An excerpt from Daddy’s Debt Book One of His Debt My Innocence Series:
I’m Carly. At least, that’s my real name, the name I went by when I lived in Clark Town. That all seems so long ago now. I don’t go by that name now, in fact if you called me that I would probably grab you by the neck, force you to the ground and make you beg for mercy.
Yeah, I’ve changed. If you recognize me it will be because you’ve seen my name or my photo in the paper. The local press call me the Teen Terror. I kind of like that, and I like the picture they use of me, standing in the street, dressed in leather, holding a baseball bat. That was a fun night. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime.
I haven’t been back to Clark Town since I left. I don’t think they’d recognize me. I wear a lot more make-up now and a lot fewer clothes. I swear and I drink and I guess by their standards I’m a bit of a whore. My life is a rollercoaster of violence, sex and danger and no, I haven’t been to church for quite a while. But I love the way things are.
A few months ago, it was all different. Cedar County is a pretty rural place. The city isn’t too far away, maybe twenty miles, and my Dad used to go there a lot on business. He never took me with him on those trips. Maybe he sensed what could happen to me there. So I grew up in Clark Town. It’s an old colonial town, kind of pretty I guess, with a heritage center for the tourists and a row of big houses up on the hills.
We didn’t live up there, where the big money was, but weren’t poor. I never knew my Mom. She passed away before I was two, so my Dad raised me. My Dad worked hard, had a lot of contacts, and I never wanted for anything. I can’t say ours was a particularly loving home, but my Dad wasn’t unkind, he didn’t treat me badly, and he showed me affection from time to time. I did well at school, didn’t have that many friends, kept up regular church attendance and by last summer, I was getting ready to go study business at college. When I graduated, I was going to help my Dad and maybe take it over one day.
His name is Frank. Active in the church, he served on the town council and the school board, owned a couple of properties, and had a reputation as a minor local success story. Being Frank’s daughter meant being simultaneously respected and also disliked. Half the town thought I was a spoilt little brat, the other half saw me as an angelic princess. I wasn’t either of those things, and, looking back, I don’t think I was very happy either.
My Dad had always been a little moody. He wasn’t one of those people you could describe as ‘even-tempered’. There was nothing dramatic, no shouting or smashing things but I knew when he was in a bad mood and when not to approach him. My adventure started while he was in exactly that sort of mood. His mood had lasted for days, during which time he had hardly spoken. I asked him several times what was wrong, but he refused to tell me.
One night I was up late, reading my Bible when I heard the front door being opened. As I listened, I could make out low, rough voices with distinctive city accents. After listening for a while, I put my book down and sneaked out of my bedroom, hiding just out of view at the top of the stairs. Trying hard not to make a sound, I eavesdropped on their conversation with Dad.
“So where’s the money, Frank?”
“I don’t have it.”
“I don’t fucking believe you, Frank. You owe us.”
“Look I will get it, I swear.”
My Dad’s voice was higher-pitched than usual. He was scared. Who were these people? I felt so powerless. I wanted to run down the stairs to tell them to leave him alone, but I was scared too. There was something about their voices, their tone that terrified me.
“You had long enough,” said the other one.
“Jesus what are you going to do with that!”
“Relax we aren’t going to shoot you, not here, and not like this.”
“How’s your daughter?” asked another voice. My blood ran cold as I heard them mention me. I wanted to run back to my room and hide but I was frozen to the spot with fear.
“Don’t talk about her.”
“Why not Frank? I have a proposition.”
“I don’t care, I don’t want you talking about her.”
“She a virgin?” asked another voice. I covered my mouth in shock.
“What the hell!” said my Dad, “I’m not going to answer that!”
“Listen Frank, you are in no position to refuse.”
“Go to hell!”
“Maybe I will. But I want her. I want her virginity. As part-payment.”
“What the hell!”
“If she’s a good fuck, maybe full payment. We’ll see.”
“You’re out of your mind!”
“Think about it Frank, you’ve got a week.”
I heard the door opening and shortly after, it was slammed shut. I thought I heard my father sighing as their car started up on the driveway. I wandered back to my bedroom in a daze. I had so many questions. Who were those terrible people? How could my Dad get involved with them? And why would they ask such horrible, disgusting things?
As I lay on my bed, my heart was pounding and my mind racing. I couldn’t stop myself thinking about what the men had said, about their filthy words, their degraded lust for a teenage girl. I turned it over and over in my mind and I tried to tell myself that the strange tingling sensation I felt deep in my being, the stirring of all my secret, disgraceful fantasies didn’t mean anything. But I didn’t pick up my Bible again.
Next day at breakfast, my Dad confessed. He owed some money to some very bad people. He told me he would sort it out, but he was ashen faced and looked as though he hadn’t slept, When I asked him who he owed the money to, he told me, in an emotionless voice, as though he wasn’t really there, then he asked me to promise him that I would be careful.
I thought about it all day and barely noticed a word that any of the teachers said. By the time I got home that evening, I had already begun to make a plan.
But first I needed to know more. The name my Dad had given me, Benutti, sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. So that night, after dinner, I went online to research them. What I found was horrible. The Benuttis were a crime family. Not just any crime family, but the worst in the whole city. They were involved in racketeering, illegal loans, prostitution, smuggling and kidnapping. I couldn’t believe that my Dad had gotten mixed up with people like that.
But I was going to be the one to save him. I would sort it out. I would go to them myself. I would beg them, plead with them, and make them see what a good guy my Dad was. They would be so impressed that a girl my age had been brave enough to do that, they would let my Dad off. I would be a hero. At least, that was the official plan.
Looking back, though, I think I knew at the time what I really wanted. I just couldn’t admit it to myself. I couldn’t admit that the story I had written months before, the dirty, filthy, disgusting story in which a strong, handsome mob boss kidnaps a girl like me and does terrible degraded things to her, was my deepest fantasy. I had thrown that story away, terrified that someone might find it, but it was still in my thoughts, embedded in my imagination.
So when fate handed me a chance to live out my fantasy for real, I couldn’t give myself permission to do it. I had to wrap up my real instinct, my real motive in duty, in the idea that I was going to be the hero, that I was going to save my Dad.
I planned it for the next night. I told my Dad I was going to Amy’s house on the other side of town. But under my jeans and cardigan, I wore a business skirt, a blouse and a blazer, and I caught a taxi on Main Street. The driver looked at me strangely when I told him where to go.
“You sure about that?”
“Perfectly sure, thank you,” I replied. He shrugged and turned the car round to head back to the city. I noticed him glancing at me as I slipped out of my jeans and straightened out my suit, and I wanted to tell him not to be such a pervert, but I told myself that the people I was going to meet were tough and I would need to be able to deal with it.
The cab dropped me downtown and the driver wished me good luck before slamming the door and speeding away. I stood on the trash-scattered sidewalk, looking around at the dimly-lit street and the boarded up stores and I felt my legs weaken. What had I done?
But there was no going back now. Hearing my heels echo on the sidewalk as I moved, I tried to still my thudding heart as I headed to the bar. Gino’s was the place where the Benutti family met, plotted and ran their empire. It was a tatty, run-down kind of place, with just a small sign above the door. I took a deep breath and pushed open the door.
Inside, it was a lot more plush than I had expected. The walls were decorated with pictures, the tables and chairs were clean and expensive-looking and there was a huge, ornate mirror running the length of the wall behind the bar. The lights were down low and the place was virtually empty. I tried to look confident as I walked to the bar and took a seat.
“Can I help you?”
The barman was young, tall and handsome, and he seemed a little surprised to see me. I began to speak in a wavery voice, then stopped, closed my eyes, summoned up my courage, and said, as clearly as I could that I was there to see Mr Benutti, senior.
“Senior?” he replied, looking even more surprised.
“Yes please,” I said. The barman shrugged, turned and walked through the door at the back of the bar. A minute or two later, he came back and inclined his head.
“Mr Benutti will see you,” he said.
Feeling my heart thudding under my ribs, I followed the barman down a short corridor to an office door. He rapped on the door with his knuckles, smiled at me and then walked away. Still blushing from the look the barman had given me I didn’t notice that the door had opened and a short, squat, angry looking bald guy in a tight suit was glaring at me.
“Who the fuck are you?”
“I…I’m Carly Cartwright. I…I’m here to see Mr Benutti.”
The thug looked me up and down then took a step back and, nervously, I walked into the room. It was a spacious study. The walls were covered in pictures, some of them of famous actors, while others seemed to be family photos. On one side of the room was a green leather couch and at the end of the room, an enormous desk, behind which sat Mr Benutti. He was more handsome than he had appeared in the pictures I’d seen online. Even sitting down I could tell he was tall. He wore an expensive suit that accentuated his broad shoulders, his dark hair was thick and wavy and he had a broad, attractive smile. He looked like a film star.
“And who are you?”
“I’m Carly Cartwright,” I stuttered.
He leaned back in his chair and smiled again. Then he looked at the bald guy behind me and indicated that he should leave. I heard the door close behind me and Benutti smiled again.