It doesn’t take long for Marco to get back to me about the other sugar babies that were with Ronan. He managed to find two girls who were with him before me. Neither one of them have been with anyone else since and according to Marco, that’s weird.
I managed to get Phil to let me take a longer lunch, so I can run some important “errands”. He was hesitant in the beginning, but when I told him I was having some woman issues, he quickly let me go. When I get to Marco’s place, he already has an extremely healthy lunch ready for me along with two files on the girls.
“All this is very official.” I raise an eyebrow, feeling like some private investigator.
“Well, I have to make a few calls to some higher up friends to get this information seeing as most girls don’t want to be found once they are out of the lifestyle. They tend to want to go on with their normal lives once they are done. I can assume these girls want the same.”
“I’m sure they do, but this is important. This could help the next girl who Ronan tries to charm.” I shrug, pulling my salad over to me as I sit at the table.
I stab some of the leafy greens with a fork and eat it before setting the fork down. Grabbing a file, I flip it open and the girl’s picture is paper clipped to it. Her name is Ashley Young. She’s 23 years old and only lives a few hours away from here. I look at her picture and she looks younger than her age. Her hair is blonde, and her eyes are blue. She has pinky lips and rosy cheeks. She looks like a baby. Naïve like I was.
I grab the other folder and flip it open. This girl is the same age as me and is in college for business. She lives only forty minutes away. Her name is Mary Williams. She has red hair and dreamy hazel eyes. Her skin is pale and soft as if it’s never been touched. I can’t imagine how these girls ended up with Ronan.
I flip through their files as I eat, slowly memorizing the summaries of their lives. I’m sure these girls just didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they met him. I don’t know what he did to make them want to leave this life, but I’m sure they didn’t leave voluntarily.
When we’re done eating, we talk about how I’m going to approach them when I call. I realize that I have no clue what I plan to say to them. How would I even start? Oh, I’m only of Ronan’s old sugar babies and I think he’s truing to kill me, can you help? I would expect them to hang up and block my number after that. I must be sympathetic to them. They caved easily and didn’t have someone like Marco to help them. They unfortunately had no one on their side until now.
I begin to become nervous when it’s time to call Ashley. I feel like once I hear her voice it will become all too real. The possibility of finding out what Ronan did to these girls becomes scary, because there is a chance that what he’s done to them is worse than what he’s done to me so far. And if that’s true than I know that there is a chance that things could get worse.
Taking a few deep breaths, I get my phone from my pocket and dial the Ashley’s number. I feel my heart thumping in my chest as the phone begins to ring. After a few seconds, a soft-toned girl picks up.
“Hi, is this Ashley Young?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“My name is Malina Anderson. I know this is going to sound totally crazy and you may not want to talk to me, but I just got out of a relationship with Ronan and…”
“I’m sorry, I can’t talk.” I can hear the panic in her tone and I know she’s about to hang up.
“No, please don’t hang up. Please, hear me out. I know what he did. I know because he’s doing the same to me.”
I wait to hear her hang up, but it never comes.
“What do you want from me?” Her voice shakes.
“I just want to talk.”
The line falls silent and I can tell she’s contemplating everything that may go wrong if any of this gets back to Ronan.
“If he finds out…”
“He won’t. I promise. Have you talked to any other girls about this?” I ask.
“No, I wasn’t aware that he’s done this to others.”
“I don’t have proof yet, but you along with another girl were with Ronan and then you left the lifestyle. I hear it’s uncommon for girls to do that unless something bad happened.”
“Um, yeah, I guess you could say that something bad happened.”
“Do you mind tell me?”
“I don’t know. I can’t talk to you over the phone. It feels weird.”
“I can come to you if you want. It’s not a problem.”
“No, I don’t want that either. I can meet you somewhere. It must be private. He could be watching.”
I frown softly, feeling rage rise in me that this young girl is so fearful that this bastard of a man is watching her every move that she can live her life to the fullest. She probably spends her days looking over her shoulders when she shouldn’t have to. It’s not fair for any girl to go through this. I can only imagine how afraid I would be if Marco wasn’t protecting me.
Ashley and I only speak briefly, just long enough to set a time and location to meet and talk. I won’t call the other girl until I talk to Ashley. I don’t want to jump the gun just yet. I just want to hear Ashley’s side of the story. I have a feeling that things may have been worse than I could ever imagine. Despite everything, it’s still hard to imagine what Ronan is capable of when he uses charm and wit to blind you from the truth.
Once I’m off the phone with Ashley, I just feel very unsettled about everything. I don’t know why, but it makes my stomach churn just thinking about how awful he is. In my head, all I can see is his narcissistic smile and his large hands on my body. I can feel my mouth water as a warning of worse and I dart to the bathroom just in time to rid my stomach of my lunch. Marco is right on my heels, pulling my hair back and I heave up leafy greens and chicken.
Marco doesn’t say anything as I catch my breath and flop down on my butt.
“I know all this is stressful.” He finally says as I wipe a lone tear off my cheek.
“I just don’t understand how someone can get away with what he’s done. How has no one said anything?”
“It’s a tight community.”
“That’s no excuse. How could you stand him? How could you be his friend if you knew how awful he was?”
Marco pauses for a moment, releasing my hair.
“I don’t know, Lina. I guess I just overlooked what everyone already knows. When I saw you, I wondered what a girl as outspoken as you were doing with him.”
“I was with him because he thought he could break me.”
“And he did. And he won’t. I promise you that. I can only apologize for putting my integrity aside when it came to Ronan. We’d been friends for some time and it didn’t take long for his true colors to come through, but I overlooked it. I’m sorry about that.”
I look up at him and he genuinely looks displeased in himself. Quickly, I stand on my feet and throw my arms around his torso. He tightens his arms around me and the comfort of his body calms me.
“I didn’t meat to accuse you of anything.” I mumble.
“I’m just angry. So angry and so afraid.”
“I promise you that nothing and I do mean nothing will happen to you as long as you have me.” He pulls away and gently takes my face in his hands.
I look into his eyes and they are warm and welcoming. They are everything I ever hoped to gaze into when I fell for someone. Have I fallen for Marco?
It feels like it.