Disclaimers: Previous disclaimers apply. If you are unfamiliar with them, please link and read. This is a continuing story, and I thank all of you who have read to this point. Comments and plot suggestions can be sent to me at mailto:Pallas3@yahoo.com. Thanks.

 

The Mercy that Sadness Brings

by

Pallas

Part III: You Talk of Sacrifice

(poster link: http://www.openstore.com/posters/sacrific.jpg )

Sophie was only slightly aware of the doctor’s hands touching her body. Instead she fixed her gaze on Caron who stood next to the bed, her gray eyes darting between the doctor’s examination and Sophie. The German’s face changed in an instant from aggressive to compassionate and Sophie couldn’t help feeling protected. At one point Sophie cried out when the doctor touched a sore spot, and Caron violently pushed the doctor away.

"Be more careful, you oaf!" Caron cried. "Don’t give me a reason to send you to Russia."

"I must complete my examination, Oberfuher. If I don’t, I can’t treat her." A lock of the man’s gray hair fell across his forehead, and he nervously pushed it aside.

Caron’s face was over hers. "Sophie, did he hurt you? Tell me, tell Caron."

"No, it’s not him ... But it hurts."

"Give her something for the pain," Caron barked at the doctor. "Now, idiot! Quicker."

"I’m okay, Fraulein Oberfuher," Sophie said, using the German’s formal title.

The Gestapo agent dropped next to the bed, her hand smoothing Sophie’s hair. "You are being so brave, little one. So brave. You are the only one who may call me Caron, because we are friends. Right, Sophie, we are friends?"

The doctor touched her arm, breaking the hypnotic gaze of the blonde German. "I’m going to give you a shot," he said brandishing a large hypodermic needle. "It will numb most of your body, and the pain will fade. It will also help you sleep. Understand?"

Sophie nodded her understanding. Caron seized her hand and squeezed tightly right before the needle pierced her skin. In seconds she felt a tingle and numbness spreading throughout her body. Her head became fuzzy, and as the doctor’s cold hands lifted her torn skirt and moved her legs up, she couldn’t quite focus enough to care. Caron hovered nearby, her eyes dark and hostile on the doctor, and softening only when they looked at her.

She felt disconnected as the doctor’s frigid fingers prodded at her. It should have bothered her, but it didn't. The part that felt protective of her body had been destroyed, and all she felt was empty.

The doctor reached into his bag and withdrew a clean cloth and a bottle of alcohol. Despite the drugs coursing though her, she couldn’t help holding her breath as the cold liquid was touched all over her lower body. It stung slightly, and she pinched her face up, only relaxing when Caron’s fingers brushed her brow.

"Easy, little one. It’ll all be over soon, and then I’ll take care of you."

Sophie managed a small smile, her eyes drifting to the doctor who opened a dark jar and dug a wooden depressor stick into its contents. A wet gooiness was spread on her inner thighs.

"This should help with the bruising," he said, repeating the process on the whip marks and red welts that littered her legs, arms and stomach. The burning pain lessened as the salve began to work, and Sophie closed her eyes in relief.

"How badly does this hurt?" the doctor asked, and Sophie’s eyes opened in alarm.

"Don’t touch me!" she cried, looking down to see him touching her sex. Caron’s hand left her brow, and the doctor removed his hand quickly.

"It’s okay, Sophie. I’ll let you be," he said, pulling down her skirt. "You just need rest."

"Is that your learned medical opinion, Herr Doctor?" Caron asked, her height towering over him.

"I must complete my examination in peace, Fraulein Oberfuher," the doctor said, his face draining of color.

"Do it quickly," Caron ordered, resuming her place next to Sophie and beginning to stroke her hair again. "He’s almost done, my sweet. Be brave a little longer, alright?"

"Please hurry," Sophie gasped, as the doctor’s hands touched her face. His fingers probed her aching jaw. He took some more salve and spread it across a cut over her eye.

"I’ve done all I can," he said, sitting back.

"And what have you done, Herr Doctor?" Caron stood and removed her long black leather coat. "Enlighten me, please."

The doctor stared at her.

"Are you deaf, dear Doctor?"

"Im a valued member of the Fatherland, Fraulein Oberfuher. I ask that you remember and respect that."

"I decide whose valuable ... and who’s not. You remember that."

"I’m doing my job."

"Is she fixed? Have you healed her?"

"I’ve done all that I can," the doctor repeated, his voice shaking slightly.

"And I’ll ask you once again, Herr Doctor. What have you done?" The man refused to meet her challenging gaze.

"I’ve cleaned the vaginal lacerations, Fraulein Oberfuher. I’ve put salve on the welts and the whip marks. There is nothing I can do about the swelling." Sophie felt his fingers touch her chin again. "She’s lucky her jaw isn’t broken."

"No," Caron corrected. "You’re lucky." The blonde sat on the bed and took Sophie’s hand. "Get out of my sight, you oaf. I’ll have a competent physician flown in tomorrow." She fixed the man with a steely stare, her blood red lipstick parting slightly to show her teeth. "If I were you, I’d spend the night worrying if you’d done all that you can for my friend."

The doctor stood up, his hand clenched, and his face flushed. Caron watched with a bemused smile, and Sophie expected a further confrontation, but the doctor gathered meekly his things and walked to the door.

"Do her a favor, Fraulein," he said, turning at the door, his gray uniform hanging on his lanky frame. "Let the poor girl rest before you sink your claws into her."

"Oh!" Caron cried with glee. "Is this mock bravery or a lapse in better judgement, Doctor? I wonder."

Sophie heard the door click back into place, and with a sinking realization she knew that her entire fate lay in the hands of her blonde savior. ‘The Gestapo,’ she thought. ‘I now belong to the Gestapo.’

"What’s going to happen to me?" she asked, not really expecting an answer, and Caron didn’t disappoint. Instead the blonde began tugging a blanket up over her legs, and Sophie didn’t have the strength to ask again.

"Rest, my precious," Caron whispered, her fingers trailing up Sophie’s leg. Despite her fear and confusion, Sophie felt herself giving into the exhaustion and medication. She lifted her hand to cover a yawn. "That’s right, Sophie. Sleep. You’re safe with me."

Sophie began to nod, her spirit lulled by a sudden sense of security. Her eyes were closing when the bedroom door was thrown open, and she was jolted sharply awake.

"I won’t stand for it, Fraulein von Rundstedt." The beefy general from outside stalked into the room, his face flushed and his head dodging back and forth like a bull about to charge. "Did you hear me?"

Instead of engaging him, Caron merely lowered herself onto the bed next to Sophie, her body reclining against the padded headboard. As if egging him on, Caron gave rolled her eyes while giving close inspection to her long, blood red nails.

"You weren’t summoned, General. Leave."

"I don’t care if your uncle is Hitler’s favorite Field Marshal, I will not endure your behavior another second." He yanked at his gray uniform and held himself taller. "I’ve tolerated your preferences before, Fraulein, but this is going too far! This spy will not be allowed in this house." He took a step forward, his face frozen in a sneer. "I don’t know what sick perversion you have in mind for her, but I’m still in command, and I will not ... I want her taken to the basement immediately."

The Gestapo agent shifted her head quizzically. "You want, you won’t, you don’t care." She stared hard at the man. "All sound like orders. Are they, Dieter? I’d warn you to take heed before giving me orders."

"Why should I care? I outrank you ... and you’re just a woman."

Caron von Rundstedt didn’t respond. She simply sat there, her attentions engrossed in her fingernails. The silence dragged out, and the general began looking around the room nervously. "I’m a general," he said, but his voice had lost it’s power.

Caron slid off the bed like a panther, her black pant suit highlighting each shift of her limb and muscle, until she was standing millimetres from the visibly sweating general. "My dear General ... so afraid," she sniffed the air, her eyelids fluttering. "The fear just pours from you."

"You’re insane."

"Aren’t we all? Now kindly follow in the footsteps of your incompetent doctor and vacate my rooms."

"I’m still in command," he repeated, but his voice had dropped a notch in confidence. "I outrank you."

"You really think so, don’t you?" Caron said, stepping back, and slowly returning to her place by Sophie. "Illusions by their nature are sweet, Herr General, but lose that one. It’ll only make you lose your head."

The general pulled himself taller, his round chin shooting out from his fleshy neck. His eyes settled on Sophie, and she felt her skin crawl. A chubby finger was raised, and pointed directly at her. "She’s not to leave your rooms. I shall not compromise the security of the Chateau for your perversions, Fraulein Oberfuher. I want her gone by tomorrow, or I’ll have her removed."

Sophie felt Caron tense, and she pulled herself into a semi-sitting position. "There is no need to argue," she said, trying to throw her legs over the edge of the bed. "If I’m not being detained, then I can just go home. I’m ready to go, if I can."

Caron jumped to her feet, and rushed at the General, her long white fingers clasping his uniform. "Now you’ve upset her!" she screamed. "Get out!! Get out!! Get out!!" Caron’s yells echoed through the large room. The general looked shocked, and finally Caron’s fingers uncurled from the man’s uniform, and she pushed him away. "Get out!"

The general stumbled backwards, his face white and his mouth open. His hand fumbled for the handle and he fled the room, the heavy door slamming behind him. Caron stood totally still for a long second before slowly smoothing her hair. She turned to Sophie with a smile.

"What’s a girl gotta do to get a little privacy?" she asked, lowering herself into a leather bregier chair. A silver cigarette case drew her attention, and she extracted a long stick, her hand shaking slightly. "So, should we have our dear general shot?" she finally asked, lighting the cigarette in a quick, fluid motion.

"You can do that?" Sophie asked, even more afraid of the power sitting before her.

Caron rolled her eyes, and laughed like a school girl. "Wanna watch? I’ll have him executed in the square beneath your window, if you ask me."

"What’s he done wrong?"

"He sent those men to your house. Isn’t that enough?"

"Those men were SS, Caron. They were under your control, weren’t they?"

Caron released a long stream of smoke, and smiled. "My little peasant writer! How smart you are. What if he’s just a really bad man? Would that be reason enough?"

Sophie didn’t know how to respond, so she shook her head.

"Then we’ll just kill him for being German."

"But ... you’re German."

Caron waved her hand in dismissal. "Not that German. My father had a thing for American women, especially tacky socialites ... I’ve spent more time in America than Germany. One of my many step mothers tried to mold me into a well bred little lady. Do you think it worked?" Caron looked away. "Well no matter now," she said with a sad smile. "I doubt anyone would think I’m a lady anymore."

Sophie looked hard at the German, a little seed of sympathy springing in her. "Tell me what happened to you?"

"I’m not in the mood for an autobiographical conversation, dear."

"Were you raped?" Sophie regretted the question as soon as it passed her lips.

Caron ground the cigarette into a crystal astray with unhidden anger. "I told you that no one knows about that now. I want to keep it that way, so shut up!" She walked to the large window and stared out into the darkness. "Ask me no more, Sophie."

"Is that why you’re helping me?" Suddenly it seemed so clear to her.

The seconds stretched into a minute before the blonde German turned from the window, a small smile on her face. "Does the reason matter?"

"It does to me. I’m confused ... and scared."

Caron walked towards her. "Are you afraid of me?" she asked, and Sophie thought she heard vulnerability in the woman’s voice. "Have I frightened you?"

Sophie looked hard at the blonde before shaking her head.

"Then you trust me?"

"I have no one else to trust," she whispered, suddenly very aware how isolated she’d become that night.

"That is good," Caron said, sitting beside her on the bed, her hand falling over Sophie’s. "You look exhausted, little one."

"So tired," Sophie whispered, allowing Caron to pull the blanket higher.

"Then ..." Caron’s voice halted, and in a quick jerk the blanket was stripped off her. "No, no, no," she said. "I won’t allow you to sleep in that ... that rag." She dropped the blanket onto the bed. "Wait here," she said as if Sophie had the option of leaving.

Sophie watched her disappear behind a door she hadn’t noticed. The room seemed dull without the blonde’s presence, and Sophie was acutely aware of how much power resided in the German’s small frame. Caron was gone for a few minutes, and surprisingly Sophie felt relieved to see her return.

"Did you miss me?" Caron asked, a playful smile on her face. She held a bowl, and a silky garment draped over her arm.

"Where’d you go?"

"Jealous already, dear?" She placed the bowl on the night stand, and held up a long nightgown. "What do you think?" she asked.

The nightgown was finer than anything Sophie had ever seen, and her eyes glowed as she took in the deep tan satin and generous amounts of lace that graced the slim design. "It’s beautiful," she breathed, looking into the German’s face. "But too nice for me."

"Yes, that’s very true. But it’s yours anyway." Caron tossed the nightgown at the foot of the bed. The gray eyes returned to her, and the way she was being appraised, Sophie couldn’t help feeling like a heifer at auction. Finally Caron shook her head and clucked her tongue. "No doubt about it," she said, reaching into the bowl and withdrawing a washcloth. "You’re a mess."

"I’m sorry," Sophie apologized, not sure why she felt the need to do so.

Caron sat on the edge of the bed, her one hand falling casually on Sophie’s stomach, her finger’s gently outlining one of the many raw welts. Sophie looked at the hand, and then at the German who simply raised one eyebrow in challenge, but Sophie was too tired. With a shrug Caron leaned forward, and began to wipe Sophie’s face. The hot cloth felt like heaven, and she found herself leaning into both the touch and the warmth. Every once in awhile Caron would twist her face up in disgust and display a particularly dirty spot to Sophie. She was surprised to see dried blood on the cloth, and couldn’t remember if it was her blood or the dead soldier who was ... She pushed Caron’s hand away.

"Please ... stop. Don’t touch me. I don’t want ..." A lump was forming in her throat, and she turned her face away.

Instead of moving away, Caron’s fingers moved against her cheek, and Sophie bit at her lip trying to force the feeling of that pig touching her away. In her head she could see his ruddy face, and stubbly beard. She could smell his putrid breath, and feel his weight on her. A strangled cry escaped her lips, and Caron’s fingers covered her mouth.

"Sophie," she whispered against her ear, the blonde’s warm breath dancing against her clammy skin. "Sophie, my sweet ... keep your eyes closed."

"Please," Sophie said, desperate to push the soldier away, but lacking the strength and ability to succeed. "Get off me," she cried, a deep sob building in her chest.

"It’s not him, Sophie. Feel me." Caron’s hands were touching her. "Is my touch like his, Sophie? Do I feel like him?" Her finger’s moved over her face with surprising gentleness. "Am I hurting you?"

Sophie violently shook her head. "Don’t ..."

"Sophie ..." Caron’s merely breathed her name in her ear, and Sophie strained to focus on it. "Listen to me."

"Caron ... stop. I can’t."

"You can and you will! Have I hurt you?" The tone of Caron’s voice became harder, and Sophie forced her eyes open. The blonde was hovering over her, the gray eyes intense and her red lips tight. Sophie felt herself captured by the German’s gaze, and she didn’t flinch when Caron’s hand smoothed her cheek. "Is my touch at all like his? Answer me, Sophie."

"It’s not the same," she finally relented, allowing Caron’s fingers to dance over her cheek and throat. Her eyes closed, her mind unable to see the filthy German who’d hurt her. All she could feel was Caron. All her trust must be placed in Caron. She’d protect her.

"This is what you deserve, my precious," Caron breathed, her voice soft and comforting. The German’s fingers circled around her bruised jaw, and across her lips. "What happened to you tonight is not this, is it?"

Her response froze in her throat as two soft lips brushed against her sore cheek. The touch was so gentle that Sophie almost didn’t recognize it, but the kiss was repeated, leaving no doubt.

"Forget that touch, Sophie, and remember this," Caron whispered, leaning in the silky lips kissing her like she’d never been kissed before. Caron leaned back, her fingers tracing the contours of Sophie’s lip. A smile lit her face, causing small wrinkles to appear at her eyes. Sophie couldn’t look away if she tried. "You’re so beautiful," Caron said, her fingertips caressing every inch of her face. "Hair like honey gold, and those eyes like the Irish Sea on a summer sail. I’m glad I killed those bastards for you."

Sophie was completely unsure how to respond. A multitude of words formed on her lips, but the glaze in Caron’s eyes lead her to believe no response was necessary. As suddenly as it came, the gloss disappeared from the Gestapo agent’s eyes, and Caron jumped off the bed.

"Step two!" she cried, her hand scooping the nightgown off the bed. She did a quick circle and bowing presented it to Sophie. "For my lady’s pleasure," she said with a crooked grin.

It must have been the look on Sophie’s face because Caron froze and her smile dropped. For a long second the blonde German stared at the Resistance writer, and in a very controlled movement, she thrust the nightgown at Sophie.

"Here, let me know if you need help." She pointed towards the window. "I’ll just wait over here."

Sophie managed to take the nightgown from Caron before the German walked away. The satin felt cool against her hand, and she barely stopped herself from lifting it to her face. Caron cast one last glance at her before leaning her body against the window frame and staring off into the darkness.

With a great effort she pulled the remnants of her tattered blouse from her body. All she could think of was how sore she felt all over. The skirt slid from her hips and she tossed it at the foot of the bed. Her hands ran over her hips, and she almost lifted her head to ask the German for underwear, but decided to not acerbate Caron’s kindness. Her bra gave her the most difficulty, and she came close to just leaving it on when the last clasp came undone and the confining garment released it’s hold on her. She brought the satin to her face, her skin tingling with forgotten delight, and her nose breathing in a perfume that must be ... She lifted her face from the fabric, surprised and yet not surprised to find Caron’s gray eyes watching her every move.

"This is yours?" Sophie whispered, her arms pulling the loose nightgown against her body.

Caron shrugged. "I can get you something else, if you want." Sophie couldn’t deny that she again heard vulnerability in the German’s voice.

"I like it," Sophie said. "Thank you. I appreciate your kindness. Really, I do."

The Gestapo agent turned back to the dark window. "Save your thanks."

The atmosphere in the room had changed again, and Sophie felt a chill. She quickly pulled the nightgown over her head and let the satin fall around her battered body. She looked at the welts on her arms that were beginning to bruise, and she only had to move to feel pain throughout her body. Caron was her enemy. Caron may have saved her from the rape, but she still hadn’t explained what she wanted with her.

"What are you going to do with me?"

"No more questions!" Caron cried, spinning around and stalking towards her. "Either accept what I’m offering or not. The choice is yours. Always remember that, Sophie. In the end, the choice will have been yours."

"What do you ..." Sophie’s voice faded out with the question unasked. "I’ll remember," she said.

"And so you shall," Caron replied. The hard mask which characterized her features moments before shifted, and once again Sophie found herself staring at a new person. "Oh, I see you like my nightgown, right?"

"It’s very nice."

"Well, you should put it to good use," Caron said, her right eyebrow lifted. "There, there, dear little Sophie. Time for all good girls to go to bed." Caron helped her stand, and her arm held her waist tightly as she pulled back the bed covers. "I bet you’ve never slept in a bed this big, have you?"

Sophie shook her head, and tried to keep the pain from showing on her face as she eased herself back into bed. "It’s beautiful."

"But under used," Caron said, shaking her head sadly. "Beds should be used, you know."

For some reason Sophie’s heart skipped a beat at the insinuation, and she could only stare mutely at the German. She wanted to ask her where she was going to sleep, but based on what she’d seen that night Caron von Rundstedt was not a woman one questioned.

"Goodnight, my sweet peasant. Sleep well. Caron will watch over you."

The bedside lamp was switched off and darkness claimed the room. A spotlight passed across the room, and she caught sight of Caron. The Gestapo agent was sitting down and Sophie’s eyes remained on her spot as the dark returned and an unearthly quiet settled over the room. A flash of fire sparked followed by the red tipped glow of a cigarette. In her mind’s eye she could picture Caron’s confident gestures as she brought the cigarette to her mouth over and over. So much control. Her eyes became heavy watching the red tip, and she fell into sleep thinking about the woman who had entered her life.

**********

The night was growing shorter and Jackie had no idea what to do. None of her training had prepared her for her current situation or the off the chart choices she now faced. The next room held five dead SS soldiers, but no Sophie Frenay. The fact that Henri’s sister was missing disturbed Jackie, and her mind clicked trying to figure it all out.

Her lack of experience made her want desperately to call London for further instructions, but she’d been given no other contacts but Henri Frenay. She knew too well that there were many varieties of Resistance fighters in the Normandy region, but because of her low level of security she’d only been given Frenay. Therefore, she had no way of contacting her superiors and asking for assistance. She was on her own.

That left two distinct options. She could either do her best to complete her mission, or she could disappear into the night and try and keep herself hidden for a few days until her mission extract time arrived. If she chose the latter then Jackie knew she’d immediately be sent home to her OSS translation job and Donovan would lose all respect for her.

"I really don’t have a choice," she said out loud, her voice reverberating around the deadly quiet room. "So think, Jackie. How do I get Frenay to concentrate on the mission instead of his sister?"

Without a doubt she knew that Henri Frenay would forgo any mission to search for his missing sister. She could read that in the man’s kind green eyes and simple smile. It would have been a whole lot easier for her to motivate Frenay if his sister was lying dead in that bed.

Jackie lifted a hand to her mouth in horror. "God save me. Did I just think that?"

She felt her stomach turn a little as she contemplate how easy it was for her to discount the young woman and what she’d been through and was probably still going through. In a split second Sophie Frenay had become just another victim of war. Someone to be pitied but not thought about too much. Jackie made herself stop and reconsider everything.

"Alright," she said, running a hand through the rat’s nest that had become her hair. "This shouldn’t be so complicated. I have to use everything I know about this region to make a compromise."

She gave her watch a quick glance, noting that it was almost 4:30 in the morning. She didn’t have much time, and stifling a yawn she realized that she needed sleep soon, too.

Her hand reached for her worn civilian backpack and pulled it towards her. Her long fingers quickly undid the tight knots and she dumped all the contents onto the wood floor. Her pack was designed to look like a refugee’s possessions, and unless someone looked closer the shoes, shirts and books would serve her purpose. With a smile she lifted a left shoe and pried up the insert. In a small, narrow compartment were stored her strategy maps. These she spread across her leg.

The Cherbourg area was relatively large, but as her fingers ran over the small red dots she realized there weren’t many targets of great importance. The Maquis, thanks to RAF supply drops, had managed to continually wreck havoc on the German rail lines, and last she’d heard the main line to Paris had been torn to shreds. She crossed the rail roads off her list. Her next targets were equally unimportant. None would strike a fatal blow to the German army, except ...

A smile spread across Jackie’s face. The Chateau de Valogues. Of course. It was perfect, and she knew her target would set the Germans back for a minimum of four months. Her face fell. It was going to be harder to convince Frenay and the Maquis to attack such a well guarded and feared target. No Resistance fighter had ever dared attack the German stronghold in Cherbourg. The Chateau was the regional headquarters, and nearly five companies of soldiers, including a Panzer division were stationed on the grounds. That was reason enough to stay the hell away, Jackie realized. But, she glanced behind her towards the bedroom, the Chateau was also the single most likely place that Sophie Frenay would have been taken.

"Why?" she asked, trying to find the right combination of things necessary to commit Frenay and his men to the battle.

Due to the bullet sizes and their placements, Jackie knew that the SS soldiers had been shot and killed by another German. While that thought terrified her, it also gave her a good feeling that the girl wasn’t dead. The reasons why still hadn’t been made clear, but Jackie could only go with the information she had. If Sophie had been taken, then where was she? Her eyes feel on the red dot that signified the Chateau, and she nodded her head.

She pushed the maps off her leg in anger, her head shaking back and forth roughly. "Face it," she said, pressing her head against the wall behind her. "I have no idea where Sophie Frenay could have been taken, and I’m just guessing at the Chateau." Something in her felt afraid that she’d use Frenay and his men to attack such a great target for her own glory, and then the poor sister would never be found.

"Am I that ruthless?" She lifted the map back on her leg and bent her dark head over them in critical study. After a few minutes she closed her eyes. "I have no choice," she decided, her fingers folding up the map. "I can’t go home with my tail between my legs."

 

 

**********

Sophie wanted to scream. The soldier was coming towards her, and she couldn’t move. Her body was frozen, and no amount of wishing would help her escape her attacker. He got closer, his hands fumbling with his buckle, and she wanted to scream. The bed squeaked from his weight, and his hands reached for her ...

With a jolt she awoke, her breath heaving in her chest, and the dark room warm and smelling of flowers. It took her a long second to remember where she was, and that realization didn’t bring her comfort. Her body hurt all over, and just thinking about her pain brought tears to her eyes. At that moment courage no longer mattered, and Sophie let herself cry.

The first tears fell silently down her cheek, but soon the pressure in her chest was too much, and she cried with great sobs. The release felt wonderful, and with each falling tear she mourned for herself. Without any advance warning, a cool hand touched her cheek, and Sophie froze.

"Why cry, little one?" Caron’s voice broke the darkness, and the bed shifted. "Crying only makes the pain worse."

"What are you doing in bed with me?"

"It’s best to forget what happened, and work on what you’re going to do," Caron replied, ignoring Sophie’s question.

"I’d like to be alone, please."

Caron’s fingers trailed down her back causing the satin to tingle. "Afraid I can’t do that, my dear."

Sophie shook her head. "I didn’t think you would."

Caron sat up next to her, and Sophie turned her head to see the German as the spotlight danced across the room. Caron’s hand lifted and Sophie didn’t flinch as a finger was drawn up her wet cheek. "Does crying make you feel better?" Caron placed the wet finger between her lips.

"Nothing seems to make me feel better," Sophie said, allowing another tear to fall down her face.

"That’s just plain pathetic." The harshness in Caron’s voice made Sophie jump.

"Then how did you feel, Caron? When it happened to you? What’d you do?"

Caron threw the covers back, but she made no move to leave the bed. "Stop worrying about me and start worrying about yourself."

"How can I when that’s all up to you? Don’t you own my fate?"

A gentle laughter rumbled through the dark. "How smart you are. Always surprising me."

"So, what am I supposed to do?"

"I don’t own you, my precious. I’d like to, but I don’t. If you want to go ... then go."

"You’d ... I can go?"

Caron laid back against the sheets. "Tell me what you want ... honestly."

"I want to leave France ... with Henri," she blurted out without thinking, and then bit her tongue. She’d just admitted to something that could put them both in trouble. She could almost hear Caron’s breathing change next to her, and the darkness became her companion as she waited for a response.

"Your brother will be captured," Caron said finally. "Henri is a problem, and we Germans solve our problems."

Sophie couldn’t respond. There was a cold precision to Caron’s words that sent shivers down her spine. The spotlight from outside swept the room, and she looked down to find Caron’s eyes possessing her.

"You must leave France, Sophie," Caron said, rolling onto her side. "I don't want to harm you."

"How can I? You Germans have France locked up tighter than Hitler’s bathroom." Caron chuckled, but Sophie continued. "No one can leave France without visas ... and passports ... and money." Her breath fluttered in her chest, and her heart was pounding. Looking down her hands were shaking and she buried them next to her legs to hide the tremors. "We’ll never be able to leave ... never."

Caron’s hand settled on her thigh, and a searing warmth passed through the blanket. The hand gently caressed her, and yet Sophie couldn’t bring herself to look down at Caron. She was completely unsure of what she’d find visible in the German’s gray eyes. She tensed her thigh muscle and the hand disappeared. "I could get you out of France," Caron whispered, the words almost swallowed by the darkness.

"Why would you? Henri is a problem ... and you Germans solve your problems," Sophie responded, not liking the harshness that crept into her words.

"If you ask me, Sophie ... I’ll do it." The German’s voice sounded smaller and more vulnerable than Sophie had ever heard it.

Sophie turned in the bed until she was looking down at Caron. The spotlight swept the room and in that quick instant Sophie swore she saw sincerity in Caron’s face.

"Will you get them?" Sophie asked, and Caron laughed.

"No, little one. Ask me in the way I want."

Sophie furrowed her brow. "I don’t understand." The silence extended, and Sophie struggled to see Caron in the darkness. She heard the German shift positions. "I don’t understand," she repeated. The spotlight crept across the room again, and Caron was laying against the pillow, her eyes slightly downcast almost like a small girl.

"Kiss me," Caron whispered. "Kiss me the way I could feel you wanted to earlier. Do that and I’ll get you out of France." Caron looked up, and even in the darkness Sophie could feel the pull of the woman’s eyes.

"But ... I’ve never ..." Sophie’s voice trailed off.

"Kiss me, Sophie ..." Caron’s voice wavered slightly.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, Sophie lowered herself onto one elbow. Her blonde hair fell off her shoulders and down her back. Her hand settled easily next to Caron, and she could just feel the heat coming from her body. As if to close the distance Caron’s body seemed to move into hers, and Sophie wasn’t sure if it she’d moved or Caron. Without realizing it, her hand slid up Caron’s thigh and over her stomach, finding an anchor point on the bed. She heard Caron draw in a breath when she touched her, but Sophie was too committed to quit now. The spotlight swept the room, and Sophie had only a moment to see Caron’s eyes. Sophie smiled, knowing that kissing Caron was taking a stand. Caron’s lips parted slightly, and Sophie couldn’t stop herself from leaning into her. As the light fled the room her lips touched Caron’s.

She’d only planned on it being a short kiss. There should have been nothing to feel in it, Sophie thought as Caron’s lips opened and Sophie felt herself melting into the touch. There was nothing invasive or possessive in Caron’s kiss. Sophie felt nothing but gentleness. When she finally leaned back a part of her already missed Caron’s touch. It was like nothing she’d expected.

"I’ll get your visas, little one," Caron breathed, her fingers tracing Sophie’s swollen jaw.

"Thank you," Sophie said, laying back against the pillow, conflicted about what had just occurred.

 

 

 

To Be Continued in Part IV ...

Comments and suggestions on plot can be sent to me at Pallas3@yahoo.com.

Thanks for reading!


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