60. Electra

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Once upon a time, in a different world than mine, there lived a girl named Electra Beaudry

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Once upon a time, in a different world than mine, there lived a girl named Electra Beaudry.

And she was everything.

That's what Jake made it sound like, anyway.

Electra had loved bubbles and daffodils, the color pink, small white dogs, and tutus. Whenever there were cupcakes around, you had to keep a constant eye on her because if you didn't, she'd find them and lick the icing off every last one.

So basically, she was just like every other little girl in the world.

I wished Jake would fast forward, but listened anyway because his love for her was so clear in his wistful smile as he went on and on about all the trivial details that I didn't care a lick about. Obviously, the love was platonic, so it was completely unreasonable to feel jealous, but yeah, that was there too. Did that mean I was no different from Charlotte?

Eventually though, he got to the day they'd gone into the woods.

Jake and Peyton had been twelve, Charlotte ten, and Electra six. They'd gone because Charlotte had wanted to catch frogs. In hindsight, Jake said, maybe he and Peyton should've been suspicious - Charlotte had never liked the woods.

And Charlotte had told me the truth after all. Everything about Beaudry's wife running off with another man and sending back for Electra were true.

But as I'd suspected, there was more to the story than she knew, a part that Jake and Peyton had kept from her.

That part, that hideously catastrophic twist of fate, was so incredibly tragic, that to this day, it brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Laney Beaudry had contracted a man named Thomas Lytle to kidnap Electra. In her defense, Lytle came with strong recommendations from people who needed men like him, as someone who was smart, efficient, and most importantly, trustworthy.

Lytle had taken a temporary position at the ranch, infiltrating their world. He'd befriended Charlotte and as agreed, had snatched Electra from the woods on that fateful day. He'd taken her back to his house and Laney had jumped on the first flight out, on her way to collect her.

Thomas had given Electra some food and a couple of toys to keep her occupied. Then, he'd locked her into a room and had gone out to buy cigarettes.

He didn't think anything of it, he lived alone in an isolated cabin near the woods and mostly kept to himself. He thought she'd be safe.

But while he was out, his brother, Cyrus, had come by.

Strung out on meth, he'd needed money.

While ransacking the house for something to pawn, he'd found Electra.

And he knew some people who would pay money for a girl...

Jake shrugged, his head bowed low, red-rimmed eyes staring at his open palms. "So he took her."

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