THOMAS BERTRAM is an American living in San Salvador with his fiancée CECILIA. They own a popular neighborhood restaurant and plan to wed soon. Thomas's dream is to obtain a resident visa for Cecilia and return to the United States.
DOMINGO JIMENEZ and his wife BLANCA own a small repair shop across the street. Domingo's dream is to move to America as well so that his seven-year-old daughter NANCY can grow up speaking English and having a good education and a better life than he and Blanca had.
When armed gang members invade their neighborhood to demand "protection" money and threaten them with death if they don't pay, Thomas and Domingo's dreams for the future take on a new perspective. They decide to flee the country with their families through Guatemala and Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.
But their journey is more challenging than expected, and they face a myriad of difficulties and must overcome multiple obstacles that put not only their dreams but also their lives at risk.
Thomas was in a bad mood and amid closing his restaurant on what had been a busy Saturday night when Juan and José showed up accompanied by two muscular young men in black jackets.
It was nearly three o’clock in the morning. Cecilia had left hours ago, accompanied by Carlos, the busboy, and Thomas was tired. He had to persuade three male customers celebrating a birthday to take their party elsewhere because he needed to catch some sleep so he could take his wife to church the following day. It hadn’t been easy; the friends had been enjoying the evening and were at that point in their drunkenness when they laughed at the silliest of jokes. When they ordered a third bottle of rum, Thomas presented them with their bill and politely marched them out of the restaurant and onto the street. He could hear them outside now telling lies to each other about all the women they had known and singing romantic songs off-key.
And now what?
“Buenas noches, amigo,” Juan said. “We stopped by for a drink.”
“You guys never sleep?”
Thomas’s comment prompted loud laughter from Juan and José, but not from the other two gorillas, who remained fish-eyed and impassive.
“I want you to meet Moro and Campi.” Juan pointed to the two black-jacketed men without looking at them. “They just joined the organization, and I wanted to introduce them to you.”
“Yes, we’re growing. Business is good.”
Juan gazed at the men and nodded toward Thomas. “Say hello.”
The men grunted something unintelligible, which could have been a greeting or a curse. Thomas wasn’t sure.
“Hola,” Thomas said to the men, who stared at him with the same effusiveness of a blank wall. He turned to Juan, who was smiling at him. “What happened to the other Black Jacket? The one who came with you the first time?”
“King Kong? We used to call him that because he was so big and had a face like a gorilla.” Juan stuck his tongue out and ran his hand from one side of his neck to the other, causing everyone at the table to break out in loud laughter as if he had told a great joke. “He was processed by the Mara 18. He was seeing a woman on their turf. The 18s caught him one night and beat him to a pulp with steel rods—you know cabillas used in construction? They broke every bone in his body. Even his mother couldn’t make a positive identification to the police.”
“It was his fault.” Juan shrugged. “We told him. There are plenty of pretty women in our territory. You got one. That guy with the big muscles in the shop across the street got another one. Isn’t that right, José?”
José gave a big grin. “Si, Jefe.”
Thomas wasn’t happy with the way the conversation was going. The mention of Ceci made his stomach muscles tighten. He felt his face getting hot and his heart beating faster. He tried hard to keep his composure.
“Well, aren’t you going to invite us to have something to drink, amigo?” Juan asked.
“I was about to go home.”
“Ah, amigo. Stay a while. Share a moment with your friends and business associates.”
Friends and business associates, my ass. Gangsters and murderers.
Thomas swallowed the bitter taste in his mouth and tried to keep his voice steady. This was not the time to start a confrontation. He had to wait for the right moment.
About the Author
David Pereda is the award-winning author of eleven thrillers and mainstream novels. His books have won the Lighthouse Book Awards twice, the Royal Palm Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards, and the Readers Favorite Awards twice. He has traveled to more than thirty countries around the world and speaks four languages.
Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, Pereda had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Qatar, among others.
A member of MENSA, Pereda earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned BA degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He loves sports and has won many prizes competing in track and show-jumping equestrian events.
Pereda lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College.
Visit him online at:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/David-Pereda/e/B002BML17Q
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