Lilly finally returns to the only place that's ever been home, a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the ongoing civil war creeps closer, threatening her sanctuary.
Case McCord, a weary soldier, determined to keep Lilly safe from the encroaching dangers, offers her protection, a home and love. Accepting him would mean turning her back on everything she believes. Rejecting him would mean turning down the greatest desire of her heart, and putting a child she loves in danger.
"Tell me about Sam," Case ordered, breaking the silence between them.
Instant words of defense sprang to her mind. She shoved them away. "What do you want to know?"
"Well, he looks like a native, but Sam's not exactly a Congolese name. And he looks as if he belongs to you, or at least wants to."
"Bill and Sarah named him after he was found walking out of the jungle. You know, because Samuel in the Bible was taken to the temple when he was probably about this age." The second comment could be ignored.
"Didn't know that."
Now you do. "Why do you ask?"
"You two looked so close, I thought I might offer a suggestion."
This sounded suspicious. She raised her eyebrows and smiled. "What's that?"
"What if I could get both of you out of here? Wouldn't it be worth it to rescue this one child from the poverty, sickness and war he's destined to see if he stays here?"
Shock took her words. "You. You. You could do that?"
His eyebrow raised and the corner of his mouth tipped up slightly. "I could. You just have to say the word."
Temptation to run inside, grab her bag and disappear with Case curled through her brain.
"No, thank you." She physically shook off the thought.
The half-smile on his lips disappeared.
Since she already upset him, she might as well get the rest of it over. "I'd like to ask you for a favor."
Shouldn't he have asked what, not why? Please Lord, give me the words to help the children. "Because you have a plane."
His brows closed together. "Okay."
"There are these children, they're looking for their mom."
"You want me to find their mom? Shouldn't it be pretty simple? There aren't that many people out there." Was he being deliberately obtuse?
"We've checked out there." She flung a hand toward the mission. "She isn't there. Their village was attacked and in the chaos, the kids and the mother were separated. But they seem very certain she got away. They are talking about going to look for her -- you know walking from camp to camp to see if they can find her. The youngest child is only about a year and a half."
Dawning lit in his eyes. He scowled. "Do you know how many refugee camps are out there, Lilly? It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack."
Embarrassment heated her skin. She pushed on despite it. "Nick said there is a little money to compensate your expenses. It's not a lot, of course. But if you have any time at all and could help us¿ at least try." She ran out of steam. He wasn't going to help them, that was obvious by the clenching of his fists and the tick in his jaw. She waited to hear his rejection.
The silence continued, broken only by their feet crunching the dead twigs on the ground. It continued while she searched for the right thing to say. It continued until her knees begin to shake.
"First, you have to come with me. And second, Sam has to stay here."