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

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

 Mercy that Sadness Brings



Section XI

This is the Enemy



NOTE TO READERS: Hi everyone.  Thanks for reading.  I know I promised to conclude the story in this section, but the number of pages got too long to put in one post.  So, I've broken it into two sections.  The story does conclude in Section XII.  I just wanted to get this posted now.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.  As always, comments are welcome at  Thanks again!  Pallas.


Her eyes shifted anxiously with the narrow beam of the flash light that spilled onto the fallow field.  Every few seconds she checked the odometer, noting the distance from the wrecked truck.  She'd only traveled about five kilometers, and as the Kubelwagon bumped and groaned its way across the field, Jackie searched for any sign of Sophie or Violette’s tracks.

There was no way for her to calculate how fast they were travelling - - or even what direction they might have turned.  For all she knew she might have passed them already.  She'd developed a pattern of driving a few minutes and then pulling herself over the windshield.

“Sophie!!” she yelled.  “Violette!!”  She held her position, her ears turned for any sound. The only response was the low hum of the engine.  “Sophie!  Violette!  Answer me," she yelled again, finishing with a whispered "please."

When nothing but the engine hum broke the tense silence, she dropped back into the seat with a huff of disappointment.  She jammed the truck back into gear and began crawling forward again.

The night was growing colder.  She could feel the wind biting at her face, and even as she leaned forward to turn up the heat she thought about how cold Sophie must be.  Was she cold enough to collapse?  The question pounded her heart.  Would Violette leave her?

“Sophie!” she called again, peering deeply into the darkness.  “Violette!”




Sophie could no longer feel her toes, and what little feeling she retained in her fingers was because they hadn't left the warmth of her lips.  Her wet clothes had frozen on her body, causing a numbness which dulled her spirit as well as her skin.  Lacking strength, she allowed her steps to be guided by Violette, who continued to move them across the field with at an almost ruthless speed.  Every step took them farther into the darkness and the unknown.

The red glow from the explosion had either died down or they had walked too far to see it anymore.  The image of Jackie's body lying on the cold ground assaulted her until she thought she'd scream.  She felt like a coward for allowing Violette to lead her away from Jackie, and she desperately wanted to fight back, but it was so hard.  All she could manage was to look over her shoulder every few minutes and pray she'd see Jackie's face.

Over and over again all she saw was the endless darkness following them.  It had been too long.  Jackie should have come for her by now, and as the minutes crept past, she knew she'd lost Jackie forever.  Her heart grew cold with the bleak realization, and despite her cold, wet clothes, Sophie knew she was freezing to death from the inside out.

“It will be alright, Cherie,” Violette said, repeating the same words she'd used just minutes before.  Sophie couldn't believe they were supposed to make her feel better.  The only made her feel worse.  How could anything be alright with Jackie . . .

"She's gone."  The words hurt to say. 

"We don't know that."

"She should have come for us by now . . . if" she took a deep breath.  "If Jackie was still alive she'd have come for us by now."

"Stop thinking about it and just keep walking," Violette sighed with frustration.  The gesture gave her courage.

"No," she said, her steps slowing.  "I think we should turn back and try to find her." She stopped walking.

Violette grabbed her arm.  "That would be stupid."  She tried to force Sophie forward.

"Jackie would return to find us," Sophie countered, pulling her arm away.

            "For you, perhaps," Violette whispered just loud enough for Sophie to hear before shrugging the fact off and continuing.  "Neither of us have the skills or the strength to help Jacqueline," she said, turning to look at her.  "You're nearly frozen to death, and me?"  She laughed weakly and fell silent.                                     

“And what if she doesn’t come back?  What then?”

Violette stopped, and in a quick gesture, the woman’s cold hand reached up and brushed Sophie’s frozen cheek.  “Poor Sophie,” she said.  “You’ve lost everything, no?”

The girl started to nod, but found her chin lifting at the spiteful tone.  “Don’t pity me,” she said, tersely.  “I don't need you.”


“What do we have to do in Villers-Bocage, Violette?”

"I told you not to question me.  You will do what I tell you, and without question."

Sophie shook her head.  "No," she said, quietly.

"Don't defy me."  Violette's mouth fell open.  "Do you have any idea what I can do to you?"

"Nothing that hasn't been done to me before," Sophie said, a chill passing through her at the thought of Caron.  "You don't scare me.  You're nothing compared to what I've been through already."

Violette stepped closer.  "Don't make bets you can't pay.  Now shut up and start walking.  That way," she ordered, pointing to the right.  "Villers-Bocage is that way."

"I'm not going to help you.  I don't know what you're going to tell the Germans, but I won't take part in it.  I don't care about you or your daughter."

Violette’s spun on Sophie, her hand lifting to close around Sophie’s jaw and squeezing until Sophie felt her frozen lips split.  “You little bitch," she breathed, and  Sophie could just smell the bitter wine on the woman’s breath.  “I don't need you that much.  Remember that.”  Her hand dropped from Sophie’s face.

 “Why the hell did Jackie allow you to come? She should have killed you.”

Violette shrugged.  “Perhaps,” she smirked.  “But she didn’t.  Which leaves us in this  situation.  It's amusing that you're suddenly dependent upon my protection, no?”

“Then just leave me, because I don't need you, and I refuse to be beholden to you for anything.  So leave.”

The French spy laughed.  “And risk everything?  What if you decided to ruin my plans by telling someone.”

“Who would I tell?” Sophie countered.

“Oh, you’d be surprised who will listen nowadays.”

“You disgust me,” Sophie said, wishing her mouth contained enough spit to hurl at the spy.  “You’re betraying your country . . . Everyone who has died to free France.”

“Save the pathetically overdone patriotic speech, Sophie.  I've given it to myself more times than I can stomach.”

“But you’d do it anyway.”

“I've been given no choice.”

“Everyone has choices, Violette.”

“Why don’t you stick to what you know?” Violette questioned, her voice angry but seeming to ache.  “You know nothing about me.”

"I'd like nothing better than to have never known you," Sophie spit out.

"Likewise, Cherie," Violette said, grabbing her arm.  "Now, start walking."

"No," Sophie said, pulling her arm from Violette's grasp and folding them over her chest.  "I'm not leaving Jackie."

The French spy leaned forward until Sophie was forced to stare in her dark eyes.   “Your star-crossed lover is dead." She laughed at the look of shock Sophie knew was plastered on her face.  "You don't think I saw it?  You're feelings for her were so obvious it was amusing to watch.  Funny thing is you were too much of a coward to say anything to her, weren't you?"

"Shut up," Sophie whispered, her heart aching like a gapping sore.

"You didn't tell Jacqueline, and now she's probably laying in that field back there cold and bleeding.   The dead can't hear sweet words of love, you know.” 

She said it with such sarcasm and satisfaction that Sophie reacted immediately.  Her hand tightened and she swung wide and hard for Violette, her knuckles connecting with her chin. “Don’t say that!” she said, pulling her arm back to swing again.  “Don’t ever say that!”

Her hand didn’t connect twice with the spy, who easily blocked Sophie’s wild punch and before Sophie knew it her feet were in the air and her back hit the ground with a thud that pushed the air from her lungs.  “Don’t ever hit me again,” Violette said, leaning over her.  “I could kill you.”

“Then do it,” Sophie croaked.

Violette raised her hand before looking up. “And have your precious Jacqueline kill me?”  Sophie suddenly noticed that Violette was brighter than before.  “I think not.” 

Sophie’s head turned, just in time to catch the beam of light directly in her eyes.  Her hand raised to block the glare and she sensed instead of saw Violette move away from her. Turning her head she only glimpsed Violette's back as the French spy ran into the safety of the darkness.   She left her.  Left her with that light coming.  'Germans!'  her heart screamed with each chest pounding thump.  The fear coursed through her and she stumbled to her feet, hoping she had enough time to run, too.

Although her fear warmed her insides,  her feet were too cold to move swiftly, and she half wondered why the vehicle hadn’t started shooting.  As the light grew wider around her realized she didn't want to press her luck and find out. Her steps slowed and she raised her hands in the air. “I surrender,” she whispered, her breath crystallizing around her dropped face.

She stood there listening to the hum of the vehicle’s engine but too afraid to turn around.  She heard the crunch of boots, and a shadow consumed the light. Her breath caught in her throat when the shadow moved and she could make out the curved helmet of a German.  Every muscle tensed as she waited for the unknown.  A hand touched her shoulder and her body was turned around.  She closed her eyes, not yet wanting to see the face of her captor.

“Sophie! Thank God.  I thought I’d lost you.” She was crushed against an itchy wool jacket.

“Jackie?” Sophie whispered, trying to pull back for confirmation.  Jackie beamed a smile down at her, the tension in her face washing away with pure joy and relief. Sophie wondered if the same expression hung on her face, but she wasn't going to question anything right now, and with a lunge she buried herself in Jackie's arms.

“What was going on?” Jackie asked, her voice rumbling against Sophie’s ear, breaking the utter peace they exuded.

“When?” Sophie mumbled, trying desperately to forget everything but the feeling of Jackie’s arms around her.

“With Violette?” Jackie pulled back and looked down.  “Oh damn,” she said, touching Sophie’s quivering lips.  “You’re frozen.”

“Yes,” Sophie replied, trying to again lean forward into Jackie's warmth.

“C’mon,” Jackie said, taking Sophie’s hand.  “I’ve got some clothes.”  She smiled.  “We’ll get you warmed up.”  She turned back towards the truck.

“Jackie?”  Sophie said, waiting for Jackie to turn.  “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Jackie asked, but Sophie could tell from her eyes that she knew.  Knew she was sorry for everything she'd ever done wrong or thought badly about the American. The girl hesitated, and Jackie grabbed her hand.  “Let’s do this later," she said, dropping her eyes to the ground. "First thing is to get you warmed up.”

“Okay,” Sophie consented, watching as Jackie withdrew the gray wool uniforms of what she instantly knew were dead soldiers.




Violette, too, watched, but her eyes were not friendly.  She’d stopped running when she heard no gunshots or shouts, but yet even before that she'd known the approaching vehicle held Jacqueline.  It made sense that she would find them.  The peasant girl held too much power for the American not to find them.  It was just too bad for her that Jacqueline had found them just as her hand was raised to strike the girl.

“I wouldn’t have killed her,” she said, out loud, her eyes following Jacqueline’s movements around the truck.  “I wouldn’t have hurt you that way, Cherie.”

Her dark eyes shifted to Sophie as she pulled off her frozen clothes.  She had no doubt that the girl would soon begin her tale of horror, and  she knew she would play the role of the villain.  She shrugged absently.  “Well, that’s what I am,” she said, matter of factly.

There were two options before her.  She could walk back to Jacqueline and try to convince her yet again, or she could start walking.  Getting to Villers-Bocage on her own wasn’t out of reach, and thanks the British SOE, she had excellent papers.  That would make hitching a ride much easier, and, she added,  probably safer than travelling with Jacqueline.

“It wasn’t to be, Cherie,” she said, blowing a kiss towards Jackie.  “Perhaps we’ll meet again.”



Caron didn’t move until her car passed the first buildings in Caen.   Her mind was a total blank, and no matter how many times she tried to focus herself and her determination she found nothing but confusion.  Entering Caen didn’t help her regain control, but it gave her something to do.

“Take me to my rooms,” she ordered her driver.

“Jawohl," he said, eyeing her in the rear view mirror. "Will you need me for the rest of the night?”

Caron thought for a moment.  “No.”  The word was barely off her lips before her mind jumped on her again.  “Yes.  I will need you tonight.”

“Very good,” the Sargent answered.

She fell silent, watching as the buildings rolled past her window.  They blurred into the background, and it took all her effort to pull her attention back . “Where are you going?” Caron barked.

“To your hotel, Oberfuhrer.”

“I don’t want to go there.”

“But you just said.”

“Don’t contradict me.  I want to go to - -“ her voice trailed off, and she realized she didn’t know where to go anymore.  “Take me to Villers-Bocage.”

“We will need petrol.”

“Then get some," she ordered, annoyed and yet relieved at the simple problem.

She sat silent and withdrawn in the back seat while the Sargent filled the car.  She absently signed the army requisite form for the petrol and declined to list her purpose or destination.  It confused her that she didn’t know.   There was a schism opening in her that sharply divided her heart from her reason, and Caron subconsciously knew both couldn't exist in her.  One had to destroy the other.

“And do you still want to go to the Abbey when we reach Villers-Bocage, Oberfuhrer?” the Sargent asked, sliding behind the wheel again.

Caron’s brow furrowed.  What would she find at the Abbey?  Her Sophie?  This Violette Szabo?  Her own redemption?  She knew she wouldn’t know until she got there.  Her mouth opened to confirm the question, but she felt her head shaking. “No, Sargent,” she found herself saying.  “Morning will be fine.  Take me to my rooms.”

 Caron sunk back into the thick leather, trying to understand  why she feared Villers-Bocage.  From the way her stomach twisted and her body trembled that it was fear that rippled through her every time she thought about going to the village.   She also knew that it was cowardice that made her want to hide in the safety of a warm bed that night instead of facing herself and her screaming demons.

Tomorrow would be soon enough to discover if she truly knew herself or not.




“So Violette threatened you?” Jackie asked, holding the warm wool coat out for Sophie to slide it on.  “What did she say?”

“It's not worth it, Jackie. It’s over.  She’s gone.”

The American’s hand brushed Sophie’s shoulders before it fell against her side with a slap.  “I wish that were true, but it’s not.”  She took a deep breath.  "Violette is going to expose plans that have taken years to prepare."

"I know," Sophie said, afraid of the hard and unreadable look on Jackie's face.  She took a chance.  "Can't we get out of France and warn Britain or America or whomever will listen?”

Jackie shook her head.  “It’s too late for that, Sophie.   We wouldn't reach anyone in time.  All would be lost."

"It doesn't matter," Sophie said, turning her back on Jackie. "Nothing maters anymore.  All that matters is us.  Our safety.  Us."  She said the last work with an emphasis that made Jackie clench her jaw.   It would be very easy to believe in what Sophie was saying, but she knew she couldn't.

"And what about your brother or the thousands of other soldiers who will die if the plans are leaked?"  Her hand lifted to touch Sophie, but she didn't.

"My brother is dead," Sophie said, slowly, the words firm and filled with meaning.  "He died for me," her voice cracked.  "I don't care about the rest.  Let them die.  I don't care."  She turned around, looking up into Jackie's eyes.  "I only care about you," she whispered.

"Sophie," Jackie began, not sure how to respond.  "I care about you.  I think I might even lo  - -" she stopped herself from saying it.  "I can't let them die, Sophie.  Not if I can try and do something about it."

"And what can you do?" Sophie said, her head bowed.  "What can you really do?"

Jackie stepped back.  "I can kill her if I have to."


"I can't let her betray everything I stand for."

"And what about me?  Where do I fit into this?"

"I don’t know," Jackie answered honestly.

"Do you want me to just go away?"

"Of course not," Jackie said quickly, surprised how fast her heart hit her stomach at the thought.  "I don't want that."

"Then how am I supposed to react to this, Jackie?"  Sophie lifted her hands in question.  "We have a chance now," she said, pulling at the dead soldiers uniform.  "With these we have a chance of escaping."

"Sophie," Jackie began, ready to punch holes in the girl's theory.

"No," Sophie said, holding her hand up to cut the American off.  "It might not be a great chance, but it's a chance.  Jackie!  It's a chance."

"But at what cost?"

"Me," Sophie said. "Are you willing to lose me?"

She hated to say it, but she had to.  "There is more at stake here than you and me."  She reached out for Sophie.  "I'm sorry."  The words sounded as empty as any she'd ever uttered, and she stood there with her arms begging for Sophie, but the girl only shook her head and turned away.  Jackie couldn't blame her.

"Let's get in the truck," she whispered, the words she really needed to say to Sophie stuffed down beneath her sense of duty.

"What about Violette?" Sophie asked, but Jackie couldn't meet her eyes.  Instead she scanned the darkness. She knew Violette wouldn't be found.  It was blind luck that she stumbled across them here.  After what Sophie had told her, Jackie knew the French spy would use all the tactics she knew to avoid contact.

"I should have killed her when I had the chance," she mumbled, turning and climbing into the truck.

"Why didn't you?"

Jackie turned her head towards the girl's voice, the darkness in the truck cab prevented her from clearly seeing Sophie's face, or maybe she just couldn't bring herself to really look.  "Because she promised to get you safely out of France."

Sophie was quiet for a moment.  "And you agreed?"

"She knew you were my weakness."

"Should that flatter me?"

"I thought it was the best decision."

"And why change now?"

Jackie cranked the truck to life and eased it forward, hoping there was a road nearby.  "Because I never intended on letting Violette live after you were safely away."




Violette Szabo pushed herself hard.  The movement helped keep the cold at bay, and the faster she moved, the quicker the distance between herself and Jackie grew.  Her pattern was erratic and she knew the zigzag was costing her valuable time.  It couldn't be helped.  She couldn't have Jackie finding her before she reached the Abbey.  Once there she would make the exchange and then Jackie or the Germans could do whatever they pleased with her.  It wouldn't matter any more.  All that matter was Juliet was safe in England.

The thought of her daughter propelled her forward with renewed energy.  She vowed to reach Villers-Bocage by morning.  If that meant walking all night, then she would do it. 

She planned on being in place at the Abbey long before tomorrow nights meeting.  Violette was desperate, but she wasn't stupid.  There was no doubt that Jackie and her little girlfriend would show up at the Abbey, and Violette knew she'd kill them both before she let them interfere in what she had to do.

It still confused her how the Germans had even discovered her or known about her work on the top secret Roundhammer and Overlord plans.   Her contributions to the planning wasn't extensive, but she'd probably seen more than she should have.

Maybe her superiors, and even herself, overestimated the secrecy of their actions, but Violette never thought she could be tracked.  Hindsight is wonderful, and looking back, Violette could see it had begun with seeing strangers in shops and communal bomb shelters.  People she'd never seen before appeared to be watching her and Juliet.  At the time she thought it was only the strain of living through the falling bombs, but it soon became clear it had an entirely different purpose.

Her Juliet had disappeared just after dawn nearly a year ago.  The air raid sirens had sounded just after she'd put Juliet to bed. Following their custom, she roused Juliet, dressed her in her new red coat and matching mittens before grabbing her own coat and hurrying down the steps of their apartment building for the bomb shelter.

Huddled with close to a hundred other people, they waited for the all clear signal.  That night she didn't remember hearing any bombs exploding or any anti-aircraft fire.  The German bombing had become erratic in the past months, but like thousands of others, she hurried to the bomb shelters with each siren just to be sure.  That night she held a sleeping Juliet in her lap and without the sounds of war she fell asleep.

She must not have heard the all clear siren, instead she was shook awake by the air shelter Sargent.  Immediately her hand reached for Juliet's, but the child's place was empty.

"She went outside with your husband, ma'am," the man had said, smiling as if nothing were wrong.

"My husband is dead," Violette answered, pushing off the wooden bench and running out the door.

By the time she reached the street Juliet was gone.  In the haze of the rising sun Violette had paced in random circles screaming for the child.  A few neighbors joined in the search, but it was as if she just disappeared.

A phone call that evening told her that Juliet was no longer in England and laying out a vile plan that Violette needed to follow if she ever wanted to see Juliet again.  Her life was set from that point, and it had taken ever ounce of her strength to convince Mr. Potter, if that was his real name, to send her into France much sooner than England had planned.  Her reasons were vague, and every moment she felt like a coward and a traitor, but she succeeded. 

It had taken this long to get assigned a suitable mission.  The things she told Jacqueline about her mission were true.  She just had no intention of completing it. Her whole purpose was getting Juliet.  Her patriotic beliefs seemed so feeble when compared to her daughter's life.  The damn Boche pigs seemed to know that, and they kept her fully committed to their plan by sending occasional photograph of Juliet.  The last one only a month ago had shown her a very scared little girl.  She could only pray that Juliet had never seen the gun some German held near her head for that photograph.  Violette had seen it and the implied threat hit her heart.  France be damned, she was going to get her daughter.

"Get hot, keep moving," she said, quoting a famous Allied propaganda poster, and pushing herself back into a run. 

The distance to Villers-Bocage  was unknown, but she had to make it.  She had to be in place before Jacqueline.  Had to make it before the Germans.  She had to make it for Juliet.




The road hummed monotonously under the wheels of the Kubelwagon.  Jackie drove cautiously, her eyes constantly marking shadows on the landscape for possible escape routes, but so far they hadn't seen anyone.  Sophie  was asleep, her body twisted into what looked like a rather painful position, and Jackie  was just about to reach out and touch her when the truck hit a bump and Sophie's head lifted.  With a dazed look she turned towards Jackie.

"Sleep well?" Jackie asked, trying to keep her voice light.

Sophie looked out the window and rubbed her neck.

"Here," Jackie said.  "Let me."

"That's fine.  I've got it,"   Sophie said, her tone not harsh, but dismissive. 

Jackie nodded slightly, the message received loud and clear.  She gripped the wheel with both hands and returned her vigilance on the road.

"So we're going to Villers-Bocage, aren't we?"


"After all I said?"

"I told you my reasons, Sophie."

"You were going to stay behind, weren't you?  After Violette supposedly got me to safety, you were going to stay behind."


"Protecting your country means that much to you?"

"I gave them my oath."

"You gave me your oath, too.  Remember?"

"Of course I do."

"I thought promises meant something to you."

"Don't make me choose, Sophie," Jackie pleaded, her hands tightening on the wheel.  "Please don't."

"But it is a choice," Sophie countered.  "I'm a choice.  We're a choice."

"We?" Jackie said, her voice shaking.  She turned her head to try and find Sophie's eyes, but the girl remained elusive and silent. Jackie cursed herself for allowing herself to slip.  "Forget it," she murmured.

"No," Sophie finally said.  "I don't want to forget about it.  I just don't know how to answer."


Sophie shifted in the seat.  "Meaning, I don't know how to answer in a way that won't leave me open to a hurt."

"I'd never hurt you," Jackie said, biting her tongue.  "Not willingly," she added.

Sophie shook her head.  "That's not true, and you know it."  She exhaled slowly.  "Your leaving me . . . sacrificing yourself," her hand landed on Jackie's arm.  "That would hurt."  The grip tightened.  "It would hurt so much that I don't think I could take it.  I don’t think I want to take it."

Jackie thought for a moment.  "But," she mumbled, trying to find words.  "But."

Sophie's hand disappeared.  "But you're going to do what you've planned, and I can't change it."  She sounded defeated, and Jackie felt her heart clench and throb until the pain pushed against her chest and she wanted to scream.

"I've become very fond of you," she said, the words sounding trite and untrue the moment they left her lips.


"Sophie?  Will you try and see it from my side?"

"And what's there to see, Jackie?"

"How can you make me choose between you and the lives of thousands of soldiers?"

"And what about a life with me?"

"Is that what you want?"

"I don't want you to die."

"But do you want a life with me?"

Sophie fell silent again.  "I'm not sure," she said, quietly.  "I'm not sure I can make that decision."  She held up her hand before Jackie could speak again.  "I don't have anything left, Jackie," she explained.  "My family is gone.  The life I knew is gone.  And with it went every semblance of who I am."

Jackie remained silent, all responses seeming totally callous in the face of Sophie's overwhelming losses. 

"I don't know what I want anymore," Sophie finally said.  "I just want to be safe and warm and loved again."  Her voice sounded so small and frail that it took all of Jackie's strength to not stop the truck and pull Sophie into her arms.  "Is that too much to ask?" Sophie said, turning back towards the window.

"I want to give you that," Jackie began, but changed her line of reasoning.  Taking a deep breath she tried to distance herself from Sophie before she went and gave into the ideas running through her head.  "I want you to be safe," she said.  "I promised your brother I would look after you."

"I'm not a pet, you know."

"I know."

"Then what do you want from me?"

Jackie couldn't bring herself to answer.  The things she'd imagined with Sophie seemed beyond her understanding.  The urges were primal and overwhelming.  A fog of confusion had descended on her, preventing her from seeing clearly.  She'd oscillated between wanting friendship and wanting everything Sophie could give her.

"Answer me, Jackie," Sophie said, her voice drawn and rough.

"I don't know what to do," she conceded.  "About you or Violette or anything."  A bitter laugh escaped her lips.  "And to think before I landed in France I felt such control over myself and my life."  She shook her head.  "What a fool I am."

"I want a life with you," Sophie said, breaking the silence and making Jackie's head jerk towards her in surprise.


Sophie laughed sadly.  "Oh, Jackie," she said.  "I don't know either."


"But - -  I know enough to know that I don't want to lose you now."  Jackie could feel instead of see the girl's smile in the darkness.  "That's enough for me right now.  The rest can come in time.  Please, just  give me that time."

Jackie kept her eyes straight ahead, and a painful lump had lodged itself in her throat. She cleared her throat, hoping to dislodge it, but only succeeded in causing her eyes to blur with tears.  One rolled down her cheek and she prayed Sophie didn't see it.

"Don't leave me, yet," Sophie said, her voice breaking.  Jackie nodded, unable to speak. "Do what you feel you must," Sophie continued. "But remember I'm here.  Remember I mean something, too.  Remember that I could love you." She paused. "I think I already do." 

Jackie's head twisted towards Sophie.  "Love?" she whispered, the words barely clearing the painful lump. 

"Remember that," Sophie said, her voice quivering. "Remember that," she whispered before turning her head away.




The wind whipped through her hair and occasionally a splatter of milk from the cans that surrounded her would hit her face, but Violette endured it all. She knew it was a stroke of luck that the farmer had offered her a ride.  The old man hadn't asked her any questions.  She said she needed to reach Caen and he nodded, pointing at the back of his truck.  "Villers-Bocage," he muttered.  "I go no further."  She had felt no need to correct her lie and only thanked whomever seemed to be watching over her.

The night air was cold, but it kept her awake.  Or maybe it was the excitement of seeing Juliet again.  In her heart she'd never allowed for the remote possibility that Juliet wasn't alive.  But she'd resolved herself to not cooperate until her daughter was safely airborne towards England.  Only then would the damn Boche pigs get the information they so desperately needed.

She wasn't sure if the store owners, Hector and Gabrielle, had been able to reach Anastasie with her demands. She knew there was a large, fallow field  next to the Abbey, and if a plane wasn't there by meeting time, then Violette wasn't talking.

"Juliet," she said, swiping at another flying milk drop.  "Mere is coming."




Caron awoke, the room still awash in darkness, and an insistent knock on her door.  She was just reaching for the light when the door was pushed open.  In the halo of the hall light, the Gestapo agent instantly recognized her silhouette. The woman's presence sent a shiver down Caron's spine and she turned on the bedside lamp, trying to banish it away with light..

"I see you've made it to Caen," Lillian Rolfe's voice cold voice cut through room and tickled her pounding chest.  "And what trail did you follow?"

Nervously, Caron began pushing blonde strands from her eyes.   She searched for both her courage and her voice.   "I didn't know you were here," she croaked, hoping her voice sounded heavy with sleep and not panic.

"My dear," the older woman said, entering the room and shoving the door closed.  "You should never try and guess where I am.  It could prove dangerous."

Even though she knew the woman was capable of following through with her threats, Caron was beginning to find the continued threats from Lillian Rolfe irritating and repetitive.  Her gray eyes narrowed as she silently vowed to take back some control.  It was infuriating and degrading to be treated like a lackey, and despite the power this woman exuded, she knew there had to be a weak point. It was just a matter of finding it.  Lillian Rolfe had come to her.  That meant she had something the old woman wanted.  That gave her power.  Desires always gave others power, and Caron was determined to exploit whatever desire Lillian Rolfe had.

"And where are my fugitives?" Rolfe asked, pulling the desk chair next to the bed and slowly sitting, the joints in her knees creaking loudly.

"I don't know exactly."

A look of anger flashed across the older woman's face, her dark eyes appearing more sinister in the distortion.  "That's never been a phrase I've been fond of," she said,  her mask of disinterest quickly reestablishing itself.

"It's not a phrase I like either," Caron said, her chin lifting.  "But it's all I have currently."

"Then why are you sleeping?"

"Because I was tired and it was late."

"Excuses!" the woman bellowed, leaning forward.  "I gave you a mission.  I expected you to pursue it tirelessly."

Caron worked to hide the smile as it all became clear to her.  The woman had everything riding on this Violette Szabo, and because Caron had disrupted her plans the old woman was now out of control.  That meant Lillian Rolfe needed Caron to drive this Szabo to her like a deer to the hounds.  The old woman must know that Caron was the only one who had the skills to accomplish this mission.  That gave her power. Or at the very least room to negotiate.  Her head twisted and she regarded the graying woman with a new eye.  It was time to try her theory out.

"Were my instructions too hard for you to follow?" Rolfe asked.

"I'm not an idiot, if that's what you're implying."

"But you don't have my fugitives.  What am I to do?" 

"You could get out of my rooms," Caron said, throwing one of her gray glances, which usually froze people on the spot, at Lillian Rolfe.

Instead, Lillian Rolfe just leaned back, returning an equally icy stare to Caron.  Finally she laughed.  "Spunky."  Her smile faded. "But stupid."

"Get to the point, Frau Rolfe," Caron said, feeling a gradual shift in power, or perhaps she just didn't care anymore. "Tell me what you want?"

"I want my spy."  Lillian Rolfe lowered her eyes and Caron knew control was within her grasp.

"And I want Sophie Frenay."  Her demon's name fell from her lips, confirming to her head what her heart had been screaming.

"Impossible," Rolfe said, waving her hand in dismissal.

Caron shrugged.  "Then we have nothing else . . ."

"How could you even ask?" Rolfe said, cutting her off.

It was Caron's turn to lean forward like a commander over a subordinate.  "Because I can," she said with a growl.  "Because you need me."

"Hardly," Lillian Rolfe said.  "I've never needed anyone."

"Ah," Caron said, wagging her finger.  "But you need me.  If you didn't then you wouldn't have let me live."

"I can still have you killed.  Remember that."

"But you won't."  She smiled.  "And you'll give me Sophie Frenay."

Lillian Rolfe narrowed her eyes and nodded curtly.  "Only if I get my spy.  Alive, mind you.  She must be alive."

"Fine.  Then Sophie must be the same."

The older woman waved her hand. "That won't be my doing.  If she survives then you may have her." Rolfe shrugged is dismissal. "Her death wouldn't have made that great a spectacle."

"And the American spy?"

"Should she survive, then she goes to Berlin with me and Mrs. Szabo."

"No, Frau Rolfe," Caron corrected.  "She goes with me."

"Are you implying . . ."

"I won't be denied the glory of this.  If you've done your history on me, like you said, then you know I need a victory."

"I'll promise to mark a commendation for you."

"Forgive me for not trusting you."

The woman appeared to think and slowly she shook her head.  "I'm sorry, Caron.  Your offer is good, but it isn't tempting enough."  She smiled.  "Besides I can complete the mission myself."

"Then why are you here?"

Lillian Rolfe laughed.  "Because a good agent covers her bets.  However, I'm beginning to think that you're a bet I will lose on.  So I will fold and cut my loses."  She smiled. "Game over, dear."

"But you need me."  Caron knew her voice had a hint of an unbelieving whine to it, but she couldn't hide it.

"Not anymore.  At best you were a flanking maneuver.  You simply kept the pressure on my fugitives so they would run right to me. That was all I needed.  If you chose to remain, then you do what you are told when you are told to do it.  No questions and," she smiled slowly, her graying teeth pulling off her thin colorless lips.  "No demands."

"I want Sophie Frenay," Caron repeated.  "Call it my payment or call it a demand.  You don't want me as an enemy, Lillian."

"And what if I call it blackmail?"

Caron shrugged.  "Semantics."

"And what do you want from the dirty peasant girl?"  Lillian Rolfe leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs.  A cat-like smile tugged at the right side of her mouth making her look lopsided and grotesquely out of focus.  "You're of good German blood, Caron.  Why the interest in such an inferior woman?"

"My reasons are not your concern."

"Is there a blood vengeance you need to satisfy against her?  For your lost secretary Dagmar?"

Caron had to strain to build a picture of Dagmar in her mind.  Her head shook slightly. "My reasons are my own."

"But I must know.  You can tell me or," she chuckled "I can discover it through other means." 

"There is nothing to discover."

Lillian Rolfe's silk stockings moved together making a muffled noise as she uncrossed her legs and leaned forward.  Caron felt the tension build and she slowly lifted her eyes to meet Rolfe as the older woman uttered, "Is she your lover?"

Caron clenched her jaw and forced her gray eyes to remain focused on the older woman.  "No," she said, her hand balling the bed sheet at her side.

Lillian Rolfe ran a hand over her mouth, while her gaze roved up and down Caron until the Gestapo agent thought she'd scream.  "Your body betrays you, Caron."  Her fingers pointed at Caron's chest.  "Your breathing is faster than I've ever seen it,  and," her finger lifted.  "You've got a sheen on your upper lip."  The woman's black eyes locked on Caron.  "Not a very professional reaction."

"I don't know what you are talking about."  Her hand reached for her cigarette case, but Lillian Rolfe pulled it away.

"Homosexuality is a punishable crime under Paragraph 175 of German law.  You know that?"

"I'm aware of Germany's laws."

"They apply to you, too, Fraulein Rundstedt."

"But do they apply to you, Frau Rolfe?"  She stared with unconcealed longing at her cigarette case.  She really needed one right now.

"Don't be impertinent.  I could have you deported to Ravensbruck or worse."

"On what evidence?  Breathing fast and sweating?  You forget I'm not an easy Jewish target.  You need more to accuse me.  I have influence and position."

"But do you want the accusation made, Fraulein?"

Caron didn't respond. She really didn't know if her uncle, the Fieldmarshall, would tarnish himself with such an accusation.  Hitler and others in the German high command had worked to blot out same sex relations, making them punishable by imprisonment or death.  Her uncle had already risked himself to save her and her career in the past.  This dirty accusation might be too much for him to become involved with.  Without looking at Lillian Rolfe she shook her head slightly.

"Aaah, then you admit to your nature?"

"I admit nothing." She looked up. "And I will refute any lies you spread."

"Perhaps you would be successful," the older woman said, smiling smugly.  "But you'd be ruined in the process."


Lillian Rolfe leaned back.  "I'll allow you one chance to prove to me that you aren't a filthy homosexual."

"I'm not," Caron said, but her words sounded false despite the way she tossed her head in mock defiance.

"Then prove it," Rolfe repeated, playing with Caron's cigarette case.

Caron forced her eyes to the older woman, daring her to utter her challenge.

"Give me Sophie Frenay," she said, snapping the case closed and throwing it on the bed next to the Gestapo agent.

Caron couldn't respond.  'No' was the only word her brain could form, but she crushed her teeth together to keep from screaming it aloud.  Lillian Rolfe appraised her for a moment longer before rising to her feet.  Again her hands brushed at invisible wrinkles and she took her time primping her black uniform.  Caron's stomach threatened to turn on her and she only hoped her skin hadn't gone green.

Lillian Rolfe reached out and brushed a finger down Caron's cheek.  "That is our deal, Fraulein Rundstedt.  Give me your lover, Sophie Frenay, or defend yourself and your vile crimes to Germany."  She smiled, and dropped her hand against her side with a thud.

"When?" Caron asked, closing her eyes to block the woman from her view.

"Tonight, of course."

"At the Abbey?"

Lillian Rolfe clapped, causing Caron's eyes to snap open.  She found the woman stepping backwards.  "How smart you are to have uncovered  the meeting place." The woman shrugged.  "If I had any interest I would wonder how."

"So I give them all to you?"

"It's you or them, my dear."  She opened the door.  Caron's lips parted to respond, but Lillian Rolfe turned and stared her into silence.   "I know you too well, Caron," she said.  "I know how you'll decide."




Jackie's eyes were being held open by sheer will.  Every inch of her body screamed for rest, and she envied Sophie's ability to sleep.   Looking over at the slumbering girl, she tugged the extra wool jacket up farther on Sophie's shoulder and turned back to the road.

The road was totally empty, which just seemed to add to her exhaustion.  At least if they'd passed someone or something in the last hour she would have been able to concentrate on it.  Instead as the black twisting ribbon  lead her forward, Jackie found herself mindlessly following. 

The road they exited on was unknown, and with her sense of direction all messed up, Jackie could only hope she'd turned them away from the dead soldiers and possible pursuit.  With no moon or stars to guide her, she guessed they were heading north and she prayed like she'd never prayed before that they were heading the right way.

The country roads were not in good repair, and it took a good deal of concentration to avoid pot holes and the occasional cow that lay sleeping on the pavement.  Around 3:30 they crawled into a town called Balleroy, and Jackie felt a smile creep to her face when she spotted the D13 sign pointing east.  Caen was less than an hour away. To be safe, Jackie drove to the outskirts of Caen before finding a smaller road that turned her back towards Villers-Bocage.  

The road was lined with dark poplar trees that began mixing with the gray pre-dawn light and casting eerie shadows that appeared to taunt and warn her. It was hard to keep ignoring the trepidation that coursed through her.  Everything around her kept forcing a growing fear to her throat, and it was hard for her to not turn the truck back towards Caen.

Jackie felt like she was racing against the dawn, and as the countryside gradually illuminated occasional farm houses, she knew they were nearing Villers-Bocage.  'This is it,' she thought, slowing the vehicle and once again swallowing her fear.  'This is where I find out if I'm good enough.' 

The momentary joy she felt at finally standing up to make a difference was replaced with an empty longing. Without her permission her gaze shifted to the sleeping Sophie and her heart skipped a beat.  She had heard the girl's words.  She'd even let herself fall into  dreaming of what life with Sophie would be like.  But without a doubt she knew stopping Violette was more important.  There was no thinking about herself right now.  Happiness equaled selfishness. No matter how happy she thought Sophie could make her or the happiness she'd give anything to give to Sophie . . . It didn't matter.

But . . .  She looked back down at Sophie.  "God I want to be with you," she whispered.  "I want to know what it is like to explore every inch of you."  Her jaw clenched and she fought to keep herself from reaching over and caressing the girl's loose hair.

"I've got to keep myself focused," she said, tearing her eyes away from what she knew controlled her.  "I've got to get focused," she repeated, concentrating on the road only.  "Focus, Jackie.  Focus."

"On what?" Sophie asked, her head lifting slightly from her arm and her voice heavy with sleep.

"Nothing," Jackie said, a bit curtly.  "Go back to sleep."

"Where are we?"  Sophie started to sit up.

"Just outside Villers-Bocage."

The girl just nodded.  "I see."

"Sophie, please.  Don't start again."

"I'm not," she said, and Jackie could feel her eyes on her.  "But you promise me you'll remember me."

Jackie's head twisted.  "How could I ever forget?" she asked.  "You'll never know what you mean to me."

Sophie bit her lip.  "Promise you'll give me the chance to find out."

The American nodded. "We'll laugh about this later, you know?"  She smiled, and tried to lighten the mood.

"Sure," Sophie said, but her voice wasn't totally convincing.

Jackie's brow furrowed, but she drove in silence. 

"Do you think Violette has made it here by now?" Sophie asked.

"I dunno.  Maybe.  She's very resourceful."

"Yes, I suppose she is."

"But the question is can I be resourceful enough to find her before she betrays the Allied plan?"

Sophie shrugged.  "The sun's up," she said, pointing at the rays filtering through a tree.

"And we should be getting off the road," Jackie said, starting to look ahead for a safe place.  "These uniforms won't survive an up and close inspection."  She looked down at the brownish blood pattern on her arm, remembering how it had gotten there the night before. 

"You killed them?"

It was Jackie's turn to shrug. 

"You had no choice." The statement was supposed to make her feel better.

"Doesn't make it easier,"  Jackie said, slowing the truck and turning into what looked like an abandoned road.  She'd spotted a run down barn behind the trees, and thought it might be a good place to hide for awhile.

"But it doesn't make it wrong," Sophie added.

"It doesn't make it right either," Jackie said, navigating the truck down the narrow tracks while tall grass whipped at the undercarriage.  "Let's not talk about it, okay?"

Jackie could tell Sophie wanted to say more, but the girl held her tongue.  The American didn't want her to  know how hard it was to think about killing Violette.  It was one thing to kill a nameless, faceless soldier and quite another to pull the trigger on someone you once considered a friend.

Instead of thinking about it, Jackie surveyed the abandoned barn.  It looked like it hadn't been used in years.  The wood was badly rotted and the roof looked about to blow off with the next strong wind.  But it would provide a somewhat secure place to avoid being seen until she could figure out how to find Violette and put and end to it all.

"I'll open the door," Sophie said, jumping out and sprinting towards the barely hanging barn door.  She gave it a hard tug and managed to pull it open wide enough for Jackie to drive the truck inside.

The dawn light spilled through the thin thatch roof mixing and reflecting with the dust as it feel back to earth.  The back of the barn had two large stalls still padded with brownish yellow hay.  A half collapsed loft hung over the right stall giving the entire area a generally unsafe feeling.  But despite the dilapidated state, Jackie guessed the place would be safe for a few more hours, and that was all she needed to sleep a bit and make a plan.

Extinguishing the engine, Jackie grabbed the blanket Sophie had been using and jumped from the truck. She stood, almost comatose near the back of the Kubelwagon, not sure where to lay down.

"You look really tired," Sophie added, pulling the door closed and coming to stand near her.

The girl's presence so close to her was both a balm and an irritant.  Part of her needed to distance herself from Sophie and part of her wanted to hold on and never let go.  She stood there trying to decide but finally let her head fall in defeat.  "I am tired," she whispered, unable to lift her eyes to see Sophie.

"Then you go lay down and I'll try and scrounge up some food."

Jackie nodded.  "There are some rations and water in the truck."  She threw the wool jacket on the ground and lowered herself down on it.  For a second she watched Sophie climb into the back of the Kubelwagon before laying back and pulling her arm under her head.  "Did you see that farmer out there?" she asked, sleepily.  "I don't think he saw us, but keep your eye on him."  Sleep consumed her before  she realized Sophie hadn't heard her.




Sophie saw Jackie lay down from inside the truck.  The expression on the American's face was so mournful that Sophie wanted to cry.  It made her want to . . . she shook her head. 'I don't know what I want to do anymore,' she thought.

She couldn't believe they were really in Villers-Bocage and that Jackie was planning on going through with this thing.  Sophie understood the reasons, and part of her even agreed with them.  In all honesty she probably would have done the same thing.  It just hurt so badly to think about losing Jackie.  Losing her when they could escape.  It seemed such a waste.

"Guess I'm just destined to lose everyone I care about," she said, grabbing for a bag marked 'supplies.'  The feeling of self pity couldn't be contained and even though she knew it did her no good, Sophie felt herself slumping against the hard board seat with the bag on her lap and her heart about to break.

The tears slipped effortlessly from her eyes as she stared unseeing and her mind replaying all her losses and tragedies.  The image of her brother's face, splattered with blood, rose before her again and again, each time changing and shifting into Jackie's face.  The blue eyes cold and dead, no longer able to smile at her.

"Stop it," she whispered, her fist pounding against her thigh.  "Just stop it."

She fought to refocus herself.  She seemed to be doing that a lot lately and she absently wondered when her world would stop spinning.  Nothing made sense anymore.  Just when she and Jackie connected, their relationship would be broken apart, seeming to never to be joined again.

She looked over at the sleeping American and her mind cleared.  It all made sense.  The choice so easy.  Jackie didn't know where Violette was going, but she did.  She could stop it all.  Stop it and save Jackie from herself.

With a renewed purpose she rifled through the supply bag and removed a tin of food and a canteen of water.  Trying to make as little noise as possible she climbed back out of the truck.  Her jaw clenched only briefly before she leaned back in and grabbed the pistol from between the seats.  Copying the moves she had seen Jackie do, she popped out the bullet clip and quickly counted the shells before pushing it back into place and stuffing it in her pocket.

Her steps were muffled on the soft ground and she only had to open the barn door enough to slip through.  Looking back she hadn't disturbed Jackie.  With any luck she'd be back before she awoke.  "Or . . . " she looked back. "You'll go back to America and be happy," she said, turning away and breaking into a run.




The farmer made her get out of the truck a mile north of Villers-Bocage.  He pointed in the direction of Caen before driving off.  She waited nearly ten minutes before walking following the farmer's truck towards Villers-Bocage.  Already the gray morning light was casting enough light for her to see the tall spires of the Abbey.  It drew her like a desert oasis.

With morning dew still clinging to the grass in the town square Violette entered a small café.  She'd been smelling the fresh bread for the last ten minutes and her stomach growled in appreciation.  A stop at a quiet house on the outskirts of town allowed her to wash most of the mud from her legs, hands and face.  The rest of the mud had dried and she flaked it off, trying to make her outfit as presentable as possible. 

Since entering the town she'd seen absolutely no German presence.  The people were open and friendly, and if she didn't know any better it was as if the war had never touched this fair village.

"Good morning, Madame," an elderly man said, smiling as she closed the door.

"Morning," Violette said, rubbing her hands together.  "Chilly outside, no?"

The man's eyes traveled up her dress and he shrugged.  "Oui."

"I smelled your fresh bread," Violette began.  "You wouldn't have coffee, too?"

"For the right price I have everything."

Violette smiled, understanding completely.  "Then get me some coffee," she ordered.  "Please."

"Your money first, Madame."  The man held a hand out and Violette withdrew her stash of money.  She laid a 100 Reichsmark bill on his palm.

"What else can I buy?"

The man's wrinkled hand closed around the money and stuffed it deep in his baggy pants.  "What would you like to buy?"


The old man laughed, his gray gums showing but his eyes humorless. "Have your coffee first."

Neither spoke while the old man shuffled behind the counter and produced a small bag of ground coffee.  He held this out to her and she sniffed with a shiver of pleasure.  Her mouth began to salivate while watching him dole out her small amount into a sieve and pour hot water over it.  While it seeped he handed her a warm baguette.

"Merci," she said, tearing off the end and pulling the sweet bread from the hull.

"Now what information do you need?" the man asked, pushing the glass cup of coffee towards her.

"Why are there no Germans?" Violette asked.

The man shrugged.  "Who can tell.  They used to bother us, but now . . ." he shrugged again.  "Who knows."  He held out his palm, but Violette shook her head.

"You know more than that, Pere," she said, using a familiar father term with him.  "I need more than that."

The old man studied her for a moment before smiling.  "Villers-Bocage has special status with the Germans."

"Why?" She took a deep sip of the weak but flavorful coffee.

"I don't know.  All I know is there are no German troops or Gestapo in the town."

"A town of sympathizers?"  She didn't know if that would make it easier or not.

"Perhaps," he said, holding out his palm, and Violette quietly laid down another large Reichsmark.  "But no.  The town has a Resistance group.  Perhaps the Germans know this or perhaps they don't.  The Resistance has a way of keeping trouble from the town."

"Who leads the Resistance?" Violette asked, lifting one more bill from her stack.

The man smiled.  "You couldn't pay me enough to tell you that."

"Fine," Violette said, laying the bill on the counter.  "Then tell me where I can find them."

The old man's hand touched the bill.  "Madame, you need to seek a place of  salvation."  The bill disappeared and the man turned his back, ending the conversation.

"The Abbey?" Violette said, noting the way the old man's arm twitched in confirmation.

"Finish your coffee, Madame.  Then it's best if you go."

"Thank you, Monsieur," she said, absently.  Her mind was preoccupied with the information he'd given her.  The Abbey was where she was to meet the Germans and her Juliet.  If she encountered the Resistance, things could get complicated. 

There was nothing to do but wait and see.  With a shrug of indifference she finished her coffee and grabbing the baguette left the café.  The sun hit her eyes and she had to lift her hand to find the Abbey.




Sophie's pace was quick.  She kept the wool jacket pulled tightly across her chest, her folded arms covering most of the blood stains.  The town inched forward, the tall steeple of the Abbey drawing her closer and closer.

She could feel the morning sun on her face, but it did little to warm her.  Warmth was a luxury she couldn't afford.  Cold and calculating was what she needed.  She needed to find the strength to lift her gun and shoot a woman.  Kill her before she killed everything Sophie loved and desired.

The speed of her steps increased as did her determination.  Jackie must be kept safe.  It was her turn to protect Jackie.  Her turn to do something right.  Her chance to make it all better.




The sun's ray spilled across the windowsill and onto the edge of the bed.  Caron had watched impassively as the darkness was slowly claimed by grays then muted reds and finally a brilliant yellow.

Sleep had been impossible after Lillian Rolfe had left. Her mind had tossed the problem back and forth like a limp rag. Never before had she felt so trapped.  It was her or Sophie.  The choice should have been simple, but to her surprise it wasn't. The more she thought about it, the more difficult it became, and the mere thought of giving Sophie to that old bitch enraged her.

"There has to be a better way," she said, again, but knowing she hadn't found a way yet.

"Oberfuhrer?" She recognized the voice as her Sargent's.

"Enter, Sargent," she said, reaching for the bed covers and pulling them back over her night clothes.

"Good morning, Oberfuhrer.  You asked me to wake you at eight."

Caron nodded, alarmed that so much time had already crept by.  Time, it appeared, was going to force a decision upon her.  Her teeth clenched as another wave of rage swept over her and she forced down the bile in her throat.  "Send someone to help me dress," she managed to say while digging her nails into the flesh of her leg.

"Jawhol," the Sargent said, dipping his head before backing out of the room.

The Gestapo agent's head fell back and she fought to regain some control of her emotions.  She couldn't think about Sophie right now.  But the harder she tried, the more Sophie came to her mind.  She even imagined she could still smell the soft scent of lavender soap that had clung to her skin.

"This is stupid," she said, squeezing her eyes shut to rid herself of Sophie's features.  "Me or her.  Me or her.  That's it.  I don't have a choice.  It's me or her!"

"I'm here to help you dress," a small girl said, her head poked around the door and her brown eyes wide with fear.

Caron scrutinized her for a moment before waving her into the room.  "Then do your job."  She pointed to a small suitcase brought up from her car.  "I believe my uniform is in there," she said.  "Press it and return."

When the girl had left Caron threw back the covers and using the night stand got out of bed.  Her leg still throbbed but she tested it by placing some weight on it.  A spike of pain ran up her spine but she ignored it and walked a little.  She'd made it to the bathroom before the girl returned with her black SS uniform.

Her eyes ran over the uniform with disgust and loathing.  She lunged for it and ripped it from the girl's hand.  "Get out," she said, feeling the muscles in her neck tighten. 

With a growl she tossed the uniform onto the chair and turned back to the bathroom.  She avoided looking in the mirror and quickly did her teeth and washed her face without glancing up.  It would have been impossible to meet herself in the mirror.

Hobbling back to the bed she undid her night shirt and let it fall to the floor.  Her hands grabbed for her under things and with her eyes locked on the window she mechanically dressed.  The uniform felt oppressive, and as she buttoned her tunic her fingers shook.  However, she knew she had to wear it.  Her shaky self confidence needed it,  and the situation demanded it.  She just never expected to hate wearing it so much.  Today it no longer stood for her unstoppable power.  It now stood only for her cowardice and fear.

When the last button was done, she leaned over to remove the small case of decorations that today would hang like dead weights against her chest.  The meaning of each had never held much importance for her, but she wanted them there to announce her accomplishments, her dedication and her honor.  She finished by pulling on the red and white swastika arm band.  Standing there in the center of the room she's never felt more ashamed.

"Sargent!" she screamed.  "Sargent!"  The wait seemed forever, but finally her burly attendant threw open the door, his face expecting the worse.  Caron turned slowly.  "Have my things packed and bring the car around."

The Sargent's head nodded, his lips quivering.  "Jawhol," he said, clicking his heels and turning to go.

"Oh Sargent?" she said, waiting for him to turn again.  "Make sure we have plenty of protection today."  The man's face looked confused and Caron took a deep breath.  She almost didn’t have the strength to go through with this.  "Guns, Sargent.  Guns and bullets and such.  Make sure we're prepared for anything."

"Anything?" he questioned.

Caron closed her eyes in frustration.  "I'll be out front in ten minutes.  Be there."

"Jawhol, Fraulein Oberfuhrer," he said, closing the door.

Caron turned around the room slowly, her eyes stopping on the small picture of Adolph Hitler that hung near the door.   She'd never considered herself a true Nazi.  They seemed to facilitate her own agenda.  Being a Nazi facilitated her lust for power. 

"But today our paths separate," she said to Hitler.  "Today I stand on my own."  She grabbed her leather coat and exited the room.




Sophie stopped in the small wooded cemetery near the Abbey to eat her rations and drink some water.  She had no idea how far she'd run, but her body felt tired and spent.  The shadow from the Abbey's tower fell across her feet, and she ate while staring at the 17th century monastery. It was beautiful.  Too beautiful to endure what Sophie had planned for it.

By the sun she figured it was around nine and she wondered if Jackie was awake yet. Perhaps she'd awoken and was frantically looking for her.  The thought hit her.  It wasn't a possibility she'd thought about earlier.  She'd assumed that Jackie would wait for her.

Her hand smacked against her head.  "That was stupid," she said.  "She'll find me."

"Don't move," a voice said from behind her and Sophie froze.  "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

Sophie's mind raced.  "I'm . . . I'm eating," she said, lifting the can of rations.

"German rations," the voice said.  "Who are you?"

"Who are you?" Sophie demanded, trying to turn around, but getting a cold steel barrel against her cheek.

"I said don't move."  The gun was jabbed at her for emphasis.  "Now tell me why you're wearing a German soldiers coat and eating German rations."

"I'm not telling you anything until I can at least see whom I'm speaking to," Sophie said, pushing her hands into her lap to control the shaking.

"Fine."  Sophie saw a pair of boots emerge and her eyes traveled up green khakis to a small waist and trim torso of a woman.  Her long brown hair was pulled back in a pony tail and her face was slightly smudged with dirt.  "So you see me."

"You're a woman," Sophie breathed.

"So are you," the woman replied.  "Now tell me what I want to know." Sophie's brow furrowed, unsure how or if she should speak.  The woman let out a sigh.  "Tell me what you're doing here?"

"I can't."

"The German clothes."  The woman's brown eyes looked down at the blood.  "Your blood?"

"No," Sophie said.

The woman nodded.  "Did you do it?"

An idea popped into Sophie's head.  "Yes," she said.  "He was . . ." she stopped for a moment.  "He was hurting me."

The woman's gun lowered a little.  "And you?"

Sophie closed her eyes.  "He's dead."

She peered at her and Sophie felt exposed.  "That's not exactly true, is it?"

"He's dead," Sophie said again.  "That's the truth."

The woman nodded.  "Do you have papers?"

"You don't look like Gestapo."

"Is that a no?"

"Would I be hiding in a cemetery if I had papers?"

"Probably not," the woman said, making a quick decision and stuffing her gun into her waistband.  "My name is Manon."


"Come with me, Sophie."  The woman held a hand out.

"Thank you, but I'm fine."

Manon laughed.  "No, you're not.  You should come with me or get out of Villers-Bocage."


"For your safety."  She held up her hand.  "That's all I can tell you."

"You're Resistance?"

The woman shrugged.  "Perhaps."

Sophie thought quickly.  "I'll come," she said, grabbing Manon's hand.

"Good, but . . ." she looked her over.  "Throw the German coat behind that bush."




Jackie awoke just as the barn door was thrown open and the afternoon sun flooded across the dirt floor.  Her first thought was Sophie, but as her eyes caught sight of jack boots she began scrambling to her feet.

"Please," a man's voice said.  "Remain on the ground."  Jackie continued to rise, but the butt of a rifle was slapped against her head and she fell back to the ground.  "Search the place," the man ordered, and Jackie could only watch as the boots spread out across the barn.

"Sophie," she whispered, her head spinning and the darkness threatening to consume her.  A foot was jabbed into her stomach.

"No, no, no.  You're not passing out on me." Her head ached and she felt like vomiting.  "Where is your compatriot?"

Jackie closed her eyes and shook her head.

"Is that a no you won't talk or a I don't know?"  the voice was closer, and Jackie opened her eyes to find the moustache face of an officer looking down on her.  "Answer me."

"Major," another voice said.  "There is no one else in the barn."

The officer stood up to address the soldier.  "But our informant said there were two of them."

Jackie's mind started racing.  'Were was Sophie?  Was she hiding?  Had she seen them coming?' And the worse thought of all, 'Did she abandon me?'

"Search the surrounding area," the Major ordered, his head swinging back down towards her.  "And strip that uniform from this piece of trash."

Rough hands grabbed at her, lifting her off the ground and pulling her body this way and that until the blood soaked tunic was ripped from her body.  She was then pushed back to the ground as the tunic was handed to the Major.  Jackie lifted her eyes, meeting the ice blue stare of the officer.

"You murdered brave German soldiers," he said, the tunic falling against his leg.

"It's war," Jackie said.  "They . . . You are the enemy."

The Major quickly withdrew his sidearm and pointed it at her.  "So I could shoot you and have a clear conscious?"

Jackie stared at the gun.  "Do what you must.  I'm prepared to die," she said, her heart pounding in her chest.

The gun was lowered.  "As any good soldier is, I suppose."  He replaced his sidearm and buttoned the leather holster.  "Where is your compatriot?"

"I don't know."

"We'll find her you know."

Jackie's chin lifted and she fought to keep the murderous rage that was consuming her from her face.  She needed to give Sophie a chance of escaping. Even if she did abandon her to the Germans, Jackie wanted her safe.  "You couldn't find your ass with two hands," she mumbled.

The officer gave her a condescending smile.  "We, of course, found that mess you left by Caumont. It was only a matter of time before we found you.  And it will only be a matter of time before we find your friend."

"Forgive me if I'm not impressed by your bravado."

"You're an American?" he said with a half smile designed to disarm her. "Your German is badly accented."

Jackie let the poor attempt to bait her go unanswered. She needed to give Sophie as much time to escape as possible.  She knew toying with this German might get her killed, but Sophie had to be safe.

"Are you an American?" he asked in English.

Jackie looked up.  "Talk about bad accents," she said, switching to French.  "But no one has ever accused the Germans of being cosmopolitan," she said, switching to the only other language she knew; Russian.

The Major blinked twice before shifting his gaze to the soldier standing behind her.  "Get her to her feet," he ordered and Jackie was yanked to her feet.  "Put her in the truck."

"Where are you taking me?" Jackie called over her shoulder as she was dragged from the barn.

"There's someone who wants to meet you," the Major said, enigmatically.

'Sophie!' Jackie called silently.




Sophie followed Manon behind the Abbey and waited while she pulled open a large  steel door.  "This leads to the crypts below the Abbey," she explained, handing Sophie one of the flashlights stacked on the top step.  "You go first."

Sophie hesitated, still not trusting this woman.  Her head turned and she looked behind her, not sure what she expected to see.  Manon saw her hesitation.

"Leave if you want, Sophie," she said.  "It's doubtful you'll make it out of town, but you don't have to come with me."

Her words made some sense.  She knew she needed to hide until dark.  Somehow she suspected that Violette would want to conduct her deceit in darkness.  With a nod of understanding she flipped on the flashlight and descended into the crypt, fighting with the strong smell of dirt and decay.

"You get used to the smell," Manon said, pulling the steel door shut overhead.  "It's the old bodies."

"Bodies?" Sophie whispered.

"It's a crypt, Sophie.  The Abbey has been burying its monks here for a couple hundred years."

"Oh," Sophie said, feeling stupid.

"C'mon," Manon said.  "Follow me."

The steps to the bottom were steep and Sophie took them much slower than Manon.  At the bottom the stone steps turned to well packed earth and her flashlight reflected off hand cut rock that tunneled its way deeper into the earth.

"It's narrow here," Manon explained.  "But there's a vault ahead.  That's where we're going."  She started walking and Sophie did her best to keep up.  She absently wondered if Jackie was too tall to stand up in the tunnel.  She knew the American would never find her here.  Was that good or bad?

On each side of her were small vaults that Sophie flashed her light into.  Each held coffins in various states of decay.  She even thought she caught sight of a burial shroud or bone which made her shiver.  There wasn't something right being surrounded by death.

Ahead of her the tunnel appeared to grow brighter.  She looked at the back of Manon, her dark body leading her towards the light.  Sophie's steps slowed, but Manon leaned back and grabbed her arm.

"A little further," she said.

Sophie could hear other voices now.  Manon's body was blocking her view.  Something told her to turn and run.  She ignored it and continued to walk forward.

"Ah, Manon," a man's voice said. "What have we hear?"

Manon's hand jerked her forward and Sophie stumbled into the well lit vault.  Her eyes strained to become accustomed to the light and everyone appeared shadowed.  She could feel the silence her presence brought.

"I found her outside."

"Just as we expected," the man said, his voice closer.

Sophie's eyes cleared and she focused on a rotund, middle aged man. He had a small pencil moustache that clung to his full, red lips.  His stained teeth jutted out from under his lips attesting to a lifetime of tobacco or misuse.  "Expecting?" she whispered.

"Not you specifically, of course," he said.  "But expecting visitors all the same."

"She was wearing a German uniform," Manon said. "Covered in blood."

The man nodded.  "I'd heard about the dead soldiers."  He looked back at her.  "Is Violette Szabo with you?"

Sophie's eyes widened and her mouth fell open.  That seemed to amuse the small gathering because a giggle of laughter ran around the room.  Sophie felt like she'd been forced onto a stage without lines.  Better yet, she just felt played.

The man smiled wider, his head turning to address the room.  "I feel I've shocked our visitor."  The room laughed again.

"No, she's not," Sophie whispered, her eyes falling to the floor.

"And what's your name, my dear?"

Sophie couldn't answer.

"Sophie. Her name is Sophie," Manon supplied.

"I see," the man said.  "And how did the three of you get separated?"

"Who are you?" Sophie breathed, finally able to make a coherent thought. "Anastasie," he said, bowing slightly.  "At your service."

A flood of relief poured through Sophie.  "The man Violette was supposed to meet in St-Lo?  And Jackie?"

"Jackie?  So, that's her name, hum?  We were wondering."

"Oh God," Sophie said, stepping closer.  "I am so glad I found you."

"Yes," Anastasie said.  "So am I."

"I have so much to tell you."

"Then come sit down," he said, taking her by the elbow and leading her to a table.

For the first time Sophie got a clear picture of the cavernous vault.  There were about five people sitting about.  All had the same hardened look of Manon.  She noticed a small girl sitting at one table.  Her eyes didn't look hard.  They looked scared.

"Why don't you sit next to Juliet," Anastasie said, motioning her next to the child.





After leaving the café, Violette made her way to the Abbey.  It was a short walk, but it gave her enough time to get a good idea of how the town was laid out.  The Abbey actually lay to the South of the town, its tower facing North and dominating the landscape. 

A small main street seemed to bustle, and the French spy couldn't get over the feeling that this town didn't seem touched by the war.  It perplexed her.  It just didn't make sense that the Nazi who arranged this meeting would choose a town that had a Resistance movement.  The combination made her hair stand on end.

With a new respect for caution, Violette knew she needed to blend.  In order to do that she needed to look like she belonged in the town.  Her first stop was at the local fruit stand.  To her surprise there was no shortage of fresh fruit and she bought a bag of apples.  She had no intention of eating them.  She just wanted to look like a woman shopping.  After the fruit she purchased two long baguettes, which stuck obviously from her bag.  With a new scarf tied around her head she felt her disguise was complete.

Her steps lead her towards the Abbey, but she felt as if something had gone wrong.  She thought she'd be able to feel if Juliet was in the town.  A mother's bond was strong, but she didn’t know if her daughter was there or not.  It had never occurred to her that the Nazi's wouldn't honor their promise to return her daughter, and crossing a street, Violette wasn't sure what she'd do if Juliet wasn't there. 

The Abbey loomed before her with its large blocks of stone and brightly colored glass windows.  It looked like such a holy place.  A place where peace should reign, not the chaos and deceit she would bring to it.

For the first time she began having second thoughts.  It sprouted like a small weed that grew and questioned her actions.  But all she had to do was picture her daughter's face and her face set with determination.  No country was worth her only child.

Her path led her up the small steps to the Abbey chapel.  Pretending to pray was as good a way as any to hide for a few hours.  The smell of incense and the deathly quiet of the chapel hit her as she entered.  She felt dirty in those hallowed halls, but not dirty enough to leave.  Instead she slid into a hard wooden pew and lowered her head into her hands.  Luckily sleeping looked a lot like praying and she felt herself nodding off.




Jackie was pulled from the back of another Kublewagon by a soldier with rough hands.  They'd stopped in front of a small farm house, but Jackie could immediately tell this wasn't a real working farm.  The fields weren't turned like the other fields nearby, and Jackie smiled ruefully, there were Nazi's standing on the front porch.

"What have you gotten yourself into, girl?" she mumbled, pulling her arm back a little from the soldier's grasp.

"I'd save your talking for later," the Major said, as she was pulled past him and into the house.

The color black dominated the room and Jackie realized she had never seen so many SS uniforms up close and personal.  In the recesses of her mind she realized they were just as scary as she'd imagined.  Despite her own height she felt dwarfed by the men in the room, and her gaze skipped from one red swastika arm band to another before dropping significantly to a much shorter black uniform.  If the other's were well kept, this uniform was immaculate.

"Welcome," she said, as Jackie's eyes captured her gray face and soulless black eyes.  "I didn't expect you would be so easy to capture." She stepped forward.  "Or did you expect to be captured?"

Jackie shrugged, making the woman laugh.  "How I love the universal American shrug."  She smiled, much the way Jackie expected the devil to smile. "It means so much to you Americans."

"Who are you?" Jackie asked for lack of anything better to say.

The woman motioned for her to sit and she waited until Jackie had sat before tucking her perfect black skirt under her legs and sitting next to her.  "Your questions aren't important, so I feel no need to waste our time by indulging you."

"You're Gestapo?" Jackie said, ignoring the woman's words.  Sitting quietly never got her anywhere and she'd be damned if she was going silent now.

"It's as good a description as any," the woman conceded.

"But you're not the same Gestapo agent that's been tracking us?"

"Fraulein Rundstedt?"  the woman shook her head.  "No, my dear.  Caron is hardly in my league."

The smugness hit Jackie.  "But you know of her?" she asked, trying to get more information about the blonde agent.

The woman laughed.  "Of course I know of her.  I've been using her."

"Excuse me?"

"I don't think that is something that should concern us," the woman said, smiling so her grayish teeth showed.  "Let's talk about you."

Jackie remained silent, her training taking over.

"Who are you?"

Jackie turned her gaze to the window and focused on nothing.  "Jacqueline Marie Bradford.  Captain, United States Army.  Serial Number 33675852 T43."

"And what is your mission?"

Jackie lifted her chin. "Jacqueline Marie Bradford.  Captain, United States Army.  Serial Number 33675852 T43."

From the corner of her eye she saw the woman nod in understanding.  "So I see you are familiar with a soldier's rights under the Geneva Convention of 1929."


The woman leaned forward.  "Then you remember the treaty guarantees fair treatment for soldiers caught in uniform?"

Jackie's eyes shifted to the cold woman.  She knew where this was going and one look at the old woman confirmed that the woman knew she knew.  It was a game and Jackie suddenly felt like a poor mouse being held under the cat's paw.

"You're a spy."

""Jacqueline Marie Bradford.  Captain, United States Army.  Serial Number 33675852 T43," Jackie repeated, forcing her gaze back to the window.

"The Geneva convention does not apply to spies.  I could have you shot immediately."

"Jacqueline Marie Bradford.  Captain, United States Army.  Serial Number 33675852 T43."  Her voice was a bit weaker, but she was resolved to give nothing away and to find any advantage.

The gray woman waved her hand.  "Enough of that," she said.  "I think you understand me."

The American turned her head.  "Then go ahead and shoot me."

"Because you're not going to help me?" the woman asked, finishing Jackie's thought.  She smiled.  "But, my dear, you've already helped me more than you know."

"Then I guess we're done here," Jackie said, folding her arms over her chest and returning her stare to the window.

"Where are your compatriots?"  the woman asked.  "Ms. Szabo and the girl.  Where are they?"

"Jacqueline Marie Bradford.  Captain, United States Army.  Serial Number 33675852 T43."  She'd be damned if she was going to give up Sophie.  Maybe the girl had abandoned her or maybe she just escaped.   A small smile tugged at her lips when she remembered Sophie's declaration. 'She loves me,' she thought, letting the feeling warm her heart.

"Enough of this," the woman said, leaning back in her chair and motioning at someone behind Jackie. 

Before she knew what had happened a rope was dropped over her head and pulled tight.  Jackie hands clawed at the thin strap but it bit too deeply into her skin for her fingers to slide underneath it.  The pain was excruciating.  She threw her head back, hoping to connect with the person holding the rope, but it only slammed against the back of the sofa and the rope dug deeper into her.  With no air getting to her lungs, her head became fuzzy and just as she was about to pass out the old woman yelled "Anschlag," and the rope was dropped.

Jackie leaned forward and between raspy coughs she gasped for air.  Her fingers rubbed at the burning skin around her throat and she lifted an angry eye to the vile woman.

"See, Fraulein Bradford?  The Geneva Convention has no weight here."

"I have nothing to say," she rasped.

"Get her some water," the woman ordered, her dark eyes never leaving Jackie.  "We'll try something different, yes?"

Jackie narrowed her eyes and waited.  The woman took a tall glass of water from the Major who had brought her here.  It looked wonderful, and Jackie felt her mouth begin salivating.  She shook her head and forced her eyes back to the woman.

"You want the water, Fraulein Bradford.  I know you do.  It is yours if you answer one question."  She held the water out but pulled it back.  "Where is Violette Szabo?"

"Water first," Jackie said, the words grating against her bruised vocal cords.

The gray woman cocked her head but decided quickly and handed the water over.  "Very well," she said.  "But refuse to answer and you die."

Jackie grabbed the glass and gulped it down before it could be taken away.  The water soothed her throat and she drank like a man emerging from the desert.  When the glass was empty, the Major roughly pulled it away.  "Answer, Frau Rolfe," he ordered.

"So that's your name," Jackie said, and this time the woman shrugged. 

"Among others," she said.  "Please answer."

'What would it hurt?' she thought.  She owed Violette no loyalty.  "We got separated last night after the crash.  I haven't seen her since."

"Where was she going?"

Jackie turned an interested eye on Frau Rolfe.  'Don't you know?' she thought.  "As far as I knew she was taking us to Caen."

Frau Rolfe's eyes narrowed.  "Why?"

Jackie shrugged.  "She said she had a contact there who was going to arrange to get us all out of France."

The woman's laughter rang out, but the coldness of its timber made Jackie shiver.  "You're not a very good liar, Fraulein Bradford."

"Then why'd you ask?"

"What better way to measure one's enemy."

"So what do you want from me?"

"How do you American's say: 'out of the picture'?"  She stood up and brushed at wrinkles in her skirt that Jackie couldn't see.  "Major, it's time for you to watch the prisoner," she said to the man who'd brought her here.

Jackie's eyes followed the woman as she walked to the door.  "So that's it?"  she asked.

Frau Rolfe stopped and turned.  "Not quite, my dear," she said, exposing her gray teeth in a cold smile.  "It's just the beginning."  She looked at the Major.  "She's in your care now.  I want her alive," she admonished, and Jackie saw a look of disappointment pass over the Major's face.  "I want her to witness it all," Lillian Rolfe said, before sweeping out the door and leaving Jackie alone with the Major.

 "There's alive and there's alive," he said, tugging on his leather glove.

"Let me guess," Jackie said.  "When you're not beating the life out of people you're really a poet?"

The man let a powerful backhand across her face answer for him, and Jackie felt her lip split.




Caron slid into the soft leather, her fingers digging into the seat and touching the fabric like she'd never noticed it before.  Looking around her everything appeared different.  It was like she was looking at an over exposed photograph and the bright light hurt her eyes.  What was happening to her?

Her heart was pounding in her chest with an anxious beat that seemed to drive her deeper into the seat.  'This is it,' she thought.  'Tomorrow has finally come and I can't stop it.'

The sharp click of booted heels followed by a loud "heil Hitler," drew her attention and she turned.  "Yes," she said, her voice weak and tired.

"This was left for you, Fraulein Oberfuhrer," the man said, holding out a crisp cream linen envelope.

Her hand trembled as she reached for the envelope.  It was left by 'Her.' She knew that instantly and part of her demanded that she rip the letter to pieces, unread.  If she couldn't read it, she couldn't follow whatever twisted plan Lillian Rolfe had in mind.

"It's you or them," she said, repeating Rolfe's words to her last night.  With her thumb nail she slit open the envelope and pulled out a single sheet.  This, too, was embossed with the seal of the Reichfuhrer's Office, but this time the power behind it didn't impress her.  Lillian Rolfe's handwriting was as small and anal as the woman, and Caron had to squint her eyes to make the short note out.




You will present yourself at the Abbaye du Bec-Hellouin in Villers-Bocage at precisely 6 p.m.  Do not be late and do not arrive early.  Everything hinges on perfect timing.  Play your part and deliver the peasant girl to me. It's you or her. I suggest you obey.'


 "What the fuck am I supposed to do until six?" she said, squeezing the fine linen paper in her fist.  "Obey her?  What am I some god damn dog?"

"Oberfuhrer?" her Sargent asked, and Caron looked surprised to see him in the driver's seat.

"Shut up!" she screamed, her anger and frustration rushing at her like a freight train.  "Get out of the car!"

The man scrambled to open the door and climbed out.  Caron waited for the door to slam in place before releasing a scream of rage.  Her voice reverberated off the windows of the car, but still she screamed.  She screamed until her body was banging roughly into the seat over and over.  Finally out of breath and energy she slumped weakly into the leather and stared blankly out the window.  She half saw the few soldiers who had gathered near her car, gawking at her display.

"Let them stare," she said, banging the glass with her fist and causing several of the men to jump.  "Fucking assholes."

The letter was bunched in her hand and with a snarl she threw it to the floor, but then immediately bent over and picked it up.  Smoothing it out she read it again.  The words drilled into her like parasites, and she felt sick.  Before she knew it, her hand was groping for the door handle and she barely had time to lean out before her stomach wretched and her breakfast pushed its way out her mouth.  Again and again her body convulsed, and when it had emptied itself she lay there against the seat, unable to move.  A wetness on her cheek made her lift her hand to it, and she stared at the tear.

"Do you need help, Oberfuhrer?" her Sargent asked.  Apparently he was the only one with the balls to approach her.

"Get me some water and a warm towel," she said, still staring at her finger.  "Please," she added, rolling the wetness between her finger and thumb.


End Section XI

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