Felicity felt stifled. Ever since James and Philip had left she had held herself a virtual prisoner in her own home. Ironic really when the house was no longer HER home and she was, for all intense and purposes a prisoner of the Third Reich.
She still felt the shame of offering herself to him. Then the humiliation of him pushing her away. But she would take the shame because he had saved Philip and James. Somewhere deep in his armour, he had a heart.
The few times she had wandered outside she had sensed him, felt his eyes on her, but he had made no move to speak to her. For that she was grateful.
The garden looked quiet. No sign of any Landsers patrolling around. It was past curfew, but she didn't care. Staring at four walls was driving her insane and she needed fresh air.
Lighting up a cigarette she strolled along the path towards their bench.
'Their' bench, where had that come from? Nothing about this place was 'theirs' it was hers. Hers and James'. Not that he liked the garden or spent time in it. That wasn't the point, though. Whether her husband appreciated the greenery or not did not give her mind cause for such inappropriate mental word games.
Lost in her irrelevant train of thought she gasped when she saw him sat there. Relaxed, his jacket discarded and his hair flopping over his eyes as he looked down over a chess board.
His fingers hovered over a piece but her gasp caught his attention and he looked up to see her startled face.
"Mrs Dorr. Good evening. I hope you are well? It seems a long time since we last spoke."
Well, thought Felicity that's what happens when you are avoiding someone. You don't speak and the rift grows wider. Or if prayers were answered they just disappear all together.
"I'm perfectly fine, Baron. Socialising has not be on my to-do list lately for some reason. I can't think why."
He didn't want to fight. His feelings towards her were a mess and the last thing he wanted after not hearing her voice for so long was to have her flounce off and go back to ignoring him.
The Baron stood. Gesturing her to join him.
Instead of taking the seat next to him, she pulled up a chair opposite. Opposing sides, she mused. How apt. Instead of trenches between them, they had a chess board. All Black and white. So far removed from their predicament.
"Do you play?" he asked hopefully.
She did and was pretty good. "Not really, I know how though." she lied. "Shouldn't you be drawing up plans to invade another country, rather than sitting in MY garden playing chess?"
The moment the words left her lips she regretted them. He looked tired and sighed. Why did always set out to rile him and raise his hackles. 'Your mouth will get you hung one day, young lady' her mother used to chastise her.
"I am taking an evening off from plotting world domination, Mrs Dorr."
She almost smiled. His eyes glinted in the moonlight. Deep pools of blue that you could get lost in. No. She hated him. He was monster. He was not handsome at all.
Felicity looked away and down over the board, the pieces in disarray, mid game.
"Well this doesn't seem exactly fair. As usual you are starting out with an advantage." Like all your troops over a defenceless island
He looked up at her words. "I was hoping that we could begin again. A fresh start."
Them or the game? Or was 'Them' just a game to him. She wondered what it was he really wanted from her. She knew what he didn't want. He had made that all too clear. Which, she supposed should make her feel a little more at ease.
Which was he? Black king or white knight?
The circular thoughts were doing nothing to quell her traitorous mind - another apt analogy, she supposed - Felicity paid little attention to what he was doing as he re-set the game, moving the pieces efficiently. Once they stood correctly, he met her eyes with a raised eyebrow.
She looked over the pieces. Ebony and ivory "It's a beautiful set" She complimented. before she spun the board so that the white pieces were in front of her. White was a symbolic colour. Purity or innocence. Not the colour of German Commandants who shot young boys in her orchard.
"It was my grandfathers. He taught me to play when I was a boy."
They began the game. Matching each other move for move. Perfect counterpoint. Playing in companionable silence.
"I am glad we did not wager money on this game, Mrs Dorr. I do believe I am being hustled. Remind me never to play you at poker."
Felicity bristled. He knew she had lied. Her chin jutted out. "I'm sure you will win or force your opponent to submit."
She had submitted to him.
The Baron sat back and ran his hands through his hair. He knew she was not talking about the game. Well he could talk in riddles too.
"But at what price? Sometimes by winning you lose more… far more."
"Or just take what does not belong to you. Isn't that the German way." She offered back hotly. "No challenge."
He stared straight into her eyes. She could see the hurt. "I believe you are trying to put me off my game, Mrs Dorr. It will not work." Double meaning hung in every word.
They resumed their game. Neither making any headway. Neither gaining ground. Advance and retreat.
He fingered one of his pieces, and without looking up, asked her. "Tell me, If I had taken you up on your offer of…" He seemed embarrassed.
"Sex?" She said pointedly, and he looked up startled.
"Would you be sat here with me now?" She wouldn't. They both knew it.
"Having what you really desire, can lose you what you really want."
Felicity drew in a sharp breath. He hadn't rebuked her advances because he didn't want her, but because he hadn't wanted her to capitulate to him unless she really wanted it. The thought sent a shiver up her spine.
"I am not a monster Mrs Dorr. Neither am I a man who forces a woman to be with him unless it's what she wishes."
She wanted to scoff. Wanted to make a witty comeback about the invader coming out. But found she couldn't. The words were stuck in her throat.
"I should be getting in, it's late." She needed to get away from him. Away before she told him that she did want him. That she had dreamt of his hands all over her body and his fingers stroking her skin. Waking in a sweaty mess in her lonely bed. It was wrong. He was there to be disgusted at, not fantasised over.
She realised with a bitter laugh that the reason she baited him so much was because it was her barrier. Her wall against the running tide of confusing emotions she felt whenever he was near.
It was wrong. She was married. He was the enemy. Her captor. The man who sent her husband and son to a POW camp. And saved their lives, a little voice in her head reminded her.
"Of course." He looked disappointed. "But what of our game. I fear we have not reached a conclusion." They hadn't; not with the game and especially not with each other. " I will take it to my study and we will finish it another night?"
She stood ramrod straight. Her mask back in place. "How do I know that you wont move the pieces to your advantage?"
She wasn't saying no.
He smiled. "Then perhaps you should take the board with you. I will carry it in."
She should say no. Not let him follow her into her drawing room and place HIS private possession on her coffee table.
She was dismissing him, he knew. "Goodnight, Mrs Dorr. Thank you for a most agreeable evening." he wanted to kiss her hand but declined.
He was half out the door when he turned back to her. Leaning against the doorframe.
"How do I know you wont move the pieces to your advantage?" he echoed her earlier words.
Without turning to face him, she simply said. "You don't."
He closed the door behind him and made his way to his side of the house. This woman could arouse and infuriate him in one simple breath.
Tonight she had sat with him. Something he had feared she never would again.
This one small victory had won him the battle, but he knew he was a long way off winning the war for her friendship… and maybe even more.