“Or...” I muttered defiantly, “maybe he just prefers it.”
She shrugged. “Sure. Except...” she spun the laptop towards me and tapped one acrylic nail on the top of the screen. “Here’s the last six months’ worth of flights that the Citation’s taken.”
“How’d you find this?” I scooted closer.
“FAA flight plans are public record. Notice anything interesting?”
I somehow heard the pop of her gum over the loud thud of my heart. I sat back, turning this information over in my head. “Yeah. It’s gone to all of the same places we went.”
“And on the same days,” Jena trumpeted. “Now,” she leaned back and crossed her arms, scrunching her face in textbook perplexity, “what the hell is up with that?”
I feigned confusion. Did a lot of shoulder shrugs and gasps of disbelief. Then all but pushed her out the door in an attempt to hide my poor acting. It doesn’t make sense to bring two planes. Not unless you wanted to bring back to the States something you didn’t want your girlfriend to find out about. Now, on Puerto Vallarta’s airstrip, I looked for the Citation, searched for its tail number among the line of vehicles.
“Wanting to swap planes?” Brett teased, his arm tightening around me, pulling my head to his mouth.
I shook my head. “No, just looking. I didn’t realize how many different types of planes there are. Have you ever thought about getting another?”
Awesome segue. Maybe I did have a future in stealth. I looked away from the planes and towards the customs office. I hadn’t seen it. Maybe Jena’s information was wrong.
“No, the Chieftain handles my needs just fine. Plus, it’ll land anywhere in anything. Bigger planes cause more problems.”
I searched for a hidden, drug-related meaning in his words, but came up blank.
I woke up, at some point, confined, the hum of a car putting me - most likely - in a trunk, tape obstructing my mouth and eyes from any further information gathering. There was something hard against my back, each bump in the road throwing me against it. I tried to roll, tried to bend, the metal cuffs around my wrists and ankles keeping me in place, the only result a jarring knock on the head when I tipped forward. I stayed still, tried to listen, tried to think.
It was hot in there. I wondered how long I had been unconscious, my T-shirt stuck to my back, the sweatpants claustrophobic in their heavy nape.
A line of sweat trailed down my back. I listened hard, but heard nothing.
Brett won’t fuck up. He’s being perfect, attentive at dinner, thoughtful at dessert, his typical dominant sex-god-self when we shut the door and are alone in the room. And at 1 AM, when I couldn’t sleep - he rolled over and began rubbing my back. A slow trail of fingers across the bare skin, feather light, the scrape of occasional nails just enough to keep the skin from getting itchy.
I swallowed. “I have got to get to that work tomorrow.”
“That’s fine, just let me know when you want to work on it.”
I kicked a foot out from underneath the covers. Let the cool air hit it. “It doesn’t really matter. Do you have meetings tomorrow?”
His hand never paused in its delicate journey over my skin. “I don’t need to go, we can do whatever you want.”
Don’t need to go? I frowned. Not that I wanted to encourage drug-running, but didn’t the main guy have to be present at these things? And this was my weekend to figure this out, to step closer to this man or break everything off. A decision I couldn’t make if he changed his entire MO this trip.
“No, please.” I forced a playful lilt into my words. “Please get out of my hair for a few hours and let me knock this stuff out. I can get room service for dinner and call you when I’m done.”
“I don’t want to abandon you this weekend. Are you sure?” His voice was closer, his hand moving around my side, the settle of his body against my back so perfect that I sighed, looping my fingers through his and holding them to my chest.
“I’m sure. Trust me.”
Trust me. Part of me wished he did. The other part of me was grateful he didn’t.
Tonight, I will be sold. I repeated the line over and over again. I would not be rescued, I would not escape. I would be sold and become the property of a new man. And the chances of freedom would be further reduced.
As much as I hate to say it, He was right. I would, if I presented myself correctly, be more valuable to buyers. And I had to imagine that, the more a buyer paid, the higher the investment, the better I would be treated. And vice versa - the more worthless I was, the less kindness and care I could expect to receive.
So... I should behave. Act subservient, act broken. Become valuable. Sell for a high price and invest in my future. Pray for the type of owner who is kind to his sex slaves. An impossible prayer yet I whispered it anyway.
Tonight, I will be sold.
Turns out repetition of the phrase doesn’t make it any less painful.
Tonight I would get answers.
Everything started to fall into place around nine, after a long dinner, then drinks. My foot jiggled under the table, I barely touched the food, and I checked my watch so many times that Brett signaled for the check. “I’m sorry babe. Do you need to get to that work? They can cork the wine.”
I glanced at the wine, freshly opened, a bottle worth more than my car, and hated to nod, hated to throw away the wine - and the moment - of which there’d, most likely, never be another. I nodded. “I’m sorry.”
He grinned. “Don’t be. I hate to see you stress. And I’ll be drinking all night with the clients. It’ll be better if I stop now. Keep my wits about me.”
I returned the smile and studied the lines of his face, the loose freedom of his posture, the compliment he gave the waiter as he scribbled a generous tip on the bill. I just didn’t see it. Maybe I was blinded by love but I couldn’t picture Brett engaged in an illegal drug ring. Or arms trafficking. Or questioned over missing drug mules. Despite the red flags, despite all the evidence to the contrary, he felt innocent.
Or was it just that I didn’t want to see the truth? Was I just so blinded by love and the thought of love that I washed over anything to the contrary? I watched Brett shake the waiter’s hand and stand, pulling out my chair.
Can’t be. No way.
We walked back to the room, he stole a kiss in the elevators, pinning me against the wall. “Time for a quickie before your work?”
Not this man. Not Brett. Anyone else.