Her Secret Protector(3)

By: Roxanne Snopek

And a few heartbreaking ones, too, referred to her by therapists, of traumatized young women wanting to reclaim their sensuality.

She’d loved the work. Until she started getting calls and messages from presumptive strangers, creepy adult film and magazine executives. And then there was the effect on her love life. Men either hated what she did and demanded she stop, or worse, loved it too much.

Happy Cherry Lake families might not present the creative or emotional challenge of her Forever Yours Intimate clients, she could safely display the photographs anywhere and everywhere.

Now, it looked like those old files weren’t as hidden as she’d thought they were.

Carrie leaned forward in her desk chair, blinking at the self-portrait staring seductively back at her, proud of it, despite her panic. This was a different Carrie. Beautiful. Powerful. Dangerous. Nothing at all like the Carrie who ran Forever Yours Photography and took g-rated pictures for family albums and school yearbooks.

No, Forever Yours Intimate had been where she explored her subjects with depth and vulnerability unavailable in a twenty-minute family sitting. It was where women like Rita Kauffman grew bold enough to access their inner sirens and discover their true beauty.

She covered her mouth with both hands, as the enormity of this hit home.

If anyone connected her current life with her old life, her business would be ruined. She could kiss her school board contracts good-bye. She’d probably lose her civic gigs, too. Family sittings, weddings, it would probably all disappear.

She scrolled through more images from the same shoot, trying to connect the fearless, sexy, naive, girl-Carrie of then, to the mature, responsible professional she was today. Those brief years in San Francisco had been nothing but an aberration. A fun aberration, to be sure.

But this was her life now. And these images had the power to destroy everything she’d worked so hard to build.

“We recommend you contact a security expert immediately,” said the message.

“Yeah,” Carrie said aloud. “I just bet you do.”

She thought of Scott Norman, the jovial man who ran the local hardware store. Carrie’s father kept telling her to get Scott to retrofit her house with an alarm system. She smiled wryly at the thought of asking Scott about a problem like this.

Not only was internet security out of his wheelhouse, but the thought of Scott seeing these photos… she shuddered.

The thought of anyone she knew seeing those photos was simply, simply… impossible.

“Oh, man,” she moaned. “What am I going to do?”

Where did a person even start?

She typed “internet security expert” into her Google search bar, and instantly pages and pages of responses appeared. The tension in her belly ratcheted up as she scrolled through them. Most contained numerous ads and seemed to be unconnected to actual human beings.

Maybe that would be her best bet. If she did it all online, she wouldn’t have to deal with the embarrassment of a face-to-face encounter.

But trusting the internet had gotten her into this problem; wouldn’t trusting it for the solution carry the same risk?

Carrie stumbled out of her chair and went to the window, breathing hard. This was a nightmare. She was wandering around blindly in a land where she didn’t speak the language and masked bandits hid behind every tree. Why hadn’t she at least taken a computer science in high school?

“Barn doors and horses, honey,” she muttered, as her mother had said so often.

Ugh. Her poised, polished, pillar-of-society mother would be devastated to learn of what her daughter had really been up to in California. Cathy Jackson Logan had not raised her daughter to act in such a manner. Her parents hadn’t wanted her to study there in the first place; this would simply confirm that they never should have let her go.

Now, if Carrie’s cousin, Jessica, had taken photos like this, no one would have blinked. They’d have expected it, even.

Outside the window, a pair of young boys on bikes waved at her. She waved back.

This would change everything. Carrie Logan was a role model, and not just to her younger brother and sister. She volunteered at the animal shelter, gave blood, sponsored fund-raisers, attended town meetings. She was a good girl, an asset to the town, an example of the excellent stock founded on the great Nathan Jackson.

But she was also Carrie Logan, who’d once secretly taken titillating, sensual photos. For money.

Pornography. That’s what they’d call it.

She swallowed. It was one thing to let down her parents; disappointing her Grandpa Nate was another thing entirely.

No, she had to contain this disaster, no matter what it cost.

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