The girl that Justin Mathers found was going to be an issue that he was going to have to get rid of. He knew he couldn’t postpone anyone finding the building where she and the other girls were held forever. How she had gotten away, to begin with, was something he was going to have to find out, and soon.
He didn’t want his cut of three million dollars to be gone, that had been the only reason he had agreed to help, and now it may go up in smoke, all because of a stupid man who couldn’t control the girls. He had to discredit the woman. Quickly.
He slowly drove by the Benson home and scowled when he saw Mathers holding her. It seemed this was going to be a problem— a big one.
She tensed when she saw the black SUV with the black tinted windows roll past them slowly.
Justin tightened his arms around her a bit, “What’s wrong?” he whispered against her ear.
She glanced back at him, “It’s nothing.”
“You can trust me, you know.” He kissed the top of her head with ease.
He was so much taller than her, “I know, it was nothing, though.”
He kissed her temple this time as a black Lexus pulled into the driveway. She looked back at him again after the tall, blue-eyed brunette got out.
Justin has a smile on his face as the woman shut the door, “Cierra! Thank God you’re here.”
“Sorry it took so long, it took ages to get off the phone with Holly, then I had to explain everything to Ben like three times, he’s upset that we all left him there alone.”
“He can take Holly back at any time, I don’t know what good she’ll do here, I was hoping Ben would have kept her home.”
“Ha, he can’t stand her as much as you can’t, you could always send her packing back to the station, she doesn’t really help the business any.”
Justin chuckled, but seemed to catch her gaze on him, “Sorry, babe, this is the hypnosis, Cierra Johnson.”
“Hi,” she mumbled out.
“Babe, huh? Can’t leave you alone for a minute, can we?”
“Well, since we don’t know her name, I’ve been a little lost at what to call her, so babe and darlin’ been working for me.”
Cierra smirked, “Well, I don’t think calling her babe and darlin’ will work for me.”
“Well, that’s where you come in, we need you to work your magic.”
“Magic, huh?” Cierra raised an eyebrow. “And is she okay with that?”
Justin gently nudged her arm, “You want to do this, don’t you?”
“You didn’t ask her before you had me come out here?” Cierra demanded in a high pitch voice.
It made her jump and moved back into Justin. He tightened his arms around her, “It’s okay,” he soothed. “Cierra, please don’t yell at her or around her, okay?”
“I’m sorry, I’m not usually like that, now, do you want to do this?” her blue eyes seemed to soften as she crouched in front of her.
“I want to know who I am, where I belong.” She whispered.
“If we do this, it won’t guarantee we’ll find out, we can try, but I don’t want you to get your hopes up, and be upset if we don’t find out anything.”
“Well, I’ve gone, however long I have gone now, so I guess it won’t be a big deal.”
Cierra smiled at Justin, “I like her, can you keep her?” she teased.
“I think I’ve been kept for long enough.”
Cierra smiled even more, “You’ve got your work cut out for you with her, Justin.”
He stuck his tongue out at Cierra a little, making her chuckle as she watched the two friends’ banter.
“So, where are we doing this?”
Cierra pursed her lips, “As long as it’s relaxing and quiet.”
“Should be,” Justin stood then helped her up.
They all headed inside into the house, Justin headed to a peaceful, yellow-painted living room, “Cierra, will this work?”
“I think so,” Cierra turned to her and motioned for her to sit on the couch.
She did as the woman instructed and sat on the blue cloth couch.
Cierra began to talk to her in relaxing tones, she slowly began to drift. She heard Cierra talk to her again, “Okay, sweetheart-”
“No, no, please don’t call me that,” she gasped out.
“Okay, okay, calm down, why don’t you want me to call you that?”
“That’s what Burly used to call me, he’s mean.”
“Did he ever call you anything else?”
“One six nine, we were all numbered, sweet thing, worthless, bitch, but Justin, he calls me darlin’ and babe, he called me hun once too, I didn’t mind that either.”
“Okay, I’ll stick to hun, now I need you to go a little further back, do you remember being called anything else?” Cierra’s soft voice probed.
Justin couldn’t help but want to reach out for his darlin’ when she talked about the man who had been after them. He almost caved more when she talked about what he called her. That frown overdid it as it marred her brow as she obviously began to think about being called anything else.
When he made a step toward his darlin’, Cierra grabbed his hand tightly and pulled him back. He stopped when she shook her head. He let out a little sigh but obeyed Cierra.
His darlin’ frowned a little more.
“Pumpkin, I,” she stopped and frowned more. She gripped the cushion beside her knees, turning her knuckles white.
Cierra moved closer to her, but stayed on the light coffee table, “What is it?” Cierra encouraged.
“Bree, I’ve been called Bree before, I remember a funeral, and a man taking me away from there.”
“Were you willing?”
“I guess so, I’m younger, but I don’t know how old, but I went with him willingly.”
“Okay, you remember being called Bree, did this man call you that?”
“Yes, but I don’t know who he is.” She whispered.
“That’s okay, I don’t want to push anymore, I think we need to call this to an end, we at least have a name, okay?”
“N-no, I want to know who he is, I have to know.”
“Not today,” Cierra interjected quickly.
“I’m close to finding out, no please, I need to find out.” His darlin’ got louder.
Justin pulled away from Cierra, he sat down beside his darlin’ and cupped her cheeks, “Babe, come on, it’s okay, we can take our time on this, come back to us, baby.” He soothed.
Her eyes seemed to fly open, and her hands gripped his, “Justin,” she sobbed out and collapsed against his chest.
He slid his fingers into her hair as he slid his other hand to her back, “Hey, I’m right here, it’s okay, hun, I’m here.” Justin glanced at Cierra.
She was nibbling her bottom lip, “Maybe we shouldn’t do this again.”
Justin felt his darlin’s delicate hand tighten in his shirt, his thumb grazed the back of her neck, “I think I agree.”
His darlin’ didn’t say anything as she moved closer.
Then her voice came, “But I was so close, he was important to me, I began to remember a party, and someone was going to pick me up, I think he was my dad.” She whispered.
Cierra and Justin locked eyes, “Could you describe him, babe?” Justin coaxed gently.
She turned her head a little, “I think so.”
“Cierra, do you think we could get Ben out here?”
“Well, he wanted to be here, to begin with, but if we’re all here, we should probably find somewhere else for us to crash, we can’t crash at your sister and brother-in-law’s place.”
“Good thing I have an apartment here in town, I have it for another few months, if this takes longer I can renew the lease, just call Ben for me, please?”
“Okay, I’ll talk to him.” Cierra slowly got up from the coffee table. Her gaze lingered on him and his darlin’, but then she headed to the other side of the living room.
“Justin,” his darlin’ whispered.
“Are you leaving me?” she mumbled.
He brushed his thumb against her neck, “No, babe, I’m not.”
“I promise,” his gaze slid to Cierra, who stared at them with a knowing look. How he’d just made a promise to his darlin’ like that, he didn’t know, but he intended to keep it. He scooped her up into his arms with ease. “Come on, darlin’, let’s get you something to eat, then why don’t you rest for a bit?”
She just nodded as he carried her down the white popcorn hallway then into the kitchen. He sat her up on the brown with multiple white, black, and gray printed granite countertop. He rubbed her side a little, then headed to the pantry. He began to pull different things out.
He placed them beside her, “Take your pick, babe.”
Her beautiful violet eyes filled with tears as she looked away from all the items.
Justin stood in front of her between her skinny, sweat covered legs, he placed his hands on either side of her thighs, “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know what to pick, I don’t know what I like.” She whispered.
Justin pursed his lips a tad, “Okay, hold on.” He put everything back in the pantry, but pulled out a loaf of bread. Then he went to the black fridge and pulled out butter along with sliced cheese. “How about we try grilled cheese, it’s simple, and I haven’t met too many people who don’t like it.” He watched her, waiting for a reply. All she did was shrug her shoulders.
He began to make them a few sandwiches. Once they were finished cooking, he put them on a plate then went back to his darlin’. He placed his hands on her hips, “Come on, babe.”
She wrapped her arms around his neck, and he pulled her close to him, wrapping her legs around his thighs. He took her over to the kitchen table and sat her down on the chair in front of the white plate he sat there.
She looked at the sandwich closely before she picked it up and slowly bit into it. She whimpered a little, “That’s the last thing my mom made me to eat.” She put the sandwich back on the plate and pushed it away. “She died when I was little, that’s the funeral I remember.”
Justin sighed a little at the deep frown she had on her face, “Babe, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, you didn’t know, how could you when I didn’t even know?” she whispered.
“You still need to eat, darlin’.” He reached out, placing his hand over hers.
“I miss her, and I’ll never see her again, I don’t remember her at all, I just know she’s gone.” She choked out.
Justin’s heart shattered, he moved from his chair onto the floor and brought her down with him, “I know, babe.”
She curled up into him, and they sat there holding onto each other for what seemed like an eternity when Cierra walked into the kitchen.
“Justin, Ben says he’s on his way,” she froze when she saw them holding onto each other.
He glanced down at his darlin’ and saw she was asleep, he sighed a little, and slowly stood up, careful with his darlin’. He headed back to Marnie’s light purple room and laid her down on the bed gently. He kissed her forehead softly, “Get some rest, darlin’, you’re safe now.” He left the room, pulling the door shut soundlessly.
He headed back to the kitchen, he looked at Cierra, “The funeral was her mom’s.” He explained that he hated seeing his darlin’ in so much pain, and it seemed to worsen.
“Oh no, we might have to observe her, after the trauma she’s been through, and if she starts to feel like she has no one, she might try to harm herself.”
He huffed, running a hand over his mouth, then yanked the hat off his head, “Well, she has me now.”
“For how long, Justin?”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh come on, every one of us knows how you are, the only thing you are committed to is your job and family.”
“What if I make her family?” Justin challenged.
“I don’t think that is such a good idea, she’s very vulnerable right now, she’ll latch onto the first one she can, can you handle that?” Cierra frowned at him.
“I’ve handled it so far, haven’t I?”
“Justin, I’m serious.”
“So am I.”
Cierra let out a sigh, “Thank God Ben is coming, maybe he’ll talk some sense into you, have you heard from Holly?”
“Not since I brought the girl here from the station.”
Cierra nodded, “We need some ground rules, we need to start calling her Bree, no more hun, babe, or darlin’.”
“Seriously, Justin? She can’t be getting attached to you.”
“What if I want her attached?”
“Justin, don’t make me separate you from her.”
“You can’t, I already promised her I wasn’t leaving her.”
“What’s wrong with you? I’ve never seen you like this with a woman before.”
“I don’t know, okay? There’s just something about her, I can’t explain it, when she fell into my arms out in the woods, something besides her hit me.”
Cierra threw up her hands, showing her frustration with him, and walked away.
His phone began to ring, “Mathers.” He answered in a short clip tone.
“Chief Michaels, we need the woman back at the station, we need a few more questions answered.”
“Sorry, Michaels, she’s finally resting, it’ll be a bit, she needs the sleep.”
“Oh come on, Mathers, this is important.”
“I know that, but she just fell asleep, let her sleep for a little bit, and then we’ll-” he froze when he heard the scream. He cut the call and rushed to the bedroom, his gun drawn and ready.
His eyes flew around the room, but no one but his girl was in the room. He went to the bed and sat beside her, “Babe, wake up,” he soothed as he reached out for her. He was caught off guard when she flew to a sitting position and struck out at him. Her hand landed into his cheek, but it felt more like a bug flew into him. He gripped her wrists gently, “Hey, easy, babe, it’s okay.”
She began to relax against him as her body trembled.
He stroked her back gently, “It’s okay, you’re still safe.”
She shivered as she moved closer to him, wrapping her arms around him, her palms flat against his back.
He kissed her temple softly, what was it about her that made him want to lose himself in her? He’d only known her for less than twenty-four hours, he didn’t know what was going on with him. He cleared his throat a bit, “Babe, they want you to come down to the station, the chief called me right before you let out the scream, he said he had some more questions for you.”
Her palms tightened into firsts in his t-shirt before she gave in and agreed to go, “As long as you don’t leave my side.” She whispered.
“I’ll be there right beside you.” How could he not give in to that request?