Taken (Elite SEALs 1)
published September 26, 2019
Mia Russo had her whole life ahead of her. She was a junior studying physical therapy at UCSD, an avid surfer, and a triathlete—up until the day she became a human trafficking victim. Kidnapped by members of a Mexican cartel, she’s been held captive for over a year. Injected with heroin whenever her body is given to another man, she’s lost all hope of surviving.
SEAL Team 3 embarks on a mission to rescue trafficked girls being held outside Nogales, Mexico. Chief Petty Officer Ethan Patterson is a tough warrior on the outside, but deep inside, he’s broken. He still blames himself for the death of his best friend and SEAL team brother. Out of fear of experiencing another devastating loss, he has withdrawn from everyone.
SEAL Team 3 rescues Mia and six other girls. Mia’s instantly attracted to Ethan. Suffering from drug withdrawal, her life in tatters, she believes Ethan could never want her. After being violated by all those men, she’s not sure anyone will ever love her.
Ethan believes it’s his duty to maintain a professional distance from Mia. As the attraction between them simmers and threatens to burst into flame, he begins to wonder if he’s staying away to follow normal military protocol—or because he’s afraid.
The hotel room reeks of stale beer and cigarette smoke. The Hispanic, mustached man leering at me smells equally repulsive. Like sweat, mingled with ejaculate. He’s wearing a white, button up shirt. A mass of curly dark hair pokes out from the open collar. A flabby potbelly hangs over the waistband of his skin-tight jeans that have a wet stain in the crotch.
My expression must telegraph that I don’t want to be here. The man clenches his jaw and I flinch as his palm strikes my cheek with a sharp smack. The creases on his sweaty forehead and around his mouth deepen. He’s been angry since he first saw me.
I don’t know why. Diego—one of the men holding us prisoner at the compound—said this guy particularly requested me, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before. I was blindfolded, hauled outside, and stuffed into the backseat of a car. That’s always how these deliveries of our bodies go. After hours riding in the back of a sedan, I was dropped off here. Diego told the man he’d return for me in a few hours. He introduced me to the man, but I don’t remember his name. Or even want to. There have been too many. I want their faces and names to blur in my mind and turn to vapor.
Always they want to fuck me. But first, they want to show their control and to make me recognize how powerless I am. The man orders me to turn around, to bend over. He asks me to do other things, too, but I pretend I don’t understand. I have a few choice words I’d like to say to this bastard in Spanish.
“You stupid bitch,” he says, switching to accented English. He grabs the tattered cotton shirt I’m wearing and jerks on it until the torn fabric exposes bra straps and bruised flesh.
So, he does speak English. I thought it strange that he didn’t. Most of these men my handlers sell me to—for a week, a day or an hour—are bilingual. They’re all involved in the drug trade in one way or another. Another cog in the wheel of this miserable international drug and human trafficking operation. They kidnapped me, stole me away from my life. Now my body is here for the taking for someone owed a favor or to celebrate a recent promotion in the organization. God only knows who this man is. He’s not wearing a neatly pressed suit or cloth-shined shoes like the top dogs I’ve been pawned off on. His sour body odor assaults my nostrils, making me sneeze.
“Take your fucking clothes off, God dammit.”
I pull what’s left of my T-shirt over my head and discard it. My hands tremble. The shaking intensifies. Sweat drips from my brow. Fuck. Withdrawal symptoms. It’s been hours since anyone shot me up with dope and my body’s craving a fix. The dependence sucks, but it sucks worse when I’m in these situations with full awareness. An intoxicating haze offers a layer of protection.
I shuck off my jeans. Remove my underwear. I stand naked in front of him, gazing at the floor. Right now, I’d give my life for one hit of heroin, just one. I need something to take the edge off, to help me endure what he’s about to do to me. I don’t want him near me. I want to run from this room, run away from what my life has become. Instead, I’m trembling, repulsed, afraid.
Sometimes before I’m taken from the compound, a Mexican woman visits my cell and applies layers of makeup to my face. Foundation and blush smear away my pallid complexion, my dead eyes are resuscitated with mascara and eyeliner. But today, nothing. My face and the rest of my body is naked and exposed.
The man wipes sweat from his forehead and one side of his upper lip curls up in a sneer. “Javier said you were a great piece of ass, but I’d say you’re a worthless bitch. You don’t smile, you don’t flirt. Are you a fucking dyke?”
“I’m not a dyke.” I place my hands on my hips. I don’t like men who smell and who think I’m just an object to be slapped around and fucked.
“You act like a fucking lesbian. And you’re so goddamn skinny.”
This emaciated and sickly body that turns him off is all that’s left of the body I once trained daily to keep healthy and strong. My mind—well, there’s not much left of that either. A person can’t be victimized like this every day—sometimes two or three times a day—without eventually falling into an abyss. I fought for a long time—pushing down the despair and depression—telling myself I would stay strong and find a way out. But days turned into months. One day I just gave up. I don’t remember exactly when it happened. I’ve long lost track of the day, the week. I’m not sure if it’s April or September.
The day I gave up, I knew I couldn’t deal with my emotions anymore. I didn’t want to fantasize anymore about breathing in the scent of salty sea air or walking barefoot on a soft carpet of grass. Or imagine eating fresh seafood on my mom’s outdoor patio in Del Mar, which overlooks the Pacific coastline. I didn’t want to ache to feel my mom’s hugs, to hear my best friend’s laugh, to actually salivate when I imagined taking one sip of a salt-rimmed margarita. I wanted to feel numb. Like a machine, instead of flesh and blood. So being violated wouldn’t hurt so bad anymore. So I wouldn’t feel that painful wrench in my heart every time I flash back to everything I lost.
I don’t want to think about the fact that I’ll never surf a Pacific wave again, I’ll never compete in another triathlon, I’ll never graduate from college or meet the man of my dreams or have his children.
My life will end in wretchedness. I’m no one now. I have no identity. I’m an empty shell. A spaced-out drug addict. A worthless, forgotten girl who partied with her friends on a Costa Rican vacation one day and became the personal property of drug lords the next.
The man spews out a stream of expletives. His eyes narrow to slits. I stare at him without speaking. I competed in Olympic distance triathlons and half marathons. Any weekend I wasn’t racing, I was riding waves on my surfboard. My friends and classmates all said I had the perfect body—muscular and well-proportioned.
It’s hard to believe I was ever an athlete. Weariness overtook my brain and slowly worried its way through every muscle, every bone. Now loose skin hangs off my bones. All my muscles have wasted away. I get dizzy and out of breath just walking across a room. None of us have ever been served a decent meal in this place. Sometimes they feed us rat stew. I’m constantly hungry. Night and day, I dream about spaghetti piled high on a plate—topped with enormous meatballs, juicy steaks, mountains of ice cream.
Acid is eating through the lining of my stomach. Being full would be nice, but right now I’d just like to have enough food inside my stomach that the pain eroding my gut would go away. It’s agony to be this hungry. All of us here are so hungry, we gobble down the rat stew like it is prime rib. I’ve gotten to the point that I’ll eat anything. Moldy bread. Cockroaches unfortunate enough to crawl into my living space.
The man’s hand connects with my cheek again. I close my eyes and can’t help wincing when his hand smacks the other side of my face. I squint to look at him, relieved that he’s done hitting me—at least for now. A randy smile curls up the corner of his oily looking lips. “That’s better. At least you have some color now.”
I say nothing. I stand in front of him waiting to see what he’ll do to me next.
He grabs me roughly by the shoulder and shoves me toward the bed. I stumble backward. He lunges again, forcing me to sit on the mattress. “I’ll never be able to get it up looking at that sorry face. I want to see desire in your eyes.” He pulls a vial and a needle out of his pocket.
That’s what all the men want, to see that dazed, drugged-out expression on my face. It’s how they can immerse themselves in fantasy. Instead of looking at a frightened face, they can see stoned, heavy-lidded eyes and imagine that they’re seeing desire. As if I could ever desire any of these pigs. I could never lust after this repulsive man with his sweat and his smells or even any of the others with their shiny shoes and fancy shirts. The mere thought causes sour bile to surge up into my throat.
If only I had a knife. I’d slit his throat and then stab him again and again, his blood splashing on my face until the agony of what he has done, and all the others have done to my body and my soul was finally cleansed.
He presses his lips down as he prepares the needle. He injects himself first. He’ll inject me second with the dirty needle. His sweaty hand holding the syringe moves toward me. “You want this bad, don’t you?”
Yes, God help me, I ache for the liquid injection into my veins, to feel the warm, comforting haze that will follow. I want it bad. But I won’t let him see the desperation in my eyes. Unfortunately, my body gives me away. The slight tremor in my hands, the occasional tick in my jaw is worsening. If I go much longer without heroin, my muscles and limbs will perform a spastic dance I have no control over.
He grabs my arm with a jerk and I grimace when I feel the stab of the needle. The cold liquid enters my veins.
Relief rolls through me and the taut tension in my muscles slowly ebbs away. I despise my dependence. I never needed anything or anyone until I ended up in this place. But I won’t think about that now. I’ll savor this moment of escape. I no longer feel the acid burning in my belly, the deep ache in my muscles and bones. The man’s voice sounds far away, like he’s in another room or another plane of existence. I allow myself to journey far away. In my mind, I am gliding across the perfect blue wave on my surfboard, my body balanced, in control, strong. I barely notice when the man with the sweaty hands tosses me back on the bed.
Download for 2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited