Cass Williams has been alone almost her entire life. From birth her father wanted nothing to do with her, and after her mother was tragically killed in a car accident, Cass was sent to the orphanage. At fourteen she decided she’d had enough and ran away. Luckily for her, she met Zeke, a kindhearted diner owner who gave her a job. But he knows more about her and who she really is… Will the truth ever be revealed—and if it is, will Cass be able to understand it?
Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Racial Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Rape)
Baby Girl by Crunchyq is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.
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I’m just your average American teenage girl, except I’m not frilly. My name is Casydi Williams, but I go by Cass. I’m nothing special, really. I was always teased by the jerks in the orphanage. Their favorite nickname for me was “Oreo.” My eyes are huge.
They’re a teal color with flecks of gold. That’s what people notice about me first. My skin is mulatto, whatever that means, I was called that once by Georgina. My long, wavy, brown hair hangs to the small of my back. My nose has a stud.
My ears are pierced with gold hoops going all the way up on both sides, and my right brow has another gold hoop.
I got tired of always being picked on as a kid, so I got the piercings to make me look tough. I normally dressed in torn jeans, tank tops, and black combat boots. For the most part it did the trick.
My mom was beautiful with chocolate skin, her name was Aayla Williams. She got pregnant by her boss when she was 18. She didn’t tell him she was pregnant before she ran away.
She didn’t want him to know anything about me. She never really told me anything about my dad, other than she was afraid of him and that he was a powerful man. I don’t even know his name.
She changed her name to Anna Jones. It's a very common name, so as an alias it should protect us. Mom had me using the Jones name too. We moved every year around my birthday, so he wouldn’t find us.
She just knew he was looking for her.
My mom died in a car accident when I was 5. It was my first day of kindergarten. I remember waiting for her holding my teachers hand. All the other kids had already gone.
My teacher took me to the principal’s office and sat me down. The principal came out with a woman in a slutty dress suit thing, Georgina. I didn’t like her, in fact I hated her. She was my caseworker.
She always wore a nasty perfume that smelled like an old lady’s armpit. It always made my nose wrinkle. The principal told me about my mom, then he sent me on my way with the ugly, smelly woman.
I was scared and sad, but I didn’t cry.
I didn’t have any family, so I got placed with a family that already had 4 kids. I remember staying there for only a short time. The 3 boys were mean to me and their little sister.
When the oldest one, the 9 year old, took his sister's dolly, she cried. I told him to give it back, but he shoved me down instead. I hit the back of my head on a metal bed frame. I jumped up and scratched his face. I must have scratched him pretty hard because he bled.
He ran off crying to his mommy, saying I scratched him for no reason. After getting a belt to my butt, one for each scratch mark, they sent me back to Georgina, claiming I had “anger issues.”
They may have been right, I was always mad. I was placed with 6 other families before Georgina said I was a pain in her ass. To be rid of me she put me in an orphanage.
I ran away from the orphanage the day after my 14th birthday. Mikey, an older boy at the orphanage, liked to try to touch me and the other girls. He was big, but I always pushed him away. I told Georgina about him, but she didn’t care.
She said I was being over dramatic, and that I just wanted attention. For my birthday Mikey wanted to give me “something special.” He got behind me while I was in my room. He put one arm around my waist, pinning me to him.
His other hand shot down the front of my top, grabbing my breast. “Happy birthday, Oreo. I have something for you,” he said with his smelly breath hot on my neck.
I elbowed him in the gut, then clawed the front of his basketball shorts, causing blood to drip down his leg. I don’t think he’ll try that move again, but it was still my breaking point. I'd had enough.
I hitched across 4 states to get to Wyoming. There, I found a little diner. I was hungry so I stopped in, and I never left.
Zeke owned the place. He was a large, bald man with a heart of gold. I don’t mean fat either. He was tall and incredibly fit with big muscles. He could be really intimidating, but I knew better. He took one look at me and knew I was a runaway. “Hey there baby girl, what can I get for you?”
I sat at the counter on a stool. I read over the menu, everything sounded so good. I didn’t have much money so I settled on a Dr. Pepper. I remembered my mom drinking them all the time. I hadn’t had a soda since being with her.
He sat the soda in front of me along with a club sandwich. I looked up to him fearful, I couldn’t pay for it. “On the house.” He winked at me and smiled.
I tore into the sandwich, I was so hungry. It was the best thing I ever tasted. “You want some fries?” My mouth was full so I just nodded. “Where are you from?”
He placed a plate of fries in front of me. I wiped my face and swallowed. “California.” He nodded. “Where you headed?” I really didn’t know. I just wanted to get out of that place.
“Away.” He hmphed “You got a name?” I don’t know why, but I felt like I could trust this gigantic man. “Cass Williams.” I decided to go back to my real name, the one my mother gave me. I was done with that old life.
Zeke offered me a job at the diner and a place to stay. His only condition; I had to graduate high school. I was glad to agree. I would be free for the first time since my mom.
I took summer classes and graduated early. I had just turned 16. I never made friends at school, because I didn’t care to, I just wanted to finish. Zeke was my only real friend.
He was more like a dad to me, the only person in this world I cared about and he cared about me.
The weekend after graduating I had a really nasty customer. He came in and sat in my section. There was nothing special about him, he was pretty average. Average build, average height, average looks.
I greeted him, told him about the specials, asked for his drink order, the usual. His reply: “don’t let your nappy hairs get in my drink. In fact get me something in a bottle, that way I know you don’t poison me, ni**er.” At first I was shocked.
People don’t use that word in civilized society. It’s just so wrong. No one has ever dared to call me such an offensive, distasteful, and rude name. The more I though about the word itself the angrier I became. “Well don’t just stand there, get your sorry ass moving.”
I saw red! My hands balled into fists, my jaw clenched. Suzie, the little, red-headed server saw me. “Cass, I need you.” Her cool, soft touch on my arm caused me to jump. I grabbed him by the collar, pulling him out of his seat.
I wanted to mangle his face. To let him know just how insignificant and pathetic he was. My first was ready to fly at the stupid surprised look on his face.
A bear paw sized hand caught my fist mid swing, while a steel bar wrapped around my waist. “You get your pansy ass out of my diner, and never come back. If I ever see you again, I’ll personally throw you out like the trash you are.”
Zeke pulled me through the back of the diner. He sat me down in a chair behind the building, where we took our breaks. He was pacing in front of me like a caged animal. He had murder in his eyes.
He was pissed! I gripped the sides of the chair to keep myself seated. I just knew I was done. I finally found happiness and now it’s gone. Just like that, I lost everything I worked so hard for.
All because of that racist piece of trash. I hung my head, shaking it in disappointment, my eyes squeezed shut. I won’t cry.
He stopped in front of me and took a few deep, calming, breaths. “Baby girl, are you okay?” My head snapped up, surprised, speechless. Zeke continued “I heard what that bastard said to you. I almost let you hit him, but there were kids in the booth behind you.”
Okay, I cried. A tear escaped my eye and I jumped up wrapping my arms around Zeke. No one ever stood up for me. He truly did care about me. I wasn’t fired. I still had a job. I still had a home.
He rubbed my back, soothing me. “I’m alright, now. Thank you, Zeke.” He kissed the top of my head and let me go. “Good. Take a few, get yourself calmed down, and come back in when you’re ready.”
I nodded and sat back down while he went back inside. After a few deep breaths, I pulled some napkins from my apron to clean my face up. When I was calm and ready to go in, I stood up and brushed myself off.
I grabbed the door handle, but I was shoved from behind. My lip hit the lock causing it to split open. I turned around to my attacker. “So the little nigger thinks she’s tough, huh.” He swung, hitting me in the jaw.
He caught me off guard, but I quickly recovered. He swung again, but I was faster. I ducked his blow, just barely. I punched him in the nose. It hurt my hand, but he grabbed his face, screaming. “You fucking bitch!” I made a better fist and connected to his head, near his ear.
He fell to the ground. Zeke slammed the door open and went straight for the guy. He grabbed him by the throat, lifting him in the air. “You done fucked up, son. Your dumb ass is going to jail.” Just then the Sheriff came around the corner.
Zeke practically threw the guy into the sheriff’s arms. “I got video and witnesses. I’m pressing charges and so is she.” Sheriff looked at me for confirmation. I nodded in agreement.
Zeke put his arm around my shoulders, kissed the top of my head and lead me inside. He sat me down and attended to my lip, I forgot it was bleeding. “You’re a tough little cuss, but your fighting skills are crap.” I chuckled. He always knew just what to say.
“Are you going to teach me, old man?” I joked with him. “You’re damn right I will.” He answered in all seriousness. Then he placed a Dr. Pepper float in front of me. “Drink up. It’ll help you feel better.” Dr. Pepper was my favorite, but I’d never had it in a float. It was amazing.
After that Zeke trained me to fight. He had me run a mile every day. He wanted me to build up my stamina. Once the mile became easier he increased it to 5 miles.
He had me lifting weights to get me stronger. He taught me fighting stances and how to punch, kick, and block. He even got me a punching bag and hung it in the break area. Sometimes we would spar, but he always won. He would never just hand over a win.
I was getting pretty good. He even told me so, but he expected me to keep training, to never stop. “Once you stop training, you get sloppy,” he would say. He would check on me once in a while to make sure I stuck to it. Of course I did. I was determined, and I was damn good.
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“Hey baby girl. What are your plans for this weekend?” Zeke kissed me on the top of my head as I walked into the diner. I tied my apron around my waist.
Since working at the diner, my style changed slightly. I didn’t want to scare the customers. And I needed tips. I wore slim fitting jeans, no holes, and converse.
But I stuck with my tanks and a few of my piercings. Zeke didn’t seem to mind. He had tattoos coming down his forearms. “Hey old man. Nothing much, it’s just another weekend.”
“Come on Cass, you only turn 18 once. Why don’t you come to my place and meet my family. I’ll barbeque and make you a cake.” Zeke winked at me, knowing my weakness for food. He had offered for me to meet his family since the day I arrived.
I always turned him down though. Being in and out of foster homes kind of turned me away from families. But bribing me with a barbecue was below the belt.
I actually almost caved. I don’t know why, but I was afraid to meet his kids. I looked up to Zeke. He was the only true family I’ve known, but meeting his kids would take our relationship away, some how. “I'm good. Maybe I'll go to a movie or something.”
Zeke was proud of his family and loved his wife immensely, Gina is her name. That I knew because Zeke had it tattooed on his ring finger. I met her a few times, but she never stayed at the diner long.
I never really conversed with her, she was pretty and nice enough though. They had kids that were pretty much grown.
They had a son that was in his twenties, a girl around my age, and two teenaged boys. I never remembered their names.
“Baby girl, you’ll come one of these days. I’m not giving up on you.” He smirked at me, knowing the conversation was over. I grabbed my notepad and headed to my section to start my shift.
Today was Thursday. The night was uneventful, but tips were good. After my shift, Zeke and I went to town for supplies. This was the norm for us. He drove his truck and I messed with his radio station, which would always cause him to roll his eyes and huff.
But he never changed it back. He listens to rock, but I love all kinds of music. I turned on some country. Rascal Flats, one of my favorites bands, blared through the speakers. He hated it. I smiled and sang along.
Zeke got a phone call. Weird, since it’s after one in the morning. “Zeke.” I couldn’t hear what was being said over the music. “Sunday, we’ll be there. Have everything ready for her.”
Sundays were family days for Zeke. He must have been talking to his wife. We got back to the diner and unloaded. It was 4 by the time I went to bed and Zeke left for home.
I woke up around noon on Friday to get ready for my shift that starts at 1. Something felt off. Zeke wasn’t around, Jeff was in the back cooking. “Where’s Zeke?” Jeff looked up. “Family issues, said he’d be here around 6.”
One of my regulars came in. When I say “regulars” I mean like clockwork. Alpha, that’s what we call him. The man is pure power.
Anyone that looked at him could feel the strength coming off him in waves. He also happened to be built like a tank, for speed, not just strength. The first Sunday of every month, at 2 pm, he would come to my section.
He always ordered the same thing; a double bacon cheese burger, mid rare, with extra fries and ranch, 7up to drink. His bill came out to $12 but he always dropped a $20 for me. And he only stayed 45 minutes, no more, no less.
“Cass.” His voice was thick and smooth. He nodded my way as he took his favorite booth. “Alpha, what are you doing here today?” I felt weird questioning Alpha, no one questioned Alpha.
He raised his eyebrows with a slight smirk. “I came to give you a present.” He laid a small box on the table. “You didn’t have to do that, silly.” This time his smirk grew to a little smile.
He’s a really nice guy. Over the years we had a playful relationship. Not in that way, come on, the guy had to be like 40. No, it was friendly. I teased him, a lot.
I never could make him crack though. He could get me to talk about things no one else could. He knew about my past and the orphanage. He knew about my mom.
Shit, he even knew about the reason I finally cracked and decided to leave, which is a story no one else knew, not even Zeke.
“Cass, open it.” I didn’t question him, I reached out grabbing the blue box. Inside was a gold medallion of a crescent moon filled with an aquamarine, my birthstone, attached to a black cord. It was beautiful and so thoughtful. He got it specifically for me.
The gift brought a tear to my eye. I quickly sniffed it away and wiped at my eye. “Allow me. I’m glad you like it.” Alpha notices everything. He tied it around my neck. And let it hang on my chest. “I think it suits you quite nicely.”
“Thank you, Alpha. I…” I shook my head, not knowing how to express my gratitude. “Just promise me you’ll wear it will be thanks enough.” I threw my arms around him. He stiffened at the gesture but he let out a single chuckle, pat my arms, and pulled me away.
“I’ll always wear it.” He nodded then left the diner without ordering anything. I guess he really did come to give me my present.
I went to bed late and woke up late the next morning. My birthday is tomorrow. Like Zeke said, you only turn 18 once. He gave me the weekend off, might as well go to the movie, like I said I would.
I didn’t have a car, so I walked to get around town, it was a small town. Zeke took me to get my license when I was 16, so I can drive. He even lets me drive his truck sometimes.
I just prefer to walk.
Our theater is small. It only has 4 screens, but in this tiny town, it's big enough. I stood in line, waiting for my turn to get my ticket. I felt an unease come over me, like someone was watching me.
I looked around but nothing stood out. I grabbed my ticket from the tiny girl behind the window and went in for popcorn, extra butter. I got a Dr. Pepper to wash it down with.
My hands always get greasy when I eat my tub of popcorn so I grabbed some napkins. Just as I turned, I was knocked on my butt after hitting a wall. Popcorn flew everywhere.
“I am so sorry, are you alright?” The wall asked me. Okay, so he’s not a wall, but he is as big as one. He had to be almost a foot taller than me. Which is saying a lot since I’m 5’6”. I looked around to my popcorn scattered all over the floor, my drink landed somewhere behind me.
What a waste, so sad. His hand was thrust in my face. I looked up to the owner. My breath caught. My eyes locked on the warmest eyes I had ever seen. They were a light shade of brown, like rich golden honey. “Let me get you a new one. Please. I insist.”
I exhaled and took his hand as he helped me up. It was like a bolt of lightning shot through my body, sparking me to life. Not in pain, but desire and thrill.
I got to my feet. I couldn’t speak, so I gave him a nod. He smiled. “Come on.” He lead me back to the concession stand with his hand at the small of my back under my overalls.
Just my t-shirt separated his hand from my skin, but I could feel the heat between us. I had never been lead by my back before. It felt strangely intimate, yet comfortable. I found I liked his hand there.
I found myself staring into his eyes. He looked right back into mine. It wasn’t awkward, I felt like I had met him before. I wondered if he’s been in the diner.
I shook that thought away, I would have remembered him. I had a hard time peeling my eyes away from him. He reached up his finger to the black cord and pulled the charm out of my shirt.
He smirked. “Nice.” We arrived at the front of the line. “Extra large popcorn, please.” He told the guy behind the counter. “Extra butter,” I added. “And a large Dr. Pepper.”
“You want anything else? My treat, for the inconvenience.” I didn’t get any earlier because the ticket and popcorn already cost a lot, but I really wanted candy.
“Peanut butter M&M's and miniature Reese’s, please.” The kid handed me my candy, which I put in the front pocket of my overalls, along with more napkins.
I took my drink and popcorn and turned to go to my movie. “Hey wait, can I get your name?” The wall asked me. I turned, not wanting to be rude, after all, he did buy me candy. “Thank you.” Then I turned back to go to my movie.
I secretly had a thing for chick flicks. I read romance novels all the time. I was a sap in that respect. I knew the wall wouldn’t be in this movie with me. I was right.
I enjoyed my movie and ate every bit of my snacks. I wasn’t a pig, I just had a high metabolism, I could seriously pack it down.
If you looked at my body, you would never guess I eat like a linebacker. I always have. I have an athletic body complete with abs and a C cup. I also have excellent hearing and vision.
I always sat at the back and in the middle of the theater to compensate. Sometimes I would even bring earplugs, if I knew there would be action. Explosions can get pretty loud.
Another reason I enjoy chick flicks is because they don’t usually get too loud.
The movie came to an end, I sniffled and wiped my eyes before anyone could see me. I'm tough on the outside, and my looks proved it, but inside, I really do have a heart.
Deep down, I want the fairytale. You know, the perfect man to sweep me off my feet and treasure me for ever. Although I am cynical about family, being alone sometimes can really suck.
I headed to the diner. After all the junk food I needed sustenance.
I sat on my favorite stool and pulled out my current novel. “Hey baby girl, how was the movie?” I put my book away, as Zeke put a Dr. Pepper in front of me.
“It was good. Same old story as always. Girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy pisses girl off, boy wins girl back.” Zeke chuckled. “Yet you still can’t get enough. Are you eating?“You know it. I'll take a chef salad, ranch, extra fixings, please. Oh, and some chili cheese fries.”
Zeke clicked his tongue, winked, an pointed his finger gun at me “gotcha.” I went back to my book and ate my food in peace. Over all, I’d say it was a good night. We’ll see how tomorrow goes, hopefully it’s just as good.
Zeke finished up cleaning the kitchen and went to his office. The diner was open 24/7 so he was here a lot. The night cook, Jeff, came in and took over.
He was a decent guy, working his way through college. He took online courses. Most of our customers were locals or part of the Union Pacific Railroad, the UP for short.
The train guys worked all hours. That’s the main reason Zeke stayed open.
I showered and changed into my pj's, a tank top and basketball shorts. I laid out on my bed in the studio behind the diner. I liked it here, but just recently I started thinking about leaving.
I don’t know why. I have everything I need right here. But I started feeling a kind of pull. Like the mountains were calling me. I usually just shook it off.
I couldn’t leave Zeke after all he’s done for me.
It was beginning to get late so I went to my book shelf to put the book away when a light caught my eye. I turned to see Zeke bringing in a small cake with a single candle in the middle, and singing the birthday song.
“Zeke! My birthday is tomorrow.” I made a wish, my one wish; that my knight in shining armor would sweep me off my feet. Then blew out the candle anyway.
“I know, baby girl, but I won’t be in tomorrow. I’ll be with my family.” Zeke always took Sunday’s off for family day. “Besides, it's almost midnight and I wanted to be with you for your birthday.”
He pulled out two forks and we both dug into the cake that already had ice cream in it. I kissed his cheek. “You really are the biggest teddy bear.” He chuckled.
“Nah, girl, I’m the big bad wolf.” He winked. He really was the greatest. I don’t know where I would be if not for him. “Where were you yesterday?” He swallowed his bite.
“My daughter came back for spring break. She’s here for the week. I had to get her from Salt Lake.” Salt Lake was the nearest airport. “Hmm.” I nodded.
I don’t know if it was the cake, the popcorn, or the chili, but all of a sudden I started feeling weird. The room began to spin, I got light headed, and I started seeing flashes of light in my vision.
I shook my head to try to clear it. When that didn’t work I did a few hard blinks. That didn’t work either. I felt like it was getting worse. I started getting really sweaty. My hands started to shake. My breathing became rapid. I could feel my pulse in my head, pounding away.
My whole body started shaking. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to get control of my body. “Baby girl, just breathe, you’ll be alright.” Zeke rubbed circles on my back, trying to comfort me. “Just let your body relax.”
I brought my fists to my eyes. My head thrown back. I couldn’t think. My body felt like it was being torn from the inside out. I had never felt anything even close to this pain.
“Baby girl, listen to me. Focus on my voice. Just let your body do what it needs. Just let the change happen. You’ll be alright, don’t fight it.”
What was he talking about? Fight what? I forced myself to take a deep breath. When I exhaled, it came out a scream. I felt my bones cracking and my muscles stretching.
The pain was too much, I couldn’t take any more. I thought I would die if this kept going any longer. I fell to my knees, the pain just wouldn’t let up. I didn’t even have the strength to scream.
I looked up to Zeke. His eyes flashed to gold and back again, then everything went black
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