Author: Lacey Raine

Chapter 4

 I stared at him in disbelief. "You.. you're a... he's your what?"

"My pimp," He replied, looking down at the table. "You do know what that is, don't you?"

"Yeah, I know what it is," I said. "But that would make you a..."

"A prostitute?" He looked up at me and laughed harshly. "Yeah. You could say that. I'm not proud of it and I don't pretend to be but it's hard okay? He picked me up when I was weak, vulnerable. He helped me. At least, I thought he was. But he got me on crack and weed and heroin. He started selling me to his mates at first. Then he let anyone have a go. I felt so... so fucked up, so dirty. But I'd do anything to get my next fix. And then... I got into trouble a couple of months back with this weirdo who'd been involved in some group stuff with me. He wanted more but he didn't want to pay. He jumped me when I was alone. Beat me up until I was half-unconcious then dragged me to an abandoned garage. He kept tied up and gagged in there for four days. I only got out because Blain came looking for me."

"Jonah, that's awful," I said. "Couldn't... couldn't you ever just tell them no?"

"Yeah right," He sneered. "They think because you do it for cash you're up for it anytime. You tell them no and they're like 'oh, c'mon, you have your pants off every night anyway. Just a quickie, me and my mate, it'll take no time' and you keep saying no. Then they drag you into the toilets or out in an alleyway. They get you up against a wall or on the floor. One of them holds you down and keeps you quiet while the other rapes you. Then they swap places and you have to go through it all again. And all the time you're crying and begging them to stop but they just don't listen..." He was crying now, tears running down his pretty face, his voice choked and wobbly.

"That... that happened to you?" I gasped. He nodded.

"It happened every fucking time I refused anyone," He sniffed, trying to stop himself. He failed. I tried to give him a hug but he moved away from me. "Don't touch me," He said. I thought he was having one of those teenage-diva tantrums at first. But I saw beyond that when I properly looked at him.

He wasn't exactly what you'd call handsome. But he was pretty, definitely pretty. His features were definitely masculine, but he had an almost feminine something about him. I noticed that, although he obviously didn't come from a good background and his speech was coarse and common, he carried himself well; he walked straight instead of slouched, like most kids, and with an almost cat-like elegance. He was lithe and graceful, even sitting still like he was now. Though he was stick-thin, I could tell he'd once been well built and muscular. I tutted.

"But you're so cute," It came out before I could stop it. "How could anyone want to mistreat you? They must be crackers."

"I'm cute and I'm funny?" He cracked a smile. "Wow. Are you hitting on me or something?"

"No. No, I'm not into..." I said. "I have a girlfriend."

"What's her name?" He looked up at me away from his hands on the table.

"Gina. Gina Patel," I replied.

"What's she look like?"

"Here," I handed him the photo off the mantlepiece of Gina and I in Athens. He smiled.

"Done alright for yourself there," He said. "She's a real stunner."

"Isn't she?" I grinned. "She lives next door. D'you have a girlfriend?" He didn't answer at first, just looked at me like I was stupid. Then he sighed.

"No," He said. "First, I don't like girls. Second, even if I did, Blain would never in a million years let me be in a proper relationship."

"Sounds like he had a hold on you," I said. He shook his head.

"You obviously don't understand how these things work," He said, sounding almost pityful. "He's my pimp. I'm his bitch. I do what he says when he says it or I get a kicking."

"No wonder you ran away," I sighed. He shrugged.

"All the time I was out on the streets I kept feeling like he was going to be there when I turned the corner. Or one of his mates. They're everywhere," He said. He looked up at me again, his eyes wide and pleading. "If anyone comes looking for Zak Sudden, tell them you have no idea, alright?"

"Zak Sudden? I thought you said your name was Jonah Carter,"

"It is. Zak Sudden was my 'professional' name," He looked up at me through his eyelashes, the bruise on his face was terrifyingly obvious on his high cheekbone and his black eye almost shone.

I didn't know people could have it that bad.


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