CAPTURED – Held as a slave by Iraqi Militants Sample Chapters

CAPTURED

 Held as a Slave by Iraqi Militants

Book 1

by

EVE RABI

Copyright © E.Naidoo

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media used in this

book are fictitious and are the product of the authors imagination. The author acknowledges

the trademark status and trademark owners referenced in this work of fiction, which have

been used without permission. The publication use of this trademark is not authorized, associated

with or sponsored by the trademark owners                                                                                                                                                              

 

THE OUTSKIRTS OF BAGHDAD

 

June 2004, 15 months after the US and Coalition forces invaded Iraq

They prance around us, Iraqi militants, dressed in tunics and baggy pants, scarves coiled into turbans around their heads, victorious and triumphant, automatic weapons dangling from their shoulders.

A man with missing bottom teeth and the face of a rodent claps his hands. ‘American soldiers, we get you good.’

Another man with a red-and-white checked scarf and really bad body odor, puts his face in mine and says, ‘Georgie Bushie, him very big dog.’

I say nothing. I dare not. My eyes, when they’re opened, are fixed to the dirty cement floor.

More militants barge into the room, inspects their trophies lying on the ground, by means of a boot in the ribs mainly, then high-five each other.

Some of them look too young to drive or to vote, yet they are armed with AK-47’s, Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers. Holding their weapons over their heads, they dance a jig.

A boy, probably no older than fifteen counts their trophies: ‘Wahed, ithaian, Ithatha, arba, kamsa, sita …sita!’ He runs to the door, sticks his head out of the room and yells, ‘Sita!’

‘Sita?’ More dancing, more jigging, more back-slapping around me.

I know these fuckers. I’ve seen them in my nightmares – fled from them. And now, here I am, in their clutches.

Specialist Jude Stall and I are conscious, so we’re made to sit on plastic patio chairs. They don’t give a shit that Stall’s army jacket, in

varying shades of dirt-brown and dark-red, have bullet holes around the abdominal area. They don’t give a shit that I can barely sit

because my neck, back and fuck knows what other parts of me are hurt. I mean, I suspect a broken clavicle and an injured neck.

Anytime now, I expect to pass out.

I don’t want to pass out.

I want to die.

Please let me die. Before they torture me and before I’m subjected to all kinds of shit that’s coming my way.

As I sit with my head bowed, knees apart, blood seeps from a gash on my forehead and splatters on the floor between my army-issued boots, creating hallucinogenic patterns on the dirty cement floor.

Fuck! I seriously need a doctor.

Stall is slumped in his chair and moaning. When his moans get too loud the bastards jab him with their rifles.

I glance at the other members of my convoy lying on the floor in the corner of the room. None of them are moving or moaning. The last I saw any of them move was during our shoot-out with these militants earlier on today.  I quickly look away.

A sudden hush fills the room when a man with the disposition of an executioner, creeps into the room with a camera and a tripod. He

places the tripod in front of Stall and slides the video camera onto it. A murmur ripples through the militants and they back against the

wall to give the cameraman space. Carefully, the cameraman sets up, then scans the room. His eyes finally rest on a militant with a

gigantic handle-bar mustache.

Handle-bar beams and steps forward. After a slight bow to his comrades and a thank-you-for-choosing-me smile; he removes a

balaclava from his pocket and slips it over his face. Two other militants unroll a banner with Arabic writing on it and also don

balaclavas. They stand tall and erect behind Stall and hold up the banner for the camera.

Handle-bar takes his position behind Stall and nods. The cameraman hits a button. Handle-bar unsheathes a sword from around his

waist, the kind of sword you see in movies like The Mummy -ornate, beautiful and deadly.

In spite of my semi-conscious state, my hearts slams around in my chest as I silently and feverishly chant the code of conduct: I’m an

American soldier fighting in the forces which guards my country and our way of life…

Unfortunately, or fortunately, Stall is oblivious to what’s happening around him.

The cameraman lifts up his finger. Handle-bar reaches over and flashes Stall’s dog tag to the camera.

He steps back, rips off Stalls helmet, jerks back his head and exposes Stall’s jugular.

Even though I expected this, even though every POW expects this; terror engulfs me. I squeeze my eyes tight and gulp at the stale air

in the room and taste my breakfast again.

… If I …oh God! If I become a prisoner of … please don’t let them kill him! I will …I will keep … faith with my fellow prisoners …oh God!

A rustle of fabric, a blood-curdling gurgle, then silence.

When I open my eyes, handle-bar is wiping his sword on a muslin cloth.

Stall is lying on the floor, bright red blood pooling around his lop-sided head.

I puke all over myself.

Cameraman shifts the tripod and brings it in line with me.

Still masked, the men with the banner shuffle till they’re behind me.

Sweat drips down my bruised back. The urge to scream is there but I’m too weak. Instead, I shut my eyes and will myself to blank out,

to pass out, whatever the fuck will prevent me from feeling anything.

Don’t think. Empty your mind.

Doesn’t work – my mind betrays me. I open my eyes and find myself seeking out handle-bar. He’s disappeared from my sight. Even

though my neck is hurt, it jerks in all directions looking for him and his sword.

I hear a sound behind me and freeze. It’s him. ‘Oh God!’ I murmur. ‘Oh God!’

… I will never forget that I am an American fighting for …for freedom … responsible for my …

Oh God! Please! Please!

From behind, Handle-bar grabs my dog tag and flashes it at the camera.

I’m only 27 – way too young to die.

Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death …

The cameraman gives a final nod and my army-issued pants suddenly feel warm and wet.

My Kevlar helmet is savagely ripped off. I scream in agony as handle-bar jerks my neck back, exposing my jugular. I wait for the

sword, my breathing now in spurts, my body shaking.

The sword flashes briefly in front of me before it lodges against my throat.

Ogot! ‘Ogot!’  the cameraman shouts and frantically waves for Handle-bar to stop.

My neck is suddenly released and the sword is removed.

I’m too stunned to question this move.

Cameraman rushes towards me. ‘It is a wiiimon!’

The rest of the men dash over and crowd around me. They peer at me like they would a circus freak. One of them touches my long,

blonde ponytail and whispers crude nothings in Arabic.

Also in front of me is Handle-bar. His repulsive mug cracks into a big smile.  ‘American wiiimon,’ he says as he shakes his ass and circles

his nipples.  ‘Very good, very good. Wiiimon is good. Wiiimon is very good!’

Some of the men notice my wet pants and jeer at me.

I don’t give a fuck – I’m too stunned at my stay to worry about my shredded dignity. If I weren’t numb with shock, I’d probably be

bawling my eyes out with relief.

As they chat among themselves, their voices rise in pitch and the cameraman rubs his hands together. He turns to me, raises his index

finger and says, ‘Very nice.’

When he leaves with his tripod, the rest of the men herd out of the room. Handle-bar remains. He’s lovingly examining his blade for …

God knows what. After his careful inspection, he presses the sword to his lips and slips it back into the sheath.

Revolted, I squeeze my eyes shut.

When he leaves the room, he locks the door behind him.

For a few minutes I do nothing but stare at the back of the door, expecting them to return. When they don’t, I lean forward and pant loudly – almost hyperventilating. I came so close to death. Being a woman has saved me from having my throat cut. What now? I look at Stall. Maybe he’s still alive. Maybe I can help. I look at my hands. I’m untied. They don’t need to tie me up – my injuries are shackles enough. If Stall is dying, then he shouldn’t die alone. Summoning every ounce of energy from … fuck knows where, I force myself to stand up and stumble towards Stall. After just three steps, I keel over and black out.

*          *            *

I try to open my eyes but congealed blood from my head wound has glued my eyelids shut. My entire face is scaly, my body tender and I stink like meat rotting in the midday sun.

I pry my eyelids open and peer around. In my haze, I see that I’m lying next to Stall where I fell. The other members of my unit are still on the floor in a heap. My throat is burning. I desperately need water. Through the curtain of dried blood, I notice someone walking around the room wearing white moccasins.

‘Water … please,’ I beg.

The person ignores me.

‘Please …’

‘Said bousak!’  A jab in the ribs with the butt of a rifle and I shut up.

I drift in an out of consciousness. Could be days – I’m not sure.

It doesn’t matter.

I’m dying.

Then, someone is putting water to my lips and talking to me. ‘Have a sip. Come on.’ The voice of a man – soothing but firm.

I lift my head, drink greedily and choke.

‘Easy now. It’s going to be alright.’ He has a shaved-off Arabic accent. Gently, he coaxes me to drink more water.

Who is this man? This kind man with gentle hands? Maybe I’m dead and he’s an angel.

‘Pain … help me …’

‘Okay, lie still now.’ He injects me in the deltoid. After a few minutes he bandages my arm and dresses my wounds. At times I cry out in pain.

‘Almost done. You’re going to be alright.’

‘Thank you,’ I whisper, grateful for his help and kindness.

When he’s done, he brings in a mattress and a blanket.

‘Who …are …you?’

He doesn’t answer but covers me with the blanket.

Later, he returns and feeds me some kind of gruel. It’s awful but he forces me to drink it.

A few days pass and with Angel-man’snursing, I’m conscious and can move a bit without agonizing pain.

Angel-man walks in, sees my eyes open and stops, a look of relief on his face.

My smile is weak. ‘Thank you for helping me.’

No answer.

‘Where am I?’

‘Disneyland.’

Mmm. My team members! I crane my head to look around. All the bodies have disappeared. Startled, I look at him, eyebrows raised.

He shifts about then mutters, ‘Sorry.’

‘Oh God!’ I curl up into a ball and fight the urge to sob.

‘Hey!’

I look at Angel-man.

You’re going to be okay. That’s important right now. Understand?’

Slowly I nod, remembering with horror the sword against my throat. I try to think – how long ago was it? ‘What day is it?’

He glances briefly at a fancy wrist-watch and says, ‘Yom al-arba.’

‘Wha …?’ Somehow the Arabic they speak sounds very different to the Arabic the army linguist taught us.

He sighs, appearing irritated with all my questions. ‘Wednesday, 7th July, 2004. That okay for you or do you want the exact time as well?’

‘July? 7th… I’ve been here seven days.’

‘In that case: happy one-week anniversary!’

I ignore the sarcasm remembering all the good he’s done for me. Gingerly, I touch my bandaged shoulder. ‘Thank you for helping me.’

He nods his scowl softening. ‘You’ve lost a lot of blood.’

We are interrupted by the appearance of Handle-bar. Today, he looks even more vicious, pure evil and instinctively, I touch my throat. The fucker’s pointing an AK47 at me and mouthing-off in Arabic. Sounds really pissed. Don’t know what he’s saying. All I can think of is how he slit Stall’s throat.

I glance at Angel-man. Wish he’d say something.

Handle-bar steps forward and sticks the rifle in my face. Of course I’m disconcerted – an automatic weapon in your face – who wouldn’t be? But I know he’s not going to shoot me.

Angel-man snarls at him in Arabic and shoves him away from me.

Handle-bar argues with Angel-man. After a while, handle-bar slowly backs out of the room. At the doorway, he takes aim at me then lowers his weapon.

‘Nazim!’ Angel-man yells.

Handle-bar or Nazim, quickly leaves shutting the door behind him.

‘Sorry,’ Angel-man mutters.

‘Okay,’ I say really grateful for his protection.

Nazim’s behavior freaks me out. I know he wants to finish what he started the other day.

I have to escape.

In my bid to escape, even though I’m too weak to even consider it and even though he’s hot one minute and cold the next and frustrating the hell out of me, I try to befriend Angel-man. Maybe, just maybe, after we become friends, he’ll allow me to just stroll the fuck out of here. Unarmed.

‘I’m Megan. What’s your name?’

For a moment he appears startled by my question. Then he suddenly gives my wound his full attention.

Mmm. ‘Shall I guess?’

He focuses even harder on my wound.

‘Ali Baba?’ Oops! I thought out loud there.

‘What?!’

Now that’s no way to win friends and influence people. ‘Guess I’m gonna have to christen you myself, Angel-man. Won’t be pleasant, I’m warning you.’

‘“Angel-man?”’ His look can be interpreted as amused or just sneering.

‘Told ya so.’

A hint of a smile flitters across his lips.

‘Well?’

‘My name’s not important. Keep calling me that though.’

‘Mmm.’

I study him. Clean shaven, around 6’2, faded denim jeans, blue T-shirt, untidy hair, no turban, no beard, no visible weapon, no personality. He looks up and I quickly look away. He looks down and I continue. Reeboks, Rolex, a thin gold chain around his neck. Rolex? Insurgents must be getting good money these days.

A hint of a Canadian accent. Hard to tell when his answers are mainly monosyllabic. Somehow, he doesn’t seem to fit in here.

‘Can I take a bath?’

‘No.’

‘Please? I have dried blood all over me and it’s so … so uncomfortable.’

‘You want to be comfortable?’

‘Well, yeah. It’s hot.’ Hot is not the word. It’s about 120 degrees and there is no breeze.

‘You come to war, to fight, to kill … and … you want to be … comfortable?

Post-war. I came to help.’

‘You came to help? Is that a fact?’ He finishes the wound dressing and stands up. ‘Save that for the interrogation that’s coming up. Should be interesting.’ He leaves the room.

Interrogation? Who’s going to interrogate me? Will they torture me? I cringe at the thought of that.

I need to get the hell out of here. In desperation, I scout around. No furniture except a mattress on the bare floor. A naked light bulb on the ceiling provides harsh lighting. The only window in the room is barricaded with steel bars. Although the door is wooden, a solid, metal, security gate keeps me in. No holes on the ground, none on the wall so I can forget tunneling out of here Shawshank-Redemption style.

I lie back on my mattress and stare grimly at the ceiling. I’m going to need more than a file in a cake to blow this joint.

*     *          *

‘Follow me,’ Angel-man says.

‘To …where?’

When his head jerks to look at me, I quickly stand up and shuffle behind him. As we walk down the long corridor I get a better view of my cage. It’s actually an old farm-house that’s appears to have been modified to hold infidels like me.

Steel bars on all doors and windows. Heavy, tattered drapes allow little light in. The place is musty and there is an absence of life outside. No moving cars or trains or even the faint sounds of gunshots, which is common in Iraq these days.

We’re probably on the outskirts of Baghdad. With escape in mind, I case the joint, making mental notes – the angles of the house, the exits, entrances, the bunch of keys hanging on a hook on the wall…

Three armed militants play cards on a make-shift table supported by three oil drums. Two are armed with Kalashnikovs while the third has an M-249, a SAW.

I look longingly at the SAW – a Squad Automatic Weapon. At 2000 rounds per minute, it would saw through anybody it hit. Lethal. Flash it around and you’ve got crowd control. One glimpse of it and you’ve got a swarm of hostile Iraqis on their knees.

Angel-man stops at a closed door and jerks his head towards it.

With one finger, I push the door open. It’s a bathroom. Not the little toilet I’ve been using but a proper, useable bathroom. I smile.

Angel-man flings a small bundle of clothes at me. I’m too slow catching it and it falls to the ground.

‘Sorry,’ he says and stoops to pick it up.

‘Thanks.’ I examine the bundle. An old, grey but clean towel, a long, black skirt and a red, long-sleeve tunic. Clean clothes after fourteen days in my filthy, army-issued gear. Awesome!

Excited, I reach over and turn the faucet. Warm water. My day is A-okay! I slowly rub my hands together under the flowing water. Beautiful, just beautiful! Something I took for granted. To lose this awful stench of congealed blood I’ve been carrying around is going to be great.

I push the bathroom door shut.

Angel-man pushes back.

‘What?

‘Stays open.’

I stare at him. ‘What?! You kidding me?’

‘Do I look like I’m kidding?’

‘Then … I mean, how do I shower with you looking on?’

He shrugs and jerks his head to towards the armed men. ‘Want to take it up with them?’

I look at the men and purse my lips.

He’s bluffing. Has to be. Pissed off, I call his bluff. ‘Forget it.’ I hand the towel and clothes back to him and wait for him to feel bad and have a change of mind and eventually say, ‘Oh, alright, you can close the darn door.’

To my disbelief, he shrugs and starts walking away. What a prick!

End of Sample Chapters

Read more at:

http://www.amazon.com/CAPTURED-Slave-Iraqi-Militants-ebook/dp/B0088IBIZC

a book by EVE RABI

Throw her kindle at me?

“4.0 out of 5 stars Throw my kindle at the author? July 26, 2011

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Cried, laughed, gasped, but hated the ending. Hated, hated, hated the tragic ending. I’m a sucker for happy endings so I was furious with the author and wanted to throw my kindle at her. One of the best modern day romance stories I have ever read, though and I almost missed my train stop reading it! Payton’s character is a real and wounded but she is feisty and sassy and her voice was great. kept me hooked.
would have given it five stars if i wasnt mad at the author.”
Eve Rabi: Now I have to go out and buy me a crash helmet. Taking no chance here. Ha ha!

THE WAGES OF SINEAD – A Tale of Infidelity (Synopsis)

“Feeling bad about hurting Angel, I focused my rage on Sinead. The bitch! The whore! The slut! How could she do this to me? All her sexy bedroom antics now took on a cheap, sleazy undertone. F**king prostitute! All her dirty talk was no longer a turn-on; it was sordid, filthy and cheap and I suddenly felt like a shower. She must be laughing her ass off now. Bitch.
I decided I would torture her before I killed her. Yeah, make her look into my grey eyes as her miserable life ebbed away. Make her last thoughts one of regret for daring to F**K with me! I thought about my 9mm in my safe. Maybe I would blow her brains out. I’d get away with it because of the following; I was an attorneyand I knew the law, I would most definitely have an airtight alibi saying we were together all the time, watching re-runs of Oprah (giving away hand-held vacuum cleaners or something) and I would ensure I had tons of bleach to clean up the crime scene. Maybe I’ll dismember her corpse in the bathtub and toss out body parts as I drove along the desert like I’ve seen on CSI. Easy peasy. (Made a mental note to myself – buy chainsaw, bleach and bullets. Oh, and a silencer.)
And what if I got caught anyway? I wasn’t afraid to die. I would take it like a man and totter along slowly in my leg chains and orange jumpsuit to the gas chamber with my head held high and state in a controlled voice that I had absolutely no regrets about killing Sinead as she deserved to die for destroying my life and robbing me of my family, but that I was sorry for hurting my wife and children. And Charlie. Oh, Debbie too.
F**k everybody else.”

Gabriel Sloan has everything – the beautiful, supportive wife, two lovely kids, a house in the burbs and he is about to make partner in a prestigious law firm.
Then, on a business trip to Vegas, he meets the sexy, enticing and uninhibited Sinead and succumbs to temptation.
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Wrong. It follows him back to Los Angeles and triggers a series of unfortunate events, including a double homicide – all of which makes him regret ever cheating on his wife.
The Wages of Sinead is a tale of infidelity – a serious subject told with humour and features outrageous dialogue, off-beat characters and, as with all tales of infidelity, a grim lesson in temptation.

To read more, visit:

http://www.amazon.com/THE-WAGES-SINEAD-Infidelity-ebook/dp/B008GU42OG

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny from beginning to end July 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Well written in a fast easy to read pace. More of a tongue-in-cheek story. Kept me laughing and gasping with shock at times. Wacky characters throughout. Loved the arrogant hero but be warned he’s can be a real SOB.
Great price too an I’m always on the lookout for books from this author and I do believe I’ve read all her books. I think. lol
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
5.0 out of 5 stars LAUGH OUT LOUD July 10, 2012

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I’m a huge fan of Eve Rabi and I’ve read all her work so far and I must say, she doesn’t disappoint.The Wages of Sinnead is story about a man who pays a price for cheating on his wife.
But the main character is childish and immature and funny and a boy at heart so everything he does makes you laugh out loud. I read it all in one sitting.Some editing issues here which may prove a little frustrating to some of you, but it seems to be the norm on Amazon so I don’t let that get in the way of a good story that has me giggling to myself long after I turned off my kindle.

Again, the price is just 99 cents so I guess I can’t complain too much. I eagerly await more from this author.

THE WAGES OF SINEAD – A Tale of Infidelity

THE WAGES OF SINEAD

 

by

 

EVE RABI

 

 

Copyright © E.Naidoo

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media used in this

 

book are fictitious and are the product of the authors imagination. The author acknowledges

 

the trademark status and trademark owners referenced in this work of fiction, which have

 

been used without permission. The publication use of this trademark is not authorized, associated with or sponsored by the trademark owners                                                                                                                                                                               

 

 

 

                                                                         July 1998

 

I was told by friends that if you cheat on your wife, the appropriate guilt-appeasing flowers are roses. A dozen, long-stemmed.

 

I stood at the airport with roses – two dozen.

 

In twenty-five words or less: I was on business, she was available, I was shit-faced, she was stacked, I was flattered, she was relentless in her pursuit and – and this is a big ‘And’ …we were in Vegas.

 

Been married for six years and my wife could only manage sex once a week. Just thinking about the once-a-week sex made me bitter. She was always tired and I guess I felt conjugally deprived.

 

How many words so far?

 

Anyway, my wife was picking me up from the airport and she was bringing along my two beautiful little girls. I was, as can be expected, nervous and anxious and more worried about the guilt showing on my face, than about breaking my marriage vows. Now before you go all harsh and judgmental on me and call me a prick, I’ll tell you this much – I am an arrogant prick. I don’t try to be, I’m just wired that way. Now that you know my ABC, let’s move on, shall we?

 

Okay, I love my wife, I really do. I only cheated on her because of opportunity. I read somewhere that most men cheat, not because they want to, but because of opportunity that lands on their lap. And last night, opportunity was a sexy, long-haired, blonde called Sinead, who was just about every guy’s fantasy and being the human that I was, I guess I erred – succumbed to temptation.

 

Did I regret it? Let me think. Honestly? Nope.

 

Sorry, but I did say honestly. Why didn’t I regret it? I don’t know. Perhaps, it was because …I liked it far too much to be bothered by my conscience, or the lack of it thereof?  Told you I was arrogant bastard.

 

Armed with my guilt-appeasing roses, I waited for Angelina, my wife, who I call Angel, and my two daughters. Whenever I return from business trips, I usually catch a cab back home, but today, I was feeling guilty mainly because, I was guilty; so for the first time since I had kids, I accepted Angel’s offer to pick me up from the airport.

 

As I waited at the pick-up zone, my mind drifted back to Sinead, my unrestrained, unreserved, uninhibited and lusty partner in crime last night.

 

Wow!

 

Although I showered before she and I parted company this morning, I could still smell her perfume and it added to my uneasiness. I clutched the roses tighter and willed myself to regret my actions.

 

Problem was, the memories of my weekend of sin weren’t bad. In fact, some of them were darned good. Okay, amazing. So amazing, that they were responsible for the contented smile across my face, which I now struggled to conceal.

 

Sinead was extremely flexible, amazingly agile and particularly nimble in the sack and I can’t help but think that she would be artistic with a hula hoop, if you know what I mean.

 

When I first spotted her, I thought she was hot, like all the guys around me thought, I’m sure. Small waist, big ass, big tits, child-bearing lips–what more could a guy ask for? Did I mention that I was human? At first, I must admit, I was just flattered when she paid me attention. Flattered because, there were so many good looking, young guys at the club, yet Sinead, who was by far the hottest chick at the club, had me in her cross-hairs. Me, a

 

Thirty-five-year-old, overworked attorney, with a receding hairline, slight pot belly, a wife who couldn’t care if she never had sex again for the rest of her life and two kids under the age of four? Hell, not only was I astonished, but I was even grateful that a woman would find me interesting at this stage in my life and pursue me.

 

Still, when she came onto me, I somehow managed to keep it together and resisted her the first night. Like the gentleman that I was, (I may be an arrogant prick but I’m a true gentleman.) I even walked her to her hotel room. Okay, so I enjoyed her tongue in my mouth when I said goodnight. But I have to tell you, it was hard. Especially, since we were booked in at the same hotel. I kept thinking about her probing tongue, the thrust of her double-DDs against my chest, the way her hips locked with mine…if I wasn’t so plastered, I’m sure I would have been up all night just thinking about it.

 

The next day, we bumped into her and her friend again and when I introduced her to my work colleagues, one of my bosses immediately invited her and her equally attractive and uninhibited friend for some sailing and water skiing on board a luxurious yacht loaned to us by one of our wealthy, but dishonest clients. FYI, 99 percent of our clients are dishonest.

 

After a hard day of excessive boozing and topless tanning, we hit the club again for some serious partying and drinking. We were celebrating our win, the coveted Blakeley and Thompson account, worth more than ten million dollars and I, Gabriel Sloan, was the one responsible for that coup. Tonight, I was the star quarterback and I reveled in it, accepting all the congratulatory back slaps and high fives that came my way. An ego rush of gigantic proportion and I loved it.

 

Sinead never left my side, never asked awkward questions, like if I was married and by the end of the evening, made it clear she was going to fuck me that night, either in or out of my bed. I smiled and tried to tell myself that it wasn’t going to happen but, and that’s a big ‘but’; I was waiting all evening in anticipation. When exactly was it going to take place and dare I hoped it would be out of my bed?

 

She didn’t actually say when and that was a good thing, ’cause knowing me, I am the type to have chickened out. As cocky as I appear, I was a bit slow when it comes to women. Never had a problem getting them, but I prefer to choose, chase and nail. In that order.

 

In the past, when women chased me, I more often than not, ran.

 

Oh, Sinead hinted, implied and touched her way through things. Her stroking and kneading under the table and her firm, bare thigh glued to mine left me a massive hard-on. Her body was warm and wanton and her breath around my earlobe drove me wild. That, coupled with the rush of winning the account and the booze gave me an all-time high.

 

Don’t misunderstand me; she wasn’t skanky or over the top or like some of bunnies you find at Hef’s. In fact, she was sweet and playful and kittenish and not in the least bit bothered by my wedding ring, which I kept on all the time, I must add. When she suggested we refrain from disclosing personal details about ourselves to each other, it served only to heighten the sexual thrill and I found myself grinning like the jackass I was and nodding vigorously, like one of those toy dogs you find on the back of cars that nod constantly with the motion of the car.

 

“Just call me Sin,” she said prettily. “Short for Sinead.”

 

“Just call me drunk,” I evened, “Short for very drunk.”

 

She laughed. I liked that about her. She laughed all the time.

 

My wife Angel liked to fuck in the dark or with the lights turned down really low, mainly because I think she had body issues. Boring! Not Sinead, she wanted the lights on when she slowly peeled off her clothes and when she skillfully stroked my erection and made a popsicle out of me. There was so much of tension in my sexual vault after two days of innuendoes that I exploded within three minutes but…. I was back for an encore, I tell you. Was I proud I could deliver!

 

And she knew her stuff too. “Are you game for Amyl Nitrate?” she whispered, at the height of pleasure.

 

“Sure,” I huffed. “Bring her in. The more the merrier. ” (Hey, I had been married for six years – how was I supposed to know about Amy Nitrate and stuff.)

 

She furrowed her pretty brow at me, then smiled at my ignorance and gave me a whiff of it in a tiny vial she got from God knows where. Now, don’t you try this at home folks, ’cause it’s not good for your heart, but it took the word orgasm to a new level and she made me scream.

 

Something I’ve never done. I screamed like a girl.

 

As for me pleasing her; I wish I wasn’t so drunk, then maybe I could have really reciprocated, but I did my fair share of ramming at the end, which she seemed to like, ’cause she moaned so loudly, I was worried the entire hotel would think it was some kind of low-keyed fire-drill, even though it really turned me on. Not the soft delicate sighs that Angel lets out when I went down on her, but loud, expressive, out of control cries of unabashed pleasure. A gigantic ego rush for a drunken executive. Actually three times! Yeah, even I was surprised, ’cause, as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m no stud. Not anymore.

 

***

 

Parting was brief and hurried, ’cause both of us had flights to catch. I was tired from lack of sleep, really hung over and in desperate need of some greasy airport food, but there was no time if I wanted to catch my flight.

 

As I boarded the plane, I thought of Angel for the first time since I was with Sin and felt a little guilty. That’s when I dialed her number and talked to her for a while.

 

Angel was late picking me up, so I hung around and people-watched. Then, across the road, I spotted Angel and the other two loves of my life; my two beautiful daughters,

 

two-year-old Sydney and four-year-old Indiana. I smiled and braced myself for the avalanche of hugs and kisses that usually came my way. I was looking forward to holding Angel again and kissing her and making up for all the shit I did last night. As I watched her approach, I realized just how much I loved her. Cheating had nothing to do with my love for her. Anyway, she was never going to find out so…I would just drop it and never think about it again.

 

Suddenly, I looked to the side and there was Sin, with girlfriend. No wonder I could still smell her perfume, she was just a few feet away from me!

 

“Heeeey!” she said, smiling prettily and looking as hot as ever in a tight blue, corset-type top and faded jeans that made her ass talk and made me wonder if I could have gone four rounds instead of three.

 

“Hey,” I mouthed, glancing at Angel, then back at Sin. “What you’re doing here?”

 

She jerked her lovely head towards the taxis. “Catching a cab.”

 

I nodded.

 

She followed my eyes to Angel and my kids. “Your family?”

 

I nodded sheepishly, suddenly wishing that Angel had dressed a little sexier. She wore a pink cardigan, a light pink top, casual jeans, black pumps and her hair was in a ponytail. Next to Sin, Angel looked frumpy, like a mother of two kids and frankly, I was a little embarrassed.

 

“Nice,” she said lightly. “Well, here’s my ride. Tata!”

 

I breathe a sigh of relief that she wasn’t going to clash with Angel.

 

“Take care,” I said.

 

“Hope she likes the roses,” she flung over her shoulder as she and her girlfriend got into the cab and rattled off an address to the driver. I watched her fasten her seat belt as she talked to her friend. Then, to my surprise, she looked up at me and motioned me over. I nervously glanced at Angel who was fast approaching, then at Sin, panic enveloping me.

 

But Sin flexed her index finger at me and I felt somewhat obliged to go to her so I hurried over to the cab window.

 

“What is it?” I whispered.

 

She put her painted lips really close to my ear. “You might want to get yourself checked out,” she whispered.

 

I looked at her in confusion. “Wha …?”

 

“I…I’m HIV positive.”

 

“Wha…?”

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean for things to turn out this way,” she said in a sincere voice. “It just happened. I should have told you, but I guess I got carried away. I’m sor …”

 

“You’re fucking with me, right?” I demanded hoarsely, hoping to God she would smile and tell me to look at the hidden camera ’cause I was being Punked.

 

She shook her head from side-to-side and I felt like I thought – this is what it feels like when you fall from the top of The Empire State Building.

 

“H…HIV…?” I stammered my mouth, suddenly dry as the Sahara. That’s not AIDS, right? Shit! I didn’t know much about the virus. I’m a corporate attorney for Christ sakes!

 

With a grim look, she tugged at her hair and to my absolute horror, her entire hair moved to reveal total baldness! She was wearing a wig. Before I could stop myself, I recoiled in revulsion and disgust.

 

For a moment, hurt registered in her eyes. Then she rolled up her window and the cab driver drove off.

 

I should have run after her and demanded she tell more, but I just stood frozen as the car disappeared from sight.

 

“Daddy! Daddy!” The sound of my daughter’s voices forced me out of my catatonic state.

 

Forcing myself to smile mechanically, I accepted all their hugs. This distraction afforded me the opportunity to somewhat regain my composure.

 

Angel walked up to me and hugged me.

 

“They’re beautiful!” she cried as she took the roses from me. When she tried to kiss me, I jerked my head so that her kiss landed somewhere between my ear and lips. I didn’t want to kiss my darling wife if I had a virus.

 

“What wrong, Gabe?” she asked, her hazel eyes darting all over my face.

 

I shook my head and waved dismissively.

 

“You look pale, honey.” Her frown deepened. “You okay?”

 

Am I okay? What a question.

 

I scanned my brain to find something to say. “I…I think I picked up on of those…um…” The shock of everything was too much. My brain froze and I just went blank and looked dumbly at my wife. This was most unusual behavior on my part and Angel was now worried.

 

She reached up and touched my forehead. “You have a temperature.”

 

I looked at her in horror. So quickly? Could the virus be attacking me already? Fuck!

 

It was enough to freak me out. “I do feel really ill, Angel,” I murmured and absentmindedly wiped my forehead.

 

“Poor baby,” Angel said gently as she took my hand in hers. I immediately shrugged off her hand. There was no way I wanted to contaminate my beautiful and innocent Angel, love of my life and mother of my children by holding her hand.

 

Startled at my behavior, she stared at me.

 

“Better not touch,” I said quickly. “I don’t want to give whatever I got to you, baby.”

 

She nodded understandingly. Did I really say she looked frumpy and plain? I was so wrong. She looked lovely and caring and concerned and… like my wife.

 

“Probably the water,” she mused. “Kids, give daddy some space. He’s not well today.”

 

My girls looked at me, disappointment in their eyes.

 

“No!” I said quickly, when I see their crestfallen faces. I could take care of things later. “At least, let me get my hug, huh?”

 

“We already gave you hugs daddy,” Indiana said.

 

“We aldeddy dave you huds,” Sydney echoed.

 

“Naha!” I said, crouching again. “I didn’t feel anything. If I don’t get a huge hug by the time I count to say…one; I’m gonna cry like a baby. “One…”

 

Being the darlings that they were, they melted into me and hugged me for dear life, then took turns to look at my eyes to look for signs of tears. I loved them so much.

 

Angel looked down at us and smiled.

 

I stood up and hugged her again. “It’s good to be back, sweetie,” I said and kissed her hair. “I love you.”

 

“I missed you, Gabe,” she said as she rested her head on my chest.

 

The ride home was a boxed hell and I was struggling to wrap my brain around things, which I desperately needed to do right now. Angel talked non-stop about – I don’t know – I paid no attention to what she was saying.

 

Finally, I closed my eyes and lay back on my seat and she stopped zipped up.

 

“I’m sorry, Angel,” I murmured from time-to-time, meaning it.

 

Unused to seeing me like this, she tried to get me to a doctor, but I refused. All I wanted to do was get out of the car and for a while, go somewhere where I could be alone with my tumultuous thoughts.

 

My mind drifted back to my fatal rendezvous with Sinead. How could I have missed the wig? Why didn’t I look before I leapt? Now everything about last night, took on a sinister undertone. Did she really fancy me or was I just easy meat? Easy meat I’m sure. Easy and dumb meat for that matter. Was it intentional? Of course! Was she lying? Without a doubt. I could sue the bitch for millions, I reckoned. Yeah, I could. If she had millions.

 

But why didn’t she have any of those lesions on her skin, like Tom Hanks in Philadelphia? Maybe it’s because, being the dumbass I was; I was too busy looking at her tits and ass and didn’t look at other less important body parts.

 

Did we use a condom? I recall using them. But I also recall that with all the agility, it did slip out once. Fuck! Sweat dripped down the back of my shirt. How the hell do I tell Angel I cheated on her? How do I tell my wife that I cheated on her and got a deadly virus in the process? Would she believe it was my first time I ever cheated? I hung my head in despair. Gabriel Sloan, what the fuck have you done this time?

 

Charlie! God, I need to talk to Charlie. He’s my older brother and someone I could talk to. Someone I could trust. Charlie was not as educated as I was, but he always had the answer. My parents died when we were young and Charlie became both mother and father to me, putting me through law school by holding down three jobs. I owe him everything. He’s going to be so disappointed to learn I am dying. Damn, that hurt so much.

 

The moment we arrived home, I mumbled something about a shower and escaped to the bathroom where I could be alone with my thoughts and even call Charlie.

 

I stripped, turned on the taps but didn’t enter the shower. Instead, I called Charlie. He answered on the first ring and I came straight to the point. “I need to talk to you, Charlie.”

 

Maybe it was something in my voice, but he immediately agreed, sounding concerned.

 

I didn’t want to have to tell Angel I was leaving the house as I had just returned from a business trip and needed to spend time with my family, so we arranged for Charlie to call and ask for me to come over to help out with a problem.

 

Half an hour later, he called and talked to Angel.

 

“Gabe!” Angel shouted. “Charlie wants to know if you can come over. Says he needs your help.”

 

“Not today,” I shouted back. “Tell him I just got home and I want to spend time with you guys.”

 

Angel walked over, stood in the doorway and looked at me, a worried look on her lovely face.

 

“What?” I asked.

 

“Gabe, I think Charlie might need you.”

 

“But I just got home, Angel. I need to spend time with you guys.”

 

After staring at me for a few moments, she said, “Go Gabe. He wouldn’t call if he didn’t need you.”

 

With an exaggerated sigh, I poured myself a drink, took two aspirins, got dressed and left my house.

 

***

 

Charlie, my brother and my anchor, was simply excellent at saying, ‘I told you so’. But, I could be honest with him and I wanted to be, so I braced myself for the long lecture coming my way. He was waiting at a Trevor’s, a local pub, drumming his fingers anxiously on the table and craning his neck around for me. Luckily, he had chosen a secluded booth affording us some privacy.

 

The moment I saw him, I got all choked up. Everybody has a safe place to fall; Charlie was mine. We looked a lot alike but he was a head taller, with long dark hair he wore in a ponytail. He was pretty buff because he worked out every day. He never wore suits like I did and he usually wore jeans and a T-shirt with something funny written on it. He fixed and built motorbikes for a living.

 

We hugged then sat down. He scanned my face for clues as to why I needed to talk to him.

 

“What the fuck you did this time?”

 

Mechanically, I ordered us drinks, then blurted out the whole damn story.

 

There was this silence around me – you know the kind you experience in a courtroom as you wait for the jury to say, “Guilty” or “Not guilty” before hell breaks loose? That kind.

 

Charlie being Charlie, exploded first; then got worried, then went into damage control. “What the fucks wrong with you, you stupid cunt? You have everything you want, everything you wanted and worked for, and you throw it away for some…casual roll in the fucking hay with some drug addict? Huh?”

 

Then the worried bit: “So…how you feeling? Exactly how high is your temperature? We should go to a doctor and just ask him to check you out, take a blood test or something. It’s the only way to really tell, isn’t it? Is that why you’re losing your hair? Fuck! I can’t believe you’d do this to yourself Gabe. You need to grow up.”

 

Finally the damage control: “We have to find a way to tell Angel, Gabe. We can’t afford to take chances with her. She’ll get infected.”

 

I nodded.

 

“Okay, here’s what we’ll do – we’ll Google it, then handle it.” He touched my shoulder reassuringly. “It will be okay if we act right away. I think.” He sat back and fell silent for a few moments.

 

I glanced at his worried face and I felt terrible for putting him through this. But in spite of all this, I was surprised he didn’t say, I told you so.

 

Then he got up and hurried to his truck. He returned with his laptop. Together we researched HIV, AIDS and all the symptoms. Well, he did and I just sat there, drank up and grunted answers to his questions. I couldn’t bear to read about it, hear about it or even think about it. Denial. That, and the fact that I just wasn’t ready to face it or deal with it.

 

“Shit! You already have the gastric problems,” he exclaimed.

 

“No! I don’t really have a stomach problem, Charlie. I just said that to Angel to sorta …you know…”

 

“You don’t? Oh well, yeah, okay then.” Back to researching the virus.

 

The waitress appeared and Charlie slammed the laptop shut almost dropping the laptop in the process.

 

The waitress jumped and threw us both a funny look. Probably assumed we were pedophiles pouring over some porn or something. I gave her our order and waited for her to leave before I spoke again.

 

“It’s probably too early for symptoms,” I said.

 

‘Yeah, could be.”

 

‘But I do have a temperature,” I mumbled to myself and the worried looked reappeared on Charlie’s face. I spun around to face him. “Look Charlie, this is bullshit – I don’t have the fucking virus! I know that for a fact.”

 

“Yeah?” Charlie’s hopeful eyes scanned my face.

 

“Yeah!” My tone was adamant.

 

“Well then, that’s great,” Charlie said and shut the laptop. “You’d know if you did, right?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Alright then.” He ordered another round, chatted about the weather (which he never did) and some other shit while I zoned out.

 

Then he looked directly at me. “You’re in denial, right?”

 

I nodded grimly and we both fell silent. When we finally left the bar and walked outside, Charlie hugged me for a long time and when he released me, I saw something I’d never seen in his eyes for about twenty years – tears. I hugged him again and slapped him on the back, reassuring him that everything was going to be okay, feeling shit about what I was putting him through.

 

He slapped my harder on my back and said, “Okay.”

 

“See you,” I said and walked away before he mentioned the I-told-you-so bit.

 

“I warned you something like this would happen,” he shouted at me and I smiled. There it was! Heavily disguised, but there it was – the, ‘I told you so’.

 

Charlie, the fucker never disappoints.

 

***

 

Over the next couple of days, Charlie hounded me about taking the test.

 

“When are you taking the test?”

 

“Tomorrow.”

 

“Okay.” He hung up.

 

Then he called the following day. “When are you taking the test?”
“Tomorrow.”

 

“Gabriel, take the goddamn test, will you?”

 

“Yeah, okay, I will, Charlie.”

 

Tomorrow never came so he called again.

 

“Did you take the test?”

 

“I …eh, well …”

 

“TAKE THE FUCKING TEST! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

 

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah! Jeez Charlie, gimmee a break will you?”

 

He also badgered me into increasing my life insurance policy before I took the test, but I was worried they would do a blood test and discover it themselves. Although, I was already insurance for more than a million dollars so that wasn’t a real concern of mine.

 

My real concern- telling Angel. I was terrified she would leave me. I loved her so much and the thought of her not being in my life drove me crazy.

 

Sin or Sinead – I needed to locate that bitch and beat the crap out of her. Charlie said that I should expect a letter in the post from her, shaking me down for a million dollars.

 

“Does she know you’re an attorney?”

 

“Don’t think so?”

 

“Does she know you have a triple-storey, split-level house on …?”

 

“Nah. Didn’t talk about all that.”

 

“Mm.”

 

What if he was right? What if she knew I that was financially well off and she wanted to shake me down? Maybe if I refused, she would threaten to tell Angel and the people at work. The thought of that made me break into a sweat. Sure I can call the FBI and arrest her for blackmail and shit, but I’d lose my job for sure, something I didn’t want to happen. As for Angel, I didn’t want to even think about losing her.

 

When Sinead first asked me to call her ‘Sin’, it was thrilling and exciting and just thinking about her name, gave me a hard-on. Now, ‘Sin’ was nothing short of sinister and I refused to even utter that word or name. Sinead – I would only refer to her as that. The bitch set me up and needed to pay. I said this to Charlie and he said that she already was.

 

He was also changing his story. Now he didn’t believe they were going to roll me for my dough. “Misery loves company. That’s why she did it, Gabe.”

 

Of all the guys in the room that night, she chose me. My ego was inflated then, but now, I felt like the biggest fool – she chose me ’cause she really hated me and wanted to see me dead. I was such a pathetic loser for thinking otherwise.

 

I avoided any physical contact with Angel over the next few days, for fear I may kiss her or she may think it’s okay to jump me in bed (which she only did once, after watching 9and ½ weeks and I immediately bought her the DVD and had it delivered via express post.) while I was sleeping. In my briefest of research of the virus with Charlie, we discovered that you can get the HIV virus by kissing, simply because you may have an open lesion in your mouth. I wasn’t going to take any chances. I refused to kiss my wife on the mouth. How I missed that!

 

I also missed having sex with my wife. Yeah, I know I bitched about it being boring and once a week but hey, things had changed now and I would have given anything to hold her soft and naked body in my arms and explore her warm and inviting mouth.

 

How could I have fucked up so badly? Maybe everybody was right – I needed to grow up.

 

***

 

I was on top of my game at work, and Markham’s and Associates, an exclusive law firm in Los Angeles, acknowledged that by bestowing me with a handsome paycheck at the end of every month and the best office in the building. I was a senior associate and any day now, I was going to make partner.

 

My secretary was an efficient, twenty-something called Stacy, who I could always count on. We had a great relationship and she made me promise that if I ever left Markham’s I would take her with.

 

I was a mover and a shaker and was held in high esteem by my peers and society in general.

 

So far, I had exceeded my targets – my personal goals, my professional goals and my dreams, but I kept going, aiming for the stars – bigger bonuses, bigger shares in Markham’s, more money.

 

I could only imagine what would happen if the guys at Markham’s discovered I was HIV positive. I would be bounced out of the company in no time, I was sure of that. Hell, let’s face it; if a colleague of mine was HIV positive, chances were I would have been somewhat sympathetic, but deep down, Markham’s decision to let him go; would have got my tacit support.

 

I was ashamed that I could be that way, but I’m sure a lot of ignorant people like me, would share my sentiment. It was the way things worked in life. Well, before Sinead, that is. I was looking at things really differently now.

 

Sure, I could file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against them for actually contracting the virus while on a work-related getaway – a workers compensation sort of claim, but what a legacy to leave behind, especially for my kids.

 

Even though my mind was like Grand Central Station, I dragged my ass to the office and went through the motions. Concentrating was almost impossible and I found myself calling Angel twice in the morning just to chat, confusing her. When I was not taking to Angel, I was staring into space.

 

Stacy struggled to get me to work.  When I wasn’t taking her calls and made her repeat everything, she finally stormed into my office, shut the door and looked at me with her hands on her hips. “Gabriel, you need to take a pill or just go see a doctor or do something.

 

“Sure, sure, sure!” I said and tried to get some shit down. But after an hour, I threw down my pen, grabbed my jacket and keys and told her I was going to lunch.

 

I drove over to Charlie’s for some lunch and a chat. Charlie ran a small, but lucrative motorbike business from his garage. He not only repaired bikes, he also pimped them – souped them up for biker enthusiasts who wanted more than the average ride and he made a decent living out of it. Main thing was – he loved what he was doing. I envied that about him.

 

He was only five years older than me, but he always acted like he was twenty years older, regaling me with stories of when he was young and how things had changed. I did what I always did during the lecture. I’d roll my eyes and zone out.

 

He chatted as he worked and having a penchant for motorbikes myself, I found myself helping him a little and getting grease on my thousand-dollar Armani suit. Angel would be pissed at me for that, I was sure.

 

I got so engrossed in the bikes that I lost track of time and stayed longer than I planned.

 

When I got back to work, everyone was frantic with worry. Stacy had been trying to call me for hours, but couldn’t reach me because I left my cell phone at the office.

 

I was getting forgetful recently, I thought, feeling a mild panic.

 

Turns out I had an appointment with Blakely Thompson that I clean forgot about, even though Stacy reminded me earlier on. Needless to say, they were pissed and talked about taking their business elsewhere. I called and apologized to the client, but frankly, I didn’t give a crap; I had other things on my mind – I may be dying for Christ sakes!

 

The next day, unable to tolerate the thought of listening to spoilt and demanding clients and their stupid, petty troubles, I just called in sick, pissing off everyone at work even further. I lay around the house feeling numb and miserable and basically slept the day away.

 

I kept willing myself to get up and take the dreaded test, but I couldn’t do it. Guess  was scared. I wasn’t ready to know.

 

***

 

I woke up angry. Angry at my situation, angry at Sin; NO, NOT SIN, IT’S SINEAD! I was furious with Sinead and I still wanted to kill her. Shrewd, conniving, manipulative, calculating…

 

Then I was mad with Markham and Associates for placing me at the scene of the crime. Didn’t they ply me with alcohol, got me to lower my guard and made me vulnerable to a man-hating bitch? It was their fault.

 

Most of all, I was suddenly furious with Angel It was all her fault! She had failed in her duties as a wife by not being sexy enough, erotic enough and letting herself go and putting me last on her list and…whatever!

 

Because of her negligence, I had no choice – I was forced to look outside my marriage. If she had taken the time to dress better and be more alluring and sexy and kittenish and attentive and gave better blow jobs, then perhaps I would not have strayed.

 

Yep. It was Sinead’s, Markham’s and Angel’s fault. I wasn’t at fault – I was goddamn victim here.

 

That’s what I told myself. I was cruising for a bruising and I seriously considered engaging in a bar room brawl, something I hadn’t done in more than eight years.  I pictured it – I’d walk into a bar, single out a big dude, catch his eye and say, ‘You looking at me?’

 

‘Yeah, so what?’

 

I would walk over to the motherfucker and take a swing at him – punch him in his fugly, tattooed mug. Boom! Lights out.

 

Then his homies would come flying over and I’d slam my fists into them and one-by-one they would go down like skittles. Then I’d stand back, flex my bruised fingers and nod at my success. When I finally staggered out of the bar, I’d be somewhat de-stressed.

 

But I didn’t brawl. Instead, I acted out by being short, impatient and snappy with Angel, confusing her. She was even more alarmed when I did not go to work, something I rarely did. Convinced that I was seriously ill, she tried hard to be patient with me and talked about me seeing a shrink. But the more patient and understanding she was, the nastier I was towards her. I wanted to hurt her, I wanted to make her sad, I wanted to rattle her cage and make her feel insecure. But once or twice she became tearful and I backed off immediately, hating myself for treating her like that. I loved her and didn’t want to see her cry. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. The last time I cried was when my mom died. I was just five. I’ve never cried since. I was a man, big, strong and virile and highly capable.

 

I would booze my sadness away like most men do. I wouldn’t cry. Not me. Not Gabriel Sloan, the arrogant prick.

 

Feeling bad about hurting Angel, I focused my rage on Sinead. The bitch! The whore! The slut! All her sexy bedroom antics now took on a cheap, sleazy undertone. Fucking prostitute! All her dirty talk was no longer a turn-on; it was sordid, filthy and cheap and I suddenly felt like I needed a shower to get rid her sordid flotsam.

 

She must be laughing her ass off now, I thought. Bitch.

 

I decided I would torture her before I killed her. Yeah, make her look into my gray eyes as her miserable life ebbed away. Make her last thoughts one of regret for FUCKING with me! I thought about my 9mm in my safe. Maybe I would blow her brains out and get away with it, because of the following; I was an attorney and I knew the law, I would most definitely have an airtight alibi, and I would ensure I had tons of bleach to clean up the crime scene. Maybe I’ll dismember her corpse in the bathtub and toss out body parts as I drove along the desert like I’ve seen on CSI. Easy peasy. (Made a mental note to myself – buy chainsaw, bleach and bullets. Oh and a silencer. Or even a potato.)

 

And what if I got caught anyway? I wasn’t afraid to die. I would take it like a man and totter along slowly in my leg chains to the gas chamber with my head held high and state in a controlled voice that I had absolutely no regrets about killing Sinead as she deserved to die for destroying my life and robbing me of my family, but that I was sorry for hurting my wife and children and Charlie and Debbie.

 

Fuck everybody else.

 

After a while, I began to think about dying. Where would I go when I died? Is there really a place called Hell? Forget heaven – not a chance of me making it there. No way. Not with all the shit I’ve done in the line of duty.

 

Back to my soul – where do I stand with God? Would he take care of my girls and Angel?

 

As I thought about things, I realized, I didn’t want to die; I was scared shitless in case I went to hell and …I was going mental.

 

***

 

I’d seen this monastery type church every day as I drove to and from my house. Never in a gazillion years did I plan to enter it and yet, here I was, rather than take an AIDS test, I was attending mass all by myself.

 

Mass was a new, awkward, believe it or not, scary experience and I couldn’t take it for long. I left after just ten minutes, almost running out of there. Who was I kidding – God was not on my side, he was punishing me. He always did. Took away my parents when I was just five and Charlie was just ten and for years, we were two lost kids trying to survive in an adult world. He forced Charlie to grow up quickly and made him too humble.

 

He then went on to make me angry and greedy and further crippled me by cursing me low self-esteem. Why would he help me now, huh?

 

Surreptitiously lighting a cigarette, I stood in the parking lot outside the church and eyed it scornfully. Then I leaned over the bonnet of my car and stared-absentmindedly at …nothing. I did that a lot these days – just stared into space.

 

“You lost or you just casing the joint to rob the donation box of the thirty dollars that’s in it?”  I spun around and looked into the face of a nun.

 

“I…eh,’ Quickly, I looked around for a place I could kill the cigarette and could find no place other than the floor. Under her watchful eyes, I couldn’t throw it on the floor so I just held it behind my back. ‘No, Sister,” I muttered gloomily and patted my pocket for my car keys, ready to make a run for it.

 

“Funny, considering you look like shit!”

 

My neck jerked to look at her. Did I hear correctly? I took notice of her now. She was a nun all right– full habit, but without the piousness of a nun. I had never seen a real life nun before, let alone an African-American, short little one with attitude.

 

“I…I…”

 

““I…I….”” she mimicked. “Speak up, white boy! How old are you? Nine?”

 

“Eh…no,” I said quickly, trying not to stammer again. “Thirty-five, Ma’am.” That’s what you call them, right?

 

“You trying to hot-wire that car?”

 

“What?!” I cried indignantly. Nun or no nun, she had some nerve! “You have some nerve! Ma’am. First you accuse me of plotting to steal from the donation box, thirty dollars or something like that, then you …you …you mock me because I stammered? Now you accuse me of hot-wiring a car? That’s no way to recruit sinners – eh, peeeople.”

 

“I did all that? Lemme think. ” She held her chin and looked at the skies. Then she pointed at me with her index finger and said, “That’s sound ’bout correct.”

 

“Well … I’m offended, I have to tell you.”

 

She gives me a ‘So-what?’ shrug.

 

Is she for real, I wondered? Did she know who she was dealing with here? “I am seriously thinking about lodging a complaint against you. A written complaint, I might add.” I scanned her habit for a – I don’t know – a name badge?

 

“You can write? Oh boy, am I impressed.”

 

This nun was unbelievable.

 

“Close your mouth or a fly might go in, white boy.”

 

I quickly shut my mouth. “Kindly refrain from referring to me as ““white boy””, Ma’am, eh, Sister.”

 

She rolled her eyes.

 

“Ah, I finally get it- you’re on your way to a costume party! And you’re going as a nun.”

 

I laughed mirthlessly. ‘’Cause there ain’t noooo way, you’re a bona fide nun.”

 

“Yeah, okay, sure, whatever,’ she said in a dismissive voice. “You wanna come to this costume party?” She jerked her head towards the inside of the church.

 

Suddenly, I was curious. “Sure, why not?”

 

Silently, I complied, feeling like I was on my way to the school Principal’s office. We entered a room in the corner of the church and to my surprise, she locked the door. Damn, she’s going to call the cops on me, I thought. Tell them that she caught me trying to hot-wire a pastor’s car. Shit!

 

But she lit up some incense she removed from somewhere in her habit and began waving it around.

 

Relax Gabe, she’s just a little kooky and besides there’s no phone around, I said to myself.

 

Incense, I suspected, that was imbued with calming essences to relax me and get me off guard, then finally lure me into revealing my inner most secrets and thereby keeping her employed.

 

“So, like, what’s that for?” I asked, feeling the need to fill the silence.

 

“Blaaack magiiiic,” she said, faking an eerie voice.

 

“Yeah right. Does that like get me to relax and loosen up and like ensnare me into revealing all my deepest, darkest secrets?” I chuckled, haling deeply and waiting for the calmness that was sure to follow.

 

“Nah, it don’t,” she said crisply, “But this does.”

 

My eyes bulged when I saw her remove a joint from her habit and light it. That explains the need for the incense. A joint! HOLY COW!

 

Let’s take stock: A nun, a short, racist one at that, has major attitude and smokes weed? In the church and …she’s offering it me?

 

What a fucked up dream I was having. Or maybe not. It was hard to tell.

 

“Great camouflage,” she said, inhaling deeply and holding out the joint to me.

 

“I’m trying really hard to give up,” I said righteously as I accepted it. Once again, I looked around for cameras. Anyway, it was years since I smoked a joint and I inhaled deeply and relished the surge of calm coursing through me.

 

“So, why you …why tripping, white boy?” she asked.

 

I smiled and looked lazily at her, my eyelids heavy, my senses languid. “I ain’t tripping Sister Blister. Everything’s grooooovy now. But I might be HIV positive though.”

 

She peered at me and we both burst out laughing.

 

“That so? I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t…I wouldn’t have figured you out for a fag, man.” She laughed hard and so did I.

 

““Fag”? That is totally,” I stopped laughing to wipe away a tear, “totally fucked up, Sister Black.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You keep that one then cos, I got me another one here. I ain’t in no mood to get all viiiraled up.”

 

“Viral …” I shook my head and laughed some more. “I ain’t gay Sister…Black. I got a wife and…and… ch…child…kiiids.”

 

“Dude, that’s what they all say!  she shrieked, holding her sides. “The closet can’t be thaaaat comfortable?”

 

“I’ve never been in a clo…set sister, except…except to have sex with my boss’s wife ten years ago.”

 

She laughed some more, then used a part of her habit to dry her eyes. We sat in silence and smile at each other then at nothing.

 

“What shall I do, Sister Blister?”

 

“Ask me, I am Moses,” she said smartly and we cracked up again.

 

“Moses,” I mused. “Hey Sister, you reckon the burning bush…Moses…you know…was that just a whole lot of weed burning? Like say…one giant joint?”

 

“Well,” she said, appearing to give it some thought, “there was talk of writing on stone during that time. Or was it stoned?” We hooted with laughter again.

 

When the urge to crack up died, I stopped laughing and told her everything. Every goddamn thing.

 

“Now you know my ABC…” I said, threatening to crack up again.

 

She looked at me and suppressed a laugh. “So wait, wait, wait! Lemmee get this …You thought that the skank, whatshername …? You thought she  pursuuuued you cos… she liked you?”

 

I nodded and we howled with laughter.

 

“Dude, girls like her, they don’t know you so they ain’t liking you. But they know your money. They met your money before and they like the color of your money and thaat’s what they like. If they could help it; they would put your ass in the bank and sleep with your money; you know that?”

 

“I think you’re a bitch, Sister Black.”

 

“And I think you’re a racists dying of AIDS. Your ancestors from da Klan by the way?”

 

“Nah! I just hate everybody equally,” I pointed out then sat up straight, an idea passing though my numb skull. “Got any booze?”

 

She shook her head apologetically.

 

I nodded grimly. “I think I’ll lose my wife,” I said in a matter-of-fact voice.

 

“I think so too,” she deadpanned. “She’d be a fool not to leave your ass. And that Skanknead –she really is a hoe! You sure she wasn’t a dude? “

 

In spite of my compromised mental state, I did not appreciate that comment. “You’re really mean for a nun, you know dat…that?”

 

“Guessiam,” she admitted. “But now, I got people to bless. But come back again and I will… comfort you, okay?”

 

‘“Comfort” me? Like hell you did,” I muttered and staggered out, my eyes bloodshot, my mouth dry and my fingers reeking of cannabis. I went home and for the first time since Sinead, really ate. Devoured everything – cheese, bread, cold meats, left over chicken – everything in the refrigerator and then slept.

END OF SAMPLE CHAPTERS

To read more visit:

http://www.amazon.com/THE-WAGES-SINEAD-Infidelity-ebook/dp/B008GU42OG

 

GRINGA – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug lord Synopsis

‘Apologize, Payton!’ my father shouts. ‘Apologize, please. He’ll kill you.’
In spite of the 9mm jabbed under my chin, I look my murderer in the eye, think of all he’s put me through and say, ‘ F**k him!’
Diablo’s bushy eyebrows disappear behind his fringe of dreadlocks.
‘Senor, please forgive her,’ my father says. ‘She …she doesn’t realize what she’s saying. Please!’
When Diablo laughs, I slap him across the face.
Slack-jawed, he releases me.
Some of the villagers fall to their knees and start to pray.
With a snarl, Diablo steps back, cocks his 9mm and points it at me.
The villagers scatter.
I should beg for my life right now, get on my hands and knees and plead for mercy.
Instead, I hear myself say, ‘Go ahead you asshole. Shoot!’ I shut my weary eyes, hold my breath and brace myself for the bullet.

“Sassy, provocative and in need of anger management.”
That’s how family and friends describe 21 year old, Los Angeles university student, Payton Wagner.
While taking holiday photographs in remote Mexico, she is accosted by the “Devil of Mexico” – a ruthless, but reclusive drug lord named Diablo.
Accusing her of being a spy, he shoots her and throws her body off a cliff.
Fortunately, two hermit witchdoctors rescue her and nurse her back to health.
Months later, while making her way back to America, she runs into Diablo again, and this time, he not only wants to kill her but he also wants to burn down a village for housing her.
When she fights back, he becomes fascinated and bargains with her: become his woman and he’ll spare the lives of the villagers.
To save the villagers, she agrees. While living with him and his thuggish family, she is subjected to all kinds of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
She’s in the grips of despair when help arrives in the form of the FBI stationed in Mexico, investigating Diablo for killing two cops, among other things.
Payton is secretly recruited by them. All she has to do is to take advantage of Diablo’s fascination with her and lure him into confessing the murders on tape.
Since he desperately wants to impress her, wrangling a confession out of him is easy.
Diablo is now going to jail, Payton will be free of her tormentor and the villagers will get their freedom back. Why then does she suddenly refuse to co-operate with the FBI?

To read more visit:

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Clutches-Ruthless-Drug-ebook/dp/B005CQBCJA

Reviews of Gringa:

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story but I wish for a different ending, July 20, 2012
By
M. Melo (Westfield, IN) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

This book for the most part is laughing out loud funny. I absolutely loved Payton as narrator. This book has some minor editing errors (and most of the phrases in Spanish are wrong) but not enough to distract from the story. The story is original and compelling.

I thouroughly enjoyed it and would have given it a 20 out of 5 in the rating ( making it to my top 5 of all times) should it not have been by the way it ended. Don’t want to give it away but I was heartbroken with it.

This book made me laugh and ball my eyes out. Great book.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful yet tragic, July 19, 2012
By
booklvr (middle of nowhere, usa) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

Another author who made you love a character that started out as a true villain. This was an amazing love story that developed slowly and despite how unrealistic the circumstances were, the feelings between the two main characters was poignant and understandable. What a great book! I seriously read it in 24 hours. The ending left me weepy and even though the HEA wasn’t what I wanted, it still felt satisfying.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Romance, May 27, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

I just finished this book and am still in awe. The storytelling in this book is fantastic. The book is narrorated in first person, which I normally don’t care for but this book was an exception. The author was able to capture everyone’s emotions with limited detail. I sampled the book and was immediately hooked. The characters were easy to like, hate and fall in love with. The romance here unravels at just the right pace to keep you focused and unable to put the book down. The chemistry between the main characters is layered in a way that not many authors are able to capture. It is definately a bittersweet romance. The heroine is perfect, not too aggressive and not too timid. She is someone easy to relate to that is a genuinely good person. The hero is not depicted in a good light until you really get to know him. He is strong, in control but willing to be soft when it comes to the heroine. Anyone looking for a strong romance that you won’t be able to put down, this is one of those books. I absolutely loved this book!
(There are some grammical errors in the book, but the story is so well told I didn’t really care)

For more reviews visit:’

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Clutches-Ruthless-Drug-ebook/product-reviews/B005CQBCJA

GRINGA – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Druglord

Image

GRINGA

In the clutches of a ruthless drug lord

Cover design: Ilita’s Arthouse © and Copyright © E.Naidoo (Photo istock.com)

© E Naidoo

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media used in this

book are fictitious and are the product of the authors imagination. The author acknowledges

the trademark status and trademark owners referenced in this work of fiction, which have

been used without permission. The publication use of this trademark is not authorized, associated

with or sponsored by the trademark owners.

CHAPTER ONE

 

If I knew an asshole was going to murder me that warm, summer’s day in Mexico, I’d have done things differently that morning. I would have had pizza for breakfast, skipped the sun screen and written my family a farewell letter.

The letter would be poignant and heart-rending. I would thank them for the precious memories, tell them how much I love them, wish them …

Actually, to be honest, I would tell them to go fuck themselves!

Yep, my letter would read:

Dad or Father – Never had the guts to tell you this, but I always craved your love. Growing up, I felt unwanted, alone, fatherless. Because of you, I’m so screwed up. I date older men, borderline fucking paedophiles, because I’m constantly searching for a father-figure.

Elaine, you came into my life and said, “Call me Mommy”. You should have added “Dearest”. You eroded every bit of self confidence I had with your constant belittling. You called me fat, unattractive, slow and I am what I am today because of you – angry, aggressive, defensive.

You really are a fucking Wicked Stepmother. In fact, you make Cinderella’s stepmother look like the Tooth Fairy on weed. I think God has issues with me. She must have, if she took away my wonderful mother when I was just six and sent me you.

Paris, my stepsister, or Miss Los Angeles Diva 1999, as you like to be called. So beautiful, so striking, so nasty. Meaner than a Nevada rattlesnake, meaner than a scorpion and meaner than, well, a mean girl in high school. Spent my childhood living in your shadow. You took everything – my Barbies, my books, my best friends, ’cause you could. Then we grew up and you took my boyfriend. You stole Austin and married him. Quickly. Then you had his baby. Very quickly. You had so many fans, but you had to have him, because I had him. I told you I was cool with the two of you hooking up – I lied. I told you I was happy for you both – I was faking it. I hurt like hell. I still do.

So, Adiós family. Now, go fuck yourselves.

*          *          *

I stare into the murderous, bloodshot eyes of a monster and I shake with fear. He whips out a gun and points it to me.

‘I gon kill you,’ he snarls. What do you know, evil keeps its word. Without the slightest hesitation, he raises his 9mm and fires into my chest.

I’m lucky though, I don’t feel much. Hitting the pavement hurts more than the bullet.

Amazingly, I’m still aware of my surroundings. I hear distant voices, whimpering, a child crying, heavy, deliberate footsteps approaching.

Someone roughly picks up my limp body and walks with it. Then I’m free-falling.

Suddenly, I’m wet and cold and it’s dark.

‘Mommy,’ I call, ‘my bath water’s cold again. It’s too dark, mom. Turn on the light.’

‘It’s okay Payton,’ my mom soothes. ‘Don’t fight it. Just come with me, baby girl. It’s gonna be okay, I promise.’

‘Mom, why didn’t you take me to this better place everyone says you’ve gone to? Why did you leave me behind?’

I get no answer, just a melancholy smile from my mom.

I wake up in a dimly-lit room. The putrid stench of decaying flesh assaults my senses. I look down at my body – it’s heavily bandaged and I’m lying on some sort of narrow stretcher.

My eyes scan the room. It resembles a large tepee – smoky, warm and crowded with all sorts of weird things – small dead animals in jars, bottled herbs, large leaves piled one on top of the other and various bizarre concoctions. Freaky, like I’m in a witchdoctor’s room.

I need to get the hell out of here. I try to move, but the pain in my chest is so intense, I stop.  Where the fuck am I? How come I’m hurting so much?

Over the next couple of minutes I start to remember. Payton Wagner – that’s my name. Twenty one – University of Los Angeles, on holiday in Mexico with my deadbeat father and bitch of a stepmother. I remember us leaving our five-star holiday resort and visiting my stepsister Paris and Austin in Siempre, a village in remote and mountainous Mexico.

Austin’s an engineer with a year-long contract with the Mexican government – something to do with building bridges in isolated areas of Mexico. At first, I had declined Paris’s invitation to join her, but she badgered us with messages, complaining that she desperately needed company. Since I secretly wanted to see Austin, I went along and a psycho tried to murder me.

The psycho! My breathing is suddenly erratic, there’s roaring in my ears and my mouth gets dry. Am I still in his clutches? Is he here? Why the hell did he shoot me?

I rack my brain. I did nothing wrong – I was just taking holiday photos when I heard a bloodcurdling scream. This swarthy, hairy, giant of a nut job on a black horse, screamed and thundered towards me, his dreadlocks flying all over his angry mug.

I didn’t know what he was saying but it sounded like he was calling me a spy. Like most tourists, my Spanish is limited to vacation words from a traveller’s guide. There were many people around – why me? Fuck, I was scared. Especially when some people around me cowered and whispered, ‘Santa Maria! Es Diablo.Es Diablo,’ while others fell over each other as they tried to leg it out of there.

Diablo, as they called him, jumped off his horse, stormed up to me, snatched the camera out of my shaking hands and smashed it to the ground. Then, he grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt, lifted me off my trembling feet and slammed me against a wall. I lay dazed while he ranted in Spanish. Suddenly, he grabbed me by the throat and started to strangle me.

I fought back, like I always do when I’m attacked – dug my nails into his calloused hands. That made him angrier – he shoved me away, pointed his gun at me and fired.

But I’m alive. I survived my murder. Wow!

My recollection is interrupted by the sound of footsteps. I tense up, expecting the hairy fucker. To my surprise, it’s an old, stooped woman.

I exhale. No need to panic just yet.

The woman’s eyes are wide with surprise. She claps her hands. ‘You’re awake,’ she says in English then yells over her shoulder in Spanish.

Who’s she calling – the crazy dude who tried to kill me? Oh Jesus!

She peers at me. ‘Hola!’ Her smile is friendly and reaches her eyes.

.           ‘H … hola!’ I reply, my eyes scanning the tent for a back door, window – anything.

‘W…who are …?’

‘Call me Enfermera,’ she says. ‘Everybody does.’

She’s speaks English. Considering the way she looks – zombie like, bent and bony, large, bulging, jaundiced eyes, greenish-brown teeth, hair sticking up in all directions like misplaced antennae, I’m surprised. Her clothing is tattered and torn and she reminds me of a zombie from Michael Jackson’s Thriller Video.

But when she speaks, her weird looks recede and all you hear is a beautiful, melodious voice. Amazing – as if someone else is speaking inside her. Have I died and gone to hell?

An old Mexican man shuffles into the room, looks at me and frowns. He’s short, wrinkled and bald and gives me a look that tells me I’m intruding. Still, at least it’s him, not the whack job who tried to kill me.

‘Where am I?’ I ask in a timid voice. ‘Who are you guys?’ I’m already tired from the little interaction I’m having with them.

‘Later,’ Enfermera says, placing a cool, bony hand on my forehead. ‘Rest now. When you wake up, we will talk.’

‘No,’ I protest. ‘I wanna … know …where I …’ I drift into unconsciousness again.

When I wake up, she force-feeds me gruel. It’s revolting – smells like boiled, unseasoned chicken but I’m not even sure it is that. I gag but she just shoves it down my throat. ‘You’re going to need your strength,’ she says in a sing-song voice.

*          *          *

A fortnight has passed, I’m propped up on my stretcher and we’re finally having that talk.

‘Enfermera means nurse in Spanish,’ she explains as she puff on a cigarette she rolled herself. ‘My real name is Gaudelope. Juan doesn’t speak English, so I’ll be your translator.’

At the mention of his name, Juan spits a disgusting glob of snuff or something like that on the ground.

Not the most sociable fucker, but hey, I’m cool with it considering he’s sharing his gruel and vile smelling potions with me.

‘My name is Payton,’ I say. ‘I’m an American …’

‘Yes, we know,’ Enfermera says, reaching behind her and removing a bag.

‘My backpack,’ I cry and snatch it from her.

‘It was still on your back when we found you.’

‘Awesome!’ In the bag I find my purse, my student identification card, a picture of my secret crush, Austin, my cherry lip balm, a few dollars. Just what I need – something to connect me with my other life.

‘What are you studying?’ Enfermera asks, squinting at my student card.

Enfermera’s English is amazing and I’m intrigued. I make a mental note to question her about it

‘Eh, Bachelor of Behavioural Science. Criminology, Psychology majors.’ Wonder if she knows what’s its all about?

‘Aaah. Clever and tough?’

‘Yep. Gonna head New York’s FBI office one day. Gonna kick ass.’

She smiles. ‘I believe you,’ she says. ‘You’re obviously a survivor.’

Juan walks up to me and stabs my shoulder a couple of times with gnarled fingers. ‘Milagro.

What the fuck did I do to piss him off now?

‘That’s miracle in Spanish,’ Enfermera says quickly. ‘Because you were shot and obviously thrown off the cliff into the sea and yet, you’re still here. Milagro.’

I nod slowly. ‘Wow. That’s what happened? That dude really wanted me dead, huh? It’s like overkill.’

She frowns. ‘Do you know why? I mean, what exactly did you do to him?’

‘Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was just taking photos. Holiday shots of views … nothing out of the ordinary. Don’t know why he was so mad at me. I mean, everyone was taking photos, so why was he after me?’ I exhale loudly. ‘God, I wish I knew.’

She shakes her Don King-styled head. ‘Mmm … doesn’t make sense.’

She’s right, it doesn’t make sense. The motherfucker failed his mission though, because in spite of the overkill, I’m alive and being christened by witchdoctors. Knowing someone wanted me dead so badly is a humbling experience though.

‘What?’

I lift my head slowly to look at Enfermera. ‘Shot, thrown off a cliff, almost drowned – that’s three lives down, Enfermera. I gotta take it real easy with my other six.’ My voice is grim even though I’m trying to make light of my murder.

She bursts out laughing. ‘You’re funny. You should write a book about your brush with death when you go back to LA. Maybe it’ll turn into a movie.’

If I get back to America. It will have to be an action movie, though.’

‘I know who’ll play you – that actress from Friends. What’s her name …?’

Friends? The TV …?’

‘The blonde … ditsy …’

‘Aniston?’

‘No, the one that married Troy. Rachael …?’

‘Jennifer Aniston – she plays Rachael.’

She shrugs. ‘But younger …’

‘Really? Wow! Thanks, I guess. She’s a babe, so I think you’re just being nice. Anyway, how the hell do you know about Friends? And how come your English is good, huh?’

‘Used to live in Kansas City many years ago. Taught Spanish to a bunch of racists kids – trailer trash. Then taught English to some immigrants. Had a nervous breakdown and landed in a mental institution. Locked up …’

‘Wow.’ That explains the hair.

‘I got better, but they just wouldn’t let me out, so I attacked a nurse with a pen and escaped. Found my way to Mexico and roamed the mountains. Until I found Juan. Well, he found me and we retreated into a stress-free, solitary life. Now we heal. Lucky for you, eh?’

I look at the small, dead animals in jars. ‘Yep. Sure am lucky to be rescued by two psychos.’

‘Psychos?’ She throws her head back and guffaws.

She’s still nuts, but she’s warm and caring and she makes me think of my mom.

My mom was a gregarious person. Great sense of humour and pretty, so pretty. Everyone who knew her loved her. I still remember her smile, her tinkling laugh, her gentle voice.

‘Now what?’

I shake my head slowly, my eyes filling with tears. ‘My mom … she spoke to me …when I was like, in the water, drowning. She said … she … she asked me to like …’ I swallow hard, ‘go with her and I’m wondering … is she my guardian angel now? I mean, she said everything was gonna be okay and it is. Like, I’m alive. Still. So I’m wondering …?’

‘My dear, you must have a team of guardian angels if you can survive what you survived.’

‘Yeah?’

‘But yes, I think your Mother is watching over you. Maybe she sent you my way.’

‘Yeah, maybe. But right now … I really could do with my mom. Wish she hadn’t died. It’s just like, forced me to grow up. I don’t … I wish …’ I draw the tattered sheet over my head and weep, something I seldom do.

Enfermera takes my hand in hers and sings a Mexican lullaby, which makes me cry harder.

Juan spits on the floor and shuffles off, muttering under his breath.

*          *          *

The pain keeps me awake at night so they give me opium. Beautiful, wonderful, magnificent opium. I love it. I adore it, I worship it. I want to have it all the time. I want to live with my carers for the rest of my life just to be close to my beloved opium. I count the hours till my next hit.

My nurses are sharper than I think and when they realise that I sometimes fake my pain to get opium, things change.

‘I want my opium!’ I cry.

‘No more opium,’ Enfermera says in a firm voice. ‘We have to wean u off it.’

‘“Wean”’? What the hell does that mean? Give me my motherfucking opium! Hey! Hey, don’t ignore me. I want my opium!’

She turns and walks away.

‘Come back! One day …one day I’ll grow my own. A whole fucking plantation. Just wait and see!’

I share the tent with Juan and Enfermera so I keep waking them with my nightmares of Diablo. He’s strangling me with one of his dreadlocks, he’s watching me sleep, an axe in his hand, he’s shooting me, he’s holding my head under water. Each time my screams catch in my throat, but each time, I live. I always wake up shaking with terror. He isn’t a nightmare, he’s real and the villagers are right to fear him.

Enfermera slips stuff under my pillow. ‘Sage,’ she says. ‘Wards off evil spirits, bad dreams.’

But it doesn’t help – I have the dark rings around my eyes to prove it.

‘Diablo is evil,’ Emfermera says in a quivering voice. ‘Him, his family – they’re a bunch of

cold-blooded killers. Cannibals, I hear.’

‘Cannibals?’

She nods slowly, her eyes wide. ‘Never met them but … don’t want to mess with him, Milagro.

He’s the Bastard of Mexico. Diablo – means Devil, in Spanish. People don’t see much of him, but some say he’s half-man half-beast. And strong, very strong.’

‘Yeah, he’s strong alright,’ I say, my lips curling with disgust. ‘Tried to strangle me with one hand. Don’t know ’bout the half-man-half-beast thing, though. He looked pretty normal to me. Hairy, ugly, but normal. Like a fucking gigantic coconut with a fucked up wig.’

‘A coconut …’

‘A big one. Jeez, he’s one ugly motherfucker, Enfermera. When I first heard about him, I just thought, well, Bermuda Triangle, Loch Ness Monster, Elvis is alive – you know …until I came face-to-face with him. He’s real alright. Got three scars in my chest and an opium habit to prove it.’

‘Juan says they live in caves round here. In the mountains.’

‘’Round here?’ I suddenly get the shivers and my eyes dart around. ‘Maybe we should go inside, then?’ As if that flimsy tent is going to protect us from the Diablo.

She waves her hand, dismissing my suggestions. ‘Well, at least you got a good look at him.’

‘Oh yeah. I guess if someone tries to strangle you – you will remember his face. He was like, huge. King Kong huge. He didn’t need a weapon – he was a fucking weapon himself. Tattoos all over his slimy arms and neck. Blue, red, right down to his fingertips. Yuck! And dreadlocks – long, wild. Christ! I’ll never forget how he looked as he and his horse flew towards me. Like a lion. Yeah, he looked like a dark, angry lion on speed.’

We both laugh at the mental picture.

‘Three green lines …like, tattoos lines … across the forehead. And eyebrow rings – I’ve seen eyebrow rings before, but he had about ten.

‘Ten?’

I hold out both my hands, fingers splayed. ‘Per evil, bloodshot eye.’

Enfermera smiles.

‘Yeah, really – the motherfucker’s Masochistic and sadistic.’

‘I believe you, I believe you.’

‘You should, I wasn’t on opium then, so it’s all real.’

She nods.

‘Not that I’m on opium now.’

Silence.

‘Cause you …you took it away.’ My voice is accusing, bitter.

Silence.

‘Even though some people think you’re being cruel and you should let me have some for at least another …’

‘We should be getting back,’ she says and stands up. ‘Enough exercise for you today.’

‘Mfff.’ Good move Witchdoctoress. Change the subject and that’ll shut me up, eh? Well, I’ll sulk until you give me my goddamn opium.

‘Siempre is beautiful,’ she says as we walk back. ‘Friendly bunch. I’ve been there.’

‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I love the villagers. They make great Tequila and whisky. And they share it with foreigners too, so that makes them really, really hospitable to me.’

She smiles.

‘Even though the village lacked the five star amenities we were used to – the resort, I mean – we didn’t wanna leave. We wanted to stay and just enjoy the place, the unspoilt beauty.’

‘Mmm …’

‘Yeah. Except Elaine – she desperately wanted to get back. Said something about running out of wax strips. Needed to wax her upper lip. Among other places. Other private places.’

Enfermera bursts out laughing and slaps me on the shoulder. ‘Payton you’re crack me up! You find funny in the most serious of things. Just don’t know when to be serious and when to be flippant. I suppose you drove Elaine crazy when you were growing up.’ For an old lady, she sure has a girlish laugh.

‘You betcha. I lived to irritate the bitch. She frowned so much, she constantly needed Botox.’

‘Love talking to you,’ she says, wiping the corners of her eyes. ‘Guaranteed a laugh when I do.’

Then her smile disappears. ‘Your family …do you think he may have ki …’

‘Don’t say it!’ I say holding up my hand. I shake my head and take several deep breaths. ‘My dad … he’s alive. I know it. When he sees me, he’s … he’s probably going to hold me and cry with relief, disbelief. He’s gonna regret that he never gave me the attention I deserved as a child.’

‘You think so?’ Enfermera asks, a frown on her forehead.

‘Sure. As for Austin …’ I place my hand on my heart when I remember him. ‘They’re all alive.’

‘What if you’re wro …?’

‘Don’t!’ I snap and storm off.

*          *          *

Three months. Three months since my rebirth, since the asswipe tried to kill me. But now, I’m ready to go home, back to America.

Enfermera and I are crying. I wipe away her tears and hug her. She doesn’t say much but I know she’ll be lonely without me.

Juan is throwing impatient looks our way. He glares at us, frowns and then puffs vigorously on his pipe. Clearly he’s irritated at our display of emotions.

But we don’t care – we’re both struggling with goodbye. I’m the only connection to a world she once lived in and she’s the closest to a mother figure I’ve had since my mom passed.

‘Remember, keep practising your Spanish,’ she whispers. ‘If you don’t, you’ll lose all that you’ve learnt. It’ll come in handy one day.’

‘Okay, I will.’

‘As for Austin – he’s made his choice a long time ago. Time for you to move on, let go.’

Fat chance of that. I’m never going to be able to let go of Austin. ‘Okay,’ I say and hug her again before I turn to hard-ass Juan, hoping he will accept my goodbye hand-shake.

I gingerly stick out my hand. Juan stares at my hand as if I am handing him a grenade without the pin. I’m just about to withdraw my hand when he bursts into tears and grabs me to him.

I’m speechless as he hangs onto me and sobs like a kid. Loud, noisy, wah! wah! sobs. I had no idea he was capable of crying. I had no idea he cared. I gape at Enfermera over his shoulder.

He’s shocked away her tears and she stares slack-jawed. Somehow I don’t think she was expecting this reaction from him, this display of emotion.

I mean, I really thought Juan found me loud, maybe a little exhausting but he weeps so hard, I find myself comforting him. ‘I’ll come back one day to visit,’ I whisper in his ear and pat the hunch on his back.

‘B …bring big b … beer,’ he manages to say.

‘I promise I will.’

Christ! He better mean big beer, not big bear.

*          *          *

The only way back to America is through the village of Siempre. I hate the thought of treading there – Diablo shot me there, remember? I really want to avoid the bastard at all costs.

The only way to Siempre, is through the mountain, Juan points out.

I have to climb it. ‘No cable car, Juan? Fuck!’

‘Language!’ Enfermera chides.

The mountain’s daunting, eerie and I’m scared. I’ve never climbed one before, so I guess I’ll have to learn as I go. But I don’t mind too much because … I can’t mind. Hell, I’d move it if it meant getting out this place and back to clean drinking water, coffee, shampoo, my iPod, the internet and other such essentials.

Armed with just a map I sketched myself and two bottles of murky water, I start to climb the ominous mountain. Barefoot. My shoes didn’t survive my murder.

Throughout my climb, I worry about plunging to my death. Since I’m desperate to get back to America, I heed the words of Deepak Chopra, ‘If you really want it, nothing will stop you.’ (Or was it Beyonce? Amy Winehouse? Whoever the fuck said it.)

            Don’t look down. Don’t look behind.

            Just one more step, Payton.

            One more step. One more step. One … more …motherfucking step!

At night, the temperature in the mountain plummets and I’m freezing my ass off. I wrap my arms tightly around my wiry body and curse myself for venturing into Mexico. Why didn’t I go somewhere safe for a holiday? Like Iraq. Why didn’t I just stay in the warm, comfortable tepee with Juan and Enfermera and their pickled animal parts? Why didn’t I just stay and become a witchdoctor myself? That way I’d be the one dispensing opium. The thought of that makes gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

So what if they had sex (at their age) while I slept a few feet away? Why the fuck didn’t I steal a stash of opium for the trip?

Well, in spite of the precarious climb, I’m still alive. Maybe, it’s because I’m young, strong, an athlete. I can outrun and outswim just about everybody I know and I have medals to prove it.

Did my father nurture those talents in me? Nope. He was too busy diapering and burping the former soap actress he married.

It’s light, so I resume climbing and after a couple of hours  I see the top of the mountain. Tears spring to my eyes. If only I had a flag.

Now, all I gotta make sure is that I don’t run into Diablo or his hombres. I hide in the bushes and peer across the fields. When I see no signs of them, I venture out.

I limp all the way to the village and finally, I arrive emotional and exhausted, but extremely happy.

At first, the village kids scream in terror at the sight of me and back away.

‘Jesus Christ!’ one of the older kids say as they back away.

‘No! No!’ I cry. Damn! I shouldn’t have worn this long white dress.

Es un fantasma!’

‘No, I’m not a ghost. Please!’I hadn’t anticipated this. Now I worry they will drive a stake or something through my heart. ‘It’s really me,’ I explain. ‘I didn’t die.’

A ghost that talks – that ought to reassure them.

‘Where’s Austin?’ I ask. They stare with eyes popping out of their skulls. ‘Austin, tall …um … henpecked …?’

Payton?’ A familiar voice whispers my name.

I spin around and look into Austin’s beautiful face. ‘Austin! Ohmigod Austin!’ He’s alive. My love is alive and living here. I fling myself into his arms.

‘Payton … am I dreaming?’ he whispers and hugs me to him.

‘No,’ I blubber, ‘it’s me Austin, I’m alive. I made it. I made it.’

‘I can’t believe it,’ he chants softly as he squeezes me to him. His arms around me feel wonderful and familiar and I want to stay in them forever. He holds me away to look at me, then hugs me, then holds me away and finally, he just holds me to him while the villagers clutch their children and stare.

I briefly tell him about how I survived my murder.

‘My family …?’

‘They’re here,’ he says as if in a trance.

‘Oh thank God!’

‘Come, let me take you to them.’

I see my dad first. ‘Payton?’ He dad slowly removes his glasses. ‘Can’t be,’ he mutters as he rubs his eyes.

‘Dad …Dad … It’s me Dad,’ I whisper and throw my arms around me.

Elaine and Paris are tearing. So is Austin. My dad isn’t crying and that bothers me. Maybe he’s in shock. I am so happy to see them all. I laugh and cry all at once.

‘God, you’re stick-insect thin,’ Paris says, her lips curling with an admixture of envy and admiration.

‘Vegetable gruel for three months,’ I say, clutching the front of my dress and shaking it. ‘Try it. You’ll puke, but you’ll be stick-insect too. Hey, that reminds me – got any steak?’

Jack, Austin’s good friend and business partner, a former native of Siempre, divides his time between Los Angeles and Mexico these days. He immediately arranges a steak the size of Siempre for me.

‘Thanks,’ I say. ‘Do you have any butter? I really need grease now.’

The steak drenched with homemade butter is delicious but almost immediately, it makes me gag. Disappointing.

With an enigmatic smile, Paris walks over and takes my hand. ‘Got something to show you,’ she says, her eyes gleaming.

‘What? My steak …’

She ignores my protests and leads me to what appears to be a grave site.

‘This is a cemetery Paris. What the fuck?’

‘Look,’ she says and points to a wooden cross.

I peer at the name on the cross and balk.

Payton Wagner

1977 -1999

RIP

            ‘Omigod! That’s …that’s me!’

She nods slowly, wriggling both eyebrows. ‘It sure is.’

‘Fuck Paris! You look so goddamn happy showing me this. And you call me psycho?’

Schizo,’ she corrects. ‘But sometimes, psycho too.’

‘Mmm.’ Same ol’ Paris. ‘My birth date is incorrect, you know. I was born in 1978.’

Paris squints at the cross. ‘Really? That’s funny, cos your dad wrote it.’

‘Did he?’

‘Yep. What a loser. You’d think he will remember the birth date of their only child, huh?’

I stare at her as her words sink in. She’s right. What can I say?

Time to change the subject. ‘So Diablo, he’s like, taken over the village then?’

‘Yep. We expected him to kill us too, but he didn’t. Says he’ll kill us all if we ever harbour a spy again.’

‘A spy? Again? He’s still going on about that shit?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I wasn’t a spy.’

He thinks you were.’

I shake my head. ‘Imagine, I was murdered because of a case of mistaken identity. Fuck!’

‘We had the pleasure of meeting his family too. His psycho mother Christa and his slutty sister, Santana.  Evil bitches from hell.’

*          *          *

‘It’s too dangerous,’ my father says.

‘You’ll never make it,’ Austin says.

I purse my lips and continue packing my stuff that Paris inherited. ‘I’m determined to leave Mexico, Diablo or no Diablo. You guys can stay.’

‘Payton, it’s too dangerous,’ Austin says. ‘Maybe wait a while for …’

I zip up a suitcase and pat it down.

‘Fine,’ Austin says in a resigned voice, ‘we’ll leave after midnight.’

To my disappointment, my father does not offer to go with me. But I understand – he’s old and scared I guess.

Austin appears thoughtful. ‘We’re gonna need the villagers help here. I’ll get Jack to organise that.’

I nod. ‘Thanks Austin.’

We’re all packed and ready and I can hardly wait for nightfall. I’m fighting to keep my eyes open, but I refuse to sleep. I’ll sleep when I get to America.

At 6 PM I step outside the house for some air and look straight into Diablo’s hideous face.

As in my nightmares my scream lodges in my throat and as in my nightmares he towers menacingly over me. Déjà vu all around.

END OF SAMPLE CHAPTERS

To read more visit:

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Clutches-Ruthless-Drug-ebook/dp/B005CQBCJA

Reviews of Gringa:

4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story but I wish for a different ending, July 20, 2012
By
M. Melo (Westfield, IN) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

This book for the most part is laughing out loud funny. I absolutely loved Payton as narrator. This book has some minor editing errors (and most of the phrases in Spanish are wrong) but not enough to distract from the story. The story is original and compelling.

I thouroughly enjoyed it and would have given it a 20 out of 5 in the rating ( making it to my top 5 of all times) should it not have been by the way it ended. Don’t want to give it away but I was heartbroken with it.

This book made me laugh and ball my eyes out. Great book.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful yet tragic, July 19, 2012
By
booklvr (middle of nowhere, usa) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

Another author who made you love a character that started out as a true villain. This was an amazing love story that developed slowly and despite how unrealistic the circumstances were, the feelings between the two main characters was poignant and understandable. What a great book! I seriously read it in 24 hours. The ending left me weepy and even though the HEA wasn’t what I wanted, it still felt satisfying.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Romance, May 27, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord (Kindle Edition)

I just finished this book and am still in awe. The storytelling in this book is fantastic. The book is narrorated in first person, which I normally don’t care for but this book was an exception. The author was able to capture everyone’s emotions with limited detail. I sampled the book and was immediately hooked. The characters were easy to like, hate and fall in love with. The romance here unravels at just the right pace to keep you focused and unable to put the book down. The chemistry between the main characters is layered in a way that not many authors are able to capture. It is definately a bittersweet romance. The heroine is perfect, not too aggressive and not too timid. She is someone easy to relate to that is a genuinely good person. The hero is not depicted in a good light until you really get to know him. He is strong, in control but willing to be soft when it comes to the heroine. Anyone looking for a strong romance that you won’t be able to put down, this is one of those books. I absolutely loved this book!
(There are some grammical errors in the book, but the story is so well told I didn’t really care)

For more reviews visit:’

http://www.amazon.com/Gringa-Clutches-Ruthless-Drug-ebook/product-reviews/B005CQBCJA

CAPTURED – Held as a Slave by Iraqi Militants

a book by EVE RABI

‘Not daring to argue, I meekly take my seat in front of the video camera.
A man with a checkered scarf and a Kalashnikov slaps pages into my hand. ‘Smile!’ he orders.
I bare my teeth an inch.
‘You smile more!’
My smile becomes large enough to stick in a coat hanger.
‘Talk now!’
I squint at the page and gasp. ‘Sir!’ I look up at him in horror. ‘I can’t say these words.’
He looks at me with hooded eyes. ‘What …did ….you …say?’
‘Sir please, I’m…I’m a soldier in the United States Army. If I say these words, if I give this speech, Sir, I will be thrown in prison. Please!’
Nazim, the a**hole who threatened to slit my throat before, pauses with his air alphabets or whatever the f*k he’s doing with his unsheathed sword to terrorize me. For a moment he stares at a spot on the ceiling.
Suddenly he rushes at me, sword first. I scream and cower. He grabs me by the hair and yanks my head back and before he can even lodge his sword against my throat, my wind-pipe involuntarily constricts.
‘I’ll do it! I’ll do it!’ I gurgle. ‘I’ll do it! Please! Please!’
Slowly, he releases my hair, his lips twitching with unspoken threats.
Shaking, I struggle to compose myself for the camera. I have to give the speech. F**ked if I do and f**ked if I don’t.
‘My fellow …’ I clear my throat. ‘My fellow Americans, I have chosen to join the holy Jihad against America. From now on, I am no longer an American soldier. I am a solider in Allah’s war and my name is Zarina. America is committing …’
When I’m done, Nizam claps slowly then blows me a kiss. I look away, repulsed by the mere sight of him.
Whey finally leave the room, I exhale loudly. I’ve crossed more than a boundary with that speech and before it gets worse, I need to escape. Today!’

Sargent Megan Saunders, 27, is fighting in Iraq, when her convoy is ambushed by Islamic militants. The only survivor, she is held as a slave in one of Saddam’s bunkers, forced to deliver inflammatory speeches against the US and has to play nurse to injured militants fighting coalition forces.
Her primary mission is to escape and it is during one of these failed attempts, she is raped.
When she learns she is pregnant from the rape, she is stunned more than devastated, for various reasons. Her rapist Reed, insists she proceeds with the pregnancy, even though she’s already married, and even though, due to her inflammatory speeches against the US, she is now regarded as a terrorist and is on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Having no choice but to do as he says, she is forced to rely on her dark and brooding rapist to help her with the baby and the pregnancy. They make a deal – she will have the baby and he will raise it. As time goes by, and the more time they spend together, she finds herself drawn to Reed and before long, they enter into a relationship which is far beyond sexual. For Reed, the attraction he feels towards Megan is a staggering betrayal towards his people.
The moment her baby is born, Megan’s freedom no longer appeals to her as it means leaving behind both her lover and her baby.
When the militants holding her captive threaten to take away her baby for ‘safekeeping’, she is forced to make a decision which leads to a series of painful and tragic events.

http://www.amazon.com/CAPTURED-Slave-Iraqi-Militants-ebook/dp/B0088IBIZC