We are far from being out of the woods yet. I’m still on the fence if Ryann will truly stay or if she’ll run. I know she’s fighting against the urge to run; I can see it in her eyes. And I can’t say that I’d blame her. The entertainment blogs are already having a field day with the drama that’s unfolded. The sun has barely risen past the California horizon, and my phone was already blowing up. I had to force myself to get out of bed without waking Ryann. I should have done what Xayla and Val did and leave my damn device out in the kitchen or hid it.
But the light bouncing up to the ceiling is what kept waking me, and it was anyone and everyone calling me from Travis to Pearl and even Ryann’s sister. That is the call that prompted me to get my ass out of bed. My curiosity was too great to deny her phone call again, not after I laid into her and not after I wanted answers.
“Yea?” I whisper as I closed the bedroom door behind me and sneaked off into my office.
“Thomas?” Her voice is small, and lacking any confidence.
“Jennifer, you better have some news for calling this early.”
I can hear her breath catch as she starts to stumble over her words, “I’m-I’m sorry. I forget about the...umm, the time change. Uhh, I don’t have any new news. I wanted to check on my sister.”
Crashing into my office chair, it slides back to the windows, and I peek out to the front of the house. I notice the black Mercedes sedan out front. Travis has arrived early today, that, or he never left. “How do you think she’s feeling, Jennifer?”
“Like her world is crashing around her. But this is Ryann; she’ll be fine, right? She’s always able to pick the pieces up and march on.” The hope in her voice is the same hope I have for Ryann, but coming out of Jen’s mouth, it pisses me the fuck off.
“And how about you help her pick up those god damn pieces since someone from your side of town sent that fucker our way.” I have to reign in the urge from yelling, but the venom is heard.
“Bu-but, it wasn’t me.”
It may not have been you, but you’re not exactly innocent in all of this either. While Jen maybe taking the correct steps and checking in on her sister. The first and most extensive progress she needs to make is realizing what the hell she’s done in the past to Ryann was utterly wrong.
“I don’t know that. All you’re giving me is your word, and from what I’ve witnessed, your word isn’t worth much.”
Jennifer gasps out, “How dare you. You don’t know me.”
“I know enough.”
“Uh-wha-what is that supposed to mean? Ryann told you about me?”
Rolling my eyes, I catch movement coming from the security shack and watch as Travis makes his way to the front of the house. Making me wonder if he’s stumbled upon anything.
“I didn’t answer your call to talk about you. If you want to help Ryann, I suggest you start with your town, your father, and that husband of yours. If Betty or Teresa want to talk with Ryann, please give them my number. She’ll be without a phone for a few days until I can get her a new one.” Mostly until we can get a handle on this, but I also have a feeling her phone has blown up with potential interviews, and it won’t be me that they’ll want.
“Okay, yea. I think mom wants to call her today. But I’m not sure that is a good idea. Is it?”
I have no clue what’s a good or a bad idea, but I’m not sure Ryann talking to her family right now is a good one. “Not today. Just look out for Ryann back home. We will handle things out here.”
“How? It’s everywhere. Now channels and magazines are changing their tune after Allison Drake came out and defended her. However, some are still slandering my sister.”
There is a firm yet soft knock on my office door before it’s slowly open as Travis peeks in. I wave him in before returning to the conversation on the phone, “We will get it handled.” I assure her. “Just take care of things on your end. And Jen?”
“Ya-yea...” She stumbles.
“The next time you call me before the damn sun has risen, it better because you have the information I want.”
Hanging up the phone, I set it on my desk and stare back out the window. My mind is working and overworking because even if we do get this all handled, the rumors and the truth, finally sorted. Ryann is going to need 24/7 security while she’s out. She won’t be able to walk the sidewalks or go anywhere on her own. She’s going to need protection. And so will Val. I may need to hire extra guards because Travis cannot watch over three individuals simultaneously. It was easy for him to do with Ryann and me because we were almost always together. But I have a feeling more guards will be needed.
“I was already thinking that we would need more security.”
Turning myself from the window, I watch as Travis takes a seat in one of the office armchairs opposite my desk. He doesn’t look like he’s gotten much sleep either. “Did you go home last night?”
Shaking his head, “No, I wanted to be on the premise in case anything happened.”
“Ahh, and did anything happened?”
“Besides the few random cars coming up the road, no. Though, I’m fairly certain they were the press with how long they lingered. Are you sure you don’t want dogs on the property? I know a breeder and trainer who trains guard dogs.”
Ya, because that’s all I need. Dogs that will attack strangers on my property followed by a lawsuit because the trespasser got bit in the ass. No, thank you. Plus, I don’t really do animals. I’m highly allergic to cats; I don’t want to test the theory with dogs. Although my grandparents had an Aussie on their farm, and I did fine with him. But I also did okay with the cat too. Only a few sneezes here and there. Not like today, today my face swells, and my eyes will swell shut. It’s a fun experience.
“No, no dogs,” I say with a wave of my hand. “Please tell me you have people lined up for added protection. Ryann and Val won’t be able to go anywhere on their own for quite some time. I want you with Ryann at all times. I don’t want someone new with her. She trusts you and will do well with you watching over her.”
Travis nods his head, “And you?”
What about me? “When Ryann and I are together,” which will be almost always, “you will be security for both with one other man as well. Your concern will be Ryann. Not me. Whoever you’ve tasked to be assigned to me will be my security.”
“I do have three in mind. I’ve already put a request in for them to be transferred here. I also think it is wise for someone to be on the property at all times. And they will rotate shifts. I will be on the premise at all times until we can get things sorted.”
Eyeing him, “So there will be two guards on the property at all times.”
“Essentially, yes. One will be patrolling, and I will be the only one to enter the residents. They have been given orders to only enter when they deem the occupants of the house are in danger.”
“As much as I hate to admit to this, I agree with you,” I say on a sigh. “Who are the three that you have requested to come and join us?”
“Samuel Edwards, he’s ex-Marine and has been working in security for ten years. Jonathan Meyers, again, he’s also an ex-Marine and has been in the security field for about eight years. Both men are well accomplished with guarding high-profile individuals and are highly sought after. Then we have Heather Meyers.”
I arch a brow, “Brother and sister duo?”
Travis holds a hand-out at my apprehension, “Yes, but work extremely well as a team. In fact, they’re currently being pulled from another job to be transferred here. They’re a highly sought-after duo for security. Heather and Jonathan will be tasked with protecting Valerie when she goes out. Even to the store, she will be living with 24/7 security. Heather will act as her guard while Jonathan will drive them and acts as back up.”
And I’m sure this is going to go over well with Val. “And when Val is at the house?”
“They will be outside on guard. Again, unless they deem anyone inside the house are in danger.”
Looking down at my phone as it lights up, I see Val’s name. Holding my finger up to Travis, I answer it. “Thomas, the fucking press are outside my god damn building. I can’t get out. How the hell do they know where I live? This is absolutely insane.”
Groaning out in pure frustration, in all the years Val has worked for me, and she’s never had to deal with the press swarming her before. She’s never had to be on this side of the job. “Val, go back up to your apartment and lock the door. Travis will come by and get you and bring you back to the house and pack a bag. You’ll be staying at the house for a couple of nights.”
“Valerie,” I nearly shout into the phone. “Don’t argue with me. Travis will come and get you and bring you back here. We need to talk about the change in security for the time being.”
“Uhh, yeah, okay. I’ll be up in my apartment waiting for him.”
Hanging up the phone, I’m half tempted to bang my head against my desk in hopes that I wake up from this twilight zone of a nightmare. “Go and bring Valerie back here, and make sure she packs an overnight bag for the next couple of days. She will be staying at the house until I can figure something out.”
“She’s not going to approve of that move,” Travis says in his authoritative monotone voice.
Rolling my eyes as I rake a hand through my hair, “No shit. But right now, I need to keep her safe. Tell her her options are here or Xayla’s.” At least if she’s with Xayla, I know she’ll be safe. Xayla’s security is top-notch. Complete with guard dogs. Now, her going out in public is a different story. She hates taking her team with her and will only do it if she absolutely has to.
Nodding his head, Travis gets up and heads for the door of the office. “Oh, Sir, if you haven’t already. I would check your email.”
As I watch him leave the office, my brow furrows, and I immediately pull my email up on my laptop. Scrolling through the slew of unread messages left from yesterday, I find the one from Travis with the title, Benedict.
Opening the email, I find information that the FBI, CIA, or even the local authorities should only have access to. The main form is a police report filed on behalf of Ryann and later dropped. It looks like the criminal report was filed by someone named Benjamin Arnold. In the complaint, he lists Jamie Maddox and Maxwell Johnson as the suspects with potential charges of: criminal confinement, providing alcohol to a minor, providing drugs to a minor, providing a laced drink with the intention of bodily harm, sexual assault, forced prostitution.....
I slam my laptop shut, and I may have just crushed the fucking screen. How the hell was all of that reported but later dismissed? And who the hell is this Benjamin guy? As much as this is going to anger me, I need to know more. I need to know what the hell Travis has found.
Opening up my laptop, I scroll through the complaint filed. The statement goes on to say: when the accuser arrived at the party, he heard the victim crying out for help. Her words were slurred, but she could be heard in the house over the loud music. A line was forming from a bedroom with fellow students cheering and bragging about finally getting a turn. Some students came out of the room with articles of clothing belonging to the victim. When the accuser approached the door, it was closed and locked. The accuser stated he banged on the door and demanded them to open it. When the door stayed closed, the accuser claims he kicked it in and found the victim tied to the bed with three men in the room. The accuser stated that the victim was now passed out and unresponsive at this point and was clearly unable to make a decision on her own. A classmate was kneeling on the bed between her legs. When asked what he did when he saw that, the accuser admitted he put the fellow classmate in a chokehold and dragged him out of the room. The accuser stated that he told the line to leave and that the show was over. When he went back to the room, the accuser states Mr. Maddox was the only one left in the room, and he could see a video camera in his hand. The accuser stated that Mr. Maddox attempted to bribe him to keep him from talking. The accuser claims that he shoved Mr. Maddox into the wall and shattered the camera, and destroyed the film. When asked where the third man went, the accuser claims he must have left the room when he was dragging the victim’s rapist from the bed. When asked if he knows who the third man was in the room, the accuser said yes, and proceeded to name Maxwell Johnson as the third accomplice. When asked how the accuser knew this information, the accuser stated that once he could untie the victim, he took his shirt off, put it on her, wrapped her in a blanket to cover her, and carried her out. The accuser stated that the victim was not responsive, and there was a point that he was concerned that she wasn’t even breathing. The accuser rushed the victim to a hospital that a female family member worked at outside of city limits. When asked why he took her so far instead of calling 911 to report the incident, the accuser stated because Colfax is a judgmental town. He knew bringing her to the county hospital or calling the police would get out to the town, and the victim would have been worse off. The accuser stated that Mr. Johnson called him asking if he saw the victim in question at the party because she’s not picking up her phone. The accuser stated that he told Mr. Johnson where they were, and Mr. Johnson met them at the hospital. The accuser stated that he confronted Mr. Johnson when he asked how he knew he was at the party. Mr. Johnson proceeded to tell him Mr. Maddox informed him. The accuser pressed the issue because he was under the impression that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Maddox were not friends, nor did they talk. The accuser stated that Mr. Johnson started to stumble over his words, and that is when he called him out, and a fight ensued at the hospital. Security was called, and the fight was split up. The accuser told Mr. Johnson that he would go to the police if he didn’t stay away from the victim, or he’d make sure that the victim found out. When asked why he was filing the criminal complaint, the accuser stated that he knew the victim would not. Something needed to be done because the victim could have died that night. The accuser was instructed. Unless the victim comes forward to officially report the incident, charges could not be filed, nor would an investigation be instated until said victim came forward. The accuser became enraged and was placed in custody for vandalism and defacing the interrogation room.
Pulling at the roots of my hair, I read the last section of the form that was added a couple of weeks after the initial report was filed. Compliant dismissed.
Dismissed. The report was just tossed out. No investigation into anything, nothing. How in the hell.....FUCK! Then there is her so-called best friend. This Benjamin caught Max in the fucking room. He called him the fuck out. He had to take Ryann to the god damn emergency room. Is this something her parents know about? Her mom? Or Teresa? I mean, does she even remember this happening because if she was that drugged....Oh, my god! Then there are all the times with fucking Xayla. This is why she knew what to do. To make Xayla throw up. To take her to the emergency room when she passed out and became unresponsive. All of it. It all makes fucking sense now, and I had her relive her worst fucking memories. Like, is this the reason why her nightmares have returned because of all the shit I subjected her to?
Fucking hell, I’m not any better than those assholes.
Ryann needs to see this, but not now. She won’t be able to handle this because I honestly don’t think she remembers this happening. If she did....who am I kidding? She wouldn’t have mentioned this tidbit of her past to me. She couldn’t even tell me of her sobriety.
Again, the urge to find a handle and drown out what the hell I just read is high on my priority list. Instead, I make my way out of the office and into the garage. Because I’m going to beat the shit out of this punching bag and wish it’s Max or Jamie I’m obliterating.
A justice for Ryann that is well worth a broken hand or the publicity that would surely follow. But then there is the whole catch twenty-two because, with the lousy publicity that would ensue from the fight, Ryann would surely be dragged in, and I know she’d feel forced to pick sides.
Something I won’t force Ryann to do.