Dark Love Boxed Set
EXCERPT FROM PRETTY WHEN YOU CRY
He’s beautiful in a strange and sinful way, one that makes me more afraid. Not colorful exactly. His eyes are a gray color I’ve never seen before, both deep and opaque at the same time. The building itself is beautiful too with its wrought iron gate around a large courtyard. The fountain in the center is broken, but that only adds to the mystique.
The marquee sign reads Grand, a flash of neon pink against the black night.
He steps closer, the light from the sign illuminating his face, making him look even more sinister. “What’s your name?”
I couldn’t answer those other men, but I find something inside for him. I find truth. “I’m not allowed to say my name to someone else.”
He studies me for a long moment, taking in my tangled hair and my white dress. “Why not?”
Because God will punish me. “Because I’m running away.”
He nods like this is what he expected. “Do you have money?”
I have twenty dollars left after bus fare. “Enough.”
His lips twist, and I wonder if that’s what a smile looks like on him. It’s terrifying. “No, you don’t,” he says. “The question is, what would you do to earn some?”
My voice is just a whisper. “I’m a good girl.”
He laughs, and I see that I was wrong before. That wasn’t a smile. It was a taunt. A challenge. This is a real smile, one with teeth. The sound rolls through me like a coming storm, deep and foreboding.
“I know,” he says gently. “What’s your name?”
He studies me. “Pretty name.”
His voice is deep with promise and something else I can’t decipher. All I know is he isn’t really talking about my name. And I know it isn’t really a compliment. “Thank you.”
“Now come inside, Candace.”
He turns and walks away before I can answer. I can feel the night closing in on me, the sharks in the water waiting to strike. It’s not really a choice. I think the man knows that. He’s counting on it. Whatever is going to happen inside will be bad, and the only thing worse is what would have happened outside.
I hurry to catch up with him, almost running across the crumbled driveway, under the marquee sign for the Grand, past the broken fountain, desperate for the dubious safety of the man who could hold the darkness at bay. It’s the same thing that kept me in Harmony Hills for so long—fear and twisted gratitude.