Posts tagged “heroine

Sanctuary, Chapter 16

Posted on 12/07/2017

With one arm slung over Ashon’s shoulder, Karen limped alongside her rescuer out to the front of the building. Her breath was labored from having barely survived being suffocated to death, and every part of her body hurt. She groaned in pain, bowing over her stomach.

Ashon gripped her waist to hold her up. “We’re almost there, Missionary. Just a few steps more.”

The urgency in his voice reminded her that her attacker was only a few feet away and could get up at any minute. Even though she’d managed a choke-hold mastered after eight years of taekwondo, thanks to her father’s insistence that his three children learn self-defense, that bear of a man wouldn’t be held for too long.

“Slow down,” Ashon berated her softly as he guided her to the passenger’s side of his cab.

Karen bit her bottom lip to keep from crying out; the pain almost unbearable. She almost wondered if death was better than this… She leaned her head back and slowly released a breath. This wasn’t what she’d signed up for; leaving her comfortable apartment in downtown Houston and her mundane but well-paid job to stumble on a nefarious plot to sell children and survive by her rusty defense skills. Oh how she wished for a warm bubble bath and a bowl of her mom’s five-meat lasagna.

“People are inherently evil,” Jennifer’s words interrupted her silent misery and she stiffened, recalling her old former roommate’s reasoning for illegal adoption.

Ashon ducked into the driver’s seat and started the ignition. Karen grabbed his hand as he reached for the gearstick. “Wait.”

He glanced over. “What? Did you forget something?”

She shook her head. “We can’t leave yet.”

His brow furrowed. “What? Why not?”

“I can’t leave him there.”

“Why do you care? He tried to kill you.” Ashon searched her features and scowled. “Missionary, there’s a difference between good Samaritan and stupid. And what you’re thinking is very stupid.”

She frowned. “There were children in that building. Many of them, but they’re gone. Right?”

Ashon nodded reluctantly. “The building is empty.”

Karen bit her bottom lip. “Illegal adoption.”

“What?”

She looked back at him. “I have to talk to him.”

“He’s unconscious.” Ashon stared as though she’d gone mad.

“Not for long.” Karen shook her head. “He’ll get up soon and we have to be ready when he does.”

Ashon watched helplessly as she shifted in her seat and opened the passenger door. “Ready for what? Missionary?” He groaned as she pushed herself from the seat and out of the car. Then heaving a sigh of frustration, he turned off the engine and stepped out of the car to follow her.

Moments later, the unconscious man was jarred awake when Ashon poured a bucket of cold water over his face. The man jerked upright, sputtering in shock and alarm. His hands and legs flailed, thinking he was drowning until the last drop of water. Then he dragged a hand over his face, gasping for air.

Ashon yielded the metal bucket like a weapon and stood at Karen’s side. She was perched on a chair, holding the half-broken bottle in her hand.

Coming to his senses, the man blinked through red eyes at the pair before him. Immediately recognizing the woman he was assigned to get rid of, he lunged forward.

Ashon slammed the bucket against the side of his head, sending the man on his back.

“Don’t kill him,” Karen reminded him.

“We should be done with him and leave,” Ashon said through gritted teeth, watching the man sit up. “Don’t try anything stupid or you’ll die.”

Choking on a cough, the man narrowed his eyes at both and then lowered on Karen.

“Why did you try to kill me?” Karen asked.

When the man didn’t respond, Ashon clunked the man on the head. “Answer what the lady asks you.”

Karen sighed when the man stubbornly remained silent. “It doesn’t matter why. Where are the children?”

This time, the tension in the man’s eyes eased a little. His gaze flickered to Ashon’s bucket and down to the bloody bottle in Karen’s hand. He grimaced as though remembering the surprising blow to his temple.

“Speak!” Ashon commanded in a stern tone, holding the bucket closer to the man’s head.

“Dunno.”

Ashon scoffed in disbelief. One corner of Karen’s lips turned in a sneer. “Are you an imbecile or a dog?”

The man’s face hardened and his stare fixed on her face. She didn’t flinch, unafraid. “Do you blindly follow your boss’ commands without knowing why? Are you that stupid?” Karen waved the broken side of the bottle in front of his face, a smile forming when he grimaced and leaned away slightly. “Before I dig this into your skull, tell me where the children are.”

He swallowed hard, Adam’s apple bobbing. His expression turned calculative, skittering between the two.

“Don’t even think with that empty head of yours,” Karen said, leaning back. “I’ll put you in another chokehold and this time, you won’t wake up.”

Something akin to fear flitted in his eyes. Ashon smirked and nudged the man’s injured temple. “Fool. Just tell her the truth and go free.”

“It’s too late,” the man sneered, earning a hit from Ashon’s bucket. “It’s true!”

“I’m not playing with you,” Karen snapped, pointing the sharpened end at his face. “Those blood streaks on your face will be permanent scars if you don’t stop fooling around. Where are they?!”

“I don’t know!” the man roared in frustration.

Ashon looked down at Karen, worry etched in his brow. “I think he’s telling the truth.”

“I don’t think so,” Karen said through gritted teeth and abruptly stood from the chair. She kicked the man in his chest until he fell on his back.

Before the man could grab Karen, Ashon hurried to grab the man by his shoulders and hooked an arm around his neck. “What are you doing?” he berated Karen who knelt in front the man.

Stare hard and unrelenting, Karen pressed the sharp edge against the man’s abdomen. “Have you heard of death by ruptured intestines?”

Both the man and Ashon gaped at her.

She didn’t blink. “I’m a nurse and a good one at that. Better than that creepy Petra chick. I know where exactly to gut you so you’ll die a very painful death.”

Even Ashon looked as frightened as the man he restrained, or at least did before Karen’s threat. The man stopped struggling under Ashon’s hold.

Karen nodded, satisfied for a bit. “Now, tell me where they’re going…”

“This is crazy!” Ashon protested from the driver’s seat half an hour later. He glanced over at Karen seated beside him. “You can’t do this.”

Karen shook her head, wiping the blood off her hands. “I don’t know what else to do.”

He clucked his tongue and pulled over the side of the road. “You can go home, Missionary. You can get on a plane and return to your easy life in America. No one will blame you. Not even your God.”

She looked his way, seeing clearly the worry in his eyes. Though they’d only just met, the few moments spent interrogating an unwilling bad guy for the truth had forged a friendship.

“This fight isn’t yours to fight, Missionary.”

Karen frowned. “Then whose fight is it? The government?”

Ashon sighed and looked back at the road ahead. “These things have been happening for a while.”

“And you have ignored it far too long.”

He flinched and tossed a glare at her. “That is not fair. What can a lowly cab driver do?”

“What you did just now is a start. Finding out where they’re taking them, whether sold to slavery or prostitution… or worse.”

Ashon swallowed hard and looked away. “And what if he’s lying?”

Karen sighed. “Then at least I tried. Going home now is not an option, even if I’m scared.”

“What if it’s dangerous?”

She hesitated, thinking about her family who would be waiting for her. Her eyes teared up. “I almost died back there. And the first thing I thought about were my folks at home, and the life that I would leave behind if I died in a foreign land.”

“Then go home, Missionary. Don’t waste your life—”

“I thought about going back and trying to live, knowing that those kids will never have the life that I’ve lived so far. They’d never get to finish school and graduate, or date whoever they wanted and fall in love, or eat chocolate-covered peanuts and cake…” She cast a glance at him.

Ashon stared at her forlornly.  Karen managed a smile. “I’m gonna be thirty-four soon and I can honestly say that I’ve lived a good life.”

“It’s not over yet, Missionary.”

“It sure isn’t. I still want to marry the man of my dreams, have his babies, and live to a ripe old age with all my grandchildren beside me.” Her eyes welled up with tears and she sniffed noisily.

Ashon heaved a sigh. “Missionary…”

“Missionary,” Karen echoed, looking back at him. “How can I aspire to be that if I’m not willing to risk my life for those I want to save for God? What kind of hypocrisy is that?”

“… You wouldn’t be the first one.” When Karen slanted a quelling stare his way, he averted his gaze. “You’re a stubborn one, Missionary.”

“That’s what I hear.” Karen rubbed at the dried stains on her fingers. After a few moments of silence, she sighed. “How far is Finch’awa from here?”

“Long.” Ashon eyed her warily and then heaved a sigh. “I will take you.”

“Oh no.” Karen shook her head. “I couldn’t ask you to do that. What about your family?”

He pulled out onto the main road, keeping his eyes ahead. “They’re gone. Lost my wife and kids to a fire years ago. I moved away to start a new life.”

Her heart ached for him. “I’m sorry Ashon. I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t mention it.” He glanced her way once. “On the worst day of my existence, Kutfi raided our neighborhood and took my surviving daughter along with a few others. We couldn’t find them.”

“Kutfi?”

“A terrorist group that attacks villages and steals children.” He gripped the steering wheel and the corner of his lips twisted in a sneer. “I ran to Kenya, thinking that darkness wouldn’t follow me. It seems I was wrong.”

Karen felt apologetic for getting him involved. “What country are you from, Ashon?”

“…Djibouti.”

Being a bachelor had its perks. Unlike his brothers who shared bank accounts with their wives and couldn’t easily spend their hard-earned money on spontaneous purchases, no one was monitoring his account closely. Clement handed the clerk his card and accepted the bag of his street clothes.

“The suit fits you well sir,” the clerk said, swiping the bank card before handing it back.

“Thank you.” He pocketed the card and quickly signed the receipt. “Is there a wig shop around here?”

The clerk looked up, one bushy brow arched. “Wig shop, sir?”

“For my wife. She’s into those things.”

“Wouldn’t know, sir…” the clerk said stiffly, accepting the merchant receipt copy. “Have a good day, sir.”

“Right,” Clement muttered, staring at the unnatural part of the clerk’s voluminous auburn curly hair. “Thanks.” He carried his bags and walked out of the store, dressed differently than when he first came in. He’d worn a simple t-shirt, loose jeans and sneakers. The clerk and attendants eyed him warily, but the minute he asked for one of their luxurious suits, they hurried at his beck-and-call.

Money ruled the world, and made people do very terrible things.

Clement slung the bag over his shoulders and stalked across the street to the beauty salon. The bell above the door welcomed him in, along with the potpourri of ladylike scents. A dark-skinned petite woman greeted him at the door with a bright smile. “Welcome. May I help you?”

“Yes you can,” he answered, scanning the shop. “Could I get one of your most hideous wigs?”

“Excuse me?”

“Something spirally, not straight. Oh, and is gray here.” he tapped his temple. “You got something like that?”

The woman looked befuddled but nodded. “Uh, I think so…”

“Great. Please show it to me.”

An hour later, an unrecognizable Clement Teka strolled into the hotel and walked up to the front desk. “Hello,” he said in English. “Could I use your phone? I must’ve misplaced my phone while out shopping.”

The man assessed him openly and deciding Clement was an affluent patron, he nodded. “Here you go, sir.”

“Thanks so much,” Clement grinned as he accepted the desk phone. Pulling out his wallet, he tugged out a scrap of paper he’d scribbled a phone number. Dialing the number, he waited as it rang.

An unfamiliar voice answered and Clement stood straighter. “Yes, good afternoon. This is Z.B. Culture Gallery correct? Good, could I please speak with Mrs. Badri? Yeah sure, I’ll hold.”

The desk manager placed a cold bottle of Perrier on the counter, and Clement gave him a smile. The man gestured for him to wait, and quickly untwisted the cap open. Fighting a chuckle at the man’s attempt to win his favor, Clement accepted the opened bottle and took a long sip of the disgusting water.

“Hello, this is Mrs. Badri. Who is speaking?”

Her haughty tone only made his stomach turn but Clement smiled through the disgust of having to play nice with the monster woman. “Hello Mrs. Badri, this is Austin Leg—”

“Oh Austin! What a lovely surprise. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.”

“Well, I couldn’t stop thinking about our last encounter.” Clement made a face and turned from the curious desk manager’s stare. “Hoping to take you up on your offer before I leave the country.”

“Oh really? Well I’ve been thinking about seeing you also.”

“Great minds think alike. So let’s make it happen?”

There was a brief pause and muffled voices on the other end. Then Mrs. Badri asked. “Where are you?”

“In the capital. I could come meet you at your gallery.”

“You seem in a hurry, Mr. Legesse.” Mrs. Badri chuckled low. “That excited to meet with me?”

Clement rolled his eyes. “Been meaning to buy some art. Figured I’d get it from an expert and a contemporary like yourself.”

“How flattering.”

He clenched his jaw and gripped the phone, awaiting her reply.

“I’m actually on my way to an auction. I’d love to have you accompany me, if you’re up for it.”

All hairs stood alert and Clement straightened. “Of course. Where?”

“Finch’awa. It’s not far from the capital by plane. I’m flying there by jet, so I’ll meet up with you there shortly.”

“Sounds good.” His fake smile slipped the minute the call disconnected. Reaching into his suit breast-pocket, Clement freed two twenty-dollar bills and handed it over along with the phone. “Thanks for your help.”

“Not a problem, sir,” the man answered amicably as he pocketed his tip. “Will you be booking a suite?”

“Hmm, maybe when I get back. Could you point me to the nearest car rental?”

“Certainly. I’ll have one of our guys drive you over there.”

“Brilliant.” Clement gestured to the lounge. “I’ll wait here then.”

“Yes sir. I’ll get them right away.”

“Sure, take your time.” Clement strolled to the lounge area and stood by the window; reluctant to wrinkle his suit. There he sipped the complimentary water while mulling over his next steps upon arriving at Finch’awa.

Not particularly keen on playing friendly with the she-demon Mrs. Badri, Clement mouthed a prayer for favor. It was strange asking God to aid his deceitful and dangerous mission… but it was for a good cause.

“Sir?”

Clement tucked away the prayer and turned to see the desk manager smiling. “Yes?”

“Your ride is here.”

<<Chapter 15|| Chapter 17>>

Sanctuary, Chapter 14

Posted on 06/07/2017

Children all ages filled the room, some seated in chairs set against the wall, some sitting on the floor and some standing near the window. There was only one adult woman in this room. There was an eerie silence that made the hairs on Karen’s arms stand on end.

Alice walked across the room to the woman and leaned down to whisper in her ear. Her eyes widened slightly and skittered over to where Karen stood. Then she bowed slightly and nodded. Alice straightened and turned back to Karen with a smile. “This is Petra from Spain. She doesn’t speak much English but she does wonders with needles.”

Karen arched a brow. “Needles for what?”

“Oh, these children are to be adopted within the month. It’s our duty to make sure their immunization records are current, and so that is what we’re doing. At least the bare minimum. Are you good with needles?”

“Decent.” Karen shrugged, still confused. “Is that why you called me here? To administer shots?”

“You’re a nurse, aren’t you? I was under the impression you were serving the country during your stay. I was assured that you would be most helpful.”

Her condescending tone grated Karen’s nerves. “Oh I’m a good nurse. Maybe not as brilliant as Petra here, but…” she stalled, watching one of the children turn. Her brow furrowed at the faraway look in his eyes.

The other two noticed the object of her distraction and Petra stood abruptly, moving quickly to the boy before he tripped over his own feet.

Karen’s gaze remained on the boy until Petra shielded him with her body. Ignoring the pesky fluttering in her gut, she smiled at Alice. “Is there anything else you’d like me to do? I could see to the other children since Petra seems to have it under control here.”

“There’s no need,” Alice replied, tone frosty. “We have enough aides working with the other children.”

“I see…” Karen mentally counted the young ones in the room. Some slouched in their chairs, heads lolling forward as though drowsy on cold medicine or something more potent.

“Ms. Wells,” Alice’s firm tone redirected Karen’s focus. “Can you help us or not?”

“Sure! I’m at your service,” Karen answered readily. She wasn’t leaving here until she cleared her suspicions about what was going on here. “Where can I wash my hands and get prepped?”

A wary Alice gestured to a lone sink in the corner of the room. Then she spoke in broken Spanish to Petra, instructing her to hurry and get ready. Her skeptical stare returned to Karen. “Once you’re finished, I’ll have a cab ready to take you back to the airport. Your flight is in an hour, correct?”

“Correct. Thank you,” Karen said, making her way to the sink. Alarm heightened at the exposed needles and blood-spotted napkins but she quickly hid her horror as Petra approached her with a pair of gloves.

Once seated at her new station, Karen discreetly watched as Petra led the next lethargic child to sit. Horror gripped her throat. The child didn’t flinch when stuck with the needle. And with each child, her suspicions grew. All the kids in this room were drugged. And even the shrieking she’d heard earlier was snuffed out, leaving a creepy and eerie feeling. She had to get some air now!

Karen stood abruptly, alerting only Petra. “I need to pee. Donde es el bano?”

The Spanish girl’s thin brows raised in surprise, realizing that Karen must’ve understood Alice’s last directive. She reluctantly pointed with the needle across the hall, expression suspicious.

Karen nodded her thanks and stepped out casually so as not to seem suspicious. Her stomach was in tangled knots as she walked down the hallway, affirming that every room was filled with drugged children. Something was horribly amiss about this HopeWell Ministries.

“Are you sure we can trust her?”

Karen halted to a stop just around the corner and leaned her back against the wall.

“We don’t have much of a choice now,” Alice answered, tone as agitated as her male companion’s. “I should’ve been more careful. I beg your pardon, Franklin.”

“I don’t like this,” the man grumbled. “She looks like trouble. Americans and their meddling.”

“Not to worry, dear,” Alice said confidently. “It’s not like she’ll be able to say anything since she’s not leaving here alive.”

Karen gritted her teeth. She knew it! Mr. and Mrs. McShady were running an illegal adoption agency!

She took one step back, intent on leaving the house unnoticed. Once outside, she’d have to call back the cab driver who would take her to the police and report—

Suddenly a hand seized her by the arm, yanking her away from the wall. Karen started to turn when something slammed into the side of her head and immediately everything went black.

A couple walked out, the man pushing the stroller that carried two young girls while the woman held the hand of their older son. Right behind them walked out flight attendants and the pilots.

Clement and Ejigu stepped aside for the entourage to pass, before Clement turned back to the doors. Yet no sign of Karen. The perturbed feeling from earlier when he called her phone and didn’t get a response now returned in full-force.

He turned and hurried to catch up with one of the pilots. “Excuse me,” he said, walking into the man’s path. “Was that the last daytime flight from Nairobi?”

The man nodded and sidestepped Clement to catch up with his colleagues. Clement heaved a sigh and parked his hands at his hips.

“Maybe she missed it again,” Ejigu said, having heard all about Karen on the way up from Bichena.

Clement stared at the empty doorway, unable to shake off the unsettling feeling.

As promised, he’d promptly sent her the money to book the flight but didn’t receive an email saying she’ received it. When he woke up hours later, there was no alert message that Karen had either received or accepted the money transfer. Chalking it up to a service malfunction, Clement boarded Ejigu’s jeep by dawn and the two headed for the capital. On the drive over, he called her phone but there was no answer.

“I’ll go find the tourists.” Ejigu sighed and sauntered off toward the baggage claim.

Clement walked instead to the nearest concierge desk. “Is there a way I can find out about a passenger’s flight? I’m supposed to pick her up but she’s not on board, and her phone isn’t working.”

The woman looked sympathetic. “Maybe she arrived earlier and wandered off. What is her name?”

Karen was neither a child nor senile to wander off. Still, Clement would believe anything other than the nagging feeling that Karen was unable to board her flight. “Karen Wells.”

Tapping the button, the woman spoke into the phone that amplified her voice onto the intercom. “Karen Wells, please come to Arrivals gate. Your party is waiting for you.” After repeating it three more times and waiting for five minutes, the woman lowered the phone to its receiver. “Maybe you could try the airlines and see if they can give you something useful.”

Clement hesitated to leave, just in case she returned. The woman tapped the receiver. “If she comes this way, I’ll alert you. What’s your name?”

“Clement Teka. I’ll just check with them and come right back. Thank you!” He hurried off in search of the airline desk, hoping his worries were unfounded and that Karen had indeed arrived.

A man greeted Clement as he approached the counter. “Are you checking in?”

Clement shook his head. “I need some information about a passenger.”

“I’m sorry, sir, I’m afraid I can’t give out—”

“She’s my-my wife and I can’t get a hold of her.” Clement swallowed against the lie that came too easily. “She was supposed to board a flight early this morning but I’m worried that she didn’t get on. Her phone won’t go through, which is unlike her. It’s been a hectic morning so I really hope you can help me.”

The man looked conflicted but after regarding Clement’s flustered expression, he sighed. “What flight?”

Clement frowned. “Uh, th-the one from Nairobi.”

“… There were three flights from Nairobi this morning, sir.”

“Right.” He shook his head and sighed deeply. “Please, could you just look up her name and see if she boarded the flight or not? She missed the earliest flight so I sent her money to get the next one. She didn’t give me the exact flight number, so—”

“What’s her name?” the man started typing on the keyboard, a furrow between his brows.

Clement dared not breathe with relief. Not yet. “Karen Wells.”

The man paused and looked up. “Could I see some ID?”

He quickly pulled out his wallet and tugged the license from its sheath. Then paused, realizing his mistake. “We just got married, and she’s finding it hard to let go of her last name.” He chuckled, a bit nervously, as he handed the license to the man.

The man’s gaze volleyed between his picture ID and his face. Then a smirk lifted the corner of his mouth. “My wife was the same way. Didn’t change it until our first child.” He handed it back to Clement.

“Oh man… I hope it won’t take that long. Karen Teka has a better ring.”

The man only chuckled and continued typing. The furrow didn’t loosen up.

Clement replaced his license into his wallet. His eyes stayed on the man’s face. “Anything?”

“Mr. Teka, I don’t know how to say this…” He lifted regretful eyes to Clement. “Your wife isn’t listed in any of these flights. Are you sure about the date?”

Clement nodded. “We spoke right after she missed her flight. I’m sure about the date.”

“Then I’m not sure what else to tell you… I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, thanks.” Clement mumbled, distracted by worry rather than disappointment. For all he knew, Karen changed her mind about coming to Ethiopia or decided to prolong her stay in Kenya. She hadn’t accepted his money, which was probably a good thing or he would’ve felt cheated out of a few hundred dollars. But still, it would’ve been nice to get a heads-up either way.

Meeting Ejigu outside loading luggage into the trunk, Clement hurried over to assist him with a heavy bag.

“She didn’t show?” Ejigu asked, studying Clement’s perturbed expression.

“Guess she changed her mind.” He had no other explanation for her absence.

“That’s irresponsible. And still no call?”

Clement didn’t answer, loading another one of the bags. For all he knew about Karen, irresponsibility didn’t seem her style. Especially not after she’d dutifully nursed Darah’s cantankerous father-in-law back to health. Regardless of what she’d decided, he hoped she was safe and that his worries were unnecessary.

Just then, his phone rang and Clement almost tripped over himself to answer it. The familiar number deflated his expectation and with a sigh, he answered. “Dula, what’s up?”

“Are you on your way back now?”

Clement glanced once at Ejigu before answering. “Not yet. Just picked up tourists at the airport and I’m not sure if I’ll wait for Ejigu before going to the head office first. Why?”

“Another village was raided last night.”

Clement’s stomach sunk. “How many?”

“Ten this time.”

He clenched his teeth. “Which village?”

“Gech’a. They burned a few huts to distract the adults and stole their way in and out quietly.”

“Quietly, my foot!”

Ejigu returned to the back of the van, mirroring Clement’s scowl. “What happened?”

“Another kidnapping. Gech’a.”

Ejigu sucked in a breath, horror plain in his young face. “Child soldiers!”

“Not before they sell off the younger, weaker ones.” Clement’s expression turned pensive. “Can you drop me off at a bank?”

“But you can’t go without me!”

“I told you I would. I’m going alone and that’s final.”

“Brother,” Dula said on the phone. “Don’t act recklessly. Come back first and we’ll make a decis—”

“Every second we waste, a child’s life is endangered.” Clement disconnected the call before Dula could say another word and held Ejigu’s gaze captive with his hardened stare. “I won’t ask you to come along. Just drop me off at a nearest bank and I’ll take a bus from there.”

Ejigu scowled. “A bus? What rich American businessman takes a bus?”

“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.” His phone rang and this time Clement ignored it, dropping one hand over his friend’s shoulder. “I meant what I said earlier. I will never force you to come with me. Just drop me off and I’ll take it from there.”

Ejigu’s eyes twitched, his nerves getting the better of him. Clement gripped his shoulder to assure him everything would be fine and then released him to walk on his side of the van. “Sorry about that, folks!” he said to the tourists who replied good-naturedly and began asking him questions about the capital.

When Ejigu’s phone started ringing also, he too ignored it, knowing it was Dula trying to reach him. Reluctantly, he trudged to the driver’s side and got in. Clement was busy telling an animated story, and Ejigu eyed him warily before turning on the car’s engine.

Clement’s laugh waned as he glanced once at Ejigu’s tortured expression. No doubt the younger man worried for his safety and fretted about coming along.

He sighed, wishing he wasn’t the cause of such anxiety. But he couldn’t sit back and watch helplessly while a village lost their children to terrorism and corruption. In that moment, worries of Karen’s whereabouts were pushed aside for a greater worry to occupy his thoughts.

<<Chapter 13 || Chapter 15>>

  

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