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A Story written by Omolola…

Demola stood in the small speedboat, his legs spread, his knees loose and both hands holding on to the windshield as they sped over the choppy waves of the Sea. At the moment the only thing of importance was getting to the Sea Breeze, the boat the Angels were using for the shark-feeding expedition.

He’d missed the press conference in the hotel. His plane hadn’t been late, thankfully, but the only flight he’d been able to snag on such late notice had put him in Lagos fifteen minutes after the press conference had ended. Now he was playing catch-up, hoping to hell he made it to the boat before the girls went overboard.

His heart pounding, his palms could and sweaty, he glanced over at the man whose services and boat he’d hired. The islander’s attention was focused on the Sea Breeze. The throttle was full-bore. Little point in pushing the boat driver to go faster. He couldn’t. He was eking out every bit of speed his small boat had.

As they got closer to the Sea Breeze, Demola noticed she was fairly big, around eighty feet. A tall cabin with deck space on top took mist of the center portion of the boat. There was a small deck area aft, with a narrow walkway that ran along the side to a larger deck area the prow.

Almost everyone was at the prow. He imagined they were gathered around the big TV screen that was always present at the Angel events. No doubt little Martha and her family would be there, along with several news reporters, representatives from the corporations and other people who’d pledged smaller money donations.

He desperately searched for the girls. Four bright pink wet suits with brown heads topping them caught his eye. The girls were still on board.

Thank God.

His boat powered down as they approached. As his driver got them snuggled up next to the Sea Breeze, Demola quickly took in the party going on up front. A big shark swarm by on the large screen, its open jaw displaying its sharp, deadly teeth. Demola’s gut jerked into a tight knot and he pulled his gaze from the deadly predator. He spotted Martha. She was sitting front and center in a lounge chair. She looked to be about six. Her long, dark hair trailed over her shoulder accenting her unnaturally pale complexion.

Angelic.

That was the word that came to mind as he stared at the little girl. He was glad Tomilola and the other Angels were helping her. But, not in the manner they’d chosen. They had other ways to make money now. Safer ways.

With the small boat bobbing beneath the Sea Breeze’s ladder, Demola grabbed hold of the metal rungs and climbed onto the big boat’s gently rocking deck. He started up the narrow walkway that led to the prow, looking for Tomilola. He picked her out of the crowd fairly quickly. She was talking to a gray-haired man in a business suit, an animated smile on her lips.

She spotted Demola making his way to her. Triumph chased across her face as she realized her little ploy to get him here had worked. She quickly passed the businessman off to Rosie, whispered something in her friend’s ear and headed his way.

He drank in the sight of her. The way her hair spilled in brown curls from the ponytail fixed on top of her head. The way the tight, bright pink wet suit hugged her every tantalizing curve. The way her hips kicked in seductive invitation as she made her way to him. She looked good. Damned good.

But he wasn’t here to admire her beauty.

He was here to wrung her neck. He stopped at the end of the walkway, waited for her to close the distance between them and pinned her with a hard gaze. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

She winced at his words and peeked over her shoulder, obviously worrying if anyone had heard. But no one was paying attention to them. Rosie had dragged the businessman in front of the big screen and was addressing the crowd, keeping their attention there. Tomilola took his elbow and started pulling him toward the back of the boat.

He followed because the last thing Martha and her family needed was more strife in their lives. But as soon as he and Tomilola reached the back of the boat, he pulled her around to face him. “Answer my question, dammit. What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

She batted her lashes innocently. “Isn’t that evident? We’re holding another Angels’ event.”

“Don’t jerk my chain, Tomilola. You won’t like the result. This event wasn’t designed to save that little girl. It was designed to bring me running.”

She squared her shoulders and met his gaze head on. “This is absolutely about making sure Martha gets the medical treatments she needs. But was the specific event chosen to get your cute little butt here? You bet.”

He narrowed his gaze on her. “And getting me here is worth risking your friends’ safety?”

“No, it isn’t.” she spat. “That’s your fault.”

“Excuse me?” he asked incredulously.

“Look, I came up with this idea because I knew you’d come running when you heard we were going to feed sharks. But that’s all we were going to do originally. Feed the sharks. No big deal.”

“No big deal?” he asked pointedly. “They’re sharks, Tomilola. Big, deadly, eating machines with monster jaws and row after row of razor-sharp teeth. They’re not a bunch of trained poodles.”

“And we weren’t going to try to make them to jump through hoops. We were just going to throw them a few tasty morsels of fish. That was my idea. You and I talked about this, remember? I want to keep my friends around for a long, long time. I want to start making these events safer. And the shark psychologists. . .”

“Shark psychologists?” For crying out loud, don’t tell me you listened to people who call themselves shark psychologists. You think those animals come in and lie on couches?”

She shot him a disparaging look. “Fine. Call them whatever you want. The point is these guys study sharks. They know how the animals think. They assured me feeding them is perfectly safe. In fact, they feed them here all the time. It’s no biggie. They even let the tourists do it.”

“Stupid, foolish tourists, maybe.”

She waved away his words. “Nobody’s ever been hurt doing it, so it’s obviously safe. It just sounds and looks dangerous, which made it the perfect stunt to get the corporations to pledge their money and. . .”

“Get me to come running. Yeah, I got that part.”

She jutted her chin into the air. “Good. Anyway, then Yemi got it in her head that we could up the corporate pledges if we rode the beasts.” She tossed her hands in exasperation, shaking her head. “A shark rodeo. What the heck was she thinking?”

To Be Continued…

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