Daddy’s Little Runaway by Lila Fox

Chapter One


Devon never thought it would be this much trouble trying to find one young woman. At first, he had been afraid she was murdered, but he’d found a few people who had seen or worked with her in the last few weeks. One as recently as the day before.

The girl, Emma, had been running since she’d helped Lacey, the young heiress, escape from her mother’s plan that would have taken the young woman out of the country. Emma had worked for the family at the time, overheard the threat against Lacey, told her, and helped her get away.

Devon knew the situation had terrified Emma, and understandably, it was what sent her into hiding. He wanted her to know everything had been resolved. Lacey’s mother had been arrested, so there was no threat to her anymore.

He’d found her apartment, a small studio on the third floor in an old house. It was tiny, just slightly bigger than his living room in his condo. It looked like she might have been there recently. Dust covered every surface, but he could see where it had been disturbed in just a way that told him she was trying hard to hide the fact she’d been there.

He couldn’t figure out why the sight of where she lived worried him so much, except that a young woman shouldn’t live in this area of the city and in a place that couldn’t keep a toddler out.

The bed was the size of a crib mattress, and it sat on the floor with no bed frame. A red milk crate sat beside it as a nightstand with a chipped lamp on it. Between the two tall windows stood a small old dresser. One of the drawers looked lopsided and didn’t close all the way.

She used an old worn loveseat to separate the tiny bedroom from the living room. Besides the loveseat that she’d put a colorful blanket over to hide its age, there was a small rocking chair that looked like it came from a dumpster and a wooden table between the two. She had a kitchenette and a bathroom. The bathroom was so small his shoulders touched both walls when he stood in the middle. The kitchen had a hot plate, a dorm-size refrigerator, and a tiny microwave. That and two feet of counter space took up about five square feet of the place.

He could tell she took care of what she had. Besides the dust, everything was clean and organized.

The more he got to know about her, the more he wanted to find her. He spent every waking minute that he wasn’t working looking for her, but had a gut feeling she was running from more than the group of people Lacey had to deal with recently. The ones little Emma had risked her life to save Lacey from.

He wanted to know why she lived in a decrepit place while her mother lived across town in a huge beautiful house.

After his visit to the apartment, he visited the different diners around the area because he knew they were her best choice to find work. They were more likely to turn the other cheek and not ask questions.

At that moment, he was at the fourth diner where he’d found that Emma had worked for in the last few weeks. They all admitted to paying her under the table and said she was jumpy and talked very little. None of them knew where she lived or stayed at night.

A few had tried to help her, but she refused. No one knew what scared her enough to take off from the job each time, and they all felt terrible for her.

Devon shook the man’s hand.

“Thank you for your time.”

“Sure, if you ever find her, tell her we’d still like her as an employee. She was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had. She had more energy than three of my guys. I wished she had confided in me. I could tell she was running from someone. She was so damn sweet and beautiful it broke my heart. She doesn’t belong in this area and should have had someone taking care of and looking out for her.”

Devon smiled. “I’ll tell her.” He walked out the back of the diner and looked up and down the alley. He cringed when he saw the rats and garbage and could smell feces and dank water.

Everyone he’d talked to had said the same things. She was beautiful, sweet, scared, but a hard worker, and she never stayed long.

“Dammit.” He ran a hand down his face in frustration. “I’m going to find you, baby, if it’s the last thing I do.”

He headed back to his car. He needed all the information he could get, and he only knew one person who knew her.

Devon called his friend and business partner.


“Cason, it’s Devon. I’m going to stop by. I need to ask Lacey some questions about Emma.”

“Sure, man, come on up when you get here.”

A few minutes later, Devon stepped off the elevator, walked to his friend, and shook his hand.

“Is everything okay?”

Devon nodded. “Not really. I get close to finding Emma, and then she disappears. I need all the information I can get. She shouldn’t be out on her own. Everyone I’ve talked to who’s met her says she’s very sweet but also terrified and sad. I’m not sure what’s going on with her, but I want to help. Her apartment is about the size of one of our living rooms, and it looks like she has gone through dumpsters to furnish it. I met her mom. She’s a piece of work. She lives in this huge house by herself. I asked why Emma didn’t live with her, and she just said the girl was a terrible person and a slut who stole from her, and then she came on to me pretty strongly. Something’s fucked up. From what I’ve found out about the girl, she’s a lot like your Lacey. She shouldn’t be on her own.”

“You’ll find her,” Cason said. “Just tell me if there is anything I can do to help.”

“If I can, I’d like to ask Lacey some questions.”

“Sure.” Cason turned and yelled down the hallway. “Hey, baby, Devon’s here to talk to you.”

Cason glanced at Devon when he chuckled, and then he heard a squeal and running footsteps.

She ran up and hugged Devon. “Hi.

“Hi, yourself. I wanted to talk to you about Emma.”

“You haven’t found her?”

Cason hated to see the worry and disappointment on his little’s face.

Devon shook his head. “Not yet, honey. I get close, and then she disappears. Tell me everything you know again. There might have been something you missed or forgot.”

“She’s the maid I told you about. She was the one who warned me and then had me hide in her trunk to get me out of my mother’s house. She let me out in the back of Cason’s building because she thought she was being followed, and she wanted to draw them away from me. I’m hoping nothing happened to her. She was always so nice to me. I think she would have made a great friend, but it was forbidden for the servants to talk to us unless they asked a question. Isn’t that pitiful?”

“Yes. I think so, too,” Devon told her.

Lacey leaned against Cason’s shoulder. “I just hope she’s okay, but I wouldn’t know how to find out.”

“I’m trying, and I won’t stop,” Devon said. “Can you tell me anything else you know about her?”

“Her car was blue and had two doors, but that’s all I know about that.”

“It’s fine, I’ve got people looking for her car, but no one has found it.”

“She’s about my age, really pretty, with dark hair and eyes. I’m not positive, but her last name could be Hammond. That’s all I know.” She looked up at him. “Isn’t that pitiful, Daddy?”

Cason grinned. Since she had been hanging with the other girls, everything was pitiful. Travis told him it went in phases. Next week it might be something totally different.

“Yes, baby, that is pitiful. Devon’s doing the best he can.”

She nodded. “Good. I worry about her every day.”

“Knowing Devon, he’ll keep looking until he finds her.”

Lacey gave Devon one more hug and walked away.

Cason studied his friend’s uneasy expression. “What’s up?”

“I found a missing person report about an Emma Hammond. Her aunt is her only living relative besides her mother, but the aunt was the one who reported her missing. She told the police that Emma had never missed a day to visit her in a retirement home. She’s in a home because she had a stroke a year ago. That’s why it took me so long to find her. If it wasn’t for the report, I might not have ever found her.”

“Shit.” Cason’s stomach twisted.

“Yeah, it gets worse. Her aunt said she went missing that same day she helped Lacey escape. I’ve talked to people who have seen her, but I haven’t been able to find her yet.”

“So, her chances of surviving much longer on her own are pretty slim?”

Devon nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

Cason wiped a hand down his face. “Shit, how the hell am I going to tell Lacey this? It will break her heart.”

“Hold off for a while. I’ll keep looking.” Devon patted his shoulder and left.

Cason sighed. He would definitely be praying for a miracle.