An Unexpected Visitor
Lynn and Melissa hurried along one of the riding trails in the Bois de Boulogne. Lynn’s apartment sat near the edge of the park. Close to the Champs Elysees, her location provided easy access to bakeries, cafes, restaurants and superb shopping. Wide walking paths canopied by chestnut trees criss-crossed their route. The plethora of exotic flowers and plants precisely placed in the ornamental lawns buttressed their footpath and filled the air with sweet aromas. No time to appreciate this arboretum, they stepped out onto the sidewalk of Avenue Foch. Lush verges, elegant chestnut trees and palatial dwellings lined the avenue.
“Is it my imagination or is this avenue extraordinarily wide?” Melissa asked.
“No, it’s not your imagination. According to one of the travel guides, it’s 120 meters wide, give or take.” She glanced at Melissa. “The avenue’s elegance leaves me awestricken too. It happens every time I return. We had better get going.”
Lynn closed the door to her apartment, drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “My little slice of heaven.” She kicked off her shoes. “My fear is it may not last long.”
“Why would you think that? Is it the Hotel Crillon that’s troubling you?” She walked ahead of Lynn into the living room.
“What else, then?”
“The Depression transformed France. The latest influx of refugees from the Spanish civil war has sparked renewed xenophobia and anti-Semitism. When Daladier prorogued parliament and suspended elections France, without so much as a whimper, became ruled by an authoritarian government. Even the church supports his work for national renewal. Most troubling to me, he created a Minister of Race. Too cozy with the Munich bunch for my liking. Reinhold and his Nazi friends strutting around the Hotel forebodes darker days, sooner than later. And that may affect how we enter Germany. Please, make yourself comfortable.” She pointed to the couch.
“Do you really have to pace? It makes me nervous.”
“It helps me think.”
Lynn stopped. “Okay. You’ve got my attention.”
“Reinhard’s SS number.”
“So? Why on earth would you ever need to know that?”
Melissa lit up her cigarette and swung her legs over the arm of the chair, propped her head up with a cushion and dislodged her shoes. They flopped onto the lush carpet with a gentle thud. “Sometimes my penchant for knowing such things has meant the difference between life and death.”
Lynn stared at Melissa. “Are you telling me that we are in one of those situations?”
“Who knows.” She shrugged matter-of-factly. “In Berlin it could be a very different story.”
“I’m not sure I understand. Unless, you think my meeting Reinhold somehow compromised our mission? Because if you do, I have the same concern.”
“Your guess is as good as mine.&r...