Full copyright applies. My prologue, completely revamped to include elements it had before. Because the prologue is so crucial, it’s probably the piece I’ve worked on more than anything else. Comments on what works and what does not work is very much appreciated. =)
“Remember,” thick German rolled into her ears like waves massaging the coastline, “Not a sound.”
His dark head and broad shoulders appeared in the abandoned hallway before the rest of his body followed, drawing Inger behind him. His hand encompassed her elbow to guide her to the front of his tall frame. Her Caribbean colored eyes, disrupted by flecks of silver, crackled with intensity as they locked onto his. Discerning no malice or deception in his gaze, she continued his intended path, hoping her trust in a man she didn’t know wasn’t misplaced.
Only the faint rustle from her navy taffeta skirt interrupted the silence of the abandoned building until a sharp noise and thud from below the stairs startled them both. Before she could recover, the man pulled her into the shadows, his hand covering her mouth. Unprepared, she released a scream into his palm.
He snapped the English words “be still” into her wavy golden locks through clenched teeth. She frowned. Even if she didn’t understand the language, his tone conveyed the message his words missed. Her mouth clamped shut, unlike her eyes that widened with the fear she felt. The man held Inger close to him, his body twisted in an effort to shield her from view of the staircase. Hearing the same creaks that she had heard before during her own incline, her breaths came more shallow, perspiration appearing on her forehead.
Hesitant steps informed her someone had moved past them. Without warning, she was pushed into the wall as he launched himself into the unwanted visitor. His quick pounce sent both their dark figures stumbling into the faded glow under the two lights that lit the stairwell. A flash of sliver shone for a moment from the intruder’s upturned lapel, telling Inger all she needed to know.
Doubts swarmed her brain cells. She had avoided Hitler’s henchmen for six months regardless of their constant searches. Twice today they had found her. Coincidence? Inger couldn’t believe it.
She slumped in the corner while she watched the men battle for a few seconds more, helpless in her indecision. Her companion’s hand gripped the wrist of the officer, wrenching the gun from his hand before he was sent sprawling on his back, the gun flopping out of his grip. Instinct took over, her hands fumbling as she sought the familiar warmth of the metal object in her pocket. The first brush of her fingers against the smooth surface was chilly, but quickly warmed as her palm wrapped itself around it. Revulsion welled up in Inger’s throat as the struggle in front of her came to an end when the intruder’s head was grabbed by her supposed friend’s hands and jerked to the side with a sickening SNAP. The victim’s head banged against the floor, her savior’s heavy breathing barely audible over the hum in her ears. She clutched the metal object in her pocket, warmth growing to a singeing heat, the man still oblivious to the growing light in the room while he pulled the lapel pin off the body.
“Inger?” he asked when he looked up, concern changing to panic as the glow around her body increased to brilliance.
“Inger, wait. Wait!” he gasped, throwing his hand forward.
Her form blazed into a brief flash. She disappeared.
A stream of expletives in English, German, and Italian came pouring out of his mouth. A few more breaths cleared his head, remembering the warning sounds that had saved his and Inger’s lives. Grabbing the gun, he hedged his way down the stairs. His eyes adjusted to the lesser light at the bottom just before tripping over two more bodies at the base. Blood was beginning to congeal around the knife slit in the top corpse’s throat. Glassy eyes told him all he wanted to know. Without a second glance he shoved over the dead man’s arm wearing the swastika armband so he could kneel beside the man laying under it.
“Lance,” he muttered, rolling him over to check for a pulse. Satisfied, he slapped his partner’s cheeks until he heard a groan.
“How bad is it?” he asked, his voice impatient.
Lance grunted, his hand gliding over the blood matting his dark hair. He blinked a few time to focus.
“Hurts, but it’s not a blighty one.” He glanced behind his partner and sucked in the air. “Josef, where’s the bird?”
“You were right about her. She vanished.”
“Bloody–” he began, steadying himself as he stood. “Yank, you know how long it took to get her here?”
Josef’s lips formed a thin line.
“That’s why you’re going after her.”
Lance started to shake his head, a stabbing pain changing his mind. His mind refused to catch up with the urgency of the moment.
“I don’t know where she went, mate.”
“But we do know where to find her family.”