Marnie Benson shivered in the cold stone room. She had no idea how the other girls lasted so long if they’d been there long at all. She wrapped the holey sheet around herself, trying to fight off the cold. She was worried about the one who got away. She was sure she’d never forget the sound of the alarm or the gunshots that rung out shortly after the alarm was silenced.
She could only hope the girl got away and was safe with the cops and that her Uncle Justin was already on his way. She pulled the sheet tighter as another shiver racked her body. She wanted to go home and be in her nice, warm, and safe bed.
Justin did as he had promised, he never left her side while at the hospital. After waiting about half an hour after all the blood work was drawn, she eventually fell asleep against him.
He caught Iris staring at him again, “What, Iris?”
“I just want you to be careful with her little brother, she’s probably nothing like you’re used to, you know.” She whispered.
“Oh, and what am I used to? And hell, I just met the poor thing today, she needs to be looked after, and I plan to do that, I’ve arranged for one of my employees to come to look at her also, and I’m not going to leave her alone until she asks me to.”
“I know, you’re a good man, Justin, I just hope you won’t get hurt in the process.”
“I’m a big boy, Iris, I can take care of myself, do you think Clay would object to letting her stay at the house?”
“Probably not, but I can call him and find out.”
“Thank you, sis.” Justin watched his sister walk out of the room. Why would she think he’d get hurt? This girl was a victim, not some hussy who was in on all the kidnappings. She wouldn’t be so terrified of some people if she was, nor look as beat up as she did.
His head snapped up when the doctor walked in. Her green shined with sympathy as her gaze analyzed his darlin’ slowly. The doctor cleared her throat, “Well, she’s healthy for the most part, Mr. Mathers, except for being malnourished, as for her memory, it may never come back, or it may come in spurts, we’re thinking blunt force trauma to the head is the cause, there’s no other explanation.” The doctor explained.
“Okay, we’re going to try hypnosis, I know a very good one, and already made arrangements for them to come here.” Justin glanced over at the petite girl. He wanted to give the poor thing her life back, he just hoped it had been a good life and could be good again.
He felt his darlin’ jerk against him, and she moved, sitting rigidly. He tightened his hand on her, “Hey, it’s okay.”
“Sorry.” She sighed out.
“It’s okay, babe, the doc gave you a clean bill of health, for the most part, Iris and I will get weight on you pretty quickly, I also arranged for someone to come check you out, we’ll try to get your memory back.” He brushed his lips against her temple.
She looked up at him, “Have you heard anything about Marnie and the others yet?”
“No, not yet,” Justin sighed, running a hand over his mouth. “But I’m sure we will soon.”
She let out a sigh and hung her head.
Justin tilted her head up and ran his fingers through her short hair. Their eyes locked for what seemed an eternity. He desperately wanted to kiss her. She was definitely attractive beneath the bruises and somewhat sunken in cheeks.
He heard a throat clear, and he turned to the doorway and saw Iris standing there, “Clay said okay, we’re going to let her stay in Marnie’s room.”
His darlin’ practically jumped off the bed, “That’s okay, I don’t have to stay there, I’d take the couch or something, that would do well enough, compared to what I used to sleep on.”
Iris moved closer to his darlin’ and laid a hand on her arm, “You’re not there anymore, so you can have more luxury now, it’s okay.”
She let out a sigh and hugged her head a little more.
Justin got off the bed and pulled the fragile creature against him, “Come on, let’s get you out of here.”
“Okay,” she mumbled.
He scooped her up into his arms and followed Iris out of the room and the hospital. He sat her on the car seat, “Iris, can you drop me off at the station so that I can get my bike?” he asked as he sat beside his darlin’, he felt her grasp his hand tightly.
He looked down into those wide, scared violet eyes, “Don’t worry, I’ll be right behind you, on the bike, I promise.”
She nodded her head but didn’t let go of his hand.
Iris pulled into the station, before he got out of the car, he kissed his darlin’s forehead and headed over to his bike. He reeved the engine and followed Iris home.
She sat there, staring out the window. How was she supposed to sleep in Marnie’s bed, while she wasn’t safe and in some real trouble? Tears filled her eyes, and she let them fall. Why did she leave them there? Why weren’t the cops finding them? She got away so easily, but she supposed if she hadn’t run into the sexy cop uncle of Marnie’s, she would have been caught again.
Maybe she could lead the cops to where the compound that held her was. But, Justin promised she wouldn’t be taken back to her prison. But if that was the only way to get them safe, then maybe that’s what she had to do.
She rubbed her eyes, trying to get rid of the tears as they pulled up to a beautiful one-story house. She took in a shaky breath as she stared at the white house with black shutters. Was this the kind of home she came from?
So many stupid questions she wanted answers to but doubted she would ever get them. She heard the door open, she glanced over to see Justin.
“Come on, babe, how about we get you a shower then my friend will be here.”
“The redhead again?” she groaned a little.
“No, darlin’, she’s staying at the station to help search.”
“What is she to you?” she tilted her head to the side a little as she got out of the car.
“A mistake of a business partner, no need to be jealous.”
She frowned a little, what did that feeling feel like? “Is that what I felt?”
“I don’t know. I was just teasing.”
“Oh.” She tightened her mouth into a thin line as she stared at the ground, she let out a yelp when she felt arms around her and was swung off the ground. She wrapped her arms around his neck.
“We’ve got to go shopping for you.”
She glanced at him, “Why?”
“So you have shoes, your own clothes, things that will fit you properly and won’t be swallowed up by Marnie’s clothes, she’s taller than you.”
“I guess so.”
They followed Iris into the house, he took her down a long hallway and strolled into a sea-green bathroom. He sat her on the crystal-white vanity top and started the water, “You can use anything in here that you need, the shampoo, body wash, anything if you need anything just holler, Iris or I will be within earshot of you, okay?”
She nodded a little. He helped her down from the vanity then shut the door. She stripped out of her borrowed clothes and got into the shower slowly. She let out a whimper as the warm water flowed down her body.
She knew it wasn’t going to take long for her to get cleaned up since the men kept her hair short and she’d just got put through a painful wax remover, they had called it. She began to let her mind wander, though. She already missed Justin.
She reached out a shaky hand for one of the bottles. She lathered herself up and rinsed off then did the same with her short hair. She turned the water off. The shower had felt refreshing. She got dried then slipped back into the clothes Iris had brought her.
She stared at herself in the mirror as she dried the ends of her hair. Her cheeks were sunken in a little, but what bothered her were the bruises along them. She lifted the shirt, a huge bruise was on her stomach. She turned her back to the mirror. She shivered when she saw the long thin strips of scars down her back she had gotten when she had punched one of the men had grabbed her breasts. That had earned her the flogging and a week without food.
That hadn’t taught her though, she always reacted when someone went to touch her when they were ‘inspecting’ her. She sighed as she tried to push away the thought and pain of being whipped.
She grabbed the towel, laying it on the vanity top. She pulled open a drawer and found a comb, that was still in a plastic sleeve. She began to get the tangles out of her somewhat dried hair.
She pulled open the bathroom door and gasped when she saw Justin leaning against the opposite wall with his arms folded over his chest and sock-covered foot propped back against the wall.
He straightened instantly when he heard her gasp, “Hey, beautiful.” He smiled at her.
“I’m going to get some food in you, then let you rest until my friend gets here, okay?”
“S-sure.” She stuttered. She didn’t understand it, she had never stuttered before until she met this man.
He held out his hand, and she moved closer and placed her hand in his. He smiled as he enclosed her hand in his. He led her back down the hallway, “How are your feet?”
“They stung a little, but seem to be okay.”
“I want to look at them after we eat.”
She didn’t reply, but just followed him down the hallway. Her eyes darted around as she took in her surroundings. So many family pictures hung on the wall, of just Marnie, of Marnie and her parents with Justin, along with just Marnie and Justin. Would she ever find out if this was the kind of life she was supposed to have, “Justin, you mentioned that a friend of yours was coming here, how come?”
He pursed his kissable lips a bit, “Well, she’s a hypnosis, she’s really good too, I thought that maybe if we try then some of your memories will come back, and we can get you back to your family.”
“Oh.” She clamped her mouth shut, “Justin, what if I took the cops back to where I was held?” she questioned quietly.
He spun toward her quickly, pulling her up against him, “No, I told you, you’re not going back there, that’s even if it is to help, I know your intentions are good, but I’m not feeding you to those monsters again.”
“What if that’s the only way to find your niece?”
“It won’t be, we’ll find her and the others.”
Boy, this man was stubborn, “Well, if it comes down to it, I’ll do it, Justin.”
He let out a sigh as those gray eyes hardened a little, “We’ll just wait and see.”
“Okay.” She let him take her down the hall more then he pulled her into a room off from the hall. She froze when she saw the other buff man sitting at the table. She sucked in a breath, he looked so upset, his brown eyes looked so dull with dark circles beneath them.
The man looked up, and his eyes widened when they landed on her, “Dezerea?” he gasped out.
She flew behind Justin quickly.
“Clay?” Justin glanced behind him at her, then turned to the man at the table, “Who’s Dezerea?”
“When you saw her, you gasped out Dezerea. Who is she?”
“My little sister, she passed away twelve years ago from cancer, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare her, she has the same eyes as Dezerea had.” He whispered. “So, she knows where Marnie is?”
“Yes, she told the cops where they’d find them, they should be out looking right now.”
“Why aren’t you?”
She felt Justin heave a sigh, “They felt like she was better off with me, since I found her, I think some of it has to do with they don’t want her running away, but the other part is I got her away, and she trusts me.”
That made her go back to his side, “Where would I run to? If you want to try to find her, I won’t go anywhere, at least not until the others are safe.”
“It’s okay, if they don’t have any luck in a couple of days, I’ll go.”
She looked into his smoky eyes, she fought the tears, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get them out, all their doors were locked with padlocks, I should have tried harder, and I’m sorry I’m preventing you from looking yourself.” She moved away and turned to leave the kitchen. She was a problem, and a failure just like Burly always told her. She rushed down the hall and out the front door.
She glanced around the sun-kissed area as she sat down on the wooden steps. She let out a heavy sigh as she wrapped her arms around her knees. What was she going to do?
Justin watched his darlin’ walk from the kitchen. He turned back to Clay with a cocked eyebrow.
“Sorry, Justin, I didn’t mean to scare her.” Clay sighed, hanging his head, running his hands over it roughly.
“Do you think she could be your niece?” Justin demanded.
“Hell, I wouldn’t know,” his brown eyes locked with Justin’s gaze. “I haven’t seen my niece in twelve years, the last time I saw her was at the funeral, she wasn’t bruised or malnourished then, so I couldn’t help you.”
“What was her name?”
“Everyone called her Emmy, this is going to sound terrible, but Dezerea and I weren’t that close, we lost touch for a long time, until her husband called about the funeral.”
“Well, what was Emmy’s dad’s name?”
Clay froze as a frown puckered his brow, “Tanner, I think, I haven’t heard from or seen them since the burial.”
Justin ran a hand over his mouth, “Okay, I’m going to go talk to her, where’s Iris?”
“She went to try to get some sleep.”
Justin nodded in understanding, “Why don’t you try to do the same, Clay, I’ll handle our guest.”
Clay nodded as he stood and they went separate ways.
Justin headed outside when he didn’t find his darlin’ in the living room. He frowned a little when he saw her sitting on the steps, her arms wrapped knees as she stared at the traffic going by.
He sat down behind her, his legs on either side of her, “Hey, darlin’, it’s just me, are you okay?”
She shot her violet gaze at him but only shrugged.
He laid his hands on her shoulders and kneaded them, “Can I ask you a couple of things?”
“Does the name Emmy mean anything to you?”
“I don’t know, not really.”
“How about Tanner?”
Her brow puckered, “I don’t know,” she sighed.
He hated how much he wanted her in his arms and in his sight at all times. And it wasn’t because he didn’t trust her. He wanted to make sure she was safe and sound. He pushed the thoughts away and wrapped his arms around her loosely, so she could pull away if she wanted to pull away. He liked the fact that she didn’t, maybe a little too much. He was in trouble.