The Candy Shop

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CHAPTER 43

Audrey was sitting still with her eyes closed when she felt a tap on her leg which startled her. She opened her eyes in a panic only to see Ben standing in front of her. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said quietly. “My name’s Ben. I work in the downstairs bar at The Candy Shop and I know your friend.”

“Kira?” Audrey uttered, her voice raspy and her throat dry.

Benjamin retrieved a bottle of water from the table, unscrewed the cap and poured some into Audrey’s mouth. She swallowed, watching his every move carefully, unsure of why he was showing her kindness after all of this time. The water was warm but it felt good as it ran down the back of her throat.

“Do you want some more?” He asked, holding up the bottle. Audrey nodded slowly and he poured another drink into her mouth. It soothed her in a way she couldn’t begin to describe. Screwing the lid back on, Ben shoved the bottle into his back pocket and then took a pocket knife from his front pocket. Audrey winced at the sight of the knife. “Hold still,” he instructed. “And keep quiet. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Audrey obeyed and Ben sliced the tape holding her wrists together and cut her ankles free as well. Her arms felt heavy as she tried to move them forward. They had been taped behind her back for a long time. She looked at him with a puzzling gaze. “I’m gonna get you out of here. Can you walk?”

He helped her to her feet, but she could barely straighten her legs and her muscles weren’t cooperating. She had been in the same curled up position for too long. Atrophy had set in. “It’s okay,” he told her. “I’ll carry you but we have to hurry. They’ll be back soon.”

Ben bent down and lifted Audrey, cradling her like a baby in his arms. He carried her out of the kitchen, down the hallway and outside into what looked like an alleyway. The sun was too bright for her eyes so she buried her face in Ben’s shoulder. Before long, he placed her in the backseat of a green Oldsmobile that had seen better days, hopped into the driver’s seat and sped off.

“I’ve got to drop you somewhere and then get back and act like I was attacked by someone who came in and stole you,” Ben told her. “Where should I take you?”

“Kira,” Audrey said quietly. “Wait, no. Can you take me to Leon’s house?” Audrey was afraid that Kira would think she had been with Frank and wouldn’t talk to her or let her in. Leon would help her, despite all that had happened between them. She gave Ben the address.

Pulling onto Leon’s street, Ben cursed aloud. “There’s a cop right in front of the house. I can’t be questioned by no cops. I’ve got a record. I can’t go back to prison,” he ranted.

“Drop me off down the street and drive away,” Audrey said, her voice growing raspy again.

Ben pulled the water bottle from his pocket. “Okay, here you take this,” he said and handed her the bottle. “Will you be able to get to the cop from this far away?”

It was only a couple of blocks and Audrey was certain that even if she just collapsed onto the sidewalk, someone would find her and fetch the police. Since she was still wearing her red sequined mini dress from The Candy Shop chances were pretty good that people would think she was a hooker strung out on drugs. “I’ll be fine.”

Ben opened the backdoor and slid Audrey from the seat to the sidewalk. She could see that he was somewhat conflicted about leaving her there, but he didn’t seem to have any other options. As he set her down, Audrey touched his hand. “Thank you,” she said. “You saved my life.”

Ben didn’t utter another word. He got back into the Oldsmobile and left.

Too afraid to attempt standing and walking on her own, Audrey began crawling toward Leon’s house and the squad car that was parked out front. The Officer was coming out of Leon’s front door just as she made it to his car and collapsed from exhaustion.

“Well, well, well,” the Officer said. “What have we here?” He opened the backdoor to his car, lifted Audrey from the ground and placed her inside. Then he handcuffed her wrists and ran his fingers up the inside of her thigh. “You have the right to remain silent,” he hissed. “And I intend to keep you that way.”

Climbing behind the wheel, he started the car and sped off.

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