Eighteen-year-old Emma has been abducted and will enter the "high-end" prostitution trade.
(The heartbreak of human trafficking)
Thousands of young American girls have been abducted or lured from their normal lives and made into sex slaves. While many Americans have heard of human trafficking in other parts of the world -- Thailand, Cambodia, Latin America and eastern Europe, for example -- few people know it happens in the United States.
The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today. They range in age from 9 to 19, with the average age being 11.
UNICEF estimates that 2 million children per year are exploited in prostitution or pornography.
As many as 300,000 American youth may be at risk of commercial sexual exploitation at any time. Especially vulnerable are the homeless and runaways…one third of runaway youths—girls and boys both—will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours on the streets.
Emotion in the house where Emma grew up was rare, so, when she disappeared it took a couple days before her aunt actually realized she was missing. A month went by, quickly. A little late to call the police. Aunt Evelyn knew of only one person who, maybe, would care she was missing, who, maybe, would do something about getting her back, and, who—as she recalled—would do anything for her: Bailey Forbes. If Emma’s mother—Evelyn’s sister—hadn’t died, he would have married her and adopted the seven-year-old child, but she did die, which eventually put an end to contact. But eleven years had passed. Would he even still care?
An excerpt from early in the novel:
When Emma awoke she had no idea of anything. She was in a moving vehicle. She could feel that. Her hands were tied behind her. She couldn’t really move at all. Her head hurt, and she hurt between her legs, and was wet down there. And she was cold. She managed to look down. In the dim light the wetness looked dark, like blood. Right, the good man Jackson had taken her virginity. At least she had not been really awake to experience it. At least she had not had to see his face, and she would never forget that face, and she hoped someday she would have the chance to kill him. And she would, with no remorse.
She tried to move and realized her feet were tied too, and tied to her hands. At least they—whoever they were—had given her a mattress to lay on. Not exactly a clean one though, and it smelled of…she didn’t know what. She was able to wriggle though, and moved enough to be able to see forward, and determined she was in a van with no side windows. In the seats in front she saw a woman passenger, and not tied up, like herself.
The woman looked back, “Our new little angel has awoken, Fletcher.”
Fletcher, the same name Emma had heard Jackson say. A woman maybe would be willing to help her, “I have to go to the bathroom,” Emma said.
“You’ll get your chance, sweetums, but just hold it for now. I know you can.”
The man glanced back, “There’s a rest area in about twenty miles.”
Emma saw his eyes. Apathetic eyes. She felt pretty sure the man would not care about her plight at all. She hoped the woman would, “I can’t hold it that long.”
The woman looked back again, “Then just go ahead and pee your pants, sweetums.”
The bitch! So that’s what the smell was. Urine. Other girls had lain here just the same as her, and had peed their pants. Who are these cruel people? But Emma wasn’t about to pee her pants. She did have to but was pretty sure she could wait twenty miles.
Sleep came, and dreams. She was walking and skipping between her mom and her mom’s boyfriend. She was so happy. Often they would stop walking and all hug at the same time. How she had loved those hugs, to be hugged by her mom and her mom’s boyfriend at the same time. How happy her mom had become after that good boyfriend walked into their lives, and how happy Emma became too…but then Mom died.
Then the dream changed. Her mom lay in a casket, and Emma was standing by the casket between Aunt Evelyn and her mom’s boyfriend, and Mom was just lying in the casket and not moving. Mom had gone to Heaven Aunt Evelyn said, and she wasn’t coming back. Why, Emma wondered. She was so young then and she didn’t really even understand about Heaven.
Then it was just her and Mom’s boyfriend walking, but he always held onto her hand, and still hugged her a lot, and let her hug him, and he took her places…and then Aunt Evelyn came and took Emma’s other hand, and stopped them. Good, then she can walk and skip between Aunt Evelyn and Mom’s boyfriend, and maybe Mom’s boyfriend will become Aunt Evelyn’s boyfriend and they can all live happily ever after.
But they didn’t even start walking. Aunt Evelyn held onto Emma’s left hand and reached over and pulled her right hand from her mom’s boyfriend’s hand, and then Mom’s boyfriend just disappeared.
Emma’s dream stopped because she suddenly had to pee, really bad, “I have to pee!” she cried, “Right now! Please stop! Please!”
The woman turned around, “Just let it go, sweetums.”
You bitch! You awful bitch! But Emma absolutely could not hold it, and had to let it go, and felt it going, felt every last drop going. It made her wetter, and it made her mad, and then it cooled and made her colder. Then she didn’t want to but started to cry.
“Better cry now, baby,” the woman said, “Because where you’re going there won’t be many chances to cry.”
Then, to add insult to injury, the man also turned back, “And we passed that rest area a long time ago, but you were sleeping so good we didn’t have the heart to wake you.” Then he laughed.
Someday my mom’s boyfriend will kill both of you! Emma surprised even herself at that thought, that she could even imagine, even subconsciously, that her mom’s boyfriend would ever come for her, and save her, and again, if all he cared to do was send her birthday cards then he must not care very much! He must not love her at all!
The smell of her own urine reached her. She choked, and began to cry again, but silently. She didn’t want those two cruel people to hear her. Sleep came again, and the same exact dream came again.