Tesfaye placed a hand on each of his daughters’ cheeks. “I have some business to take care of, but I will come soon. I promise.”
Unconvinced, Yenee opened the door and grabbed hold of Tesfaye’s leg. “No, you need to come with us now, please come with us.”
Tesfaye picked up Yenee and tried to comfort her. He could feel the tears on his shoulder, seeping through his shirt. “Look at me, Yenee.” Tesfaye gently pushed up on Yenee’s chin so that her eyes met his. “Look at me,” he repeated. “I have always tried to teach you the importance of responsibility. Our country has put its trust in me and I have a responsibility to help protect it.”
“But . . .”
“You remember the importance of honoring one’s obligations?”
“Yes, it’s just . . .”
“Now I need you to be strong.” Yenee loosened her arms, which had been clenched around Tesfaye. Her body slowly slid down until her feet touched the cobblestone walkway below. After she reluctantly got back into the car, Tesfaye stuck his head inside the open window and kissed Yenee on her forehead. He walked over to the front passenger seat, reached in the car, and gently rubbed his wife’s neck, massaging her earlobe with his thumb.
“We will see you soon,” Ayana sighed, forcing herself to smile.
Tesfaye smacked the roof of the car twice with his hand and Negasi shifted into gear. The Mercedes sped down the long dirt driveway toward the front gates, dust spewing into the air. Tesfaye stood at the edge of the driveway until the dust had again settled into the bone-dry ground.
I will see them soon. I just need some time to think.
Tesfaye could not have foreseen the consequences of his decision that morning, but the circumstances of his past were already conspiring. A chain of events set in motion nearly two decades ago was about to catch up to him. Soon, the conspiracy would reveal itself, and he would spend years desperately trying to unravel it.