Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An American spy, my heroine, in love with the British officer she's spying on

          May 8, 1778

 They were in bed, Rebecca and Andre. They had made love in the early hours of morning, the fading moon a sliver of white behind the faded lace. They'd lapsed back into a dreamy sleep, their bodies limp and slippery, their arms a loose circle around each other's bodies. A slant of morning light poured through the diaphanous curtain, sprinkling the gray rug with blots of yellow. His head crushed against the pillow, his eyes crusted with sleep, Andre was watching her, had been for awhile.  He seemed to love her especially at moments like these: when his stare pried open her eyes, when she awakened, confused about her surroundings, still.
But something in his look this morning jolted Rebecca into full alertness, like a soldier alight to the crush of the enemy’s steps behind.
“I’ve got news,” Andre whispered, setting her hand on the feathery hair of his chest, muscles hard as rock.
Rebecca stroked his face, its stubbles pricking her hand. “Good or bad?” she asked.
He eased up, leaned against the headboard. “That all depends on you,” he said.
Me?” she asked, her laugh throaty from sleep. “I’ve nothing to do with the outcome of events.”  Except for spying on him, passing on his secrets to the rebels at Valley Forge.  She broke his gaze of desire, turned her eyes away.
He grasped her chin, forcing her to look at him. “Why do you do that?” he asked.
“Do what?” Rebecca looked at him deeply. But it was difficult. Her eyes had a habit of honesty.
“Sometimes,” Andre said, “you go suddenly distant. It’s as though you’re keeping a secret, hiding a part of yourself, something you can’t show me.”
“I fret about my family,” she said. “My brothers, wherever they are. My father and his difficulties with his wife. And, of course, the outcome of this war…and”--  This was the hardest part. The British planned evacuation had forced the two into an uncertain dance step these past months, both knowing that their paths might part.  “And…, of course,” she went on, tentatively, “ …the two of us, our future.”
With his long thumb, Andre wiped the tears off her cheeks, his deep gaze sultry, innocent, trusting. Rebecca couldn’t bear it when he looked at her this way, couldn’t stand the treachery, longed to spill it all out. But if she did.... He would have to choose between turning her in or being court-martialed himself.
“What is your news?” Rebecca asked, breathing in her sniffles.
His eyes turned downwards, his fingers clasped in hers. “I’m to be promoted to the rank of Major.”
            “That’s wonderful,” she said, meaning it. But thinking, too—and how she hated herself for it for it-- that the higher her lover’s rank, the greater his access to military intelligence.  Hers, as well.
“That means I’ll be shipping off to New York,” he said. “The ministers in London are fed up with Howe’s meanderings, his failure to attack Valley Forge, his mistresses, his dubious business dealings. And now with France entering the war….” 
Andre sighed, as though she were truly his partner, as though she hadn’t actually been buoyant at this happy turn of events . Today, May 8, was the official date, but the news had been announced months before. Andre had told her of the early grumblings about Howe, long before it had become public knowledge
His elbow on the pillow, Andre propped his head against his hand. “You love New York, do you not?”
Rebecca guessed at what was coming. She waited. She was aware of  every breath.
He squeezed her fingers with his free hand.  “I suppose I shall have to ask your father?” 

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