Coming October 15th, 2019
(Unedited/subject to change)
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – 3 months ago
Life is funny. It has a way of lifting you up or dragging you down. A girl can do the right things, make the perfect choices, and be following her dreams when all of a sudden there’s a brick wall in her path and nowhere to go.
That happened to me three months ago. I graduated top of my class from the University of Phoenix with an Accounting degree, had several prospective job offers even. Until it happened.
I found a birth certificate that showed my father isn’t… my father.
Which is why my whole life makes so much more sense, incredibly sad. Van Gaines has never really been around. In the last ten years I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen him, and I have to wonder if he knows and that’s why he’s so distant from me.
Instead of confronting my parents about it though, I got the keys to Van’s Mexican villa and decided to go on vacation before I make a decision about my future and where I’m going to accept a job offer from.
Or if, I’m even going to.
Maybe this isn’t what I want with my life anymore. Maybe I’m meant to be doing something else. I’ve always been the good girl; this could be the time I branch my wings and go a little wild.
Laying on the private beach, I know the house staff has gone home for the evening and I’m left to ponder my situation alone as the sun sets. The warm sand is soft between my toes as I bury my feet in the tiny grains. The sound of the water lapping at the shore is soothing while I try to clear my head.
I want to spend the next three weeks doing nothing but relaxing. I don’t want to think about what happens when I get home or where I’ll go and do. I want to just enjoy this one moment of absolute freedom.
Knowing how dangerous Mexico can be for a woman alone, I know I have to head back inside. I’m reluctant to leave the calming waves though so I take my time wiping my butt and thighs off as I stand.
With a soft sigh, I head back up to the house.
I should have taken more time coming back to the house.
As soon as I enter the yard, I can see lights on that I know I left off. I hear voices that are too close to be neighbors.
A loud crash startles me into freezing where I stand in the spotlight of the porch light as I see multiple men tossing the furniture around the living room.
“Oh God.” I don’t need to be in the underworld to know these men don’t mean anything good. The villa has been breached and everything I would need to call for help is inside and if I keep standing here, I’ll be a sitting duck.
Ducking behind a large grouping of palm trees, I close my eyes and try to listen to what they’re saying. My Spanish is rusty and I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s a native dialect. They sound southern, but I haven’t a clue from where.
“Think, Evie, think.” My heart is pounding out of my chest as I listen but can’t discern what they’re saying. It’s not until I hear Van Gaines, that I know I’m in more trouble than I realized. I have to get out of here. I have to run for help.
Looking around me, my options are limited. The beach leaves me exposed, but it’s quicker to the neighbors, the road would surely allow them to see me and I wouldn’t be able to hide because of the brick walls all along the stretch of road.
After a quick look back at the house, I make a run for it. They must see me though because I can hear them outside and soon, I can feel hot breath on my neck. Not chancing a look behind me, I push myself faster, harder. Wishing I hadn’t dropped track and field in order to study more.
“No, no, no!” I scream when I feel his hand brush through my long blond hair as it flies behind me.
“Gotcha!” His heavy accent follows me into the sand as I’m tackled from behind. His weight so heavy the breath is knocked from me and I struggle to fight.
Kicking and punching anywhere I can reach as I’m rolled over. The baseball sized fist is unexpected as it lands a blow to my temple and my body goes limp from shock.
Mom warned me not to come. She said it was dangerous, that there were bad men here. I insisted I would be fine.
How wrong I was.
Somewhere in the Colima Jungle – 3 days later
I fight. With every breath, every ounce of strength. I fight with everything I am because if they think they’re going to get something from me with ease, they’re mistaken.
My father might not have been around much, but he taught me self defense, he instilled in me that should I ever be taken I have to fight until I’m rescued or dead.
At this point it looks more and more like dead is my only option. I don’t know how long it’s been or where I am, if helps on the way or if I’m on my own. I do know that I can’t take another beating, another… violation.
My body is weak, my mind is tired. My will has lost its drive. I always thought of myself as strong, but now? Now I’m at my lowest and death is a welcome entity.
I can only pray my mother knows that I love her, that my father has a moment of regret for what our relationship could have been. Most of all I hope my mother never has to see my dead body.
I shake at the extreme vibration. An explosion…Could that mean? No. It’s best not to get my hopes up as I shiver in the nude on the dirt floor of this shack. They stripped me moments before tossing me in here and I’ve been in a shivering state ever since.
A subtle noise outside alerts me to visitors and I try to make myself as small as possible in the corner as the door flies open quietly and two shadows stand in the moonlight. They close the door silently as one comes closer to me.
“Fuck.” He hisses when he sees my battered body.
“Times ticking.” The other body says.
“This isn’t pretty, man.” The first man says.
“Please don’t hurt me again.” I whimper, shrinking away from his reach.
With a soft hand, he brushes the hair away from my face before he cups my cheek. “I’ll try not to darlin.” His voice is soft, calm, steady. It gives me something to hold onto because I want to believe they’re here to rescue me.
A few moments later I’m strapped to his back and he tells the other man we’re ready just as another explosion lights the night sky.
Everything that happens next is so fast I hardly get a full breath in. One minute we’re running, climbing over a wall and then running again, and the next my saviors are on their knees, hands in the air and I’m going back to hell.
If I’d known we were going to spend the next few days beaten, questioned, and beaten again, I would have given our captors what they wanted. I still don’t know their names, but I’d give anything to be certain the men who tried to save me were never hurt because they tried to rescue me.
I’m not worth the trouble.
Phoenix, Arizona – Present Day
Everything makes me jumpy these days. I barely sleep, I leave the house only to go to the mailbox and back. I haven’t seen anyone but my mom since the day I was rescued. I’ve refused to.
I’m not the Everett Gaines I was six months ago.
I’m the shell of Everett and she’s nothing but a chicken shit.
I spent almost six weeks in a hospital here in Phoenix after I was rescued because I was so psychologically tortured I could barely speak without screaming.
On the bad days, I wish I’d been left for dead. On the good days, I wish I remembered his name. The voice of the man who held me through some of the worst moments of my life. I wish I could thank him.
I don’t remember a lot from my time in Mexico, but the fear is so very real. The pain I still experience lives inside of me like a ticking time bomb. The doctors keep telling me that the memories will come back in small bursts and it’s best I try to just move on.
I was held and tortured for five days. Three of those days by myself. Two I spent watching the bravest men I’ve ever known take the violence and laugh in their faces.
I still don’t know why I was taken. What it could have possibly been for. Until I remember they knew Van. They spoke of him more than once. I don’t know what my father does exactly. I know he works for the government but not in what capacity.
As I stare up at the ceiling of my room, listening to the rain pound on the roof, I realize maybe it’s time I learn exactly who Van Gaines is. I never confronted him or my mother about what I discovered that sent me on that fated trip to Mexico but I know if I want to move forward with my life, I have to find out why I was taken and how Van was involved.
Slipping from bed, I look online for the soonest flights to Washington D.C. and see one in less than two hours. After booking it, I call a cab, pack a small bag and leave a note on the counter for mom so she doesn’t worry, and I leave to find out the truth.