Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman Read Free Book Online

Book: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Blankman
been able to bring herself to throw it away—perhaps because it was the only thing she still possessed from her old life. Last night in the train lavatory, she’d put it on again, hoping the swastika charm would help her blend in when she reached Munich.
    She drew up the window shade. Pine forests flashed past the window. Sometime during the night they had reached Bavaria. In the deepening pink of early morning, it looked the same, the land of her childhood: woodlands dark with trees, mountains cutting a jagged line along the horizon. A thin layer of snow glittered with frost. She had to look away to catch her breath. She was close to Daniel now. If he was still in Munich, they were only hours apart.
    I will find him .

    By three o’clock, the train had arrived in Munich, and she walked the streets of her city again. After so many months of having to translate English into German in her head, hearing her native tongue everywhere was overwhelming. The words seemed to crash against her ears like ocean waves.
    She imagined that everyone she passed turned to look at her. When she looked in shop windows, though, she saw nobody was paying her any attention. For the moment, she was anonymous, a brown-haired girl in a gray loden coat, moving quickly as though she were late for an appointment. Not as though she were afraid someone might recognize her face.
    Swastika banners, flecked white from the snow spitting wearily from the sky, dripped bloodred down the fronts of narrow stone and brick buildings. Burghers in camel-hair coats and office girls in brass-buttoned jackets hurried up the cobblestone street. A clump of working men in tattered trousers and stained shirts trudged past, probably looking for work since they weren’t at the factories.
    Housewives carrying string bags scurried to the Viktualienmarkt to haggle over meat and bread. Young children skipped beside their mothers—here the school day ended at one o’clock, so classes had already been let out. A couple of skeletal cats slunk down the pavement. Somewhere, streetcars clanged.
    Only the children looked happy. Everyone else walked with their heads down, shoulders hunched against the cold, sneaking nervous glances at a group of men in khaki plus fours and red swastika armbands. Gretchen shrank against a building. She knew those uniforms. The men were members of the Sturmabteilung, the same unit to which her brother had belonged.
    Gretchen turned away from the street, pretending to study the cigars on display in the shop window. What if the men recognized her? Both she and Reinhard had been well known among the National Socialists as the martyr’s children, and she’d met many of her brother’s SA comrades over the years.
    She watched the men’s reflections in the window. They looked to be in their late twenties or early thirties. Too old to have been Reinhard’s friends. She might be safe.
    A harsh shout cut into her thoughts. More SA men jogged down the avenue, their hands on the knife sheaths clipped to their belts. One of them called, “Faster! Before the rat gets away!”
    They charged into an office building, the door banging shut behind them. None of the Müncheners seemed to notice, their faces turned away, their footsteps fast.
    Gretchen’s legs shook as she forced them forward. She flipped up her coat collar and pulled her broad-brimmed hat lower, hoping it obscured her face. Why were the SA storming someone’s office? And why was no one reacting? Her legs ached to run, but a girl racing along the street would only attract attention. She walked faster, her suitcase bumping her knees as she counted building numbers. Fritz Gerlich’s newspaper office was on the left. She’d never been there before—when she’d known Gerlich, he had been working as a historian, but last year he’d taken over the anti–National Socialist newspaper Der Gerade Weg . Praying he was at his office today, she hurried up the snow-dusted steps.
    Inside, the lobby was dim

Similar Books

Moving Parts

Magdelena Tulli

Thoroughly Kissed

Kristine Grayson

Jimmy the Hand

Raymond E. Feist, S. M. Stirling