Candy was balls deep in a pint of Bluebell Moo-llenium Crunch, sulking in front of the Netflix menu screen on her bedroom TV. She couldn’t decide what to watch; couldn’t find anything she thought might lift her spirits and help begin the healing of her bruised ego. Still, the ice cream was a good start.
She’d learned a long, long time ago that with little more than a look, men would trip over themselves to give her what she wanted. It was a skill that had proved invaluable over the years, and it had always worked…
She toyed with the idea of revenge, but quickly abandoned it when she came to the conclusion that it wasn’t his fault. She just wasn’t as appealing to him anymore. He couldn’t help that.
What good was she if she lost her ability to manipulate stupid, horny men? They ran the world–or so they thought. What else did she have going for her?
She’d earned the privilege of using that skill–she’d gained it the hard way, at the fingertips of groping, wrinkled hands and beneath the gaze of leering, predatory eyes.
She was a deer in a forest full of hunters, always on alert for the sound of boots crunching fallen leaves. Eventually, that just became the way things were, and she adapted.
It had all started with one man–one lecherous, perverted man with a warm smile hiding a cold, black heart. He wasn’t human. She had to believe that because she couldn’t deal with the idea that a human being could do the things he did.
His name was John Irvins. Everyone called him “Clancy.”
No one had believed the poor little trailer trash girl when she told them that the Mayor’s son, a member of the Axton police department, had molested her.
Clancy took photographs of crime scenes–it was a cushy job designed specifically for him, just to make him feel important. Axton didn’t have many crime scenes worth photographing. His camera took plenty of pictures of plenty of other subjects, though…
It took ten more girls coming forward before the Mayor was finally forced to publicly acknowledge and renounce the missteps of his offspring.
Clancy spent less than a year in prison before Candy, who was eleven at the time, heard the news that he was being released to a psychiatric care facility.
After spending a few months there, he was declared fit to return to society. She found out while she and her mother were sitting in Dairy Queen, eating Butterfinger Blizzards–her favorite.
The sudden, intense nausea that gripped her stomach upon seeing him waltz through that door ruined Butterfinger Blizzards for her, for life.
It happened again and again, too. They saw him at the movies. They saw him gassing up his Truck at Love’s. They saw him at the bank. Axton was a small town, after all.
Four years later he was once again caught with his pants down and was tried and convicted of indecent acts with a minor. That was it, she’d thought. There was no way he’d ever walk the streets again.
That turned out to be true, but he wasn’t sent to prison. He was sick, his lawyer insisted. He showed signs of early onset dementia. He needed to be someplace where he could get the care he needed.
Money talked, justice listened, and the only one who went to prison was Candy. She was still there, and she would be until that fucker was dead and she could squat down over his grave piss on his final resting place. Only then would she be released.
She wasn’t sure if she should tell Logan about her connection to the man he wanted to talk to–didn’t want it to interfere with his investigation. He seemed like the kind of guy who might take a really dim view of people like Clancy, and that could taint his perception of the facts.
Or maybe she was just embarrassed. Ashamed. She knew it wasn’t her fault, that she’d done nothing wrong, but still… when people looked at her, they thought of him; the things he’d done to her. Maybe they even pictured it happening, in their minds. Logan didn’t do that because he didn’t know. He looked at her and saw a sharp-witted, attractive woman with a good sense of humor. He didn’t see a terrified and helpless little girl wincing as a dirty fingernail brushed against her cheek and hot, fetid whispers from stubbly lips commanded her to hold still.
He was the only person in town who saw the real woman beneath the stain of evil that refused to wash away. He treated her like a regular person and she didn’t want to lose that. Not yet.