Sasha Returns



Sasha Returns

Sasha Del Mira Thriller #2

A Short Story


David Lender

Copyright 2012 © by David T. Lender

Twenty-two years ago.  Sasha Del Mira knelt in the darkness beside a house in Buraida, Saudi Arabia, exhausted, her nerves jangling and her ears ringing from the blast of gunshots and grenades.  She reflected on the last 24 hours.

My God.

It had been one horror after another.  Last night she’d pointed a Beretta Cheetah at Prince Ibrahim, called him “Pig,” and shot him dead in a bed still thick with the scent of their sexual exertions.  Then after escaping she’d returned to the Royal Palace to face Prince Yassar, Ibrahim’s father.  Yassar, the man with whom she’d developed a father-daughter bond in the three years since he’d brought her here to Saudi Arabia at 16 years old to become the concubine—“companion,” as Yassar had put it—to Ibrahim.

The bond that had developed between Sasha and Yassar had been an unlikely transition after the betrayal she’d felt.  The betrayal at the hands of a man she’d come to trust as a confidant over the many years he’d visited her guardian’s estate in Switzerland.  A man who listened and offered the wisdom of his gentle soul when she asked for advice, instead of preaching to her as if she was a child.

The same man she’d sat with, rigid with fear and anger, on a Saudi royal family Learjet headed to Riyadh that day three years ago.  Sasha had looked Yassar in the eye across the aisle on the Learjet, pleading with her eyes, then finally speaking up, demanding, “Why?”

He’d looked up from his Koran and stared back in silence, his drooping eyes blinking, his demeanor calm as ever.

Now Sasha thought of the subsequent months, her anger at Yassar’s breach of trust subsiding until she was ready to accept Yassar back into her heart.  He again became a steadying presence in her life, schooling her in Islam, helping her with her Arabic, unlocking for her the mysteries of Saudi culture.

She reflected on last night’s confession to Yassar, telling him she’d done the unthinkable—killed his eldest son.  She’d then played the tape Tom, her CIA handler, had given her in which Ibrahim agreed to do the unthinkable himself—kill Yassar and be installed by the al-Mujari as their puppet ruler after they’d overthrown the Saudi regime.  HerThe ensuing exchange with Yassar was heated, cathartic, ending in reconciliation and a sense of fulfillment that made everything that had gone before in her life seem just.

Afterward, Yassar concealed Sasha beneath a traditional black abaya and hijab veil, then brought her to a room in the women’s quarters.  They took seats across from each other in the sitting area, Yassar’s graying head hanging, anguish still showing on his face.  They remained silent for a few minutes, both emotionally exhausted.

Finally he looked up and said, “I’m not as blind as I have appeared, my dear.”

Sasha saw tears welled in his eyes; it brought a lump to her throat.  She waited for Yassar to continue, allowed him the space to speak in his own time.

“You remember our little pact?”

Sasha nodded.

“You were to have been Ibraham’s gyroscope, his ethical rudder—”

The words burned in Sasha’s heart.

“—and I was to listen to you, adapt to what was happening and intervene when necessary.  Well, you did your part, but I failed with mine.”

Tears came to Sasha’s eyes.  She started to rise from her chair to go to him, but he put his hand out to stop her.

“Even though it didn’t seem like it, I was listening, I did see it when Abdul and Waleed attempted to pollute his mind.  I made a conscious decision to stand back, to rely upon the values I had instilled in him with his Muslim upbringing, with the example of my loyalty to Saudi Arabia, and the lessons of the scriptures I had taught him as guides to keep him on the righteous path.”

Sasha opened her mouth to tell him not to torment himself, but she was too choked with emotion for words.

“I made that decision out of love for Ibrahim as his father.  Just as I did when he was a child learning to walk, I knew that his new freedom would allow him to take his first steps into his own life, into independence.  I relied upon Ibrahim to make the right choices, knowing that I must accept the consequences if he made the wrong ones.”

“You couldn’t have foreseen that the al-Mujari’s fanatical Shiite message could so overpower Ibrahim.  Could twist him against his own father.”

“With a father’s love, I had to accept that outcome as a possibility without withdrawing that love.  I had to be steadfast in my belief in Ibrahim, that I had taught him well, that he would see the al-Mujari’s message as designed to set Muslim brother against brother, and in turn against any unenlightened nonbelievers, a perversion of all we Muslims stand for, both Sunnis and Shiites.”

With that Yassar stood up.  He looked out the window up at the sky, as if seeking guidance.  After a moment he turned to Sasha and said, “I failed.  He made the wrong choice.  You made the right one and intervened.  And now I must figure out how to assure your safety.”

“Nibmar,” Sasha said.  “As his mother she’ll never understand, never forgive.”

“Perhaps not,” Yassar said, thumbing an eyebrow.  “But that is a matter for me to consider after I’ve had some sleep.”  He walked to her, leaned over and kissed her forehead.  “Until tomorrow,” he said, and left the room.

Now, crouching in the darkness next to the home of Saif Ibn Mohammed al-Aziz, the man who had helped her after she had been kidnapped from the Royal Palace and brought to Buraida, she wondered how she was going to explain tonight to Yassar.  Because tonight she had not only killed the al-Mujari terrorists Abdul, Waleed, and their new henchman, Khalid, but her kidnappers—Nibmar, Yassar’s first and favorite wife, and Ali, Yassar’s next eldest son.

Nibmar had kidnapped Sasha as part of her plan to have Ali take Ibrahim’s place in the overthrow of the Saudi regime.

Sasha’s confrontation of Nibmar only hours earlier, after Sasha had escaped captivity, now came back to her.  Sasha had held a 9mm semi-automatic Ruger to Nibmar’s head.  In the course of boasting of her involvement in the al-Mujari plot to kill Yassar and overthrow the Saudi regime, Nibmar had said, “My husband is soft.  It is within his grasp to rule, but he is too self-effacing to force his cousins aside to accomplish it.  I did not marry him to settle for mediocrity.”

Sasha felt a blast of shock.  “So you helped the al-Mujari with their plans?”

“Don’t be naïve.  The plan regarding Ibrahim was my idea.”

“How could you choose between your husband and your son?”

“Life is choice, hard decisions forced upon us by impossible situations.  I have always adapted and made the best of them.”

“You’re more of a monster than I thought.”

“You’re obviously not a mother or you wouldn’t say that.  Particularly not an Islamic mother.”

“And now Ali is inside there cutting his own deal with Khalid.”

Nibmar glowered.  “There’s nothing you can do about it.  You’ll be dead before he becomes ruler of Saudi Arabia.”

Sasha took a deep breath, then exhaled, forcing the scene from her mind.

She heard the sound of footsteps approaching.  She reached inside her abaya and pulled the Ruger from her waistband.  She aimed it into the darkness across the backyard.

Please, let it be Saif.

Saif had taken her in when she had escaped from the Chevy Suburban that Nibmar, Ali and their goons were driving her to Buraida in.  Then he’d gone so far as to loan her weapons and concussion grenades so that she could go back and stop Nibmar’s plot to kill Yassar.  And when she was captured trying to do so, Saif had helped her escape and kill them all.

Sasha saw the shape of a man approaching, then realized it was Saif, got a rush of relief.

As he neared her he smiled.  Sasha stood.  Before she had a chance to speak she heard a sharp sound off in the distance, a metallic clang.  She felt a bolt of alarm and knelt, pulling Saif down with her.

“Were you followed?” she whispered.

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