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
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
(the poster to the right is an actual poster issued during WWII. Great propaganda, huh?)
"Sit down or I shoot you
both," Dagmar cried.
Jackie mumbled against the door. Her fingers were slick against her gun, but she couldn't
see anything through the crack, which made her options very limited. Rushing into the room
might give the woman time to shoot one or both of her captives.
pathetically brave, Monsieur. My problem isn't with you ? it's with her."
"This is about
Caron, isn't it?" Sophie asked. "Why? She obviously doesn't like you."
"You have no
idea when to shut up, do you?" the maid said, moving across the room.
Jackie saw the
shadow pass her field of sight and she smiled.
captivated her! She only sees you," the woman said, her voice raising in tone.
"She doesn't know I'm alive anymore. She dismissed me tonight! Dismissed me ? like I
wasn't needed. She always needs me."
Jackie felt her
throat go dry, and she knew her time was now. The situation had just taken a horrible
turn. She checked her watch and hoped that the men were on time. If so ? she counted down
from ten, her heart beat signaling each second ? she was well past zero and beginning to
give up hope when an explosion rocked the night. With a slight smile tearing at her face
she shoved her shoulder against the door and rolled into the room
Jackie's head turned
almost in slow motion, her peripheral vision catching Sophie on her knees, and Jackie's
PPK pistol fully extended and still smoking in her hands. As Jackie's eyes moved between
Sophie and the dying German, she felt the gun turning on her. Sophie's finger was jumping
against the trigger, and her eyes held nothing.
The American's hands
raised in defense and she started to stand.
Sophie cried. "Don't make me shoot you too!" The girl's voice was hard, but
scared. Jackie could hear it.
Jackie began. "I'm here to help."
Sophie cried. "No one really wants to help me. You all lie!"
Jackie replied, her mind ticking off the precious seconds they had to escape this place.
She looked at the scared young woman, her ice blue eyes trying to empathize with her, and
as much as she wanted to feel for her position, she couldn't. "Listen ? we have to
get the hell out of here, understand?" When the girl didn't lower the gun, Jackie
shook her head. "Aw, Christ, Sophie. Trust me."
The girl took the
cloth, but shrugged. "What do I do?" she asked, her body shying away from Jackie
when she dropped to her knees next to her.
"Use it to stop
the bleeding," Jackie said, her larger hands covering Sophie's and pushing them down
against the oozing wound.
heavy," Sophie said, trying to shift Frenay's weight.
Jackie said, motioning for Sophie to thrust her shoulder under Frenay's arm. "You
can't slow down, got it? I can't carry him and protect us all. Do you understand? Even if
we make it, he might ?"
"Just shut up
and get us out of here," Sophie said, her tone biting in it's command.
Caron?" Jackie asked, straining under the weight of Frenay.
devil," Sophie replied, pulling back slightly. "She'll never let me leave her.
Not now." The girl came to a stop, almost pulling Jackie off her feet.
sake, will you get a grip and keep moving?" Jackie cried, the muscles in her
shoulders burning. "She can't be as bad as you think. If so, we'll deal with
her," she said, and she thought she heard Sophie laugh, but to her credit, the girl
began walking again.
Caron heard the explosion, but
barely turned her head to acknowledge the rising smoke and machine gun fire. Instead her
eyes were riveted on the front door of the Chateau, her blond hair being tossed back and
forth nervously. Her body appeared to shake from an invisible energy. "This is
absolutely thrilling," she whispered, the barrel of the sniper rifle pressed tightly
against her face.
"Should be any time now," Francois said.
"Then pay attention, you oaf!" She thrust the rifle at the Frenchman. "If he gets away ? you die."
"What?" Francois cried. "I'm not going to shoot him." He pushed the rifle away. "He's my friend."
"Then why are you here?"
Francois blinked. "Because ? well, because ?"
"Because I'm paying you, that's why. You and your miserable family out of France for Frenay. That's our agreement, traitor."
"I won't do it, Fraulein Oberfurher. I agreed to bring Frenay to you. I told you where to find his sister ... and I've brought him to you. Our agreement is over."
A dark eyebrow rose in challenge above cold gray eyes. "Lieutenant?" she called into the darkness, a small chuckle escaping.
"Fraulein Oberfurher," a tall SS officer responded, stepping out from behind a tree.
"Withdraw your sidearm, Lieutenant," Caron ordered. "And point it at our dear Frenchman." The officer did as he was ordered, and Francois began sweating.
friend," he repeated, trying to take a step away.
"I don't see
how that matters to me," Caron said. "Now, take the gun. And your aim better be
true." She held the sniper rifle out again and this time Francois took the gun. With
a satisfied smile Caron turned her eyes back to the Chateau.
it," she said almost to hear the words herself, but one look at the pain on Frenay's
face and she knew he probably wouldn't make it far.
Obviously Frenay had
the same feeling because his hand grasped Jackie's arm. "I need a promise," he
Jackie looked up at
Sophie. "I promise," she said, nodding seriously. "I'll take care of her,
said, his head lopping against his chest again.
him," Sophie whispered, her hand still pressed hard against the blood soaked cloth,
her fingers stained.
try," Jackie said, opening the front door and moving them into the night.
spy," Francois cried, stepping back when Caron released her hold.
"I didn't plan
it this way!" Caron said, taking an involuntary step towards her Sophie.
Oberfurher?" The lieutenant's voice startled her and she spun around to find the
younger man pointing at the Frenchman who had dropped his rifle.
gun, you pathetic snake," she ordered, her head turning to watch as the three figures
moved away from the Chateau. "Shoot Frenay," she said over her shoulder.
"Shoot him now!"
"I can't do it,
Oberfurher." Francois dropped the rifle to his side.
that foolish decision," Caron said, lifting her own pistol and placing it against the
Frenchman's head. "Think, d'Silva."
"Henri is my
boyhood friend ... I won't kill him."
she said, raising the pistol again and squeezed the trigger.
The rifle butt
nestled snuggly into the curve of her shoulder, and she twisted her hair from her neck as
she brought her eyes up to the long distance scope. There was just enough light from the
building to make out everyone's faces. Her sights lingered on Sophie and her finger
tightened on the trigger. "It would be so easy to punish you, my sweet," she
said to Sophie. "But then again ?" she swung the gun towards the dark haired
woman who obviously carried most of Frenay's weight.
There was no way Sophie could
have missed this time. The impact of the two bullets ripped Frenay from their grasp, and
Sophie actually took a few steps forward before realizing. Almost as if in slow motion she
turned, saw her brother on the ground and with a scream threw her body on top of his.
Jackie had stopped.
She knew he'd been killed from the first bullet, and she was scanning the tree line when
the next two shots struck him. She saw a brief muzzle flash from in front of them, and she
crouched to the ground, pulling her pistol and aiming it towards the tree.
When she heard
Sophie's scream she turned, the tree line shooter forgotten and her promise to Frenay
raising in her gut. The sight of the girl trying to protect the dead man with her body was
more than she could comprehend, and she reached out, her fingertips brushing the girl's
shirt. 'We have to get out of here,' she thought, looking back at the trees. 'We're
just waiting for the next shot.'
Sophie cried, as Jackie stood, her hand closing around the girl's upper arm and yanking
her off her dead brother.
"And where do
they think they're going?" Caron asked, lifting the gun again, and centering it on
the American's back. "This isn't part of my plan," she said to the American.
"And I won't tolerate your interference any longer." Her finger tightened on the
trigger just as the American moved up next to Sophie, putting the girl dangerously close.
Too close for Caron's pleasure, and with her teeth clenched she fired off an unaimed shot
near the American.
instead of felt the bullet whiz by, and she tugged harder on the blonde's arm.
a woman's voice cried from the edge of the forest. "Don't run from me, Sophie!"
The woman was about
a hundred or so yards from them, and each second they delayed could mean the difference
between being trapped and being free. Almost without a conscious thought Jackie raised her
gun towards the woman and she squeezed off three rounds. The German didn't even slow down
as all three bullets whizzed past her.
Sophie seemed rooted
in place, her eyes focused on the blonde German. Jackie grabbed at her arm and pulled her
hard, but the girl refused to be moved.
"Why did we
leave Henri?" she asked, her body still straining to get oxygen.
help him anymore."
"You wanted to
leave him before, too." Sophie stepped away.
"He was dead,
The girl swallowed
hard, and forced herself to look away. "I know," she whispered. A moment passed
before she turned cold, dead eyes back on the American. "But you didn't have to make
me leave him," she said, her voice growing harder. "I could have made sure he
had a decent burial."
It was obvious the
American didn't know how to respond because her mouth opened several times but no words
were issued. Sophie watched this with no feeling. This woman was probably no different
Henri I would save you," the woman finally said.
aren't worth anything to me," Sophie responded.
"Well they mean
something to me." The dark head turned and scanned the ground in front of them.
"Are you ready to run again?"
Sophie nodded, and
when the American pointed a direction she began running. Her side ached with each step and
she didn't know if she would be able to keep up. The American didn't even appear winded,
and staring at the woman's strong, powerful back she hated her.
Caron's voice echoed
in her ears and she shook her head to clear the sound. She looked over her shoulder and
into the darkness. The Gestapo agent was somewhere in that inky blackness. Will she come
looking for me? Sophie thought.
"Do you need to
rest again?" the American asked, slowing her jog to come up next to her. This time
the woman's voice was softer, and after Sophie nodded the woman stopped completely.
there," she commanded, pointing to a spot under a tree. "I'm going to scout
"Are you coming
back?" Sophie asked, unable to look at the woman.
"I made a
promise, didn't I?"
anything on my account," Sophie shot back.
"Don't worry. I
won't," the woman responded, taking off into the dark.
Sophie followed her
progress until the night consumed her. Already a dampness was seeping from the ground and
the growing wetness combined with her burning lungs made it difficult to breathe. She
dropped her head between her knees and tried to calm her racing heart. Her hands began to
shake, and before she knew it tears were streaming down her face.
It all happened
again. She saw the blood pouring from Henri chest. The chest that he'd always held so
proud. Even as a boy she'd been proud of Henri. He'd always done things right. He'd always
treated her right. He was all she had left in the world, and her arms jerked as she
relived the shot that had ripped her brother from her arms. She could again see the dead
glass look in his eyes and the blood that dripped from a single shot to the head. She
could feel the hands of the American pulling her from his body. She didn't care. Henri
meant nothing to her. 'I mean nothing to her. I mean nothing to no one anymore,' she
she said. "We've got to keep moving."
bother?" Sophie asked. "They're going to catch us." She said it very
matter-of-factly, her shoulders giving an involuntary shrug as if she didn't care.
The woman stopped in
front of her and squatted down, her one knee cracking as she did so. "Listen to
me," she said, peering down until Sophie lifted her head to meet her gaze. "I'm
not ready to give up, and I made a promise to your brother to keep you safe."
even know him," Sophie said, her eyes welling up beyond her control.
Sophie asked, lowering her eyes as a tear rolled down her face. She looked up when the
woman lifted a finger and lifted the tear from her face.
"Because he was
a good man." The woman stood up, and held her hand out. "And if it kills me I'm
going to do everything I can to get us safely out of this."
Sophie looked at the
hand, but instead of accepting the help she crawled to her feet unassisted. She stood
silently her eyes focused on the distance, waiting for the woman to start off. When the
tall woman didn't move and Sophie was forced to turn and look up into her face. For the
first time she noticed the woman's intense blue eyes that seemed to shine in the darkness
and contrasted so strongly against her dark hair that had begun to fall loose from it's
ponytail. The woman just stared at her and Sophie shrugged. "What?" she said.
The woman gave a
sheepish smile. "I just realized we haven't been what you called formally
introduced." She held out her hand again. "Jacqueline Bradford."
before grabbing the woman's hand for a curt shake. "Sophie Frenay."
Sophie," Jackie said. "Can you run again?"
"Where are we
Jackie shrugged. "First I'm just trying to get us off the Chateaux's property.
she shrugged again. "I dunno."
comforting," Sophie said, breaking into a slight jog, just slow enough for the woman
to catch up and lead her into whatever direction she decided.
Her leg had almost
gone numb and she couldn't feel her toes. With her face pressed against the cold, wet
grass she'd ordered her soldiers to pursue Sophie and the American bitch, but instead they
had stopped to tend to her. She sensed their fear and panic, and if she'd been able she
would've shot them for such poor judgment skills.
A medic had been
called, and Caron had no choice but to lean against a broad chested SS soldier while
waiting. Her eyes never wavered from the last spot she'd seen her Sophie, and her teeth
gritted against the pain and anger that swept through her.
underage medic appeared before her and with large puffy hands began inspecting her bullet
wound. Caron watched his movements with caution, and slapped his hand away when he tried
to cut her black pants.
you oaf! Where is that incompetent doctor that haunts this place?"
"He's been sent
for, Fraulein Oberfurher."
she said, turning her head until she saw a glint of a needle. "What's that?"
the medic said. "I think the bullet has lodged against the femur bone. This will help
with the pain."
Caron pulled her leg
back, grinding her teeth against the burning pain. "Not a chance, you idiot!
Obviously you don't know what is at stake here. Now bind up the wound and get out of my
Oberfurher," the medic began, his broad face sweating despite the cool night air.
"I have to send you to the doctor so he can perform surgery."
The Gestapo agent removed her pistol from her leather coat and laid it across her good leg. Her eyes were cold as they bored into the corpulent medic.
"Bandage my leg
and then go," she said, her voice measured but hard.
The medic did as he
was ordered, his hands moving fast to wrap gauze and cotton against her leg. He looked up
only once to ask a nearby soldier to bring her crutches. At this Caron gave a small smile.
She loved it when someone anticipated her needs. The medic tied off the bandage and stood
back, his face pensive as she placed the crutches under her arms and hauled herself to her
feet. Her face squeezed up in pain as she began moving off after Sophie. She'd taken maybe
five steps when she had to admit to herself that she couldn't make it.
"Bring me a
chair!" she screamed, her gloved hands tensing and releasing against the crutch
Sitting on a folding
chair with her leg propped up she resigned herself to directing the hunt instead of being
there to track her prey. For the next half hour she fought both the pain and her selfish
anger as her men scoured the darkness for Sophie and the American bitch. The medic brought
her some aspirin, which she gladly downed with canteen water. She dismissed the man with a
wave and reclined like an annoyed tiger to await her men's success.
Fraulein Oberfurher," a sergeant called, saluting her.
she barked, her mood foul and her temper worse.
She heard rather
than saw the General's approach, and with exaggerated slowness she turned to face his
corpulent sweating form. He looked so much like a pig dressed for a costume party that
Caron found herself utterly disgusted with his lack of discipline. Her eyes roved up his
body and with a slight squint she froze him in his tracks.
farther are you going to make me walk?" the girl's voice sounded weak, and Jackie
stopped and turned. Exhaustion stared back at her.
"You've got to
try and keep up," Jackie said. "You're doing great."
"I don't need a
pep talk," Sophie said. "Where are you taking me?"
Jackie looked blank.
The map she'd thought burned into her brain was suddenly useless when running in the dark
with German troops behind them. She knew they were generally heading Southeast towards
Quineville, but how far they were was a mystery. "I don't know," she finally
said. "That stream we crossed was the border of the Chateau, I think." She
shrugged in defeat.
Sophie said. "You're the great American hope my brother was so excited about?"
The girl laughed, but it was a shrill, emotionally drawn laugh.
supposed to go like this," Jackie replied, unsure why she felt the need to defend
"So my brother
wasn't supposed to die?" Sophie said, her voice biting.
"Of course he
wasn't," Jackie said, taking a step closer. "But he knew the risks, and he was
prepared for that."
Sophie turned away.
"You're just full of comforting words, aren't you?"
"What do you
want from me?"
"I want my life
back!" Sophie cried, spinning around and charging Jackie.
The young woman's
fist crashed against her breast and forced Jackie to take a step back to hold her footing.
Despite their close distance Sophie still managed to deliver one blow after another until
Jackie could get her hands around the girl's wrists and pull her arms tight against her
you!" Sophie cried, her head turning back and forth. "I wish you'd never have
happened with or without me," Jackie whispered.
supposed to make me feel better, or you?" Sophie said, her body suddenly going still
and Jackie found herself holding the girl's full weight.
sorry," Jackie said. "I know it's not much, but I'm sorry." She released
the girl's arms and tried to step back, but the smaller woman's hands slinked around her
side and pulled her closer. Jackie stood there, completely unsure what to do. She felt the
girl's body shake with a sob, and closing her eyes she almost reluctantly put her arms
around the girl and held her.
She lifted her hand
to stroke Sophie's hair, but as her fingers ran down the strands the girl suddenly pulled
away, her face awash with rage. "Don't ever touch me!" she said, stumbling
backwards. "Do you hear me? Never touch me!"
Jackie opened her
mouth to tell her she wasn't the one who started it, but she thought better of it.
"Gotcha," she said, turning away. She began walking again, but turned back after
a few yards. "Are you coming or not?" she asked, clenching her jaw.
Sophie stood there,
her hand still shaking by her side, and her eyes hot and angry. She lifted her chin in
defiance and almost dared Jackie to force her.
Jackie raised her
hands and waved them at the girl. "You know what? Stay. I don't care anymore. All I
want to do is get the hell out of this country." She turned and began walking.
"Some agent I turned out to be," she mumbled. "It all seemed so perfect
before my feet hit the ground. Now I'm stuck here. No way to ..." She turned her head
when Sophie caught up and began walking next to her.
"We need to go
this way," Sophie said, not looking at her. "Quineville has no Maquis
sympathizers. Someone will turn us in."
"You're the big
spy," Sophie said. "What was your brilliant plan?"
"I told you I
don't know. All I want to do is get as far away from the Chateau and Valognes as possible
before trying to hide out."
"That's just a short term plan."
"It's me who
should be questioning trust. Besides, you made a promise, remember?" She gave a short
snort of disgust.
always been such a bitch?"
Sophie took a step
back, looking like Jackie had just slapped her. "No," she whispered. "Do
you think ..." she fell silent.
Jackie raised her
hand to apologize, but let it fall with the words unspoken. "C'mon," she said.
"We need to keep moving."
She did take
Sophie's advice and turned them more directly South. The next town of any consequence was
St-Lo, and she knew it was more than 20 miles away. There was one American agent there who
had access to a radio, but getting in touch with him might be tough.
The girl trudged
silently beside her. Glancing over she could see the exhaustion pulling at her face, and
Jackie even felt her own body beginning to fail. They had to stop soon.
She lead them up a
hill that burst them out of the forest and into a farmer's field. She stopped by a tree
and just stared. From what she could see there was no cover anywhere out there. From the
time they left the forest they would be exposed ... vulnerable ...
recognize any of this?" she asked over her shoulder.
girl responded, and Jackie waited for some snide comment, but there was nothing.
"We need to
find some shelter." She looked to the east, catching just the faintest sliver of gray
in the distance. "It'll be morning soon."
around. The girl was leaning against a tree, her hand rubbing at her eyes. She looked so
young ... so tired ... and so sad.
Jackie said, holding her hand out again. "Just a little further."
This time the girl
did take her hand, and Jackie led them into the field.
"Do you think
they're following us?" Sophie asked, and for the first time Jackie didn't hear any
accusations in her voice.
not like the German's to just give up."
"She won't give
up," Sophie replied, her voice guarded.
she?" Jackie asked.
Sophie pulled her hand away and began walking slower.
Sophie?" Jackie asked, slowing her steps, too.
"I don't want
to talk about it," Sophie said, pulling her arms over her chest. "I'm
cold," she said, and Jackie knew a subject change when she heard one.
"We've got to
keep moving for as long as possible."
"Find some shelter, I guess." She grabbed the girl's hand and pulled her forward.
"We'll have to
hide out during the day, so it'll have to be an inconspicuous place."
tired," Sophie whispered.
further," Jackie said, trying to pick up the pace and get them across the field
faster. "Tomorrow will be bad," she added. "They'll use the daylight to
scour the countryside for us. And I doubt if we've gone more than a few miles." She
looked down at the alfalfa that grabbed at her boots and pant legs. "Who knows how
far this field goes either."
"What about the
coast?" Sophie asked. "It's not more than a few kilometers from us."
with Germans," Jackie added. "We'd be caught in no time."
wouldn't expect us to go that direction, would they?"
Jackie thought for a
moment. The Channel Islands weren't a bad plan. For the most part they were left alone by
the Germans and Allied command had made use of that fact by keeping submarines nearby. If
they could radio one ?
Jackie said, suddenly remembering that all subs had been ordered out of the area in
previous months to complete the picture of an impending coastal attack.
Jackie shook her
head in disgust. "Nothing," she said, pushing the air from her lungs in a
disappointed sigh. "We've got to head inland."
walking. "What about my brother's Maquis?"
stopped, too, her shoulders slumped in defeat. "We can't count on them," she
said. "We can't count on anyone but us."
"Then where can
find someplace to hide," Jackie said, pulling herself together and stuffing her fear
down deep. She didn't need to let the girl see what little confidence she had for their
ultimate escape. "We'll make some decisions tomorrow, okay?" She turned and gave
the girl a smile. To her surprise the girl smiled back.
Holding out her hand
again she closed her fingers around Sophie's hand and gave it a tight squeeze. "We'll
be okay," she said.
promises you can't or won't keep," Sophie replied.
she said. "Let me see."
Sophie turned her
hand over, a nasty puncture wound oozing blood from the palm. Jackie gave the hand a good
squeeze, forcing more blood out.
Sophie cried, trying to pull her hand back.
Jackie said, grabbing the torn cloth off the fence and pressing it against Sophie's hand.
"Make a fist and hold this tight to stop the bleeding."
okay?" Sophie asked, surprising Jackie with the question.
thanks." She looked briefly at the girl before turning to study their surroundings.
The field had ended
near a ravine, and Jackie tried to guess its depth in the gray dawn light. Her eyes roved
across the land surrounding them and with a sigh she knew they had to descend or risk
being caught on open ground.
"We're going to
head down here," she said out loud to Sophie. "It'll be too light to travel
"Where do you
think it goes?" Sophie asked, stepping up next to her.
"I don't think
it goes anywhere," Jackie replied. "But it'll keep us moving slightly South,
which is good, but we need to find a place that is secure for the day."
closer. "Do you think they'll find us?"
Jackie removed her
pistol and checked the clip. "Not if I can help it." She tucked the gun back
into her pants. "C'mon," she said, holding her hand out. "I'll help you
fine," Sophie replied sharply, starting down the hill without assistance.
The fine earth that
had covered the field gave way to a rock scattered, rain hardened ground. Some of the
rocks were very loose, and Jackie barely caught Sophie when her feet slipped. The girl fit
easily into her arms, and Jackie had the strangest feeling that she lingered there longer
than necessary before standing and moving down the hill again. She looked quizzically
after the girl, hoping she might turn and confirm her feelings, but she just kept moving.
They reached the
bottom without any further missteps, and Jackie looked up the embankment. It was difficult
to see the rim, and that might just keep them safe. The ravine was almost invisible from
across the field, and she hoped that unless one of the Germans stumbled across their path
they would remain untracked all day.
Now they needed to
find a place to sleep. The girl looked half dead on her feet, and Jackie knew she needed
to refresh her mind and body if they were to make any good decisions.
Jackie looked again
at the spreading dawn and guessed their backs to be north. "This way," she said,
pointing in front of her. "Be careful," she reminded. "We're both tired,
and with this uneven ground we could fall."
"I'm not a
child," Sophie said. "I know how to walk."
suggestion," Jackie replied, starting off. "Sorry. I'll try and not care."
Jackie guessed they
had walked about a quarter of a mile through the ravine before she spotted the small dot
on the hillside. A slight smile crossed her face and her steps picked up energy.
she said, pointing. "I think it's a cave."
Sophie rubbed at her
eyes and nodded. "Can we stop then?"
"I know you're
something!" Sophie spit out, and then turned. "I'm sorry."
Jackie didn't reply.
Instead she motioned for Sophie to stand while she crawled up the hillside. A bird flew at
her when she pulled herself around a small sapling and peered into the cave. It looked
just big enough to hide them. She smiled and turned to wave Sophie up the hill.
"You sure it's
safe?" Sophie asked, standing on the small ledge the jutted out from the rock lined
cave. "It looks really dark in there."
Jackie leaned over
and threw a large rock into the cave and waited. She shrugged. "Nothing rushed
Sophie said with a twist of her head. "You first."
Jackie looked around her, a smile pulling at her face. "Be right back," she
said, moving back down the hill a few paced and grabbing hold of a small, weak looking
tree. "Camouflage," she called up to Sophie before wrestling and tugging at the
tree until the trunk cracked and she twisted it free.
"What? Are we
supposed to hide behind it?" Sophie asked as Jackie climbed back up the hill.
"Get in the
cave and I'll show you," Jackie said, kneeling down and backing into the cave after
Sophie. She laid the tree at an angle across the opening, hoping it would break anyone's
sight line and help them go unnoticed.
us, won't she?"
agent?" Jackie asked, pushing lightly at the tree to make it look like it had fallen
in a storm. "I doubt she's even looking anymore."
looking," Sophie said, as if delivering a well known fact.
happened?" Jackie asked again, her curiosity peaked more now that she could
funny in here," Sophie said, diverting her answer once again.
Jackie sniffed the
air, instantly aware of the musky, slightly rotten smell that hung in the air. "Yeah,
it does," she conceded.
"We'll be okay
here," she finally mumbled, the heel of her boot absently digging into the dirt. She
looked up expectantly, half hoping the girl would say something, but instead Sophie just
nodded and lowered her head to her knees.
The girl's head shot
up, rage clearly displayed on her tear streaked face, and Jackie quickly raised her hands
in defense. "Okay," she said. "I know. Quit treating you like a
child." Sophie's eyes narrowed sharply, and Jackie shrugged. "So here's the
adult version, Sophie. I'm taking us out of here at dark and we won't have the luxury of
stopping to rest. Get your sleep now."
Without another word
Sophie lay down on her side, her arm tucked under her head and her green eyes trained hard
on Jackie. For a long moment Jackie continued the eye war with the girl, but then casually
moved her gaze back to the cave opening.
"Where are we
now, you moron?" she spat from the back seat.
on the North side of the Chateau, Fraulein Oberfurher. We are approximately 8 kilometers
from the main residence."
"And have we
found them yet?"
"The sun is up
now, Sergeant. Do you think they would be stupid enough to just waltz across one of these
"I do not know,
"Of course you
don't. I'm the only one with any brains here." She leaned forward, her elbows
spanning the black leather seat, and her mouth pulled close to the soldier's ear.
"Time is of the essence," she whispered. "And it isn't wise to disappoint
me." She leaned back. "I don't care what you have to do, Sergeant ? but find
Fraulein Oberfurher," the sergeant said, his voice wavering slightly with fear.
fear, Sergeant," Caron said, lighting a cigarette and blowing the blue smoke forward.
"It's never lead me wrong before."
And then there was
Henri. Her beloved brother. His chest exploding before her eyes and his face so deathly
still. Those beautiful green eyes that had always shone on her no longer saw her.
She was transported
to childhood. Her brother spinning her in an open, green field. Her parents laughing
nearby. Joining in their laughter, she turned her head to find Caron standing nearby. The
Gestapo agent's black leather coat was open, exposing her naked, milky white body that
contrasted so sharply with the black leather skin she wore to cover herself. She turned
her head again to find the American hidden in a foggy haze, but her hand held out to her
and her voice asking Sophie to trust in her. She heard Caron's shrill laughter at this
statement, and as her head turned Caron was standing completely naked before her, and
Sophie wanted ...
She awoke with a
start, her senses disoriented and her heart pounding. She sat up quickly, her hand wiping
a sheen of sweat from her forehead and trying desperately to remember where she was and
how she got there. Across from her the American spy was asleep, her dark head leaned back
against the cave wall and her hand resting near her gun.
Her dream still
tugged at her consciousness, but she could make no sense of it. Everything was upside
down, and nothing matched anymore. It seemed just yesterday that she was pretending that
everything would be okay. The war would be over soon and her life would return to normal.
Henri had promised that they would move to Paris ... or even America and she could pursue
her writing. 'No,' she told herself. 'That no longer existed.' Her green
eyes grew cloudy as she let them rove up the sleeping American. 'It's all your fault,'
she concluded, not sure if she ordered her body to move or if she moved without thought,
but she found herself crawling across the cave and her hand reaching for the pistol.
The metal felt cold
against her palm as her fingers closed around the handle. The gun was heavier than she
imagined it, and she tightened her arm to lift it. The American moved slightly, but
continued to sleep. Her breath was even and measured, her nostrils expanding with each
deep breath. Sophie watched for a moment, the gun laying limp across her legs. The woman
was beautiful. She could find no flaw on her face, and Sophie lifted her hand to touch her
cheek. She didn't know why she did it, and she stopped centimeters from contact and
dropped her hand.
like her," she whispered to the sleeping American.
She lifted the
pistol, the black metal absorbing all light and reflecting nothing. She pressed it against
her face, her eyes closed and her mind fighting for some clarity. Something nagged at her,
telling her that the American spy wasn't her enemy. It was the same feeling she had with
Caron. 'No,' she thought, 'that feeling was different. She made me feel
something very different.' She remembered the touches the blonde German gave her, and
Sophie swallowed hard. It was as if the touches had lingered ...
The gun was yanked
from her hand, and Sophie snapped open her eyes to find the woman's face inches from her.
"What the hell
are you doing?" she hissed, the American's warm breath spreading across her face and
the woman's other hand closing tightly around her wrist.
"Not till you
"And you were
going to kill me."
wasn't," Sophie blurted out. "I was ..."
know," Sophie whispered, her voice barely audible in the small cave.
released her wrist and Sophie fell back, landing hard on her butt and she backed herself
away from the woman.
sorry," Sophie whispered, turning her body away and pulling her knees tight against
her chest. "I'm scared."
"You should be!
I oughtta ..." she said, glancing outside the cave. "Forget it," she said,
waving the gun towards Sophie. "It's not worth it."
"I don't think
I was going to kill you," Sophie said, turning her head slightly.
comforting," Jackie responded.
"You have no
idea what I've been through," Sophie said. "And you're being so mean to
"I didn't have
to come with you," Sophie added.
"And you didn't
have to hold a gun on me either!"
At this the woman
turned and crawled across the distance between them. She grabbed Sophie by the arms and
wretched her body around. "You listen to me, you little ..." her voice tapered
off for a moment. "What have I done that would scare you? I've tried to be nice. To
understand. To care." She took a deep breath. "I was sent here to complete a
mission, and your disappearance has cost us everything!"
go," Sophie said, wriggling her arms until the American released her.
"As far as I'm
concerned you can stay in this cave ... or go back to that Gestapo agent that seems to
preoccupy your thoughts."
Sophie stood up.
"I hate you," she said, her words falling from her lips like acid and she hoped
they stung the American.
leave," Jackie said, pointing at the door. "I've never needed you."
your promise, huh?" Sophie challenged, her body unable to move towards the cave
"Your taking my
gun absolved me of any responsibility for you," Jackie replied.
Jackie looked away.
"Leave," she said.
Sophie held out her
hand, unsure why she would want to stay, but when the American didn't acknowledge her she
shook her head and turned. Without a further exchange she exited the cave and made her way
down the hill.
When she reached the
bottom she looked up, half hoping to see the American's face asking her back, but all she
saw was the tree branch laid back in place. So biting her lip for control she began
walking. She had no idea where to go or how to get there. After a few steps she began
crying, and with blurred vision she continued to make her way through the ravine.
Caron's head nodded off again,
and she jerked it upright. It was almost noon and she still had no better an idea of where
Sophie was then before. Her mood had grown worse as the sun rose higher and higher.
another farm house, Fraulein Oberfurher," the sergeant said, pointing.
"Why do you
keep pointing," Caron grumped. "It's not like there it's hard to see."
"Do you wish to
"Of course, you
idiot! Have I told you otherwise?"
The sergeant turned
the long black car into the farmhouse driveway, and Caron stared blindly out the window.
She could easily see Sophie and the American bitch running across a field like this one
and the thought infuriated her. It burned in the pit of her stomach like an unquenchable
Yet another peasant
woman opened the door and stood back in shock when she saw Caron hobble from the car. Her
leg was throbbing so badly it was almost impossible to keep the pain from her face, but
she managed to keep the cool exterior that she found necessary to intimidate.
here," she ordered, leaning back against the car. "And where is your husband?
dead," the woman spat, coming closer but stopping just far enough to be annoying.
manages your fields?" Caron asked.
"Is he a member
of the resistance?" Caron let a smile play at her lips, her eyes daring the woman to
lie to her.
woman answered, her eyes dropping to the dirt.
"Then where is
here," the woman responded, stepping closer. "I don't know where he is,"
she said, anticipating Caron's next question. "He's a good boy."
Caron nodded her
head. "That doesn't concern me," she said, holding up her finger. "It
doesn't concern me right now," she corrected.
"Then what do
you want?" the woman said, and Caron smiled.
perceptive," she said. "That's good." She moved and closed her eyes against
the pain. "I'm looking for two women. An American and a French girl."
"I've seen no
"Shut up and
listen to what I have to say," Caron said, opening her eyes. "I don't care if
you've seen them or not. I want them, and you and your pathetic people are going to find
them for me."
"I don't know
what you mean."
"They are to
have no shelter ... no food ... no help. If I discover any one has helped them, then I
will have your son and all other men shot as a warning."
fair!" the woman cried, her hand going to her throat. "What if I have nothing to
Caron looked down
her sleek nose at the woman. "Silence," she ordered. "I have stopped and
given to warning to others. Make sure that everyone knows." She pushed herself off
the car. "I will not tolerate assistance for fugitives from the Fatherland!"
The woman dropped
her head. "As you wish. I will pass the word."
"See that you
do," the Gestapo agent said, turning towards the sergeant. "Note this woman's
location, and her son's questionable absence."
"I said I'd
help!" the woman cried.
Caron ignored her.
"Mark her for a follow up visit if our fugitives escape."
She lowered herself
into the car, purposely not looking at the woman's fear struck face. It never occurred to
her that she may not have the right to threaten these people to find Sophie. All that
matter was finding her, and if terrifying the French countryside was how she flushed them
out, then so be it.'
"Take me back to the Chateau," she ordered. "We have to expand the search."
She looked out the
window to mark the angle of the sun. "They'll be on the move when it gets dark. I
have to be ready by then."
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