When Marco and Frigga left the kitchen, Mr. Hill poked his head around the corner and watched them both with amusement for a few minutes before tapping Lilly on the shoulder. “Come here for a minute, Lilly,” he said. “I originally came in to tell you I received some interesting news involving us both.”
“Yes, sir.” Lilly followed him to his computer in his home office. An email from Mrs. Sun was on the screen. Lilly read it aloud:
To Mr. Hill and Lillian Hill:
I hope this email finds you well. Your sudden return to America was brought to my attention by a friend of yours, Bo Cambridge, who came by to retrieve your belongings upon my return from a week-long stay with my children at their tutor’s house. I was also startled to find my husband missing and I was unable to get in contact with him for several days. Meanwhile, Mr. Cambridge informed me of my husband’s part in hurting you two and the pastor you were trying to aid. I was greatly saddened to hear this and was partly in disbelief since my family, including Evan, has professed belief in the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. However, my husband confirmed Mr. Cambridge’s report when he called me from prison only two days ago. While I do not wish to burden you with all he told me, I do believe an explanation for Evan’s behavior and actions is both needed and deserved. Near tears, for the first time he told me of a financial debt he owed the government from before we were wedded. Unable to pay it, some years ago, an official approached him offering a back deal – either help them detain those “government dissidents” and be paid occasionally for any success, or be hauled off to prison. He accepted the deal and ever since has been working secretly for the government to do just that. Thankfully, his efforts to help detain two other Christian pastors failed as well. With this third failed attempt, the government came and jailed him claiming they did not know where his loyalties lie. Evan also admitted to me that he doubts his Christian faith, and wants to apologize especially to you, Lilly. I know it is not my place to judge my husband’s heart, but I do feel his apology is sincere and his remorse is not just because of his imprisonment. I believe my husband was a proud man because he could have asked for my help, my family’s help, and even the help of others in resolving his debt, but he did not. Yes, even though I am his wife and this revelation was shocking to me as well, Jesus has given me the strength to forgive Evan. I pray that you have found it in your hearts to forgive him as well. Thank you and God bless.
P.S. To Lillian: Echo and Emmy enjoyed having you stay with us, and hope you come back to visit, or at least send them your email so that you three can stay in touch.
“Look at that,” Mr. Hill said after Lilly finished reading. “Sweetheart, you’re more popular than me. You received two shout-outs in one email.”
“Consider, Dad, one of those shout-outs came because of a creepy hostage situation,” Lilly kidded. “And I was that hostage. I went through a scary situation to get that shout-out.”
Mr. Hill laughed. “So what do you think of this email?” he asked.
“It definitely clears everything up,” Lilly confirmed thoughtfully. “And, of course, I forgive Evan.”
“Same here. I’d like to say, you can’t not forgive someone for taking the mundane out of life,” Mr. Hill said. “This email definitely explains the ‘why’ factor. It is a pity how some men are so venal though.”
“Venal?” Lilly questioned.
“Yes, meaning able to be bought.”
“Oh, I see. Do you believe the Chinese officials are going to have us or the Carrigs extradited to China or something for what we did?”
“No. If they try anything, news will get out, and I’m sure American government officials will put a stop to the situation.”
“Well, if they do and aren’t stopped, just know I’ll stick by your side even in the jail cell,” Lilly assured him smiling.
Mr. Hill put his arm around Lilly’s shoulder. “I can always count on you, darling,” he said sincerely. Together, they typed up a reply email to Eia Sun—an email of thanks and encouragement.
It wasn’t long before Mrs. Hill called their names notifying them of the Carrigs arrival.
“Hurry, hit send,” Mr. Hill said.