Chapter 6: All or Nothing

Take me back to the times where the sun’s rays graced my face. Where the wind took my hair for a dance. A place where people were nice and nothing seemed wrong with their thoughts. Take me back to when my mother baked pies every month. The sweet smell of crisp bread would wake me in the mornings and I would come running down the stairs just to see what flavor it was this time. My dad would grab me before I stepped off of the stairs and squeeze me so hard in his embrace.

“Darlin’ I think our big girl is ready for her birthday pie.” My mom would turn to face me with this big ‘ole smile. Her teeth would glisten like she was on a toothpaste commercial.

“Only if she shows me how many fingers old she is.”

I knew she would be asking, so for the passed few weeks I would count my fingers all the way to six. Squirming in my dad’s arms I threw up six fingers. My dad would just smile, then put me down so I could taste my reward.

Mmmmm, this year it was apple pie, my absolute favorite. My mom always put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of my slice. They would both just stare at me while I savored eat bite I took.

I would continue to live this story book life for the next eight years. After that my life did a complete 180 and I would never be the same. People would never be the same to me.  I could always see their deepest thoughts dance around their face. Their eyes always held the darkest intentions. There was nothing anyone could hide from me, not even a lie. Being held captive was a blessing in disguise, because it opened my eyes to what you don’t normally pay attention to. For instance, when people are lying they have their tells, like blinking too much, not looking directly at you, or their tone of voice changes. Everyone is different, but I have a knack for figuring out everyone’s tell. Another sense I picked up is the complete opposite, I know when people are either telling or about to tell the truth. It’s different from the tells liars have; you can see the defeat in their body language. They hesitate, or take pauses before they tell you the truth.

I can see the defeat all over Allen’s face, the way his shoulders slump forward. He can’t hide from me so he just clasps his hands together and just stares at the ground. I can feel his pain, but the more he delays his explanation the angrier I get.

“I don’t know how you are going to react once I tell you this.” I visually see Allen get smaller and smaller, “I know this will help you trust me, but I don’t know if you will want to even look at me.”

“Allen, I swear if you don’t spit it out, I’ll wring it out of you.” This time he stared at me, and I could see his fear. He backed away and sat down on the couch to my left and rubbed his palms along the top of his thighs.

“When my sister was taken, I stopped at nothing to find her. I got real close to who took her, a little too close.”

All I could do was scream in my head ‘what does this have anything to do with my question!’ I sat quietly, waiting and trying not punch him in the face.

“When I went knocking on the right door asking all the right questions, it turned out that I wasn’t the right person to be talking.” Allen had this fear in his eyes that I knew all too well. “The guy who answered the door, when I started asking questions he just smiled and opened the door so it hung wide open.”Allen took a deep breath and exhaled.

“There were six guys all huddled around a small table, the only thing on the table was a single ash tray, their house had almost no furniture.” The whole time he spoke, Allen kept his hands together, softly rubbing them together. “Let’s just say the whole place oozed bad vibes and before I could back pedal they all jumped up and grabbed me.” He started to rub his upper arms as if to remember the feeling of that night. “They beat the shit out of me that night. Then the next day they threw me in the back of a van. They never spoke around me, but when they did, it was just to laugh at me and told me how I couldn’t help my sister.”

“So are you going to get to the point?”  I must have upset him because Allen stood up in a hast. He walked over to the fridge and swung open the freezer.  He grabbed a bottle of brandy and two small glasses.

“We both are going to need stiff drinks to get through this half of my story.” With a pop of the top and a few soft glugs, Allen filled both glasses. He handed one glass to me, then sat on the couch to my left. He threw back a good portion of his drink, letting out a heavy sigh he told me how they took him to a secluded building. They put a black sack over his head before walking him into the building. A tactic I know all to well, so in the event you did get free you couldn’t find your way out. Allen told me how they strung him up in a room, his hands were tied to some chain hanging from the ceiling. Allen had finished his drink, so he stood and served himself some more before he continued on with his story.

“I would hear screams and crying from the room next to me.” Allen just stared at his drink, “One day they told me to be their little servant or die, so I did what they said or asked.” He took a swig of his brandy, but it seemed to get stuck in his throat. This whole time I never took a drink, but I knew what he was about to say was going to leave me petrified.

“Sara, those bastards had me clean their specials rooms.” He clenched his jaw and took another sip from his drink. “They were traffickers, and that building was like their hotel, but those poor girls, they were for rent.” That’s when I saw the tears in his eyes.

“Allen, what happened? What did you see?” At this point I couldn’t feel anything, I was just ready to hear the worst.

Looking me dead in the eyes he said, “I saw you. Strapped down to the bed. They had me bring a tray of food to your room. They told me not to say a word to you.”

My mouth went dry and my breath hitched a bit, “How-, did-.” The words wouldn’t come out, I kept choking. Fuck these tears, they sprung on me without notice.

“They always had your eyes covered, but they had a picture of every girl they had on the front of their doors.” That’s when I downed my drink. It went down so smoothly, but my throat still felt dry.

“Then one day, they had me burn a bunch of old pictures. Apart of those pictures was one of my kid sister.” The lump in my throat got bigger, so big I couldn’t breathe right. “I knew as I watched her picture burn, I knew I had to get out of there.”

“Let me get you a refill.” Stretching out his arm, I handed him my glass with a rather shaky hand.

My initial thoughts on what Allen just told me didn’t register fast enough. I was just listening, then something snapped as the pieces began to fall into place. He got away and he left me there. He must have had a chance to break me out, yet he just left me there. This has to be the only explanation to why he felt so upset when he saw me in New York. While Allen made his way back with the brandy filled glasses, I tried to speak with a smooth voice.

“Please tell me how this pertains to what happened today.” I shut my eyes trying to maintain the last bit of composure I had left. I just cannot seem to wrap my eyes around the fact that he left me behind. I never knew there were other girls in that building, had I known, I would have done something! Hell anything would have been better than running away and leaving them there suffering. “To be honest, I don’t even want to know why you left me there, I just want to know why you kissed me then run off and do who knows what and not tell me!” The rage just keeps growing bigger and bigger. I can’t hold onto this any more I want to scream. How can I trust him, whether his story is true or not, my emotions are taking over my thoughts. I can feel the tremors in my hands creep throughout my body. The more I think about the chances he may be working with these guys makes the hairs on my neck stand up. My face goes numb right as the tears start pouring down my cheeks. Once Allen sees the tears he disposes of the glasses on the counter and quickly embraces me. My body stiffens at his touch, but Allen strengthens his hold.

“Sara, please don’t be upset, I promise what ever is going through your head it’s not true.” The dam is just a few more blows away from breaking. I don’t want to meet Allen’s hug, I just want to run away and hide. “I tried to break you out of that place, really I did, but I couldn’t or I wouldn’t be standing here with you right now.” The more he talks the quicker the tears fall, soon I am quietly sobbing into his shoulder.

“I didn’t come back right away because I saw something one of the guys had in their car. I needed to get it back.” I feel his right arm cradle the back of my head, his left arm still holds me tightly against his body. “Sara, please forgive me for leaving you, twice now. I will never leave you again, I promise.” I just cannot stop crying at this point, it’s like he’s broken me. Finally Allen releases me, he grabs my upper arms and stares at me, searching my face. The tears in my eyes just pool up and his face stays blurred. He places his hands on my face and wipes my tears from my cheeks away with his thumbs.

Slowly, I calm down and I start to think of my next question. “What did they have?”

I could see that question took the edge off this whole conversation. His shoulders relaxed and the pain he once had was gone. I couldn’t quite place what emotion sat in his eyes, but it was a tie between happiness and peace. He stepped back a foot and reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, gold chain.

“My mother had ask the police that when they found my sister. She wanted her baby bracelet to be returned.” Allen shakes the tiny chain in his palm so that the small name plate would face up. It read Ellie.

“I’m so sorry Allen-.” He does not look up at me, he just plays with the chain in between his fingers.

“It’s not your fault Sara, you have been through a lot. If it was me, I would have issues trusting people too.” He stops moving the chain and puts it back in his pocket. “I’m sorry I took so long, it just proved challenging to get her bracelet back.” I sensed a hint of sarcasm, and in his poor attempt to regain our attitudes he slightly smirks.

“Allen?” he looks up and together we hold each others gazes. The longing in his eyes cuts my heart so deeply. I know I can trust this man with my life. Here goes nothing.

“My name is Samantha.”

 

 

 

 

 

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