Lilly related how she discovered Evan’s betrayal by accident through email. Then she told her father what was in the emails. Then she told him about how Evan discovered that she had found him out and his attempted confinement of her. “I don’t know what he was planning to do if you had shown up,” Lilly finished.
Clearly, Mr. Hill was shocked. “My goodness,” he said. “I knew the government was behind this whole situation, but never in so many years would I have guessed the Suns to have a hand in this! And I especially can’t believe that dirty man tried to lock you in. All my daughter needs is sunshine, so he’s going to pay for what he did.”
“Dad, Dad, calm down,” Lilly said. “I wasn’t hurt at all. He is already being paid back because he’s concerned that he is going to get caught because I’ve escaped. Besides, even flowers need a little rain to grow.” She smiled.
“Well, that was a thunderstorm in my eyes,” Mr. Hill huffed. “Now’s not the time for jokes, sweetheart. We must expend all our energy on – ”
“Finding Manchu before things get more dangerous,” Lilly said confidently.
Mr. Hill smiled. “Yes. I suppose that is what’s best and wisest.” Still he pounded the wheel mercilessly with one fist as if it was the back of Evan’s head, accidentally beeping the horn which Mr. Warwick took as a cue to speed up. When his pounding ceased, Mr. Hill turned to Lilly and hugged her as best he could although he was wearing his seatbelt. “I’m very sorry for bringing you into this mess, Lilly,” he said. “I had no idea…” His voice trailed off.
“Actually, this mess has been a pretty fun experience for me,” Lilly told him. “I’m learning to care for others, and you’ve raised me to be a brave girl, remember? Look out! I think the steering wheel needs your hug right now more than I do.”
Mr. Hill braked, narrowly avoiding running a traffic light. “Thanks,” he said. “I was about to say, ‘I might have raised you to be a tad-bit too brave.’ You didn’t finish telling how you outwitted that man. Did I just miss that part or did you purposely leave it out?”
“You know me too well,” Lilly admitted. “Guess how?”
“Neither. I did that vanishing trick.”
“You sprayed his eyes with something?”
“You raised me to be brave, Dad, but not cruel,” Lilly giggled.
“Alright, did you call the police?” Mr. Hill tried again.
“Not even close. I’m sure you have not forgotten that the police aren’t exactly our friends now that we’re privy to their involvement in Manchu’s disappearance. Think magic superpowers.”
“If you say so…was it flying?”
Lilly clapped her hands together. “Yes, sir. I sprouted those wings you were talking about.”
“Finally,” Mr. Hill grinned. “Then why don’t I believe that?”
Lilly shrugged. “Your deal, Dad,” she said.
Just then Mr. Warwick swerved into a parking space lining the sidewalk which bordered a seemingly never ending strip of lit-up buildings. Nestled inside, was a gem of a restaurant specializing in roasted duck and wickedly spicy sauces. Mr. Warwick turned off the hip-hop music blasting from his car and beckoned for Mr. Hill and Lilly to follow him inside. After placing their orders, he remarked, “Marc, I didn’t know you as one to lose your cool very often. All the facials you were pulling behind me in your car made me think you were having a bad case of road rage. What was with that?”
Lilly laughed and Mr. Hill smirked. “It wasn’t the traffic out there for sure,” he said before telling Mr. Warwick about Manchu and ending with what Lilly had told him.
“Ouch!” Mr. Warwick said having heard the whole story. He rubbed his arm with his other hand as if it had just been stung, then continued speaking in a low voice as the waiter set down their food. “I understand now. You two have worked yourselves into a block of setting cement. Listen to me, friend. Going up against the government and dealing with religious issues that clearly aren’t sanctioned by the state is serious, tricky business over here. Even activists for other issues are silenced almost instantaneously. And their lawyers are oftentimes punished right alongside them. Marc, I know you know all this, but it’s my task to warn you again. The best thing for you to do, at least safety-wise for your daughter, is to catch the next flight out.”
“But you know I’m not going to do what’s safest,” Mr. Hill said.
“I know you’re not going to do what’s safest,” Mr. Warwick repeated. He took a sip of his ice filled drink. “Precisely why I told you what you should do.”
“Because Manchu is being treated unjustly, neither his wife nor his unborn kid will be able to see him again down here, and their church members will be left wondering where their pastor is. That is why we won’t leave just now,” Lilly clarified. Mr. Hill nodded affirmatively.
“You’ve got it, young lady. You’ve acquired your father’s passion and convictions, I mean,” Mr. Warwick said pointing at her. “But you can’t always save the world. That’s easier said than done.”
“We aren’t talking about saving the world though,” Lilly assured him. “Just one person.”
“Well, in this case, it might take forever to free one person. It won’t be quick and easy.”
A smile tugged at the corners of Mr. Hill’s mouth and a glint appeared in his right eye. “Whether it’s quick and easy, or not, this is taking a couple days max,” he declared.