The Peacemaker: Aleksandra

Peacemaker,Aleksandra

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?

Excerpt

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.

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 Ă“Ă°inn 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. Ă“Ă°inn’s high from the chaos and destruction had become an uncontrollable addiction. With each stolen spirit, both Freyja and Idunn risked Ă“Ă°inn’s wrath, which was never a good thing. His punishments were more than horrific. Ă“Ă°inn 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, Ă“Ă°inn 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 Ă“Ă°inn 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. Ă“Ă°inn’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.”

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