Landa couldn't believe it. At age fifty-three, for honestly the first time in his entire life...
He had fallen in love.
Landa had courted many women, mostly in his youth, yet through his military background he never seemed to find the time nor the interest to truly settle down. Now, here he was staring up at the woman he very much intended on marrying.
He first laid eyes on her less then a year ago.
A new club had just opened, Le corbeau sang, that was the name and it had just opened several months before in the city. Ever since the occupation, SS officers often visited this club for drinks and late night entertainment.
Hans Landa had begun frequently attending the club ever since he saw her.
She was a background dancer at the club, the woman who performed were mostly French and under contract by the owner Philip De Wallace. Landa first noticed her the third evening he came in for a drink. As always, the center stage was lit up by spotlights in colors of pink, green, and blue. The dancers always came on about three times during the busy hours. They would dance to the music, dressed mostly as foxes, birds, or dragonflies. Landa noticed that the dim lit club was very well run. The music was always very beautiful, as were the dancers on stage. The bar was always busy, and a good amount of high ranking officers attended, mostly sitting back in the booths along the black painted walls.
The girls always came on, performing for around a half an hour. Most of them looked as if they were strict trained, mostly likely ballerinas from the area. The women were all young, dressed in their stunning costumes, twirling and spinning around underneath the spotlights as the guests of the club drank and socialized in the shadows.
The evening he laid eyes on her, she had come out in sparking simmering nylon one piece. Draped over her shoulders was a snow white fox fur cape along with it's head which she wore on top of her dark hair which was tightly bound up in a bun. Dancing in the background, spinning round on her laced up slippers, Landa felt completely speechless. Sitting at one of the front tables with a few other fellow officers, he paused as he brought his glass of whiskery to his lips and stared back at her.
Ignoring all the other women who pranced around on stage, his eyes laid on her. She stayed in the background, mainly staying in one spot. She danced in her own circle, swaying to the music as her arms rose and fell to the beat. Gazing at her, Landa felt his heart begin to pound in his chest. Placing his glass down, his eyes followed her before the dancers all bowed and everyone began to applaud. Rising, almost in a trance, Landa very loudly clapped his hands together as the black velvet curtain was lowered.
Right away, he knew he had to meet her.
It wasn't long before he found out her name.
Francesca Tufnel...an Italian born woman who was part of a traveling performance group that had just finished doing a tour in America.
He immediately asked one of the waitresses who were serving his table to arrange a meeting. Less than a half an hour after first seeing her on stage, he found himself as anxious as a young schoolboy as he was led to the dancer's dressing room. Waiting, he stood up straight until the stagehand who had brought him, remarked that Ms. Tufnel had only been in Paris less than a year and her French wasn't exactly improved. Asking if he spoke English, Landa grinned. Smiling politely, the stagehand remarked that sadly as much as Ms. Tufnel's French was improving, she had been longing to speak with someone who knew English well enough to have a conversation.
Moments later, the door opened and the stagehand motioned for him to go inside before turning and leaving. Noticing the dressing room was completely deserted, he didn't see her at first, sitting by the long counter top that ran the length of the room, Landa noticed the entire back wall was mirrored with circular bulbs above them.
Sitting there, dressed in a short black silk robe, she sat there smoking a cigarette. Her legs were now bare and crossed, a good amount of her thighs showing as the robe was hiked up, leaving Landa's eyes to wander.
Clearing his throat, he stepped in and stared at her.
She was beautiful...in fact she was breathtaking.
Her lips were ruby red, and her eyes seemed a cloudy gray.
Landa clutched his hat between his hands before speaking out loud, his voice sounding slightly broken as he felt all the saliva in his mouth dry up.
" Excusez-moi, laissez svp se présenter. Mon nom est Col. Hans Landa des solides solubles. J'étais assez chanceux pour avoir attrapé votre exposition plus tôt et je dois dire, je n'ai jamais vu un danseur plus beau et plus renversant dans ma vie. C'est un honneur."
"Do you speak English Colonel?"
Francesca asked in slightly uncertain voice. Right away Landa smiled.
"Yes, of course I do. I hear your Italian?"
Francisca's entire face lit up as she smiled.
"Yes, I take it Bill told you?"
"The stagehand, he helps us to the dressing room and stage. He finds it rather funny that I'm one of the only dancers that are from the stages. He often has a bit of fun joking with my broken language. We could speak Italian if you wish? I just rather enjoy finding somebody to speak English. I'm still in the habit of using it."
"I too relish the chance whenever I can speak one of my dormant languages. English would be fine."
"Well than, I insist you call me Fran, everyone does.'
"Then I insist you call me Hans. I'm sorry to disturb you, but I had to remark and pay my own personal visit to remark how beautiful your dancing was. I hear you were part of a performance group?"
"Yes, I was originally born in Italy but my parents passed away when I was just an infant. I was raised in a small orphanage where I began dancing. I was urged to practice here in Paris but when I was fourteen or so a small group of artist who were heading to America caught one of my performances and urged me to join on. I stayed with them for several years and we did tours around the world. When the war began I settled back here when I was offered a background job when the club opened.
Francesca took a long drag of her cigarette and sat back.
Landa stared at her.
"How old are you? If you don't mind me asking?"
"Twenty-three, this September."
Landa stepped closer before staring down at her.
"Well my dear, it's a pleasure..."
Reaching down, he took her free hand that wasn't holding the cigarette and gently kissed it. Smiling down, he stared down at her and couldn't believe how utterly perfect she was. Staring into her cloudy eyes, he felt completely lost.
Right away Francesca smiled up at him.
"Please forgive my eyes, I know their terrible..."
Right away Landa's brow wrinkled.
"Terrible? You must be joking, their perfect...in fact their stunning."
"I'm afraid the reason why they look this way is my eyesight, it's gotten quite horrible over the years."
"Is that a fact?"
"Yes, not even eyeglasses help...I've tried everything but from what I heard before I'm thirty I may very well loose all my eyesight completely."
Landa stared down at her, as if the news affected him personally. Frowning, he stared down into her cloudy eyes and shook his head.
"Nonsense, a young girl like yourself..."
Sighing, Francesca finished her cigarette before stubbing it out in the crystal ashtray behind her.
"Oui...that's one of the main reasons I took his job, to try and save enough money to see if there is anything I could do before it gets any worse."
Staring straight into her eyes, Landa felt a sudden urge to protect this darling young woman. He couldn't explain it even if he tried. All he knew was that the very idea of this stunning creature never being able to see again cracked a small piece of his blackened icy heart.
The evening ended very uneventful. Hans pulled himself up a stool where Francesca offered him a cigarette from her jewel tin case. Leaning in as she flipped open her lighter, Landa caught a whiff of her sweet smelling perfume and stared at her, their faces barley a few inches apart.
They spoke some more before Landa promised he would return the following night to watch her dance. The two parted ways as she saw him to the door. Taking her hand again, he kissed it and walked away with the oddest twisting fluttering feeling deep inside his stomach. That evening when he returned to his very spacish apartment he was currently staying in for the time. Undressing in neat and tidy order, he couldn't seem to take his mind off her.
That night he laid awake thinking of those cloudy eyes...
The following morning he sent five dozen red roses to the club, just for her.
The evening he made sure he got the best seat in the entire cub and watched her as she silently danced across the stage, swirling and jumping around.
The next morning he sent ten dozen roses to the club, and that night he was front row and center. Applauding loudly and smiling from ear to ear. After her performance, he invited her out for dinner. Dressed in a warm mink coat, she accepted and took his hand. That night at one of the best restaurants. That evening they drank their wine, laughed, and spoke of simple things such as the city, and the cub. By the time Landa's driver drove to her apartment and he saw her to the door, he knew he was head over heels in love.
Smiling, she stood there in front of her door thanking him yet again. Taking his hat off, he cocked his head and smiled before gently running his fingers against her smooth fair cheek. Staring at each other, Landa leaned down and gently kissed her.
As their lips parted, Landa smiled down at her.
Landa was dressed in his uniform and stood before the full length mirror in the master bedroom of his apartment. He was planning on visiting all the country side outside of the city for the next week, going on check-points and following up on any loose ends. Checking himself as he smoothed out his long leather jacket, he caught the reflection of his darling wife behind him, doing her dancer exercises behind him on the railing he had installed that ran along the length of one of their many bay windows.
She was dressed in her tights and was holding up one of her legs against the railing, stretching and counting to herself. Smiling, Landa turned. The thought of being without her for a week made his heart ache but he knew his travels was no place for her. Smiling, he crossed his arms and stared at her before she looked up. Her hair was coming loose from pinning it up, and thin sunlight fell across her face as she smiled.
The two had been married for a little over a year now. Two weeks after meeting her, Landa got down on one knee after one of her performances and proposed with a very beautiful sparking diamond ring. They were married quickly and Landa's obsession began. Their wedding night, he could barley stand it when she stepped out into their newly shared bedroom in black lace lingerie. Sitting up in bed, bare chested with the sheets pooled around his waist. He sat up against the wooden carved headboard and felt his heart pound in his chest.
Their night wasn't exactly passionate, when she first laid underneath him, her smooth cool skin going against him, he could barley get himself under control. Besides their formal courting, they really hadn't done anything. Landa was old fashion and didn't expect to take her to bed until they were wed.
Her gorgeous pearl wedding dress was hung up behind the door to their room. His dress uniform folded over the fainting sofa by the window.
Gathering her up in his arms, feeling his heart pound he stared down at her before he nuzzled her neck and felt her warm breath against his face. Knowing he could barley hold back, he began to rip apart the cloth that was separating himself from his wife.
By dawn he was completely flushed, breathless, and weak. He laid there, his arms wrapped tightly around her unable to let go.
Their marriage had been celebrated and lots of Landa's fellow officers and peers were happy to see that he had found a young pretty wife. Landa was very protective of her. The instant they married, he demanded she quit her job at the club, saying no wife of his would ever perform for any other man besides himself again.
He loved her feisty spirit and was rather amused by how she carried herself. He brought her along for a good amount of his important duties around the city, slowly trying to improve her French along with her German.
She was the only family he had, and this was exactly how he wanted it.
Every day he brought her a red rose, and would gather her up in his arms, feeling as though he was under some sort of spell.
Stopping her stretches, she stared at him smiling.
"Und was starren Sie entlang Sirs an?"
"Bravo my darling, your German is approving very well."
Slowly setting her leg down, she walked over and slipped her slim arms against his shoulders.
"Do you really have to go?"
Landa reached up and gently stroked the side of her cheek.
"I'm afraid so love, but in less than a week I shall return and..."
Slowly his lips brushed against hers as his hand slid against her flat stomach. Locking eyes with her, he smiled as he finished and whispered...
"Perhaps get started on making my son?"
Smiling, Francesca deeply kissed her husband, before he pressed his forehead against her. She smelled of strawberries and champagne. His favorite perfume of hers she always wore for him.
"Take care my love."
Turning, he grabbed his suitcase and left her alone. Listening to the faint sound of his boots going down the stairs, Francesca softly let out a sigh and rolled her eyes.
Unknown to Hans, the woman he believed to be his wife...was someone completely different.
Francesca's name really wasn't Francesca...it was India.
And she wasn't a Paris dancer...she was a spy.
She thought she would be watched closely, but the fact that she did indeed marry Hans Landa of the SS removed any suspension or close watching these. Nobody tried to follow up on her past, or questioned when Landa began to court her. Their wedding was small and private and they were celebrated among the fellow high ranking officers of the military. India played the part perfectly of the young innocent sheltered dancer who knew little to nothing about war or what exactly her husband did. She had only reported back four times whenever Landa was away on business. Now not working and his wife, she knew even though she wasn't watched, eyes stayed very close on her in the city. She knew whenever Landa didn't travel without her he hired many of his men to keep a close eye on her.
Being the wife of one of highest ranking security officers at the time did indeed pay off. She knew she had Landa wrapped around her finger, and she closely studied his papers in his office whenever he was out and often pretended she was fast asleep while all long she was closely listening in the next room whenever he spoke on the radio or phone.
Landa brought her with him to a good amount of his meetings, lunches, and dinners. She knew she was his trophy wife, and held onto his arm always keeping her mouth shut, smiling, and always trying to look dazzling in her evening gowns. Landa not only trusted her, he loved her.
She knew she was his obsession, that ever since he laid eyes on her and her mission completely changed for the better, she was under his watchful yet blind eye. She knew he couldn't go more than a week without her. That night after night he fell asleep with his arms safely wrapped around her, almost acting as though she would slip away at any second.
But it was all a lie.
She was hired and for the last two years she had been working undercover perfectly. She was aided by the British, and was one of the best agents they had...simply because she did what no other dared to do.
She had married the enemy.