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All Heath knew was that he wanted Lila’s phone number before they left this place. But for some reason, she didn’t exactly seem thrilled to give it to him. Undeterred, Heath pulled out his phone and said, “Hey, why don’t you give me your number, so at least I’ll have it?”
Hesitating for a moment, Lila finally said, “You sure? I know you’ll be busy with your investigation for a while, so you might not have time for me, and I know how important it is for you to get to the bottom of what happened to your sister.”
She was right, but no matter how busy, he’d still find time for her. He held his phone at the ready waiting, coaxing her, he said, “C’mon, what’s your number?”
Once Lila finally gave in and rattled off her cell phone number and Heath began programming it into his phone, it rang in his hand. He looked up at her and shrugged, glad that he’d managed to get that done before the call came in. Checking the call display, he saw it was Jerry. Deciding he didn’t have much to hide from her anymore, Heath stayed where he was and took the call. “Hey, Jerry, what’s up?”
He got right to the point, telling him, “Plenty — and none of it’s good.”
Heath’s eyes narrowed, as he said, “Okay, so what did you find?”
“Well, turns out Sam Walters and Lars Zucker go way back. A few years ago, back in New York, Sam had another sex club known for every kind of kink imaginable, at least before the vice squad went in and shut the place down. Seems they’d found evidence of forcible confinement, sex slavery, drugs, and a lot of it with underage women, and a few young guys. And there was a rumor of one young woman who was last seen in there, simply disappearing, and no one knows what became of her.”
That sounded familiar, no one knew where his sister disappeared to, either — until her body was found in that old warehouse. “Shit.”
Jerry agreed, “Yeah, no kidding. Seems there’s a pattern with these guys, and women seem to die or go missing whenever they’re around. Anyway, getting back to the club — amongst the people arrested as found- ins was a client by the name of Lars Zucker, but he disappeared the next day, and never even showed up for his court date. From what I’ve been learning about these two, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them. And if I were you, I think I’d get out of there, Heath, and maybe try to let the police take another shot at the investigation. Could be with all the stuff we’ve managed to uncover, they might finally be able to solve the mystery of what happened to your sister.”
Heath glanced over at Lila, watching her closely as his friend spoke. Jerry could be right, maybe they both needed to get out of this place. He knew enough people still on the force that he could probably convince them to dig a little deeper into what was going on in here, and see what they could uncover on both Lars Zucker and Sam Walters in relation to his sister’s murder. Heath was beginning to suspect they might have had something to do with her winding up dead. Despite what he’d been told, she probably didn’t die from a drug overdose. From what he’d learned, it was sounding more and more like someone took her life.
Lila could hear what his friend was saying, and she was hoping that Heath would take his advice. When she finally got out of here on Thursday, she wanted him to leave, too. The thought of leaving him behind in a place like this wasn’t something she could even contemplate. Clearly, it was dangerous for both of them and not just her.
Once Heath had thanked his friend, he leaned over the bed, pressed a quick kiss to Lila’s cheek and told her, “I want to go and see if I can find Kassie, to see what she meant by that note she slipped me. Will you be okay in here on your own for a while?”
Although Lila nodded, she honestly wished he wouldn’t leave. Not that she was scared for herself. Once he locked the door, she knew she’d be safe in the room, but she was beginning to think that even walking around alone the hallways of this place posed certain risks, even for someone the size of Heath.
With Heath gone, Lila slipped down on the bed and closed her eyes, not even bothering to clean up the remnants of their lunch. It wasn’t going anywhere; and she knew it would be waiting for Heath to put it out in the hall, since he didn’t like her opening the door, especially when she was on her own.
Damn, she was tired, and stressed. They had three more days of this farce to get through and she wondered if they’d last. Their time in the playroom was becoming less fun, and more of a test of daring. Him trying to pretend to be a master with his sex slave, while under constant surveillance was wearing on both of them, especially with the Den Keeper showing up on them unannounced twice. But since they only had to keep up the pretense for a few more days, she hoped they could pull it off. She sighed, as she felt herself drifting off. Thank goodness they had their time alone in their room, or she didn’t think she’d have bahis firmaları lasted this long.
She hadn’t been sleeping long when her cell phone went off. Blinking herself awake, she scrambled off the bed and found her purse. Plucking her phone out, she mumbled, “Hello?” not even bothering with the call display. But then she smiled when she heard the welcome sound of her sister, Mandy’s voice.
“Hey, you,” Mandy said. “Were you sleeping? You sound groggy.”
“Yeah, I was just having a little nap.”
“So, how’s Italy?”
Oh crap. Her eyes shot open. She’d almost forgotten she was supposed to be on vacation in the land of pizza, pasta and dark handsome men. Then she grinned when she thought of Heath, realizing she’d found her own hottie right here at home. Realizing her sister was still waiting for an answer, wincing, she said, “Oh, it’s great.”
Just then Lila heard the door opening, and saw Heath walk in, looking puzzled when he saw her on the phone. As her sister talked, she put a finger to her mouth to let him know he had to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, Mandy was saying, “I know you’ll be home in a few days, but since I hadn’t heard a peep from you, not even a text to say you got there okay, I was starting to worry. So, I thought I’d give you a call. So where are you now?”
In hell, she thought, but decided that wasn’t something she could share with her older sister. She hated to lie, but since everyone thought she was in Italy for a week, she knew she didn’t really have much choice. Lila looked over at Heath, and trying not to flinch, she said, “I’m in Rome and it’s beautiful, and so full of history. It’s warm and sunny, and everything I hoped it would be.”
Heath looked surprised for a second, before he started to smile and shake his head. Then he swiped one index finger over the other, gesturing shame on you, as he watched her helplessly shrug.
He took a seat on the bed, enjoying watching her squirm her way through her little deception. As he watched her, listening to whomever it was who kept talking, he had to say it was kind of fun watching her sweat as she told one fib after another. Lila rolled her eyes in frustration as the person she was talking to obviously kept droning on, finally, getting up off the bed, she began to nervously pace the floor. Finally, seeing an opening, Lila jumped in with, “That sounds great. So, how are all your boys?” So, it he imagined it might be someone in her family she was talking to.
Lila knew that Mandy loved to talk about her sons, which was why she brought them up. “Oh, they’re all wonderful, and the two of them were just asking when they’re going to see their favorite auntie again. Pryce was hoping you could make it to one of his little league games this summer. He’d really love for you to see him play. And you wouldn’t believe how grown up he looks in his uniform, just like a little man.”
Heaving a sigh, Lila shrugged at Heath, saying, “I’d love to see him play one day. But for now, you tell him to hit one out of the park for his Auntie Lila.”
Mandy laughed. “We’re talking T-ball here, Lila. At five, they’re lucky if they can even make contact with the ball and knock it off the T. Then they get so excited if they actually manage to hit the thing, they forget they’re supposed to run to first base and just stand there wearing the biggest grins you’ve ever seen, smiling up at their families, like they’ve just won the World Series. And some of them actually go after the ball themselves once they manage to hit it, chasing it all over the place, and trying to keep anyone else from getting to it. Sometimes both teams are out there scrambling for the ball, with no clue what they’re supposed to do once they finally get it. You really have to see it. Some of us mothers laugh so hard watching them play, it’s a wonder we don’t pee our pants.”
Lila started laughing, just hearing about it, missing the normal outside world more than ever and wishing she was there watching something as funny as that instead of being stuck in this chamber of horrors. “I’d love to see that, it sounds like a lot of fun.”
“Oh, it is. When Terry’s not working, he and I sit and laugh till we cry, but the kids are just happy to be out there playing ball. I think it’s good for them, too, even if just to be part of a team and to be out getting some fresh air and a little exercise, even if they haven’t got a clue about the game.”
With a little sigh, Lila said, “It sounds like it. Well, I should go, I’ve got a tour booked, so I should probably go change and get ready.”
“Oh, lucky you,” her sister said. “You know I would love to see Rome one day. So what are you going to see on this tour?”
Lila pulled an awkward face, trying to remember what she would have been seeing if not for that idiot Blake. “Uh… you know more of the sights here; I think the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and maybe the Vatican.”
Mandy sounded confused when she said, “At night? I didn’t kaçak iddaa think people visited the Vatican at night.”
Yikes. Lila suddenly looked panicked, forgetting about the time difference. “Well, it’s a tour, so we’ll just be driving around on a bus, and we won’t be getting off. You know, just uh… touring.”
“Oh, right. Well, I hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget, take a lot of pictures. I can’t wait to see them when you get back.” Lila physically cringed at that. Now how was she going to put pictures on her phone or online when she hadn’t taken any? Even as she began to wonder about that, she still managed to listen as her sister went on. “And I also hope to hear when you get back, that you met some tall, dark, handsome Italian that swept you off your feet. After your break up with that Blake character I know you might not be looking, but you never know, sometimes things just happen when you least expect. And you might even find your soul mate over there, or at least someone you’d like to boink.”
Lila laughed out loud. Her nephews had to be in the vicinity, if her sister had to dig for a word like boink to describe it. Her eyes settled on her own tall, dark, handsome bed mate and she smiled. “Yeah, you never know, stranger things have happened.”
“Well, I’d better let you go. Love you, sis. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday. Have a glass of vino or two for me, and uh… don’t be afraid to let loose and have some fun.”
“I will, and give them all my love.”
When she disconnected the call, standing uncomfortably in the middle of the room, she hazarded a glance at Heath sitting up in the bed and saw that he was shaking his head at her, grinning. “You just lied your pretty ass off, didn’t you?”
Covering her face in her hands, she kept her head down and nodded, feeling embarrassed, especially since he’d heard it all. Then pulling her hands away from her face, she finally looked at him. “I know, but I had no choice. I was supposed to be in Italy this week, so I just let everyone think that’s where I’d gone, because I couldn’t very well tell them where I was really going to spend the week, now could I?”
He stopped smiling then. “No. I guess not. So, who were you supposed to go to Italy with?”
Letting out a sigh, she told him the truth, “A guy… that I’m no longer seeing.”
“Let me guess, the one who got you into this mess?”
She nodded. “Yeah, that would be the one. I used the money I’d saved for the trip to try and pay back as much as I could of his loan and the rest they suggested I could pay back by…”
“Coming here,” he provided, before she had to say any more.
Her cheeks coloring, she nodded.
Deciding a change of subject might be a good idea, he said, “So, who was that you were talking to?”
“My sister, Mandy,” she said, with a little smile. He could tell they were close just from that.
“And she’s got kids?”
Lila nodded then as she crossed the room, crawled over on the bed and tucked herself in beside him against the big padded leather head board. The second she nestled down beside him, Heath’s arm instantly circled her shoulders, drawing her against him, as she said, “Yes. She’s got two little boys. Pryce the ball player is five and his little brother Charlie, who loves anything to do with cars and trucks just turned three.”
“Bet they’re cute.”
She smiled. “More like adorable, both have curly blonde hair and big blue eyes. My sister claims they’re hell on wheels, but I know she loves them to pieces, and so do I.”
Heath squeezed her a little closer still, when she said that, asking, “You ever think you’d like some of your own?”
Sighing, she said, “I don’t know, I’m around kids all day at school, but they’re teenage boys, so…” The way she comically contorted her face, made him laugh. Need she say more, teenage boys were not necessarily all that cute or cuddly — more like pimply-faced, occasionally a little on the smelly side, and taxing on the nerves. “But at least I know I can get my fix of little ones whenever I’m in the mood with my sister’s two. But who knows, if I ever do marry one day, I might consider it.”
Heath was quiet for a moment till he looked up at the mirrored ceiling and started talking like he was miles away. “I practically raised my kid sister Karen.” Realizing he was more or less talking to himself, Lila looked over at him and just listened and let him speak. “I was fifteen when she was born, and I remember being so grossed out when I found out my mother was pregnant with her, because I realized then that my parents had to still be having sex.” He managed a slight grin as he looked over at her. “And back then I thought that was pretty nasty. But once she was born, I think it was love at first sight. She had the biggest green eyes, loads of thick dark curls, fat little cheeks, and the cutest laugh I’d ever heard. Some of the neighbor ladies said she was the prettiest baby they’d ever seen.”
Lila kaçak bahis reached out and took his hand as Heath looked over at her, and gave her hand a gentle squeeze before he continued. “I can still remember seeing her take her first step, and when she lost her first tooth, she looked so cute with that gap-toothed smile. And I was the one who taught her how to ride a bike, and how to skate. And I’ll never forget how pretty she looked on the night of her senior prom — in a beautiful deep blue dress — she suddenly looked so grown up. But little did any of us know, the asshole who escorted her that night, just a few weeks later, would also talk her into running away with him, and we never saw her alive again.”
Lila closed her eyes, hating to hear that. Finally, when he went quiet, she looked over at him, resting her hand on his chest. “So… what happened to her?”
Heath shrugged. “She left home at eighteen, less than two years ago. And we tried everything to find her and bring her back home. I still have a lot of friends on the police force, but since she was of legal age when she left, they said there really wasn’t much they could do. Checking around, I learned from talking to her school friends that the low-life she’d left with was heavily into drugs, and had introduced her to them, too. And of course once I heard that, I tried even harder to find her, and then one day just after Christmas last year her body turned up, badly decomposed in an abandoned warehouse down by the docks. Some squatters looking for a place to sleep found her. I’d given her a little gold charm bracelet for her sixteenth birthday, which she never took off, and she was still wearing it on what was left of her wrist. I recognized it when I had to identify her body at the city morgue.”
Lila made a painful little sound as she curled into his side and wrapped her arms around him as Heath hugged her tighter. “That must have been horrible, to have to identify your own sister.”
He nodded. “Yeah, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I didn’t want my parents to have to do it, so it was left to me. My mother still cries about losing her all the time. And my father refuses to talk about her, probably just too painful for him. So, losing my sister basically destroyed my family.”
“I guess having something like that happen, would. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you and your parents to learn that she was really gone, especially so young.”
“Yeah, and my parents only had the two of us.” Heath let out a breath. He never talked to anyone about what it was like to lose his kid sister, but for some reason he felt he could talk to her about it, and that she’d understand. And he was right — he could feel that she was here for him. More grateful than ever to have her, he leaned close and kissed the top of her head.
Lila wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed him tight. Aware, not for the first time, that beneath the big broad chest of her supposedly hard ass Dom beat the heart of a very kind man. He was clearly broken-hearted over the loss of his sister, but suspected that not too many people ever saw this side of him.
They sat quietly for a while. It was a lot for Lila to take in, and a lot for Heath to have to share.
Finally she cleared her throat and asked, “So what did Kassie have to say?”
Heath looked away, as he said, “I never found her. I asked a few of the other members, but no one’s seen her lately. I even checked her office, but the lights were out and she wasn’t there.”
Lila felt a chill run up her spine, wondering what could have happened to Kassie after she’d slipped Heath that cryptic note. She just hoped no one would harm her over a little thing like that. But then again in a place like this, anything was possible.
Heath was wondering what had become of Kassie, too. Since he’d been coming here, she always seemed to be around. He’d seen her coming out of different rooms that she’d checked to be sure were clean before they were used by the club members. She also dealt with minor complaints, and of course handled things like the auctions. But she’d also passed him a note that morning — and let him get a look at the auction records the other night. He just hoped he hadn’t gotten her into any kind of trouble. And he knew trouble in a place like this could mean a lot more than her just losing her job. Starting to feel a little uneasy, he just hoped she was all right. He’d have to look for her again tomorrow. And maybe ask around again to see if anyone had seen her.
Tucking Lila close to his side, he needed the feel of her. Soon this would be over for both of them. She’d be able to leave on Thursday, and he was starting to think he should consider leaving at the same time. No point in his parent losing both of their offspring to this weird place.
Both Heath and Lila left their little bedroom sanctuary the next day with a sense of trepidation. After today, they were both acutely aware they would only have to keep up the routine in the playrooms for another two days, but that didn’t make it any easier to go downstairs and start putting on a show for the surveillance camera again.
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