Behind the Mask
by Marianne Petit
Genre: Historical Romance
Author Marianne Petit mixes true life experiences with fiction to create a suspenseful tale of intrigue and romance set in the early days of war-torn France.
In 1940's Paris, both rich and poor are thrust together, a mixed society struggling to survive. American born Yvette Matikunas, one of the privileged few, goes underground with a deathbed promise to her grandfather that has her roaming the streets of France with a dangerous message. She quickly learns that no one is who they seem to be and trust is a thing of the past.
Injured in battle while trying to save the life of one of his men, Colonial André Rinaldo is disillusioned by a shell-shocked country and a weak government. Persuaded to go underground and unite his fellow compatriots by forming resistance groups, he meets a beautiful blonde, whose determination to free France from foreign dictatorship is as strong as his.
In the middle of espionage and clandestine rendezvous, they form a partnership that deepens under the ever-present threat of arrest. But with America’s interest in the war building in the background all Americans are ordered to leave.
Will Yvette return to the States, or will André persuade her to stay and fight for love?
Lord in heaven, the minute André saw Yvette bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun like an angel in white, the sun shining on her hair like a halo, his anger vanished. He glanced at her shoeless feet. She had changed in the months since they’d first met. Gone was the spoiled girl who cared more about her appearance than what happened around her, who had blinders on her eyes. Now, sat a woman whose beauty shined more brilliantly by her spirited passion to fight for justice; who, despite her fears, fought him on every step, though he tried to keep her safe. He didn’t want to fight. Didn’t want to feel… anything. But damned if he didn’t feel lonely after she’d walked out, despite a cellar full of people and noise. “You can’t stop me from going. I know the time and the location.” Yvette looked very pleased with herself and he knew there would be no stopping her. She wore her hair down and it curled, under resting on her collarbone. The tresses were held back from her face with two combs. He felt the urge to take the combs out and run his fingers through the golden mass, letting those silken strands run wild. “And besides, how do we know the message isn’t rubbish. How well do you know Le Fleur?” Yvette’s question oozed with smoky jealousy. Straight-faced, André hid his amusement and jab of pleasure as though he wasn’t in the least affected. “It’s not false.” “How do you know? Can her story be verified?” she said indignantly, her polished red lips pursed. The lively animation in her eyes lit a fire in his belly. She was positively radiant when jealous. Did those lips taste as luscious as they looked? “You doubt me?” he asked a little more gruffly than he meant to. “Do you really believe I wouldn’t verify the information?” “Well… I guess…” She shrugged. “No. You are quite efficient in your endeavors.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest and he remembered how it felt when those arms had been wrapped around him. He casually stepped closer and she didn’t seem to mind. “Are you cold?’ he asked, despite the building heat he felt surging between them. Did she feel it? She did. She had to; or was it just his imagination, his foolish hope there was something tangible between them? “I am fine. Thank you for the jacket.” She handed him a sketch of a young woman. “Have you seen her?” Whatever was happening to him was happening to her. He noticed the flustered movement of her hand twirling a strand of hair in her fingers, the way her eyes darted from his face to the ground, into the air and her erratic breathing. Beneath the hesitance in her eyes, he saw desire, stirring in their depths, the same desire, stirring his body in ways that would be hard to suppress. “No. Sorry,” he handed her the drawing, “Who is she?” “My cousin.” A cool breeze rustled the leaves and tossed a lock of her hair across her eye. He gently brushed the strand away, his fingers caressing her soft cheek, “You look beautiful tonight.” “I… that is very kind of you to say.” She gnawed her bottom lip and he wanted to lean in and taste those tempting lips begging to be kissed. “I only tell the truth.” She frowned and he figured she knew he’d told many fibs undercover, so he guessed he earned that. “Ok, so maybe I’ve spoken some mistruths when--” “Well, occasionally you do fib.” She blushed with embarrassment. “But it’s understandable.” So, he hadn’t lost his knack for reading a person, despite that his emotions were zinging like a ball on a string being hit with a bat. “I meant what I said. You look...” Her skin in the warm light seemed to shine. “... fabulous.” A throbbing need seemed to resonate throughout his body. Did she have this effect on all men? An image of Géry came to mind and annoyance tightened his stance. Did she like kissing Géry? Will she like kissing me? André’s mouth thinned. He knew his thoughts were unreasonable, but his want for her was driving him crazy and denying his desires wasn’t going to make them go away. Maybe he’d just find out for himself. His arm closed around her waist and before she could protest, he drew her toward him. Once I kiss her, it’ll be done. I can put her out of my mind. Once and for all. Her name fell from his lips moments before he kissed her. Her body melted against his, soft and curvy and he heard a small sigh of pleasure. Then her body stiffened, and she jerked away. Wide-eyed panic replaced the dreamy desire of moments ago.
Marianne Petit is a past President of the Long Island Chapter of the Romance Writers Of America. Her love of writing stems back to high school. She spent hours reading Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock and poetry. At the age of fifteen she wrote a short story for children, as well as numerous works of poetry. Her love of history stems from her father, Roger, a Frenchman, whose love of American history greatly influenced her writing interests .
She is a past President of the Melville Lions club, a service organization that raises money for the less fortunate - especially the sight and hearing impaired.
Newsday and several local newspapers have written articles on Ms. Petit and she was recently interviewed on TV for her time travel.
Marianne loves to ski, white water raft, horseback ride, and enjoys the theater. She lives on Long Island is happily married for over 30 years.
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