Friday, October 11, 2013

Promo Blitz: The Missionary by Jack Wilder

The Missionary

by Jack Wilder </ span>

Ex-Navy SEAL Stone Pressfield has a bad feeling about the proposed church missions trip to Manila, Philippines. The college-age church group plans to go to Manila and help victims of the sex-trafficking industry. Stone's lingering nightmare memories about the sex-trafficking industry have him warning church leaders that the trip is a bad idea. He knows all too well that it could end in violence, and those involved aren't to be trifled with.

When beautiful Wren Morgan goes missing, he has a sick feeling that he knows exactly who took her, and for what purpose. The problem is, Wren isn't just any other student. She's someone he's close to, someone he cares about. Now she's in the hands of cruel, evil men, and Stone is the only one who can rescue her before the unthinkable happens.



~Three weeks earlier~

Stone sat at the long conference table, second from the end, next to Nick.

He was holding his tongue, and his temper. So far. But he wouldn’t be able

to hold on to either much longer.

“…This is a great opportunity to do some real good,” Nick was saying.

“This is an area with a huge need. And I think this particular focus will go a

long way to showing the people of Manila that we’re serious about making a

difference in their community.”

Len, the executive pastor, nodded. He was a slim, fit, older man with

silver hair, steel-gray eyes, and a closely-trimmed Van Dyke beard. “I agree.

I think, though, due to the nature of our mission, we should keep it to high

school seniors and the college ministry.”

Nick nodded. “Absolutely.”

Len shuffled through the papers in front of him, Nick’s proposal. “Tell

me more. I know I have it here on paper, but I want to hear it from you,


Nick nodded slowly, staring down at his own notes before answering.

“I’ve really thought about this, Len. I’ve spent the last week in prayer over

it, and I really believe this is the best way to touch lives. I think we’re all

aware of how huge of a problem sex trafficking is, especially in places like

the Philippines and Thailand, as well as Russia. My plan is to go into Manila

and set up a kind of safe house outside Manila itself. We’d identify problem

areas in the city, where trafficking seems to be focused. Older members

of the trip would be in charge of finding those at risk, the young girls and

boys who have been sold into prostitution, and we’d bring them to the safe

house. We would feed them, and help them understand that we can get them

out. That they don’t have to keep doing that. We’d help them turn their

lives around. And this would be the first short foray into the area. My hope

is to turn this into an ongoing effort, so there will eventually be a constant

presence working against the evils of sex trafficking.”

Stone couldn’t keep silent any longer. “I’m sorry, but this is…it won’t

work. You’re not going to accomplish anything like this. Worse, it’s actively

dangerous. You can’t just…go in there and yank those kids away and think

that’s solving anything. You’re just going to stir up trouble.”

Len, who had never been Stone’s biggest fan, narrowed his eyes. “What

makes you say this?”

“I’ve worked in that area, sir. In my previous career. I agree that sex

trafficking is a problem, and I agree that the issue needs to be addressed,

but…a group of high school and college kids? Not smart. I’m sorry, Nick, I

know you mean well, but this is a really, really bad idea. You need a team of

trained specialists. Psychologist, security, social workers. People who know

how to deal with the particular problems that will come up. The victims

of sex trafficking…they’re not just forced into prostitution, okay? They’re

drugged and brainwashed. They’re made dependent on the drugs, and

they’re taught to fear their pimps. For good reason, okay? You really don’t

know what you’re trying to tackle, in this. This isn’t just isolated thugs. It’s

criminal organizations.”

Len blew out a long breath. “I appreciate your concern, but I’ve known

Nicholas for his entire life, and I believe that he knows what he’s doing. He

wouldn’t set this up if he thought it would endanger the students.”

Stone wanted to scream, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good. “I’m

not trying to undermine Nick. He’s my friend. I’ve known him since grade

school, and I know he wants to help. He’s got the best intentions in the

world, and I know that.” He glanced at Nick, who was shifting in his seat,

clearly uncomfortable. “Just…please. Focus on other things. Build homes.

That’s a huge need in Manila. Bring food and fresh water, medical attention.

Just bring the Gospel and friendship. They’ll respond. I promise.”

Len drummed his fingers, thinking. He turned to Nick. “What do you

think, Nick?”

“I…I…” Nick looked stricken. He wouldn’t meet Stone’s eyes. “I

think my idea is solid, sir. I know there are risks, but I’ve got a huge team

of volunteers, and most of those who’ve expressed interest in the trip are

adults. Sorry, Stone.”

Stone leaned back in his chair. “I want my dissension recorded. This is

a bad idea. Please reconsider. Please. I’ve got experience in this that ya’ll

don’t understand. You really don’t know what you’re tangling with.”

“It’s been decided, son,” Len said.

“You’re coming, right?” Nick clapped his friend’s shoulder. “You can be

our security.”

“I guess I am.” Stone pinched the bridge of his nose and tried to ignore

the roiling in his belly, the warning bells in his head.

The problem was, he’d been in the Navy for almost ten years. The first

lesson he learned, on his first combat mission, was to always always listen to

the warnings in his gut.

When the meeting was dismissed, Stone went home and made a few

quick, one-sided phone calls to old friends, contacts in the dark places of the


* * *

Stone parked his Monte Carlo in the back of the church parking lot,

heaved his black duffel bag from the back seat, and locked his car. Once

approval from Pastor Len had been granted, the trip had come together

quickly. Stone put in his opinion, and on most matters, Nick listened. Stone

voiced his disapproval and worry at every step of the way, but no one

heeded him. They had the bone in their teeth, and they weren’t letting go.

Stone had nearly gone postal when he saw Wren’s name on the list of

students. He’d gone so far as to corner her the Sunday before the trip was

scheduled to depart and outright begged Wren to stay home, but she’d been

as adamant as everyone else. She was going to help people. She couldn’t not


So Stone found himself approaching the two church vans that would take

the group to the airport, his heart heavy and his stomach turbulent. Most of

the group was already in place, stacking their suitcases and duffel bags in a

pile in front of the vans. They were chattering excitedly, a group of eighteen

evenly divided by gender. Most of the group was college students, with a

handful of high school seniors tossed in. Wren was already bouncing on her

toes, full of energy, spouting facts about Manila that she’d researched over

the last few days.

Stone hated that she was part of the trip. Something was going to happen.

He knew it. At least he would be there to make sure Wren stayed safe.

He started packing the pile of luggage into the backs of the white

Econoline vans while Nick did a head count against the roster. After the last

few stragglers showed up, Nick drove one van, and Stone the other. Aside

from the eighteen students, there was Nick, Amy, Jimmy, Stone, and three

other non-staff adults, parents of the high school seniors on the trip.

All throughout the trip to the airport, boarding, and the flight to Manila,

Stone’s worry increased. It wasn’t helped by the fact that he was returning to


As he dozed in his window seat, Stone tried to keep the memories at bay,

but as he fell deeper into sleep, the dream-memory sunk its claws into him,

and he was helpless to stop it.

* * *

Humidity was like a blanket, smothering him in sweat and heat. It

would’ve been more bearable had he not been in full tactical gear. Par for

the course though, and nothing he couldn’t handle.

It was better than being cold, if you asked him.

They’d infiltrated Manila from the sea, swimming from a blacked-out

freighter to shore, a swim of more than a mile in full gear. The target was

a cluster of shanties in the middle of a wilderness of makeshift dwellings.

It was a damned effective disguise, putting their base of operations in the

middle of the slumtown. They could operate in secrecy, right out in the

open. No one would say anything, because they were all too busy trying to

scrabble enough to stay alive.

The mission was a sting against a small ring of sex traffickers and drug

smugglers. The ring was small in terms of numbers of members, but they

moved huge amounts of product, both chemical and human. They were

brutal, organized, and effective. Local authorities were terrified of them. No

would touch them.

Except Stone and his men. It was a mission unofficially sanctioned by

the US government, the kind of mission that you had to volunteer for, and

for which you wouldn’t draw official pay. The kind where if you didn’t come

back, there wouldn’t be a funeral.

Stone had seen the files. The photos of girls no more than seven or eight,

beaten, forced into addiction to heroin, and sold into sexual slavery. Sixteen

year old girls sold by their own families for paltry sums. Twenty-year olds

kidnapped right off the street, found dead months later, raped and beaten

into something unrecognizable as human. Most of the victims were Filipino,

locals. Part of the massive South Pacific sex trade.

But—and this was the reason Stone and his men were silently sneaking

through the midnight shadows—there were increasingly common cases of

American tourists disappearing into the shantytowns. Some had been found

dead—brutalized and viciously used, like the locals—but most had never

turned up. There had been others, too, not just Americans. Canadians,

Brits, Aussies, Germans. Young women from all over the world, traveling

through Manila and vanishing without a trace. The clincher came when

Lisa Johnson went missing. Lisa was the nineteen year old daughter of

Senator Alan Johnson, who just happened to be part of a spec-ops oversight

committee. When his daughter went missing, he gathered his enormous

bundle of strings and pulled them all.

Find her, came the orders. Do whatever you have to do, but find Lisa and

get her out at all costs.

Sources were pressed for information, a location was determined, and a

plan came together. A two-fireteam unit swam ashore in the dead of a July

night. Even then, Manila wasn’t asleep. But, there were shadows enough for

Stone and his men to slip unnoticed deeper and deeper into the shantytown

slumbering beneath the shadowy bulk of Smokey Mountain, the smoldering,

two-story high hill of trash that was Manila’s sordid claim to fame.

Stone, running point, came to a stop outside a shanty identical to the

millions of others. There was a slab of corrugated iron for the roof, broken

hunks of plywood and stacks of crumbling bricks comprising the walls. It

was so tiny Stone couldn’t have stood upright in it, and probably could have

touched all four walls standing in the center, but it was home to a family.

Or, the others were. This particular shanty was a little different. It had a

door, for one thing. And if you looked carefully, you might see evidence of

more careful and skillful construction.

Stone pointed to the door, and then glanced at Benny, who consulted a

handheld GPS unit, then gave a thumbs up. Stone gestured at another team

member, Blake, who examined the door and picked it open within seconds,

shoving the door open with one hand. Stone rolled through the opening

in a tactical crouch, HK MP5SD-N at the ready. His night vision goggles

revealed a figure in the small room, and Stone had a matter of milliseconds

to determine if the target was hostile or not.

The AK in his hands made the decision easy. Stone tugged the trigger

twice, and the suppressed automatic submachine gun fired with a

whispering click of a bolt. The tango dropped to the ground in a heap.

And then all hell broke loose.

AK fire racketed in the tiny space, shouts in Filipino. Shouts in English.


Benny was next to Stone, MP5 clicking, tangos dropping. The shanty was

a front, leading to a maze of interconnected buildings. An AK-47 blasted,

and Benny dropped, dead. Stone gave the order to retreat, but the street

behind them was already bathed in the blood of his fireteam.

There was only Blake, Stone, and Nancy—Jimmy Naninsky—left. They

were cut off from the street by the blaze of suppressing fire.

Blake had the door to the street open and was picking off muzzle-bursts

with unerring and methodical accuracy. Nancy was covering Stone, offering

suppressing fire as Stone tried to come up with a plan that would get his

remaining three men home alive. The second fireteam was in place still,

covering the extraction zone a few miles north. But Benny, Dozens, and Zane

were all down. Dozens and Zane hadn’t had a chance, mown down from

behind at the initial onslaught of the ambush.

Half his men.

Friends, men he’d served with for the last five years. Men with families.

Stone pushed those thoughts aside and focused on the problem at hand.

He reached for a flashbang, pulled the pin, and tossed it through the

entryway. It went off with a deafening bang and a disorienting flash of light,

and shouts told Stone he’d bought them time. Nancy was already through

and covering the door, so Stone loped in, dropped the first three tangos in

view, bam-bam-bam. Blake came next, leap-frogging to the next doorway,

kicking it in with a boot next to the handle.

It caved in, revealing half a dozen terrified girls, all naked and

starvation-skinny, huddling on the floor. A tango had one in a hostage-hold,

his arm around her throat and a gun to her head. Stone didn’t hesitate: a

single full metal jacket slug entered the tango’s forehead and exited in a

spray of gore. The girl slumped to the dirt floor, sobbing silently. Blake

herded the girls through the open doorway and out into the street, rejoining

Stone and Nancy as they leap-frogged through the maze of connected

shanties. They found a few clusters of girls, and set them free. They burst

through another closed door, surprising a young man in the act of raping a

girl no more than fourteen. He had an automatic pistol in one hand, and as

Nancy burst through the door, he lifted it and fired blindly. Nancy dropped

him with two slugs through the skull, but took a round to the knee in return.

Stone felt something stinging his eyes, and wiped blood away with his

gloved hand; a ricochet had grazed his forehead. He ignored the sting and

shoved the dead man away from girl, cursing under his breath when he saw

the ragged ricochet-hole piercing her throat.

Through another doorway, moving blindly, hoping to find an exit to the

street. Another group of naked, terrified girls. Then, in a cell in the floor,

dug into the dirt and covered over with a thick piece of sheetrock, a group

of Caucasian girls. Seven of them, blond and brown hair and blue and eyes

and green, naked, dirty, blood-crusted, beaten. As he lifted them from the

cell, Stone heard a laugh and the thump of something heavy hitting the dirt.

He rolled to one side and saw the grenade.

He lunged to his feet, shoved Blake and Nancy through the doorway,

shielding the rescued girls with his body as the grenade detonated. He felt

the explosion first, a crumping pressure, then heard it, a sound so loud his

hearing popped. And then he felt rockets of agony burst through him, fires

burning in his leg. His thigh was exploding, giving way, but he couldn’t fall.


Stone clutched the doorway, his MP5 held in one hand, peering

through the mask of blood across his face. He saw a short, squat form,

and unleashed a hail of lead. The body twisted and fell, and Stone pushed

through the pain, watched the girls scrambling to their feet, watched Nancy

winding a belt around his knee.

Stone was dizzy and disoriented, and he knew he had to do something,

but couldn’t remember what. He felt something happening to him, glanced

down to see Blake wrapping a bandage around his thigh. His leg was a ruin.

It was bad. He knew it was bad. Nothing to be done now, though, except

keep going.

One of the Caucasian girls was chattering in what sounded like German

or a Slavic language, pointing at another door, and then to the floor.

Blake, the only one uninjured, followed her and returned a few seconds

later with another knot of naked, bloody, frightened girls. Few were older

than eighteen. Among them, he saw the target, Lisa, a young blonde barely

recognizable from the photo they’d been shown during the brief.

Around him, the maze of shanties burned. Voices yelled. Screamed. Stone

shuffled behind the now-sizable group of girls, limping as he tried to avoid

putting weight on his destroyed left thigh. A jagged shard of shrapnel was

embedded in the muscle of his thigh, shifting with every step, causing pain so

fierce Stone could barely see through the blurry haze.

He couldn’t stop, though. He heard voices behind them, caught enough of

the Filipino to know those approaching weren’t coming to help.


He pushed the girls ahead of him, pushed at Nancy and Blake. Run.

There were too many.

They navigated the maze slowly, following the doorways, ducking

through curtains of beads, and then they were out in the dim charcoal light

of pre-dawn, three bloody men in tactical gear and at least a dozen naked

teenaged girls.

A blast of AK-47 fire came from behind them, and Nancy twisted,

stumbled. Stone caught him as Blake returned fire. The girls scattered,

screaming. Stone staggered under Nancy’s weight, his wounded leg unable

to support himself, let alone someone else.

Get to the extraction point, he told himself. Blake took Nancy’s weight,

shouting and gesturing at their frightened charges, pointing them north.

Stone was wet, covered in blood.

Nancy was gone.

Stone heard sounds behind them, let himself lean against a rickety shanty

wall, aiming his submachine gun at waist height. The bolt clicked, sending a

three-round burst whispering into the darkness, racketing off walls. Pained

screams in Filipino told him he’d hit someone. Return fire shattered the

silence, a blinding muzzle-burst giving Stone a target. He sent another three-
round burst into the shadows above the muzzle-burst, and was rewarded by

another scream.

He waited a beat, then shoved himself away from the wall, dragging his

useless, agonizing leg behind him as fast as he could manage. Ahead of him,

Blake carried Nancy’s limp form over his shoulder, arms and legs dangling

and flopping, dripping a trail of blood. The girls were huddled together,

moving in shuffling knots, holding on to each other, mumbling in a plethora

of languages.

Stone’s leg was hot, tingling. A glance down revealed that it was seeping

through the bandage. All he could do was limp onward and hope he didn’t

bleed out before they reached the extraction point.

His head was spinning and each step cost him pain, and he stumbled

several times, but then black-clad figures were swarming around him, taking

his rifle and catching his weight on strong shoulders.

“What the fuck happened, Stone?” Miguel, his voice a low rasp.

“They were…waiting for us.”

“Where’re the others?”

Stone let his head rest against Miguel, tried to breathe and tried to speak.

“Back there. Gone. Never…never had a chance. Nancy? He’s—?”

“Gone, man. Blake caught one too.”


“Pretty bad. You’re worse, though. That leg looks fucked.”

“Feels fucked.” Stone couldn’t stay upright any longer. Darkness

washed over him. “Did we get them all out? Did we get the girls out?


“You got ‘em, bro. Lisa is on the other chopper.” Miguel’s voice held

that rough note of male tenderness as he carried Stone onto the waiting

chopper. “You got ‘em all out. You shut ‘em down.”

He managed a downward glance as the helicopter banked away. Shanties

burned. People streamed away in thin lines, running from the spreading


Except one figure. Stone was too far away and moving too fast to make

out his features, but one man remained behind, near the flames, staring up

at the departing helicopters.

He heard Blake cough, then spit something up, something wet. Stone

forced himself to meet Blake’s eyes. “You’re fine,” he ordered. “Buyin’ me

a beer when we get back.”

Blake grinned, red smeared on his chin. His breathing was labored. “You

got it, L-T. A whole pitcher.”

Stone nodded, then let himself succumb to the darkness once more.

Someone sobbed quietly. It may have been him.

* * *

Stone felt a hand shake him, and for a brief moment, he thought he was

back on the chopper. He could almost hear and feel the familiar whump-
whump-whump of the rotors over his head, the crackle of a headset in his

ear. He felt the hand shake him again, and he jolted upright, clutching at the

rifle that would have been angled downward across his torso.

Except it wasn’t there, and he wasn’t on a chopper. He was on a trans-
Pacific airliner heading toward Manila.

And the hand belonged to Wren. “Bad dream?” Her voice was low,

murmuring quietly. Her eyes conveyed her worry.

Stone blinked, and was relieved that he hadn’t woken up with wet eyes.

That happened, sometimes, when the nightmares took him back. Especially

when it came to the delivery of flags to wives and mothers and girlfriends,

the 21-gun salutes. The first shovel of dirt and the snapped salutes. Nancy’s

wife, crying silently, stoically, as his casket was lowered into the dark hole.

Blake’s girlfriend sitting at his bedside for three months as he recuperated

from the slug through the lung.

“Yeah,” Stone mumbled, his voice gruffer than it needed to be.

“Something like that.”

“Talk about it?” Wren’s hand drifted over to rest on top of his.

Stone stared at her small, dark hand touching his lighter, bigger one.

“Nothing to talk about. Just a bad dream.”

“Dream, or memory?”

“Same thing, most of the time.”

“But you won’t talk about it?”

Stone felt a rush of irritation. “You’re really pushing this, aren’t you? No,

I’m not talking about it. It’s nothing you need to hear.”

“Does it have anything to do with why you’re so against this trip?” Wren


Stone took several deep breaths. “Yeah, I guess it does. But we’re here,

and I’ve said my piece. Just…do me a favor, okay?”

“Anything.” Wren’s hand tightened around his.

“Never go anywhere alone while we’re in Manila. Always go in a

group, and don’t ever wander away from where you’re supposed to be. No



“Manila’s a dangerous place. What we’re going there to do? A bunch of

white girls traipsing around the red-light district? It’s like handing ya’ll up

on a silver platter.”

“I’m not white.”

Stone couldn’t help the smirk. “No you’re not, I guess. What are you,


Wren shrugged, but he could tell she was trying hard to affect

nonchalance. “I don’t know. I was adopted. My adoptive parents think I’m

Filipino, though. They’re not sure, because my adoption was closed.”

Stone examined her features, nodding. “I think they’re right.”

“That’s why I needed to go on this trip. I want to know my heritage.”


Wren was silent for awhile, lost in thought. Eventually, she glanced at

Stone. “What about you? What’s your background?”

Stone shrugged. “All-American good ol’ boy. Grew up in Virginia, near

Arlington. My dad’s an Admiral in the Navy. Spent most of my life on the

base with the other Navy brats. Joined the Navy at seventeen.”

“What about your mom?”

Stone stared out the window at the rippling field of ocean waves growing

larger as the airliner made its approach. “She was a typical Navy wife. Not

much to say. I’m not really close to my family.”

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

Stone shook his head. “Nope. Just me. I’ve got an uncle, my dad’s

brother, but he’s a colonel in the Marines, stationed in Okinawa for the last

twenty years. I’ve seen him twice in my life. Once at Christmas when I was

eleven, and once when my unit passed through Oki.”

Wren shifted in her seat, clicked the buckle into place and then returned

her attention to Stone. “Why aren’t you close to your parents?”

Stone chuckled. “You ask a hell of a lot of questions, you know that?”

Wren ducked her head, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I’m just curious.”

“It’s fine, I guess.” Stone hated seeing her upset, so he let the lie slip out.

He hated talking about himself. “My dad was never around. He was always

on base, being important. When he was home, he was an asshole. Sorry, a

jerk. I shouldn’t cuss, probably. My mom was always busy too, you know?

Always off at fundraisers and brass-wives parties. I just…spent most of my

childhood alone, fending for myself. I don’t have any reason to like them. I

don’t hate my folks, I just…don’t care about them.”

Wren didn’t seem to know what to do with this information.

“That’s…sad. I love my parents. They’re my best friends. I can’t imagine

not…not caring whether I ever saw them or not.”

Stone shrugged. “It is what it is. I had my unit. They’re my family. I still

talk to them a lot.” The ones that are left, at least, he thought, but didn’t say.

Stone’s stomach lifted as the jet lowered to the tarmac, and Wren clutched

his hand even tighter, her tan face paling. “First time landing?” Stone asked.

Wren nodded. “I’ve never been on a plane before. Taking off was kind of

fun, but this is…scary. What if we crash?” She fished her cross from beneath

her shirt, rubbing it between her thumb and index finger.

“We won’t.” There was a soft bump, and Stone squeezed her hand. “See?

We’re already down.”

“You’ve probably flown a lot, huh?”

Stone laughed at that. “Babe, you have no idea. Big old airliners like this

are nothing. Try sitting in the back seat of an F-22 making a night landing on

a carrier during a thunderstorm. That’s scary. Jumping out of a Hercules a

100,000 feet up is scary. That’s what you call a HALO jump. High-altitude,

low-opening. You’ve got to wear special gear, an oxygen mask and an

altimeter and a whole bunch of other shi—stuff, along with your regular

combat gear. You’re up so high you’re basically in space. You can see the

whole earth beneath you, and it’s so cold your spit would freeze the moment

it left your mouth. You jump out, and you’re free-falling for minutes. Not

seconds, like a normal jump. No, like, literally you’re in the air, falling at

hundreds of miles per hour, for minutes. Then the ‘chute opens, and your

whole body jerks. It hurts, because you’ve gone from rocketing earthward

at two hundred miles per hour to a full-stop, in an instant. You have to time

your chute just right, too. Too soon, and you’ll fall out of the sky, since

the ‘chute isn’t big enough to let you drift. Too late, and you’ll splat on the


Wren’s eyes were the size of saucers. “You did that? A HALO jump?”

“Dozens of times.”

“Were you scared?”

“Every single time. The first time, I peed myself. No lie. I actually wet

my pants. The guys ragged on me for months about that, but then, they

all did too, their first time.” He grinned, remembering the way Benny had

teased him, only to reveal later that he’d done the same thing.

“What do you do when you’re afraid? How do you deal with it?” Wren


Stone shrugged. “Well, for us, spec-ops guys, I mean, you’re trained

to deal with it. Basic training teaches you to keep going no matter what.

BUD/S training takes it that much farther. We learn to let the fear have

its way, but not stop us. Fear keeps you alert. It keeps you alive. If you’re

afraid, you’re still fighting to stay alive. When you stop feeling fear,

you’ve stopped caring whether you live or die. And that’s when you make

mistakes.” They were taxiing through the airport, and Stone was rambling to

keep the memories of Manila at bay. “You just do what you have to do.”

“What’s the most afraid you’ve ever been?”

Stone laughed again. “You really want to know what happened, don’t


Wren wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Am I making you mad?”

“No, not mad. I just…I don’t want you to…look, it’s not a pleasant thing.

You’re a sweet, innocent girl. You don’t really understand what you’re

asking about.”

“We’re back to that, are we?” Wren said, sounding irritated. “I’m not as

innocent as you think. And I want to know because I want to know you. I

want you to trust me. I want…I want you to think of me as more than just

a ‘sweet, innocent girl.’”

Stone groaned. “Wren, that’s not a good idea. Not with me.”

Wren stared at him, clearly angry again. The flight attendant announced

the gate information, local time, the usual post-landing welcoming spiel.

When the doors were opened, Wren lurched out of her seat, grabbed her

carry-on from the overhead compartment and stormed off the plane, losing

herself in the cluster of disembarking students. Stone let her go, hating the

glimmer of tears he’d seen in her eyes.

Once off the plane and through baggage claim, he felt the wave of heat

and humidity roll over him. The sun was high and hot, the sky bluest blue.

The smell came next, the familiar burn of Manila.

His stomach roiled, the churning of buried fear, the knowledge of

approaching danger.

Author Profile:
Jack Wilder—aka Mr. Wilder—is one half of the writing team "The Wilders." You might know his wife, Jasinda Wilder, as the author of bestselling books such as Falling Into You, Falling Into Us, Stripped, and Wounded, among many others. The Missionary is Jack's first solo work, but you can bet it won't be the last. The Wilders live in the suburbs outside of Detroit, Michigan with their five kids, a dog that vaguely resembles a coyote,and a manny.

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How to Configure Numbered Page Navigation After installing, you might want to change these default settings: