“We have to do this on our own,” Meg insists when I apparently don’t speak up soon enough.“We can’t trust anyone.”
“We don’t even know what they want…unless there’s something you haven’t told me.”
“You’re his sister. You have to know. Why else would he hide you like he did?”
Why? Is she serious? “I’m his sister who was barely eighteen when she listened to her family being burned alive. I was ushered into hiding with no explanations.”
She shakes her head, rejecting...what? My claim? The events? “You have to know what they want,” she insists.
“I don’t. Who was the man who met me outside the hospital? Surely he knows.”
Right. She met Chad years later. “Did you meet any of Chad’s friends?”
“He had no friends. I think that’s why we needed each other. He was alone. I was alone.”
My heart twists with how much her words remind me of me and Liam. “Looks like we’re starting from scratch, and that isn’t a good thing. I’ve spent six years trying to put together a puzzle without pieces. Now we have five days.”
“Four days. Now we have four. What are we going to do? We have to figure it out.” Her voice rises and she’s starting to sound hysterical. “They think I know what they want. I don’t know. I thought you’d know. What do we do, Amy?”
Call Liam, I think, but she’s so off the deep end I don’t dare press to involve him. I grab her arms this time, leveling her in a stare. “We’ll be okay.” I nearly cringe at the words I’ve forbidden Liam from saying to me. “We’ll figure it out.”
She inhales and lets it out on a choppy nod. The attendant passes and I release her to grab him, eager for a blanket. “Fifteen dollars for a blanket and pillow,” the uniformed man informs me.
I feel myself pale and some of the bravado of seconds before fades. I have no money, no phone, no resources.
“I got it,” Meg offers quickly and pays the man for a pillow and blanket for each of us.
Unwrapping mine, I snuggle beneath it, and remind myself that one phone call to Liam, and my situation changes. I’m choosing to give away control, and that is control, as he would say. My confidence returns.“What’s the plan once we get to your car?”
“We don’t have one.”
Wonderful. Terrific. “Do you have money? Can we get a cheap motel?”
“Yes. I have enough.”
“Albany isn’t a huge place and it’s a logical location to get off the train from what I could tell from looking at the destinations in the train station. Believe me when I say I’ve learned the hard way that logical choices are dangerous. We should pick a large metropolitan city outside of New York and then stop to rest.”
Now she has the “okay” disease. It’s almost as bad as the “do nothing” disease I’ve lived for six years. I sink back into the seat.
“So what’s the closest big city?”
“Philadelphia, maybe.” She frowns. “It’s kind of backtracking so that might be smart. But really why hide out? They’ve found us already and they have Chad.”
“What happens when they decide they don’t need us but we know too much?” I ask.
“Right. Big city it is.” She takes out her phone and checks the internet. “Philly is less than four hours.”
“Philly it is then,” I agree.
I settle my pillow under my head. “We should try to sleep. It’s still a long drive on no rest.”
She hugs me. “I’m so glad you’re here.” Inching backwards, she tilts her head and drags her hand down my long, blonde hair. “You’re beautiful like he was.”
Discomfort ticks down my spine and I manage an awkward, “Thank you, we should rest.”
She nods and shrinks down in her seat.
I roll to my side, giving her my back and I cannot shake her choice of words. As beautiful as he was.
It’s several hours later when we exit the train station and reach Meg’s expensive grass-green Volvo. “Chad bought it for me,” she says, reading the question in my eyes.
“Nice choice,” I murmur, but as I settle into the plush leather seat, thankful for the seat warmers, the car bothers me. I was barely surviving most of the time and Chad paid cash for her Volvo, and he had to pay to park in Manhattan. It doesn’t feel right, but then Chad couldn’t just hand me extra money. It would have brought attention to him and me.
With my driving time coming up, I can feel the heaviness of exhaustion in my body, and I close my eyes, willing myself to rest since I hadn’t on the train. I have to consider my health and I need a clear mind to decide what to do next. Four days is all I have left to discover what has been a six year mystery. And even if I do, it won’t be as simple as figuring out what these people want. It’s figuring out how we get these people what they want and how not to get killed in the process. I wonder why in Meg’s panic she hasn’t thought of this.
I will an image of Chad to my mind and a smile curls on my lips when I can clearly see his face. Chad...
I wave goodbye to my best friend Dana as she pulls her Volkswagen out of the drive and I run up the stairs, stopping dead in my tracks on the top step, my eyes going wide at the sight of Chad sitting in the corner on one of the two outdoor chairs.