A Total-E-Bound Publication www.total-e-bound.com Nowhere to Hide ISBN # 978-0-85715-447-7 ©Copyright J.P. Bowie 2011 Cover Art by April Martinez ©Copyright January 2011 Edited by Claire Siemaszkiewicz Total-E-Bound Publishing This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing. Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution. The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork. Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom. Warning: This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated Total-e-burning. .
Dedication Claire, my thanks for your skillful editing and support, and for Phil - Always Trademarks Acknowledgement The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: Browning SFS: Fabrique Nationale Uzi: Israel Military Industries Jeep: Chrysler Group LLC Hummer: General Motors Company Beretta: Fabbrica D' Armi Pietro Beretta S.p.A. .
5 NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie Chapter One Darfur: A territory of the Sudan The heat outside the makeshift emergency clinic was close to unbearable. Doctor Mark Hamilton wiped the sweat from his forehead and took a long swig from the bottle of water he carried. Northern Darfur was not, and never would be, the ideal spot for a summer vacation, he mused, with a wry twist to his generous mouth. Not for the first time he wondered who he should thank at ‘Doctors who Care International’ for sending him to this cosy spot. “Dr. Hamilton?” Mark turned at the sound of one of the nurses calling to him from inside the tent that served as a refugee camp emergency clinic until the promised, more permanent hospital was built. Promises, promises. Mark had tired of officialdom’s lack of coming through on those promises, and had more or less resigned himself to looking after his patients as best he could, with what medical supplies he’d brought with him, and what the UN sent sporadically. “What is it, Asima?” The pretty young nurse gazed up at Mark from dark eyes, rimmed with tiredness. “It is Ghali, Doctor. His breathing is strange again.” Mark sighed. Ghali, a young boy, had been brought to the clinic two days earlier suffering from dehydration and borderline malnutrition. Not an uncommon malady in this part of the world, but the boy had been wearing clothes that told Mark Ghali was not one of the thousands of poor, undernourished children living in Northern Darfur. His shirt and shorts were of good quality, his shoes more than serviceable. The few words he’d uttered since he’d been brought in by the goat herder who’d found him lying among some rocks were not of the local dialect. Mark’s guess was that he did not come from any nearby town or village, which led to the inevitable questions—what on earth was he doing here, miles from home, and how had he managed to get this far? .
NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie 6 So far, Ghali had not answered either of those questions. He’d simply gazed up at Mark with eyes like fathomless dark pools of sadness. Something bad had happened to the boy, and he was either too ashamed or too traumatised to tell anyone of it. Mark followed Asima into the clinic, and walked between the long line of beds that flanked either side of the narrow canvassed structure. As usual, Ghali stared at Mark as he approached the bed, his eyes wary, as if he expected Mark to pick him up and throw him outside. “Salam, Ghali. Kaifa haloka—how are you?” The boy visibly flinched when Mark knelt by the bedside and placed a hand on his forehead. “He does not seem to understand,” Asima said quietly. “Could be my lousy Arabic. Easy there, kid,” Mark murmured. “No one here is going to hurt you.” He brushed back the black curly hair from Ghali’s brow. He took the thermometer Asima handed him and pushed it gently into the boy’s ear. “His temperature is slightly elevated, but nothing to worry about,” he told Asima after glancing at the reading. “His rapid breathing is a product of his nervousness. He doesn’t trust us yet.” Mark was loath to give Ghali a sedative. He was desperately low on that kind of medication and preferred to keep it for those patients with painful wounds suffered in rebel attacks. Every day he and the nurses treated victims of shootings or torture at the hands of the rebel factions that were rampant in Darfur. Still, he would like Ghali to have a peaceful night. He knew the boy had spent both nights at the clinic unable to sleep, his eyes wide open as if afraid to close them for fear of something, or someone, lurking nearby. Mark stood, ready to go to his own quarters and get a sleeping pill for Ghali. Half a pill would probably do… He stopped, surprised, when a small hand slid into his. Ghali looked up at him, his dark eyes glistening with unshed tears. Mark knelt by his side again, and gently squeezed the boy’s hand. “You’ll be all right,” he murmured in his halting Arabic, wishing he’d spent more time on this difficult language. “You’re safe here.” Ghali slowly shook his head, then said a few words more clearly but in a language that had Mark at a loss. He looked at Asima helplessly. “I think that he is speaking Turkish,” Asima explained. “I understand a little. He says something about bad men looking for him.” .
NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie 7 “Tell him there are no bad men here.” Before Asima could speak, Ghali said in English, “They will come. They look for me. They will never give up…my family…” A shiver of dread ran down Mark’s spine at the boy’s words. The last thing he needed was for a gang of cutthroats to terrorise the already fragile psyches of his patients, not to mention the nurses. He might yet be glad of the gun he had hidden in his medical bag, back at his quarters. He knew he couldn’t rely on the government security force that patrolled the area in a desultory, and sometimes hostile, manner. He’d already had quite a few run-ins with the so-called patrol commander, an arrogant idiot named Dhul Fiqar, who claimed to be of royal descent and considered Mark, along with the nurses and patients, less than worthy of his concern. He treated Mark with a certain disdain, but the young doctor was only too aware of the long looks Fiqar would throw his way. Looks that if they could, Mark swore would bore under his clothes and strip him naked. He had an inkling Fiqar would like nothing better than to see the ‘American doctor’ humiliated at his hands. He squeezed Ghali’s hand again. “You are safe here,” he repeated. If he couldn’t set the boy’s mind at ease, he at least could guarantee him a good night’s rest. “I’ll get him a sleeping pill,” he told Asima. “Give it to him a half-hour before lights-out.” As Mark walked through the blistering heat to the tent he’d called ‘home’ for the past three months since he’d arrived in Darfur, he heard the low thrum of an engine high above him. He looked up to see a helicopter circling overhead. Probably a patrol looking for rebels, he thought grimly. Last time a government helicopter had landed near the clinic they’d come on the misinformation that rebels were being hidden by Mark inside the clinic. It had taken Mark most of the day to convince the soldiers they were mistaken, even after they’d searched the clinic and found only terrified patients, and no rebels hiding under the beds. Peering upwards, he tried to make out the markings on the side of the helicopter. Something unfamiliar…and that caused another shiver down his spine at the thought it might just be the men Ghali had mentioned were looking for him. He quickened his pace. There wasn’t much he alone could do, even with a gun in his hand, but if the men meant trouble, they would at least see he wasn’t going to stand for them abducting a young defenceless boy from his care. Inside his tent, he rummaged through his medical bag until he felt the warm metal of the gun’s handle. He pulled the Browning SFS, a gift from his father, from his bag and hefted it in his hand, then checked the clip. Okay. He hadn’t a clue what .
NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie 8 he’d do if this turned into a nasty confrontation. He’d never actually fired the gun except in a firing range, and he’d never even contemplated shooting a person—but they weren’t going to take Ghali if he could prevent it. He stepped out of his tent and stared at the helicopter as it slowly circled once more, then prepared to land. Oh, boy… He watched it touch down like an awkward bird attempting its first landing. Two men jumped out, then turned to help a third man out of the ‘copter. Mark frowned. The man was obviously injured. He was bare-chested and Mark could see blood on his shoulder and arm. He stuck the gun under his belt and walked towards the men. “You the doctor?” one of them yelled over the noise of the ‘copter blades. “Yes,” Mark yelled back. As they drew closer Mark could see the one who had asked was tall and ruggedly good looking with close cropped dark hair. He stared at Mark from thickly lashed, ice-blue eyes. Eyes that didn’t miss the gun Mark was carrying. “Got a wounded man here. Took a bullet in the shoulder. Can you help?” For a moment, Mark’s step faltered. This guy is gorgeous. The soldier wore a dark green sleeveless shirt and Mark found he couldn’t take his eyes off the man’s smoothly muscled arms, or the dusting of chest hair the scooped neck of the shirt revealed. Pull yourself together, idiot… “Of course,” Mark said, his voice unsteady. “Bring him over to the clinic.” “Thanks.” Mark fell into step beside the man who held out a big hand. “Sergeant Major Caruthers…” He shook Mark’s hand in a solid tingling grip. “Some call me Boomer. Our walking wounded here is Private Paddy O’Brien, and that’s Warrant Officer Harry Mathers.” He indicated the man on the other side of O’Brien with a side flick of his head. Mark nodded at the men. “Doctor Hamilton.” He wondered at the man’s accent. “You guys Marines?” “Diggers—Australian Army, Special Ops. We’re part of the UN’s peace keeping force.” Mark guided them into the clinic and called Asima over. “We’re going to have to operate to remove a bullet,” he told her. “I’ll need a local anaesthetic.” He turned to Caruthers. “Lay him down here on the table so I can take a proper look.” “You expecting trouble?” the officer asked, indicating Mark’s gun, still under his belt. .
NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie 9 “Oh…this. I didn’t recognise the markings on the ‘copter, and we’ve had some problems here in the past.” “Don’t know a kangaroo when you see one?” He gave Mark a lopsided grin and a wink. “Uh, well, yeah…” Mark grinned back. “Just not on a chopper before.” “We would’ve taken him to the hospital in Al Fashir, but this place was closer, and we figured he needed this taken care of ASAP.” “How did this happen?” “Rebels. We’d just dropped off food supplies to a village north of here, when they hit us. Bastards were hiding in one of the huts.” Mark turned his attention to the wounded man. The young Australian looked up at Mark through pain-filled eyes. “Hurts like a bloomin’ red hot knife’s in there. Won’t lose me arm, will I?” Mark smiled. “No chance.” He took the swab Asima handed him and washed away the dried blood from the wound. “Looks infected, though. You were right to bring him here. Problem is, I’m low on antibiotics. They’re two days late with my supplies.” “I can send Harry to the hospital in Al Fashir. Get what you want.” “What I want?” Mark laughed dryly. “They don’t even send me what I need— desperately need.” The tall soldier grasped Mark’s arm in his big hand. “Just tell us what you need. Harry’ll get it for you.” Mark met the sergeant major’s steady gaze, and despite the tenseness of the situation around them, found himself enthralled by the unusual beauty of the man’s eyes, and the very real thrill of his hand on Mark’s bare arm. Get a grip, he told himself. The Aussie would most likely beat the shit out of him if he thought Mark fancied him. “Uh…Asima, give the officer the list of medical supplies we urgently need, please.” He pulled his gaze away from Caruthers when Asima ran to get the list. His face flushed hot as he bent to inspect O’Brien’s wound again. “I need to get this bullet out quickly. I can use the antibiotics I have after the surgery, but you’ll need at least a week’s course to clear up the infection completely.” He glanced at the sergeant major. “Can you get enough to make sure he stays clear of infection?” .
NOWHERE TO HIDE J.P. Bowie 10 “Sure, Doc… Harry will be there and back in a couple of hours.” He watched as Asima injected O’Brien with a local anaesthetic. “Need a hand here? I’ve had some experience in field hospitals.” Mark smiled. “You’re on. Let’s go scrub up.” “Name’s Jack, by the way. Or Boomer, if you like.” I like either one… Mark glanced at the handsome man standing by his side as he washed his hands, and he couldn’t restrain the shiver of desire that coursed through him at the man’s nearness. Keeping his voice steady he said, “Mark…but I don’t mind you calling me ‘Doc’.” “What’s a bloke like you doing in a hellhole like this anyway?” Mark chuckled. “A bloke like me?” “You know—with your looks you’d be more at home in some fancy hospital in the US—Hollywood or somewhere like that.” “Ah, looks can be deceiving Serg—uh, Jack.” Jack’s blue eyes twinkled with amusement. “This some kind of punishment?” “You could say that. Self-inflicted, but that’s another story, and one we don’t have time for right now.” “I’d like to hear it sometime.” Jack touched his arm gently as Mark moved out of the way to let him wash his hands. Mark smiled and slipped on a pair of latex gloves. “The patient awaits.” “Be right there.” Mark left him as he talked into his radio informing someone on the other end of his location and O’Brien’s condition. Asima had O’Brien prepped and ready for Mark when he got back to the table. “How do you feel?” he asked the young Aussie as he slipped on a pair of latex gloves. “Not bad. Pain’s gone, probably ‘cause I have this pretty nurse to ogle. Hope she’s not a mind reader.” Asima giggled and blushed under her dark skin. Mark chuckled. “No, but she does speak English. Okay, hold steady now. You’ve had a local, but you might feel some discomfort when I start looking for the bullet.” O’Brien sucked in a breath as Mark began gently probing at the open wound. Jack joined them and stood silently by, watching every move Mark made. .