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Does his offer of friendship host a hidden motive?
Religion is an important part of Nita Johnson’s life. Whenever confronted with a difficult or unsure situation, she seeks God’s direction and guidance. When Nita finds herself attracted to the agent training her, she questions if he is the one for her...after all, not only is he known as “The Resident Torturer” by his trainees, but his relationship with God isn’t on friendly terms.
A traumatic event forced Agent Craig Sawyer to give up on God. Having experienced the deep sting of loss, he vows never to develop a close bond with anybody ever again. He battles his desire to pursue a relationship with Nita, but loses the fight. When her life is in danger, will he turn back to God?
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Copyright 2015 Alice Wootson
Monday morning, Craig stood facing the line of trainees. “I know you’ve all had some training in self-defense. If not before, at least when Officer Young taught you earlier. Let’s see if we can add a little something to what you already know.”
As Craig walked down the line, he pinned each with a stare before he moved to the next.
“Wonder what nightmare he cooked up for us over the weekend,” Tammy, at the end of the line, murmured to Nita. Nita opened her mouth to respond, but never got a word out.
“Johnson,” Craig barked. “Front and center. You got time to talk. Let’s see what you got.”
Nita stepped forward. She didn’t bother to hope that another Johnson had entered the program over the weekend. Neither did she point out that she wasn’t the one talking. Instead, she took a deep breath and then stepped forward to meet her fate. The worse that could happen was that he’d kill her and put her out of her misery. She wasn’t sure that would be so bad. She tilted her head slightly to the side and met his glare with one of her own.
Craig stood in place and held her stare for a second, then frowned. “Maybe I should use somebody else?”
How am I supposed to respond to that? Nita continued to look at Craig. Is that a trick question? Is this a test of some kind? Is he playing mind games with me? I wonder would happen if I say, ‘Yeah, pick some other victim.’ Probably the other person would kill me if he or she were still alive after he finished with them. Instead of answering, Nita stood and waited.
“I’ll take your lack of response to mean that you’re all right with this.” Craig frowned at her a few seconds longer then moved his gaze to cover the rest of the class standing behind Nita. “Okay. Most of the undocumented people you’ll encounter, if you complete your training and get the chance to get into the field, will be untrained, only poor folks trying to find a better life in the land of opportunity.” He paced slowly in front of the group, but his stare kept swinging back to Nita every few seconds. “It’s the others we have to watch out for, the smaller percentage trying to gain entry for other purposes. That’s where the danger is. It’s gotten worse lately. Those intruders have more experience than the others.”
As Craig moved, Nita listened to his words but concentrated on his movements. Her gaze never left him. Whenever she saw him tense, her body automatically did the same less than a second later, but she never moved from her spot.
Craig kept talking, and Nita kept her attention split between what he was saying and what he was doing. She had honed that skill as she worked with the Conroe police SWAT team.Come on, SWAT training, she pleaded. Don’t fail me now.
Each time Craig passed her, Nita shifted her weight to accommodate his new position, but her feet stayed in place.
As he walked, Craig continued his lecture. “The drug smugglers are a mixed group. Some are mules, people recruited to act as go-betweens, carrying the product from suppliers south of the border to the pushers here in the states. They have no long-term ties to the drug trade. If they succeed, they get paid a lot of money. If they don’t…” Craig shrugged. “If we capture them, and if they don’t die from a drug overdose because balloons full of poison burst in their stomachs, the amount we catch them with is small compared with what we think gets through, carried by those we fail to apprehend. Few, if any, of those have any self-defense training.” He stopped walking and his glare hardened.
I wouldn’t want to be one of the ones caught by Officer Sawyer while I was doing something illegal, Nita thought. That glare is almost enough to make the person on the receiving end of it drop dead from fright. She cleared her mind and listened as Craig continued.
“Most mules are inexperienced. Many are users trying to pay off a debt or trying to score a stash. We’ve apprehended college students on the way home from vacation who figured to make some easy cash and add a little excitement to their lives.”
Craig walked slowly to the far end of the room, paused, then turned and walked back toward the center.
Nita’s stare followed him as he got closer. Her body tensed. She hoped she was ready for what he had in mind whenever he decided to make his move.
Craig continued. “Even within the drug-runners, we have two groups. The second faction is made of those you might need this training for. They come to establish a foothold in a drug territory. These runners don’t carry much, but they’re deadly, because this trip is their chance to move up in the organization. Think salesmen. They’re trying to carve out a place for themselves, and will use any means necessary. They don’t care if the territory is in control of another gang. Many of these newcomers come from Central and South America. Mexico is the last leg of their trip before we encounter them.” Craig’s tightened his jaw. “Their street savvy and training can rival ours, only theirs has more of an edge to it. They don’t mind risking their lives, and they have to be good to survive to reach that point, to make it that high up in the organization. To them this is war. Often they’ve killed in Mexico—police and Mexican Border Patrol Officers have been some of their victims. Too many times, innocent civilians have been caught in the crossfire. Our neighboring city across the border from Laredo, Nuevo Laredo, is a battleground in the streets almost every night between the authorities and the illegal drug organization. Fortunately, the good guys usually win the battle but not always. Unfortunately for us, we can’t tell them apart from the…” He lunged at Nita.
She controlled her gasp at his speed and sidestepped him at the last second. Instead of being off-balance as Nita expected him to be, Craig spun around and came back at her immediately.
She tried to block out the scattered gasps and murmurs from the other trainees. It was just her and Craig.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alice Greenhowe Wootson grew up in Rankin, a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and a Masters’ Degree in Education from Cheyney University. She earned a Reading Specialist Certification and Principal Certification as well.
Alice Wootson is an award-winning author of eleven novels and an award-winning poet who is a member of The Philadelphia Writers Conference, Romance Writers of America, The Authors Guild and the Mad Poets Society.
She spent several winters in Brownsville, Texas and was fascinated at how close it is to the Mexican border and how easy it is to travel back and forth. She decided to use the area as a setting for a novel. ‘Border Love’ her eleventh novel, is the result. ‘Border Danger’ followed.
Alice is very active. She walks for exercise every day and says it helps her collect her thoughts. She presents writing workshops, meets with book clubs and group of readers and is a member of several ministries at her church: Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia. She loves to travel and usually spends the winter in Florida where she is involved in a local church ministry.
When Alice Wootson is not writing her next novel or spending time with family, she’s caught up in reading.