13:30 (10:30 GMT)
Blake was helping Farishta clean up in the kitchen after lunch. Even though she was every bit as tough as her male counterparts, she still couldn’t shake the stigma of being a woman in a country that bestowed such little respect; as the four other members of her team often reminded her. They expected her to prepare and clean up after all the meals and do other proper woman duties.
“Does it bother you that they treat you this way?” Blake asked.
“What is that?” she said as she handed Blake a clean plate.
“Making you do all the cleaning and cooking.”
“No. It’s how I was raised. Besides, I’ve grown close to all of them. Their like my family, so I don’t mind.”
“If you don’t mind me saying, you seem pretty westernized compared to other women I’ve met serving in the military.”
Farishta smiled. Blake knew he hit on something from her past.
“When I was eight, we moved to America. My father taught economics at the University of Arkansas. We were there until I was seventeen.”
Well, that explains it.
Blake put the last of the clean dishes away.
“Now that that’s done, we can relax a bit until they get back.”
Blake wanted to remain unseen as much as possible, so he had ordered Abdul and Sardar to go out for supplies. Akbar was sent to relieve Barbrak as he observed the house. Blake wanted someone to be there at all times to observe al Hamwi’s men to see if there had been any changes in behavior or head count. He told Barbrak to be back by fifteen hundred so they could review their plan of attack that was going to take place early the next morning.
Over the past few days they had been watching the building that al Hamwi’s known associates had been occupying. Blake made detailed notes of the building’s dimensions, where its exits and windows were; how tall the structure was next door and anything else that would be of help in making their plans.
The previous day Blake was able to gain access to the business next door and found that the second and third floors were used for storage. He easily picked the old lock and entered in the back. The back stairs leading to the upper floor were immediately on his left. No one saw him enter. Fortunately, view of the back door was obstructed from a tattered silk curtain that hanged in the doorway of the short hallway before it.
The owners of the business closed at twenty-one hundred and went to their apartment several blocks down. When he climbed the stairs to the roof, he dropped down on his belly and crawled over to the edge to observe the roof of al Hamwi’s stronghold. It was only an eight foot drop and they would be able to make that easily with minimal noise. There was access to the second floor from the roof, another stroke of luck, but it looked as if the door was wired with some kind of an alarm. From his vantage point, it looked archaic and easy to bypass, but he would have to look more closely prior to commencing with the attack. This would be his entry point as he didn’t trust the others to disarm it correctly.
After his reconnaissance he met up with Farishta, where she’d been his lookout. Blake had dressed himself in traditional Afghan clothing and accompanied Farishta as her cousin. They made a purchase from the silk and basket merchant next door to the target before they left the area to go back to the safe house. As they left, they walked directly in front of the building they were going to raid to try and get some kind of an idea of the layout inside, but the windows were covered from the inside with old newspapers.
I can’t see inside. Blake gestured toward the window. “I don’t like that at all,” Blake said.
“Right. I’d like to have been able to look in there to get some kind of an idea of the layout inside. I don’t know if there’s a hallway, or if it’s an open room. We don’t know if it’s empty or cluttered with furniture. That all just sets me on edge.”
“But if we take them by surprise, what difference does it make?” she asked.
That very statement was enough to make Blake nervous. Having been properly trained, she never would have had that question in the back of her mind.
“It makes a huge difference. They could have sandbags set-up in front of different rooms for all we know. There could be furniture blocking our path or any number of things. They might be crazy in their ideals, but they’re far from stupid. Never underestimate them.”
After they cleaned up from lunch Blake went back to his bedroom to start preparing for the mission. Most of his weapons and gear were laid out on the bed. He cleaned, checked and rechecked everything. The slide of his Glock clicked back together when Farishta walked into the room and leaned against the doorway. He admired her curves and his mind wandered to other base pleasures.
“Do you ever get used to this?” she asked.
Blake moved the slide back on his Glock, held it in the air and looked down the barrel with one eye closed. “Used to what?”
“Coming into foreign lands and killing people.”
Blake lowered his pistol and turned to her with narrowed eyes. The visions of base pleasures replaced by a tinge of anger. “Are you serious? Are you looking at this as some kind of invasion or something?”
“No.” she said. “But it always seems that it is America that is the one breaking the borders. Not the other way around.”
Blake stood up and stepped over to her. “Farishta. Are you with us? Are you on our side? Our side—meaning our team? The one we have right now. Because if you’re not, I need to know and I need to know now.”
She popped up and was no longer leaning against the doorway and her brow furrowed. “What? Of course I am with you!” She turned away for a split second before turning back. “You misunderstood the question.”
Blake grabbed the bottom of her jaw and forced her attention. “I didn’t misunderstand anything. Listen, we had our borders broken. On September eleventh, two thousand and one. Perhaps you heard about it?”
She waved his hand off of her jaw and he put it right back up, this time lightly pinching her chin with his thumb and forefinger. “I had friends die that day. When it happened, we, America, promised never to have that happen on our soil again, and so far it hasn’t.”
Blake spoke with passion. “I and thousands of my countrymen promised that we would bring the fight to them, wherever that may be. Not the other way around, and I make no apologies for it.”
Blake waited for her answer, but none came. Blake found himself in one of those awkward moments of silence as he stared into her lustful green eyes just inches from her. Her essence invited him in; full lips begging to be kissed. He knew he shouldn’t do this, but the attraction was just too great. He leaned in and kissed her. Her mouth was warm and soft.
He pulled her close. She resisted, but only briefly. He wrapped his other arm around her on her lower back and then slowly ran his hand down to her butt and squeezed. She gave a slight yelp of pleasure and started to kiss him harder, silently asking for more.
She moved Blake back and pushed him down onto the bed. With a sly grin on her face, she got on top of him and straddled his upper right thigh and started to grind while she kissed him harder. Blake put his left hand on her rear while he moved his right hand up under her shirt and grabbed her firm breast.
Her breathing intensified while she squeezed her thighs around Blake’s. She bit his lower lip and made her way down to his pants. She tore open his shirt and ran her tongue down the center of his chest and licked around his belly button. She grabbed his crotch. Blake knew that she could feel his excitement. She undid his pants….
The door to the safe house opened and Barbrak announced that he had returned from a final reconnaissance of the al Hamwi house. “Hello?” Barbrak yelled.
Farishta jumped off of Blake.
“Shit!” Blake said, as he sat up and buttoned his pants. He felt like a schoolboy getting busted by his girlfriend’s parents.
Farishta tucked in her shirt and headed out of the room. “Back here!” she yelled as she looked back to make sure Blake had put himself back together.
He fidgeted with his gear as if he was organizing it when Barbrak came back and announced, “Everything is the same at the house. They sent someone to get food at the normal hour and that is all we saw.”
“Okay,” Blake said. “Let’s wait for the other two to return and we’ll go over the plan a couple more times to make sure we all have our roles and timing down.” Blake looked passed Barbrak to Farishta and she gave him a warm smile. Dammit, Barbrak… your timing sucks.
Ten minutes later the rest of his team, minus Akbar, arrived back at the house. Blake had made a mockup of the buildings earlier from various things he’d found around the house. He placed them on the coffee table in the living room. For the next two and a half hours they went over the plan again and again so that they all had it memorized and perfectly timed.
“Remember, we’re looking for any kind of intelligence that we can get on al Hamwi; where he is at or anything on the weapons that he recently purchased. Leave at least three men alive that we can interrogate for additional intel: Non-lethal wounds if possible. I’ve gone over this with Akbar before he left for his shift, so he is well informed.”
Everyone agreed. “Now, get something eat and then get some rest. It’s going to be a busy night.”