The Lake

ONE

Tuesday, April 27

Verna Lavette clapped her hands.

“My favorites!” she squealed.

Almond marzipan, walnut whirls, and those scrummy caramel creams…

“Oh, thank you, she said, her chubby face wreathed in smiles.

“No problem, sugar,” the man said. “My pleasure—as always.”

Verna looked sheepish. “Can I have one, now? Before…”

“Sure. Have one, two, or three. Makes no difference, but…” He glanced at his wristwatch. “Best make it snappy. No time to lose.”

Sucking on a caramel cream, Verna looked at her benefactor. Well, she pondered, he ain’t really my benefactor. I give him plenty, in return for his dough—ooh, yes, and the candy. Don’t forget the candy.

She made a face.

Sure, she did her bit.

Got the scars to prove it, too.

Yessir. All things considered, the Candyman got pretty much what he wanted.

He must like what I do—and how I do it, she told herself. Keeps a-comin’ back for more.

Like now.

The room was dark except for the anglepoise spotlight by her bed. He was telling her to take off her slip, all slow and sexy, like Marilyn Monroe.

It always began like this.

Then the action moved on to…other things…

Some guys have weird ideas, and her Mr. Candyman was no exception. At times she wondered if it was worth her while. The things he made her do, an’ all.

She sighed. In her job, never mind the way she looked these days, she needed every goddamn cent she got—while she could still get it.

And, no question, the Candyman paid her good.

She watched him adjust the spotlight so it lit up her left side. Feeling around in his holdall, he brought out a Polaroid camera.

He put it to his eye, squinted into the lens, and ran off a couple of shots. Testing for light conditions. Verna knew the score inside out.

He waited a moment. The mechanism whirred and spewed out the Polaroids.

He peeled off a picture and watched it color up.

Frowned, muttered “Shit!” and tossed it on the bed.

The result was not to his liking.

The second one turned out okay.

Mr. Candyman grinned approval. His teeth gleamed briefly in the lamplight.

That’s my baby.

Now. Down to business.

Sweat broke out. Speckling his upper lip.

Placing the Polaroid camera on Verna’s nightstand, he brought up a small silver one from out of his holdall.

Verna smiled. One a’ them classy Japanese jobs—nothin’ cheap about this guy.

Dollar signs danced before her eyes.

The Candyman was naked.

Verna stared at his erection. Tilting slightly, stiff and strong, poking out from all that dark curly hair.

I wish, she thought, hungrily, the familiar tingly rush teasing her center like crazy.

Do things right the first time—and maybe, just maybe, Verna gets to taste some a’ that.

She sighed. The Candyman wasn’t into sex; he was interested only in his goddamn pictures. God knows she’d tried to play it for sex, but he just got angry. He’d slugged her in the kisser a coupla times.

If he weren’t so good-lookin’, he’d be just your average creep, she decided. But a mighty good-lookin’ creep, I’ll say that for him. The quiet type, too; don’t say much.

Bastard sure knows what he’s doin’ with a camera, though.

Verna shivered. A gal could go off the boil, time it takes…She studied the Candyman’s face. It was set. Engrossed. Maybe he’s one a’ them porno guys, she thought, making heaps a’ dough selling dirty pictures. She’d done a few porno flicks in her time, so she knew the score. Hell, there were plenty of big bucks in that game.

On the other hand, maybe the shit jacks off on ’em, all on his lonesome in a dark little room someplace…

Who cares? I do the job ’n’ I gets my fee…

Tossing back her blond hair, Verna swung into