(Wilton/Strait murder mystery series 4)
After disembarking from their last adventure aboard a cruise ship, Andrea Wilton and Brian Strait thought they were on their way to get married in Santo Domingo. When Andrea is abducted by sex traffickers, Brian goes on the hunt of a lifetime to disentangle her from some very bad people. Set in Miami, he uncovers a plot that includes missing women, drugs, and dirty cops.
Suspense. Adventure. Risk. Trauma. Desperation. Intensity. Hope. Joy. Courage. A riveting detective mystery story in which spiritual truths are creatively and beautifully woven into the fabric of an exciting sequence of character development and an ever thickening plot. The story portrays how it is possible to trust God in the most impossible circumstances. A great story!
Her eyes darted right…then left. Back and forth. Help me. Please…won’t anyone help? Her periphery vision captured images of people as they rushed by, all headed in the same direction. Can’t they see? But they weren’t even looking at her. It’s as if I’m invisible in these suffocating garments. She wanted to wipe the sweat she could feel trickle down her face. Wanting wouldn’t make it happen, unfortunately.
Whir. Click. Whir. Click. The machine forced air into her lungs, pushing her chest in and out. The only parts of her body that worked were her eyes but no one noticed. She tried to focus…to will her brain to move an arm, a finger…anything.
The man was behind her. He pushed the chair she sat in, its wheels gliding smoothly across the gray tiles. She concentrated…to will her legs to bend. The effort caused beads of sweat to break out even more profusely on her forehead. It was annoying…the trickle of moisture trailing down her cheek. The cloth that covered her face, leaving her eyes free to dart…to see…grew cool…moist as it soaked up the liquid. But nothing else on her body moved.
Her neck remained rigid as if she’d been physically restrained and yet, she knew nothing held it. Her legs, feet, hands…everything…refused her brain’s command to lift, wave…anything. That needle he’d stuck in her arm must be responsible. He’d paralyzed her.
She tried to open her mouth past the tube that delivered every breath. She tried to scream…make any sound. But the injection obviously paralyzed her vocal cords too. A silent scream erupted deep within her chest. The headpiece of this black shroud…this burka she’d heard him call it…fluttered but not enough for anyone to notice.
He’d covered her paralyzed body in it…none too gently…before they left the place he’d held her for three weeks. Then he’d sneered at her, his hot breath grazing her cheek. “Don’t want to damage the merchandise,” he’d said.
At the airport, he’d plopped her unceremoniously into the wheelchair. He told the airport officials that she’d had a stroke. She couldn’t speak, he’d said, and they believed him. Apparently he was an important man. They escorted him, with his burden, toward another door, leading to a private hangar. They treated this monster with respect and homage but if they knew…maybe they did.
Her eyes filled with tears. Her fate was sealed. She had earned them a great deal of money, he’d said. Now she was going to some place where her family would never find her. She lowered her eyelids, the only part of her that still moved. The drug he’d injected had worked really fast. He’d even inserted a catheter with the help of his wife…or at least she thought the woman was married to this monster.
Gullible. That’s what had gotten her kidnapped in the first place. She’d trusted that when she’d gone for the interview, she was applying for a job. Sure. It was with a foreign country…in their embassy. But she’d just graduated. Looking for a job was what everyone did.
The questions, though. She should have picked up on that. They wanted to know where her parents lived and if she had a boyfriend. I was so naive. Now…the tears flowed. I wonder if this is how Muslim women feel…the ones forced to wear these garments all the time. Invisible.
She watched as they moved toward the hanger, across the tarmac dotted with people moving cargo and luggage to various airplanes. Surely now… Men glanced quickly in her direction but then just as quickly turned their head. No, she screamed but without a sound. Help me.
Can ‘t they see I’m crying? She tried to move her head so they could see her eyes. Nothing worked. She heard the thump as the chair was pushed over a dip in the concrete and through the large doorway of the hanger. It housed a jet, or at least she thought that’s what it was. She tried to wiggle her body. The weight of his hand pressing down on her shoulder sent shivers through her body. His touch was loathsome to her.
The silent scream bounced around in her head. Kill me. Please. Nothing. Silence. She heard his chuckle. “Imbeciles,” he said, but she knew she was the only one who could hear him. He pushed her down the passageway to the plane’s stairs. His command was obeyed immediately by others who occupied the hanger. They turned off the respirator, and she was lifted. They carried her up the stairs and into the plane that would take her to…where? Her new home he said. Hell, she thought.