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You Will Be Mine © August 2018 by A.B. Santana


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This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental. All sexually active characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.


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First Edition August 2018


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Table of Contents


You Will Be Mine


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty



You Will Be Mine

By A. B. Santana



Chapter One


Life without love is a lonely road to walk. There are periods of time when loneliness is the only option, but deep down inside everyone is meant to be with their true love. Rachel Marie Rivera happened to be one of those lonely people, making her way through life one day at a time. An emotionally grounded, petite, thirty-eight-year-old woman with long reddish-brown hair which complimented her alluring, soft-set, hazel eyes. She was of average build with some extra pounds, but the shapely curves enhanced her femininity. Her fair skin, her father’s legacy, concealed her Hispanic heritage. Her mother had been from Puerto Rico, and her father, whom she had never met, worked somewhere in D.C., she hoped. Tonight, Rachel had flown into D.C. from Fort Bragg, to do the same thing she had done for the last five months: try to locate her father. She had plenty of time to accomplish this task, being on extended leave from the Army, recovering from life changing traumatic events within the past year.

Rachel strolled down to the baggage claim area and waited patiently as all the other passengers retrieved their luggage. She fixated on the conveyor belt, watching it circle several times, without her bag. Her luggage was temporarily lost, forcing her next stop at a local mall to acquire spare clothes and personal items. After a quick search on her cell, she found the Corner Stone Mall, a mere fifteen-minute drive from the airport.

Rachel quickly made her way to the mall and straight to a store with clothes and personal care items. She finished her shopping within five minutes and left the store for the mall’s main concourse. The overhead announcement echoed loudly, informing shoppers the mall would be closing in ten minutes. All customers would have to vacate and return tomorrow for more after-Christmas sales. Rachel glanced down at her watch, noticing it was almost nine. With that, she realized one more thing: she had once again forgotten to take her heart medications. Rachel quickly headed to the restroom, already feeling her heart pounding fast. Dizziness set in as she pushed open the door and walked to the sink. Rachel retrieved her pills from her purse and quickly popped them in her mouth. She bent over to sip water out of her cupped hand, then splashed cool water on her face. She remained bent over for a moment, then stood upright. Her eyes focused on her reflection in the mirror. The water trickled from her face, falling to the sink; drip, drip, drip. The sound echoed loudly in her ears, blocking out everything else. Her surroundings faded in and out, then became hazy as if she was amid a dream. The room began to spin and black spots obstructed her vision as she collapsed onto the cold, concrete floor.


* * * *


The federal agents huddled around one of the cars, a map sprawled out on the hood as they reviewed their plan. Their mission: to surround a large barn and rescue an unknown number of missing girls. The location: a farmhouse, thirty-five minutes north of their Richmond, Virginia, office. The agent in charge: Special Agent Liam Thomas Whitmore II. A ruggedly handsome, well-built man with captivating deep blue eyes and jet-black hair with a hint of gray starting to show. He kept a slight beard and mustache that resembled a five o’clock shadow.

Agent Whitmore focused on the map, studying it as he talked to the agents clustered around him. “Okay, listen up,” he whispered. “Christos, you’re with Rodriguez; cover the west side. I want the two of you to start at this point and cover down to here,” he said, as he trailed his finger down the map, tracing out their route. “Agents Soultz and Wilburn, cover the south trail behind the barn. No one gets out. I’ll take point between both of your positions.”

Whitmore positioned several more agents, surrounding the barn and the rest of the woods. Additional agents hid by the dirt road leading into the area, ready to block it off at a moment’s notice. The dilapidated house wasn’t an issue; their covert assessment indicated it was currently empty. The barn, on the other hand, had been maintained for use, and the owner was one of the suspects residing in it this very night.

Whitmore folded the map and tucked it into his agency jacket. Each agent wore a dark blue jacket and hat with yellow FBI letters emblazoned on them. The lightweight FBI jackets covered their winter coats, to ensure their warmth on this bitterly cold night. Snugly fit in each agent’s ear was the standard communication earpiece, the most efficient way to discreetly follow the orders of their boss.

“Go set up and I want a full comm check in ten.” Whitmore exhaled, his breath causing white clouds from the frosty air.

The agents stealthily worked their way through the wooded area and into position. Whitmore hid behind a large oak tree surrounded by a few pines. He watched his fellow agents, and then, one by one, they all checked in.

Whitmore glanced at his watch, then addressed the agents. “Wait for my signal. It’s going to be awhile, so stay sharp.”

Typically, it would have already snowed this late in the season since Christmas had come and gone only three days ago, but the temperatures had been warmer than usual. But tonight, the temperature had taken a severe dip, the forecast calling for two to four inches of snow.


* * * *


Rachel lay on the concrete floor, blinking her eyes several times, trying to focus on her surroundings. Nothing looked familiar, her memory hazy. She took in a deep breath while she slowly sat up. Her fingers reached up to her pounding forehead, feeling the goose egg bump.

“Aww crap, not again,” Rachel muttered. She grabbed the sink, pulling herself up, and peering into the large mirror. She shook her head, noticing the discoloration of a bruise. Rachel knew perfectly well what would happen if she didn’t keep to her strict medication regimen, as this wasn’t the first time she had passed out.

“What the hell’s wrong with you? Come on; you need to get your butt to the hotel. There’s a bubble bath calling your name,” she mumbled, carefully washing away the blood.

Rachel couldn’t help noticing the utter silence surrounding her, and it wasn’t due to her usual minor hearing loss. She glanced down at her watch, realizing she had been unconscious for over forty minutes. The mall had closed, so Rachel grabbed her bags and hurried out of the restroom. With each step she took, Rachel’s heels clicked against the terrazzo floor, echoing throughout the empty mall. She walked around, pushing on several main doors to no avail—they were all locked from the inside. Rachel wasn’t one to panic; after all, she was a highly-trained Army NCO. If anything, her last resort would be to call the police for assistance.

Rachel headed towards the opposite end of the mall, a smile on her face as she spotted an exit sign. She turned down a long hallway and spied an employee’s only door. She walked through the darkened room, making her way around the maze of boxes and finally spotting a door. Rachel pushed against the heavy door, and a rush of cold air hit her in the face. She closed her eyes as she stepped outside, feeling the wintery air whip around her face as she took in a deep breath. She could smell the crispness of the snow storm headed her way. Her eyes opened, and the smile dropped away, seeing three men standing at the end of the loading ramp. The slam of the heavy metal door grabbed the men’s attention and locking Rachel out of the mall.

The men jumped slightly, turning in Rachel’s direction.

“Well, well, looky here. I think we found ourselves another chicky for our coop,” said one man, dressed in a security uniform.

Rachel was unsure what the security guard meant, but she headed down the ramp nevertheless.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” another man barked, clothed in a police uniform.

“I was accidentally locked in the mall and couldn’t find the security guard.” Rachel glared at the security guard. “It took awhile to find a way out. So now, I’m heading to my car to leave,” Rachel added, walking confidently down the ramp, as two of the men intercepted her.

The police officer grabbed Rachel’s arm firmly. “Hold on a minute. Where do you think you’re going?”

“As I stated, Officer Williams,” Rachel said, reading the officer’s nametag. “I was accidentally locked in the mall. Now that I’m out, I’ll be leaving.”

“No, you won’t. There’s no reason for you to be here after hours,” Williams said, his hand wrapped around Rachel’s arm, squeezing tightly.

“I passed out in the restroom, hence the bruise on my forehead,” Rachel replied, pointing to her wound. “I only want to get to my car and leave.”

His brow furrowed, a hardened look in his eyes. “You’re trespassing and I’m gonna have to take you in.” He reached around with his other hand, to grab his cuffs.

“You’re arresting me?” Rachel asked.

“In a manner of speaking.” Williams grinned, then turned and glanced at his accomplices.

Rachel took in a deep breath, “What are the charges?”

“Shouldn’t you frisk her, make sure she doesn’t have any weapons?” the security guard interrupted.

A slight laugh broke from Rachel’s lips. “If this is the route you insist on taking, you better call for a female officer. Although this matter could be cleared up if you’d review the surveillance cameras from inside the mall.”

“Are you one of those wannabe cops? Always watching cop shows on TV, thinking you know it all?” Williams scoffed as he dangled the cuffs in his fingers. “Put your hands behind your back.”

“What are the charges?” Rachel repeated.

“Doesn’t matter. I say you’re under arrest and you better damn well do what I tell you. Now put your hands behind your back, or I’ll do it for you,” Williams ordered.

“You’re not going to read me my rights?” Rachel asked, giving him one more chance before defending herself.

“You have the right to shut the hell up. If I have to tell you to put your hands behind your back one more time, I’ll take you down,” Williams said, then waited for her to comply, but she didn’t. “Fine, have it your way.” He tightened his grip and began twisting her arm behind her back.

Rachel dropped her bags, opened her palm and quickly cocked her arm back. She struck swiftly, pushing upward and hitting the cop’s nose. Rachel knew from all her years of Army training, to break a nose in this fashion was extremely painful and would take the fight out of nearly anyone, including a seasoned cop. Her palm hit its mark and Williams released her arm. Rachel hurried down the ramp, leaving her bags behind. The security guard intervened, grabbing her arm and swinging her around violently. As Rachel spun around, she brought her knee up, contacting the security guard’s groin, making him fall to his knees. The guard knelt there for a few seconds, then fell all the way to the ground, groaning. The second police officer began his pursuit, and Rachel couldn’t respond fast enough to his attack. He aimed the Taser, then let her have it. She felt the jolt of electricity, and this time it was she who went down. The involuntary movement of Rachel’s muscles was reminiscent from her training, but before acquiring her heart condition. This time it felt different as if the shock of electricity directly attacked her heart. The second cop bent over and grabbed one of her hands, slapping his cuffs on her. He said nothing as he grabbed her other wrist, securing it as well. All three men gathered around their prey, observing Rachel, then eyeing each other.

Officer Williams took out his cell and hit the speed dial. “Hey, get back here. There’s a two-for-one special tonight.” He hung up, not waiting for a reply.

“Your nose is bleeding, Brad. She gotcha good,” the guard said, slightly bent over, holding himself.

“Check her ID; make sure she’s not a cop,” Williams ordered as he removed his handkerchief from his pocket and brought it up to his bleeding nose.

The second cop walked over to Rachel’s bags and grabbed her purse. He began scavenging through it, pulling out an identification card. “Damn it, she’s military,” he said, walking back over to Williams.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Williams said in a huff. “What else is in her purse?”

The cop dug deeper, feeling a sense of relief from his find. “Don’t worry; her return flight isn’t for two weeks. She’ll be long gone before anyone misses her,” he said, waving Rachel’s airline ticket in the air.

Williams surveyed the area quickly. “Take her inside while we wait for the others to come back.” Williams followed as his two accomplices carried their victim into the mall, dropping her on the floor. His eyes darted to the guard. “How’d she get locked in the mall?”

“How the hell should I know?” the guard replied defensively.

“How the hell should you know? Well, Mike, it’s your job to clear the mall. You know, what you were hired for?” Williams said, his hand still cupping his nose.

“Screw you! I grabbed the girl, just like before,” Mike yelled.

“Did you check the mall after you locked up?” Williams questioned.

“I grabbed the girl, brought her out through the trap door behind the janitor’s closet, locked all the doors, and got my ass back here. Then I waited for all the other employees to leave. It’s not easy kidnapping these girls by myself, and locking up the mall,” Mike said in defense of his actions, or lack thereof.

The other cop looked at Mike. “Don’t worry about it; we got her.” He then looked at his partner. “How’s your nose?”

“I think she broke it,” Williams said, then pushed his foot out, nudging Rachel.

Rachel lay there with her eyes closed, listening intensely but not responding. Williams glared at Mike one more time.

“We have to get these girls sold tonight. We can’t afford any mishaps,” Williams said.

“I know,” Mike replied.

“Don’t mess up anymore, cause if you do, I’ll fucking shoot you myself,” Williams threatened.

The three men exchanged worried looks, then stared they at their unexpected victim.


* * * *


Agent Whitmore remained concealed behind the oak tree. He surveyed the area with his night vision binoculars, keeping an eye on his surroundings, as well as the agents. He tried his best not to worry as another issue had kept him preoccupied. He released his grip on the binoculars, letting them suspend around his neck as he removed his gloves. He quietly searched through his pockets, his fingers feeling every inch, but unable to find what he desperately sought. Agent Whitmore lifted his left hand, staring at his naked ring finger and feeling a void. He had had an unprecedented terrible morning. He had overslept for the first time in his career, and then as he backed out of the garage, he noticed a dark pool of liquid where his truck had sat all night. In his haste to add oil to his leaking engine, he spilled the oil on his hands, specifically his left hand and on his wedding ring. He had gone back into the house, to the laundry bathroom. He remembered cleaning his ring and setting it down on the sink, but then his home phone rang. After talking for almost fifteen minutes, with his friend and coworker, Ron, Whitmore ran out to his truck, forgetting his ring. He had never taken the ring off, not since the day he wed, until today.

Whitmore knew his live-in girlfriend would have already returned home after her night shift. He didn’t want to call her, especially about the angst of their relationship, his wedding ring. He hoped she hadn’t thrown the ring away if she had found it.

Agent Whitmore put his gloves back on and scanned the area, but nothing had changed. He wondered where the buyers were, those willing to purchase these girls. He would give it another hour, and if no one arrived, then they would storm the barn.


* * * *


There came a slight rap on the door, and Mike opened it. Standing there was a man, a coworker, so to speak.

“Where’s she at?” the man asked.

“We’ll bring her out,” Mike replied.

Williams grabbed the handcuffs on Rachel’s wrists, raising her up and hoisting her over his shoulder. He carried her out, to the opened van, where several more men waited. Williams dropped her down in the back of the van. Rachel turned her head to the side, noticing she wasn’t the only victim. The other female looked much younger, as she was only a teenager and appeared to be unconscious. Rachel shifted her head upward, looking towards the front of the van, as she heard a voice.

“She’s not our typical type,” the raspy voice said.

“Wasn’t planned. I say kill her since she’s seen us,” Williams suggested coldly.

“No, we’ll take her to the farm and sell her tonight, along with the others. If no one buys her, then we’ll dispose of her,” the raspy voice said.

“I’ll call Rick and let them know we’re running behind schedule,” another voice from the front added.

Rachel couldn’t see the two faces up front since a partition blocked their view. She looked back at the opened van doors and saw the second officer standing there. He held her bags and purse. He tossed in the shopping items but kept her purse. He then turned and threw the car keys and purse to Mike.

“Go ditch her rental car two counties over to the west. We haven’t dropped off any cars there yet,” the second officer ordered.

The faceless raspy voice came from the front again. “Brad, once we leave, go to the ER and get checked out. Make sure you go to Memorial Hospital, back in our district.”

Rachel continued to look towards the front and saw a shadowy outline of a face peek around the partition.

“What the hell happened to you?” the young, soft-voiced man from the front asked.

“She hit me. What story do you want me to use to explain my injury?” Williams asked.

There came a loud sigh from the front. “She hid in the mall until after hours, the security guard called you. Make sure you say it was the Brookshire Mall, not this one. I’ll call Steven and let him know the story to use to back you up.”

“Whatever,” Williams replied as he played with his Taser.

“You better listen to me, Brad, and stop horsing around. She assaulted you before she got away. Put out a BOLO on her, to cover your ass,” the raspy voice ordered.

Rachel looked at the opened doors, noticing the Taser as Williams aimed it. There it came, the surge of electricity through her body and then she went unconscious.


* * * *


The car’s bright headlights could be seen coming down the dirt road, towards the isolated farm. Agent Santos watched through his high-powered, night-vision binoculars as the car came to a stop.

“Agent Whitmore, there’s another car approaching,” Santos whisper.

“Do you have a visual on the occupants?” Whitmore asked.

“Driver plus one.”

“Keep an eye on them, but do not engage,” Whitmore ordered.

“Affirmative.”

The agents waited in silence, the brisk night air steadily dropping as more clouds obstructed the stars. Within the next ten minutes, several more vehicles arrived. Santos observed a man walk out of the barn, heading towards another man who had exited one of the cars. Santos pointed a small, round, metallic device towards the two men. He placed a special earpiece snuggly in his other ear, listening carefully, then quickly reporting in.

“Two more victims on the way, then the auction will start,” Santos said.

“ETA?” Whitmore asked.

“Roughly an hour and a half, give or take.”

“What’s the vehicle count?” Whitmore asked.

“Seven cars and four vans. License plates are from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, and North Carolina.”

“Okay, sit tight. I’m calling in for additional back up,” Whitmore said calmly while watching the clouds roll in, knowing snow was on its way. He wanted to rescue the girls and arrest all the suspects before the storm hit.



Chapter Two


The van navigated over the bumpy, dirt road, bouncing everyone inside uncontrollably. Rachel gradually came to from the rough ride. As for the girl, the jolting didn’t disturb her in the least. Rachel tried to adjust to the darkness, so she could count the suspects in the cargo hold with her. There was one man behind her, Stan, as she felt his knee in her back. One man on the other side of the girl, Tom, and one hefty man at her feet, Carl. She listened closely to them.

“I’ve been in contact with the regional boss. If the sale goes well, then we’ll be added to their route. Then it’ll be up to us to procure a location in D.C. to sell out of,” said the man with the soft voice from the front.

“How much are we selling them for?” Carl asked.

“Carl, it’s an auction, the starting bid is $5,000 for the older ones and $10,000 for the teenagers. After tonight, we’ll know what type of girls these men want. Blonde, brunette, blue-eyed, short, tall, all of it, and that’s what we’ll focus on. The young pure ones are going to be our meal ticket for our foreign buyers,” said the soft voiced man.

“Damn, this is going to be such a sweet gig. I don’t know what I’m going to buy first,” Stan said excitedly.

“Don’t go spending too fast. If you do, you’ll throw up a red flag and I guarantee we’ll get caught,” the raspy voiced man cautioned.

Rachel rolled over and started talking to Stan, but in an inaudible whisper, making him lean down to her. Rachel threw her handcuffed wrists up and out, striking Stan in the throat. He fell back, surprised at the attack. Rachel quickly focused on her feet, as Carl went to grab her ankles. She brought her knees up to her chest and thrust her feet out forcefully. The kick had more than enough force to push Carl violently against the rusty doors. His stocky frame broke through the worn latch and he tumbled out of the moving van. Tom lunged over the unconscious girl, struggling to grab Rachel. His effort was in vain as the van came to a screeching halt, upsetting the balance of the unsecured passengers. They all slid forward and slammed into the partition. Rachel scrambled to the opened doors, jumped out and kicked off her heels. Tom was already in pursuit, grabbing Rachel’s sweatshirt and pulling her back violently. She crashed into the bumper of the van as Tom held tightly to her clothing. Rachel swung around and slammed her elbow into Tom’s chest, but he didn’t release. They briefly stared at each other as Rachel faced him. She spotted something within her grasp lying on the van floor. She reached out and snatched it quickly. Both hands came driving down as Rachel plunged the screwdriver deep into Tom’s thigh. He cursed in pain, releasing his hold, now gripping the tool as it protruded from his flesh. Rachel didn’t look back as she darted away, off the main road and through the woods. She ducked and swerved around the magnitude of tree limbs. The hard, cold ground bit into her bare feet, but the pain didn’t stop her. Two men chased after her, quickly catching up. Stan reached out, tackling Rachel to the ground. She scrambled away from under him, making it to her feet. Stan reached out, grabbing her sweatshirt and pulling her back down. He flipped Rachel onto her back and crawled on top of her, his hands gripping tightly around her throat. Rachel instinctively thrust her hips up forcefully, throwing Stan off balance, and he tumbled over her head. She rolled over and tried to escape again, but the other man grabbed the hood to her sweatshirt, catching her by the throat. Stan got up, turned around, and punched Rachel in the face. She fell, feeling the rush of heat spread over her face as the pain ripped into her cheek. She tried to push herself up, but stumbled after Stan punched her again, knocking her back down.

“We’ll walk the rest of the way, it’ll be faster,” the soft-spoken man said.

Stan grabbed Rachel by the handcuffs while the other man grabbed her feet. They lifted her and headed through the woods. As Stan took out his cell phone with the other and called back to the van.

“Got her. It’ll be faster if we cut through the woods. We’ll see you at the barn,” Stan said.

“That’s a no-go. I got called into work. Let me know how the auction goes,” the raspy voice man responded.

“Will do. What about the other girl?” Stan asked.

“Carl will be bringing her on foot.”

“And Tom?”

“He’s injured. Believe it or not, your gal stabbed him in the leg with a screwdriver.”

“Roger that. Make sure he gets a tetanus shot,” Stan replied, then hung up.

“Are they meeting us there?” Stan’s partner asked.

“Boss got called into work. Carl is heading our way with the girl. Tom’s injured, so he won’t be coming out. Williams was right, we should have killed her,” Stan said.

“You need to relax. Think of this as process improvement training.”

“Only you would think of it like that, Ralph” Stan replied.

Stan held onto the flashlight, trying not to trip on the uneven ground as they headed through the woods. The moon was almost gone, but enough light shown for Rachel to notice someone lurking behind a tree, covertly watching them pass by. Then she noticed another person hiding behind another tree. Rachel’s Army training had taught her there were two reasons for this: the concealed persons were either part of what was going on, or they were law enforcement preparing for a bust. She was hoping for the latter.


* * * *


Agent Wilburn watched the trio walk by, then checked in. “Two suspects, one victim heading your way.”

“Do you see a second victim?” Whitmore asked, whispering into his comm device.

“Negative.”

“Need to wait for them. Eyes open, we’re going hot soon,” Whitmore said, preparing his agents.

Within a few moments, a man came walking by with a petite unconscious female over his shoulder. His light beamed on the ground, in front of him. He hadn’t noticed the lurking federal agents observing him.

“One suspect and one unconscious victim heading your way,” Wilburn whispered, a smile on his face as he knew they would be going hot any minute.

“I’ll give the signal when the last victim is in the clearing,” Whitmore said.

The senior agent stood there, gun in hand and eyes plastered on the first victim. He didn’t want them getting into the barn, but had to wait for the other victim.

“Going hot on my signal,” Whitmore whispered as he took the safety off his weapon.


* * * *


Rachel used all the energy she could muster and kicked her feet wildly. Ralph lost his grip, dropping her, which made Stan lose his grip as well. The men stood there, agitated as they looked towards the trail, noticing a flashlight beam heading their way. Rachel stood up, seeing both men focused away from her. This was her chance to act. She lifted her foot and kicked out, right into the side of the Stan’s knee. The force of the kick pushed his knee to an unnatural position, misaligning the bone and dropping him to the ground. He cursed loudly as he grabbed his knee. Even though Rachel was weaker than normal, she could still put up one hell of a fight to defend herself. She acted fast as Ralph lunged towards her. She gave him a side kick to his face as her foot reached up and out before he even knew what hit him. Rachel ran towards the woods and away from the barn. On the trail, Carl watched in horror.

“Where’s the other victim?” Whitmore asked, since they weren’t in his view.

“Almost there, but he stopped on the trail,” Agent Wilburn whispered.

Whitmore couldn’t wait any longer as he noticed what one of the suspects lying on the ground was doing. The suspect rolled over, pulled out his gun and got off one round towards Rachel. Luckily, Stan was still dazed and didn’t hit his target. Whitmore quickly took aim, firing his weapon. One hit, two hits, a double tap to the chest, and the suspect dropped the weapon, collapsing completely to the ground. Two men came running out of the barn, no doubt because of the sound of gunfire. They ran towards the woods, running after the female they saw fleeing.

“Go! Go! Go!” Agent Whitmore yelled urgently. “Christos, Rodriguez, get those two men from the barn! I’ll get the woman!”

Agents Soultz and Wilburn ran towards Carl, their weapons drawn on him. As soon as they announced themselves, Carl dropped the girl and threw his hands up. Wilburn cuffed him, while Soultz checked on the unconscious girl.

The well-organized raid played out quickly. One team stormed the barn, securing it as a slew of agents surrounded the vehicles around front. Another team blocked off the dirt road, preventing the escape of any other suspects.

Rachel’s heart pumped hard as she ran through the woods, avoiding the trail. She was dizzy, short of breath, and the solid, rough terrain bit wickedly into her feet. The only thought had been to escape, to save the others. She had heard the gunfire, which made her run faster, but within no time she was tackled again. Her cuffed hands reached forward to break her fall. She instinctively threw her head back, trying to hit her attacker in the face. He dodged her maneuver in time, but she still managed to graze his jaw. He firmly grabbed her arm and flipped her onto her back in one quick motion. Rachel didn’t miss a beat as she continued to fight, throwing her fists out, but the man grabbed the chain of the cuffs. All it took was one of his large hands to secure both of her cuffed hands above her head. Rachel didn’t give up as she jerked her knee up between his legs. Once again, the man avoided her attack by moving his body quickly, blocking the kick with his thigh. He finally put the full weight of his large, muscular body on hers. She attempted to squirm out of his grip, adrenaline pumping, but she couldn’t break free. After a very short struggle, Rachel stopped, completely out of breath and taken aback as this man had her absolutely pinned down. What astounded her more was the fact he wasn’t attacking her.

“Hush,” the man whispered, then motioned towards the trail.

A figure ran by on the trail, not noticing the two of them on the ground. Clouds now obscured the moon, and the brush helped hide them. Rachel looked back at the man restraining her and noticed the letters on his hat, FBI. She stared at him while he continued to look to the side, as if he were waiting for someone else. She returned her attention to the trail, seeing another figure run by. The agent slowly stood up, grabbing Rachel’s arm firmly but gently, and helping her stand. He kept a protective grip on her as they silently walked on the trail. Two more people came running at them, but Agent Whitmore said nothing, he only pointed behind them.

Whitmore came upon the clearing but diverted away from the barn. He released Rachel’s arm and she stumbled to the ground. She knelt there, heart still beating fast and, of course, the pain accompanying it. Whitmore leaned down, grabbed her by the arm and helped her up again.

“Are you okay?” Whitmore asked.

Ignoring his question, Rachel pulled her dog tags out from under her sweatshirt to get something off the chain. Whitmore watched with curiosity, then noticed what she grabbed.

“No, let me,” Whitmore said.

Whitmore walked Rachel to a car parked on the road, away from the suspects. He wanted to keep her hidden from their view. He unlocked the trunk as Rachel leaned against the side of the car. Whitmore came back and stood in front of her as he held up his handcuff key. She lifted her wrists and he carefully unlocked the cuffs, then placed them in a pouch and sealed it. He stood next to her, using the car as a flat surface to write on the evidence bag. As he wrote, he talked, but she wasn’t paying attention to him. The beating of her heart echoed in her ears. Her head throbbed from hitting the restroom sink, as well as being struck, and she shivered from the cold, as large snowflakes began drifting to the ground.

Whitmore stepped in front of her and leaned down to look into her eyes. He wanted to make sure she focused on him.

“Are you okay?” Whitmore asked.

Rachel peered into his beautiful blue eyes, feeling lost briefly.

“Can you hear me?” he asked again.

“Yes, I can. I’m really cold,” she replied, wrenching her hands.

The snow began falling with a vengeance, as if the clouds were on a mission to cover the landscape within the next few minutes. The agent did a quick visual sweep of his victim. She wore only a lightweight hooded, long-sleeve black sweatshirt, and jeans. No coat, no hat, no gloves, not even socks or shoes. Whitmore walked to the trunk, leaned in and pulled something out, before coming back. It was a small, deep blue blanket with the orange FBI logo on it. The blanket looked like it was made for a child, but Whitmore thought it would work nicely for her short stature. He shook it out, unfolding it quickly, then leaned into her. Rachel stepped away from the car as he wrapped the blanket around her shoulders and pulled it snugly around her. It worked well, covering her from shoulders to knees. Whitmore leaned back, took out his ID and held it up.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Special Agent Liam Thomas Whitmore II. Rachel stared at the official identification for a moment before she looked at her rescuer.

“Better?” he asked, referring to the blanket, as he tucked his ID away.

She continued to stare at him.

“Are you okay?” he asked once again.

“I’m fine, just cold,” she replied as she tugged the blanket tightly around her.

The large, thick chunks of snow fell hard. It was eerie to her, watching the snowflakes fall around them. She appeared puzzled as she watched the snow fall onto Agent Whitmore’s hat. She was in her own world for a moment. Whitmore waved his hand in front of her face, finally getting her attention. He opened the car door to the back seat and guided her in by putting his hand on top of her head.

“Will you be okay for a few minutes while I get a medic to look you over?” he asked, bending down to view her response.

“I don’t need a medic. I need a few minutes to collect my thoughts and get warm.”

“You need medical attention, so will you be okay for the moment?”

Rachel nodded.

“Okay, I’m going to trust you won’t run off,” he said with a serious look, as he stared at her bare feet.

Rachel almost smiled, but then stopped as she watched the door close. She sank into the seat, curling up in a ball as she pulled the blanket tightly around herself. Her eyes peered out the window, watching the lights from the surrounding police cars reflect off the falling snow.

Agent Whitmore walked towards the barn. He shook his head as he viewed so many suspects arguing with his agents. Whitmore stepped into the barn and headed towards the paramedics, but stopped when he spotted Agent Christos.

Whitmore yelled, “Christos, have Rodriguez, Davis, and Soultz go to the ER once the victims are transported. We need to run point and rear of the ambulances.”

“On it,” Christos replied.

Agent Whitmore nodded to his second in command.

Special Agent Mark Christos had worked with Whitmore longer than his teammate, Agent Rodriguez. Christos was younger than his boss and looked the opposite of him as well. Christos wasn’t as muscular and his dirty blonde hair fell above his shoulders. His eyes were green and he kept an unshaven, untrimmed face for undercover assignments. He stood a full four inches shorter than his boss and was more than ten years his junior.

Whitmore turned away from Christos and headed towards the paramedics. He watched as they finished preparing another victim to be taken out to the ambulance. Whitmore gently grabbed the arm of one of the paramedics to get his attention.

“When will you be transporting the victims?” Whitmore asked.

“Within the next ten to fifteen minutes,” the paramedic answered.

“Do you have room for one more?” Whitmore asked as he looked at one of the suspects being walked out of the barn, his hands firmly cuffed behind his back.

“Did one of the agents get injured?”

“In my car. Could you take a look?” Whitmore replied, neither confirming nor denying who had been injured.

“Of course.”

They walked in silence to the FBI car, the snow falling harder and obstructing their view. They approached the vehicle, but before Whitmore opened the door, he turned to face the paramedic.

“She’s a victim from tonight. I didn’t want to say anything in front of the suspects,” Whitmore said.

“Is she drugged?” the paramedic asked.

Whitmore opened the door; his victim quickly sat up and looked at the two men.

“How are you doing?” the paramedic asked, sliding in next to her.

“Better than the girl who was with me. Is she okay?” Rachel asked.

“She’s being taken care of. How are you doing?” He wrapped a blood pressure cuff around her arm.

“A few bruises and a Taser hit. I’ll be fine,” Rachel replied, downplaying her injuries.

The paramedic listened as he got her blood pressure reading. His face wrinkled up, worry in his eyes as he took the stethoscope out of his ears. He checked her pulse and his lips pursed tightly as he wrote the numbers down.

“My pulse is normally irregular. I’m on medications,” she said quickly.

The paramedic got out of the car and looked at the agent, the same worry still in his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Whitmore asked.

“I’d feel better if she went in the ambulance with the others. She doesn’t seem to be drugged, but something’s not right with her heart.” He lowered his voice. “She’s been beat up pretty bad.”

Whitmore said nothing as he stared at the paramedic.

“I’ll take her to the ambulance,” the paramedic added.

Whitmore nodded in agreement and leaned down into the car. “Come on, you’ve earned yourself a free ambulance ride.”

“I’m fine, Agent Whitmore. I only need a ride to my hotel room so I can take a well-deserved bubble bath,” Rachel replied.

“Sounds like a plan, but after you get checked out. The FBI will even give you a complimentary ride to your hotel. How’s that for service?” Whitmore said, holding out his hand to help her out of the car.

She hesitantly gripped his hand, but kept the blanket firmly wrapped around her as she stepped out. She grimaced, feeling the soft, puffy snow chill her feet. She lifted her gaze to meet the agent’s eyes.

“You wouldn’t happen to have shoes or maybe a pair of socks in the trunk, would you?” Rachel asked.

“No, but I can help out, if you don’t mind,” Whitmore replied as he raised an eyebrow.

“Please do.”

Whitmore stepped close to her, one of his arms reached around and supported her back as the other swept under her legs. He swooped her up into his arms, her body leaning into his as he carried her to the ambulance.



Chapter Three


Agent Whitmore left the crime scene in the hands of the Evidence Response Team (ERT), who had arrived and taken charge of the scene. Whitmore’s destination was the hospital, where he could get updates on the victims. He sat in the passenger seat of the agency’s dark blue Dodge Charger while Agent Christos navigated through the falling snow. Whitmore turned on the overhead map light so he could make notes of the evening’s events thus far.

Mark glanced at his boss. “Did she tell you anything?”

“Did who tell me what?” Whitmore asked as he continued writing.

“The woman who messed up those two men. I’m surprised you don’t have any wounds,” Mark said as he briefly studied his boss’ face.

Whitmore gave Mark a withering glare, then went back to writing.

“Just sayin’, boss, I would have hated to be the one going after her.”

“I’m a highly trained federal agent. I don’t think a five-foot-nothin’, feisty woman could take me out. You need to give me a little credit, Mark,” Whitmore said with a slight laugh.

“Did she tell you anything about what happened? How she was taken? Anything?” Mark asked, his eyes focused on the falling snow.

“Didn’t have time to interview her. She was injured and needed to go to the hospital.”

“Figured. Didn’t know if she said anything before the paramedics took her.”

“She did say one thing.”

“What?”

“She was cold,” Whitmore replied sarcastically.

The hour-long drive took over ninety minutes on the snow-covered roads, and the agents were relieved when they finally arrived at the hospital parking lot. They made the trek through the waiting room, shaking off the snow as they held up their credentials. The receptionist buzzed them back and the doors opened for their entry. They walked down the long hallway. On the right side of the hallway were patient rooms leading down to the main area. At the end of the hallway and to the left, it opened to the ER bay and the nurse’s station. At the far end of the nurse’s station were the emergency bays. There was a total of fourteen ER rooms, counting the two emergency bays.

As the agents walked into the ER bay, they were surprised at the well-controlled scene. Usually with so many victims, it should have been pure chaos.

“MaKayla, update,” Whitmore barked, heading towards Agent Rodriguez.

Agent Rodriguez turned towards her boss, fatigue showing in her dark brown eyes. Special Agent MaKayla Anna-Maria Ortiz-Rodriguez was a slender five-foot-six beauty. Her shoulder length black hair was extremely shiny under the ER lights. Her dark olive skin, along with a sexy accent, revealed her Mexican heritage. MaKayla and her husband, Trevor, had a total of four adorable little girls: a set of four-year-old twins, Hannah and Savannah; a two-year-old, Brianna; and an eleven-month-old, Rihanna.

“Doctors have completed a few exams. Several victims were admitted, but I don’t have any statements,” Makayla said.

“Why not?” Whitmore asked impatiently.

“They were drugged, but I did acquire some evidence.”

“Where are the rest of the victims?” Whitmore asked as he looked around the ER bay.

“All in exam rooms, except one.”

“Where is she?” Whitmore asked as he continued to look around.

Agent Rodriguez pointed, “She’s sitting at the end of the nurse’s station. She’s the victim you rescued.”

Whitmore smiled slightly as he saw his victim hanging onto the blanket still wrapped around her shoulders.

“Where’s Agent Soultz?” Whitmore asked as he stared at Rachel.

“Exam room, collecting evidence.”

Agent Whitmore then canvassed the ER, searching for a person. He found her stepping out of an exam room. Their eyes met and the woman quickly motioned to Whitmore.

“What’s the room status?” he asked, meeting the woman at the opposite end of the nurse’s station.

“We’ve done quite well with your victims,” she replied, a bit of chipperness in her voice.

“I’m surprised.”

“We brought in additional staff, including two more doctors. We only have one of your victims waiting. Over there,” Jamie Lee replied, motioning happily toward Rachel.

Jamie Lee Gibson was Agent Whitmore’s latest live-in girlfriend. She was an attractive, slender five-foot-ten, blonde with blue eyes. She had been living with Whitmore for the past three months.

Whitmore forced a smile and took a chance in asking, “You didn’t happen to find my wedding ring lying around at home, did you?”

Jamie Lee glanced at his left hand, a smile plastered her face, but she didn’t answer.

Whitmore shook his head, seeing the well-known evil grin of hers. “It doesn’t have to be like this, you know.”

“No, it doesn’t.” She sighed, her grin turning into a slight smile and her hand gently pressing against his chest. “I love you, Liam.”

Whitmore stepped back from her reach.

“Fine, but I really need to talk to you about our wedding,” Jamie Lee said.

Whitmore turned away from Jamie Lee as he looked at his victim again. She appeared pale and a little sweaty. He started walking towards Rachel and watched as she dropped behind the counter. He heard the unmistakable sound of retching, making him pick up the pace as he dashed behind the counter. He knelt and placed a comforting hand Rachel’s shoulder. He hadn’t applied any pressure, but Rachel fell over. Whitmore grabbed her and cradled her in his arms.

“I need some help over here,” Whitmore yelled.

Jamie Lee quickly ran over and looked down at them on the floor. “She was fine when she came in, bruised, but not drugged like the others.”

“Is there an empty room?” Whitmore asked.

“No, but if you could get her over to the gurney,” she pointed towards the hallway, “I’ll check her out,” Jamie Lee said.

Whitmore stared at Rachel as he held her, knowing he had no good reason to feel upset with his life right now. These victims were going through so much more than his petty domestic issues. Who cared he was ending another relationship with another live-in girlfriend? Who cared this was now the ninth woman who wanted to marry him in the past ten years and once again he couldn’t commit? It was all so trivial in comparison to the horrors going on all around him.

“Liam!” Jamie Lee yelled for the third time.

“Yes, I’ll carry her to the gurney,” he replied, breaking out of his trance.

Jamie Lee stood up. “I’ll get some equipment from one of the rooms.”

Whitmore glanced up and watched Jamie Lee walk away. His attention went back to Rachel.

“I’m so sorry, Agent Whitmore,” Rachel said.

“No need to apologize. Do you think you can stand?”

“Maybe,” she replied, then slowly attempted to stand. She took in several deep breaths and then looked up into his eyes. The room began to spin and she grabbed his jacket, clutching it tightly to steady herself.

Whitmore hadn’t realized how short Rachel was in comparison to his six-foot-three stature. He was almost a foot taller than her, and she fell right at chest level. He knew she wouldn’t make it across the ER bay on her own. For the second time that night he lifted her up in one swift move, carrying her to the gurney and gently setting her down.

Whitmore spread the FBI blanket over her as he asked, “How are you feeling?”

Rachel opened her eyes, seeing him stooping over her. “I’m fine. Didn’t mean to check your response time.” She smiled weakly.

“No problem, the nurse will be over here in a minute.”

Whitmore’s hand rested on Rachel’s forearm, pressing slightly in a comforting gesture. Jamie Lee walked up to them, clearing her throat, breaking his concentration again. Jamie Lee stood there, lips pursed as she huffed. Her eyes darted from Whitmore’s hand to his eyes, and she cocked her head, the same shitty look she always gave him when she was mad. His hold slowly released from Rachel’s arm as Jamie Lee took over and wrapped a blood pressure cuff around her patient’s arm.

Whitmore looked at his victim and then shook his head as he mumbled to himself. So many things had been on his mind during the raid: rescuing the girls, arresting the suspects, and getting everyone out of that awful place before the snow storm hit. All those elements had been rushing through his mind, but he forgot one minor detail: his victim’s name. A very handsome, rugged smile painted his face—his masculine, unshaved, striking face.

“Ma’am? What should I call you?” Whitmore asked.

Ma’am? What the hell? Rachel thought. She never liked it when anyone called her ma’am, it made her feel old. She shook her head slightly as she gazed into those beautiful blue eyes of his.

“You can call me anything but ma’am. Although most people call me Master Sergeant Rivera, United States Army, one each.” The words rolled off her tongue like a well-rehearsed opening to a speech.

“Well, Master Sergeant Rivera, United States Army, one each, do you have a first name?” Jamie Lee asked as she pushed a button on the machine.

“Rachel.”

“You got her?” Whitmore asked Jamie Lee as he continued to give Rachel his full attention.

“Yes, I’ll take care of her. You go do what it is you do,” Jamie Lee replied.

“I’ll check back on you in a little bit, Master Sergeant Rivera. I’ll need to get your statement,” Whitmore said, then turned and spotted another one of the agents. He set a path directly towards Special Agent Karen Soultz. “What do you have for me?”

“No life-threatening injuries, although the victims are done being checked out, they were all drugged and raped. Most of the rape kits are ready for Bertie’s team.”

“Did you get a useful statement from any of them?” Whitmore asked.

“Statements yes, useful no.”

“Explain.”

“I have statements from three of them, all the others are still too drugged to know what’s going on. They were mumbling and crying.”

“That’s expected. What did the three have to say?”

“They were at the mall, two different malls when they were abducted. Each woman, I mean girl, well, they said they had been alone at the mall. Same story, went into the women’s restroom and no memories afterward.”

“Anything else?” Whitmore asked as he strategically moved around to observe Rachel.

Agent Soultz raised her voice slightly, getting Whitmore’s attention. “Can I speak frankly, sir?”

Whitmore smiled, looking back at the young female agent. “Go for it, get it outta your system,” he said, always enjoying the younger agents’ indignant rants.

“The last two victims were transported out there somehow. It’s not like they walked them in from the city, or wherever they came from.”

“Yep, we know. What’s your point?”

“I don’t want to see anyone get away with trafficking these girls. It pisses me off,” Agent Soultz said with some amount of distress in her voice.

Whitmore grinned. “Remember, it took us over three months to get this far. Trust me when I say we’ll catch the rest of them, even if it takes us another three months. Now go check on the other victims. I’ll need another update soon,” Whitmore said as he watched Jamie Lee walk away from Rachel. This was his cue as he retrieved his notepad from his pocket and walked over to his victim. Whitmore placed his warm hand on Rachel’s arm, prompting her eyes to open.

“Yes, Agent Whitmore?” Rachel asked, the wrinkles on her bruised forehead narrowed.

“I need to get a statement from you. Is this a good time?”

Rachel slowly sat up, still feeling dizzy from her head injury. She steadied herself and then reached for the blanket to wrap around her shoulders, but Whitmore seized it.

“Here, let me help you,” he said, quickly setting down his notepad and pencil. He wrapped the blanket around her, leaning in, and she smelled a slight hint of cologne. It had a wonderful woody floral musk scent to it, so she bent forward to get another whiff. She leaned too far forward, losing her balance and falling into him. Whitmore grabbed her arms and she looked up into his eyes a moment longer than necessary, slightly embarrassed as she leaned back.

“Sorry, um, there were two police officers and one security guard when I was taken from the Corner Stone Mall,” Rachel said, getting back to business.

Whitmore quickly picked up his notepad. “What do you mean police officers?”

“I’m assuming they were cops. They wore police uniforms, and I saw their squad car in the parking lot. One of them was going to arrest me. Officer Brad Williams, at least that’s what his nametag said, and what the others called him. His partner’s name was Officer James—didn’t catch his first name—and the guard’s name was Mike,” she said in an official sounding tone, recounting the details.

“What else can you tell me?” Whitmore prompted, raising an eyebrow.

“Officer James Tased me and then they took me inside the mall until their friends came for me.”

His face scrunched up, “What do you mean friends?”

“Officer Williams made a call and then a van came to pick me up.”

“What did the van look like? Do you remember?”

“It was a beat-up, rusted, older model, white utility van. I don’t know the model, the emblem wasn’t on it, but it didn’t have any windows in the back, no seats, only empty space. There was a partition between the driver’s compartment and the back. The van had Virginia license plates. I’m sorry, but I only got a partial on the plate.”

“Don’t be sorry, you’re doing fine. How many suspects were in the van?”

“Five, and they were dumb enough to use each other’s names,” she said as she looked up at the ceiling, recalling the memories. “There was Stan, Carl, Tom, and Ralph. The two who had carried me to the barn were Stan and Ralph.”

“Go on,” he said.

“There was a teenaged girl in the van, and she appeared to be unconscious. I know I injured one man in the van, Tom. I had to, so I could escape.”

Whitmore took in a deep breath as he could only imagine everything she had endured, but she seemed to be holding up pretty well.

“Were you were drugged?” he asked.

“No. Officer Williams Tased me a second time, and I blacked out. Next thing I remember was being jarred awake from the van driving on an extremely bumpy road.”

Whitmore looked at her briefly then continued his questions. “How many suspects were there in total?”

“The two cops at the mall and the security guard. In the van, there were three in the back and then I heard two different voices up front. Ralph, which I’m assuming you have, but the other one, they called him boss.”

“Can you describe anything about him, the boss?”

“Older male, I would say Caucasian, and maybe a heavy smoker. He had a very distinctive raspy voice,” she explained.

“You’ve done an outstanding job with the details. I tell you what, Sergeant, after you’re discharged, I’ll have you work with a sketch artist. Do you think you could do that?”

Rachel stared at him, enjoying his smile, his caring attitude, but she shook her head.

“It’s not difficult, we have computer programs that make it very simple,” he said.

“Um, not that I’m telling you how to do your job, Agent Whitmore, but wouldn’t it be easier to get the security footage from the loading dock? If Mike didn’t destroy it.”

The smile dropped from his face. Whitmore felt like kicking himself for not thinking of that simple idea. He felt more than dumb, he felt downright foolish as he stood there and tried to redeem himself. “That’s very observant of you. Do you work in law enforcement?”

“I’ve worked in a lot of different fields since I’ve been in the Army for awhile. Sort of been there, done that.”

“Retired?”

“No, sir, I’m active duty,” she said sitting up a little taller.

“No need to call me sir, I work for a living.”

They both smiled at the inside joke only a military person would understand.

“Where are you stationed?” he asked.

“Fort Bragg.”

“We’re practically neighbors.”

“Yep.”

“What are you doing in Virginia?” he asked, as he had stopped writing.

“Obviously getting kidnapped,” she joked, trying to avoid his question. Then he gave her a serious look, prompting her to answer. “I’m here for a few reasons, Agent Whitmore.”

“And those reasons would be what?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes, it’s an investigation thing—find out everything, even if it doesn’t matter, because it might.”

Rachel sat there, not wanting to share any details, but knew she had to. “I flew in from Fayetteville, North Carolina. I’m on leave, specifically convalescent leave,” she replied, trying not to show the hurt in her eyes.


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