Marc’s impatience grew until dirt rained on his head. The sudden spray sent adrenaline coursing through his veins. The sense of danger brought no fear, but an incredible rush of excitement at the thrill of trying to outwit the men looking for them. He was almost fooled by the sudden quiet above them, but Steel’s warning hand on his arm made him refocus all his senses on detecting movement in the shop.
His mother’s hair brushed against his cheek, and his thrill dulled as he considered his mother’s safety. Her presence scared him, and he was suddenly glad Steel found them in the marketplace. If anyone could get them out of this predicament, Steel was the man to do it.
He greatly admired the confidence and strength both Steel and his father exuded. More than anything he wanted to be like them. These men were silent soldiers for their country. Their actions saved countless lives and many international interests, and they made a difference in the world few people could claim. It didn’t seem to matter to them that no one knew who they were, that no one would ever know their contribution to the world around them. The fact that they had an impact on the ways of the world—that was enough for them.
Another hail of dirt broke into his thoughts. Scuffling sounds came from near the door, and he sensed Steel tensing in anticipation. He held his breath when Steel pulled his gun. He eased back the hammer as the door opened. Marc blinked in the blinding light.
“So.” Hamad grinned as he saw Steel’s drawn gun. “You would shoot your friend without a hesitation, yes?”
“Where have you been?” Steel holstered his pistol and glared at the man hovering above them.
Jennifer ignored Steel’s words and pushed past him, eager to escape their cramped quarters. Her legs trembled as she climbed the ladder, but she forced herself onward, knowing freedom was just above her. Hamad reached a hand down to help her and in seconds she was stepping from the ladder back into his dingy shop. Unable to bear the cellar for another second, she moved as far away as possible. She cast a quick glance out the door, noticing that the rebels for the most part had moved further east, heading away from the direction of the compound. Heather and Joey were alone with no one to care for them other than Moses and Elizabeth. Both of their Ugandan employees were devoted to the family, but they were elderly and would be of little use if the rebels should attack the compound. Fresh waves of panic washed over her, and she turned back to the men standing in the middle of the shop.
“We’ve been down there for ages.” Steel stepped from the ladder and allowed the trapdoor to fall back in place. “You know I was supposed to be out of here hours ago! What took so long?”
“They left a guard.” Hamad shrugged. “For some reason they do not trust me. So I went home to eat the noon meal.”
“You left us down there while you took a lunch break?” Marc frowned at Hamad.
“I could not rescue you while the guard was here. If Hamad does not hesitate to leave while the guard is here, then they know that there is nothing here which Hamad is hiding. And if Hamad fears not to go home and eat, then they know there will be nothing to be gained by suspecting him.”
“Quick thinking.” Steel slapped him on the arm. “Not only did you save us, but you probably regained their trust as well.”
“This is true, Steel.” Hamad grinned. “It always pays to cultivate the trust of those in power.”
“So now what?” Marc sounded eager for the next part of the adventure.
“Now we go home,” Jennifer said. “Thank you.” She dismissed the men standing before her. “We really appreciate your help.”
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