Steam wafted from the simmering pot of beans and wet Hannah’s face as she inhaled the delicious scent of coconut and spices. Her mouth watered in anticipation, but Mom insisted the maharagwe needed a few more minutes. Sensing a flood of restless energy from behind, Hannah whirled, then came the expected heavy thud of padded paws.
“Don’t even think about it!” she said to her pet lion. “You know we can’t play inside. Below his shaggy mane, Yatima had her teddy bear clamped between his naughty teeth. “Mbaya!” Hannah scolded. “You heard me, drop Atiena!”
The lion’s golden eyes lit with mischief, and she knew that look all too well. Crap! She dove for the toy as Yatima tore from the kitchen, wincing as her knees skidded across the wood floor, and still she came up empty handed.
Something crashed in the living room. She limped around the corner, groaning at the sight of the coffee table lying on its side, Mom’s precious knick-knacks scattered across the floor. Yatima stood on the sofa, forming deep indents in the cushions, tail swishing side to side. Hannah huffed in frustration. “What’s gotten into you?”
Her parents peeked in from the front porch—Mom’s eyes wide and Dad’s, narrow. Their thoughts were apparent: She’d better not let Yatima near Mom’s piano. Sure, the ancient upright was a weathered clunker with yellowed keys, not worth much even as an antique, but it was priceless to Mom. Hannah suddenly felt five again—caught balancing on the piano, trying to catch the wild bush baby. It wasn’t her fault that her friend of the moment had followed her indoors, or had she carried it in?
It was crucial she prove she was in control, or all the months of training the cub and convincing her parents the now full-grown lion was obedient and trustworthy enough to be allowed indoors would go down the choo in one incredibly disappointing flush.
Hannah pointed vehemently toward the front door. “Yatima, outside!” But the lion leapt to the floor, moving in the direction of her parents’ bedroom. Not there! She threw herself onto him, her slender frame hardly slowing his pace as her feet slid across the bedroom threshold, a sheepish grin plastered between her cheeks.
Yatima jumped onto the bed and crouched, the frame creaking in protest, and Hannah bumped the door shut. “What? Have I not been giving you enough attention?”
The lion watched intently as she tiptoed toward him. As she neared the bed, Yatima sprang. Hannah launched herself and landed on him again, laughing through her nose as they wrestled on the floor between the bed and the wall. They rolled into Mom’s nightstand, rattling its contents. Hannah froze, waiting for the jangling lamp to fall.
“We’ll be in trouble if anything breaks,” she hissed.
The lamp settled itself uprightand she exhaled. Now to rescue Atiena. She squirmed through Yatima’s legs, pried the bear from between his massive teeth, then waved it in the air victoriously. Yatima dropped his head on his paws with a heavy humph.
“You know you can’t have my teddy. It came clear from America. It’s the only thing I have from Grandma and Grandpa Blake.”
The memory of her grandparents was blurry now. Their visit fourteen years earlier had been the one and only time she’d met them, and they had since passed away.
Hannah blew the stray hair from her eyes and turned the stuffed bear, inspecting it for damage. It was soaked in saliva and there were indentations from the lion’s long canines, but the cloth wasn’t pierced.
“Four-hundred-fifty pounds of trouble, that’s what you are.” She straightened the bear’s pink bow and ruffled Yatima’smane. “Thanks for not ruining Atiena.”
A tinny buzz signaled a call coming over the radio in the kitchen. Yatima’s ears perked and Hannah listened. Though muffled, she could clearly hear panicin the caller’s voice asking for Dr. Mike. Not now. They had all just finished an exhausting day in the clinic.
“This is Dr. Mike,” she heard Dad say, and she strained to hear the conversation through the closed door. There had been an attack of some sort—lots of blood. She was lamenting the inevitable loss of dinner when she heard the L-word crackle over the radio. Lion! Hannah extricated herself from Yatima, rushed to the bedroom door, and swung it wide.
“There’s been a lion attack,” Dad said on his way out.
She tossed Atienaonto the bed. “Be good, Yatima!”
The screen door banged against the front of the house as Hannah jumped off the porch after Dad. His blond hair blew in the breeze as he strode briskly toward a small airplane parked at one end of their dirt landing strip. While he performed the preflight check, she climbed onto the wing, opened the door, took her seat, and slipped on her headset.
“Isn’t Mom coming?” Hannah asked as Dad dropped into the pilot’s seat.
“No, she’ll keep dinner warm.”
The plane sped down the runway and lifted off the ground like an eagle in an updraft. They rose over the Salamá River, banking with the curve of its flow. A pink mass of startled flamingos lifted from its shore. Acacia trees dotted the landscape below like open, leafy umbrellas. Above, coral-rimmed clouds billowed with the promise of what would have been a peaceful evening at home, enjoying a heaping bowl of maharagwe.
“You’re worried about the lion,” Dad said with a sidelong glance.
Hannah sighed. She’d attempted to pretend she was equally concerned about the lion’s victim, but her father knew better.
“You know if there’s a lion still around, it’s likely got a spear in its innards,” Dad said. “You won’t be able to help it.”
“But you could,” she said hopefully.
His mouth was resolute between the square lines of his jaw. “I don’t treat patients with claws, except with a rifle.”
Right. Who was he kidding? That rifle had been stashed beside the pilot’s seat for as long as he’d been flying these kinds of emergencies. It had never been used once.
The expansive savanna spread magnificently below like a lime sea with gently rolling waves. Winding between the swells was the river, nothing more than a brown ribbon from this height. In the distance, it became a thread before finally disappearing behind the hills that separated Mlinzi from the neighboring villages of Karibu and Dhoruba.
Had the lion attack been provoked? She prayed it had escaped unhurt and was long gone because no matter the reason for its aggression, the warriorswould hunt it down and kill it. Hannah had never been able to persuade an angry man to forgive a predator, even when itssupposed crime hadn’t involved a human. Taking livestock to satiate its hunger was an automatic death sentence. As if a starving animal should know the difference between domestic and wildlife. Never any mercy.
Unfortunately, the poor animals were stuck having to share their world with deluded idiots who destroyed the earth and thought it their right to abuse all its life forms. Sometimes, Hannah felt ashamed to be human.
“We should be close,” Dad said, scanning the valley. “Watch for a waving red shirt.”
She followed the shadow of their plane, watching its dark shape mold to grassy curves and jutting rocks. A lake shimmered to the north, mellow waves breaking on its beach. To the south, a feathery mist floated the narrow valleys amidst the hills. In the distance, herds of toy-sized animals ran from the racket of the plane.
And then, a flash of red.
She pointed. “There!”
“Good eyes.” He directed the nose downward.
The plane descendedover spindly tree limbs and a glistening waterhole before they swooped low over a herd of elephants. Moments later, the tires made contact. Hannah squealed as Dad veered sharply from a herd of fleeing zebras. Before she had even let go of her seat, the plane came to a stopand she swung open her door.
She dropped to the ground, urgently searching the immediate area for a lion, injured or otherwise. All she could see beyond the heavy vegetation were a few straggling zebras. This lion was one of the lucky ones. She had to pump her legs swiftly to catch up with Dad.
The red shirtwaver, a staggeringly tall man, ran toward them, a strand of unusual beads bouncing off his muscular chest. He appeared to be near her age—perhaps nineteen or twenty.
“Dr. Mike?” The breathless man wrinkled his face when he saw Hannah. “Why she is here?” he asked in the broken English common to the villagers.
“She’s my assistant.” Dad’s medical bag swung with his swift gait as he hurried toward the unconscious man.
Behind her father, the Neanderthal took wide strides, waving his blood-stained arms. “Why you need help from a girl?”
Hannah mentally rolled her eyes. The twenty-first century had arrived years ago, but the caveman was clearly not extinct.
“What’s your name, son?” Dad always believed using a person’s first name helped them feel at ease.
“How long ago was the attack, Sefu?”
“I do not know. First, I go to my village for radio.”
Dad dropped to the ground beside a crumpled figure, already assessing the patient. Hannah kneeled beside him, cringing at the blood soaking through the makeshift bandage on the victim’s thigh. There was a growing puddle of blood in the dirt below. She opened the bag, found two sets of latex gloves, handed a pair to her dad. As she stretched the other pair of gloves over her fingers, she could feel Sefu’s gaze hot on her back.
“Sefu, what’s your father’s name?” Dad asked.
“Jomo,” Dad said, rubbing the injured man’s breastbone with his knuckles. “Can you hear me? Jomo! But the victim’s eyes only opened a slit before closing again. Dad hurried to unravel the bandage, and the soggy fabric fell to the ground with a sickly splat.
The lion had mutilated the man’s thigh; a crimson stream still flowed from the gaping wound, exposing muscle and bone. Jomo was lucky the femoral artery ran along the inner thigh, or he’d be dead already. Still, it meant a certain trip to the hospital and that much longer until Jomo could be stabilized.
Jomo moaned as Dad examined the wound, and Hannah softly touched the man’s shoulder. “It’s alright, Jomo. We’re here to help.”
“Dr. Mike,” Sefu said, irritated, “my father would not like this girl to touch him.”
Dad groaned aloud, eyes darting outward. Nodding in understanding, Hannah stepped away and stood next to Sefu. He whirled, fixing her with a glare so hateful that she stumbled backward, nearly tripping on a spear.
Sheesh! This male chauvinist was coiled and ready to sink his fangs into her. Maybe it would be better if she took her offensively female self back to the plane, where she surely belonged. Dad could holler if he needed her. The gloves snapped as she ripped them off and hurled them into the bag.
Frustrated, she gladly left the situation behind. Some Kenyan men, thick-skulled, still refused to see women as their equals. They passionately preserved the old ways, believing women were their possessions and should never attempt to rise above their sole purpose—household chores, bearing their husband’s children, and dutifully warming his bed. Hannah was a threat to Sefu’s comfortable way of life. She couldn’t understand how so many generations of women had allowed themselves to be trampled under men’s feet.
At first, it was just a small drop of what appeared to be blood in the dirt that caught her attention, but beyond the single drop were more and still more beyond those. Jomo’s, she assumed, until she noticed the blood followed a trail of paw prints. The lion!
She moved forward with dread, a foreboding darkness rising with each reluctant step. As the damp spots became red pools, any hope she’d find the lion alive evaporated. By the time she rounded the bushes, it was no shock to see the lioness, a spear jutting unnaturally from her side, blood trickling from a corner of her mouth, not even a shallow movement in her ribs. Tears stung Hannah’s eyes. It didn’t make sense. Why would the lioness attack two huge men with spears?
She crouched and placed a trembling hand on the lifeless body, still warm and soft. Bursts of light exploded in her mind. Images swirled in the chaos—Sefu hurling the spear, searing pain as it plunged through skin and muscle—the enraged lioness attacking. Hannah’s butt hit the groundand she scrambled backward.
The vision faded, along with any doubt about who’d attacked first. Utterly drained, sheslumped like a worn-out stuffed animal. Only one other time had one of her visions been this intense—another lioness, a different warrior.
It was that killing that had made Yatima an orphan.
Hannah remembered the men returning afterward, bloated with pride. While they celebrated, she’d crept to the scene, laid her cheek upon the body, her mind’s eye assaulted by the lioness’s last sight—Masindi raising his spear before propelling it into her heart.
As Hannah had wept for the lost life, a tiny mew pierced her sorrow. Hidden in the brush, she found the wee cubwhere his mother had left him. Hannah snuggled tiny Yatima, trying to comfort him, worried. How would he survive? Masindi had taken the new mother for the supposed crime of trying to feed herself, to live for her cub.
The lioness’s protruding ribs had been evidence she’d been a long time without food—starving, weak. Masindi’s small goat was a natural target. As Yatima squirmed in her arms, pathetically, heartbreakingly, rooting for a nipple, rage filled her. What had happened to the lioness was senseless. Outright murder! How could anyone call it something else?
The moment had changed her forever.
“Hannah!” Dad’s call startled her from her thoughts—probably ready to load Jomo.
She pushed herself to her feet and walked from behind the bushes. “The lioness is dead,” she said, turning her accusation on Sefu. “Why’d you do it?” It was doubtful he could excuse himself.
The stupid mkundu smirked. “To add to my collection.”
Her fists clenched at her sides. “You speared her for nothing?”
“Hannah.” Dad grabbed her shoulder, shaking his head.
“For nothing? No,” Sefu said. “I told to youwhy I did it. Your ears are plugged?”
Hannah shrugged Dad’s arm away. “You—you have a dead lion collection? What kind of a sicko are you?”
Sefu burst into laughter.
“Killing innocent creatures is funny?”
Dad dragged her by the elbow. “Not now.”
Hannah scuffled across the dirt. “You don’t even feel one bit bad, you psychopath!”
“I feel bad I am too good with spear. I wish it to suffer longer.”
“Sefu,” Dad interrupted, “your father needs a hospital.”
It would have given Hannah intense pleasure to slam her fist into Sefu’s egotistical mouth. His incessant cackling—as if murdering a lion were a big joke—made her feel like clawing his eyes out. More than anything, she wanted to shut the stupid mkundu the hell up!
“Finally, you know your place,” Sefu sneered. “Shut mouth.”
Hannah glared at him, dripping with loathing. “I get you, Sefu, I do. Yourbig show of despising women. You’re a mama’s boy, aren’t you?”
It was deeply satisfying to watch his arrogant smile slide. “Afraid your friends will see you for what you really are?” she continued. “You kill lions to make them think you’re a real man. You don’t have me fooled, girlie-boy.”
Fierce anger exploded from Sefu as he snatched a spear from the ground, and Hannah felt the color leave her face.
“Enough!” Dad said. “Hannah—pilot’s seat, now! Sefu, help me with the stretcher.” Sefu’s knuckles turned white where they gripped the weapon. No way would she turn her back to him.
“Sefu,” Dad said calmly, “your father needs a hospital.”
Suddenly, Sefu thrust his spear toward her. She let out a forceful breath as he plunged the spear into the ground and grabbed the stretcher. Teeth clenched, Dad looked mad enough to spit.
Hannah climbed into the cockpit’s pilot seat and sat brooding at the controls as Jomo was loaded. While Dad circled the plane, Sefu spent a moment with his father, then the monster’s breath was hot on her neck. “I knowing you, Hannah. You keep a lion. No?”
Fear filled her chest—slow, burning acid—and she twisted in her seat. “No.”
“You lie. I have seen the filthy thing on the wood.” Teeth like a train wreck, Sefu’s grin was pure evil. “Stupid girl. You think I do not go ever to your village?”
She’d never seen him before. But he knew she had a porch, something not common in these parts, and Yatima did spend a lot of time there. She tried to keep the frightfrom rising to her face.
Sefu lifted the strand of beads, twisting them in his fingers.
Horrified, she realized the beads weren’t beads at all, but lion claws.
“Each is from lion killed by my spear. I will get your lion, too.”
“You’ll stay away from him!” She reached down beside the seat, grasping the rifle. “If I even see you near him,” she growled, shoving the muzzle into his face, “I’ll put a hole through you.”
The monster snorted, didn’t even flinch. “You must sleep sometime,”hesnarled. “I will kill your lion, no matter how long it take. Only girlie-man does not keep his word.”
Hannah’s world spun dizzily around her as she struggled to keep the rifle steady. “Get out!”
From behind Sefu, Dad yelled angrily, “Hannah, put the rifle down!”
Sefu gently stroked his unconscious father before backing out the door. “I pray for you, Baba.”
“Let’s go!” Dad slammed the door.
Her stomach churned, threatening to vomit. Dear God, what had she done?
“Why are we still on the ground?”
She forced herself to concentrate, straightened in her seat, put on the headset. Tried to silence the jittery voice in her head. Standing on the toe brakes, she turned the starter, listening to the engine roar as it caught. The gauges registered, she throttled up, took her feet off the brakes, and began building speed. The plane accelerated, flight controls coming to life in her hands. She pulled the nose up smoothly, leaving the monster behind. She needed to calm down, think, figure out what to do between here and Nairobi.
Nairobi? That meant landing at a real airport!
“Dad!” she said, barely holding herself together, then groaned as she realized he wasn’t wearing his headset. She twisted in her seat to yell, but her breath caught. The fresh bandage covering Jomo’s thigh was already soaked with blood, and Dad rushed to hook up an IV. Things had gone from bad to much worse. Jomo was likely going into shock, so she waited for him to place the intravenous line.
“Dad!” she hollered. He looked up, and she passed him his headset and waited while he put it on.
“I’ve never landed at an airport!” she protested.
“You’ve helped me do it countless times.”
“I’m scared. Won’t you trade me places?”
“Jomo’s too critical.” He rummaged through his black bag. “You’ve got this, baby girl.”
Dad thought she could do it. Clearly, it was his stress talking. There was Air Traffic Control to consider, as well. And air traffic! She rubbed the tense lines inher forehead. Then Dad was behind her.
“What does the gyro say?” he asked.
“Zero, nine, seven.”
“That’s good. Hold this heading and altitude. Turn the wing leveler on. Relax.”
“You can do this. Put it on COMM and tune the radio to 181.6. Listen to Nairobi ATIS. I’m here if you need me,” he said, moving back.
I need you.
The radio buzzed and Hannah turned. “Nairobi’s reporting information Charlie.”
“Write it down,” Dad said.
She poked around the seats for the pad and pen, then jotted it down. “Got it.”
“Okay. Nowwhat does the GPS say?”
“One hundred fifty-two miles.”
“Let me know when it says one hundred.”
One hundred fifty-two miles—a long way for a man who’d left so much of his blood in a muddy puddle. Would he make it? Why should she even care? After all, the claw-collecting murderer was his evil spawn. Like father, like son. Was Sefu on his way to her village this very moment? What if he got there first?
Her stress level ramped up another notch. It was all too much! Calm down, she told herself. Realistically, the walk would consume more time than it would take them to drop off Jomo and dash home. She was pretty sure, anyway, but he could still show up somewhere in the night. She’d have to stay awake or keep Yatima inside.
Dad interrupted her racing thoughts. “What’s the gyro say?”
“Uhh… coming up on a hundred soon.”
“Fine, now turn to COMM 2, and don’t touch the radio. Call the Center and tell them you have information Charlie.”
Call the Center. He’d said it lightly,as if it were no big deal, but her heart was trying to pound its way out of her chest. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just talk to them.”
“Okay, okay.” At once, she realized she knew what to say. “Nairobi Center, this is Cherokee seven-two-seven-niner-X-ray.”
“Where is Dr. Mike today?” the man’s voice droned over the headset.
“He’s in back with a patient. This is his daughter. I have informationCharlie. We’re about a hundred miles out. If you could have an ambulance standing by, we’d appreciate it.”
“Roger, Dr. Mike’s daughter. Understand you have Charlie. Squawk three-two-six-four, stand by IDENT.”
Simple request.Put finger onbutton. Push.
“IDENT,” the traffic controller’s voice said in routine calmness. “Roger, positive radar contact established. Maintain this heading, climb and maintain nine-five-zero-zero.”
“Copy that, Center. Am I supposed to repeat that back to you?”
He probably wondered what kind of an idiot was landing the plane.
“That’s what I thought,” she said and recited the controller’s words back to him.
“Are you a newbie?”
“I’m a bush pilot, sir.”
“You’re golden. Airport landings are far easier.”
“I sure hope so.”
There was that lame platitude again. Did it really ever work for anyone? Anyway, with the airport drawing closer at 168 miles per hour, there would be little time to relax before having to talk to the Center again. Scarier was the thought of bringing this bird down on a rock-hard, merciless runway.
Just as she dreaded, the controller was back already. “Descend and maintain seven-five-zero-zero. Confirm visual contact traffic one mile, three o’clock low.”
Traffic! All she had ever dodged were birds. She twisted frantically, craning to see the nearby aircraft. Where is it?
“Dad, I don’t see the traffic.”
“Just tell them that.”
“Center, negative contact,” she said.
“Center, I have the traffic in sight.” It was the voice of the hidden plane’s pilot breaking through over the radio. “I’ll pass behind and below, no problem.”
Good thing somebody up here knew what he was doing, but now what? She didn’t have to wonder long. Traffic Control was back, handing out a laundry list of confusing instructions before turning her over to Nairobi Tower.
“Roger, Cherokee seven-two-seven-niner-X-ray,” the Tower responded. “You’ve been handed off by the Center. Would you like ILS or VFR?”
Could you just get somebody else to do this for me? “VFR.”
“Roger, descend and maintain 6,100 feet. Turn right heading two-four-zero. Winds two-seven-two at seven. Barometer two-niner-niner-seven. Landing runway two-four.”
“Copy that.” This time she automatically repeated the instructions, a scared senseless parrot.
“You should have visual contact with the airport on your right at five miles,” the Tower said. “You’ll be second to land behind Pak Belly.”
What the crap? “Dad, what’s Pak Belly?”
“FedEx. Up Ahead.”
She assumed he was talking about the large white airplane with a purple tail. “Roger, have Pak Belly in sight.”
“Don’t forget your landing checklist,” Dad said. “You’re doing fine.”
The checklist. Did she even remember the stupid thing?
A mile in the distance, Pak Belly turned on base. Hannah slowed the plane by closing the throttle slightly. Pak Belly turned on its final, and she began a gentle turn to base and keyed the mike.
“Approach Control, seven-niner-X-ray on right base.” The hollow words came from her mouth though she was numb with terror. Far below, the airport took shape, barely distinguishable: A dotted line of white roofs, an expansive swath of brown, lighted strips of gray. Her nerves coiled into a tight knot. That was concrete down there—one bad move and splat, like a bug on a windshield. Wings, legs, guts everywhere. Holy hell, she felt nauseous.
“Roger, seven-niner-X-ray,cleared to land runway two-four.”
Mouthing a curse word, she started on her final approach. Carb heat on. Prop in. Pulse lights on. Clear the engine. She rolled the plane level, wiped away the sweat stinging her eyes. Was that everything? “Approach Control, seven-niner-X-ray on final.”
“Seven-niner-X-ray cleared to land.”
No turning back now. A coppery taste saturated hermouth. Then came Dad’s voice: “Monitor your speed. Doing great.”
The huge twenty-four swiftly grew closer, then big as life. Sending a pleading prayer to heaven, she braced herself. Thud. She lurched forward as the wheels chirped against their target. A little skewed on the runway, the plane pulled to the right. In a blank frenzy, she overcorrected with the left rudder, and the plane tugged to the left. Get it right, Hannah! Compensating with the correct amount of right rudder, the plane tracked true, and Hannah bounced in her seat. It had never felt so good to be on earth.
The radio sputtered, “Seven-niner-X-ray, taxi Air Med ramp.”
“Way to go!” Dad squeezed her shoulder.
It hadn’t been a perfect landing, but they were in one glorious piece. She remembered Dad’s counsel when he’d been teaching her to fly: “Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing.” They’d all walk away. Well, except for Jomo.
As she rolled the plane toward Air Med, she was relieved to see the waiting ambulance; otherwise, she’d be tempted to dump Jomo on the runway and try not to run him over on their way out. The sun was already an orange ball on the horizon. Darkness might descend on their village before they did. And Sefu’s legs were freakishly long. He could probably keep pace with giraffes. He could be there now!
Dad shuffled around in back while she brought the plane to a halt, several EMTs running toward them. “Let’s get Jomo out of here,” he called out, but she already had the door open. He took the lead, and she grabbed the back end of the stretcher. There was no way she was strong enough to lower Jomo to the wing, so she was grateful when a uniformed man took over.
As they carried the stretcher away to the St. John ambulance, Hannah dropped to the ground and leaned against the plane, exhausted. The runway lights were glowing brighter as the sun dimmed. She watched Dad help the EMTs slide the stretcher into the ambulance, willing him to hurry. He helped close the back end and stood away as the ambulance pulled away, lights ablaze and siren screaming.
As if he had all night, Dad strolled, stretching his neck and arms, toward their plane. Hannah’s impatience grew until her knees bounced the pace she wished he were walking. Sometimes he frustrated the kuzimuout of her.
“Need to use the choo?” he asked as he neared.
“No time for that. We need to get home fast.”
“Why?” He was already involved in his preflight routine.
She hurried after him. “Sefu threatened Yatima. Said he’d kill him.” The thought of her baby with a spear through him, cold and lifeless, wrenched her heart out.
He bent over to check a tire. “You insulted his manhood, Hannah. He was just blowing steam.”
Exasperating! “No! This was more than just blowing steam. He wants revenge. I know you don’t believe such a thing exists, but he’s a bad man, Dad. Did you notice the claws around his neck? He said each one represents a lion he killed. He said Yatima’s next.” Why hadn’t she kept her flappy lips shut, for once?
Dad crouched, looking at the belly of the plane. “Even if that’s so, he’d have to be Superman to get to the village before we do.”
“You saw his legs!”
“Unwind, Hannah. There’s no way he’ll beat us home, even if we stop to watch the sunset.”
“In that case, we should go to the police while we’re in Nairobi. I’d feel better if Sefu was in jail.”
“The police can’t arrest him for making threats.”
“No, but they can for killing lions.”
Dad stepped away from the plane and held Hannah by her shoulders. “Malaika,”he said, using his pet name for her—angel—in Swahili. “I’m tired and hungry, as are you. Let’s go home, and I promise I’ll radio Dalton, ask his advice. Deal?”
That wouldn’t fix the immediate problem. “Only if Yatima can sleep inside tonight.”
“Since when do lions sleep at night?”
“I’ll keep him quiet.”
He snorted. “Alright, but you’ll have to come up with something else if this goes on too long.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him safe. If Sefu comes near him, I’ll be wearing that monster around my neck.”
He regarded her with sympathy. “Seems like you already are, baby girl.”