When You Were Young (Chapter 3, page 1 of 4)

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Chapter 3

Samantha left Mr. Pryde's car behind a pile of crates on the docks so Joseph couldn't see it from the road. Since Prudence and Wendell had Mrs. Schulman's car, he would have to walk down to the highway and flag down a ride or else call someone and wait. If he decided to come after her. She doubted he would after the way she left.

She walked along the waterfront, hands thrust in pockets and eyes focused on her feet as she thought. What a fool I've been, she thought. How could she ever think Joseph had changed? He still loved her only so long as he could control her. He wanted her to live by his rules. He still wanted a brainless doll to do what he said.

Last time he'd given her a potion; for the last three years he did it by pretending to be a nice guy. He pretended to care about her, pretended to respect her, and pretended to listen to her. In reality he was lulling her into complacency so he could spring this plan on her.

California! How long had he been planning to go there? Why hadn't he said anything to her about this? They might have worked out a solution or compromise then. To spring this on her after sending out the application and being accepted was a betrayal she didn't think she could forgive.

Near the end of the docks she saw a flickering neon sign for Budweiser. She had snuck a can from Mr. Pryde's fridge on occasion, when she needed to alleviate some of the weight on her shoulders. She didn't suppose one beer could hurt. It might even make her feel better. She couldn't feel much worse.

A sign outside the ramshackle building read 'Grey Oyster Pub.' She pushed open the door, the familiar and welcome smell of beer greeting her nostrils. "Hey girlie, no kids allowed," said an overweight man behind the bar.

"I'm not a kid," she said. "I'm twenty-one."

"Sure you are. Make with the ID then."

"I left it at home."

"Then get lost. I ain't running no tree house."

She reached into her pocket and took out a pair of bills. "Here's twenty-one for you. Now give me a beer." The bartender stared at the money a moment and then snatched it from Samantha's hand. He slammed down a bottle of Budweiser in front of her. She took a pull, draining half the bottle.

The only other person in the Grey Oyster Pub was an old man resting his head on the counter, a bottle in his hand. She drank three beers by the time he raised his head and said, "I know you."

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