Mallory put the pan of lasagna into the oven and set the timer. Tate wouldn’t be at her house for at least an hour. She went back to the couch and resumed her research on Peshawar.
Ismail couldn’t have been any more transparent. Her boss knew she wanted to save a life, and he was clearly planting the idea in her head. She couldn’t blame him for wanting to help his niece. Abdul had told her the same thing as Ismail—that the media only showed the ugly parts of the country, that where he lived was very safe and beautiful. But as she scoured the Internet, she found photos to validate both the beauty of Pakistan and the fact that it was a war-torn country.
She’d been thinking about her cousin Kelsey all day. Would bringing Majida to the United States guarantee Mallory a place in heaven—or paradise, as Ismail called it? Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. She knew it was in the Bible, but she couldn’t recall who said it. She wished her parents had raised her and Vicky in the church. She should have at least been properly introduced to God when she was young. At the very least, would helping Majida ease her guilt over not being able to save Kelsey?
Surprisingly, there were quite a few travel websites showcasing things to do in Peshawar. But all of them had a travel warning at the top directing the user to the US Department of State, which recommended that all nonessential travel to the country be avoided.
Mallory recalled her trip to Mexico with three girlfriends five years ago. Her parents had begged her not to go. But one passport and eight hundred dollars later, she’d had a wonderful time—despite the warnings about drug Lords, kidnapping, and the dangers for Americans.
Her next search was to determine the documents she would need. She already had a passport, but tourists also needed a visa. Just then her cell phone vibrated. Soraya. Mallory answered and told her friend what she was considering.
“Mallory, did Abdul put this idea in your head?”
“No.” Your fiancé did.
“Well, good. I would be very angry if he was trying to lure you over there. You must never go to Peshawar. Do you understand me?” Soraya’s voice didn’t have the cheerfulness that Mallory loved. “Just tell me you will not consider this.”
“I’m not saying I would go. I was just doing the research.” But she was surprised at Soraya’s strong reaction. “But Soraya, it can’t be that dangerous—you’re going there for your wedding.”
“I am going to Lahore, not Peshawar. That’s a tribal area, Mallory. It would never be safe for you to go there.”
“What if this is my chance to make a difference?”
“This is not the opportunity you’re looking for. Promise me you’ll give the matter no more thought.”
“But what an adventure it would be,” Mallory said softly.
Soraya rattled off something in another language, then switched back to English. “Misadventure would be more accurate. You just banish any thoughts about such a foolish idea.”
“Wow. You really don’t like Peshawar, do you?”
“It’s just not safe, Mallory. You have lived here all your life. You can’t even imagine what it’s like there. Women are treated badly. Do you even know what sharia law is?”
Soraya continued before Mallory had a chance to tell her she’d read about it.
“The interpretations vary depending on where you live. It’s meant to be the moral code and religious law of Islam, but translations are sketchy at best. Anyway, you’re just going to have to trust me on this.”
“How long were you in Peshawar?”
“I grew up in Lahore. It’s an eight-hour drive between the two cities.”
Mallory thought about her conversation with Ismail. “I know. I was just wondering how much time you’ve actually spent in Peshawar.”
Soraya didn’t try to hide her frustration. “I have never been there, but Mallory—”
“How can you say all this if you’ve never been there? You can pick up a Houston newspaper and find stories of people being murdered on the streets. What’s the difference? It’s a chance we take every time we walk out of our house.”
“My parents have been there. I have friends who have been there. I wish you would just trust me on this.” Soraya paused briefly, then changed the subject. “Anyway, the reason I am calling is to let you know I have collected the piano music I’d like Tate to play at the reception. I’ll send it with Ismail tomorrow. But I’m totally open to Tate’s suggestions as well.”
“That sounds great.”
When Tate arrived, Mallory was still researching online. She wasn’t sure she was ready to tell Tate what she was considering, though. She was pretty sure it would blow into a fight.
Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. Wiseman has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. In her daring new novel, Wiseman jumps way outside the box. The Promise will take readers far away from Amish country and the small Texas towns of her previous releases to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. Inspired by actual events, Wiseman believes this is the book she’s been working toward for a long time.
Wiseman can be found at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook where she interacts with readers. Learn more about the author and her books at bethwiseman.com and on Twitter (@bethwiseman).
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