Shivering uncontrollably, the girl crouched in the bushes at the edge of the hotel parking lot. She was wearing a thin minidress, and the leaves were damp from the night watering system, causing goose bumps to pop up on her bare arms and shoulders. Even in Los Angeles, the city of sunny beaches and palm trees, the night breeze carried a sharp chill in late January. The man chasing her had gone back into the hotel but was sure to come back. He had dragged her from the room on the second floor, gripping her firmly so she couldn’t escape and holding his hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming. Outside, he had tried to force her into a black town car parked in a space near the side entrance, but she had fought back and screamed “Rape!” as loud as she could, bringing people running from the front of the hotel and other parts of the parking lot. He had released her arms and backed away, head down, avoiding the security camera as best he could. She knew he wouldn’t let her escape. She considered running into the lobby of the hotel and asking for help but was afraid no one would believe her.
She glanced around and saw a tall chain-link fence behind her a few feet away. Not an easy climb but going over it was her only way out that didn’t involve running back out into the open. Keeping her eye on the side door of the hotel, she slipped off her 6-inch heels, held them in one hand, climbed over the fence, and found a path leading to a private home. Holding her hand on her small purse that hung from her shoulder, she ran through the brush, sharp rocks cutting into the bottoms of her feet. She opened the wooden gate that led into the backyard of a small house with an attached garage and prayed the house wouldn’t have an outdoor lighted alarm system. No lights! She tried the side door of the garage and found it open. Should she keep running? Stay here and hide? She was so terrified she couldn’t think straight. She looked behind her, and the decision was made for her. Two men were now in the parking lot searching for her. She entered the garage, found her way around two cars in the darkness, and hid underneath a wooden workbench. She couldn’t stop shaking but was determined not to let fear overwhelm her and prevent her from finding a way to escape. She had been in plenty of rough situations when she worked the streets in Hollywood. Why had she been stupid enough to come back? Sergeant Baker had gone to so much trouble to help her and had given her money to go back home. But home had been just as boring as before, and she had longed to return to the only city that could give her the life she dreamed of. But beautiful young girls were everywhere in this town, and it took more than looks to get what you wanted. She had discovered that the first time around. Now that she was more than three years older and, she had thought, wiser, she figured she might have a chance. None of that mattered anymore. She just wanted to stay alive.
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