When Memory Whispers #51

Christian Fiction Friday

When Memory Whisper v2After the final curtain calls, Colin appeared backstage and congratulated Marie with a gentlemanly kiss on her cheek. “Well done, my dear. You were radiant.”

“Thank you,” she said, basking in the glow of the play’s aftermath. “Thank you for the bouquet, too. The roses are so beautiful.”

Colin glanced at the dressing table. “I see I’m not your only admirer. But I hope you’ll choose me to accompany you to a late supper.” He chuckled nervously. “Or perhaps an early breakfast.”

Too hopeful of seeing Frost to take offense, Marie exuded warmth in her apology. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“I didn’t mean to suggest anything improper. Isn’t it customary for the cast to await the critical reviews in the morning papers?”

“It’s the mission,” she said, lowering her voice. “I have no choice.”

“I see, yes. The mission,” he practically hissed, “must come first.” He scanned the backstage area. “Where is Captain Devlin? Perhaps I can persuade you both to be my guests.”

She peered at him quizzically, surprised he didn’t know of Ian’s absence. If he didn’t . . . but in his position, shouldn’t he?

“Hector’s my escort this evening, not Ian,” she whispered conspiratorially.

“Hector? Ah yes, the Spaniard.”

“There’s a matinee on Sunday. We could go out after if you don’t mind seeing the play again.” She regretted the invitation as soon as she made it. But she was also desperate to end this conversation. Frost could be anywhere, just waiting for the chance to speak with her.

Colin looked down his nose while making a pretense of considering her offer. “I would very much like to see your performance again,” he finally said. “And I accept your invitation. Until Sunday afternoon then.” He bowed slightly and departed.

Marie breathed a sigh of relief and scanned the milling crowd.

Hector swaggered toward her.

Frost was nowhere to be seen.

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Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.

When Memory Whispers #50

Christian Fiction Friday

When Memory Whisper v2Chapter Fifteen

Marie arrived at the Tudor Theatre early on opening night. Butterflies flitted through her stomach, and she wanted a few moments alone before the chaotic activity began. Backstage, several bouquets of assorted flowers adorned her dressing table. The largest, a dozen white roses, were from Hector who expected her to join him for dinner after the performance. An envelope sealed with Colin’s noble insignia graced a bouquet of pink roses. Marie read the enclosed card and tapped it thoughtfully against her chin. Perhaps she could somehow use Colin to get out of the date with Hector.

She saved the golden daffodils, the long stems tied together with a broad purple ribbon, for last. The note, written in Ian’s strong handwriting, simply said: In my thoughts and in my heart. Love, Ian.

The words weren’t only for the sake of the mission. No man had ever loved her like Ian did, purely and simply. He wasn’t in love with her, and he didn’t want anything from her. He cared about her for herself. His tender friendship warmed her heart as she slid the note into the frame of the mirror.

The expected telegram arrived minutes later, expressing Ian’s regret at missing her debut. He’d sent it from Edinburgh which meant only one thing. Ian wasn’t in Scotland. She slipped the message into her dresser drawer.

More actors arrived and the backstage area grew lively with conversation, nervous laughter from pre-opening jitters, and the typical rush of makeup and wardrobe.

Marie’s lilac costume skimmed her body, and the rhinestones on the gauzy overlay sparkled under the bright lights. A golden circlet crowned her dark curls.

All the other deceptions of her life faded away as she mentally prepared to breathe as the Fairy Queen.

Shortly before the curtain was to rise, one of the stage hands brought Marie a small white box containing fragile blue and white forget-me-nots nestled in white tissue paper.

“There’s no card. Who gave you this?” she asked.

“A young bloke. Said it was for the American actress. That’s you, ain’t it?” He headed for the scenery stacks.

“Where is he?”

“In his seat, I reckon.”

She gingerly lifted the miniature bouquet and called for one of the wardrobe assistants. “Can you put these in my hair?”

“With the crown, miss?”

“Yes, please.”

The assistant examined Marie’s coifed hair and the tiny flowers. “I think we can do it up real nice, miss.”

Marie sat before her mirror as the girl arranged the forget-me-nots. The lights from the bulbs surrounding her mirror shone in her lively brown eyes.

The sold-out auditorium had shrunk to an audience of one.

Once on stage, she lived Titania, the Fairy Queen, her vivacious performance only for Frost.

#

Continue reading When Memory Whispers.

Read the opening excerpt.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.

When Memory Whispers #49

Christian Fiction Friday

When Memory Whisper v2When they reached Marie’s flat, Ian stepped inside first. Switching on the light, he glanced around the cozy parlor and kitchen alcove. Then he checked her bedroom and bathroom.

“Must you always do that?” She asked when he had finished his inspection.

“Yes.”

She gave an exasperated sigh. “Now will you tell me what’s going on?”

“I’m leaving in less than an hour on a special assignment.” His feeble attempt at a smile failed miserably. “De la Rivera can’t expect you to seduce me if I’m not here to seduce.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m not allowed to say.”

“Is it the invasion?”

“No more questions. Okay?”

“Will it be soon?”

“That’s a question.”

“When will you be back?”

Ian set his mouth in a tight line and shook his head. The clock chimed the half-hour, and he stared at it for a moment before turning back to her. Worry lines creased his forehead.

“You’ll be getting a telegram from me,” he said with a smirk. “Except it won’t be from me. You’re to show it to de la Rivera. Will you do that?”

“Yes, of course.”

“I want you to promise me something else.”

“Anything.”

“I won’t be able to return once . . . when you hear the news, leave London.” His eyes darkened. “If de la Rivera suspects you’ve been lying to him, God only knows what he might do.”

Fear slid its cold tendrils through her body. “Where should I go?”

“Trish is in town.” He pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. “Here’s the address. Find her.”

“Your sister doesn’t like me.”

“Tell her everything. She’ll take you to our estate in Somerset.”

“I can’t impose on your family.”

“Marie, please do this.” His jaw clenched. “I can’t concentrate on my job if I’m worrying about you.”

“There has to be another option.”

“There isn’t. When the time comes, I’ll get a message to Trish. Promise me you’ll go to her.”

“I promise.” Marie swallowed.

“Good girl.” His lips lightly brushed her forehead. “I need to go.”

“You’ll be back for opening night, won’t you? It’s only a week away. June 2nd. If you’re not here . . .”

“You’ll have to celebrate the premiere with Hector?” He shook his head, avoiding her gaze. “I’ll do my best.”

“There’ll be a ticket waiting for you at the box office.”

He pulled her into a bear hug. “If I didn’t still love my wife.”

“I know,” she murmured into his uniform. “I’ll miss you.”

He cradled her face as if memorizing her features, then quickly left. She ran to the window and breathed a prayer for his safety as he drove away.

Continue reading When Memory Whispers.

Read the opening excerpt.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.

 

When Memory Whispers #48

Christian Fiction Friday

When Memory Whisper v2The following Friday, the Tudor Theatre troupe performed a scaled down version of their play as a benefit for the patients at the Children’s Charity Hospital. Marie delighted the young boys and girls in her role as the Fairy Queen. After the performance, she and the other cast members visited with the patients and their families before returning to the theatre. Since Hector hadn’t called, Ian was taking her to dinner.

In front of her dressing room mirror, she applied cold cream to remove the heavy theatrical makeup. Playing Titania was exciting and fun, but she was tiring of her role as Hector’s femme fatale.

When she’d said yes to this mission, she’d expected the danger to be exhilarating. But she hadn’t foreseen how sickened she’d be by the deception. Her dalliance with Hector, fodder for the gossip columns, seemed to amuse those who saw her out with Ian. She hated the snickers at his expense.

But even worse was the day his sister Trish unexpectedly came to the flat. Ian and Marie were going through her lines when Trish appeared, her hazel eyes glaring at the American actress who had her brother carelessly wrapped around her little finger. Marie had made a hasty exit and later urged Ian to tell Trish the truth. But he refused. “When this is over,” he’d said. “Then she’ll understand.”

Her skin scrubbed clean, Marie applied makeup to a nose and chin resembling her mother’s delicate French features. If only their hearts had been similar, too. Maybe then Momma would have understood her need to leave  home the way she did.

Though the reasons for going weren’t as clear to Marie now as they had been when she bought the bus ticket to California two summers ago.

All she wanted then was to get out of the Ohio hills and into the Hollywood hills. To find fame and fortune on the silver screen.

Now it seemed that all she did was act. The differences between the various characters she played and her own identity were blurring. Perhaps she didn’t even exist anymore except as someone else.

A couple of the other actresses gathered their belongings and said good-bye. Marie waved and glanced at the wall clock. It wasn’t like Ian to be late.

She wandered out to the dimly lit stage, closed her eyes, and imagined the audience’s applause and cheers. Gracefully extending her arms, she performed a pirouette and a curtsey.

Standing alone on the stage with her dreams, she gave a contented sigh. Her parents’ disapproval and even the attentions of Hector Luis Mendoza de la Rivera were small prices to pay when she got this in return—a chance to perform, to shine, to act on a London stage. Losing herself in Shakespeare’s world, she spoke a short monologue from the play.

The clapping began when she ended her scene. She stepped to the edge of the stage, but couldn’t see her appreciative spectator. Her heart skipped a beat.

“Encore. Encore.” The man stepped forward out of the shadows.

Ian.

Marie hid her disappointment with a forced smile. “You’re late.”

“I’m glad. Otherwise I would have missed that performance.” His voice sounded lighthearted, but apprehension darkened his eyes.

“What’s wrong?”

He leaped onto the stage with athletic agility and clasped her hands in his. “We’ve solved your problem with de la Rivera.”

“That’s good. Isn’t it?”

“We need to talk. In private. Do you mind if I take you straight home?”

“Of course not. I just need to get my things.”

“Hurry. We don’t have much time.”

Marie quickly retrieved her purse and tote bag from the dressing room. Ian drove in silence to her flat, while she cast surreptitious glances at his tense jaw and white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

Continue reading When Memory Whispers.

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Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.

When Memory Whispers #47

Christian Fiction Friday

When Memory Whisper v2Chapter Fourteen

When Tuesday’s rehearsal ended, Marie changed into a simple black dress and heels. Ian waited for her outside the stage door then escorted her to his car.

“How about dinner at Anthony’s,” he said as soon as they were inside.

“Sounds delicious.” She settled into the seat and sighed contentedly. Now that she was with Ian, she could finally relax. And be herself instead of playing a role.

“How was your evening with Hector?”

“I casually mentioned the FUSAG document. You should have seen his face when I dropped Patton’s name.” She did an exaggerated imitation of Hector’s amazement.

“That was a stroke of genius on someone’s part. Fortunately, Patton agreed to the deception. Listing him as commander gives credibility to the entire formation.”

“A phantom force.”

“A few troops are assigned to it. But nowhere near as many as we want the Germans to think.” Ian braked at a traffic light. “He wasn’t at all suspicious?”

“Absolutely not.” Her eyes brightened as she became even more animated. “He sees this as a major stepping stone in his rise to power. He probably had the film developed as soon as the party ended. I think that’s the reason he let me go home.”

Let you go home?”

“At first, he wanted me to leave with him. But then he changed his mind.” She tapped Ian on the shoulder and gave him a coy look. “Hector gave me specific instructions to seduce you. He wants more information about Patton’s plans.”

Ian snorted. “Seduce away, but, as a gentleman, I must warn you. None of your feminine charms will work on me. I have nothing else to tell you.”

“I’m not sure Hector will believe that.”

“When will you see him again?”

“Whenever he calls.”

“Avoid him.”

“Easier said than done.” She fidgeted in the seat. “He gave me pearl earrings. To match the pearl necklace.”

“How considerate.” Ian parked the car in a spot not far from the restaurant and turned off the ignition.

“I thought so.”

“Anything else?”

“He knew I stayed at your flat.”

“Spied on us, eh? Well, we suspected as much.” Ian gave her a teasing sidelong glance. “Was he jealous?”

“More amused, I think. He’s rather odd that way.”

“Which works to our advantage. Meanwhile I’ll find chicken feed for you to give him.”

“You mean meaningless information.”

“Meaningless but plausible.” He shifted in his seat to face her. “The other double agents involved in this mission are sending messages to their handlers in Berlin, Paris. Even Lisbon. But you’re the only one with direct, face-to-face contact with the enemy. Whatever we give you to pass on to him is carefully vetted then vetted again.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I am.” He squeezed her hand. “I’m not losing you to this war,” he said before quickly stepping out of the vehicle.

A warm rush settled in her heart as he walked around the car to open her door. Such a fine, dear man. He’d be so easy to love.

If not for Frost.

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Continue reading When Memory Whispers.

Read the opening excerpt.

Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.