PARIS Spring 1940
Anna was dying. She felt as if she were watching everything from a distance, with a calm detachment. She knew she should be terrified and desperate. But all of that seemed beyond her. Anna sensed herself lifting, moving up and out of her body, as if she were floating in warm water. She felt herself roll and tumble, and turned to see her body sprawled amid the debris of her sitting room. Blood was everywhere.
The couch cushions had been slashed, their puffy guts yanked out. Both end tables were on their sides. One lamp had shattered. The other lay intact on the ground, its shade knocked away, the yellow light spilling out over the millions of tiny shards of glass that surrounded her body. It was as if she was floating in space, surrounded by twinkling stars, adrift forever. In the invisible current, Anna saw herself dying among the glass splinters. Memory was fragmented. She tried to grasp the how and why of her sprawled body and bloody head. A fragment of a memory of two handsome American men clicked into place, and something else from earlier that day. The ruble still hung from the fine gold chain under her sweater. But then everything went black.
It had all started seven weeks ago.