Running

byblackrandl1958©

I must thank my team. Harddaysknight is my mentor and gives me critical review. Sbrooks103x also gives me a pre-post read and helpful advice. My editors are PapaKilo14, Hal, OldDave1951, GeorgeAnderson and Pixel the Cat. Thank you, gentlemen, I love you all.

This is a looong story, almost 50,000 words. If you don't like long stories, this would be an excellent time for you to hit the back button. Thanks for reading, Randi.


*

Lucas Ramsey collapsed in his La-Z-Boy and sipped his scotch. It had been a very long day. In fact, it had been a long week. He had just arrived home from a business trip to Hong Kong. He had been there all week and had worked very hard to put this deal together. He needed manufacturing and he had found a group he thought could put it together. He hadn't expected to find a major new market, but that's what had happened.

He didn't really need to work anymore, but he enjoyed it. At fifty-six, he could retire and never get out of his chair again, but he liked staying busy. His wife had wanted this business to succeed and it had. After her passing, caused by a blood clot after a visit to the dentist, work had been all that kept him sane. He had loved Lilly with every fiber of his being. Her death left a hole in his life that had never really filled in.

The scotch was very good. It was a single malt and he made a note to buy it again. He felt something unusual and then realized his cell phone was vibrating. He had turned it to vibrate and forgotten to turn it back up.

He got it out and looked. He didn't recognize the number, but he got calls from many people he didn't know, so he answered it.

"Hello?"

"Uncle Luke?" he heard a girl's voice on the line. "Is that you?"

"This is Lucas Ramsey," he said. "Is that you, Samantha?"

Samantha was his only niece. She lived in Seattle and he saw her maybe once a year. His youngest sister was her mother and he never really got along with Rebecca. She was too careless with her life and too slutty for his tastes. She was drop dead gorgeous and she had parlayed her looks into a series of marriages that had left her very well off. They rarely spoke and Samantha had never called him before.

"Yes, it's me. I'm sorry to bother you."

"You aren't a bother to me," he told her. "I'm just surprised to hear from you. I didn't even know you had my number. How are you, honey?"

The last time he had seen Samantha she had been about twelve and she had looked more like eight. She was a tiny little blond pixie of a girl and Lucas had thought she was charming. He took her to the zoo in San Diego that Christmas when they had met at his parents' house, and he had loved her enthusiasm at everything they saw.

"I got your number from Aunt Susan," she told him. "I'm in trouble, Uncle Luke and I don't have anywhere else to turn. I need your help. If you don't help me I don't know what I'm going to do."

He could tell she was crying. "What's wrong, sweetheart? Where are you?"

"I'm in Portland. I was wondering if you could come and pick me up?"

"You're here? What are you doing... never mind that. You can tell me after I come and get you. Where are you?"

"I'm at the train station. It's not in a very nice place and I'm scared."

"Find a policeman or someone that works there," he told her. "I'll be there in twenty minutes."

"Okay," she sniffed a little. "Thanks Uncle Luke."

"Hang tight," he told her.

He jumped up and grabbed his coat and keys. He went to the parking garage and fired up his 1970 Buick GSX. The big yellow and black muscle car rumbled to life and he drove quickly to the train station. He caught most of the lights and he was parking in fifteen minutes.

The train station was underground and it was in a rough neighborhood. He took the stairs two at a time and looked around the platform for Samantha. There were only three people in sight and she wasn't one of them. He walked along the platform and saw a corridor leading off to the right. He heard voices and walked down to the turn. He saw a group of four young men, a young girl and a slightly older girl. The two women were backed against the wall and the men had surrounded them. He saw one of the men reach out and touch Samantha. She slapped his hand away and Lucas was close enough to hear what they were saying now.

"Come on, baby," the one that had touched Samantha was saying. "You know a fine looking bitch like you wants the big package. Marcus got the big dick. He make that pretty little pussy feel real nice."

"Leave us alone," the older girl said. "I've already called the cops and you punks better get out of here."

She was a tall, slender black girl who looked like she was in her early twenties. She had on a uniform and she evidently worked for the train company.

"Who asked you, bitch?" one of the other's asked. "You better watch yo mouth. Popo don't come down here. He afraid we fuck him up."

Lucas was now within ten yards and he cleared his throat. The thugs turned to look at him.

"May I help you gentlemen?" he asked.

"Old man better get to stepping," the one who had touched Samantha said. "This none of you biddness. You don't want none of this."

"I'm afraid I can't do that," Lucas said. "This young lady is my niece, and I'm here to pick her up. I don't think the ladies are interested. I suggest you pull up those pants and get moving."

"You talking shit to Marcus? I fuck you up, old man."

"I don't think so," Lucas advanced toward him. They were now within reach and they got a feel for his size. Marcus looked at his boys a little nervously. This man was huge.

Lucas was six feet six inches tall in his socks and he weighed 285 pounds. None of it was fat belly. He had played offensive tackle in college and could have played pro ball. He was the number 12 pick in the draft his senior year. He had chosen to go into shoot boxing, then mixed martial arts and fought for six years in Japan. When the company was bought out by the Americans, it became evident that they weren't going to have a weight class he could compete in, and he retired.

Marcus pulled a knife out of his pocket and Lucas kicked him in the belly. He flew across the corridor and slammed against the wall. He slumped to the floor unconscious, but Lucas was already moving. He got a right in just below the ear of the nearest thug and he dropped like he had been shot. Lucas spun away and caught the third with a spinning back fist on the bridge of the nose. The nose broke with a sickening crunch and the remaining thug was running as fast as his low hanging pants allowed.

"I told him he should pull up his pants," Lucas said. "Are you ladies okay?"

They stared at him in silence for a moment, their mouths hanging open.

"I'm leakin," the thug holding his broken nose cried. "Somebody call the ambulance."

Samantha shook her head and ran to Lucas. She jumped on him and he caught her easily, hugging her to him as she wrapped her arms and legs around him.

She kissed him fiercely and buried her face in his shoulder. "My God, Uncle Luke, I can't believe you did that. I thought they were going to rape us or kill us, maybe both. Thanks for coming to get me."

He laughed and set her down. "You're welcome. I think we should get out of here before they wake up or the cops finally show up and we have to answer a bunch of awkward questions. Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"

She took his hand in her little one and the young woman's hand with the other. They walked back toward the platform and Samantha introduced them.

"This is Lila. She works on the trains. She lives here and she was taking me back to the office to wait for you when those men saw us. Lila, this is my uncle, Lucas Ramsey."

"Pleased to meet you," Lila said, "especially since you got us out of a bad situation back there. There's supposed to be a security guard here. I don't know where he is. Are you the Lucas Ramsey; the telecommunications guru?"

He laughed. "No, he's an imposter. I'm really just Uncle Luke. I pretend to be a tycoon, but my real job is rescuing damsels in distress."

Lila laughed. Lucas liked her laugh. It was full and deep like her voice. She was a very attractive lady, he decided.

"Well, girls, let's get out of here. I know an all-night diner that's close. They have good pie. Will you let me buy you a piece of pie and a cup of coffee? There's a story I need to hear and I'd love to have two beautiful ladies go with me."

"I'd like that," Samantha said. "Please, Lila, will you go with us?"

The girl hesitated for a minute. "Yes, I'll go. I should call my mom and tell her I'm in. She worries if I'm late."

When they reached the street, Lila called her mother and Lucas led the way to where he had parked his car.

"Oh my God," Samantha exclaimed when she saw the GSX. "Is that your car, Uncle Luke?"

"Yes, do you like it?"

"I love it," she exclaimed. "It looks like a giant bumble bee."

"Well, you're going to have to sit in the back," he told her. "You're the only one little enough to get back there."

They climbed in and Samantha sat forward so that she could put an arm around each of their shoulders. When he fired the big V8 up she was thrilled with the rumble of the exhaust. "Is it fast?" she asked.

He pulled into the street and stopped at the light. "Want to see?" he asked them.

"Oh, yes," Samantha said. Lila nodded, her big brown eyes shining.

When the light changed he punched it. The 455 roared and the big car fishtailed as the fat tires clawed for traction. Samantha was pinned back to her seat and Lila clutched her arm rest as the GSX roared through the gears. The streets were deserted and the speedometer quickly climbed past one hundred before Lucas dropped it back down to the legal limit.

The girls chattered excitedly. "Jesus, Uncle Luke. That was like one of those powered launch roller coasters," Samantha said. "I love this car."

"I'll let you drive it sometime," he told her. "Do you have your license?"

"No, Mom doesn't have a car," she said. "I have a permit, though. I can drive with a licensed driver in the car."

"Well, it's a good thing Lila's an adult," he laughed. "That way we kids can drive."

Lila laughed again. That was what Lucas had been hoping to hear. "You are just a big kid," she said. "One of us has to be responsible."

They pulled into the diner and sat down in a booth. Samantha sat very close to Lucas and they ordered. Lucas and Lila had coffee with their pie and Samantha had hot chocolate.

"I guess you want to know why I called you," she told him.

"Yes, I've been wondering about that. If you want to wait until we're alone to tell me, that's okay," he said.

"No, I don't mind Lila knowing," she said. "She was very nice to me on the train, and she tried to help me when we got here."

"Have you run away from home?" Lila asked her.

"Yes," she glanced up shyly at Lucas. "I know you don't like Mom very much, Uncle Luke. I don't like her much either. She's always been nice to me, but with her, she's what matters most and everything else comes second. I've always been sort of an inconvenience to her." Her deep blue eyes filled with tears.

"I've always been okay with that. I'd just as soon not be around her much anyway, but two years ago, she met Raymond. He puts on a good show, but after a about a year of living with us he started... doing things," she shifted uncomfortably.

Lucas knew where this was going. "I understand, honey. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."

"No I want you to know. If you know, you won't send me back to her. He would come in 'accidently' when I was getting out of the shower or getting ready for bed. He started brushing up against my boobs or my butt. He watched me all the time, and it made my skin crawl. We went swimming once and he had his hands all over me. He would come into my room in just his underwear. He wanted me to touch him..." her voice broke and she began to sob. "I hated him. He makes me feel dirty and ashamed. I had to get out of there, Uncle Luke. I tried to tell Mom and she was furious. Not with him though, with me. She called me a slut and said if I didn't tease him and go around looking like a whore, it wouldn't happen. I'm not a slut, Uncle Luke."

Her small body shook with sobs and he hugged her tightly. "I know you aren't, baby girl. None of this is your fault. Don't worry about it. Did you tell Aunt Susan about this?"

"Yes, after I ran away I called her. She's the one that suggested I come to you. I'm sorry to bother you, Uncle Luke, but you and Aunt Susan and Grandma are the only family I have. I remembered when you took me to the zoo and I thought you liked me. I tried to make you like me. I thought if you liked me maybe... If you thought I was pretty... you might... " she was sobbing so much she couldn't continue.

Lila reached over and patted her hand. Lucas' heart was breaking. He couldn't stand the thought of anyone making this little angel so sad.

"I do like you, baby. I think I would fall in love with you if I knew you better. I just haven't been able to spend much time with you. I'm sorry about that. If I had known... no that's just an excuse. I never knew you were so unhappy. I've always known Rebecca was a bitch. That's why I avoid her. I was selfish. I should have found a way to get to know my niece better. That's my fault and I'm very sorry. Will you forgive me, baby?"

She looked up at him with tear filled eyes. "It's not your fault, either," she said. "I'm not your kid. There's no reason you should have been any different. When you had the chance you were nice to me. That day you took me to the zoo was the best day of my life. Someone was nice to me just because they liked me. I've always held on to that. That's what gave me the courage to come here."

"You're breaking my heart," Lila said. "God, what a mess. What are you going to do?"

"What do you want me to do for you?" Lucas asked. "I'll do anything I can."

"I don't know what to do," Samantha said. "I need help. What do you think I should do, Uncle Luke?"

He thought for a minute. "Do you think you might like to stay here in Portland with me?" he asked. "I guess you could go to New York and stay with Susan, but she already has her plate full with taking care of Bob. Did you know he has cancer?"

"Yes," Samantha nodded. "Would you really let me stay with you?"

"I can't think of anything I'd like better," he told her. "Do you think Rebecca will try to make you come back?"

"I don't think so," she said. "I'm 18, so I don't have to do what she says, but I didn't have anywhere to go. I'm still in high school, Uncle Luke. She'll be pissed off about it, but she never really wanted me there in the first place. She might try to make me come back just out of spite. Do we have to tell her?"

Lila thought that they should tell Rebecca. "I think you should tell her that Samantha is with you and that you know what was going on. You should threaten to tell Family Services that bastard was molesting her. I think it's still illegal, what that creeper did. I don't think there's a statute of limitations on child molestation. Tell her that if she doesn't cooperate you'll have the bastard arrested and she'll go to jail, too. I know about you, Lucas. You have the ability to get that done."

"Would that be okay, sweetheart?" he asked Samantha.

She cried some more when he asked her. "I thought that would make you happy," he said.

"It does," she sobbed. "I'm not crying because I'm sad. I just can't believe I could be so lucky to have an Uncle like you. I was hoping you might want me, but I was so afraid you wouldn't."

"You are very lucky, Samantha," Lila told her. "You're lucky, too, Lucas. Listen guys, I want to know how this all comes out, but I've got to get home. I'm sorry, but I have to catch a train in the morning. I need to call a cab."

"Nonsense," Lucas told her. "We'll take you home. But there's one more piece of business to take care of before we go."

"What is it" Samantha asked.

"It's about Lila," he said. "Will you go out with me, Lila?"

Samantha squealed with delight. "Oh, please say yes, Lila. That would be so cool."

"I know I'm too old for you," Lucas said. "Would you give me a chance?"

She looked at him with those huge, honest brown eyes. "I might," she said. "There are some big problems though."

"What?" he asked. "Line them up and I'll knock them down."

"Well, you're obviously a very nice guy," she said. "You're very good looking, you're loyal, you love your family and you're taking in your niece that you hardly know."

"Those are problems?" Samantha asked.

Lila laughed and it sent a thrill through Lucas. "No, I guess those are anti-problems. The problem is; first the age thing. You don't look a day over 35, Lucas. That's still ten years older than me. You're white and I'm black. You're rich and I'm not. I'm sure I'll think of others."

"Okay, I get the age thing," he said. "I'm in good shape though."

"I know," she laughed. "I just saw you put a beat down on four thugs half your age."

"Okay, I think we can work with that," he said. "I don't get the black and white thing."

"Would you want Samantha going out with a black guy twice her age?"

He thought for a minute. "I don't want to offend you, Lila, but you asked. No, I wouldn't like that, not in general. It would depend on the guy. I don't like it on general principle. It makes me uncomfortable. The stereotypical relationship like that is something ugly. Some black guys seem to have a thing for white girls. I think it's racist. I hate that sort of thing. I suppose there are white guys with the same kinds of sick ideas. I don't have a thing for black girls, Lila. I'm only interested in one."

"I understand, but my mother won't. She's going to feel just like you do about Samantha going out with a black guy. I feel that way, too."

"Well, we just need for her to get to know Uncle Luke," Samantha said. "Then she'll fall in love with him and there's no problem."

"That sounds right, but it won't be that simple," Lila said. "She's going to have a hissy cow when she finds out."

Lucas laughed. "I love that phrase," he said. "Now, I really don't get the rich, not rich thing."

"Don't you?" she asked. "Don't tell me that there haven't been thousands of women that have tried to get in bed with you just so they could get close to your money."

"Well, I can usually spot that sort of thing a mile away," he said. "They don't usually come up with lists of reasons they won't go out with me."

That made Lila laugh for a long time and Samantha giggled, too. "Okay, I see that you've thought about this and you're making me seem silly," Lila said. "I'll think about it. Call me on Thursday when I get back in and ask me again. Okay?"

Lucas had to be content with that. He paid the check and they dropped Lila off. She kissed his cheek and hugged Samantha for a long time. They both cried a little, and she went inside. She turned and waved from the top step, and they drove away.

When they got home, there was a problem. Samantha didn't have any clothes or personal items. They drove to a convenience store and she bought a toothbrush, toothpaste and contact solution. She still didn't have any clothes, but Lucas got her a t-shirt to sleep in. He had a spare bedroom for her and she went to take a shower and put on the t-shirt. She brought out her dirty clothes and he took them. He took her to the laundry room and showed her how to use the machines. He was a little embarrassed to put a tiny pink thong in the washing machine, and the little matching; lacy bra was just as intriguing.

They turned on the machine and he put a frozen pizza in the oven. She was hungry, even after the pie, and they shared the pizza. She looked adorable in his t-shirt. She was a tiny little thing and it made a good nightgown. She wasn't much over five feet and he doubted she weighed more than a hundred pounds.

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