She just stared at the deputy in front of her. Only now, Dylan didn't dress like one. He wore casual jeans and a leather jacket.
She didn't say anything in response, just looking at him. She still felt shocked by what Missy had said in the library. She'd bought every lie that had been told about Carla, lies that would be told at the trial in the form of testimony. Missy didn't have any real ax to grind against her and yet if she believed them…what did that say about others in town?
People who would be included in the jury pool which would produce the panel to decide the case as to whether or not Hank was guilty of rape and a litany of other crimes. She wondered at that after she'd ended the conversation with Missy by watching her walk away and then leaving the building. She'd wanted to get as far away as she could as quickly as possible…not wanting to be reminded about what lay ahead.
The nightmares did that job for her.
But then when she'd left she saw Dylan in front of her. The man who'd pretended to be asking her to help him find her uncle when he'd been in trouble. Only he'd been lying and instead drove her straight to the abandoned barn without saying much…where he turned her over to Dallas, Hank and the other men to serve as their form of entertainment for the night.
Her fingers traveled to the scar on her neck as she saw Dylan's own face change, his mouth curving into a smirk.
"Well if it isn't Carla…the woman who cried wolf…"
She just tried to move past him but he blocked her path.
"You in a hurry to go someplace," he said, "Whoever you got waiting in between the sheets at the motel can wait."
She hardened her face.
"Get out of my way…now."
He didn't listen and just stood there, his hands tucked in his jacket pocket.
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me why you lied about what I did that night," Dylan said, "You know I was just trying to help you find your uncle."
She didn't budge. Her body trembled slightly but she fought to keep him from seeing it. He wasn't going to intimidate her.
"I thought you'd admit it by now Dylan," she said, "You know come clean and cut yourself a deal so you don't spend the rest of your sorry life in prison."
His eyes widened at her response to him and she gripped her books to her tighter. Then he shook his head.
"Why you think that? I didn't do anything worth confessing to Carla and you know it."
She just looked at him, seeing the smirk leave his mouth but she could see traces of it in his eyes. Damnif she'd let him get to her.
"You know that's not true…you had something going with those other guys including Hank," she said, "You made some kind of deal with them to bring me to them."
"No Carla…you're making that up and you're not getting away with it," he said, "and you think you're ruining my career…I got people to back me up and call you a lying tramp."
She felt her breath hitch at what he called her. But she pushed it away quickly enough…it wouldn't do her any good to be afraid, to act as if he scared her down deeply inside of her. Else how could she stay in this town?
"You knew what they were going to do and you could have stopped it. You're hired to stop people from committing crimes like rape not help them."
Dylan bit his lip.
"It wasn't rape Carla…you wanted it…I know you did and you've been asking for it."
"That's not true… I never wanted it. None of it…and they knew it. Hank knew it."
Dylan chuckled derisively.
"Oh yeah Hank told me all about how you teased him in the barn," he said, "He didn't want any part of what you wanted him to do because you were so young…but you pushed him anyway"
She knew he talked about what happened when she'd been 13, when Hank had set his sights on her even then and she'd been the one fighting him off. Not that it did much good…because he'd gotten what he'd wanted…he just had to wait for it. But would he try to do as Dylan did and tell the jurors at trial that she'd wanted him before she'd even known what it'd meant to want someone?
"I pushed him away Dylan…all those times and Chase…he helped me," she said, "He knows what was going on and he tried to stop it."
Dylan snickered but his eyes flitted about more focusing less on her.
"You mean your boyfriend but what were you doing all those nights he was gone? You were shacking up in the motel with men you picked up at the club. Everyone saw you and they're all going to tell the world that at trial."
She knew that what she'd done back then would hurt her but she hadn't known how to thaw the numbness that took hold of her, to get her humanity back after it had been stripped away from her.
"He knows the truth about everything Dylan…most people know the truth about what's been happening in town even if no one will talk about it."
That gave him pause but then she knew that there'd been rumors flying about the all night rodeos since they'd been happening even if most of the women stayed in the shadows wanting to forget what happened. Not wanting to get shamed publicly if they stepped forward and pointed fingers at the guilty.
"Now just get out of my way," Carla said, "and go crawl back in that hole with your friends."
She walked past him wondering if he'd stop her or grab her arm pulling her back but he just stood there as she walked down the street.
Chase heard about what happened and wasn't happy but he didn't push the issue. He was learning that he couldn't always do that, that doing so sometimes made Carla feel powerless. She had to decide how to handle what happened to her including backlash.
Not that he didn't want to throttle Dylan and kick his sorry ass…he'd been wanting to do that for months since he found out. He figured Dylan would get smart and get together with a lawyer to set up a plea bargain to avoid a long prison term. But then again, maybe Dylan would get out of this without any recrimination at all…he was a deputy and the sheriff protected his own. So far he'd managed to keep the state attorney's office at arm's length when it came to Dylan.
Miranda and her team didn't seem too concerned about that knowing that they could wear their efforts out over time but Chase wondered at what dragging all this out did to Carla.
"Chase I'm okay really," she said, "I can't let Dylan get to me…it'd be what he wants and I'm not doing that for him."
He nodded and they both finished serving chili into their plates with plenty of cornbread and went to eat on the patio.
"I just hoped he'd come clean that's all," Chase said, "He'd make a good witness against Hank at trial."
"I and the other women will make great witnesses," she said, "even if he's not part of it."
Chase pulled the tab off of his beer.
"I know…but the case is going to need all the help it can get with testimony to put Hank away in this town."
Carla fell silent and he knew she'd known this better and longer than he did but whatever happened, he'd be there with her.
"There might be a way to change Dylan's mind…"
She looked up at him, brows raised.
"You think? Miranda's tried everything and can't even get the sheriff to cooperate."
Chase sipped his beer.
"I might have some ideas…I know what makes a guy like him tick Carla."
She seemed to digest it and then nodded.
"Okay…I know that the case will go easier if he testifies. He just doesn't seem like budging that he's innocent."
Chase figured as much but he also knew how to break men like Dylan…who weren't as tough as they acted.
"We'll see about that…."
Carla saw the determination on his face and hoped he'd prove right.