Town of Chance: Sweet Caroline(2)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer



The sound of the bell ringing above the entrance door to Rita’s drew their attention in that direction.

Shelby tightened up, her eyes widened, and her heart hammered inside of her chest. She quickly turned away and lifted her glass of ice tea. Marlena gave her a sympathetic smile. Her friend wondered why she never reacted to any of the Pace men flirting with her. Her boss’s brother, Detective Bender Pace, walked in with a few other men. He squinted at her and she quickly looked back at Marlena, who smiled.

“Why do I get the feeling that it’s not only waiting on your sister that makes you nervous, but your boss and his two brothers?”

She squinted at Marlena. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, they have their eyes on you. They try talking to you and you blow them off.”

“I don’t blow them off.”

Marlena leaned back and raised an eyebrow up in challenge to her statement.

She suddenly felt guilty. She didn’t want to come across as some coldhearted stuck-up snob, but she was too scared to even talk to them.

“Are you scared of them because of your past?” Marlena asked her.

“Marlena,” she said and turned away. Her friend knew she didn’t like to talk about it. Plus she only gave Marlena and her friends some information. Well, very little information. Just the basic bad relationship and needing a break for a while. Men are dogs. Men can’t be trusted. The basics to keep them from pushing her to go out on dates. It was way more than that. Plus now she had Caroline to protect, too. It was a lot to digest and handle.

“Hey, they’re good men, and they watch over you whether you like to acknowledge that or not.”

“I don’t need looking after, and especially by any men. I’ve been taking care of myself for quite some time. I’m not interested in anything but working, making money to support me and now Caroline. She’s my top priority. I couldn’t even think of wanting anything for myself, Marlena.”

Marlena smiled.

“Well maybe once Caroline is here and back on her feet again, you can worry about you, and having some of your own happiness.”

“Maybe.”

Shelby Ann looked at her watch. Caroline would be getting here by dinnertime. She should leave work a little earlier. It wasn’t like she could concentrate anyway. She did get a lot of work done already. She felt so sick to her stomach, and as she looked at the turkey sandwich on rye toast, she knew she couldn’t finish.

Get here safely, Caroline. Chance is the best place you could run to and hide.



* * * *



Caroline Cummings was driving down the highway. She was so tired but had a little while longer until she would hit the town of Chance. She loved the name of it. It signified so many things for her in that one word. Chance. She had thought she was all out of chances. Out of time before Cameron hurt her worse. She stretched her fingers best she could with the cast on her arm. Wait until Shelby saw that. She was going to flip.

She sighed as she held the steering wheel and headed toward the last exit before the highway ended and the back roads began. It was so much warmer out here. The sun was beginning to set. Darkness would roll in but hopefully not until she was in Chance and with her sister. She hated the dark. She had never really been intimidated by much because her childhood was rough. It hardened her heart and made her think she was so brave and so strong, but all that hard work, all the determination to not wind up like her mother fell to shit fast. One well-off military soldier who came from a family of law enforcement officers, and she fell for it all. The uniform, the sexy muscles, the military experience, and the well-off family he tried so hard not to associate with. She thought he was like her in so many ways. A child who’d endured verbal abuse, too. He witnessed his father abuse his mother, cheat on her, and then act all high and mighty because of his social class and law enforcement position. It was a small town.

She didn’t think Cameron would ever hurt her. Not by the things he said and the promises he made. She gave him her virginity, her soul, and all. She gave up her job, a potential career in restaurant and hotel management, where she shined and was moving up quickly. All because he was jealous. He didn’t like her working long hours, helping coordinate business events at the hotel where men from around the country came and flirted with her. Perhaps it was partially her fault as she told him everything. Every event, every conversation, and every comment or show of praise from her male bosses or clients. He always twisted those comments around and made her feel guilty, dirty, like she was flirting or leading a man on. Cameron made her pay for all of it. He owned her in every way. In a way that made her feel dirty, corrupted, and damaged. He took her innocence, was lost without him and his control she grew accustomed to. Trust was something earned and to be respected, but with Cameron it was another tool used to control her.

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