Anne walked away towards her house. Today she wanted to explore more of the village, but when she rounded the corner, the dark bulk of a man stood in her doorway. She hesitated. Had he been inside? After a moment, she moved close enough to recognize him.
"Good morning, Anne."
"We best go inside."
Anne waved Ari towards a chair. She opened the drapes, letting the morning sun in to bounce off the whitewashed walls and the mirror over the fireplace. She sat opposite.
After a few moments of silence, she asked, "Why are you here?"
"I need your help."
So payback time. Ari saved her life in Bermuda, and now he wanted something.
The blonde Israeli stretched his long legs halfway across the living room, watching.
"Are you sick?" she said.
"Sick? No. Why do you ask if I'm sick?"
"I'm competent to give medical help. Otherwise, you need to go."
"Thomas said you felt you were under an obligation to me."
His English was colored with the same British undertone Maria's had.
"Did you send me a note in Madrid?"
"Yes. I wanted to talk to you before you got here and met the child, but I had to leave. Someone thought they were moving her. The obligation?"
"You're right, but there are many ways to discharge an obligation."
"And I'm here to offer you one way."
Why did he have blue eyes and blond hair? Maybe he wasn't Israeli?
"Your name is Ari?"
"No, not now. Please call me Daniel."
"I'm going to have some tea. Would you like some?"
"I don't have much time."
Anne bustled around the kitchen, putting a kettle on the gas, gathering cups and sugar and milk and the miniature brown betty teapot she'd brought with her.
When she sat down again, he said, "It's about the child."
"Maria Sophia they call her but her name is Naomi, and she was kidnapped from Israel three months ago."
"Kidnapped? Are the parents still negotiating a ransom?"
"No ransom. Political pressure. The grandfather is a minister in the government, and the organization wishes him to vote according to its desires."
"A child as a pawn. Her poor parents."
Anne leaned forward to look into Daniel's eyes. She needed to be sure he was telling her the truth, but how to know in a man trained to lie. "Is this true?"
"Yes. Why else would I be here?"
"When did you talk to Thomas?" The tea lay forgotten on a table between them. Anne touched the pot, found it hot enough and poured.
"No. Will you help me?"
"What do you want me to do?"
Daniel settled back into his chair, sipped his tea and contemplated her face. After a long pause, he said, "I want to take her back."
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