Books

Anybody's Daughter

When 13-year-old Brianna is ensnarled in the horrifying world of human sex trafficking, her Uncle Dre, a man with his own criminal past, scours the dark corners of L.A. determined to find her. Dre ultimately comes up with a daring plan that puts many lives in danger—including his own. But will he find Brianna before it's too late?

Read an Excerpt Below!

Brianna sat cross-legged in the middle of her bed, her thumbs rhythmically tapping the screen of her iPhone. She paused, then hit the Send button, firing off a text message.

ready?

Her soft hazel eyes lasered into the screen, anticipating—no craving—an instantaneous response. Jaden had told her to text him when she was about to leave the house. So why didn’t he respond?

She hopped off the bed and cracked open the door. A gentle tinkle—probably a spoon clanking against the side of a stainless steel pot—signaled that her mother was busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

Easing the door shut, Brianna leaned against it and closed her eyes. To pull this off, Brianna couldn’t just act calm, she had to be calm. Otherwise, her mother would surely notice. But at only thirteen, she’d become pretty good at finding ways around her mother’s unreasonable rules.

She gently shook the phone as if that might make Jaden’s response instantly appear. Brianna was both thrilled and nervous about finally meeting Jaden, her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have. Texts and emails had been racing back and forth between them ever since Jaden friended her on Facebook five weeks earlier.

It still bothered Brianna—but only a little—that Jaden had refused to hook up with her on Skype or FaceTime or even talk to her on the phone. Jaden had explained that he wanted to hear her voice and see her face for the first time in person. When she thought about it, that was kind of romantic.

If it hadn’t been for her Uncle Dre, Brianna would never have been able to have a secret boyfriend. When her uncle presented her with an iPhone for her birthday two months ago, her mother immediately launched into a tirade about perverts and predators on the Internet. But Uncle Dre had teased her mother for being so uptight and successfully pleaded her case.

Thank God her mother was such a techno-square. Although she’d insisted that they share the same Gmail account and barred her from Facebook, Brianna simply used her iPhone to open a Facebook account using a Yahoo email address that her mother knew nothing about. As for her texts, she immediately erased them.

A quiet chime signaled the message Brianna had been waiting for. A ripple of excitement shot through her.


Jaden: hey B almst there cant wait 2 c u

Brianna: me 2

Jaden: cant wait 2 kss dem lips

Brianna: lol!

Jaden: luv u grl!

Brianna: luv u 2


Brianna tossed the phone onto the bed and covered her mouth with both hands.

OMG!

She was finally going to meet the love of her life. Jaden’s older brother Clint was taking them to the Starbucks off Wilmington. Her mother kept such tight reins on her, this was the only time she could get away. Jaden had promised her that Clint would make sure she got to school on time.

Turning around to face the mirror on the back of the door, Brianna untied her bushy ponytail and let her hair fall across her shoulders. The yellow-and-purple Lakers tank top her Uncle Dre had given her fit snugly across her chest, but wasn’t slutty-looking. Jaden was a Kobe Bryant fanatic just like she was. He would be impressed when she showed up sporting No. 24.

Slinging her backpack over her shoulder, Brianna trudged down the hallway toward the kitchen.

“Hey, Mama. I have to be at school early for a Math Club meeting.”

Donna Walker turned away from the stove. “I’m making pancakes. You don’t have time for breakfast?”

Brianna felt a stab of guilt. Her mother was trying harder than ever to be a model parent. Brianna had spent much of the last year living with her grandmother after her mother’s last breakdown.

“Sorry.” She grabbed a cinnamon-raisin bagel from the breadbox on the counter. “Gotta go.”

Donna wiped her hand on a dishtowel. “It’s too early for you to be walking by yourself. I can drop you off.”

Brianna kept her face neutral. “No need. I’m picking up Sydney. We’re walking together.”

Brianna saw the hesitation in her mother’s overprotective eyes.

Taller and darker than her daughter, Donna wore her hair in short, natural curls. Her lips came together like two plump pillows and her eyes were a permanently sad shade of brown.

Donna had spent several years as a social worker, but now worked as an administrative assistant at St. Francis Hospital. Work, church and Brianna. That was her mother’s entire life. No man, no girlfriends, no fun.

Brianna wasn’t having any of that. She was gonna have a life, no matter how hard her mother tried to keep her on a short leash like a prized pet.

Donna finally walked over and gave her daughter a peck on the cheek, then repeated the same words she said every single morning.

“You be careful.”

Brianna bolted through the front door and hurried down the street. As expected, no one was out yet. Her legs grew shaky as she scurried past Sydney’s house. Brianna had wanted to tell her BFF about hooking up with Jaden today, but he made her promise not to. Anyway, Sydney had the biggest mouth in the whole seventh grade. Brianna couldn’t afford to have her business in the street. She’d made Sydney swear on the Bible before even telling her she’d been talking to Jaden on Facebook.

As she neared the end of the block, she saw it. The burgundy Escalade with the tinted windows was parked behind Mario’s Fish Market just like Jaden said it would be. Brianna was so excited her hands began to tremble. She was only a few feet away from the SUV when the driver’s door opened and a man climbed out.

“Hey, Brianna. I’m Clint, Jaden’s brother. He’s in the backseat.”

Brianna unconsciously took a step back. Jaden’s brother didn’t look anything like him. On his Facebook picture, Jaden had dark eyes, a narrow nose and could’ve passed for T.I.’s twin brother. This man was dark-skinned with a flat nose and crooked teeth. And there was no way he was nineteen. He had to be even older than her Uncle Dre, who was thirty-something.

Brianna bit her lip. An uneasy feeling tinkered in her gut, causing her senses to see-saw between fear and excitement. But it was love, her love for Jaden, that won out. It didn’t matter what his brother looked like. They probably had different daddies.

As Clint opened the back door, Brianna handed him her backpack and stooped to peer inside the SUV.

At the same horrifying moment that Brianna realized that the man inside was not Jaden, Clint snatched her legs out from under her and shoved her into the Escalade.

The man in the backseat grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her toward him. Brianna tumbled face-first into his lap, inhaling sweat and weed and piss.

“Owwwww! Get your hands offa me!” Brianna shrieked, her arms and legs thrashing about like a drowning swimmer. “Where’s Jaden? Let me go!”

“Relax, baby.” The stinky man’s voice sounded old and husky. “Just calm down.”

“Get offa me. Let me go!”

She tried to pull away, but Stinky Man palmed the back of her head like a basketball, easily holding her in place. Clint, who was now in the front seat, reached down and snatched her arms behind her back and bound them with rope.

When Brianna heard the quiet revving of the engine and the door locks click into place, panic exploded from her ears. She violently kicked her feet, hoping to break the window. But each kick landed with a sharp thud that launched needles of pain back up her legs.

“Let me goooooo!”

The stinky man thrust a calloused hand down the back of Brianna’s pants as she fought to squirm free.

“Dang, girl,” he cackled. “The brothers are gonna love you.”

“Cut it out, Leon,” Clint shouted, turning away to grab something from the front seat. “I’ve told you before. Don’t mess with the merchandise.”

“Don’t touch me!” Brianna cried. “Get away from me!”

She managed to twist around so that her face was no longer buried in Stinky Man’s lap. That was when she saw Clint coming toward her. He covered her mouth with a cloth that smelled like one of the chemicals from her science class.

Brianna coughed violently as a warm sensation filled her body. In seconds, her eyelids felt like two heavy windows being forced shut. She tried to scream, but the ringing in her ears drowned out all sound. When she blinked up at Stinky Man, he had two—no three—heads.

Brianna could feel the motion of the SUV pulling away from Mario’s Fish Market. She needed to do something. But her body was growing heavy and her head ached. The thick haze that cluttered her mind allowed only one desperate thought to seep through.

Mommy! Uncle Dre! Please help me!

Chapter 1

Day One: 8:00 a.m.

Angela Evans zigzagged her Saab in and around the slow-moving cars inching up Hill Street, ignoring the blaring horns directed at her.

“Shoot!” She pounded the steering wheel.

The lot where she normally parked for court appearances had a Full sign out front. It could take another twenty minutes to find a place to park. Twenty minutes she didn’t have.

She spotted a two-hour parking meter a few feet ahead and swerved into it. Grabbing her purse from the front seat, she tumbled from the car, not bothering to put change in the meter. She’d just have to deal with the fifty-dollar ticket.

When she rounded the corner, the line of people waiting to enter the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center was at least fifty deep. The line for attorneys and staff was half as long. She strolled up to a middle-aged white guy in an expensive suit near the front of the attorneys’ line and flashed him a hopeful smile.

“Cuts? Pretty please?” she said, trying to catch her breath. “I’m way late.”

The man grinned and allowed Angela to step in front of him. A few people behind them had started to grumble, but by that time she was already dropping her purse onto the conveyor belt and walking through the metal detectors.

She jogged down the hallway and squeezed into an elevator seconds before the doors closed. The car shot straight to the fourth floor. When she finally reached the courtroom, Angela frowned. Shenae was supposed to be waiting outside.

Inside the courtroom, Angela was glad to find that the judge hadn’t taken the bench yet. She grew incensed, however, as she scanned the gallery. Her client was sitting off to the right, next to a man in a sports jacket and tie. Angela presumed he was the detective who had picked her up from the group home. On the opposite side of the courtroom, Angela counted four women and five men. The whole rowdy, tattooed group looked as if they’d just broken out of county jail. One of the men craned his neck in Shenae’s direction and scowled, confirming exactly what Angela had assumed.

She marched into the well of the courtroom and straight up to the deputy district attorney.

“Why haven’t you cleared the courtroom?” she demanded. “If you don’t get them out of here, I’m advising my client to take the Fifth.”

“Good morning to you, too, Counselor,” Monty Wyman replied with a forced smile. “I was going to do it. We haven’t started yet.”

Wyman was in his late twenties, with sandy hair and black-rimmed glasses. His doughy midsection publicized that exercise wasn’t high on his agenda.

“If you want my client to testify, do it now.” Angela cocked her head and smiled. “Pretty please.”

Wyman had spent the last six months of his young legal career in the sex crimes unit. He knew how traumatic it was for a twelve-year-old child to face her pimp in court. It irked Angela that the defendant’s homies were even allowed to be in the same building as Shenae.

Angela walked over to Shenae, greeted her with a hug, then escorted her to a bench in the hallway.

“You okay? You still want to do this, right?”

Shenae’s timid eyes fell to the floor. “Uh, yeah.” The thin, gangly girl never made eye contact for more than a few seconds.

Six months earlier, Shenae had been arrested for solicitation to commit prostitution. She was one of a dozen under-aged girls forced into prostitution by a pimp named Melvin Clark. Yet the justice system treated her like the criminal.

Angela represented Shenae in juvenile court on the solicitation charge and had arranged for her to be sent to a group home. As part of a special program, if she did well in school and stayed out of trouble for at least a year, the charge would be dismissed.

Angela was in court today to lend moral support.

“If I tell ’em everything I did, are you sure they’re not gonna arrest me?” Shenae asked.

“Yes, I’m sure.” Angela placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’ve already negotiated that with the prosecutor. You have full immunity. That means nothing you say can be used against you. Ever.”

Just then, the defendant’s cohorts were ushered out of the courtroom by the bailiff. Angela pulled Shenae close, blocking her face from the glares of her would-be intimidators.

Wyman stuck his head into the hallway. “We’re ready.”

Shenae wrung her hands. Her khaki pants and black sweater seemed a size too big. Her hair was gathered into a small puff that sat atop of her head, drawing attention away from her sad, round face.

“I know it’s scary,” Angela said softly. “But you can do it. You did really good when we practiced last week. Candace will be here any minute.”

Angela glanced down the hallway, praying that Candace Holmes would indeed appear. “Just keep your eyes on Candace or me. And whatever you do, don’t look at Melvin.”

As if conjured up by magic, Candace Holmes raced up to them. “Sorry,” she panted. “I had another client on the fifth floor.”

Candace, who was not much taller than Shenae, worked for Saving Innocence, a non-profit group that provided an array of support services to sexually trafficked children. She was here today to serve as Shenae’s witness advocate.

Candace swept her reddish-brown bangs off her face and bent to look Shenae in the eyes. “I’m proud of you. I know you’re going to do great.”

Angela opened the door of the courtroom. “Let’s go.”

Shenae didn’t move. She looked up at Angela. “I…I would feel better if I could take your purse up there with me.”

Angela glanced down at her camel-colored Dolce Gabbana bag.

“My purse? Why?”

“It’s a nice purse,” Shenae said, her lower lip quivering a bit. “If I had it with me on the witness stand, I would look important. Like you.”

A pained look passed between Angela and Candace. Angela handed the bag to Shenae and led the way inside.

The judge, jury and defendant were all in place now. Melvin, dressed in a suit and tie, sat next to his lawyer, a veteran public defender who’d obviously pulled the short straw. A portly man with a hard face, Melvin looked much older than twenty-eight. He glanced back at Shenae, but turned around when his lawyer tapped him on the arm.

Judge Willis Romer, known for both his shoe-polish-black hair and for nodding off on the bench, peered through his thick lenses. “Call your first witness, Mr. Wyman.”

“I call Shenae M to the witness stand.”

Shenae slowly rose to her feet and marched down the aisle, followed by Candace. After taking the oath, Shenae propped Angela’s purse on her lap and curved her small fingers around the pearl handle. She sat arrow straight, chin forward, her face blank of any emotion.

Candace was sitting in a folding chair just to the right of the jury box, facing Shenae.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” the judge began, “Ms. Candace Holmes is a witness advocate. She is here for emotional support for the witness, who is a juvenile. You should give no weight, pro or con, to her presence.”

Wyman rose from the prosecutor’s table and smiled warmly at Shenae. “Can you tell us your name for the record?”

“Shenae Mar—”

Wyman held up both hands. “That’s okay. Since you’re a juvenile we don’t need your last name. Is it okay if I call you Shenae.”

The girl smiled. “Yes.”

“And how old are you?”

“Twelve.”

“Do you know the defendant, Melvin Clark?”

Shenae nodded.

The judge leaned toward Shenae and spoke in a fatherly voice. “Shenae, we’ll need you to speak out loud. The court reporter can’t take down a nod of your head.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, I know him.”

As instructed, Shenae did not take her eyes off of Candace, not even to face the judge.

“And how do you know Mr. Clark?” the prosecutor asked.

Shenae swallowed. “He was my pimp.”

Melvin shifted in his seat, then angled his head and stroked his stubbly chin.

“Where did you first meet Mr. Clark?”

“At the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Crenshaw and Imperial. He bought me some chicken and fries cuz I was hungry.”

“How did Mr. Clark know you were hungry?”

Shenae’s slender shoulders rose, then fell. “I guess cuz he saw me eat somebody’s leftover food after they walked out.”

For the next few minutes, Shenae stoically recapped her tragic young life. At ten, she’d been placed in a foster home after her mother’s boyfriend molested her. In the foster home, she was physically and verbally abused and ultimately ran away. She was eleven when Melvin offered to let her stay at his apartment.

“At first, he was nice,” Shenae explained. “He didn’t even try to have sex with me or nothing. He took me shopping and let me buy whatever I wanted.”

“Did that ever change?” the prosecutor asked.

Shenae lowered her eyes. “After about a month we started having sex. But by then, he was my boyfriend, so that was okay.”

One of the jurors, an older black woman who’d been carrying a Bible, puckered her lips.

“And then what happened?”

“One day, he told me that cuz he spent a lot of money on me, I had to make some money for him.”

For the first time, Shenae stole a quick glance at Melvin. She clasped the handles of the purse even tighter.

“How did he want you to make money for him?”

The courtroom grew quiet as Shenae’s eyes watered. “He put me on the track.”

Angela took in the jury. A few faces appeared shocked, others displayed confusion.

“Tell the jury what the track is?”

Shenae began to gently rock back and forth, still holding onto the purse. “Where johns go to pick up ho’s for sex.”

“What did you do on the track?”

Shenae did not answer for a few seconds. Wyman waited.

“At first I…I just sucked…I mean…I gave blow jobs. I got fifty dollars every time. I gave all the money to Melvin. But later on, he put me in a motel room so johns could come there to have sex with me.”

“I see a tattoo on your neck,” the prosecutor said. “M-M-M. What does that mean?”

Shenae’s hand absently caressed her slender neck. “Uh, it means Melvin’s moneymaker.”

Two female jurors gasped.

“How many men did you have sex with on a single day?”

“A lot,” Shenae sniveled and wiped away a tear. “Sometimes up to twenty.”

Several jurors winced. The black woman cupped a hand to her mouth.

“Did you want to have sex with those men?”

“No.”

“What would happen if you refused?”

Shenae was weeping softly now. “Melvin would beat me.”

Judge Romer spoke with genuine sympathy in his voice. “Shenae, are you okay? Are you able to continue?”

Shenae finally let go of the purse. She pressed both hands to her face and sobbed.

“Your Honor,” Wyman said quietly, “we’d like to take a short break.”

Chapter 2

Day One: 8:05 a.m.

When Brianna’s voicemail clicked on again, Dre cursed under his breath and hung up.

That was the second time this morning that he’d tried to call his niece. He didn’t even know why he even bothered calling her. Anybody under twenty only used a smartphone for texting. Talking took time away from their texting.

He chuckled to himself, then pecked out a text.

call me

Dre and his buddy Gus were installing tile in the bathroom of the two-bedroom house he’d recently picked up at an auction. The two men had done time together at Corcoran State Prison. Gus was good with his hands and Dre was happy to have the help.

Dre reached for a towel and wiped sweat from his shaved head. He was surprised when he didn’t receive an instantaneous response from his niece. The girl was usually glued to her phone.

Brianna had gotten a real kick out of the fact that he had called her to help him pick out a nice restaurant for his date tonight. His niece wasn’t your average thirteen-year-old. She was smart as a whip and knew almost as much about sports as he did. The fact that she looked more like him than his own son was another reason he loved her to death.

Dre had asked Brianna to go on the Internet and find him a nice restaurant in Marina Del Rey. He wanted just the right place for his reunion with Angela. Not super casual, but not too highbrow either. Brianna had given him three great choices.

Dre wanted to let Brianna know which restaurant he had selected. But he hadn’t told anybody that he was hooking up with Angela tonight.

“Hey, man, what’s going on?” Gus asked. He was in his late forties, with a lean, muscular body, perfected during his time behind bars. “Why you smiling so much today?”

“Didn’t know I was smiling.” Dre stroked his goatee. He was close to six feet with the kind of body built for hard work.

“Yeah, you were. Smiling and whistling. So what’s up?”

Dre grabbed another tile and carefully set it into place. He wasn’t sure he wanted to spill the beans about his plans tonight. It was as if doing so might jinx something. But he was excited as hell, so he had to tell somebody something.

“I’m taking Angela out tonight,” Dre said.

Gus nodded, but left it at that.

“You don’t have nothin’ to say?” Dre asked.

“Hey, bruh, who you go out with is your business.”

“Sounds like you think it’s a bad idea.”

“Ain’t for me to judge.”

Dre was surprised at Gus’ response. His buddy was never one to keep an opinion to himself.

“Well, I’m asking.”

Gus set aside the tile he was holding and looked over at Dre.

“You put it all on the line for that female and she left you hangin’. So if you ask me, hookin’ up with her again might not be the best decision you could make.”

This was no doubt the same reaction Dre would receive when he told his sister and mother that he was seeing Angela again. Unfortunately, they’d never gotten a chance to meet her. If they had, they’d surely feel differently. The only thing they knew about her was what they’d seen in the news reports. And that was bunk.

When Dre first met Angela at the Spectrum Athletic Club, she was weeks away from marrying some control-freak judge. She eventually broke off the engagement and they’d hooked up. Angela’s ex, however, had refused to accept the breakup and started stalking her.

In the midst of that drama and before Dre could tell her himself, Angela found out that he’d been in the business of dealing crack cocaine and had served time for possession with intent to sell. She then broke it off with him too.

Worried about her safety, Dre stayed close and had been there to intercede when Angela and her ex were wrestling over a gun. The judge took a bullet to the gut and Dre took the rap. The media immediately jumped on the story. A love triangle involving a federal prosecutor, a superior court judge and a drug dealer made salacious news. No charges were ever filed because the shooting had been ruled self-defense.

Dre had been both pissed off and hurt by Angela's decision to move on, but the girl was a lawyer. Part of him understood her reluctance about having a relationship with an ex-con. He still kicked himself for not having been up front with her about his situation from day one.

It still amazed him that a woman he’d only known for a few weeks could take hold of his heart the way Angela Evans had. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t shake his feelings for her. It had been three months since he’d last seen her. Last week he’d gathered the nerve to ask her out to dinner and to his relief, she accepted.

Now that he was getting a second chance at being with her, Dre didn’t care what anybody thought. He was taking it.

He checked his smartphone again. Brianna still hadn’t texted him back. She was probably already in class by now. He called her again anyway. No answer.

Dre couldn’t wait to tell her about his date. At least Brianna would be happy for him.

Chapter 3

Day One: 8:10 a.m.

Clint glanced in the rearview mirror. Brianna was stretched out across the backseat, still knocked out cold, her head resting in Leon’s lap. Leon was alternately snoring and smacking his lips.

The grab had worked precisely according to plan. Clint just hoped it wouldn’t take too long to break in Little Miss Brianna. The girl looked like she had a lot of fight in her.

He punched a button on his cell.

“We should have her on lockdown in a few,” Clint said into the phone. “This one’s real fresh, man. Got them light eyes. She’s gonna bring in some long dough.”

He barked several instructions, then hung up.

Clint was relieved that everything had gone so well. You never knew what could happen when you were snatching a girl in broad daylight. So far, the Facebook scam was working like a charm. His boss was a genius.

Clint smiled to himself. “Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.”

Leon yawned from the backseat. “How far away are we?”

“A long way,” Clint said. “Just shut up.”

Leon ran a hand over Brianna’s rear end. “This girl is bangin’.”

“Don’t mess with the merchandise,” Clint snapped, eyeing him in the rearview mirror.

“I’m just sayin’.” He stroked Brianna’s face.

A phone began to ring. Leon looked around, then realized the sound was coming from Brianna’s backpack.

“Don’t answer it!” Clint shouted. “Give it here.”

Leon pulled the iPhone from an outside pocket on the backpack and tossed it to Clint. The caller ID read Uncle Dre. He turned it off, then placed it on the console between the seats.

“I’m hungry,” Leon complained. “We need to hit a drive-thru.”

“We ain’t stoppin’. I ain’t about to risk nobody seeing that girl tied up in the backseat.”

Clint shook his head. His cousin was such a screw-up. But what did he expect from a crack head? His boss would have a big problem with Clint having brought someone into the operation without his personal approval. Hopefully, he would never find out. This was the second and last time he planned to use Leon. His regular cohort, Darnell, had to make a run to Oakland to pick up some new girls. Clint didn’t want to reschedule “Jaden’s” hookup with Brianna. Leon had worked out okay on a last-minute grab a couple of weeks ago in Inglewood. So Clint had called on him again.

It took close to an hour in rush-hour traffic before the SUV exited the Harbor Freeway at Gage. Clint drove a few more miles and slowed when he reached a yellow house that was little more than a shack. Except for a group of boys strolling along the sidewalk, the street was empty. Clint hit a button opening the electronic gates, then steered the Escalade down a short driveway and parked on the grass behind the house.

Leon hopped out first, followed by Clint. Leon bounced on his tip toes as Clint pulled a money clip from his front pocket and peeled off fifty bucks.

“You can go now.” Clint shoved the money into Leon’s hands.

“Thanks, cuz!” Leon gazed excitedly at the bills. “When you gonna need me again?”

Never. “I’ll let you know. Just make sure you keep your big mouth shut.”

Leon was already trotting back down the driveway. Clint knew exactly where he was headed. To get high at one of three neighborhood crack houses.

After first opening the back door to the house, Clint easily collected Brianna’s limp body from the backseat and hurled her over his shoulder.

The house was stuffy and night-time dark, even though it was still morning. Every windowpane in the place had been painted black. He flicked on a light switch in the kitchen and marched down a narrow hallway. He stopped outside the second bedroom on the west side of the house. Using a single key, he unlocked the three deadbolts on the door.

Inside, a low-watt bulb hanging from the ceiling provided minimal light. A naked girl with wild blonde hair sat huddled in a corner hugging her knees to her chest. Her face was clear and smooth, but her chest, arms and legs bore red, black and blue markings that stood out against her white skin. The filthy mattress where she sat was the only piece of furniture in the room.

“I brought you some company,” Clint announced. He dumped Brianna on the mattress next to the frail girl.

“If you’re ready to act like you got some sense, I’ll bring you something to eat.”

The girl, who looked to be close to Brianna’s age, didn’t respond.

“Well?” Clint said.

“Yes,” she mumbled. “I want something to eat.”

“Okay then. You better get with the program. Next time, just do what I tell you or I’ma beat your ass again.”

He pointed toward Brianna.

“When the new girl wakes up, you tell her the deal. Let her know that if she plays along, everything’ll be fine. But if she plans on being hard headed like you, life is gonna be rough.”

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(November 2013)

ISBN: 978-0-9892935-0-1