Scene One of Chapter Five
Jada fled like a blind woman in the darkened forest. She dodged trees that materialized only seconds before she avoided colliding with their trunks. Twisting. Turning. Stumbling. David—gripping her tighter when she lost balance.
She panted and ran on. The two evil men shot Hadjira. She and David could be next. Their lives depended on distance, swiftness. How long they spun in and out of the trees seeing nothing but eerie, wavy, pole-like structures she didn't know.
Then at the next curve in their makeshift path, David grasped her shoulder, nudging her down behind a massive boulder. His arm encircled her, sheltering her as she gasped. They waited.
The silence was only broken by the echo of a night bird's song. No dreaded footsteps sounded. She flinched at the low repetitive drone of a frog and gripped harder on David's hand. She longed to ponder the prayer she'd offered to God, but fleeing from the enemy dominated her mind.
A whooshing sound carried on the soft breeze. David's voice.
"What?" she murmured.
"I don't think they followed us."
"I… I hope you're right." She tried to gulp down the persistent flow of emotion, but instead she moaned.
"They shot Hadjira. I don't know if he's dead. Should we go back?"
David tightened his hold around her. "I never saw actual combat in the army, but some of my buddies described the horror of the battlefield." He drew her nearer his chest. "My job is to protect you right now. I'm sorry you had to see that."
"I'll never forget. Never," she squeaked. "Are we going to die?"
"Shh. I'll do everything I can to keep you safe."
"What are we going to do?"
"Let's listen a few more minutes. Let me be sure they aren't following us."
Though Jada's eyes were open, she only saw darkened shadows. A dull ray of light from somewhere, she didn't know where, illuminated the black forest. Nearby, bushes and rock fragments covered the ground. Next to the boulder, more trees swept high into the night sky, like sentinels watching over them.
A soft breeze cooled the perspiration on her forehead. Her thudding heart slowed a fraction. A sharp cramp in her leg made her squirm.
"It's too dark to go farther. We don't know what kind of creatures we could encounter—or the lay of the land. Ravines or drop-offs. We should stay here until the first light of dawn then find our way out," David suggested.
"But what about Black Cap and Chunky? What if they come after us?"
He smoothed his hand over hers. "We'll take turns listening. The other can sleep awhile."
David's presence offered warmth and safety, and he wanted to protect her the best he could—something she'd never sensed from Jeff. Though he'd said he loved her, he cherished something more—his career. Nothing like near-death to shed light on one's perspective.
Jada settled down, sitting next to the rock then leaned her head back. She shivered, not from the cool air but from the terror that wrapped its icy tendrils around her. "I was so scared. I didn't know if we would die—like the driver," she whispered.
David sat next to her, sliding his arm around her. "Let me tell you a story." His voice was barely a whisper. "A year ago, in Germany, I was in the field on a training mission. My job was to set up communications in the area—a trial run, if you will. But a grass fire ignited and smoke filled the air."
"How did it start?"
"Somebody was probably smoking and tossed their cigarette on the ground. The fire moved fast, and suddenly, I realized it was heading toward a truck filled with ammunition. The only thing I could do was get to the vehicle and move it before the fire got there or else the truck would explode and set the complex on fire. People would've died."
Jada sat up straight. "What happened?"
"I wasn't sure whether I'd live or die. I breathed a desperate prayer to the Lord that the truck would start, and I could move it away in time. I could've gone up in smoke right along with that vehicle and the missile site as well."
"But you're still here," she whispered.
"Yes." His voice seemed to drift on the cool night air. "God gave me strength when I had none of my own, like now."
"What motivated you to take the chance?"
He ran his hand through his hair and stared straight ahead. "My father, I suppose. He died a year and a half ago in a car accident."
"I'm so sorry. So you wanted to honor his memory by showing bravery?"
"No. Not that." He took a deep breath. "My father let me and my mother down more times than I could ever count. He never treated her with respect or paid much attention to me." He stared at her. "I never want to be that kind of man. That day in the field offered me the chance to be more."
Jada snuggled a little closer to David. "I've only known you for less than a day, but I have no doubt you're an honorable person."
"We've been through a lot together." He took both of her hands in his.
She straightened and gritted her teeth until her jaws ached. "What if they come looking for us in the night? They could have flashlights. They could shoot us dead like sitting ducks."
David Maguire's tour of duty in Germany is over, and he's returning home to Oak Mountain, Alabama in search of a job. After a long flight from Frankfort, he shares an Uber with Dallas resident Jada Atwood.
Jada Atwood, a registered nurse midwife, is on her way to a medical conference in Queens. If only she could live up to her father's legacy at the hospital where she works, she could prove worthy of his reputation. Marriage awaits yet her fiancé has yet to offer a ring.
When the Uber driver must make a stop to pick up a passenger at a Queens shopping center, two men who robbed a nearby bank commandeer the Ford as a getaway car. But when they discover two passengers, they have to get rid of the extra baggage.
After the kidnappers murder the Uber driver, David and Jada fear for their lives. Will they find their way home or die in a Pennsylvania forest?
Short blurb: A kidnapping and vicious murder leave David Maguire and Jada Atwood with few options—remain in the clutches of their abductors or attempt an escape. But the attraction they discover for each other could change their lives. Will they find their way home or die in a Pennsylvania forest?
The Long Way Home https://tinyurl.com/y96rzy4w
About June Foster
June Foster is an award-winning author who began her writing career in an RV roaming around the USA with her husband, Joe. She brags about visiting a location before it becomes the setting in her next contemporary romance or romantic suspense. June's characters find themselves in precarious circumstances where only God can offer redemption and ultimately freedom. Find June at junefoster.com.
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