Lucille looked in the mirror in the dressing room at the skimpy lingerie set she had slipped on over her body. Ruby red, made of lace and silk with some fingerless gloves made of lace that went up to her elbows.
"You ready yet?"
That was Mac wanting to know when she'd be ready to resume the photo session. It'd started out with her modeling some nice party dresses, then some cocktail dresses which rode above her knees and clung to her body in ways that she had to admit flattered her. Mac and Nick had coaxed her to pose in ways that she probably wouldn't have done back home. Telling her how hot she looked and how every man would want her when they saw these photos. Men meaning those who'd want to book her for modeling jobs and advertising gigs right?
Not anything else? She was then told by Claire that the guys wanted her to put on some of the lingerie just for some photos.
"Why? I'm not doing Playboy or anything like that."
Claire put her hand on her hip.
"Oh it's nothing like that," she said, "Prospective clients are just going to want to know what you look like…body type and how to fit you and all that. These photos will never be published or used. They're just for your portfolio."
Lucille nodded because that made sense to her. Besides they'd been so nice to her asking her if she felt comfortable, if everything was going all right. So she just did as they told her, slipping into the wisps of red material that hugged her breasts and…not that she didn't blush when she stood in front of the mirror.
She looked at Claire and nodded. After all, it's not like she never wore lingerie before. She just didn't parade in it in front of strange men. But she really wanted this modeling career to work out because it's not like she could go home now not with the sheriff sending a posse after her. She grimaced when she thought about him and what he wanted her to do. This had to be much better than what awaited her if she hadn't left home.
God she wished she could tell the world about the type of man Shane really was and that his mentorship program was a crock of shit. Maybe it helped the young men like Austin became future deputies but all it did to the girls was line them up to be whores for Shane. How many women worked for him, she had no idea. She just knew that Caitlin was one of them.
Caitlin owed Shane a lot of money for getting her through law school but she couldn't pay him back by clerking in this miserable town so he pimped her out instead. The local men who paid for her time obviously didn't take the news home to their wives so it stayed secret.
Lucille saw that in her future and she split. If that meant borrowing the bike of the man who deflowered her, then that was what she had to do.
Now she stood there wearing barely anything while Claire and Melody teased her hair and put on more makeup. She didn't want to feel or look cheap but the women assured her she'd look classy and hot in these photos.
She finally went out to start her photo session feeling exposed and Mac had her pose on the bar stool first and she felt, okay she could handle that and when he had her stand up and show off some of her assets sheathed by the lingerie she fell into that role as well. Then he told her to go over to what looked like a metal pole and she didn't know what to do...she just stood there waiting for direction.
"Lucille honey…you just hold onto it…pose with it…move that body…," Mac instructed.
Nick pitched in.
"Make love to it sweetheart."
She blinked her eyes.
"Pretend it's a man and you know what to do with a man don't you?"
Well yeah, of course she did but it's not like she did it with any man. She'd only just been with Cash and she thought that a mistake…but she wanted Nick and Mac to be happy with her so she tried to please them. She grabbed the pole and awkwardly at first started climbing it…which led to their approval and then gyrating around it.
They really liked that and urged her on and when Melody turned on some hot music, she really got into it and forgot they were even there as Mac clicked away with his camera.
She felt she could handle this new career of hers just fine.
Carlton pulled away from the motel. Vegas had turned out to be a bust after checking casinos, hotels and motels no trace of Lucille. It was a big city yes, but he knew if she'd been here it'd be somewhere on the strip. He'd decided to head off to L.A. because he remembered how sometimes Lucille used to talk on about wanting to go there and be famous a model or an actress. He hadn't thought she was serious but he didn't know where else to go looking for her.
Not that L.A. would be easy in terms of trying to find one young woman but maybe if he checked the acting and modeling agencies, that'd be a good start. The traffic on the 15 proved to be light and he made great time, stopping at Baker to get some burgers and fries at a diner.
He wouldn't stop until he found Lucille…before the cops did. He didn't know what had happened back home but something had gone terribly wrong.
His voice mail had a message from Caitlin and he'd call her back when he got to L.A. and give her a more exact location. She said she'd be joining him and she sounded too determined to talk out of it. He didn't get her at all. A very nice woman but something…had made her decide to help him and he didn't know what. Still two people searching for a needle in a haystack was better than one.
But as he approached in L.A. he thought there'd be a lot of haystacks to search through as well. Where to start looking?
Austin had looked to see Caitlin leaving her house with a bag like she was taking off and going someplace. She had her hair up in a pony tail and wore a hat. But it didn't cover enough. He winced when he saw the bruising on her face.
"Caitlin what's going on here? Who did that to you?"
She sighed and didn't want to answer him. She wanted to walk around him because he was in her way.
"I…I just had an accident. Really it's nothing…"
He folded his arms.
"Why are you taking off without telling anyone," he said, "Without telling me?"
She felt exasperation fill her.
"Austin, I don't have to tell you everything now please just let me go."
"No…I can't not like this," he said, "Not until you tell me who hurt you."
Her eyes stung but that just made the blackened one hurt more so she just tried to steel herself against him.
"I told you…"
"I don't believe you…"
"You are calling me a liar Austin?"
He paused not willing to do that but even less willing to let her leave without telling him what the hell had happened and where she was going.
"No…course not but I know that when a woman's been beaten, she doesn't always want to talk about it…let alone tell who did it."
That made her angry.
"That part of your deputy training," she said, "Did Shane teach you that?"
"Yeah it is but it's true…now tell me what's going on…"
She shook her head.
"I can't…It's better I don't Austin," she said, "You won't like the truth much. You won't like it at all and you believe me anyway…"
"Course I will…why would you even say something like that? I'm your friend…we've been friends since we were kids."
That softened her a bit but not enough. She really had to get going before she broke down and told him too much.
"I got to go…"
"No…I can't let you…not until you start talking."
"I can't…and you can't stop me."
He just looked at her and she knew she'd struck a chord. He just had to understand that not every part of her life was for him to know.
"You talked to Carlton didn't you," he said, "You're going out to find Lucille?"
She paused then nodded.
"He's out there by himself…and he wants to find her before the cops do…I'm going to help him."
Then they both looked up to see a police car drive up and inside it, was Shane. Oh god, Caitlin thought she really had to get out of here quick. Austin looked over at him as Shane got out of the car.
"What's going on here," Shane asked.
"Caitlin's just getting ready to take a trip."
Shane's eyes sharpened.
Caitlin tried to calm herself down and just looked at him.
"To visit a friend…I'll be back in a few days."
She knew that Shane wanted to do things to her so awful to stop her from leaving but couldn't not with Austin standing here.
"Now if you'll both excuse me….Austin I'll see you later…"
"You call me…."
She didn't know if she could do that so she just smiled at him and went to her car. She got inside and turned the motor of and pulled away from the curb almost fast enough to screech the tires. Anything to get away from Shane…and to go find Lucille before anything bad happened to her.
Shane just shook his head.
"Wonder what's gone on with her to make her take off like that," he said, "but she's always been a bit flighty."
Austin didn't believe that about her but he just nodded. His own mind working on what to do next because he knew he couldn't just let her take off like that. Something happened here and he had to find out what it was, what had made her run.