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Chapter 3

No! NO! Get off of me! Daddy! Daddy!

I screamed but no one came. The weight of the man crushed me, forcing the air out of my lungs and restricting it from coming back in. He wedged his hand in between our bodies and started moving it downwards, towards my pants.


No one is coming, I realized as he fumbled with my jeans button. No one is going to help me.

Get off of me, I sobbed. Its not my fault. Its not my fault.

Shhh, this is how the world is. You’ll do well to remember that. Men get what they want and woman do as their told. Your daddy owed me so now I’m getting what I want. Do as you’re told and I wont make it hurt.

The foul stench of the mans breath invaded my nostrils as I struggled to get enough air to scream again.

I leaned over and bit him on the cheek, expecting him to jump off and give me the opportunity to run.

You little slut! He screamed in my face, his spit peppering my face before he backhanded me across the face. I whimpered.

Oh, you like it rough little girl? His grin was nauseating.


He slapped me again.

Its not my fault. I didn’t do it, I cried. Help! PLEASE!

Amy? Amy!

Yes, finally someone.


“AMY!” a hand shook my shoulder and I tore my eyes open. “Amy, it was a dream. You’re okay.”

I gulped in air and took in my surroundings, trying to find my voice.

“Are you okay? That was some dream.”

I nodded and put my hand on my chest, reminding myself that no one is laying on me, suffocating me.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Gabe asked. The concern on his face melted my insides, why had no man ever looked at me like that before?

I shook my head, still not trusting my voice. It had been months since I had one of those dreams. Months since I’ve had to relive the hell I’ve endured. I fought so hard to forget but they always found their way back.

“Can I do anything? Do you need a glass of water?”

I looked at Gabe and noticed he was shirtless. He was hard to see in the dark of the night but his prominent muscles were impossible to miss. Clothed he is extremely attractive, shirtless and tousled from sleep had him looking like a sex bomb. At that moment all I wanted to do was explore this mans body, run my tongue down his body and taste the hard flesh. I want to feel his heartbeat underneath my lips, I want to feel it beat rapidly because of me. I wanted him to make me forget.

“Amy?” His eyes lit up in amusement while I practically drooled over the man. I felt my cheeks burn with embarrassment and looked away.

“Water would be nice.” I squeaked.

Without another word Gabe got up and walked out of the room leaving me with nothing but the sight of his chiseled back. I curled back up in the soft comforter. God I am so embarrassing. First I wake him up screaming like a lunatic and then… Ughhhhh. Why am I so stupid.

Gabe strolled back into the room with a glass of water in his hand, sat down beside me and handed me the cool glass.

“Thanks.” I said after I had drank some. “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Don’t be. Do you get those often?”


“The nightmares.”

“Oh. I used to. Its been a while since I had one.” I pulled my leg up and rested my chin on my knee.

“You were yelling ‘its not my fault’, what’s not your fault?”

I stiffened. This isn’t a conversation I’ve ever had, not even with Rose. She always gave me my space after the nightmares, let me handle my own emotions.

“You don’t have to talk about it. Sometimes it just helps to tell someone else.” I looked over at Gabe, shocked. The way his voice changed when he spoke, id bet money he had gone through this too.

I had no intentions of telling him anything, its not something I talk about, but the words just blurted out, “Everything. My mom’s death, my sibling’s death, my dads debts, the bad men that always come. Somehow they’re always my fault.”

“You know they aren’t, right?’

“Yeah, I know. I always get punished for them though.”

“Punished?” Gabe’s voice changed, anger radiating off him in waves. “Punished how?”

I laughed nervously, feeling extremely uncomfortable. “Nothing I can’t handle.”

“I don’t believe that.”

We sat in silence for a moment, Gabe likely waiting for me to spill my guts, me wishing I hadn’t said anything at all. Gabe rested his hand against my leg and electricity flew through my body.

“You don’t have to say anything. I’m sorry I pushed. You’re safe here, I promise. Come get me if you need anything. And try to get some sleep.” Then he left.

I laid in bed for a while trying to turn my brain off before exhaustion took over and I fell into dark, undreaming bliss.

I woke up to light streaming into my eyes. I groaned and buried my head into the pillow wondering who had opened my black out curtains. I reached over for my phone to check the time and felt nothing, not even my bedside table. I gasped and jerked upright as the memories from yesterday and last night came flooding back. I looked around the room, the white bed standing out against the dark wood floors and beige walls. My glass of water from last night sat on a dresser across the room. I climbed out of bed, my ribs screaming in protest and gulped down the water. I felt like garbage, I probably looked even worse.

I wandered out to the living room, taking in the house I had been too wound up to notice yesterday. It was beautiful, reminding me of something out of a dream home magazine. Considering the size of the house, I wondered if Gabe lived here alone and instantly felt jealous.

“Good morning! How was the rest of your night?” a voice asked from behind me. I shrieked and spun around, then groaned and grabbed my side. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. Dou you want some Tylenol for your ribs?”

Gabe stood on the other side of the living room, having come in from the sliding glass doors I didn’t notice were open. He was drenched in sweat, wearing a tightly fitting muscle shirt and loose shorts. His curls were wet, sticking to his forehead. His olive skin glistened, taut over his biceps.

“Yes please. Uh, it was good. No dreams.”

“Glad to hear.” He said as he walked around me and down the hall. He returned, handing me a bottle of Tylenol, took the glass I forgot I was still holding and went into the kitchen. I followed him, gazing at the stainless steel appliances and marble counters.

“You have a beautiful home.”

“Thanks. I don’t spend much time here usually but it’s a nice place to come back to that’s for sure.”

“Where are you normally?”

“That’s classified.” He winked at me and handed me the water.

“Oh. Thanks.” I got out two Tylenol and took them then handed the bottle back. His fingers brushed against my hand when he took it and my knees went weak. His touch sent sparkly flying every time. “Um, where is the bathroom?”

“The door across from your room.”

“Okay, thanks.”

When I looked in the bathroom mirror I almost didn’t recognize myself. The large laceration against my forehead that Gabe had stitched was an angry red, my eyes were sunken in from the dark circles surrounding them. My hair was a complete wreck, blood crusted into some of the strands. My clothes were rumbled from sleep, my light jeans had dirt on the knees from my falls. I splashed water on my face, rinsed out my mouth with the mouth wash he had on the counter and released my aching bladder before I went back out to join Gabe.

“So where do I need to go to make a statement?” I asked when I found Gabe making eggs in the kitchen.

“I’ll take you to the police department once we’ve eaten.”

“Okay, thank you. Uh, I should probably stop at my apartment and get more clothes. I look like a homeless person.” I let out a little laugh.

Gabe looked at me, biting his lip as if in deep thought. His eyes raked over my body and I resisted the urge to cover myself. “You certainly don’t look like a homeless person, but if you want to shower and wash your clothes first you can. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to go back to your apartment at all. I have some clothes you can wear while yours are in the wash.”

“Uhh..” Wear his clothes? The thought of it excited me in ways I’m sure he didn’t mean but reality crashed back. I can’t just run my whole life. “What is the plan? I can’t spend my whole life in hiding. I have a job, college classes. I have to get back to my life.”

“If you go back to your apartment, your job, or even your classes I’m sure there will be guys watching for you. I don’t have a plan yet, but I do know that for sure.”

“So my life is over, really. I’m going to have to run forever.”

Gabe rubbed his hand on the back of his neck while he stared at me, “Well not forever, but for a while yeah you will have to stay hidden.”

“This is fucking ridiculous,” I sat down on one of the stools and rested my head in my arms against the counter, “I’d probably be better off dead.” I muttered.

“Don’t say that. You were almost dead. You have no idea what these guys are like, what they do to people let alone women.”

“And how do you know what they do?” I snapped and then realized it was a dumb question to ask a federal agent. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t just hide in Austen’s apartment for the rest of my life. And what about Rose? She has a life too, she can’t hide just because she knows me. Cant we just report this to the police and then let them handle it?”

“They won’t keep you safe. Do you even know who those guys were, Amy?”

“Some thugs.” I shrugged.

“Italian Mafia, Amy. Your father got into bed with the mafia.”

The mafia? Like on tv? This has got to be some sort of joke. Does the mafia even exist? And if it does would my dad really get involved with them? He was a dick, sure, but the mafia? He cant be serious. How can he even be joking right now? This is my life we are talking about. “That’s not funny, Gabe.” I got up and stormed into the living room.

“I’m not joking, Amy.”

“This is my life Gabe! Stop!” I yelled.

“You think I don’t know that, Amy? I watched them nearly kill you! If I hadn’t been there…” He sighed and came to sit beside me on the couch. “Listen, I know this is hard. I’m not lying though. They had the tattoos on their arms. They were mafia, Amy. You’re not safe.”

I put my head in my hands and squeezed my eyes shut. “I tried so hard to make a good life. And its all ruined.”

“Its not ruined, its paused.” He put his hand on my back, the sparks from his touch returning instantly.

“So, now what?”

“Now, we report it to the police and hopefully we can get you into a safe house until its dealt with. ATF have been building a case against them for a while so I’ll reach out to them and see about wrapping it up.”

I let out a sigh and leaned against him, enjoying the comfort of his arm against me. He pulled me against him tighter and wrapped his other arm around me. All my fears disappeared and my brain was filled with him. His scent, an oak and whiskey fragrance mixed with sweat, his arms and the feel of his muscles tightening around me, it all took over my brain shoving everything else out of its way.

“Amy, please listen to me so that you can stay safe. Please.”

I nodded against him. He moved his arm and I immediately missed the contact. He placed his fingers under my chin and pulled my face upwards.

“No, I need to hear you promise. Promise me you wont do something dumb out of defiance.”

I looked into his golden brown eyes, trying to uncover the emotions buried in them but failing. “I promise to stay safe and not do anything dumb.”

“Good.” He smiled a brilliant smile, his eyes lighting up. “Now, lets get ready.”

We ate our eggs and then Gabe went for a shower. I changed into the sweats and tshirt he gave me after I showered in the other bathroom. My clothes were on quick wash in his luxury machines. I wasn’t sure what to do while I waited for him so I wandered over to the sliding glass door and stepped outside.

The yard was just as beautiful as the house. It was a few acres at least with a large pool, a gorgeous patio and gazebo. I walked out to the pool, enjoying the lush grass underneath my feet. This isnt something I ever got to enjoy, not since my family died. My dad sold the house right after the funerals and moved us into an apartment. I’ve lived in apartments ever since then, the closest I came to a back yard was the balcony off my dads room.

I rolled up the sweatpants and sat down in front of the pool, dipping my feet in the cool water. Laying back into the grass, admiring the sun as I enjoyed the grass under my arms and the water on my feet.

I watched her lay back to look up at the sun, her honey hair fanning around her. God, she is so beautiful. The sight of her in my clothes had nearly broke any form of restraint I had. I found myself envisioning her in my bed, the morning sun streaming down on her through the window. I wanted to see her smile as she woke up. Hell, I wanted to see her smile all the time.

I was going to join her, but the view was too good to interrupt. She looked so happy, happier than I had seen her even at work. True, complete bliss. Instead I headed in to make lunch to bring with us, giving her a few more moments away from the hell that had become her life.

In truth I had no idea how to protect her. She likely wouldn’t qualify for witpro as she wasn’t witness for anything meaning a safe house was unlikely. The chance of them proving that the mafia boss had sent them men to kidnap her is slight, the case will likely be closed because the “perps” were shot dead. I didn’t know enough about this Austen to trust she would be safe there, but I doubted she would stay with me until she is safe. Especially if she found out exactly who I am, or who I was before.

After I packed us lunch, I switched her laundry to the dryer so we could get going. It is an hour drive back into town to the police station. I called my boss to check in and update him, hoping he would have an idea on what to do with her.


“Its Moretti. I’m taking the girl to the local department to make a statement. I would imagine they’ve collected the bodies by now. Have you spoken to them yet?”

“Yes. I talked to the sheriff this morning. You’ll have to fax over your report tomorrow. What are you going to do with the girl? Based on what you told me yesterday, this isnt going to be the last she sees of them.”

“I was actually hoping you would have an idea. I cant think of any protections the police or FBI can offer her given the situation. Have we heard back from ATF? Where are they on their case?”

“I haven’t heard back, but its unlikely they will have anything to offer us. I’d suggest telling her to get out of town for a while and hire a bodyguard. I will do some digging and see what I can come up with but it looks like our hands are tied. I don’t think we have any form of protection to offer her.”

I sighed and scrubbed my face with my hands. The flaws in our laws, our inability to protect those who need it, is unbearable some days. This was a perfect example of why victims often suffered in silence. “Okay, thanks boss.”

I brought the cooler bag into the garage and loaded it into my car. I could hear the dinging signaling the end of the dryer cycle when I entered the house again. I walked out to the yard to tell Amy her clothes were done, but I found her sleeping. Still laying on the grass with her feet in the pool, a slight smile present on her face even in her sleep, she looked like a true angel. The sun beaming down on her amplified that notion, causing her honey hair around her head to look like a true halo. The stitches on her forehead looked angry, probably from her restless sleep. They added a dark note to the otherwise perfect vision in front of me. She would likely have that reminder for the rest of her life, the scar staring back at her every time she looked in the mirror.

I hesitated before I leaned down to shake her shoulder. I didn’t want to wake her but we needed to get going or there would be no trip back to town.

“Amy? Your clothes are ready. We should get going.”

Her deep blues slowly opened and focused on me, squinting from the sunlight.


“Your clothes are ready.” I repeated.

“Oh. Thanks.” She pushed herself up, drawing in a sharp breath with each movement. I wanted to take her pain away, take the past and present injuries on myself and allow her to stay blissfully unaware of what kind of horrors the world held. But life just wasn’t that easy, or that forgiving. For every good deed being done, there were two bad ones.

I helped her to stand and followed her into the house. While she went to grab her clothes and change I did my usual walkthrough of the house, double checking all the locks, alarms, windows. It had become almost a ritual every time I left the house. You could never be too safe in my line of work.

Once we were both ready we headed back into town, the quiet hum of the radio the only sound in the car. I peaked a glance at her every once in a while, looking at her beauty. She had pulled her hair up into a bun and a few defiant strands stuck out around it. A piece of her curly hair had come out and was resting at the nape of her neck. My entire body twitched with the desire to reach over and toy with it. She leaned against the door, her eyelids drooping again. Her exhaustion was understandable given the day she had yesterday and the hard blow she had taken to the head. I planned to insist she see a doctor once we were done with the police just to ensure she had nothing more than a mild concussion and some cracked ribs.

We pulled up to the police station but Amy didn’t move, just stared at the brick building. “What if they don’t believe me?”

“They already do. I talked with my boss this morning, he spoke with them. Everything will be okay, I promise.”

She gave me a slight smile and nodded before climbing out of the vehicle. I followed her into the building, showed my badge and explained to the receptionist who she was and what we are doing here.

We sat side by side in the small waiting area. I could feel the nerves radiating off her and instinctively reached for her hand. Her skin is so smooth and soft, the touch sent shockwaves through me. It made me want to touch her, taste her all over and confirm that her skin felt this amazing everywhere else, too. She didn’t pull away like I half expected her to, instead she tightened her grip and leaned into me.

“Amy Sallow?”

“Yes.” Amy stood up.

“Follow me.” Amy trailed behind the brunette officer and I was left alone with my thoughts. Thoughts of the stunning woman I wanted to know on every level.

“My name is Cst. Summers, I’ll be taking your statement today.” The officer said as I followed her down the hall and into what I assumed is an interrogation room. The white room was empty, with the exception of the metal table and plastic chairs. Once we were seated she pressed a button on a little remote she was carrying. “Alright, miss Sallow. Just so you are aware this will be recorded, I have already started the recording. I will also be taking a written statement that I will have you read over and sign. Do you agree to this?”


“Please state your name for the record.”

“Amy Elouise Sallow.”

“Alright, Amy. Why don’t you start at the beginning?”

And so I did. I told them about my dads drug problem, his gambling addiction and his alcoholism. I repeated everything that happened that night, starting with the phone calls. She clarified a few details here and there but was otherwise silent while I talked. I longed for a drink of water by the time we were done, I wasn’t one of many words usually. Not unless I was with Rose. We finished up and I read over everything she had written before signing.

“Alright thank you, I’m just going to have another officer come in here to get some more details from you about your father and where he may find him and then you’re ready to go.”

“Thank you.”

I felt a tinge of regret and shame that they were going to arrest my dad but quickly squashed it. After everything he had done to me, being charged with human trafficking and whatever else they managed to get him with was the least he deserved. Realistically he deserved to be laying on the road with the other men Gabe had killed, though I had felt relieved when he said my dad was not one of the men he had to shoot. I truly hated the man, I felt used, abused and betrayed by him. He was supposed to love and protect me but instead he had abandoned me when I needed him most and then had thrown me to the wolves over and over again. But if I was being honest with myself, I didn’t want him dead. A part of me still prayed for a day that he actually got the help he needed and became the father he once was, the one who would push me on the swings, cuddled me when I had a bad dream and laughed with me every evening before bed over whatever lame jokes he came up with that day. He was once my hero, never allowing me to feel neglected despite the fact that both my parents were exhausted handling the twins and my sister.

The door opening startled me out of my thoughts. The man had on dark jeans and a black tshirt, not exactly police attire, I noticed, though he was handsome as most stereotypes had labeled officers.

“Amy, I’d like to ask you a few more questions if you could please follow me.”

I complied, following him down the hall further into the building. He stopped at what appeared to be an exterior door. I turned to ask him where we were going but before I could get words out he had a knife to my throat and was shoving me against the wall. Panic gripped my chest and made my knees weak. I couldn’t scream or fight back with the knife pressing against my throat. We are in a police station for Christs sake! Someone had to be coming to help? Right?

“Now listen here you little slut. You’re going to go with me quietly and calmly. If you scream, if you fight, if you try to get away or alert someone, I will kill you. And then I will go after your precious friend. She’s a pretty little thing, I’d love to get my hands on her.”


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