Town of Chance: Sweet Caroline(8)

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

“Exactly. So you would have worried more.”

Shelby took a seat next to her sister and then reached out and touched the cast lightly.

She looked at her and wanted to know what he did to Caroline.

“Don’t ask. You know as well as I do what an abusive, controlling man is capable of. There’s no need to describe it when you’ve felt it firsthand.”

She nodded and they began to eat.

“So tell me more about this town and the possible jobs I can get.”

“Well, you’ll want to lay low for a bit. I talked to my friends and the consensus is waitressing, bartending, working in a local clothing store, or the bakery. You want to learn about the rules first.”

“Rules?” Caroline asked and Shelby took a deep breath.

“This town is different, Caroline. Besides the fact that it’s small, and close-knit, the sheriff and those in charge have rules to keep the citizens safe.”

“Like patrols and stuff?” she asked as she took a bite of a forkful of eggs.

“Well, yes, security is great but you see everyone watches out for everyone, especially the women. Whether single or taken, all the men are kind of in charge of security and safety for us.”

“What are you getting at and what do you mean by in charge?” Caroline asked.

“There are some different types of relationships that are acceptable in a lot of towns, Chance being one of them. You see, a woman can be claimed or rather men can share a woman, take care of her and provide for her.”

“Excuse me?”

“Damn, I’m not explaining this right. Have you heard of a ménage relationship?”

“Yes. I had a friend in college who came from Texas and she lived in a place that there were a lot of those kinds of relationships.”

“Did she tell you anything more about them?”

“Sure, but it seemed far-fetched. Especially to me. Our mom wasn’t exactly a prize mother. She went from one asshole to the next. I couldn’t imagine getting romantically involved with multiple men and there not being a shitload of other problems. One man smacking me around and scaring me was enough.”

“I hear what you’re saying.”

“Wait, you don’t agree? After what Skip did to you?”

“No, of course not. I’ve been here for more than a year. If I was going to be claimed or some men were going to take an interest, then they would have said so by now. Which by the way I would not accept. I’m not ready for that.”

“Well neither am I so do we need to talk about this stuff more? It’s kind of frightening.”

“I know what you mean. The men around here are so different. For instance, that trooper who helped change your tire the other day, he has two brothers who are just as big and good-looking as him.”

Caroline’s eyes widened. “Seriously? I thought I had palpitations. Cameron is big,” she said and lowered her eyes.

Shelby swallowed hard. “It’s going to take some time, Caroline. Time to not always be looking over your shoulder, keeping your head down, and not talking to people much. I promise, it will get better, and you’ll feel safe here. Especially after we meet with Sheriff Gordon.”

“What? Why would we do that?”

“Because it’s part of the benefits of living here. The law protects those in trouble. It’s happened with some of the friends I’ve made. When they were in trouble or trouble came looking for them, everyone helped. There are people, men and women who are part of this town that have connections and resources.”

“So does Cameron and his family. I’m sorry, Shelby, I’m not talking to any sheriff about Cameron. You didn’t tell anyone about Skip. If I knew this was part of staying here I wouldn’t have come.”

“And where would you have gone? Where would you feel safe? Nowhere. I can tell you that.”

“Well I don’t even know these people and I don’t even know if I’ll feel safe or not. I can’t talk to some sheriff I don’t even know. Plus, like I said, Cameron knows people. I’m sure he’s looking for me and I don’t need to send up a signal in the middle of this town with a locator on it by talking to the police. They can’t be trusted. Believe me, in this case, the Elliott family has more power and pull than some small-town sheriff and his department of deputies in South Carolina. I know firsthand what his family is capable of. I had to threaten to press charges from police departments three towns over and even that may not have gone through.”

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