tagRomanceFaire L’Amour Within the Winds Of Hell

Faire L’Amour Within the Winds Of Hell

bysojournerwolf©

originally published in Ophelia’s Muse May 2002

Lamps sputtered against dank subterranean air as he squinted at the papers. Fuel fumes stirred a bouillabaisse of tobacco, coffee, soup, sweat and mildew. The muted breath of those around him sounded more distant than the trickle of sewers beyond the chamber walls.

“I’ll be dammed,” Bradley muttered in English.

Six of the surviving members of Etienne duMarche’s Resistance cell exchanged uncertain grins; they might not understand his words, but the American’s tone sounded promising.

Michelle, who’d learned quite a bit about his language--among other things--over the past months, bumped Bradley with her hip. “I did o-kay, no?” she asked in halting English.

Bradley slipped an arm around her. ‘Cherie, you did tres bien,’ he chuckled in French.

‘Eh, then I merite more than a hug,’ Michelle declared. She kissed him with fevered familiarity, much to the ribald amusement of their comrades. Only basset eyed Etienne grunted sourly.

‘So, we broadcast tonight?’

Bradley shook his head. ‘We can’t risk being on the air long enough to send this,’ he replied. ‘Enough good people have been lost to le Cameleon.

Growled curses greeted mention of the German agent who ruthlessly preyed upon the city’s freedom fighters.

‘Which means?’ Michelle demanded.

‘Which means,’ Bradley took a deep breath, ‘I’ll have to take this out myself.’

Michelle stalked silently from the room. The others shuffled awkwardly, looked at Etienne who nodded.

Andre polished his glasses. ‘I’ll get started on your papers.’

‘Give me your coat and those documents,’ said Emily, a cheery middle-aged woman as adept with needle as she was with sniper’s rifle. ‘You should get some rest,’ she added with a nod after Michelle.

Bradley looked at Etienne.

‘Go,’ he said gruffly. ‘We’ll let them know you’re coming.’

Bradley nodded gratefully. He ducked down the cramped corridor to the niche he shared with Michelle. Candlelight softly illuminated her whippet wiry form from behind. She stiffened as Bradley embraced her.

‘War’s a pig,’ she said after a time, ‘devouring everything, turning it to merde.’

She turned to Bradley. ‘Why? Why do men feel obliged to destroy all that is good, is beautiful? Is it only ennui that creates art and music and love in times between so they can tear it all down again?'

Reflected in Michelle’s moist brown eyes, Bradley saw the same need he had, to believe reality was more than gaping wounds upon lands and bodies. ‘Even during war there’s still art and music,” he said. ‘And love. It’s those that matter, what anchors us until the winds of hell pass.’

Michelle put a finger to his lips. ‘Words,’ she said, ‘we are full of words, are we not? We who have no idea what tomorrow will bring. It is not words I need now.’

Their lips met, parted slowly. Tongues waltzed with deliberate intimacy while fingers unfastened, as if of their own instincts, buttons and zippers, belts and hooks.

Michelle drew him to the bed. Bradley stretched over her. His eager cock glided through her pubic down, along the soft rise of her belly, yet he did not hasten. For as Michelle had learned from him, he had learned from her. Faire l’amour, she’d taught him, was more than mere fucking. His lips found the tender places behind her ears and jaw in their voyage along her throat. Michelle combed through the hair of Bradley’s broad chest, trailed nails along the ridges of his stomach, caressed his engorged shaft.

She purred as Bradley nuzzled her breasts, stretched her arms above her head. His kisses became moister, tenderly sucking as he moved along the tautened mounds. Michelle gasped as he suckled her, probed his tongue around the aureole of each hard nipple.

Michelle arched as the first tremors of release trickled through her. Bradley roamed her trembling flesh to her protruding navel, rolled the small bulb of natal flesh between his lips. She moaned softly as the current of her orgasm surged stronger still.

His mouth moved to her lower belly. Bradley’s chin brushed her dark thatch; his breath caused the curls to sway. Michelle’s slender fingers spread herself as Bradley drew his tongue between her outer and inner lips.

He teased the reclusive clitoris from its hood, sipped her into his mouth. Michelle writhed as Bradley sucked, light flickers of tongue upon her exposed knob. Her hands convulsively clutched his hair, drew him upwards. They kissed hungrily as Michelle guided him into her slick and silken warmth. Waves of pleasure closed her eyes, rippled along Bradley’s cock. He held her without moving as she bathed in the feeling of fullness.

Before her spasms ebbed, Bradley’s hips began to rise and fall, each stroke a little longer, a little stronger. Michelle wrapped her legs around his waist and met his thrusts with equal vigor. Together they rode mounting waves into a fiercely tender tsunami, the tightening that holds time still, the ecstatic drowning in the inevitable flood.

#

Bradley’s eyes opened. Gently, he untangled from Michelle’s embrace. She sighed sleepily and rolled over.

He slipped on his trousers, retrieved pistol and flashlight from beneath the bed. Cautiously, Bradley moved aside the blanket that served as curtain.

‘It’s Andre.’ He blinked at the sudden light. ‘Etienne says it’s time’

Bradley nodded. Andre handed him the identification papers. By flashlight, he scanned them quickly but closely. Bradley grinned. ‘Parfait as always.’

Andre smiled hesitantly, clasped Bradley’s hand. ‘In case we do not see each other again, bon chance.

‘And you as well, mon ami.

Andre bobbed his head once, then scurried down the corridor.

Michelle was sitting on the edge of the bed when Bradley returned. ‘I heard.’

They dressed quickly. As Bradley reached for his undershirt, Michelle put her hand over his. ‘Leave it,’ she said, ‘it smells of you.’

Bradley touched her face. ‘I will be back for you,’ he said, ‘then we will be together. Always.’

Michelle smiled sadly, kissed Bradley’s palm. ‘Together,’ she whispered. ‘pour toujours.

#

Etienne glanced up from the chessboard as they entered the main chamber. He pointed his finger at Bradley, nodded towards the space he shared with Emily.

‘Just you, Americain.

Bradley looked at Michelle. She shrugged, gave his hand a squeeze. Bradley disappeared down the corridor Etienne had indicated.

Bradley noticed a chessboard beside the bed as he entered the room. He chuckled. Etienne’s obsession with the game--Bradley could imagine Emily enduring endless lectures on the subject--bordered on fanaticism. On this board, king’s pawn had opened two spaces forward to create egress for queen and king’s bishop. Bradley felt tempted to answer the gambit when he heard raised voices.

The loudest seemed to be Etienne’s. Bradley thought he also heard Michelle, but he couldn’t discern the words. He started to leave the room when Etienne burst in, face flushed a dark red.

Without preamble, Etienne related the instructions received from the night’s broadcast. He had Bradley repeat them until he felt satisfied the American had committed them to memory.

‘Anything else I should know?’ Bradley asked.

Etienne hesitated, then shook his head and turned to the chessboard. With a shrug, Bradley left.

Michelle wasn’t in the main chamber. Puzzled, Bradley looked in their room. No Michelle and, Bradley noted absently, no undershirt. Instead, Emily greeted him with a sympathetic smile.

‘Michelle left this for you.” She handed Bradley a folded paper. Bradley read:


Bien-amie,

I wish I could have said this in person, but I’ve been sent
above ground to help prepare your way. Please know, I
will wait for you. So I say not good-bye, but until we meet
again.

Stay safe,

Michelle


Bradley’s throat tightened. He nodded at Emily, not trusting himself to speak. She seemed to understand as she handed him the coat. Not even the faintest rustle betrayed the documents sewn within its lining. Bradley scooped up the identification papers and tucked them into a pocket.

‘Let’s go.’

Bradley followed Emily and her cloth covered basket as she unerringly wove the maze of tunnels. They emerged through a panel behind the confessional of a small church. The old priest paused from lighting candles long enough to give them a silent blessing.

Emily tucked her arm through Bradley’s, as a mother might a son, as they strolled through the chill dawn. Vichy policemen showed them scant attention. Emily pecked Bradley on the cheek, then disappeared into the bakery she operated as a cover for Resistance operations. A German soldier rode up on a motorcycle, dismounted and pushed past Bradley into the shop. Bradley slowly exhaled, then continued on his way.

#

When the telephone rang that early morning in German headquarters, SS Colonel Fredrick Horst was waiting.

‘He’s on his way,’ was all Horst heard before the line went dead.

Horst immediately dialed a number and asked to speak with his aide. The plan was simple, Horst thought, but he was taking no chances.

#

Though the ticket office had yet to open, Vichy and German guards--some with dogs--patrolled the growing queue of passengers. Bradley maintained a stolid expression, hands firmly in his pockets.

A dog snarled beside him. Bradley slowly turned to face the flat serpentine stare of an SS Lieutenant and a German soldier with leash in one hand, machine gun in the other.

‘Your papers.’

Bradley protested, as they’d expect, even as he unbuttoned his coat. His perspiring palm pressed against the middle button while he reached for the demanded documents.

The officer almost appeared bored as he thumbed through the forged identification. Yet, Bradley noticed the man’s ice blue eyes widen momentarily.

With a chill smile, he handed back the papers. ‘Everything seems to be in order.’

Sweat slithered along Bradley’s spine. As the Germans moved away, he surreptitiously studied the papers.

Bradley almost missed it. Hazel eyes hardened as the puzzle fell together: the dog with his scent, the uncharacteristically nonchalant inspection of his identification, the German officer’s momentary lapse of expression.

Bradley stepped to the window, purchased his ticket. Just before he boarded the train, Bradley bent as if he’d dropped something. People swirled around him. He crawled under the train car. No one seemed to notice. Bradley rolled out the other side and down the slight embankment.

Bradley discarded the coat beneath surplus rail ties. He kept only its middle button and the identification papers. As the train began to move, Bradley scurried toward the caboose. He ducked around it, then walked unhurriedly towards the nearest Resistance weapons cache and a place to hide until evening. At any moment, he expected to hear a shout, feel a bullet smash into his back

And almost hoped he would.

#

‘Bradley!’ Michelle cried, then froze as did the others at the sight of the pistol in Bradley’s hand.

‘What’re you doing here?’ Etienne asked levelly.

‘There’s a problem with the papers,’ Bradley replied. He opened the sheaf to the offending page, handed it to Etienne.

The former stevedore looked puzzled for a moment, then his eyes narrowed. In the fold of the papers, were the words “pawn passant” within the crude outline of a lizard.

‘I saw the papers when Andre brought them to me,’ Bradley said softly, ‘This was done…after.’

‘Who--,’ Etienne began, then stopped.

‘You recognize the term, oui?’ Bradley asked. ‘The gambit that allows a pawn to pass two spaces on its first move, sometimes to take it out of danger. Sometimes,’ Bradley added, ‘to free up more powerful pieces for attack.’

‘No!’ Etienne shot up from his seat.

Bradley raised his pistol. ‘Sit. Down.’

Etienne glared as he sank back into the chair. ‘It was not me.’

‘I know,’ Bradley nodded. ‘You never leave this place. It’s someone who comes and goes freely. Whose contacts with the Boche would be above suspicion, even part of their mission. Someone,’ Bradley took a deep breath, ‘who’d even have access to my belongings.’

He turned to Michelle. ‘Where’s the undershirt, Michelle? The one you wanted to keep. The one that smelled enough like me that a dog could pick up my scent?’

Michelle stammered, ‘I, I left it in our room--‘

‘It’s not there now.’

Her eyes filled with tears as she mutely shook her head.

Etienne grunted. ‘I should’ve known. Any woman who’d spread her legs for foreigners just to fill her belly would gladly sell her soul to the Devil for more.’

He laughed mirthlessly at Bradley’s expression. ‘Didn’t she tell you how I found her? A refugee from Paris, peddling her ass for bread. Her wine, the seed of those she sucked off in dark alleys.’

Etienne stood, drew his knife. ‘Well, she won’t sell anything anymore.’

Michelle slumped in her chair. The others moved back. Bradley stepped forward.

‘This is our affair, Americain, not yours,’ Etienne growled.

Bradley’s fist smashed into Etienne’s jaw, sent him to the floor. His followers surged forward. Etienne bounded back only to find Bradley’s pistol buried in his stomach. All froze.

‘You sperm blind fool!’ Etienne snarled.

‘You still don’t get it, do you?’ Bradley said. ‘Why didn’t the alarm sound when I came in?’

Etienne’s eyes widened.

‘Yes, it was disconnected. I hooked it back up on my way down.’ Bradley waved his hand. ‘Look around. Who’s missing?’

Etienne’s face drained of color save for the bruise on his jaw. ‘No,’ he muttered hoarsely, ‘it couldn’t be—‘

An insistent buzz startled everyone. Panic gripped the otherwise steel nerved freedom fighters as the terrifying truth came home to them.

‘Quiet!’ Etienne roared.

He turned to Andre. ‘You must lead them out of here. Only you know the way.’ Etienne looked at Bradley. ‘Perhaps I am not so stupid as you think, Americain? Help me with this.’

Bradley followed Etienne across the room to a heavily laden bookshelf. They pushed it aside to reveal a hole. The faint echo of marching footsteps drifted into the room.

‘Go,’ Etienne ordered his followers. ‘Andre knows the way. You will listen to him. He is your leader now.’ Etienne gripped the slender forger by the shoulders. ‘It is up to you now, mon frere. You must continue our fight to be free.’

The two men embraced briefly. Almost absently, Bradley noticed the facial resemblance between them. Blinking back tears, Andre disappeared into the hole. Etienne bullied and cajoled the others to follow despite their protests.

All except Michelle.

Bradley kneeled beside her. ‘Beloved,’ he said. ‘You must leave. Now.’

Michelle raised her tear stained eyes. ‘Did you really think, I…’

‘Never.’

‘What he said,’ Michelle stated with brittle calm, ‘it is true.’

Bradley smiled sadly. ‘You did what you had to do, to survive. No one can fault you for that.’ He put his arms about her as she sobbed.

‘How can you bear to touch me?’

‘I love you,’ Bradley said.

‘You must go,’ Etienne insisted. ‘Now!’

Bradley helped Michelle stand. He walked with her to the promise of escape. She stopped, turned to him. ‘You are coming?’

Bradley felt tempted to lie, to tell her he’d be right behind her. But, looking into her eyes, he knew she deserved the truth even as the sound of boots on stone grew louder.

‘No,’ Bradley told her softly. ‘I must remain here.’

‘Then I will stay as well,’ Michelle stated.

‘You can’t,’ Bradley pleaded. ‘The Boche will be here any minute. You must go, my love. You must live. For both of us.’

Michelle turned away from him, put her shoulder to the bookcase. It moved, slowly, inexorably back into place. She leaned against the wall, perspiration beaded on her face.

‘Together,’ she reminded him as she tried to catch her breath. ‘Always.’

Bradley put his arms around her. Tears stung his eyes as she embraced him fiercely.

‘Together,’ he whispered. ‘pour toujours.’

The room filled with black and gray uniforms, the sound of weapons being cocked. Etienne sat heavily in the chair by the chessboard. Bradley, with Michelle beside him, nodded.

‘The Chameleon, I presume?’

Emily sketched a mock curtsey.

Etienne raised his head wearily. ‘Traitresse,’ he spat.

She laughed. ‘Oh, no, my limp dicked French lover. I have never betrayed my country.’

SS Colonel Horst cleared his throat. ‘I hate to break up this charming reunion, Fraulien Strauss, but where are the others?’

Helga Strauss a.k.a Emily waved her hand airily. ‘There’s only one other exit from this place,’ she said as she pointed in the opposite direction of the bookcase, toward the room she’d lately shared with Etienne. ‘And you have that covered. We’ll snare them as they emerge.’

Bradley glanced at Etienne who flashed a quick, thin smile.

Horst walked across the room to Bradley and Michelle. He took her hand and kissed it. ‘I will miss our little tete-a-tetes,’ he said, ‘you were most entertaining.’

He smirked at Bradley, then turned to the soldiers. Bradley slipped his hand into his pocket, pulled out the button hidden in his fist.

‘Take them away,’ Horst ordered.

Bradley looked at Michelle. ‘Together,’ he whispered.

‘Always,’ she nodded..

Bradley faked a cough. His hand rose to his mouth. Michelle turned to face him. Their lips met, parted slowly, as Bradley bit down on the button. They fell together, locked in a final embrace.

In the confusion that followed, no one noticed Etienne shove the black chess queen into a small hole in the stone wall. He then sprang from his chair, hands outstretched, reaching for his former lover.

Horst shouted for his men to hold fire, even as Etienne’s bullet riddled body slid to the floor.

‘It doesn’t matter,’ said the woman with a contemptuous gesture at the Frenchman’s corpse. ‘He kept no secrets from me, the sperm blind fool.’

Faintly, came a sound like thunder. Then another, closer. The chamber shook as if from an earthquake. Stone shards and dust filled the air.

Horst looked up at the cracking ceiling. ‘It would appear,’ he observed, ‘something must have slipped his mind’ as the street above collapsed to bury them all.

The End

© 2001 by Royce Sykes

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