Chasing Mona Lisa
and that would favor the Occupation force. They know these streets, they are well-armed, and they can make use of fortified defensive positions. Even if the Allies rushed in, they do not have enough food and petrol to supply Paris. Those critical supplies are earmarked for Patton’s tanks, which are sweeping across the plains south of the city and driving for Germany at this moment. We beg you to keep your powder dry for a little bit longer.”
    Bernard held up his right hand. “ C’est impossible . You can’t stop us from throwing out the boches . The situation will come to a head very soon.”
    “Tell the Resistance leaders to wait,” Eric continued. “Our intelligence tells us that the German garrison is 20,000 strong. A full-scale rebellion means they’d have open season to destroy this beautiful city block by block. It would be a bloodbath.”
    “No!” Bernard pulled his beret from his head, balling it in his fist. “They must die. They must pay!” The pain in his voice was fresh. His loss was an open wound.
    Gabi took a step closer to Bernard. She dared to place a soft hand on his arm. “Learn from the Warsaw Uprising. At this very moment, Polish insurgents are being crushed underfoot by their German captors, who are defending ‘Fortress Warsaw’ and counterattacking the Russian Army.”
    “We heard the same thing from the German propagandists,” Bernard conceded.
    “So you know,” Gabi whispered. “The Warsaw Uprising started three weeks ago with high hopes, but the Nazis are ruthless. They’re torching neighborhoods, mowing down civilians. I fear Warsaw is a model for how Hitler’s armies will leave nothing but dead bodies and scorched earth behind.”
    Eric caught the look between Rousseau and Dubois that revealed how they thought things would be different in Paris. He reached out and placed a hand on Gabi’s back, urging her to continue. Pride again filled him at how capable she was for a young woman in her mid-twenties—and how dedicated. Even though she was shaken from today’s events, he knew it would not hinder her from performing the task she’d been asked to do.
    She glanced to him and then pointed toward the western horizon. “You need proof? Take a look at the smoke. Who knows what that’s from? German reinforcements could be pouring into the Parisian neighborhoods where those church towers may have heralded libération a bit too prematurely. I wouldn’t put it past them.”
    Bernard effected a wan smile. “I’ll pass your message up the ladder, but nothing’s going to change. Our leader, Colonel Rol, declared that ‘Paris is worth 200,000 dead.’ That’s how far the Resistance is willing to push to rid ourselves of this national humiliation.”
    Eric regarded Bernard’s confident body language, which confirmed his belief that the liberation of Paris was part of his destiny. Like the sound of a clanging church bell that could not be unrung, he knew there was no turning back for Rousseau and his Resistance members.

    The impact of the shovel echoed in Colette’s mind, and she grabbed the stair railing and paused. She stared at the marble step before her, knowing if she closed her eyes, she’d see it again—the sight of hedge shears being yanked from the major’s back.
    Throughout four years of German rule, she’d heard stories of war, about the bloodletting and barbarous battles. She’d heard about men who’d received a worse fate, but never so near. She covered her mouth and nose with a quivering hand, sure the scent of blood was still in the air.
    You have to get ahold of yourself. Those men are no longer a threat . But that was only half of her worries. As Paris was drawing closer and closer to liberation, she wondered if other high-ranking German officers would have the same idea of pillaging the Louvre of her priceless artwork while they still had the chance.
    Will I be able to handle their request so calmly next time? She had to believe she would react in

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