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Re: In Love and in War


Usually when you think of intimacy you think of lots of touching, but this chapter had beaucoup intimacy with only one small light touch from Adele to Werner when she woke him. As you say in the final paragraph, it was momentous for Adele that even though she'd barely made physical contact, he had touched her deeply and emotionally by revealing to her his dilemma as a German officer tasked with keeping the French in line but finding his loyalties were being tested.

Werner confesses that while he was considered a righteous commander during the bomb threat situation, his peers were questioning his decisions to only send the offending Frenchmen who shot the Germans in the town square away rather than severely punish them. I think it was then that Adele knew he was conflicted about his role in the war and I also think she knew his meeting her had a lot to do with his inner turmoil.

She treated him with respect and played the polite hostess, and it touched him in his weariness that she served him tea and consented to play for him. I do think the walls between them thinned a great deal if they didn't entirely disappear when she gazed upon his sleeping form and longed to do more than wake him. But ever the gentleman, he would not give her the opening to pursue her feelings, nor would he let his emotions reign free while things were still unsure regarding their futures, either together or apart.

I really enjoyed the chapter--it showed the slow thaw that is happening between Werner and Adele, and I believe they will find even more time to work their feelings out very soon. I'm curious to find out what the letter said that Adele took from the German to give to Chloe. It may be the opening she needs to find out what is going on, and to reconcile the fact that Chloe's situation is drastically different than her own with Werner. Good job. Looking forward to more!
5/15/2018, 6:09 am Link to this post Send Email to Pambi   Send PM to Pambi
 
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Re: In Love and in War


IX


Since the day of the shooting of the German soldiers in town, and since their conversation in the parlour room later that night, there had been an unspoken decision made (mostly on Werner’s part) to keep a safe distance from one another. While his words and encounters with her were brief, the tender looks and smiles that he gave her told her that his heart felt differently.

He was also telling her that he knew her feelings for him were the same, as he often wore his white dress shirt at night when she did see him. She knew in all likelihood that he wore it for her benefit, signalling to her that knew she had worn it while he was away. She wasn’t embarrassed by this: she wanted him to know how she felt, even if she could not say it.

Now that it was April and Easter had come and gone, the weather was much more pleasant and her chores kept her outside more and more in the evenings when the weather was nice. Sarah often helped her as the house that Adele lived in was very large and there was a lot of garden to attend to. It was a job meant for more than one person and she was grateful for the help she had from her cousin.

Her lessons continued now that the spring was in full force, as did her work at the shop in town. She was more and more comfortable working there as the weeks went on and her mind filled with ideas of having her own store to run.

Chloe came in to the shop one morning and handed Adele a yellow dress.

“Do you think you could fix the hem on this for me?”

Adele examined it.

“Sure. Would you like to do it now?”

Chloe agreed and put on the dress so that Adele could do the proper work that needed to be done. She heard Chloe swear as she walked out of the dressing room and Adele could see why.

“It’s a little tight on me.”
“Too many pastries”, Adele said, trying to make a joke, but Chloe did not seem to hear her.

She watched as she did up the last button, though the dress did fit her more snugly around the waist. That was when Adele wondered if Chloe had gotten herself in some trouble.

“A little bit of exercise will cure you of that”, Adele said, trying to joke again.
Chloe gave her a smile but there was concern in her eyes.
“Is bike riding the key to a trim figure then?”
“Yes. Perhaps you should take your bike to Nancy instead of your car.”

Adele smiled and went about her work on the hem of the dress.

“Speaking of Nancy, I’ll be gone for the whole weekend coming up. That’s why I need the dress done. I’m meeting some friends there.”
“A weekend away sounds nice”, Adele commented.
“You’re okay to be here at the store?”
“Yes, it’ll be fine.”

While she had known Chloe for most of her life, she did not consider them to be close. Chloe was nearly 10 years older than her and she had not known her as a school friend, but more so the popular older girl that some of the girls had looked up to in town. She was tall, pretty and independent. She owned her own store now for about 7 years, using the money that her father had left her after he died to open it.

Normally she and Chloe did not talk about personal things while they worked so she was slightly surprised to hear her ask:

“What’s it like living with that German?”
“I rarely see him so it’s fine”, Adele said, feeling very calm in the way she said it. She thought Chloe’s question was more out of curiosity rather than suspicion. She did not have any fear that Chloe thought otherwise, but perhaps was looking to open up about her own situation.
“I’m surprised your husband hasn’t come back. He must know of your situation.”
“He doesn’t write and as I don’t have a forwarding address, I can’t exactly write to him.”
“I think he’s a fool”, Chloe said and Adele looked up from her sitting position as her friend was standing on the bench during the hemming process. Chloe looked down at her and said: “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”
“It’s fine”, Adele said a bit coldly.
“I only meant that he’s a fool to leave you.”

Adele wondered if her friend was more sympathetic to the Germans than perhaps she should be, but then wasn’t she? She didn’t consider herself a Nazi sympathizer because of Werner, but she felt perhaps others might think her so. She was careful with her words.

“I think you’re very brave to live on your own”, Chloe said.
“I never thought of it that way before.”
“You should. It’s not easy to be a single woman in this world.”

Adele thought that perhaps Chloe was a bit too independent for her own good but did not express those thoughts. After all, wouldn’t that make her a hypocrite?


Before she went home that afternoon, after leaving Chloe at the store, she decided to go into the floral shop to see what new flowers and plants they had. This time of year was good for the florist as they were able to bring in bulbs and flowers from the south of France. Even if she didn’t buy anything, it was always fun to look. However, today she found some flowers that she couldn’t resist and so she purchased them and put the bouquet into the basket of her bike. She loved having flowers in the house when she could. She liked the life they brought.

The ride home was about 20 minutes and she usually took her time, but today the sky looked threatening. It had been a wet spring so far and while this was good for her garden, the sky looked a little too menacing. She hurried as best she could but it was too late: the rain started to fall down in sheets and the storm blew in so quick that when she got home, she was drenched and her bouquet was as well.

She brought it inside and hoped to be able to revive them somehow, but it was no use. She hated to have to throw them out but there was no saving them. She took off her shoes and did not dare to look in the mirror as she went right upstairs to get out of the sopping clothes. When she saw her hair was a complete mess, she was upset as she had taken such great care with it that morning. It was no use trying to mend her appearance so she got undressed and went to have another bath so that she could wash off her makeup and fix her hair.


It was still raining when she drained the bath and went into her bedroom. She put the towel around her hair and did not feel in the slightest bit vulnerable in her state until she heard noise outside. She would have to leave her room to see who and what it was but there were definitely voices and she felt slightly alarmed.

She quickly put on a dress and went out into the upper hallway, going down the stairs so she could investigate. Before she could even get to the door it opened and she saw a German walk in. He saluted her and spoke in broken French:

“The door was unlocked.”
“What do you want?”
“I’m here to inform you that we have been ordered to search the premises outside.”
“For what?” she asked, feeling inwardly alarmed.
“For explosives.”

Adele felt her stomach muscles tighten and wondered what was going on. She felt afraid and wondered if Werner was with them. They did not dress as he did and looked of lower rank – you could also tell in their demeanor. The young German soldier eyed her from head to toe and she instinctually crossed her arms at the intrusion into her home and her body.

“There’s nothing here, but you can have a look.”
“Thank you. We will.”

He left a moment later and she went to lock the door. As she did, she could see about 3 or 4 Germans scouring the premises and the buildings outside of the home. She was angry and wondered if Werner had ordered this, but then she felt he would not have allowed it if he had known. Confused, she went back upstairs and tried to get ready.

A few minutes later, she heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs that led to the second floor. As her room was closest to the stairwell, she felt herself freezing from fear. The door was closed, and locked, but she still worried about the possibility that at any moment, if he really wanted to, he could break in. There was no doubt in her mind that it was one of the Germans she had just seen.

Then there was a knock on the door and she remained frozen and breathless.

“Adele, it’s Werner.”

The voice was Werner’s and it made her heart resume beating and she could breathe again. She went to the door and opened it, seeing him standing there with a look of embarrassment on his face. He knew this was not a good time and he did not like to have to knock on her door like this.

“Is everything alright?”
“Yes”, she said, her eyes relieved to see him. He could see that she was frightened.
“Did anyone come in the house?”
“Yes, for a moment.”
“They were ordered not to”, he said, and she could see anger on his face. Then he continued so as to explain what was going on:
“I’m sorry but I didn’t get the order until this morning about the mandatory search of the homes in the area. This is just routine but we have to do it after the attack last month, and the possibility of other attacks. Every property is being looked over.”
“I just don’t like to have them come into my house uninvited”, she said, sounding a bit cross. However, when she said “them” she knew that he was included in that category and she felt sorry for saying it that way. No apology required as he knew what she meant.
“It won’t happen again.”

He was about to leave but then said:

“I’m sorry that your lovely garden has been ruined in the storm.”

She hadn’t seen it but figured as much as the winds and rain had been very heavy.

“I’ll just have to start over, I suppose.”

He smiled and then left to go back downstairs. She realized that it was the first time she had ever heard him say her name.



As Jeanne had given birth just over two weeks ago, Adele had been working on making her a blanket for the baby. She had given birth to a girl and named her Celine. She had found out by telegram one day in town and called her brother in Paris to congratulate them. She wanted to wait a bit before visiting them as she knew how draining and busy a new mother’s life could be, but she knew that Edmund would make sure that his wife and baby’s needs were taken care of. She planned to tell Chloe when she got back from her weekend away that she was going to go to Paris in May to see her sister-in-law and to meet the new baby.


That weekend, as she was minding the shop, she was looking forward to closing up in the next half hour so she could get home. It was Saturday and she was feeling tired from the long day, especially since there was so much work to be done. The alterations kept coming in, day after day, and Chloe was bugging her to come into the store for one more day on top of the two she already worked. She was considering it but in the warmer months she found she was busier than ever, especially with all the outside work she now had to do.

Her plans to leave as soon as possible, however, were interrupted by the sound of the front door of the shop opening and then closing. When she went out front she saw a German solider walk in; a tall youngish-looking man.

“Hello”, he said.
“May I help you?”
“I was looking to be fitted for a new shirt.”

He walked inside and looked at the rack of shirts that were there.

“I don’t do fittings.”
“But I heard you did”, he said.
“There are plenty of shirts to choose from.”
“I like my shirts new.”
“Those are new.”
“I mean tailored, just for me. And I heard you do fittings…”
“I said I don’t do fittings.”
“I also heard that you say that at first, but then with a little persuasion, you can be convinced.”

Adele looked at him and knew what he was implying. For the first time she felt really afraid as she was trapped inside the shop and, as it was almost closing time, very few people on the streets to hear her if she tried to scream.

He came close to her and she looked at him with more hate than she had possibly looked at anyone in her life. She saw things happening to her beyond her control and she wondered how she would leave, but she felt like a cornered animal. She knew if she were to get out she would have to lash out like a cornered animal, too.

“Please leave the store.”
“I was told that if I asked nicely, that you would give me what I ask for, Chloe.”

When he called her Chloe, she suddenly realized what was going on. Her survival instinct kicked into gear.

“Chloe isn’t here, I’m afraid. I’m minding the shop for her.”

He stopped and did not come any closer.

“When will she be back?” he asked her, looking slightly embarrassed but trying to sound more official.

“Tomorrow night. She’ll be back in to work on Monday.”
“Good night, then”, he said, putting his hat back on and saluting before he left. “I might be back.”

Adele breathed a huge sigh of relief as he left but the gravity of her friend’s situation hit her. As she started the process of closing up, she felt she had dodged a bullet but now felt gravely worried for the situation her friend was in, and now possibly herself.


After she left she saw Sarah in the street. She noted her cousin was dressed up and looked very nicely put together, and she tried to act like everything was okay but inside she was frightened by what just happened.

“You alright?” Sarah asked her, seeing that Adele was obviously upset.

She did not want to say anything to Sarah about her suspicions regarding Chloe, so she kept it to herself. Adele smiled away the fear she had felt over the incident and pretended she was fine. Then she remembered it was their wedding anniversary.

“Happy anniversary. You look wonderful”, Adele said to her.
“Thank you. I decided to have my hair done, too.”
“I know. It looks lovely.”
“I will have to come to Paris with you in May so that I can see if Edmund has any dresses for me. This is one of my old ones.”
“Yes, do come. Then you can meet Celine.”
“It’s wonderful to have a baby in the family. I would love to have another.”
“Tell Raymond you’d like to have a belated anniversary gift.”

Sarah laughed but smiled at the idea.

“We’ll see.”
“Where is Raymond?”
“He’s meeting me at the restaurant soon.”
“I’ll walk you there.”

Adele took her bike and walked in the direction of the restaurant, as it was in the direction she had to go. They agreed that Sarah would be over on the weekend to help with the flowers, and they parted ways soon after. Adele was anxious to go home as she had errands to get done.



When she got home she was surprised to see Werner’s car in the driveway. She rode to the other side of the house where the kitchen entrance was so that she could leave her bike there as it was easier to leave that way in the mornings when she had to go into town. She eyed her garden and saw that a lot of work needed to be done and she felt slightly discouraged by it as she had made such progress with it.

Once inside, she removed her shoes and decided she wasn’t hungry enough to bother preparing anything for dinner. She was also curious to the early hour at which Werner was home but her curiosity was quelled when she heard him descending the stairs and walking towards the kitchen where she was. She noted how he seemed to have a bit more haste in his steps as he walked. When he appeared in the doorway, he did not wait to be invited in but came inside and walked up to her. The concern on his face was worrying.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, her eyebrows furrowed over the look on his face.

He stopped a foot or so away from her and for a moment she thought he was going to grab her; not in an aggressive manner but out of an obvious concern on his face and in his demeanour. The fact that he was in uniform made it feel all the more official.

“I received a report earlier this evening about a visit that was made at the clothing store. One of my men came in. Is that correct?”
“Yes”, she said, recalling the incident.
“Did he touch you in any way?”

She was surprised by his question.

“No.”
“Did he try?”
“I think he would have. He became a bit aggressive.”

She saw the anger come into his eyes when she said this and as she had never seen him like this, it made her feel slightly uneasy.

“Why?” she asked him.
“The men have been given direct orders not to go into any of the shops in town. He disobeyed my order.”
“How did you know then?”
“The stores are being monitored and watched. One of the men on duty saw him go in and leave. It was reported to me. He is being disciplined and transferred to another section, likely outside of France altogether as he clearly cannot handle his duties.”

Then Werner looked at her in the eyes, an intensity of concern that made her return the look.

“You’re sure he did not overstep his boundaries?”
“I’m sure. I think he thought I was someone else”, Adele said once she saw that he was calmer now.

Werner removed his hat and looked at her.

“Yes, he did…and that’s why I’m here. I have a request to ask of you.”
She looked at him curiously but allowed him to continue.
“I have no right to ask you this and you are under no obligation to comply with my request, but I think it’s best that you stop working at the clothing store in town.”

She wasn’t wholly surprised to hear him say this after the revelation of recent events surrounding Chloe’s over involvement with the occupiers but she wondered why he felt it necessary to ask her to stop entirely.

“I speak out of concern for you”, he said, much more softly. The anger that was in his eyes moments ago turned to gentleness and concern.
“What else has prompted this request?” she asked him.
“I don’t feel comfortable relaying this information to you”, he said, but knowing as that had the potential to offend her, he added: “you may want to inform your friend that her actions have not gone unnoticed, and if that is the case, others may have also noticed.”

She knew he meant other French people in the town. She wondered how he knew so much but she supposed it was his business to know. She then became acutely aware of her own situation with Thomas and how much he might know about her husband’s involvement in the Resistance. For some reason she felt herself get her back up slightly and walked towards the sink, grabbing her apron that hung on the rack. She tied it around her waist.

“Chloe leads her own life, but I will try to pass along the information.”

Then, not meaning to, she spoke the next words with a slightly resentful tone:
“How exactly should I tell her this? Won’t I be just as guilty of siding with the enemy if she knows the information has come from you?”
“You may tell her out of your own concern for her. She does not have to know it came from me.”

She realized her unkind tone but realized it was too late to take it back. She knew he did not deserve it.

“I will think about what you’ve said. Thank you for your concern”, she added, a bit more softly and then turned her back to face the sink. Once again, she had the benefit of the clear glass cabinet in front of her and she could see his reflection as he lingered there, looking sad. She wanted to tell him that she was sorry but she didn’t. Perhaps she overreacted; perhaps she underreacted. She didn’t know any more and she looked away as she turned the water on, signalling to him that she did not want to talk. He took the hint.

“Good evening then”, he said and left the kitchen.

He left the house soon after. She figured he must have more business to attend at the headquarters so she tidied up the kitchen and decided to skip dinner altogether. She was upset with herself for lashing out at his concern for her and she knew that it was fueled by her shame over her own situation with Thomas. If Werner knew about Chloe and the other things that seemed to be going on that she did not, what did he know about her?

She took a long bath to ease her mind later on that night. She was upset with herself over the incident and decided that she had to apologize. Her harsh tone with him was uncalled for and she resolved to try to make amends.

When she got out of the bath, she was towel drying her hair when she heard the car pull up outside. She knew the sound of his car by now and waited for him to come inside and ascend the stairs. She turned off the radio she had on low and she stood near the door of her room. It was unlocked as she had not felt the need to lock it lately. She waited and then heard him ascending the stairwell, trying to be as quiet as possible due to the late hour. However, when she heard him approach the hall to go past her door, she heard his steps pause.

She felt herself stop breathing momentarily, as if the sound of her breaths would be overheard by him. He was obviously on the other side of the door listening for her inside, as she was on the inside listening for him. He paused for several seconds and then continued walking to his own room at the other end of the long hallway.

When she breathed it was not with a sigh of relief but rather disappointment the fact
that he did not stay to talk.


The next few days became a bit unbearable for Adele. She realized her words must have signalled the wrong message to him because he seemed to distance himself to the point where she rarely saw him. There was a tension in the house that she could not help but feel and it was upsetting to her.

One night when she heard the car driving up, she went to the piano and started to play. She knew that the sounds of Bach’s prelude would entice him to see her, and if it did not then she decided that she would not persist. As much as she wanted to apologize, she also knew that if he had drawn the invisible line in the sand then she would have to respect it.

The sounds of the music, which she knew to be his favourite, did lure him inside the parlour room that night. However, he did not come in too far past the entryway. When she looked at him, he had a sad look on his face.

She stopped playing and rose from her spot. She walked up to him and, with all the courage she could muster, she said:

“I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry”, he said to her.
“But I am. You were just trying to help me.”
“I have no right to tell you what to do.”
“No, you don’t…but all the same I appreciate that you are looking out for me. My anger was unjustified.”
“If you’re asking for my forgiveness, it was given before you asked for it.”

She looked up at him and she saw such a kindness in his eyes that she thought she would cry. She looked down and could see how he went to reach out to her with his hand, but stopped himself. She wished he hadn’t but then she wouldn’t know what to do if he did.

Then he said what she did not expect him to:

“We must be careful.”
“Of course”, she said, feeling a bit hurt by the fact that he had stopped himself from reaching out. “We must be mindful not to cross any boundaries that have been set for us.”

He looked down, perhaps out of a sense of guilt or even his own frustration, at the fact that she was using his own words from weeks ago to remind him why they were not free to speak, let alone act, on their feelings.



5/17/2018, 12:29 am Link to this post Send Email to OrlilLicious   Send PM to OrlilLicious
 
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Re: In Love and in War


I found this chapter very fascinating for the reactions Adele and Werner were having when around one another--she knew how he felt for her and that he most likely knew how she felt for him, but there was still an invisible boundary that he wouldn't cross, one that he spoke sincerely about to her toward the end of the chapter. Adele understands, but she is feeling the weight of their unspoken decision to "be careful" and keep outsiders from suspecting that there was more between them than had happened so far. The glaring examples were the Germans searching her property--coming inside when they'd been expressly forbidden to do so, and then Chloe, who had a German visitor come to the shop, mistaking Adele for her friend. It barely took an afternoon before Werner was informed of the situation and dealt with it swiftly. His concern for Chloe was slightly misinterpreted by Adele, and she closed herself off until the pressure to apologize won out and they had another heart-to-heart about their situation. Werner seems determined to keep his distance, but knows that his resolve is weakening. Adele is definitely not leading him on, but there is so much inside her that wants him to physically touch her and let the wall come down a bit more.

Perhaps they are at a standstill again for now, but I have faith that something is bound to happen (perhaps with Chloe's predicament--a pregnancy!) that will propel Werner to protect Adele for her own good even if she probably won't like it. In hindsight she'll be able to see what is best for her and will respect what he feels he must do for her sake.

I also wonder if there will be an opportunity for Adele while she's in Paris to see Werner without the prying eyes of her small hometown. It wasn't so much a hint but the fact that she still remembers the German and his French girlfriend while she was there earlier and hopes that Werner will arrange to be there at the same time when she leaves in May. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part!

I enjoyed this very much. Looking forward to another chapter this weekend! XO emoticon
5/17/2018, 6:00 am Link to this post Send Email to Pambi   Send PM to Pambi
 
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Re: In Love and in War


X


It had been a wet spring thus far and when May came, so did the stormy weather. As sad as Adele was at the reality of her life with Werner, she still found contentment at her daily interactions with him, however brief they came to be. He seemed to be more and more busy and his duties kept him at the headquarters, sometimes until well after midnight. She wondered if he ever slept as he spent very long hours away from the house.

Part of her wondered if he was avoiding her. Through his words and actions he had made it clear that despite what he felt for her, he would not cross those boundary walls between the two of them. She admired him and respected him for his gentlemanly ways that made her feel very safe in his presence, knowing full well that he was doing what was best for both of them but especially for her.

With those feelings and realizations she decided it was best to just go from day to day, living life as it came. They were pleasant to one another but Adele did not go out of her way to invite him into her life the way she had done this past month or so. There were no more offers of tea or wine, and there was no more Bach.



Then news came that Jeanne was not well and Edmund asked for his sister to come sooner than her expected trip to Paris at the end of the month. She booked a train that same day and packed her bags so that she could catch it. She was going to leave Werner a note that explained everything but there was no time. She didn’t see the point of it anyway. She left the keys underneath his door and left so that she would not keep the cab waiting.


When she arrived in Paris that evening, Edmund was waiting for her on the platform.

“Edmund, how is she?”

Edmund hugged his sister and then took her luggage.

“As you know she lost a lot of blood after the baby was born, but she seemed to rebound after a few days in the hospital. She’s been home and has been on bed rest for the last few weeks since the baby was born, but yesterday she seemed to be really weak. I called for the doctor and he said it was best to hospitalize her.”

Her brother did not have enough time to explain on the phone so he was trying to do so now as they drove directly to the hospital.

“The doctors are saying she should be fine as long as the transfusions work, but I’m still worried.”
“They know what they’re doing. I’m sure they wanted her in as a precaution.”

He tried to smile but the worry was written all over his face.

“I’ve had a nurse in to be with the baby while I’m at the hospital but I’m finding it hard to cope.”
“That’s why I’m here”, Adele said. He had asked her to come and help with little Celine and she was more than happy to do what she could.


Their first stop was to visit Jeanne in the hospital. She was worried when she saw how pale Jeanne looked but her spirits seemed to be good and that was a positive sign.

“Have you met her yet?” Jeanne asked Adele.
“No, this was our first stop, but I will be soon. I can’t wait to see how beautiful she is.”
“She looks like her mother”, Edmund said.
“But she has your nose”, Jeanne said smiling to her husband.
“Why don’t you get us something to drink, Edmund?” Adele said to her brother.

He left so that the two women could be alone.

“You got your wish, Adele…I’ve had a girl.”
“That reminds me”, Adele said smiling and went into her suitcase to produce a copy of “The Great Gatsby” for her sister in law. “A present.”

Jeanne smiled.

“Thank you. Now I’ll have no choice but to read it as I’ll have nothing better to do in here.”
“How long are they keeping you in?”
“Until my blood returns to normal.”
“I’m sure it will soon”, Adele tried to reassure her.

Adele sat on a chair beside Jeanne’s bed. She was in a private room and there were flowers in every corner.

“I can see Edmund has been spoiling you.”
“Yes”, Jeanne said looking around at all the flowers.
“It’s been a long time since anyone bought me flowers”, Adele said.

Jeanne looked at her, concern on her face.

“How have you been?”
“Fine I suppose. Life goes on”, Adele said to her. Jeanne thought that she meant it in reference to Thomas but she was actually thinking about Werner. The irony is that the reality of her life had changed so much since his arrival and yet no one else around her knew it or could know it.
“I wish I knew more to tell you. Edmund hasn’t made any more contact as far as I know.”
“I know all I need to know”, Adele said in reference to the situation with Thomas.
“Has he tried to contact you in any way?”
“Not for nearly six months.”

She could see a look on Jeanne’s face that she was worried but Adele just looked at her and smiled.

“Please don’t worry about me. I’ve been learning to live life on my own and it’s not all that bad…I think part of me should thank Thomas for making the decision that he did.”
“Why do you said that?”
“It’s allowed me some time of introspection, and I realize that Thomas never really knew me, or cared to know me. We were young when we got married so I had no way of knowing that what I was feeling was lust rather than love.”
“I suppose it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.”
“Yes, because I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life waiting for him.”

Jeanne smiled sympathetically when she said this and held out her hand for Adele to hold.

“I’m envious of your strong spirit.”

Adele blushed but smiled.

“I talk a big game but when it comes down to it, I’m just trying to survive.”
“It’s not easy to move on after something like that.”
“No, but I am and I will…but enough chatter about me.”
“No, believe me, it’s a welcome distraction to being in this awful place. Everyone who comes wants to dote on me and ask me how I am. It’s nice to hear about other people for once.”
“Well, there’s not much to tell on my end.”
“Edmund said you’re working as a seamstress.”
“Yes. I’ve been helping out a woman I know in town twice a week.”
“He mentioned you might want to open your own shop one day, perhaps in Paris.”
“I’m thinking about it.”
“I think that’s wonderful. Perhaps I can be your assistant.”
“You never know”, Adele said. “That’s if you’re not too busy having babies.”
“That’s if you’re not”, Jeanne said and she saw the way Adele’s smile slightly faded as she said this. “I wanted you here because you’re the only one I trust with Celine.”

Adele was surprised to hear this.

“But I’m not a mother. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Neither do I”, Jeanne said.
“I’m going to try my best but you’ll be out of the hospital soon enough.”
“How long can you stay?”
“I’m not sure”, Adele said.
“We didn’t call on you at a bad time, did we?”
“No, it was perfect timing. I felt the need to get away for a bit.”
“Is everything okay?” Jeanne asked her.
“Yes…” she said, but her eyes belied her: “And no.”
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing is. It’s just being in such a small community can sometimes be trying. It’s nice to get to the city. It helps me clear my head.”



Adele ended up staying for nearly two weeks. Jeanne was released nearly a week after she arrived in Paris but she thought she would stay to help her sister in law with the baby. Not having any experience with children, Adele found it a challenge but she did what she could and helped Jeanne get her proper rest as much as possible. However, when she left for Verdun she was fairly exhausted as she hadn’t had proper rest the entire time she was in Paris. She also felt really low on energy and it hit her on the train ride home, some of which she was able to sleep.

Her luggage felt heavier than normal when she got off the train and walked down the platform. It was her intention to go into town and get a few items before trying to get a ride, likely a cab, back to her house. While she was walking down the main street she noticed how busy it seemed yet the streets were calm. She was beginning to think she needed to have a seat for a few minutes, realizing just how tired she was for the first time.

The heels she wore were killing her feet and she decided it was best to sit down on a bench. She watched as people walked past her as they did their shopping. The shops would be closing soon as it was a Saturday afternoon. When she saw some German soldiers walking down the main street, machine guns across their backs, she thought of how odd it was that this was a normal sight now to see in the streets. No one would have thought five years ago that this would be a possibility but now it was their day-to-day reality.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the car that stopped near where she was sitting. It was a large Mercedes car –one that she recognized quite well. She looked over to see Werner get out and walk over to her and despite the busyness of the street, she felt uncomfortable when she saw him walking towards her.

She met his eyes as he did so and tried to read his face, but all she saw was concern in his eyes. She stood up so as not to appear too awkward.

“Mrs. Benoit”, he said, addressing her by her official title: “Where have you been?”

He asked this last question in a quiet tone but she could see now that he was close up that he seemed relieved to see her.

“I was visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Paris. She hasn’t been well after the baby.”
“You don’t look well yourself.”
“I’m fine. I’m just tired.”
“Please allow me to take you home.”

He said this as if no one else was around.

“Someone is giving me a ride. I was just waiting for them.”
“I’d like to take you”, he insisted.
“No”, she said. “I told you someone is taking me.”

He realized the proximity to her so he stepped back and changed his demeanor to look more official. She looked around and wondered if others were looking and he understood her meaning well enough. He bowed his head and walked away, leaving her to sit back down.

She found she had to wait for someone to drive her but she finally saw a former neighbour who offered to take her home. She was glad to be able to get home, having forgone her shopping chores due to the fact that she felt light headed.

Once back home, she was relieved to be able to relax. She went straight into the parlour and laid on the couch and without meaning to she fell into a deep sleep.



When she woke up, the parlour room was dark but the fireplace had been lit. Feeling warm she removed the shawl around her shoulders. In her half sleeping state, she wondered how much time had passed since she got home. She sat up and looked around, seeing that it was nearly midnight. She had been sleeping for nearly four hours.

She mustered up the strength to go into the kitchen so that she could get a drink of water. As she was standing at the sink, she heard the sound of his footsteps enter the kitchen.

“Why did you not tell me you were leaving?” she heard him say.
“I didn’t know I had to.”
“You didn’t”, he said, looking hurt by her words. “It’s just I thought it was a courtesy we had for one another that you would at least tell me if you were going to be away.”

She turned around to face him and she could see that there was genuine concern on his face but that he was relieved to see her.
“Is that what you call it? Courtesy?

She knew she was getting into dangerous waters by saying that and she knew she didn’t have the strength to deal with the consequences of his answers, so she apologized.
“There was no time, I’m sorry.”
“I’m the one who’s sorry…all I seem to do lately is aggravate you. What have I done or said wrong?”
“Nothing”, she said, leaning back on the sink, realizing how light headed she was.
“You’re not well”, he observed, moving closer.
“I’m fine. I’m just exhausted.”
“Here, come sit down.”
“I’m fine. Please leave me alone.”

She watched as the words hurt him and she wondered why she had said them. It was not her intention to hurt him. He obliged her request and walked out of the kitchen, and then she turned back to face the sink. She found herself leaning and holding on with her hands as she started to cry.

Some moments later her tears slowed as she heard the sound of the piano being played. Werner was playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. While she listened to the beautiful soft melody, she felt herself become even more emotional and a feeling of helplessness overcame her. She was helpless to stop the feelings that she had developed over the past six months; no matter how hard she had tried, no matter how much she tried to escape, her feelings did not diminish but instead intensified. There was absolutely nothing she could do to stop it.

While she was surprised to hear him playing, she knew why he did. It made her want to cry all the more but she wiped away the tears that had fallen and decided to face him and the music. She walked down the dark hallway to the parlour where he was playing with only the fire for light. He looked up momentarily as she came in but then she went to the sofa and sat down, resting her head on her arm as she leaned on the arm of the sofa. She closed her eyes and listened.

He did not know it but this was one of her favourite pieces of music. It was so simple, elegant and beautiful. She wasn’t sure how long he played because she think she may have dozed off, but she remained sitting. She remembered opening her eyes to see his strong back as he played and she admired watching the muscle movement.

When he took a moment to look back, he could see that she did not look well and this alarmed him. He stopped playing and went to the sofa where she was sitting, her eyes closed. When he stopped she opened them and saw that he was now kneeling in front of her.

“May I?” he asked, indicating with his hand that he wanted to feel her forehead. As he did, he rested it there several seconds. He could feel that she was running a temperature as there was sweat on it. “You’re not well.”
“Just tired”, she said weakly.

She could feel her body felt very heavy and yet very light at the same time. Despite the fact that she did not feel well, she loved it when she felt him cup her face in his hand. It was the first time he had allowed himself to touch her in such a way.

“Adele, please darling, let me take you upstairs.”

She closed her eyes and leaned her head into his hand, smiling when she heard him call her darling. She was not fully aware of her actions and he knew this.

“You’re running a fever.”
“I hate hospitals”, she said. “Everyone is sick.”

When he took his hand away from her face, she caught it in hers.

“No, don’t go away”, she said, holding his hand and bringing it to her face again. He smiled at her innocent action and the way it brought her comfort, but he knew she was not fully aware of her actions.

“Will you let me help you upstairs to bed?”

She nodded but when she tried to stand, she realized she did not have the strength.

“What’s happening?”
“You’ve likely contracted something and you need to get to bed. If you’re not better in the morning, I’ll get a doctor.”
“I just need sleep.”

She wasn’t fully aware of what was happening as her light-headedness made her feel very weak. She vaguely realized what was happening as she recalled later on how he had helped her walk to the stairs, but being too weak to ascend he picked her up and brought her to her room.

“Is there someone you want me to get – someone close by that can help if you need it?” Werner asked her once he had put her in bed. She didn’t recall her answer but she told him “Sarah, my cousin.”
“Where does she live?”
“Ten minutes away by car.”

What happened after that was a bit of a blur for Adele.



When she awoke, she thought it was the next day. She was in her bed, in her room, with several layers on her body. She pushed them away from her because she was very hot and realized that her head was covered in sweat and her hair was sticking her to body, as well as the pillow.

She laid there and wondered what had happened but the fogginess of sleep soon started to clear and she realized she must have been sick. Her mouth was dry and she tried to get up but felt she needed a few minutes before she could do that.

Then her door opened and she saw Sarah coming in with a tray.

“You’re awake. How are you feeling?”
“Groggy.”
“You’ve been sick.”
“For how long?”
“Three days.”
“Three days?” Adele said, alarmed.
“You had a bad fever.”

Sarah put the tray down and brought Adele some water.

“I’ve been in bed for three days?”
“You were pretty bad but the fever broke last night.”
“I don’t remember.”
“What happened in Paris?”

She told her cousin how she had spent some time in the hospital with Jeanne and that she likely picked up something there. She also told her about taking care of the baby and not really getting a lot of sleep.

“The last thing I remember is coming home and feeling weak. I remember someone taking me up the stairs.”
“That was the German officer”, Sarah said and the way she said this to Adele made her feel uncomfortable. “He came to the house because he said you were unwell and asking for me.”

She watched as Sarah softly dabbed the sweat away on her forehead.

“It was good of him to do that.”
“Yes, I suppose it was”, Adele said, not wanting to belie her thoughts and true feelings. She was very touched by his kindness and concern for her but she would not say that to her cousin. “But I’m sure I would have slept it off. I was really tired – I do remember that.”
“No, you needed a doctor. There was one here two nights ago. I was here when the German officer brought him - a German doctor.”

Adele furrowed her brows and looked at Sarah, alarmed.

“Yes, you were that ill. I think the doctor saved your life.”
“What happened?”

Sarah told her how the next morning after Adele arrived back from Paris and first got sick, there was a knock on her door early in the morning. She told her cousin how she had been shocked to see a German officer at the door and everyone was alarmed, but he was alone and wanted to know if Sarah could go to her house and take care of her as she was not well.

“Since Raymond was gone for the day, I accepted a ride from him back to your house and I’ve been here pretty much ever since. When the officer returned later on to see you were still unwell, he went to get the doctor.”
“How embarrassing”, Adele said, feeling mortified that all this fuss had been made for her. Most of all, she was becoming more concerned that perhaps Sarah was thinking more than she should about her situation. Perhaps Werner had been too kind to her.

Sarah continued: “You were given a fever bath yesterday. I gave it to you; not the doctor. He just instructed me what to do.”

Their own French village doctor had died a year ago and they had been without one. No one new wanted to come to the village while the German occupiers were there.

Adele listened to the rest of the story and wondered how she could not remember much from the past few days. There were bits and pieces that were starting to make sense now but her mind was still slightly foggy.

“I remember the water now”, Adele said. “It was very hot.”
“Yes, we had to make it that way to help you sweat the fever out. Your temperature was dangerously high…but don’t worry – I was the only one in the bathroom with you.”

Adele closed her eyes momentarily and they felt sore. Behind closed lids Werner was there and she allowed them to remain closed for some time as his face was a pleasant thought to her.

“You’re fine now.”
“Thank you for coming”, Adele said. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Thank your German officer…if it weren’t for him –“ she said but did not finish the sentence.


Sarah stayed for the rest of the day until Adele could prove she was well enough on her feet. After making her some soup and leaving it with her upstairs, Sarah left to go home so that she could tend to her own family. Raymond came to pick up his wife and dropped in to see Adele before they left.

“We’ll be by on the weekend to help with the garden, that’s if you’re feeling up to it.”
“I’m sure I’ll be”, Adele said.
“Raymond has even offered to help.”
“I am good for some things, my dear”, he said to his wife.

Adele smiled at them.

“Thank you for being such a wonderful nurse.”
“I’ll be back tomorrow though to check on you”, Sarah said, kissing her cousin on the forehead.

When they left it was evening and Adele felt well enough to take a bath on her own. She no longer felt light headed but her body ached from being in bed for three days. She changed the sheets so that after her bath the bed linen would be clean. She was alone in the house and it gave her time to reflect on what had happened.

While she was in the bath, her thoughts turned to Werner. She recalled some of the things that had happened the night she returned from Paris:Beethoven, his hand on her cheek, him carrying her up the stairs. She felt herself reacting to these memories in ways that she had not experienced until now, at least not in her thoughts about him.

Finding the water too warm, she had to turn on the tap of cold water to cool it down. She splashed water on her face and washed out the sweat from her hair. She found the cooler water helped her feel relieved and refreshed.

Knowing the limits of her energy, she decided she would stay in bed for the rest of the night and read. She put on her nightgown and got in her bed, enjoying the feel of fresh sheets. She opened a window and let in the breeze from outside, further helping her to air out the room and feel refreshed.

She must have fallen to sleep with the book on her lap as she was woken up by the sound of a soft knock on her bedroom door. When she realized she was in her nightgown, she pulled the covers up to her chest and underneath her arms so that she was more presentable.

“Yes?”
“May I come in? It’s Werner.”

She knew it was him even before he spoke. She had been hoping he would stop by when he got in and before he went to bed. When he slowly opened the door, she did not expect him to have flowers in his hand. He had purple lavender flowers and white tulips in a vase of water. She could not help but smile and her eyes softened when she saw him.

He smiled when he saw her as well but she could see concern in his eyes mixed with a happiness to see her. She wondered how her face looked as she tried to hide the extent of emotions which she felt at seeing him.

“These are for you”, he said, walking in.
“Thank you – they’re so beautiful.”
“Where would you like them?”
“Where I can see them.”

She indicated her dresser that was at the foot of her bed, and he placed them there. There was a chair where Sarah had been sitting and she invited him to sit down.

“They’re beautiful…I was just telling my sister-in-law the other day how envious I was of all her flowers she had at the hospital.”
“I wanted to get you something when I knew you were well again”, he said.

She noted how he looked very shy to be in her private space, her bedroom, and while he sat down he did not look comfortable.

“My cousin Sarah seems to think I should be very grateful to you.”
“She was more help than I was.”
“Yes, but you were able to get the doctor, and as we no longer have a doctor in Verdun, I would have likely had to go out of town to a hospital.”
“It was the least I could do”, he said humbly.
“You did it because you are kind”, Adele said, not afraid to say it. “You’ve shown concern for my well-being and I am very grateful for it, especially for the last few days.”
“I was happy to be able to do it. After all, I’m in your home, invading your personal space, so it’s the least I could do.”

She noted how he looked away, down at his hands, and seemed to pause before he spoke the next words, but there was a concern on his face that he could not hide from her:

“If you don’t mind me saying this, I think your husband should be here.”
“He isn’t…but you are.”

When she said this she noted the way he did not look at her, but looked at his folded hands as he sat on the chair, elbows on his knees leaning forward.

“It’s not right that he has left you alone. This is a big house and requires a lot of maintenance. It is a lot of responsibility for one person and he should be here.”
“But you’re here”, she repeated and this time he looked at her.

The look in his eyes gave her a feeling of goosebumps and she found she wanted to say the words that were on the tip of her tongue.

“It’s likely you know why my husband Thomas is away. You seem to know a lot about the people in this town so you likely know about him.”
“I’ve tried not to make it my business to know”, he said.
“I couldn’t stop him from going. When Thomas got an idea in his head he went with it, regardless of the consequences…which is, I suppose, why he wanted to marry me – on a whim…I don’t believe in confining people to unhappy marriages. I always got the impression that he wanted more and that I was not enough…I guess I’ve come to realize lately that he was never enough for me, either.”

She did not see Werner look at her as her eyes were looking straight ahead, admiring the flowers that he had just brought her.

“Did you know that purple is my favourite colour?” she asked him, looking at the lavender flowers. “Did you know that Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is also one of my favourite pieces of music?”
“It’s mine too”, he said, referring to the music.
“No one’s ever called me darling before, either.”
“I find that hard to believe”, he said, a shy tone in his voice. He was looking down at his hat that he held in his hands.
“It’s the truth…perhaps that’s why I liked it so much.”

She could see that he was obviously touched by her words. Now that she had said some of what she felt, she felt a weight had been lifted – ever so slightly – from her shoulders. However touched he was by her words, he changed the subject.

“Is everything alright with your family? You said your sister in law was not well after she gave birth.”
“She almost died from loss of blood. The first transfusion didn’t go so well but thank God the others did. We were in the hospital sometimes for most of the night.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that. But she’ll be alright now?”
“Yes…but she has a baby to tend to.”
“And is that why you were there?”
“Yes. I was helping with the baby…when I got word Jeanne wasn’t well, I had to leave right away. My brother was very worried.”
“I understand. I was just worried as you were gone and you didn’t leave me word where you were.”

She recalled the way she had spoken to him a few days ago and how she had been slightly rude when all he did was show concern. She knew it wasn’t at him that she was upset but the situation they were both in.

Sitting there the way they were, Adele could almost feel like things could be normal, but looking at the uniform he was wearing, she knew that they could not. With a sadness in his voice, he said:

 “The life of the house is gone when you’re not here, and it felt very lonely.”

When he said this she felt her heart react, but she was at a loss for words. On the tip of her tongue was how she felt the same way when he was not there, but she did not have time to say them for he said next:

“I’ve imposed on you long enough this evening. I just came to say I’m glad you’re well again, and to wish you good night.”
“Good night.”

She watched him leave the room, closing the door behind him. Never before did she feel so vulnerable and yet safe; so emotional and yet calm. He had this effect on her and she now knew that there was no longer any point in denying how she felt. And she didn’t mind having to keep her feelings a secret from every person she knew. In a strange sense it gave her a sense of intimacy with him, even though they could not fully vocalize or act on their feelings. Intimacy was such an odd thing: before it had meant pleasures of the flesh with her husband, but now it meant just the pleasure of being in the presence of a man who made her feel things that went above and beyond any carnal desire she had ever felt.




Last edited by OrlilLicious, 5/19/2018, 4:28 pm
5/19/2018, 3:45 am Link to this post Send Email to OrlilLicious   Send PM to OrlilLicious
 
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Re: In Love and in War


I'm winding down for the evening and found time by myself to read this chapter. Things are moving along with the emotions (spoken and unspoken) between Adele and Werner, and I feel her illness brought down the barrier quite a bit more than Adele might admit. It began of course with the hurried trip to Paris and Adele not leaving Werner any information regarding her whereabouts. I think he could have easily found out where she'd gone--she wasn't the type of person to just escape from a situation without a conversation about it, nor did she have lots of family to visit. The fact that he didn't was probably due to their strained relationship before her departure. However it's obvious that he missed her and was anxious for her return. It's too bad that Adele came home ill, and that it was severe enough to render her unconscious, not to mention that she needed constant care from Sarah and a visit from a German doctor while she suffered her feverish condition.

It was very romantic how Werner took charge of Adele's situation when he realized she was sick. Besides getting Sarah and a German doctor, he called her darling when he found her so ill--the catalyst to soften Adele's attitude about him and their predicament. Now that she's on the mend and Sarah has gone, I think Adele and Werner will find a new deeper understanding, resulting in even more romantic situations!

I really enjoyed this chapter and I'm sorry it took longer than usual for me to reply. Looking forward to more soon!
5/21/2018, 5:53 am Link to this post Send Email to Pambi   Send PM to Pambi
 
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Re: In Love and in War


XI


Part of the wall that had separated Werner and Adele had been torn down. It hadn’t been easy work but the fact of their connection towards one another could no longer be ignored. They behaved in a very composed, polite manner with one another, and for Adele at least just his mere physical presence in the house, or the thought of his arriving home late at night, was enough to fill her days with contentment.

It was only now that she was able to accept that her feelings for Werner had developed well beyond the mere curiosity that she felt at first; they ran more deeply than she had ever felt before. On the surface they appeared calm, polite and even composed, but on the inside they made her heart flutter whenever he was near, and her knees weak when he stood in her presence. She knew what she felt for this man she had never felt for Thomas.

Within a few days she felt returned to her health and therefore she was able to resume her normal activities, which included working at the shop. She decided to take Werner’s advice, however, and let Chloe know that she did not intend to work past June so if she really did need extra help, she should try to get someone else. Chloe was fine with it and didn’t ask any questions, nor did she seem hurt. Of course Adele didn’t say why but she felt that perhaps she should, or at least, warn her.


When Chloe came in to work one early June morning, Adele noted how she did not look well. She did not say anything but when she heard Chloe throwing up not once but twice, she decided to approach her.

“Why don’t you go home?”
“I can’t. I have too much to do around here.”
“It’ll get done. I can help. Tell me what you need me to do.”
“Thank you, Adele, you’ve been a great help…but I would rather stay here.”

Chloe brushed her teeth in the back of the store where there was a toilet and sink. Adele went to grab some of her items that she was working on and noted a man’s pair of pants. While it was not unusual to see an item of clothing in a clothing store, she knew that they belonged to a German solider.

Chloe must have noticed her looking at them for when she finished brushed her teeth, she said:

“A German came in and left them yesterday and I’ve not had time to get to them.”
Then Adele decided to test the waters: “Would you like me to do them?”
“No, it’s fine”, Chloe said a little too quickly. Adele knew she would say that but it was her way to see if Chloe was telling her the truth about the pants.


Chloe’s morning sickness persisted for the rest of the afternoon, but she refused to go home. She also refused to say what it was, but Adele could read between the lines. She noted how Chloe started wearing dresses that were not so form fitting, so as to hide her growing stomach, but with the summer months coming Adele wondered how she was going to hide it as she grew.

“I have something for you”, Chloe told Adele before she left for the day. It was late afternoon and the two women were considering closing early as business was slow due to the fact that they were expecting a storm.

When she came back she had a little gift wrapped box in her hands.
“It’s just something small for your niece.”
“Thank you. This is very kind of you.”

Chloe smiled.

“Do you plan to go back to Paris soon?”
“I think in June, but I have to see what my brother’s plans are.”
“I’d like to get there too – perhaps this summer.”

Adele noted how Chloe subconsciously touched her stomach when she said this but did not notice that she had noticed.

“If you’re unable to find someone else right away, I can always do some alterations from home, if that will help”, Adele said.
“Yes, I’ll let you know.”
“And there’s something else.”

Chloe turned to listen.

“This is none of my business and I only say it out of concern, but I hope you’re being careful. You know how people can talk.”

Chloe looked at her and her face looked stone cold, but her eyes betrayed her heart and Adele felt very sorry for her and almost ashamed to have said it.

“What have you heard?”
“Nothing. I don’t talk to many people, but I’m speaking out of concern for what I’ve seen.”
“It’s not easy being an independent woman in a place like this, is it? Perhaps I’d be much better off in a place like Paris.”

Adele did not respond but just smiled.

“Thank you for the gift.”




Adele made it home that evening just in time. The winds made it difficult for her to ride her bike so it took her nearly twice as long, but she finally did make it along the main road. When she reached the house itself, she fought her way inside one of the side buildings to put her bike in there so as not to sustain any damage during the impending storm.

Once inside, she fixed her hair as best she could as it was completely wind swept. She went around the house and made sure the windows were closed, so as to keep the weather out of the house. She saved Werner’s room for last, unsure of whether or not to go inside. She paused momentarily but went in, opening the two doors that led inside. She stopped once inside to examine the room, her eyes falling on the bed. As usual, everything was neat and tidy. She could not resist the temptation to go inside the dresser drawer and look inside, as before she had found her drawing and the note he had left for her. This time she did not see the letters from Greta that had been there before, but she did see the drawing of her face. When she picked it up, she noticed there were several other small drawings, all done of her. She sat down on the bed and looked through them, and while she had known about the first, she was flattered and touched to see the others.

She felt tears welling up in her eyes. She put them back and closed the drawer, deciding to close the window that had been left open by him as the curtains were fluttering in the wind. As she did so, she heard the first sounds of thunder in the distance and looked at the menacing clouds that were slowly making their way to the area.

She left the room as she had found it and closed the doors behind her. Once downstairs, she completed the task of securing the house from the storm. She heard as the winds ravaged the outside of the house and made some of the older windows rattle. It made her slightly nervous.

She went to the fireplace and started it, as the winds made the house feel cool for this time of year. It was also the time of year when the nights were still generally cool and it was a habit of hers to start the fire an hour or so before the sun went down.

After that she went about her usual routine of making something light to eat. Tonight the sounds of the coming storm distracted her as she tried to prepare the food. As she did, she thought of Chloe and her conversation that she had with her earlier, hoping that she did not offend her by saying what she did. Part of her felt like a hypocrite for preaching, albeit subtly, about her relations with the German soldier, but the encounter Adele had had with the one in her shop made her feel like more was going on than should be. It made her uncomfortable and she knew the best thing for her was to heed Werner’s advice and stay away.

She could not know Chloe’s true intentions or feelings towards this young German soldier, but she knew that her feelings for Werner went much deeper than she had ever felt for anyone. She looked at the photo of her parents that was on the mantle of the fireplace and wondered what they would think of her if they knew that she felt this way for a German.

She wanted to feel ashamed of herself but she just could not. She felt tears welling up as she looked at the photograph of her lovely parents and when she resumed peeling the potato, the knife slipped and she cut herself. It was minor but she cursed for being so careless. Angry with herself, she put her hand under water until the blood ran clear. She grabbed a cloth to hold her finger and when she did so, she jumped from the loud crash of thunder outside.

She watched as the lights flickered inside the kitchen and wondered if the power would be lost. The storm was closer now as it was slow moving, which meant it had the potential to do some damage. She looked outside the window and saw as the sky was nearly black from the storm clouds but the rain had not yet begun to fall.

Instinctively she went into the cold room downstairs where she kept some of the food, and found candles and matches. As she was coming back up the stairs, she heard someone calling her name. She realized it was Werner and she was alarmed when she heard his tone.

She put the candles down and rushed to the main hallway as she heard him in there. When she got there, she was shocked to see him standing there with a dog in his arms.

“Help me, please.”

She rushed over and saw that the dog was injured. She went into the parlour and got a blanket that had been on the sofa and placed it on the floor. He placed the dog on the blanket and she watched as he examined the dog with his hands carefully as she seemed to be in a bit of pain. The dog just laid there as he touched her and Adele could see that Werner was upset.

“She came out of nowhere.”

Werner looked at Adele and she could see that there were tears in his eyes. She reached out with her hand and touched his arm.

“What happened?”
“I was coming down the side road and she came running out of the bushes. I swerved to avoid her but I must have hit her. I found her lying on the ground and she wasn’t moving.”

He continued to examine her with his hands.

“I’m trying to feel if anything is broken.”

She watched him and sat down next to the dog. The dog’s eyes were open and she was breathing rapidly. Adele looked at Werner with concern over the dog.

“Can you stay here with her while I get the doctor?”
“You mean a vet?” Adele asked him.
“No, the doctor. There is no vet.”
 “I’ll stay here”, Adele reassured him.

He left and she heard the car drive away. Adele looked down at the poor dog and examined her with her hand very gently. The dog did not move or try to bite, and she saw no signs of blood. She felt helpless to do anything for the dog but she remained there, on the ground with her, and monitored her breathing. The storm was still slowly approaching outside and she felt as the thunder caused the dog to become momentarily agitated, her body trembling. Adele tried to console her with her hand by stroking her back. It was the only thing she knew how to do that may be of some help.

She worried about Werner driving in the weather outside and hoped that he would be okay. The look on his face and in his eyes over his concern for the dog really touched her.

About a half hour later, he was back with a German man who was the doctor. She got up from her sitting position as he went to examine the dog. He and Werner spoke in German so she had no idea what they were saying.

He examined the dog and reached in his bag to get something. Werner watched the doctor and she kept looking from the doctor to Werner, wondering what was going on. When she saw him take out a needle, she asked Werner what the doctor was doing:

“He’s giving her a pain medication.”

She was relieved. Then she watched as he took out some bandage and wrapped her front leg with it. The dog was very good and seemed to respond well, probably due to the fact that she was in some pain.

Minutes later she watched as Werner said something to him. The doctor stood up and picked up his bag, looking at Adele. He bowed but did not speak to her. She wondered if this was the same man who had helped her when she was ill and guessed that it was. He said something to Werner in reference to her as she saw Werner look at her, then back at the doctor.

She stood with her arms crossed and watched as the two men went to leave the parlour.

“I’ll be back. Can you stay with her?” Werner asked.
“Of course”, she told him.


Once again, she waited with the dog who was lying very still on the floor. The dog seemed to be sedated with the pain killer that she had received and was more relaxed. Adele waited for Werner to come back and he did, as promised. The rain had started to fall rather heavily now and in the time it took him to get from his car to her front door, he had gotten a bit wet but the concern for the dog outweighed any concern he had for himself.

“How is she?” he asked coming into the parlour, removing his hat.
“She seems fine, more settled.”

She watched as he wiped some of the rain water from his forehead.

“Dr. Kohl says she has broken her leg and is likely in a state of shock. The pain medication should help overnight and he’s given me more. He said the bandage is to help the leg to heal but he can’t be sure if it will. Only time will tell.”

He looked at her and smiled but there was a sadness on his face. He then went to where Adele was sitting on the floor with the dog, and he too sat with her. He looked at the dog and Adele could see that he was really beat up over the incident.

“I feel awful. She just ran out on the road. Poor thing must have been spooked by the storm.”
“Yes, I think so”, Adele said.
“Do you recognize her?”
“No. I don’t think she belongs to anyone in the area, or anyone for that matter.”
“How do you know?” he asked.
“It’s law in Verdun to tag your dogs and this one clearly doesn’t have one. If you also look at the state of her feet she looks like an outdoors dog.”
“How can you tell?” he asked, looking at the dog’s paws.
“They’re very rough. She is a dog that lives outside. Plus, there are many stray dogs in the area. I sometimes feed them but I’ve not seen this one before.”

She was looking down at the dog and when she looked back at Werner, she noticed that he was now looking at her.

“She should stay here until she’s well again.”
“I don’t like to impose”, he said. “Are you sure?”
“It’s not imposing. I love animals. I’ve always wanted a dog but Thomas never wanted one.” She looked at him. “I’d like her to stay until she’s better.”

At that point there was such a loud crack of thunder that it caused the two of them to look at the window. This was the closest she had ever been to him. She looked at his profile as he looked out the window and admired the strong features of his face. Even though he was wearing his uniform she did not notice it. Instead of a German sitting beside her, she just saw a man – a very beautiful man.

“I’ve never seen weather like this before”, Werner said, turning back.
 “Neither have I.”
“I should close the window upstairs in the room.”
“I already did”, she said and then he looked at her. “I wanted to make sure all the windows were shut so I checked your room – I hope you don’t mind.”
“No”, he said softly.

She reached down to touch one of the dog’s paws.

“You see how the padding is all torn?”
“Yes”, he said, looking down.
“When they’re pets, the padding is soft. Hers are very hard and rough.”

Werner reached over and touched the padding of the dog’s paw. He carefully placed his finger on it to feel for himself, and she thought he would remove his hand but he did not. Instead, he gently lifted his fingers to touch her hand that was holding the paw. At first it was just his fingers and then he put his whole hand over hers.

“You cut yourself”, he observed, lightly touching where she had cut herself with the knife earlier while peeling the potato.
“It’s nothing.”

She looked down at their hands. She responded by gently allowing her fingers to touch the palm of his. They lingered there, side by side in front of the fireplace, the dog between them, hands touching. She then watched as he raised his hand and brought it to her face. She closed her eyes as she was too afraid to look at him, hoping in those moments that he would kiss her. But he did not – not at first.

“My muse”, he said softly. The words caused her to open her eyes and she saw that he was smiling softly at her. She realized for the first time that he was looking at her not out of concern or sadness, but that he was looking at her out of love. “You’ve been in my room. You must have seen how your face has inspired me.”

Next she felt as he touched her hair and she closed her eyes, unable to look into his. She wondered how much he knew about her intrusions into the room. The fact that she had been in his room to close his window came as no surprise.

“You are very good at trying to conceal your presence but I’ve known for some time. You leave me clues, though I do not think you mean to.”
 “I’m sorry”, she said embarrassed.
“Don’t be.”
“How did you know?”
 “Traces of your hair”, he said reaching out to touch it again. “Traces of your perfume on my pillow…and my shirt.”

Looking down she felt more embarrassed than she ever had. She did not realize he was looking at her so sweetly because she would not dare look at him. She had tried to hide the evidence of her being there by making the bed as neatly as possible (she had even washed the sheets a few times), but now she realized she had not been careful enough. Knowing there was no point in denying it, she asked:
“How did you know about the shirt? I tried to be so careful.”
“You buttoned it after you hung it up, which is something I never do.”

She felt tears forming in her eyes again, fearing what he must think of her.
“Are you angry?”
“Not angry. I’m flattered…and a bit I’m jealous.”
She did not detect the soft playful tone in his voice.
“I thought you’d be angry. You’ve made it clear that we must keep our distance.”

Whatever he had said before, or repeated these past months, were forgotten as his actions completely disregarded those words as he leaned in to kiss her. Her eyes were opened but she had been looking down, and was surprised by it. She never expected it although she wanted him to.

His hand gently cupped her face as he kissed her as tenderly as he had looked at her for the past 7 months. She felt weakened by it; completely taken in by it. There was no resisting her feelings.

She was leaning on her one arm to hold herself up, as he was doing the same, but with her free hand she felt herself put it on his chest. Her fingers felt the parts of his uniform: the medal that hung on the left side of his chest, the iron cross; the pin that had the imprint of the eagle of Germany. These things were the enemy of France but she did not think of those things as he kissed her. When the thunder struck again, they hardly noticed its severity.

In those moments as they kissed she allowed herself to get lost and shut out the world. She didn’t care that he was German and that she was French or that he was the enemy. Why should any of that matter?

She intensified the kiss by putting both hands on his shoulders and pulling him closer. She felt as his lips and tongue invaded her own and it was obvious that he was as powerless to stop himself as she was.

She believed she had never kissed anyone like that before, not even Thomas. She had kissed Thomas with her body and, she thought, her heart; but she had kissed Werner with her entire being.

Despite the passion with which they kissed one another, it was the most innocent, pure kiss. When they parted, she felt as he rested his forehead on hers and she closed her eyes and was happy to let him rest there. He breathed heavily and they did not speak for several seconds.

“I’m sorry…what you must think of me.”
“I think you’re wonderful”, she said.

She kissed his check and he grabbed her hands, his face close, looking at her.

“We must be careful”, Werner told her, drawing her close. He touched her face and looked at her with such a deep concern. “I’ve overstepped my boundaries tonight. I had no right to kiss you.”
“But you did…and I’m not exactly running away, am I?” she said, taking her hand and touching his face. He kissed the palm of her hand and then took it in both of his and held it close to his chest.
“But you’re a married woman.”
“And you’re engaged to be married”, Adele said and her words seemed to remind him. He looked down momentarily, perhaps out of a sense of guilt, but his next words proved otherwise.
“None of that seems to matter now, does it?…I don’t seem to have any control over my emotions lately. You’re all I think about.”
“I feel the same way”, she told him.

This time, the sounds of the thunder were so loud that they both stopped to look at the window. The storm was now overhead and the lights began to flicker.

“I have candles for upstairs”, she told him.
“If you wouldn’t mind too much, do you think I could sleep here, with her?” he asked, looking at the dog. “I want to make sure she’s okay.”
“If you think the sofa will be comfortable enough.”
“It will be a luxury compared to some of the places I’ve slept in in the army.”

She went upstairs and let the lightning guide her. She was going to get his pillows and the blanket but instead she brought down her own pillows for him to use. She did not tell him but placed them on the sofa, along with the blanket.

She stood there as he was now standing as well, looking down at the dog. He turned to her and when he walked towards her she thought her knees would buckle in. The way he was looking at her made her feel weak.

 “It was very kind of you to bring her back here. A lot of people would have left her on the road to die.”
“I could never do that.”
“I know you couldn’t.”

She reached up and placed her hand on his face, admiring the kindness she read there. She wanted to kiss him again so when she stepped closer and he did not move away, she looked up at him. He was very tall compared to her and as she could not reach him, she waited for him to kiss her. He did and for the first time they were in one another’s arms. She loved having his arms around her waist. She loved the feel of his lips on hers and the way his tongue softly caressed hers. There was a passion in the kiss but also an innocence. It was as if all the other kisses she had experienced up until now had been null and void. She knew this would be the kiss she would measure all other kisses to; he would be the man she would measure all other men to.

He was the one who parted first, slowing the tempo of their kiss until he stopped completely. Looking down at her he said:

“Perhaps it’s for the best that I sleep down here.”
“Yes, I think so”, she said, slightly breathless from the kiss. She felt like crying and didn’t really understand why. It wasn’t because he was suggesting that they not get any closer than this, but rather that it was the way it had to be.

At that moment, the lamp flickered off and did not come on again. It was quite violent outside as the winds and the rain beat the sides of the house. The fire remained as their only source of light.

“There’s candles there if you need them to go upstairs”, she said.
“Thank you…have you secured all the windows and doors?”
“Yes.”

They stood there for a few moments, looking down at the dog. She did not stir but they saw how her breathing steadied and remained calm.

“She doesn’t hear a thing”, he observed. “I hope she makes it through. The doctor said that if there’s internal bleeding, she won’t last the night.”

Adele looked down at the dog and felt worried. She saw Werner shut his eyes momentarily, guilt all over his face. She felt the need to reach out and touch his hand.

“I’ll say a prayer for her”, Adele said to him. He looked at her and smiled. Then she stepped forward once again and, going on her tip toes, kissed him on the cheek.

“Good night.”

When she went upstairs and closed the door to her bedroom, she sat down on her bed. She found it was easier to breathe now. Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and her heart a whirlwind of feelings. She sat down not out of feeling tired but out of weakness.
The kiss had signalled so much more to her than just a physical intimacy with Werner; it now meant that her heart as well as her body belong to him.


Last edited by OrlilLicious, 5/22/2018, 1:14 am
5/22/2018, 12:49 am Link to this post Send Email to OrlilLicious   Send PM to OrlilLicious
 
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Re: In Love and in War


While you've been experiencing fireworks on your holiday evening, Werner and Adele were having their own fireworks display to go along with Mother Nature's light show!

I think it's best if Chloe sells or leases her shop and goes to Paris. She will be branded a traitor once her condition is noticeable. At least Adele is politely distancing herself from the scandal and possible danger of associating with Chloe. I know she's a friend and gave her a job, but she hasn't acted very responsibly and may well suffer for her folly.

Adele beat the storm but had no idea what turmoil would follow her inside when Werner arrived home. I was touched by his concern for the dog he hit, and it was very telling that he was willing to bring the human doctor to take care of the injured animal, no matter how inconvenienced the doctor might be (or how insulted he might be to have to treat a dog instead of a human). Adele was touched too. It helped bring down the barrier that prevented physical touching and at long last the feelings culminated in a kiss. It was sweet and yet innocent, but just as the storm roared outside so did their pent-up emotions for one another. Werner sure had a lot of self-control! After such a meaningful kiss I'd have expected him to suggest that Adele stay in the room with him and the injured dog--not necessarily on the sofa with him but somewhere near. Ever the gentleman, he knew she probably wouldn't be comfortable in a chair or on the floor, so he wasn't opposed to her going to her room to sleep, though I'm sure he yearned for her to linger.

He let her save some face by not teasing her about being in HIS room though. I knew he had to have been keenly observant to realize she'd been there the first time she found the picture he'd drawn, and knew instinctively she'd go in again so he left her the note. But he confirmed it by telling her he'd noticed loose strands of her hair, her scent from her perfume on the shirt. That made me shiver a little because it was rather sexy that he admitted to knowing but keeping it to himself to savor. Now that it's out in the open, I wonder whether the hurt puppy will be a factor in drawing them closer. Good job by the way of describing how Adele knew it was most likely a stray because of the condition of its paws. I was impressed!

I enjoyed the chapter very much. There is still some very unresolved tension between them but I feel that will be resolved very soon. Looking forward to more! emoticon
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Re: In Love and in War


XII


From that night forward it was difficult for Werner and Adele to remain as strangers. Gone were the days of polite good mornings and good nights; gone was the physical wall that had separated them for nearly 8 months. The night of the violent June storm had ushered in a new phase in their lives and started them on a journey that would see the continuation of their time together being intertwined.

Werner spent the rest of the week sleeping on the sofa. Adele would sneak down in the very early mornings, or sometimes in the middle of the night, to watch him sleep. In those moments she thought what it would be like to make love to him. She tried not to let those thoughts linger in her mind for too long.

After a week of rest, the dog started to show signs of recovery. Werner had managed to get some food for the dog as her appetite returned the next day after the accident. While she was not able to walk, she would lay or sit while she ate the food.

Less than a week after the accident, Adele came downstairs in the middle of the night as she wanted to get a drink of water. She did not intend to disturb Werner but she could not help but look in the parlour as she passed it. There she saw him on the sofa, sleeping. She paused in the doorway to look at him and could not help but allow her eyes to linger. She would stand in the doorway of the parlour and see him sleeping peacefully, the blanket covering most of his body but she admired what was revealed.

As she did, she saw the dog lift her head and she tried to stand up, even though her paw would not support her. Adele saw this and rushed over, trying to convince her to sit.

The dog whined and Adele kissed her on the head, sitting her back down.

“Shhhh, it’s okay”, she whispered, petting the dog to calm her. She was a sweet little black dog with frightened eyes. For a wild dog she really did seem quite calm and gentle.

“What’s wrong?” Werner asked, obviously having waked.
“Nothing. I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“I’m not”, he said, giving her a tired smile. She looked down and realized she was in her nightgown. “You look like an angel there like that. The fire makes it look like you’re glowing.”
“I’m anything but an angel”, she said shyly. Then, looking back at the dog, she said: “She tried to get up. That’s a good sign.”
“Yes, it is”, he said, reaching over to pet the dog on the head. “She’s getting better by the day.”
“They heal quickly.”
She watched as he sat up on the sofa and as he wasn’t fully dressed, she tried not to look. He was wearing underpants and his undershirt, which revealed his arms and part of his upper chest.

“I’m going to try to go back to bed”, she said. “I’m sorry if I woke you.”

She got up from crouching down near the dog and while she went to leave, he grabbed her hand. She looked down to see him looking up at her and she thought her resolve would crack if he continued to look at her that way. Then as if to destroy it completely, he asked:

“Did you come all the way downstairs at this hour to wake me and then leave?”

She was surprised by the tone in his voice and playful look in his tired eyes.

“I came down to get a drink of water.”
“And that’s it?”
 “Yes, that’s it.”
“Well, good night then”, he said, and when he let go of her hand she felt as he touched her nightdress very gently, letting the thin fabric glide through his fingers. He continued to look up at her and she thought she would break down and kiss him, but she knew if she did then she could not stop herself from doing more.

“Good night”, she said and went back up the stairs, leaving them both wanting more.

When she went into her bedroom she splashed cold water on her face and almost cursed herself for having gone downstairs. She felt tears stinging her eyes as she did so, even though inside she felt light and happy. The tears were out of frustration at their situation and at her own stupidity for putting herself in a situation that there was no safe way out of.

It took all of her will to get in bed and prevent herself from going back downstairs. The only comfort she felt was resting her head on his pillows as she had given him hers, allowing herself to be intimate with him in the most innocent of ways.



Small luxuries that she had not allowed herself for the past eight months were now indulged in: allowing herself to linger in the hallway as she heard the shower very early in the mornings; going into his room during the day when he wasn’t home and sitting on his bed; touching things that belonged to him.

The dog seemed to recover nicely. Adele decided that once she had healed, it was probably best to let her go back to her home, wherever that was. She had stayed and rested with them for about two weeks before her leg was showing signs of returning to as normal as it was going to get. The bandage had been removed and she was even attempting the stairs.

As Adele prepared dinner, the dog ventured inside the kitchen, her curiosity causing her to venture further and further into the house. It was clear to Adele that she had not had a good life and that she wasn’t use to life in a house, so she let her be as much as possible. She liked having the presence of the animal in the house but knew that she was probably anxious to go back into the wild, which is all she knew.

As she often did when she was in the kitchen, she looked at the photograph of her parents. In the recent past she wondered what they would think of her if they could somehow know what she felt for Werner. She felt tears forming in her eyes as she went over and looked at the photograph, picking it up to look at their faces. The photograph had been taken in 1908, the year they were married and the year her brother was born. It was a wedding photo of the two of them. Her father, dressed in a dark suit, looked handsome with his stylish hat and moustache; her mother, 4 years younger than her father, looking beautiful in her white lace gown. She wondered if they ever imagined that they would have just 6 years of married life until the war broke out.

She found her eyes lingering on her father, almost silently praying for his forgiveness if he was upset with her. It was a German weapon that had killed her father. Upon contemplation of these thoughts, she heard a voice in the doorway that belonged to Werner.

“Good evening”, he said. She wiped the tears from her face and did not face him right away.
“Hello”, she said, not fully facing him. As she put the photograph back, he walked further in the kitchen to where she stood by the mantle and fireplace.
“May I?” he asked, referencing the photograph. She nodded her consent and he picked it up. She watched as he examined the photo, a soft look in his eyes. He then looked at Adele.
“Your mother was a very beautiful woman”, Werner noted as he looked back at the photo.
 “I see both your father and mother in you.”

She walked over to the stove and turned the burner off. He had caught her at a moment that she was not ready for. She watched as the dog came into the kitchen and went up to him. He crouched down to pet her and she seemed to like it.

“She has really improved over the past week.”
“Yes, she has. I think in a few days I will leave the kitchen door open for her and see if she leaves on her own. I think it would be cruel just to drive her somewhere and drop her off, don’t you?”
“I think it’s best she leaves on her own accord”, he said, standing back up. She saw as Werner looked back at the photograph.

“Do you think it’s because we’re lonely?…we’ve been thrown together in this house. I’m far away from my fiancé; your husband is not here.”
“I stopped feeling lonely long ago”, Adele said. “Are you saying we kissed the way we did out of loneliness? I’d like to think it’s because you find me beautiful.”
He looked at her when she said this.
“I do, very much so…but I think there’s more to it, don’t you?” he asked.
“I don’t know”, she said, acting coy. “I hardly know anything about you.”
“What would you like to know?”
“I’d like to know why you kissed me nearly two weeks ago and have not tried to ever since.”
“Do you think it’s wise that we allow that again?” he asked.
“If you’re telling me that you kissed me out of loneliness and not because you feel something for me, then no, I don’t want you to kiss me again.”

Werner moved away from the fireplace and closer to where she was standing.

“I’ve tried my hardest to push what I feel for you aside, but I can’t. It interferes with my work, my decisions at work. You’re all I think about. I wish this God-awful war would end and that I could just stay here with you, or take you away with me, and live life in peace…no uniform, no war, just the two of us.”

He moved closer so that he had his hands on her arms.

“If I told you how I really feel about you, and why I kissed you, you might think I’m trying to take advantage of you in your situation – so I don’t say anything. I worry if I tell you and show you how I really feel, that you would resent me for it.”
“I wouldn’t”, she said, feeling herself become emotional at his words.
“This is not the first night I’ve come in here to see you looking at your parent’s photograph. I think I can tell what you’re thinking. You feel guilty for how you feel about me, don’t you?”

She did not like the subject because he was getting at the depths of her feelings for him and she was afraid to admit them, but he persisted.

“If I could burn this uniform and pretend that I wasn’t German, and you weren’t French, I would do it in a heartbeat. But the fact remains and I am what I am and you are what you are.”

She found that she could not contain the tears that wanted to fall and she allowed them. It was the first time she had cried in front him and left herself vulnerable. This is not something she ever did with Thomas, but then her husband had not reached into the depths of her soul like Werner seemed to be able to do so easily.

“I worry what my father would think if he knew.”
“Knew what?”
“That I feel the way I do about you.”
“And how is that?” he pressed her.
“I don’t know.”

It was a half lie and a half truth. She was more composed now that she said it.

“Do you think I don’t think of my own father? I told you he was also killed during the last war.”
“Yes, you did tell me that”, she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“Do you think that I resent you or France because it was a French bullet that killed him?”

She looked at him when he said this, a bit of shame in her heart for hearing him say that to her. He walked away and went back to the fireplace.

“I never told you where he was killed, did I?...he was killed at Verdun.”

Adele looked at him, surprised to hear this. She had no idea. She thought how her own father had also fought at Verdun.

“Your father fought here too, didn’t he?”
“Yes”, Adele said.
“But he survived until 1922.”
“Yes.”
“Even if your own father shot the bullet that killed my father in 1918, do you think it would alter what I feel for you?”

She felt the force of his words hit her in the stomach and she could hardly believe he had said them. She did not answer him for she figured they both already knew the answer to his question.

“I have quite vivid memories of my father, even though I was only 8 years old when he was killed. He was a good man. He was a good father and husband. He didn’t hate anyone in his life, but he was doing his duty for the Fatherland, just as I am. Do I think he wanted to die for his country? Probably not. Do I think he hated France? No, not according to my mother at least.”
“How did you come to know so much about France?” she asked him.
“Through my love of music and French composers…and a bit of a curiosity about where my father fought and died…I came here with my mother for the first time when I was 15 years old. By then she thought I would be ready to visit my father’s grave. I’ve had a fascination with the country ever since.”

She remained silent but was completely surprised to hear that Werner had visited here when he was a teenager.

“Now I think of how I was here when you were just – I don’t even know how old you are”, he said to her. “Or is that impolite to ask?”
 “I’m 27.”
“So you were just a child of 6 or 7 when I came here to visit my father’s grave in 1925. How odd to think of that.”
“Why is that odd?”
“I don’t know…the way I’ve always been drawn to Verdun. Why do you think I wanted to be stationed here when I was being transferred last year? I had requested to come here and they finally sent me.”

She thought about what he had said and, after contemplating it, she said to him:

“If you had come in 1940, when the others did, things would have been much different.”
“How do you mean?”
“My husband would have been living here at the time.”
“And you think that would have stopped us from feeling the way we do?”
“I don’t know…he likely would have left anyway, but I don’t know.”
“I didn’t get to choose the house. It was chosen for me.”
“Why here?” she asked him.
“High command likes to choose houses that are remote, so that we do not have to have too much interaction with the locals in the town…but then you were here.”

At this point, Adele took off her apron and went over to him. She put her hand on his arm.

“Why don’t you get changed and come back down? We can talk properly upstairs. There’s a room you’ve not yet seen.”
He looked down at her and smiling, agreed.

There was a room above the kitchen that was accessible by stairs that were behind the fireplace. She noticed the dog had been curious about it earlier but was not certain about the stairs yet so she would not venture up. Adele brought up a bottle of wine and two glasses, and when she went back downstairs he was there, surprised to see her coming down that way.

“I didn’t know there was a stairwell here.”
“It’s a secret one”, she said smiling. “Come up.”

He followed her up the stone slab stairs as she led the way, holding a lantern with a candle in her hand. When he got up, he could see that it was a small room with only a table and not even a window, thus the need for the candle.

 “I use to play up here as a little girl. It was my secret hideaway and anyone who came near it, I would yell at them.”
“What about your brother?”
“Especially my brother. He was not to step foot in here.”
“So I should feel privileged that I’m allowed in?”

She smiled when he said this.

“Yes, you should.”
“What about the dog? I hear her whining.”
“Bring her up.”

Werner went down the small staircase and brought up the dog, who was happy to sniff around the room. There was very little in there, except for a small round table and a few chairs.

“I’ve brought some wine”, she said, pouring them both a small glass.
“Thank you”, he said, sitting down at the table.
The dog sat underneath the table at their feet.

“Now it’s your turn. I’ve told you about my parents.”
“Well”, she said, deciding it was her turn to reveal some of her story to him, “my parents were lovely people. I don’t have a lot of memories of my father, but what I do remember is that despite the pain he was in, he always had a smile on his face for his children.”
“He was gassed?”
“Yes, in 1917…it took him five years to die of his injuries.”

She noted the way Werner looked at her, a sadness in his eyes as she spoke of her father. He seemed to study her face and she felt as he touched one of her hands.

“When I look back on it now it’s hard to believe that he was ill…but I do remember when we’d go swimming down by the river, he would come in but never swim. But then there were a lot of things he couldn’t do due to his lungs.”
“It sounds like he tried to go on, despite everything.”
“He was a very brave man…I’m sad about the fact that I never got a chance to really know him.”
“You probably knew him better than you think.”
“That’s what my brother says.”
“Does he? He’s probably right then.”
“My mother never got over the death of my father…she didn’t live the rest of her life mourning but despite the fact that she was only 37 when she died, she was happy to go. She said she wanted to be with him.”
“How did she die?”
“Cancer, but I say it was more of a broken heart that killed her in the end.”

Werner could see the sadness in Adele’s eyes when she spoke of her parents.

“It’s hardly fair…they loved each other so much, but they had such a short time together.”

When she said this she suddenly thought of her own situation, realizing fully for the first time that what she felt for this man in front of her was love. She looked at him with such a sweet expression that he reached out with his hand and touched her face. She closed her eyes momentarily and liked the gesture of tenderness. She then grabbed his hand with her own and kissed the palm. As she did, she looked at him and she could see he was looking at her with such love that it made her insides flutter.

“I realize now how precious time can be…” she said. “But I often wonder how disappointed they would be with me if they were alive today.”

Werner looked at her out of concern when she said this.

“You shouldn’t think that way. Parents are always proud of their children.”
“I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in life.”
“Who hasn’t? That’s what part of being alive means”, he said to her. “Or are you speaking out of a sense of guilt over me?”
“Yes and no…mostly because of Thomas, my husband.”
“Why did you marry someone you did not love?” he asked her, picking up on what she had said during their last conversation about him, and how she told him he wasn’t coming back.

Adele looked down, as if she were to find the answers there.

“I thought I did.”
“How do you know he doesn’t love you? That he’s not coming back?
“I just know.”

Then Adele suddenly felt an odd sense of guilt over the fact of the two of them sitting there like they were.

“What you must think of me. A married woman behaving the way I am.”
“And I’m engaged to be married – what you must think of me.”
“Except I’m guilty of the greater sin.”
“No”, he said, taking her hand in his.
“Then we’re both guilty if that makes you feel better.”
“What are we guilty of exactly?”

When he asked this, she paused, not sure how to answer. He did not answer his own question either but just looked at her.

Then Werner took out a photograph of his parents that was in his wallet. He showed it to her.
“Your parents?”
“Yes.”
“They looked lovely”, she said, “very kind faces…I can see where you get it from. Your father was very handsome, and so was your mother.”

He smiled, and looked at the photo before putting it back in his wallet.

“I’m sure your father would be very proud of what you’ve become.”
“I wonder…I’m a musician, not an officer. I didn’t want any of this for my life.”
“What does your mother think?”
“She didn’t want me to join. She doesn’t consider herself a Nazi.”
“And you?”
“I’m German – there’s a difference.”
“Sometimes I forget”, Adele said, a smile forming on her lips, “your French is so good.”
He smiled in return.
“That’s good because I don’t think your German is very good.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“You were probably brought up to despise Germans, weren’t you?”

A more serious look came into her eyes but she answered him honestly.
“Yes, but not in my own family, more so others.”
“And how do you feel?””
“I don’t hate you.”

He gave her a sweet smile.

“I’ll settle for that.”
He reached over the table and touched her hand, testing the waters. He wanted to see if she would allow him and she did. In fact, she took his hand in her own and held it.

“Am I one of your secrets?” he asked her.
“Yes”, she answered honestly.
“I’ll settle for that too”, he said smiling again.
She found herself laughing at his sweet manner and the way he was looking at her made her feel soft inside.
“To answer your question from earlier, what if I told you that I kissed you because I couldn’t help myself?”
“I don’t like that answer, either”, she said, seeing that he was beginning to toy with her in a playful way.
“Perhaps it’s because you wanted me to.”
“That’s a horrible reason”, she said, pretending to be offended. “Are you bringing this up because you want to kiss me again?”
“I don’t need to ask, do I?”

The look on his face, half serious and yet playful, made her heart beat faster in her chest. They sat across the table from one another, hand in hand, almost waiting for the other to make the first move.

“Have you ever been kissed in your secret room before?”
“No”, she said softly.
“Can I kiss you again?”
“Yes”, she said.

She watched as he got up from the table and came over to her, holding her hand the entire time. He raised her up and put both his hands on her face, softly caressing it. She wanted to cherish every moment and found she did not close her eyes, not until he reached down to kiss her.

They were almost like children, exploring the wonders of the opposite sex for the first time. She felt small and helpless in his arms, but completely safe. There was not an ounce of her that did not trust him. She knew that although his hands held her waist that they would not traverse to other parts of her body, though there was a part of her that wished he would disobey his own orders. It took a lot of self-control for Adele not to undo his shirt as she felt her fingers toying with the buttons but not actually undoing them.

When it was clear that the kiss had intensified to a point that both of them felt was going to take them too far, he slowed the tempo of the kiss. He took her hands in his and held them close to his chest.

There was an unspoken rule between them that they would not and could not cross. For now, it was enough that they could be together in this way, creating their own kind of intimacy.
“Now do you know why I keep my distance?” he asked her.
“I know and understand…but it doesn’t mean I like it…I’ve lived my life fairly safely, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no better to be safe than to be sorry.”
“Adele, you’re the most innocent, most pure woman I’ve ever met.”
“You forget that I’m a married woman.”
“To me you are the most pure, most innocent woman. I don’t want to take that away from you. Do you trust me?”
“I do.”

He wrapped his arms around her and for the first time they embraced in a hug. She closed her eyes, feeling completely safe and secure in his arms. Without his uniform this felt like normal; it felt wonderful. She also had her arms around him and wondered how this had happened and how she could be feeling what she did for this man. This moment would become her version of heaven: it was for the first time to be in the arms of a man she loved, and who loved her.


Last edited by OrlilLicious, 5/28/2018, 10:45 pm
5/26/2018, 6:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to OrlilLicious   Send PM to OrlilLicious
 
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Re: In Love and in War


I finally read this (having pooped out last night) and found myself enchanted. There was such a sweetness and tenderness between Adele and Werner as they came to terms with their feelings for one another, but still hesitated to cross the final barrier that would allow them to express physically what they felt and knew in their hearts was love. I suppose that they have to reconcile how to take their feelings one step further without feeling as if they are betraying the way they'd been brought up to feel about Germans and the French. I admire Werner's restraint, especially when he awoke to find Adele in her night clothes trying to soothe the dog. I'm sure there was more to what he saw than his description of imagining she was an angel and glowing in front of the fireplace. emoticon There was probably a very visceral physical reaction on his part but he tamped it down when she explained she'd only come downstairs for a drink of water. She too was affected by his lack of dress and worked hard not to look at him in his undershirt and underpants. They parted reluctantly, but with no rancor for their predicament.

I loved how Adele shared with Werner her "secret place". I just knew when wine was factored into the equation, they would probably end up in each others' arms and more, but once more their gentle exploration of one another was much more of a romantic interlude than if they'd actually decided to cross the final barrier between them. I enjoyed that they shared each others' stories about their parents and the way those moments as young people colored their attitudes about the present day situation, and how the rancor that war was causing between their countries barely affected how they felt or would feel if the war was non-existent and they'd met under different circumstances.

I have to wonder how much of a role Adele's guilt about Thomas will play when it's finally clear to her that she doesn't want to squander her chance to be with Werner, however briefly. I think she shows strength of character by reminding herself and Werner that she is a married woman, but something nags at me about the fact that she may in fact be a widow at this point. You know much more about important dates that occur during WWII and what might be about to happen, but I do think even if Adele admitted to herself (as well as Werner) that she had fallen in love with him she may be very reluctant to break her wedding vows. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe only proof that she is no longer married would allow her to feel free enough to give herself to Werner. However, all things being equal, she knows her marriage is over so maybe in her heart Thomas is dead to her whether he is in fact deceased, and it wouldn't feel like adultery. I suppose I'll have to wait and see!

I'm sorry it took a while for me to catch up, but I'm so glad I took the time this afternoon to do so. Good job. I enjoyed it so very much, and look forward to the next chapter. emoticon
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Re: In Love and in War


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XIII


It was nearing the end of June when the dog seemed fully recovered. She could walk up the stairs on her own, and was even running around the yard. Adele had left the door open now but found that even though the dog would wander off, sometimes for hours at a time, she would always come back in the evenings. Her favourite spot was in front of the fireplace, even though Adele no longer needed to light it as the summer had fully arrived.

Werner had been very busy lately and the time they had together they cherished all the more because there seemed to be so little of it. The late evenings, when the air had somewhat cooled and there was a breeze in the house, were the times they had together. The dog seemed to enjoy being with them and while she wasn’t overly affectionate, she seemed to be a sweet dog who enjoyed the company of humans. In particular she seemed attached to Werner and was very happy to greet him whenever he came back to the house at night.

It was Sarah’s 30th birthday and Raymond had planned a surprise birthday party for her at a restaurant in town. She thought they were going out for dinner alone, but she was very surprised when she saw that many of her friends and extended family were waiting to surprise her inside.

Adele of course was invited. She had taken great care to dress up for the occasion and even decided to have her hair done. She wore a dark blue short sleeve summer dress with white polka dots that buttoned up at the front. She wore dark heels even though she knew she would regret it by the end of the night as the streets in town were not paved well. However, she took the extra care with her appearance as she knew she would also be seeing Werner later that night after the party. The thought of dressing up for him was just as exciting as the party she was going to.

She got a ride into town and arrived at the time Raymond had requested. When she went inside, others were waiting there as well. She saw her friend Louise and sat down to speak to her.

“Is it true that Edmund is coming this summer?”
Her friend Louise always asked about her brother because she had had a thing for him when they were kids. In fact, Adele had always suspected that they had been more than just friends when they were younger as Louise always had a special look in her eyes when she saw her brother.
“Yes, I believe so, now that Jeanne has recovered well.”
“It’ll be nice to see him again”, Louise said and Adele noted the way she didn’t ask about Jeanne.
“Yes, and it’ll be nice that Jeanne and the Chloe will be here too. I’m looking forward to having a baby in the house.”
“Speaking of babies, did you see Chloe?”
Adele pretended not to be interested.

“I’ve not been at the shop for a while. She’s taken some time off.”
“She has the morning sickness really bad…people are talking about who the father is.”
“I wouldn’t know. She doesn’t talk about her personal life with me and I don’t discuss my life with her.”

While she liked Louise, she also knew that she could be a bit nosy. She could see that she was trying to get information from her that she simply did not have.

“I won’t be at the shop past the end of the month. I’ve asked her to find someone else.”
“That’s good…I’m not sure you want to associate with her if the rumours are true.”

At that moment, Theresa walked over as she and Simon had just arrived with their kids. She smiled and came up to both women and they exchanged kisses on the cheek.

“I’ve not seen you in ages”, Theresa said to her. “Where have you been hiding?”
“I could ask the same of you”, Adele said.
“You know what it’s like with kids in the summertime. They’re always outside, running around. I keep a close eye on them with those Germans around the house now.”

Adele knew that since Christmas there had been three Germans living on the premises of Theresa and Simon’s home. Every time she saw them they spoke of how much they hated the Germans and while Adele sympathized with them, it only went so far. It was the strangest thing: when she thought of the German occupiers she personally felt disdain for their presence, but then when she thought of Werner, she felt nothing but tender feelings.

“Although Simon orders me to stay as far away from them as possible. Adele, I don’t know how you go on living the way you do, all alone with that pig.”
“I hardly see him”, Adele said, trying her best to hide her dislike of hearing Werner insulted in such a way.
“But still…he sleeps in the same house as you. At least the ones with us are in the extension outside.”
“My brother’s old room was chosen for him to use.”
“That’s awful. And you allowed that?” Theresa persisted.
“What choice did I have? If those Germans at your place decide to sleep inside your house, you’ll have no choice either. They do as they please.”
“That will never happen”, Theresa said, then lowering her voice she added: “Simon would see them dead first.”

For the first time Adele thought about the possibility of Werner being in danger.

“Simon has you and the kids to think about. He should be careful”, Louise added in.
“I can’t stop him from doing what he wants…he hates them here.”
“We all do”, Louise said, “but he should still be careful.”
“I respect my husband for taking a stand and I support him in whatever he chooses to do.”

“Yes but he’s better off alive than dead, isn’t he?” Adele said, an obvious tone of annoyance in her voice. Seeing as she was the only one who had a husband in the Resistance, she felt she had the moral right to speak up and say that to Theresa. As much as she admired her for sticking by her husband, she also felt it was somewhat misguided to think it was somehow honourable to risk not only his life, but the lives of his wife and perhaps children.

This comment was not met with a reply as it was obvious Adele was speaking of her own experiences with Thomas. She was relieved when the subject was changed and her cousin Sarah and Raymond showed up.

Once the initial surprise was unveiled for her cousin, Adele went up to her and gave her a hug.

“Happy birthday”, she said to Sarah. “Your hair looks lovely.”
“I had it done this morning when Raymond told me he was taking me out for dinner, but I had no idea about this.”
“He loves you very much. I’m jealous.”
“I am very lucky”, she said, looking at her husband. “He’s taking me to Paris next weekend.”
“What about Francois?”
“He’s staying with Theresa and Simon.”

Adele didn’t like the idea.

“He can stay with me, or I can stay there if you prefer.”
“What about your dog?”
“She can come with me.”
“I’ll let you know”, Sarah said.


Some of the local musicians performed and provided the music. Sarah and Raymond were very much in love and Adele was truly happy for them, always having admired their close relationship. She knew deep down that if she and Werner were given the opportunity, they too could be just as happy. The realization that this was not to be made her feel very sad, but she was willing to hold on to the present and allow herself to bask in the happiness she felt in the here and now.

She didn’t like being around Simon too much as she didn’t really like the way he spoke, usually always negative things. He seemed to become more and more obsessed over the past year with the idea of getting rid of the Germans. She tried to avoid being in clusters of people with him there as he made her feel uncomfortable, and she wasn’t in the mood to hear him talk about the so-called “German pigs.”

Try as she might, she could not avoid him all night as he came over to speak to her and a few others sitting at a table talking. She could smell the wine on him and wondered how much he had had to drink, but she did not speak to him.

“How are you, Adele? Theresa and I haven’t seen you in some time.”
“Fine, thank you.”
“You’re not staying away because of our German guests, are you?”
“No, not at all.”
“I don’t like my children around pigs. I assure you they won’t be trouble for much longer.”

Adele heard this threat but did not speak.

“Did you know that the pig who lives in your house is the top pig?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“You didn’t know? Doesn’t he ever speak to you?”
“Not really.”
“Well lucky you…the ones with us never stop talking. Not to us, mind you, as we would never speak to one of them except to spit on them…but like I said, that won’t be an issue for long.”

Simon looked at Adele and winked as he said this, then left the table. She felt unsettled afterwards but decided that since it was her cousin’s birthday, she would try to forget it - for now.

She stayed as late as she was going to stay at the party and decided to leave just before midnight. Others had left by this point and as she was tired, she was going to call it a night. She was able to get a ride from someone who was going in the same direction as her, and she was grateful as her feet were killing her from the shoes.

Werner’s car was in the driveway and she knew he would be waiting for her. When she walked in, the dog came up to her and licked her hand. Adele leaned down and petted her and thought of how much she liked having her in the house.

“Hello my sweets”, she said as the dog looked at her. “Did you miss me?”
“As a matter of fact, I did”, she heard a voice say from the stairwell. She looked up to see him standing there, halfway down.

She stood up and she watched as he walked towards her.

“Hello”, she said smiling, watching the way he watched her. He was looking at her dress.
“That’s a very pretty dress.”
“Thank you”, she said, pleased that he did for part of her intention in wearing it was for him. “I’m glad you like it.”

Though he was close to her, he stopped short of being too close.

“I think she’s here to stay”, Adele said in reference to the dog. “She seems to like it here.”
“So she does”, he said, leaning down to pet her. “I was in the room upstairs and when she heard the car dropping you off, she came right downstairs to greet you.”
“She does the same for you.”

She proceeded to remove her shoes and she put down her purse.

“I’m happy you’re back. I’ve been trying to work but it’s no use when you’re not here.”

She looked at him and smiled, a softness in her eyes that gave him the green light to hold out his hand to her. She took it and followed him into the parlour.

“I want you to hear something.”
“Okay”, she said, knowing instinctively that it was in reference to music.

She sat down on the sofa and he sat down at the piano. Once he had positioned himself correctly and organized the sheet music in front of him, he began to play. She watched his hands and his face as he did so, seeing the way he seemed to get lost in the music.

It started off softly, and seemed to stop before it built in tempo. It then took on this beautiful soft flow that brought tears to Adele’s eyes as she listened. This was the second time she had seen him play, but the first time she had been ill and could not fully appreciate it. Now, looking at his side profile, his hands and the muscle movement in his back, she knew that she was hopelessly in love with this man.

When the music slowed again, she could see him close his eyes, playing the music from heart. She marvelled at how well he seemed to know the song, not once looking back down at the sheet music in front of him. Even she had to do this as she was nowhere near the accomplished pianist as he was.

And then when the the end of the song came, it ended on such a soft note that she wondered if that was really the end as it did not seem complete. He sat there for several seconds before he said:

 “I’ve been writing this for the past few weeks and I’ve not been able to complete it. I’ve been writing it for you. What did you think?”

Instead of responding with words, she got up from her seat and walked over to him. She put her hands on his shoulders and he turned to face her. He gently pulled her down on his lap so that she was sitting, and she leaned down to kiss his waiting lips. It was the deepest, most sensual kiss she had ever given. She was telling him how deeply he had touched her with this music, and how much she loved it and loved him. They had not needed to words to fall in love and they did not need words to express it.

When they parted she looked down at him and smiled.
“Does that answer your question?”
“Yes.”

She got up from her position and saw the way his eyes lingered on hers.

 “Your hair looks nice.”
“I had it done.”
“How was your cousin’s party?”
“That’s what I want to talk to you about. Come with me”, she said, extending her hand for him to take it.

He saw that she wanted to talk further but not there. He took her hand and followed her into the kitchen. He watched as she went into the pantry and took out a bottle of wine, passing it to him while she got the glasses. Then, he went with her upstairs to her secret room which had now become their secret room. The dog followed them.

“Is everything okay?”
“I’m not sure”, she said as she sat down. He sat adjacent to her. There was concern on his face.
“No one has troubled you, have they?”
“No.”
“Did something happen at the shop?”
“No, it’s about you.”

Adele realized the gravity of the words Simon had spoken earlier. Ever since NYE, when it was clear that Simon knew more about Thomas than he let on, and the incident with his friend at the party, she tried not to associate much with him. While she had always been close with Theresa, that closeness was now at a distance due to her support of her husband’s dangerous activities. What he had said at the party earlier had concerned her a great deal and seeing Werner had reminded her of those feelings.

“What is it?” he asked, looking at her with a serious concerned expression.
He put his hand over hers and she enclosed her fingers around his.
“I don’t know how much I should be saying. I heard some people saying things tonight that concerned me.”
“Do you mean about another attack?
“Of sorts, but they wouldn’t say much, just hint.”
“Did you overhear this?”
“One of them kind of implied it to me.”
“Where?”
“I don’t know and I didn’t want to ask…they also asked me about you. They wanted to know if I knew you were the top official in Verdun.”

Werner sat and thought for a few moments, and she allowed him the space to do this as she went back downstairs to grab something. When she came back up, he spoke:

“You’ve mentioned in the past that some people resent you for my presence here.”
“It’s an unspoken resentment but yes, I think so.”
“The person you heard say this – you do not have to give me their name– do you trust them?”
Adele paused as she thought about Simon. She would not – could not – say his name but she answered Werner honestly.
“No.”
“I only ask because I think perhaps it was said to you on purpose…perhaps it was said to see if you will be loyal to them.”
“Why would they do that?”
“People in their desperate situation see spies and enemies everywhere; they trust no one. And since I am here, and you are here alone, they might think what they should not.”

Adele felt slightly angry at the thought of Simon and his betrayal of her with Thomas.

“If that’s true, then he’s been speaking to Thomas and he must also think something else.”

She felt angry but stifled it as she did not want to appear that way in front of him.

“I wish I could just live in peace.”

Werner could see she was upset and he reached over and grabbed her hand, then she brought it up to her face and kissed it softly. However, she did not like what he said next:

“Part of me thinks you’d be better without me here.”

When he said this, she felt her heart drop to her stomach and she looked away.

“I can request a transfer-“
“No”, she said, turning to him. “Don’t say that.”
“I don’t want to but perhaps it’s for the best.”
“No”, she said and was surprised by how firmly she said the word. She rose from the table and walked over to where the dog was laying. She felt fear at the thought of him leaving and she regretted telling him. “I don’t care what people think of me…I only care what you think of me.”

Werner got up as well when she said this and he crouched down with her by the dog. He was on one knee and held her hand in his.

“I think you’re lovely…and the most perfect woman I’ve ever met.”

When he said this she started to cry. This was not the reaction that he expected and he grabbed her and pulled her into a hug, as they both knelt on the floor.

“I wish I was half as good as you think I am.”

She looked up at him.

“I don’t know why I cry so much. I’ve cried more in this past month than I have in the past decade.”
“Perhaps I have that effect on you”, he said teasing her in a sweet way.
“No, it’s just…life. I don’t know how and why things have to be so complicated. Why I just can’t live my life in peace and not have to give a !@#$ about what others think.”
“You’ve lived here a long time now, alone and independent. That in itself will cause people to talk. They’re not use to seeing a strong woman living on her own.”

He pulled her so that they were both standing up.

“They talk about you because they’re jealous. You’re beautiful and incredibly talented, and they’re not use to seeing a woman living life on her own without her husband. You’re an enigma that they can’t understand.”

Not fully believing this, she asked:
“Is that what you think of me?”
“Yes, I’m jealous of you.”
She saw he was smiling at her tenderly and it caused her to smile.
“Why is that?”
“Well, because your hands get to do what I only wish mine could.”

When he said this she felt her body react. She knew what he meant and she felt herself become bashful and yet she didn’t want to be.

“Well, we are in our secret room.”
“Our secret room?”
“Yes.”
“Is that all that belongs to me?” he asked playfully but she responded in a serious manner.
“My heart too.”
He looked at her when she said this, the look in his eyes saying so much. She felt shy again. “Surely I’m not the first woman to say this to you. You do have a fiancé after all.”

She noted the way he looked down momentarily when she mentioned his fiancé, but then looked back at her with a serious look on his face.

“You have no reason to feel jealous. I have nothing to hide. What do you want to know?”
“Do you love her?”
“If I did, would I be here this way with you?”
“I’ve always said all men are the same”, she said, walking over to the table.
“Do you really think that about me?” he asked her. She could see he looked slightly hurt by that.
“I don’t know what to think.”
“Well, I’ve never written a piece of music for her….I’ve never been inspired to draw her, either.”

Werner walked over to the table to where she was and stood behind. Her body became acutely aware of the proximity of his body to hers. She remained silent and motionless, nearly breathless.

“You have this way of looking at me that makes me want to take care of you and protect you.”
She felt as he put his hands on her shoulders, standing behind her. She reached up and grabbed one of his hands in hers and rested her head on it.
“Whatever part of myself I gave to her, you’ve stolen it back.”

They were telling each other – without saying the words – that they loved one another. Adele turned to face him, putting her arms around his shoulders.

“Will you play for me again?”
“Of course.”
“Now?”
“Yes”, she said. “I want to watch you as you play. It’s wonderful.”
“Not as wonderful as this”, he said, leaning down to kiss her on the lips. He had a very soft way of kissing her and she felt like crying as he did, not fully understanding the complexities of the emotions.

As she watched him playing, she listened to the music and wondered how all this had happened. It was the last thing she expected. Even though she knew the outside world would think what she felt for him was wrong, the interior of her parlour and her home were all that mattered to her. As she sat on the sofa, stroking the fur of the dog as she sat beside her, she wondered how this was all going to unfold and what her future held. She tried not to concern herself with that too much and was content to live in the here and now; in the presence of a man who she knew she should hate but who she was deeply in love.
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