I silenced the call before tossing the phone back inside my bag. I loved my mom to death, but I couldn’t deal with her right then.
She would moan and whine, and lecture me on what she thought I needed to do, demanding I go back inside when all I wanted to do was go home.
I rubbed the back of my neck, releasing a heavy sigh. Some days were so much harder than others.
Everyone thought they knew the secret method to make me better. J used to say that, too…that he’d make me ‘better.’ Sometimes he did, but more often than not it was said before he caused me pain.
I spent two years of my life as a fuck toy to a sadistic psychopath who had just as much fun torturing me psychologically as he did physically.
Do you know how long two years is?
Its seven hundred and thirty days.
Seven thousand five hundred and twenty hours.
Therapy wasn’t going to erase a single one of those seconds.
My friends and family needed to understand that the girl who was taken is not the same girl who came back.
That didn’t make me crazy, and it shouldn’t automatically define me as broken. I was just different.
If they’d spent two years enduring what I did, they’d all be just as fucked up.
Or worse, they would be dead.
Just like he thought I was.
I knew four months ago that she was the one.
It took me another three and a half to decide to make my move.
Happening upon her was fate, God’s way of giving me another blessing. I’d just come from ridding myself of the last girl, dumping her body a few miles off the coast.
Metric gas station was my next stop. I’d driven past the tiny white building at least a dozen times on my commute to and from my cabin, but I’d never seen her until the day I finally stopped.
Going inside wasn’t wise. I didn’t make a habit of shitting near where I played. I had one of those faces that wasn’t easy to forget, so I paid with my credit card.
It was her laugh that caught my attention, called to me like a siren’s lure.
The second I laid eyes on her, I felt lightness in my chest, and a wide grin spreading across my face. She was perfect, checking every box on my wish list.
And so it began.
She had no idea who I was, but I took the time to learn all about her.
I never chose a girl spontaneously. I was very selective, always going for a specific type. Brunettes. Brown eyes. Young, too—I preferred early to mid-twenties.
They reminded me of my late mother.
Occasionally, if her body was worth it, I’d take some sweet little thing that didn’t fit the usual mold. I wasn’t referring to big titties or asses, but all around well-built and healthy.
Harper wasn’t anything like my other girls, though. Not Gail, Lilly, Tracy. Or Evelyn, Marcy, Whitney.
No, Harper Roseanne Lane was special.
I could feel it in my bones. She was my lucky number seven this year.
I called her that because I’d never gone beyond girl number six. If you’re wondering why, well, that’s simple. I liked my house, excelled in my career, and enjoyed my friends.
It was easy to dispose of the girls once I was done with them—that was something I never worried about. But I didn’t want greed to be what got me caught, or why I’d have to give everything up.
So I’d been extra patient, even more so than usual, waiting until the time was right.
And after tonight, she’d finally be mine.
It was nearly over, thank god.
My feet ached, and the thermostat was faulty again.
Staring out the storefront window, I watched tiny flakes of snow join the fluffy mounds already blanketing the parking lot.
“It’s really coming down, huh?” Bill, my co-worker, asked from behind the front counter.
“Mhmm,” I hummed, “I think it’s getting worse.”
“Let’s close up a little early then. Your Corolla wasn’t meant for these back roads in this kind of weather. I’d hate for you to wind up in a ditch, and Isa needs me to grab some diapers yet.”
Nodding my agreement, I stepped back and began making my way up and down the few aisles inside the gas station, checking the freezers as I went.
“Damn,” Bill cursed.
Seeing him stop half-way to the door, I shuffled back up the snack aisle.
“Pump five,” he sighed, running a hand through his thinning red hair. The poor man was going to be bald far before forty.
I looked at the large black truck that had just pulled up, unable to see how many people were inside due to the window tint.
“Bill, it’s not that serious. Just lock the door and turn the sign to closed.”
“I can’t. They know we’re open till eleven.”
He actually sounded upset by my idea.