Pompeii's Ghosts (A James Acton Thriller, #9)

Pompeii's Ghosts (A James Acton Thriller, #9) by J Robert Kennedy Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Pompeii's Ghosts (A James Acton Thriller, #9) by J Robert Kennedy Read Free Book Online
Authors: J Robert Kennedy
hoping for a North American or European
posting. But to be thrust back into the middle of Africa, only a few days
journey from where he had been born, was like going backward, losing decades of
his life. It felt like a punishment that he didn’t deserve, but as he toiled
with the emotions, he realized his selfishness was the very proof that he did
deserve this assignment, and the only way out, was to embrace God’s penance,
and excel in his work.
    And he
felt he had. In time he realized the Vatican’s wisdom in putting a local in
charge of the small church. It meant he wouldn’t attract as much attention from
the Muslims, and to their credit, they had left him alone so far. His small
church was thriving, the decrepit state it had been in nothing like the renewed
condition it now stood. Volunteers from the congregation had undertook repairs
when word had come of a new priest arriving after so many years of there being
none. The poor faithful had been forced to conduct their own services, and
without an actual priest, baptisms, marriages and confessions had either been
ignored, or were undertaken with great inconvenience through travel to another
town.
    Father
Solomon had been embraced by a weary community, and it didn’t take long for him
to fall in love with his flock, and realize the infinite wisdom that was God.
Returning him home had been the wisest decision not only for him, but for the
parish he now ran, and helping these people allowed him to finally begin the
process of healing himself.
    But as
the pounding and cries continued to urge him toward the doors, he wondered what
calamity might be befalling the small community tonight? He removed the bar
holding the doors shut, then pushed them open to find Abrihet, one of his most
faithful, crying hysterically.
    “Oh
Father, you must help me!” she cried, falling into his arms as her strength
gave out. He helped her inside, placing her on one of the pews, then closed the
doors, noting many of the nearby houses already taking notice of the commotion,
their front doors occupied with curious onlookers.
    Placing
the bar back across the door, he returned to Abrihet who stared at him
wide-eyed, flushed, her eyes red from tears. He sat beside her and took both
her hands in his.
    “What is
it, my child?”
    “M-my
father,” she stammered, her chin dropping into her chest as her shoulders
heaved. “My father, he—”
    She
stopped, stuck on the words, her gasping breaths coming faster now.
    “Shhh,”
he soothed, knowing already what might be wrong, the mere mention of her father
enough. He had heard the stories of his wicked temper, a temper he had
apparently taken out on his wife on numerous occasions, and his fellow
villagers from time to time. “What has your father done this time?” He asked
the question as gently as he could, knowing Abrihet loved her father deeply and
was known to fly to his defense whenever someone spoke poorly of him behind his
back.
    Her
own temper will be her undoing.
    “He
killed Uncle Hamid!”
    It was
Father Solomon’s turn to be shocked, his mouth falling open. “Are you sure?”
    She
nodded emphatically. “He was covered in blood, and he told me he did it.”
    “But
why?” Father Solomon pulled at his thinning hair. “They were best friends.
Since they were children!”
    “He
found gold!”
    Father
Solomon’s eyebrows climbed his forehead as the words sank in. “Gold?”
    Abrihet
nodded, her tears starting to subside as she finally was able to articulate her
feelings to someone. “Bars, about this big,” she said, illustrating with her
hands what she had apparently seen. “Lots of them.”
    “Where
did he find them?”
    “In some
old boat.”
    Knocking
at the door interrupted them. It was gentle but insistent, and Father Solomon
approached the door cautiously, knowing full-well that Hamid was Muslim, and Birhan
was Christian. The marriage between Birhan and Hamid’s sister had been
controversial at the time, but allowed

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