Page 25 of An Amazon Affair

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My laptop chimes to tell me I have a new email, and I snap back up, clicking on the spacebar. Waiting for me is a message from Don.

Dear Yara,

Please accept my most sincere condolences. You father was one of the best men I ever knew. I was honored to be his advisor and friend.

CCM was started as a means to offer additional medical supplies and services to the many general hospitals (known as Unidade Hospitalars) located in the river basin of the Brazilian Amazon, west of Manaus. Your father was a tireless champion of improving the conditions and offerings of these medical clinics. In fact, I believe CCM is one of the leading independent benefactors of ancillary requests not met by the state.

Your mother’s email indicates that you are currently visiting the very area in which your father was so emotionally and financially invested. If you’d like a recommendation of places where you might be able to see the legacy of his kindness in action, please let me know. I would be happy to pull together a list of medical clinics that have benefited from his support.

I’ll have my assistant send the reports you requested as soon as possible.

I look forward to collaborating with you in the future.

Very best regards,

Don Spiegel

I blink back tears as Don’s words sink in.

My father never turned his back on his Brazilian roots as I cruelly suspected.

His body may have left the country, but some part of his heart—of his very soul—remained behind.

After you and me, it was his passion, that foundation.

My mother’s words repeat in my head, and I feel bereft that I never knew this side of my beloved father, never shared the joy he must have felt in giving back to the country that bore and raised him, that nurtured him from a baby to a child to a young man.

Coração de Minha Mãe.

My Mother’s Heart.

What a tribute to the mother he loved.

I curl into a ball and weep.


The next morning, I’msurprised to discover I’ve been assigned to Rio for our excursion to Anavilhanas National Park. Since I’ve been in Lucas’s group over the last two days, I wonder about the change.

Ahead of the other passengers, who linger over breakfast, I head down the dock and take Rio’s hand as he helps me board a 12-person motor boat.

“How come I’m with you today?” I ask.

“Any objection?”


“You weren’t at dinner last night,” he says softly, scanning my face.

“I had dinner in my room, instead. Work to do. A lot on my mind.”

“Is everything okay?” he asks, his brows furrowed.

I tilt my head to the side. “Do you care?”

“Actually,” he says, “I do.”

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