PLEASE READ THIS DISCLAIMER: This story is set during World War II, and it depicts an action that many women suffered during war. There is a very short rape scene at the beginning that is used to set up the rest of the story. The scene is not glorified, nor used as shock value, but to isolate and shift a character?s behavior. I apologize if this offends anyone, and that is not my intention. If this bothers you, then please do not read this story.

Other than that no disclaimers are required for use as the character and plot are my own. This story does depict a relationship between women, and may not be suited for children under 18 or illegal in your given area. Please use your own judgment. Comments, questions or suggestion may be sent to me at pallas3@yahoo.com

NOTE TO READERS:  Thank you for keeping with me over the time it's taken to post this. I try and write whenever I get time, and I appreciate all of you who have written me notes encouraging me to post more often.  Believe it or not, it's helped.

Mercy that Sadness Brings
by
Pallas


Part V: He's Watching You

Henri Frenay stood with his back against the wall and his eyes watching with interest as the bakers pulled racks of fresh rolls and bread from long brick ovens. The kitchen heat felt good, and he indulged himself with a large sniff of the fragrant air.

"Here," one of the bakers said, thrusting a still hot roll at him. "Eat, Frenay. Better you eat it than those damn Boche pigs."

"Merci, Gaston." He took a bite and lifted the roll in thanks.

"Francois should be here soon," Gaston said. "He promised to deliver all of the bread to the Chateau." The baker shook his head. "Why he takes these delivery runs, I dunno. I can't find anyone who wants to go there except Francois d' Silva."

Henri smiled. "I think he's crazy, but he brings back good intelligence."

"He's crazy alright. Always has been." He shouldered another pan of bread into the oven before turning around. "So, I hear there is an American spy working with the Maquis. "Tis true?"

Henri finished off the roll and shrugged. "I've heard the same thing. Funny how rumors get started, eh Gaston?"

The baker raised an eyebrow and nodded in understanding. "Well as long as you're waiting," he pointed to a large bowl. "Mix that flour."

With a laugh Henri grabbed the wooden spoon and began mixing. It felt good to do something innocent again.

"What's this?" Francois said from behind him. "Not thinking of quitting, are you?"

"About time you showed," Gaston said. "These rolls have to be on the Boche officer's table by six. That leaves you two little time to talk."

"We'll use the store room," Henri said, wiping lose flour from his hands.
"Be quick. For all our sakes."

Henri nodded and headed for the back room packed with sacks of flour reserved for the German soldiers. It made him sick how the German food supplies were always full and yet the local French starved. If it wasn't for Gaston's clever way of siphoning off the flour then many in the district would have nothing to eat.

"We shouldn't be meeting, Francois," Henri began, closing the door. "Not before a mission. Too suspicious."

"It can't be helped, Henri. I can't let this go on any longer."

"Meaning?" Henri asked, leaning against a tall pile of flour sacks.

"That American bitch," Francois spit out. "She's wrong for this. She'll end up doing us more harm than good."

Henri shrugged. "Not much I can do about that now."

"You can't trust her."

"Francois, it's not about trust. It's about Sophie. That's it."

"And this Jackie?"

"She has her agenda I have mine."

"I can't believe you're letting her lead the men."

"Someone has to."

Francois' hand went to Frenay's shoulder. "The leader is you, my friend."

Frenay shook his head. "Not when my sister is involved. I can't be an effective leader."

"And what if she decides that Sophie isn't worth the risk after we've done her mission? What then, Henri?"

"She's given me her word."

"That means nothing to me."

"Then don't join us, Francois. You've always been a good man, but if you can't commit fully to this mission then it would be better if you're not there."

"Are you telling me not to come?"

Henri shrugged. "I'm telling you to make up your mind."

Francois turned away. "I never thought I'd see the day when you'd chose over me," he said, shaking his head.

"There's never been a choice."

"So I see."

"Francois?" Henri said, lifting his hand, but the Frenchman walked away.

"I have a delivery to make," he said, opening the store room door and exiting.




Jackie exhaled another labored breath, and watched as it solidified in the crisp night air. Her heart was pounding and despite the cold she felt clammy and hot. Around her in the dark she could feel the eyes of the Maquis bearing down on her, and yet she refused the urge to wipe at the perspiration she knew clung to her face. They were waiting at the rendezvous point and all of the men were gathered except Francois.

"Where is he?" she hissed at Henri. "This plan runs on a timed schedule, and if we don't move at the exact moment Where is he?"

"I don't know," Henri responded. "Francois will be here."

"For your sake, Henry, I hope you're right. He's the sniper, and without the long range cover he can provide, we could be sitting ducks out there."

"Give him another minute."

Jackie checked her watch again. "We don't have another minute!"

"He'll be here," Henri said, but his voice had lost conviction.

Her hand lifted and she waved a man forward. "It's too late, Henry," she said, turning her attention to the man next to her. "You ready with the charges, Jacques?"

The man nodded, and patted a small knapsack on the ground.

"Good," she said, making a point of looking at each man there. "This could be the most difficult mission all of you have ever been on, but also one of the most important. Besides helping Henry save his sister, you're going to cripple the German communications in Normandy for months to come." She saw a few fleeting smiles cross the men's faces. She leaned forward. "So here's the plan."

For the next few minutes she began sketching in the dirt and pointing to various men. Frenay supported her every command decision with a nod of his head, and for that Jackie was grateful. When she'd finished she looked back at Frenay. "That's it," she said. "With or without Frankie, we move out now."

"Give him another minute, Henri said, checking his watch.

"You just heard the plan again, Henry. The guards are due to change soon, and if we don't take this window then we're going in against alert troops."

Henri looked behind him into the dark woods before nodding his head. "Let's go," he consented, turning his attention to the men. "Alright, we've been over the plan. You know what has to be done. Full command is now in the hands of Jackie. Accept her orders like they were mine. He looked back at Jackie, who gave him a curt nod.

"Okay, let's move out," she said turning back to the group. "You seven move out and take up your surveillance positions. Absolute silence from here on out. You know the whistle call if there is trouble. Keep your cool, and keep focused. If things go wrong try and head for the woods and keep moving." She stood, and motioned her surveillance team out. "Good luck," she whispered. She looked at Frenay. "Francois isn't coming. I'm leaving Louis here for long range cover." She looked towards the Chateau. "But Henry, I've got to wonder what Frankie is up to."

"He's just late. He won't let us down. I promise."

She shook her head. "I think your faith is misplaced, but we don't have time to debate the subject." She checked her watch again. "The guard changes in just under an hour. We have to be through the fence and in position before that happens. Henry, you take point to the fence. Crack it open, and we'll be right behind you."

Henri nodded and moved off into the darkness. Jackie looked at the remaining two members of the interior team. Jacques, the explosive's man shouldered his pack , and lifted his Schmiesser gun. Jackie gave motioned him off after Frenay and then sent Emile on his way after a ten count. When both had disappeared into the brush she stared hard at Louis, her new sniper. "You've got to give us cover."

The man shook his head. "But Francois is the best shot. I'm ... I can't ..."

"Just do your best. Stay calm, and just keep us in your sights."

"If Francois comes ..."

"It's your job now, Louis. You can't abandon your post."

The man gave her a sharp nod, and shifted the long range rifle in his hand.

"After the explosion there will be chaos. That's when we're going in after the girl. Keep us in your sights as long as possible. We'll use the side door to leave, and we'll need cover fire back here. Take off after we reach the fence. Do your best."

She gave the man a squeeze on the shoulder before moving off after Frenay. The brief delay with the new sniper had cost her seconds, and she was sure that Frenay was done with his task and awaiting their arrival. However when they reached the fence line she quickly spotted the heavy duty cutters lying on the ground, and the tell-tale cut in the high security fencing.

"Where's Henry'" Emile whispered, and Jackie scanned the area.

"Shit!" she mumbled. "Couldn't he wait" We were going to go in after his bloody sister anyway. Shit. Shit. Shit!"

"What do we do?" Jacques asked, crouching next to her.

Jackie shook her head. "The mission goes on. Do what you're supposed to."

"But Henri?"

"Henri is our leader, and we won't abandon him," Jacques said, grabbing her arm.

She fought back the anger that was rising in her, and turned to face the two men. "And you think I would? I'll see you through to the communications center. Then you set the charges and get out of there. I'll go after Henry. He's my responsibility, and so's his damnable sister! Just make sure you detonate on time. "

"I'll give you an extra few minutes on the charges. If you can sneak in ..."

"No! Blow them on time. I'll have to use the confusion to get us all out." She took a deep breath. "Now, get through the fence, and do your jobs."

Jackie watched her interior team move through the fence cut with silent precision. She dropped to her knees and lifted the wire. "Mother, if I make it out of this," Jackie said, ducking under the fence. "Then I swear I'll enjoy every boring party, and I'll live to buy new dresses. I'll never doubt your wisdom again. Promise."




By the time Sophie emerged from the bathroom the large room was deserted. Her head was spinning and she felt slightly queasy about all that had gone on with Caron.

"She's been very good to me," she said, pulling the towel closer. "That's all."

"That's not a lame reason, Sophie," the maid said, stepping out from behind a door. "The Oberfuher is ... well, it would be best for you if you didn't let her have her way."

Sophie swallowed hard, the cold wet hairs on the back of her neck shaking in the maid's presence. "I'd like some clothes," she said, trying to command as much respect as she could standing there in a damp towel. "The Oberfuher said you'd see to my needs."

The maid shook her head. "Awfully bossy, aren't we?"

"I don't mean to be," she said. "I'm just cold."

The maid shrugged. "Her closet is here," she said, pointing at the door from which she'd just emerged. "Why not just help yourself?"

Sophie's eyes narrowed, but she couldn't back down now. Despite the pain that still throbbed in her body she slowly made her way across the room. She swore she could almost see satisfaction in the maid's face every time she winced.
Caron's closet was sparse, and it gave Sophie the impression that she either didn't own many clothes or this wasn't really her place. Since Caron's clothes had always been pristine, Sophie somehow knew that the Chateau wasn't her home.

"I think you'd look great in her uniform," the maid said from behind her. "She'll either ravish you or kill you on the spot."

Sophie's eyes landed on the jet black S.S. uniform jacket and skirt that hung ominously near the back. The bright red armband with white spider-like swastika made her body shake, and her mouth went dry.

"So that's not to you liking?" The maid's voice stung her, and she slowly turned around.

"I don't feel so well," she whispered, lifting her hand to her damp and sweating forehead.

For a brief second the maid's face softened and she stepped forward. Then she halted and backed away. "I'm not here to baby-sit you, Mademoiselle," she said with a sharp curtsy. "I have things to do."

Her vision blurred as she watched the maid leave, and with a slight cry she fell to the floor and passed out.

When she awoke the room was growing dark. Her stomach rumbled, and she moaned, her hand sliding against the silk of the pillow.

"It's about time you woke up." She recognized Caron's voice immediately, and she searched until she found the blonde sitting across the room smoking. "Do you think I have all day to sit by your bed?"

"I'm sorry," Sophie began. "I was looking for clothes."

"It didn't appear that you found any," Caron quipped, standing and crushing her cigarette into a bowl. "Really, darling, if you want to excite me you don't have to pass out naked on the floor."

Sophie lifted the cover and found herself safely covered in a button down shirt. "Did you?"

Caron lifted her shoulder slightly and smiled. "I couldn't let my treasure be seen by a man, could I?"

"I suppose not," Sophie relented, a part of her now accepting of Caron.

In a smooth motion Caron settled herself on the edge of the bed, her one knee pulled up under her, and her thigh just brushing Sophie's leg. Her finger nail trailed up the satin sheet. "You've never willingly given yourself to a man, have you my Sophie?"

Sophie looked away, but Caron's hand moved across her leg. Sophie could sense the smile that tugged at Caron's blood red lips, and when she looked back she wasn't disappointed. "Why do you even ask?" she said. "Does it give you some pleasure to make me remember last night?"

Caron's hand gently patted her thigh. "No, my dear," she said, her voice soft and sweet. "It hurts me when I think about what happened to you."

"Then why did you ask?"

"Because I need to know if there's ever been a man that you loved?" Caron closed her eyes. "Or who loved you."

Sophie felt her stomach swirl from the anguish she heard in Caron's tone. Without thinking her hand closed over the German's and she shook her head. "I've never loved anyone."

For a long moment Caron just looked at her, the gray eyes waiting for any emotion, and Sophie found herself just as anxious to see some joy fill them. Slowly a haze seemed to fall across Caron's face and the Gestapo agent withdrew her hand. "And you don't love me either, I suppose." It was said more as a statement than a question.

"How would I know what love is?"

Caron smiled and shrugged. "I'm not sure how to answer you, my dear. It's just something you know."

"And do you love me, Caron?"

Caron's hand stroked her leg, the gray eyes watching the movement with interest, and Sophie had to tense her thigh before Caron would look up. "I'll keep you safe, Sophie," she said. "I won't let anyone hurt you."

"And what do I have to do?"

The German's hand rose and fell against Sophie's leg. "What have I asked you to do that you wouldn't have done in order to survive?"

"Is this about survival?"

Caron laughed, her voice toneless and shallow. "Life is about survival." Her gray eyes focused tightly on Sophie, boring into her like a worm into a soft apple until Sophie felt as if every inch of her body had been invaded. "You're a survivor, my little peasant. I can see it in you." She smiled. "You're just like me."

Sophie didn't know why that statement both alarmed her and enticed her. After what she'd been through, being a survivor wasn't a title she'd have given herself. She felt like a hapless victim. But if Caron believed in her ... She let the thought hang in her mind.

"So are you feeling better?" Caron asked, the intimate tone in her voice gone.

Sophie blinked twice and drew her attention back to the blonde German. "I'm a little hungry," she said, trying to smile.

The Gestapo agent laughed, her voice drifting towards her with a lilt and hint of joy that made Sophie smile. "Of course you are, me dear." Caron patted her leg and stood. "I'll have something brought to you." Sophie sat up, her face troubled, and Caron stopped. "What is it, my little peasant?"

"Are you leaving?"

The German shrugged. "I have some things to see to," she replied.

"Will you stay with me?"

"Why?" her tone was cautious.

"I don't want to be alone," Sophie said, leaning back.

For a moment Sophie thought that Caron would leave, but then the blonde smiled. "For you ... I'll delay my meeting."

"I don't want to be a burden," Sophie tried to explain. "If you need ..."

"I said I'd stay, didn't I?" Caron snapped, and Sophie blinked quickly.

"I'm sorry."

"You always are." She drew in a deep breath. "What would you like to eat?" she asked, lifting a black phone from the table. Before Sophie could answer, Caron held up her hand. "I'll decide."

Sophie watched as she crisply ordered her meal in German, and for all the French writer knew, the Gestapo agent could have ordered her cyanide. After Caron replaced the receiver, she disappeared into the door that Sophie now recognized as the closet. She emerged moments later with a pair of khaki pants and a khaki sweater.

"It's not much," she said, tossing the outfit at the foot of the bed. "But I thought you might feel better dressed."

Eagerly Sophie nodded and threw the covers off.

"No, no, no," Caron said, jumping to help her. "I'm not going to have you pass out on me again." Her cold hand closed around Sophie's upper arm, and with a strength that Sophie had begun to rely on she helped her from the bed. When she was standing under her own weight, Caron stepped back and smiled, her white teeth peeking from her red lips like a wolf. "Do you want me to stay or leave while you change?" she asked.

"Um ..."

"I didn't think you wanted to be alone,"

Standing there it only took Sophie a second to decide what to do. Staring directly at Caron she began unbuttoning the shirt that covered her. With each button she could feel Caron's gaze burning into her, and as she began lowering the shirt from her shoulders Caron's breath became rapid. Sophie kept her face impassive as she let the garment fall to the floor before reaching for the khaki sweater. The German's lips parted, and Sophie hesitated, not sure if Caron would ask her to stop. When no words escaped the blood red lips, Sophie slowly pulled the wool sweater over her head and settled it down around her waist.

"Why didn't you stop me?" Sophie asked, reaching for the pants and lifting a leg into them.

Caron laughed. "Never ask me why I do things, little one. Just accept that I do them."

A knock at the door prohibited Sophie from responding, and instead she concentrated on securing the pants around her waist. They were a little long, but she and Caron seemed to wear about the same size. 'That will be convenient,' she thought.



The darkness was all embracing as Jackie skirted along the Nazi fence line. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect that in the middle of a dark night she'd be moving towards a command stronghold. Her heart was beating wildly and the grip of her Walther PPK pistol felt sticky against her sweaty palm. To her ears each step she made in the damp grass reverberated so loudly that she thought everyone must hear her coming.

Ahead of her the rest of her team had been swallowed by the darkness, and even if she strained she couldn't make out any movement. Jackie realized that for all intents and purposes she was alone now. A hostile behind enemy lines.

A smile spread across her face as she hunched her shoulders more and picked up her pace.

From her maps she guessed that she had about a quarter of a mile to travel before she'd even catch sight of the Chateau. She imagined that Frenay had about a ten minute start, which would put him at the house before the guards changed. That could be dangerous.

"Shit," she whispered again, her mind running through all the negative possibilities of his erratic behavior. "He could give us all away before we have a chance!"



The door opened onto the maid who'd assisted her earlier, and the older woman entered pushing an elaborate sterling silver cart.

"It's about time," Caron said, a bemused expression on her face. "I don't like to wait."

The maid shrugged, and gave a small snort of indifference, her head lifting to stare at Sophie. The coldness in the maid's eyes ripped through her body, and the young woman visibly shivered. She felt as if she were looking into the face of her enemy.

"Quit giving her the evil eye, Dagmar." Caron said, placing her hands on her hips. "Just set up the table.

The maid turned and stared hard at the Gestapo agent, and Sophie jumped her gaze between the two women. She didn't think anyone capable of defying Caron von Rundstedt., but the maid seemed to be holding her own. Finally Caron laughed and shook her head.

"One of these days, Dagmar. One day you're going to push me too far."

"So you keep telling me, Caron," the maid quipped back. "But you make a lot of promises you never keep." The maid gave the cart a push, causing it to roll towards Sophie. "Have your newest conquest set up your meal."

Caron raised an eyebrow at the gesture, but only smiled at the maid. "The color green doesn't suit you, dear." The Gestapo agent smoothed out her hair. "And I know I've warned you about displaying your jealousy."

The maid shook her head in disgust. "It's beyond me why I'd feel jealous over you."

"Caron?" Sophie said, her voice quivering with confusion.

The Gestapo agent's ice gray eyes slowly swept across the room and captured Sophie. A toothy grin pulled at her face as she glided across the room with feline grace until Sophie felt the German's warm hand against her face. "Yes, little one," Caron cooed, her head turning to look at the maid.

Sophie's eyes darted like a frightened rabbit between the Gestapo agent and the maid. "I don't understand," she finally muttered.

"Of course you don't, my dear," Caron said, pushing a loose strand of hair off Sophie's face. "You're not supposed to."

The maid let out a short, angry laugh. "And what would she do if she did know?"

Caron's hand dropped from Sophie's face, leaving the skin feeling cold and lonely. "Don't test me, Dagmar."

The maid let out another laugh filled with haughty defiance. "Oh, you're so right, Caron. Playing with you is like kissing a cobra." The maid turned to Sophie. "You'd better be careful, when kissing her, peasant." She laughed again. "Her bite can be deadly."

"You're horrible!" Sophie said, stepping in front of Caron, and totally unsure why she felt compelled to protect the Gestapo agent. "Why are you trying to hurt her?"

"I think it's time you left," Caron said, cutting off the maid's answer.

The maid's hands went in the air. "Oh yes ... dismissed again." She shook her head while a half smile lifted one side of her face in a distorted squint. "You know, Caron, one day I'm not going to care anymore."

Caron took a step towards the woman. "Get out." She pointed at the door.

"Now."

"As you wish, Fraulein Oberfuher," the maid said with an exaggerated curtsy. "I've always served your every wish." She gave her crisp white apron a tug and fled the room without a backward glance.

After the maid left, Sophie's body gave an involuntary shiver, and when Caron's arm slinked around her waist she barely hesitated before leaning into the woman's muscular body. Her mouth opened to question the whole scene, but with a quick glance at the German's stony expression and she thought better of it.

Caron lead her to a small table with two chairs, and without saying a word stood by while Sophie sat. Instead of moving off, Caron stood motionless next to her chair. Sophie looked up, surprised by the pain she saw on the Gestapo agents face. She reached out and lifted Caron's hand.

"It's okay," she said, pressing the back of the hand against her face.
Caron pulled her hand away from Sophie. "Stop it," she said, her face becoming hard.

"What?" Sophie asked, lifting her hand slightly in question.

"You're feeling sorry for me," Caron said. "I can see it in your face." She shook her head, a small strand of blonde hair falling from her tight coif. "I heard it when you tried to protect me. I don't want that!" Caron took a step back.

"Caron," Sophie said, starting to stand up. "I'm sorry."

The Gestapo agent threw her head back and laughed, her voice shrill in its echoing tones which bounced off the walls of the monstrous bedroom. "Of course you are." She looked down. "You're always sorry. That seems to be the only thing that you're good at."

"That's mean," Sophie whispered, turning back to the table. "And unfair."

Caron grabbed a hunk of her hair, tugging her head back until Sophie cried out. "Unfair? Mean?" Caron laughed again. "Haven't you figured things out yet?" She released her hold.

"I don't know what to figure out first," Sophie said, quickly looking away before she lost her nerve. "Every time I think I have an answer, you change the rules on me." She shook her head. "I don't know what you want from me."

Caron didn't answer, and a heavy silence filled the room like an oppressive heat until Sophie drew her palm across her damp forehead. Taking a deep breath she looked over at the German. Caron had crossed the room and now stood by the widow. She'd released her hair from it's tight coif and her blonde waves streamed down her back in a haphazard way. In an almost nervous way the Gestapo agent was curling a strand around her finger while staring unseeing out the dark window.

"Caron?" Sophie said, standing and walking towards her. "Are you alright?"

The German turned her head slightly. "Why did you protect me?" she said over her shoulder. "Why did you defend me to Dagmar?"

Sophie stopped just behind her. "Why does there have to be a reason?"
"There's always a reason. Nothing is done without motivation, Sophie. If you think so, then ..." she half laughed. "I don't know what."

The young woman nodded. "I don't know why I did it." She shrugged. "Maybe I just felt like it."

"No one has ever done that," Caron whispered. "No on has ever cared."

Sophie remained silent. She knew she couldn't respond to Caron's statement , even though the words were clogging her throat and trying to force themselves out of her mouth. She felt her heart jump when Caron turned around.

"Why?" Caron asked again, her voice small and weak.

"Because I care," Sophie answered, lifting her green eyes.

"Stop it," Caron yelled, her hand whipping out of nowhere and tearing across Sophie's face. The slap stung so sharply that Sophie cried out and stumbled backwards. "Stop it," Caron yelled at her.

Sophie's eyes filled with tears, and her picture of Caron blurred. The German's chest heaved and her hands were clenched at her side.

"Quit sniveling," Caron said. "Be stronger, and don't let yourself feel!"

Caron advanced, and Sophie took another step away from her. "Caron, you're scaring me."

The Gestapo agent shrugged. "That's no concern of mine." A sick smile lifted her lips, making her white pointed teeth shine like a jackal. "Face it. You're nothing to me. Nothing but an insignificant peasant whom I find pleasurable." She smiled broader. "For the moment, I might add."

"Caron," Sophie began, but shut her mouth when Caron opened a drawer on the desk near her and withdrew a long, black pistol. "What are you doing?"

In a fluid motion Caron cocked the gun. "You mean nothing to me," she repeated, lifting the gun and pointing it at Sophie. "I could kill you right now ... If I wanted."

"Please," Sophie cried, backing up until her body crashed against the wall.

Caron lowered the gun and moved closer to the young woman until Sophie could smell the lilac perfume pulsing off the German's white throat. "You're scared," Caron said, brushing the cold metal of the gun over Sophie's cheek. "It's a good feeling, Sophie. Trust in it. Embrace it."

"I'm terrified!" Sophie cried, unable to halt the tears that poured from her eyes. "I want my brother! I need to go to him."

The Gestapo agents eyes fired, and her hand clamped around Sophie's jaw like a vice. "Now you listen to me, you little Maquis spy! There is nothing you can do to help your pathetic brother. And nothing he can do to help you." She clenched her hand causing Sophie to squeal. "As we speak my net is closing, and you'd better be concerned about how much you need me."

"You're hurting me," Sophie whispered, trying to turn her head away. "Let go ... please."

Instead the German's grip tightened. "Tell me, Sophie ... was that how you begged that weakling lieutenant to let you go?" She released her grip and roamed her hand down Sophie's neck, her hand grabbing for Sophie's breast and squeezing hard. She chuckled when Sophie cried out in pain. "Poor Sophie," she cooed. "You made it so easy for me."

"Let me go!" she cried, pulling on Caron's arm until the German released her hold, but instead of moving, Caron's weight crashed forward, pinning Sophie against the wall.

"Beg for me, little one," she whispered in her ear, her breath hot and sticky against her skin. "I know you want to. Beg me." Caron moved her face closer, and Sophie turned her head from one side to the other until she felt Caron's lips against her skin. A strangled cry erupted from her as Caron claimed her mouth, and she only stopped when she heard the German's deep throated laughter fill her mouth.

The Gestapo agents hands moved down her body, and Sophie cringed when she felt cold fingers brush against her stomach and inch up her top. She tried to move her face away, but it seemed the German anticipated her every move, and no matter which way she turned, Caron's lips were there. Finally, Sophie lifted her hands and pushed hard at the German, sending her stumbling backwards.
Instead of looking upset, Caron flashed an impish grin. She lowered her head and looked at Sophie from lowered eyes. "You shouldn't have done that, cheri," she sung, wagging the gun barrel back and forth in a scolding manner. "Who knows what I might do now."

"Caron. Please. I don't want ..."

"Don't speak to me like you care," Caron cried. "I've been nothing but good to you, and this is how you repay me?" She took a step forward. "You should be giving me everything I ask."

"I don't know what you want from me," Sophie simply said.

"I'm not here to be your teacher, my dear." She shrugged. "This is the way of the world. If you want my protection, then you have to give what you have." She stepped forward and flicked her finger over Sophie's breast until the nipple stood out. She looked up and grinned. "And all you have to give is yourself."

Sophie lifted her arms to cover her breasts. "Caron, I thought ..."

"What you thought isn't important. It's what was expected of you that counts."

"And what do you expect of me? From one moment to the next ... I don't know!"

"That's really not my problem," Caron said, pushing the younger woman's arms down to her side and leaned her body against Sophie's. "All I need to know is if you're capable of doing everything I desire of you." She leaned forward and ran hand up Sophie's arm. "Can you, peasant?"

"What about my brother?" Sophie asked, fighting the urge to step away from the German.

Caron laughed.

"You promised."

"Answer my question, Sophie," Caron asked, her lips hovering over Sophie's.

Sophie couldn't answer, and she closed her eyes waiting for the kiss.

"You're too much, Caron," a voice said behind them, and Caron stood back to reveal Dagmar standing just inside the door.

Caron turned her head towards the maid, but made no attempt to remove her hands from Sophie. "What do you want, Dagmar? I thought I dismissed you."

"You wanted me to tell you when it was time."

"I'm a little preoccupied," Caron hissed. "Can't you handle it?"

"It's not my neck hanging in the noose," the maid said, shrugging. "It's yours." She smiled, the skin around the corner of her nose deepening with her grin.
The Gestapo agent stamped her foot, and squinted her face up like a small child. "I told you not to bring that subject up again."

"And what are you going to do about it?" the maid said, with a self satisfied nod of her head. "As far as I can tell, darling ... if you fail in this missions ... then you're finished. No one can save you."

"And you go with me, Dagmar. Don't forget that."

The maid gave a half hearted laugh. "I haven't forgotten," she said. "I'd almost welcome a break from you."

Caron stepped closer, her hands clenching at her sides. "No one's keeping you here." She half closed her eyes as if dismissing the maid from her sight. "Now, since you still work for me," she said, the haughtiness returning to her voice.

"How long do I have?"

The maid's eyes roved over Sophie. "Not long enough for what you started," she said, sarcastically.

"Fine," Caron answered, waving her hand. "Get my coat." She turned her gray eyes back to Sophie. "I'm sorry, my love," she said, reaching out and trailing a long, cool finger down Sophie's cheek. "I must go."

"Here," the maid said, holding the Gestapo agent's heavy black leather coat.

"You, of course, remembered my gloves," Caron questioned, shrugging her shoulders into the coat.

"Of course," the maid responded, handing Caron a pair of black leather gloves.

"Where are you going?" Sophie asked, her heart beginning to feel real fear.

"It's not your place to ask, my little peasant."

"It's your place to just sit and wait for her to destroy your life," Dagmar said, her voice tight and angry. "Like she did mine."

"Shut up, Dagmar." Caron finished tugging on the gloves, and turned towards the door.

"Caron," Sophie said. "What about the passports and visas? You promised me!" She thought she saw the maid smirk, but when Caron turned the woman was blocked from her view.

"And what have you done to earn them, my little Maquis spy?"

"I did what you asked," Sophie said, her voice raising in tone. "You told me that if I did what you wanted that you'd ..." she stopped speaking when the maid's laughter became too loud.

The Gestapo agent stepped closer, her cold leather finger lifting Sophie's chin. "Listen to me," she said in that sickening sweet tone that Sophie was growing to hate. "When I've grown tired of your considerable charms ... then I'll get your passports." She removed her hand. "I always keep my promises."

"What about my brother? We were going to leave France together! He's all I have left" she cried, suddenly aware that she'd given away her heart's desire.

Caron's hand entangled in her hair and her head was given a quick tug. "I'm all you have left," Caron corrected. "Henri Frenay is no longer your concern." She released Sophie's hair. "Now, kiss me goodbye and wish me luck."

When Sophie hesitated Caron's eyes flashed and her hand clenched. Closing her eyes and fighting back the tears she leaned into the German until their lips touched. Caron's lips claimed her, but Sophie could not make herself respond. When Caron pulled back, Sophie lowered her eyes, unable to meet the German's gaze.

"You'd better do better than that, cheri."

Sophie lifted her head, a large tear seeping from her eye and rolling down her face. The Gestapo agent's finger lifted and she caught the tear, flicking the liquid onto the floor. "Crying won't help," she said, spinning on her heel and walking towards the door.

Sophie's heart sank when the door slammed and locked. She knew she'd never see her brother again.




Caron Von Rundstedt stalked down the stairs, the sully maid on her heels, and her black leather coat flying out behind her like a cape.

That was too much," she said, over her shoulder. "I should have you shot for that atrocious behavior."

"Like you could do without me at your beck and call."

The Gestapo agent stopped on the stairs and turned to face her accomplice. "Everyone's replaceable, dear Dagmar. Everyone."

"By whom?" Dagmar asked, stopping a step above Caron. "By that crying little brat in there?" she said, gesturing up the stairs. "I highly doubt that she'll make you happy."

"That's not for you to decide," Caron said, starting back down the stairs. "I'll decide how happy she'll make me."

"I could make you happy. I did once."

"That was a long time ago, dear." Caron shrugged. "A very long time."

"Then why have you kept me around?" Dagmar asked.

"Because you do what you're told," Caron said, stopping at the bottom of the stairs, her black heels clicking against the shinny marble. She turned and waited for the maid. "However," she began, pulling her leather coat closed and cinching it around her small waist. "You've grown tiresome, and hardly worth my efforts."

"Meaning?" Dagmar said, her voice guarded and apprehensive.

"That after this mission, I want you gone."

"Gone where?"

Caron's forehead crinkled and her eyes burned. "I don't care. Go to your parents house in Masstrict ... or go to Moscow for all I care. I don't want you around me."

"But?"

"But nothing," Caron said, walking across the foyer and opening the front door. "You and I are finished," she said, motioning the two Luftwaffe guards inside.

"You're unbelievable," Dagmar said, crossing and grabbing the Gestapo agent's shoulder. "I've done everything you've ever wanted. Everything!" she said, her voice raising. "I'm the only person you've ever known who would accept everything about you!"

"But you bore me," Caron returned, with a dismissive shrug. Without another look she turned her back on the maid and faced the two guards who stood at ramrod attention. She lifted her finger and ran it down one man's expanded chest. "My what fine specimens you are," she cooed, her red lip lifting seductively.

"You're a slut," Dagmar hissed behind her.

Caron ignored the comment and instead dragged a finger down a clean shaven jaw. "You're both relieved of duty for the night," she purred. "Return to your barracks, and don't come out. Comprende vous?"

One of the soldiers looked at her in question, but Caron's hand whipped across his face, the sound reverberating in the empty marble hall. "I gave you orders, soldier! Now go!" Her voice took on deadly seriousness, and both soldiers quickly clicked their heels and scurried down a nearby hallway. "I love power," Caron said, a shiver of pleasure running through her body.

"And is that a new revelation?" Dagmar asked sarcastically.

"Are you still here?" Caron called over her shoulder.

"Why must you treat me with such cruelty?"

"Because I can."

"How long do you think your fascination with Sophie Frenay will last? A week ... a month ... how long?" She stepped in front of the German. "I've given you three years. Three years of doing whatever you needed ... and accepting all your insults and pettiness. All because I loved ..."

"I'm working on getting you a medal," Caron said, cutting her off.

"You're such a bitch."

"And you can't get enough, Dagmar. Remember that."

"The French whore won't play your game for long."

Caron's hand lunged for the maid's throat. "Don't call her that! Sophie will never be a whore."

Dagmar tried to take a step back, but Caron's grip was too tight. "That's what you're making of her. She'll be Caron Von Rundstedt's whore."

Caron's hand tightened, and a dangerous shadow passed over her face. "Tell me what I need to know and then get the hell out of my sight," she said, releasing the maid.

"Did I touch a nerve?" Dagmar asked, rubbing at her sore throat.

Two gray eyes bored into the maid. "Do you want to find out?"

Dagmar took another step back and smiled. "Your information, Frauelien Oberfuher," she said with a crisp Nazi salute.

"Save the dramatics and just tell me."

"Our contact is waiting for you just outside the fence line. He's prepared to do whatever is necessary to make this mission a glorious success for you."

"And what are we giving this traitor in return?"

"His family is starving. He wants to go to America."

"How pathetic," Caron said, rolling her eyes. "I wonder if he knows how I reward traitors."

"I'm sure he'll find out," Dagmar replied. "Where do you want me to position myself?"

The Gestapo agent laughed. "There's never been anything I've wanted from you," she said, and waited while the maid's face became stony. "Did I touch a nerve, dear?"

"Fine," Dagmar said. "But remember that I know everything you've ever done, Caron. Treason would be the least of the charges filed against you if I ever decided to talk."

"Whatever," Caron said, giving the woman a dismissive wave and walking out the front door.

Dagmar watched Caron leave, her face an unshielded combination of hurt and rage. The Gestapo agent had always been difficult to deal with, but Dagmar had always believed in the long run the attractive German would finally see her. Caron's words had stung, but she sensed that their normally antagonistic relationship had changed. Her eyes drifted up the stairs. "Sophie Frenay," she whispered under her breath.

With a determined step she began up the stairs, her fingers clenched around the key to Caron's rooms. "The girl has to be dealt with," she said, the echo of her footsteps leading down the hall to Caron's door. From the outside she could hear the girl's desperate sobs, and she stood motionless, listening with a satisfied grin. The key slid easily into the lock, and her hand tightened on the knob, her mind barely considering Caron's reaction before she threw open the heavy door.




She knew she was making good time. The Chateau loomed in front of her, it's imposing facade reminiscent of an ancient era of tyrants and kings. The shear size of the structure was enough to keep unwise visitors at bay, but Jackie didn't have the luxury of deciding against visiting.

She'd lost sight of her men in the darkness, and she felt totally isolated and vulnerable. The hilt of the pistol that pressed against her skin was cold despite the thin sheen of sweat that she felt clinging to her body. Looking down at her watch she knew that her time was limited, and she had to make it across the expansive lawn.

With her eyes scanning the ground ahead of her she decided to make a dash across a narrow, unlit portion of the lawn. Her feet left damp marks in the thick grass, but it muffled all sound of her movement.

Half way across she heard a noise, and as if her instructors were screaming at her from nearby, she dropped flat to the ground and lay still. The wet grass pressed against her face as she tried to blend her body into the landscape. Her ears strained for any sound of approaching danger, her fingers just touching the hilt of the commando knife tucked into her boots. Hand to hand combat had been her specialty in camp, but playing and doing were very different.

After a long breath holding moment she decided to continue. Raising her body from the ground she nearly broke into a run as the granite wall of the house came closer and closer. Her hands finally touched the cool stone, but that was only half the battle. Turning around she pressed her back against the wall and scanned the darkness for movement. When she saw none she began moving towards a side door. She could only hope that Henri wasn't stupid enough to head up to the second floor by himself.

"Damn," she muttered under her breath as she pushed off from her position and tried to stay as much in shadow as possible. A mental count told her that her men should be in place by now, and that she was now racing against the clock before they set off the charges. If everything went well then the communications center would be destroyed, and the relays would be down for several months.

"This is wrong," she thought. "I know better than this. I should be with my men ... not here rescuing a sister."

The side door seemed to rush at her, and before she knew it her fingers were closing around the handle. She put her pistol away and withdrew her commando knife for close and silent killing. With a deep breath she kicked open the door, throwing her body against the wall for protection and every sense on alert and expecting anything.

Nothing happened and with a cautious peek she turned the corner. A guard was slumped against the wall, his face already swelling from a hard blow. With the hint of a smile she began climbing the back stairs. Frenay at least knew what he was doing, and for the first time Jackie thought there might be a chance. "A small one," she conceded.

Each step was taken with care, her ears peeled for any sound of above her. Her boots silently made the climb to the second floor, her heart beating louder with each passing foot until she'd reached the inner door of the house. Pushing it open just wide enough to peer through she let out a relieved sigh at the silence and calm that greeted her.

With total control she slipped into the house. The floor boards creaked under her feet as she crept along the almost dark servants hall towards the main hall. "If the Germans ever expected a breach of security," she reasoned, sliding silently down the hall, "then there will be at least one guard on the second floor." She licked her dry lips as she drew up next to the door leading to the main hall. "But knowing the Germans," she cracked open the door and peeked out, a smile spreading across her face, "they are too pompous to fear anyone getting in here."

Elaborate wall sconces cast eerie shadows across the main hall, and Jackie stood motionless trying to decide which way to move. A string of tall doors stretched down the long halls and she knew that randomly throwing open doors might get her caught. She searched for any sign of Frenay's passing, but the Maquis leader had left her nothing.

'Think, Jackie!' she told herself, stepping into the alcove of one door and pressing her ear against the wood straining for any sounds.

A door down the hall was thrown open, and Jackie felt her stomach drop to her knees. Without a thought she flattened herself into the shadows and prayed to go unnoticed.

"I won't let her get away with it this time," a man yelled, his voice coming closer and closer. "She's gone too far!" The man stopped practically next to her, his flabby arms fighting with his gray uniform jacket. Jackie saw the golden swords on his collar identifying him as a general, and she involuntarily held her breath. "Gestapo or not," he mumbled while his chubby fingers worked at the gold buttons. "Dismissing my men from their post! I won't stand for it! Sergeant!!" He stamped his foot against the floor before stalking off towards the main staircase.

Jackie listened to his departure with a raised eyebrow, and only after the general's footfalls died away did she finally feel secure enough to move. The general had emerged from at the end of the hall where a large set of double doors stood proud under an elaborate neoclassical arch. A smile crept across Jackie's face when she noted another set of grandiose doors at the opposite end of the hall.

"If I were a Gestapo agent," she reasoned, breaking into a slight run. "I'd take those rooms."

The door was ajar, and a sliver of yellow light scorched her black boots. She could hear movement from inside, and stepping closer she strained to see inside.
"It's me you want. Let her go." Frenay's voice startled her, and Jackie closed her eyes in defeat.

"Sit down, Monsieur. Sit or I shoot your precious sister."





Caron Von Rundstedt sauntered across the yard, her black leather coat cinched tightly against the cool night air. The hair on the back of her neck tingled with excitement and a grin kept forcing itself onto her face despite her efforts to quell it. Her body radiated energy and she almost felt like skipping across the yard.

As she approached the tree line, she concentrated on the sound of her boots whipping through the wet night grass. She knew that half a dozen eyes were peeled on her, and she scanned the trees for sight of her Waffen SS soldiers. She'd ordered them here earlier, and it had given her perverse pleasure knowing they'd been immobile and stranded while she dealt with her little pigeon.

Caron's brow furrowed as an image of Sophie entered her mind. She had to admit that Dagmar was partly right. The girl had gotten to her. Or maybe she'd gotten to the girl. It was very confusing, so she shrugged and allowed a smile to lighten her face. She couldn't think of what Sophie meant. She could only think of how she could break the little Maquis writer. The thought of bending and shaping Sophie to her will gave her more pleasure than completing her mission and capturing Henri Frenay.

Frenay. He'd been a thorn in Berlin's side for too long. His pitiful group of men had managed to wreck havoc on supply shipments and local morale. While Caron cared nothing about this or Henri Frenay she knew her future depended on successfully capturing him. This mission had been far beneath Caron's talents, but after what had happened in Egypt, it sure beat a firing squad.

Caron had always had a knack for doing the dirty jobs, and despite the revulsion she felt for Hitler and his cause she loved the work. The first time she'd seen total fear in someone's eyes she'd been in heaven. Egypt just went wrong. She shouldn't have pushed her power there. She shook her head, whipping her blonde locks around violently. It wasn't her fault that Rommel couldn't control his men. They should have been taught to respect authority, and when they didn't Caron took it upon herself to teach them.

Afterwards she managed to cover up her blunder by blaming the beatings and deaths on some local villagers. She'd ordered their execution to teach the populace about Nazi justice, but Rommel and others hadn't totally believed her testimony. Caron had been forced to flee Africa and find safety in the protection of her uncle. Victorious Field Marshals were like gods to Hitler, and Caron's uncle was Hitler's current shining star. He'd been able to halt investigations and keep her out of the spotlight. When Himmler called her to Berlin late last month she knew the game was up. But instead of condemning her he gave her this ridiculous mission.

'"Route out the traitors to the Fatherland," Caron repeated with a laugh. "Sure thing, you oaf. But now I have something better in mind. Henri Frenay," she said with a growing smile. "You're mine tonight!" She threw her arms into the air and twirled, not caring who saw. "And your sister is mine for as long as I want her."

The trees loomed just a few paces off, and Caron brought her thoughts back sharply to the mission at hand. Sophie would do her no good if she failed to bring down Frenay. A shape moved in front of her and Caron lifted a brow in expectation. "That better be you, traitor."

"And what if I just decide to shoot you?" a clipped French voice answered.

Caron shrugged. "Then we'd both be dead."

"One ways as good as another," the man said stepping out from behind a tree, a long sniper rifle pointed at her. "I'm no traitor," he snarled.

"Then what are you doing here?" Caron asked, walking forward until the tip of the gun was pressed against her chest. "Answer me please."

The man didn't respond, and rolling her eyes Caron quickly assessed the situation. With a crooked smile she shot her leg out grabbing the man by the ankle, her arm lifting to grab the rifle at the barrel and yanking it from his hand. With deft perfection she rammed the gun into the man's stomach and lifted the butt into his chin. The man fell to the ground with a thud, and Caron twirled the rifle in her hand, pointing the tip on the downed man.

"Friend or enemy?" she chirped, ramming the butt of the gun into her shoulder.

"Friend," the man spat. "Francois d'Silva. I'm here to meet you, Fraulein Oberfuher."

Caron lowered the rifle. "Ah, the Brutus who will deliver Caesar unto me." She smiled. "So, where is Frenay?"

Francois climbed to his feet and retrieved his cap from the ground. He held his hand out for his weapon, but the German laughed and shook her head. "Frenay first, my most honorable Brutus."

"He's inside," Francois said, with a nod of his head. "Went to save his sister."

Caron's shoulders tightened and she shook with pleasure. "I knew it!! I knew she'd be the key. " She looked at Francois. "So when do I get him?"

"The Maquis are also going to blow the communications house near the Chateau," he announced, his hand signaling towards a low building nearby.

Caron gave him a dismissive wave. "Not my problem."

"But?"

Caron rolled her eyes, and shook her head. "You French are really such idiots. You never stood a chance against German ingenuity." Her gray eyes traveled up and down his frame with disdain. "How smart would we be if we left a vital communication center just sitting there in the open? Not very."

"Then you mean?"

Caron tucked the rifle against her chest and clapped her hands. "Newsflash" Frenchman found with brain." She laughed at her own joke. "Yes, dumkof, communications were moved to a secure bunker miles from here weeks ago. Some Resistance organization," she mocked. "What a challenge this has been." The sarcasm dripped from her voice.

"But the American said?"

Caron's hand went to the Frenchman's throat. "What American?"
"A spy," he gasped, his face surprised by the blonde's strength. "A woman."

Caron released her hold, and spun away. "Always something to complicate my plans!" she pouted, stamping her foot on the ground. "Where is she?"

"I don't know where she is," Francois provided. "But she's dangerous."

"More dangerous than me?" Caron asked over her shoulder, but the Frenchman never responded. "No matter," Caron said, running a hand across her hair. "I'll take her, too. Berlin loves American spies."

To be continued in Part VI: The Sowers.

Any questions, comments or suggestions can be sent to me at pallas3@yahoo.com Thanks for reading!



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