Jasmine’s spine stiffened as she regarded Rausch with a cool expression. On the outside she remained poised, though inwardly she wanted to tremble and run away as fast as she could.
But it was useless.
What she just saw Rausch accomplish with a flick of his hand could easily be done to her and her companions. The Nazi officer’s smug smile told her so. He even opened the door for her and let her step outside, and when she passed him she wanted to vomit.
Despite the heavy cedar and citrus scent of Rausch’s cologne, she could still smell something wrong about him. A death stench. She was sure that’s what had invaded her nostrils and tickled the back of her throat. She had seen and smelled her share of bodies, whether it was a drunkard outside the nightclub slumped against the wall, unmoving, or a suspected Resistance fighter shot down in the streets of Paris and left out in the open as a “lesson” to everyone else.
Jasmine had heard that wizards were extra sensitive to warlocks, and that what normal people like her detected when in a warlock’s presence would only be amplified and nearly insufferable to a wizard.
But I could sure use a wizard right now, she thought, as she stood next to the remaining men and women who were still frozen in place with their hands held high. She turned and faced the same direction they did, away from the road. She felt uncomfortable–no, vulnerable with her back turned to Rausch and his accomplice. She wanted to be able to see what was coming, and duck, roll or jump if she needed to. Lydie scrambled behind her and joined her on her left side, making a visible effort to quit whimpering so that Rausch wouldn’t pick her as the next victim. André came up beside Lydie, surprisingly with a defiant expression.
“All of you, sit,” the second SS officer toting the gun commanded. He had light brown hair and a crooked nose. His eyes were dark and cold.
The two men and women who were already lined up gave a collective sigh and sat on the ground, grateful for the respite. Lydie quickly obeyed as well, but Jasmine and André exchanged glances. Was this it? Was the officer just going end it and shoot them all in the back of the head?
“Sit!” He barked.
Jasmine lowered herself to the ground and sat, crossing her legs. André finally complied as well. She could hear a few other cars being allowed through the checkpoint, and Jasmine felt torn between waving for help–which probably wouldn’t come unless the drivers had a death wish–and envying them for being beneath Rausch’s notice.
“I found your gun,” Rausch’s voice sang to her as if mentioning a harmless discovery. She could hear his boots scrape against the dirt and loose rocks as he made his way over to her.
“It’s for protection,” she said, shivering as Rausch’s shadow hung over her.
“Protection?” He cocked the gun. “But I thought you were La Dame Rouge–everyone loves you.”
Her heart beat frantically in her chest and she had to force herself not to flinch when the cold steel of her revolver pressed against the back of her neck. She gulped. “So…you’re just going to shoot me for no reason?” Well, better that than to be decapitated by your voodoo magic or whatever the hell that was.