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The Star and the Cross by Evelyn M Turner

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  • Born into a loving, wealthy German family, Katarina Von Rahmel, protected and cherished, becomes a prima ballerina but finds her career destroyed by the horrors of war. Betrayed by the Nazi officer she has married, she escapes a prison camp and joins her brother and others as they fight back against Hitler’s regime.
    In the aftermath of WWII, they continue their battle against oppression as Berlin teeters on the brink of a Stalinist takeover. Becoming estranged from her family, except for her Catholic priest brother, Katarina abandons her daughter and marries again to escape the difficult post-war living conditions in the bombed-out city.
    Her new husband objects to her continued anti-Communist activities and eventually is able to take her home with him to Hawaii to begin a new life, but Katarina’s terrible memories from the war and her fierce independence cause her unwitting betrayal of the children she would fight to keep.

    Rating: non-romance
    Page Count: 356
    Word Count: 88555
    978-1-5092-1129-6 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1130-2 Digital

    Excerpt

    The magical papers were in Anthony’s pocket on the second day. So much had transpired in such a short time, Anthony almost felt like whistling, but he was afraid to draw attention to himself. He had papers that included false identification and passports that would enable all three of them to get to the Vatican. They would be on their way in only a few minutes. Anthony turned the corner into the square that had once been so charming and was now mostly a pile of rubble. He waved when he saw Nicholas and Katarina’s smiling faces. Then he stopped abruptly as his worst fear came into focus.

    They had been found out. A unit of Gestapo was only a few feet behind his sister and friend and obviously headed toward them.

    Anthony could only shout, “Run!” as he turned and sprinted in the opposite direction.

    Nicholas reacted quickly, pulling Katarina down an alleyway and climbing over debris from fallen buildings. A volley of bullets whistled by them, and others in the street ducked for cover. Katarina screamed as another round erupted and Nicholas was hit.

    Finally the pain was too much, and he had to stop.

    “Katarina, go! I’ll keep them from following you.” Nicholas’s breath was already coming in large gulps.

    “No, please, I can’t leave you! Lean on me. We can do this.” Determined, she ducked her head under his shoulder and slung one of his arms over her own shoulders.

    Nicholas spotted the back door of a bakery. “There!” he shouted, and they lurched together toward the door. The sound of Gestapo boots closed in, but the door would not budge. Nicholas gasped in pain as he cocked his pistol and took aim. One of the pursuing Nazis fell. Then from the corner of his eye, Nicholas saw Katarina slump beside him. Instantly blood began seeping through her dress. Now ignoring his own distress, he braced Katarina to keep her from landing on the pavement. He had no choice but to abandon the shooting and seek another alley. Grunting with every step, he dragged Katarina to safety. The sound of guns dissipated behind them. Nicholas collapsed against the stub of what had once been a brick wall and turned Katarina to face him.

    “Katarina!” he whispered urgently.

    Her eyes fluttered open. “Nicholas, go. Save yourself. I don’t think I can move.”

    “I promised Anthony.”

    Before either of them could say another word, tires screeched behind them. Doors slammed, and Gestapo thundered down the alley. Unable to keep her eyes open, Katarina felt the cold iron of the gun at her temple. Blood flowed from both her and Nicholas as Gestapo dragged them through the alley and heaved them into the back of a dark van.

    Only a few blocks away, they were pulled from the vehicle and thrown to the ground.

    Katarina’s eyes blurred as she crawled inch by inch toward Nicholas. Finally she intertwined her fingers with his.

    “Princess, tell Anthony I’m sorry. I was supposed to protect you.” Nicholas’s voice was barely above a whisper as he reached for her face. “Katarina, you must survive.”

    Before Katarina could respond, the Gestapo fired. Nicholas convulsed and was gone.

    “Please, Nicholas,” Katarina whispered, “I don’t want to be alone.” His blood formed an enlarging pool beneath him.

    Katarina couldn’t lift herself. Her chest burned terribly, and she longed for this moment to be over. She heard the click of the gun once again at her temple.

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The Star and the Cross

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