Human trafficking. One of the most prolific and profitable businesses in the world and growing every day. But that's only in third world countries, right?
Isabella Donnelley finds out the answer the hard way--through personal experience--when she is drugged at a friend’s house and transported from Denver, Colorado, to Stoney Creek, Virginia, to be sold to a crime boss as a sex slave.
She puts her life in the hands of a man she finds intensely attractive but also distrusts. Now she must rely on him to keep her safe from her pursuing abductors--and maybe from him, too.
Wyatt Bowman, former-cop-turned-detective, is assigned to the Task Force of Human Trafficking. Sparks fly when a young and beautiful woman bursts into his house. But what neither one of them counted on was how much their lives would change.
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Wyatt had dozed off while reading the newspaper in the downstairs family room, exhausted from his last trip. When he heard the outside door to the playroom upstairs open, he became instantly alert.
Kerthump! Thump. “Ouch, damn it!”
What the hell? That door’s always locked!
He wished he’d have turned on the alarm system he rarely used when he was home. Since he was so isolated by the three sides of the park, no one ventured out this way. If he’d had it on he might have missed this interruption from his afternoon nap.
The hair on the back of his neck bristled as he concentrated on more sounds coming from upstairs. On first reflex, he reached for his gun usually strapped under his arm but found nothing. Then he remembered he had put it on the coffee table/trunk and reached out for it, feeling much more secure now.
With his sense of hearing heightened, he lifted up the newspaper a fraction and peered out as he heard heavy breathing and footsteps running down the stairs.
The intruder came to a quick stop in front of him. The petite young woman, with a heart-shaped face like an angel, had a body made for sin. The image of her in her dirty, tattered blue jeans and ripped shirt posed a ridiculous backdrop as she stood before him with a knife in her hand. The threatening pose failed when her body trembled. She froze in mid-breath when he moved the papers aside and sat up.
He looked into her beautiful, liquid green eyes. Mystified, he felt like he could drown in them. She appeared real to him, but looked so nymph-like that he began to think he might be having a hallucination. He knew exhaustion could play tricks on the mind but...
“Please, please help me!” she whispered. ‘They’re coming after me. They’re going to kill me. Help me, please. Please hide me.”
Her voice jolted him back to reality. Shewas real. She could talk. He knew then she couldn't be a figment of his imagination. He threw the paper aside and stood up. He observed her forlorn and frantic state, the desperate fear in her eyes and the knife she held. He immediately grasped reality.
As if on cue, he heard shouting followed by loud banging on the front door.
“What the hell?” he asked to no one in particular as he retrieved a remote control from on top of the trunk and entered some numbers.
“Please, you have to hide me,” she pleaded as the banging on the door grew louder. “If they find me, they’ll kill me. Please, I’m begging you.”
Each looked back and forth between the direction of the noise and each other, then glanced around the room, searching. Earlier in the day, Wyatt had opened the large glass sliding door on one wall to allow the warm fresh spring air into the room but had closed and locked the screen door. It would be their only protection for now.
“I just activated the alarm system so if anyone enters any door or window the police will be here immediately,” Wyatt said to her in a calm voice.
His professional training took over, and keeping them both safe became his main concern. He grabbed her arm, took the knife away in one swift movement and tossed it across the room onto his desk.
He wanted to keep her out of sight in case anyone ventured to look in the large glass sliding door—he didn’t want her recognized until he could find out more about her. He wanted to protect her, to take care of her but he wasn’t sure why.
He took her arms and began pushing her across the room into the corner behind the blinds. She protested at first, wriggling, trying to get away, and screaming, “Let me go,” but he quickly subdued her when he put a hand over her mouth and pushed his gun in the middle of her back.
“I’ll remove my hand from your mouth if you swear you’ll be quiet.” Wyatt whispered close to her ear. “Don’t say a word. Just stay behind me. I’m trying to protect you.”
He could smell her scent, feel her warmth, and hear her quick breathing. She nodded, and he removed his hand.
“Now, stand close behind me and don’t make a sound. Not one sound,” he said as he held his fingers up in front of his mouth. “They’re coming along the side of the house.”
Wyatt heard a man’s voice as if in a tunnel. “Where the hell is she?” He heard footsteps in the grass and stones outside the open sliding glass door. He held his breath, intent on listening to every sound, every noise, and every reverberation.
“We have to find her—she’s worth too much money to let her go now.” The man’s voice had turned into a loud yell.
As the sounds of sirens blasted in the distance, Wyatt turned his head to see two people running across the backyard. Wyatt watched them, as they wasted no time, scampering across the yard, into the woods and into the darkening night.
He closed and locked the sliding door, put his gun in his desk drawer, and made a quick phone call. He turned to her, realizing she hadn’t moved an inch from where he had put her. “You’re safe now,” he said as he walked closer to her. “It’s okay. I’ll protect you.”