(The serial story continues. With Ron posing as her native driver, Amna and Ron are in Afghanistan looking for the missing Usman. Along the way, they have stumbled on Shauna, Usman’s fiancee. Now having been captured by Mohammed Ali, Ron, Usman and Shauna are locked in a storeroom while Amna is alone with Mohammed Ali in the office.)
Usman continued pacing. Suddenly the door opened, and Amna was thrust through. She stood there trying to get her dress straightened out.
Usman hugged Amna and asked, “Amna, are you all right?”
Amna wearily replied, “Yes, I am all right. I had to endure a lot of kissing, and he had his dirty paws all over my body.”
“Oh, Amna, I wish I could have defended your honor.”
“Mohammed may not be much of a gentleman, but he did respect my wish to wait until our wedding night. My honor is intact. Now let go of me so that I can put my hair and my clothes to right.”
It was a long night for the four prisoners. Shauna and Usman got some comfort out of cuddling together. When Amna snuggled against Ron, he quietly reminded her that they best not let Mohammed’s spy report that she had been even the least bit intimate with her driver. They got little sleep but spend the night speculating about what Mohammed would do with them.
“Mohammed may marry you quietly, set you up in a house here in Afghanistan, and let the people in Pakistan wonder what happened to us,” said Shauna teasingly.
“And what will he do with the rest of you? Hire you as servants? No, he will surely have to kill you even if he keeps me as a plaything,” replied Amna in tears.
By morning the small boy was back with a woman who brought bread and tea. The boy stood in the doorway banishing a large knife.
Shortly thereafter, they could hear the truck outside. Men were busy loading the truck from the other storeroom, and Mohammed politely, but firmly, requested Amna’s presence in the office.
Again Usman paced angrily until Amna was returned safe, but disheveled.
“I do not know how I will endure living with him,” Amna said as they heard the truck depart.
“Ah, here’s where the party is,” said a voice from the window.
“Cedric! How did you get here?”
“Your father is turning Lahore inside out for you, Amna. Rumor has it that you have run off with Mr. Cooper to escape marriage.”
“Mr. Cooper is happily married,” said Amna.
“I know that, so I thought it was more likely that you were in trouble.”
“Cedric, beware of a small boy who acts as our guard. He will alert Mohammed that you are talking to us.”
“Ah, I have already taken care of him. He thinks I work for Mohammed. I gave him some money and sent him after sweets. That should give me a few minutes to talk with you,”
“Be careful, Cedric. How did you know where to find me?” said Amna.
“This morning I needed a smoke real bad so I went to Mustaf, the neighborhood cigarette vender. He had sold all his cigarettes and was in a good mood. He told me he had driven the truck yesterday and saw your little tryst with Mohammed.”
“Cedric, nothing happened between me and Mohammed.”
“That is what Mustaf thought was so hilarious. He said that they peeked through a crack every now and then. Mohammed was all fired up and ready to go. You, on the other hand, were cool and collected. You let him kiss you a few times and even get his hands inside your dress, but every time he started making any progress undressing you, you would sneeze or do something to cause him to start over again.”
“I do not know what I will do if I have to marry him. How did you find us?”
“I hid in the back of their truck.” Cedric looked at his watch. “The boy will be back shortly. How do they feed you?”
“The boy brings a woman with food at noon,” said Usman.
“Good,” Cedric said, then disappeared.
At noon, the boy unlocked the door to let in the woman with the food. The boy, of course, was watching his prisoners and did not see Cedric until it was too late. Cedric held the boy long enough to let the prisoners escape and then pushed him into the store room with the woman.
As he slammed the door shut, Cedric said, “Now all we have to do is find some transportation.”
“I hope our car is still parked down by the computer shop,” replied Amna.
Usman peaked out of the front door and seeing his father’s car said, “Follow me.”
Ron rushed ahead so that he would have the rear door open. Usman bundled Cedric and the girls in the back seat. Then he and Ron jumped into the front seats.
Ron tried not to squeal the tires as he started the car, but Shauna said, “There is Mohammed drinking tea across the street. I think he sees us.”
Ron started to look, but Usman roared, “Keep to the left.”
Ron narrowly avoided running down a donkey cart. With Usman giving directions, they headed toward the frontier as fast as the rutted road would allow.
In the back seat, Amna said, “Cedric, you’re my hero. You deserve this,” and she kissed him.
“Hey, what is going on?” demanded Usman.
“Pay attention to the road ahead, big brother. This may be my only opportunity to kiss Cedric.” Amna kissed him again, and this time he seemed to be responding passionately.
“You’re drifting to the right again,” said Usman.
The car swerved as Ron fought to stay on the left side of the road while avoiding a particularly deep pot hole.
By the time they reached the boarder, Mohammed Ali’s car was closing the gap between them.
“Faster,” urged Shauna, but Ron had to slow to avoid a cow in the road. Mohammed gained on them.
They went on, always just ahead of Mohammed. Ahead was another of the many small villages of brick buildings. “Left here,” said Usman.
As Ron made the turn at high speed, he drifted into the right lane and into the path of an oncoming car. It was too late to take evasive action. Ron braced for the crash.
(to be continued)