The Darkness Within

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Summary

Selena Rei Rogers is your everyday normal teenage girl. She has big dreams and lots of hopes. She wants to have a normal life, and she strives for normal relationships. One day, everything changes for her. One day sets her on a path she won't easily escape from. She gets thrown into a sex trafficking ring, and her only way out is through. Betrayal besets her and sets her on a dark path. Wanting to do what she can to make others hurt the way she does, she crosses several lines. Can she ever get back to the carefree girl she used to be?

Genre:
Other / Drama
Author:
Brittani Nicole Case
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
23
Rating:
4.1 10 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter One: Darkness Is All Around Us

What is darkness? Some people define it as an absence of light, while others define it as some unseen evil force. When some people picture darkness, they think of nights and how beautiful the moon and stars look in the sky. To some people, darkness is formidable and ominous, and some just ignore it altogether. What is it about the darkness that can sometimes be so alluring?

I suppose you could ask if there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. Can you learn any lessons from having lived in the darkness? Is there any point in fighting the darkness that resides in all of us? How much do you equate darkness with evil forces? Do you really need darkness for there to be a balance in the universe?

While some try to live life in the light, they either ignore the darkness or they fight it tooth and nail. They may crave the sunlight and all of the good things, and they may become depressed during storms. They always try to smile, and some of them ignore the pain of others completely. Some of them are so wrapped up in their own little worlds that the things going on outside of them can not penetrate their happiness. They are seekers of the light.

Then there are those of us that accept our darkness. Murderers, rapists, and child molesters are just the tip of the iceberg. While it’s true that those of us that accept darkness are not as good as some people, there is still a little hope left in us. Some of us turned to the darkness out of extenuating circumstances, and others just enjoy the high of doing something bad. While I don’t believe we are born one way or the other, I think certain things in our life pave the way for greatness or a descent into darkness.

My story is one about my descent into darkness. This is the story of how I was pushed into circumstances I could not control. I warn you, dear friend, my story has lots of twists and turns. This is how I went from a carefree girl to someone who worked in the dark underbelly of human trafficking. Before you ask, I will tell you exactly how I got there.

So, let’s go back to the beginning...

“Selena, you need to hurry or you’re going to be late!” my mom called from downstairs.

I was standing in front of the mirror working with my aggravatingly straight blond hair. I sighed in frustration that it was not working for me this morning.

“Give me a minute!” I called out over my shoulder.

“You have ten minutes to get down here and eat your breakfast, young lady,” I heard my father say.

“Yes, sir,” I answered.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My pale skinned face stared back at me. My blond hair was in a wavy up-do, and I had on just the right amount of foundation. I had one stubborn straight bang that kept falling into my eyes. I decided to finish off my look with some light pink eye shadow to bring out my pale blue eyes.

If I didn’t hurry, I was sure to be late for school. I made sure I had my gym bag packed for basketball practice later. I also decided to pack extra clothes to change into after practice because there is no way I would want to put this nice blue sundress on after sweating up a storm. Nor did I really want to wear heels after practice either, so some comfy flats were placed at the bottom of my gym bag. I was all ready for the day now.

I ran down the stairs and passed my mom and dad.

“Slow down, Selena, you need to eat your breakfast,” my mom said.

Ava Rogers. She was a great prosecutor in town. After my sister, Zoey was born, she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. She looked great to be in her forties. Zoey got her dark complexion from my mom, and her dark curls.

My mom was a serious person, but she knew how to cut loose every once in a while. Which explains why when I come down the stairs in the morning she’s dancing to some insane pop song in her apron as she prepares breakfast.

“I’m going to meet Ryan and Willow at the corner and give them a ride to school. I’ll be fine until lunch time. I’m not really that hungry anyways,” I said.

“Maybe take an apple to eat on your way?” my father offered.

Talon Rogers. He is one of the most highly respected criminal defense lawyers in the whole state of Tennessee. I got my looks from him a little. He is tall with blond, blond, blond hair and piercing dark blue eyes. He could strike fear into anyone with just a single glance.

I loved him a lot. Even when he was all business. It was nice having a tough dad that no one wanted to mess with.

“Alright, I can take an apple,” I said grabbing one out of the bowl.

I ran out of the door and hopped in my Porsche Boxster, and let the top down. I loved the dark blue color of my car and the tan interior. I cruised down to the corner of our street, and waited for my two best friends. I already had a good playlist going that had music we all would enjoy. If only they would get here in a timely fashion.

Tick tock goes the clock.

“Selena!” Willow squealed.

Willow Reid is what some people would call the creative type. She can write and she can draw. She dresses in all black and even has black streaks in her perfect red hair. She was short and slender, and she had the brightest green eyes I’ve ever seen. She even dresses in all black, which some people say is to keep others from getting too close to her.

They clearly underestimate how friendly this girl is.

“Willow!” I squealed.

We hugged each other excitedly as she hopped into the passenger seat.

“Hey, are you going to let me drive this beautiful machine?” Ryan greeted.

“No chance, dude," I said.

"But you don't even appreciate this car! You haven't even opened her up and seen what she can do!" he said.

I had to wait for him to quit gushing about my car. I’ve had it for a while now, but every time he rides in it, it’s like the very first time I pulled up in it. He even said it needed a good wash, which is probably true, and a good coat of wax. He was even convinced he could talk my parents into letting him drive my car.

Ryan Gilbert. He was the epitome of being a boy. He loved motocross and baseball. His slender muscular build would have made him any girl’s dream guy. Being shy and a little awkward kind of runs off girls that would have something to do with him.

Not that there is anything wrong with being awkward and shy. I honestly love that the most about him.

“Shall we head to our dungeon of torture?” I asked.

I smiled as I saw the looks of mock horror on their faces.

“Don’t make me go! Please, not the dungeon!” Willow said while trying to hold back a laugh.

“No more torture, please! I beg you to please end this now!” Ryan said.

Willow and I busted out laughing. We started cruising towards school just chit chatting amongst ourselves and dancing to the music. It was fall of the school year, and we were already trying to figure out what to do with our summer. We were taking the year seriously in order to get good grades and get into good schools. We could only hope the next year went as planned.

“You know last summer I completed my CPR class and this summer I am suppose to work in a doctor’s office,” I said.

I wanted to be a surgeon one day. A surgeon saved my leg so I could continue to play basketball a few years ago, and it really inspired me to look into sports medicine. I’ve been taking great science classes to help prepare me for the college courses I would be taking. I was even planning on doing some duel enrollment classes so I could be ahead by the time I got to whichever college I wanted to go to.

“Really? That’s great!” Willow said.

“I will be working at the sports shop as a mechanic this summer. I suppose I won’t be able to race as much as I would like. The owner will be a great sponsor though if I can beat my lap times,” Ryan said.

“What about baseball?” Willow asked.

“I have it arranged with coach that I can practice in the afternoons with him if he wants me to,” he answered.

“That’s awesome! What about you, Willow?” I asked.

“I won that writing contest I entered in last month. I will be going to the college for some free creative writing classes. At the end of the summer they will pick a winner and publish that writer’s short story,” she answered.

This is our senior year, and we have all tried really hard to reach our goals. I’ve applied to a few medical schools in different parts of the country. Which, we all have always worked hard to make sure we reach our goals. We want to have a successful career, and not just another job.

“I almost forgot about that,” I said.

"What about vacation? Senior trip?" Willow asked.

I looked around and made sure no one was listening.

"Dad wants to take us to Italy!" I said.

I couldn't help the envious looks I got from my friends. Dad liked to take us on vacation every summer, and usually it was someplace foreign. I was going to ask him if this one time Willow and Ryan could tag along. I doubted he would tell me no because Zoey was suppose to be bringing her boyfriend, Riley. It'd be great to all go on a trip together.

"Lucky!" Ryan said.

"I would love to go to Italy," Willow added.

"I'm going to see if the two of you could tag along," I said but I didn't get the chance to elaborate more.

We heard the bell ring as soon as we walked in the building. Next bell would be the tardy bell so we scurried off to our classes. What wonderful class did I have first? The worst subject of all, history. The bane of my existence.

I had all A’s in all of my classes because I studied so hard and I worked hard. If I wasn’t studying I was playing basketball. I had to keep my grades up so I could play ball, but I also wanted to keep my scores up to get good scholarships to go to any college I wanted to go to. Mom and dad made good money, but I wanted to get in on my own merit. Not because daddy could afford it.

After listening to the teacher drone on and on in his monotonous voice, the bell finally rang again. I hurried to my locker to grab my chemistry book and notebook and some highlighters. After making sure I had everything I needed, I ran to the other end of the building for my chemistry class. I even made sure I had my worksheet for periodic table. We were suppose to be learning something new about it today.

I stopped outside the chemistry class door when I heard the principal talking to the teacher. Security was in there too, and then they escorted her out. The principal finally saw me standing outside and stopped in his tracks.

“Go to study hall. Chemistry class is not meeting today,” he said, sternly.

“Yes, sir,” I said as I turned to run back the other direction.

I couldn’t help but wonder what that was all about. I wouldn’t have figured the teacher for being involved in anything hinky. But how well does a student really know her teacher? So, after entering in the study hall room, I pulled out my chemistry book and began reading the next chapter. No point in getting behind.

Other students were passing notes to each other or chatting amongst themselves. Some seemed to even hear about Mr. Anderson being removed from campus by a security team. Not that I normally take part in idle gossip, I found it particularly hard to focus on my reading when everyone kept whispering about it. I didn’t even notice someone sit down beside me. Hearing the clearing of their throat startled me.

“Didn’t mean to scare you. I wouldn’t listen to what they’re saying,” he said.

I looked up from my book and there sat the one and only Rowen Hanson.

“No problem. I was trying to ignore them anyway,” I said, awkwardly.

I know, I know. A girl should be able to have a regular conversation with a guy, but this was ROWEN HANSON. He is the star quarterback for our football team and every girl wants to date him. He’s handsome and has very high standards, and he goes to church and Sunday school every chance he gets. He often lead school devotionals and prayers.

As I looked at his wavy dark hair and his shimmering blue eyes, I saw a spark of amusement. He clearly knew what I was thinking. He knew exactly what he was doing to me.

“Sometimes that’s hard to do. It’s hard to hear the truth when the whispers are so loud.”

I quirked an eyebrow at him. That’s rather philosophical.

“Yes. No one will ever know the full truth. There’s always his side, her side, and the truth. I actually think somewhere between there is where the truth lies.”

“Mr. Anderson was a great teacher. I hope they did a full investigation instead of just jumping to conclusions in order to keep people quiet.”

“That’s right. People’s imagination always runs away with them.”

“I wish they’d stop the gossiping. We don’t know what is true and what isn’t.”

“This is study time. Please refrain from talking,” the teacher said.

She looked clearly aggravated. Everyone was talking, and no one was focusing on studying.

“Oops, looks like we’re in trouble,” I laughed.

Rowen’s eyes were shining with amusement now. He leaned in a little closer.

“You best stop before she gives you detention,” he said.

We bit back our laughter. Mrs. Stone was not the easiest person to please. She liked to make the students miserable. She would even write up detention slips if you smiled too much. I think she liked the idea of being unhappy.

I happened to notice Rowen's eyes never left me. He continued to watch me. He took his phone out and it almost sounded like he snapped a picture, but when I looked back at him, he was texting. What was that all about? It was weird. He could have been taking a picture of his desk for all I knew, but I didn't get much of a chance to dwell on it.

The bell rang and I went to the gym. I had two periods that were actually free. I spent them in the gym running laps and shooting hoops. This last weekend I didn’t practice as much as I wanted to, so I had to catch up on practice now. I hated the idea of being out of shape for our upcoming game.

I was running laps around the basketball court when an odd feeling hit me. I stopped in my tracks and looked around. There was no one in the gym but me. That’s how it had been for a long time now, and no one should be here. I was certain I was being watched.

So, I started walking back towards the locker room when the lights went out. I was really freaked out, and when I felt someone wrap their hands around my eyes, I elbowed them in the stomach.

“Ow!” a familiar voice called out.

“Ryan! What are you doing here?” I shrieked.

I. Could. Kill. Him.

“I was just joking around. I didn’t think you would assault me!” he said.

He was mocking the fact that he scared me. He also looked a little offended.

“You know nobody else hangs out in here except for me! I thought I was being followed by some sicko!”

“Not quite. I was just enjoying you running around the court. Are you coming to the race tomorrow?”

“I think I am going to visit Zoey at school. I kind of miss her and I want to talk to her about something.”

“You mean you want to ask her boyfriend about his cousin that you have a major crush on!”

“Keep your voice down! No, I heard some things about Zoey and I know they’re not true, but I want to see how she’s doing.”

“What things?”

“Personal things.”

I gave him a pointed look as if to say “You can shut up now.”

“Well, it’s almost break time, do you want to come back across the street?”

“No, I-”

I was interrupted by my phone ringing. I went over to my gym bag and picked up the phone. It read ‘Dad’ on the screen. He didn’t call unless he absolutely had to.

“Sweetie, I know you’re at school, but I need you to go home early. I need you to walk to the closest bus stop and wait for the bus so you can go to the pharmacy and then home. I’ve already talked to the doctor about what she needs.”

“Sure, dad. I will head home now. Let me go sign out. Did you talk to the school office?”

I couldn’t hide the worry in my voice. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I was a little annoyed. Why did he have to ask me? Zoey isn’t that far from here. I have practice and classes I need to get to.

“I sure did, Selena. You are good to go. Please be careful going home.”

I huffed.

“Sure, dad. I’ll be careful. Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

I hung up the phone, grabbed my gym bag, and ran out of the gym. Ryan was behind me. For me to leave early it had to be an emergency. He called out that he would check in on us later and that he would get my assignments for me. I thanked him and left the gym to head to the office building across the street.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched as I walked across the street. That’s when I bumped into someone. I looked up and was met with stunning blue eyes.

“Sorry, I really need a to watch where I’m going,” Rowen said.

He nervously scratched the back of his neck.

“It’s my fault. I didn’t see you,” I said.

“Well, I’m going to head off to the weight room before practice. What were you doing over here?”

“Running laps. I like to to do that before practice.”

“Be careful heading back across the street.”

I nodded and I could still feel his eyes on me as I walked away. I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the attention. I walked on to the office to go sign out. Mom was sick and I really didn’t want to go home to take care of her. Why do I have to be the one everything falls on?

I saw Willow walking by the office and I stopped to flag her down.

“Hey!”

“Where are you going? Don’t you normally take this time to practice ball?”

“I do, but my dad called and I need to leave a little early.”

“Is everything okay?”

Willow looked truly concerned. If I would have asked her, she would sign out with me and go check on my mom.

“Dad says mom isn’t feeling good. She needs someone to look after her.”

“If you need anything, and I mean anything, you give me a call. I’ll be there for you. You think he’s tied up at work?”

“I really don’t know. He didn’t really say what was going on.”

“Be careful, and don’t speed, please.”

“Willow, I am not going to speed. I am going to drive to the pharmacy and get the medicine she needs and go home.”

Willow watched as I got in the car. I checked my wallet to make sure I have that no limit credit card dad gave me. I was only suppose to use it for emergencies, but you know how that goes. After leaving the pharmacy, I headed home. I needed to give mom the first dose of medicine.

Where I was suppose to be safe and sound.

Looking back, I should have stayed at school. Being at home helped things happen rather quickly. Do you know how you look back on something and think about how you should have done something different? This is one of those times, that as I ran to the bus stop to go take care of my sick mother, I should have stayed put. I should have paid attention to my gut instinct when I felt something was off.

Have you ever looked at a candle? Have you noticed that there is no shadow? That’s because where there is pure light, darkness can not reach it. Light has no darkness, people who are the opposite of light, cast shadows everywhere. Whether or not it’s intentional, we cast shadows by our success or whether or not we are low on the totem pole.

I was about to encounter darkness for the first time. I was about to see how dark the world could get. Darkness is all around us lurking in every nook and cranny. Too bad I realized this a little too late. Don’t let the darkness in, because if you do, it will consume you.

I was about to find out how much the darkness could corrupt my good character.

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