A Legal Trap - Chapter 6

Author retains all rights to this original work of fiction.

March 11th, 7:18 AM

The morning started with breakfast in the hotel's restaurant and
running into Jacob. We talked about Amber and before I knew it, I had
agreed to speak with her today. Not like, I was some kind of mental
health professional - which is what she probably needed most right now
- but I said I would talk to her. Jacob and the Carsons just wanted
to know about the events leading up to her flight from arguably a damn
normal and very supportive environment. Was there something they could
do going forward to support her more, connect with her, and keep her
from some of the online activities we all found shocking.

They really wanted to know the possibility that she would continue on
this destructive path she'd dabbled with and the chance that it would
get worse. I wanted to tell Jacob there was no way to judge that, but
held my tongue. My own dysfunctional actions regarding getting
positive strokes by those using me as a fetish might make my insights
to her state of mind easier, but I wasn't going to have some patented
resolution to fix her psyche. The escape was to get those positive
strokes you needed from within and with the support of those close to
you. Nothing good ever came from my adventures online. I did not
bother trying to explain that - it would have been too much information
to share with the managing partner of the law firm that employed me.

In the end, I had done pretty well for myself after getting away from
that self-destructive side Amber was now toying with. I think the
problem was really going to be whether Amber had it within her to seek
and accept the help she needed, trust in everyone around her being
supportive, and pretty much building herself up enough not to seek that
negative type of gratification - no matter how positive it appeared.
Tall order, one that didn't happen overnight for me. It took me several
months to get over the addiction, the need for the wrong kind of
positive reinforcement. I just didn't know if she was mature enough
to, to break free from that crap. Augh...

Jacob said he would be out front with the car at 10:00 AM. I asked
about Paul and he said he was working on some digital evidence with the
police. He also mentioned talking with Janet and possibly extending my
stay through mid-week - that was going to be a day-to-day TBD decision.
When Jacob left, I lingered over a couple of pieces of bacon and some hash
browns, finishing them, but barely touching my eggs. I downed three
glasses of water during my breakfast, but it was a poor attempt at
hydration. I signed the bill for breakfast to my room, including the
customary fifteen-percent gratuity. Was that going to be an expense I
could claim, the gratuity? I shook my head - a question for another
time.

I made my way to my room to change, I needed to clear my head after
last night with Paul, and so my plan was to go for a run before it got
too warm out. I put on baggy running shorts over tights, a sports bra
and a loose fitting tank top, powder blue Nike running shoes,
sunglasses, a bottle of water, headphones, armband for my phone, room
key, and I was off. Goal, five miles, I didn't care if I got lost...
Time check - 8:02 AM, plenty of time...

March 11th, 9:58 AM

I was just shy of my run goal, but felt so much better - especially
after hitting the shower. I was dreading going to the Carsons and
talking to Amber. Deciding what to wear was another can of worms, but
in the end decided on my nicest pair of slacks, a simple top, and
flats. I'd spent way too much time on my makeup and hair - I could
already feel the judging Amber would be doing when I arrived.

It took about ten minutes to get to the Carsons and in that time
barely anything was said on the drive over. Jacob seemed deep in
thought or as if something was bothering him. I didn't press and just
marveled at the sameness of the area homes block after block - same,
style, same color, no yards, no greenery... It was all so military
desert camouflage.

Stephanie met us at the door and once inside we could hear her husband
yelling at someone on the phone in the other room. Jacob split from
our gathering to see what was going on and Stephanie ushered me into
the kitchen where it was impossible to hear what was being yelled.

"We really want to thank you for agreeing to speak with Amber. She
hasn't said much since we got her home..." Stephanie said with a pained
face. It was obvious she'd spent some time crying recently.

"I'm happy to help Mrs. Carson..." I wanted to hug her, but held my
ground on the opposite side of the kitchen island.

"Stephanie, please. Can I get you something to drink?"

"Water would be wonderful, Stephanie..." and saying her name just
didn't feel right.

When she gave me the glass, there really didn't seem to be anything
left to say. She didn't mention what had her husband going ballistic
about. I took a sip of the cool liquid and a few seconds later was
following her to Amber's room. The door was ajar and after a courtesy
knock and Stephanie poking her head into the room we entered.

"Amber, this is Elizabeth. She works for your uncle Jacob..." Amber
looked up from her iPad and nodded to my existence. "OK, well, I'll
leave you two...", she said tentatively, "I'll be just down the hall
honey..."

Ten seconds later we were alone, the door to her room now open about
half way. When I was sure Stephanie was gone, I closed the door. That
got me a questioning look from Amber. "You the computer genius who
hacked into my accounts?"

OK, not going to mince words, warm up to conversing. "No, that was a
computer forensics specialist."

"Well, I would appreciate being able to get back into my accounts.
People are asking about me online. I want back into my email..."

She was calm, but certainly annoyed. "I can't do anything about that.
I think until the police and FBI are finished with whatever they are
doing you're going to have to put up with being locked out."

She looked questioningly at me. "How long have you been on HRT?"

Alrighty then, so much for easing into getting to know one another. I
told her and that I didn't have it as easy as she did with a supportive
family. To which she complained that not everything looks as it
appears. An interesting statement.

Since we'd skipped the politeness portion of feeling each other out I
asked, "Why run away?"

"You going to tell me that was stupid and dangerous?" she quipped back.

"Well I wouldn't say it was the smartest move on your part. I don't
know if you did that for love or attention or whatever, but that guy,
David, right? He's probably not concerned with your best interests."
I had gotten her 'Daddy's' first name from Jacob over breakfast - I
assumed he'd gotten that from the Carsons or the FBI or Police, maybe
even Paul. If that was something Paul uncovered I would have like to
hear it from him... In addition, to a few more things - like what
happened last night.

"You don't know that..."

I snapped back to Amber, "No, I'm pretty sure I do. I've been down
this road and it's a fucking shit hole that will chew your ass up and
discard you when you aren't providing enough in return. You're nothing
but a fetish for those assholes online, I can guarantee you that..." I
was shaking ever so slightly. It was the nerves of speaking candidly
and pushing back at this kid who thought she knew everything - I was
now on edge.

"Yeah, well he loves me. David loves me and I don't care what you
say..." she put the iPad down and winced from the pain as she tried to
sit up in bed.

I was sure she was probably still on pain medication, so maybe that was
part of this attitude I was getting. Then again, maybe she just had a
rebellious streak. I wasn't going to mention I'd seen plenty of his
emails professing his love for her. "If he loved you, why did the
police find you alone in that house?"

"David went to get me donuts..." she said meekly.

"He left his phone. What if something happened to you while he was
away? He was protecting himself. Sooner or later they will catch
him." As soon as I said that, I was questioning whether I should have
attacked him. Fuck! I'm not a shrink... I'm usually on the other
side of the couch!

"Same thing my mom said... Well good luck with that, he's probably
already well on his way home by now..."

Already on his way home? Did that mean he wasn't from New Mexico?
"Where is he from?" I watched her shrug her shoulders. OK, I'm just
backing this kid into a corner. I need to switch things up... I
walked to her closet, flipping the light on after opening the door.
"You have a wardrobe I'd kill for... You shop with your mom? You've
got good taste. If your shoes were a size larger I probably would have
borrowed those tan pumps..." I turned back toward her, she was
watching me.

"Which ones?"

I reached down and held up the faux synthetic snakeskin tan pumps with
four inch heels. "Yeah, I'm going to have to look into finding these
in a size twelve when I get back to Seattle." I looked inside and
could see they were size eleven's.

"Nordstrom's..."

"Thanks. What would you pair them with in here?" I flipped through a
few skirts, pulling one I thought might work and showed her. She
nodded 'No'. More browsing and I pulled a cute summer dress, whimsy
and light flowing fabric. "How about this?"

"Seriously?" she said as if she was appalled by my choice.

"Alright, what in here goes with these hot shoes?" I tried to sound
playful, but was struggling to be genuine. I was also a bit annoyed
that my style cues were so off to this kid.

I watched her get up slowly, pull her t-shirt down slowly over runner's
shorts and slowly make her way to the closet. "Are you supposed to get
up?" I asked.

"It hurts a bit, but I have to go to bathroom anyway..." She moved
past me and pushed a few hangers aside until she had a light brown
suede mini skirt in her hand. Then she flipped through a few different
blouses and picked the wildest colored ones and even one with a crazy
pattern. "I'd pair them with these, this one, or any of those..." she
pointed behind me.

"Yeah, guess those would go. I don't shop often and when I do I'm kind
of at the mercy of that week's thrift store selection..." I felt
embarrassed to say that, but it was the truth.

"You dress too conservatively. You've got pretty eyes, know your way
around a makeup brush obviously, and your hair is cute - maybe pull it
back... You just dress too bland, conservative..."

Whoa... That was probably one string of the best compliments I'd ever
gotten! I ignored the bland dig. "Thanks, I... I'm a work in
progress. Plus, I 'have' to dress conservatively; I work for your
uncle."

"Well, good luck with that... Uncle Jacob is nice and all, but way too
cerebral for me... I gotta pee..." She took the pumps I was holding
and tossed them in the general direction of where I had pulled them
from, turned the light off, and sort of shooed me from her closet
before entering the en-suite bathroom.

Was she warming up to me or just screwing with me? I sat at her desk
and looked at the pictures of her with friends, tubing on a river
somewhere in a bathing suit - shorts for the bottoms, riding a horse...
"I've changed a lot since most of those were taken..."

She startled me, but I tried to act as if I was just turning to face
her - rather than jumping. She was grimacing as she sat on the edge of
her bed. "I'll bet those hurt..." I could see the bandages wrapped
tightly around her chest through the t-shirt to give her tissue a
chance to heal and accept the foreign material now inside her chest.
"Why implants?"

She looked like she was going to say David's name, but caught herself.
"I was tired of waiting to feel more complete."

"They feel like you'd expected?"

"Pretty much, more weight on my chest than I expected. Have you
considered implants?"

What Trans woman hasn't thought about implants? "I don't have the
money for that kind of luxury. You've already critiqued one of my best
outfits. If I had the money, I would probably splurge on better
clothes. Anyway, a guy told me that more than a handful or mouthful
was a waste..." I tried to chuckle but it fell on deaf ears.

"I've never heard that... Most guys I've talked with always asked when
I was going to get them done."

"We saw that David paid for the surgery, even though you certainly have
collected plenty from your online subscription followers..."

"He said he wanted to give them to me for my birthday. He was pretty
excited and..." she stopped when she realized she was rambling, not
guarded about what she was saying.

"Look, I'm not here to report back to your parents or the police,
anything you say. We're just a couple Trans girls talking. I
promise..." I really didn't have plans to divulge every bit of our
conversation, but if there was a clue to finding David - well, that was
going to get passed on.

"Sure..." she said with a tone that dripped more contempt than she
realized.

OK, let's try another tact. "When I came out to my parents there was
no support. Trans was barely even a word anyone knew anything about.
That was like four years ago..." I wasn't sure where I was going with
this and just let it follow its own course. "I basically was shown the
door. I spent the next six months hopping from one friend's house to
another. Did the homeless shelter thing, lived on the streets for
almost a week before getting my ass beat by a group of losers."

"What the fuck is wrong with your parents..." she interrupted.

"Yeah, seriously right?" I'd spent years trying to figure out why my
family gave up on me. I wondered if they had been more like the
Carson's where I would be today.

"I would never do something like that to my kid..." She thought about
that a second. "Not like I'm going to have kids in the traditional
sense..."

"You never know, maybe you adopt? Maybe you meet someone with kids
already..." Amber just nodded, so I pressed on, "I was pretty low
after getting out of the hospital from the beating I took. Certainly
thought about suicide more times than is healthy. I finally moved in
with a friend and the internet became an outlet, a place to get myself
some positive feedback finally, since no one was giving that to me.
Talking to guys online was easy - I was anonymous, so were they.
Sending pictures was exciting, especially when you're being told how
sexy you look, how hot you are making the person on the other end.
Then I started webcam sessions. Only thing is I didn't connect the
dots, I didn't get paid for any of it... Not the videos, pictures...
It all became an addiction at that point. The attention, which was my
drug..." I felt a lump growing in my throat and had to pause.

"I don't regret what I've done..."

Maybe right now you don't, but one day you will. "Your video with
David will come back to haunt you one day. You gave up so much and for
what, a thousand, maybe thirteen hundred dollars before the police took
down your accounts?" Truth was Paul had been the one to initiate that,
but the cops would have done that same thing.

"I don't have a problem with what I've done. It was hot and wasn't
about the money at all, David said I might as well cash in on it...
That's a lot of money for barely even a day online."

"How well do you know him Amber? I mean 'really' know David? His past,
his now... I think the money was absolutely part of it..."

"I know he loves me and wants to be with me. He cares about what
happens to me..."

"That may be, but are you one of many? Maybe he's been with younger?
The law is going to say he groomed you as a predator and say he is a
pedophile that needs to get locked up. I've seen your video, none of
that was 'Love' in any sense of the word. He fucked you without a
condom, came inside of you, and had you pull your ass apart to film his
conquest dribbling out of you - then he got you to post it online so you
could make some money? How is any of that shit love?"

"You don't get it..."

I cut her off, "I don't get it? I've done this shit with more fucking
losers than you'll ever know. I've been raped, beaten, used, and some
of that shit was videoed and is out there on the internet for all to
see. I didn't get paid, I got used. You think I don't get it? I
crawled out of a fucking gutter of sick perverted sexual bullshit to be
where I am right now and you couldn't pay me enough to go back. I
betrayed my belief, to my core, that I was born into the wrong body..."
I was yelling and when I stopped the room was draped in an eerie
silence.

Amber had been staring at me, then lowered her head. "Look.." I
started more calmly. "I know none of this transition is easy. I know
it doesn't happen overnight also and a lot of it is complicated and
confusing and you want to rush it to be over. I still get anxious to
rush thing along because I'm not whole, not complete. Selling yourself
out like you have online is not the answer. It is my biggest regret.
You don't want to live with regrets. There are plenty of Davids out
there just waiting to detour you from being the woman you born to be.
Be better than me..."

When she didn't have anything to say I stood and pulled a drawer out
from her desk. I wrote my cell phone number on a piece of paper and
left it on the desk. "That's my cell number. You want to talk, call
me. Live life for you Amber. You've got a lot going for you. Don't
go down that same path I did. It's not too late..."

I made my way to the door, looked back at Amber, and then made my way
to the kitchen. When I entered Jacob and the Carsons were talking,
but stopped upon seeing me.

"Did she say anything about this David character?" Jacob asked.

"No, Mr. Wentz. We really just talked about how destructive her
activities have been to getting her to where she wants to be..."

"Elizabeth, did she say why she had such a large online presence?"

"Mr. Wentz, my guess is it was just easy to get addicted to the
feedback. This David guy wasn't the only one who made her activities
online a source for positive feedback. I know that probably doesn't
make sense since Amber is so well supported, but it's truly part of why
she did so much online. I think combined with the feedback and the
monetary validation she was getting, well it just kind of consumed
her..."

"I'm going to kill that fucker..." Mr. Carson said under his breath.

"Mr. Carson, I think Amber knows what she was doing was wrong..."

The conversation went a couple different directions and I tried my best
to relate my experiences - without in depth details - to give everyone
gathered some insight. After a number of questions and my ramblings,
the questions eventually stopped. Jacob treated some of the direction
this went like a cross-examination, but I think I did well with my
answers. I think he knew there was more that I knew about what Amber
was into, maybe he knew everything? Had he gotten that information
from Paul? Augh...

Bottom line - Amber needed counseling - we all agreed on that point.
The Carsons said they had arranged a second therapist and a few other
things to help keep her on the right path. We didn't talk about the
content she had online, it almost sounded by some of the comments made
that Paul might be doing something about that - though there is no way
to remove all content from the internet - I was living proof of that.

Jacob and I left ten minutes later after some final Thank yous from
the Carsons. Stephanie and I hugged. I whispered to her that I had
given Amber my number and that I would be happy to talk with her at any
time. She squeezed my hands in thanks. The ride back to the hotel was
quiet, much like the ride to the Carsons'. Jacob dropped me off at the
entrance to the hotel, he said he was going to meet up with his FBI
buddy Landon and that he would catch up with me later.

March 11th, 1:33 PM

On the walk to my room I fished my phone out of my purse with the
intention of calling Janet. I wasn't sure what I was going to report,
but she had made it clear I was supposed to report. When the iPhone
woke up to my touch I could see there were messages from Paul... I
clicked on iMessenger and read his texts:

Paul
iMessage
Today 10:33 AM

"Good morning. I wanted to begin by apologizing for last night. I
was, I don't know exactly what I was. You were perfect and I was
unsure of everything I was feeling. I would like to talk about it, if
you are willing to give me a chance to explain. Let me know."

11:58 AM

"How is it going with Amber? The Carsons? I wanted to let you know I
overheard Stephanie telling Jacob she really liked you. I like you. I
hope we can clear up a few things. I should be back at the hotel by 4.
Do you have plans for dinner?"

12:24 PM

"Dinner?"

1:09 PM

"Hello?"

I wasn't sure how I felt about last night, well other than being hurt.
The entire evening was beyond amazing. I was drinking every bit of
being with Paul like it was all so completely natural, comfortable. We
talked, laughed, I know he was flirting and so was I, and then he just
left me at my room . It couldn't have been worse - unless he shook my
hand to say 'Good Night'. When the door closed I was left wanting so
much more, disappointed, I was crashing hard, until there was that
knock at the door. I opened the door, said something about forgetting
something, Paul steps to me, hands on my waist, and we kissed.

It was perfect... I was soaring... And then he stopped, pulled away
as if he couldn't reconcile that he was just kissing a biological male
who looked like and was to her soul a female. The confusion, the
doubts, and the fear were written all over his face. I had seen that
look before... What were his last words before leaving me at my door
that second time? "I'm... I'm really sorry..." I watched him walk
away, dumbfounded, and crushed. I haven't cried in a few months - that
streak ended last night...

I looked at my phone and considered my response...

::: --- :::

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Bronwen Welsh in proofreading
and giving me insightful advice. She is an accomplished author in her own right
and I appreciate her time more than I can say... Also a few other's who reached
out to help me correct minor Oops! on my part (Eric - especially). Thank You
All!!!



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