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Chapter 9

Henry rested his elbows on the low wall and sighed in frustration. Shyla sprang into his mind out of nowhere, and he held his head in his hands, angry at himself. He should have cut Ginger Ninja off before she kissed him. But, instead he had gone along with it. Henry needed advice, advice only his trainer could give. Henry straightened up and sprang over the side of the building in one movement, landing on the same window ledge as Ginger Ninja. He raced over rooftops and down streets to the ninja school.

Henry knocked on the door, and waited for Master Wong to open up. When the master did eventually open the door, it was to scowl out into the blackness. “Henry? Do you have any idea what the time is?”

Henry nodded sheepishly. “I know, Master Wong. But I need help from you.”

Master Wong stepped back to let him in. The ninja school doubled as the elderly man’s home, and so they were soon settled in the meditation room with tea. “Now, Henry, what seems to be the problem?”

After Henry had finished telling the whole sordid story to the master, right from his first meeting with Ginger Ninja, Master Wong merely rose out of his chair in silence. Henry followed him, and they reached the Wall of Fallen in a quiet hush. The Wall of Fallen was a collection of photographs of the ninjas who had died in the line of duty since the school’s inception, and was being added to as the families came forward to honour the fallen ninjas. “What do you see, Henry?” Master Wong asked him, gesturing to the wall.

Henry took a good look at the pictures, as he had done many times before, and his eyes froze on one particular photo he had never noticed before. “I know this man.”

Master Wong nodded. “You do know him.”

Henry tried to think of why he recognised the picture, and came up blank. “Master Wong, why do I recognise him?”

Master Wong left him to figure it out. He wouldn’t be any good as a teacher if he just gave the answers to his students. Henry racked his brain, and suddenly felt his face go cold. “No, it can’t be.”

Master Wong looked at the young man next to him. “That man is Andrew Marcus Evans. He was killed seven years ago.”

Henry looked at the picture closely; the eyes. Ginger Ninja had her father’s eyes. Henry turned and looked at Master Wong. “Thank you.”

He left the school, his mind racing.

Shyla rolled over in bed for the fourth time, and then sat up in frustration. It was four in the morning on a Sunday, and she couldn’t sleep. Her mind was in chaos. Henry was going to be so upset with her, because he trusted her. And she trusted him. It took a long time for her, but Henry had won her trust. And now she had broken his over a guy she didn’t even know.

Shyla pushed the covers off the bed and strode out of her room and down the stairs.

Clarisse woke at seven and headed downstairs. Shyla had been awake a while – not that her only daughter ever slept much – and Clarisse had a feeling she was down in the basement. Walking down there confirmed her suspicion, especially when she found her daughter drenched in sweat and attempting to beat a hole in the punching bag in the corner. Clarisse leant against the wall and watched, until Shyla wound down her routine and turned to face her mother. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Clarisse nodded and handed her a towel. “I know, sweet. That’s why I had this place built. You know that.”

Shyla picked up her bottle of water and took a swig. “You’ve never told me about the woman dad died saving.”

Clarisse smiled at her daughter. “Master Wong instructed me to keep quiet, but I can tell you she has a daughter, about your age. I kept contact with her, but I haven’t heard from her in the last two weeks.”

Shyla nodded, and began to cool her muscles down. The master would have a good reason to prevent her from knowing this detail. Clarisse knew Shyla didn’t sleep because she suffered nightmares about her father’s death. It seemed silly at first, until anybody understood that Andrew and Shyla had been inseparable. For her to lose her father had broken something inside. After all, fathers weren’t supposed to be killed. Clarisse stood there for a few more minutes, and then headed upstairs to make breakfast for them both.

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