Christian was in the middle of emailing Ana when Andrea notified him that Elliot was on his way up. He glanced at his desk clock and noticed that it was 9.48 in the morning with surprise, he didn't' know that his brother was even aware this time on a Monday morning existed.
Elliot was wearing a pair of dark jeans, a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a grey waistcoat, his hair messy as always. He looked young and carefree, other than the look of anxiety on his face as he came into the large white office, pacing around slightly as Christian silently watched.
Elliot looked uncomfortable 'Bro, can I have the number for your lawyer?' he nodded but frowned as he scribbled something down on a slip of paper 'you are aware that our father is a lawyer Elliot? Seems to be a lot easier?'. He nodded and sat down on one of the seats on the other side of the desk, looking like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
'You know Jimmy Howard?' Christian nodded 'you were at high school together? Lanky kid?'. He sighed 'yeah, well it was his stag night on Friday night and we ended up at a strip club in the city... Christian one of the girls can't be more than 16, we left straight away'.
Christian blinked in surprise 'shit, well what were you gonna do about it?'. Elliot shrugged 'I don't know...if she's 16 she should still be with her family surely?'. Christian sat back in his chair 'well, I'd imagine that there's a reason she doesn't live with them, I'll talk to Cooper my lawyer today if you want? See what you can do?'. Elliot nodded, not really listening, deep in thought.
Jessica Radcliffe was 16, but she could probably pass for 18 or 19 without anyone asking questions. She was about 5 foot 5, petite and slim, with long thin legs that seemed to go on forever, long perfectly curly red-brown hair, pale skin and light green eyes.
Classically pretty, fairly intelligent and still a child, Jessica Radcliffe looked out of place in the strip club, walking through the lecherous customers as she made her way into the back to change. As she slowly got changed into practically nothing, she glanced at herself in the mirror, recoiling slightly at the pattern of bruises all over her chest and arms, sighing as she began to cover them in makeup.
Christian had spoken to Cooper immediately after Elliot had left his office; he didn't know whether it was the distress in his brothers eyes and the fact that he was well aware of the path his biological mother's life had probably taken. He really didn't want to see another girl go down the same path.
Later that afternoon, Christian met Elliot at Escala, both of the brothers seeing how distressed the other one looked. 'You haven't got good news have you Christian?'. He shook his head, sighing and running a hand through his hair,
Cooper said he can't do much until we contact child protective services, and before that we've got to prove she's actually underage, and that's not exactly going to be easy is it?'. Elliot started pacing the apartment quickly, clearly deep in thought
'Christian, you've got to see her she's a kid, there's no way she's an adult…we can't just leave her there….how would Ana feel about you going to a strip club?'.
Christian couldn't believe that he'd been persuaded to go and see this girl for himself, Elliot had worn him down over about an hour. It was when he'd gone to talk to Ana and explained the situation that he'd been swayed completely. She was reading in the library room when he'd explained the situation, Elliot hovering behind him and adding points in randomly and trying to be helpful.
Ana had simply smiled slightly, touched his arm and looked at him gently
'it's fine, I trust you, I know you're doing this because of your mother'. He'd been surprised at her reaction and her intuition, but then again she was constantly surprising him every day.
Christian had been to places like this before, though the ones he'd been to obviously involved a lot more leather, whips and chains- but he didn't mention that to Elliot, instead sloping through the dimly lit strip club behind his brother. There was a fair amount of people in there, which Christian was grateful for; it meant they stuck out less.
The place was fairly large, with three girls dancing in various stages of undress at once, spread across the whole place. There was a bar at one end with a few overweight men with beers who were staring at the girls openly. Christian barely registered the half-naked girls, glancing at Elliot and muttering under his breath 'is that the manager?'.
Elliot followed his line of sight and half shrugged 'I'd assume so'. The man was tall, thin, ashen skinned, greasy looking and he had dark eyes and was staring at the girls as he slowly smoked a cigarette, clearly the smoke detectors didn't work. 'Where's this girl then?'.
They glanced around at the dancers and the two girls who were serving drinks but they all looked above age anyway, and Elliot shook his head, voice quiet as he leant his head towards his brother 'I don't know, she's small, with red hair, you can't really miss her, everyone else here seems to be brunette or blonde'
Christian nodded and Elliot's phone bleeped 'shit, it's the contractor, I've got to take this, I'll be out the front, keep an eye out for her'.
Christian disappeared into the shadows as Elliot left, leaving him to look around at the people in the club, they were basically everything he despised in certain people. It was as he turned his nose up at a middle aged man with a wedding ring slipping several twenty dollar bills into one of the girls thongs that he spotted a flash of red hair.
It was in a corridor off from the main area, though he could see it from where he stood. It clearly led to the changing rooms, a huge bouncer standing at the top of it. Behind the man Christian could see a younger man of about 3o, tall, well built and tanned; though the first thing he noticed was the fact he had a girl pushed up against the opposite wall. She was at arm's length, his fingers digging into her bare shoulders.
She was petite, a mass of long red-brown hair identifying her as the girl to Christian before he even saw her properly as she turned slightly. There was no question in his mind that she was under 18. She was dressed in a pain of skinny jeans and a black zip up hoody, which was open and showed a slim body and black bra, but also a spattering or dark bruises over her body.
The man said something to her and she dutifully nodded, zipped the jumper up and slipped through the crowd, leaving through a side exit.
Christian hurried after the leggy red head, who was putting up her hood, though it wasn't going to do much against the heavy rain as it was just a black hoody, and wasn't even waterproof.
'Hey!' she turned around and looked incredibly wary, looking over him and keeping a distance between them 'I'm not going to hurt you, okay? I just…I want to help you, okay?. She didn't exactly look reassured but she was now meeting his eyes and looked less terrified of him. 'You know what, I know about men like you, what makes you think I need 'saving'? Eh? I'm doing fine by myself'.
She turned away and he hurried in front of her, both completely soaked to the bone now
'Look, I know, alright, I know you're underage'. Her eyes widened '…You know nothing about me'. Christian nodded 'you're right, but I do know that you're a kid who's taking her clothes off for men to get by, and it's only going to get worse, there are some terrible people out there…people that won't be trying to help you'.
She swallowed 'why are you doing this?' Christian sighed 'you remind me of my mother- she died of a drug overdose and her pimp nearly killed me afterwards'. He saw how wide her eyes had gotten, clearly fearful 'I'm not a prostitute'.
'Not now, when the bills start to pile up and ends don't meet anymore, you'll have to do something…you're obviously not in school, what else can you do? Look, I just want to help. What's your name?'.
There was a long pause before she finally replied 'Jessica Radcliffe, look, please, I can't do this here, I need to be back soon or they'll start asking questions'. He nodded and quickly took out a business card from his wallet, using a pen from his jacket pocket to write his personal mobile number on the back.
'Any time, call me, okay? I want to help and I've got people that can protect you if you need it, my names Christian by the way'. She nodded and glanced back at the club, where the side door was open and the tall, greasy looking man he'd assumed was the manager was standing with a cigarette, beckoning her back over. Jessica nodded at him, slipping the card into her pocket 'Thanks, I have to go'.
Christian knew he was powerless to do anything else until she called him, and despite the worry and concern they both had, Elliot and Christian drove back home in complete silence.
Christian answered his phone at about 4am, sighing at the interrupted sleep. Ana was sleeping steadily beside him and it meant he'd actually had a proper night's sleep for once, no nightmares interrupting him.
'Mum? What's wrong?' At the end of the line Grace sounded worried 'Christian, there's a girl that's come into the hospital, she's in areally bad way so they gave her to me as a patient...Christian she had your number in a pocket- we found it when we had to search for who she was, we still don't know'.
Christian felt his blood run absolutely stone cold 'her names Jessica Radcliffe, I tried to help her, I'll be there as soon as I can- call Elliot too, Mum, don't let any visitors in to see her'. Without explaining any further, he hung up and got straight out of bed.
Let me know what you think x