Authors: Lori Pescatore
Tags: #romance, #fantasy, #young adult, #science fiction, #fictionthriller, #fiction book, #fiction adult romance
Copyright 2009-2011 Lori Pescatore
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She vowed to be more careful this time. She
would not seek anyone's help. Lesson learned. Laney fought back the
tears that threatened to fall as she remembered what happened to
the last person who tried to help her. She would not make the same
mistake. She was on her own, at least until they found her
She had traveled as far east as she could,
zigzagging along the way to throw off anyone who might be trying to
follow. She knew they would never stop looking for her. She was too
“valuable” to them, as they put it.
Chapter One-- On The Run
She had attempted to run away once before,
but they had tracked her quickly. She shuddered when she remembered
the consequences to those that had tried to help her. She closed
her eyes and fought back the tears that threatened to flow. Her
head bounced slightly against the window as the bus labored on its
journey. A distant memory took shape behind her closed eyes.
In this memory, she was an observer.
A child was being hidden in an attic. There
was a commotion going on in the distance. A man was speaking to the
child. “Laney, you must hide here until it is safe. Maybe a day, or
two, then go to Uncle G's house. He will protect you,” the man
kissed the child on the head and locked her in the attic.
Laney watched in fascination as to what
Up in the attic, the little girl was hidden
behind a stack of boxes. There was shouting down below. The sound
of things breaking shook the house. A shout, a gunshot, then
silence. Voices came again, closer this time. “Find her.”
Laney watched as the little girl shivered
The attic door broke open. A man with a gun
poked his head through, looking before climbing up. He found the
little girl behind the boxes.
Hello, Laney. Time to go,” he
No!” the little girl stubbornly
Your daddy told me to come get you,” the
No, I have to see Uncle G,” she
That's right. Your daddy told me to take
you to him,” the man said.
He did?” she asked.
Yep, now come on. We don't want to keep
him waiting,” the man conned.
Laney watched the little girl go with the
Her eyes suddenly opened and she found
herself being shaken gently by an elderly woman. “Dearie, this is
the last stop,” the woman informed her, smiling gently with her
eyes. “I hope you have a nice visit with your family.”
“Thank you. You have a nice visit with your
grandson as well,” Laney replied. The woman had sat next to Laney
for most of the trip and talked proudly about the grandson she was
going to visit. She was thankful the woman liked to talk more than
listen so that the only lie she had to tell was why she was
traveling to Virginia.
Once she exited the bus and retrieved her
bag, she stretched to take the stiffness out of her limbs from the
extremely long ride. She took a moment to review her thoughts on
her new life.
Her plan this time was to keep as small an
existence as possible, to not draw any unnecessary attention to
herself. This would prove something of a challenge; people were
always drawn to her. She had been called beautiful since her early
years. She did not know how old she was. Looking at her, one would
guess her to be about sixteen. She knew better. Laney did not age
the way “normal” people did. This much she knew. Why? That was
something that she had gotten tired of asking herself. She had
asked them once and paid a heavy price. She learned to never ask
She shook off the unease she felt anytime her
mind crept back to the hell she had endured. She carefully tucked
away those memories that could never be forgotten and placed her
duffel bag on a nearby bench, absorbing her new surroundings.
Marion, Virginia. Population: 6,048
. Home of '
'. She took in the information from the welcome sign, posted
nearby. A cool drink would taste good right about now. She pulled a
rubber band from her jeans and finger-combed her recently dyed
blond hair back into a pony tail. She took off her hoodie and tied
it about her waist. It was warm for May. She felt in her other
pocket for her money. Well, technically, it wasn't her money. When
escaping this time, she made sure she knew how to retrieve some of
their money. She felt no guilt in doing so. A bulk of the money
they had was because of her. She had been told that by one of the
men who had been assigned to protect her.
They were more like prison guards
Retrieving her duffel bag from the bench, she
slung it over her shoulder and began to walk down Main Street. “Why
is the center of nearly every town called Main Street?” she mumbled
aloud to herself. A small smile played on her lips.
nice. Just walking down the street, no one forcing me to
trailed off in her thoughts.
I thought I tucked you away
she chided herself.
She refocused her attention on the small town
in which she found herself. The streets were bustling on this
bright and sunny Saturday morning. Looking down the street, she
could see a busier area. As she got closer, a wonderful sight
greeted her. It was an open-air marketplace in the middle of a
parking lot. It was filled with tables that contained a variety of
things including produce, flowers, and food. Food, and the smells;
wonderful smells. Her stomach growled in need. She had been
focusing on getting as far away as possible. Stopping for food had
She let her nose lead the way. She made
mental notes of vendor tables she would like to look at more
closely after her hunger and thirst had been sated.
Her nose took her to a portly man and his
grilling station. Laney marveled at how he managed to grill various
items without burning or overcooking anything. The line was long
but moving quickly. Finally, it was her turn. “What can I get for
you, young lady?” The man's voice was just as big as his
“I don't know,” she stammered. Laney had been
so busy watching him cook, she had not decided which
delicious-looking item she wanted. “What do you recommend?” she
The man had a friendly smile. “Well, that all
depends on what you are in the mood for,” he replied. “There is
heart attack on a bun, ulcer in a blanket, or my personal favorite,
dead man on a stick,” the man chuckled. He pointed out the burgers,
hot dogs and shish kabobs in order.
Laney laughed at the man's descriptions and
said, “Well, I think I am gonna have to go with the dead man,” she
“Fine choice, my lady,” he answered as he
wrapped paper about the bottom of the stick and fanned the
“Do you have any bottled water?” Laney asked,
accepting the carefully wrapped stick.
“On a day like today, you betcha,” he said,
wiping his forehead with his arm. “That'll be six dollars,” he
stated, placing the water bottle on the counter. Laney pulled a
twenty from her pocket and waited for the change. She noticed a
plastic cup with some coins in it and deposited a dollar bill
before picking up the water bottle.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Have yourself a nice day,” the man replied
before moving onto the next person in line.
Laney wove through the crowd, her stomach
growling in protest over the extra wait. She found a clear grassy
area and sat. She placed the water bottle between her legs and
quickly twisted off the cap and took a drink. She released an
audible sigh as the coolness coated her throat and stomach. She
then began eating the tasty meat on the kabob. Now it was time to
do some people watching.
A good blend of age groups were present in
the marketplace, from the elderly to the very young. Here and there
were groups of teens laughing easily amongst themselves. A sadness
dwelled in her heart as she watched them; she had never had that
experience. She had never known what it was like to just kick back
and hang with friends. “Don't go there,” she sang lightly to
She was almost done with the kabob when the
inevitable happened. A group of boys had been whispering and
looking in her direction when one of the braver teens shuffled his
way toward her. He kept looking back at his friends, appearing to
chastise them for the encouraging words spoken too loudly as he
“Hey,” the boy said, as he looked down at
“Hey,” Laney squinted up at him. The midday
sun was directly behind him.
“Mind if I sit down?” he asked.
“Sure,” she replied.
He sat down crossed legged next to her,
allowing Laney to finally see his face. He was cute, as far as she
could tell. He had dirty blond hair, spiked lightly on top,
stylish. He wore a green T-shirt and jeans. “You must be new in
town,” the boy said.
“What gave me away?” Laney asked.
The boy smiled for the first time, “Most
people don't walk around with duffel bags, and I sure as hell would
remember seeing someone as pretty as you before. My name's Austin,
by the way,” he finished.
She smiled as genuinely as she could, before
telling the first of the many lies of her new life.
Before reaching her present location, Laney
had traveled through some larger towns and cities. She was not only
trying to create confusion to anyone following, but to also secure
some pertinent items she would need. A new identity being at the
top of that list.
Her years spent with them had shown her some
of the seedier side of life. She did what she was told most of the
time but managed to listen even more. Their dealings with somewhat
underground activities and shady characters taught her what she
needed to do. She knew what areas to look in, and the questions to
ask to get what she needed for a new life. With the help of some
sleazy characters, Laney created a new self: Julie Miller. She
obtained a birth certificate, social security card, and a passport
bearing all necessary information she would need to begin anew. She
made herself eighteen for two reasons. One, she needed to be of age
to rent a place to stay. Two, there was no way she would pass for
older. So begins the life of Julie Miller.
“I'm Julie,” she said wiping her hand on a
napkin she had gotten at the grilling stand. She then extended her
hand in greeting to Austin. Julie was prepared for the jolt she
always felt whenever she shook hands, or touched another person's
skin. During that momentary contact, Julie could assess a person's
well-being. If she perceived a problem, she could restore the
person to a healthier state. Although, in doing so, she became
afflicted with the problem, albeit momentarily. She was able to
restore herself, as well. Julie didn't understand how she came
about this special ability, but it came in handy on more than one
occasion when they were unhappy with her.
She released his hand, satisfied that nothing
life threatening lurked inside the young boy's body at the moment.
“You are very perceptive. I am new in town,” Julie said, taking a
sip of her water. “In fact, I need a place to stay. Is there an inn
or motel nearby?” she asked.
“Well, just up the block is a hotel. It's
real nice. I also know there are a few lodges just outside of
town,” Austin described, seemingly glad she would be sticking
around. “Are you, like, back packing or duffel bagging it through?”
Julie laughed, “Well, I'm not sure actually.
I'm trying to get a feel for the place,” she answered honestly. She
liked what she saw so far, and the people seemed really nice. Her
main concern was going to be whether she could stay out of sight of
“So does that mean if you like it, you might
stay?” Austin asked, optimistically.
Julie could see the hope in his eyes. She
didn't want to lead him on, but she could use a knowledgeable
person to show her around. “It is a possibility,” she said with a
wink. Austin beamed brightly. “Do you have time to show me some of
your town?” Julie asked.
“S-sure,” the boy managed to choke out.
Julie glanced over at his friends. “Oh, but I
don't want to take you away from your friends,” Julie said.