Authors: Victoria H Smith
BRODY: A FOUND BY YOU NOVEL
By Victoria H. Smith
BRODY: A FOUND BY YOU NOVEL
Copyright © 2015 by Victoria H. Smith
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, including electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Victoria H. Smith
WHAT GEORGIE DID
Megan D. Martin
La Kata Kling
Something Simple Designs
I sat at the counter of the old diner I always stopped at on my route. I could have driven longer, but when I got close to Mae’s, my foot instinctually hit the brake. She had my apple pie ready at the counter like clockwork. She knew I’d stop too. She had my schedule. Two a.m. and pie just went together, and if I was going to have it, it might as well have been at the best twenty-four hour diner in Arkansas. And believe me, I’d been to quite a few of them to be able to say that.
The middle-aged black woman made sure to scoop a good-sized portion of vanilla ice cream right on the top. A la mode done right.
I grinned at her, forking in a few bites before she went to serve two others that came in, a girl and a guy. They sat at a booth, taking my attention a bit. I might not have paid them any mind, but the guy had a few years on the girl and she didn’t look to be his daughter; him being white and her African American. I couldn’t see her face with her head down and long hair covering her cheeks. The strands streaked with some kind of magenta color and I found that pretty unique. She piqued my curiosity, this strange woman hiding behind her hair, but the guy took his place beside her, hiding her from my view. His hand slid over the tops of her brown shoulders. He squeezed her. I looked away. The two weren’t really any of my business.
Settling into my spot, I went back to enjoying what I considered the fourth meal of the day—the one between dinner and breakfast. Since I started truck driving a few months ago, my schedule was all messed up. I ate when my body needed it and right now, it needed Mae’s pie.
Finishing up my dessert, I gazed over my shoulder and realized the couple that came in after I arrived, were gone. It was just as well I hadn’t noticed. I didn’t allow myself to have many breaks when on the road so when I did, I was in my own little world.
I wiped my mouth with my napkin and gave Mae a tip the equivalent of the cost of my tab. It was damn good pie and I wanted to support her small business. Through previous chats, I knew the diner to be family owned. You always took care of family. That I knew.
Picking my ball cap up from where I’d previously placed it on the counter, I slipped it on top of my mop of blond hair. That shit got all over the place when I knew I had nobody to impress. The hat had become a permanent part of my daily wardrobe outside of work.
Sliding away from the counter, I made my way to the bathrooms to wash my hands. This was the final stop before I drove into the night. I had to get back on route, back home.
The door was closed when I got back there. I poised my hand to knock and verify no one was inside, but a shrill scream on the other end raised the hairs on the back of my neck and raced my heart into overdrive.
I tugged on the handle immediately, but it was locked.
“Someone’s in here!” drummed a male voice from inside. “Shut the fuck up and pull your underwear down. I paid for this you fuckin’ tease so give me what I want.”
I didn’t need to hear anymore.
I took a step back and kicked the door in on nothing but sheer adrenaline. The hinges were rusty and old like the rest of the diner and the door caved easily.
The scene before me turned my stomach. The man from before, the big one who had come in with the girl earlier, had his pants down with his back to me. The girl was there, too, her hair long and colorfully streaked. I could see her eyes now between the strands. They were doe-like orbs, big and brown and glistened like starlight. They also had tears. They slid down a face covered in thick makeup. She sat on the floor before this man, her arms around a set of legs covered in black fishnet stockings. She had bruises on those arms and she stared at me wide-eyed with strong terror etched on her face.
Her aggressor whipped around and red welts on his face told me the girl fought back. She fought, but he didn’t stop.
I’d make him stop.
He came at me and I didn’t waste the advantage I had to assess the situation beforehand—my position versus his. I was sure my age and all those years I spent in construction with my dad and brother helped as I grabbed the guy’s arm. I tugged him to the side, slamming him head first into the tiled bathroom wall.
He fell to the floor, groaning with his hand on his head. Blood seeped between his fingers and the red smeared across the wall let me know how hard he hit. Despite that, he got up with wobbly steps. He charged for me.
I socked him in the gut and he went down again. This time, I joined him and let my fists fly. I gave this fucker a choice to stay down. He wasn’t getting another.
“She wanted it,” he called out, an old fuck who I could now see was at least thirty years this girl’s senior. “The cunt asked for it. She can’t say no after I paid her.”
I sent another blow to his face. “If a lady says no, that means no, motherfucker. It don’t mean shit if you paid her.”
He let out an
as my hand came away from his gut. I stood, feeling he had enough, and when he didn’t attempt to get up and come at me again, I knew he had. I didn’t hit a guy just because I felt like it. If I punched a dude, I had a damn good reason. Only tools continued to hit a guy when he was down.
Tired and breathing heavily, I glanced over at the girl. She blinked back tears, staring at the filth on the floor. Her small body shook under her hands. She looked to be in shock.
I probably scared her more than this guy with what I did to him. I lifted my hat, pushing my hand over my sweaty brow and head before putting it back on. Cautiously, I stepped forward, treading lightly. I didn’t want to scare her more.
“Are you okay?” I asked her.
She jumped. Her eyes made a beeline up to mine, hers still sparkling in tears. She gripped her legs. Tensing, she didn’t say a word.
I raised my hands, letting her know I wasn’t a threat. “I ain’t gonna hurt you. I just want to know if you’re okay.”
Her brown eyes searched me, hesitance in their gaze. She had these eyes that made a guy want to stand up straighter and be just a little taller if only to make her feel more protected. That’s what I wanted her to feel—
, and that she was safe with me.
Slowly, she released her legs, but pulled them to her chest again when the guy on the floor moved. He stared at her, pushing up on his hands.
“You little bitch,” he spat behind busted lips. “Give me back my money.”
I grabbed him by the back of his shirt before he could get closer to her, giving him a swift kick to the gut.
He held his stomach with a grunt, rolling to his back. I pulled out my wallet. I was unsure what money she’d accepted from this man, but I hoped what I had was enough to keep him from coming after her.
I threw money at him. “Now, she doesn’t owe you shit, so stay the hell away from her.” I looked at the girl, her glistening eyes laced in terror. “You coming? We should get you out of here.”
I followed him on autopilot, hardly able to keep my footing steady with my shaking legs. He kept checking behind him, this man, as if to make sure I was still with him while he escorted me away. Away from my latest nightmare…
I curled my arms around myself, tight against my chest, and focused on the man. His shoulders broad and his body wide, he left a trail in his wake. A scent, so masculine, it was woodsy yet sweet and reminded me of an orange candy. Like the citrusy kind I ate at the movies as a kid.
We walked swiftly across the front of the diner, the pots and pans clacking in the kitchen. He drew a jacket off a seat at the counter, covering his large body.
“Mae, I think you better call Hank to take out some trash in the bathroom,” he said, shrugging the jacket on. “Dick back there tried to attack this girl. I got him down enough for you to remove him.”
meant me. I shied behind him. The black woman who served me at the booth earlier tonight came from the back. She put her hands on her hips, frowning at me.
I hid more behind this stranger. His head turned my way when I moved. He shifted, covering me more.
I wonder why.
“Thanks for handling it, Brody,” she said, wiping her hands on her apron. “We got some real monsters rolling through here.”
Lowering my head, I gave a small smile. His name was Brody. The woman let out a “Hank!” cupping her hand around her mouth and my smile left me. I nearly jumped out of my heeled boots and immediately looked for the exit. Brody was directly in front of me, so I couldn’t move though.
“We got some trash for you to take out in the bathroom,” she continued, staring back into the kitchen. “Bring your bat. He’s a live one.”
Now, I really wanted to leave. Like he knew, Brody started walking away, lifting his hand to wave at the woman. “Thanks, Mae. And sorry about your door back there. I can fix it next time I roll through town. I had to bust it to get the guy down.”
She waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. See you next week.”
We were almost to the door when I eyed the booth I sat at before. My bag still tucked in the corner where I left it. I grabbed the handle and a pair of blue eyes met mine when I looked up, deep like sapphire stones. Brody grinned at me and the chimes of the diner’s door rang as he opened it.
Averting my eyes, I slid past him. The fresh air and the gravel under my feet, let me know I was out. Free. I immediately took off running on instinct. I had no idea where I was heading, but I had to get out of here. I had to keep going.
The girl sprinted off like she was on fire. I’d never seen someone so skittish, but after what happened, I couldn’t blame her.
I didn’t want her to think I was chasing her so I stayed behind. In a last ditch effort, I cupped my mouth to call to her. “Hey, you don’t have to run! I can call someone for you. A cab to help you? There ain’t nowhere for miles out here.”
I didn’t know if she heard me at first, but when her tall boots slowed down on the rocks, I assumed she had. Slowly, she turned around, her small body moving up and down with quick breaths.
I drew closer to her, but not too much, stopping within several feet. That was enough to see her. The streetlights surrounding the diner caught her, spotlighting her willowy frame before me. She wore a leather skirt with lacy straps crisscrossing up the sides. Her shirt was tight and low cut, revealing her chest like the short skirt exposed her legs. Like her makeup, she was overdone and I could see she didn’t need it. She was so pretty.
I lifted my hands again like I did inside, not so high this time. I wanted them in front of me so she could see them and she did watch them at first, but eventually gazed into my eyes.
I didn’t waste a moment. “Look. I don’t know you or your story. I know I’m a stranger, but I genuinely want to help. Like I said, I can call someone for you. I’d just rest easier knowing someone came to get you and you weren’t out here wandering by yourself.”
She was still curled up, locked up into herself while she held her sparkly bag. She eyed me over, staring at me with hesitance. The way she stared, it was almost like she’d never seen a person before. Maybe it wasn’t that, but that she generally just didn’t trust people.
I didn’t know what to do to show her I meant no harm and that it was okay for her to let her guard down a bit, but I was sure the amplified ruckus that suddenly shot through the air didn’t help. We both whipped around from the sound to see Hank, Mae’s cook, dragging a body out of the backdoor of the diner. Neither the girl nor I were far from the diner so I didn’t need to squint to see who he had in his hands.
Hank threw the son of a bitch out on his ass. Dude was definitely getting his beating in tonight. Shit was more than deserved.
“Don’t you come back here, ya hear?” Hank shouted. The burly black man would scare the hell out of me if I wasn’t on his side. “You do and we won’t be calling the cops. Mae calls