Linda Wood Rondeau

Snark & Sensibility

LOVE'S RESCUE
Friday, February 1, 2019 by LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

PLEASE WELCOME

LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

TO

FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

EXCERPT FROM LOVE’S RESCUE

 

Paris, August 1944

Rolande Bisset ducked her head and pulled the brim of her starched cotton sunhat lower over her face, not so much to block the sun’s glare, but to avoid the merchants’ ogling and shoppers’ sneers. She hurried past the darkened shops, most no longer operating since the Germans arrived four years ago. Would she ever smell freshly-baked croissants or peruse a succulent collection of vegetables again?

A scorching breeze sent her hat’s veil dancing. Perspiration trickled between her shoulder blades and threatened to ruin her cobalt-blue silk suit. Her pumps had seen better days, but thanks to leather rationing, a new pair was not in the offing. The Occupiers needed the material for their boots.

Intent upon reaching her destination, Rolande failed to see a rotund woman approaching. They collided, and the woman’s elaborate chapeau slid from her upswept hair and poked Rolande in the face before landing on the pavement.

“I beg your pardon, madam.” Rolande bent to retrieve the confection of flowers, birds, and ribbons.

The woman narrowed her eyes. “Watch where you’re going, collaborateur.” She snatched the millinery masterpiece from Rolande’s grasp and drew her skirts close. Looking down her nose, she plunked the hat on her head and marched down the sidewalk.

No longer hungry, she continued down the avenue past Aux Cerises Café where the outdoor tables were filled with German soldiers. One of the men whistled and smirked, his Aryan features marred by a long scar that ran from his eye to his jaw. Her stomach clenched, and nausea threatened.

Pigs. Men were all pigs.

She continued along the avenue until she came to the tiny market her older brother owned. He never acknowledged her presence in the shop, but neither did he forbid her to enter. His wife typically looked at her with a mixture of pity and contempt.

The brass bell jangled above her head as she pushed open the door and stepped inside. Vacant shelves greeted her, and she sighed. Most patrons were smart enough to come first thing in the morning for the best selection, but she had been entertaining.

Little did he realize, Standartenführer Wilhelm Wagner was one of her most reliable sources for information. Tipsy when he arrived; before he left at the end of the evening, he was deep in his cups. With minimal prodding, he’d told her about the anticipated invasion by the Allied troops. Sure, the rumor had been circulating among civilians, but to hear it from a military man made the possibility plausible.

Liberation, at last.

“I set this aside for you.”

Rolande’s head whipped around.

Her sister-in-law, Louise, stood behind her, a brown-paper package in her hands. She looked toward the door then shoved the parcel into Rolande’s arms. “You are later than usual, and I was concerned there’d be no food remaining. There are a few potatoes and carrots in the bin, but nothing else.”

“You’re very kind.”

“It’s nothing. Now, hurry before Henri returns.”

“Je vous remercie. Why are you doing this?”

Louise waved her hand and frowned. “There is no time. He is due any moment. Give me your ration book.”

Rolande handed her the book. Her sister-in-law tore out the required stamps, then pushed the pamphlet back into Rolande’s hand.

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. We are famille, no matter how Henri acts.”

For the second time that morning, Rolande’s eyes filled with tears. She was getting soft. That would have to change for her to survive the Occupation. Dipping her head, she tucked the package into her canvas bag then threaded her way through the shop to the front door where she came face-to-face with Henri.

Visage dark, he scowled. “Did anyone see you come here?”

“The whole world, Henri. It is a public street. Would you like me to wear a disguise in the future? Perhaps sunglasses and a wig.”

“Non. What I would like is for you to find somewhere else to purchase your food.”

Louise gasped. “Henri. She is your sister.”

His lips compressed into a thin line, and he crossed his arms. “She is dead to me.”

Rolande drew back as if he’d slapped her. He’d always been condescending, but to declare her dead…the words cut through her.

“Fine. I will not bother you again.” She pushed past him into the stifling heat. Where would she find food? Two other shops in town had already refused to serve her.

 

ABOUT LOVE’S RESCUE

Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp?

American soldier Simon Harlow is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city?

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MJM6MNL

ABOUT LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library. She lives in central New Hampshire.

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