Darkness Into Light
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by Christy Poff
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Emily Reeves finds the man of her dreams in an Irish pub in Maryland but after a night she thinks will change her life, the real changes come when she's captured by a white slave trader. Seth Calvert falls hard for the woman who swears she'll return in an hour to start their life together, but never comes back to him. Going into the Marines to get on with his life, he's taken prisoner by insurgents and held for nearly two years in Iraq. Only Em's image keeps him sane. With their parallel lives, will they survive the darkness to move into light? Or will they be lost forever?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: December 2009
9 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [315 KB]
Reading time: 196-275 min.
"Christy Poff's newest release DARKNESS INTO LIGHT thrilled me with its intensity and insight into the strength and fortitude these characters possess and still maintain a general goodness of heart. This story takes readers down dark paths in Emily and Seth's lives and allows you to experience their emotional turmoil but you also get to see the bright spots in their lives and understand them as individuals. Ms. Poff's storylines are normally full of really scorching sex scenes but with DARKNESS INTO LIGHT the characters are separated through much of the story so it's concentrated more on their emotional well being and the intensity of their feelings for each other. Beautifully written Ms. Poff! Your talent for storytelling continues to amaze me."_5 Blue Ribbons from Chrissy at Romance Junkies!
Seth checked his watch for what must have been the hundredth time. Waiting for a client to see him felt the same as when he had to wait for the numerous doctors he saw after returning from the Gulf. He realized each day he could operate as a semi-sane entity, he should count his blessings but silly things like this taxed his patience and what sanity remained.
"Mister Ross will see you now," the brunette receptionist said.
"Thank you," he said, rising from the uncomfortable chair and walking toward the door to the inner office of Ross Industries. It's about damned time...
"Ah, Calvert, what does the brass want now?"
"They're concerned with what happened a few days ago involving one of your shipments."
"Couldn't be helped. Rig got hijacked at the rest stop."
"Don't tell me the Chrome Shop Mafia did it," Seth said, referring to one of his favorite shows while trying to show an unconcerned expression. "What does the police report say?"
"Won't be ready until next week."
"Interesting," Seth said. Obvious the man lied to him, he tried to quickly figure out a reason why. Besides, he had a copy of the report in his briefcase, the information disturbing.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," Seth answered. "My boss is worried. That cargo in the wrong hands could prove dangerous and you, of all people, should know Homeland Security will be all over you once the truth comes out."
"There's nothing to worry about, Seth. I heard a witness said two young guys took it after prowling the lot looking for the right one to take."
"How the hell should I know?" Ross asked indignantly. "I'm not sure I like your tone, Seth."
"Look, I'm sorry," Seth began, "I'm the messenger here so don't shoot me."
"What does your boss say?"
"Not much outside of the fact he's looking into other carriers to take over your routes. The company can't afford the ramifications."
"Does he think I can?"
"Look, you know this is routine with any major theft and it's my job to investigate any breach of security or..."
"Sorry, Seth," Ross said. "I know you're doing your job. I just don't like the implications."
"Then make sure to copy me the police report ASAP. We need to check this out to make sure it's an isolated case and not part of a bigger scheme."
"I will," Ross said.
They spoke a few minutes longer before Seth left the office and got into his car--one of the agency owned Ford Crown Vics. He drove off the property of Ross Industries and a few blocks down the street before he picked up his cell phone and called the man he answered to this week.
"What did you learn?"
"Ross lied out his ass to me and got very indignant when the possibility of his involvement came up plus he didn't like the prospect of losing his cushy government contract."
"Your assessment of the situation?"
"Pull him in--he's hiding something. He said the police report wouldn't be ready until next week. I just happen to have a copy of it in my attache. He's nervous about something because he's jumping on everything said."
"Come on home, Seth. Good work."
"Thank you, sir."
Seth Calvert pulled the Bluetooth from his ear and threw it on the seat next to him. Turning up the radio, he listened to the country station in Baltimore, relaxing some. Working for NCIS--Naval Criminal Investigative Service--and sometimes NSA--National Security Agency--filled the void in his life though he knew only one thing--no, person--could make him whole again.
He'd shared one glorious night with a beautiful blue-eyed blonde who came into his life and left just as mysteriously as she entered. He thought back to that night every day and constantly wondered what the hell went wrong. She wouldn't write a note saying she'd be back in an hour then never return--or would she? He waited for her to come back, praying that the one good thing to come into his life hadn't been a figment of his imagination.
Because of this and his inability to understand what had happened, he'd enlisted in the Marines and within weeks of finishing boot camp and his tech school, he'd been sent to Iraq, his deployment scheduled to last a year. Then came the assignment in the Triangle of Death and the following year or more, in and out of National Naval Hospital at Bethesda and thoughts of that night began to fade. Every great once in a while he'd see some woman who looked like her from the back but definitely not from the front--Emily's face perfection. Where did you go? * * * *
Driving past a diner, he decided to stop then get a bite to eat. He sat at a table near an overhead television and listened to the news. Hearing about the latest casualty figures always turned his stomach knowing he could have been one of the fatal statistics in the War on Terror had someone not taken care of him and gotten his badly damaged body to safety. Moments after that, he and the other man had been captured by rebel insurgents and held for over a year.
In that time, they tortured Seth and the other soldier for information. The other soldier succumbed to the physical abuse but for some strange reason, Seth survived it and the ambush which had gotten them captured. He remembered the day his captors came into his cell and dragged him out to a crude shower.
"Get your stinking ass cleaned up and put those on," the one ordered as he pointed his gun barrel at a pile of clothes.
Seth did as he'd been told, languishing under the cold water--something he'd never take for granted again. Once he'd dressed, they hauled him into what appeared to be a primitive broadcast studio where they shoved him in front of a flag and blinded him with bright lights.
"Say this," another man said, shoving a piece of paper into his hands.
Seth read it and shook his head.
"Say it or die," the man stated.
"Go ahead and kill me," Seth dared them. "I refuse to denounce my country and everything I believe in."
A course fabric hood went over his head, his hands tied in front of him. Seth Calvert tried to hear what went on around him, listening to everything. A sharp click and someone speaking Farsi told him they had gone on-air. Fluent in Farsi, he understood everything said and cringed.
"If the United States Government does not free our brothers, we will shoot the infidel and send his body back to his family in pieces."
Seth wished he didn't know what they'd said, shivers rushing through him. I have so much to do with my life. I need to find Emily... I need...
Seth Calvert spent the next nine months in prison awaiting his execution. Aware of the policies about paying any kind of ransom, he knew it would only be a matter of time. No longer used as a propaganda subject, he'd endured more torture. When they didn't get what they wanted, they resorted to physical attacks.
He'd tried to take care of his injuries though his attempts to keep his arm in one position so it could heal never had enough time to work. Toward the end of his first year, the original fracture healed though not right and he lived with constant back pain. He prayed they'd move up his spine and put him out of his misery by breaking his neck but no such luck. He'd heard they planned to keep him alive for a while longer until they found a new subject to toy with.
His captors decided to try something new--constantly blindfolding him and moving him from one location to another. Seth figured they'd gotten wind of possible rescue attempts and wanted to throw the U.S. Military off their game. While they might not have accomplished that, they did manage to keep him totally disoriented and confused.
Through it all, his thoughts centered on Emily Reeves and one night of sheer bliss--one that had stayed with him through the worst his rebel captors could dish out. If I ever make it home, I have to find her...
One morning--one he figured dawned roughly fifteen months into his captivity--he heard strange noises coming from all directions. Numerous yet hurried footsteps, the sounds of what he took to be bodies dropping to the floor--all told him something would happen in a few minutes so he'd better be prepared. Pulling his aching body toward the firmness of the side wall of his cell, he waited. Back pain kept him alert--his captors having found some sort of amusement in trying to break it as well as him. A gun stock to his lower spine had pretty well taken care of being ambulatory--Seth couldn't stand the pain of being upright, now being the exception.
Silence fell over his prison but he continued to wait. He sensed a difference in the air and knew his fate would be known in a few moments. A grenade rolled into the area on the other side of his barred door and he tried to cover his head, albeit very slowly.
"Fire in the hole!" a decidedly American voice yelled.
A few seconds later, the grenade exploded. Seth felt the vibrations of the blast and heard the cell door fly off. Something hot pierced his leg above the knee, Seth crying out.
Several masked men wearing the covert uniform of either Delta Force or one of the other special recon teams broke into his cell, checking for any enemy soldiers. Finding no one, one went directly to Seth and tried to gain his trust.
"Lance Corporal Calvert, we've come to get you out of here."
"I can't walk and my back's been badly injured."
"Don't worry, we'll take good care of you."
Seth had no choice but to do exactly that. The soldier tied a tourniquet above the latest wound to stop the bleeding then signaled to another team member. Several more came in, Seth groaning when they lifted him onto a stretcher but it didn't matter as long as they got him out of the hellhole he'd been existing in. Outside, the glare of the bright sunlight hurt his eyes, Seth raising his arm to cover them.
"Here, try these," one of the men said, handing him a pair of sunglasses.
He gladly took them, thanking the man as he slipped the pair of aviators on.
They lifted the stretcher onto a waiting Chinook before its flight to the nearest base with a medical facility. Once they set down, the team offloaded his stretcher and gingerly carried him inside what appeared to be a hospital unit. The man who'd stayed with him from the time covert ops blew his cell apart informed the nurse about his injuries and signed papers evidently transferring his care from them to the medical staff.
"Calvert, it's been a pleasure. They'll take care of you here and get you back to the States."
"Why... How... I'm..."
"We got our orders and today, we rescued you. It's been a long time coming because they kept moving you once we got a fix on your location. Seems they hacked into one of our computers and it kept them one step ahead of us until we used their little trick against them and the rest you know. Go home, get well and..."
"Thanks," Seth said, painfully holding up his hand. "I don't even know your name."
"Littleton, sir. It's been a pleasure."
Seth watched the man walk away and out of his life knowing he'd never see this man again. He'd given Seth another chance at life, one he appreciated but it would be a long while before he'd be well enough to go after the one person he needed.
"Corporal, let's see what needs to be done..."
"Another cup of coffee? Dessert?" the waitress asked, bringing him back to the present.
"Coffee's fine," he said.
Every once in a while, something triggered the detailed memories of his captivity and what came after. He never wanted to forget what happened because he had so damned much to be grateful for while the others returned to their new homes in Arlington instead of their families. Remembering gave his life--his survival--meaning. Now, if I can find the last piece to complete my own puzzle. * * * *
While Seth Calvert endured a hideous existence at the hands of insurgents in the Triangle of Death as it came to be known in the early years of the new century, Emily Reeves existed in her own Hell.
When she came to after passing out in the van, she found herself in a darkened room, bound to a bed though not alone. Several other beautiful women suffered the same fate she did and the awful truth hit her. She'd only begun to know what road her life had taken when the men referred to her as merchandise but this confirmed it.
She'd read articles and seen documentaries on white slavery but never thought it would ever touch her--not on the affluent Eastern Shore of Maryland. Hell, she'd just left one of the most expensive estates she'd ever seen and had been driving through horse country, as they referred to it. She made good money at her job as a financial consultant and leased a beautiful condo overlooking one of the inlets. Crimes like this did not happen here--not like in parts of Washington or Baltimore--not the Eastern Shore.
She'd been proven wrong in a huge way and had no way of escaping. Whoever had been behind her abduction had made sure of it, just like the others. She dreaded the fact that no matter what, they would never see the light of freedom again--at least not in the near future.
All of them stirred when they heard a key unlocking the door. A man walked in with a tray, going to one of the others. Emily watched him force her to drink something, knowing she'd have the same thing happen. In turn, each of the others endured the same treatment until it came time for hers.
"What's that?" she asked.
"Not your worry," he said. "You need to be more concerned about what you will be doing in the next few days."
"What does that mean?"
"Training before you embark on the next phase of your life."
"Shut up and drink this or I'll force you..."
"What is it?"
"You ask way too many questions for your own good," he said. "You'd do best to behave and you might walk away a wealthy woman."
He placed the bottle to her lips, Emily turning away. Wrong thing to do...
Without warning, a gloved hand held her head in place and he forced her to drink the same vile-tasting liquid she had in the van. He released her and watched her for a few seconds. She looked at him, suddenly feeling very strange.
Her body relaxed and she felt herself involuntarily opening herself to him, wanting his touch--anything to feel wanted. The others did the same, all of them wanting this man in one way or another though at this point, Emily couldn't be sure what she wanted.
The next day, she learned what training meant. A woman took her hungry body into another room where the man who'd been forcing the vile liquid into her waited.
"You are here to learn the art of pleasuring a man. There are many ways to do it but I will instruct you in the proper ways our clients want their ladies to please them. As soon as you are ready, you will be sent to your new home where you will be paid generously for your favors."
Inwardly, she groaned. I don't want this... I want Seth...
Thanks to the cocktail she'd been forced to drink, she had no willpower to fight this man. He took her clothes off then, after her hands had been bound behind her, he pushed her to her knees.
"I will now instruct you in the fine art of oral sex..." * * * *
Time passed, Emily completely ignorant of how much had gone by since she'd left Calvert Manor. Once in a while, when she closed her eyes, visions of Seth Calvert would float through the haze. She vowed to escape this, go back to him and pray he'd understand what had been keeping them apart.
Since the first night, their captors had fed them but each meal brought the drugged cocktails they had to drink unless they wanted to suffer punishment. One girl had been beaten so badly that, instead of training her the next day, they'd taken her out of the room and she never returned.
"You will learn from her example. She disobeyed me and now she's dead, lying near a dumpster somewhere just like the trash she'd become."
The haze she lived in dulled everything else. Emily didn't want to wind up dead--she wanted to return to the man who truly loved her. Seeing his face in the haze helped her survive the horrors of her life.
One day, a woman entered their room and dragged Emily out and into another one--one she'd not seen before. The woman took her robe off, Emily standing helpless to do anything, her dignity stripped from her a long time before.
"You will be measured for a new wardrobe which you will receive the day you leave here. You are only getting this privilege because you have learned your lessons well but you have one final test to pass before you get this reward."
Emily stared ahead, the words a jumble in her mind.
"You must please the Chairman. If you are able to do that, you will leave here for your new home in Hong Kong."
Hong Kong--no, it's too far away. He'll never find me...
When her instructor brought dinner the next evening, he watched her to make sure she drank not one, but two cocktails. By the time she'd finished eating, she not only felt like she floated on air but her body had heated up as if she had a high fever. She became very aroused, wanting to be taken in order to release the tension of her sexually starved body.
He led her into a huge bedroom where another man waited. Dark-haired with a styled beard and moustache, his black eyes pierced through to her soul. The drugs in her system pushed her to obey whatever he said. Several hours passed, Emily unable to relieve her hunger.
"You have been very good," he said. "Sleep and, in the morning, you will find your reward."
Falling asleep in the huge bed, she dreamed of Seth--the one true love of her life. Suddenly, her dreams turned to a horrible nightmare--one where Seth suffered at the hands of others. The bearded man crept into her mind warning her to behave or the love of her life would die.
"You misbehave, and I will find him. His death will be your fault."
Deep in her soul, Emily cried. I finally find the right guy and...
When she woke later, the woman stood at the end of the bed next to two huge trunks. One sat filled with the promised wardrobe while the other sat empty.
"Since you have no passport and the Chinese government does not allow drug addicts entry into their country, you will travel in this. Get up, take a shower and wear nothing but lingerie."
Mechanically, Emily obeyed. The warning had burned into her mind and she vowed to do everything she had to in order to keep Seth Calvert alive. If I can't have him in my life, at least he'll be alive.
When she came out of the shower dressed in a thong and a thin lace bra, the woman made her drink several more cocktails then forced her into the trunk. After she placed an oxygen mask over Emily's face and turned on the bottle, the woman closed the trunk and locked it. In the haze, Emily knew nothing of what happened next nor did she care. The only one she cared about would probably hate her if they ever met again. At least, he'll be alive to hate me... * * * *
When Emily woke, she found herself lying in a very comfortable bed between satin sheets though wearing nothing. She slowly looked around, taking in her surroundings. Two walls of the room had been papered in red while the others could be seen through--why glass?
Setting her head against the pillow, she tried to figure out what might come next. After her training, she'd passed some sort of test which led to her being stuffed in a trunk and shipped like cargo. Realizing she would always be considered nothing more than merchandise as one of her abductors referred to her, she inwardly cried vowing to never shed another tear again--at least not while she endured whatever the Chairman had planned for her.
I finally find the right guy...
For years, she'd searched for Mister Right and once she'd been successful, her life changed--for the worst.
She looked around the room again, seeing what actually amounted to a luxurious cell--one she had a feeling she would lose if she didn't do what they expected. Trying again to sit up in order to get a better idea of the room, she fell back, her head spinning.
"I see you're awake."
"Where am I?"
"Your new home."
"I still don't understand," she said, confusion setting in.
"It's simple," the strange voice of a silhouetted man said. "Behave and do what is expected of you and you can become very wealthy."
"Once you are instructed in what we will now expect of you, you will see more clearly the path your life will take."
The accent struck her as either Japanese or something like it.
"Where am I?" she asked again.
Two simple words made Emily Reeves freeze.
"No, that's impossible," she protested. "Please, this has to be a bad joke. I want to go home."
"Behave and eventually, you might do that."
Tears she swore a few minutes earlier to never shed burst forth as she began to heave.
"Get Miko in here to take care of her and get Killian on the phone. If she dies, I won't pay." * * * *
"What the hell are you trying to pull?"
"What do you mean? I sent you prime merchandise."
"Damaged goods, you mean," the owner of an exclusive Chinese brothel stated.
"That checked out fine before shipment."
"I suggest you find another way to ship. Maybe proper documentation might help. I could always use it as another sort of control."
"It will delay the projected start date and cost me money. I've already had orders."
"I don't know what to say--we had no problems on this end."
"If the situation becomes worse, I will withhold payment. You need to improve things on your end and the transfer method."
Killian's customer ended the call as abruptly as it seemed to have started. It angered him that he'd even received this call in the first place. He'd sent the one he considered to be the best of the lot and now he received complaints instead of having a happy customer.
Pacing, he called his assistant and informed her about the call.
"Tell everyone things must improve. We get any sloppier and we'll have the authorities breathing down our necks. From now on, I want girls who have passports."
"And how do you suggest we get them?"
"After the abduction, send someone to search their homes and find them."
"And if they don't?"
"Then I suggest you tell them to invest in a cemetery because we can't afford to leave any witnesses."
The woman left, Killian furious. Pacing, he decided a change of scenery might be in order. Going to a map book, he looked over one for the United States and tried to find an area where they had not yet plied their trade.
Having worn out their welcome in New York, Philadelphia, Miami and Los Angeles, he decided maybe a few months between Baltimore and Washington might be good before they pulled up stakes and moved to Chicago or San Francisco. He refused to give up the lucrative business he'd been in for several years, the money way too good--especially with little if any competition. Demand for girls had risen and he'd been able to supply all the orders he'd received.
"I will not give this up," he vowed.