Exiled Heart, page 1
Other Books by Jennifer Haynie
Cast of Characters
Notes and Glossary
A Word from the Characters
About the Author
Copyright © 2019 Jennifer M. Haynie
Published under the On-the-Edge Publications Imprint
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author, except for brief quotations in printed reviews.
The persons and events portrayed in this work are the creations of the author, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Cover design by Indie Designz, http://www.indiedesignz.com
All rights reserved.
Other Books by Jennifer Haynie
Last Chance Series
Operation Shadow Box
Unit 28 Series
Orb Web (short story)
The Athena Trilogy
The Athena File
A romance neither wanted.
As a colonel in the Saudi Arabian National Guard, Ziad al-Kazim has it all: a beautiful wife and four sons, a satisfying career, and a religion he loves. When his unit busts a drug ring in Jeddah, the drug runners murder his family in retribution and frame him for the crime. While his best friend, FBI Special Agent Ben Evans, helps to clear his name, his freedom comes at a price. He must go into exile.
Flight nurse Claire Montgomery has seen her share of tragedy, including an honor killing she witnessed years before. When her sister marries Ben, she’s paired with Ziad for the wedding. Her prejudices battle against her budding friendship with him, and their clashes reignite issues she wants to deny.
Though Ziad begins adapting to his new life in Charleston, South Carolina, he faces challenges from all sides. Starting over from the bottom. A loss of status. Prejudice from people. And the spread of the drug he thought he’d routed in Jeddah. Now, he must vanquish the demons of his past before they destroy his future and those he loves.
To Steve, my beloved, for encouraging me in my writing.
You will always be my sweetheart.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
—Joel 2:28 (NIV)
I like to watch home improvement shows, especially those where the contractors take an old house, rip it down to the studs, and redo it, making the original house with its good bones even better. I see Exiled Heart in the same way. The first edition came out in November 2012 through a publisher. Due to a series of fortunate (or unfortunate) events, depending on your perspective, I got the rights to this novel back, which has enabled me to take a look at it in view of my current writing style. I knew the novel had good bones, and Claire and Ziad’s story was too powerful to leave it as it was.
I decided to rip away the old writing, to take their story down to the studs in terms of plot and character. Like a contractor who removes walls to create a larger space, I took a hard look at the scenes within the novel and removed some to take out more than 16,000 words. The plot for Exiled Heart remains the same, as do the major characters. Combined with editing to fit my current writing style, this intensified the the romantic and suspenseful sides of the plot.
I left the setting to take place in 2009 and 2010. Ten years ago, smartphones and iPhones were just beginning to become commonplace. Social media had yet to proliferate and become the societal force that it is to say. Some might even say that our country was kinder and gentler at that point. That doesn’t mean that the tensions that are out in the open weren’t there. They were, most likely seething below the surface. As you read about Claire’s and Ziad’s struggles, you may find yourself sad, angry, maybe even outraged. I encourage you to keep reading. And may you find blessing as you do so.
Cast of Characters
Ziad al-Kazim (38) – Saudi Arabian National Guard colonel, based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Claire Montgomery (35) – Flight nurse in Charleston, South Carolina
Ben Evans (39) – FBI junior attache based at the Jeddah consulate
Emma Montgomery (33) – Ben’s fiancée and Claire’s sister
Minor Characters (in order of appearance)
Sami Rafiq – Saudi Arabian National Guard major, based in Jeddah
General Tariq al-Talil – Ziad’s commanding officer and Sabirah’s second cousin
Prince Yasin – Minor prince in Saudi Arabia
Muhummed Amir (12), Tariq (10), Basil (8), Khalid (6) al-Kazim – Ziad and Sabirah’s children
Adnan Rahman – Ziad’s attorney in Jeddah
David and Allison Montgomery – Claire and Emma’s parents
Elizabeth McMillan – Bible study leader and mentor
Sonja Williams – Claire’s best friend and Circuit Solicitor for Charleston County
Mike Winthrop – Clerk at the port where Ben picks up his Forester
Special Agent Angie Rogers – Ben’s Unit Supervisor at the FBI and Zap Task Force member
Mrs. Chitworth – Claire’s elderly neighbor
Eddie Davis – Ziad’s mentor at the Charleston PD
Alan Rothschild – Detective at the Charleston PD
Faith Montgomery (22) – One of Claire’s identical twin sisters
Note: Claire has three other sisters beyond the two mentioned above: Allie (39), Delia (31), and Grace (22).
Notes and Glossary
Saudi Arabia’s work week varies from that of the western world. The work week begins on Saturday and ends on Wednesday. The weekend culminates on their holy day, which is Friday.
One of the biggest challenges of this novel is to convey that Ziad speaks English as a second language while Ben speaks Arabic as a second language. When Ziad speaks English with no contractions (I will run vs. I’ll run), he’s speaking in English to Ben. However, he’ll use contractions with his point-of-view for thoughts
I’ve supplied the glossary below to enable you as a reader to understand the terminology without interfering with the point of view of the characters.
Abaya – Long black robe worn by women
Ana behibek, habibti. – I love you, sweetheart (said to woman).
As-salaam ‘alayka – Peace be unto you.
Gutra – Checkered headdress worn by Saudi men
Habibti – Feminine version of sweetheart
The Haj – Pilgrimage completed by all Muslims, one of the five pillars of the faith
Hasana’at – Reward for good deeds
In sha’Allah – God willing
Isa – The most common Arabic name for Jesus
Jinn – Spirits that cause mischief
Majlis – Open meetings held by Saudi royalty to listen to their subjects
Majlis hareem – Room in the house where women can receive other women as guests
Marhaba – Hello
Matawaen – Saudi Arabian religious police
Muhalliabia – Pudding dessert popular in Saudi Arabia
Sayia’at – Reward for bad deeds
Thobe – Long white robe worn by Saudi men
Wa-alaykumu as-salaam – And unto you peace
Ziad al-Kazim tore through the night. He gasped in the fetid, salty air in the humid darkness of Jeddah’s port. His quads burned. The metal siding of warehouses blurred as he ran.
His fleeing suspect dashed ahead of him.
The young man hung a hard right. A whump echoed when he slammed into the side of a warehouse.
The suspect raised a pistol.
Ziad fell to a crouch, and the bullet cracked over his head. Bolting to his feet, he rounded the corner and pushed off from the warehouse. As his sides heaved, he slowed to a halt.
Shipping containers blocked the suspect’s escape. He whipped around.
His Beretta raised, Ziad shouted, “Drop the gun. Now!”
The pistol clattered to the ground.
“Hands on your head and get on your knees!”
The young man complied.
Ziad kicked the pistol away. It skidded into a pile of fetid garbage stacked against a container. After holstering his gun, he approached the suspect. “Trying to escape, are we?”
The young man spat a curse at him.
“Shut up.” Ziad stepped behind him and gripped his wrist.
Like a snake, the suspect grabbed his arm and flipped him over his shoulder.
Ziad crashed onto concrete. The breath whooshed from him.
The suspect reached for his pistol.
“No,” Ziad mouthed. No sound came out as he tried to suck in air. He kicked at his legs.
The man hit the ground with a grunt.
Ziad pounced and banged the young man’s wrist onto the hard surface. The Beretta’s blast nearly deafened him as a shot went wild and pinged off the side of a container.
Pain arced up Ziad’s arm. He yelped and released the suspect.
Gun still in hand, the young man scrambled to his feet—and froze.
FBI Special Agent Ben Evans stood with his Glock pointed at the man’s heart. In Arabic, he said, “I would not do that if I were you. On your knees with hands on your head. Now.”
The young man hissed another curse, this one about Americans.
“Just what part of that did you not understand? On your knees.” Ben jerked the pistol. “Now, or you get to find out how good of a shot I am. I do not aim to injure.”
The suspect’s shoulders drooped. He sank to his knees.
Ziad pushed himself to his feet. “I thought I told you to stay and observe.”
“Just providing assistance, my friend.” Ben’s aim never wavered. His lips quirked upward. “You look like you needed it.”
Ziad winced as he checked his arm. Red teeth marks had already formed. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Ben snorted. “How about cuffing the guy so we can get a move on it?”
Ziad did exactly that and hauled the young man to his feet. He gripped his arm and twisted the collar of his fatigue jacket in his hands. “You and I? We’re going to have a talk.”
The man squirmed. “I’ll never tell you anything.”
“Oh, I think you will because your friends are already in military police custody.” Ziad fast-marched him toward the warehouse where the chase had begun.
Members of his Saudi Arabian National Guard military police team had set up a perimeter. Ziad shoved him through a crumpled metal pedestrian door hanging from one hinge. Inside, lights blazed. Exhilaration coursed through him when he noted the suspect’s two friends on their knees, hands cuffed behind their backs, heads hung.
The young man froze.
Ziad forced him down. “Do you know how long we have tracked you? You and your two friends? We know you came to meet your supplier. And now you will tell us who he is. Major!”
“Sir!” Sami Rafiq approached and saluted.
“What have you found?”
“Get these three to Headquarters. I’ll interrogate them later.”
“Yes, sir!” Sami barked orders to his crew. They hauled the suspects to their feet and dragged them outside.
“Where are the dogs?” Ben asked.
“On their way.” Ziad glanced at his watch. “I called the contractor an hour ago.”
Dogs began barking in the distance. They came closer.
The junior FBI attachè grinned. “On time. Good, Swiss, precision time.”
“Ziad.” A deep voice, one that told him his commanding officer, also his wife’s second cousin, had arrived.
He whipped around and found General al-Talil striding toward him. His heart pounded. What was he doing here? This was typical business. Then he remembered who owned the warehouse. He saluted. “Sir, it is good to see you. Why are you here?”
General al-Talil smiled. “I signed off on this raid, remember? I wanted to see your results.”
“Nothing yet.” Warmth began in Ziad’s neck. Oh, he didn’t want to come up short on this one.
“The dogs are here.” Ben offered a hand. “General al-Talil, so good to see you.”
“And you too, Special Agent Evans.” The general greeted him with a handshake. “Let them search. In the meantime, brief me on what happened.”
Ziad kept his eyes on Sami, who led the Swiss handlers into the maze of crates in the cavernous interior. “We had the warehouse surrounded. I sent the battering ram in. One of them escaped through a window. I chased and apprehended him.”
Ben winked and said not a word as Ziad continued the briefing.
His radio crackled with Sami’s voice. “Sir, we found something. Northeastern corner.”
“On my way.” Ziad broke into a jog as he hustled toward the other end.
A Belgian Malinois sat beside his handler.
Sami paced nearby.
“What are you waiting for?” Ziad grabbed a crowbar and began working at the top. “We need to get that crate open. Now."
A sergeant joined him.
With a screech of nails on wood, it popped up.
Ziad stepped back. “Get it off.”
Two others shoved the lid aside. Packing straw flew through the air.
His hands met a rough weave, and he peered inside. “Rugs?”
Ben joined him. “Looks like it.”
“Get one out.”
Two privates heaved a roll onto the floor.
With his foot, Ziad shoved the material. It uncurled, and he grunted in satisfaction. Before him lay a cardboard tube the rug had been wrapp
Plastic bags full of white powder slid onto the rug. “Ben? What do you think?”
Ben crouched beside him. “It could be Zap. It depends on where this crate came from. If it’s Afghani, it probably is.”
Ziad closed his eyes as weariness filled him. He rubbed his chin. “I never thought I would say the Kingdom had a drug problem.”
Ben shook his head. “Me neither.”
Ziad straightened. His knees protested, and he muffled his groan. “We need confirmation. Major, I want all of the warehouse’s records seized. No questions from anyone. Not even Prince Yasin.”
Sami nodded and entered the order into his Blackberry.
A commotion at the front of the warehouse caught Ziad’s attention. He tensed.
A man wearing a red and white checkered gutra and a white thobe marched toward him.
Ziad didn’t miss the gold trim along the edges of the black robe he wore over the thobe. Or the aides who flitted around the warehouse’s owner.
Prince Yasin. Why should he be surprised?
Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Anything to dispel the anger creeping into his soul.
Prince Yasin put his hands on his hips. “How dare you come in here without my permission! What is the meaning of this?”
Ziad approached him and stared into the shorter man’s eyes. “Your Highness, how dare us? When we find what is most certainly the drug Zap in one of your crates?” He brandished the package. “Perhaps I should be saying, ‘How dare you?’ ”
The general inserted himself between them and forced him back a step. “Your Highness, we received credible evidence someone was transporting Zap into the country and stowing it in your warehouse. Some of our men were caught as dealers who were due to meet their supplier here tonight. Would you know if anyone would have access to this space without your permission?”