Love Meets You part 2

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14.

* Bentley*

Something didn’t sit right after he arranged a flight plan with a pilot he’d used twice before. The guy stuttered too much and seemed distracted. Bentley’s bullshit radar warned him of impending danger. He might have chalked it up to paranoia, but trusting his instincts got him out of more scrapes than he could count.

Sitting in the den with Alisha cuffed at his feet, he understood leaving Jade alone the smart thing to do. He contemplated the multiple scenarios of swooping in, extracting her without the heat of Mason on his back… yet he was lying to himself. Mason knew where she was and he would have a plan in place for his capture. Mason was just as ruthless as he was, only he delegated his sins to others so it wouldn’t taint his reputation.

He smiled at Alisha, and the violet-eyed woman demurely beamed. Could he go on without Jade in his life? Yes. Did he want to? No. Why did women fuck everything up?

“Do not move,” Bentley stood, walking over to where he left his things, “Stay sweet Alisha.”

“Sir?” she squeaked, eyes wide and confused, but remained kneeling on the ground as ordered.

He picked up two bags, one containing cash, the other clothes, and walked out of the house. He didn’t bother telling his men where he was going, not that they cared. After showing mercy for Jade’s predicament, they looked at him differently. Emmett hadn’t checked in for hours and he had a system set up with Grant if separated.

With Reese in the wind, and Jade running her mouth to the cops, only a matter of time before the shit hit the fan. How many people would they send to apprehend him? Ha, as if he never prepared for impossible situations before. He took a path through the woods, arriving at the truck he stashed in case something like this happened.

Pulling onto rough back roads, he called Kyrell.

“Boss?”

“It’s over.”

What?”

Bentley cursed as a black helicopter flew overhead, “Get out of there. We’re closed for business. I’ll wire your final payment. If you value your life, you’ll keep my name out of your mouth forever. Am I clear?”

Kyrell didn’t reply for several seconds before muttering a warning, “Don’t pursue her. Good luck, Bentley.”

The line died, and he pulled over, stomped on the phone until it busted into pieces. Time to regroup and invent a new lifestyle for when Jade joined him.


* Clover *

Floundering under pain-relieving drugs, a feeling of immense joy flooded Clover’s consciousness hearing her best friend begging her to open her eyes. Was she dreaming or out of that house with the locks and constant worry she wasn’t sweet enough?

Bentley… Sir.

“Wake up, stupid,” Aurora’s voice cracked.

Clover slowly focused on her distraught friend, “Hi?”

Aurora covered her mouth with one hand while wiping away tears with the other, “You fucking scared the shit out of me! When Mason told me you were in the hospital, I lost my mind girl!”

She peered down, seeing her upper chest wrapped up in bandages, “Oh yeah, how did I get here? How long? Where’s Mason?” she shivered, “Did I come here alone?”

“Clover?” a nurse and two officers in uniforms entered before Aurora could respond, “I’m sorry miss, but you need to leave now.”

“She just woke up!” her bestie cried, “Can’t you give us a minute?”

The police gave her the stink eye until she swore she’d be right outside before stomping from the room. A sympathetic nurse helped her to sit before the integration began. They demanded the name of the person who stabbed her and fired off so many questions her head spun.

The door banged open and a tall man in his late thirties with wheat-colored hair stepped through flashing a badge, “Gentlemen, Miss McBride will not entertain your curiosity. This case is already being handled. Please…” he waved them out.

The policemen didn’t appear put out as the tired looking newcomer waited until they were alone before approaching, “Hi, Clover,” he had a disarming smile, “I’m here because Mason Thistle and Dash Langley made us aware Bentley Jarvis kidnapped you and others in the city.”

She relaxed into the pillows, the pain meds making her limbs lose. “They did, huh? Who’s Langley?”

“Mason hired him to help find you. I’m Agent Grey Mercer,” he pulled up a chair, plucking a small silver digital recorder from his wrinkled front suit pocket, “Care if I record our conversation?”

She placed a hand over her throbbing chest. What happened? What kind of hospital tolerates cops harassing her before checking to see if she was all right first? Even the nurse hadn’t asked if she was comfortable before moving along. “I guess, Mr. Mercer.”

“Call me Grey,” he tapped a button, “What can you tell me about the night you left Patches’ Bar?”

She reached for the water cup on the bedside table, hissing when muscles stretched tight, and he quickly handed it to her, “Sorry, you’ll be able to rest soon, but I requested a field psychiatrist to follow up with you. It’s important we learn as much as possible so our facts are straight.”

“Where’s Bentley?” she needed to know, “If you’re here, does it mean he’s still out there?”

He sighed, settling his bulky form in the chair, “Unfortunately, yes. At this point, we’re following breadcrumbs. We followed a lead to a house where we found a woman.”

Clover’s heart raced, causing her wound to throb even more. “Did she have red hair?”

“No. Back to the evening, you were last seen leaving the bar with Brad Crane?”

She grimaced, thinking of Brad. “Bentley drugged me then Brad found me outside the bar. He’s dead, isn’t he?”

Grey gave her a solemn nod, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Clover closed her eyes to brace herself before telling him how men took her from Brad’s apartment, sedating her before she woke in a concrete room. How she rotted away in the dark, cuffed to a wall for days, scared out of her mind. She tried to tell him about Delia, Polly, Alisha, and Reese, but the words got caught in her throat and she broke down. It was too much. She earned her freedom the hard way, but the other girls were out there somewhere being abused. Brad fucking died because of her.

“We’ll stop there,” Grey patted her blanketed leg gently, “I’ll have the doctor come in now.”

She only nodded, burying her face in the crisp hospital sheets. The attending physician stepped in quickly with the same nurse, making her believe they weren’t complete assholes, surrendering her to the mercy of nosy lawmen. Dr. Peel introduced himself before explaining the surgery to remove the knife Reese embedded in her chest and how the wound would heal nicely if she refrained from pulling the stitches. He smiled the entire time, saying she required only ten stitches. Only.

After a while, a new dose from the morphine drip kicked in, and they left her alone. She felt comforted when Aurora returned. Her compassionate bestie clasped her hand, knowing Clover needed her silent strength.

Thoughts of Bentley continuing to brainwash women in another city or town made her want to throw up and her stomach agreed. Aurora held the little puke bin for her, patting her back, crooning she was there for her. She wanted to spill every nasty detail in her ear, just so someone else would share the burden, but she couldn’t do that to her. Aurora was ballsy, straight-forward, and open-minded, but she was also good and had a habit of seeing the best in people. Until recently, Clover could say the same about herself, so why would she taint her friend into second-guessing everyone she met because sometimes villains turned out to be those you trusted?

Something strange happened to her while with Bentley. That last night, before Reese attacked her, they connected. He was a fucking monster, yet Clover allowed him to touch her and even spoke freely, certain he wouldn’t hurt her. Why did he save her? She hated him! Her head ached in ways the drugs didn’t numb.

“They said you can leave in a few days,” Aurora mentioned a while later, breaking the thick tension, “Come stay with me. I’ll handle all your bills while you focus on getting well, okay Clover?”

She stared up at the popcorn ceiling, uncertain where to begin living her life again, relieved Aurora offered an out. “Sure. Where… have you seen Mason?”

“Yeah, he’s around here somewhere with a hot older dude. The nurses are gossiping about how he stormed in here with, like, all sorts of officials to protect your name and welfare…” she trailed off, noticing Clover’s fresh tears, “I’m so glad he searched for you.”

“Out of guilt, most likely.” she whispered, afraid to trust the hope blooming in her heart Mason still cared for her, “Bentley was his friend.”

Her expression darkened, “Maybe. We’ll see but rest in the meantime. I’m not leaving this spot.”

Clover gave into exhaustion but woke in sweaty, panicked starts every few minutes it seemed, although time must have passed as different nurses came and went. Aurora kept vigil, sitting close, encouraging her to sleep.

In the morning a stick thin, no-nonsense looking woman with a severe bun kicked Aurora out, telling her to go get some food or a shower before introducing herself as Agent Alice Rhee, a psychotherapist. She disliked her without reason, but sat and listened as she gave her useful information.

“Just so you know, they recovered another victim from the scene. What happened to you both will forever stay with you, but I hope you let me give you some healing tools for what comes next. Number one being ongoing therapy after you’re released from the hospital.”

She licked her lips, “Who did you find at the house?”

“Sorry, I’m unable to reveal identities. Someone leaked your probable involvement in an underground sex ring, and the local media is digging for more dirt. Keeping you safe is our goal. Agent Mercer will probably offer you a fresh start.”

“Fresh start?” she narrowed her eyes.

“WITSEC, Witness Security Program,” Agent Rhee explained, “Bentley Jarvis is still at large, and according to the other victims, he was very fond of you. I’d strongly consider all options.”

She shivered, clutching her hands together beneath the sheet, “Others? Did you rescue someone else?”

“Yes. That’s another issue. Technically, she is a victim, but she also assaulted you.”

Clover shot up so fast, her stitches pulled and she let out a pain-filled moan before settling into a comfortable position, “She needs help. A lot!”

Rhee nodded in understanding, clearing her throat, “She faces institutionalization, but I’m only telling you this so you’ll rest assured she’s no longer a threat in case you decide to—”

“I want nothing to do with Reese,” Fatigue hit her hard, and she wished the pushy therapist would leave her alone, “They brainwashed her, but she was also jealous. Are we done?”

“We haven’t even started Clover. Please, tell me how Bentley abducted.”

She wanted to throw something, “Why? I need some time. These drugs make it difficult to think.”

The woman looked doubtful, “Do you recall the night that—”

“He put me in a filthy dog kennel!” she shouted, furious this fucking lady wouldn’t let her be. She didn’t want to talk about anything that went on in that place.

Agent Rhee stood and placed a card on the table by the bed, “Anger is good. It means you aren’t giving up. I’ll return later.”

“I’m busy later,” Clover sneered, “I’ll give my statement or whatever, to whoever needs to hear it, but that’s it.”

“Are you feeling up to it now?”

The sneaky bitch. “Yeah… I guess so.”

She finally left, and Clover laid panting as if recovering from a race. She hadn’t meant to mention the cage, and the time spent there replayed in her mind, making her ill. Tears slipped down her cheeks, and she groaned at the pathetic mess she turned into.

“Clover?”

She snapped her eyes open to see Grey Mercer standing at the foot of her bed. With a sigh, she wiped at her wet face. So, they expected her to tell this man what Bentley, Kyrell, and Emmett did to her and the others? Fucking perfect.

“He wanted me sweet,” Clover blurted out as Grey sat, his trusty recorder in hand.

“Can you expound what that means?” he asked kindly, “As many details as possible, please?”

She noticed he had deep blue eyes, and how they crinkled at his temples when he turned pensive. “Bentley had rules. When I got there, four women were in the basement. All of them… obliging.”

Clover’s words came out stilted, skipping, and restarting parts because talking about the kennel had her pulse spiking and her head throbbed. Grey quizzed certain aspects when she faltered or simply waited until she found her place. He probed deeper into Mr. J’s plans for Delia, and she recited every fact she could, down to the flashy watch he wore. He perked up at that, saying sometimes jewelers registered various pieces.

“Bentley made it seem the women did as they were told because they chose to obey their Sirs. I don’t know why, but he swore I wasn’t to be like them,” Clover was having a tough time keeping the confused emotions out of her voice, hoping Grey didn’t think she was forming excuses, “While Mr. J spoke to Delia, she smiled and yet her eyes… lacked life.”

Grey nodded, fingers cupping his sharp jaw, “What happened in the animal cage?”

She flinched, “I already described the unrelenting sounds. Also, a man spewing shit about behaving a specific way.”

His attention didn’t waver from her face, “How long do you think they kept you inside those four small steel walls, Clover?”

Her entire body broke into a sweat, but she felt chilled down to her marrow, “I have no idea. Maybe a few days? I’m not feeling so hot.”

“What was the purpose of the room? What did you hear on the recordings? Repeat it for me.”

I told you,” she ground out, her stomach flipping, rolling, “He explained my… I want…”

Clover grabbed the tub she had puked into before, dry heaving. They hadn’t fed her before all the interrogating, so only bile flew into the bin. She couldn’t catch her breath, groaning in pain when the world seemed to tilt on its axis. Grey stood, pushing a button, telling her to calm down, that she didn’t have to talk anymore today.

A nurse hurried in, fussing over her as the pitying agent excused himself. Sobs wracked her frame, and as more help arrived she started shouting she needed space, pleading for them to leave her the fuck alone! No one listened, and she became enraged.

The apathetic doctors and tutting nurses didn’t care what she went through! How dare they tell her to relax? Screw their pity!

Someone injected something into the IV in her arm, and sleep came quickly, but not soon enough for her to forget she almost called out for her Sir.

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