Prologue: Cloaked in Shadows
Paris, France, 1912
The street was dark; humble evening had bowed out, relinquishing her grasp to the patient night. The stars that dotted the ink black sky shone bright, as if really, they were holes that let wandering eyes gaze at an immovable sun hidden behind night’s curtain. The street that bathed in the moon’s light was calm and serene, not unlike the vast expanse of sky above. Many little houses lined the street and many of their lights were extinguished. Except for one.
The Izar’s house was flooding with illumination. Laughter poured out through the open windows as freely as the light. A man, who was leaning against a lamppost directly across from the Izar’s, was watching them. His hat was pulled down so that every feature of his face was cloaked in shadows. Silently, he gazed at the house, more specifically, at the second story bedroom window.
The window was open inviting the cool summer air in. A young girl sat on the window seat, gazing up at the stars. Because of the light, her features were nothing but a black silhouette, but no matter. The man knew who she was.
Suddenly, the girl’s head turned right, across her shoulder, to look at someone who had just entered. With a longing look back at the stars, the young woman fell back deeper into her bedroom. The light fell upon her gracefully. His memory had not done her justice. She was tall and lithe; even in her nightgown, that was apparent. Her light brown hair cascaded over her shoulders, wavy from being withheld in a style all day. Her face was soft and gentle, with strong cheek bones and a high forehead. Her eyes… he remembered her eyes all too well. When he had first seen them, they were scared, their colors masked with uncertainty and fear. Now, they were not so. Tonight they sparkled like the gems they resembled; the deepest emeralds and richest gold. She had grown into a beautiful young woman.
She said something, her full lips moving in elegant curves, to the woman who had entered. The mother (for what else could she be?) exchanged a small amount of words in return. The girl simply nodded and kissed her mother on both cheeks, before the woman left the room.
The girl returned to the window. She was about to close the curtains when her eyes fastened on the man leaning in shadows. He nodded; an almost imperceptible nod in the darkness. She swallowed and a look of fierce determination came over her face. Slowly and gently, she closed the windows and drew the curtains.
The lights went off.