"The Song of the Nightingales"
(Ma Grande Sœur)
I would like to dedicate this story to Pierre Jalbert. My sister Janice and I started this story before the passing of Pierre, the man who portrayed "Caje" in the series Combat! After his death I found it almost impossible to finish this story.
But then Janice said something that made me think.
She explained that as long as we, and all the others who love to write fan fiction keep writing,
Pierre, Vic Morrow, Dick Peabody and Rick Jason
Will always be with us. I like that.
This story is part three in an ongoing tale. If you have not read the first two stories you might find yourself lost as to what's going on. So here are the titles to the stories that lead you up to this tale.
Part one is entitled…
"A Husbands Promise"
Now part two is rated M for Mature, as it does contain sexually explicit material. If you go to the setting and change your filter to M. you should find it.
This story is called…
And now, s'il vous plaît, my sister andI would be honored if you would read…
"The Song of the Nightingales"
As Second Platoon First Squad moved out, Caje was left behind in the care of Doctor Reynolds and his nurses. Two of the nurses stood outside the rag tag make shift hospital and solemnly watched as the men march out.
Gabriel had just finished up her paper work and had checked in on Caje. Stepping outside, she spotted Rhonda silently watching as Caje's outfit walked away.
"Rhonda, are you ok?"
What a way to start the day.
Rhonda was thinking as she watched "her soldier" leave with the rest of the squad.
What now? I feel so lost and I don't know why. Is he coming back? Will he be safe? What is this that I'm feeling towards a man I just met? Love?
Could I really be in Love?
"Rhonda, Nurse Rhonda, are you OK?"
Gabriel went over and stood beside her scatter brained little nurse as Caje's squad moved out to again fight the war that was raging all around them.
"Uh, what, Ma'am? Did you need me for something Ma'am?"
Rhonda's hand quickly moved up to brush the tear away that had started to fall.
Gabriel couldn't help but put her arm around Rhonda and try to reassure her.
"Oh honey, he'll be ok. He's a non-combatant and that arm band and helmet he wears clearly marks that he is there to help. He'll be fine."
Rhonda, trying desperately to understand, turned to face her lieutenant.
"I know Ma'am, that's what he told me too, but I'm still as confused as to what all this means. I'm learning, but I'm so slow sometimes. Just like in school. Sometimes I just don't understand."
"Sir" Rhonda continued, "I think I love him. I have never been in love before, so I don't know, but I think about him all the time. And I'm scared. I'm so very scared for him. Is this love?"
Turning to face Rhonda as the last of the squad disappeared from site, Gabriel softened her voice,
"Rhonda, if that feeling you have is love, well then, I seem to have it also. And I know what you mean. I can't stop thinking about Paul. And I am so very scared. Paul's not well enough to join his squad yet, but he will be. And when that day comes…oh Rhonda, I don't even want to think about it."
As the two totally different women continued to talk, it was obvious a bond was starting to form.
"Why don't you come in and help me go over the supplies. We're pulling back tomorrow. Doctor Reynolds will be leaving first with the ambulatory patients. You and I will wait for an ambulance that is being sent to transport Paul, I mean Private LeMay. We need to get the inventory loaded and ready to move by 0600 hours. Oh and Rhonda?"
Rhonda looked up, waiting for her Lieutenant to continue,
"Rhonda, I was thinking, seeing as we now have something so new to both of us in common."
A look of confusion crossed Rhonda's face. Gabriel, seeing it, continued, but added,
"Seeing that we both are now in love with two men from the same squad, how about you call me Gabriel instead of "a'am or Sir". Does that sound okay to you?"
Gabriel looked at Rhonda,
"I would like that a lot Ma'am."
Gabriel shook her head in dismay; she then put her protective arm back around Rhonda, leading her back into the hospital.
"Let me get this straight. You and that little bitty nurse, uh Ruthie, are an item now?"
Kirby was trudging alongside Doc, scratching his head at what the medic had just told him.
Doc looked at him and tried to explain.
"Her name is Rhonda, and yeah, an item, that's a good word for it. We're an "item".
"Well that's really good to hear Doc."
Littlejohn, who was just a step or two behind them, heard Doc's news and wanted to add his support.
"Well thank you Littlejohn. I'm glad someone is happy for me."
Doc turned back around and gave Kirby an unhappy look.
"Oh, don't get me wrong, Doc. I'm happy for ya. It's just; well she's just, uh, well, she's just a bit, uh, well…"
As Kirby tried to get his thoughts out without offending Doc, Doc stepped in.
"Yeah Kirby, I know. She's just a bit…Uh."
"And that's why I'm drawn to her. She's a sweet, innocent little thing. And yes, she's a bit naive as far as life goes. She Is sweet. She Is innocent. And yes, she Is naive. She also has morals and she is just the kind of girl I've been looking for. Every one back home has been try'en to par me up with, well you know, Cousin Edna*. I hate to disappoint them, but honestly, I ain't going near that girl. She's an accident just a wait 'in to happen and I ain't going to be in the passengers seat when it does."
Up ahead, Sergeant Saunders had stopped to receive a message from a runner. The message stated that the field hospital where they had just left Caje was in need of an escort. With the fighting getting dangerously close, the brass ordered the hospital to pull back and Sergeant Saunders orders were to go back and help them.
Sergeant Saunders waited until he had the full attention from his squad,
"Looks like we're going back the way we came. That field hospital is in need of an escort and we're it. Saddle up."
"Well Doc, looks like someone up there must believe in love."
Littlejohn had a slight smile on his face and slapped Doc on the back. Doc just smiled.
"What are you doing out of bed?"
As Gabriel walked into Caje's room, she saw that he had gotten up and was trying to walk over to a chair. Not having the strength yet to complete the task, Gabriel rushed over to his side just as what little strength he had was spent.
"Like I said, what are you doing out of bed?!"
"I'm feeling better. I need to get up and move."
Caje gave her a look of determination, but his weakness was so apparent.
"Paul, stop this. You're not better and you know it. Doctor Reynolds will be in shortly. How would it have looked for him to find you on the floor? You're not going to get better if you don't take it slow."
Caje, his eyes revealing to Gabriel the amount of pain he was feeling, pleadingly looked at her.
"Could you help me to the chair?"
Gabriel knew Caje should not be up, let alone trying to walk. She knew he should be back in bed. But she also knew Caje needed to feel he had some control over his life. And if helping him over to a chair to sit for a while instead of back to bed was what he needed to do, she knew she had to show her support and help him.
With Gabriel's help, Caje slowly made it over to the chair.
Shaking physically from pain and fatigue, and with Gabriel's help, Caje slowly sat down.
"Paul, I'm not going to tell you I understand what you're going through, because I don't. But I know what you're thinking. You feel guilty for staying here. You need to be with those men, I understand that. And I know that in time, you will be back with them."
Gabriel, caught up in what she was trying to say, started to tear up.
"But can I tell you something? I just watched your squad leave with Rhonda by my side. She's so scared for Doc. While trying to comfort her, I realized just how scared I am for you."
She reached up and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She then went down on her knees in front of him and looked up into his eyes.
"Paul, please tell me, what have we started here? I know what I'm feeling, but I need to know, what is it your feeling?"
Caje was caught off guard. He was aware that what took place between the two of them could be taken the wrong way. He found he had to stop for a moment to arrange his words in English for in his mind he was thinking in French. If his words bounced around too much between the two languages he could cost this beautiful, gentle woman kneeling before him more pain.
He needed to make sure Gabriel understood he did not use her. That he did not look upon what took place between the two of them as just having sex. No, what he had to make clear was he not only gave his body to her, he gave his heart.
"Oh ma cher, I did not use you in there. Is that what you're thinking? That once I am better, this,"
Pointing to himself then Gabriel he continued, "This will end?" He took both her hands and brought them up to his lips and kissed them.
"This has just begun. I would never lead you on just to satisfy my needs. You must trust me on this. What has happened is something special."
"Oh my dear sweet girl, what happened in there is that I made Love to you. And that is how I feel."
With that said, Caje lifted her up into his arms and kissed her on the mouth. Not the passionate type of kiss that usually leads to desire.
But the type of kiss that he hoped would reassure her. He had given his heart to her, and there it shall remain.
As Rhonda was taking inventory in the supply tent preparing for their move, she was interrupted by a familiar voice.
"You don't salute officers in this unit?
Rhonda stopped what she was doing, turned around and replied,
"Of course we do Ma'am. Sorry."
With a sly smile and a quick salute, Rhonda stepped forward and gave the intruder a warm hug.
"I've missed you Susie." Rhonda squealed.
"Me too little sister."
"Besides dear sister, even though you have been in "This Man's Army" longer than I, we are both the same rank. And honestly, I don't think I should have to salute a sister who used to play hide and seek with me, and then forgets to look for me?"
They both laughed.
"Sorry little sis. But how was I to know you'd stay hidden for 3 hours? Boy was mum ever mad, especially after she found me in the shed playing doctor with Timmy Tailor."
They both laughed again, but this time it seemed a little strained.
"So big sister, why are you here?"
Rhonda had turned her attention back to the inventory.
"Well little sister,"
"They needed volunteers to pack up and help move a little hospital. At first I thought, not me, too close to the action. Then they mentioned that it was your unit and I just had to come."
"So, where's this doctor you wrote mum about? Have you two gotten to know each other yet?"
Susan knew the answer to her question even before she asked. Rhonda was a "good girl". Mum made sure of that. Sex was something that happened only after marriage.
She, on the other hand, believed life was short. Have fun now and pay for it later. Her thoughts drifted back to Tim.
At the end of summer, both she and Tim had a chance to leave home. She chose to go off to college. Tim chose to join the Army and go off to war. She graduated and he was killed. Life wasn't fair. But for right now, she had a chance to visit with her little sister and that was all she needed.
"Well little sister, where's your doctor?" Susie asked.
Rhonda laughed as she dodged the question.
"He's not a real doctor," she smiled,
"Everyone calls him Doc, but he's a medic and a good one. He even saved Lieutenant Gabriel's boyfriends life."
With that she pointed to a desk in the corner where Susan noticed someone sitting. As she turned, her eyes focused on the bars on the collar. She snapped to attention and saluted.
"Sorry Ma'am I didn't see you there."
This caught Gabriel by surprise. Finally, a proper salute, Gabriel thought.
Gabriel returned the salute, and then held out her hand to warmly welcome the new comer.
Sisters huh? Gabriel thought.
I know the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but I don't think these two apples were ever in the same orchard.
Susan turned her attention back to her little sister.
"So Rhonda, he's a medic? "
"Well, yes. And he's a good one. Just ask the Lieutenant.
Doc was out in the field when a sniper shot Private LeMay. If it hadn't been for him, Private LeMay would of surely died. Right sir?"
"Yes, that's right."
Gabriel answered, but not wanting to discuss her love life with the new arrival, she turned back to her paperwork.
"I'm impressed little sister. When do I get to meet him?"
Hearing Susan's request, Gabriel looked up.
"Rhonda, why don't you show your sister around a bit, spends some time with her. We have time before we leave tomorrow to finish this up. I need to go over and peek in on our patients."
"Yes Ma'am. Thank you Ma'am"
She gave Gabriel a quick salute and then took her sisters hand.
"Come on Susan, I'll show you where I sleep."
As Rhonda turned and pulled her sister towards the door, Susan tried to give a salute of respect to Gabriel, but it was useless. Gabriel laughed, returned the salute, and then headed over towards Caje's cot.
The squad had made it back to the field hospital. Most of the patients by now had been transferred, with just a few left for Dr. Reynolds and his nursing staff to tend to. Dr. Reynolds insisted the men bunk in one of the hospitals empty wards off to the side, finding it foolish for them to set up camp outside.
Kirby had been at his best friend's bedside for a good part of the day. The remaining patients, who were able, mingled outside, waiting, along with the squad, for the order to move out.
Caje, who had felt so useless when the squad left without him, now felt whole. Gabriel could see the change in him. He seemed to grow stronger just by being around these men. As the time grew near for the group to move out, it was apparent the transport for Caje would not be there in time to move with them.
"Why don't I stay and go with Caje, Sarge?" Kirby asked "I don't think they should go without an escort either."
Kirby felt uneasy. He really couldn't put a finger on it, but he felt something just didn't seem right.
"The ambulance will have its own escort Kirby, but you're right… Doc?" Saunders called out,
"Doc, I think it would be better if you stayed with Caje and the two nurses. Is that ok with you?"
A smile spread across Doc's face. "I think that's a great idea."
With the news of Doc staying to help with moving Caje, Gabriel turned to Rhonda and asked,
"Rhonda, are you sure you want to stay? I can handle this with just Doc."
Gabriel gave Doc a sly little grin. She knew perfectly well Rhonda would want to stay now that Doc would be helping out.
"Oh no Ma'am, I think I would like to stay and help."
Rhonda turned to her sister just as Private Kirby was about to leave and called out
"Private Kirby, have you met my sister Susan yet?"
Kirby, hearing his named, turned back around to face Rhonda. Then he looked past her and saw to his delight, a very petite, blonde haired, brown eyed nurse he had not seen when he first arrived. His eyes widened and a smile slowly spread across face.
"Ok, Saddle up."
Sargent Saunders had just walked in to the area where they had moved Caje to wait for the transport. He spotted Kirby with that 'up to no good' smile on his face.
"Alright, I said saddle up. We're moving out and Doc will be staying with Caje and the nurses."
"Oh, that's fine with me Sarge." Kirby was quick to reply.
"Have you met Rhonda's sister Susan yet?
As Susan stepped forward to meet Sergeant Saunders, the Sergeant extended his hand.
"No, can't say that I have, nice to meet you Lieutenant."
"Will you be staying here to help your sister, or will you be moving out with the ambulatory patients?"
As Susan released the Sergeants hand, she stole a look over to where Kirby was standing and gave him a wink. She then turned her attention back to Saunders and said,
"I'll be going with you Sergeant, if that's ok?"
"That's fine with me Ma'am, I don't make the orders, I just follow them.
He then turned to face his men,
Ok, let's move out."
Hans Olbricht was a proper, loyal German officer. He was the type the propaganda ministry loved. He was tall, with blue eyes and blond hair. His muscular physique just added to the look of Hitler's idea of the perfect Nazi Officer.
It was said he was of aristocratic decent from the days of the Old Prussian Army. Hans always carried out his orders to the best of his abilities. It did not matter to him who issued those orders. Nazi or not, he was a pure military man. Orders were meant to be carried out.
He had been promoted quickly from Private to Captain in less than a year and a half. Hans liked the rank of Captain. It kept him from the mundane jobs, but still allowed him to be out in the field. Not stuck behind a desk somewhere, doing nothing more than shuffling papers that had previously been shuffled by someone else.
Hans was sitting in the ruins of what was left of a building he managed to dive into when the bombing had started. The putrid smell of the upturned earth mixed with the smells of burning flesh was the only sensation his senses where able to focus on. He could feel the rumblings of the last of the explosions. The screams from his men had finally ceased. With the heavy smoke from the fires still burning around him, he was unable to see how many of his men were still alive.
The bombardment caught them by surprise. Most of the men did not have time to duck into one of the many demolished building for cover as he had. They had stopped at this location to rest a bit. That didn't matter now as around Hans lay the dead and dying. From what he could tell only a couple of his men had survived the onslaught.
Sturmbahnführer Färber, the SS Major who had been assigned to their squad, was sitting upright just a few kilometers away. What looked like a knife, but in actuality was timber from a building that had been blown apart one too many times, was protruding out of his shoulder.
Hans was not fond of anything or anyone connected to Hitler's SS command group. Even in the middle of buildings being blown apart, and suffering a severe injury, the SS officer still looked in control and a menacing presence to deal with.
Hans escaped the rain of shrapnel with little more than a scratch or two. As Hans got shakily up, he took in the damage in one quick gaze. Only the Major, himself and one other soldier were left alive.
Gabriel had just finishing changing Caje's dressing and was trying to talk him into letting her administer something for his pain. She knew the trip to the new field hospital was going to be rough on him. But as always, Caje refused.
He explained to Gabriel why he needed to be in full control of his senses during their journey. He knew out of experience, that during war, even the smallest and simplest of tasks could turn, at any moment, into a life or death situation.
"But Paul, the ambulance will have a guard along in case anything should happen. You need to let others do their jobs. Besides sir, in your condition, do you really think it wise to even try and lift that rifle of yours? Think about it Paul. You need to concentrate on getting well. This war is doing just fine without you for the moment, I assure you."
As Gabriel tried again to reason with the stubborn Cajun, she heard the rickety old door open slowly.
"Ma'am, could you come here for a moment, please?"
"I'll be right there Rhonda." Gabriel answered with a frustrated sigh.
"Ma'am, please, I need you right now."
"You should listen to the child." An unfamiliar voice broke in.
"I am NOT a child. I am a nurse." Rhonda answered.
As Gabriel turned to face the door, she could see the outline of a strange man in a uniform she was not familiar with. It was that of a German soldier. As he stepped farther into the room she could feel Caje starting to rise from the bed. With a firm hand, she touched his shoulder and eased him back down. In a low voice she whispered to him,
"Please, let me handle this."
Looking into the enemy's eyes, she squared her shoulders, tilted her head back and demanded,
"Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my hospital?"
Ignoring her question, the intruder pointed his gun in Caje's direction and asked,
"Who is he?"
Gabriel answered, "He's a patient."
Hans starred menacingly at Caje,
"Get up 'patient'. You and these women need to come with me."
"He can't get up, he's been wounded."
Gabriel knew she needed to act fast. She continued to talk, and as she did, she moved slightly over, putting herself in front of the rifle that was amid at Caje's chest. She was sure that with her in-between, Caje would not try anything at this time.
"Then I will shoot him here. He is to come with us or die here. Which will it be?" Hans's steady gaze made her feel uncomfortable, but she again stuck out her chin,
"He will come with us." Gabriel replied.
With a look of disgust on her face, Gabriel turned her back to Hans.
She then reached down to help Caje to his feet. As she was doing this, she looked into his eyes and mouthed, "please".
Caje nodded his understanding and tried to stand; only his strength would not permit it. Rhonda rushed to his other side to help Gabriel steady him. With Rhonda on one side and Gabriel on the other, Caje slowly stood up.
"Is there anyone else here?"
The German officer looked around then continued,
"Where are all your other patients? This is a Krankenhaus, uh, in English it would be a hospital, yes? Where are the patients for your hospital? "
Gabriel, trying hard to steady her voice, said,
"We are in the process of moving our hospital back to set up at another location. All but Private LeMay have been moved. Private LeMay is not able to be moved by stretcher. We are waiting for an ambulance. It should be here soon. I think it would be wise of you to leave before it arrives."
The man just shook his head and continued,
"This is a hospital and we too have wounded who need tending to. You will help with this, and then we will leave."
As Hans opened the office door, he pointed with the barrel of his gun in the direction in which he wanted them to go. Rhonda and Gabriel, with Caje held tightly between them, slowly moved forward. As they walked, Gabriel looked up into Caje's eyes. He nodded that he understood. Even though every fiber in his being was screaming out to fight, he knew, in his condition, he couldn't.
They walked slowly to the other end of the building. As they arrived, their captor pushed open the door. Gabriel looked in and saw a man leaning against a desk at the far corner of the room. As Hans lead his three prisoners into the room, the man slowly stood up.
"Ladies" The man addressed them, "Please come in. As you can see I've had a slight accident."
Pulling his jacket open,
"I'm afraid I am in need of medical attention."
Rhonda and Gabriel walked into the room and helped Caje over to a chair. As Rhonda tended to Caje, Gabriel walked over to the Major.
Another soldier was standing to the right of one of the buildings shattered windows, holding a rifle. He peered out the window, making sure they were alone.
He then walked over to where Caje was sitting. He looked down at Caje and said in a menacing voice,
"You will fix our commander because if he should die," he aimed his rifle at Caje, "so will this man."
The Commander broke in, "Karl, you are scaring the ladies."
Rhonda turned toward the injured man and said,
"No he's not"
She tried to sound as brave as Gabriel had, but as she spoke, the wavering of her voice gave her away.
The Major laughed.
Rhonda quickly turned back around to tend to Caje.
Caje was looking down quietly as all this was going on. He had his hand over the bandages that were wrapped around his mid-section. Rhonda looked down at him and noticed that the bandages, along with his hand, were stained red with blood.
She turned back towards Gabriel, and said in a scared voice,
"Ma'am he's bleeding again. His wound must have torn open when we were walking."
Caje looked at Gabriel
"I'm OK; do what you have to do. I'm fine."
Gabriel looked into his eyes, nodded her head, and then turned her attention back to the injured German.
"Ronda, go get me the ether." Gabriel ordered.
The soldier known as Karl stepped in and answered,
"She cannot leave the room."
Gabriel looked at him and in a commanding voice said,
"Look, I need to sedate your commander to clean out and then sew up his wound.
I need Rhonda here to go fetch me the ether.
And I need you to stay the hell out of my way."
The injured commander smiled. He liked this girl Gabriel.
He knew he would be in good hands.
And maybe after, she would be in his hands.
As the others waited for the ambulance for Caje in the front building of the now deserted hospital, Doc decided to go back into the supply room in hopes of finding blankets. He knew that moving Caje was not an ideal thing to do. Caje had already suffered a few setbacks and Doc wanted to make sure that this move didn't set him back even further. He figured if he could find enough blankets, he could use them as padding to protect him from the rough trip ahead.
After searching through trunks and foot lockers that were left behind, Doc finally found a couple of torn up but clean blankets that he guessed were being thrown out.
"Well lookie here."
His face lit up as he pulled the two blankets from an old trunk.
"Thank the Good Lord above. These may not be in the best of shape, but for what I need them for, they're perfect."
With the blankets tucked safely under his arm, and a big smile on his face, Doc headed back towards the hospital. As he got closer though, he thought he could hear a man's voice coming from the back of the building.
He knew Caje and the nurses where waiting for the transport in the front entrance of the hospital so to hear voices coming from the back surprised him. The closer he got he also noticed that the male voice he was hearing had a slight accent to it, but not a French accent.
Cautiously, he crept closer until he could clearly hear the conversation in the next room. As Doc carefully peeked in, he realized what was happening.
Slowly he pulled his head back. He knew he only had two choices. He could either stay and get captured by the enemy, or he could go for help. As hard as it was to turn and leave, he knew he had to. Silently he stole away from the building.
He moved back around to the other side of the hospital where the bushes had not been cut back. Once he was sure no one could see him, he took off running.
He ran along the route the squad had traveled just hours before. And he did not stop running till he found Sergeant Saunders and the rest of the squad.
"So what are you saying Doc, you just left them alone with three or four Germans with their Commander being an SS officer? Damn, I knew I should have stayed."
Kirby was practically spitting out his words, he was so mad at himself.
Doc was still doubled over, trying to catch his breath.
"Well yeah Kirby, there wasn't much I could do except leave and hopefully get help before anything happens. From what I could make out, their commander is seriously injured and all they want is medical help for him. But I don' trust the one they call Karl. He seemed a bit too anxious and a bit too eager to use his rifle."
Doc turned his attention back to Saunders.
"Sarge, we need to go back."
"Yeah Doc, I agree with you. And we are going back, but we can't just storm in there. If that one kraut is jumpy, the first thing he'll do if we bust in, is start shooting up the place. And my guess would be, his first target would be Caje. So we need to plan this out."
Suddenly the door to the field hospital flew open and Susan stormed into the conversation.
"YOU!" she screamed at Doc. "How could you just leave my sister, you, you, coward."
Totally caught off guard by Susan's verbal assault, Doc tried to explain his actions. He was hoping she would understand that he had no other choice.
"There was nothing I could do but come get help. I have no rifle, I'm a non-com."
"You're nothing but a spineless worm. And my sister, my sweet clueless little sister love's you. Huh, wait till I tell her how her big brave "Doctor" turned tail and ran out the door the minute trouble started."
Saunders turned to Susan and quietly said,
"No one turned and ran. You, Lieutenant need to get yourself together. Pointing fingers and accusing won't help anyone. We have no time to waste so please Lieutenant, either be quite or leave."
Sergeant Saunders knew the Lieutenant was only acting in this manner because she was fully aware of the danger her sister was in. Even so, Saunders also knew he needed his men clear headed if they were going to stand any chance of getting Caje and the two nurses out alive.
As the Sergeant turned away and resumed his discussion, Susan turned and buried her face into Kirby's chest, and cried.
Hans decided it would be best if he accompanied Rhonda into the next room to retrieve the ether for Gabriel. In the meantime Gabriel turned her attention back to the Major and what she was doing.
As she helped the commander remove his shirt for the surgery, the Major's hand brushed softly and then lingered on one of Gabriel's breasts. Startled, she reacted with a slap to his offending hand.
"Remember who will be holding the scalpel Commander. Your advances are not welcome."
Caje, who was desperately fighting to stay alert, caught the gesture and sat bolt up-right. The result of his movement causing his injury to send a reminder in the form of severe pain.
Gripping the side of the chair tightly with one hand, Caje tried to keep himself from slipping on to the floor. He gingerly moved his other hand to the bandaged area around his mid-section. Pulling his hand away, he noticed the bleeding from his wound had started to increase. The only thing Caje could do at this point was press harder on the wrappings that were tightly bound around his bare chest.
Damn, not now, I need to get this stopped. I'm of no good to anyone if I sit here and bleed to death…damn!
The Major looked up and smiled at Gabriel. He then tried to make amends.
"It was but a mere accident my dear. I could not, nor would I offend you. I am, after all, an officer above all, no matter what your propaganda machines have tried to say."
But then, to himself he thought,
Maybe the little one will be a bit more receptive.
The commander's eyes searched for Rhonda
Hans, who had returned with Rhonda, had watched as the Major had tried his advances on Gabriel. Knowing full well that they were advances, Hans had hopped if he stepped in; he could re-direct the Major's attention towards them leaving as soon as possible.
"Sir, if you would, please let them do their job. We need to concentrate on getting you out of here before the ambulance that is due, arrives."
Hans tried to look sympathetic but his look failed him some.
"Yes, they should do their job Hans, I agree. But my dear Fräulein," The Major turning his attention back to Gabriel, "please remember one thing, it is true, you have the scalpel, but Karl here, he has the rifle."
Then thinking to himself,
We shall see about my 'advances' later Fräulein …yes?
Hans was hoping that the mere mention of the transport that was expected soon would help the Major focus on more important things. Like moving on and safely reaching their lines.
He was not interested in what seemed to be on the mind of the Major. He was not now, nor had he ever been what the Americans liked to portray as a typical Nazi. He was in this war to help his country. Not to rape and murder innocent women or soldiers to injured to defend themselves.
That is how all Germans were being portrayed. If he could accomplish only one thing in this war, he would like it to be that the German people, as a whole, where no different than any other nationality, including the Americans.
Leaving the Major's side, Hans walked over to where Caje was now struggling to stay upright in the chair. He noticed that Caje's wound had started to bleed again and that he seemed to be losing his battle to remain conscious.
Reaching Caje's side, Hans reached down and gently took hold of Caje's arm. Caje, startled by the gesture, looked up at his capture.
Gently, Hans helped him move to the floor and propped him up against a wall. He then bent down and again, very gently, moved Caje's hand that was covering his wound.
"Your wound, it is bleeding badly."
Caje just stared up at him. He was unable to phantom how, a man in the uniform that Hans was wearing, could possibly be concerned with his condition.
Hans, sensing what Caje was thinking replied.
"I am not here to kill, just for the sake of killing. I have family also. I have friends who have died in this war, as I am sure that you have too. I know Americans and Germans both are people. Not what both our governments say. Neither of us, left to our own accord, are monsters. I will get something to help stop your bleeding … 'patient'."
Standing up, he walked over to Gabriel and asked,
"What can I use to stop your soldiers bleeding?"
Gabriel looked over to where Caje was now sitting with his back up against the wall. The pain he was enduring he no long could hide, as it was etched into his face. She looked at Hans, then reaches down to a pile of discarded towels and picked up a few. She then handed them to Hans and said,
"Here, take these. Tell him to hold one tightly against his wound. If it bleeds through, tell him to add another and then another."
Looking at Hans, she added,
She then turned her attention back to the Commander.
"Sir, we need to administer ether to put you under so I can remove the debris from your wound."
"That won't be necessary Fräulein, I will stay awake to make sure all goes as planned."
Rhonda, who had returned with Hans with the anesthesia, looked from Gabriel to the SS Commander.
"Fine with me sir." Gabriel answered,
"If you can stand it, so can I."
She turned back to Rhonda and said,
"Put it away Rhonda, then come and assist me."
"Just please remember," The Commander continued,
"If I die, so does all here."
Gabriel gave him a look of disdain,
"I don't think it matters whether you live or die. I think what you have planned for us is the same."
The Commander looked at her with a hurt look on his face, then added,
"You have my word as an Officer, I will not hurt you."
Gabriel, hearing his assurance that they would not be harmed, relaxed a bit. But Rhonda noticed a look between the Commander and Karl that left her doubting the Commanders words.
With a plan thought out, the squad, with Susan, stood by the ambulance, waiting for the Sergeant to give the order to pull out.
Saunders looked at Rhonda's older sister. Her eyes were still red and puffy from crying. Not sure what to say to her, he just nodded his head, and said
"Well bring her back"
He then turned his attention to his men.
"OK Doc, now you understand, you don't do anything but drive us up to the hospital. I don't care what's going on in there, you stay put. Got it"
Sergeant Saunders was aware that having the medic drive them to the hospital in the transport was not the ideal thing to do. But he also knew he needed a medic with him for no other reason than to tend to Caje. Hopefully, in the back of the Sergeant's mind, Caje would be the only patient Doc would be in need of tending to.
Doc understood. In response all he did was nod his head "yes".
"Kirby, Littlejohn, get in the back. I'll ride up front with Doc, as they will be expecting an escort."
"Sarge, ain't that putting you and Doc at risk?"
Kirby asked the very question the Sarge had been silently asking himself. But it was not his safety, and it was not his actions Saunders had concerns for.
"Maybe so but we have to make this look like a normal transport. If at all possible the Germans won't figure out that we're on to them till it's too late and it's all over."
Kirby had reason to be nervous, but he also had faith in his Sergeant.
"I guess you're right. Are we ready to leave then Sarge?"
Saunders, understanding Kirby's fears, but knowing there was no other way to go about a rescue without there being some danger replied,
"Yeah, we're as ready as we're ever going to be…let's pull out."
With the order given, Doc climbed up into the driver's seat of the transport. He waited while Kirby and Littlejohn climbed into the back and pulled the canvas drape closed to block the outside view.
Sergeant Saunders again looked over to where Susan was standing. She was slightly shaking. Not from the cold, but from fear. She had been in this war long enough to know that what these men were about to attempt stood about as much of a chance of success as that proverbial snowball surviving the blistering furnaces of Hell. She also was aware that it would do no good to let on just how scared she really was.
With the Major's wounds finally cleaned out, and the suturing completed, Gabriel turned her attention towards Caje.
He had slipped side-ways and down a bit. His attempt to stay conscious, lost. His hand still clasped the towel, but being unconscious and no pressure being applied to his wound, the bleeding continued.
As Gabriel attempted to go over to Caje's side to try an administer aide, the Major stopped her. He had other ideas of what she was going to do next. And nowhere in his plan did he have her tending to a man who, if he wasn't already dead, soon would be from the bullet he would order Karl to pump into him.
As she turned to leave, the Major reached out and grabbed a hold of one of Gabriel's wrists. He then savagely swung her back around to face him. In doing so, Gabriel cried out in alarm.
Through the hazy clouds of pain, Caje heard Gabriel's scream and jolted back to reality.
Seeing the Major with his hands on Gabriel again, infuriated the Cajun. He tried to get up and go to her aide only Karl was still in the room.
Seeing Caje struggling to stand made him laugh. He then walked over to Caje an administered a savage kick, which caught him in his stomach.
Falling backwards, Caje cried out in pain and clutched at his mid-section. With the pain too much for even the stoic Frenchman to endure, he passed out again.
Seeing Caje kicked into unconsciousness by Karl brought a smirk to the face of the sadistic Commander. The Major, with a sinister look in his eye's turned to Karl and Hans and said.
"I am not able at this moment to enjoy what I wish I could do with these two lovely ladies. But I know you two are both capable of showing them how much more pleasure being with someone of pure blood can be over the mongrel attempts of love making from any American."
He glanced over to where Caje was lying. His injury, after the savage kick from Karl was bleeding freely again. He knew the American would not last much longer.
He turned to Hans and continued,
"Remove the body of the American, then return and you can show me how a true aristocrat makes a women scream…with pleasure, of course. Seeing that I am unable to attempt to show them at this moment, I wish to watch and relieve myself as you both teach these women which race is truly the superior race."
He laughed, and then turned his attention to Karl.
"Karl, you should be delighted. I have chosen you to make a woman out of the little one. Make her scream. I think I would like to hear her scream."
Karl, the joy of what he had been ordered to do plainly showing on his face, turned to Rhonda and with one violent rip, tore Rhonda's blouse and brassier from her petite body. The savagery of his actions immediately left welts on her back and shoulders as the claps from her brassier tore across her delicate skin.
Hans, trying desperately to think of a way to stall the Major's request asked him,
"Major, if I could sir, I would like to make this woman help me dispose of her lover. I think the terror in doing this will make the task of what I have planned for her later so much more enjoyable for you to watch."
The Major, caught up in watching Karl none to gently remove Rhonda's clothing, waved his hand at Hans and said,
"Fine, fine, yes dispose of the American."
With a wave of his hand he dismissed Hans, and then turned his full attention back to Karl.
As the Major unbuttoned his trousers, Hans looked at Gabriel and whispered,
"I am not going to hurt you. Just help me get your patient into the next room and I will try to explain to you what we must do next to stop all of this."
Hans bent down and put his hands under Caje's arms and told Gabriel to pick up his feet.
Even though visibly scared, Gabriel did as Hans requested. She bent down and with effort, lifted Caje's feet in an attempt to move him.
As they neared the door to the corridor Hans told Gabriel to put Caje's feet down and open and hold the door whilst he pulled Caje through. She did as she was told and then shut the door on the sight of Rhonda; standing in front of the two Nazi's, half naked.
Hans pulled Caje over to another door and told Gabriel to again hold it open for him. She again did as she was told. With Gabriel and Caje both safe for the time being, Hans turned to Gabriel and said,
"I am going to fire off two shots. Then I am going back into the room and explain to the Major that I had to kill you both as you would not let me kill your soldier here. I am in hopes he believes me and returns to watching Karl with your nurse. As he is doing that, I will kill them both. This is the only thing I can do to stop what is happening to your nurse. You must stay in here till it is over. They must not know you and your patient are still alive or they will kill us all, do you understand?"
Gabriel was sitting on the floor with Caje's head in her lap. Tears rolling down her face as she gently stroked Caje's cheek, hoping he would open his eyes.
She was scared. She knew Rhonda was being hurt both mentally and physically by that monster Karl as her screaming kept getting louder and louder. She knew Caje was in desperate need of a doctor and even if a doctor was present, she knew in all probability, he was going to die. She also knew that if Hans's plan worked, it would be a miracle. She looked up at him and all she could manage to say was "yes".
Hans nodded his head and then put his finger up to his lips and said "Shhhh". He then pulled out his gun. Pointed it up towards the ceiling of the hospital and pulled the trigger.
He waited a second, and then pointed the gun again up towards the ceiling and…
He holstered the gun and then turned to Gabriel and again said "Shhhh".
As Hans walked towards the door to leave, he reached down by Gabriel and picked up one of the blood soaked towels Caje had been using in the vain attempt to try and stop his own bleeding. He rubbed some of the Cajun's blood on his own pants and hands. He then grabbed a cleaner towel to take with him. He was in hopes the blood would give credence to what he was about to tell his Commander.
As he walked out the door, Gabriel moved her hand up to Caje's forehead and softly brushed a bit of his hair back. She then lowered her head down to Caje's and gently kissed him on his cheek.
"Wake up my soldier" she whispered.
With her tears falling ever so softly onto her lover's face, she repeated
"Paul please… wake up."
Hearing the second gun shot from the room down the hall, the Major stopped what he was tending to. He looked towards the door as Hans walked back in. Hans was wiping his hands on a towel. His pants and hands were covered with the blood of the American soldier he had just executed in cold blood, or so the Major was led to believe.
"Hans, where is the other woman? I heard two shots fired. Was there a problem?"
The Major's hand had returned to what he was doing. He did not seem totally interested at the moment in listening to an explanation as to the whys and wherefores of what took place in the other room. This is what Hans had been hoping for.
But before he could answer the Major's questions, Karl let out a blood curdling scream of his own. As both men turned their attention toward Karl, Karl's hands flew up to his neck where a scalpel now was protruding.
Karl had been following the Major's orders to a tee. He had made sure Rhonda had kept up her screaming for the Major's enjoyment. He had been roughly grabbing, twisting and even roughly biting Rhonda's exposed breasts. He had done such a "good job" at inflicting pain to his victim that both her breasts were bruised to the point of a sickening shade of purple.
He had worked himself up to such an excited, frenzied state that when he felt it was time to show her how a real man seduces a woman; he forgot what he was doing. He removed his hands from Rhonda to fumble with his belt to rid himself of his pants. When he did this it gave Rhonda that one fraction of a second to grab one of the scalpels that Gabriel had used to clean out the Major's wound.
With the adrenaline pumping faster and faster through her veins, Rhonda reached down the very second Karl had released his viscous grip on her. She grabbed the scalpel in her left hand and with strength that materialized out of nowhere, plunged it deep into the neck of the monster that had been brutalizing her body.
Karl, mortally wounded by "the little one" crumpled to the floor.
His Commander, shocked, fumbled for his pistol that was tucked into the pocket of his trousers, which were slightly pulled down during his excitement in watching Karl assault Rhonda. His fingers barely had time to wrap around the butt of his pistol when…
The Major slumped over.
With a single shot from Hans's pistol he had put an end to the SS Commanders reign of terror once and for all.
Hans, visibly shaken by what he was forced to do, laid his pistol down on the table.
With Doc driving the transport as fast as the rough terrain would permit, they were finally close enough to the little hospital that when Hans took his pistol out and killed the Commander, the sound of the gun going off could plainly be heard by all in the ambulance.
"Sarge?" Doc looked at Saunders with fear marking his features.
Both Kirby and Littlejohn also heard the shot. They both stuck their heads out of the canvas curtain that was between the back of the transport and the driver.
Kirby asked the question that he already knew the answer too.
"Sarge, was that a Luger?"
Saunders nodded his head.
"I believe so."
He turned his attention to Doc,
"We need to get to the aid station now."
Doc, as scared as he was, came back with a remark that even he was surprised came out of his mouth.
"Don't ya think I know that?"
Doc was close to tears. But he was aware also that he needed to stay in control.
"Sorry Sarge, I know, I know. We're just a few more minutes away. I'm going to punch it. Kirby, Littlejohn, hold on tight!"
With that, Doc slammed his foot down as hard as he could on the accelerator and the transport roared down the dirt road.
Doc managed to cover the last couple of miles in record time. Finally, they were in front of the abandoned aid station.
Rhonda, hearing the roar of the transport, and then the squeal of the tires as it came within a few feet of hitting the building, quickly turned to Hans and said,
"Hans, you must leave. After all that has happened, when they come in they may shoot first. You are the only reason we are still breathing. I want to return the gift you have given us. Please Hans, leave."
Hans, taken aback by Rhonda's offer, looked at her.
She was bruised from the waist up. Even though she modestly held what was left of her blouse in front of her, her ordeal was plainly visible and Hans knew that what she said was true.
If the men from the ambulance were to walk in at this moment and see Rhonda with the hellish markings on her body that the sadistic Karl had put there, the only logical thing for them to do would be to kill the only German left standing in the room.
He took one of Rhonda's hands in his; leaving her other hand to hold what remained of her ripped blouse in front of her badly bruised breasts and said,
"When I first met you, I referred to you as a child. You are no child. You are a very strong woman. I thank you for this gift of my life 'little one.'"
He gently kissed her hand then said, "Good bye."
With that, he picked up his pistol and was gone.
Doc, even though it had been agreed upon that he would wait in the transport, was the first man to storm through the hospital doors. He also had managed to obtain a pistol. And it was plainly obvious to all he was well prepared to use it.
The first thing that greeted Doc's senses though was Rhonda. His eyes got big and started to fill up with tears as the sight of her badly bruised body burned into his eyes. He rushed over to her and ever so gently started to remove the blouse that she was holding up to cover her exposed frame.
She gently stopped him and looked deep into his eyes.
"Please believe me, I'm okay for now. But Gabriel and Private LeMay, they're in a room down the hall. I don't think they're okay."
"I think the Lieutenant's boyfriend," She stopped, and her voice began to waver a bit, "I think it might be too late for Private LeMay."
Sergeant Saunders, spotting the two dead Nazi's as he walked in, ordered Littlejohn and Kirby to fan out.
"Be careful. We know there was at least three German's and I'm only counting two."
Rhonda raised both her hands up to Doc's face and kissed his cheek and then moved him aside a bit so she could see Sergeant Saunders.
"Sergeant," she began, sounding much older than the little girl they had left at the aide station this morning.
"Sergeant, please, there were only three men. The third man I told to leave. I will explain to you why later. But for now, my Lieutenant and your Private are in a room down the hall. I know Private LeMay is in need of medical attention. Please Sergeant, take Doc down to him. I'm fine for the moment, but I am afraid Private LeMay is not."
Saunders walked over to where Rhonda was standing with Doc and took hold of the medic's arm in an attempt to lead him to where Caje was in need of his care. Doc gave Rhonda one last look and then turned away to follow Saunders.
As the two soldiers walked out the door, the little girl quietly returned. Rhonda slumped down to the floor, put her throbbing, badly bruised face in her hands and started to silently cry.
Kirby and Littlejohn had already checked out the remaining buildings at the aide station. In doing so, they had found where Hans had stashed Gabriel and Caje. As the sergeant and Doc opened the door to the room they had been hiding in, they both stopped dead in their tracks.
What greeted them was what they had prayed they would not find.
Kirby was kneeling in front of the lieutenant, who was sitting on the floor in a corner of the room. She was up against a wall softly rocking back and forth. She had tears falling freely down both of her cheeks. And in her arms she was cradling what appeared to be the lifeless body of their scout.
She was humming softly and her hand was gently stroking Caje's hair. His eyes were closed and his head was tilted a bit in her lap. His right arm was lying on the floor with his palm turned upwards. His left arm was still tucked up by his wound and his palm and fingers were stained red from the many hours he'd been forced to sit with a towel, trying to stop his bleeding.
Hearing Doc and the Sergeant walk in, Gabriel stopped rocking and looked up at them. She had a distant, shattered look in her eyes.
All she could say was "He's dead."
Doc walked over to the grieving woman and went down on his knees. He first looked at Kirby, then looked up at Littlejohn and said,
"Littlejohn, could you give Kirby a hand here?"
Littlejohn walked over and stood by the little group sitting on the floor and waited for Doc to tell him what he wanted him to do.
Doc then turned his attention back to Gabriel.
"Lieutenant," he said softly, "I need for you to let Littlejohn help you up. But first lieutenant, I need for you to let go of Caje and let Kirby hold him so I can check him out.
Gabriel, lost in all her grief, only heard a few of the words Doc had said. What her poor grieving soul heard was, "let go of Caje." onto which her response was to hold on tighter and start to sob.
"No," she began, "NO please, please don't take him from me. Please, please, oh please, don't take him…please."
Doc knew how grief could take a rationally sane person and sometimes turn them into someone who would not, or better said, could not put two and two together and come up with the answer that He was only trying to help.
"Lieutenant, listen to me." Doc gently tried again,
"I don't think Paul is dead. I think he's in a coma. But I think he is still alive. Please lieutenant, let me check."
Something in Doc's gentle voice pried through her muddled brain and she replied,
"He's not dead?" she paused and looked up at Doc and repeated, hope filling her voice, "He's Not Dead?"
Doc gently picked up Caje's hand that was lying on the floor. He then moved his fingers over Caje's wrist, trying to locate a pulse. Finding one, he looked into Gabriel's eyes and reassured her.
"No Lieutenant, he's not dead. He has a pulse. He has a chance. But we need to get him to the hospital."
Doc looked up at Littlejohn and nodded his head. Littlejohn understood and bent his massive frame down and gently took hold of Gabriel's arm. At the same time, Kirby slid his frame sideways and stretched his legs out so as to be able to slide them under Caje's back for support.
Before Littlejohn helped Gabriel to stand, Kirby gently took hold of both Gabriel's hands in his. He lightly squeezed them in a gesture he hoped would let the lieutenant know he was not going to let anything happen to Caje once she released her tight, protective grip.
Kirby looked at her, and then smiled. With that reassuring smile of Kirby's and the gentle tug from Littlejohn to let her know they needed her to move, Gabriel finally released her hold.
Littlejohn walked Gabriel back into the next room where Rhonda had been waiting. He then turned his attention back to Sergeant Saunders.
Sergeant Saunders knew he had no time to waste if they were going to keep Caje alive. He quickly ordered Littlejohn to go and fetch the stretcher out of the back of the transport. They needed to get Caje on that stretcher and into that ambulance and high tail it the hell out of there, now.
And that is exactly what they did.
With Caje and the two nurses, along with Doc and Kirby safely tucked into the back of the transport, Littlejohn and Sergeant Saunders, with Littlejohn climbing into the driver's seat, took off. In less time than any of them thought the old transport could accomplish it, they were at the new field hospital and Caje was whisked back into surgery.
After a couple of hours had passed, and after each one of the occupants that had ridden in the transport with Caje to the field hospital at one point or another, got up and walked over to the door of the room to take a quick peek in where Dr. Reynolds was working on him, Dr. Reynolds finally came out of the room to let them know how Caje was doing.
As he walked out, he was wiping his hands on a clean towel. He stopped in front of the group and said,
"That, my friends, is one lucky man."
All who had been waiting for word on Caje's condition could not help but break into smiles. Dr. Reynolds, knowing that his head nurse and Caje had become very close, walked over and sat down in an empty chair next to her. As he stared at no one in particular, he continued,
"Gabriel, I don't know how or why, but your friend in there, unless some other catastrophe materializes before he is well enough to get the hell out of here, well he's going to make it."
Gabriel lowered her head into her hands and started to cry. The release of all that had been building up causing her to slightly shake. Dr. Reynolds, confused at first by her reaction, again tried to explain to her that Caje was going to live.
The nurse that had been assisting Dr. Reynolds came out just then. Shaking her head, she walked past him and went over and knelt down in front of Gabriel.
"Men." was all Susan said.
Then she continued, "She knows what you said doctor. These aren't tears of despair. These are tears of joy."
Turning back to Gabriel, she took her hands in hers, then said,
"Lieutenant, he's heavily sedated still, but if you would like to go sit by him, I put a chair by his bed for you."
Gabriel smiled, "Thank you, I think I would like to be in there when he wakes up."
As Gabriel left to go sit with Caje, Susan stood up and turned her attention to Doc and her sister.
Doc had his protective arm very gently wrapped around Rhonda's badly bruised shoulders. Susan first addressed Doc.
"Doc, I'm sorry for my outburst earlier. I hope you can forgive me?"
Rhonda looked up at her older sister with a puzzled look on her face. Susan, ignoring her younger sister's look, continued,
"Now it your turn little sister."
Susan smiled down at her still sitting sister. "Come on, I don't want to hear you try and tell me you don't need tending too either."
Rhonda smiled up at her older sibling. Her bright green eyes dancing with mischief as she said,
"What are you going to do if I do, hum? Go tell mum?"
Susan gave her a wicked little smile then said, "Yes, I'll do just that."
She then turned around and shouted, "Mum, Rhonda won't let me take care of her injuries"
Rhonda laughed at her sister's silliness. But then the door to the office of the new hospital flew open.
Rhonda, caught totally by surprise could not believe her eyes. There, standing in the doorway was, yes indeed, their mother.
"Mummy" was all the now sobbing little girl could get out. Susan couldn't help but start to cry also. It seemed their mother, who was English, was also a nurse. But that wasn't the half of it.
Sergeant Saunders had been setting there with his feet apart, bent over with his hands clasped together in front of him. He had been looking down when the door to the office flew open. He didn't get a glimpse of the blonde haired women who's back was to him now.
She had on a nurses uniform, but it was the type the English nurses wore. But when she stopped wiping the tears away from the faces of both her "little girls" and turned around...
Was all the Sergeant could muster out.
Everyone in the room turned to face the sergeant.
"Well hello there ducks" Hazel too was caught by surprise.
Hazel was a bit older, to say the least, than the sergeant. But in times of war, age really didn't seem to matter. So here, standing before him, was the women who both he and HIS Lieutenant had been perusing when they were stationed in England waiting to storm the beaches of Normandy what seemed a lifetime ago.
All the Sergeant could do was laugh at the irony of the situation. Who would have thought that He, Doc and Kirby, of all people, would ever have anything really in common? But one never knows. In times of war, the chances could be very good that when all is said and done, these three men could very easily end up tied together through marriage as one big happy family.
With a small family reunion taking place at the hospital, Gabriel left to go and sit with Caje.
Even though Dr. Reynolds had told her Caje was lucky to be alive, she was not prepared for what greeted her eyes. When she peeked in and saw him propped up in the bed for the first time, she caught her breath.
Caje's coloring, which normally was swarthy, was now pale and pasty due to all the blood he had lost during their ordeal. He had tubes poking out of both his arms as well as a breathing tube in his nose. He's breathing was of such great concern the doctor had given his staff strict orders that at no time should Caje be left lying flat on his back.
As Gabriel walked in, she could hear him struggling with each breath he took. He was also mumbling in French. Spotting the chair Susan had placed by his bedside; Gabriel walked over and sat down. As she sat there, listening to his labored breathing, she laid her head down on his bed and began to cry.
Oh, how she loved this man. A visible shiver went down her spine when she thought of how terribly close she had come to losing him.
'If what you feel is love Rhonda, then I'm afraid I have it to.'
Her thoughts drifted back to yesterday morning. She really never questioned her feelings. She knew, deep in her heart, that she loved this man from day one. And that to live without him would be almost impossible.
With her head on his bed, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
Gabriel awoke to the feel of Caje's gently hand stroking her hair and sing very softly in French. Not wanting to startle him, she slowly turned her head so he was aware she was now awake. She sat up and took his hand in hers and kissed it. As she looked into his deep, amber colored eyes, she couldn't help it, she started to cry.
'Oh how so very close', was all she kept thinking.
Caje, understanding her tears, gently brought his hand up to her face and with his thumb wiped away a tear that had started to fall.
"Plaire mon amour, ne pleure pas."
Gabriel stood up and gently laid her head on his bare chest. He again brought his hand up and slowly stroked her soft hair.
As she laid there listening to his heart beat, Caje asked her,
"Can I tell you of a dream I once had?"
Gabriel raised her head and smiled, "Of course you can. I would love for you to tell me anything. Just talk to me. I love the sound of your voice. Please, don't ever stop talking to me."
Blushing at what Gabriel had just said Caje smiled at her.
It was funny, with the amount of blood Caje had lost, his skin was so pale. And because of the paleness, she could tell now, well at least for a short time anyway, she could tell that he too blushed.
"Funny," she thought. She had never thought of him as "blushing". She liked that.
She then repeated, "What was it you had a dream about Paul?"
Caje, starting to show signs that he was growing tired already, smiled then began to talk,
"You remember when I was brought in after I had been shot?" He stopped and waited for her to reply.
With her tears so ever present, Gabriel nodded her head to let him know that she remembered.
Seeing that his very first question brought tears to her eyes, Caje stopped.
"I will tell you at a better time. I do not wish to cause you any more pain. You have cried too much already. For me to add to this is something I don't wish to do."
She brought her hand up to her eyes and wiped away another tear, then said.
"I'm done with the tears. Dr. Reynolds told us that you're going to be fine." She then, in a very strong voice announced,
"Private First Class Paul LeMay, I'm done crying. Please", she laughed, "Please 'my soldier' tell me all about your dream."
He gave her a little laugh at the proper way she said his name. He too thought back to their first meeting and smiled. Then continued,
"When I was waking up, you remember, I was calling out in French? I was calling out to Mireille, my wife. She had just told me I was to stay, that I could not be with her and our daughter."
Gabriel had been looking down, softly caressing his hand the whole time Caje had been telling her about the dream. When he mentioned Emilie, she looked up. He had a pained expression on his face.
Caje looked at her then realized he had never told her how Mireille had died. He also had never told her that for a week after Mireille had passed, he had sat at the hospital, day and night, at the bedside of his beautiful, but very fragile, little girl. He prayed the whole time that she would beat the odds and live…she did not.
Now it was Caje's turn for the eye's to fill with tears. For him to talk about his wife had always been a struggle. But to have to talk about a life that was taken away from him even before he was given the chance to hold her? This was something Caje had never prepared himself to do. But for this woman, he was going to try.
As he took in a deep, shaky breath, Gabriel stepped in and stopped him.
"Paul, I'm sorry. Please, when you're better, and only if you wish to do so, then you can tell me about your daughter. Okay?"
"But for now, please Paul, only tell me about your dream."
Caje looked at her and smiled. He knew, someday he would talk to her about the two other women who forever had a piece of his heart, but thankfully, not today.
Now it was Caje's turn to wipe away a tear. He then went on with his dream.
"Mireille told me it was not my time. She said I would make her proud. Then she said I was to stay, to live on and to love again."
He stopped what he was saying just then. He smiled at Gabriel, then took her hand in his and continued.
Again, he paused,
Caje took a deep breath,
"I know this is not the proper way to do this." He took another deep breath, "But if I were to wait for an opportunity to properly do this, it may never get done."
As Caje was lying there, holding on to his most beautiful Gabriel's hand, he said,
"Gabriel, would you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
With tears falling freely from both of their eyes,
I am going to have to say…
* Cousin Edna is a character from another story I wrote a while back entitled "D.O.C."