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
mind screamed, causing Jackie's head to jerk up in alarm. She couldn't risk leaving the
girl alone for another moment, and she knew with each second that passed their one chance
for safety was rapidly dwindling. They had to find Anastasie.
She stopped dead, a
terrifying thought digging in her brain. The blonde Gestapo agent -- had she traced them
to St-Lo? If so, then Jackie knew the blanket arrests of all suspects was her handy work.
It was just too convenient that the Germans, on the day they arrive in St-Lo, suddenly
arrest people they'd probably watched for months. It might mean that the one man who was
capable of helping them might be gone. And even if they could find Anastasie, it might not
be safe to stay with him.
That left Jackie
with precious few options, and she even suspected that the blonde Gestapo agent had
probably given their descriptions to every soldier or German sympathizer in St-Lo. As her
footsteps rapidly lead her back to Sophie's hiding place, she knew that taking the girl
with her to search for Anastasie might get them both caught.
The entrance to the
alley seemed as quiet as she'd left, but her heart jumped to her throat as she edged down
the wall towards the girl's hiding place. Could it be quiet because the Gestapo had
already come and gone? 'Oh, please let her be here,' she kept praying, trying to keep her
steps quiet but her body tensed for anything.
she hissed, drawing closer, her hands moving the box that covered the shallow doorway. She
almost dropped to her knees when the spot she'd left Sophie was empty.
"Sophie?!" she hissed again, spinning around and searching for another hiding
place. From behind her she heard a small rustle and she turned towards the noise. It
ceased, and Jackie was about to dismiss it as a rat when she saw a glint of strawberry
blonde hair from behind a garbage can. It didn't move, and Jackie edged towards it. 'Please
let her be alive,' she thought, her hand reaching out to push back a packing crate.
The girl was sitting
with her knees pulled to her chest and wedged between two other crates. Her face was
dropped into the safety of her knees, and she didn't appear to have heard Jackie's
she said again, dropping next to the girl and gently touching her hair. "It's
me," she whispered, stroking Sophie's hair.
It took a long
breathless second before Sophie's head lifted, and as soon as recognition filled her eyes,
Jackie found Sophie's body forced into in her arms. The girl's body shook, and she
tightened her hold. "I'm sorry," she breathed into Sophie's hair.
"I was so
scared," Sophie answered. "I didn't think you were coming back."
Sophie pulled back and stared at her. "I know. But when I saw you," she said, reaching up to touch Jackie's felt Fedora hat, and Jackie understood.
sorry," she repeated.
alright," Sophie said, forgiving Jackie with more than her words.
time you're coming with me," Jackie said, her brow furrowing slightly as she once
again tried to justify the risk.
Sophie's hand lifted and her finger traced the small wrinkle that formed above Jackie's
eyes. The American didn't move, but instead closed her eyes and let Sophie's touch roam
over her face. Her contentment at Sophie's touch seemed to flow through her until Jackie
was almost able to forget the war and her duty and their peril. Almost.
With a great effort
she lifted her hand to stop Sophie's exploration before it became too hard to do so. Her
eyes opened, and she forced a smile on her face to counteract the pain she saw flash
across Sophie's face. "Not now," she whispered, bringing Sophie's hand to her
lips and kissing it.
when?" Sophie asked.
know," she answered honestly. "Maybe when this is all over." 'If you
still want me,' she wanted to add, but didn't.
The response didn't
seem to satisfy Sophie, and Jackie saw a visible shift in the girl's countenance. "I
take it you didn't find your contact," she said, almost forcing the words out, her
eyes seeking the safety of the ground.
Jackie said, letting her heart grow cold again. "Things have changed."
"It'll be safer
if we look for Anastasie together."
Sophie nodded, but
Jackie knew she didn't understand.
"I got you some
clothes," she said quickly, desperate to see some feeling return to Sophie's eyes. If
she really thought about it, Jackie would have been alarmed to realize how her own
emotions had become dependent upon the moods of Sophie. In the past she'd always felt so
self sufficient, and within a matter of a few days she'd become reliant upon gaining
pleasure from pleasing Sophie.
you," Sophie said, quietly.
Jackie said, reaching behind her for the brown paper wrapped bundle. "I hope they
Sophie climbed to
her feet, leaving Jackie instantly shivering from the cold that Sophie's absence her left.
She watched silently as the girl ripped open the package. A smile spread across the girl's
face, and Jackie almost felt like she just given her a dozen roses. The feeling made her
Sophie said, pulling out the pants and blouse. She looked up, an evil glint in her eye.
"How'd you know I'm not a dress kinda person?"
Jackie beamed a
smile back. "Just a guess," she said, relief washing over her. "And you'll
be warmer in pants." She stood, unable to wash the smile from her face.
you," Sophie said, her eyes lifting to meet Jackie's, and the American could see
something in those green eyes that made her mouth go dry and she fought to regain control.
She knew they needed to think proactively, but at that moment all she wanted to do was
reach out and pull - - -
She closed her eyes
and forced herself to concentrate. Her body took a step back, and she could almost feel
her spirit being torn from the warmth of Sophie. "You need to change and we need to
move out of here," she said, her voice shaking slightly.
Sophie said, her voice probing in a way that made Jackie's heart quiver. She felt captured
in the girl's gaze which seemed to be calling her forward into territory she shouldn't
venture willingly, even though at that moment Jackie wanted to be no where else.
"I'll change," Sophie said, her words breaking the crackle between them, and
Jackie turned her eyes to the brick wall behind Sophie.
"The woman I
got the clothes from said the Germans are arresting suspects," she announced, her
eyes still glued to the wall. With a deep breath, she vocalized her worse fear. "Our
contact could have been taken." Her gaze slipped back to Sophie.
"What do we do
if he has been?" Sophie asked, her eyes instantly filling with the terror and
weariness that Jackie had become accustomed to seeing. She didn't try and stop herself
from stepping closer and cupping Sophie's face with her palm.
"I know you
will," Sophie said. "I'm just tired of being afraid."
Jackie nodded in
understanding. "Change," she said, softly, turning her back to give the girl
"Give me the
sweater," Jackie said, folding it over her arm. "It might come in handy
later." She took the torn pants and threw them behind the crates. "C'mon."
she said, pulling awkwardly at her unfamiliar male clothes. "We need to act like
we're a couple," she said, suddenly feeling very self conscious of her attire.
"You don't look
like a man," Sophie said, reaching up to adjust her tie. Her fingers lingered against
her chest and her head bowed. Jackie found herself intently studying the girl and
wondering what was running through her head. Her hand disappeared from her chest and
Sophie's head lifted, giving Jackie a weak smile. "But I can pretend if you
"Thank you for
coming back," Sophie said, as they approached the mouth of the alley.
"I promised I
"And you always
keep your promises," Sophie stated. "I'm beginning to understand that."
Their expulsion onto
the street prohibited Jackie from responding, and she quickly adopted a more serious and
masculine demeanor. "Gimme your hand," she said, moving slightly to the left and
waiting for the now familiar feel of the girl's hand in hers. She let her blue eyes drift
from one side of the street to the next trying to anticipate everything.
"I don't know
if I can," Sophie said. "I'm terrified."
"We're not that
far from the shop that can contact Anastasie. You've got to hold on until then. Let just
hope - - -" Her voice trailed off and her steps faltered. A Waffen-SS soldier had
just exited from a shop ahead. Her mind spun in a panic. The soldier started to turn in
their direction, and Jackie pushed Sophie into a shallow doorway and pressed her body
tightly against the girl's. She saw the confusion on Sophie's face, but with no time to
explain she lowered her mouth to Sophie's and kissed her.
She half expected
Sophie to push her off, but she felt the young writer responding with a passion that made
Jackie forget to listen for the soldier's passing. Sophie's lips melted into hers, and she
felt small hands slide under her jacket and across her back. Her own arms pulled Sophie
closer desperate to feel her body against her own. Sophie's lips tasted sweeter than
anything she'd ever known, and she tried to devour them with a need that made her legs
weak. She felt light headed and euphoric, and only barely heard the voice near her ear.
"Get a room
before her husband finds you," he said, in German, and Jackie froze, careful enough
to not pull back. She felt Sophie go rigid, but she kept her lips against the girl long
enough to hear the soldier's steps move off.
go," she whispered, her cheek pressed against Sophie's.
Grabbing the younger
woman's hand she pulled her back into the street and kept their pace casual but fast. They
made good time. Sophie kept in step with her and Jackie gave her hand a squeeze of
encouragement. Following her instincts alone, she led them through the narrow city
streets. She knew they were looking for a less trafficked street of shops towards the
Southern border. Only one street looked to fit that requirement, and she led them down the
rutted road, hoping to find a dry good shop.
The street lacked
the hustle and bustle of the other market streets, and they moved slowly past storefronts
that had been abandoned or boarded up. There was a distinctly eerie feeling about the
area, and without the comfort and security of other pedestrians, Jackie felt very exposed
and vulnerable. Her eyes darted with caution to every opening, and her body jerked
involuntarily at every sound. Her nervousness must have translated to Sophie because the
girl's body edged closer.
Their steps slowed
as Jackie strained to feel any danger. The street had more than a deserted feeling, it
felt violated. As her eyes began to notice abnormalities, the hairs on the back of her
neck prickled and stood at attention.
wrong?" Sophie whispered, her voice tight and drawn.
feel right," she replied, turning them closer to the brick wall of a nearby building.
"It's almost too quiet." Her head turned to study both ends of the street.
"We're the only people on the street. No cars, either."
down there still looks open," Sophie said, her eyes locking on the only store that
still had crates and goods outside and a shadow of an open door. "It could be a dry
hard. "I don't know what to do," she confessed, looking down into the trusting
green gaze of Sophie.
"I don't know,
but we've gotten this far."
Jackie closed her
eyes. "No, Sophie. We need help. I don't know enough about the countryside to keep us
hidden." She looked down again, and lifted her finger to brush Sophie's cheek.
"I won't let you get caught."
"Jackie - -
-" Sophie began, but a finger over her lips stopped her.
"I need you to
hide again while I go check it out. Stay here," she told Sophie, moving the girl back
into the shadows of a doorway. "If I don't come back then you need to leave this area
quickly. Act normal. Don't run, but - - -" she took a deep breath. "Promise me
that you'll leave."
back," Sophie said, grabbing hold of Jackie's hand.
Jackie smiled to
reassure the younger woman. "Stay here."
Turning her back she
contemplate the store. Crossing the street to get a better vantage she found herself
slipping into a quick gait that hinted at purpose. She hoped it would be enough to avoid
suspicion should someone other than the store owner be in the building. The closer she got
the more alarmed she grew. Shattered glass littered the walkway in front of the store and
many of the crates had been toppled, spilling nails and screws into the street. The door
was open, and Jackie could just make out a shadowy figure moving inside.
Looking back at
Sophie she nodded before approaching the store. She could feel her gun against her back,
and her fingers itched to have it in her hand. This didn't feel good, and if something
happened, she only hoped Sophie would keep her promise and flee.
Turning around one
last time, she motioned with her head for the girl to move back into the protection of the
door way. The younger woman understood, and Jackie wiped her sweating palms against her
legs before stepping towards the door. For all she knew the figure inside was a German,
and her only thought as she neared the door was to protect Sophie - - - even if that meant
giving herself up. Standing just to the side of the door she took a deep breath and forced
her feet forward.
The interior of the
shop was dark, and Jackie had a hard time seeing. The figure moved from deep in the shop.
closed," a woman's voice said.
"I need to . .
." she thought quickly. "I need some food."
"I said we're
closed." The voice was closer now and it sounded vaguely familiar. "Please
Jackie took another
step inside, her eyes adjusting to the light. "I have money," she said. "I
can pay whatever - - -"
God!" the woman cried, rushing forward. "Jacqueline?"
Jackie looked into
the woman's stressed face. "Louise?"
the woman hissed. "You must call me Violette."
"I didn't think
you were scheduled - - -" she shut her mouth, knowing it would be stupid to talk
about missions. Louise Szabo was one of the women Jackie had trained with in England, and
one of the few she respected. Besides being a crack shot she was also half French which
gave her a distinct advantage over other operatives. The last time they'd talked, the
French spy wasn't going into France until after the invasion. "I guess plans
changed," she said.
"Come, Jacqueline. Follow me."
towards the door. "I'm not alone," she said. "And we need help."
all," Violette said, and Jackie noticed the way her eyes seemed to look through her.
The French spy's
eyes focused. "Get your friend and come to the back room."
Jackie nodded, and
turned back to the door. She cautiously surveyed the street. The same empty, eerie feeling
clung to the area, and with her body silhouetted in the door frame she motioned to Sophie.
The girl emerged from the doorway and crossed the street. Jackie watched her movement with
gut twisting anxiety.
she said, taking Sophie's hand and pulling her into the store.
on?" Sophie asked. "I was getting worried."
Jackie shook her
head. "I'm not sure, but I found someone who may be able to help us." She shut
the door to the shop and turned the closed sign around. "Follow me," she said,
leading Sophie by the hand.
A single, dangling
light bulb spilled a pale yellow light across the plank floor of the back room. Violette
was sitting in the shadow, just out of the reach of the light, the tip of her cigarette
glowing and her hand swirling a jelly jar glass of red wine.
"So who is
this?" she asked, leaning forward her brown eyes sliding up and down Sophie in
appraisal. "She's rather pretty."
"Her name is Sophie."
Violette raised and
eyebrow and shrugged as if she really didn't care if that was the girl's real name or not.
"There's wine there," she said, gesturing to a large jug of red liquid sitting
on a small table. "Help yourself."
"And who are
you?" Sophie asked, dropping Jackie's hand.
"An old friend
of Jacqueline's," Violette replied. "You may call me Violette." The woman
smiled. "I can't tell you what Jacqueline calls me."
"Is there any
food?" Jackie asked, ignoring the jab in Violette's words.
The French spy waved
her cigarette around the half empty room, her eyes still locked on Sophie. "If you
can find it, it's yours." She took a drag, her expelled smoke dancing in the halo of
the light. "It's not like the present owners will need it anymore."
Jackie motioned for
Sophie to start looking while she settled herself into an old wooden chair. "What
happened, Lou - - Violette?"
"What does it
"We heard the
Gestapo were arresting suspects, but I'd hope to find Anastasie before - -" her voice
"I was to meet
him tonight," Violette said with a sigh. "Now - - I don't know."
"Then there's a
chance of finding him?" Jackie asked.
Violette said. "I never thought you stupid, so please don't change my mind now."
Jackie's eyes flashed quickly, but Violette kept talking. "My contacts here at the
store knew Anastasie," she continued. "They were going to introduce us
what?" Jackie asked, aware that it was not approved protocol to discuss missions, but
then again it seemed both missions had gone awry.
to connect me with a resistance group near Villers-Bocage. From there I would get further
instructions." She fell silent, her hand moving the cigarette back and forth from her
lips in a mechanical fashion.
happened today?" Sophie asked, dropping a few tins of sardines and a can of biscuits
on the table.
refocused. "It happened so quickly. The SS moved block by block pulling people into
the center of the street. Gabrielle and Hector, the store owners, were taken from the
store." She lifted her glass of wine and took a long swallow. "Hector tired to
run, probably to warn others, and a soldier shot him dead less than five paces from
Gabrielle. It was horrible."
"And what about
you?" Jackie asked, a hint of suspicion rising in her gut. "You witnessed it
all, but you escaped."
"I had the
right papers," she said, lifting her glass. "Here's to fuckingly perfect
documents of the SOE."
It didn't ring right
to Jackie, but she filed it away for later use. "So what now?"
"Now? I'm going
to have another drink." She reached out and refilled her glass, her body slamming
back into the chair with a sigh. "And you, Jacqueline. What brings you here? I
believe you were slotted to be a Wham-Bam operative."
suspicions, she found herself smiling at Violette's comment. A wham-bam operative was term
they'd coined for a spy who got dropped for a quickie mission and then extracted. They
called it a quick affair. "It got complicated," she replied, motioning Sophie
into a seat and pushing a tin of sardines towards her. "The mission fell apart and we
had to run."
"And what of
your escape route?"
route wasn't an option."
Do you have plans to meet him?"
Jackie hesitated, a
half chewed stale biscuit unmoving in her mouth. The hairs on the back of her neck
tingled, and she motioned for a glass of wine to stall. Violette splashed a healthy dose
of wine into a dusty glass and handed it to Jackie. Out of the corner of her eye she saw
Sophie lean forward, her mouth open, and without thinking she dropped her hand to Sophie's
thigh and squeezed her into silence. The younger woman leaned back in her chair, her small
hand covering Jackie's.
"I'd hoped to
find Anastasie here," she replied.
solemnly. "So you have no idea where he is?"
Jackie didn't know
exactly why Violette was asking. It may be true that she was to meet Anastasie tonight, or
it could be a lie. Her blue eyes tried to perceive the truth in Violette Szabo, but she
didn't have enough information. "No," she said. "We don't know how to find
"So what now,
Jacqueline? What plans for you and your little friend?"
The American thought
quickly. She didn't trust Violette enough to give their true route, so she had to devise
another. "I have another contact in Caen who will evac us by boat from
Luc-sur-Mer." The lie just fell from her lips, but she couldn't miss the small glint
in Violette's dark eyes.
"And who is
your contact in Caen?" Violette asked, and then held up her hand. "No, don't
tell me. It's best that way."
is," Jackie replied.
The French spy
poured another glass of wine and placed it in front of Sophie. "Drink," she
France?" Violette asked, and then laughed. "Or new friends and very strange
Sophie replied, lifting her glass and taking a swallow, her face twisting up at the acidic
Jackie managed to
keep the smile from her face and just calmly sipped the cheap table wine. Violette wasn't
as kind. "Not to your liking, no?" she asked, leaning forward until her round
breasts grazed the table. Her eyes swept to Jackie and she smiled. "From her looks,
I'd have thought cheap table wine would be appealing." Her eyes flicked back and
forth between Jackie and Sophie. "However she does appear to have developed more
what?" Sophie asked.
Violette ignored her
question and focused tightly on Jackie. "Ms. Jacqueline is an heiress, my dear. A
spoiled, rich American."
off," Jackie said. "This isn't productive."
and poured some more wine into her glass. "It's about as productive as I want to be
A strained silence
descended upon the small group and Jackie couldn't help noticing how Sophie continued to
eat but never moved her eyes from Violette. For her part the French spy didn't return the
glare, but kept a quizzical grin on her face as she concentrated on her wine. Finally the
French woman placed her glass on the table and lit another cigarette.
said, expelling the word with a lungful of smoke. "When do we leave?"
with you," Violette announced.
"I don't think
that's - -"
perfectly good idea," Violette said, her voice becoming hard and commanding.
"Villers-Bocage is on the way to Caen. If Anastasie can't get me there, then you damn
Jackie began, not sure how to say no.
aren't we Jacqueline? England and America. You and me. Wasn't that what we toasted not so
The night and the
toast rushed back at her, and she found herself nodding.
A broad smile spread
across Violette's face. "How wonderful!" she cried. "Working with
Jacqueline." Her eyes moved to Sophie. "Again," she added, quickly showing
her stained teeth.
trying to ignore the nagging feeling that was spreading in her stomach. A quick glance at
Sophie found the girl staring at the table, her shoulders rising and falling with quick
breaths. The arch of the younger woman's neck strained, and she longed to place her hand
there. Instead she forced her eyes to Violette.
Violette," she said, stressing her name. "You're with us, but I'm in
it any other way, dear."
ransack this place for anything useful. Food, flashlights, medical supplies - - - bring
whatever you find in here, and I'll go over it."
"Sounds good to
me," Violette said.
"I think we'll
be safe until dark, but as soon as it is, we leave."
They worked very quickly and
alone. Sophie took over the hunt for food, and between what she found in the store and in
the small apartment upstairs, they had enough for several days. She placed the hoard of
potatoes, apples, bread, cheese and more sardines on the small table, pleased when she saw
Jackie's nod of approval.
It felt strange to
crave the American's approval and notice, but Sophie was beginning to understand how much
she needed it. It scared her a little, too. Her attraction to Jackie had gone from self
serving to self sacrificing and she knew she'd do whatever she needed to stay with her.
In a unique way she
never questioned that Jackie was a woman. Caron had somehow managed to show her that
didn't matter, although she surmised that issue might be a problem with Jackie. Of course
that hadn't stopped the American from touching her, but still, Sophie sensed a reserve in
the woman, and she didn't know how it would all end.
Jackie and the
French spy had each disappeared in their own directions to search for supplies, and Sophie
had contented herself with giving the racks in the small store room a very thorough search
for more food and useful supplies. To her surprise she came across a working flashlight
and a few dark brown coats which would help keep them warm. These she carried back to the
small table and was about to begin anew when Violette sauntered into the room.
candles," the French spy said, dropping several small tea light candles on the table.
Sophie replied, barely acknowledging the items.
There was something
about this woman that Sophie didn't like. She obviously had a history with Jackie, but
Sophie couldn't put her finger on the full nature of it. The fact that the woman was a
fellow countrymen only cut her so much slack, and Sophie didn't know why Jackie had
allowed the woman to join them. An ugly jab of jealousy poked at her, and Sophie found
herself unable to even look at the woman without wanting to question her.
"So where is
Jacqueline?" Violette asked.
Sophie stressed the name. "Is in the cellar."
going down somewhere," Violette said, with a smirk.
"Just how well
do you know her?" Sophie asked, her hands settling on her hips.
The French woman
laughed. "Quite well, my pet."
well?" Sophie stepped closer.
"You'd like to
know, no?" Violette quipped back.
what?" Jackie said, entering the small room, a large box held to her chest.
Sophie said, stepping forward to help her with the box. "What'd you find?"
"I'm not sure any of it works, but it looks to be old weapons of some sort."
inside the box. "Rifles from the Great War," she said, pulling a rusted bayonet
from the side. "I can't believe they kept them."
"It's in bad
shape," Jackie said, withdrawing a wooden stock. "Probably worthless."
Violette said, dropping the bayonet back in the box. "Find anything else?"
other stuff I need brought up."
you," Sophie said, anxious to be away from the French spy.
much," Jackie said. "I'll do it, if you can try and find something to carry all
"Let me do
that," Violette said. "You and - - " she looked at Sophie. "Whatever
your name is," she smiled. "You two go down on the cellar and I'll find a
Sophie saw the way
Jackie's eyes seemed to smolder when she looked at the French woman, and Sophie found a
lump rising in her throat. It was painfully obvious that Jackie had feelings for this
woman, and to Sophie that realization hurt.
Jackie said. "I'll get the heavier stuff."
Sophie nodded, her
face blank, and she hesitated a moment before following Jackie from the room. The American
waited for her just outside the door and pointed her down a long hall that lead to another
"I imagine this
room would be packed to the rafters with goods if there wasn't a war on," the
American commented, stepping past her and gesturing at the set of steps hidden in the
floor. "It looks darker than it is," she said. "I'll go first."
bring herself to respond to this banter, and with a heavy step she descended into the dark
cellar. A small window at ground level bathed the cellar with a dusty light only bright
enough to make out Jackie's silhouette. To Sophie it seemed very appropriate as she
realized a dusty haze was truly all she knew of the American.
okay?" Jackie voice startled her and she jumped. The older woman's hand grasped her
upper arm, and Sophie want to both lean into and away from the touch. She turned away.
fine," she said, her voice tight and in control. "Where's the stuff you
Jackie said. She stepped closer, and Sophie could feel the heat generated between them.
She had to force herself to step back, and she heard Jackie sigh.
the French spy called from above. "I've found a bag."
"We'll be right
up," Jackie called back.
having more fun then I'll come down there," Violette cried.
Sophie heard Jackie
sigh again before the American swooped down and picked up one of the boxes at their feet.
"Just wait there," she called up to Violette. "We're coming."
"I bet you
are," Violette called back, her voice ringing with laughter.
'I'm going to
kill her,' Sophie thought.
Jackie said, holding the box out. "Carry this one, it's lighter."
Sophie grabbed the
box and started to move past Jackie to the stairs, but the American's hand across her
stomach stopped her. "I wanted to talk with you," she whispered in her ear.
"But all I can say now is to ask you to trust me."
"Talk to me
about what?" Sophie whispered back. "Trust you with what?"
twisted to look up the stairs, the French spy's shadow falling down the steps.
"Please," she whispered, her fingers grazing across Sophie's cheek. "Just
quiet down there," Violette called.
Jackie said, lifting the other box and motioning Sophie up the stairs.
she said, throwing her one leg off the bed and then carefully moving the wounded leg to
follow. She fixed a haughty expression on her face that she was later to regret.
An older woman, her
gray streaked hair pulled tightly into a bun, entered the room. Her posture was severe,
the shoulders thrust back proudly to display her Waffen-SS uniform. Despite her bony
frame, she had an impressive bosom, and her breasts jutted out like two Egyptian pyramids,
calling attention to an impressive array of ribbons and decorations. Caron even spied the
Fur Treue Dienfte medal which was only given for faithful service to the Nazi party prior
to the war. Slowly, Caron's pale eyes drifted to the hardened face of the woman, and as
the woman's cold black eyes captured her, Caron knew she was in trouble.
"May I help
you?" she asked, her voice as cool as ever despite the almost unknown rumble of fear
that shook her stomach.
it," the woman replied, pushing the door closed behind her, and looking around the
room with distaste.
"Then what do
will be given to you on a need to know basis."
Caron thrust her
chin out defiantly, her gray eyes staring hard at the older woman. "Well," she
began. "I need to know what you are doing in my room and," she smiled sweetly.
"Who in the hell do you think you are?"
questions," the woman replied, sitting herself on the shabby couch that faced the
bed. "These rooms aren't very nice, are they?" she asked.
better," Caron replied, her eyes still waiting for an answer.
The woman nodded.
"Yes, I know you have."
"What do you
the woman said, tugging at her jacket before crossing her legs.
whom?" Caron asked,
A feral grin lifted
one corner of the woman's thing, grayish lips. "You," she said simply, and Caron
felt an icy jolt crash against her body.
"I'm afraid I
don't understand," Caron said, her hand clenching and releasing nervously.
"You have upset
my plans," the woman responded. "I can't have that."
"Again, I don't
The woman uncrossed
her legs and stood up, her hand brushing at invisible wrinkles on her black skirt. Her
movement across the room was almost reptilian, and Caron found herself leaning away from
the woman's hand as it reached up and dragged a fingernail under her chin. "I'm sure
you don't," she said, her fingernail lifting Caron's face until the Gestapo agent was
forced to look the woman in her cold black eyes. "Did it ever occur to you that there
might have been bigger things at work besides your two fugitives?"
Caron just stared
back, painfully aware of the power this woman exuded .
me?" the woman rasped, digging her nail into the tender flesh under Caron's chin.
"I was unaware
of your presence," Caron replied, trying to lean away from the woman's nail.
"I'm sorry if my operation has upset anything."
The woman's hand
closed around her jaw and squeezed hard. Caron winced, and strained against the iron grasp
as the woman's black eyes drew closer. "You are going to be more than sorry, Fraulein
Rundstedt. Believe me," she whispered, her breath blasting across Caron's face.
"I don't know
who you are, but I've had about enough of it," Caron said, digging deeply to find the
strength to grab the woman's arm and pull it away.
The woman laughed,
her arm tense and like wrought iron in Caron's grasp. "I've heard you have quite a
spirit." Her smile faded. "Be careful it doesn't get you killed."
threatening me?" Caron said, dropping the older woman's arm.
"Warning you is
a more accurate description, Caron."
address me by my rank," Caron replied, her eyes scanning for any indication of the
woman's rank. "How may I address you?"
The woman smiled,
revealing an eye-tooth that was growing black with decay. "My dear, your pitiful rank
doesn't intimidate me like it does others, And I will call you whatever pleases me."
The woman stepped back, the sick black smile still on her face, and her dark, soulless
eyes seemed to see through her.
Caron's skin felt
cold under the scrutiny, and she sensed the prudence in keeping her tongue. All she could
do was drop her gaze in a silent subservience that made her teeth clench.
"So what do I
do with you?" the older woman asked, reclaiming her seat on the ragged sofa. "I
hear you are quite fond of having people shot for disobedience. How does that make you
Caron didn't reply.
"I'm sure it
bolstered your insecure nature into feeling a sense of misplaced power."
bully me," Caron said, surprised that she couldn't lift her eyes from the faded green
"But my dear,
isn't that what you do best?"
"You seem to
know a lot about me."
Caron sensed rather
than saw the woman shrug. "It's always wise to learn as much as possible about pesky
problems, don't you agree?"
The Gestapo agent's
head lifted at this statement and she met the woman's eyes with ease. "Yes," she
said. "I do." Her eyes narrowed. "Which is why I feel so unbalanced with
"Then I've done
my job right."
"So I'm a job
The woman shook her
head. "No, you're a problem."
Caron lifted her
finger to stop the woman's speech. "And let me guess, you always solve your
problems." The words had a strange ring to them and she vaguely remember uttering the
Caron wished her
damn leg didn't hurt so badly because she was sick of feeling weak with this woman. She
needed to try and establish a dominance or at the very least an equality with her, and
sitting on the bed wasn't doing it. Her hand trembled slightly as she reached for her
cigarettes and withdrew a long stick. Her lighter was a little out of her grasp and her
long fingers strained to pull it closer.
the woman said, tossing a solid gold lighter with two platinum SS lightening slashes on
The woman smiled.
"Given to me by the Reichsfuhrer himself." She gestured for Caron to use it, and
the blonde Gestapo agent's head dipped to light her cigarette. "Himmler and I are old
"I saw your
faithful service ribbon," Caron said, her heart pounding in her ears and making her
feel slightly dizzy.
quite an interest in this region," she said, folding her arms over her chest.
"He personally sent me to St-Lo in order to infiltrate the resistance and report on
their connections and coordination with the British SOE and the American OSS."
silent, her cigarette moving back and forth from her lips. The realization that she'd
blindly stumbled into a top level SS operation was just beginning to hit home. In the back
of her mind she wondered if she'd live to see tomorrow.
actions may have destroyed what took me nearly a year to build."
Apologizing at this
stage seemed pointless, Caron realized. This woman had all the power and for the first
time ever Caron knew her position wouldn't be enough to save her. "So are you going
to kill me?" she asked, forcing her voice to keep a touch of disinterest even though
every fiber of her being was screaming for life.
"Right to the
point," the woman said. "Your dossier said that about you." The woman stood
and smoothed out her black skirt again. "Death would be a justifiable punishment for
you." Caron nodded, unable to fault the woman for a decision she'd made hundreds of
times. "However," the woman said. "You might prove more useful alive."
are of little importance to the Fatherland. The American spy would be a fine prize, but
the French girl would serve little purpose except as an example to other would-be
her?" Caron asked, completely unable to keep the fear from her voice.
The woman noticed
and turned her black eyes slowly on Caron. "Yes," she said, her eyes narrowing
to discern any reaction. "Something nasty and public."
Caron clenched her
jaw, her back teeth grinding to control the wave of feelings that washed over her.
"And me?" she rasped.
The woman remained
silent, her eyes still probing her. Finally her face broke and she took a step closer.
"You work for me now," she said.
capacity?" Caron asked, only slightly aware that she'd been granted life, at least
for a few more hours.
The woman thought
for a moment. "Your roughshod actions today toppled a very fragile Resistance
organization. I've put in place a double agent named Anastasie. He's been filtering top
secret information to the British for months and they have accepted him totally."
was all Caron could think of to say. "But I can't see how my plans could have upset
The woman's eyes
narrowed momentarily. "You impertinent bitch." She took a step closer. "Of
course you can't see how anything you'd do would carry consequences. You've never been
held accountable for anything."
Caron lifted her
chin. "I've always acted in the interest of the Fatherland."
The woman laughed,
her voice shrill and hollow. "If you thought I'd truly believe that, Caron, then I
have grossly misjudged you." She shrugged and reclaimed her gold lighter. "Which
means our business is concluded."
The Gestapo agent
sat up quickly, her instinct for survival overriding her careless tongue.
"Wait," she said. "I'm sorry."
The pale woman
looked back. "I don't think so," she said, tugging on her tunic. "But we
will deal with that later." Her head dipped. "Now, if I may continue with my
Caron said, leaning back but not feeling comfortable.
"My plan was to
finally have paid off tonight."
to be introduced to one of London's premier agents, Violette Szabo. Tonight," she
added with emphasis.
"Ms. Szabo has
access to information that could save the Fatherland from its imminent defeat."
invasion?" Caron said, the total weight of her blunder almost crushing her.
The woman's head
nodded. "Yes. The Allied invasion."
Caron began thinking
quickly. "Could she have been picked up in the arrest?" It was a desperate
gesture, but all she had at the moment.
not," the woman replied. "She wasn't on the list you told that idiot Captain to
contacts were," Caron said simply. Her head lifted, and with great effort she made
eye contact with the vile woman. "And what am I to do?" she asked, the feeling
of subservience unfamiliar.
tell you." Her face became very serious.
"And what are
you telling me?"
pursue your fugitives, Caron. I believe you'll find them, and they will find Violette
Szabo." She walked to the door and turned.
it?" Her head twisted in suspicion. "What do you really want me to do?"
mess," she said, quietly. "I need Ms. Szabo in Villers-Bocage by tomorrow night.
She was expecting to be there anyway, so I suspect she'll use your fugitives to get her
spy hasn't done anything expected," Caron stated.
The woman nodded.
"That's because you were in charge."
Caron felt her ego
bristle, but she forced it back down. "And if she reaches this Villers-Bocage?"
"Then my plan
is to either turn Ms. Szabo or kill her."
The woman smiled.
"I believe Violette Szabo will become a most willing agent for the Fatherland. Her
assistance will be invaluable in stopping the Allied forces that are planning on hindering
our thousand year Reich."
Caron asked, aware of the woman's smugness.
has a daughter I'm sure she'd love to see again."
"You have her
daughter?" The Gestapo agent wasn't sure if she felt admiration or revulsion for such
The woman shrugged.
"That is information you don't need to know."
knowing the answer wasn't necessary for her part. She looked up as a sudden fear crossed
her mind. "Do I have limitations on my authority?"
The woman smiled,
and withdrew an envelope from inside her jacket. This she dropped onto the table near the
door. "Read that and see." She opened the door. "Don't stray too much, my
dear, or I will kill you." She smiled. "You're not all that valuable."
"How do I reach
When I need you, I'll find you."
Caron shook her
head. "Do you at least have a name?"
The woman thought
for a moment. "Lillian Rolfe," she said, with a crooked smile that told Caron it
wasn't her real name and all but useless to her. "Heil, Hitler," she said before
slipping out the door.
"I'm going to
get some air," Violette said, stabbing her cigarette out and turning around.
Sophie dropped her
head onto her arms and pretend to sleep. The woman's chair scratched against the ground
and Sophie listened to the dull clack of her shoes as she exited the room. She lifted her
head and immediately moved her gaze to the sleeping American.
It was almost
inconceivable how much it hurt to know that Jackie had feelings for this Violette. Sophie
had managed to convince herself that they were destined to meet, and that Jackie would
save her from war and suffering and most of all from herself. Now looking at the smooth
pale skin relaxed in sleep, Sophie began to wonder if Jackie was playing a similar game
with her. In all the time she thought herself in charge of Jackie, maybe it was reverse.
As a wave of nauseous swept over her she lowered her head again and tried to not cry.
Violette said, and Sophie lifted her head to see the French spy gently smoothing Jackie's
hair before shaking her shoulder. "It's almost dark."
awake," Jackie said.
'Of course you
are,' Sophie thought. 'You've been wanting her to touch you.'
"We should be
getting ready to go," Violette said, turning towards Sophie. "Your little friend
is awake already." She smiled. "Or perhaps she didn't sleep. No?"
Sophie got to her
feet and made a great pretense of brushing dust off her legs. She glared at Jackie the
whole time, hoping her gaze held all the fire she felt in her heart. "I slept
fine," she said, pulling her arms over her chest. "Just like an innocent
baby." Jackie stared back, her face empty and her eyes confused. Sophie shrugged.
"I need a bathroom," she said, and fled the room before the tears forced
She'd never noticed
how old the French woman actually looked. She peered closer, her eyes searching out every
flaw and she decided that Violette didn't look old, she looked bitter and angry. Jackie
swallowed. That was a dangerous combination.
"Did the store
owners have a car?" she asked, trying to keep herself focused on their escape.
"There's a truck parked out back, but I don't know who it belongs to." She
reached for another glass of wine, and Jackie fought the urge to knock the glass from her
"I'm going to
take a look," she said, walking to the store room door. "Tell Sophie to gather
our things. We're leaving within the hour."
Jacqueline," she heard, as she walked out into the darkening store.
The store felt eerie
in the deepening darkness. The crates stacked up against the walls cast great shadows
across the bare plank floors. Her body felt infused with nervous energy, and she leaned
against the counter to regain control.
right. She felt that deep inside, and her head turned in Violette's direction and she knew
why. Her friend had changed since their intensive training in England. Or maybe she had
been deceived in Violette's true nature. Jackie couldn't be sure, but at that moment she
knew she couldn't trust the French spy.
Her story didn't
ring true, Jackie decided. Violette was not scheduled to drop into France until after the
invasion. The woman had been an intricate part of the pre-planning of the invasion. London
couldn't risk losing her, Jackie knew. And Anastasie? Jackie knew for a fact that he was a
new operative, and his job function was merely to acquire high level information on German
activities in France. It wasn't, as Violette suggested, to introduce operative to various
resistance groups. The fact that Violette was searching for Anastasie was troubling.
Her steps lead her
to the counter where she began to riffle through papers and drawers for anything to
confirm or deny Violette's story. She read and discarded receipts and invoices until her
fingers closed around a stack of old photographs. These she went through quickly, her eyes
searching for anything that looked familiar. Most of the pictures were taken in the store
and showed a middle aged man and woman smiling at various improvements. Jackie's brow
and Gabrielle," Violette's voice said, over her shoulder.
Jackie dropped the
pictures, and continued searching. "I was looking for keys," she said.
"Look over your
head," Violette said, reaching by Jackie and pulling a set of keys from a hook.
Jackie turned, her
body coming much too close to Violette, but the French spy didn't move backwards. Instead
she seemed to inch closer, so close that Jackie could smell the sour wine on her breath,
and looking down she realized if she breathed too deeply her breasts would probably brush
against Violette's dark blue blouse.
"Here are the
keys, Jacqueline," she said, lifting her hand and running the dangling keys up
Jackie's coat jacket.
Sophie's voice both cut the tension and made Jackie's heart plunge to her stomach. She
looked up to see the young writer staring at her with injured green eyes.
Jackie began, stepping away from Violette's clutch. "Sophie - - - wait."
go," Violette said, and Jackie could almost feel the woman's satisfied smile.
"She's hardly worth the effort."
"And what would
you know?" Jackie asked, turning on the French woman. "Did you set that
up?" she accused.
flashed momentarily before the cool exterior regained control. She jingled the keys.
"I'm going to see if these start the truck," she said, moving swiftly past
that," Jackie replied, watching the woman's retreat while trying to decide whether to
grab Sophie and run out the front door, leaving Violette to fend for herself. Clutching
her hand to her side she shook her head and instead went to find Sophie.
She found the girl
sitting on a wobbly wooden bench at the very end of the store room. Her legs were pulled
tightly against her chest and she didn't appear to hear or care about Jackie's approach.
The American stood
for a moment trying to find the right words to ease the betrayal and pain from Sophie's
young face. With no words coming to mind she stepped forward and gently touched her face.
Sophie pulled away from her touch, and blinked unseeingly across the room.
"It wasn't what
it looked like," she said, taking a seat next to Sophie. The girl remained silent, so
Jackie fought to find more words. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know it doesn't
mean anything right now, but I want you to know that what you saw wasn't anything."
She shook her head. "I don't know what Violette is trying to do, but - - -"
alright," Sophie said. "I was wrong to think we had anything."
That statement stung
and Jackie felt her face fall. She knew her mouth opened to respond but no words came
forth. She sat there in a confused silence, half of her wondering why she felt so hurt and
the other half wondering exactly what she wanted from Sophie. She found no answers. Sophie
sat there staring at nothing, but Jackie could see her jaw working in frustration. She
raised a finger and let it fall down the girl's face. "Sophie?"
Sophie turned, and
gave Jackie a weak smile. "Don't look so hurt, Jackie," she said. "We'll
get through this and then we'll go our separate ways."
"Is that what
you want?" Jackie forced herself to speak.
Sophie shrugged, and
Jackie thought she saw either pain or regret in her green eyes. "It's probably what
"But is it what
you want?" Jackie asked again, aware that her voice was ragged with emotion. She
sighed when Sophie looked away.
"I want this to
be over," she said, standing but keeping her back to Jackie.
Jackie felt her hand
lift as her heart cried out for her to reach out to Sophie, but she let it fall back
against her leg with a dull thud. She took a deep breath and tried to compose herself. She
didn't know where to go from here, and she didn't know why Sophie's rebuff hurt so badly.
After all, they barely knew each other, right?
thought, climbing to her feet. 'If that's what she wants, then so be it.' She took a step
away and spoke over her shoulder to Sophie. "Let's get ready to go. The sooner we
start the quicker you'll be rid of me."
straightened at her words, and her head lifted. "Fine," she said, her voice
slightly off key. "I'll be right there."
Jackie said, walking off quickly.
Her own agenda had
always dominated her actions, and her allegiance to the Nazi party was circumstantial at
best. She believed in the power the party gave her, that was all. The fear she saw in a
person's eyes when she identified herself usually made a tingle of unique pleasure run
through her. Did Lillian Rolfe feel that same special tingle?
Caron said, grabbing her crutches and pulling herself to her feet. "Fucking power
"I won't do
it," she announced, grabbing for the phone, ready to tell Lillian Rolfe where she
could go. "I won't allow Sophie to be treated that way!"
And then her
rationality started talking. She'd blundered into something that flooded her own agenda,
and unfortunately Sophie Frenay had blundered into it with her. As much as it enraged her
to admit it, Caron had very little control in the situation. If Lillian Rolfe and Germany
wanted Sophie dead, then Caron couldn't do much to stop it.
Sophie," Caron said, turning towards the bed and letting her mind conjure up a
picture of Sophie laying in her bed, her green eyes wanting so badly to trust Caron.
"Well, that was her mistake."
She dropped the
phone back into its cradle and lowered herself into the chair next to it. Her mind was
busy making plans, and a smile spread across her face. She was so absorbed in her thoughts
that she didn't hear the knock at her door, and she jumped when a hand touched her
Oberfuhrer," the captain said. "I tried knocking."
several times trying to think up a suitable response to the man's gross abuse, but in the
end she merely nodded. "Report, please," she asked.
we've found them."
Caron felt her
entire face lift at the news and her heart fluttered nervously in her chest.
"Where?" she said, jamming her crutches to the floor and pulling herself up.
"Where?!" she demanded, slapping away the captain's hands when he tried to help
her instead of answering.
they are in St-Lo, at least."
"You said you
found them," Caron said, her eyes narrowing at the captain's backpedaling.
someone who saw a woman fitting the description of the American spy."
"A dress shop
"How did you
"The door to
door questioning," the captain answered. "She was evasive with one of my men.
She was arrested and brought to me."
"And where is
"Now, you bring
her to me," Caron growled.
start?" Jackie asked, trying desperately to focus on anything but Sophie.
In response Violette
turned the key and the engine choked itself alive. A smile spread across Jackie's face and
her she laid her hand against the engine satisfied with the vibrations. With a vehicle
they might make it Caen tonight. The engine fell still under her hand.
"You can wipe
that look of pleasure from your face, Jacqueline," Violette said, exiting the cab.
"There's probably not enough petrol to drive down the block."
Jackie moved around
and leaned into the cab her eyes searching for the fuel gage. The needle was deep against
the E and she cursed under her breath. "Is there any way to get some more gas?"
she called over her shoulder to Violette.
"We could ask
the Germans," Violette quipped back. "They're the only ones with petrol these
siphoning it from other cars?"
"Be my guest,
but is it worth the risk?"
Jackie stood back
and looked around. "What about that drum?" she said, pointing towards a large
metal container at the rear of the truck. Violette shrugged and continued to lean against
the hood. Jackie approached the drum, smiling when she picked up the telltale scent of
gasoline. Her hands grabbed for the edges and she gave the barrel a shake hearing the
slosh of liquid inside. "Help me with this," she said to Violette.
"What do we
have to lose?"
Violette said, coming forward to help roll the drum closer to the back of the truck.
"But we'd be better walking."
own the roads, Jacqueline. How long before we're stopped and checked?" She wiped her
hands on her dark skirt. "And I don't remember you having papers."
decision," Jackie said, digging her fingers under the cap and pulling it off. "I
need something," she looked around. "A gas can or a hose to siphon it into the
truck's tank." Violette leaned against the truck and shrugged again. Jackie rolled
her eyes. "For Christ's sake, will you help look?" she gripped, stalking off
towards the store.
Her gut felt like a
group of goats was stamping around inside and she pushed her hand tightly to her stomach
not sure if it was the impending flight from St-Lo or Sophie that made her feel like
throwing up. Pulling open the back door to the store she lifted her eyes to see Sophie
standing there, and she knew it wasn't leaving St-Lo that made her feel weak.
Her reaction was
pure defensiveness and she knew it, but she couldn't stop herself from hardening her face
and squaring her shoulders. But she also knew it was almost impossible to hide the pain in
her eyes, and so she made as little eye contact with Sophie as she could.
"I need to find
a gas can or a long hose," she told her, turning quickly so her back faced Sophie.
"Jackie - -
"Have you seen
one?" Jackie asked, trying to ignore the hit to her heart when Sophie called her
Jackie's thoughts stumbled as she tried to fight the urge to turn and demand to know why
Sophie didn't want her. Her heart needed to know how Sophie couldn't feel what it did.
Instead she walked quickly into the main store and began digging in boxes, almost
forgetting what it was she was looking for. She heard Sophie follow her, and out of the
corner of her eye she saw the girl picking through another box.
hose," Sophie said, pulling a three foot length of black hose from the box.
"Will it work?"
reached for the hose. "I'll go try," she said, keeping her eyes on the floor.
"Will you keep looking for an alternative if I can't make this work?"
Sophie said, and Jackie thought she heard resignation in the girl's voice.
Violette in the same spot she left her. The French spy was smoking, her ashes falling
dangerously close to the open lid of the fuel drum. Jackie covered the distance in two
steps and grabbed the cigarette from the woman's hand and tossed it to the ground.
she said, putting her nose a mere inch from Violette's. "Are you completely
"I see you
found a hose," Violette responded, moving to the left and sliding away from Jackie's
anger. "See, you didn't need me after all."
Jackie thrust one
end of the hose into the fuel drum and put the other end close to her mouth. "Go help
Sophie with our things," she ordered. "We're leaving as soon as I finish."
Capitain," Violette said, giving Jackie a sloppy salute. "Where is your little
Jackie said, unscrewing the cap on the truck's tank. She watched as Violette walked away
and absently wondered how long she could put up with the woman. With a shake of her head
she put the hose in her mouth and began sucking, her tongue waiting for the first bitter
taste of gas. She was starting to feel light headed, but one last suck brought the gas to
her mouth and she spat it out while jamming the hose in the tank.
There was no telling
how far they'd get with a few gallons of gas, but Jackie reasoned it was a lot farther and
faster than they'd get on foot. She only hoped there was no road blocks or check points
outside of St-Lo. She tipped the fuel drum forward to get every drop she could into the
tank before the hose sputtered.
The door opened and
Sophie exited carrying the brown coats and a box of food. Jackie took the supplies and
began stacking them in the back of the truck. Violette managed to carry the jug of wine
and another smaller box of candles and flashlights before climbing into the cab and
it?" Jackie asked.
more box inside," Sophie said.
"Can you get it
while I tie this stuff down?"
Sophie nodded and
ran back into the building while Jackie began looping a rope around the boxes.
Bisset," the woman replied, her eyes locked on the steak.
"Do you know
why you are here?" Caron asked, leaning back from her meal to fully observe the
"Because I sold
clothes to the tall woman and didn't inform the authorities of my suspicions."
silent for a minute, somewhat stunned by the woman's honesty. "You're hungry?"
The woman nodded, and Caron addressed the captain. "Bring her a steak," she
ordered, motioning the woman to sit opposite her as the captain left the room.
you," Madame Bisset said, taking a seat.
Caron inclined her
head slightly in response. "I don't imagine you've had many steaks lately?"
Mademoiselle. My daughter and I have often gone hungry."
"That's a pity.
And how old is you daughter?"
The woman smiled.
"He's not in
the picture," she said, with a shrug. "He left for Paris before Berthe was
Caron nodded with
overt sympathy. "It's hard raising a child alone."
"Yes, and this
war doesn't make it any easier."
The captain returned
with a covered plate which he placed in front of the woman. Caron could almost see her
salivating before the lid was lifted and the steam and scent of the meat hit her face. A
part of her actually felt sorry for the woman, but that pity would not interfere with
acquiring information about Sophie and the American bitch.
The woman's eyes
widened as she instantly remembered, and she coughed slightly, lifting the napkin to cover
her full mouth. Caron allowed her a moment to gather herself, and she felt slightly
anxious to see if this woman would continue with honesty or if she'd condemn herself with
woman replied, laying her fork next to her plate. "She seemed very nice."
"And what did
she buy?" Caron asked, lifting her glass of burgundy wine and sipping it carefully,
her eyes appraising Madame Bisset over the rim. "Please describe it as best you
"It was a nice
blouse and a pair of gray slacks."
for her," the woman replied quickly. "Or so she said."
someone else with her?"
"Not that I
saw, but the clothes would have fit a much small woman."
Caron nodded, trying
to picture Sophie in a pair of gray pants and a white shirt. "Tell me about the
American, please." She gestured for the woman to continue eating even though she
desperately wanted to know about the American spy.
"I can't tell
you much, Mademoiselle. She bought some clothes and left."
"Why were you
The woman blinked.
"She made an error in her speech."
"So her French
Madame Bisset dipped
her head. "Her French isn't as good as yours, Mademoiselle."
Caron," she said, narrowing her eyes. "Is your steak alright?"
wonderful, Caron," the woman said, her tongue trying out the name that not many
uttered and lived. Of course she didn't know that, and Caron could see her becoming more
American to me."
appeared to think for a moment. "I suppose she could be described as beautiful,"
she began. "Her eyes were stunning, and she smiled once."
Caron didn't like
this description and she felt herself becoming impatient. "Tell me something
else," she said, waving the captain to clear their plates even though her guest
wasn't done. It pleased her to see the woman's face fall when her half eaten steak was
"I don't know
what else you want," she said. "The woman spent less than five minutes in my
store. She purchased the outfit I described and some of my husband's old clothes and
Caron narrowed her
eyes at the woman, her patience fully exhausted. "You're no further use to me,"
she announced, moving her eyes to the captain. "Detain her," she ordered.
The captain moved
forward, his hand on the woman's chair, but the woman reached out and grabbed Caron's arm.
"Please, Mademoiselle. I answered you questions. Let me return to my daughter. She'll
Caron's head cocked
sideways as she contemplated the woman's statement. Somewhere in the recesses of her mind
she remembered being scared as a child and wanting her mother. She'd overcome that
weakness, and so would this girl. "Remove her, Captain."
Now the woman began
to grow hysterical and Caron longed to be rid of her. She pushed the chair back and
grabbed for her crutches. She was hauling herself to her feet when the woman turned and
cried one last time to her.
"I know where
they are," she cried, as the captain was forcing her from the room.
The Gestapo agent
dropped back into the chair, her crutches falling to the floor with a crash. Her head
turned slowly towards the woman. "Captain," she said, quietly. "Bring her
Madame Bisset pulled
away from the captain's grasp and fell on her knees before Caron. Her drawn face looked up
with such hope that Caron instantly despised her. Without a thought her hand reached out
and closed around the woman's throat and she pulled her forward.
me," she whispered, her words crashing against the woman's face. "You'd better
know where they are, or you will not leave this hotel alive." She released her hold
and the woman fell back. "Now speak."
"The dry good
store," Madame Bisset gasped, her hand cradling her bruised throat. "Try the dry
good store on the Rue de la Fontaine. I've heard that it's a safe house or something for
Caron's eyes found
the captain and she raised her eyebrow in question. "We raided the store this
morning. On your orders," he added. "Two suspects were arrested. One, a male,
was killed trying to escape."
The captain shook
his head and shrugged. "Empty, I suppose."
The Gestapo agents
eyes glided back to Madame Bisset. "Take her away," she ordered. "And fetch
my car and driver."
"What shall I
do with her?" the captain asked.
"Release her if
I find the fugitives," she smiled at the woman. "Or kill her if they aren't
This time she
completely ignored the woman's cries as the captain pulled her from her room. She'd
climbed to her feet and was trying to find her leather coat and gloves. Her heart was
pounding and her palms felt sweaty against the crutch support. A goofy smile creased her
she whispered, hobbling towards the door. "My Sophie." Her hand grabbed for
Lillian Rolfe's letter and stuffed it unread into her pocket before leaving the room.
Continued in Part X ...
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