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The Paths We Take

by Josiah Miller
Luke Dawson finds himself caught up in a kidnapping investigation the day after he snaps a photograph that turns his world upside-down. After a failed attempt to report the incident to law enforcement, Luke is submerged into a world of drugs, sex trafficking, and an increasing number of bodies while he tries desperately to save the life of a woman he doesn’t even know. As he tries to get his life back, he finds himself deep inside a world of corruption, the powerful criminal elite, as well as his own haunting secrets. THE PATHS WE TAKE thrills with new twists and surprises, all the while bringing light to a part of our world that the majority choose to ignore.

Cast of Characters


Luke has lived in Red Pines ever since he was born at Red Pines Community Hospital thirty years ago. He spends most of his time working as a legal investigator for a local civil litigation attorney. Luke’s military experience, and his father, helped him land the job after leaving the Army. Luke’s life was turned upside-down a few years ago, and he is soon going to find out that life isn’t going to get any easier.


Beautiful, intelligent, and driven, Claire was the perfect candidate for Hollywood, but life had other plans. She came to Red Pines with plans to attend Covington University the next semester. Now she is working several part-time jobs to make ends meet. She starts seeing someone, and life is finally starting to be more of what she dreamed it would be. She thinks.


Jack is the owner of the Willow Mills Antique Mall in Red Pines. He has lived his whole life in the town and seems to know most of the locals. He devotes everything to his business and the town of Red Springs, and he is determined to know everything that is going on in his town.


In her early sixties now, Nancy spent most of her younger years devoted to her husband and their children. Together they owned Nancy’s Corner, a convenience store and eatery combo on the edge of town. Since her husband’s death, Nancy has been running the place alone, except for a few part-timers that come in for the evening shifts. Outside of attending her grandkids’ baseball games, she keeps to herself.


Raymond is a multi-millionaire real estate tycoon and businessman. He made his first million in the eighties developing condominiums, resorts, and high-end properties up and down the East Coast. It has been all up from there. He spends his days dining and playing golf with politicians, CEOs, and other elite businessmen. The money really started to flow in after discovering his passion for human trafficking and the sex trade.


As Donnelly’s hired goons, they spend most of their time making sure the girls are “working.” They also watch over Donnelly’s mountain estate outside of Red Springs, and they get paid exceptionally well to do so. Gramps doesn’t spend much time with any of the girls. Bert on the other hand, accepts time with some of the girls as partial payment for his services. They are both ex-military and are no strangers to violence.


Det. Townsend is currently assigned to the Drugs and Vice unit with the Red Pines Police Department. He spent five years on patrol, and now he is working on his tenth year as a Detective. He spent the first eight years after his promotion working in the Major Crimes Unit, but later requested a transfer to Drugs and Vice because of his mistrust of some of his partners. He keeps his head down and works hard. Sergeant promotions are coming up again next year.


Sergeant Marks is the senior Detective on the Major Crimes Unit of the Red Pines Police Department. He oversees all investigations involving murder, kidnapping, and other violent felonies. The power and reach of his position are unparalleled within the Department.


Lt. Mason is eligible for retirement in two years. He is responsible for overseeing all the units in the Detective Division. His role is primarily administrative. He leaves the responsibility of the management of individual units in the hands of the sergeants.


Ariel is sixteen years old and strikingly beautiful. She is exploring her new-found freedom since receiving her driver’s license. She meets a guy online, and he soon asks her if she wants to do some modeling. She hasn’t been home since.


As the youngest son of Senator Jon Redding, Michael lives a life that most guys at the age of nineteen only dream of. Senator Redding is close friends and business partners with Raymond Donnelly. Senator Redding has a surprise for Michael.


Joe is the owner of The Doll House, a local gentlemen’s club. He has a few regular girls who work for him, but he also contracts girls on a weekly basis that travel the East Coast circuit. Joe values his privacy and manages to remain under the radar. He has other business interests.


Lilly is a regular dancer at The Doll House. She has been in the game for a while and knows how to play. Her girl-next-door charm is very popular with the clients, but lately she hasn’t been so popular with Joe Snyder.


Phil is in his mid-fifties and has owned Phil’s Diner for twenty years. The local eatery is open twenty-four hours a day and is known for its famous blueberry pancakes and local maple syrup. The RPPD Major Crimes Unit uses Phil’s as a satellite office to get together outside of the station. Phil doesn’t mind, he likes that his spot is known as one of the “safest” places to be.


Rae is the girl at Red Pines High that most of the guys fantasize about. At seventeen, she uses her looks and seductive personality to her advantage. She recently has found a new hobby, and she loves it.