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The Diary in the Attic is available exclusively from Annie’s Attic Mysteries. You can visit their website, contact Customer Service at (800)282-6643 (8 a.m. - 7 p.m. [CST] Mon. - Fri.) or e-mail them at for more information.

An Annie’s Attic Mystery


Up in her grandmother’s attic, Annie Dawson finds a diary that reveals a poignant love story from World War II, a story cut short when young Peter Lambert goes off to war, leaving Lilly Pryce behind with only a promise to return. But that promise is smashed when Peter's mother receives notice from the War Department that Peter is missing and presumed killed while spying behind enemy lines. As she looks into this story of love tragically lost, Annie begins to see parallels to her own relationship with Stony Point's handsome mayor, Ian Butler. Can love once lost become found again? (SEE EXCERPT BELOW)


April 1943
Lilly Pryce sat on the Lamberts' front porch swing trying not to listen. She tried to concentrate on the touch of spring in the air and the swooping sparrows and the crocuses that poked up through the melting Maine snow and not on the voices from inside the house. Did it count as eavesdropping if she didn't understand a word they were saying? She understood the emotions behind the voices though. Peter was trying to explain, to soothe, to be logical. His mother was angry, pleading, afraid.
Lilly felt much the same way herself.
Peter was eighteen. Eighteen just today. He didn't need his mother's permission anymore. He didn't have to wait any longer.
Abruptly the two of them were silent, and then Mrs. Lambert's voice again came through the screened front windows. Maybe it was just because it was in German, but what she said sounded terrible. Harsh. Final. There was the slam of a door, and then Peter said something else.
It was still foreign, but this was soft, achingly tender, one of the few German words Lilly did understand. Mom.
After that there was silence again, silence for so long that Lilly wondered if she should knock on the door and remind Peter she was still here or if she should quietly go back home. But she couldn't just leave. Not today.
Finally the front door swung open and Peter came outside.
"Sorry about that, Lil."
He gave her a bit of a smile and sat down beside her, the swing rocking with the weight of his lean, tall body. He'd look good in uniform.
She took his arm, struggling to smile in return. "What did she say?"
"Pretty much what I expected." His expression turned a little wry. "Pretty much what you said already."
"But Peter–"
"Look, they'll just draft me anyway." He thumped himself on the chest, grinning. "I'm A-1 stuff, you know."
For some reason, that brought tears to her eyes. "I know."
"Lilly, sweetheart–"
"I know. I know you have to go. I'm glad you want to do your part. But this–"
"This is what I'm perfect for. Look at me."
She was looking at him. He was the picture of Hitler's Übermensch– fair skinned, blond, blue eyed, perfect. With his looks and background, he'd be perfect. He'd be the perfect spy.
She ought to be proud of him. She was proud of him. And she was scared. Nazi Germany was a terrifying place. What they did to their own people was awful enough. What they would do to a spy if they caught him–
The tears spilled down her cheeks and he pulled her into his arms, scrambling for his handkerchief.
"Hey, now. Hey. Nothing to cry about. They may not even want me to do anything as exotic as spying you know. I mean, I'm still practically a kid. Maybe I'll be stuck jockeying a desk in D. C., translating intercepted enemy messages, Hess's dinner menu or something." He blotted her cheeks, his touch gentle, caressing. "And maybe while I'm there I'll meet some pretty WAVE who'll steal me away from you."
He gave her a mischievous grin, blue eyes crinkling at the corners, and she had to laugh.
"No she wouldn't. You wouldn't let her."
"No." He cuddled her close to him, suddenly serious. "I wouldn't. Don't care where they send me, there's nobody else in the world for me but you, Lil. Nobody."
She nestled against him, her face pressed against his shoulder, breathing in the bath-soap-and-fresh-laundry smell of him. She had to let him go. It was right for him and all the other brave young men to stand up for those who could not help themselves. But if he never came back–
"Do you love me, Peter?"
Her voice was soft against his neck. She wasn't sure he even heard her because he didn't answer right away.
"Just better than anything," he said at last, his voice cracking a little.
"We could–"
"No." He held her away from him so he could look into her eyes. "We talked about this already. If the war was over, if I had a way to take care of you, you know I'd marry you in a minute. But not now. Not like this. If something were to happen to me–"
"Don't say it." She closed her eyes and the tears spilled over again. "Peter, please don't say it."
If he didn't say it, it wouldn't happen.
He pressed a tender kiss to her temple. "If I don't come back, I want you to be free."
"But I don't want to be–"
"You're only seventeen."
"I'll be eighteen this summer!"
"What if you had a kid or something and I didn't come back? How would you provide for yourself and him?" He made her look at him again. "I love you, Lilly. I swear that's forever, but until the war is over, we'll just have to be patient."
"But, Peter, if you never–"
"Then you'll keep me in a special place in your heart and, someday, fall in love with someone else."
"No, I couldn't."
"You will." He squeezed both of her hands. "Promise me you will, Lilly."
"You wouldn't. You just told me as much."
He laughed softly. "That's me, not you. I want you to be taken care of. I want you to be happy and loved and looked after."
"What about your happiness?"
He cuddled her close again. "That would make me happy. Please, Lil, promise me."
She only clung to him, saying nothing. How could he ask her to love someone else?
"Please," he urged, and she finally nodded against his shoulder.
"I promise. But it doesn't matter. You're going to come back. You have to."
He nuzzled her cheek and then touched his lips to hers, a sweet kiss that suddenly grew in intensity.
Peter leapt to his feet at his mother's voice, a touch of fresh color in his face. "Ja, Mutti?"
Mrs. Lambert stood in the doorway, face pale, eyes red with weeping, but her head was held high.
"Peter," she said again, and she opened her arms to him.
He went to her, hugging her, and she said something to him in German, something that brought a look of pride into his eyes. Then she kissed his forehead and turned to Lilly with a trembling smile. Lilly came to her, too, taking the hand she offered. When she spoke again, she looked to her son to translate.
Peter also smiled. "Mother says she's glad to know that, while I'm gone, someone else will be praying for me, too."
Lilly nodded her assurance of that, and with a few more words of German and a firm hug for her son, Mrs. Lambert went back into the house.
Lilly looked after her and then turned to Peter. "She– she knows you're going right now? To enlist?"
He nodded. "She says my father would be proud of me and that she is, too."
"But she was so upset before."
He gave her a rueful grin. "Still is. But she knows this is how it has to be. One way or another, I have to go. She knows I'd rather it be on my own terms."
He was going then. If they were smart, the Army would find a way to use his particular abilities to their best advantage. And all Lilly could do is stay home and wait for the war to be over.
"Peter, come back to me." She threw herself into his arms again. "Please come back."
He chuckled a little and kissed the top of her head. "I'm just going to the recruitment office, not Berlin, you know."
"You'll be gone soon enough." She tightened her arms around him. "Promise you'll come back."
"I will." He brought her hand to his lips and then pressed it in pledge to his heart. "I promise I will."

ANNIE'S MYSTERIES (in order of publication):

The Lady in the Attic by Tara Randel
Medals in the Attic by Cathy Elliott
The Photo Album by Marlene Chase
Letters in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Package by Sharon Dunn
The Map in the Attic by Jolyn Sharp
Rag Doll in the Attic by Jan Fields
Boxed In by Karen Kelly
The Deed in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
Emeralds in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Wedding Dress by Mary O'Donnell
The Valise in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Unfinished Sonata by K. D. McCrite
The Stolen Canvas by Marlene Chase
A Man of His Word by Karen Kelly
The Key in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Road Trip! by Jan Fields
The Tapestry in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Gunns & Roses by Karen Kelly
The Legend of Fuller's Island by Jan Fields
A Stony Point Christmas by K. D. McCrite
A Spicy Secret by D. Savannah George
The Cats and the Riddle by Jan Fields
Jazzed by Donna Kelly
The Diary in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Angels in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Wild Things by Karen Kelly
The Kennel Caper by Jan Fields
The Legacy in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Ring in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
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