Holly laid on the forest floor. She moaned a little as pain ached throughout her head. She grumbled a bit and staggered to her feet. Someone had clubbed her over the head hard. She was alone, she yanked out her gun from her ankle holster, her eyes firing around. It was quiet. She glanced up through the trees, she had been heading away from the sun during the search. She glanced at her watch, and now she had to head away from it again.
She turned and made her way as quickly as possible back to her car. She finally found it and headed back to the station. She wondered who had clubbed her. She’d gone out by herself after the cops from the department had already got out.
She saw all the squad cars had left, they weren’t trying very hard unless they found something and had to go back.
She pulled into the parking lot and headed in. She felt a little dizzy from the bump on her head, but it could have been worse. As she rushed inside, she saw a group of men and women standing, drinking cups of coffee from their Styrofoam cups.
She turned when she heard the door open. In came Justin, holding tightly to ‘her.’ Holly rushed forward, “Justin,” she collapsed into his warm, muscular body. “Oh, Justin, someone attacked me.” She began to sob.
Justin let go of the other girl and gripped Holly’s arms, but he pushed her back from him, “What happened?”
“I don’t know, I was out looking with the others, and then I remember waking up just a little bit ago after someone hit me in the head.” She began to cry again.
Bree moved back from Justin and the other woman. He had known her longer, of course, he’d be there for the other woman. She obviously needed someone. She stepped back a little further and ran into someone.
“One six nine,” the voice behind her whispered.
Her eyes grew wide. No, no, no. She spun, and staring her right in the face was Burly. She scrambled away from him quickly, tripping over her feet, and landing hard on the floor. She tried to scream, willed herself to scream, but it wouldn’t come.
He pulled her to her feet and pulled her into an embrace, “Oh my, dear daughter, I’ve been so worried about you, I’m so glad you’re safe.” He rubbed her back gently.
She stiffened, this wasn’t her father, she knew what her father looked like now, and this huge, evil man was not him.
“Hey!” a loud voice shouted. “Let go of her!”
Burly glared at the voice that came behind her, “And who are you? Thinking you can tell me to let go of my daughter, her mother and I were so worried about her.”
Bree struggled now, “You’re not my father, and my mother is dead.” She pulled away from the man.
“No, that’s not true, sweetheart.”
Her stomach rolled as she moved further away, “You’re a liar!” she yelled.
She felt an arm wrap in front of her, which pulled her back more from Burly then the soothing voice, “Easy, baby, stay with me.”
“But, he’s lying. He gave me most of these bruises, Justin.”
Justin’s gaze turned to steal as he glared at the man in front of them. She moved closer, clutching the side of Justin’s shirt tightly.
“I’d be careful what you do with my daughter, mister, she is only sixteen,” Burly warned, glaring back with his own hard, evil gaze.
Another male voice interrupted, “What is going on here?”
Bree’s gaze flicked to the side of her and Justin to the heavy, bald, older man.
Justin began to explain, “This man is claiming that the girl I found is his daughter, she’s telling me he’s the man that gave her most of her bruises and held her captive.”
The old man sized Burly up, “And just exactly who are you?”
“Sal Thompson, I just want my daughter.”
“Oh, if you’re her father, maybe you can help us out, what’s her name?” Chief Michaels asked.
Bree glared at the man but moved closer to Justin. She wasn’t a Jodi, that name sounded all sorts of wrong.
“The way we can solve this is by DNA.” Justin demanded.
Burly gave an evil grin, “By all means, run it.”
Oh no, what if he was telling the truth, what if she didn’t remember, she tensed and let out a little whimper as memory swished before her.
She was yanked forward hard along a concrete sidewalk, toward a black SUV. She struggled to get away. Burly was the one trying to take her. She caught a glimpse of his tattoos along his arms. There were three of them, two trying to get her into the SUV, one driving. She screamed again when she heard the gunshot when someone tried to pull her back.
Pain swallowed her when she felt a blow to the head, and she was swallowed by darkness.
Justin placed his arm beneath his darlin’s legs and back and pulled her up against him as her body became like a rag doll. He wondered if she had remembered something else. Her yell sounded like pain or terrified.
Justin motioned at the chief, “You heard him, run the DNA, I’m not letting her go with him until we know for sure.” He held her like she was nothing, and quite honestly, she pretty much was. She was more bones than anything else. “Take three swabs,” Justin ordered.
The chief got someone to do the three swabs Justin wanted. When they were done, Justin took two of the swabs. He didn’t trust these cops worth a damn. He would send out his own request to match this Sal Thompson’s DNA with his precious woman’s.
Justin stared at the chief as he held onto his darlin’, “Was that the only reason you wanted her down here?”
“No, we had a few more questions, come with me,” the chief motioned for him to follow.
He pulled his darlin’ closer to him and began to follow the chief further down the hall. When Michaels stopped outside a door, Justin did too.
“There’s a cot in there you can lay her on, see if you can get her to wake up,” Michaels instructed and left.
Justin headed into the small room that looked like a breakroom. It was a light green color with white appliances. He spotted the ugly dark green cot. He laid his darlin’ on to it slowly. He sat down beside her on the black floor and laid his forehead against the cot. He let out a sigh as he pinched the bridge of his nose, he was getting a headache.
He tilted his head back up, “Baby, I need you to wake up for me,” he whispered, reaching out a hand and brushed his knuckles against her bruised cheek.
“Wow, Cierra was right.” The male voice said roughly from the doorway.
Justin turned to find Ben Tambird, his eyes met Ben’s hazel ones, “About what?”
“About you with her,” Ben crossed his arms over his chest tightly. “Do you think all of this is a good idea?”
“Well, what do you suggest I do?”
“Definitely not be calling her baby, come on, Justin, you know better than this, what’s wrong with you?”
“I, I don’t know, Ben, I’m worried about her, there’s something about her that has touched me.”
“Hmm, but you don’t know one iota about her.”
“Don’t you think I know that dude, but she doesn’t’ have anyone else right now, and the man who shot at her earlier is trying to pass for her dad, he’s done this to her.” He gestured to her face.
“How do you know he’s not?” Ben demanded.
“Even if he is, I’m not letting her go back to be beaten like this again.”
Ben sighed, “Okay, okay, I give.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Bro, we just want you to be careful, you don’t even know if she’s a minor or not.”
“And I don’t plan on anything, other than keeping her safe.”
“If it gets to be too much, I’m stepping in.”
“Fine,” he yanked out the protected swabs, “Run these against her DNA, I’ll get a swab from her when she wakes up, but I don’t trust this police force, something is going on, and it’s not good.”
“Do you think they’re in on this?”
“Man, I hope not,” Justin grumbled.
Ben pulled out a swab kit, he was always prepared, “Here use that for her when she wakes up.”
Justin nodded and grabbed the kit from his partner.
“No!” the voice screamed behind him.
Justin turned to his darlin’ fly up from the cot and land into him, toppling them both over. He felt her clutch his shirt and dig her head into his chest. He looked up at Ben, who had a dark eyebrow raised.
Justin looked back at his darlin’, her head still against his chest, “What happened?” he whispered as he rubbed her back.
“I don’t know, it was a dream, but it felt so real,” she sobbed. “Someone was shot, they were lying there, bleeding out as I was shoved into a black vehicle.”
Justin’s gaze flew to Ben’s, then he sat up slowly, “Do you know who it was?”
“A man, that’s all I know, there was so much blood, I couldn’t do anything, I was hit over the head by something.”
“It’s okay, babe, it’s okay.” His hand sneaked up to the back of her neck and caressed it with his thumb.
“Mathers, is she awake yet?” Michaels’s voice came behind him and Ben.
“Yeah, give us a minute, though.” He stood up with his darlin’ clinging to him still. “Babe, I need you to do something for me, can you?”
She pulled back a little, “Yeah.” She mumbled.
He got the swab kit as he sat her feet to the ground, “Open your mouth for me, babe.” She did as he instructed and he swabbed her then handed the kit to Ben.
“I’ll send this out pronto,” Ben assured. “Then, I’ll come back and do the drawling you want done.”
“Okay, meet me at Iris’s.”
“Good deal.” Ben left the room.
Then Justin led his girl to an interrogation room. He turned when the door opened, and Michaels walked in.
“Out, Mathers.” The older man demanded.
Justin glared, “I don’t think so.”
“Too bad,” Michaels motioned behind him, and in came three more cops.
They latched onto Justin and began to pull him out of the room.
Bree stumbled out of the chair, “Justin, no, where are you taking him?” she demanded when Chief Michaels blocked her path.
He pushed her back in the chair, “We’ll make sure he’s comfortable, so this compound the others are, does it really exist?”
Fear rolled over her, she wanted Justin, how was she going to do this by herself? “Of course it does, are you and your fellow cops even looking?” she bit out.
“Of course, we never came across this creek you spoke of before.”
“Maybe you’re in the wrong area, but they are there, you only have four weeks if that to find them.” She felt a strange emotion take over her, her blood so hot as it ran through her veins.
“We’re trying!” Michaels yelled, making Bree jump. “But there’s nothing out there, and we’re thinking you’re either lying or we aren’t searching the right area.”
She frowned a little. How could they not find it?
“I want to wire you up, earpiece, tracking device, all the works, and send you back in there, it’s either that or I send you back with the man claiming to be your father without protection and God knows what would happen to you.”
She sat there frozen, those were her options? She bit the inside of her cheek. What if they found everything on her before the cops could get to them. She stared at the plain table in front of her. What was she supposed to do? “You can’t send me with that man, he’s not my father, plus you have to run the DNA first.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re smarter than we thought, but those girls have family, know who they are, and deserve to have their lives back.”
Tears filled her vision, making it blur, he was right, they did deserve all that, “Send Justin back out, he’ll know where to look.”
“Why, so you can escape if all of this is a hoax? No way.”
“His team can watch me, but this isn’t fake, it’s real, all of it.” Bree almost yelled, she wanted Justin. He would have been nicer about this. Would have been gentler. Who would have thought she’d become so trusting and attached to a man.
The chief pulled something out and laid it flat on the table, “Show me where you saw this creek.” He demanded.
She stared at the thing in front of her, her gaze flitted over it quickly, she had no clue how to read the thing, “I can’t, I don’t know what this is or how to read it.”
He let out a sigh and ran a thick hand over his mouth, “Fine, you best think about what options I gave you.” He stood from the chair, snatching the paper up from the table and stormed out the door. He left it open, but she was so scared to move. The tears slowly fell down her cheeks.
She felt a hand on her shoulder, but she didn’t move.
“Come on, babe, talk to me.” She felt a huge hand wrap around her hand. She felt so numb again. How was it Justin promised she’d never be sent back and now the chief wanted to.
Everything moved in slow motion around her. Justin was going to have to leave her alone, at least she trusted the one woman, but somehow she just knew if he didn’t find the girls, she was going to have to go back out there. A shiver ran down her spine.
How did she become so unlucky in life?