Relieved that food is on the way, I slowly try and answer all the shopkeeper’s questions. I decide to leave out the more complicated bits of the story. Her son has returned with the food and I end up sharing my fries with him as he keeps eyeing them longingly. He wolfs them down. She berates him but I say it’s ok and lie that I have had my fill. Mr N will be here soon; I’ll eat again soon enough.
The slippers feel good on my feet and the sweet tea has given my low blood sugar a boost. By the time Mr N gets to the shop, I’m all talked out. He pulls up in a car that I’ve never seen before: a white, beaten-down pick-up truck. He’s also dressed strangely. A little rough, wearing a baseball cap. Mr N is always impeccably dressed. Why does he look like a farm hand?
“I almost didn’t recognise you,” I say, trying and failing to run into his arms. I sit back on the stool after just taking a few steps.
“It’s ok, I’ll carry you,” he says when he sees the plasters on my feet.
“Thanks for taking care of her,” he says to the shopkeeper and gets his wallet out. Her eyes brighten up as he pulls out a wad of notes and hands them to her.
He then turns to me and swoops me up into his arms. I hang onto him, tightly. My hero. The boy waves goodbye but his mother is too busy counting the money Mr N has handed to her to bother with similar oscillations.
“Are you ok?” Mr N asks, his voice full of concern.
“I am now,” I say, not wanting to let go of him when he places me in the passenger seat.
“What’s with the car?” I ask.
“I was at my farm all day,” he says.
I only ever see him wearing suits and driving Range Rovers, but it makes sense that he wouldn’t be in any of those while visiting a farm.
“You said Nabil did this?” he asks, changing the subject.
I nod, the tears I’ve been fighting back falling freely now.
“We left the restaurant. I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up I was locked up in a room in some house a few kilometres away from here.
“Nabil was gone,” I continue. “I was being watched by some guy called Bill.”
“And how do you know Nabil has anything to do with this?” he asks suspiciously.
“How the hell did I get there if he didn’t take me?” I ask, irritated.
“Show me!” he says.
“Show you what? The house?” I ask, terrified that he wants me to return there.
“Yes! I’ll kill him!” he says.
“I told you, he’s not there,” I say. “There’s more….”
“Yes?” he asks.
“The reason they wanted me there was to sell my body to clients,” I say.
“You can’t be serious,” he says, looking shocked. “I just can’t see Nabil being involved in this.”
“I think we should let the police be the judge of that. Shouldn’t we go straight to the station and report it?”
“Yes, of course. Let’s do that,” he says, sounding distracted. “It’s just that…”
“Just what?” I ask.
“How will you tell them you met Nabil? Where will you say you were going with him?” he asks.
“Why not tell them the truth?” I ask him.
“No, no,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t want to be involved in any of this."
This guy is beginning to piss me off.
“Shouldn’t you have thought about that before you introduced me to some psycho criminal?” I ask.