A Creation of Tomorrow


CHAPTER ONE


Heatedly Alice stepped into the outdoor circular food court. Its four foot pebble stone wall encasing only three sides, she stood at the entrance. The view of the massive lake framed by mountains unobstructed ahead of her she scanned the picnic tables ornamented by large red umbrellas. Spotting him she could feel her anger melt away.

On the drive over she had played this moment over and over in her mind. In her mind she was going to march right up to him. He would listen to her issue, and be willing to do what she needed from him; but now, her eyes on him, anxiety began to wave through her. Alice needed a bit more time before approaching him.

Nervously she stepped up to a counter on her left to one in a chain of four fast food restaurants. She ordered lunch fidgeting, while the young man she hadn't really looked at placed her order on the tray.

"That'll be eleven fifty please."

Alice pulled out fifteen dollars handing it to the young man, and with her tray she walked off without waiting for her change.

Finding a picnic table she scooted onto the bench. Normally she would take in the stunning view of the lake with mountains across so tall they looked like they touched the sky. She would watch the seagulls fly, and the people as they biked or jogged along the sandy shore - but not today. Today she stared a few tables ahead of her at the man she'd hoped would be willing to help her.

If the police weren't going to take the situation seriously then it was time she took matters into her own hands, and put Tom in his place herself. The bruises she found on her granddaughter's arms as she was getting her dressed, accompanied by the look of shame on her face when she asked her what happened, was enough. Alice couldn't allow it to go ignored any longer.

She'd found many bruises on Cami ever since Cami's mother vanished. Alice had questioned her every time in regards to where they came from. She already knew, but hoped Cami would open up to her, but she never would sell him out - Cami was too afraid to tell the truth, never admitting to Alice that her dad did anything to her. Even so Alice had no doubt about Tom being responsible for the marks she would regularly find on her.

Alice had been trying ceaselessly to get Cami out of that house ever since her daughter Patsy - Cami's mother went missing a year ago, but every time she'd turned to the police they'd told her there was nothing they were willing to do without solid proof that Tom was abusing Cami.

She was disgusted seeing as it was common knowledge that Tom was abusive with her daughter Patsy - though no police reports had ever been filed until the day Alice filed after Patsy had gone missing. That case was shut just as fast as it had been opened. They believed it to be that Patsy took off and abandoned Cami and her husband Tom. They said there was no evidence of any foul play. They said she didn't want to be found, and told Alice that she should respect her daughter's wishes.

Alice felt she had no choice but to accept that they weren't going to help her with the disappearance of her daughter, but when it came to Cami she refused to accept that there was nothing she could do. The only issue was, with all her efforts, all it ever got her was Tom in her face threatening her. Tom had no fear of her. She needed someone that could intimidate him. The man a few picnic tables in front of her she knew could do just that. She'd only hoped he would.

She wasn't ashamed to admit that she was terrified of approaching him. It was a small town - in small towns people talked and rumors flew. This small town with few strangers was no different. It was a town where ladies stood at storefronts - their conversations always starting with...Did you hear? Nobody was allowed secrets, and the man ahead of her was no exception. He was just as much a victim to the rumors as everyone else - maybe more so.

The talk about him and his men were they were drug traffickers. They would beat you to the point of knocking on death's door if you crossed them. They've been rumored to kill those that got in their way. Some say that the man in front of her was the Devil himself, and his men his demon disciples - so she was afraid of them, but for the sake of her granddaughter she had to do something. She knew it was a long shot that he would be willing to help, or even listen to her at all, but she had to try.

Alice had to admit as she sat staring ahead at him, as much as he frightened her she found him very attractive. His long blond hair, the unshaven face - he looked far from dirty or unkept - in fact just the opposite. His form fitted black t-shirt showed off his broad chest and the firm pecs under it - along with all the tattoos down his muscular arms. The large silver ring on his right hand drew her attention to them, making Alice take note of how large and powerful they were -forcing her to take a breath both from the sex appeal, and the nervousness to approach such a man.

As she tried to think of what she would say to him, she found herself imagining what being in his arms would be like. “Give your head a shake!” she scolded herself “This is about Cami. Not fantasy hour!” And with that she stood.

No longer shaded by the large red umbrella, the hot sun was now beating down on her.

She was just a few feet away looking at the man dressed in black and hesitated. Though she desperately needed his help she reminded herself of the rumors she'd heard about Rick and all his boys, and stopped to quickly reconsider what she was about to do - knowing she possibly would be unable to stop it once started.

Did she want them watching over Cami? Would he even listen to her? Alice felt like she was taking her life into her own hands just approaching him. But in that moment she'd also concluded she had no other choice - that this was in fact her only option, and took her first step - her knees uncontrollably shaking.

Wanting to act cool and unafraid she stopped right beside him, but in order to keep her shaking from showing she needed to brace herself, and leaned on the table.

***

Hot, hungry, and tired from the morning's work, and rather annoyed that this woman had the audacity to interrupt the conversation he was having, not to mention the personal space she was invading, he didn't look at her while continuing to eat his second burger. "What the fuck do you want?" he coldly asked while wiping the crumbs from his mouth.

Her pale skin losing the little color it had she took a deep breath to ensure she didn't stutter before responding. "Your name is Rick Stackston right?" then paused, giving him time to respond.

Still refusing to look at her his mind raced with cold angry responses that he knew would make her wish she'd never intruded on him and his boys. But the vibrations she was sending through the table told him she was already terrified, making him mildly curious to know what she wanted - his silence telling her to hurry up and make a point.

"My name is Alice Hendricks, and I need a favor." she said as casually as she could.

Her boldness stopped him mid bite. Inhaling deeply he heatedly placed his burger on the open wrapper in front of him, his shoulders and head turning to meet her eyes ready to scurry her away. But one look at her and he softened slightly. He could see she was terrified as her blue eyes fluttered from him, then to the left, back to him, only to flutter to the right. Her pale skin made even paler by the dark hair that framed it lost the little color it had as he took her in. “A favor?” he thought to himself as he looked the rest of her over. “If she wasn't so clearly terrified, and beautiful I would set this bitch straight.”

Turning his attention back to his lunch he picked up his burger, his large shoulders shifting as he readjusted his elbows on the table. "Listen lady, I don't do people favors. They do me favors."

Tears welled in Alice's eyes. She almost walked away but decided to try again. "My granddaughter is being beaten by her father." she said noting him stop mid swallow tensing.

The information she just dumped on his lap pulled at him, but he knew it wasn't his issue. Allowing it to roll off he offered her a cold suggestion instead while he continued to eat his lunch. "So go to the police."

Alice quietly let out a discouraged breath "I've tried, but they tell me without solid proof they won't help me." Without pausing, not wanting to lose her nerve or his attention she continued "She's seven. I find her with fat lips, back bruises, leg bruises. She's been in hospital for fractures and stitches… And today the bruises I found I can only assume are there from being grabbed with extreme force. Whenever I've taken her to the police to have them look, they question her, but when she says nothing they say they can't help."

She followed his eyes now on the very solidly built, strikingly handsome young men sitting across from him. The blond - a mirror image of him was clearly his son. Rumor had it that he and the dark haired young man beside him killed a man for accidentally tripping him in the street. Alice knew there had to be more to it, but now people crossed the street, and moved their kids quickly out of their way. They were afraid there could be truth to the rumors, and no one wanted to be the next victim.

The two were staring at her, but she couldn't read their expressions. Maybe they were trying to tell her she was crazy and to walk away while she still could. Maybe they were feeling sorry for her. She was trying to figure it out when Rick very casually told her "Make her talk, or maybe there's nothing to tell."

Alice couldn't help but take an exasperated breath that caused him to turn in his seat and glare at her, angry yet in awe at the woman that went from terrified to looking him square in the eye with confidence and dislike.

"She's seven! He frightens her!” she assertively barked out “Do you not think it reasonable that she's afraid of him? That maybe she thinks if he got in trouble because she talked that he would be even angrier!"

"Listen lady!" his irritation very visible. He didn't appreciate the scene she was making, or the way she was speaking to him, but he would be an idiot not to see her desperation. "I feel for you, but we're not in the kid stealing business. Besides, I don't get involved with other people's shit, and that keeps them out of mine."

"I'm not asking you to kidnap her!" she snapped "I want your help protecting her!" Alice slammed a picture down in front of him "Her name is Cami..."

Before she could continue he cut her off "Listen..." he said his eyes now furious, his patience running very thin with her new found assertiveness "I can't be any clearer. I don't get involved with people's shit..."

"Yes I know..." she said rolling her eyes "and that keeps them out of your shit. I got it! Thanks for your time." and she walked off her knees shaking so badly she was sure others close by could hear them. Alice was afraid they might give out if she didn't sit for a minute to settle them down.

***

As much as he'd made it a rule to never get involved in anyone’s issues outside of his group, he couldn't help even through his fury but to feel for Alice's situation. Holding the photo he looked at the tiny girl smiling back at him finding himself being pulled in - but he was a cautious man. Before he would help he needed to see it firsthand. He needed to learn more.

"You boys know this little girl?" he asked, sensing Alice watching as he passed the picture to his son - but didn't look to know for sure.

"You're not thinking about getting involved are you?" Jonathan asked reaching to take the photo from his father.

Rick took an irritated breath "Just look at the photo would you."

Checking out the beautiful pale little girl with black curly hair and ocean blue eyes he passed the picture to Swan while smirking at his father. He knew Rick wasn't going to let Alice spew off that tale without looking into it.

"Yeah, I've seen her around."

"Yeah..." Swan said looking at the photo snapping his fingers in recall "I've seen her around.” With a cool smile he elbowed Jonathan “Her mother was really hot."

"Do you know where her mother is now?" Rick asked.

"Not really sure" Jonathan casually shrugged. "I heard people talking when she first went missing about a year ago - the word ‘missing’ holding Rick's attention "Some thought her husband killed her. Some said he just beat her, driving her away leaving the girl behind."

Rick felt himself being pulled in deeper with each shred of information. "Either of you know who the husband is?"

"Na..." they casually replied.

"Only seen those two around," Jonathan added. "Just hear people talk 'n."

Rick, chewing the last bite of his burger, stood lifting a strong leg out over the picnic table bench as he threw the balled up wrapper in the trash beside him. Snapping the picture of the little girl from Swan he pulled his other leg over. "Think we might take a look into this." he stated placing it in the back pocket of his jeans. "Now let's get back to fucking work!" and stalked off toward the truck.

Swan got up shooting a devilish smile and a wink at Alice before turning to follow Rick and Jonathan. He knew Rick had a soft spot for little girls. Having been taken in by Rick when he was five after his mother had long since run off, and his father was killed in a shootout during a pickup with Rick that went bad. Rick was rough on Jonathan and him growing up. Some might say that Rick's form of discipline was abusive. He believed a firm hand grew great men, but never tolerated that rough hand being dished out on a girl. He'd witnessed Rick put a beating into a few men over the years because of the way they treated their daughters. He believed girls required discipline, but felt a good solid punishment was usually enough.

As they drove back to the construction site to finish the carpentry to the homes just about built, Rick told them to find out as much as they could about the little girl. "Don't go asking questions!" he ordered. "I don't want people knowing we're involved in anything to do with her. These town people talk too much. Think they have nothing better to do around here." he said rolling his eyes "Just follow her and observe. Let me know what you find out and if you see anything."

"And if we see anything?" asked Jonathan.

"Don't do shit!" Rick snapped, "Let it go and report back to me."


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