Chapter Nine: Undeniable Tensions By the time Angel was picking up her bag to leave the club, it was three in the morning.
She followed Rich out the back door of the club and towards his truck until he stopped. "No," he corrected, turning to look at Angel. He pointed over her right shoulder, "you're with him." Angel looked over to a black Cadillac. Dante was leaning against the passenger door, arms crossed over his chest, his left foot crossed over his right. She continued to look Dante over, hearing Rich get in his truck and drive away. "Well?
Are you coming or not?" Silently, Angel walked over to Dante. She regretted feeling any more for Dante than any other man. She regretted thinking he was any different from any other man in Angel's life.
She regretted letting him have such control over her. She regretted letting him act like he cared for her and then quickly remind her that she was nothing more than a business product. She regretted a lot of things, but she still slid into the passenger's seat as he held the door open for her.
She clicked her seat belt on as he shut the door and walked around the car. She held tightly to her bag as he slid in the driver's seat and shut the door. She didn't look at him, but she could feel his gaze on her. He turned away from her to start the engine and shift the car into gear. "I'll drop you off here tomorrow night." Angel glanced at him quickly as he sped away from the club. It was usually one hundred dollars per hour, for a girl.
If he had paid for two days with her, at that price… Dante glanced over at her. "Relax," he reached over and took her hand in his own. Angel stayed quiet. She wasn't sure what he had planned. She looked out the window, watching the road signs.
It was a typical thing for her to do. If something ever happened to her, she would need to know where she was. It was a safety measure; one of the few in this lifestyle. She glanced up at a green sign as Dante took an entrance ramp to Interstate 70 and then a few minutes later to 71.
"My apartment is about twenty minutes from the club." Angel nodded, glancing back over at Dante before back out the window. Dante took a cloverleaf exit ramp and stopped at a red light. The near by street sign read Frank Road. Angel shivered. She hated that name. A few minutes later, Dante turned into an apartment complex.
There was a small pond with a fountain on the left side. On the right were the complex mailboxes. Dante slowed the car as he drove past them. Angel looked out her window at the apartment buildings. Each building had about eight apartments. There were parking spots in front of the buildings, with garages on the other side of the road. Dante drove around a turn and then pulled into a parking spot.
He turned off the engine and unclicked his seatbelt. Angel sat still until he looked over at her "well? Aren't you going to get out?" She quickly clicked her seatbelt off and opened the door before grabbing her bag and pulling herself free from the car.
She followed him into the external hall of the building. In front of her was another large pond with a fountain. A few geese were drifting about in the water. She heard keys jingle as Dante unlocked the door. She turned to look at him as soon as he opened the door. He ushered her inside and followed, shutting the door behind them.
There was a small living room to the right of the doorway. There was a couch, a love seat, and entertainment center. There was also a computer on a desk in the far corner. There were blinds covering a sliding glass door that led to a tiny patio outside. To the left was a small table and two chairs. The kitchen sat just behind that, equipt with a sink, stove and oven, and refrigerator. There was a microwave on one countertop. On the same wall as the door, opposite the kitchen, was a large closet.
The doors were open to reveal a washer and dryer. Directly in front of Angel was a hallway, there was a small linen closet at the other end.
There were three other doors. One was undoubtfully a bathroom, the other two Angel guessed were bedrooms. It was the typical apartment floor plan. She was still looking around when she heard him putting his keys on the table and take off his jacket. "You can set your bag down wherever you want. Make yourself at home." She held tight to her bag, not trusting him to not take it if she let go. "Are you hungry?
I can make you something to eat." She shook her head. She wasn't used to eating so often, and because of that, she became hungry less often. He opened the refrigerator.
Angel turned, looking around the small living room. There were no pictures, no hanging artwork. The walls were bare, and all that sat on the coffee table was a lamp and a few coasters for drinks. "The bathroom is down the hall on the left." Angel about jumped as she heard him behind her. She turned, looking down at a glass of water he held out to her. "Thanks," she mumbled, taking the glass from him.
He sat down on the couch with his own drink, setting it on a coaster on the coffee table. Angel simply stared at him. "Sit," he requested more than demanded, nodding to the couch next to him, to which Angel replied by promptly by sitting at the far end of the love seat, that was perpendicular to the couch.
For a while, he made simple small talk with her. He asked how old she was, what kind of music she enjoyed, if she ever finished high school; all simple questions that Angel could answer in very few words.
When he asked if 'Angel' was just a nickname or her real name, she told him it was a nickname, but she refused to give him her real name. "Angel," he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, "how old were you when you started doing this?" It was a serious question, demanding a serious answer, and possibly a serious consequence.
Angel sat quiet for a moment, contemplating on answering or not. She knew she could easily lie, and he would never know the difference. She also knew that Rich could get in serious trouble if Dante knew how young she was when she got into this mess of a life.
Pedophilia, trafficking minors, and statutory rape were all things law enforcement tended to frown upon. It was one thing to see a prostitute working a street corner on a given night. Many people wouldn't really think twice about it. It was another thing to see a child prostitute working a street corner. People tended not to turn a blind eye so quickly.
It was an even more unsettling fact that many prostitutes started out at a young age, averaging at about eleven. Even if a child prostitute was openly working, many people would not be able to pinpoint her age.
These girls knew how to do their make-up, they knew how to dress, they knew how to act. And they could do it in a way that made them appear much older than they were. Angel thought a bit longer before responding.
"Do you mean when I got in the game or when I got in with Rich?" The question allowed a bit longer for her to decide if she was going to lie or not. But, why lie?
Dante had no proof of her prostituting as a minor, it was just what she told him. It wasn't enough to convict Rich.
But if she confessed the truth, would that be enough to get her in trouble? "Either." "When I got under Rich, I was about thirteen." She confessed, admitting to selling herself when she was still a minor. And by her answer, it was clear and safe to assume she was younger when she first started. Dante nodded, silently absorbing the ugly truth that was just thrown at him. "How many pimps have you worked for?" "Two," Angel stated bluntly. "Rich has been good to me so I stayed with him." Dante shook his head in shock.
He had already seen Angel's body once. It was easy to notice the long scars that littered her flesh, and upon closer inspection, he had noticed more, faded with time. He doubted there was a single inch of her skin that had not be scarred at one point in time. Dante also knew about the scars she hid inside.
Their first encounter, he had noticed them as he slid his fingers inside her. There were enough scars that it was severely uncomfortable and even painful for her to have sex. When she had finally fallen asleep after he had pulled away from her that night, she had rolled onto her stomach, exposing her backside.
More scars, even more noticeable than those on her front, sliced their way across her back. Dante couldn't help noticing a dark mark poking up from under the blanket, where it covered her ass. When he pulled the blanket away, the horror was enough that he had to quickly run to the restroom for fear he was going to be sick. Dark, almost black, bruises had covered her ass.
Lines of scabs cris-crossed back and forth along her cheeks. She had only recently been beaten, and was still far from healed when he had taken her that night. Even now, remembering it all, his stomach churned at the thoughts of what could have possibly happened to her. The thoughts of her crying out for help, for mercy, caused a lump in his throat that he had to fight down so he could breathe.
If that was 'being good to' he didn't want to know what the opposite meant. Angel too, was thinking about that night. She too could remember him slowly feeling her body, working her body up enough to reduce her uncomforts of sex.
She also remembered waking to Frank smacking her ass repeatedly and yelling about her having fell asleep. She remembered Dante rushing out of the bathroom, shoving his way between Frank's flailing body, and her own cowered one. She remembered Dante yelling at Frank and practically shoving Frank across the room.
"I paid for this time, and if I decide to let her sleep on my money, then she'll sleep!" She remembered Dante waiting outside the motel room until her next client showed, making sure Frank and his anger didn't come back to beat her.
Angel reached in her bag, feeling around for her cigarettes. When her hand grasped the box, she pulled it free from her bag and opened it. She only had a few cigarettes left, but she stood anyway. She walked over to the sliding glass door and opened it. Stepping out onto the small patio, the cool morning air hit her like a smack in the face. She should have probably excused herself, but she needed to get away from him to clear her head before she began to think things she swore she would never do.
He was just another client, and she had to remember that. Dante watched her leave to smoke. He watched as she pulled a cigarette and a lighter out of the box. He watched as she ever so slightly shivered as she lit the cigarette. It was crucial for Dante to keep her from closing down on him. Yes, he was technically undercover, trying to gain the trust of her pimp, Rich, and gain as much evidence against the man to shut him down for good.
But he could not help his growing feelings for the girl. She amazed him. She had been beaten to a pulp, broken, thrown out, sold, and used. Yet her strength had kept her going.
She didn't frown upon herself like other girls he had helped. She wasn't ashamed to be doing what she was, but she certainly wasn't proud of it either. The girl had put on a front that she was strong, unfeeling towards her situation. But Dante could see the deeply seeded pain and helplessness in her eyes, a pain and helplessness that he wasn't even sure Angel herself knew was there.
Angel was like a circus animal, bred in captivity. She allowed herself to be tamed, and turned tricks for her handler's delight, simply because it was safer to obey than to fight.
But there was no doubt that the girl had fight. It was clear she would fight if she felt the need. Although she had no clue what life was like outside of prostitution, she was still a wild animal, and her wild instincts were still there in the back of her subconscious.
Dante stood and walked down the hall to the bathroom. He splashed a handful of cool water on his face before leaning on the edge of the sink to look in the mirror at himself. What was he doing? Did he have more feelings than simple care for the girl? It sure felt like it. But why? He had dealt with hundreds of girls just like Angel, and not once had he felt like this. Nothing could happen between them. Sure they had had sex, but he knew he had to suppress these feelings.
He was a police officer. An outstanding police officer, and one of the leaders of his department.
He had worked so hard to build his career, his reputation. But it was never about his career or reputation. It had always been about helping others. Helping these girls. Why suddenly was he falling for one?
He had been alone most of his adult life. He had never really fallen in love, never kept a long, steady relationship. Why now did he want to be with a girl? "'Scuse me," Angel mumbled as she squeezed into the bathroom behind him.
She had finished her cigarette and returned inside to find Dante staring coldly at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. She had watched him for a short bit before deciding that he wasn't leaving any time soon, and squeezed her way in to use the toilet.
Dante glanced at her silently, before raising an eyebrow when she tugged her shorts and thong down and sat on the toilet. She certainly wasn't shy. He turned away as she finished, flushed, and pulled her shorts and thong back up. Stepping out of the way to let her get to the sink, he glanced down. His brow furrowed when he saw the end of a trail of scabs, on her inner thigh, poke out from the bottom of her shorts. He hadn't noticed it before, but it certainly drew his attention now.
"What's that?" Angel looked up, into the mirror, to see him behind her, and looking down at her backside. "Hm?" "That," Dante pointed at the scab, to which Angel turned, hiding the partially healed wound.
"Nothing," she mumbled. "Don't you lie to me." Angel didn't respond. "Show me." Still no response. Dante let out a frustrating sigh before gently he gently the girl's wrist and led her out of the bathroom and to a large bedroom. "Sit," he mumbled, pointing at the bed. Angel bristled at the command. She wasn't a dog to be ordered around. Her eyes narrowed into a glare, but she sat as commanded when Dante walked back out of the room. She had to remember that to these men, these clients, she was not a person, she was an object.
Dante returned with a small first aid kit. He sat next to her, on the edge of the bed. "Let me see," he demanded gently. Angel looked down at the first aid kit, sighing with the realization that he only wanted to help. She was still an object, and he was still the client, but his concern calmed the anger from his demand. She fumbled over the button of her shorts before gently pulling them down. The scratch ran down the crevice of her inner leg. It was a tender spot, where the leg joined the rest of the body.
Dante leaned close to analyze the extent of the injury. It was scabbed over, but the skin around the scab was red and irritated, most likely from her clothes and own body rubbing against the wound. Angel shifted, stretching her leg a bit. The stretch pulled at her injury, which cracked the line of scabs and pulled the wound open. Angel winced ever so slightly, not wanting Dante to know the pain she was in.
Dante saw the wound rip open, and he quickly put his hand on Angel's leg to still her. Under his touch, he felt her tense but freeze. Quickly, he opened a tube of antibiotic ointment and squeezed a bit across the wound. He then ripped open a gauze bandage, placing that over the ointment before wrapping her leg with an ace bandage.
Angel was silent the whole time. When he finished, he had stood to look down at her. She returned his gaze. The stress of being around Dante, the stress of Emily still under Frank's control, the stress of life in general, was weighing on her, and was clearly visible for the first time.
Dante saw how heavy the stress was and silently tugged the comforter free from under her before pulling it over her body. "Get some sleep," he spoke softly. Angel did not object. She did not even respond.
"I'll be out in the living room. Rest." He flicked off the bedroom light, and closed the door, leaving it cracked open only slightly. Angel turned her face away from the door. Her eyes were heavy.
She didn't want to sleep. She didn't trust that nothing would happen while she was asleep. But her body ached for sleep and she found she couldn't keep her eyes open for much&hellip.