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  from Shadows Past by Jordyn Jacobs

Chapter 1
Vienna, 1981

Music cascaded through the air, musty with history and the clawing scent of old death that wafted from the Nazi's breath. Avner Yadin watched the performance over the shoulder of his tuxedo. The man in front of him no longer pranced around in uniform. His hair had grayed and his skin bore more wrinkles than his last known official photograph back on the pile of surveillance images scattered over Avner's hotel room. But there was no doubt in his mind. Klaus Muller, infamous record keeper at Bergen Belsen, hid among the high society of Austria watching the Russian ballet. If his fellow citizens knew that evil sat with them, they made no sign. Avner doubted they would even if they knew. Nazi Germany was gone, water under the bridge, best to let dead dogs lie. There was no telling what disturbing the corpses might reveal.

And so the nation born of Survivors was left to find its own justice. The scum in front of him wasn't a man. He was prey and Avner's fingers twitched to wrap around his throat. He smoothed his palms over his black pants. Patience was the virtue of the spy. He would grab his prey after the performance and bring him bound to the Holy Land, where his trial waited.

Avner let his eye wander to the stage below. The Nazi wasn't going anywhere. A group of white shimmering dancers spun in close formation, a flower ready to open around a single woman in scarlet. She rose from the stage as the group spread out, bodies layered over each other like petals. The center dancer leapt from her bud with graceful power. The male lead joined her in front of the discarded bloom. His hand caressed her slender waist. Her leg rose over her head, toes stretched to the gold-plated crown molding above the stage. The man spun her slowly, the character he played admiring her beauty to lilting orchestral melody.

Avner's mouth went dry.

Chestnut hair was pulled tight and crowned with golden blossoms. Sparkles flecked rosy cheeks, descending her pale neck and vanishing under her low cut costume. The song that proclaimed her beauty did not do her justice.

Avner tore his eyes from the scene only long enough to learn her name from the program folded in his lap. Oksana Ivonova, prima ballerina of the Moscow ballet, had a two line biography of accolades that revealed nothing about her.

Music reached crescendo, ripping his focus back to the stage. He'd focused too much on his mission and the dead man in front of him than the performance and now it neared its end. A battle of leaping bodies in black raged below, threatening to throw the shimmering couple from the stage. The scarlet dancer writhed against the tide of flesh that pulled her from her lover's embrace, fighting the fates for a happy ever after.

But the fates were too strong.

Avner sat forward, his breath hissing between his teeth.

The black swirling mass dispersed leaving the still form of the lover in its wake. She burst from their clutches, twirling and leaping to his side, falling on his body. Her heartbreak conveyed not in words or song, but in the twisting of her limbs. Scarlet rose and spun in slow repose. The music wept. Tears ran down his shaved cheeks. A blade flashed in stage lights.

Avner almost leapt to his feet to stop her, but the scarlet dancer's feet stumbled in a practiced fall, and her body covered her lover as the lights dimmed to black.

He sat paralyzed in the dark while patrons shuffled to their feet around him. The Nazi grabbed his tuxedo jacket and rose in front of him. The mission went on. Yet Avner remained, his eyes fixed on the crushed velvet curtain. No doubt behind the veil Oksana rose to rush backstage and prep...







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