An Introduction to Candace Victoria Ryder

"I'm sorry. Did you say you forged my signature? Candace, how many times did you do this?" Dad was mad, and he had a right to be. I never should have done that.

"I only did this for the fieldtrips I really wanted to go on," I replied hoping I could use that as an answer.

"That doesn't answer the question," Mom stated as she stood in front of me. I wasn't going anywhere.

"Well, what do you want me to say? That it was the first time?"

"I'd like that to be the answer, yes, but that's not likely to happen. How many times?" he was annoyed that I had even tried to forged his signature in the first place.

"Fifteen," I made up a number. I really forged his name about forty times, I think.

"Really? Then why does this note say fifty?"


5. Thanks to Dad's "Precious" Little Sister

January 24, 2006

"Candace, get the guest room ready. Aunt Catherine is coming to visit," Dad said as he sprinted by me to look at himself in the mirror.

Hold on. When did this happen? And why wasn't I told about it until now?

I had just come home from school and it would have been nice to know earlier in the week that the only woman in the world who absolutely hated my guts was coming to visit, and Dad was acting like she was royalty, wanting everything to be perfect for his little sister.

Aunt Catherine could be ridiculously cruel at times. She was quite the perfectionist, and always felt that she was in charge of everything that went on in my life. Anyway, when I made the comment of acting like she was royalty, Dad glared at me as he fixed his tie and cufflinks.

"I know she doesn't like you kids, but at least pretend you care that she's coming. You especially, Candace, need to respect her. And I will not have this conversation with you, again."

Respect her? Why? Nothing good ever came from treating her with respect.

"Doesn't like me? Dad, she HATES me!" I tried telling him. He held his hand up to silence me, and it worked in his favor, of course. It always worked in his favor.

"That's enough, Candace! She'll be here in an hour. Go take care of the guest room, now." My dad was only strict with me thanks to my habit of getting into so much trouble.

I mumbled something on my way up the stairs and rolled my eyes. Suddenly, my father's voice pierced the silence. How did he know I had rolled my eyes? I wasn't even looking at him.

This wasn't fair. Aunt Catherine didn't like David, but she hated me, and I never knew why for the longest time.

I had decided that I would respect her, but not the room she would be staying in. I already had several different contraptions in mind to set up in her room. They would all go off as soon as her door would open.

"Candace, I'm going to the airport. There had better not be any traps set when I come back," Dad called up the stairwell. He knew me way too well. How would I possibly keep the traps set but still obey my dad? I didn't know, but I was going to find a way.

All of the contraptions originated from under the bed or the dresser. I hoped no one would figure out that I had placed them in the room. Dad even checked, for fishing line and anything else that might fall down on purpose, when he came home. Of course it was the wrong guest room.

He didn't say anything about the bubble wrap that was under the throw rug, which I was happy about.

My happiness didn't last very long, though. Aunt Catherine came down the stairs, soaking wet and covered in feathers. I would have laughed, too, if it weren't for my dad's threatening expression. I was glad he wasn't near the door of the parlor.

David was there the whole time. He wanted to stay and watch my parents yell at me.

"How did you manage to pull this off?" he glared at me.

"Would you believe me if I said that I didn't set anything up?" I asked, afraid of what he might do. He shook his head, with his eyes so narrow that I couldn't see them.

He placed his hands on his hips as he said that he should have dragged me up the stairs with him when he checked the room. I agreed. He really should have taken me with him to get rid of my traps.

I didn't wait for his hand to wrap around my arm. I bolted to my room, but collided with Mom before I could make it to my destination. I don't know how, but she remained standing, and I was on my back, staring at the ceiling. Mom helped me to my feet and turned me around so that I was facing the entrance to the parlor.

"Do you need her for anything, Jack?" she asked, gesturing for David to leave.

"Did you really think that you could run away from this?" Dad asked, folding his arms. That was his traditional sign showing me he meant business. Mom started guiding me back into the parlor.

"Mom, please don't do this to me. Let me go. I'll get rid of all the traps, I promise," I pleaded with her.

"She's a con-artist in the making," Aunt Catherine smirked. Mom and Dad glared at her.

What was my aunt talking about? How could I have been a con-artist in the making?

I really, really wanted to know what she meant by that statement.

"What do you mean Aunt Catherine?"

"Catherine," Dad shot her a warning look. "Don't answer that."

I tried getting an answer from my mother. It was her turn to give a warning look, this time toward me. I was never to ask that question again.

"Candace," Dad started.

My eyes were downcast, glued to the floor. He tried to continue, but he couldn't force himself.

"Look at me, Candace. I want to see your eyes."

I refused to make eye contact.

"You will apologize for what has been done to your aunt, then you will get rid of whatever traps are left," he said, tapping the fingers of his right hand against his left arm.

Why should I have had to apologize to someone who hated me? I had been doing just that my whole life.

If Aunt Catherine thought I was turning into a con-artist, she should have looked in the mirror. She always pretended to act like an angel to me whenever my parents were around.

She had her moments when she would accidentally let her true feelings about me show through.

Dad was tired of listening to me complain, "How hard is it for you to admit that you're wrong?" his voice rose with each passing second.

I pointed out that it would be easy for me to admit I was wrong, but I wasn't. Mom thought I was getting arrogant.

"She's right, Claire. I've lived with Catherine long enough to know that she will do almost anything to get what she wants," Dad replied.

Aunt Catherine admitted to being a manipulator, but brought the subject of ridicule back to me. Dad acted like he had lost track of his thoughts.

Once I realized Mom wasn't watching me, I slowly made my way to the door. It wouldn't open.

Okay? Did they seriously lock me into the parlor with them?

Dad wasn't even looking at me, but he heard the door knob, "Don't bother, Candace. You're not leaving until I hear sincerity in you apology to my sister."

What were they possibly thinking? There's no way they could keep me in there.

Subconsciously, I noticed two paperclips on the table next to where I was sitting. I didn't even get to complete the motion of resting my hand next to my new escape route.

"Don't you dare pick those up!"

How could he have possibly known that I was going to pick the lock? There was no way he could have seen that coming.

"How-" I never finished the question. I didn't really need the paperclips that were on the table. I never went anywhere without two of my own paperclips, or my lock-picking kit. I stood up shoving my hands into my pockets as if I were frustrated. My fingers wrapped around the paperclips, slowly pulling them apart.

There was no way Dad, Mom, or Aunt Catherine could see what I was doing. I thought I was being quite stealth, too. That is, until I saw Dad's hand in front of my face. He cleared his throat.

"I don't-" I never was good at lying to my parents.

"Candace, don't lie. Now give them up. I know you have paperclips in your pocket," he said. He continued to hold his hand out for almost five minutes before I finally gave in.

"Come on, Dad!" I said, slapping the paperclips into his hand. Mom was standing between me and the door. There was no way I would get out of that room without apologizing like Dad wanted. I did my best sincere apology while still lying through my teeth.

"Why does Aunt Catherine hate me so much?" I asked before being turned around and pushed out of the room.

My aunt had such a menacing smile on her face. It made me rather uncomfortable to have been in the same room as her.

"Maybe I don't like you because-"

"Catherine," Dad interrupted her.

While my parents and my aunt continued to talk, I left to get ready for supper. What they didn't know was that I had turned around. I never actually left.

Dad turned to his precious sister, "I love you, Catherine, but we don't talk about that in front of her. We'd appreciate it if you didn't either."

Hold on. They don't talk about what in front of me? Fortunately, until I spoke up, no one knew I was just outside the parlor.

"What we are talking about is none of your business, Candace," Dad said pulling at his ear. "This is adult conversation."

Okay, was I really supposed to accept that answer? Sadly, yes. I was going to have to, for now. I couldn't take it anymore.

I had to know what my parents were talking about before it was time to eat, but they wouldn't talk to me about it so I was going to have to take desperate measures to get the answer I was looking for if I was going to get an answer at all.

"Dad, what were you and Aunt Catherine talking about before supper?" I asked, standing in the doorway of my parent's bedroom.

He said it was none of my business, and pushed his way past me, making his way to his office.

"It's about me, isn't it?" He stopped in his tracks wondering how I could possibly know whether it was about me or not. I knew it was about me, "Will you just say what it is? I want to know."

"I'll never tell you until you're ready because you wouldn't be able to handle it if I did." He was talking to one of his clients after that statement. "Hold on, Good Sir." He looked at me and told me that he would never say a word until I was ready, and returned to his client. "But I am ready," I said ignoring the look he gave me. "Please, Dad. Tell me."

"No. You're not ready, it's part of your punishment, and I am on the phone in case you haven't noticed," a threatening look came from his eyes.

I was about to go back to my room, when Dad hung up. He gestured for me to come into his office. Uh-oh. What was he going to do?

I didn't have to, but I still pointed out that I was fourteen. "I think I can handle whatever you tell me."

"Like I said, it's part of your punishment. Now, go to bed."

I was not going to leave this subject alone. What could my parents possibly have been keeping from me? Dad still wouldn't answer any of my questions I had about my past. I didn't have as many baby pictures as David did.

January 25, 2009

"Dad!" I shouted, not being able to find him anywhere until his voice broke through the door of his office that was not a part of his room.

I didn't know he was on the phone with my mother until I opened the door.

"She's asking questions about her past, Claire," I heard him say into the phone.

Mom was in her office at the law firm where she worked. He pointed to the chair that was next to where he was standing. I chose one that was further away.

"Claire, I promise you that I'm not going to say a word about it while Big Ears is listening. I'll see you when you get home."

Big Ears? I couldn't believe he called me that. Never once have I been that nosy until now.

Right after he hung up, he tossed a note pad over in my direction.

What was this for? I would soon find out.

"I want you to write down everything you have done that your mother and I don't know about or that you simply weren't the one to tell us," he said as he leaned back in his chair with his feet on the desk, looking over a legal form he would have to sign in order to accept a client.

"There aren't any," I said trying not to smile.

"Lying will be at the top of the list," he said pointing at me.

I hated that he could see through me like that.

Right as I stood up, I heard what sounded to be a car locking, but it was the door and windows to Dad's office.

Not again! I dreaded what this meant. I never did like locked doors. I called my mother to tell her what Dad was doing. She congratulated him! He had finally found a way to keep me in a room without requiring Mr. Wilson's assistance. (There hasn't been a lock yet invented that I can't pick).

To clear things up, the door and windows were locked. Picking the lock wasn't my problem. My problem was getting ahold of the button to turn the alarm off. One of them was on Dad's key chain.

My other problem was if I touched the door or windows, the alarm would go off. It was very loud. The button Dad used was very well hidden. I may be smart, but Dad was always good at hiding things. Whenever he hid something, it was as if that thing never existed.

"Dad, you can't keep me in here," I said giving him the list I finished making.

He looked at me through his reading glasses, "I told you not to leave anything out."

"I didn't," I said with my hand over my heart.

"There's one that I seem to recall, very, very distinctly, and I don't see it hear."

Wait! Which one is he talking about? How long will it take for me to figure this out?

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said almost ready to cry, not real tears of course. I sat back down in the chair, and ran my hands through my hair.

"Well, figure it out, because you're not leaving until I get everything," he said before walking out of the office and resetting the alarm. "Don't even try to get out," he said as he pushed the button that was on his keychain.

The door slammed shut. Suddenly, the door and windows were covered by four rows of lasers. Yup! I was stuck there until Dad was happy with the list I had made.

Could it be that my dad was talking about the time I? No. He couldn't mean the time I forged Mom's signature to get a major acting role in the high school play.

He did. Surprisingly, no one knew about that until now.

"Who told you about me starring in the school play? I never told anyone. I even used one of my fake names to keep everyone oblivious to the fact that I was even there," I said when Dad opened the door.

"The Drama instructor, called your alias' cell phone. I told her that you wouldn't be making it to class, today."

"Jack?" Mom's voice came through the door. "Jack, she's not allowed in here." Mom never failed to point that out. "You never know what she might find."


"Candace, your father and I need to talk."

All I had wanted to know about were the adoption records I had found in the top drawer of Dad's desk. I found them during the short period of time that he was out of his office.

Mom slowly turned her head. That was all it took for me to know that it was still none of my business. But she had to say so just so that she could make herself crystal clear.

That's it? That's the explanation I get for adoption records that never existed until now as far as I knew. They weren't going to say another word in front of me so I might as well have left like Mother asked. I had turned the intercom on before leaving.

"Jack, you need to get rid of those records." That was all I heard before Dad looked to where I was standing a few seconds ago.

"Go to your room, Candace. I know you're listening," he said before turning it off.

Aunt Catherine had a gigantic smile on her face when I bumped into her while heading up to my room.

I waited until she looked the other way before sneaking around her and going to my room.

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