by Pamela Samuels Young
When 13-year-old Brianna is forced into the horrifying world of human sex trafficking, her Uncle Dre, a former drug dealer, scours the dark corners of L.A. determined to find her. He ultimately comes up with a daring plan, one that puts many lives in danger. But will he find Brianna before it's too late?
Brianna sat cross-legged in the middle of her bed, her thumbs rhythmically tapping the screen of her iPhone. She paused, then hit the Send button, firing off the text message ready? Her soft hazel eyes lasered into the screen, anticipating—no craving—an instantaneous response. Jaden had told her to text him when she was about to leave the house. So why didn’t he respond? She hopped off the bed and cracked open the door. A gentle tinkle—probably a spoon clanking against the side of a stainless steel pot—signaled that her mother was busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast.
Easing the door shut, Brianna leaned against it and closed her eyes. To pull this off, Brianna couldn’t just act calm, she had to be calm. Otherwise, her mother would surely notice. But at only thirteen, she’d become pretty clear after finding ways around mother’s unreasonable rules. She gently shook the phone as if that might make Jaden’s response instantly appear. Brianna was both thrilled and nervous about finally meeting Jaden, her first real boyfriend—a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have. Texts and emails had been racing back and forth between them ever since Jaden friended her on Facebook five weeks earlier.
It still bothered Brianna—but only a little—that Jaden had refused to hook up with her on Skype or FaceTime or even talk to her on the phone. Jaden had explained that he wanted to hear her voice and see her face for the first time in person. When she thought about it, that was kind of romantic.
If it hadn’t been for her Uncle Dre, Brianna would never have been able to have a secret boyfriend. When her uncle presented her with an iPhone for her birthday two months ago, her mother immediately launched into a tirade about perverts and predators on the Internet. But Uncle Dre had teased her mother for being so uptight and successfully pleaded her case.
Thank God her mother was such a techno-square. Although she’d insisted that they share the same Gmail account and barred her from Facebook, Brianna simply used her iPhone to open a Facebook account using a Yahoo address that her mother knew nothing about. As for her texts, she immediately erased them.