The day following the attack, Dale sat beside Alissa’s hospital bed, praying that she would come out of the coma and be fine. He constantly talked with her, begging her to wake up. He’d brought the children in to see her and her eyelids had fluttered.
However, she still didn’t wake up from the coma.
He could only think of one other thing to try. He brought the baby from the nursery and placed her gently on Alissa’s chest.
The baby seemed to know that Alissa was her mother. Miki, Kay, Leslie, Crystal and Sharlee had been taking turns staying with her in the nursery. Holding her and talking with her while Dale stayed with Alissa.
The baby nuzzled against Alissa and made cooing noises. Alissa stirred on the bed. She moaned. Dale reached out and stroked her cheek. “Wake up Alissa. The baby needs you. We all do, Honey!”
Alissa struggled to open her eyes and looked at Dale and then at her baby. Then she asked in a very weak voice, “Is she okay?”
“She’s fine. We have another beautiful girl.”
Alissa smiled, and Dale said, “You’re going to be okay now too! What do you want to name her?”
“She is Joy.”
From that point onward, Alissa got better and stronger. At the end of the week both she and Joy were allowed to return home. The police investigation determined that Aria was responsible for Sarah’s murder. Aria was not pregnant and an autopsy revealed that she had never been pregnant. That had all been a part of her deception. She had died when the knife penetrated her chest.
In the bathroom of her home, they found surgical instruments and baby supplies laid out beside the tub. They surmised that she had intended to use them on Alissa to remove Alissa’s baby from her womb. They believed that she intended to pass the baby off as her own. They didn’t know how she had intended to account for Alissa’s disappearance.
A couple of weeks later, Dale and Alissa were in the nursery at home. He was holding Joy. Both of them had experienced mixed feelings about Joy before her birth. However, after all that Aria had done and now that Joy was with them, they loved her. She was a fighter.
Alissa couldn’t resist teasing Dale. “So Dale, do you have any other psychotic ex-girlfriends?”
Dale didn’t laugh.
He put Joy back into her crib.
Alissa saw his expression. “I’m sorry, Sweetheart. I was just teasing you. Dale you know this wasn’t your fault don’t you?”
At first Dale still didn’t say anything. He just pulled Alissa into his arms and held her tightly. Then he said, “I don’t want you to go through anything like that ever again! And no, I don’t have anymore ex-girlfriends.” Betty crossed his mind. They had never heard anything else about her. He decided to have Trent look into it.
Miki walked into the nursery and saw Dale and Alissa embracing. She smiled and shook her head.
Dale squeezed Alissa even tighter.
As she took Joy from her crib Miki said, “I can’t believe you two. You’ve been married all of these years and you still act like newlyweds!”
Alissa and Dale laughed.
Noah was surprised when they told him that he had a visitor on Visitor’s day. His mother had already visited him that week. She seemed to feel that it was her obligation. Noah wished that he enjoyed her visits, but he didn’t.
His visitor that day was Crystal.
“I can tell from your expression that you’re surprised to see me, but I promised Sharlee that I’d visit you whenever I’m in town. She doesn’t want you to get lonely. I also promised the little squirt that I wouldn’t hit on you. Apparently that’s not the way an aunt should behave. I’m still learning.”
Noah smiled. He was glad that Sharlee and Crystal were getting along so much better. She stayed for the full amount of time, unlike his mother.
They talked and the time passed quickly. Noah enjoyed her visit. Crystal turned out to be good company. Then of course she had to do what all adults do. She gave him unasked for advice.
“Noah, I’ve spent time in Juvie too. You’ll be alright as long as you mind your own business and keep to yourself!”
Noah thanked her for coming and she left.
Then Dedric Thorne came to visit him. He visited a couple of times a week.
“Noah I still have not given up on your case.”
“Mr. Thorne, I really appreciate everything that you have done for me. You’ve spent an unbelievable amount of time working on my case, but hope is dangerous for a prisoner.”
Noah paused, trying to think of the best way to describe it. “If you keep it too close you suffer. If you give up hoping, then you die inside.”
“Noah, don’t give up hoping. I haven’t, and I’m not about to!”
When Dedric returned home, he called his investigator to see if he had any new leads in finding Mick’s girls. Anna was on her way out of the house when she overheard her father’s conversation. She didn’t know that they were looking for girls who had worked for Mick.
She wished that she had known that her father needed to find them for Noah’s trial. Those girls were her age. So of course they wouldn’t talk with her Dad’s investigators. She had contacts that her Dad didn’t have. She knew people of whom she knew her father would not approve. Anna began to form a plan. She called Sharlee to let her know what she had found out.
“Anna I’m coming there to help you.”
“No Sharlee. I don’t think that’s a good idea. It could be dangerous.” Her father’s lecture the last time she had taken Sharlee out was still ringing in her ears.
“Anna, I don’t care! I have to do whatever I can to help Noah. I’m tired of just sitting by and twiddling my thumbs. I’ll tell my Dad that I want to visit Bronson. I do have visitation time with him coming up and at least I’ll be in the same city as Noah. With everything that’s been going on, I know my Dad will say yes.”
Anna still didn’t feel comfortable about it but she agreed. “Okay, Sharlee.”
When Sharlee arrived in Bridgeport she went over to Anna’s house.
Sharlee and Anna went over the plan. Anna’s parents were going out for the evening and her brother and sister were also out. So it was a good time for them to put the plan into action.
They put together some slutty outfits that made them both look like hookers, and then they took off. They took the subway to the same part of town where Mick had died.
“I bet the girls are in other stables now, but the pimps always have an eye out for new talent. The only thing is, I don’t think that they’ll want a vampire in their stable. We’re too strong.”
“Why don’t you call your friend and make sure of who we need to talk with. Then I can go on the corner and talk with them. Maybe a pimp who has one of the girls will recruit me too.”
“Sharlee I don’t think I like that plan. You’re using the word recruit. They force these girls to work for them. They don’t ask them.”
“You’re fast and strong and you have really keen hearing. You can follow and get me out if you need to. I have to do this for Noah! I don’t care how dangerous it is. He’s in this trouble mainly because of helping me! I have to do this because I love him, Anna.”
Anna called her contact and they went to the correct street. Sharlee was nervous and a little scared, but she didn’t let that stop her. Anna waited out of sight on the fire escape of a building while Sharlee went up to the girls on the corner.
They looked at her curiously. “What are you doing out here? Are you a runaway?”
Sharlee answered. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”
“Well this is Roger’s corner. He don’t like no one but his girls working his street! If you know what’s good for you, you’ll run back home.”
“I can’t do that. I have a friend who ran away and came back home. She said she was one of Mick’s girls. She said he treats his girls really good.”
They laughed dryly! “Mick ain’t got no more girls. Mick was stabbed and died a long time ago. A couple of his girls are in Roger’s stable now.”
A man came up to them angrily!
“What’s with all the jawin! This ain’t no social club! Get to work! You’d better bring me some scratch tonight or you know what will happen!”
The other girls split up and spread out along the street leaving Sharlee standing there alone with the angry man.
He asked Sharlee, “Who are you?”
Sharlee’s heart was racing. “I’m nobody.”
He looked her up and down. Then a smirk came on his face. He grabbed her arm and pulled her to his car. Then he pushed her inside.
Anna quickly jumped down from the building and then when the car took off, she took off behind it.
Although Anna lost sight of the car, she could still hear it’s engine. Her keen hearing was her special vampire ability. She continued to follow until she had the car back in sight. The car stopped in front of a rough looking motel.
Roger pulled Sharlee from the car and into the building. There was a man standing at the entrance.
“Any action tonight?”
“Yeah, it’s pickin up!
Roger took Sharlee down a hallway and up some stairs. Then he opened a door. He threw Sharlee into the room.
With a nasty smile, he said to Sharlee, “I’ll be back later to take a sample! I gotta make sure I’m giving my customers quality merchandise.”
Sharlee stood up and looked around her. There were several young women in the room. Some were around her age, others a bit older. Sharlee took a seat beside a girl who looked about sixteen or seventeen. She wasn’t sure what to say.
Another girl asked her, “Hon, where you from?” The girl speaking was one of the older ones.
Sharlee answered. “I’m just visiting Bridgeport.”
The girl beside her snorted. Sharlee looked at her. She saw hopelessness and a deep tiredness in the girl’s eyes.
She told Sharlee, “You can’t leave any more than the rest of us can. This is where you live now!”
Sharlee asked her, “Have you always been in Roger’s stable?”
“What difference does it make? He’s just another Mack. They’re all the same.”
The older girl answered. “Fawn and me was in Mick’s stable til he got stabbed to death. Ain’t cried no tears for him.”
“Did you know Noah?”
One of the other younger girls asked Sharlee, “What’s with the fifty questions?”
“What, you got something better to talk about? Yeah, we know Noah. Why? You lookin for him?”
Sharlee told them, “No. I know where he is. He’s in Juvie for killing Mick. I’m the girl who was there that night.”
“Noah was a good guy. He was the only one in the gang who didn’t sample the stable.”
“Yeah. They shoulda gave him a medal for killin Mick steada puttin him in Juvie.”
“Would you help him if you could?”
The girl beside her asked, “What are you talkin about?”
Sharlee answered. “His attorney tried to find someone from Mick’s stable to testify that Mick forced girls to work for him. Noah killed Mick to keep him from taking me. That’s why I came here. I had to find one of you in order to help Noah.”
The girls looked at each other and then the older one said, “You got it bad for Noah don’t ya hun?”
“Yeah, really bad.”
The young girl beside her said dejectedly, “Well there ain’t nothin we can do. No way is Roger gonna let us go. They still ain’t found the body of the last girl who tried to leave. You’re stuck like the rest of us! You’re goin out on the streets too! Or he might save you for his in-house Johns.”
Anna was perched on the roof, and she could hear everything that was being said.
Roger came back into the room. He looked at Sharlee. “Come with me!”
There was no way Sharlee was going to be alone with him without a fight! She grabbed a soda bottle.
He lunged toward her and Sharlee rushed forward at the same time. She used the bottle as a weapon, and with his forward momentum the bottle rammed into his chest and took his breath away.
He recovered before Sharlee could reach the door and grabbed her to kiss her.
Anna heard the struggle and was trying to find a way inside. The windows in the room were too small for her to enter.
Sharlee continued fighting and kneed him in his groin.
He dropped to the floor in pain, but still managed to grab a hold of Sharlee’s leg.
Sharlee fell to the floor and her head landed hard on the black concrete surface. She blacked out.
Noah’s feelings on being a prisoner were words that a real prisoner expressed. I wish I’d thought them up myself, but I thought that they summed up a prisoner’s feelings really well.