The story continues! Andi Gannett-Moore has gotten on the road and hopes she’s beneath the radar, but just getting on the road isn’t enough. She can’t idly experiment with her abilities any more — she has to learn to use them to protect herself… and to begin to find out who and what she’s dealing with.
In one sense, Lovelace½ #14 was the start of part two of the story, but in another it was a transitional post. When the eventual novel comes out, it’ll be at the start of part two, don’t get me wrong… but here it came out, as if it were resolving the cliffhanger… and then reestablished the cliffhanger.
So, this is actually a great jumping-on point in a lot of ways.
Finally… there’s a new button in the sidebar and at the bottom of the post. In addition to giving folks the (entirely optional I stress to you all) chance to support me on Patreon, there’s also one to “Buy me a cup of coffee.” This leads to the Ko.fi service, where you can tip/what have you $3 because you want to. You don’t have to register an account. If you click through, it just sends you to paypal to do the actual thing. Again — entirely optional, but if you want to, then thanks!
Andi left the taxi at Bean’s while still wearing the atrocity against fashion she’d used as a disguise. The iconic store was supposedly called ‘L.L. Bean’ without the possessive, but Andi had never heard anyone actually do that. She circled around the courtyard, letting the cab driver pull away, then swung back past the giant rubber boot sculpture, out across the street, and down to the ‘outlet store.’ That was where seconds, remainders and returns were the order of the day — unlike most ‘outlet malls’ or stores, the Bean’s outlet really was chock-a-block with things people sent back or were ‘slightly irregular.’ That made them cheap, and cheap was what Andi needed right now.
Once there, she wove among the racks of flannel, rugby shirts ill suited for actual rugby play, and white soled ‘boat shoes,’ finding a few things in her size at significant discount along with a few other tchotchkes. She didn’t take a chance at actually trying them on there — she was on the clock and she knew it. Naturally she paid cash.
From there she walked across the street — Mill Street — to a public lavatory. Thankfully, the bogs were more or less empty. Andi hurried into the furthest stall and began her next switch.
Into the paper store bag went her old jeans, the tacky shirt, her socks, her shoes, her sunglasses and her novelty baseball cap. Somewhat regretfully, she also threw the ‘fanny pack of bringing the pain’ into the bag. The androids had seen it, after all. Anything recognizable was recognizable. While at Bean’s she’d gotten a waterproof canvas camera bag — it had both a shoulder strap and could also clip to her belt for extra security. The bum bag’s contents went in that.
She’d also grabbed an actual tote bag — white and blue canvas with a snap closure and the initials KBG embroidered in blue on the side. Again — a return, so it’d been like five bucks. Into that bag she packed a couple of t-shirts, two rugby shirts, a couple of pairs of hiking socks, and a pair of boot cut jeans she’d grabbed. Underwear would have to wait for some other discount store — but if you didn’t care how it looked and you happened to fit the narrow range of ‘normal’ underwear wasn’t expensive.
She had grabbed a multi tool that had been an impulse purchase but a good one. It wasn’t a Leatherman or the like, but a few bucks for pliers and such was a good thing — the original knife from the bum bag was back in the Dean’s office, coated in a golden goo that shouldn’t come out of a body. Maybe the police would find it, but even if they did what would it tell them?
The new tool went into her camera bag. She repacked the tote to accommodate her less impulsive gear purchases — a canteen, an electric lantern she could charge by cranking, a flint, and water purification tablets. She didn’t know if she’d be camping. She just knew that having the means of making fire and killing water bacteria were no bad thing.
And, of course, there were the clothes she’d changed into, which meant she was ready to be someone new.
Stepping out after flushing, she checked herself in the mirror. White tank under an untucked blue button down over white slacks and a pair of white soled brown boat shoes. She bound her hair up and put it under a canvas white bucket sun hat. Finally, she’d grabbed another pair of sunglasses — cheap at the counter, less garish and more ‘preppy’ than the ones she’d just taken off.
She slung her tote, then slung the camera bag so that it was over the tote’s strap before she clipped it in place. She made a couple of adjustments to make it look a bit more natural — but if someone were to try to snatch the tote they’d have a very slightly harder time doing it, and for today that would have to do.
That was part of the point, of course. This was transition, not destination. She couldn’t begin to prepare for anything from being caught to some kind of counterattack until she was reasonably certain her pursuers wouldn’t pop up out of nowhere. It was all the same issues as before — make sure she couldn’t be identified. Find a secure place. Get more money. Build escape routes and contingency plans and leverage her freak brain for all it was worth.
Her old disguise had also gone in the paper bag. With everything finished, she stepped out of the loo and looked at herself in the mirror.
She looked like any of a dozen girls in the prep style she saw on any given trip. Age couldn’t easily be told, and her hair was nicely hidden under the bucket hat. Anywhere but Freeport it would stand out, but Bean’s kitsch was just part of the landscape here. Still, she needed a better solution before she left the town.
All that said, a crushable sun hat was also no bad thing.
Andi closed her eyes a moment and considered routes. She could envision the entire Freeport Main Street shops — she and Bell had come here any number of times. She hadn’t ever seen the Freeport Library, but hiking up Main Street brought you to a side road that had an actual decent tea shop Andi had insisted she and Bell go to twice… and halfway there was a cross street called ‘Library Drive.’ Andi figured she had good odds that was their local public library, and that was therefore her first stop.
Well, her second stop. To get to Library Drive, she just had to walk up Mill Street to Main Street, then turn right. She could see every step of the path in her mind’s eye. When she actually walked out — modeling her walking rhythm from memories of Mackenzie Layton, a senior on the Lacrosse team who lived the lifestyle Andi was aping—
Lacrosse. 12 games in the season, 10 played. Missed the 11th the day she was hauled into the Dean’s office on the charge of being too smart. 6 and 4 record. Andi had scored thirty-one times total in those games. Never saw that in a Freshman girl before — it was the cricket plus Field Hockey in years before. Every one of them hit her brain at once, like shots on goal — rain and sun and cold and sweat. Mud from a slide, cleats and relacing the pocket on her stick’s head, checks when the ref wasn’t watching and her two goal-circle-violations and—
Andi forced herself back into the moment, keeping her body language solidly Mackenzie Layton. She couldn’t let herself think about—
Instead of right Andi turned left on Main. She ambled, looking at shops as she went, casually tossing the paper bag with her last disguise into one of the big public trash barrels.
She walked past a pub that had its doors open for the early lunch crowd. She could see the television as she walked past. She’d already internalized the need to keep going and not react, so she managed not to stumble when she saw her own face on the screen, though that made it no easier.
There was no sound, but Andi had fourteen years of memories of watching people talk — the style and pattern and shape of their mouths seemed to almost mesh in one corner of her brain, letting the letters the newsreader’s lips were forming resolve into words as though Andi had been lipreading her entire life. “—as issued an Amber Alert for fifteen year old Andrea Moore. She is described as pretty and athletic, with long, slightly wavy dark hair and blue eyes. She was last seen in Brunswick, Maine wearing a white button down shirt and jeans. She speaks with a British accent. Her kidnapper’s description has not been released, but it is believed the kidnapper will be claiming to be her mother or father. Police have warned that Andi Moore may be delirious or delusional, and that they have reason to believe she may have been drugged prior to her kidnapping.” The presenter smiled. “In other local news, the Windjammer fleet is scheduled to arrive in Portland harbor no later than—“
Andi passed by, not reacting just as she’d promised herself. Still, she felt sick. They’d managed to mobilize the well meaning community into looking for her, and given them every reason to disregard her story.
All right. She had been fourteen and a quarter when that picture was taken. She was fifteen now, and her face had filled out. Someone who knew her would recognize her, but ‘pretty’ or not, there was no reason the average person would know her on sight… so long as that wave of black hair and those blue eyes were taken care of.
And that was already the plan.
Also? Gannett-Moore. For God’s sake, her amber alert got her name wrong. That was just pitiful.
She crossed the street, heading into ‘Diamond Cut Hair Services.’ Andi and her friends had never gone there, so they wouldn’t know her on sight. Still, Andi concentrated more on Mackenzie Layton as she walked in. She didn’t know Mackenzie well but she was on the Lacrosse team, which meant spending time near her on buses, in locker rooms, on the field, in bad restaurants on away trips… She’d seen the Massachusetts girl move, heard her speak, watched her makeup regimen and hundreds of other details. Even if she hadn’t realized it at the time, Andi had seen and heard everything she needed to put the eighteen year old American’s manner on like a dress, like her barely audible whispers and her laugh in the bus and the team going out to McDonald’s after the loss to NYA—
“Hi there!” The woman behind the counter was heavy-set, blond with tanned light skin with a few layers of foundation and concealer over it.
“Hey!” Andi said, cheerfully. Her intonations and cadence were perfect Mackenzie. “Got anything in the next few?”
“I can take you right now.” No shock. It was late morning. “What’re we looking to do.”
“Well, I dunno,” Andi said, pulling the hat and glasses off. She worked hard at her body language and pulling her hair behind her — her habit (and that picture) had her pull some of it over her shoulders. This was the weakest point. If this woman had been watching the news—
“Well come on over and let’s talk about it!”
Andi followed, adjusting the camera bag to sit on her lap as she sat down and got gowned for haircutting. She’d slipped her tote bag under the stylist’s counter as she sat down. She looked at herself in the mirror. “You know,” she said, apparently thoughtfully. “I’m really up for a change.”
¤ ¤ ¤
L.L. Bean had at least one ‘family bathroom’ on an upper floor — a bathroom with only one toilet, no stall, a changing table, and a sink and mirror. Andi hoped that no families needed it because she had to take her time.
She held the tweezers carefully, taking a deep breath, then slowly breathed out before plucking—
“Good God,” she muttered, wincing. “It’s worse than it looked.” She dropped the brow hair into the sink, then went to the next. This was harder, she decided, than learning to play the guitar in three minutes had been — she had been free to make mistakes with the guitar, and didn’t even realize she was using trial and error to develop the skill. This time, she knew what she was doing… but she also had to be right the first time. Plus, for added fun, she got to feel the little spikes of pain that came from yanking perfectly healthy brow hair out of her skin.
There was nothing for it. Andi’s eyebrows had natural arches and were quite thick and dark. They looked good — she knew they looked good. They were memorable.
And memorable wasn’t her friend right now. So. Pluck. Thin them out. Reshape them. Then, brush in brow powder and set with brow wax, to change the color and texture. She’d seen it done dozens of times in locker rooms or even just in bathrooms with ‘the girls.’ It had never been a thing for her, in part because her brows usually behaved. Bell used to talk about it — natural eyebrows were ‘on trend’ right now, and—
Bell, doing her makeup. Applying rouge over concealer and brushing until you couldn’t see any sign of the makeup, just the fact that she looked good. Bell working her hair, her clothes, her seemingly effortless sense for what matched and set her off. Her walk, her laugh, that time they’d gotten caught in the rain—
Andi closed her eyes. This wasn’t productive. She couldn’t let herself fall into this. They were literally coming after her. She had to keep moving. And besides, she’d never see Bell again.
Andi opened her eyes back up. “You don’t know that,” she murmured to the face in the mirror.”
The face looked back. Of course it knew it. It knew everything, right?
Andi took another deep breath and lifted the tweezers to her face.
¤ ¤ ¤
Time to go.
The thought wasn’t so much a complete sentence as it was a feeling. The Freeport Community Library was open until six, but Andi had worked out a tentative plan and it meant needing to get back to L.L. Bean by five. She’d made a note of the time when she walked into the relatively nice town library, and verified it against the time on the computer they used for catalog search, but she’d found in both cases she’d already known it.
She just… knew it, now.
Was that memory? Remembering the moments of her life with such clarity had come with a pretty exacting record of when those moments happened in relation to one another — maybe she was doing that constantly — a natural stopwatch for the seconds of life. Or was it pattern recognition? Back at Canterbury there’d been a science class where they talked about how animals and humans perceived time. Old Rosenbaum had said that people used their surroundings to ‘correct’ their perception of time — the sun in the sky, the ways that other people acted and so forth. Had Andi refined it to a whole new level?
Or was this yet another power? Did she just have a timepiece in her head ticking away the seconds? She didn’t know. Whatever it was, it seemed to have an alarm function, too — she knew that it took eight minutes to walk between the Freeport Community Library and Bean’s, assuming a leisurely and therefore unnoticeable amble, so she knew that she had to leave no later than four-fifty-two to make her target, with quarter-to better. Given that, she instantly knew she had to put things away the moment 4:42 arrived.
Gathering up her tote and making sure her camera bag was still locked in place, Andi took the pile of books and magazines she’d been looking through and brought them to the returns cart, setting them next to all the other things she’d looked through earlier — a local university course catalogue and promotional material. Yet more magazines — fashion, mostly. The Norton Anthology of English Literature and its American cousin. Several novels. Self-help, how-to, DIY guides, and cookbooks.
She looked at the stack, frowning slightly. It wasn’t likely the librarian would think too much about it, but she had to avoid that moving forward — speeding through shelves worth of books would be noticed if she weren’t careful.
“All set?” the librarian asked. She was a genial sort — mid-twenties, braided hair, slightly ‘Earth mother’ theme to her clothes. She’d been chatty. There weren’t a lot of people using the library today, and a new face might have been a novelty.
“For now!” Andi said, brightly. Her accent was more Bostonian now — she was mixing and matching between Mackenzie and Audrey Dale. She didn’t want to be a one-to-one match, and she was trying to stretch what she could do — exercise and experiment. “I’ll probably be back on Wednesday.”
“We’ll be here,” the librarian said, cheerfully. “Have a good one!”
“I will!” Andi waved, turned, and walked out the glass doors. She wasn’t trying to be overly circumspect — really, trying not to be seen was more about being so average no one paid attention, and she didn’t look anything like the girl on the television reports. She’d spent three hours (four minutes, thirty-two seconds) in the library. She’d been in the hairdresser’s chair for a couple of hours (two hours, eleven minutes, forty-six seconds). The rest of the time had been spent ducking into the drugstore and glasses outlet, running over to the lavatory at Bean’s, layering makeup on her face and making it look like she didn’t… at least her shirt had long sleeves, so for the moment she had to trust no one would notice her skin tone changed part-way up the forearm.
The time was well spent — the fifteen year old long-haired brunette with the pinkish skin and blue eyes had become a nineteen year old dirty blonde with a pixie razor-cut. Light bronzer helped her look tan and the foundation made her undertones seem more yellow than pink. She’d added oval glasses that had a slight tint designed to block blue — not enough so that the glasses looked amber, but if someone saw her eyes through them they looked slightly greenish. Thankfully the glasses hadn’t caught on in that form factor so she got them on deep discount. Her dark, somewhat arched eyebrows had been plucked to be thinner and softer in shape, then fluffed out with brown, which suited her new hair color a bit better. She’d contoured and accented to bring out her cheekbones, cutting down on her ‘heart shaped’ face at least to casual view. Add light mascara and eyeshadow — adjusting how the eyes looked on her face, how deeply they were set in… and then working to make the actual makeup as invisible as possible. Obviously if someone looked closely they’d see, but casual glances…
She’d gotten some other hints from the magazines — though they weren’t as useful as she’d hoped. On the other hand, she did get something out of them…
It had been a pretty cheap makeup kit she’d grabbed — cash was dear. On the other hand, while Andi hadn’t ever done much more than basic makeup for posh occasions before now, she’d had years of watching other girls in locker rooms and other settings, using different makeup techniques with wildly divergent levels of success. She’d had to experiment a little bit at first, but she adapted those different observations into skill as easily as she’d experimented her way into the Moonlight Sonata on Luke’s guitar.
Between the clothes, her revised appearance, her altered gait, her bearing… Andi was a lot more comfortable walking down the road. There were potential holes, of course. The hairdresser would remember she’d been a long haired brunette — would she recognize her on the news? Maybe. But if Andi got out of Freeport quickly enough that shouldn’t overly matter.
Either way, that was one reason she needed to be back at Bean’s by five. There were a lot of ways to get out of Freeport, but too many of them were trackable. The train or bus or even another taxi would leave records. There’d be a point where that would be okay, but that point wasn’t now.
But, late afternoon at Bean’s meant a certain type of customer wouldn’t just be there, but wouldn’t likely stay too long…
By 5:01 Andi was back on the first floor of Bean’s, wandering and shopping while watching all around herself with peripheral vision — looking for specific sorts of people…
It didn’t take long. By 5:09 she’d found them. A mother in her early forties, with a teenaged son and a son and daughter both at ‘tween’ — fraternal twins, probably. No sign of a father. The kids were increasingly loud and increasingly surly. The boy looked bored. The mother was slightly harried. They were all tired and more to the point hungry — with a little luck, they’d need to meet someone for dinner or at least weren’t planning on eating in Freeport. And their dialect was… midwest? Probably. Not Maine-native, regardless. And even though she surveilled them for quite a few minutes, out-of-staters like them were usually a bit dazzled in Bean’s for reasons passing Andi’s understanding. She was pretty sure none of them had noticed her.
When they went to the checkout, Andi headed out. The parking lots behind Bean’s were a maze of multiple lot areas, but it was Monday afternoon and they were only so full right now. She found a place near a wall by the loading dock, watching for the family…
They came out, right on schedule, walking for one of the back lots. Good. Andi darted around, over to the adjacent street. There wasn’t much sign of people on that street right then — it was mostly parking lots on either side anyhow — so she could scurry without being caught out.
By the time the family made it to their lot, Andi was leaned up against the parking lot sign, eyes down, looking like the air had been let out of her. The picture of a broken woman in her own world.
Of course, Andi noticed more with her peripheral vision than most people saw looking straight on. She saw the mother glance her way. She also saw the teen boy look more than once. Well, that was useful, too.
She could hear them talking. “—doesn’t look like a bum,” the boy was saying. “I just — you know. She looks—“
“I know,” the mother said, before sighing. She walked over to Andi. “Excuse me?”
Andi didn’t smile. She just looked up, ‘startled.’ “Oh! Sorry! I didn’t mean—“
“It’s all right. Are you all right? Is everything okay?”
Andi’s chin trembled a bit. “I… I don’t know. I mean… yeah, I’m sure. I’m just trying to figure out how to get back to Um-pig.” ‘Um-pig’ — or UMPG — was the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham. The college nickname would cement her age in the family’s heads.
“Aren’t there buses or a train?” The woman sounded worried.
“Yeah, but my boyfriend— my ex, I guess… when he… he had my wallet when he left. I’ve got nothing.” She took a shuddering breath in. “I’m such an idiot.”
“Oh — oh I’m sorry. Do you need some cash—“
“No! No, I don’t — I’m not a bum and this isn’t a scam or anything. God, the jerk got my phone and I don’t even know any numbers off the top of my head. I guess I could call home — mom and dad’ll love the chance to tear into— sorry. It’s not your problem.” She smiled, a couple of tears dripping down her face, glistening over the foundation. “Thank you for asking.”
“Well — do you just need a lift?” she asked, head cocked. “I mean, we’re going to Portland, anyway — if you just need—“
Andi widened her eyes. “I — no, that’s too much to ask.”
“Where’s your school?” She sounded concerned — still a bit wary, but concerned.
“I — well I live at the Gorham campus, but the Portland campus is where everything is. It’s right off Forest Avenue. You get the shuttle from there—“
“Forest Ave— Mom, we pass right by that!” The teenager sounded more enthusiastic than the mother. Andi could have called that one.
“…well, we do… all right. Why don’t you let us drive you to your college campus?”
Andi widened her eyes again. “I couldn’t let you do that! It’s—“
“Sure you can,” she said. “I’m Martha — those are Etta and Chuck and that’s Tom. We can… you have a bag, don’t you? Tom, why don’t you sit with — what was your name?”
“Kacey,” she said. “Kacey Gagnon.” She pronounced it ‘Guy-yon,’ which is how Debbie Gagnon from summer fitness had pronounced her name. The name also matched the KBG on Andi’s tote bag, and a fast Google search at the library hadn’t shown any recent Kacey Gagnons from around here.
“Tom, you and Kacey sit in the middle. Kids, you’re in the way back. Kacey, drop your Tote on the passenger side seat floor.” She grinned. “It’ll take like ten minutes!”
“Yeah — it’ll be cool,” Tom said, clearly happy to sit next to this blonde college student who might be on the rebound.
“…I… you’re sure?”
“It’s really no problem,” Martha said, smiling. Andi noticed that Martha’s plan put Andi’s stuff out of reach and kept her from interfering with the driving, not to mention putting the twins behind her. Tom looked athletic — she might figure that if Andi were a nutter the boy could handle her. So, a chance to do a good deed but probably not too risky — Martha was smart.
Tom’s enthusiasm almost made Andi smile despite her ‘distress,’ but she held onto her character. He was cute, from Andi’s own perspective. A little less lanky than Luke Miller, but with that same slightly dorky manner. Obviously Andi liked that sort of thing, and being fifteen herself—
But ‘Kacey’ was supposedly three years older, and Tom was a high school kid. So she didn’t let any of that out. Besides, she’d essentially committed to at least a date with Luke—
Oh. Right. She wasn’t going to a Spring Formal or informal or anything with Luke Miller. She had to assume she’d never see Luke Miller again.
Not that any of that showed in her face for the less than a tenth of a second it took to process. “…God, thank you,” she said. “You can drop me right at Forest Avenue, at the corner of Bedford, it’s just a block down from there.”
“We could drive you to Gorham—“ Tom cut in.
“That’d be like an hour trip out of your way. This is fine — that’ll get me home. I can hit Campus Security for help with my student ID — I can’t believe this. This is so nice of you!” Andi projected ‘relief and barely restrained tears’ as she spoke, visibly restraining herself from hugging Martha. Method acting, multiplied by Andi’s adaptive psyche.
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Martha said. “I remember being ditched a few times myself.” She grinned. “Okay — you two in the way back! Let’s go!”
Tom took the window side of the bench-seat, buckling up dutifully. Andi slid in next to him, buckling her own seat belt. With her peripheral vision she could tell he was trying hard not to look at her, and was scooching over a bit so that they wouldn’t be touching. A gentleman, more or less.
Granted, he could smell her, which was actually part of the plan, too. While the fashion and makeup tips in the magazines weren’t all that helpful to Andi, she’d scrounged samples of ‘Steam by Lovelace’ out of the magazines. She’d been judicious in applying them, though she was disappointed when it didn’t in fact smell like a piston engine.
Andi didn’t wear perfume normally. ‘Kacey’ did. Another bit of the role. In everything Andi had seen or read about subterfuge, the key to successful disguise was commitment. Kacey Gagnon had to be real all the time, in every little moment. Andi Gannett-Moore had to be gone. And smell was treacherous, from what Andi had read. If you didn’t overdo, people wouldn’t even notice it, but it would change their entire impression of you — even the mass produced perfume sample version of Steam was upscale enough and had enough musk scent to age Andi just by proximity. If these helpful people ever did get questioned, they’d swear she was nineteen or even older on the basis of smell alone.
The minivan pulled out and drove down to Main Street, where it would turn off and head down I-295 for Portland, carrying Andi further and further away from literally everyone she knew in this country. The radio had come on when the engine was started, and Martha left it playing — it was tuned to Maine Public Radio, which was doing some report on the plight of the midwestern farmer.
“So… what’s your major?” Tom asked, clearly unsure of what to say and not quite sure how to be quiet. Which meant the perfume was probably working.
“English,” she said, smiling briefly — she looked preoccupied, which made sense if she were ‘just dumped and abandoned.’ “English Lit, Comp Two — Algebra ‘cause it’s a requirement. Public speaking which is kind of a drag. 20th Century American Novel — I’m in the middle of a twelve page paper on Ethan Frome. I swear I could recite the thing in French.” She smiled, looking back. “How ‘bout you? Have any idea what you want to go to college for?”
“Not really,” he said. “I mean, maybe Political Science? Maybe go pre-law. Mostly I want to play hockey.”
Andi grinned. “You sound like my little brother. For him it’s baseball.” Andi almost felt ‘Kacey’s’ life wrapping around her own — the details weaving together with her body language, her attitude… she’d read books on method acting, on ‘tells’ in body language — lots of stuff, not all of which was helpful. Still. It made it easier to conceptualize. Of course, sitting here, right now, she noticed how much her muscles hurt. Some from the bike ride, but a lot from holding herself differently as she walked, moved, or even stood…
While they were talking the mini-van pulled onto the on-ramp for I-295 south. Andi kept up the patter — she’d memorized the course catalog and read through a bunch of the books that’d be in her classes if she really were a student at UMPG. They’d had most of that at that library — if nothing else, reading the Norton Anthologies of English and American Literature cover to cover with her brain meant she could easily fake being a generic lit major. Still, it had been a town library. Useful, but she needed more.
They passed by an electric sign that extended over the highway. “AMBER ALERT” was written across it. Behind Andi and Tom the two younger kids were bickering.
‘Kacey Gagnon’ apparently didn’t even notice the sign.
It was less than twenty minutes later, but what a difference twenty minutes made. The mini-van pulled up to the corner of Forest and Bedford in Portland. The largest of UMPG’s libraries was right there on the other side.
“You sure you don’t need a ride anywhere else?” Martha asked as Andi retrieved her tote bag.
“Oh, no — you’ve been way more than kind. I’m gonna go hit the library and call campus security. Thank you so much again.”
“Of course! Good luck!”
Andi waved to Tom and the kids as the minivan pulled out. True to her word, she crossed the street and walked over to the huge, almost cube-like library. Open Until 11 was cheerfully written on a sheet of paper on the door, no doubt due to exams and papers coming due.
She’d pulled four hundred out of her account back in Brunswick. There had been eighty dollars in the bum bag. After everything, she had sixty two dollars and nineteen cents left, she looked completely different, had several changes of clothes, and a few tools. She was in downtown Portland on the campus of a college, after sending her phone to Bangor on a bus. And she had a full academic library in front of her. Admittedly she wasn’t an actual student at this school, but on her big list of problems that barely even made page three under the topless model.
Income. Shelter. Escape routes. Those would be on her list no matter what happened. But she had enough money for taco bell, a place to begin to do research and preparation, she passed for nineteen and she was a short haired blonde.
Andi pushed into the library, a smile breaking out across her face. It almost felt like she meant it.