* Mason *
“I’m so fucking blind, I missed the obvious!” Mason slammed his fist down on Dash’s desk. The man gave him an unimpressed look. “Bentley set me up. Set Clover up. Why? Why drug her, kill her friend, and take off with her?”
“What do you know about his lifestyle app?” Dash sat forward, scratching his scruffy beard, “Um, Love Meets You?”
Dash Langley was ex-military and an expensive resource Peter and Mason used to scare the competition when they broke out into the AI sect. The guy was like a ghost who decided he liked the nerdy boys, promising if they ever needed his help again, he'd be there.
Dash had been the one to corner Adley when the bitch locked herself in her house with her husband, refusing to speak to Mason. Her old man was so scared during the brief interrogation, Dash said, he pissed himself. Finding out Bentley whispered in Adley’s ear how to influence Mason into ending Clover’s employment was not nearly as shocking as it would have been if he hadn’t already known she forged documents.
“He tried to tell me, but I never wanted to talk about it,” he admitted, “Clover used it and I convinced her to delete the account. I figured he was into her when he continued coming by the office, saying I better step up or he would, but thought he had a crush, I mean, he enjoys screwing with women’s heads. I hoped after we started dating he’d leave us alone.”
“You let him get close,” Dash shook his head, “Jarvis is one sick fuck. Every city he visits there’s a slew of missing women reported, yet never enough to lead authorities to the site. He’s careful and keeps to criteria. I dug deep and discovered a spin-off to Love Meets You.”
Mason slumped in a chair to regain his composure. Dash invited him to his home after years of meeting in public places, and his eyes scanned the war memorabilia and awards hanging from the stark white walls. At fifty he had seen and done a lot, and Mason was grateful he didn’t hesitate to offer assistance when he called. Still cost him a pretty penny though for his time, but he always bagged results.
“Darker. He trains and sells women as a particular brand. It’s not just your typical BDSM shit. He makes them sweet.”
“Sweet?” he repeated, thinking there had to be a punch-line or different meaning.
“Meet Sweet, that’s what I found. He and his handlers, I’m guessing he has those, train them to be perfect little girlfriends, wives, slaves, whatever the men do to them once he hands them over. They’re able to show them off without worry they’ll run to the cops because they program them to enjoy ownership.”
He ran a tired hand over his face, “SHIT!”
“Yup, sickening shit. You mentioned he began abusing women in college?”
“Not exactly,” Mason hated getting into that because THAT implicated him, “Bentley turned vindictive when rejected, not stopping until they gave in to his dominance. I kept expecting them to call him out on it, but none did, which is why he got so goddamn good at manipulation.”
“If he kidnapped Clover, he’s moved on from Tucker City. I found the Meet Sweet site, but it’s like Fort fucking Knox getting in. I’m having my best guy looking at it. Maybe we’ll uncover a buyer and learn how they operate.”
“I failed her,” Mason lamented, “She’s sweet. The kindest. I can only imagine what she must think, what he’s doing to her. She has no one to help her besides me.”
“Hey,” Dash’s voice lowered, “It’s not just about her. He’s stolen women from all over who are missing home. I will trap this animal, bet your ass. I’ve already let my FBI contact know I’m on the warpath, so I shouldn’t catch too much trouble.”
“Any ping off of his cell or last address?”
“Nope. Oh, they found strands of Clover’s hair in Brad’s bed.”
Mason formed fists, “Really?”
“That means nothing, man. He gave her a safe-haven after Bentley drugged her, and the boy paid the price. I’ve got people searching for her vehicle. Go home, get some rest, and leave it with me.”
He stood, taking a deep breath, “Love Meets You, huh? How come nobody’s put two and two together girls turn up missing after joining the app?”
“Because they legally can’t. Bentley’s a smart fucker. Want to hear something freaky?”
“What?” he asked tiredly.
“Brad was part of Bentley’s legal team barring shared information if the dating app ever came into suspicion. All persons using the site hand over their data and the law cannot touch them.”
“Motherfucker! I’m going to enjoy ripping his head off his neck!” Mason seethed.
Dash smirked, “We’ll locate their operation, then you’ll get your chance.”
“And my girlfriend,” he opened the door, “I don’t care how much it cost, find these sick assholes.”
Dash licked his lips, hesitating, and Mason waved an impatient hand for him to spit it out. “You said Clover’s nice, but is she strong?”
Clever and selfless came to his mind immediately, remembering how she’d coyly tilt her head before offering unfiltered opinions about the weirdest shit. How she caught him off guard by how thoughtful she was, always placing the needs of others before hers. Every day she showed courage stepping into a workplace where women ridiculed her for simply being herself. He understood why she kept their relationship on the down-low, believing she would somehow tarnish his rep. What he failed to tell her, and wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, she made him better just by being in his life.
“Yes,” he swallowed, the daily despair in his gut yawning inches wider, conscious of the fact Bentley would exploit Clover’s weaknesses against her, “She has grit.”
“For her sake, let’s hope so.”