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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Thomas Lord: Cloaked Chapter 3

Todd had been waiting for this talk ever since he had called Amos to meet him at the diner. He could try and spin a lie or he could tell Amos the truth, at least part of the truth. He knew Amos was too shrewd a reporter to try and lie to, so the truth would have to do. "Okay Amos, I'll cut right to the chase. You're wondering if the blindness is real or if I'm just an excellent actor. Let me hear what you think and then I'll give you my answer."

"Thomas, the other day you walked into my office and looked me right in the eye and told me you needed a story you could sink your teeth into. I thought there was something bothering you, but I could tell you didn't want to talk. You're a good reporter, so I told you about the happenings at the docks. I was under the impression I was working with a man who could use all his senses to find out the truth. Now I find myself wondering who I entrusted the story too. Thomas if you're faking this blindness, it's a fantastic disguise but what doesn't make sense is why you would keep the disguise going after you're no longer on the dock. I watched you. You didn't know it was me at first when I arrived and you didn't realize the waitress had come to our table until she kissed you. That tells me you're not faking this blindness. But if you're blind, it doesn't explain two weeks ago in my office. Help me out here Thomas?"

The taxi arrived at Thomas's hotel and he said. "Amos, perhaps you'd like to join me for a drink, what I have to tell you is a secret only a select few know about, and if word got out I'd be a dead man, I'm counting on your journalistic ethics to keep my answer a secret." Todd got out of the car and headed into the lounge at his hotel. He needed a drink.

Amos paid the taxi and followed Thomas. He watched Thomas maneuver his way through the lobby to the lounge and knew Thomas had been blind for longer than a couple of weeks. Amos caught up with Thomas at the entrance to the lounge and wondered why he had stopped at the door.

Todd had paused at the door. The lounge was dark and his blobs and colors had once again merged with the darkness. He waited to let his other senses adjust. From the volume of talk in the lounge, he knew a number of people sat around, it was going to be tricky to navigate without some help. "Amos if you wouldn't mind, I'll follow you to the bar, just give me your elbow. I don't want to stumble over anyone."

Well if he hadn't been sure before, he was sure now. Thomas was really blind. Amos gave Thomas his elbow and led the way to the bar sitting him down and taking the seat next to him. "What happened, Thomas?"

Todd looked over and said. "I had to have brain surgery to remove a foreign object and unfortunately it left me blind."

Amos frowned, he knew there was so much more to the story than that but obviously Thomas wasn't going to talk about it. "That's all you're going to give me huh. How long ago did all this happen? Because you handle yourself very well which means this has been going on for a while at least."

Todd didn't answer, instead, he said. "Are there any tables unoccupied in here, preferably one more private than this bar?"

"Yeah, there's one left in the corner." Amos offered his elbow again and they moved to the table. "Alright, now you've got me really intrigued. Why all this need for privacy."

"Let's just say I angered some people and if they were to find out my whereabouts there's no telling what havoc they would bring here. So the blindness is real, and here's where the story might seem bizarre, the sight is also real." Todd paused to let that information sink in.

Amos did a double take and said. "What?  Don't keep me in suspense. How is that possible?"

"The last six months have been a real roller coaster for me. One thing that happened was the discovery of the foreign object in my brain. It turned out to be an extremely complicated piece of machinery implanted in my brain some years past."

"You're telling me someone implanted something in your brain, my god Thomas whatever for."

"That's a story I don't wish to discuss right now Amos." Todd's voice choked as his thoughts went back to that night he got his revenge. He felt nothing but loathing for himself and his part in that night.

Amos heard something in Thomas's voice that spoke volumes. Whatever had occurred recently had something to do with the implant, and it didn't just concern his blindness. Amos knew Thomas well enough that if he didn't want to tell something there was no use pushing him, but Thomas had said he could see. How was that possible? " Very well Thomas, you had the surgery you said and in removing this so-called implant, you lost your sight. That's correct, right? If removing the item caused the blindness, which is certainly real, how were you able to see a couple of weeks ago?"

"I've come into possession of an experimental piece of machinery that enables me to see once again as long as I have physical contact with it. I'm not entirely sure how it works, but when I hold it my vision clears. There are some questions as to how long it will continue to work, so I give up my eyesight periodically and allow myself to be blinded like today.  That way I won't be blindsided if the machinery ceases to work. Besides, I figured no one on the dock would worry about a blind man. Amos, I found out a lot of information about our story. Tomorrow, I'll return to my job on the dock and see if I can't get a little more background into the locations of the warehouses involved in this story. Chase said they move the children nightly. I need to find out a name associated with these warehouses and then I'll get word to you."

"Are you telling me you've gotten a job on the Docks? You say you have to have this machinery with you to see, aren't you taking a big risk losing it working on the Dock?"

"I've taken a number of precautions so that doesn't happen, Amos. Believe me. I can't afford to waste this chance to find the warehouses but I'm not stupid, no one suspects that I'm anything other than one of the dockworkers I'm just one of many. Now, as Tom the blind man, I encountered a couple of shady characters down there this evening and I'm hoping after another couple sightings of Tom they'll begin to ignore me. I need to find out what they have planned for the young girls they've been taking, I'm getting this sick feeling we're talking white slavery. Chase's sister is only thirteen years old. I've got to stop these guys before they ship her out to who knows where, or worse before they hurt her, or any others like the young girl found on the dock this morning. I know you have some concern because you know my secret now, but even blind I'm not helpless. This is something I've got to complete Amos, it's important to my sanity."

He sounded a trifle desperate but Amos heard the resolve in his voice when he spoke about rescuing Chase's sister. If Thomas was right and they had a white slavery ring working out of Savannah, then the authorities needed to be alerted. Right now Thomas just had a feeling. Between Thomas's supposition and what his own gut was telling him, Amos knew Thomas was on the right track but could he get the answers before getting killed. People running white slavery rings had no scruples when it came murder.

"If you're right Thomas, then these guys need to be caught. They had no qualms beating a young girl, in your case they wouldn't stop at a beating, you could end up dead. Be careful out there. When this is over I want your whole story Thomas and I hope you'll trust me enough to share it."

Amos wasn't happy about Thomas's sight problem and thinking about him working down on the docks, but he was right in the thick of the disappearances working there and if Thomas was right, this white slavery ring had to be taken down. "Thomas are you sure about Chase's sister being a part of this?"

"Positive. Chase said they were taken together, then separated. Amos, would you tell Keely, thanks, for helping out with Chase. The poor little guy is really worried about his sister. I'm glad his dad is coming to get him, little kids like that shouldn't be away from their parents." Todd was remembering his own sense of loss when his mother Bitsy left, Peter had taken him away from her and then made his life miserable.

Amos looked at Thomas sharply, something in his voice indicated strong feelings on the issue. This guy was really a riddle and Amos wished he knew the whole story, it was probably a doozy. Amos saw Thomas to the elevator pushing the floor button for him. "Take care out there Thomas, whoever is running this operation is dangerous. Get the story, but give the information to the police, don't do anything foolish."

"Gotcha Boss, nothing stupid, I promise."

As the door closed on Thomas, Amos felt a chill for a moment. Thomas was in for some trouble and it almost sounded like he was looking forward to it.

With the elevator door closed and no one else on board. Todd reached inside his shirt and took out his ring. He slipped it on and waited as his vision cleared up. He had made a promise to Amos, but he wasn't sure he was going to be able to follow up on it. It had suddenly become very important to him to find Lily. He needed to save her and the others, then he might be able to forgive himself enough to return to Blair. Todd entered his room and sat down wearily on the bed. It was late and he had to find a way to get some sleep, but his mind was filled with thoughts of Chase and his sister. He kept hearing Chase when he said he missed his daddy and grandpa and sister. There had been such longing and fear in the little boy's voice. Todd hated it and everyone who would hurt a child like that.

With thoughts of Chase on his mind, he slowly drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

He found himself down on the docks, he was holding a little stuffed lion in his hand, he had lost his little boy and no one seemed to care about his loss. Blair was blaming him and he knew she was right, he had been so angry about Cord and what Addie had said, but he had never wanted Blair to be hurt. He loved her and hadn't been able to tell her because he was jealous of the feelings she still had for Cord. As he sat, deep in thought, he heard a whimper coming from behind him. He got up and tried to find out where the crying was coming from.

There was a fog rolling in and it was becoming impossible to see so he moved carefully listening for the crying until he found himself very close and barely made out the huddled form in front of him. He crouched down and saw a little boy materialize out of the fog. "What's the matter, little guy? What are you doing here all alone?"


The child looked up at him with big hazel eyes, "I'm lost, I can't find my mommy and I'm scared."

"When did you see her last? Was she around here somewhere? Maybe I could help you find her." he reached out and felt the little hand take his. His heart tingled at the touch of the little hand and he started walking with the child carefully moving through the fog. "What's your mommy look like?"


"Mommy is like an angel, she's real pretty. She loves me very much. she tells me every night that I'll be seeing my daddy soon and that he loves me very much. But today, I lost mommy if I can't find mommy than I don't get to see my daddy. I want my mommy and daddy."

His heart was breaking for the little fellow, and wishing this little guy was his. He wouldn't have let him get lost, he would have held on tight.

All the anguish of losing his own mother surfaced and his thoughts turned to Peter and what Peter had done to him. Suddenly the little hand was gone. and he found himself holding empty air. No! He had promised the little guy he would find his mother and now he had lost him. The fog was getting thicker and he was trying to see. " Little guy why did you let go, come back and I'll help you. "

"You didn't want me, I heard you tell mommy, you're a bad man go away."


Stunned he staggered and almost fell into the river. "No, that's not true. I did want you. I loved you, what happened was an accident." Then another voice is heard through the fog.


"Come back, please come back. I love you I don't want to lose you. I know you didn't do anything wrong even if you think you did. Where are you? Why won't you let me see you?"


He fell to his knees at her words, she still loved him and it was tearing at his soul. He couldn't go home till he could find a way to forgive himself, even his son blamed him. He began crying softly on his knees, his lost son, and his lost love. He was all wrong for her she didn't know who she had married, but he did. He was nothing but a Beast. He felt the oily substance as it covered him and formed him into the beast he had become. It was true he could deny it no longer. He had become what he hated most no one could save him now. Laughter filled the air and the fog turned to smoke choking him, then a soft light began coming towards him.


He wanted to hide from that light, but it came closer and then she appeared She was glowing, dressed all in white, her gown was a diaphanous lacework of dainty sparkling flowers that blinded him. "You shouldn't be here, I will only get you dirty. Please, you can't want me. The ugliness has won. Don't you see it was all a lie? You married a monster."


She wouldn't stop until she came directly up to him. He knew that she saw the blackness that surrounded him, but she didn't leave, instead she reached out to him. He shrunk from her touch afraid to soil her further than he closed his eyes as she reached for his cheek. She caressed it so gently it was like being kissed by a butterfly. He felt the substance that covered him begin to move and feared it was starting to cover her. He opened his eyes afraid for her and was surprised to find her standing there untouched. She was smiling the most beautiful smile. Without a word, she leaned in and found his lips and kissed him. He realized the substance was shrinking from her and leaving him. Suddenly the laughter became a high pitched scream as if something was in a lot of pain and he watched as the oily substance retreated shrinking away for both of them. Todd looked down at himself and he was whole, clean and face to face with the woman who had made it possible. He began to cry and she pulled him into her arms and held him as her love covered both of them in warmth.


Todd rolled over in bed, tears still streaming from his face, he reached across the bed and found his phone. Pressing the number he waited, his heart still uncertain but knowing he needed her, that she was his salvation and he should never have left.

Blair turned over reaching for the phone and noticing the time. Who was calling at this ungodly hour? "Hello"

"Blair, I need you. Come to me. I love you."

Blair almost fainted "Oh God where are you?" She prayed he wouldn't hang up He spoke one other word.

"Savannah"

"Todd, Todd talk to me. Don't hang up. Please! Where in Savannah? What are you doing there? Why don't you come home?" She clung to the phone.  He didn't hang up, but she didn't know how long he would stay on. Blair just wanted to hear his voice.

He lay back on his pillow absorbing the sound of her voice. God, he missed her and he finally realized he didn't want to complete the job alone. As much as he wanted to go home he knew he couldn't. He had made a promise to Chase to find his sister, and he had made a promise to himself that the people behind the disappearances would be caught. "I can't come home just yet. I'm working on something and it's important to me and a lot of other people. I have to go now, Blair. Find me. You know me, I know you can find me." he hung up before she could say anything else. She would come, of that he was certain.

Blair screamed in frustration. He had hung up. Why did he have to be so mysterious? Sometimes she just wanted to haul off and smack him one when he got that way. She felt a teardrop hit her hand and realized she was crying. Her heart was pounding, he wanted and needed her. She thanked God he had come to his senses about that. She was wide awake now and she had to figure out her next move. She started packing immediately and once she had her bag packed, she sat down to figure out where she was going to look for him in Savannah.

She had been wracking her brain for weeks trying to ascertain how he had managed to slip off the radar. That he was in Savannah came as a big surprise. That was a location she wouldn't have thought of because Cassie lived there. Whatever he was doing, he obviously wasn't worried about running into Cassie. She knew he wasn't going by any of his known names. The authorities were on the lookout for Samuel Toddman, and Todd, Tom, or Pete Manning and no one by those names or his appearance had shown up. She had also had private investigators looking into the location where his car had been found, but they had turned up nothing. " Okay, Todd so you're in Savannah and doing something that's obviously important to you. I'll find you Todd, but look out, you're going to get an earful from me when I do." She knew she was talking to herself, but it felt good to just say the words.

Several hours later Blair was on her way to Savannah. She had alerted Starr of her father's call and decided against bringing John into it until she knew Todd was safe and not involved in anything underhanded. Everyone was worried about him in Landview especially Vicki so before boarding her flight she had contacted Vicki and told her of the call also. Neither Vicki nor Starr had any idea what name he might be using. Blair was on her own figuring that out and she didn't call the Savannah Police for the same reason she didn't tell John, something told her that if the police got involved looking for him in Savannah, it might actually endanger him.

Todd had gotten out of bed surprisingly refreshed, even though, the night had been short. He couldn't believe how good he had felt calling Blair and hearing her voice. He couldn't have her come straight to him, he had to finish this story and he knew it was going to be dangerous enough for him, he wasn't going to endanger Blair like that. He got ready to go to work wrapping the ring up under a band-aid and putting on the armband to keep the watch secure. Hopefully, he'd be able to find out more about the owners of those suspicious warehouses.

He arrived down at the docks and noticed activity around the warehouse where the thugs had hung out the previous night. It was the police, but it looked like they had come up empty. Todd was disappointed, that meant they must have gotten spooked by the loss of Chase last night, had they moved everyone or just those that had been in that warehouse.

It looked like Tom was going to need to make another evening stroll, he might start at the other end of the dock and see if the thugs showed up again.

"Hey Tom, stop daydreaming and get your butt over here to help me."

For just a second Todd almost forgot he was using Thomas's name, he waved, letting Bernie know he had been heard and headed over to help him. It was hard work and by mid-afternoon, he found himself struggling to keep up the appearance, that he wasn't affected by the heat and everything else. Bernie offered to buy him a drink as the work day came to a close and Todd accepted. He was hoping to have a chance to talk to the big man away from the dock.

"What's it going to be Tom, " Bernie sat down at the bar and waited for Todd to sit.

Todd looked at the bartender and said: "Give me the tallest draft you have."

Todd downed the first beer and ordered a second and then asked his question."Bernie, just who are these new owners on the Dock. Are there any names being bandied about?"

"It's said they are foreign investors from Asia, but I did hear one name being bandied about and I'm not sure how it fits in with an Asian company. It appears to be a German company under the name Daimler. That's a real scary thought the Germans and the Asians, the last time they were allied together we had a world war."

Todd laughed even though he felt a chill run down his spine. Bernie was being facetious, but the name Daimler raised the hairs on his arm. It was just a coincidence, but Blair's maiden name was Daimler. He decided to do some digging into the German Company and he still needed to find a connection to any Asian companies out there. Finishing his second beer, he got up to leave. "Bernie, you keep your kid's off those docks, I think those companies might have something to do with the disappearances. See you in the morning."

Todd hailed a cab, it was a good time to pay a visit to the paper and hit the archives he wanted to see what he could bring up about the Daimler company. Getting out at the paper, he wandered in and looked to see if Amos might still be working. Yep, there he was, that grizzled old black man just never knew when to call it a day. "Hey Boss, Don't you have a life outside of here?"

Amos jumped, the newsroom had been quiet for a while, and Thomas surprised him. He looked up and noticed Tom looking directly at him again. It was disconcerting after the previous night. Even though he had heard Thomas's story he wondered at the truth of it but that truth was standing in front of him. A blind man that could see, that mechanism was some kind of miracle. Thomas could make a fortune if the mechanism could be used to help other blind people see. "What brings you here today Thomas, I thought you were working the docks."

"Done for the day Amos, at least the job part, but before I go back out I thought I'd see if the paper has anything on a German corporation, The Daimler Corporation. There was some talk on the docks that the Daimler Corporation had its hands possibly into one or two warehouses on the docks or that they're working with an Asian partner. The dockhands have been saying the workers for those warehouses were a real surly bunch. The guys I met last night could be part of that bunch. They were certainly surly enough."

"Tom, do you mean to tell me you're going back down there again tonight, without your sight? Are you crazy?"

"Amos, it's the only way I can get close to those warehouses. They've got to believe I'm harmless. By the way, did Chase get reunited with his dad?"

"Keely called and it was a tearjerker reunion, but she told me they were staying on in town until Lily was found. The police were urging Chase's dad to go home and let them handle things, but Keely said he was adamant. I hope he doesn't do something foolish and I'm talking to you too. Why can't you just pretend to be blind, why handicap yourself."

"Relax Amos, I know what I'm doing. They won't consider me a threat, and I've tried to play blind, I'm no good at it. Too many times, I find myself making mistakes and doing things the way a sighted person does. But I'm comfortable with the handicap and as such I might as well be myself. But I'm not going down there just yet, mind if I do some research?"

Amos reached for his key card and handed it to Thomas. "Here, that should get you into the archives and the morgue. If I were you I'd skip the dock tonight and just do your research. Give those scoundrels a day to think they're safe again before traveling the dock."

"Maybe I will Amos, it depends on what I might be able to turn up here."

Amos watched as Thomas headed for the archive room and made a decision. It wasn't long before he had the computer open and began searching for any info on Thomas Lord. An hour later Amos leaned back into his chair. His undercover reporter was a ghost. With the exception of the year he had worked for the Herald in 1999, Thomas Lord was an unknown. He appeared to have no past. Who was he really? Amos recalled the two rings Thomas had sported the first day he had arrived and both were valuable pieces of jewelry. So Thomas had some money somewhere. Was Thomas Lord his real name? Amos had seen the ID and it was all legit. If he was Thomas Lord how come he had no background. Amos had no pictures of Thomas so he couldn't cross reference his picture with other reporters across the country. He knew the man knew his craft. Thomas's Expose' in '99 had drawn rave reviews and it was obvious he wasn't trying to hide per se' but he sure wasn't giving anything away either. Amos knew Thomas Lord was a story in itself if he could only find out the correct angle and if it killed him, he was going to discover it.

Todd was in the archive for over an hour and was about ready to give up when he came across an obscure article about the Corporation. The article talked about how the Daimler corporation had expanded its reach by going into a partnership with an Asian based company working out of Hong Kong. Further investigations proved fruitful when he discovered the Asian company was suspected of having ties to the Yakuza, but no tangible proof had been found. The idea that the Japanese mob might be involved made Todd pause. If the Yakuza were behind this it was an international crime but he had been leaning that way since his first inklings of white slavery. Now the biggest question he had was how were the children being delivered and where were they being sent. He sat down at the computer in the room and brought up shipping companies that worked out of Savannah and saw that the Daimler Corporation had a ship due in near the end of the month. That was just a couple of weeks away. He would have to hurry if those kids were to be rescued.

While he was on the computer Todd search out any info on the owners of the Daimler Corp. The company had been around a long time, but it appeared that the current CEO had at one time attended several universities in the States and had been labeled a ladies man back in his day. Gregor Daimler had made the rounds when he was younger. Todd pulled up Daimler's picture and could only stare. Could this man be Blair's father? He was the right age. Todd printed out the picture and pocketed it. The only way he would know was to talk to Addie and he couldn't do that until he stopped the slavery ring. If Daimler knew what his company had a piece of, then he was as bad as the Yakuza. If that was the case, he would destroy the picture and turn his discoveries over to the authorities to take care of. Blair didn't even have to know anything about it.

Todd dropped Amos's key card on his desk and saw that Amos had an urgent email flagged on his computer. Still the snoop, he found himself opening the mail only to find a picture of Samuel staring out at him. After a quick read, he realized Vicki had started notifying editors around the country to keep an eye out for him. He wasn't ready to be found quite yet, so he hit the delete button. He knew Vicki probably had been told by Blair that he had called. If she told Vicki about Savannah, then he had only a matter of days before Vicki sent another email. Hopefully, he had enough time to find out what he needed, and he prayed he would find Lily and the children safe and sound before he had to come clean about his identity.

Todd headed back to his hotel for his evening excursion, Although Amos might be right about pushing his luck with these thugs, Todd knew he only had days left before the ship was due to arrive. Once again, he donned his thrift store clothes and placed the ring pouch around his neck. Time was running out for the girls and the other small children.

****

He exited the taxi and grabbed his cane, taking a moment to stow his ring away and adjust to the blindness once more. He had decided to walk the pier from the other direction, to see if one of the warehouses farther down from his job might be part of the ring. Thank goodness there was a little moonlight, at least he wouldn't walk himself off the dock. As he strolled he thought about all the times he had found himself down on the docks most of them had been sad occasions. But one had been an eye opener. He recalled his encounter with his sister Vicki and how she had tried to sabotage the Banner. He hadn't known her all that long, but her mood swings had really puzzled him. He had figured out that she was having personality problems and that one of her personalities had had a real hatred for the Paper their father had built. Tori, as he later found out, was Vicki's violent alter much like Pete was his. It wasn't until later that he found out what had brought out Vicki's alters. That night had been one of the most horrific nights of his life, as he realized just how much he was like his bastard father Victor. That night had bonded them together as brother and sister more so than the blood they shared. There had been times when he had tested the bond but in the end, Vicki had always been there for him.

Todd was brought out of his reverie by the sound of loud voices coming from ahead of him. He recognized one of the voices as belonging to the thug from the previous night, the one named Frank.

Raucous laughter was coming from several men. The Todd heard a female voice mixed in.

"Stop that, I've got my orders."

"Awww come on, baby. You can give us a little something. You know you want too." the guy was obviously drunk.

"Stop it! He'll be mad if I don't do my job. Leave me alone!"

The laughter got louder and Todd found his hand clenching his cane.  Images of Marty and the frat room flashed through his memory as he heard the girl pleading with the men to let her go.

"Come here baby, Frank knows what you want. ....Son of a bitch..you bit me!"

Todd flinched at the sound of the slap and heard the girl sob.

"You do what you're told Girlie, You ever bite me again and you won't be around to take care of your girls, you hear me."

"Hey Frank, ease off, she's got a job just like the rest of us. Let's go get a drink. Kym, you better go do what you were sent out for. Go on!"

Todd recognized Mario's voice and from the scuffling, his ears picked up. he guessed Mario must be holding Frank at bay.

"Frank, you and the guys need to let her be.  If he finds out, we're all in trouble."

Todd listened as Mario and the guys moved away from him. Which meant the warehouse must be close by. He started walking slowly in the direction of the altercation when he made out her sobs. He knew she was close but in her tears, she didn't see him and the next thing he knew she had walked right into him.

"Oh God, I'm sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going," her voice was thick with tears. As she gulped to get back in control. She looked at the man she had run into. He wasn't a bum that was for sure, in fact, he was holding her rather gently, then he released her. In the moonlight, she made out a man probably a foot taller than her. His face was stunning in the light, but she realized he wasn't really looking at her. Then she saw the cane he had dropped when she had run into him, he was blind. She brushed the tears from her eyes and bent to retrieve his cane.

"Are you alright? " Todd asked, "That conversation sounded a bit rough. Did the one called Frank hurt you?"

"Oh, it's alright, Frank was just drunk. I'm sorry you heard that.  It's a good thing you didn't try and interfere. Frank would have made mincemeat of you." She took his hand and laid his cane in it. "Don't let it bother you. I'm alright but if I don't hurry I might not be. Please, You should go the other way." She looked around afraid one of the men might come back and she didn't want this man hurt. He was concerned for her and he didn't even know her.

"I heard the other guy call you Kym. I'm not concerned for me, but I am for you. I'm blind but not deaf. That Frank guy hit you. Are you sure you're alright? You said you had a job to do. At least let me go with you so no one else will bother you tonight. Judging from your voice you're couldn't be more than in your early twenties. There are a lot of unsavory characters out at this time of night. Whoever sent you out on a job this late should be hung." Todd was hoping she would take him up on his offer. She wasn't much bigger than Starr, and although he seriously wanted to get his hands on Frank, it was more important to help this girl. There was someone who terrified her more than Frank and she was involved with this whole setup. He had to find out just how involved she was.

When he had talked about Frank, she had heard the anger in his voice than she heard the concern. It had been a long time since someone had been concerned for her welfare. She had worked for these people since she was nothing more than a child herself. She wasn't the young thing he thought she was because that had been beaten and abused out of her a long time ago, but for the first time in her existence, as she called it, the man in front of her made her feel like she was worth something. What would be so bad to take him up on his offer just for a few hours? What her Boss didn't know wouldn't hurt her. Besides, if she didn't let him help her she had a feeling he was going to go looking for Frank and she didn't want him on her conscience too.

Every night she wept for the girls she was in charge of. Right now, they were just scared and being trained, but soon they were going to be sent on that ship and they would never be the same again. She knew because she had made that trip years before. But she had been a good girl and been rewarded, then she had found favor with 'him' and when she had grown too old for his tastes he had put her in charge of the new girls, and as long as she did her job, he wouldn't get rid of her. This was the only life she knew and she wasn't sure if it was even possible to get out of it any longer. The other day one of the girls had tried to escape and they had beaten her nearly to death. Now the rest of the girls were struggling to please because they all thought they would be treated the same way if they misbehaved. The intimidation factor was a proven way to keep them in line.  If only she could find a way to free them all but she was as trapped as they were. That thought brought her back to earth and she knew she had wasted precious minutes. "Listen, I'm going to be in bigger trouble if I don't get my job done and I can't let you go start a fight with Frank, so I'll let you help me this one time," she grabbed his arm and started to drag him away from the warehouse.

"Kym, wait, You were worried earlier about this boss of yours. Will it be safe for you to leave with me?" Todd had felt the urgency in her grab and knew she was afraid for him and herself as well.

"I'll be alright, but I need to get back and soon. We need to go now!"

Todd broke free of her grasp and said, "I'll take your elbow and then you lead. There will be less chance of a fall that way."

She gave him her elbow and proceeded to lead them back to the street. She paused and hailed a cab, it was only after they got into the cab and headed for the address she gave the driver, that she relaxed back into the seat.



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