Young Neal Singer comes back from Dunkirk, to the early years of the World War Two London blitz. He returns limping from a leg wound that disqualifies him from battlefield service. He is put to other uses in early 1941 in the struggle against Germany, being assigned to crafting war reports in the British Ministry of Information to lift the morale of the British citizens despite the horrors of the war, which now included nightly bombardments of London itself. His commander, Sir Neville Chambers, wants Neal to serve under him in more ways than writing reports for the public, and Neal is urged in another direction as well by a lover, the mysterious Phillip Talbot of the Foreign Office. The influence of these two men lead Neal into using his body to combat a German espionage cell within the Ministry of Information in an effort to stem information on London targeting getting to the Germans
Neal was cornered in a quiet area of the room by the refugee Austrian cardinal, Heinrich, a tall, very thin, rigidly straight, Nordic-looking man flashing several glittering rings on his hand, who got his attention by lifting an empty champagne glass at him and saying, “So, you are one of Neville’s boys?”
“I work for him in London,” Neal responded.
“He always has such beautiful boys. You are beautiful, you know. The beauty of a Michelangelo. I am an artist, the war not leaving much else for me to do. I might sketch you this weekend, Ja?”
“I’m not really a model. I work for Sir Neville at the Information Ministry.”
“You’ve never modeled in the nude? You must have a first at that, I believe. Perhaps this—”
“Oh, I see that you are out of champagne. I need another drink too. Here, let me get you refill,” Neal said, taking the glass being waved at him out of the cardinal’s hands and moving away. As he turned, he glimpsed across the room, where the handsome man in the RAF uniform was talking to one of the local residents, but was casting an amused look at Neal. Neal deposited both empty glasses on the tray of a roving servant, saying to the servant, “See the priest in the cassock over there? I believe he needs another glass of champagne.” Having done the minimum of his duty, Neal then did some roving of the room himself, trying to keep a good distance between the cardinal and himself. Somehow, though, Neal was afraid he hadn’t seen the last of the cardinal. If Sir Neville needed the cardinal for something, Neal felt he would be doing what he needed to do to humor the cleric.