“How did you escape?” she asked.
“I was imprisoned in this ancient castle and found a secret stairway,” Ian said. “So one night I walked away, and then I met an angel.”
“With wings and a halo?”
“With a wimple and a habit. Sister Regina.” His eyes softened as he said her name, and a strange twinge pricked Marie’s heart. “A lovely and courageous nun who dressed me up like a priest and smuggled us into France.”
Marie chuckled, imagining Ian in priestly robes. “I wish I could have seen that.”
He chuckled, too, seeming to relax for the first time since this conversation had begun. “A village priest, a real one, contacted the Resistance. Mark, that’s Trish’s husband, flew out on a plane that night and brought us home.”
She scooted closer to him, wrapping her arm around his. “I’m glad for your angel. And the Resistance and Mark.”
“Me, too. I thank God for them every day.”
“How many of you escaped?”
He darted a quick quizzical glance her way then focused again on the traffic. “Only me.”
“But you said ‘us.’ Sister Regina ‘smuggled us,’ Mark ‘brought us home.’”
“So I did.” He turned into an alley behind a row of double-storied homes and maneuvered into a graveled parking area behind one in the middle of the block. “Home sweet home,” he said, gesturing through the windshield.
“You’re not going to tell me?”
He tilted his head toward hers and lightly chucked her chin. “I’d rather show you. Come on.”
They passed through an iron gate set into a dark green hedgerow and followed a paved pathway through a manicured back garden to a rear entrance. A variety of colorful flowers bordered small plots of tidy vegetable plants. Seating areas nestled beneath large shade trees.
“It’s almost like the war hasn’t happened here at all,” Marie said. “It’s so peaceful and quiet.”
“I imagine it was a nice home for somebody at one time. Now the owners live on the ground floor, and the top floor has been divided up into three flats.”
“Will I get to meet them?”
“Not a good idea.” He winked before opening the door and lowered his voice. “They wouldn’t approve of you corrupting my morals.”
“They’d approve if they knew what we were really doing,” she whispered.
“Which they can’t.” He led the way down a short corridor to the front of the house. “Up these stairs now, first door on the left.”
Once upstairs, Ian unlocked the door to his flat and twisted on a light. Marie stepped inside, took a deep breath, spread her arms, and pirouetted on one foot. “A whole weekend just to be me. Thank you, Ian.”
“You’re very welcome. How do you like your retreat from the world?”
“You lied. It’s much bigger than my place.” She surveyed the room’s dark paneling, heavy leather chairs, and antique furnishings. “And definitely too masculine. It needs a woman’s touch.”
He avoided her playful glance and cleared his throat. “The bedroom’s in there. I’ll sleep in my study.”
An odd tension seemed to fill the space between them. He flashed a somber smile and took her bag through one of the doors. When he returned, he sauntered to the fireplace and bent to place kindling in the grate.
“I usually don’t have a fire in May,” he said, striking a long match. “But I know how our damp weather chills you.”
“I appreciate it.” She crossed her arms and raised her eyes to a large painting above the fireplace and gasped as she was drawn into the scene. A dark-haired girl, about five or six, sat on a park bench near a granite fountain spouting arcs of glistening water.
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.