When your father's a terrorist and wants to kill you, the obsession never ends. Instead, it passes to your children.
Can Sonia save the child she loves?
Dr. Sonia Amon, retired Army major and battlefield surgeon, based on intelligence from the CIA learns her terrorist father plans to kidnap her son. She accepts a menial position at Carter’s military school to protect him.…But can she?
Did the CIA mislead her?
Who can she trust?
There are spies everywhere.
Sonia does her best…
But Carter disappears.
You'll love this medical thriller because of the mix of love, brutality, hatred and love that makes for an undeniable page turner. You'll be up until dawn.
Get it now.
Sonia Amon Novels – Stories of love, strength, vulnerability and grit.
Dr. Judith Lucci has ridden camels in Egypt, taught healthcare on three continents, consulted with Congress on health policy, cared for patients in Third World countries and impacted thousands of lives.
Release date: August 7, 2020
Publisher: Bluestone Valley Publishing, LLC Harrisonburg, VA
Print pages: 160
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“Mom! Mom! I’m over here.”
I look toward the water’s edge from my beach chair. “Carter? Where are you?” I don’t see his sun-bleached hair through the approaching waves. Jumping to my feet, I frantically turn in circles, shielding my eyes and systematically following every contour that could hold him, or hide him.
“Carter! Where are you? Call out, son!” My voice was panicked. Terror pierced my heart.
“Mom, they won’t let me. I’m scared, Mom. Please find me. I don’t know these people. They’re making me do bad things, Mom. Please let me come home. Please, Mom.”
I grow more frantic and begin running, the sand sucking at my feet and pulling the muscles in my calves. My footfalls sink more and more deeply until I’m waist-high in cold, soggy, seaweed-choked sand. I can no longer lift my legs, so I resort to clawing as I hold my head high enough to pull in the retreating oxygen. I’m fighting for my life, and the pain is overwhelming. I don’t matter, though. I must find Carter. He must be free. What are they doing to him? Where is he? Not like… please, God, don’t let it be like it was for me. “Carter! Keep shouting, son. I will find you. They cannot keep me away.”
Then the sand is filling in the spaces about my body until my limbs no longer can move. I look up, and it pours into my mouth, my eyes, and I know I am being swallowed alive. I won’t be alive for long, though. Not long enough.
Tears. Abject panic. Where was he? Not here. I’d call the academy and not stop until they put him on the phone. I needed to hear his voice.
Calm down, Sonia, my sensible, medically trained voice chimed in. It was a nightmare, and there’s nothing behind it. I still could not believe the inner voice. I’d trusted before, and it let me down—deep breaths. I was terrified. They’d left me alone for over five years. Why now? What was happening?
I grabbed the remote from the nightstand and clicked on the television, searching for any channel as its garish light flooded the bedroom. I finally settled for a cartoon. Simple, primary colors where odd-looking creatures leaped up and down and ran into things. Acceptance and happiness. Yes, those were what I needed.
I sat up on the edge of the bed, the skin beneath my armpits and breasts was damp and sticky. Shaking out the pillows, I turned them over, vowing to wash them come morning. My joints were stiff as I stood, so I cautiously shifted my weight between my feet. “No more pizza for me,” I ordered myself, knowing perfectly well that I wouldn’t listen. I never did. I was indestructible, or so I told myself. In truth, I was at the opposite end of that spectrum.
I was walking straighter by the time I got to the shower. Pulling a bottle of ibuprofen from the medicine cabinet, I popped one in my mouth and used the hot water from the showerhead to get it down. All I needed was one good night’s sleep.
When I stepped out of my bathroom, Jennifer was waiting on my bed, her Frozen® quilt wrapped around her shoulders. Her dark hair fanned down her back to her waist; her eyes dark were huge with the mystery that lurked at three in the morning. “Mommy, are you okay?”
My daughter looked just like me. Exactly like I’d looked at her age. I smiled at her. “Of course, sweetheart. Let’s get you back to bed, shall we?”
I reached for a robe through my opened closet door and slid my arms into the warm sleeves, belting it closed. I reached for Jennifer’s hand and she scooted on her behind until she reached the edge of the bed, making the last leap as though she’d just landed on the moon. “I love you, Mommy.” Her sweet voice came through the yawn she was too young to hide.
“I love you, too, sweetheart.” I pulled back the blankets and lifted her onto her bed. “One kiss from me, one from Carter, one from Grammy, and then a special one from Daddy.”
“Mommy, does he really watch me?” She wanted to know. “Are you sure he’s still in heaven?”
Her question surprised me. “Of course. All angels keep watch, and you happen to have your own special angel.”
“Does he see me when I poke a hole in a toad?”
I tucked in her covers and sat on the edge of her bed. Her statement surprised me.
“You poke holes in toads?”
She nodded unabashed.
“To see what they look like inside.” It made perfect sense to me, but then I was a doctor, a physician, and I had been poking holes in small creatures most of my life.
“Jen, it would be better if you didn’t poke holes in them because it makes them die.”
“But Mommy, if they die, then they go to heaven and become an angel to watch over someone. Maybe another toad.” Her dark eyes watched me carefully.
I smiled. Her logic took my breath away and it was more conversation than I could handle in the middle of the night. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow morning. Now get some sleep, and you can stay in bed an hour longer in the morning. We both need some rest.”
“Grammy Melody is coming in the morning to take me to the park.”
“Grammy can watch the news in the living room or sit on the deck and watch the ocean. Or still better, she can make pancakes. You and I shall be sleeping. Now, not another word.”
She nodded and dutifully closed her eyes. I knew it would be some time before she would nod off, but like me, she would make every pretense in the meantime. There was something about us that was very similar. We always did as we were told.
My day was peaceful and calm, and I’d enjoyed every minute of it. The sun was high in the sky, and the warmth on my face was intoxicating. My thoughts returned to my mother who had dutifully appeared in time to make us pancakes and take Jen for a long walk on the beach. Grammy Melody was my loving, enchanting mother—the woman who had missed out on most of my young life. She had married my father, a handsome, peaceful Syrian, and together they moved back to his home country. But my young mother was a woman of the world, and she knew many cultures. She was the daughter of an American diplomat. Those were the days of hippies and revolution—a time when marrying a man of a completely different culture was an adventure in the spirit of free love and acceptance. Little did she know that Syria didn’t embrace the same free love and liberty she’d brought in her opened arms. She was in lust with my father, and even, to this day, I can see how. As wicked and horrendous as he is, he still has an intense sexual energy about him. His eyes enchanted and devoured all of those around him. He was a charismatic man.
In those days, my father, Faisal Muhammed, was a man of faith and rigid beliefs. The beautiful, blue-eyed fairy-like blonde he brought home didn’t fit in. Not at all. It brought him no cause for concern because, in his eyes, he would bend her to his will. But Faisal Muhammed changed. In a few short years, the loving, peaceful man Melody Fitzgerald had married turned into a religious zealot and, shortly afterward, a terrorist. An ISIS terrorist. For a short while, my mother went along with it—at least long enough to give birth to me and then escape, taking me back to the liberty of the United States. But Faisal was never far behind, and when he found me, Melody became the one who was lost and left behind. I became a child—more explicitly, a girl child—in radical, Muslim Syria. Separated from my mother from the age of three, I did not see her again until I became an adult at eighteen and managed to find my own way to the U.S. I never looked back, but my father always looked forward—for me.
Radicalized, he had risen through the ranks until he was addressed as the Emir and his followers numbered in the thousands. My father was an ISIS leader. Some referred to him as the ISIS leader. My escape was an embarrassment in a country where women were neither seen nor heard. I hid in the United States Army, first becoming a doctor and then working to heal those my father tried to kill. I became an expert in battlefield surgery, wound care, and chemical weapons. I had to know everything he knew. Only then could I begin to repair the havoc he wreaked and ease the pain he caused.
He wanted to kill me. He’d almost succeeded on more than one occasion—the same with Melody. We hid, we ran, and occasionally we stopped and took a stand, feeling the protection of the U.S. government behind us. He continued in his outrage, killing my fiancé, then my husband, but only to get back at me. I dared never love again because I knew it would mean a death sentence for the man who cared for me.
Yes, my husband Jeff had been an angel for me while he lived and for our children once the Emir had seen him cut down. I finally gave up, knowing that my father came closer with each swath, and eventually, there would be no one to stand between him and my children. So, I retired from the life I knew. I left the military as a Major and turned my back on the Agency. I was on leave from my job as a professor at the War College. I pretended to be a regular doctor in a small hospital not far from our cottage home on the Atlantic coast but within a commutable distance to Washington, DC.
Only the dreams were still following me—or so I thought.
A young nurse had reached out to help me when my fiancé Paul was back in Walter Reed, fighting for his life. I should have recognized the familiar eyes, the set of her chin and the fanaticism in every move she made. She was my sister, Ester. Ester was also the daughter of the Emir, by another woman, and her goal in life was to see me die so that she might rise to the position of his favorite. She was smart, connected, and had come too close too many times already. I left her behind, as well.
Then there was Karem, my brother, in the same way as Ester was a sister. The comparison stopped there as Karem had become my ally. He did not prescribe to the Emir’s killing ways and desires to kill Christians and destroy the West. Karem lived life in a troublesome grey area where he worked with my father but was faithful to me. He lived on a precarious edge. He had to protect his cover to avoid becoming a target. I trusted him—my government did not. Any day I could hear of his death.
Mine was not the ideal life, but if I inherited anything of value from my father, it was his refusal to give up and die. It was his tenacious, stubborn determinism. I’d mentally curtained off all that belonged to him and that world so that my mother, my children, and I could be normal—or at least pretend to be normal. We wanted to eat hot dogs and poke balloons on birthdays; two things that would have never happened in Syria. We tried to forget how he had tracked us, beaten us, and persecuted us. I fought to counsel away the symptoms of PTSD that surfaced in my recurring dreams. I’d given up on marriage. Jeff would be my one and only. Two good American men, heroes, were dead because they’d loved me. Now, my life belonged to my children.
Jeff would see himself in Carter, just as Melody saw me in Jennifer. With Jeff’s pecan brown hair and empathetic smile, Carter was smart and far too worldly for an ordinary eight-year-old. Jeff had worked with and met me through the CIA. I felt his angel’s push when I applied to Huntington Military Academy, a boarding school for young boys who would eventually go on to careers with the government. Carter had been accepted and excelled in everything he did. Jeff was living on through Carter, and our son would become a man and look after his sister and me when that time came.
I decided to call Carter at school. It was almost four in the afternoon and it was allowed. The Huntington Military Academy was, if anything, strict and disciplined. I’d learned that on my first visit. For the time being, however, Carter was only eight and I called him often. “This is Dr. Sonia Amon Hansen. I would like to speak to my son, Cadet Carter Hansen.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor, but he’s in class at this time. Please call again after sixteen hundred hours.”
“Thank you.” I hung up and shrugged my shoulders. I should have known he would be unable to simply walk out of the classroom and come to the phone. I knew I should always stick to the rules and wait until four to call. I suppose it was my need to be reassured—to hear his voice on the phone so the nightmare would leave me alone. I tried to put my fears behind me.
I left my office in the hospital, headed to my car, and a considered a short nap at home. I was almost to my car when my cell rang. My first thought was that they had changed their mind, and it would be Carter. I looked at the caller identification. I was so, so wrong.
“Dr. Amon. I assume you know who this is?”
I sighed. “Well, I know where you work but not which person I’m talking with. After all, Agent Smith, I’ve probably never met you since your voice doesn’t sound familiar.”
“You are correct. We haven’t met, yet, but I did know Jeff. He and I worked together. He saved my ass more than once. He was a fine man.”
“Thank you.” My voice sounded flat, even to me. Jeff had saved everyone’s ass at some point in time—mine probably more than the others. But I’d done nothing to save him.
“I wonder if you would have time to stop over. I wouldn’t ask, but I’m afraid you know who is causing some problems again, and we’d like any input you might have.”
I’d climbed into the car and started the motor. It was late fall, and the chill scent of snow coming was in the air. I hadn’t been involved in my father’s machinations for more than three years, and I’d been the happier for it. Heaving a deep sigh, the images from the past flew past my eyes again, and the familiar dread was beginning to build in my stomach.
“Dr. Amon?” The man’s voice was still there. I’d hoped he’d hung up or that we’d been disconnected.
“Is this absolutely necessary? I’d like to put all that in the past. I have two children, you know. I’ve lost enough of their childhood playing cat and mouse with you.” My voice oozed with disdain and sarcasm.
The man sighed. “I wouldn’t call if we didn’t think you had something critical that would help. Any time today would be fine.” His voice was quiet but determined. I knew I wasn’t getting off the hook. I’d have to go. After all, I’d had to turn to these people for protection more than once.
“Today? I’m just leaving work. It’s after three o’clock!”
“Fine, then we can expect you in ninety minutes or so?” Agent Smith’s voice was crisp. I’m sure he had enjoyed a military career and now had a prominent seat at The Agency.
“What I meant was that I’m tired and have had a rough day. I was headed home for a nap.”
“It truly is important, Dr. Amon. Would you prefer I come to you?”
I certainly didn’t want that. “No, no. I’ll get there as soon as I can.” No more Agent Smiths sniffing around my house, confusing the neighbors. I’ve only just gotten to the point that I can say good morning and not have them scurry inside and peer through the curtains like I’m some sort of prehistoric or futuristic being.
“We’ll see you in ninety minutes.”
I rolled my eyes. The line went silent, and there I sat, wanting nothing more than to go home, kick off my shoes, order a delivery pizza, and play with Jen. I thought we’d have a girls’ night and paint our nails. Instead, I made a phone call to cover Jen and then turned west, headed for D.C. and the Agency.
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