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Mercy that Sadness Brings
by
Pallas


Part XII: Women in the War

Conclusion

 
NOTE TO READERS: Hi everyone. Many thanks to everyone who's kept with me and sent great notes of encouragement. I finally got it finished!!! I hope it's to everyone's approval and expectations. As always, comments are welcome at pallas3@yahoo.com. Thanks again! Pallas.

Sophie looked with relief around the burial crypt at the small group of men and women. "I'm so glad I found you," she said, smiling at the rotund man in front of her. "Are you Maquis Resistance?"

"Where are your friends?" Anastasie asked, lighting a stub of a cigarette. "And where is Violette Szabo?"

Sophie looked at the young girl sitting next to her. The girl's eyes widened slightly at the mention of Violette's name before falling to her shoes.

"Your friends, Sophie," Anastasie repeated, taking quick puffs on his cigarette.

"I don't know," she lied, pulling her eyes away from the girl.

"Come, come, girl," Anastasie said. "There need not be secrets between us."

"You were supposed to meet Violette in St-Lo," Sophie said, sticking her chin out. "Why didn't you?"

Anastasie laughed, and looked around the room. "The child thinks she can question Anastasie!" He laughed again and several of the others joined him.

"Just answer his questions, Sophie," Manon said, laying a warm hand on her shoulder. "You can trust him."

'Can I?' she thought, looking back at Juliet, who appeared too scared to lift her head.

"Manon," Anastasie said, pointing at the child. "Take Juliet away so she can rest. Tonight is a big night for her."

"Violette's daughter," Sophie mumbled, her eyes jumping between the girl and Anastasie. She watched in mute horror as Manon grabbed the young girl's hand and yanked her off the bench. The girl's brown eyes turned towards her as she was lead away, but all Sophie could do was stare.

"So, Sophie," Anastasie said, pinching the tiny stub of his cigarette out between his stained fingers. "Tell me about this Jackie."

"She's dead," Sophie said, dropping her eyes to the floor like Juliet had done.

"Really? How?"

"She was shot last night while fighting a German patrol. She died this morning."

"Is this true?" Anastasie said, his gaze roving around the room for confirmation.

"Four German soldiers were reported killed outside Caumont last night," a young man, not much older than Sophie said. "I don't know if the American woman was shot or not."

"I see." Anastasie's gaze shifted back to her. "And Violette Szabo."

Sophie decided on the truth, or a partial truth. "We got separated in the darkness. It was so cold," she said. "We couldn't walk as fast."

"And Madame Szabo left you and the wounded American spy?"

"No. She told us to meet her here." Sophie met his eyes. "She wanted me to look after her daughter."

"Juliet has plenty of care takers."

"She wants me to take Juliet back to England."

The man laughed, a shallow laugh that held little mirth. "She thinks she can make demands?"

"She wants her daughter safe."

The man leaned forward and lifted his upper lip like a wolf. Sophie tore her eyes from his brown teeth. "It matters little what Szabo wants. What we want is more important."

Sophie suddenly felt very afraid. 'Jackie,' she thought. 'I have to get back to Jackie. She'll know what to do.' Without knowing how, she managed to convince her legs to stand and she began to back towards the tunnel.

"Where are you going, Sophie?" Anastasie asked, his voice calm like an indulgent parent.

"I'm going to find Violette. We were supposed to meet . .. ." she thought quickly. "just outside town." With as much strength and speed as she could muster she turned and darted for the tunnel. She put her head down and pumped her arms. The opening of the tunnel rushed at her. Behind, she heard voices, but she didn't try and make out what they were saying. In a second she would be in the darkness of the tunnel and safe.

She rushed into the tunnel, not caring if she could see or not. It was a race. She had to be out of the tunnel before they caught her. Once outside she could make a commotion and try and draw someone's attention.

Her foot caught on something and she stumbled, thrusting her arm out to steady herself. The sounds of her feet reverberated off the walls and she had no idea how far she'd traveled. The steps should be . .. . Her toe slammed against the bottom step, her momentum carrying her forward until her hands scrapped across the stone and her knee crashed against a step. She let out a howl of pain. The tunnel behind was briefly illuminated with light. They were coming.

Shoving the pain away, she clawed her way up the stairs until her head bumped into the steel doors. It didn't take her long to find the bolt and slide it back. With her shoulder lodged against the steel she pushed. The door wouldn't move. "Please," she prayed. "Open for me." She pushed again.

"It's locked, Sophie," Anastasie said, and Sophie turned her head as Anastasie strolled up. "There," he said, pointing his beam at the lock dangling at the bottom. "It's a security precaution. You understand, of course."

"I want out," Sophie demanded.

"Come down from there."

"Let me out."

"That's not possible."

Sophie felt her strength leave her and she slumped onto the uneven stone steps. A lump swelled in her throat that threatened to spill wet tears down her cheek. She was determined to not cry in front of these people.

"Come down here, child," Anastasie said, his voice almost kind. "It will all be alright. You'll see."

"I want to go," Sophie repeated, surprised her words could squeeze past the painful lump. "I shouldn't be here."

"But you are. Now, come down."

"You're working for them," Sophie accused. "The Germans."

"Not for them, Sophie," Anastasie explained. "With them. There's a difference."

"Not really."

Anastasie stepped back and motioned someone forward. "Marius," he said. "Bring her down. I'm not going to discuss things in this damp tunnel."

"No," Sophie cried, when Marius began up the steps. "Leave me alone." She kicked out feebly, but the much larger Frenchman moved her leg aside and grabbed her around the waist. Immediately Sophie was transported back to the day of her rape and she screamed with all her strength. Her fists beat against the man with rage and fear, but just as before she couldn't stop him from taking her and doing what he wanted. "Jackie," she whispered, no longer caring if they saw her cry or not.




 

The afternoon sun blazed through the stained glass window and fell against Violette's bent head. The warmth became uncomfortable and the French spy stirred, lifting her face and blinking several times before recognizing her location.

Her stomach growled, and she placed a hand over it to quiet the rumble while looking around the church. The building was empty, so with a shrug she leaned back in the pew and pulled off a hunk of the baguette. The thick crust breaking seemed to echo throughout the hallow place, and a wave of guilt passed over it. It had to be some kind of sin to eat in church, right?

"Well Jesus ate bread, too," she said, biting into the crust.

"He ate other things, too," a voice said, and Violette's body jumped in fear.

"Who's there?" she demanded.

"Fear not, my child," the voice said, and Violette watched as the velvet curtain of the confessional moved and a middle aged monk poked his head out. "I'm sorry if I scared you. I was just amused by your comment." He motioned around the church. "It woke me, actually."

"I'm sorry, Father," she said, not sure if that was the correct way to address the man, but determined to keep up the appearance of being a good Catholic.

"Brother, actually. Brother Michael." He narrowed his eyes. "You aren't from around here, are you?"

"Passing through," she said, quickly. "I came her to reflect and rest."

The monk nodded. "Well, all are welcome in the house of the Lord." He hesitated. "And you are safe while inside the Abbey."

"Safe?" Violette asked.

Brother Michael pulled a watch from his pocket. "Ten till four," he said. "Confession is almost over." He looked at her.

"Tell me, daughter, would you like to confess?"

"No," Violette said, shaking her head. "My conscience is clear."

He nodded. "Then stay as long as you like to rest and reflect." He leaned back into the confessional and pulled the curtain closed.

"Brother," Violette called. "Why am I safe in here?"

The monk didn't answer, and with a determined step, Violette crossed the church and entered the adjoining box. She didn't know what was supposed to happen, but she waited. Finally the shield slid back, and Violette could just make out the man's silhouette from behind the iron screen. "Tell me why I am safe here?" she demanded.

"The house of the Lord is always ready to protect those who are lost or innocent."

"I'm not lost."

"But you are here to seek."

"Not God."

"It doesn't matter who or what you are seeking. The Abbey is a refuge from that storm. All you have to do is ask for our help."

"Who is offering the help?" Violette asked, the hairs on the back of her neck tingling.

"Mother Church, child."

"I see," Violette said, and she did. This man knew nothing of what was going to happen. He had thrown out a line and she'd swallowed it. He had nothing to offer her. "Thank you, Brother," she said. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Remember we are here for you. All you need do is ask."

"Thank you," Violette said, standing and pulling the curtain back. 'Great,' she thought. 'Two hours to go and I can't stay here with this nutty monk.' She gathered up her things. "Guess I could get myself ready."



 

Caron sat on the banks of the River Orne staring at the churning waters. She'd been watching a twig bounce and fight for its survival in a small pocket of rapids. Just when she thought it had finally been waterlogged beyond help, the small thing would pop back up and make another run for the rock blocking its escape. It never succeeded, and like herself, it seemed hopelessly trapped.

"I'm not trapped," she said, tearing at a handful of grass. "I'm merely cornered." She let the strands of grass fall from her hand. "Everyone knows a cornered animal is the most dangerous."

It had been a long, tedious day. Even finding this peaceful spot by the river couldn't quench the rage in her heart. As the minutes ticked by she felt more coerced and angrier.

And now as the sun began its death dive in the western sky, she knew the time of reckoning was rushing at her. Soon she would have to leave this place and face herself. That was something she'd never done before. So Caron etched Lillian Rolfe's face on her fear. In her heart she knew she was battling her own demons, but in her head it would be that old bitch who would suffer her wrath.

Behind her a throat cleared and Caron turned her head slowly, half wondering why she hadn't replaced this man yet. With a raised eyebrow she questioned his interruption, slightly amused that he still looked terrified of her. "If I haven't shot you by now," she said, in a feeble attempt to explain herself. "You're probably safe."

The man stared for a moment before remembering his purpose. "It's nearly 4:30," he said, wisely avoiding comment on her words. "You asked that I get you at 4:30."

"Give me another minute," Caron said, turning back towards the river and searching for the stick. Her eyes scanned the small rapid and then down the river, but the twig had disappeared. "Does this omen spell my own doom?" she asked, slowly getting to her feet, still searching. "Not if I can help it."


 



Jackie assumed the Major must have gotten tired because his abuse abruptly stopped. Unfortunately she could barely open her eyes to see where the brute had gone. Her mouth kept filling with blood, but her lips were too swollen and numb for to do much more than drool.

"That's disgusting," the Major said, his voice farther away than it had been before.

Jackie searched for him, but a darkness clung to her vision making it hard to see anything but blurry shapes. She strained weakly against the restraints that bound her hands, but they wouldn't give. Defeated and exhausted she slumped in the chair.

Just before she fell asleep, a hand grabbed her hair and her head was wrenched back. Even with her blurry vision she could make out the Major's sneer over her. "Maybe you'll think twice about killing Germans again," he said, a bit of spittle splattering against her face.

"Not likely," she mumbled, her words sounding distorted. A cry of pain escaped her when the Major pulled her hair harder and she thought the strands would surely fall from her head.

"Stupid American," he growled, dropping her hair. "I'll kill you before the night is out."

"Highly unlikely, Major," the old woman's voice said from behind her, and Jackie heard the Major straighten up for a salute.

"I didn't know you'd returned, Frau Rolfe."

"Evidently," Lillian Rolfe said, and Jackie sensed instead of saw her approach. She wasn't surprised when the woman's cold hands grabbed her jaw and her face was twisted back and forth. "Very sloppy, " she said, her voice dropping with disappointment.

"I didn't know I was being judged," the Major replied, and Jackie felt the sheer danger of the situation expand around her.

"Then obviously you haven't had much experience with life, Herr Major. You are judged on everything." Jackie could see the woman straighten up and turn towards the officer. "And here, I'm your judge. Don't ever forget that."

Silence seeped into the room as Lillian Rolfe waited for the Major's response. Jackie closed her eyes, thankful that for a second the attention was off her. Finally the Major spoke. "What would you like me to do, Frau Rolfe?" he said, his voice more contrite.

Lillian Rolfe turned back to Jackie, her fingers almost caressing the American's aching face. "Get out of my sight," she whispered. "And send me someone more competent."

"But Frau - -"

"Now," Lillian Rolfe stressed, and Jackie felt a cloth pressed against her lip. "You," the woman said, but Jackie couldn't see who she was addressing. "Find someone to take care of her."

"I'm fine," Jackie rasped.

"No, Captain Bradford. You're not, and if I don't get you taken care of, then I will be robbed of the pleasure of your company tonight. I so want you to appreciate all my work."

"I really don't care."

"But I do," she said, dabbing Jackie's lips again. "And since I'm in control here, you will be cleaned up."

"So you can kill me later?" she said, her nostrils filling with the decaying scent of Lillian Rolfe. "Save us both the trouble and do it now."

"And what of the peasant girl. What is her name? Sophie?"

Jackie felt her eyes widen, pulling at the swollen skin. "What about her?" Jackie said, trying to make her voice impassive despite the fear coursing through her blood.

"Where is she?"

Jackie tried to shrug, but her bound hands made the gesture appear lopsided. "She ran off." It was the truth, even if Jackie hoped it wasn't.

"When?"

"Last night after the crash. I couldn't find her."

Lillian Rolfe leaned forward, her warm breath burning Jackie's bruised face. "You're lying."

The American squared her jaw and attempted to make direct eye contact with the old woman. "Prove it," she said, and Lillian Rolfe laughed.

"I'm sure I won't have to prove it." She looked up and the cold smile fell from her lips. "Clean her up," she said, tugging on her black uniform jacket. "Then put her in my car." Her eyes found Jackie one last time. "Everything starts at six," she said. "I'm sure you won't be late."

"You won't win," Jackie said, which caused Lillian Rolfe to laugh briefly.

"I can't lose," she practically sung. "And the sooner you accept that the easier it will go for you."

"Get out of my face," Jackie said, lunging for the woman, her bound arms pulled painfully back against the chair.

"Your bravado does you credit, Captain Bradford. But I wonder how you'll feel when I and the Fatherland receive your top secret invasion plans."

"I'll probably feel like killing you more than I do now."

The gray woman studied her for a moment before looking at the man who must have stood behind her. "Clean her up," she said, curtly and walked past Jackie.

"What time is it?" she asked, wincing as the young medic dabbed her wounds with something that stung.

"Almost five," he said, moving the cloth around her face.

'Sophie,' she thought. 'I hope you have the brains to stay out of this.'



 



"Put her down," Anastasie said, following them out of the tunnel.

Marius dumped her unceremoniously on her feet, but kept a strong hand on her upper arm to prevent her from running again. 'A lot of good it would do,' Sophie thought, dropping her eyes in defeat.

"Where is Manon?"

"She's gone with the child," someone said, but Sophie couldn't bring herself to lift her head to see.

"Get her," Anastasie ordered, his bulky form standing near her. It reeked of stale tobacco, and Sophie began breathing through her mouth. "Manon seemed to bond with her."

"Hardly," Sophie muttered. "She duped me."

"You came here willingly."

"She lied!" Sophie spat, lifting her head to glare at the fat Frenchman.

"And where would you be now, Sophie?"

"Not here. That's for damn sure."

Anastasie lowered his head so his brown eyes were even with her. "Believe me, you are safer here."

"You'd really like me to believe that, wouldn't you?"

"We have no issue with you," Anastasie explained. "Once our business is done, you will be set free."

"So I'm safer being a captive. Is that it?"

"Would you rather get yourself killed out there tonight?"

"At least I'd be dying for what is right."

"And you think what we're doing is wrong?"

Sophie snorted her response and shook her head.

"Listen to me, Sophie," Anastasie began. "What we've done . . . What we're going to do, it's to help many."

"And just how do you figure that?" Sophie said. "Thousands will die because of what will happen tonight."

"No," Anastasie shook his head. "Because of Violette Szabo, the Americans will not pursue any invasion. They won't commit so many to fruitless deaths, and the French countryside won't become scarred with war."

"It already has," Sophie responded. "Or haven't you been paying attention to the last years?"

The hefty Frenchman held up his hand. "I'm not going to debate this with a mere girl," he said. "You know nothing of politics or how National Socialism will halt the spread of Bolshevism from Russia. Adolph Hitler is the future for France."

"You're crazy." Sophie could see it now. The madness seemed to swirl around him like a mist.

"I'm a patriot," Anastasie said, thrusting his meaty chin out in defiance. "We all are."

"You have no idea what you are doing."

"Enough of this banter," he said, dismissing her with a royal wave. "Manon will guard you until everything is done."

"You can't trust Violette," Sophie said, hoping to further cloud his judgement. "She told me she planned on lying."

Anastasie smiled, his tongue jutting out to lick his lips. "The Germans have a way of guaranteeing the truth. Madame Szabo's veracity will be proven regardless of what she says tonight."

"Torture?" Sophie asked, the realization making her heart go cold.

The man lifted his hands as if to prove he had no control over what happened to Violette Szabo. "What will be will be," he said, nodding his head.

"And the child?" Sophie asked, remembering the girl's terrified eyes. "Does your patriotism so easily condemn a child?"

"The child goes free. That was promised to me."

"Then leave her with me."

"She has to be seen."

"Then let me come with her."

"No."

Sophie clenched her jaw. "The child will become an orphan tonight," she growled. "Show some compassion and let me take care of her."

"Get Juliet ready," Anastasie said to Marius, his attention then turning to Manon. "Watch her," he told the young woman. "Closely." He walked off towards a chamber Sophie hadn't seen.

"Fine," Manon replied, somewhat insolent.

"Don't let the child die," Sophie called after him.

"Quiet," Manon ordered. "He knows what he's doing."

"No, he doesn't," she whispered, wishing she'd stayed with Jackie. Maybe she could have done more by staying put and not trying to handle things on her own. It was too late for maybes. She had to concentrate on doing something now.


 


This map represents the area where the final scenes take place.

Violette stood on the top step of the Abbey and surveyed the meeting area. Directly in front of her was a small grassy area surrounded by several tall, mature trees. It looked like a nice spot to picnic.

Next to that stood the Abbey's cemetery where the town's dead were buried in hallowed ground. Tonight the dead would stand as mute witnesses to the unholy act she would commit. She only hoped they would judge her not for what she betrayed, but for who she had saved.

"Find a safe place to observe," she said, shaking the self pity from her mind.

Beyond the cemetery was the empty field. In years past the monks and villagers would have tended their crops there, but it appeared unkempt now. That was where she expected the plane to wait for Juliet, or the whole thing was off. Juliet to London or no invasion plans.

On the other side of the church was the beginning of the town's small shopping district. Further up the street the market was active, but the building directly across from the church looked abandoned. Violette studied the building with a critical eye.

It looked joined to the building next to it, but that appeared to be more from growth than purpose, and she suspected there was no connecting door inside. Two large windows faced the church yard, and while they both gave an excellent view of the yard, they had been boarded shut. If the building would serve any purpose at all, she'd have to pry a corner of the board off to see. But overall the building looked like a good place to make sure everything was set before showing her face.

With a nod she walked down the steps and away from the building and Abbey. If anyone was watching her, and she suspected that Jackie was probably nearby, she'd lose them before entering the building.





 

Caron had her driver stop the car half way between Caen and Villers-Bocage. It was a little before five, and Lillian Rolfe's orders to be in the town precisely at six echoed in her head.

"Get out of the car," she said to the Sargent.

"Oberfuhrer?"

"Get out of the car, Sargent. Now." She opened her door and climbed out. Her knee was still hurting, but it was becoming easier to move it. It might even be okay to drive.

Her Sargent stood to attention as she rounded the car, but Caron could see him trembling like a rabbit. Once this reaction had pleased her. Now it seemed to mock her. "Walk back to Caen," she said, opening the driver's side door.

"Walk?" he asked. "But I thought I was to assist you."

Caron spun on him, hot words flowing to her tongue, but one look at the man froze them unspoken and she turned away. "Good-bye, Sargent." She stopped and looked back. "Thank you for your help."

Settling herself behind the wheel she tried to remember how to drive. It had been awhile since she'd tried it, and the long Mercedes had a lot more power than the small Delahaye convertible she'd driven at her uncle's estate. Turning the key the engine roared to life and she pressed on the pedal to give it more gas. A quick shift and she was off.

Her first smile of the day lit her face as she gained both speed and confidence. It felt good to be in control of something again.

She drove the car down the tree covered road, the distance to Villers-Bocage shortening by the second. The churning in her stomach increased with every kilometer and before she knew it she was slowing the Mercedes and creeping into the town proper.

It wasn't hard to find the Abbey. She only had to look up and follow the tall spire. A few turns later and she stopped a short distance from the grounds. Everything still looked peaceful enough, even though she knew that was all about to change.

A quick glance at her watch told her she was a good thirty minutes early. "So sue me," she said, easing the car forward to look around the area. "The early bird gets the worm, right?"

It didn't take more than ten minutes to drive nearly ever street in town. What struck her most was the general look of health that permeated this town. She'd seen many French towns that housed nothing but ragged, starving people. But here, the people of Villers-Bocage didn't have that haunted, war ravaged look. Here the people smiled as they entered and left well stocked stores.

It wasn't right. The whole place felt strange, and even though she couldn't put her finger on why, she knew something was amiss. Shaking the thought from her head, she turned the car back towards the Abbey. As any good soldier knows, never fight on unfamiliar ground, and Caron was determined to get a good feel for the area surrounding the Abbey.



 



Jackie was jolted awake by the opening of the car door and she lifted her head as Lillian Rolfe slid into the back seat. The medic had given her something for the pain and she felt a little better. However, she kept trying to focus on her anger to draw strength, and she glared defiantly at the old woman.

"You're looking better," Frau Rolfe said, her legs locked together at the knees. "Was your treatment sufficient?"

"Like you care," Jackie said.

"But I do, Captain Bradford."

"Then why'd you let that bastard beat me?"

"A submissive prisoner is the safest prisoner," she said, like she was reading a text book. "Let's go." She waved her hand at the hulking driver who started the car.

The car pulled out of the dirt driveway and onto the same road Jackie had driven with Sophie only a short time before. Now she sat here, a German prisoner, and what of Sophie?

She didn't know where the girl was, but she knew she missed her. Everything seemed empty now. Worthless. Burdensome, even. Together she had begun to feel like they could conquer anything. Alone she didn't want to live.

And she imagined she wouldn't have to worry about that for much longer. It was probably better that Sophie had run off. She'd made it clear to the girl that she intended to stop Violette from betraying the invasion plans. That would have meant either her death or her capture. Despite what Sophie had said about loving her and wanting a life with her, maybe the girl had decided to leave before being disappointed.

"It's better," she mumbled, out loud.

"What's that?" Lillian Rolfe said, and Jackie could feel her cold, black eyes on her.

"Nothing," she replied, forcing her heart to not feel anything. She couldn't let this woman know she had a weakness to exploit.

"I'm curious," Lillian Rolfe said, pulling her black skirt lower across her knobby knees. "What do you think of my little plan?"

Jackie's head turned slowly. "I can't believe you really want me to answer that."

"Why? Can't you be honest?"

"I can't be objective."

"That's of no matter. Tell me anyway."

"I think it stinks and you . . . no Germany, you've gotta know your going to lose this war. It doesn't matter if you get the invasion plans or not. Our intelligence has told us that the Fatherland is running out of steam. You over extended in Russia and your losses were exceptional. Your North Africa campaign is in tatters. You've even got people close to your batty Fuhrer who want to replace him before he drags German down. You'll be lucky if your Third Reich lasts another year let alone another 995."

Lillian Rolfe was silent for a moment. "At least you're honest," she said, tugging on her skirt again. "Highly misinformed, but I sense your faith in those ludicrous statements. Germany will survive and be victorious." She smugly regarded Jackie, who chose to change the argument.

"So what's my part in this?"

"Merely to watch," Lillian Rolfe said, her mask of control falling silently back into place. "You will serve as a silent witness to Germany's finest hour. I think it's fitting that you, an American, is there to see it all happen."

"And you think Violette Szabo is going to give you the real invasion plans?" Jackie forced a laugh. "How do you know that London hasn't already discovered your plan and has already changed everything?"

"Because their forces are already building in the English countryside. Our planes haven't been totally swept from the skies by the bumbling RAF, you know." Jackie remained silent, which just encouraged Frau Rolfe to continue. "We have solid proof that an attack will occur at Calais or Dunkerque. The Fuhrer, in his infinite wisdom, knows this to be true."

"You're all fanatical for your stupid Fuhrer, aren't you?"

Lillian Rolfe's chin lifted like she'd been slapped. "He's a great man." Jackie released a small chuckle, although from the flames that leapt to the woman's otherwise cold eyes, she knew it was the wrong move. "History will record him as a conqueror. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great would have been proud to serve with him. Or for him," she added.

"History hasn't been written yet," Jackie said. "And everyone knows that's written by the victors."

Lillian Rolfe leaned forward so her face was a few inches from Jackie's. "Germany will write him as a god. You and America will be but slaves who bowed to the superior race."

"Of course this is once you get the invasion plans. Providing they are correct, right?" She was going to do everything she could to poison the woman's confidence. If she didn't believe what Violette was giving to be the true plans, then perhaps they would hesitate to act on them. "And what about Violette's daughter?"

Frau Rolfe waved her hand. "The girl is of no use once I have her mother."

"So you're letting her go?"

"I have no plans for her." Which Jackie took to mean the girl would be set free.

"Send her back to England," Jackie offered.

Lillian Rolfe laughed. "And I suppose you'd like me to let you escort her?"

"Violette won't cooperate until her daughter is safe. That I know for a fact."

"Then perhaps I should let you in on a little secret."

Jackie waited, but the woman said no more. "What secret?" she finally asked.

The gray woman looked at her with a satisfied smile that made Jackie shiver. Finally she spoke. "Violette Szabo's cooperation isn't needed."

"Then how do you plan on getting her information."

"Don't insult my intelligence, Captain Bradford. I'm sure, as a spy, you were made aware of German interrogation techniques." Frau Rolfe's finger pointed at Jackie's face. "You've experienced one of them already." She smiled, her gray teeth almost as pale as her receding gums. "It will matter little if Madame Szabo tells us lies or not. We have modern ways to guarantee the truth."

At that moment, Jackie realized she had to kill Violette no matter what. Planting seeds of doubt in the Nazi's mind wouldn't change the outcome if they planned on drugging or torturing the truth from the French spy. Death was the only way she could keep the plans from falling to Germany.

"You think you need to kill Violette Szabo. Don't you, Captain Bradford?" Lillian Rolfe said, licking her lips like a cat about to devour a bird. "I would like to see you try."

Jackie clenched her jaw and turned to the window, unsure how she'd given so much away. Surely this woman would have her watched very closely, if she even allowed her out of the car. 'Then why did she bring me?' she wondered, her eyes lifting towards the tall spire of a church.



 



"I can't believe I'm stuck down here with you!" Manon cried, her upper lip lifting in a snarl as she shot another angry look at Sophie. "I'm missing everything."

The crypt had gone deadly quiet after Anastasie grabbed the child and ordered Manon to stay with Sophie. Apparently the rest of the small group had followed him outside for this monumental meeting.

"He's crazy, you know?" Sophie said, speaking to her for the first time.

"No he's not! He understands how France should be. Socialism will help us rebuild our country into another great nation."

"How do you figure?" Sophie asked, hoping to gain the girl's trust.

Instead she waved her words off and shook her head. "People like you will never understand. It's better that you are just controlled."

"I can understand, " Sophie began. "I studied history at the Sorbonne." It was a blatant lie, but Sophie saw a glint of respect in the girl's eyes.

"I wanted to go there," she said. "But my family was too poor and I had to stay and help."

"Perhaps after the war," Sophie offered.

"Anastasie has promised to get me into any university I want. Even Queen's College at Oxford."

The college name meant nothing to Sophie, but she imagined it should, so she nodded in sympathy. "Oxford is a good choice. What will you study?" She wanted to add if she survived the war, but didn't. That was a question they all avoided asking.

"I was thinking philosophy or law."

"What are they going to do with the girl, Juliet?" Sophie asked, hoping to catch the woman off balance.

"If the German woman doesn't want her then I guess she goes free."

"What German woman?" Sophie asked, her heart running cold at the thought of Caron controlling all of this.

Manon shook her head. "Never seen her. Don't think Anastasie has either. But she's powerful."

"How?" Images of Caron rose in her mind and she felt her mouth go dry with fear.

"Didn't you see the town? She's kept food coming in and the war out. We've been protected by the Germans and treated like heroes by the townspeople." She flashed a smile of pride. "They like us."

"You'd like to see what's going on, wouldn't you?"

"Of course," Manon said. "But I'm stuck with you here."

"Does it have to be here?"

"What do you mean?" Manon narrowed her eyes.

"Well, Anastasie only said for you to watch me, right?"

"Yes."

"Then can we go up and watch?" Sophie asked, trying to sound as innocent as possible. She saw a look of distrust cross the woman's face and she shook her head. "I won't try anything," she promised. "If this is such a great day for France, I'd like to be able to tell my grandchildren I was there."

"So would I!" Manon cried, kicking at the dirt like a chastised child.

"We'll stay out of the way," Sophie coaxed. "No one will see us, and we can be back here before anyone returns."

Manon pointed at her. "You promise to be quiet? Anastasie will kill me if I disobey him."

"Oh yes," Sophie said, nodding her head for emphasis. "I just want to see."

The woman thought for a moment, her dirty hand rubbing her chin. "We could go into the church. No one would see us there, and we could watch from the stained glass windows."

"That's good," Sophie encouraged, nodding her head. "I'd really like to see."

"Okay," Manon relented. "But we stay inside the church and watch from the windows."

It wasn't what she wanted, but it would have to do. At least it was better than being stuck in this dungeon of dead monks. Upstairs she at least had a chance of . . . she didn't know. But at least it was a chance.



 



Caron parked her car just down from the Abbey. The sunset was almost complete but the sky was still afire with yellows, oranges and blood red rays. Caron found the display fascinating and stared like she'd never seen it before. The colors were so alive and she found herself wanting to reach out to try and touch them.

"Get it together," she said, tearing her eyes from the display and back on the task at hand. "First I have to get in place," she prioritized, looking around for a good place to survey the meeting place . She assumed that Lillian Rolfe would be here before six, and that gave her about five minutes to conceal herself.

A smile lifted her lip when she saw what appeared to be a closed shop directly across the street from the Abbey. It would give her a good view, but, she shook her head again. "Not a good idea to be trapped in a building," she said, turning her eyes towards the Abbey. Only stained glass windows looked over the meeting place, and she didn't feel like straining to see what was going on. Crouching behind some tombstone seemed ridiculous, and that left only a small shack standing between the cemetery and an old field.

"It would be the last place that witch would expect me to be," she said, walking back to her car and opening the trunk. Inside she looked over the various weapons her Sargent had gathered. She was slightly impressed at his thoughtfulness.

First she grabbed two pistols, her favorite a Walther PPK and a Luger, and stuffed them both into the side pockets of her coat. For good measure she also snagged a couple of grenades and pushed them into her pockets, too. She's never cared for the sloppy grenades. It always too the fun out of killing, but who knew? They might come in handy in tonight's bloodbath. Finally she grabbed a Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle and two extra clips. A good spray of bullets from the shack would keep her at arms length from whomever stood between her and .. . .

"Glory," she decided, slamming the trunk.






"Get out of the car, Captain," Lillian Rolfe said, but Jackie refused to move. The area around what she guess was a church seemed deathly quiet. There was no sign of Violette or anyone. "Get out on your own or I will have you dragged from the car."

 

"I bet you sweet talk all the girls like that," Jackie said, climbing out of the back seat.

"What are you implying?" Frau Rolfe said, her black eyes smoldering with such a silent rage that Jackie thought she might have made a huge mistake.

"Nothing. Just being a smartass."

"Then I suggest, for your own sake, you control yourself."

'Not a chance, lady,' Jackie thought as a soldier roughly grabbed her arm and pulled her forward. By the small numbers of Germans, it appeared that Lillian Rolfe felt little danger. Looking around Jackie counted five soldiers including the one who dragged her along. There was either some other force at work here or the old woman was over confident.

"Doesn't look like anyone got your invitation," she called to Lillian Rolfe, who was speaking to a soldier. Jackie watched as the man slid into the back of Rolfe's car and pulled a pair of binoculars around his neck. "Or maybe no one wanted to come to your party," she finished, not sure what was going on there.

Lillian Rolfe walked to her. "You shouldn't worry, Captain. Everyone will be here with . . . how do you Americans say it? With bells on?"

"I'm sure the US troops that roll across the Reichtag will be able to give you all kinds of good American sayings."

Lillian Rolfe gave her a grim smile. "I'm sure the victor of this war will have plenty to share with the world."

Jackie didn't know why, but she couldn't stop herself from leaning towards the smaller woman and sneering. "And that won't be the stinking Nazi's."

The gray woman didn't move back, but met Jackie's eyes with a hard, cold stare. "Pity you won't be alive to give me a condescending American 'told you so.'" Before Jackie could think of a response, Frau Rolfe walked away and the American was left staring at the woman's slightly humped back. "Does that scare you, Captain?" she called over her shoulder, her voice seeming to echo off the trees and tomb stones.

"My life is my country's," she replied, for the first time wondering why that thought suddenly made her body tremble.

"We'll see," the woman said, her voice barely loud enough to carry. Something caught Rolfe's attention and Jackie pulled against her guard's arm to see what it was. It didn't take her long to realize she didn't need to see it to know what Lillian Rolfe was tracking.

"A plane," she said, the sound of the propellers whipping the air overhead.

"How perceptive," Frau Rolfe said, waving her forward.

"You've put a lot of planning into this," Jackie said, hoping her voice sounds more sarcastic than awed.

"Thank you," Lillian Rolfe replied. "I'm glad you appreciate my efforts."

"What's the plane for?" Jackie asked, ignoring a opportunity to say something snide.

Lillian Rolfe turned slowly, her black eyes smug and knowing. "You'll just have to wait and see. Won't you, Captain?"

"Wish I could decline your . . ." she stopped talking when a small group of what looked like Resistance emerged from behind the church. Jackie let her eyes rest on the four people, her attention captured by an overweight man and the small brown haired girl that he lead by the hand.

"Ah," Lillian Rolfe exclaimed. "It's Anastasie and Szabo's daughter."

"You hid her with the Resistance?" Jackie asked, suddenly aware how deep this betrayal went.




 

Violette pulled back a board when she heard a car door slam and peeked out the dirty window. A blonde woman, wearing a leather coat got out and just stared at the sunset. From her behavior Violette almost thought she wasn't a part of things, but when she turned and surveyed their meeting place, the French spy knew better. Maybe this was the Lillian Rolfe she was supposed to meet. If so, where was Juliet?

"That Nazi better not think I'll show my face without seeing my daughter first!" she said, to the blonde, who was opening the trunk of her car.

She decided from the way the blonde Nazi was stuffing her pockets with weapons that she wasn't the mastermind behind things. So that made her what? Violette peered closer, trying to get a fix on the woman's motives. She meant to be here. That much was clear. But why the strange behavior? And why didn't she have anyone else with her?

When the blonde turned towards her hiding place and stared, Violette dropped the board back into place and pressed her back against the old brick wall. She could swear she and the blonde had locked eyes. Her heart beat speed up, and she suddenly felt very trapped in this empty building. If the blonde entered, Violette had no where to run.

With her hand shaking she pulled back the board just far enough to see the blonde walking towards the field. Taking a deep breath she watched as the blonde opened the door of an old shack and slipped inside.

"That's interesting," she mumbled against the glass. "So is she a plant?" she wondered. "A backup, hidden in case I don't cooperate?" A sneer tugged at her set mouth. "Well I'm ready for her," she said, drilling her eyes onto the shack.

For the next ten minutes she hardly blinked as she watched the blonde's hiding place. There was no way the blonde was going to move without her knowing about it. She'd be damned if anyone was going to get the drop on her. Not when she had so much at stake.

Her vigilance was interrupted by the slamming of another car door, and Violette was forced to shift her position to the other side of the window to see farther down the street. The first thing she saw was two black uniformed SS soldiers spread out across the park.

She couldn't help her mouth from falling open when she saw Jacqueline being led between a young soldier and an older woman, who she immediately knew was Lillian Rolfe. The American looked beaten, and Violette felt a lump rise in her throat.

"Oh Jacqueline," she said, shaking her head. "I'm sorry I got you involved."

She watched as the older Nazi appeared to taunt the American, but to her surprise, Jacqueline was holding her own. Violette smiled when she saw the older woman turn away. Maybe Jacqueline's presence would be enough to distract the Nazi and she would be able to escape with Juliet.

Overhead her ears picked up the faint sound of an approaching aircraft and she watched as Jacqueline and the German looked towards the sky. At least the Nazi had lived up to her end of the bargain. If nothing else, Juliet would be flying towards England before she was forced to betray her country.

The sound of the plane grew louder and she watched as two soldiers lit torches and walked towards the field. Violette wondered if the blonde was also watching this from her hiding place. Strange that the older woman hadn't once looked at the shack. Maybe she knew the blonde was there or maybe . . .

The hair on the back of her neck began tingling and in slow motion her head turned back towards the church. Juliet.
Violette's eyes began filling and she felt herself gasp for air. Her daughter stood next to a large man, her small hand disappearing into his bear-like paw. The man was waving at the older woman, and she could see the fear clinging to her daughter's sweet face. She looked so tired that Violette wanted to rush out and engulf her in her arms, slowly rocking her into a deep sleep.

But she couldn't. She had to make herself stay. She had to move when it was best for them both. She could only hope a opportunity presented itself soon.




 


Sophie took Manon's hand and allowed the woman to pull her out of the crypt. Once she'd convinced her that she just wanted to watch, Manon had taken control and lead them quickly down the dark tunnel.

"C'mon," Manon said, dropping her hand and withdrawing her gun again. "It's almost time."

Sophie turned to walk in the direction they'd come, but Manon grabbed her arm. "Not that way," she hissed. "We'll be seen!" She pointed to the other side of the Abbey and waited for Sophie to go before her. "Remember, you promised no tricks," Manon said, her voice fading as the sound of an approaching aircraft buzzed overhead.

"It's a plane," Sophie said, looking up. "Violette said she wanted a plane."

"For what?" Manon said with a small grunt of a laugh.

Sophie looked at the woman. There was nothing to lose by telling her that Violette wanted her daughter taken to England. But . . .. she turned her eyes away. There was nothing to gain, either. "Where do we get in?" she asked.

"Hold on. Watch." She pointed out into the growing darkness where two soldiers stuck torches into hay piles. The plane buzzed over them again, and Sophie watched as the pilot swung wide before bring his plane in between the two flaming haystacks.

"Let's go before we miss it all," Sophie said, desperate to get the girl inside and see what was going on. From there .. . . 'maybe I can do something,' she thought.



 



"It's good to see you again, Frau Rolfe." Anastasie said, and the older woman nodded curtly.

"Is that the girl?" she asked, pointing at the child, who stepped behind the large Anastasie.

Jackie pulled her guard forward to witness this exchange. She had to see if the girl looked at all like Violette. She had no doubt that the Germans had taken Violette's daughter, but she did doubt they would keep her alive long enough to exchange. There was a striking similarity in their eyes and nose, and the way the child's mouth dropped in a slight pout. And like Violette, Jackie wondered when the child had last smiled. She tried smiling at the young girl, but she just pulled further back from them.

"You see I've taken good care of her, Frau Rolfe. Just like you asked."

The German nodded. "All I asked was that she be alive." She darted a hand out and grabbed the girl, pulling her from Anastasie's grasp. The child cried out, and Jackie had to restrain herself from trying to help. "But you've done your job, Anastasie. I'll give you that." Her finger dug under the child's chin and forced the girl's face up. "So, Captain Bradford, does she looked like Madame Szabo?"

"No," Jackie lied. "Violette's child had blonde hair and blue eyes. Just like her father."

"Is that true?" Her finger fell from the child's face and she pinned Anastasie with the stare Jackie had grown to hate.

"This is Szabo's daughter," Anastasie cried. "We followed her for several weeks to make sure."

Lillian Rolfe dropped the child's hand. "A pity you couldn't find someone who knew the whole invasion plan."

"She was the only one not being guarded."

Jackie felt her eyes widen and she fought to relax her face as her brain began to race. 'Oh God,' she thought. 'Violette is a decoy. She doesn't know the real plan and England has totally set her up. They knew she'd turn the information over for her daughter. That's why they let her come to France. They want Germany to believe they've gotten the real plans.' It suddenly all made sense. The saddest part was that Violette hadn't figured it out, and she would die thinking herself a traitor.

"Well, our intelligence units will be able to piece together what she doesn't know." Frau Rolfe pushed the child back at Anastasie.

"So where is she?" Jackie asked, forcing herself into the conversation. "I told you she wouldn't show."

"She's here," Frau Rolfe said, letting her cold black eyes rove around the park. "I can feel her."

"Violette isn't going to come out until her daughter is on the plane. She wants her sent back to England."

"What she wants isn't important."

"This is the American, isn't it?" Anastasie said, pointing at her. "We have the peasant girl you told us to watch for." Jackie felt her heart clench and explode in the space of a second. Her legs felt weak and she swayed slightly.

"Sophie Frenay is with you?" For the first time Lillian Rolfe sounded surprised. "How?"

"One of my people found her in the cemetery this morning."

Lillian Rolfe turned to Jackie. "How interesting," she said, her eyes daring Jackie to react. The American shrugged as if she didn't care. "And where is she now?" she asked, and Jackie fought to keep her eyes on Lillian Rolfe and not the fat Anastasie.

"In the crypt. She's being watched."

Lillian Rolfe nodded, her eyes still drilling into Jackie, searching for any signs of interest. "So, Captain Bradford," she said, the corner of her mouth lifting in an evil grin. "Shall we invited Mademoiselle Frenay to join us or collect her later?"

"It's not my party," she said, keeping her gaze locked with the German.

"True," Frau Rolfe said, broadening her grin into a Cheshire cat imitation. "I think . . . " Her voice trailed off as her attention was distracted to the plane which was just touching down. Everyone, even the small girl, paused to watch as a small Focke-Wulf landed between the two burning haystacks. Even from this distance Jackie could see the plane had been marked as a ambulance and as far as she could tell it had no armaments showing. The pilot turned the plane around quickly and rolled it a safe distance from the roaring hay before cutting the engine and sticking an arm out the window and waving.

"Well, almost everyone's here," Lillian Rolfe said, giving a clipped wave back. "Only Szabo is missing." She turned back to Jackie. "And your little friend. Did we decide to invite her?"

Jackie was torn between wanting to see Sophie and having her near to feeling she was safer is that crypt. She easily recognized that she was Lillian Rolfe's toy, and that the woman could have her killed at any moment. It was highly possible that she was to board that plane with Violette and fly to the heart of Berlin. She didn't want Sophie to suffer that too.

"What's the matter, Captain? Does the mouse have your tongue?"

"Cat," Jackie corrected. "It's cat got your tongue."

"Such childish idioms," Lillian Rolfe said, waving the correction off like nothing, but Jackie saw the woman tightening her jaw.

"So how long are you going to wait for Szabo?" Jackie leaned to see behind Frau Rolfe. "Wasn't she supposed to be here by now?"

The gray woman turned on her, an icy cold hand grabbing her shirt and pulling her close with a strength she didn't think the woman had. "I've had enough of your disrespectful behavior," she breathed into her face. "I warned you before."

"So kill me," Jackie said, trying to pull away from the woman. "Otherwise quit taunting me."

Lillian Rolfe's hand only tightened on her shirt and she pulled Jackie closer. "Captain, the taunting has only begun." She released her hold and stepped back. "Remember how little control you have now."

"So fucking kill me!" Jackie cried, moving back until her guard stepped forward to restrain her. Jackie didn't break her stare at Lillian Rolfe as she grabbed the young man with her bound hands and quickly pulled him into her raised knee. She knew she'd struck his solar plexus when she heard a muffled cry escape from him and he collapsed to the ground panting.

"Frau Rolfe?" she heard one of the other soldier's cry and she knew she had at least one gun trained on her. It didn't matter, and she continued to stare at the old Nazi.

"Kill me, Rolfe," she demanded. "Kill me or not. Just leave me out of this game you've planned."

Lillian Rolfe stared at her, and for the first time Jackie saw indecision flash in her black eyes. Then it was like a shade was pulled down over the woman and she knew Rolfe had regained control of herself. "Step away from my guard, Captain," she said calmly.

Jackie lifted her foot and placed it on top of the gasping man's neck. "Make me."

"Don't make me kill you, Captain."

"That's exactly what I'm doing," Jackie cried. "Better here than in some hell hole in Berlin." She pressed her foot into the man's throat. "So kill me. Deny your superiors their prize."

Lillian Rolfe's eyes dropped momentarily to the man before rising to meet Jackie again. "Kill him if you want. Kill him if it makes you feel better. He's nothing to me," she said, and Jackie knew she meant it completely. "Perhaps," she said, turning around slowly. "I'll kill someone, too. Then we'll be even, won't we?"

"I'm not playing games, Rolfe," Jackie said, her mouth dropping in horror when the Nazi lunged for Juliet, who was hiding behind the fat Anastasie. The girl screamed and tried to run, but Anastasie held her in place until Lillian Rolfe's bony hand could pull her away. "What are you doing?" Jackie demanded.

"Quid pro quo," she said, smiling, her left hand sliding around Juliet's throat like a python. "Something for something."

"You won't kill her," Jackie said. "Then what would you bargain with?"

"Juliet! No! Let her go!"

Jackie turned her head to see Violette rush from a boarded up store and across the park.

"Ma Mere!" Juliet cried when she saw Violette, but Lillian Rolfe's hand tightened on the girl's throat, preventing any other words.

"You were saying, Captain?" Frau Rolfe said, beaming a gummy smile of total satisfaction at her before turning her attention to Violette. "Madame Szabo," she said. "A pleasure to finally meet you."





 

Caron watched what she knew was the American spy being led from Lillian Rolfe's car. "Goddam bitch," she seethed, her eyes burning into the old woman. "She took that from me, too."

It took her a second to realize that Lillian Rolfe didn't have Sophie. Or if she did, the peasant writer wasn't with her. That didn't make sense. Lillian Rolfe wanted to use Sophie to hurt her. Which meant if she had Sophie, Rolfe would surely parade her around if for no other purpose than to once again prove Caron was powerless.

"We'll see who holds the power when this is all over," Caron whispered, raising the Luger pistol to a small knot hole in the old wood and pointing it at the old Nazi. "It could all be over now," she said, pulling back the hammer. She held Lillian Rolfe at gunpoint for a moment before uncocking the gun and lowering it back to her side.

Any good operative knew that timing was everything, and her sixth sense was telling her to wait. Until then she was content to just watch the scene unfold. She wasn't even surprised when she heard the plane coming in for a landing or when the French spy's daughter appeared with a pitiful group of Resistance fighters.

She'd was losing interest in Rolfe and the American bitch's tete-a-tete and felt her mind beginning to wander. It snapped back when the American began screaming and easily disarmed Lillian Rolfe's SS guard. Caron stifled a giggle when the American pinned the boy-man to the ground with her boot. Part of her even urged the American to snap his neck. If only to see another look of disappointment cross Lillian Rolfe's wrinkled face.

She had no doubt that Rolfe would regain the upper hand, and she acknowledged the Nazi's use of the child with a raised eyebrow. It was a simple but effective ploy and she watched the American hesitate at the exact moment she should have acted. Rolfe probably wouldn't have killed the child, but unlike Caron, apparently the American cared one way or the other. It was a foolish mistake.

Except . . .

Caron laughed, and quickly lifted her hand to stifle it. From across the street and from the very building Caron had contemplated using, a shrieking woman ran directly towards the group. 'And the mysterious Violette Szabo finally shows,' she thought, shifting her position for a better view. "How absolutely amusing."

Her eyebrow darted up again when she saw the American bitch press hard on the guard's neck. Even though she couldn't hear it, she knew the sublime sound of a neck snapping and a chill ran down her spine. Lillian Rolfe was too busy watching the French spy try and grab her daughter to notice the American's action.

"So she can't see everything, can she?" she asked, her tone dripping with sarcasm. "And she certainty didn't see that!" she exclaimed, watching the American lean down and quickly remove the dead soldier's knife from his belt. She tucked it neatly into her waistband and pulled her shirt over to conceal it.

"And just what does she think she's going to do with that?" Caron said, her brow furrowing slightly. "She should have taken the dolt's gun."

She shrugged and turned her attention back to Lillian Rolfe and the French spy. Already the old Nazi had regained control of the situation. The girl had been handed back to the fat man, and even from this distance Caron could see the murderous glare in the French woman's eyes.

"This is going to be interesting," she said, flexing her grip on the pistol. Her entrance on this grand stage needed to be timed perfectly. A moment too soon and she ran the risk of losing her edge. She needed Lillian Rolfe off balance. That was the only way she could seize everything for herself.

"Come to Caron," she whispered, licking her lips like a panther.




 

The inside of the church was deadly quiet and Sophie listened to their footsteps echoing off the old stone walls. The approaching darkness outside was driven away by the numerous candles that glowed around various saintly statues.

Sophie noticed Manon genuflect and cross herself as they passed the altar. Perhaps it was that same belief in religious faith that lead the young woman to easily accept Anastasie's warped political faith. Honestly, she really didn't care. She only wanted to distract the girl long enough to get outside and do something.

In her head she could see herself grandly rushing into the gathering and saving Juliet before anyone knew what was happening. Of course she knew that wasn't realistic. If she could only . . . her eyes settled once more on the gun Manon held so casually. If she could knock it from her hand . . .

"Here," Manon said, pointing with the gun at the elaborate stained glass windows set into the East side of the building.

"We can see everything from here." The woman leaned forward until her forehead touched the white glass of some gesturing saint's robes. "God," she breathed. "It's already started!"

Sophie rushed to the window next to Manon's and pressed her face to the cool leaded glass. Below her everything looked distorted and hazy. She shifted until she found a small piece of yellow glass which gave her a slightly better view.

"Who's that?" Manon said, and Sophie followed her sight line to Violette, who was begging to see her daughter. An older woman dressed in an SS uniform pushed the child into Anastasie's grasp and turned on Violette.

"It's Violette," Sophie answered. "Juliet's mother."

"Why won't the old woman let her see Juliet?"

Sophie couldn't answer. At that moment she lifted her eyes to see Jackie. The American had been beaten, but Sophie couldn't see if she was hurt badly or not. Just seeing her again made Sophie's heart skip. But what was she doing . . .

"Look!" Manon said. "The dark haired woman." She groaned. "I think she just killed that guard."

Sophie had seen it, and even while her stomach turned, her heart soared a little. Looking around quickly she realized that no one else had seen Jackie's actions. That meant . . .

"Drop the gun," a voice said behind her, and Sophie spun around to find a brown robed monk holding a pistol to Manon's head. The young woman had completely frozen, her forehead still plastered to the stained glass. "I said drop the weapon."

Sophie also froze, her hands grabbing onto the stone windowsill for support. She didn't know if she should run or stay. The monk didn't seem interested in her, and she felt her feet begin shuffling away.

"You," the monk said, turning his head towards her. "Stay there."

"But I'm not with her," Sophie began.

The monk ignored her, turning back to Manon. He pressed his pistol harder into her skull. "Give me the gun, child," he said. "I can't believe you would bring a weapon into the Lord's house."

Sophie didn't think this was the appropriate time to interrupt the monk and point out the irony of his statement. She watched as he shifted positions and reached over Manon's shoulder to grab her pistol.

The young woman chose that moment to fight, and she tried to turn her way out of the monk's grasp. With a quick duck she dropped to a squat and spun away from the man. The monk wasn't easily fooled, and it was as if he anticipated Manon's moves. As soon as the girl moved he stepped back to avoid being pushed off balance. His eyes tracked her moves like a frog does a fly, and as soon as Manon began standing, the monk lifted his pistol and butted her hard across the back of the head.

Sophie didn't wait to see if he did anything else. This would probably be her only opportunity to run. She turned from the scene with Manon and began moving swiftly towards the big double doors at the back of the church. She'd taken maybe three steps when she saw another monk serenely guarding the doors. He smiled at her while holding up a hand to stop her movement.

"It would be better if you ceased this senseless attempt to flee."

Sophie's movements slowed and she turned to look at the monk behind her. Manon she saw, was sprawled at his feet, her body twisted in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. "Is she . . .."

"We don't kill," he said. "Unless we have to." His head ducked towards Manon. "And I didn't have to."

"But . . ." Sophie's head went blank and she didn't know what to say.

"We're here to help you, child."

"Who are you?"

The monk smile indulgently, almost fatherly at her. "We're Mother Church. We help all who ask."

Sophie narrowed her eyes. "I didn't ask."

"Do you need help, child?"

Her arm lifted and she pointed out the window. "There are others . . . I need to . . ."

"Then let Brother Michael help you," the man near the door said, his voice deeper and more insistent than the monk who had disarmed Manon.

"Do what?" Sophie asked, inching closer to the stained glass window so she could see. Below her things hadn't changed much. Violette was crying, and the large Anastasie looked pleased with himself as he held Juliet from her mother.

"Bastard," she whispered.

"Don't judge him," Brother Michael said, walking up to her and looking down on the group. "Don't judge any of them."

"How can I not?" Sophie asked. "And how can you offer me help if you haven't judged me or them or . . ." Her voice trailed off when she saw Jackie moving up on the old Nazi woman. Darting her eyes she saw that two German soldiers were advancing on her. One pulled the bolt back on his gun and tucked the weapon into his shoulder. "They're going to kill her," she whispered.

"And she has killed, too," the monk responded. "That is God's circle of life."

Sophie glared at the man before shaking her head. "Fuck that," she said, lifting her arms and banging on the glass with her fists. "Jackie!" she yelled, hoping to created a distraction.

"Stop that!" the monk yelled, his arm sliding around her waist and pulling her away from the window.

"Jackie!" Sophie continued to yell at the top of her lungs.



 



The snap of the guards' neck made her stomach turn, but Jackie forced herself to stay focused on the situation at hand. With a quick drop, her hand closed around the dead man's combat knife and pulled it from its sheath.

From the corner of her eye she monitored people around her. Most everyone appeared riveted on the commotion between Lillian Rolfe and Violette Szabo. Even the two soldiers had turned their attention from her and alertly watched Violette. It seemed to Jackie that she'd been forgotten, and that suited her fine.

The knife rested against her leg as she stepped over the dead guard, her steps as slow as a snail. Lillian Rolfe's back was to her, and she figured if she could just get to the old woman she'd be able to take control of the situation.

"Let me see her," Violette cried, her voice beseeching. "Please."

"Control yourself, Madame Szabo."

"My daughter. I want my daughter."

The fat Anastasie looked on with a look of pathetic pleasure as he held a struggling Juliet in his bearish arms. His small group of dirty followers had stepped back from the display, and from the way their mouths fell open in shock, Jackie could see this wasn't exactly what they had in mind.

One of the soldiers had wrapped his arms around Violette's waist and was leaning into the woman to keep her from pushing her way to Juliet. Violette's expression was so pained that Jackie pitied her grief. To have gotten so far to have a cruel woman keep her from her child . . . Jackie could only imagine what it might feel like.

And there she stood. Lillian Rolfe. Jackie would have given anything to see the expression on her face. Had she expected this display from Violette? Somehow Jackie doubted it. If she knew anything about the old German, she liked order and control, and this scene had neither.

She moved forward oh so slowly. It took all her control to fight the urge to rush forward. The timing was everything. She had to reach Lillian Rolfe unnoticed. If the woman turned before Jackie could grab her, then her one chance was lost. The knife lifted from her leg as she prepared to encircle Rolfe's neck and pull her back. Just another step . . .

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," a voice said from behind her and Jackie froze. "They're about to shoot you." Jackie turned her head to see that the two soldiers had raised their guns and held them steady on her.

"I don't care," she lied, trying to see who was speaking to her. "If I can kill her," she nodded towards Rolfe. "It'll be worth it."

She felt a hand on her back and warm breath on her neck as her captor leaned around to remove the knife from her grasp. "But that's my pleasure," she whispered. "Now. where's Sophie Frenay?" she whispered, the tip of the knife now turned back on her.

Jackie shook her head. "I don't know," she said, catching a shock of blonde hair by her shoulder.

"Don't fucking lie to me! Tell me where Sophie is or I'll jam this knife into your back!" Jackie could hear the anger and desperation in the woman's voice. She was about to answer again when Lillian Rolfe turned. Her cold black eyes dropped to the dead soldier before lifting to the blonde.

"Ah, Caron," she said. "How good of you to finally join us." Her gaze shifted to Jackie. "I see you've met my American guest, Captain Bradford." A glimmer touched Rolfe's eyes. "Captain, Oberfuhrer Caron Von Rundstedt. I believe she knows your Sophie." She stressed the 'your' part and Jackie felt Caron's hand tighten on her arm.

This was the woman who'd shot Henri Frenay. The one who imprisoned and tortured Sophie. Now she held a knife on her, but seemed more interested in sparring with the old woman. "Where is Sophie?" Caron repeated, pushing Jackie forward a step.

Lillian Rolfe ignored the comment. Instead of answering, she motioned to the soldier who held Violette. "Get that man out of my sight," she ordered, pointing to the dead man. "He wasn't good enough to wear that uniform." Her eyes never wavered as she watched the soldier grabbed the dead man's arm and pulled him back towards the car.

"Let me see my daughter," Violette pleaded again, now straining against one of Anastasie's men, her hand reaching for Juliet. "I've come all this way . . . I'm prepared to tell you all I know . . . just let me hold her. Please."

"Pathetic," Caron whispered only loud enough for Jackie to hear before meeting Lillian Rolfe's eyes. "I want Sophie," she demanded, pulling Lillian Rolfe's attention back to her.

"As long as everyone is making demands," Jackie said. "I'd like to go home."

Lillian Rolfe's cold eyes shot venom at her, but the American knew she was struggling to regain control. The old woman looked around the group, and Jackie could almost see the woman measuring each person into the mix. Her attention stopped on the fat Anastasie, who seemed pleased to have gotten some recognition.

"Take the child into the church," she ordered, her smile daring Violette to react. "If Madame Szabo cooperates, she may see her daughter before the plane departs."

"No," Violette moaned, collapsing to the ground. "I've done what you wanted." Her eyes followed her daughter as Anastasie and his small group carried her away.

"Do you know where Sophie is?" Caron hissed in Jackie's ear, obviously not interested in the bitter mother daughter separation playing out.

"Sophie Frenay is not your concern," Frau Rolfe said, turning her back on a sobbing Violette.

"I'll decide what concerns me or not."

"Then decide," the older woman said, stepping closer. "Because you know exactly what I will do if you betray me." She smiled a cold, toothy smile. "I hear Ravensbrook is quite miserable this time of year."

Jackie felt confused as she listened to the conversation. It was obvious these two had no love for each other, but Jackie couldn't figure out what Lillian Rolfe had over the Gestapo agent and why Sophie mattered.

"Why do you want Sophie?" she asked, trying to step away from the blonde, but finding herself pulled back.

"Why do you?" Caron countered, the tip of her knife poking Jackie in the ribs.

"I'm sure it's not the same way you want her, Caron," Lillian Rolfe said, the tone of her voice sarcastic.

"Don't push me, old woman," Caron spat, pointing her knife at Rolfe.

"Get that thing out of my face," the old woman said, barring her teeth like an enraged animal. The blonde lowered the knife. "You will do what you're told or you will suffer." Lillian Rolfe lowered her voice and tugged slowly on her black jacket. "Now, go fetch Sophie Frenay and bring her to me."

"Sophie is here?" Caron said, her voice surprised despite the demands she'd made.

"She's in the crypt below the church." Lillian Rolfe swept her hand towards the back of the church. "Or so I've been told."

The blonde Gestapo agent hesitated and Jackie thought she was going to say no, but instead she tossed the knife to the ground near the old woman's feet. "Fine," she said, and Jackie felt Caron's hand slide around her back and push something cold against her skin. She then pulled her shirt over the what Jackie knew was a gun tucked into her waistband.

"Bring her back, Caron. No games." Lillian Rolfe kicked the knife away from them all.

"But I thought you liked games," Caron quipped, linking her arm through Jackie's.

"Do what you've been told!" Rolfe practically yelled, showing Jackie that the woman could lose her temper. She took a breath and forced a smile at Caron. "Now, step away from the American and prove the Fatherland can still trust you."

"Maybe I'll take her with me," Caron said, but Jackie could tell she didn't mean it.

"Stop fooling around. Bring Sophie Frenay to me, and remember our arrangement."

Caron took a few steps from Jackie and with her back to the American paused and nodded slowly. Jackie knew it was some message for her, but she wasn't sure what it meant. She wasn't even sure why she should trust a German or a Gestapo agent.

As she watched the blonde's retreating back, Lillian Rolfe brought the meeting back under control. "Let's get down to the business at hand," she said, rolling her eyes at the crying Violette.

"Not going quite like you planned?" Jackie questioned.

"Be quiet," Rolfe demanded. "Everything will be as I planned in the end. That's all that is important."

"How is knowing the location of the invasion going to save Germany now?" Jackie said, Violette's red rimmed eyes lifting to her.

"Only someone of pedantic thoughts would ask such a ridiculous question."

"Takes one to know one," Jackie said, feeling incredibly juvenile.

"Charming, Captain Bradford," Lillian Rolfe said, holding her hand up to prevent further conversation. "Madame Szabo is going to compose herself or she'll be of no use to her daughter."




 


The priest released Sophie, but his body effectively blocked her from rushing back to the colored glass. The last thing she'd seen was the two German soldier's lift their guns, and she knew Jackie hadn't seen them. That meant she . . .

"There wasn't any gunfire," she said, trying to piece things together even though she couldn't see anything. "Tell me what is happening?" she beseeched the monk.

The man nodded and edged himself back to the glass. His eye widened and he looked over at the other brown robed man guarding the door. "They're bringing the child," he said, motioning him away from the door.

"Juliet?" Sophie questioned.

"Is that her name?" the monk asked. "We've seen her on the grounds and knew they were holding her below, but we never . . ." he shook his head. "Down on the floor. Here," he said, pointing at the pew. "They mustn't see you."

"But what about Jackie?" Sophie asked, trying to lean forward and see.

Brother Michael looked over his shoulder. "No time," he said. "She's alive, though." He pointed at the pew again. "Now down or I'll have to subdue you."

Sophie nodded and lowered herself to the ground. "Be quiet," he ordered, kneeling at the pew behind hers and lowering his head as if praying. Sophie had no choice but to lay there and stare at the vaulted ceiling. It looked so high from this level.

Her heart was beating wildly and her mouth had gone dry. Looking under the pew she could see Manon's legs lying a few rows up. She absently wondered if the young woman was still alive.

"Keep your voice down." She could tell it was Anastasie, and she kept her eyes on Brother Michael to see how he reacted. The monk just kept his head down. Even his eyes were closed, and Sophie half believed the man was praying.

"Quit squirming, Juliet."

"Ma mere," the girl cried, and Sophie felt her heart ache.

"Anastasie, look," a male voice said, and she could almost picture him pointing. As if on queue the monk lifted his head and turned towards the group.

"Welcome," he said, smoothly.

"I'm sorry, Father," Anastasie said. "We didn't mean to disturb you."

"Please don't apologize," Brother Michael said. "Interruptions aren't always unwelcome." Sophie saw the man smile. "Why is the child upset and calling for her mother?"

"We'll only be here for a short while, Father. Then we'll be gone. It would be best if you pretended you hadn't seen us."

"The Abbey is a sanctuary to all who enter, Monsieur. The decision to harbor, however, is mine alone."

"I don't need a sanctuary. Just a place to wait."

"Then have a seat," the monk said, motioning to a pew. "Why not let the girl sit with me?"

"She's fine with me," Anastasie said, his voice tense. "And we're fine standing."

"Why so many of you to guard the girl?" he said, and Sophie turned her head to try and count the feet.

"Who said she's being guarded?"

"It's not right to lie in the presence of the Lord."

"Why don't you go back to praying, Father." It was an order.

Sophie could see three pairs of feet. They had moved deeper into the church, but still hadn't passed the last pew. Her eye caught movement and she watched a pair of sandled feet glide towards the others.

"I don't think Mother Church would approve of you, Monsieur," Brother Michael said. "I will ask you to release the child and sit quietly in that pew." He stood and pointed.

"And I think you should mind your own business," Anastasie said, his voice a touch louder and more indignant. "I don't care what you or Mother Church think of me."

The sandled feet stepped closer, and Sophie knew Anastasie's group hadn't seen or felt the other monks presence. A sharp crack broke the tense silence and Sophie almost screamed when a wide-eyed face dropped to the ground and lay still.

"What the . . ." Anastasie cried, his feet whirling around.

"I wouldn't move, Monsieur. Brother Martin has very special skills."

"You killed Bertrand," the fat man stammered, and Sophie couldn't pull her eyes away from the face that stared at her.

"He's gone to the Lord. Perhaps He can help Bertrand overcome his evilness." Brother Michael bowed his head briefly. "Now," he said, pointing at Anastasie. "Please, send the child to me and have a seat. We will hold you until things are finished outside and then you may go."

"But . . ." Anastasie sounded completely lost.

"Put the child down. Brother Martin can and will kill you to save the innocent."

"Non one's innocent," Anastasie stammered.

"This isn't a time for a philosophical debate. Send the child to me. You, girl," he said, and Sophie looked up to see he was addressing her. "Get up and go get the child."

The monk's face was set like stone, and Sophie felt herself crawling to her feet. The situation was too tense for her to cause a scene, and even though she wasn't anxious to see Anastasie, she sensed that disobeying Brother Michael might prove a worse fate. She kept her eyes focused on the monk until she was standing. Brother Michael nodded to her and shifted his brown eyes towards Juliet.

Sophie didn't think it possible, but the girl looked more frightened than the last she'd seen her. Anastasie held her tightly, his meaty arms nearly swallowing the girl's frail frame. Sophie began moving down the center aisle towards the fat man and his two remaining followers. She recognized the man who had halted her escape from the vault, but she quickly looked back at Anastasie.

"Where's Manon?" he demanded, his voice ringing off the stone walls.

"Don't speak to her," Brother Michael ordered from behind her. "Just turn over the girl."

"Did you kill Manon, too?" He lowered Juliet to the ground, but retained ownership of her small hand.

Sophie inched closer to the child, her heart racing in her chest and her breath speeding up. An idea was forming . . . "Come here, Juliet," she said, standing less than two feet from the girl.

"I want my mother," the girl cried, trying to tug her hand from the fat man.

Sophie waited, relieved when the other monk edged closer to Anastasie. Her eyes jumped from the girl to the door and she drew a ragged breath. "Come to me, Juliet," she said, struggling to keep the tremor from her voice.

"Release the girl's hand," the other monk said, his shadow spilling over the last pew.

"Please respect Brother Martin's wish, Monsieur," Brother Michael said, his voice deadly serious.

Anastasie appeared to weigh his options, his bulbous eyes darting back and forth like a frog before his fat fingers opened and Juliet's hand fell away. Sophie rushed forward, grabbing the girl's other hand. She shot a glance at the lethal monk before spinning Juliet behind her and running for the door.

"Stop," she heard Brother Michael yell, and from the corner of her eye she saw Brother Martin move towards her, but Anastasie took that moment to swing at the man, and the church doors rushed at them.

To her credit, Juliet managed to keep up with her. She half expected the girl to fight her or try and break away, but by the time they reached the door she felt Juliet's small hands reach past her and help push the large wooden doors open.

"I can't help you if you leave," Brother Michael called, but Sophie paused only long enough to turn and lift Julie into her arms before running down the church steps.



 



Caron grabbed the slanted metal door of the crypt and threw it open so the iron banged loudly against the church's stone foundation. Squatting down she peered into the darkness, her ears tuned for any sound.

"Sophie Frenay!" she yelled down the dark tunnel, confident her voice would be heard.

She waited.

When there was no sound, she crawled down the first step, her free hand grabbing for one of the flashlights and flicking it on. Her steps echoed down the tunnel, but Caron ignored the sounds and increased her pace. She sensed there was a finite time to get Sophie and . . . She didn't know what she planned to do once she got the girl. Her steps slowed before she shrugged it off and decided that some plan would present itself when she needed it.

"Sophie!" she cried again, her voice pounding off the walls and rushing before her towards the lighted cavern.

She shifted the pistol to her right hand and the flashlight to her left. Even though she'd heard no sound from the crypt, experience kept her prepared for anything. She stopped just a step from the opening of the cavern and listened. Nothing.

"Sophie!" she yelled, stepping into the crypt. "Answer me if you're here!" The frustration seeped into her voice, making it quiver.

Her gray eyes darted around the room noting the mismatched furniture and dirty bedding. The place smelled like a pig sty, she noted, holding a hand up to her nose. Sophie wouldn't fit into a place like this. She deserved silks and perfumes.

"Sophie?" she said again, knowing in her heart the girl was not in the crypt. A hollow ache consumed her. The emptiness turned to a primal rage as her thoughts turned to Lillian Rolfe. "That bitch lied to me!" she screamed, an impulse forcing her to lift her pistol and fire into the crypt. The bullet ricocheted off something, but Caron didn't follow it's path. She was already in the tunnel and running for the stairs.



 


The metal of the pistol was beginning to warm against her skin, and Jackie longed to grab for it. 'Wait, ' she admonished herself. 'The right moment will come. Wait for it.'

Until then she divided her attention between watching for Sophie and the blonde Gestapo agent and listening to the exchange happening between Lillian Rolfe and Violette Szabo.

"I want my daughter on that plane, or I won't give you one shred of information about Operation Overlord," Violette said, her grief at being separated from her daughter again replaced with a cold anger. In her demeanor, Jackie could see the outline of the woman she'd once known.

"You are hardly in a position to demand anything," Frau Rolfe said. "I'm in charge of this meeting, and you'd better remember that."

"No," Violette countered, stepping towards the old woman. "I'm in charge. It's what I know that puts me in charge. You want it and I have it."

"That's a rather simplistic way to look at the situation, Madame Szabo. Look around you," Rolfe said, sweeping her arm. "This town belongs to me. I keep it safe and it lives for me."

Violette shook her head. "That has nothing to do with me . . . or my daughter."

"It has everything to do with you. I have been setting this up for over a year." Lillian Rolfe pointed. "For you."

"I won't tell you anything until Juliet is safe."

"Madame Szabo, your daughter's life has never been in jeopardy. I'm a Nazi, not a monster."

Jackie felt a sarcastic comment slid across her tongue, but she clamped her mouth shut to keep it inside. Looking behind her she noticed that the two remaining guards had relaxed their poses. One was actually leaning against a headstone and looking up at the darkening sky. Licking her lips she decided to use their laziness to her advantage.

"Bring Juliet to me," Violette demanded, her face mere inches from the old woman.

Lillian Rolfe opened her mouth to respond, but closed it. Her face relaxed into something that almost looked kind and she nodded. "Very well. You may spend a minute with her." She lifted a finger in warning. "But you must first give me something." She smiled. "Where will the invasion hit?"

The American froze and listened, just as interested in what Violette would say.

"Pas-de-Calais," Violette whispered, and Jackie's breath caught in her chest.

"I knew it!" Lillian Rolfe said, her grim mouth spreading into a smile. "I told Himmler it was Calais. All of our information pointed to that."

Jackie looked over her shoulder at the guard to her left. He seemed to barely watch them, and shifting her gaze to her right she confirmed the other guard was just as disinterested. The American took a small step away from the exuberant Nazi and the pathetic French spy. As her hand slid around her back, Jackie tried to decide who to shoot first.



 



Sophie flew down the steps of the church, small Juliet's hand crushed in hers. She had to get them away from there. To the left lay Jackie, but also the Nazi soldiers and Violette. Juliet would be hard to control if she saw her mother now. To her right was the way she and Manon had traveled from the crypt. Beyond that there appeared to be a wooded area that they could hide in until this was all over.

Without giving it another thought she pulled the girl to the right. They had just rounded the corner when Juliet started trying to tug her hand loose. "C'mon," Sophie said, wanting to reassure the child that she wasn't going to hurt her. "This way. We'll be safe over here."

"I want my mother," the girl said, digging her small heels into the dirt to slow their progress.

Sophie stopped and forced a smile on her face before addressing the scared girl. "I know you're scared, Juliet," she said. "I am too."

The girl pointed behind them. "My mother," she began, but Sophie held a finger to the girl's lips.

"I know. But we can't go that way. We have to go this way. It's safer."

"No!" the girl screamed, and Sophie was forced to clamp a palm over her mouth to keep anyone else from hearing. She was about to reason with the child again when she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Let her go," a voice whispered, and Sophie instantly recognized it. Her body began to shake. She slowly removed her hand from Juliet's mouth and just stood there. The girl looked as terrified as Sophie felt, and Sophie could see Caron reflected in the child's wide brown eyes. "Turn around, Sophie," Caron said, her voice soft.

"I can't," Sophie said, her heart speeding up in her chest, and Juliet's hand twisting to free itself.

"I've missed you," Caron said, her fingers pulling the hair off Sophie's neck. "I don't even care anymore that you ran from me."

"How did you find me?" Sophie asked, mostly to fill the empty space.

Caron answered with a light brush of her lips against Sophie's neck. The action told her more than Caron's words ever could. Sophie wanted to pull away from the touch, but she found herself unable to move. It had a familiar, almost haunting feeling that rendered Sophie impotent.

"Let me go!" Juliet said, tugging hard on Sophie's hand. Just to get away from Caron's touch, she let the girl pull them forward.

"Let her go," Caron said, her hand sliding down Sophie's arm and encircling her wrist with strong fingers. "Let her die with her mother," she whispered. "I've got what I came for and nothing else matters."

"Die?" Sophie said, images of Violette and "Jackie!" she cried, dropping Juliet's hand and shaking Caron's touch off.

Immediately the child turned and ran for her mother. "Not the American?" Caron demanded, grabbing Sophie's shoulder and spinning her around. "Jackie?"

Sophie lifted her green eyes to Caron, immediately transported back to the Chateau. The control Caron wielded over her was absolute and Sophie felt her gaze dropping in submission.

"Do you know I've risked everything for you?" Caron asked, her finger lifting Sophie's chin. "For you," she repeated. "Do you know what I'm saying?"

"No," Sophie whispered, unable to look Caron in the eye.

"I'm saying that everything I've worked to build means nothing when compared to you."

"I don't understand."

"God you're so stupid sometimes!" Caron cried, dropping her hand. "I can't believe I love you."

Sophie took a step back, her heart pounding in her chest. Caron stood there, her face frozen in shock. "You can't be serious," Sophie said, almost unable to get the words out.

"I've never been more serious, Sophie. Can't you see that I liberated you?" Caron said. "And you liberated me. We're meant for something more than this - -" her hand swept out around her.

"But . . .," Sophie stammered, desperately trying to form a coherent thought. "How could you think that I'd . . .."

"You'll learn to love me. It won't be as it was in the Chateau. That was a job." Caron stepped closer. "This is personal."

"But I don't . . ."

"Sssshhhh," Caron said, putting a finger against her lips the same way she'd done before. Sophie tried to back away, but Caron's arm slid effortlessly around her waist and pulled her closer. "This is what you want, my little peasant. I'm who you were made for." She leaned in, and just as before, Sophie could smell the mix of lavender, leather and power. "There will be nothing but me," Caron breathed, her lips claiming Sophie.

The only thing Sophie could think of was how different it felt when Jackie kissed her. "Wait," she tried to say, but Caron was holding her too tightly and pressing her lips against her too hard.

This felt all wrong. Caron had no control over her. She had no control other than what Sophie had given her. Lifting her hands she tried to wedge them against Caron's chest to push her off, but at that moment the air cracked with a gun shot.




 


Lillian Rolfe's face was still smiling in triumph as Jackie backed up and withdrew the gun. Even as her hand fumbled with the grip, her gaze jumped with indecision from Violette to Rolfe.

Pas-de-Calais was the location Violette had given for the invasion, and right or wrong, she knew Violette had to die. There were only two logical conclusions she could draw from Violette's betrayal. Either she'd been sent as a pawn by England, and therefore Jackie had to kill her to preserve the lie. Or she really was betraying the Allied plans, and she needed to die before she could reveal any more.

Of course she could just kill Lillian Rolfe and end it here. But if Violette was a decoy, then the information wouldn't reach Berlin. So did Rolfe need to live?

It was all so confusing, and even as she twisted the Luger from behind her back, she didn't know who to fire at first. Her movement caught both Rolfe and Violette's eye, and they turned towards her. Briefly she locked eyes with Rolfe, who moved to place her body between Jackie and Violette.

"Guards!" Lillian Rolfe yelled, forcing Jackie to forget her intended targets and concentrate on the two soldiers who were lifting their guns. In a quick move, she turned to the one on her right and without aiming, fired. The soldier on her left fired back, and the bullet whizzed just past her head. Jackie dropped low to avoid being hit and tried to pinpoint the other man's position.

"You idiots!" Rolfe screamed from behind her, and Jackie saw what she meant. Both guards had placed themselves directly opposite each other. Which meant they couldn't fire at her without shooting at each other or the other two women. "Control your shots," Lillian Rolfe yelled, and Jackie glanced behind her to see that the old Nazi had pulled Violette to the ground and was trying to cover the French spy with her own body.

'At least I don't have to worry about them,' she thought, lifting her head a little to survey the area. She had two targets to subdue and no idea how to accomplish that. On her left she saw that one of the soldiers had slid behind a tree, but the tree wasn't wide enough to conceal all of him. If she aimed right she could probably hit his exposed hip.

The man moved, his head poking out. 'They're trying to figure out how to get me without killing Rolfe,' Jackie thought, dropping her head below his sight line. She lifted her gun to fire in his general direction, and that scared him back behind the tree.

"Do something, you morons," Rolfe yelled. "She's only got one gun!."

Jackie steadied her hand and squeezed off two shots at the man's hip. The first shot hit the tree and splattered bark. She didn't see where the second shot went, but when the soldier didn't scream or fall, she assumed she'd missed.

On her right all she could see of that soldier was the tip of his helmet jutting out over a grave stone. Hitting it would only cause a ringing in the man's ears and not worth wasting one of her bullets.

"Advance and kill her," Rolfe yelled. "Immediately."

"Shut up," she hissed at Rolfe.

"Give up, Captain Bradford," Rolfe announced, more than loud enough for the soldiers to hear. "You're outnumbered."

Jackie looked back, prepared to threaten the Nazi when another idea hit her. She crawled the short distance to Rolfe and grabbed the old woman by the arm. "Stand up," she ordered, poking her with the gun. "Now."

"No," Lillian Rolfe said, her voice as petulant as a two year old.

"Get up," Jackie said, encircling the older woman's neck and using her height and strength to pull them up. She had to keep the soldiers from flanking her, so she pulled Rolfe's body in front of her like a shield and backed up a little. "Order them to come out," she said, grinding the pistol into Rolfe's shoulder.

"I won't help you."

"Fine. I'll do it myself," Jackie said, lifting the gun to the Nazi's head. "You have until I count to three to come out, or Frau Rolfe and Violette Szabo die."

"If you do that, they'll shoot you where you stand."

"At least the invasion plans remain safe."

"That's what this is all about?" Lillian Rolfe said, her voice incredulous.

"This and Sophie Frenay."

"What do you want?"

Jackie cocked her head towards the plane. "Will that thing make it to England?"

"If you think I'm going to allow . . ."

Jackie ground the pistol into Rolfe's forehead to shut her up. "That's not what I asked. Will the plane fly to England?"

"Yes," Rolfe admitted.

"Then I want Sophie Frenay and Juliet Szabo put on the plane and sent to England."

"What about you?"

"I don't matter." She looked back at the two soldiers who were watching the exchange. "Tell them to come out and surrender. Otherwise we have nothing to discuss."

"You'd let Violette Szabo live if they surrender and the girl and child are sent to England?"

"Order them to surrender," Jackie said, pulling back the hammer of the pistol. "Now or you die."

"Lower your weapons and come out," Lillian Rolfe said, her tone guarded.

Jackie watched as the two soldiers lowered their guns and stepped out of their hiding places. "Tell them to come over here."

"Do what she says," Rolfe said, pulling on Jackie's arm which still encircled her neck.

The two guards started to walk over, but Jackie halted them. "Drop your guns and weapons there first." She waited until they undid their ammunition holsters and side arms and dropped them to the floor. "Don't forget your cute SS knives," she said, pointing the tip of the gun at the dagger sticking out of their belts.

"You're choking me," Rolfe said, pulling harder on her arm.

"Too bad," Jackie said. "This isn't done yet. Step together," she ordered, waiting for the soldiers to move together, their hands held up in surrender.

"Now what?" Lillian Rolfe gasped.

"It's nothing personal," she said, pointing her gun at the first man and pulling the trigger. "It's survival." She quickly repeated her action on the other soldier before he could run.

"You shot them in cold blood," Rolfe cried, watching the men crumple to the ground.

"It's war." She released her hold around Rolfe's neck, but grabbed the woman by the back of her collar before she could move away.

"You'll pay for that. I promise you. You'll pay."

"Don't be mouthing threats just yet." There was still one guard missing. The one who'd removed the dead soldier. She looked around, but nothing. Maybe he ran off. "Or he's hiding," she muttered, leveling her gaze on Violette. Her mouth fell open when she saw Violette holding her daughter.

"How'd she get here?" Lillian Rolfe asked, pointing at the child.

"Doesn't matter," Jackie said, focusing on what needed to be done. "Can you communicate with the pilot?" she asked Rolfe.

"No. There was no need. His orders are only to fly me to Berlin."
Jackie thought for a moment. It would be dangerous to either drag Lillian Rolfe to the plane or to have the pilot come here. The pilot needed to remain alive, and bringing him into the open risked that. She looked around, stopping again on Violette and her daughter.

There was no way she could do what she needed with the child watching. Already her young eyes had seen too much, and Jackie wasn't prepared to have her witness her mother's death, too.

"Violette," she said, nodding to the French spy. "Do you want Juliet to be safe?" It was an obvious question, but she needed Violette's cooperation.

"Of course."

"Then I need to send her to that plane with a message."

"No," Violette said, pulling Juliet closer. "It's too dangerous."

Jackie grabbed the pristine white handkerchief sticking out of Lillian Rolfe's uniform and shook it open. The corners were monogrammed with little black swastikas. "If she carries this, nothing will happen to her." She saw Violette hesitate. "The pilot must ready the plane for take-off and know he's flying to England."

"But what if they're shot down?"

"If he lands in the fields just past Dover and lets them go, he stands a good chance of making it back to France without being attacked. And Sophie and Juliet will be safe."

"You really think that plan will work?" Lillian Rolfe said, trying to step away.

"Yes, I do." She tugged the old woman back hard, causing her to stumble a little. "It's the only plan that will work." She locked eyes with Violette.

"And what about you?" Rolfe asked, but Jackie ignored the question. They didn't have much time left. She lowered her voice, trying to convey sympathy but control to the French woman.

"Violette," she said, slowly. "It's time to let Juliet go. Tell her you love her and you want her to be brave."

The French spy looked up in alarm, the finality in Jackie's tone hitting her. "But - -"

"No, Violette. Your daughter's safety is why you're here, remember?"

"No, Jacqueline," Violette said, her voice anxious. "You can't."

"Talk to your daughter, Violette," Jackie said, her tone measured but firm.

"Please, Jacqueline. Can't something be worked out?"

Jackie shook her head. "Now," she growled. "Don't make this any worse for her."

"Dear God," Lillian Rolfe breathed. "You're going to ki - -"

Jackie yanked Rolfe's collar so hard it cut off her words before the child could hear. "It's your choice," she said flatly. "You can take this chance to have Juliet safe, or . . .." she let the realistic possibility of having her daughter watch be filled in by Violette.

Violette's eye's filled with tears, but she nodded slowly.

"Send her to the plane," Jackie ordered. "She must tell the pilot that he is to fly two passengers to England. Can she remember that?"

"Yes," Violette said, her hand stroking Juliet's hair with a shaking touch. "You can remember that for, Mere, can't you, my darling?"

"Yes," Juliet said, her big brown eyes jumping from Violette to Jackie.

"Tell the pilot that he's to land just past Dover, let you off, and then return to France," Jackie said, waiting for the child to nod. "Take this and wave it, okay?"

Violette crushed the child to her chest, her hands unable to stop touching her. "Be strong for Mere, my darling. Remember how much I love you. You are the best thing in my life, my little Juliet."

The girl hugged her mother back, and Jackie was forced to clear her throat to break up the moment. "Take this white handkerchief and wave it while walking to the plane, Juliet," she said, giving the cloth to the child. "Can you do that?"

The child looked back at her mother, who nodded her head. "Be brave, my darling. I know you can do it. Give the man in the plane the message and wait there."

"I want you to come with me," Juliet said.

"I can't, my sweet. I - -" Violette's voice broke.

"Go, Juliet. Go to the plane," Jackie said, urging her forward with her free arm.

"I love you, Juliet," Violette cried, her tear rimmed eyes watching her daughter walk away. "Always remember that. Always."

Lillian Rolfe waited until the child was out of ear shot before trying to pull away from Jackie's grasp. "You said you were going to let Szabo live," she said with venom. "You broke your word."

"I never gave it, old woman. You heard what you wanted to hear."

"That's a lie. You promised Szabo would live if the guards surrendered."

"I don't have time to debate with you," Jackie said, lifting the Luger towards Violette. "Please get up."

"Please, Jacqueline," Violette said, her brown eyes pleading with her. "Don't do it. For my daughter. Please don't."

"Stand up," Jackie said, biting the inside of her cheek to distract her from the pain in her heart. "Now." She fought to keep her voice under control.

"I'm all she has, Jacqueline," Violette pleaded, crawling to her knees. "Her father is dead. And her grandparents." She tried to reach out to Jackie, but the American stepped away. "You know all of this!" she cried.

"I have no choice, Violette," Jackie said. "You gave me no choice."

"You'll die for this," Rolfe spat.

"Maybe," she conceded. "But thousands can be saved." Her finger tightened on the trigger.

"How do you know Berlin hasn't gotten the information already?"

"Because I've been with you the whole time," Jackie said, wishing she had a free hand to wipe at the beads of sweat on her forehead.

"And what about the soldier I left at the car? By now he's seen my signal and has already transmitted the name of the location to Berlin. I installed a transmitter not far from here."

Her finger relaxed a little as she thought about Rolfe's statement. "Doesn't matter," she said, applying pressure again. "You may know the name, but you don't know when or how."

"True," Rolfe said. "Szabo would be more useful alive, but she's already given us the biggest jewel." The old woman turned to look at Jackie over her shoulder. "So no matter what you do now, Germany will be ready."

"Then I should kill you, too," Jackie said, throwing Rolfe down on the ground next to Violette.

The old Nazi pulled herself up and laughed. "How absolutely American," she said.

"Shut up," Jackie said, pointing the gun on her to keep her from moving.

"Don't delude yourself, Captain Bradford. You don't have the stomach to kill Violette. She's your friend. Your compatriot. You probably even sympathize with her."

"I'd be quiet if I were you."

"Then I'd be as stupid as you," Rolfe said, narrowing her eyes. "Or hasn't it occurred to you that this situation has also been reported and more of my men are on their way here?"

Jackie swallowed hard. "Then I don't have much time, do I?" She looked at Violette who blinked slowly. "I'm sorry, Violette," she said, clenching her jaw.

"Make sure Juliet is safe," she whispered. "Tell her that her mother did it all for her. Promise me she'll know I loved her enough to die for her."

Jackie nodded.

"No, promise me," Violette cried, lurching to her knees and pinning Jackie with a hard stare.

"I promise," Jackie whispered, turning the gun on Violette and trying to steady her shaking hand. "God speed," she whispered, closing her eyes to block the woman's final look. The trigger slid back easily and clicked once.

"No!" Lillian Rolfe screamed above the gunshot.

Jackie held her breath and slowly opened her eyes. Violette lay there, a hole in her throat and small river of crimson blood beginning to run away from her. She stared, as if she couldn't believe it was done. It seemed such a waste.

"Caron!" Lillian Rolfe cried, her face awash in relief. "For Hitler's sake, shoot her."

Jackie looked over her shoulder to see the blonde Gestapo agent less than ten feet from her. She held Sophie by the arm, and her face was set and angry.

"Sophie?" Jackie whispered, noticing Sophie's look of fear as she was dragged along next to Caron.

"I gave you an order," Rolfe demanded, crawling to her feet. "Shoot her now!"

Jackie saw the pistol in Caron's hand, but so far the weapon remained at her side. Caron's gray gaze jumped from Lillian Rolfe to Jackie and back again with increased speed and deleterious meaning.

When the Gestapo agent was less than three feet away she pushed Sophie towards Jackie and raised her gun. "Drop your weapon," she ordered, pointing the gun not at Jackie but at Sophie.

"What are you doing?" Rolfe demanded, climbing to her feet and pointing at Caron. "I commanded you to shoot the American."

"Be quiet, old woman," Caron said, over her shoulder, her gray eyes never leaving Jackie.

"How dare you order me around. You will shoot her now or you will be hanged for disobedience."

Caron turned dispassionately towards Lillian Rolfe and lifted her gun. "I'm sick of you," she said, firing at the old German, hitting her in the left shoulder.

Jackie watched in fearful silence as Rolfe stumbled and fell to the ground. She lay there howling in pain, but Jackie couldn't find any sympathy. Caron turned, dismissing Rolfe from her sight and focused on Sophie.

"Get behind me," Jackie said, grabbing Sophie's arm and pulling her around.

"That won't save her, " Caron said, her tone defeated but angry. "I said I want my gun back, so drop it."

"No," Jackie said, trying desperately to understand this woman.

"Do it, Jackie," Sophie said, clinging to her arm. "Please."

"Yes, do it, Jackie," Caron mimicked, her voice spitting out the American's name.

"Then we're dead."

"Do it!" Caron screamed, lifting her gun and firing just above Jackie's head.

Jackie dropped the gun and lifted her hands. "What do you want?"

Caron stared at her for a moment, her gray eyes blinking slowly. "I want her," she said, loosely waving the gun at Sophie. "But she doesn't want me." She pointed the gun directly at Jackie. "She wants you."

"Caron, please," Sophie said. "This isn't about - -"

"Shut up!" Caron screamed. "You lie. You lied to me."

Behind them the plane's engines coughed and spun to life. Jackie turned her head, knowing she had to get Sophie on that plane. She looked back at the Gestapo agent, trying to decide how far she'd get if she rushed her.

"I love you, Sophie," Caron continued, her voice rising in pain. "Why don't you love me? Don't you know I could give you everything you every desired?"

Jackie lowered her head and prepared to charge, but she felt Sophie's hand on her back keeping her in place. "If you loved me, Caron, you would want me to be happy."

"I want you happy with me."

"Then come with us. To England, " Jackie interjected, hoping to confuse the blonde enough to get Sophie on the plane. She could overpower Caron then, but Sophie had to get on that plane.

"England?" she laughed, her eyes never leaving Sophie.. "Why?" she questioned. "You obviously want to be with her." Caron pointed the gun back at Jackie in accusation.

"She saved my life, Caron," Sophie said as if it explained everything.

"I did, too," Caron cried, her tone pained. "Why do you forget that?"

"That plane can take us to England," Jackie said, pointing at the Focke-Wulf. "Everything will be different in England." It was a lie, but the blonde seemed willing to believe in anything that kept her with Sophie.

"Will it?" Caron said. "Will you love me in England?"

Jackie almost jabbed Sophie in the ribs when she hesitated. "I might," Sophie finally said. "When I know you better."

"I want to make you happy," Caron said. The look of crazed devotion on the German's face told Jackie that she really believed that.

"Then let me go to England."

"In that plane?"

"Yes," Sophie said, holding out her hand to the Gestapo agent. "Please Caron."

"We don't have much time," Jackie added.

"You have as much time as I say," Caron said, her eyes burning into Jackie with hatred.

"You're cra - -" Jackie began, but Sophie touched her arm to silence her.

"Caron," she began. "Look at the plane. It's going to take off."

"So?" Caron responded, her eyes locked with Jackie.

"We have to go," Sophie explained.

"Why don't you and I go to England?" Caron asked, briefly looking at Sophie before returning to Jackie. "We don't need her between us."

Jackie felt her heart freeze. She hadn't thought Caron would think of eliminating her, although it did make sense, and Jackie half wondered why she hadn't killed her already. Sophie stepped in front of her and stood eye to eye with the blonde.

"You kill her and you might as well kill me, too." Caron laughed, and Sophie stepped even closer. "Listen to me, Caron," she said, slowly. "If Jackie dies, then I'll never love you, so you should kill me, too."

"Don't be ridiculous, Sophie. Things will be good between us when we're away from all of this."

Sophie pointed back at Jackie. "Only if she's on the plane with us."

The blonde paused.

"Sophie," Jackie whispered. "We have to hurry."

"Shut up," Caron yelled. "I'm thinking."

"Then decide," Jackie countered.

Finally Caron shrugged. "I haven't been to London in ages." She looked back at Lillian Rolfe, who despite her bleeding shoulder was watching them intently. "Besides, I don't think I have anything left here."

"Filthy homosexual," Rolfe said, spitting at Caron. "You will burn for this, Caron Von Rundstedt."

"I've had enough of you," Caron said, swinging back towards Lillian Rolfe, her gun lifting. "You're dead, you miserable old bag."

"No!" Jackie screamed, lunging for Caron. "Don't shoot her," she said, forcing the blonde's arm down.

"Why not?" Caron demanded, trying to pull her arm away. "She deserves to die."

Jackie really couldn't argue with that, but yet she knew she needed to leave Rolfe alive to complete Violette's mission. She might have been bluffing about the radio transmission to Berlin, and that meant she needed to be alive to carry it personally to Hitler himself. "Let her live," she whispered to Caron.

"Why?" the blonde demanded.

"Because she's lost and she'll have to live with that. This mission she so carefully planned is ruined. How will Hitler or Himmler or any of the big fat Germans like that?"

She saw Caron smile. "She's as good as dead."

"Then leave her here." Jackie felt Caron's body relax and she stepped back. "Get on the plane and leave her to reap what she sowed."

Caron looked from Lillian Rolfe to Jackie and nodded. "Fine," she said. "But you go first, and no tricks."

"Leave your gun," Jackie said, pointing at the gun in Caron's hand. "There's a child on that plane."

"I don't see how that's my problem," Caron responded.

"It's your problem if you think you're getting on that - -"

Sophie cut her off by stepping between them. "A truce," she said, nailing them each with her level gaze. "No weapons and no tricks. We all fly safely to England."

"I can live with that," Jackie said, not sure she could resist the urge to open the hatch and toss the blond woman into the Channel.

"Fine," Caron said, tossing her gun to the floor and kicking it away. "A truce." She looked at Sophie. "A truce for Sophie," she repeated, showing a row of white teeth. "But you still go first." She pointed at Jackie.

Jackie didn't hesitate. "C'mon," she said, pushing Sophie in front of her. "Hurry." She didn't like having the crazy blonde behind her, but for now it was the best she could do. Once they were in England and Caron had no control . . . Then things would be different.

The darkness was almost complete. The two haystacks had almost burned out, but they still cast eerie shadows that outlined the plane in a reddish haze. She could see the lights in the cockpit, but couldn't make out the pilot. "Watch out for the propellers," she called to Sophie, pointing at the whirring blades on the wing.

Once on board she assumed they would reach the English coast in about - -

A gun shot rang out behind her and she heard a scream. Turning she just caught sight of Caron's shocked face as she fell to the ground. Behind Caron, Lillian Rolfe stood, pointing one of the abandoned guns. She turned it from Caron towards her and fired.

"Run!" she screamed, pushing Sophie towards the plane, determined to protect the girl with her body.

"Sophie!" Caron cried, and Jackie looked over her shoulder to see the blonde trying to get to her feet. She only took two steps before Rolfe fired again and Caron fell.

"Zigzag," she screamed to Sophie, hoping the girl remembered. Immediately Sophie began altering her path in a Z pattern, and Jackie did everything she could to use her body to shield the girl.

Another shot cracked behind them, followed by another. The plane's propellers were spinning so fast that dirt was being thrown up around the plane. Jackie reasoned if they could get into that dirt they might be safe until they could get inside. The buzz from the plane's engines was loud, so loud she wanted to hold her hands over her ears.

"Where's the damn door?" she screamed, knowing Sophie couldn't hear it. "There!" she pointed to the hatch just behind the wing.

Glancing behind her she could see that Rolfe was still in pursuit. Her left arm hung useless at her side and her steps were erratic, but she continued to move forward. She tried to gage how much time they had before the Nazi would be able to fire at a close enough range to disable the plane. "Sophie!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, relieved when the girl turned. "There!" she pointed to the door.

Sophie reached it first, Jackie close on her tail. Her hands ran over the door. There was no outside handle. "Shit," Jackie said, banging on the metal door with all her might. Behind them, Rolfe continued to advance, and Jackie wished she'd kept that damn gun.

It seemed like an eternity before the door was swung open by a young pilot. Behind him she could see Juliet, already belted into one of the jump seats. The pilot looked over their heads at Lillian Rolfe and shaking his head started to close the door.

"Not so fast," Jackie said, lunging into the plane and grabbing the pilot's legs. He made the mistake of trying to step back, which only succeeded in upsetting his center of gravity and Jackie was able to pull him to the ground. She wrestled his arms down and pulled the sidearm from his holster.

"Jackie!" Sophie cried, but for the moment Jackie had to ignore her.

"Get ready to fly this thing out of here," she said, jamming the gun into the man's chest. "I don't want to kill you, too."

The boy looked too scared to argue and with a nod he crawled towards the cockpit. Jackie waited until he'd settled himself into the seat before turning to pull Sophie into the plane. When the girl wasn't waiting at the opening, Jackie threw herself at the door.

"Sophie!" she screamed, seeing the girl lying on the ground, blood covering her leg.

Sophie looked up, and Jackie was about to jump out when the plane started to move.

"Wait!" she yelled at the pilot. "Don't move this plane."

The pilot pointed at the old woman. "If she hits the fuel tank we'll explode."

"Don't move this plane," she ordered, swinging her legs around and sliding out of the door.

"Jackie," Sophie rasped, tears streaming from her eyes. "I've been shot."

"Hold on, Sophie," Jackie said, bending over to pick her up.

A bullet slammed into the plane just above her head, and Jackie turned in anger. Lillian Rolfe was so close she could see the blood dripping from her left arm.

"Fuck the invasion plans," she said, lifting the pilot's gun and firing.

The bullet hit Rolfe in the stomach and the old woman doubled over. Jackie couldn't see if the gun fell from her hands or not. It didn't matter anyway. Her instructors always told her to fire until you were sure, and this was one time she knew they were right. She squeezed the trigger two more times until Lillian Rolfe hit the ground.

"Hold on," she said, tucking the pistol in her waist and lifting the girl into her arms. "This is going to hurt," she warned, setting her down on the floor of the plane and pushing her inside.

Above her she caught sight of Juliet straining to look out the door. She knew the child was looking for her mother. She dreaded telling her the truth.

"Leave now?" the pilot screamed from the cockpit.

Jackie turned to give one last look at the Abbey before jumping into the plane and slamming the door. "Now," she said, twisting the handle to secure the lock. She scooted across the floor and lifted Sophie's head into her lap as the plane moved forward.

"It'll be rough," the pilot warned, increasing the thrust.

"Just fly the damn plane," Jackie said, brushing the hair from Sophie's wet forehead. Once they were airborne she would look at the wound, but she silently prayed it hadn't hit Sophie's spine.

"Is it bad?" Sophie asked, her face wincing with every bump the plane hit.

Jackie looked at the spreading pool of blood under Sophie and shook her head. "I don't know."

"It hurts."

Jackie braced as the nose of the plane began to climb, and she wrapped an arm around Sophie's chest to hold her in place. She thought she felt the plane bank to the right, which should be the direction of England.

The blood was starting to gather around Sophie's back, and Jackie couldn't wait any longer to get pressure on the wound. Her eyes scanned the interior for anything that would help. A small towel had been stuffed behind a seat, and she reached for it.

"I've got to roll you over to stop the bleeding," she said, dreading what she might find. "It will probably hurt."

"Okay," Sophie said, and Jackie saw her hold her breath.

Once she had Sophie on her stomach she began prodding her blood soaked clothing for the entry wound. Her fingers moved over Sophie's back, relieved when nothing gushed. It didn't take her long to find the hole in her leg. "It's your thigh," she said, her body relaxing in relief.

"I'll be okay?"

"Oh yeah," Jackie said, pressing the towel against the wound. She'd apply a tourniquet as soon as she could, but first she needed to make sure they weren't heading for Berlin.

"You?" she yelled at the pilot. "Are we over the channel yet?"

"No, but I can see it."

"Juliet," Jackie said to the girl. "I need you to hold this towel just like this."

"My mother?" Juliet asked.

"Help me, Juliet," Jackie said. "Hold the towel. Now."

The child climbed out of her seat and put her small hands on the towel. Jackie waited long enough to see she was doing it right before climbing to her feet and heading for the cockpit. "Where's the channel?" she demanded.

"There," he pointed, but all Jackie saw was darkness.

"Where's the compass?"

The pilot pointed and Jackie noted they were travelling West. "You keep it on this course and you'll live," she said.

"What if the English shoot me down? This plane is just a transport. We carry no weapons."

"Do you have a transmitter on board?"

"Yes."

"Do you want to live?"

"Of course," the young man said.

"Do you know if the English monitor German communications?"

"We have strict orders to maintain radio silence because of that."

"Can you send out an SOS?"

"Yes."

"Begin doing so when we are half way across the channel."

"Jawohl."

Jackie turned to leave but looked over her shoulder. "If you deliver us safely to England then you may do whatever you want."

"I'll get you safely to England. For the child," he said, not taking his eyes off the horizon.

"Thank you."

"The first aid kit is under my seat."

Jackie looked down and grabbed for the red cross box. "Thanks again," she said, walking back to Sophie.

'My mission started in a plane and it was going to end here, too,' she thought, sitting down next to Sophie. She didn't think she'd ever see her again, but as her hands began tying the tourniquet around Sophie's upper thigh, she knew she wanted to see her everyday.

"Are we going to make it?" Sophie asked when Jackie turned her over.

"Yeah," Jackie said, brushing the girl's blonde hair from her forehead. "I don't know how, and I really don't care, but we're going to make it."

The End
(08/29/01)

Thanks for reading.  If you liked the ending and felt I did justice to the characters, please email me at Pallas3@yahoo.com

Look for my next story "Asking Too Much" which follows an FBI agent who hunts a serial killer who is murdering victims who don't meet her standards. Perhaps the FBI agent will!



 

World War II Information

This story was a long effort in writing and many times I had to cut short my research or went with gut feelings on various issues. I apologize if I failed to give a true representation of the time or efforts of those who fought on either side of this horrendous war.

All of the characters are fictional. I did, however, use the name of a real heroine, Violette Szabo. Yes, this woman actually existed, although my portrayal of her was absolutely fictional. Violette Szabo was one of Great Britain's most honored spies, including being the first woman to be awarded the George Cross. The 1946 citation for her award read:

"Madame Szabo volunteered to undertake a particularly dangerous mission in France. She was parachuted into France in April 1944, and undertook the task with enthusiasm. In her execution of the delicate researches entailed she showed great presence of mind and astuteness. She was twice arrested by the German security authorities, but each time managed to get away. Eventually, however, with other members of her group, she was surrounded by the Gestapo in a house in the south-west of France. Resistance appeared hopeless, but Madame Szabo, seizing a Sten gun and as much ammunition as she could carry, barricaded herself in part of the house, and, exchanging shot for shot with the enemy, killed or wounded several of them. By constant movement she avoided being cornered and fought until she dropped exhausted. She was arrested and had to undergo solitary confinement. She was then continuously and atrociously tortured, but never by word or deed gave away any of her acquaintances, or told the enemy anything of value. She was ultimately executed. Madame Szabo gave a magnificent example of courage and steadfastness."

Violette Szabo used to sign her messages with a poem.  I understand that this poem had different endings to protect the veracity of her messages.  One version was:

The love that I have is all that I have
And the love that I have is yours
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours
A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours



Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments, please email me at Pallas3@yahoo.com


 

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