As her coworkers left the office, Justine reveled in her luck. After initial Butler’s visit, Major Worth worked late. Also, he hovered around the files as if protecting them, allowing her no chance to make the copies Jovanovich wanted. After Worth announced he would leave early today for his wife’s birthday, Justine now had her chance to follow through. She felt slightly guilty using her invitation with Ross to get this chance. But this guaranteed no problems with the curfew, and perhaps an opportunity to spend a pleasant evening.
After locking the office’s outside door, she removed the tiny camera from her bag. Once she retrieved the files she needed, she placed them on her desk. Beneath the desk lamp, she snapped each page twice as instructed. Finished, she slipped the camera inside her purse before returning the files to their proper locations.
After locking up the office for the night, she climbed the stairs to Ross’s office. Inside, Ross stood before the wall in his full-dress uniform as a small man sketched on a large canvas.
Ross remained still, trailing her with his eyes as she entered. Justine stepped behind the artist, peered over his shoulder. “You are having a portrait made?”
Zwolf’s head snapped around, his eyes opened wide as he peered up at her.
She squeezed his shoulder. “You are quite skillful.”
Ross moved away from the wall, “I guess we’re finished for the night, Zwolf.” Ross joined Justine in her study of the canvas. “It’s for my parent’s anniversary.”
“It’s late can I give you a ride?” Ross said to Zwolf, who continued to stare at Justine, “I am sure that will be all right with the young lady.”
“That would be most kind,” Zwolf packed up his drawing supplies. “Let me just gather up my things, and I will be ready to go. I worried about making it home before curfew.”
After they left Zwolf at his apartment, they drove through the darkened streets. Justine leaned close to Ross. “What a strange little man. You know his name in German means twelve, and his last name means seventeen.”
Ross then told her about how he had met Zwolf in the camp. He also told her about how he and his friend Willi had come up with his name.
When he finished, she sighed. “The story seems funny, but so sad. The Nazis harmed so many. I knew they killed the insane and feebleminded, but not about the homosexuals. How long will it take to heal all the wounds?”
“My guess? It’ll continue even after they rebuild these buildings. In fact, the world might never recover. I mean, it was not just the people harmed in the camps. Think about all the children growing up orphaned or with parents damaged by the war. The effects on their lives and the lives of their children. Will it ever stop?”
“Maybe we can make it stop,” She moved closer, took his arm while snuggling closer. She chuckled as the Jeep swerved. “It is chilly. I hope I am not distracting you too much to drive.”
The Jeep swerved slightly again as he put his arm around her shoulder to draw her close. Then again, as she placed her hand on his thigh.
As they stopped outside her door, Ross turned to her. Their faces so close she could taste his breath. Their lips met, tentative, gentle, then fierce and penetrating. The Jeep lurched forward as Ross’s foot slipped from the clutch, breaking their embrace. Both giggling.
After removing the distributor cap, they climbed her stairs arm and arm with the gas sloshing in the can Ross carried.
As soon as they were inside, he set aside the can and took her in his arms. They fumbled with their clothes as they stumbled towards her bed. Paused at the bed’s side, each pulled off their remaining garments. She shoved him back on the bed, then straddled him. As she gazed into his eyes, her hand grasped his manhood. With her lips pursed, she massaged it against her, shrieked as she plunged down on it. Ross caressed her breasts as she moved her hips, driving him deeper and deeper inside. As she increased the tempo, Ross held on tight, maintaining their passionate junction. A moan came from deep in her throat before she trembled and cried. Relaxed, she chuckled when he exploded, kissing him again and again while whispering to him as if he were a child.
With her head resting on his chest, his fingers slid down her back. As he rolled her to the side, she spread her legs, trapped his arms, pinning him to the bed. “I don’t want to let you out of there.”
Her hips moved up and down, slow, gentle. Aroused, Ross rolled her onto her back. She nibbled his neck, laughed as she wrapped her legs around his waist. “Now I have you just where I want you!” The bedsprings screamed in time with their rhythm.
Finished, she shoved him aside, rose from the bed, and grinned over her shoulder. “Now that we’ve taken care of that, I am starved!”
She shoved a finger in his face, “As my love slave, I demand you stay right there. After I feed us, I may take you again!”
She laughed as she moved to the icebox. Ross shook his head and chuckled, then bolted upright as he discovered his groin area covered in blood.
“Oh, my god!” She stared down at her blood-soaked thighs. After she filled a washbasin, they cleaned themselves up while seated on the bed. She avoided his eyes. “I-I am sorry. It was my first time.” Her cheeks crimson as she washed, “All my mother ever warned me about was the pain she never told me that there would be so much blood.”
“Are love slaves allowed to speak?” Ross dropped his head to catch her eye as he dabbed the blood from himself.
She bit her lip, stole a glance at him, and nodded.
“Your gift honors me, madam.”
She snuggled against his arm. The sparkle in her eyes returned. “In that case, you may talk as much as you like as long as you continue to meet my needs.”
They kissed again.
As their lips parted, he cupped her chin, gazed into her eyes. “Feeding us was an excellent idea. If not, I might lose the strength to satisfy your needs.”
Justine laughed, pushed him away as she rose to slip on her robe. Ross redressed while she set cheese, bread, and sausage on the table. As she retrieved a wine bottle from the cupboard, she glanced over her shoulder. “Don’t bother putting all those on. I may require your services again.”
Seated at the table, Ross snatched her wrist as she passed, drawing her to his side.
She ran her fingers through his hair as he stroked the backs of her thighs. “I remember when I first met you on the road. You looked so ferocious leading your soldiers.” She kissed him on the top of his head. “And then we talked, you seemed so soft-hearted. I guess that is why I was so rude to you. My heart was so full of hate. Now that I know you better, I see your tenderness comes from strength. That intrigued me.”
“I remember how I felt when I first saw you. So vulnerable by the road with that white flag. The first thing I wanted to do was protect you. Make you safe.”
She tossed back her head. “You know I had men in the trees with Panzerfausts ready to fire on you.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. After I saw you with your submachine gun, my impression changed dramatically.”
“You’re lying now.” She cuffed his head. “My mother claimed the first thing a man thinks about when they see a woman is getting her into bed.”
“That crossed my mind too.” He ducked to avoid the next punch.
Ross hummed as he drove, recalling his evening with Justine. Their passion had not exploded unexpectedly. Instead, the attraction he experienced when he met her on the road guaranteed it, if they spent any time together. Not only the physical attraction, but Justine seemed unlike any other woman he had known. He recalled once reading an article claiming men sought women like their mothers. But with a submachine gun? He chuckled. He had seen his mother angry. Thank God she never had a weapon.
He slowed as a truck pulled out of a side street ahead of him. Yesterday, Zwolf had let Ross know that Willi wanted to talk to him. So, now he drove to the coffee shop where they would meet. He had not seen Willi since the camp, only Zwolf, and he rarely talked about Willi. Harrison told him Willi worked in the black market. Besides that, he knew nothing.
The truck ahead slowed, forcing Ross to brake suddenly, killing the engine as he neglected to push in the clutch. He chuckled as he restarted the engine, recalling how the same thing happened last night. The truck pulled to the side and parked. Willi emerged from the driver’s door and pointed to the empty spot in front of his vehicle.
After Ross parked in the spot, Willi strode up. “The coffee shop is just a block further down this street. They have no sign so, you would not find it. I waved at you when I pulled out in front of you.”
Ross shrugged. “I didn’t see you. Must have had other things on my mind.”
“Your new friend? Zwolf told me. I have seen her. You are a fortunate man.”
“You’ve seen her?”
“Well, not in person, but Zwolf sketched her once in this cafe we are going to.”
Ross shook his head. “I wondered why he acted so strange around her last night.”
“To meet her in person, with you surprised him.”
“He sketched her?”
“He has had her picture hanging on our wall until he sold it recently.
“I would have liked to see it. He is an exceptional artist.”
Willi nodded. “If you come to visit our apartment, you might. He is already redoing it in oils.”
The smell of coffee and fresh bread filled the air as they entered the cafe, reminding Ross that he had not eaten yet this morning. Since arriving back at his billet late last night, he overslept this morning. Rushed, he skipped breakfast at the mess to make sure he arrived on time for this appointment.
The place was small. Six tables lined the windows. Like diners in the States, a counter with stools fronted a cooking area separated by a ledge in back.
“Is the food here as good as it smells?”
“It is a favorite of the other drivers in our company. Myself, I have not tried it. Zwolf always has excellent meals ready for me, so I rarely eat anywhere but home.”
Except for dishes rattling in the kitchen, the diner appeared deserted. “I am surprised you and Zwolf are together.”
“We traveled here together. I don’t think I would have made those first few kilometers if he hadn’t helped me along the way.”
A woman wearing an apron appeared through a swinging door leading to the kitchen. After the woman took their order, Willi told him about their trip on the road. Meeting Werner, his job and the search for his family. Willi concluded his story as the woman set a platter piled with eggs scrambled with cheese and sausages before them. “Zwolf has nowhere to go and no family. So, I guess we sort of adopted each other.”
As Ross dug into the food before him, Willi described his delivery of the men from the prison camp and his encounter with Butler.
“He paid me much more than the agreed fee, but then he probably figured he would get it all back after they killed me.”
The fork slipped from Ross’s hand. “Killed you?”
Willi told him about comments and the pursuit. When he finished, Ross said nothing. His brow furrowed as he resumed eating. “So, you delivered these eight SS to this house in the forest, and they’re just sitting around up there partying surrounded by guards. Why do you think they wanted to kill you?”
“It might have been just to get the money back, but after what I saw and heard, I felt like they might want to guarantee my silence.”
“It sounds strange. You in danger?”
“No, Werner told them hijackers killed me the next day. As long as I keep out of their sight, I will be safe.”
“Your boss knows?”
“Yes, I told him about it as soon as I got back. He may deal with some shady people to stay in business, but Werner is basically a decent man. He wants no part of people like this man Butler.”
Ross shook his head as he scooped up a forkful of eggs. “Not sure who might be interested in what you’ve just told me. Taking prisoners from the camp should concern the War Crimes Commission. I’ll run it by the prosecutor I work for. Get his take on it.
As Ross finished the food on his platter, he ran through what he had just been told along with what he had seen in New York. Butler also had brought what looked like records to the file room downstairs. He wondered if Justine knew anything about that. This seemed to be none of his business, but the whole thing triggered his cop radar.
“Sergeant Harrison said you went back to the States.”
Ross nodded, and he described his trip but did not share his encounter with Butler. “So, you can’t find your family?”
Willi shook his head. “I posted messages everywhere I can, but I got no replies, and no one looks for me. The bombing destroyed my home, but I drive by there when I can. Not sure why. I guess hoping they might show up. Met one person from the neighborhood lived across the street. He said, many died that day, and the whole area burned for so long they may never find bodies.”
After eating, they strolled back to their vehicles. As they neared Willi’s truck, he froze, staring across the street. Ross followed Willi’s eyes to a man marching down the street’s opposite side. His plush bomber’s hat had its ear-flaps turned up, while his long fur-lined coat nearly brushed the sidewalk. His glance in their direction revealed eyes, so light brown they almost seemed golden. He had a prominent chin and nose set in a face that seemed chiseled from stone. The man passed, as if oblivious to them, but Willi continued to trail the man with his eyes.
“Do you know him?”
“Do you remember I told you about the picture Zwolf drew of your new woman friend?”
“Yes, what about it?”
“That man was also in the sketch. They were seated together.”