Erin's Life ~ Book 2

 

 

Chapter 31 ~ Mf, Ff, ff

Chief Larry Hawkins and Doctor Linda Marcus boarded their flight, trading in some frequent flier miles for First Class seats.  When they were finally settled they resumed the conversation they'd been having on the way to the airport that morning.

She started, "So the mayor told you to lay off the Erin Banks case, and that's why you're using personal time again."  He had already told her that, but it just seemed so odd to her that she was repeating it to make sure she understood.

"Right," he answered.  "It was the damndest thing.  I get called into the mayor's office, and I'm told to bring copies of all the files we currently have as well as all the old Circle case files.  So I go, and at first he's glad handing me, telling me what a great job I've been doing as Chief.  But then he asks about Erin Banks, and what leads I am pursuing."

The flight attendant came around asking them if they'd like any refreshments, they both chose sparkling water.

"First class is nice," Larry said to his girlfriend, who smiled at him as the attendant handed them their beverages.  "Anyway, I pull out my files, and immediately his assistant takes them and leaves the room.  I'm looking at the mayor, he's just looking back at me like nothing strange is going on.  So I just do it from my head, tell him how Erin fit in with the rest of The Circle, and how she may have been kidnapped to some school out west.  With her mother now in your hospital thinking it is 1976, we're getting nothing from her.  And that school isn't dealing me straight, and on top of everything else I suspect there may be another girl in Utah. I explained how I went through the doctor on-call records for three different hospitals until I found the connections that fit.  The mayor is just looking at me as I talk, that weird, wide smile on his face, nodding here and there.  And I finish my story, and he tells me that I'm a great cop.... but don't I think the city has had enough of this embarrassment?  He says we just barely managed to keep everything covered up last time, due to the girls all being underage, and we may not be so lucky if I 'start dredging it all up again.'"  Larry shook his head at her.  "I'm telling him we have one missing, possibly abducted girl and another who may still need help, and he's worried about bad publicity. "

Linda took his hand.  "So just so we're clear.... this is why we're going to Utah today on 'vacation.'  You're going to talk to the father and I am going to find the girl on campus, talk to them separately, ascertain the situation?"

"Thank you so much for agreeing to this.  I can't do anything officially, but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least look into it.  To be honest I am not even sure what I can do, if I decide something needs to be done.  Possibly just visit the local police station and tell them what I know, then come home."

"You don't need to thank me, honey," Linda answered.  "There are all kinds of morally gray areas here, and things that I wouldn't want to be publicly known.... I am... and you are... by law supposed to report all cases of statutory rape..."

"I know... I know.  I still feel terrible for putting you in this position.  I just don't want to definitely do anything until I see how it is with them.  I mean... there's a small chance they have a healthy relationship, right?  The only reason I am giving this any consideration at all is because of Lucy and Nora.  I've come to trust that they have a better view of the Circle girls than I do."

"Well..." Linda looked away, collecting her thoughts.  "Everyone is different, and sometimes you have to look at things relative to everything else.  Maybe the girl is happy, and maybe her father... loves her as a woman.... but even though that is highly abnormal, putting him in jail may not be the best decision for her.  I've never liked that knee-jerk reaction to every situation like this.  I think sometimes... even if only rarely... it does more harm than good."

"I know...." Larry trailed off.  "The homosexuals argue that they are born loving who they love, and as a society we've accepted it.  But a pedophile can't seek help for who he or she loves because it is an automatic jail sentence.  It's insane.  Literally insane."

"Yeah," Linda responded... "I don't ordinarily like using that term, but in this case it seems to apply.  There certainly seems to be a break in the logic of it."  She paused for a moment, "Oh, you were going to tell me about Erin?"

Larry shifted gears.  "Uh, yes.  I've looked into that school in Oklahoma I think she's at... and surprise... it doesn't seem to exist.   I mean, it has credentials in Oklahoma, and is accredited, but even that took a court order to get unsealed from their state house.... that may be what caught the mayor's attention, I don't know.  Hell, I even pulled up the public satellite photos of where this place is supposed to be, and that location is just grayed out.  Maybe it's corn fields, maybe it's a small city.  No idea.  It seems a lot of powerful people don't want this place to be public knowledge.  I called them back, asking to speak to the head administrator... 'Sorry, not available at this time.'  A vice-principal, 'sorry, not available at this time.'  A teacher, a janitor, 'sorry, not available at this time.'  It's hard to not take their insult of my intelligence personally.  I don't know what is going on there.... but the place is air-tight as far as people not talking about it, and Erin may be there.  Anyone could be there.  And as I was about to see about an official visit, the mayor tells me to lay off."  He squeezed Linda's hand lightly.  "It's very frustrating."

"I know it is," she answered, "And it doesn't make sense he'd tell you to lay off."  She leaned back in her soft seat and stared at his profile, this wonderful man who was risking his career just to help a girl he was ordered to not help.  She was considering asking him to marry her.  

Chief sat back in his comfortable chair, interlocking his fingers with Linda, the woman he was thinking about asking to marry him.  His thoughts again turned to Erin, wondering how things would be with her if she could have kept John, like she wanted.

++++

The school Elders were gathered around their table, the man with the notepad had called a special meeting.  "Thank you for convening," he told them.... they all knew it paid to be polite to each other, no matter how much despise they may have actually felt for one or the other.  "The subject today is Erin Banks," and he looked over to Mother, who was still and held his gaze.  "How is she doing?"

"As expected, mostly," Mother replied evenly.  "She is strong, stubborn, but nothing we haven't dealt with before."

"Has she broken yet?" the man asked her.

"She lasted four days in The Room before she broke.  She recovered quickly, but I looked into her eyes.  She is shaken.  She is well along to learning her words, believing them.  She has spent a lot of times on her knees scrubbing floors."

"I'd like to suggest we speed her training along.  She's been getting heat from the outside."

Mother raised her eyebrow.

"As you know," now addressing the rest of the men, "I went to Florida last week.  That cop down there has been pushing, and he even got the Oklahoma state house to release the compound's records."

"And the state complied?" an old, cadaverous man with slicked-back gray hair and a strong voice asked.

"It was a federal court order served by federal marshals.  And they gave legit information, they didn't have time to produce anything fake as a decoy.  But this information alone shouldn't lead to anything.  So yes, officially he knows there is a school here.  So what.  He still has no legal standing to follow up with anything."

"And what did you find out in Florida?" another man asked, this one somewhat portly.

The man again referred to his notebook.  "The mayor, the Chief of Police's boss, is a Friend of the Compound."  He looked up meeting their eyes, making sure they knew what he meant.  "The mayor assured me he would order the Chief off the case, and not only that, I got complete records of everything the Chief has been working on.... including plenty of information about Erin Banks."  He looked up at Mother, "We were all wondering why she acts like a hardened 35 year old woman in a 13 year old package.... it appears our little Erin is no stranger to hardship."

Mother held his gaze, but it was difficult.  She was surprised, but didn't want to show it.  But act like I knew all along...

"She was part of a sex slavery ring, and somehow she was left out of it when it was officially uncovered.  She had friends in the ring and they hid her.  But now I know who those friends are," tapping the pile of folders in front of him.  "If Erin decides to be clever or otherwise difficult, we now know where to apply pressure."  He then looked again at Mother.  "I'd like to talk to her soon, make sure she understands the situation."

Mother just held his gaze again.  I may not be able to shield her from this.

"Does she know her mother is in a mental hospital, yet?" he asked.

If I just keep staring they will know how ignorant I am of all of this.  "Obviously not, you just sent the email out last night."

"Then I guess you're going to have to have a little talk with her.  Let's hope it doesn't disrupt her training," and he gave her a smirk.  Turning back to the room, "As I said before, she's getting heat.  Let's review concealment procedures in case someone actually manages to get in the front door."

"Do you have any concrete evidence that the authority investigating this girl is as much a danger as you think they is?" undead thin man asked.

"Just my hunch," he answered.

"Those have been wrong before," Mother challenged.

"But not often," he replied with a half sneer.

++++

Their plane landed in Provo, Utah and they rented a car.  Larry was driving, Linda was looking through the folder Larry had prepared for her... containing Laura's class schedule, a map of her college campus, and a picture of her from her 9th grade yearbook, the most recent one he could find.  She'd be two years older, now.

He pulled to the curb next to one of the buildings.  "If anything besides talking happens, call me.  If anything...."

"Sweetheart, it will be fine.  I should be able to approach her calmly, and get her to talk.  It's sort of what I do," touching his arm.

"I still don't feel entirely right about this... but I can't think of any other good options," Larry said to her.

"I know, but I am on board with your idea.  If it goes bad, it is on both of us."

He looked her in the eyes, "I love you."

She smiled, "Me too.  But you be careful.  Just because he's a doctor doesn't mean he might not get violent when he feels desperate."

"I will honey.  But call me."

Linda left the car and walked onto the campus.

+

She found the life sciences building, Laura was scheduled in an "Intro to Human Anatomy" class at this time and day as part of her pre-med program.  So far it didn't seem to Linda that Laura was in any kind of distress if she was pursuing a PhD.  She peeked through the narrow glass window in the door to the lecture hall, but there were too many students.  She waited in the hall again studying the picture she had.... red hair, freckles, glasses, and a large smile full of braces.  She would have been in The Circle for years when this photo was taken... After about 20 minutes the class let out and Linda was a little panicked to see half the students were leaving by a different exit... but before she could try and decide how to cover both doors, Laura walked out next to her, talking to another girl, backpack over her shoulder.  Linda followed.

She was talking to a brunette girl, and Linda could see from the back Brunette was pregnant, maybe 7 or 8 months.  The girls talked about class, and about a study session later, and when they came to a crosswalk they split up and went separate ways.

Now is my chance, Linda thought.  She sped up, touching Laura's arm from behind.  "Excuse me, Laura Turner?"

Laura stopped, turned to her and smiled, "Yes?" and Linda started thinking well she isn't afraid of strangers... when she noticed Laura's baby bump under her top, maybe four months along.  Oh my god.  

"Hi... I'm...Linda Marcus.... I'm a psychiatrist from Florida... I wonder if we could sit and talk a bit.  I know your next class isn't for an hour."

The smile left Laura's face at the mention of 'Florida,' but she kept her bearing.  "What do you want to talk about?" she asked softly.

"I think you already know that," Linda answered.  "But please... you aren't in trouble, and I am not here to cause you trouble.  But I have to talk to you, and see how things are with you.  Please... just talk to me.  That's all I want."

Laura forgot herself for a moment... instead of asking about her husband, she asked, "Where's my father?"

Linda put her hand on Laura's arm softly.  "Please.  I see a bench over there in the shade, away from the sidewalk.  Let's go talk."  Linda saw that now she was thinking of her father, she couldn't hide her distress.... and that wont be good for the baby.

By the time they sat Laura was making a call.... as Linda predicted, there was no answer.  Larry must be there by now.

"Laura, please, listen.  Your secret is out.  But we aren't arresting anyone.  Do you understand me?"

Laura was looking a little panicked now... she looked at Linda, letting her words sink in.  "You aren't...."

"No we aren't.  But we know your friends, Lucy and Nora, and even Erin.  All of your secrets are out."

Laura looked confused.  "Lucy and Nora would never have..."

Again, Linda was ahead of her.  "They didn't.  They don't even know I am here today.  We care for those girls too much to let them know they were caught in another impossible lie, like they were with Erin."

"You.... care for them?"

"Lucy and I got close when Mary was still at my clinic.  I was Mary's doctor.  Lucy and I stayed in touch after Mary moved to Texas."

Laura mumbled something.

"What was that?"

"I already knew everyone knew about Erin.... has anyone found her yet?  And you're not taking my Daddy away?"  With that last question a tear fell from her eye.

"That isn't why we're here today, no.... unless we both determined you were still in this relationship against your will."

Laura put a hand on her baby bump, and looked at this older woman, taking her in for the first time.  Older, pretty, her eyes.... I don't think she is lying to me, because she isn't smiling.  "You said we both.... does that mean someone is with him now?"  It's his day off....

"Yes..." the chief of police... "my associate is talking with him now, trying to see what kind of person he is.  When he learned you were out here, a former member of The Circle, he couldn't just leave you here, not knowing."  Linda looked at Laura now, too.... more mature than in her school photo, she looked gawky, then.  This woman before me... is beautiful.  And obviously very happy.  And pregnant.  "Your baby... his?"

Laura looked her in the eye and nodded.

Linda considered.... "There are risks.  Have you both been checked for DNA disease markers?"

"Yeah Daddy had us checked before we started trying, we didn't have any recessive genes for disease."

Linda looked at her.  "You planned on getting pregnant?"

Laura looked back at her firmly, "Yes we did, because we are in love and this is forever."

Linda collected her thoughts for a moment.  She certainly seems happy... I don't think she is that good of an actress to fake it.  "You realize that if you need to get out, this is the way, right now.  I can make one phone call and you'd never have to be in the same room with him again, ever.  If he is threatening you, just tell me now and we can play it all kinds of ways to make sure he never, ever hurts you."  And the more she talked, the more Laura's eyes filled with tears.

"Please, no.  I am here because I want to be with him.  We are so happy... my life is perfect, until now.... please don't take him away..." tears now running down her cheeks.

"Honey, I'm sorry for this," and Linda produced a tissue from her bag.  "But we have to be sure this is what you want."

Laura wiped her face.

"Just one more thing," Linda decided.  "I assume you talk to Lucy and Nora?"

"And Mary now, and Erin before she disappeared."

"So you know about Erin.... and you know we know about Erin."

"Lucy and Nora told me."

Linda nodded.  They hadn't wanted to confront Lucy and Nora with the knowledge that they knew about Laura, both because they didn't want to confront them with the fact they'd kept another secret, and they didn't want Laura getting warned about today.  "How do Lucy and Nora feel about your father?  He used to rape them, he did for years."

Laura looked away now, Linda thought she might actually see shame on her face.  "This is the time to tell the truth, isn't it," she said to the ground.

"Maybe the most important time for it ever," Linda responded.

Laura began telling her story from the beginning, adding in the things she didn't remember but her father had told her.... about her mother leaving, and her father's problems with drugs, and how they'd begun their love affair by accident.... so that when Lucy's grandfather, the former chief of police, confronted him with his drug abuse, he felt the only way out was to join them to The Circle.

Linda listened, the phone in her bag recording everything.  This was unofficial, she and Larry were acting on their own.... the recording was for their own notes, to make sure they made the correct decision, today.

"So now if we're all skyping together at night and I am in bed with daddy.... he just doesn't interact with them.  He knows they don't want to be with him, and he is ashamed of what he did with them.  I really believe this.  If I felt he still wanted them at all, there would be problems and I would tell you to save me right now.  I swear."  Laura paused for a moment.  "Think about who I am, for a second.  I was in The Circle, I was for years... and their stupid collars never worked on me.  I knew what I was doing every time.  Erin didn't save me from my collar, she saved me from myself.... I thought I was ugly, and she showed me I wasn't.  But I did it with those other men every single time because I love my Father and I didn't want him to get hurt.  Everything was worth it if I got to be with him.  If you take him away from me now then it was all for nothing and I just don't know what I would do then."

She sees Erin as a savior, too... interesting. Linda considered everything Laura had told her.  She doesn't seem scared at all, she almost seems angry at me, with that last story.  She doesn't seem like a victim.  And in college, and in pre-med... to be a doctor like her father.  She saw Laura looking at her now, pleading for an answer with her eyes.  "You promise me you aren't playing, that you don't need help.  This is truly where you want to be.  You're 17.... there's not even a glimmer of curiosity that your life might be better, another way?"

"No, never, not at all," Laura answered.  "My life is perfect."

Linda couldn't think of a reason to drag it out.  "I wont leave you hanging, I don't think anyone would be served by having him arrested.  I'll notify my associate."  Linda grabbed her phone and texted Larry, This girl seems genuinely happy.

+

Doctor Mike Turner didn't live far from the campus, so Larry pulled into the driveway behind the blue BMW seven minutes after he'd dropped Linda off.  He took a deep breath and collected his thoughts... he knew this could go well, or poorly.  Possibly very poorly.  He got out of his rental car, walked up the sidewalk, and rang the doorbell.

A trim man answered, short sandy hair, clear eyes.  About 5'9, much shorter than the chief.  "Hi, may I help you?"

"Doctor Mike Turner?" Chief Hawkins asked.

"Yes?"

Here we go.  "I'm the chief of police from your old home town.  I wonder if I might come in so we can talk."

Laura's father hadn't exactly been smiling, but now he looked absolutely grim.  "Where's Laura?"

Thinking of her first.... "She is fine.  She is currently with my partner."

A hesitation.  "Am I under arrest?"

"I don't know yet."  And he repeated himself, "May I come in, please?"

Mike Turner held the door open and the chief entered, but didn't turn his back to the smaller man.

"We can talk in the kitchen," Laura's father said as he closed the door.  Chief let him lead.

Mike sat at his kitchen table, the chief looked around to see if any weapons were in arm's reach, there weren't.  Just to be safe he also looked under the table when he sat, no weapons taped to the bottom of it.

"Are we a little paranoid?" Doctor Turner asked.

"I don't know you, and you know what this is about.  People panic.  Do foolish things."

"Do you mind if I call Laura?" he asked, and just then his phone was buzzing in his pocket.

"Don't answer it yet.  We're going to talk, first."

Turner took the phone out of his pocket, saw Laura was indeed calling.... and it took all of his effort to not answer it.  Chief's hard eyes stopped him.  He put the phone down.  "So I assume one of the girls talked.  I didn't think this could last forever."

Chief looked at him steadily.  "Does that make you angry?  Do you want to get back at them?"

Mike tried to look the chief in the eyes, but couldn't.  He looked away.  "No..... no.  I never really understood why they kept me out of it at all, after what I did to them.  I know I don't deserve their mercy.  Laura said they kept silent because she asked them to.  But I guess I never really thought this could last.  Everything was too perfect."

Chief just sat there, letting the man talk.  This is why he came.

"Listen.... and I'm asking you man to man.... please make sure Laura is taken care of.  Obviously I am the one at fault, here... but please don't make her suffer.  I have assets, please liquidate them and make sure she has them... don't let some lawyer bleed her dry."

Chief sat back and folded his arms.  "What kind of man molests his own daughter?"

"It isn't like that," Turner answered, with heat in his voice.  "It.... I mean, I know what the law says.  It's always rape.  But it just isn't true, not all the time.  I have always loved her, and...."  he exhaled.  "What's the point.  If you are going to arrest me, arrest me.  I won't fight anything, I know you have me, if you managed to find me out here.  Just please see that Laura is taken care of.  Please."  And with that last word, he managed to look the chief in the eye.

Hawkins considered.  He seems to love her, that's a fact.  And he didn't seem to be angry at Lucy and Nora, or want to get back at them.  Interesting.  And he is admitting it, and not trying to lie to me.  Smart.  But I have to hear his story, his side of it.  "How did it all start?"

Mike Turner told him the same story that Laura was currently telling Linda, and when they listened to each others' recordings later, they agreed that they were getting the same story from each of their perspectives.  Mike Turner had been hurt by his wife's abandonment of him and their daughter, and he admitted that he didn't even realize he was having a sexual relationship with his daughter at first because of his drug abuse... he just hadn't realized it was Laura, and not his wife.  But when he finally started cleaning up, what was done was done, and Laura was happy with their new relationship and he hadn't had the will nor desire to end it.  Then The Circle came into his life and when faced with the prospect of prison and losing his daughter, or sharing her from time to time in a sex ring, he had chosen the latter, with her blessing.  He hadn't said it was with her blessing, but Laura had, to Linda.  That more than anything helped chief make the decision he made... he hadn't tried to lay a single thing on his daughter.

As Mike Turner was nearly finished with his story, the chief received a text message.  He looked at it, making sure Turner couldn't see... This girl seems genuinely happy.  He decided to try one last thing to expose a lie.  "This is my partner.  She says Laura is happy to have been rescued, is going to press charges, and they are on their way to the police station, and I need to take you into custody."

The complete confusion in his eyes as he heard that told the chief a lot.... never in his wildest dreams did he think his daughter didn't want to be with him.  

"She... said that?"

Chief just looked him in the eye.  Mike Turner held his gaze.  Larry picked up his phone, dialed Linda.  "Bring her home, please."  Waited for a response, hung up.

+

Linda and Laura arrived about 10 minutes later, it had been silent and awkward as chief stared at the man who had been fucking his own daughter... and was a member of The Circle, and he couldn't believe he was thinking of letting it slide.  Laura entered the room first, and she went straight to her father who stood and they held each other, so tight.  He put his hand on her stomach, "Is everything ok?" he whispered to her, and she just nodded and hugged him again.  Chief saw she was beautiful in spite of her red eyes, she had been crying.  He also thought he saw a pregnancy.  He looked over his shoulder, Linda was there outside the kitchen, watching.  He stood and went to her, and they went a little bit away to the front door and talked in hushed tones.

"What is he like?" she asked him.

"Polite and guilt ridden and very concerned for his daughter's well being.  What is she like?"

Linda looked at him, and considered.  "Polite and upset and very concerned for her father's well being.  Also pregnant, and they planned it."

"Is that... safe?" he asked.  He always heard that would produce deformities.

"It can be, but they seem to have taken precautions.  She is very much in love with him.  I gave her every chance to tell me she needs help, I practically begged her, promising her she'd be safe and taken care of.  Nothing.  She wants to be here."

Larry looked away from her.  "The first thing he asked me was to make sure his daughter was taken care of.  He begged.  He thought the other girls turned him in, and when I asked he didn't have any hard feelings for them, and even wondered what took them so long.  I even tried tricking him, when your text came I told him she was happy to have been rescued.  He gave me a look like I had just told him it was going to rain chocolate syrup tomorrow.... it was just a simple impossibility."

She looked up at him, "I don't think anyone is going to be better off if he goes to jail.  Lucy and Nora kept their secret, they don't seem to be craving justice... and face it, he owes them the most.  If he goes to jail I think Laura wont finish school, I think she'll end up in a state home until she's 18, and I think she would hate us for the rest of her life, rightly so."

He closed his eyes, and nodded.  They went back to the kitchen together where Mike and Laura were sitting next to each other, holding hands.

"I'm not turning you in," Larry Hawkins said to Mike Turner.  "It goes against everything I believe to be right, morally and professionally, but..." he looked at Linda.  "Life sometimes doesn't make sense.  I.... I don't even know what to say."

Linda stepped forward.  "Doctor Turner, I trust you are going to do everything in your power, for the rest of your life, to make sure your daughter has a good life?"

He looked at her, eyes wide, and swallowed.  "Her happiness is all I've ever wanted," he said with a cracked voice.

"Are you going to help her finish school, and get her PhD?"

"Of course."

Linda stared at him, looked to Laura.  Linda produced a business card from somewhere and handed it to her, "Take this, hide it.  It has my cell phone number on it.  If you ever need me for anything, even if just to talk.... but also if you need to get away from him," and she gave her father a sidelong look.  "Call me.  We'll figure it out."

Laura took the card and gave her father a look, and a smirk.  Chief saw it as, ha ha, now I have something on you... in a cruel, yet playful way.  Chief then knew she wasn't lying... she really was happy, here.

"We have to go.  I just had to make sure of this for myself.  Oh, for the record..." and he looked to Mike.  "Lucy and Nora kept your secret, I figured this out on my own.  I'm going to consider this matter closed, unless we hear otherwise from Laura."

"Thank you," Laura said to them both, putting her arm around her father.

Chief nodded to her, Linda reiterated, "If you need anything," and made the telephone sign with her hand.  

"I will," Laura said.

They went out to the rented car, Larry said to her, "We're going to tell the girls that I found Laura.  If they want him punished, I'm going to see he is.  Is that fair?"

She took his hand, "I think it's more than fair."  He smiled at her, nodded, and drove off.

It turned out not even Mary wanted him punished, it would hurt Laura.  "But if he hurts her, nail him to the wall," Nora said to him.  That sounded reasonable to him.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 32

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