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Enjoy today's chapter of "Good Works" a serialized novella from Lynda Simmons:
You don’t spend years working in conflict zones without learning one of life’s great lessons: never let the bad guy take you anywhere. So when he started dragging me toward the dumpster, I jerked back against him quick and hard. Throwing him off balance long enough to stomp on his foot while reaching behind me for a fistful of something.
“Crazy bitch,” he muttered, his hold loosening when my fingers locked in his hair.
“Thank you,” I said, throwing myself back again, toppling us both in a heap beside the dumpster. I rolled to the side, tried to get to my feet, to run away, but a hand shot out and grabbed my ankle. So I twisted round and kicked out with the other foot, connecting with a jaw that I recognized. The original Bike Thief, returned to the scene of the crime.
“You,” I said.
“I can explain,” he answered, earning himself another kick in the jaw.
The girl dropped the backpack, took a few steps toward us. “Finn, are you okay.”
“I’m fine,” he grunted as he fought to hold both of my ankles down. “Just get out of here.”
“Your name is Finn?” I muttered, working one foot free long enough to do some damage to his shoulder.
“You don’t like it?” he asked, rising up on his knees, finally getting the leverage he needed to avoid another kick.
“Sounds fake,” I said, and sat up. Took a swing at him instead which brought the girl running.
I ducked my head, certain she was going to cuff me a good one to help him out. But instead of encouraging her, the Bike Thief said, “Aisha, please, there’s no more time.”
And just like that, she turned around and headed back to the bike. My bike.
“Don’t you dare,” I hollered and both thieves winced.
“Will you shut up for a minute,” Finn growled.
“Will you let go for a minute?” I said and was about to holler again, louder this time, when another voice joined the conversation.
“Aisha,” a girl called. “What are you doing?”
Relief rushed through me. Finally a witness, someone to call 911. But the cry for help froze on my lips when the junior bike thief’s face drained of colour and her body went perfectly still.
“Aisha,” the voice called again and the thief lifted her chin. Looked up at an open window on the second floor where another girl in a hijab, periwinkle blue, stood equally still, watching.
“Aisha, don’t listen to her,” Finn said, releasing my feet and getting to his own. “You need to leave.”
But Aisha stayed put, eyes welling with tears and locked on the window. “Zara, I’m begging you.”
The girl in the window tilted her head to the side. “Aisha’s outside,” she shouted. “She’s running away.” The periwinkle hijab disappeared from the window. “Hassan, did you hear me?” she called her voice fading as she ran to spread the news.
“I have to go back,” Aisha said, dropping the bike, heading to the door. “I can’t do this.”
“Yes you can,” Finn said and picked her up. Ran with her to the fence on the other side of the alley, a six foot wall of pressure treat with another foot of lattice on top of that. “Aisha, there’s nothing for you here and know it. “
He set her down by the fence and when she didn’t run, he linked his hands together to give her a boost.
“Hassan, where are you?” drifted into the alley.
“It’s now or never,” Finn said.
Neither he nor Aisha noticed me righting the bike, getting on. Preparing to ride off and spend this beautiful sunny day at the beach while Zara hollered for the elusive Hassan and Aisha struggled to get a leg over the lattice. Whatever was going on here was none of my business, and my daughter must be getting worried, wondering where the heck I was.
I pushed off, rose up on the pedals. Got as far as the back door to the neighbouring shop when Finn called out, “Please. Don’t go.”
I should have ignored him. Should have kept the bike pointed at the street and pedalled for all I was worth. But the audacity of the words, and my own ridiculous curiosity, made me stop, look back. “Why on earth not?”
“Because she needs help.” He was at the fence, Aisha’s backpack in hand. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but she’s only seventeen and she’s terrified.” He tossed the pack over and looked back at me. “She knows where to go, but I told her to wait a moment because I’m afraid that if she heads out alone, she’ll lose her nerve and come back.“
“So you want me to help some girl run away from home?”
“I want you to help her escape.”
“Hassan!” the periwinkle informer shouted. “You have to come upstairs now.”
Finn sighed and glanced back at the door of AK Framing and Shoe Repair. “A marriage she doesn’t want and a future in a country where girls like her endure lives you can’t imagine.”
I almost smiled. “You’d be surprised what I can imagine.”
Nathan and I had watched scenes like this play out more times than I cared to remember. Had grown weary of seeing girls younger than Aisha given to men older than Finn. And in spite of every excuse we’d been given, we never could understand the complicity of mothers, aunts and sisters who did nothing to stop it. When the girl inside the shop shouted, “Hassan, your father will kill us both if she gets away,” I knew Finn was right. There was nothing for that girl here. And it would be a while before I got to the beach.
“Okay.” I wheeled my bike behind a dumpster and locked it to a downspout. “What do you need?”
Fast-paced, funny and incurably romantic
Rachel Banks has never believed in magic or moonlight, but if she’d thought that putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow would conjure up a nightmare in the form of blue-eyed charmer Mark Robison, she’d have stuffed that cake into her mouth instead! Mark is only in Madeira Beach for some much needed R&R and his new neighbour is not the kind of woman made for vacation memories. But there’s something about the incurable romantic that just keeps drawing him back.
Jennifer Crusie. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Lynda Simmons? Oh, yeah!
About the Author:
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!
Buy the book at Amazon.
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