Don’t mess with Charlie! She may be small, but she is not a punk, as our hero finds out when he crosses her. This unedited scene picks up from the last snippet. Charlie had just told Hugh to get out…

Hugh stared at her, and he looked a bit shocked, by her language or her vehemence she didn’t know. But he obligingly rose. “I’m sorry, Charlie, I didn’t mean to –”

“I don’t give a fuck what you meant. I said get the fuck out.”

He stood there just long enough for her to think maybe she had another problem. Then he tipped an imaginary hat, and a few seconds later, he was gone.

Charlie immediately flipped all the locks and put her stick beneath the doorknob. Then she did like she did every night and went through the whole place, closing drapes and making sure the locks were locked tight. She set up her booby traps so she’d know if someone crawled in one of the windows. Then she set the alarm, stripped off her clothes and began to paint.

“Motherfucker,” she muttered.

Who the hell did Hugh Yardman think he was? Coming in here, pretending to want her, poking around in her business. Fucking asshole. Goddamn liars, every last one of them.

“Fuck’s the point of rakin’ up all that old shit, anyway, huh?”

It wasn’t like she could ever forget where she came from. Every time she opened her mouth her accent screamed, hillbilly! And too many nights to count when she laid down and closed her eyes she saw the so called man she’d supposedly fallen in love with. Half the time he was kickin’ her ass too. She didn’t need some high on the hog CEO to tell her shit about her sorry ass taste in men.

When she thought of her past, she didn’t see hearts and flowers and fond memories of a carefree childhood and such. She looked back and saw neglect, cruelty, loneliness and a petty, too brief love gone horribly bad. The truly good days were so long ago she could barely remember what they felt like. All she really had left of them were memories of her mama, and the stories her mama had told her. And those she had to hold onto by the skin of her teeth because there was so much bad in her fucked up mind it damn crowded out the good.

Her more recent past was like a car wreck. Only in this particular accident she drove the vehicle herself. There was no booze, no rain on the roads, no other driver to point a vengeful finger at. Only a gleeful, sadistic passenger who cheered her on while she drove herself straight into a tree.

Shit. Is it any wonder she didn’t want some starch necked stranger objectively pointing out her past like he knew what he was talking about? All she saw when she looked back were guns and gags and oxblood colored bruises that took weeks to fade, or didn’t fade at all because the self-professed love of her life added new ones on top of the old ones.

There would be no more grandiose, charming liars in her life. Sucking up her time and stealing her energy like the emotional vampires Una talked about when she was in Oprah mode. There would be no more men who thought all they needed to get in close was a pretty smile – or some organic juice – and some bullshit rescue fantasy.

Men were best kept at a distance. In her imagination, on a big or small screen, or on her canvas at a distance. That way they could be controlled, they were less dangerous.

“Love,” she muttered, stalking over to her paints and stripping her clothes as she went. “Bullshit,” she spat. “More like taking a drunken header off a mountain cliff at high wind. Stupid ass men. Ain’t one of ‘em worth two, dead, fuckin’ flies.”

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