“Oh non! Votre visage! Cette brute Boipelo!” Then she said in English. “I am so sorry.” She held out some water to Alissa. “It is good for westerners. How do you say “traite?”
Alissa thankfully took the water and drank it.
She had also brought some food for Alissa to eat. Alissa nibbled on it, but she had no appetite. She helped Alissa to wash her face.
The woman looked at her regretfully.
“Non, je suis désolé.”
“Please, you have to help me!”
“Your daughter? I shall find out for you, but there is no other Englese here in our village.”
Later when the woman returned with the water, her own face was bruised. She gave Alissa no explanation for the bruises.
Usually Sharlee greeted him with a kiss too, but he didn’t see her.
“Hi Noah. I’m staying with you and Sharlee until Mom and Dad come back home.”
She walked over to him. Noah could tell that she had been crying.
“Are you alright, Joy?”
Dale answered her question and asked to speak with Matthew.
Tears slid down Sharlee’s cheeks. “Mom has been taken captive. They are not sure which group has her because no one has come forward and claimed responsibility nor made any demands yet.”
She told him what Cara had said that she witnessed.
Noah felt the same sense of helplessness and upset as the rest of the family. Alissa was in most ways even more of a mother to him now than his own mother had been. He wondered how Dale was holding up. If it had been Sharlee missing, Noah knew that he’d be tearing that jungle apart till he found her! Just the thought of something happening to her made him hug her tighter.
Dale was on pins and needles until he received a call from Mr. Yarden that Cara and the rest of their group had made it safely back to the nearest town under government control. Of course Cara hadn’t wanted to leave, but she was mature enough to realize that remaining would have been more of a hindrance than a help to her father and uncle. They would have had to worry about her safety as well. So she had left without arguing.
“Cara, do not waste another second blaming yourself for what’s happened. That doesn’t help and you know that your mother would not want you to do that. She’s a strong woman and we just have to believe that she will be returned to us!”
Cara pressed her face into his chest and started to cry. Kaye wished that there was something that she could say or do to make it easier for them. She knew that Matthew was torn up inside with worry about Alissa. They remained in the town overnight and then flew home to Santa Fe the following day.
One doctor and nurse who had grown up in two of the countries neighboring the central African Republic were still at the camp with Dale, attending to patients who were not yet well enough to be moved. So Dale was still very busy with patients. He had to trust Alex with Alissa’s situation. Alex was behaving more like the brother he used to be before Dale had met Alissa. Dale felt completely helpless and in his eyes it seemed that he had let Alissa down by not being there for her when she’d needed him. Alex had told him that he’d probably be dead now if he’d been with Alissa, but that didn’t make Dale feel any less guilt.
Faizah walked into the medical tent to take her sister, Hasina; and her new baby niece, Jira, home to their village. She’d again lied to her husband telling him that she was going to harvest in the distant fields. She had taken the horse and cart and left the village.
If the men in her village knew that she was helping her sister to be treated by the foreign doctors, she knew that she would be beaten not just because the doctors were foreigners, but also because of the friction between her village and her sister’s village. The friction had developed after her marriage into her husband’s family leaving her old village and parents and siblings behind. She knew that her father regretted marrying her off to Moswen. Early in their marriage, Moswen had treated her well, but since the warring conflicts had begun he had become cruel.
Faizah noticed that most of the foreign doctors and aid workers were gone. Her sister told her what had happened. Faizah had already guessed that it was because of Alissa. She had not dared to question her husband as to why Alissa was being detained when he had told her to provide food and water to the American woman. Faizah settled her sister and niece into the cart and then began the long journey to her sister’s village.
When they arrived, the village was in turmoil! Her parents assisted Hasina and Jira down from the cart and quickly ushered them inside their family hut. They explained what had happened. Hasina’s husband had been murdered by some men from Faizah’s husband’s village!
Noah answered the door and was surprised to see Crystal and Angelo. Crystal gave him a hug. “I just wanted to be with family for a while. I took some time off from work. My manager is a very understanding man. I’m lucky to have a boss like him.” She knew that Alissa would want her to be there in Santa Fe to support her nieces and nephews if she could, and she wanted to be with them too because they loved Alissa like she did.
Angelo’s eyes got bigger when Sharlee entered the room. “You’re the hot babe who’s with him in the commercials! Wait, so that isn’t just a gimmick. She’s your real wife. Sharlee! I can’t believe that I never realized that was you in those commercials. You’ve really grown up!”
Sharlee had been a teenager when she had last visited Crystal and met Angelo. She laughed at his reaction.
“Crystal never mentioned that you were doing those commercials, but she really doesn’t talk a lot about her family. Even though she doesn’t, I know that you are all very important to her. “
Noah was surprised because Crystal had always been proud of the fact that she would never “tie herself down with one man.” Sharlee was surprised for the same reason, but also because she had just thought that Crystal and Angelo were good friends. She hadn’t seen anything romantic between them during her visit. Although she had thought that Angelo was a hunk.
Angelo was surprised because he and Crystal had not yet discussed the status of their relationship since she had slept with Keith. He’d come with her to Santa Fe because he wanted to be there to support her as a friend. Since June worked at the same firm as Crystal, she knew that both she and Crystal could not have unplanned time off right now. So she hadn’t been able to accompany them to Santa Fe.
Angelo didn’t say anything. He didn’t think that this was the time because he knew how worried Crystal was about Alissa. He really didn’t know how he felt about being Crystal’s boyfriend now. His trust in her had been tenuous before she’d slept with Keith, and now he had no trust in her at all.
However, he did know that he still loved her. He’d have to do some more serious thinking, and they would have to have some deep soul searching conversations. Maybe now she really was ready to be in a committed relationship with him. She’d introduced him that way because it was what she wanted. He had to admit to himself that hearing her introduce him as her boyfriend had felt good, and it felt right.
Sky asked, “Who are you?”
“Of course you don’t remember me! I’m your Aunt Crystal, little Munchkin.”
“We were just about to head over to my parent’s house. My Grandfather Matthew and Grandmother Kaye are bringing Cara home this afternoon. My Gran Val and I are going to cook dinner for everyone, and Dad is going to call to talk with us. Hopefully he’ll have some news about Mom. Why don’t you two come with us? We need to be together right now.”
Crystal and Angelo agreed, and they went over to the Stallworth home.
It was the third day after Alissa had been taken captive. Dale was saying goodbye to the last patient who was leaving the camp, and the other doctors were packing their equipment to prepare for their trip home the following day. Alex called Dale into the office tent. “Dale we’ve found out who took Alissa!”
Faizah was torn. She thought of the kind American woman who would surely be killed during the conflict. She was deeply thankful to Alissa for assisting her sister with the difficult birth of her niece. Her own husband, Moswen, would take great pleasure in ending the American’s life not just because of his hatred of Americans but because of his own cruel inclinations.
Faizah knew that she had to return regardless of the danger to herself. Her family tried to talk her into remaining, but she insisted that she had to leave in order to help the American woman. She would not be able to live with herself if she did not try to help her. Jomo helped Faizah to slip out of the village undetected.
“Come with me, quickly!”
Alissa stood up.
“If we are separated, listen for the sound of the river. Once you reach it, go to the right and follow it until you find a shallow section and can cross the river to the other side. After you are on the other side, continue to follow the river and eventually you will reach another settlement. The people there should be able to help you to safety.”
Faizah pulled a knife from her clothing and handed it to Alissa. “Thank you for helping my sister! I hope that you make it back safely to your home.”
“No, you must leave me! I shall be alright!”
Alissa continued running, hearing Faizah call out a name! It was the name of one of her brothers. Faizah’s brother came and pulled the man away from her. He told her to leave the village. Faizah fled as quickly as she could to return to her family. She had done all that she could to assist Alissa.
Dale had insisted on going with Alex to try to free Alissa. Alex and his co-worker felt that a smaller team would be best in order to retrieve Alissa safely. Their informant had told them in which hut Alissa was being detained. There was vicious fighting going on in the village center. Dale crouched down in the bushes as he waited for Alex to return. He was tense with anxiety but hopeful that he’d get Alissa back safely.
“Alissa wasn’t there!”
Dale’s heart sank.
Alissa made her way through the jungle. She could hear the sound of the river getting closer. She stopped to catch her breath and thought she heard something moving back the way she had come. She knew that there was dangerous wildlife living here in the jungle and didn’t want to wait to see whatever it was coming her way! She started back toward the river.
They tied him up and then splashed water onto the man’s face to bring him back to consciousness. They asked the man some questions and he answered them grudgingly. He didn’t know where Alissa was now, but he had seen her running away from the village toward the river. They tied a rag over his mouth, left him and headed toward the river.
Alissa tried to push the man off of her, but he wrapped his hands around her throat and began to squeeze. His eyes were burning with loathing as he increased the pressure on her throat. Alissa thought of Dale and their family. She had a happy life that she wasn’t ready to leave! She thought of Sky and how she was looking forward to having more grandchildren. Thinking of leaving her family gave Alissa a burst of adrenaline. She managed to pull the knife out and plunged it into his side as hard as she could.
Dale and the others heard the scream, and Dale knew that it was Alissa! They rushed towards the sound! Alex and Dale reached her at the same time! Alex tackled the man, and Dale pulled Alissa away from the fighting.
There was shouting in the distance! Alex anticipated that Moswen would try to alert the men searching for him to their location. He snapped Moswen’s neck. Alissa’s face was buried in Dale’s chest as he held her tightly. Dale was thankful that Alissa hadn’t seen it, but the effortless way that Alex killed Moswen had shocked Dale.
Alex and Enetan were on hyper alert, focused on getting Dale and Alissa back to safety. Dale helped Alissa along. He knew that she was exhausted and was just forcing herself to keep moving through sheer willpower. He offered to carry her, but she refused. She was determined to make it on her own. She would not allow this experience to defeat her. The good memories of helping the people here would overshadow the bad during the few days in which she’d been held hostage. She had an even greater understanding now of what the women here experienced in their day to day lives and she intended to do justice to their story when it aired on her show.
Enetan gestured to Alex and the others to wait until he’d checked the area where they had left a jeep. He wanted to ensure that it was safe. The other doctors had already left camp and taken the equipment with them. The camp was empty. Dale had already packed his and Alissa’s personal belongings and put them inside the jeep. It had begun to rain, but Dale and Alissa didn’t care. They were just happy to be reunited.
After they were underway, Dale finally relaxed as he tended to the wounds on Alissa’s face. He ached inside as she flinched when he put the disinfectant on the wounds and placed bandages where needed. There were also deep bruises on her neck from where the man had choked her. He looked into her eyes.
Alissa smiled at him painfully because of the cuts on her lip.
The family was overjoyed to hear that Alissa and Dale were safe and would be coming home soon. Alex had asked them not to tell the family that he was alive. He’d also instructed Cara not to mention his return. He wanted to talk with his parents and sister face to face to explain why he’d put them through the pain of believing him to be dead after knowing how much they’d suffered when they’d believed Dale to be dead.
Cara and the rest of the family felt even more respect and appreciation for Alissa after she returned home. They were all proud of the way she handled her experience, turning it into an opportunity to shed light nationwide on the difficult lives the families in those war torn countries had to lead day after day and year after year.
I had intended more for this chapter, but I’d kept you waiting so long that I decided to post it like it is today. I just kept thinking of more to add for some reason. I think I’ll do a bonus chapter for this storyline with the pictures that I ran out of time to do.
Thanks for reading my story! ❤