free."

"I agree, Mikhail, but first..." Freyja's gaze turned to her assistant. "Alva, I want you to go to Midgard—to Vinnytsia—to Hitler's Fuhrerhauptquartier Werwolf." A flicker of fear passed through the Huldra's eyes, but the girl only nodded. "I need you to do a little scouting. Find out what's going on in that bunker and what the Nazis' plans are. If you can, I would also appreciate anything you can discover about the person who wrote this." She waved the paper between them before laying it on the tabletop. "Be careful and do not be seen—do you understand me? We must not be discovered. Whoever sent this already knows too much as it is."

Alva tilted her head. "Yes, my lady. There is not a forest on any of the nine worlds where I cannot disappear. I will return with the information you request." She turned, her long skirt swishing around her ankles as she hurried away.

"Your little plan has gone a bit awry, don't you think?" Idunn's sapphire-blue gaze met Freyja's.

Freyja exhaled and ignored her friend. "Natalya, I have chosen the next Night Witch. You must return to Earth and gather her soul then bring her body back here for the ritual. I believe you will be a great help in convincing her to join us. This one's talents will be perfect for the next phase of my plan."

"If she accepts," Idunn whispered.

"Who is it?" Natalya asked, her expression turning to one of distress.

"It is not Lilyann," Freyja answered but didn't say anything more as she raised her arms, swirling them in a large circle in front of her, as she chanted the words in the ancient tongue of her forefathers to transport Natalya and Mikhail to Earth.

Idunn turned to her with a slight scowl. "And just what is the next phase? You failed to tell me—your best friend and co-conspirator."

Freyja pressed her lips together to keep from smiling at her friend's cute pout. "Oh, I just said that so Natalya would think we have everything under control."

Idunn raised one shapely blonde eyebrow. "When have we ever had anything under control?"

Freyja nodded. "I know, I know. Óðinn's suspicious, and those dratted crows of his are always around, spying. It's as I stated before. Someone is messing with the events on Earth, and we must discover the source and change it back before it's too late."

 

Chapter One

July 6, 1943

Near Kursk, Russia

“What am I going to do, Irina?" Aleksandra Rybakov worried at her bottom lip, her lowered gaze watching the young navigator who had temporarily replaced Irina while she was grounded from an injury. The two friends stood far enough away from the small PO-2 biplane so no one could hear their conversation, yet still able to see when the plane was refueled and the bombs reloaded, three under each wing.

"Are you certain she's trying to sabotage the nightly sorties? Maybe she's just nervous and has made a few errors." Irina's hazel gaze met hers. "I wanted to do the same thing when Marina paired us together."

Aleksandra grinned. "Yes, but you didn't make any mistakes. Marina would have never let you go up in the air much less into battle if you had, but she is no longer with us and things have changed. Yevdokia does her best as our leader, but she takes her orders from higher up in the chain of command. Klava stays to herself and never joins in. She refuses to talk over the nightly route and never touches my shoulder to let me know when to turn off the engine. Those are basic things, but she does none of them."

"And I won't." Klava walked up to them, her face twisted in a sneer. "I will not be navigator for long. I refuse to be. I'm a far better pilot than you will ever be, Aleksandra. I am meant to be in the pilot's seat, just like my brothers. I plan on reporting you to Yevdokia. I've kept records, showing all the misses you've made and the errors in your flights." Her sneer deepened, giving her an evil look. "And you won't be able to say a word against me."

Aleksandra's gaze followed Irina's retreating form as she walked back to the barracks. She felt something digging into her side and glanced down to see a pistol in Klava's hand. Raising her gaze, Aleksandra tried to keep her growing fear at bay. "So, if I say anything, you will kill me?"

"No. I will kill both you and Irina. Your silence buys her life as well. Mark my words, I will take your place."

Aleksandra glanced up to see their mechanic waving at them, letting them know the plane was ready. She turned to stare a moment into Irina's worried gaze as she watched them from the doorway. Everything will work out—you'll see.

Klava pushed the gun into her ribs. "Walk to the plane." Knowing she had little choice, Aleksandra did as she was told and headed toward her PO-2.

After climbing into the front cockpit of her plane and making all the pre-flight checks, she taxied down the makeshift runway and took to the air, following the other Night Witches as they flew toward the German army at Kursk, Aleksandra replayed Klava's words. She wanted to throw up. How could things have spiraled so out of control? It has been almost three weeks since Irina's injury. Only an hour ago, Aleksandra couldn't wait until her friend returned to fly with her. They had a bond, their movements fluid, both on the ground and in the air. Now that Natalya was gone, Irina and Lilyann, another navigator in their three-plane group, were her best friends. Somehow, she had to figure out how to protect Irina from Klava.

From the moment they'd met, she had known Klava was nothing but trouble. Only nineteen, Klava had joined their regiment, surly and defiant, constantly bucking Aleksandra's authority on every decision and maneuver. Just as she'd told Irina, the last two flights had been their turn to fly in low and bomb the German line, but Klava hadn't given her the signal to cut the PO-2's engine. Both times, the spotlight had almost caught them, which would have been bad...very bad. A spotlight meant the German planes could find and easily shoot them down. 

Tonight, before their first sortie, Aleksandra had known something bad would happen. Call it intuition or just an instinct, but each flight had gotten more erratic. Their bomb drops had been off just enough, the Germans were picking up on it, endangering the entire 588th Night Squadron—or Night Witches, a moniker she and the other pilots were proud of. From their first sortie in the war, they terrified the German soldiers, who could only hear the small planes as they attacked.

This was the ninth sortie of the night and Aleksandra was prepared. Their leader, Marina, had made certain every woman in the 588th was well-trained in navigating and piloting. Not only was Aleksandra a great pilot, she was an equally solid navigator and knew, beyond a doubt, Klava's coordinates were wrong.

Before every mission, she and Irina would pour over the maps together so they both knew where they were going and could time the drops accordingly. Irina had come up with the idea in case something happened to her mid-flight, so Aleksandra could finish and safely return. The coordination worked and several of the other teams began doing the same thing. With Klava, however, she balked at telling or showing Aleksandra anything, and tonight had been no different. Luckily, she'd caught a quick glimpse of Klava's map and the penciled-in routes for their nightly sorties.

Without a doubt in her mind, Aleksandra knew Klava was up to no good. She just didn't know what to do about it.

Aleksandra flew behind the two lead planes in her unit, their wide circles around the German army narrowing, as she quickly figured the coordinates and timing for her next drop. She wasn't about to rely on Klava's misinformation or total lack of it to get her through this night.

Her gaze followed the two biplanes ahead as they drew the German spotlights, the wide swaths lighting up the night sky as they intersected then swung out in large circles, trying to latch onto the small Russian PO-2s. Erratic gunfire spit through the night, but it was the German FLaK guns that her ears listened for. If the small plane was hit by that...

She counted down in her mind the moment the lead planes divided, flying away in different directions to confuse the Germans. "Zero," she mumbled then turned off her engine, the aircraft dipping lower to fly in just above the trees. She dropped her last two bombs and said a quick prayer the engine would restart. When she heard the swish, swish of the motor, a smile appeared. One more hurdle over.

Turning the craft in a hard right, she circled away to return to their runway several miles away to reload and do it all over again. Just as she took a deep breath, the low, vibrating growl of a large engine filled her ears. Her heart sank.

"Focke-Wulf," Klava screamed, her voice shrill. Even over the loud wind noise swirling around them in the open cockpit, it hurt Aleksandra's ears. "Hard right, you idiot! You're going to get us both killed!"

Aleksandra turned the plane to the right and dropped the nose, hoping she could get them low enough that the Focke-Wulf's stall speed would force the German pilot back up. She heard bullets thumping as they penetrated the canvas skin, leaving holes in their wake. A moment later, she felt a sharp pain in her side and her leg went numb, turned into a slow burn that spread through her thigh and calf. Turning her plane at an angle, she caught site of the Focke-Wulf flying above her...and a second one not too far away. They were in trouble...

"Aleksandra, get us out of here!" Klava yelled, her voice pitched so high the words were difficult to understand, sounding more like shrieks.

"I'm trying," she muttered and tried to think of something, not for the first time wishing her PO-2 had been retrofitted with guns so she could return fire. She was out of options. Everything blurred and she frantically blinked, trying to hold the plane steady as she stayed as low as possible. Without the spotlight on her now, there was a slight chance the German planes would lose her in the night.

She blinked a few more times as she headed back to the Night Witches' base camp. The cold air hitting her face felt good and helped dry the unshed tears. She recognized the tree formation on the horizon and thought she saw the blinking of lights, which would be their makeshift runway, cleared and paved by the women on the day shift.

Her head began to drop, but she jerked up and gripped the curved handle of the joystick until her fingers ached. She refused to go down this close to her destination and passed over a large grove of trees. Just ahead, blinking lights lining either side of the dirt runway below welcomed her. She eased the joystick forward, lowering the nose of the plane. The last thing she heard was Klava's scream.

* * *

Asgard

Voices intruded, waking Aleksandra from her sleep and behind her closed eyelids, a red light filled her vision. Whoever was talking seemed so far away but, as she listened, she thought she recognized the person speaking. She strained her ears, trying to hear it one more time. The woman spoke again, and she knew she must be dreaming because it was an exact match to her friend and fellow pilot Natalya. That couldn't be…she died during the battle of Stalingrad.

Aleksandra tried to shake her head. It didn't move. Next, she willed her arm to raise or her toes to bend, but nothing happened. Someone pressed a cold compress against her forehead, the coolness easing the pounding in her head. She tried to say thank you, but as with her body, her mouth wouldn't move to form the words. Her frustration mounted. Again, she focused, trying to force her eyelids open but only managed to crack them open enough to let in a blazing white light. She let out a whimper, as the light seemed to stab her brain.

"Freyja! She's awakening," the woman who sounded like Natalya said.

"It is too soon. She has not healed enough yet to awaken." The second female's voice poured over and through Aleksandra like honey. She had never heard such a pure, beautiful voice before. As she felt herself fading back into a deep sleep, she wondered why she wasn't more worried. Instead, she felt so safe...

A sweet trilling permeated Aleksandra's slumber. She lay still, listening to the bird's song accompanied by the gurgling of water somewhere close by. Her hand moved back and forth over the soft, furry blanket covering her. She hadn't been this warm since the war began—the war.

She jerked upright, eyes wide, as she gazed around the strange but beautiful room. It reminded her of the castles her father loved to visit in France and England. The whitewashed plaster walls had an aged patina to them, and she wondered just how old they were. A bright flicker of light caught her eye, pulling her gaze to the jewel-toned glass window high on the wall.

She stood, thankful whoever had brought her here made sure she was clothed, although the flowing silk reminded her of the traditional Japanese dress she'd worn when she was little. She'd been so grateful when her father convinced her mother to let her run and play, discovering the wonders of Mother Russia.

She walked toward the window, her gaze taking in the colors' brilliance as the muted rays of light shown through. Whoever created the scene was very talented. If she stared at the Viking ship long enough, she could almost see it rise and lower on the ocean waves. With a tiny smile, she rubbed away the slight cramp in the back of her neck and turned to face the room. Moving back to the bed, she trailed her fingertips over the soft fur blanket she'd noticed upon awakening. Turning, she sat on the edge of the mattress and stared at the otherwise empty room.

"I see you have finally awakened. Are you hungry?" a female voice asked.

Startled, she twisted around. Standing just inside the open doorway was the most beautiful woman Aleksandra had ever seen. She defined elegance, reminiscent of royalty even, which wavered around her like an aura. Her woodsy green, medieval-style dress fit her willowy form to perfection, the golden tassel at her narrow waist adding the perfect touch. She wanted so badly to ask how she arranged her beautiful dark blonde hair in such an intricate style, braided and coiled around her head like a crown. Red highlights threading through the complex hairstyle only added to the elegance.

Her gaze moved to the gold filigreed amulet situated across the middle of the woman's forehead. Surrounded by much smaller clear quartz stones, the center stone's dark purple amethyst matched her eyes. Aleksandra's gaze narrowed. Tilting her head slightly, she said, "Your eyes are very unusual."

The woman smiled, showing straight, white teeth. "I've been told that before."

"Where am I?" Aleksandra asked, her gaze once again roaming the sparse room. "The last thing I remember was trying to keep my plane in the air. I was almost to the runway..." Her gaze jerked to the woman's. "Who are you and did we make it?" She wasn't a spiteful person, but even the mere thought of her navigator's name made her chest tighten. The whole night had gone wrong because of her.

The woman shook her head. "You almost made the runway but crashed just as you landed. The plane, of course, was unsalvageable, but the woman you speak of seemed to be okay. I'm afraid, though, you didn't make it."

Aleksandra frowned. "If I didn't make it, then why am I here, talking to you? Is this heaven?"

"I think introductions are in order. My name is Freyja, and you are in my house in Asgard."

Aleksandra stilled, her breath shallow. She had heard those names before but only in myths and legends. How is this possible?

"You will find almost anything is possible, if you only believe, my dear. Like your friend, Natalya, I am offering you a second chance at life. If you so choose."

"I don't understand."

The woman held out her hand, palm up. "Do you feel like taking a short walk? I have something I would like to show you."

Aleksandra stared at the outstretched hand a moment, then placed her hand in Freyja's. This was all so crazy, but she had nothing better to do, so going along to see what happened next sounded like a plan to her. "Will there be food?"

Freyja chuckled. "Of course, my dear. You must be ravenous."

They left the room and slowly walked down a stone hallway. The harsh lines of the wall were softened by a new tapestry every few feet. The scenes depicted in the weavings were, again, reminiscent of her mother's Japanese heritage. Battle scene after battle scene ensued with a single man in golden armor standing at the center, seemingly victorious. Her mother's people were definitely war mongers, but then, so were many civilizations. Why would this one be any different? At this very moment, wasn't there a world-wide battle taking place at home?

Aleksandra followed Freyja into another room. This one, at least, had a bit more furniture and looked lived in. Like the bedroom, there were soft furs and blankets covering the backs of the chairs and even another smaller bed in the far corner of the room. The light scent of roses filled her nostrils, and in the distance, she heard a lilting tune. The music style was unfamiliar, but she liked it.

Her gaze landed on the large stone fireplace taking up almost the entire wall in front of them. Above the mantel hung a giant copper mirror, dangling from the ceiling by thick black chains. She stared into the mirror's silvery center and could have sworn she saw images in its depths. She took a few steps closer.

"Aleksandra!" a familiar voice cried out.

Turning her head toward the speaker, her eyes widened. "Natalya? Is that you?" Her fellow Night Witch and friend hurried toward her, arms outstretched, and enveloped her in a tight hug. Confusion flooded her overloading senses. "Is it really you? How? Lilyann reported your death..."

Natalya laughed in her ear. "In our world, I guess I really am dead, although I don't feel like it. Truth be told, it was my old life that died, not me. Now, I have a new life and a much grander purpose. Just as you will, if you choose to accept Freyja and Idunn's offer."

"I haven't yet met Idunn."

Natalya leaned back with a wide grin and held up her hand. On her finger sparkled a simple gold band with flourished symbols etched into the ring's surface.

Aleksandra's eyes widened. "You're married?"

Natalya nodded. "Misha and I said our vows almost one month ago. We waited until we knew Stalingrad would be saved by our people before taking a little time for ourselves."

"For someone who's been dead, you seem to be up on the current war events."

Natalya pulled Aleksandra in front of the fireplace, the warmth chasing away her sudden chill. Her friend motioned to the mirror. "We can see everything going on through this."

Aleksandra stared up at the silvery surface and once again noticed shadowy images moving around in the depths. "I have never seen a mirror quite like this before."

Freyja appeared on Aleksandra's other side, and seconds later, a beautiful blonde, just as amazing as Freyja, joined them.

Aleksandra swallowed her gasp. The woman's ethereal beauty was truly a sight to behold. "You are so beautiful," she blurted. "I thought Freyja was too, but..." She shook her head. "Are all females in Asgard this amazing? I'll develop a complex if they are."

Freyja chuckled. "Thank you, I think. And yes, most here are quite attractive. You will discover that in Asgard, much like your Earth, beauty is only skin deep."

"True beauty comes from the heart," the willowy blonde said. "I am Idunn, Freyja's best friend. I tag along, keeping her out of trouble. Or, at least, trying to," she muttered under her breath.

Freyja motioned to the mirror. "This is the God's Glass. It is used to see events of long ago, those happening now, and ones yet to pass. We try not to look too closely into the future, especially since the past and present can be so malleable. It's always changing and would drive a person mad trying to keep up."

Aleksandra frowned. "Why are they malleable? That's quite a strange way to describe them."

"Not when people keep interfering with them," Idunn said, emphasizing her words with a quick sideways glare at Freyja.

"Idunn's right, but there can be good reasons for that interference. As I explained to Natalya, Asgard's leader, Óðinn, and his warriors thrive on power from other worlds. Along with the pure waters from Mimir's Well, it is this overload of power that now flows into Yggadrasil, the tree of life. This chaos, if left unchecked, will begin Ragnarok."

"The end of all time," Natalya whispered.

"There is another fate waiting for all of us if we don't stem this tide of war and chaos," Idunn added. "Under Hitler's Third Reich, Earth and its inhabitants will cease to be. He will kill all who oppose him or those he deems unfit to exist, leaving only the people he believes are the chosen. Under his rule, no one will remain who is strong enough to overthrow him and all war will stop...including the flow of power created by it."

"And will bring about Ragnarok and the end of all time, as Natalya so succinctly put it," Freyja said. "This is why you are here, Aleksandra. You are a magnificent pilot and warrior. You make your mother's people proud. You are one of the best snipers I have seen and also have quite the ability to blend in and disappear when you so choose—a talent you've excelled at since you were a child, I believe."

Aleksandra's gaze held Freyja's a moment before touching on Idunn's then finally Natalya's. "I hear a 'but' somewhere in there."

Freyja smiled and nudged Idunn with her elbow. "Very intelligent as well."

"Yes, I know. Just get on with it, please. I have a special fruit I need to attend to."

"My proposal to you, Aleksandra, is the same deal I offered to Natalya. I do not want the Nine Worlds to end because of one megalomaniac such as Hitler. There are also several others in his circle who are just as dangerous. I would like to offer you a second chance at life. Fight for me. Help me stop Hitler and all the horrors he has yet to throw at the human race. Say yes and Idunn will grant you a new life."

Freyja waited for her to say something, but Aleksandra didn't know what to tell the goddess, so she stayed silent. She didn't know what to make of any of this and wished she could pull Natalya off to the side and discuss things with her before making such a monumental decision.

Freyja's gaze narrowed, seemingly studying Aleksandra's face. "Natalya, I believe you might be able to help Aleksandra. Why don't we go to Idunn's cottage? I will assist her with her fruit while the two of you talk."

Natalya turned to Aleksandra and picked up her hands, lightly swinging them back and forth like they used to when one of them was upset. "I know this is all so strange and, truthfully, unbelievable. I mean, who knew gods and goddesses were real? I believe I can help you understand all this, if you let me."

She stared at Natalya, wide-eyed, unsure what to say. Could any of this be real? Should she listen to what her friend had to say? More importantly, how had Freyja known what she was thinking?

"Aleksandra?" Natalya asked with a slight frown, her bi-colored eyes darkening with worry.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Fred Jones on Goodreads wrote:

This is a great book, mixing Norse mythology with Russian World War 2 history may not seem a classic idea but it works very well. Writing is super, characters are great and the storyline is entertaining.

Betty Reynolds on Goodreads wrote:

This is an exciting adventure into WW II like no other!
I adored the characters of Aleksandra and Jakob, who became stronger because of their love for each other.