WARNING – This is a romantic suspense set in the darkest edge of society. It is not related to nor written like the fantasy series Legend of Legacy.
Innocence destroyed. Trust corrupted.
Two young children found abandoned on the streets. One hiding with runaways in an abandoned building. The other shot and dumped in the trash to die. Ashley Gibson and Michael DeMarco must once again partner to dig into the deepest, ugliest depths of the world of pornography. This time the perverts are stealing and forcing children to perform abominable acts for them. These spawn of the devil film and sell in the darkest corners of the internet without conscience, filled only with lust and greed.
The horrors of the investigation drives a wedge between Ashley and Michael as they fight to overcome their internal doubts.
“Talk only to the camera. It’s the only thing she’ll say when we try to question her, Miss Gibson,” Harmony Malden said. Harmony is a social worker in Plano, Texas dedicated to child services, she looked confused and gave a small shrug…“We tried using a video camera, but she just ignored it and began to repeat ‘Talk to the camera’ over and over again.”
I had heard the stories, and even my jaded heart had prayed to a deaf deity that the tales would prove to be untrue. “How old is she?”
She had the wide eyed innocence of a ten year old which made this difficult for her. Her sable brown curls bounced as she checked her notes, “She just turned twelve, but she disappeared from her home when she was nine.”
My blood froze. I begged fate to keep it from thawing or the razor edged icicles would shred my heart as they began to melt and drop from their perch. “Miss Malden…”
“Please call me Harmony.”
“…her family is very lucky. Most children in this situation are sold or killed.”
“I don’t understand. The detective sent me to talk to you, but he didn’t explain why expect that you specialize in cases like this…” She drew up and away from me as though she discovered I had some contagious disease. It was an indication she knew I wasn’t going to allay her fears.
“My investigative services specialize in helping people who are exposed to the darkest parts of the pornography industry.” I tried to give her a warm, reassuring smile but wasn’t sure I was able to accomplish the warm or the reassuring parts. “This girl has been released because she’s too old. The people who took her don’t have a need for her anymore.”
“Too old? Don’t need her? I don’t understand what you are talking about. We found her in an abandoned building with other runaways not some pornography set.”
I realized Harmony wasn’t processing what I was telling her. Maybe she was still too new to the realities of social services to accept the world is filled with perverts. She couldn’t believe anyone could do this to an innocent, pre-teen girl—force her into the world of child pornography.
“Miss—Harmony,” I said, trying to make my voice soft and soothing. It’s a skill that needed a lot of work after having been a MP in the Army for five years. I was more familiar with talking in a manner that insured the person I spoke to knew I was telling it straight and that they couldn’t squirm away without giving me the answers I wanted. “You have a rescued child who was being recorded on film…”
Malden’s green eyes grew larger with alarm. She began step back, glancing over her shoulder for an escape route. My assistant, chose that moment to enter the office with a tray of coffee. Setting it on the coffee table, she walked over and put her arm around Harmony Malden’s shoulder, guiding her gently to the conversation area sofa.
“Miss Malden,” I forced myself to speak softly as I joined her on the couch, “I specialize in helping people like Tina. Even as young as Tina is, she shares many of the same challenges others who have been harmed by this dark industry. I am familiar with the slimy business the predators thrive in and my team can help Tina and her parents come to terms with what happened to her after she was taken.”
“Oh. OH!” Harmony gasped, looking at me in surprise when the nature of my business suddenly dawned on her. “Oh my god, you think Tina was in exploitative films?”
Exploitative? Call it what it is–tyrannical abuse of children for the pleasure of the most depraved individuals on the earth, I wanted to shout, but I knew I would gain nothing by correcting her. It wasn’t exploitation when men or women took children from their homes, savagely exposed them to sexual acts they couldn’t understand, and made them slaves in front of a camera so they could get their dicks up or their pussies wet by destroying children too young to fight for themselves.
I agreed to work through Harmony to contact Tina and her parents and bring them in to meet with one of our specialized counselors. Tina had been recovered when the local police raided an empty warehouse where runaways had been gathering for shelter to hide from the authorities. There were several others taken in who didn’t appear to have been exposed to the same life Tina had, but I wanted to talk to them to get a sense of how Tina joined them see if they had any idea who dropped Tina off in the area. I didn’t expect a lot of information, but anything would help me to begin the search for the bastards.
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