REGAN

Walking into her condo, Regan pitched her purse on the entrance table, leaving her sandals also under the table.  Why the hell did I go back to Kota’s place?  Should have left it as a one-night hook-up but no, being the dumbass that I am I had to go back for another hook-up.  If he only knew how Derrick treated Lacy he would dump him as a client quicker than you could say scat.  He would not try to find her, much less let Derrick know where she was.  I know I should tell Kota everything I know but then I would lose my job, my security, and my condo…or I should say Derrick’s condo.

As she headed to the kitchen, the doorbell pealed so she turned on her heel and went back to the door, wondering who would be showing up so early on a Sunday morning. After throwing open the door without looking through the peephole to see who it was, she just stood in shock.

“Did you even check to see who was in front of your door before opening?  I could be a serial killer or mad rapist.” Derrick told her as he pushed her aside to walk into the entranceway.

“Well, just come on in,” she said sarcastically as she shut the door behind him before turning to face him.

“Don’t get smart with me Regan,” he warned.  “This is my condo and if you don’t want to be out on your ear sleeping in that car of yours you will be nice to me.  Understand?”  Reaching out he grabbed her upper arm, dragging her close to his body.  “And it is also time for you to grow your hair out.  That spiky shit you got growing on your head doesn’t give me anything to grab on to.  Grabbing your arm there is a chance of bruises forming but not if I pull you by your hair,”

Regan angrily yanked her arm away from Derrick and proceeded into the kitchen to grab a beer although it was not even noon and she had just drunk a milkshake.  That was a bad combination for sure. As she popped the top off a bottle of beer, she sensed that she was no longer alone in the kitchen.  Turning and bracing her back against the counter, she eyed Derrick across the room.  Raising the bottle, Regan took a big drink, her eyes never leaving his.

“Why did you ring the bell instead of using your key?” she asked curiously.

“I thought I would be nice and ring the doorbell if you have to know but that is the last time I do that.  I will come in when I want from now on,” as he crossed the room toward her.  “Damn bitch, you smell like sex.  Go take a shower.  I don’t want to dip into someplace that someone else has unloaded into,”

“Maybe I am not in the mood to have sex with you,” Regan said boldly before she took another drink.

“Doesn’t matter if you are in the mood or not,” Derrick said, trailing his fingertips down her left cheek.  “As long as I get off I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if you do,” as he started to unzip his pants.  “On second thought, I don’t want to dip.  I want you on your knees putting that mouth to work for something useful instead of spitting out sarcasm before I have to slap some sense in you,”

“You don’t need a reason to slap a woman,” Regan mumbled.

Without warning, the empty bottle was snatched out of her hand and thrown to the floor before his hand connected with her cheek, knocking her head sideways.  As he drew back his right fist, Regan quickly dropped to the floor, reaching inside his unzipped pants, working his erection out.  She wrapped her hand around him, stroking him as her tongue brushed over the tip.

Grabbing handfuls of her short spiky hair, Derrick pushed her head back hard against the counter, momentarily dazing her before she felt him pushing the head against her lips.  When she didn’t open her mouth fast enough, he shoved her head again against the counter.

“You bite me and you will wish you were dead after I get done with you,” he warned, pulling harder on her hair, making her eyes tear up.

Regan dutifully opened her mouth, her jaw aching from where he had slapped her.  Derrick forced his way inside her mouth, pushing in as far as he could, causing her to gag but it did not stop him.  He continued his assault on her mouth, making it hard for her to breathe.  When he finally came, he pressed her against the counter, the handles of the bottom cabinets pressing into her back.  Finally, he let her go and stepped back.

Grabbing a kitchen towel, Derrick wiped himself off, tucked himself back inside his pants, and looked down at Regan, who was now lying on the kitchen floor.  Taking in deep gulps of air, his cum leaking out of the sides of her mouth, tears leaking from her eyes, Regan just looked up at him.  Derrick smiled wickedly, dropped the towel on top of her, turned on his heel, and left.

**********

THE HOTEL ROOM

When they had arrived at the hotel the previous evening, it was late so Frank decided to wait until the next morning to talk to Maria.  She was so tired that she just crawled into bed and immediately fell asleep.  Frank sat down in the chair, watching her sleep.  He wanted answers but knew that she needed her rest.

I am sure that Derrick did this to her but I have no proof.  I just wish I did but if I did, what would I do with it?  Would I confront him or go to the police?  I know that Maria is scared if she tells me who did it that I will do something rash.  Watching her sleep, his heart ached for all that she had been through.  I want you to trust me, Maria.  I hope you will talk to me in the morning.  Soon Frank’s eyes become heavy as he drifted off into a light sleep.

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As the light of day seeped through the windows hitting Maria in the eyes, she suddenly sat up in bed, breathing hard, grabbing at her chest.  She looked around the room, trying to orient herself to her surroundings.  As she looked to her right, she saw Frank slouched in a chair, snoring softly.  Easing herself out of bed, Maria tiptoed to the bathroom.

When finished, she opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom. Maria let out a squeal as she ran into a hard body, her entire being in fight or flight mode.

Frank stepped back before saying, “Maria, you do not have to be afraid of me.  I will never hurt you.  That I promise.  And I didn’t mean to scare you.  I was just going out to get us some coffee but if you want, we can go out for breakfast,”

The last thing that Maria wanted was to be seen in public looking like she did with bruises around her neck, a black eye, and a bruise on her cheek.  “Coffee sounds fine.  Black, please,”

“Okay, I will be right back,” as he dashed out of the room.

Within thirty minutes he was back with coffee and doughnuts, announcing himself as he let himself into the room so he wouldn’t send Maria into a near panic attack.  Coming into the main part of the room, he saw Maria was occupying the chair that he had uncomfortably slept in last night.  He took the coffees and doughnuts over, setting them on the small table by the chair.  Frank took his coffee and sat on the side of the bed, waiting for her to tell him what happened.

Maria looked over at Frank, knowing that he was waiting for her to speak so she said, “It goes without saying that I was beaten and choked from the marks on my neck and face.  And thanks for breakfast.”  Much to his dismay, she said no more about what happened or who did it.

“Who?” he asked, upset that she was not naming her assailant. “Was it Derrick?  And why were you leaving town?”

Maria just sat there, not confirming or denying his assumption.  “I am tired of the cold winters and I want to go back to warmer climates.  I only came north because of Regan.  She didn’t want to travel alone and I thought I could find a better job than picking oranges.  Plus we both wanted to experience snow,” she rambled on, chuckling at one of their silly reasons for coming north.

“Regan?  You mean Derrick’s secretary?” he asked.  “That Regan?”

“Yes, that Regan,” Maria confirmed.  “We worked together although she worked in the canning/packing department and I picked the oranges.  We were roommates and best friends but since she became Mr. Hartfield’s secretary, we haven’t been able to see each other as often so our friendship is not as strong as it once was.”

Frank fought hard to keep his thoughts to himself because he knew that Regan was more than just Derrick’s secretary but was not sure if Maria was aware of it.  There were many times he had driven Derrick to the condo he owned that Regan currently lived in.

Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Frank said, “Maria, please tell me who did this or at least go to the police.”

“No police,” she insisted.  “And no more questions Frank.  I told you what happened and I am ready to move on, preferably in Florida.”

Although Frank knew he should not push her for more information, his mouth did not seem to be connected with his brain as he asked, “Did Derrick rape you too?”

Maria jumped up from the chair yelling, “Damn you, Frank, I said no more questions.  I am done playing fifty questions. Either take me back to the bus station or I will call a cab to take me,”

Getting to his feet, he put his coffee on the nightstand before placing his hands on her shoulders.  As he attempted to pull her in for a hug, Maria pulled away, slapping him across the face, leaving a red handprint on his cheek.  Her mouth dropped open as her eyes grew wider at what she had done while Frank just stood there staring at her, his hand lightly touching his cheek.

**********

JULIE

After following McKenzie around cleaning the cabins that had been used by the previous guests and making sure the cabins were ready for the new guests, she was ready to drop even though it was only mid-afternoon.  McKenzie had told her that the hours varied and some days it was a full eight hours while others may only be a few hours.  It all depended on the guests arriving and leaving.

It was not hard work but Julie had was not used to being on her feet so much and her stomach was still a bit queasy.  She was glad that her first day had been a short one. Walking into the small bedroom in the hacienda, all she wanted to do was collapse on the bed.

The room was not as fancy as the guest room she had occupied in the big house.  She had to share the two bathrooms with seven other women and she only had a twin bed and dresser but it was comfortable.  Shutting the door behind her, she did exactly what she wanted to do, which was collapse on the bed, emitting a soft moan.

She was just drifting off when there was a knock on the door.  “Come in,” she called out, too comfortable to get up.

The door opened and McKenzie stuck her head inside.  “Lunch will be in fifteen minutes.  We all eat at the communal kitchen, which is the building next door.”

“Thanks,” Julie answered as she sat up on the edge of the bed, stretching her arms high above her head, feeling her back pop and creak.

“It gets easier, I can assure you,” McKenzie said smiling.  “See you in a few,” as she shut the door behind her.

Standing up, Julie headed to the bathroom before heading to the communal kitchen for lunch.  After lunch, she went back to the hacienda, sitting down in one of the rockers on the porch to enjoy the afternoon sun.

“How was your first day?” a deep voice asked from the side of the porch.

Turning her head, she saw Parker stepping up onto the porch, taking a seat beside her in a vacant rocking chair.  Despite what she had been through, Julie felt something surging through her body that she had never felt before…not even for Derrick.  I am not sure what this is but I kind of like it. But I am married.  I shouldn’t be…attracted to him.

“Penny for your thoughts,” Parker told her, reaching for her hand, completely forgetting that touching her was a bad idea.  All he thought about was that she was a beautiful woman that he wanted to get to know better, and what better way to convey his feelings than to hold her hand.

Julie felt his hand touching hers and instead of feeling repulsed or wanting to move away, she allowed him to hold it.  They sat there in silence for several long minutes until she finally said, “Thank you for giving me a job.”

“You need to thank mom.  It was her idea,” Parker said giving her hand a light squeeze.  “I was wondering if you wanted to go to the dance with me next Saturday.  It is the start of the country fair and everyone around here will be there.”

“County fair?” she asked

“Yeah, county fair.  Although we live near Tucson, The Saguaro is in Wilson country.  About ten miles from here is Wilsonville, a small town with a general store, post office, small restaurant, bank, and gas station,” Parker explained.  “Even the guests go to it, especially the dance.  We have a van that takes the guests there for the dance and once a day to the fair during the week it is there,”

“Thanks for asking me.  I will let you know,” Julie told him.  “But if I do say yes, it is only as friends,”

“Friends,” he agreed standing up.  “Have a great evening,”

As he walked away, Julie watched him go, feeling a lightness in her heart that she had not felt since her father was alive.

**********

THE BIG BREAK

Not finding anything he wanted to watch on television, Kota decided to enjoy a beer on his back porch.  He was watching a mother doe and her two fawns at the salt licks at the back of his property.  As the two fawns frolicked around Kota chuckled.  The peacefulness of the afternoon was interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone.  Glancing down at his phone, he saw that it was Levi.

“Hey sis, to what do I owe this pleasure of two phone calls in one day?” he asked.

“Well, you did request my help in locating a client of yours if my memory serves me right,” she answered.  “I have a lead,”

“Great,” Kota said, the frolicking fawns and their mom now forgotten.  “What’s the lead?”

“She took a bus out of town and her name has changed.  It is now Julie Pritchard.” Levi informed her brother.

Kota was silent for a few minutes before he asked, “Where was the bus headed?”

“West toward California but I have no idea where she got off or if she went all the way to California,”

“Thanks, sis, you have been a big help,” Kota told her.  “I didn’t think you would find anything out this soon…or at all,”

“I am appalled that you would think I would not find anything considering my outstanding computer skills,” Levi whined.  “See if I help you the next time you ask.”

“Sorry, but just have a lot on my mind,” he apologized.  “I know you have great computer skills and that is why I asked for your help.  Now, have I groveled enough?”

Levi laughed and said, “Think you could do a bit more groveling or tell me more about this case,”

“All I will say is that I wished I had never taken on this case.  Her husband is a real piece of work,”

“In what way?”

Without thinking, Kota said, “He is a woman beater,”

“That type of man I would tell go to hell,” Levi said.  “Surely you are not going to track her down and tell him where she is, are you?”

“That is what I am being paid to do sis,”

“Then resign from the case.  Let someone with fewer scruples try to find her,” she suggested.  “I know how you feel about those types of men after dad.”

“I am seriously considering it but….”

“But nothing bro,” his sister interrupted.

“I will take your advice under advisement,”

Levi snorted into the phone before saying, “You have spent too much time with Uncle Jackson.  I have a half mind to call and tell him not to give you any more shit cases,”

“No need to do that.  I didn’t have to take the case but I am not sure if Uncle Jackson knows exactly what type of man Derrick is.  I know he has been their lawyer since the company started but he would not need to know anything about their personal lives.”

“Well, then think about it before you divulge any information Kota,” Levi said before ending the call.

Kota sat there, staring at the silent phone, his mind going in all different directions.  He decided that it would be best if he slept on it and then decide what to do with the information on Monday.

**********

REGAN

Regan laid on the floor for several minutes after Derrick left.  Her head ached and her throat was a bit tender from how far he pushed his cock down her throat.  She slowly moved her mouth but though her jaw was tender, it did not seem to be dislocated or broken.  Grabbing the towel that Derrick had used, she wiped her face and slowly stood up, pain radiating up and down her back.  Regan looked down at the broken beer bottle, deciding it could wait until she had a nice hot shower.

Walking slowly to her bathroom, she stripped off, putting her clothes into the hamper.  As she turned, Regan caught sight of herself in the mirror, moaning at the bruise that was starting to form on her cheek.

I hope the makeup covers it or else I will have to think of an excuse.  I just hope Kota does not call.  I have to break it off with him before Derrick really gets angry.  Turning to face the shower, she turned it on as hot as she could stand and climbed in, letting the hot water cascade over her shoulders and down her front and back.  Tilting her head backward, she got her hair soaked before adding shampoo.

As she started to work the shampoo into her hair, Regan let out a loud his as even the most gentle scrubbing caused her scalp to hurt.  Derrick had been rough with her before but never this rough.  Now I know how you must have felt Lacy.  I know I shouldn’t let him get by with it but do I want to lose my great paying job and condo just because he got a bit rough with me during sex?  It was my fault now that I think about it.  I should not have called him in a panic after Kota started asking questions.  My loyalty is to Derrick because without him I would not be where I am today.  I would still be in Florida working in the canning/packing department of that orange orchard.

Regan rinsed her hair and then washed her body.  She stood under the water until it started to turn cold before she turned it off, got out, and wrapped her body in a fluffy towel.  Once in the bedroom, Regan flopped on the bed, letting out a low moan.  She knew she should get dressed and clean the glass up in the kitchen but it seemed as if her body was nothing but a giant soft marshmallow, incapacitating her.  I will just rest a few moments and then get up and put on my clothes and tackle the kitchen.  It was not long before she drifted off to sleep.

**********

THE HOTEL ROOM

Instantly Maria threw up her hands, whispering, “I am sorry.  I did not mean to hit you.  Please forgive me.  Don’t hit me,” as she dropped to the carpet, curling up in a fetal position.

For a moment, Frank just stood there, looking down at her, unsure what to do.  He didn’t want to cause her any more trauma or fear but at the same time, he wanted to pull her into his arms and show her he was not mad, that he cared.  Finally, he slowly sat down on the carpet beside her but making sure that he did not touch her.

I want to kill that bastard who did this to her, Frank thought but said to her, “Maria, I am not going to hit you.  Will you let me hold you?”

She laid there, still curled into a fetal position, crying for several more minutes before she slowly sat up, looking at Frank, who held out his arms.  Maria hesitated for a few seconds before she moved closer and let him draw her onto his lap, his arms around her holding her tight.  Finally, she pushed against his chest indicating that she wanted to get up so he let her go.  Once Maria was on her feet, Frank stood up, looking down at her.

“I am sorry,” she apologized.

“No apology needed Maria,” Frank assured her.  “Come lay down and let me hold you while you rest some more and then we can decide what to do,”

Leading her over to the bed, he gently pushed her down.  After removing her shoes, he tucked her in and went around to the other side of the bed, laying down on top of the covers.  Maria scooted closer and he engulfed her in his arms.  Soon he could hear her breathing change, her body relaxed more as she dozed off, cradled next to Frank.

Frank was lying there, trying to force his body to relax and clear his mind of murderous thoughts, when he felt heard his phone go off.  He mentally cursed himself for not setting it to vibrate and could only hope that it would not wake Maria.  Finally, it quit ringing but then it started to ring again almost immediately afterward.

“Shit,” Frank muttered, trying to gently ease Maria off his arm without waking her so he could get to his phone in his right pocket.  When she moaned he said softly, “You are okay.  Rest.  I just have to answer my phone,” as he slipped off the bed and padded to the bathroom, closing the door softly behind him.

By this time, the phone was ringing for the third time.  Without looking at the caller ID, he hit the answer button, growling, “This better be damn important!”

“It is,” a familiar voice said on the other end.  “I need my cars detailed,”

“It is Sunday morning and my day off Mr. Hartfield,”

“And your point is?”

“The point is that I am out of town and not coming back until later tonight.  I have things to do today,” Frank told him, trying hard to keep the anger out of his voice.

“Oh, so you lied to me,” Derrick stated.  “You are with that no good thief Maria.  You know you can get in trouble for harboring an illegal alien and thief.  Hope her body is worth it Frank,”

“I am sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about Mr. Hartfield,” Frank told him.  “If there is nothing else, then I will see you Monday morning,”

As he went to click off, Derrick said angrily, “If you value your job, you will get back here immediately.  No whore is worth your job,”

Without answering, Frank clicked off, putting it on silent this time before he put it back into his pocket.  When he walked back into the area with the bed, he found Maria sitting on the side of the bed, putting on her shoes.

“Are you going somewhere?”

“Yes, to the bus station.  I cannot stay here and jeopardize your job.  I am tired of the cold and the job so I am heading out as soon as I can get a bus heading south.  And Frank, do not even think about quitting your job and going with me.  You had your night, now it is time for me to move on,” as she got to her feet, pulling her cell phone out of her purse to call a cab.

Frank stood there, racking his brain to figure out some way to get her to stay.  Finally, he said, “I know Derrick is at the root of your problem and I also know you are not going to confirm or deny it too.  Let me set you up in an apartment here and help you find a job.  He won’t find you because right now, he is more worried about Lacy,”

Thinking hard, Maria finally said, “Thanks but no.  I am not a whore that you can buy Frank,”

Frank threw his hands in the air in frustration, unsure what to say to convince her to stay. “Since it is late, stay here with me tonight and I will take you to the bus station in the morning before I head back to Mr. Hartfield’s.  He never goes into work until around 10 am so I have plenty of time to do both.”

“I know what you are trying to do Frank, and it is not late either.  It is not even noon so take me to the bus station or I call a cab,” Maria said firmly.

Without saying a word, Frank picked up her bag, opened the door, and motioned for her to go on out.  He knew he had lost the battle to get her to stay.  He had run out of cards.  Not even his love was enough.

**********

REGAN

When she finally woke up, Regan rolled over on her back, staring up at the ceiling, once again wondering if it was all worth it.  I have everything I ever wanted.  I have gone from that poor foster child no one wanted to a kept woman with a great job, a great place to live, and money saved.  I want for nothing…so why am I questioning my decision to be loyal to Derrick.  Sure, he is rough sometimes but then he is not the first man to be rough with me.  Lord knows I had a few dickey foster fathers and foster brothers.  I wish I had someone to talk to that understood me, that would help me figure out the right thing to do.

Suddenly a smile came over her face as she sat up.  Grabbing a robe, she threw it on and went in search of her cell phone, which she found at the bottom of her purse.  Pulling it out, she hit a number that she had not used in a very long, long time.  It was one that she was not even sure was still in working condition and if it was, would that person even answer

**********

DAKOTA

Although he had planned to sleep on it before he made his decision, Kota decided to visit the bus station to see if they remembered Lacy from the picture he had.  He knew it was a long shot because she had probably changed her appearance since she had changed her name.  I wonder if I talk to Dr. Gilbert if she would give me some more information.  No, cannot do that because then she will wonder how I got the information I have.  Think I will just take my chances with the ones at the bus station.  If no one recognizes her then I guess I will be taking a road trip checking out the various towns to see if I can find out where she got off.  Maybe you are right Levi.  Maybe I should just tell Derrick I have no information and step away from the case.

When he walked into the bus station, he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Frank and Maria at the counter.  Kota stood there for a few moments, trying to decide if he should try to talk to Maria again or leave her in peace.  As he stood there debating what to do, they turned around and saw him standing there.

Kota noticed that Maria once again had that ‘deer in the headlights’ look on her face.  I know she knows something, the same as Regan, but how do I get either of them to talk, to give me the dirt on that sleaze bag Derrick.

“Hey, fancy meeting you here,” Frank said.

“Yeah, just following up on a lead,” he explained while looking at Maria.  “Are you still leaving town Maria?”

Before she could answer, she felt her phone vibrating in her jeans pocket.  “Excuse me,” she told them, pulling the phone from her pocket.  Seeing the name on the caller ID, her face paled, causing both of the men to look at her in wonderment.