Book 1, Chapter 27

Charlotte Pinkerton was quite sure she was the most unlucky woman in the world. With a half gallon of ice cream sitting in her lap and constant shoveling working it into her mouth, she tried to find consolation for what could have gone down as the worst day in the history of bad days.

It had started with the alarm not going off. Somehow, it had not deemed it worth bothering to go off only to be switched off immediately and had decided to skip the whole process. Used to sleeping in complete darkness, she’d turned off her false window and eliminated the chance of the growing light giving her reason to rise and shine. Her phone was in the living room and set on vibrate in case her boyfriend, who was without a sense of time or decency, decided to give her a ring past midnight to inform her of the coolest thing he’d just witnessed. With everything stacked against her, Charlotte Pinkerton was four and a half hours later for work, a job that was subsequently taken away from her upon her stumbling in on her four inch red pumps.

It had been her favorite job she’d ever had; the easiest and most financially rewarding career choice she’d ever made. Even if it was just a little corner bakery, to Charlotte it was paradise. She loved the way the place smelled, the way she always came home smelling like fresh bread and pastries. It was like working and getting aroma-therapy at the same time. And the customers! She adored her regulars and newcomers were always just as pleasant and eager to dine on some very fine food. Charlotte only had to ring customers up and arrange the display case with the fresh goods every now and then. On top of that, every day her breakfast and lunch were provided without a dock in pay: doughnuts, turnovers, biscuits and gravy, deli sandwiches on the fluffiest, warmest rolls in the sector. It had truly been heaven. Faced with termination, it was hard to imagine what job she could find that would ever compare to the satisfaction she had received from the one she had lost.

Looking for comfort, Charlotte had telephoned her boyfriend. As though he were purposefully avoiding the job of petting her head as she cried, his phone had been off. Not deterred, Charlotte caught a bus to his block and proceeded up to his apartment. They had exchanged keys early on in their relationship and so she did not bother to knock before entering his home. If he were not there, she’d keep herself occupied as his maid until he returned. He was sloppy, even for a man, and like most men, he needed a mother as much as he needed a girlfriend and lover. Opening the door though, it was a pair of large naked breasts attached to another woman that greeted her rather than the usual empty mess. He was there, she was there, and Charlotte was most certainly there. With those three elements combined, a volatile reaction was imminent.

He was cheating on her and therefore, obviously, it was her fault. Since they’d started dating she’d gained twenty pounds from eating at work and had, in his opinion, really let herself go. How was he supposed to still find her attractive when she came over smelling like yeast rather than wearing some sexy perfume? Anita--that was the other woman--was thinner, smelled like a woman and not a bakery, and was bisexual. The prospect of a threesome mixed with larger breasts and a tinier waist had obviously won out over three years of devotion. Had she really cared about him, she’d have made the effort to be a woman and not a shop girl.

Charlotte was dumbstruck and crying so hard that nothing but wet, blubbering sounds came out. The fact that she had lost the job he seemed to despise so much only made the situation worse. Now she was coming over to make him her sugar daddy and pay for all her needs because she was too immature and irresponsible to take care of herself. In the end, Charlotte simply stormed out, unable to handle any more. If Anita wanted the big man-child, she could have him! That’s how she wanted to feel, anyway.

Halfway down the block, Charlotte pulled out her mobile and dialed her mother’s number. Her mother would understand and give her the words she needed. All she really wanted to do was tell someone about it, vent to someone who would care and tell her she was right and everything would work out in the end.

In hindsight, she realized it was not her mother she should have phoned for such words. Her mother had started in on her immediately. How had she let him go after three years together? Had she tried a little harder and put a little more effort into her appearance, she could be planning a wedding rather than making arrangements with a dating agency. She was never going to get a man at that rate. Men don’t want a rag doll girlfriend, they want something they could brag about and no one cared how nice she was. In frustration, Charlotte hung up on her, hands shaking in anger and grief, giving up on people in general. If she could find no solace in people, she’d turn to the next best thing: chocolate.

Half a gallon and a movie later, she still felt terrible. Only now she felt guilty for eating so much and was filled with self-pity. She was near the point where suicide actually felt like a solution when there was a knock at door. Not expecting anyone, she ignored it. When the knock came again, she went over and peeped through the view screen at the person on the other side. It was a strange man dressed all in black. Charlotte pressed her thumb against the intercom button.

“What do you want?”

The man stood taller, smiling at the camera. “Good evening, child. I am from the Christ Initiative Group. If I could have a moment of your time, I would like to share with you the word of the gospel. Only through Jesus can we truly find happiness in this life. He is the light in our darkest hour.”

Charlotte gawked slightly. Was it a sign? She’d never really given religion much thought personally, having had more interest in things that were hands on or found on science shows. Religious programs always had the most ridiculous presenters who all talked the same way with the same boring message on how many different things she’d done were going to put her in hell. She’d heard people talk about hearing the calling or how religion had saved their lives, though. Maybe this was a sign meant just for her to show her there was something divine out there that loved her and wanted her to be alright and succeed.

“You just...want to talk to me about God?” she asked the man on the other side of the door.

“It would be my humblest joy to do so. Everyone deserves to feel the peace and love that comes from opening your heart to our savior, Jesus Christ.”

Charlotte thought about it for a moment then unlocked her door and stepped back to let him in.

Charlotte bled to death few minutes later when the man raping her slit her throat, severing the arteries. Awash in her blood, Greg Waters smiled as he welcomed himself home.

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