Copyright © 2015 Michelle Woods
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
Rosalind Martin trembled, pain flooding through her in pulses of agony. She was huddled with fourteen other women inside the truck where the Headhunters MC had shoved them a few hours ago. She gripped Laci’s hand tightly, feeling her heart wrench because the younger woman was in this truck with her. Laci didn’t deserve to be here with Rosalind, or Roz as she preferred to be called; she was much too young at only eighteen. Roz swayed against the side of the truck as another wave of dizziness hit her.
Damn, that last hit from Jumper must have given her a concussion.
Six weeks ago Jumper had kidnapped her from the parking lot of the doctor’s office where she worked. He’d hit her in the head from behind knocking her out and when she woke, Laci’s pale face was hovering over hers. While she was out Jumper had shoved her inside the little room she’d labeled ‘the hovel’ with Laci and four other girls the night he’d taken her. Jumper had then promptly forgotten about them. Thank goodness there was a small sink inside the bathroom or they would have all died. Jumper only remembered to feed them three times the whole six weeks she’d been inside that little room.
Tonight when Jumper and his friends dragged them out of the hovel she discovered that he was part of the Headhunters MC. In the dying rays of the sun several hours earlier, she and the other five women were loaded into a van and transported to a clearing where they’d been moved into this semi. Roz hadn’t wanted to permit herself to be stuffed inside but she’d allowed it, not because she wanted to, but because she felt responsible for the younger women with her. She was the oldest so she needed to protect Laci and the others. Which was why she was currently in agonizing pain from the blows she’d received from Jumper and his buddies.
When he was shoving her into the truck earlier he was kind enough to laugh wickedly before telling her and the other girls that they were going to love being whores for the Cutthroats MC. Roz was pretty sure that it wasn’t something they were going to enjoy if the Cutthroats were anything like Jumper and his crew. Since the Cutthroats were obviously buying women from the Headhunters, she wasn’t putting much faith in the fact that they would be good men.
Good men didn’t buy women like property.
Roz touched her head, feeling the stickiness of the blood coating her fingers and throbbing pain that made her moan. She needed to get it together and find a way out of this truck. Roz knew that she needed to get away from these men but she didn’t want to leave any of the others behind. She was thirty-two and most of the others were barely over the age of sixteen and that meant that she needed to help them get away. It left her with few options because escaping with fourteen young women in tow wasn’t going to be easy.
Roz had tried to keep them all hopeful in the little hovel they’d been stuffed inside, but to be honest she wasn’t very hopeful herself. Her life hadn’t been an easy one and she was sure that this was just another chapter of crappiness in the story that was her life. Once when she was younger, much younger, she’d thought that her life would be different, only that hadn’t happened.
She’d lost everything when she was only twenty. Having lost so much in her lifetime, she wasn’t holding out much hope that she would get out of this newest situation with her sanity intact. Looking around at the other young women in the barely discernable darkness, she wondered how many of them would recover from this ordeal. Several of them were beaten, or raped, or both. Thankfully, none of her group had to worry about that because Jumper had an issue with limp dick so none of the five girls with her had been raped but the others inside this truck weren’t so lucky.
Thea, a young woman of about twenty-two, was raped only hours ago outside the trucks they’d been loaded into while they all watched. Roz had tried to stop them and received a hard kick to the head after Jumper had knocked her down, laughing and telling her she was next. He hadn’t stopped hitting her once she was down either. That beating was what caused her throbbing head and the dizziness that currently had her swaying against the side of the truck despite its lack of momentum.
The only thing that had saved her from the horror of being next was the arrival of a scary looking man with a beard and a thick scar that covered the left side of his face. He’d roughly knocked a man on his ass before telling the others to get the women into the trucks because they were rolling out. The men had jumped to do his bidding minutes after he spoke, which let Roz know that they feared him. Not that she blamed them; despite his short stature, he was frightening. She hadn’t liked the look of him; he had cold eyes.
Roz shivered again, remembering those eyes landing on her as she lay bleeding on the ground where Jumper had left her. She wasn’t sure why the man’s eyes had sent a cold spike of fear down her spine. She just knew they had.
She’d watched the man who’d moments before been raping Thea jerk his pants up, putting away his little pecker. He’d stumbled to his feet and uttered a quick apology to the man, who’d shaken his head and muttered, “Just get them in the trucks. We don’t have time for this shit.” He looked frustrated and that made his face even more intimidating. Roz was glad when he’d moved away.
She’d known then that the cold-eyed man was in charge and that realization made the already fading hope she tried to hold onto slip away further. That man had no mercy inside him and if she was correct, he was one cold son of a bitch.
After his arrival, she and Thea were shoved into the truck and the door was slammed shut. After a short time, Roz felt the vibrations of the truck and knew they were moving until about thirty minutes ago when they’d stopped. Roz knew she needed to work on a plan to get them out of here but her head was pounding so hard that she couldn’t seem to think straight. Placing her hand to her head, she groaned a bit when she touched the cut over her eye. She felt the wet stickiness and cringed; the damned wound was still bleeding. Roz knew it should have stopped by now but she didn’t have anything to press against it to make it stop.
Laci leaned into her side and Roz winced, letting out a hiss as pain hit her hard. When Jumper had kicked her in the ribs he must have bruised them or even broken one because damn, that hurt. Laci looked at her with wide eyes Roz could barely make out in the darkened trailer.
“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
“Yeah, I’m fine, you just brushed against the spot he kicked me,” Roz told her just as quietly. Laci pulled away.
“Sorry, I didn’t think about it.” Roz felt bad for saying anything because the girl sounded heartbroken that she’d hurt her. Hugging the younger girl, she breathed out of her mouth trying not to moan out loud from the pain the movement caused her.
“It’s okay,” she finally said, then paused because something was happening outside the truck. Roz could hear loud bangs like gunfire and yelling. The girls around her huddled together, all of them hoping that they weren’t about to die because whoever was out there fighting with the Headhunters would open the truck next and then who knew what their fate would be.
Roz tried to move away from the back of the truck where she was towards the entrance, wanting to be closer to the door when it opened so that she might be able to assess their options when they were faced with either the Headhunters or the people who were shooting at the Headhunters. Roz grabbed her side, moaning as she stumbled to her feet, leaning into the side of the truck instead of falling to her knees as another heavy wave of agony hit her.
“What are you doing?” Laci hissed, looking up at her in surprise.
“I need to be closer to the door so I can see what’s going on when they open it.”
“No, stay here. You’re already hurt. Please.” Laci’s face was barely discernable in the darkness but Roz was sure she could just make out a haunted look on the girl’s face.
“I’ll be fine. I’m not going to do anything except look around when they open the door, don’t worry. It’s going to be okay but we have to get out of here and in order to do that, we have to see what our options are.”
“I’ll help,” Karen, another of the young women who’d been with her inside the little hovel said, moving out of the huddled mass of women.
“Okay. We just need to get about a foot from the opening so that we can look at everything and assess what’s going on. If they are going to kill us, then maybe we can figure out a way to get away by knowing the lay of the land so to speak,” Roz told the twenty-year-old waitress. Roz pushed hard against the truck wall and stood swaying slightly as she moved towards the door holding the wall for support.
Every step hurt and her head pounded. The throbbing was almost unbearable by the time they reached the spot she wanted to be. She sat down hard, moaning as a wave of fiery pain moved through her side. Her eyes closed as she fought to stay aware. She couldn’t pass out now, she had to save these women, they were depending on her.
Karen held her arm in a tight grip, hissing into her ear, “Are you going to pass out? Shit, I know you’re in a lot of pain but if you go down they are going to panic and you know that’s going to get someone else hurt. Just try to stay awake.”
Roz knew that Karen was right but she didn’t know if she would be able to stay conscious much longer; she was already feeling a bit disoriented and she was so dizzy that she almost couldn’t sit up anymore. Pressing the right side of her head into the side of the truck, feeling the coolness of the metal against her skin, she tried to steady herself. She was grateful when the world seemed to slow to a crawl and she wasn’t feeling like she would lose consciousness anymore.
Roz listened to the shouting outside the truck, hearing a few more bangs and then silence for a long while. She was thinking that maybe they weren’t going to open the trucks here when someone banged hard on the truck’s roll-up door, causing fearful cries to rise up from the other women. Suddenly the door was opening and Roz peered out into the night hoping that what they found when the door was fully open wasn’t worse than what they had already seen. Her heart was pounding hard and her head still felt fuzzy like cotton was stuffed inside filling it up. The cut over her eye throbbed and she felt blood trickle down her eyebrow.
Pushing herself up to an almost standing position against the wall, she moaned again. Resting against the wall for a few seconds until her eyes cleared, she could make out several men standing near the entrance of the truck. She looked them over, her eyes exploring them. The first man she saw was large, likely six two and wide in the shoulders. The next one was shorter but he had a mean look about him and she felt a sinking pit forming in her stomach when she saw they were all wearing leather biker vests.
She hoped they weren’t the Cutthroats because what she’d heard of them was freaking scary. She assessed each man and realized with dismay that she wouldn’t be able to get past these men easily. They held an air of competence that the Headhunters hadn’t and that meant this had just gone from bad to worse.
Just freaking great.
She was about to move back towards the others when one of the men stepped forward holding his hands out and looking grim. “It’s all right, no one’s going to hurt you,” he said, his voice familiar, but different at the same time.
She gasped and stopped moving away, instead staring in shock, her ears ringing, blinking hard trying to clear her vision because surely she wasn’t seeing what she thought she was. She stumbled forward, her heart now in her throat and the dizziness almost overwhelming her but she had to get closer to see if it was him.
To be sure.
When she was inches from the entrance she realized she wasn’t hallucinating, it really was him. He’d gotten bigger and his face was more rugged but it was him, it was Toby. She stumbled to a stop and gazed at him, her eyes glued to the face that had haunted her for so long.
“Toby?” Roz asked, her fear gone because she knew that no matter who he was now he would keep her safe. It didn’t matter that years had gone by or that he wasn’t the same boy who’d left her so many years ago, none of that mattered because it was him. He was here.
“My God, it is you,” she said, feeling the pain spike when she went to move closer to his position. She could see his eyes widen as he took her in and then pain flashed across his face before it was quickly concealed. Roz felt the dizziness tugging at her and she swayed. Knowing that she wasn’t going to be able to fight it off this time, she tried to fall inside the truck but she felt herself pitching forward out of the trailer, her body going limp as it refused to work.
Roz felt his arms reach out, catching her as she fell, landing safely inside his arms instead of on the hard ground like she’d expected. She tried to pry her eyes open to gaze at him but they refused to respond. She heard him speak and the husky almost hoarse sound that escaped him thrust her back to another time, one where everything was right in her world and she was safe.
Rosalind sat next to the tree with her book resting on her drawn up knees, trying to read but finding herself listening to the sound of her parents inside the house instead.
They were arguing again, likely about her father going out to work in the garden today. He was sick and her mother thought he shouldn’t be trying to work in the yard. She only wanted to protect him from himself but it made her father mad. Rosalind hated that he was sick at all.
It was frustrating for eight-year-old Rosalind to understand why he was sick when no one else around them was. It made it hard for Rosalind to make friends and she got angry with him. When she’d yelled at him a week ago her mother angrily told her it wasn’t her father’s fault that the neurological disease he had was one of the few they hadn’t found a cure for before the floods. Although they had eradicated almost all disease, her father’s was one of the ones they hadn’t.
People didn’t like anyone who was different and that was why Rosalind was teased at school and had trouble making friends. No, it was Maryann’s fault that she was teased really, not her father’s. Rosalind tried so hard to ignore the other girl’s meanness but Maryann was just too evil to ignore.
A light breeze ruffled her wheat-colored hair and she brushed it from her face. Rosalind reached over into the bag of chips she had brought out with her, taking one. She crunched on it hoping the sound of it would drown out the yelling floating outside from the open kitchen window. Of course it wasn’t loud enough. Sighing, she looked up at the sky seeing the fluffy clouds that drifted by like cotton balls all round and puffy.
The voices finally moved away from the window and she was grateful. Rosalind knew that her parents’ arguing wasn’t because they didn’t love each other. No, it was because her mother worried too much about her father and his health. Margarita Martin loved her husband and her daughter more than anything in the world and that was why she yelled. And because of that love Margarita did almost nothing except yell for the past four years since her father was told he had Parkinson’s disease.
Rosalind wished they could go back to a time before her family had known her father was sick because things were better then. Her mother didn’t yell as much and she was always smiling. Now, she was constantly worrying and always trying to take care of her father, which frustrated him. Thomas Martin didn’t want to be sick and he tried to pretend he wasn’t, only her mother wouldn’t let him.
Still watching the clouds and pondering her predicament, she didn’t hear the boy approach so when he spoke, she jumped and scrambled to her feet, dropping her book.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?” a boy a few years older than her with dirty pants and a white tank top on asked. He was standing a few feet from her looking up in the direction she’d been looking a moment ago. His hair was dark like a bit of coal with a shiny look that had some purplish highlights in it. Rosalind wondered why boys always got good hair while girls had wheat colored masses of unruly waves that frizzed when it rained.
It just wasn’t fair.
She wanted raven wing colored hair like the boy had. It made her reply snarky when she answered him. “Why do you care?”
The boy looked at her, tilting his head to the side, his gaze considering her for a long moment before he reached down and picked up her book. He held it out to her, smiling a strangely friendly grin that made her nervous.
Was he part of Maryann’s group of friends sent to mess with her, she wondered? Maryann was her archenemy and she had sent others to come make fun of Rosalind before.
“I just thought it might be something interesting.” The boy still held out the book but Rosalind didn’t know if she should take it from him.
After a long hesitation she decided that if she wanted to finish reading it she’d have to. Besides it was a gift from her Dad and since they didn’t have much in the way of credits and this book had cost him a fortune, she would have to take it back. Snatching it and holding it against her chest, she watched the boy give it up without a fight and shrug as he moved to lean on the tree she’d been sitting under. Rosalind stepped back, moving farther away from him warily.
“You’re a prickly little thing, aren’t you,” he snickered, propping a foot on the tree.
“No, I just don’t like nosy boys!” Rosalind said, still clutching the book and glaring at the raven-haired boy.
“Ah, guess that puts me in my place, huh,” he said, laughing outright at that, and Rosalind found that she liked the sound. It was loud and a little deep.
“So, do you have a name? Or should I just call you Prickly?” he asked after a long pause, still watching her with an oddly indulgent expression on his face.
“Rosalind––if you must know but I don’t like to be bothered with stupid boys who are just trying to be nosy.” Rosalind huffed because she didn’t need another nickname. She already had one that Maryann had given her and she hated it.
“I’m Toby. Nice to meet you, Rozzy.” Her eyes narrowed on him in anger at his tone, which was teasing. Great, just great, Maryann had sent him but at least he had made up a new name instead of the one Maryann called her. She hated being called ‘Round Rosy’ in the snide and condescending tone that Maryann used when she called her the ugly nickname. She couldn’t help it if she was a little chunky. Besides her mother assured her that it was just baby fat.
“Tell Maryann to leave me alone. I don’t want to deal with her meanness. Now, I’m going inside.” She turned to storm away but the boy shot around her like a cheetah until he standing in front of her blocking her path with his arms outstretched. Glaring at Toby, she tightened her grip on the book. Her lips pursed and she wanted to scream at him to just go away and leave her alone.
“Wait, who’s Maryann?” he asked, staring at her intently and she could almost believe him if it wasn’t for the fact that Maryann had sent others to tease her before him. They always offered to be her friend and then when she told them things, they ran and told Maryann. Maryann then found a way to make Rosalind into another joke. It hurt that Maryann tried to make things harder for Rosalind. Things were hard enough already with her father being sick all the time and her mother working two jobs to keep them fed.
“You know who she is so stop pretending.”
“I really don’t know her. I just moved here and I don’t know anyone except you, Rozzy. I just want to be friends,” Toby insisted. Rosalind wanted to believe him but she’d been burned in the past. Steeling her spine she shook her head at the dirty, raven-haired boy who looked at her with a lopsided grin.
“No, I don’t want to be your friend. Maryann always sends people to be my friend and then she finds out stuff about me and tells everyone so they can make fun of me. So no thank you!” Rosalind made to walk around him again but he moved into her path again.
“What if I promise not to ever talk to Maryann? Would you be my friend then?”
Rosalind sighed. It looked like he wasn’t the type to give up easily so she’d have to accept that he was just going to be a pain if she didn’t agree to be his friend. She would just tell him that they were friends and not tell him things because she knew this was a trick. It was always a trick.
“Fine, we’re friends, but I’m not telling you stuff.”
“Deal,” Toby said, holding out his dirty hand to shake.
Ewww…boys were so gross sometimes. But she still took his hand and shook it before she carried her book inside and wondered what the heck she’d gotten herself into.