WINNER: Judge's Choice for the Beautiful Bellies Contest
Title: A Smattering of Rouge
Betas: LJ Summers, Bratty-Vamp, Radar1230
Prompt and picture used: Written Prompt #5, Picture #1
Word Count: 22,005 – not including the heading, author's note, terms, or sources.
Summary: Amidst the turmoil of Nazi occupied France, Bella meets a charming American and is forced to decide between survival and true love.
A Smattering of Rouge
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I'm just having some fun with her characters.
Warning: This story contains minor violence. It is rated M for mature themes and is not intended for people under the age of 18.
~~ 0 ~~
A small country lane, outside of Marseille, France, August 1943.
I pedaled Maman's bicycle steadily over the dusty road, my plain black skirt sticking to the perspiration on my legs. The bright Provence sun beat down; I could feel it burning my scalp through my dark hair. As I pulled to a stop in a cloud of dust in front of the Dubois' home, I looked up to see the cheery white shutters thrown open, deceitfully carefree and breezy, and the window boxes full of red poppies. The façade, so carefully maintained. Life as usual, I thought, shaking my head.
I took my woven basket of grapes and hooked it over my elbow, carrying it up the path and climbed the steps of the old country home. Wiping my brow, I looked over to see large eyes, waist high, peering from the corner of an open window. The sounds of feet scampering across the floors made me smile as I knocked on the door.
Madame Dubois opened it before I even finished rapping. Her house dress hung from her body a little too loosely. "Ahh, Bella. It is so lovely to see you," she exclaimed, grasping my shoulders tightly and kissing me, first one cheek, then the other. "You are so beautiful. When will some handsome man make you his wife?"
I laughed at her persistence. I was eighteen and never had a beau and she always lamented the fact. But at times like these, it was the least of my concerns. "It's lovely to see you as well. How is your family?" I asked as she ushered me into the airy house. My feet made dull thuds against the marble as she led me to the scant kitchen.
"Monsieur Dubois is away, of course," she said and then skillfully attempted to divert my attention, though there was little point, Papa had been in the Resistance as well. "But we are all well as you can see," she said a bit breathlessly, gesturing to her children with their ashen cheeks and sunken eyes.
"You all look well," I said in turn, my heart heavy for these poor boys with whom I would in all probability have much in common. "Maman sends these grapes for you if you have any eggs to spare," I said with a smile. I made sure not to let my desperation show.
Her eyes crinkled, "Well, I don't know. We haven't many left but I suppose I could give you a few."
"That would be lovely. Is there anything else you have for trade?"
"I do have a bit of butter," she said, pushing a strand of lank hair behind her ear.
Oh what I wouldn't give for butter!
"But could you possibly help me with the boys for a morning this week while I go into town for the rations?"
A full morning of looking after her children would be a sacrifice indeed. Maman needed me at home. There was much work to be done there. But I could also imagine the look in her eyes if I brought home some smooth, creamy butter. How long had it been?
"Yes, of course. I'd love to help you with the boys."
And so with two more kisses to my cheeks and another of Madame Dubois' well intentioned meddling attempts into my chances at love, I was off on my bicycle once again, my basket full of treasures.
"Maman!" I cried as I barreled through the door, not even stopping to knock the dirt from my shoes or wipe the sweat that was dripping down my face. "You'll never guess what I got from Madame Dubois," I laughed breathlessly, excited to give her the eggs and butter. But my mother wasn't in the kitchen as I expected. I could hear her voice, speaking almost in a sing-song manner coming from the sitting room and I furrowed my brow, still breathing heavily from my trip home in the oppressive heat.
I set my basket on the table and peeked around the corner to see my two sisters: Angela staring balefully out the window and Alice smiling and batting her eyelashes. My mother sat across from them, ridiculously fawning over some young man. I turned to enter the room and as I did so, my frizzy hair caught a gust of wind, blowing across my eyes and sticking to my wet face. I couldn't see and I stumbled, twisting my ankle and falling gracelessly into a heap.
"Aye!" I cried, swiping desperately at my hair and scrambling to my knees.
In an instant, a very masculine hand shot into my field of vision. and I looked up to see the most beautiful man I had ever seen kneeling down and taking my hot, sticky hand, before lifting me to my feet as my already overheated face flamed in mortification.
"Are you alright?" he asked in an American accent, seeming genuinely concerned as his gaze traveled down my body to my wobbling feet.
I felt terribly exposed and was completely at a loss for words. My parched mouth hung open as I tried desperately to come up with a reply – any reply. But his green gaze held me immobile.
He looked confused… or amused. I couldn't tell.
"Isabella, this is Edward. He will be joining us for dinner. Please go wash for the meal, chérie."
I felt my cheeks burn as I nodded at him and managed a quiet, "Thank you," then ran to clean up.
I could hear my mother and Alice laughing joyously as I scrubbed my face. The dust from the road had clung to my damp skin, making a terrible mess. I ran a comb through my wild hair and pinned half of it up, away from my face. Then I changed into a fresh dress, one of my nice ones from before the war, since we had company. I tried not to think about Edward and his beauty, the likes of which I had never seen. It made me feel insignificant at best and hopelessly ugly at worst. By the looks of things when I had come home, it appeared as though Alice might be receiving more company in the coming days.
I came down the stairs, studiously avoiding the sitting room, and went into the kitchen. Maman was unloading my basket.
"Isabella, you got some butter!" she exclaimed.
"I thought you would," I began but she continued.
"Wonderful, chérie. What perfect timing, with our guest here!"
I frowned. I didn't particularly want to spend an entire morning watching Madame Dubois' boys so my sister's beau could have some butter to soften his bread. I could still hear her chattering and giggling like a fool in the other room.
As we sat down to dinner, I kept my eyes averted from Edward's face. The pang I felt at Alice's infatuation was irrational. I was much too plain to catch the attention of a man such as him. I daydreamed about what it must be like to be beautiful and have men falling at your feet as Alice did every day.
Before long I realized that her enthusiastic chatter had quieted and Maman was politely keeping the conversation going, albeit at a much more leisurely pace than before. I chanced a glance at the handsome American and felt my stomach jump as I saw his gaze was on me. I felt my cheeks burn and watched in amazement as he ducked his eyes and I saw a blush rise on his face as well. I looked over to Alice and Maman who were also watching me; Alice with a shrug and a smile and Maman with knowing eyes.
I blinked and froze. What was going on? I glanced at Edward; his lashes were fanned against his cheeks. But then he slowly looked up at me again and smiled. A small, shy smile that made my insides tremble.
"Isabella," Maman began. "You were not here when I told your sisters how I met Edward. You see I had just gotten through the line at the charcuterie and I had been able to get more than I had thought I would. It was all very heavy and I kept dropping the ham and Edward happened along. He was so kind to help me carry everything home, I just had to have him stay for dinner."
"Of course," I said.
Then she turned her attention back to our guest. "Isabella has always wanted to see America."
I laughed dismissively. "Yes, it seems like it would be very wonderful but I don't think that would ever happen, Maman."
"Why not?" Edward spoke up. "You would love it, I'm sure. If you want to go, you should go."
I shrugged. I supposed he couldn't have understood my position. "Maybe someday," I mumbled, pushing a small piece of bread around my plate, knowing it would never be.
"What are you doing in France?" I asked, garnering a sharp look from Maman. I hadn't meant to sound rude.
But he simply smiled and replied, "I am interested in this great country and came to live and meet people."
I hummed, mulling that over. It seemed slightly evasive. "How nice to have that freedom to go where you please."
"Isabella," he said. I met his eyes, surprised at the tenderness his voice held. "You won't always be so burdened."
What did he know of my burdens? And yet, how had he seen right through me? I watched him intently, biting the corner of my lip in thought before I realized that all eyes were on us.
Maman chose that moment to embarrass me thoroughly. "Edward, do you have a girl at home?"
"Umm, no, I don't Madame," he said, that pink tint returning to his cheeks.
"Ahh," she said. "My girls have no beaux, either. But they are all good Catholic girls. We raised them well and they will make good wives for the lucky men who win their affections."
Angela choked on her bread and I suddenly became very interested in the lace tablecloth.
There could be no doubt what Maman meant by us being "good Catholic girls." Her parents emigrated from Italy and we were staunchly faithful. It was true that my sisters and I had been ingrained with the ideal that we would remain virgins until we were married – and we had done so. But I couldn't believe her audacity to announce it so plainly over dinner. Or maybe I could. This was my mother, after all.
Edward cleared his throat a little and said politely, "Yes, I'm sure they will."
Maman smiled broadly and sighed. "Thank you for staying for dinner, Edward," she said. "I'm sure you need to get going before it is too late."
Edward began to gather his dishes and utensils but Maman waved him off.
"Oh no, we will take care of this. Isabella will walk you down the lane, won't you, chérie?"
At her request, I nearly tripped as I stepped away from my chair.
"Euuuh… Yes, of course," I said, my heart thrumming. I fidgeted while waiting for Edward to say goodbye to my mother and sisters. Angela looked relieved to be released from having to entertain. Alice winked at me when his back was turned. I guess she hadn't been too smitten with him after all.
I followed him out the door and he waited, closing it after me.
"You really don't need to walk me," he said with a smile.
"It's no trouble. Thank you for staying for dinner."
He laughed, shaking his head. "I should be thanking you. It's nice to have dinner with such a lovely woman."
I peeked at him from the corner of my eye. "Yes, well my mother and sisters are very beautiful."
"Yes, they are, though, I wasn't referring to them," he said, shuffling his feet a bit as we walked.
I didn't know what to say to that so I said nothing, the symphony of cicadas and the sounds of our feet on the path the only things to be heard.
"Is it just you ladies here?" he asked as we approached the end of the lane.
I looked to my feet. "Euhh, yes. My Papa died last year."
"Oh, Isabella, I'm so sorry," he said, stopping and turning to me. His eyes were so sad as he gently touched my elbow.
I shook my head. "Thank you, but we are fine."
"Yes, you must be very strong," he said as we stood looking at each other.
After a few moments, I took a deep breath, trying to quell the butterflies in my stomach. "You should go. You don't want to be caught out after curfew," I reminded him.
One corner of his mouth turned up and he nodded. "May I see you again, Isabella?"
I looked up at his earnest eyes. I had no idea how anything could ever work between us. But something in me wanted to see him again. So I agreed immediately. "Yes, I would like that very much. And please, call me Bella."
He smiled and took my hand, lifting it to his lips. "Enchanté, Bella," he murmured against my knuckles. Then he placed a soft kiss there, sending tingles up my arm.
He let my hand go and it glided back to my side. I said nothing as he smiled and walked away down the road, the wind ruffling his bronze hair.
When I walked back into the house, Maman and Alice descended on me.
"What happened, chérie? What did he say?"
"Oh, he's so handsome, Bella!"
"I knew as soon as I saw him that I had to entice him with one of my girls."
"Bella, did you see how he looked at you?"
I didn't even know where to begin. "He… he asked to see me again but…"
I was cut off with high pitched squealing coming from my sister. My mother's face was lit up by her smile.
"Oh, Bella! How exciting! Wait, you said yes, didn't you? You did say yes?" Alice was jumping up and down in front of me, clasping her hands together in childlike glee.
"Wait a minute, Alice. I thought you liked him," I blinked repeatedly, putting my hands on my hips.
"Oh Bella, he is very beautiful and a fine man to be sure, but the way you two looked at each other, I'm not getting in the way of that," she said winking and kissing my cheek enthusiastically. "Anyway, tell me you agreed to see him because if not I'll have to hit you right now," she threatened. I knew she was serious.
"Alright, alright. I said yes." I fought the creeping smile I could feel overtaking my face but it was no use and my cheeks ached from it.
Maman was just standing there watching me with a knowing look and I shook my head and left to go to my room, the sound of laughter and squealing following me all the way.
That night Angela came to my room and laid her head on my pillow next to mine to talk, as we often did. She smiled into my eyes, "You like him." Angela had always been quiet. To anyone else, she seemed removed and detached. But really, she was observant, seeing right to the heart of things.
I breathed deeply. "Yes, I do." My voice shook.
"I'm so glad it was you," she said, giggling.
I frowned at her quizzically.
"Oh, he is very nice. Just not for me," she reassured me, squeezing my hand. "I wish you every happiness."
Laughing, I said, "Well, who knows if he will even come back."
We fell asleep together laughing and dreaming about what America must be like, wondering if all the young men were as handsome as Edward.
Edward was true to his word. He did come calling again. And again. And again. He was always the perfect gentleman. He was thoughtful and considerate and when I was with him, somehow the concerns of the war seemed to melt away. Late at night when I lay in my bed, I allowed myself to imagine what it might be like to be far away from all these troubles. Maybe I'd be living in America with Edward. Maybe we'd be married and have children of our own and we would never have to stand in another rationing line again.
But more often than not something happened to bring me back to the cold realities of my life, reminding me that this fantasy would never be.
~~ 0 ~~
Edward knocked on the door. He had come to walk me to the cinema. We spent much of our time walking. Since gasoline was rationed, we had no working automobile. Occasionally we took bicycles but I hated to leave Maman with no form of transportation if she needed to get out. So Edward and I walked and enjoyed each other's company, talking and laughing.
But the closer we got to town, the more it was obvious that the relative detachment we enjoyed from the troubles by living in the country was a flimsy deception. Nazi guards stood on street corners. They casually sat smoking, enjoying the bounty of Provence at sidewalk cafés. They flaunted their wealth and control, patronizing businesses. Vile propaganda plastered nearly every wall and window, displaying distorted images of hooked noses and hairy bodies. It simultaneously infuriated me and made me ill.
Edward chatted companionably, speaking of his parents, his brother, Jasper, his friends, his home in New York, and his dog. This made me laugh and shake my head a little. I didn't know he had a dog, but he told me all about her and how much he missed taking her for walks and playing with her in the park.
I realized he was trying to distract me from the stresses of the occupation and I smiled fondly, squeezing his hand, our arms brushing against each other as we walked.
"I'd love to take you there," he said.
"That would be lovely."
"So maybe, after the war…"
I sighed and studied the cobblestones under our feet. "Yeah… maybe."
He stopped in the path and I looked up. Smiling sadly, he cupped my cheek. "Come here," he said pulling me into a small winding alley. He pulled me close and held my face in his large hands. "It will happen, Bella. The war can't go on forever." Then speaking again in a whisper, closer to my face, "and when that happens…" he trailed off.
My breath caught in my throat as I understood his meaning. He leaned in further and placed one small kiss against my lips then pulled away, a bright smile on his face.
He took my hand once again and led me out of the alley and through the streets to the cinema, one of the only sources of entertainment left that we had available to us. He paid for our tickets and we entered the theatre to see La Règle du jeu. The room was full and there were, bien sur, the ever-present guards at the back.
The lights dimmed and the projector began playing the German newsreels, the only sanctioned source of current events. We all knew we were only receiving the information they wanted us to hear so most French families huddled around their radios to hear the news broadcasted in by the Allies. Being forced to watch the doctored news was infuriating. It was only moments before many in the audience began stomping their feet and hissing in protest. A clamor erupted at the back: shouts from the Nazi guards.
Edward and I sat frozen, not wanting to incur their anger as the house lights flipped on. Guards stormed the aisles, shouting and grabbing movie patrons indiscriminately and hauling them off. Curses and shrieks filled the auditorium as batons flew and bodies stumbled.
The commotion died down and I released the breath I'd been holding as they left the theatre. I hadn't realized that there was still one officer present till I was yanked from my seat by my arm, despite our attempts to stay invisible. The guard began shouting at me in German, but I could not understand him.
"Je ne parle pas allemand! Je ne parle pas allemand!" I cried. But he yelled all the more, his menacing steel blue eyes terrifying me, his hard fingers digging into my flesh.
In an instant, Edward was by my side. He was speaking German, his tone pleading as he pulled money from his pockets, shoving it toward the officer.
I began shaking my head, tears threatening my eyes. Please God, please get us out of this, I prayed. I couldn't contemplate Edward getting into trouble on my account.
In what I could only imagine was an act of God, the officer released me, taking Edward's proffered money and storming from the room.
I released a shaky breath and gripped the back of the seat next to me to keep from falling over right there in the aisle.
We never saw the movie that day. Our walk home was quiet. I fought the onslaught of emotions threatening to take over me. Occasionally, a silent tear streamed down my face and I tried to wipe it away without Edward noticing, but he did. We walked along the canal, Edward with his hands shoved in his pockets, me kneading my skirt in an overflow of nervous energy needing a physical outlet.
We passed under a tree and Edward stopped me there, grasping my arms, his hands shaking a bit, and looking determinedly into my eyes. "I will take care of you, Bella. I promise you that." The tears overflowed my eyes and he crushed me to his chest. I inhaled deeply, trying to calm down. He smelled amazing; of earth and sweat and man.
Papa had made similar promises. I didn't doubt Edward's sincerity, but this war was so much bigger than any one of us and I knew that promises were just words. Well-intentioned, but still just words.
"I promise, Bella. I will make you safe," Edward insisted, his strong arms holding me tightly.
I wished I could believe him.
In the weeks following, Edward and I didn't speak of what happened in the cinema again, nor did we attempt to see another movie.
He spent a lot of time visiting with my family, eating meals with us, and helping out with the workload. Occasionally, he brought gifts of food or provisions. He never accepted my arguments that he needed to keep them for himself, so I stopped trying.
~~ 0 ~~
One evening after dinner, Edward and I walked out to the vineyard together. We sat in the tall grass on the edge of the vines that were turning beautiful shades of red and gold with the autumn.
I decided to ask him the question that had been burning at the back of my mind. "Edward, what are you really doing in France?"
He looked across the vineyard, then back at me. "I'm a war correspondent for Life Magazine," he said. "I'm documenting and photographing what life is like in the country under the occupation."
I furrowed my brow. Was he using us? I didn't think so. "So… this…" I said, gesturing between us.
"Oh, no, Bella, no. Please believe me. This," he said, gesturing as I had, "is real. I would never exploit you."
I studied him for a moment. I believed him. I didn't think he could ever lie to me.
"So, what happened to your Papa, really?" he asked.
I dropped my eyes and took a deep breath. He trusted me with his secret, I knew I could trust him with mine. "He was executed for being a part of the Resistance."
"Oh, Bella, I am so sorry," he breathed, drawing me to his chest for a few moments till I pulled away.
"I want it to be done," I said, despairing that it might never be.
His eyes glowed green in the waning sunlight as he looked at me, a sad smile on his beautiful face. "I know," he said simply.
The gentle breeze ruffled our hair and I breathed deeply, falling back in the grass and looking up at the sky.
"Tell me your dreams," he said softly. "If you could have anything you wanted and there was no war, what would you do?" He asked as he laid beside me, propping himself on his arm and looking down at me.
I laughed humorlessly, shaking my head. What did I want? I sighed and spoke my deepest desire, at least at the moment, "I want chocolate," I said dreamily.
His laugh was rich and full and I couldn't help but join in.
"Chocolate?" he asked incredulously.
"Mmm, yes. It would be divine."
He laughed again. "Okay, anything else?" he asked with a smile.
I studied the wispy clouds as they drifted in the blue sky. "I really just want a little home in a safe place for my family and enough food that we're never hungry again."
He didn't say anything as I watched the clouds slowly change into different shapes. "What about you, Edward?" I asked turning to see his face, full of some intent emotion. "What do you want? What will you do when the war is over?"
"I want to be an accomplished and respected journalist." Then he looked at me, his gaze held mine and burned. "I want a wife to love. I want children to raise."
I took in a shaky breath at his sincerity and the intense gleam in his eyes.
"Bella," he said softly, his breath washing over my face. "How would you like that little home of yours to be in America?"
My eyes welled with tears that leaked out the corners and ran back into my hair. "Well, you know I've always wanted to see America," I said through the lump in my throat.
I had never seen such a beautiful smile as what overtook Edward's face at my answer. He leaned down, and brushed his lips against mine, softly, tentatively. I reached up to touch his cheek and his kiss became bolder, more fervent. I responded, giving back what he gave, moving my lips in foreign ways that made my body tingle and ache for more. I brought my other hand up and tangled it in his hair, my shoulders hunching, my stomach contracting.
He groaned and ran his tongue along my lower lip. I gasped in pleasant surprise and when my mouth fell open, he slowly but determinedly slid his tongue against mine, his hand encircling my waist, his weight pressing down on me.
He pulled just a breath away. "I love you, Bella," he said and then returned to me again, not allowing any verbal response.
More tears leaked from my eyes. I knew I loved him. I don't know when I had realized it but somewhere along the way it had grown. It had become this force of its own, fighting with me for some kind of release. I wanted to give him my whole heart and I wasn't sure if the choice was mine to make anymore as my heart seemed to be giving itself of its own volition. But it scared me because I didn't know when or if this war would ever end or if we would still be standing at its conclusion.
He broke away with labored breath, dropping his forehead to my chest, then turned to the side, his ear resting over my thundering heart.
"We should stop," he said as I ran my fingers through his hair.
But I didn't want to stop. Edward was good, Edward was right. The rest was hardship and despair.
That night after I said goodnight to him and walked back into the house, Maman watched me carefully, a twinkle in her eye. I know she noticed the rosy glow that was certainly there from my time with Edward.
I put on my night dress and brushed my hair then climbed into bed. I looked out at the stars, touched my lips, and thought about how his lips had felt against mine, his hands against my body.
There was a quiet knock on my door and Maman came into my room, sitting next to me on my bed. She sat quietly for a few moments, looking into the night sky with me.
"Oh chérie, I know that look on your face."
"The one that tells me you're in love," she sighed. "I had the same look with your father."
I couldn't deny her words and she knew it.
"You hold on to that one, Bella. He's a good man and he loves you."
"Maman, it's just not fair. How can we do anything with the war?"
"It will all work out. And I am hopeful that if things get too bad, he will take you away to America," she said as she stroked my hair tenderly.
"I could never leave you, we will stay together," I said shaking my head. I couldn't leave my family.
"Don't worry about it, chérie. I just want you taken care of."
Arguing was useless. So I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her cheek. We stayed like that for a few more moments before she rose from the bed and bid me goodnight.
~~ 0 ~~
As the months cooled and winter approached, no more crops were harvested and it became increasingly difficult to get food. Our rations only got us so far. We took in our lifelong friends, Dr. Rosenberg, who had also been our family's physician, and his wife. Since the Nazis had begun arresting Jews in Marseille, they had traveled from house to house, not wanting to overstay their welcome. Maman had insisted they come to stay with us, but that meant there was even less food to go around and more danger for our family. But how could we turn out our dear friends?
It was also difficult to get enough fuel to stay warm. By November, we had used all the extra wood and we scavenged the grounds for twigs and anything we could burn. We wore layers and layers of clothing to compensate for the lack of heat. Unfortunately, this made them wear thin more quickly than usual.
One afternoon, when my mother and sisters were out visiting with a friend and the Rosenbergs were napping in their room, Edward brought over a basket of food, as he did when he was able. He stood in the kitchen with me as I unpacked the basket. When I got to the bottom, a shiny wrapper caught my attention. I picked it up and inspected it more closely.
"Chocolate! Edward!" I nearly squealed.
He wore a wide grin and shrugged his shoulders. "I thought you might like it," he said quietly.
"Like it? I can't believe you… How did you get this?" I didn't think you could get chocolate anywhere but the black market.
"It doesn't matter. I wanted to get it for you is all."
I ripped open a corner and took a bite of the luscious, creamy chocolate. "Mmmm…"
His eyes darkened and he walked over to me as I wrapped up the treasure to save the rest for later. "You got a little bit on you," he said.
"Where?" I asked, reaching up to wipe at my face, but he stopped my hand.
He bent over slowly and softly kissed the corner of my mouth, his tongue lightly licking the sensitive skin there.
A shiver ran through me and my eyes fell closed. His hands held both my wrists in between our bodies as he slowly pulled back, his breath washing over my mouth. I tilted my chin up at the loss of contact and he came back to me, running his hands up my arms, over my shoulders and held my neck as he kissed me leisurely and thoroughly. I arched my back and pressed my body into his, running my hands up his back and suddenly he stepped away. I attempted to follow, but he held me in place by my shoulders.
"I don't want to stop doing that," he said roughly, his cheeks flushed, his chest rising and falling rapidly.
"Then don't," I whispered.
"That's exactly why I need to," he said.
I wanted to lose myself in him. He was the only good thing in my life. But he was always stopping things whenever he thought we were going too far. He said he was trying to protect me, but I knew he wanted me. I could feel it when he touched me, when he kissed me. And it made me want him all the more.
Just then a sharp rap sounded at the door and Edward dropped his hands from my shoulders. I went to see who it was and when I opened the door, I was startled to see a Nazi officer standing there.
My thoughts went immediately to Dr. and Madame Rosenberg, asleep and unaware in their room. Please stay upstairs, I silently pleaded. If they were to come down and the officer even suspected, he could demand their paperwork and we would all suffer the consequences.
"Good afternoon, mademoiselle," he said, a sinister leer on his face. I heard Edward approach behind me and saw the man's eyes flicker to him, then back to me. "Do you have any goods you might share with me?"
The request was innocuous in itself, but I knew the underlying threat he posed. I wracked my brain for something I could give him that would be sufficient but not so much that we would have nothing to eat. "I have some preserves I could give you," I said, my voice managing not to crack.
"I think you have something else, don't you?" his cold eyes cut through me and I felt dirty.
"I… I could give you some wine," I said.
"Hmm, yes, that is more like it. I'll just come in and wait."
My chest constricted and I swallowed hard. "Yes, of course, come right in and make yourself at home. I will be right back."
He passed me as he entered, a self-satisfied smirk on his sharp face. He raised an eyebrow at Edward and settled himself in a chair by the stove.
I ran to the cellar and got two bottles of wine, then a jar of preserves. I moved as quickly as I could, wanting to get him out of the house before disaster occurred. I returned to the sitting room, where Edward still stood guard, watching the officer.
"Here you are, monsieur. I hope you will like it."
"Ahh, yes. I am certain I will. I do very much enjoy France's hospitable bounty," he said, running his eyes up and down my body.
I stepped back and Edward placed a hand on my shoulder, earning another smirk from the officer as he rose to take his leave. When the door closed behind him, I all but collapsed into Edward's chest. He ran soothing circles over my back as my breathing returned to normal.
"I don't like you being alone here," he rasped.
"I'm not really alone," I irrationally tried to reassure him, despite my earlier anxiety over our guests being discovered.
"Do you really think the Rosenbergs would be able to help you?" he scoffed.
I trembled in his embrace and squeezed my eyes shut, trying not to think about all the things that could have happened if Edward had not been there.
~~ 0 ~~
A/N: Let me know what you think!
Maman: Mom, Mama, Mommy, Mother
Resistance: The national grassroots movement in WWII occupied France, fighting against the Nazis and the Vichy regime.
Chérie: Sweetheart, darling, dear.
Euh: The French version of uhh or umm. It sounds close to the "oo" sound in book.
Enchanté: Delighted, Enchanted, Pleased to meet you.
Bien sur: Of course.
Je ne parle pas allemand: I don't speak German.