First Chapter, A Duel of Glass and Mud

Captain Brandt’s French was rudimentary at best, and the sobs of a grieving mother over the whispers of a local gendarme weren’t giving him many clues. What he could discern were words such as soldat, Américain, and animal. The grind of Brandt’s jaw and a too-formal military bearing betrayed a smoldering rage, though he also keenly felt how vulgar his presence must be to the tortured mother. He, too, was a foreign soldier and, like the animal in question, only welcome in her home because circumstances of war compelled it. Brandt had fought Pancho Villa’s men in Arizona and New Mexico, Moro rebels in the Philippines, and now Germans on the western front; yet despite all the cruelty he’d seen,