or check out Skyla's books!
I’m not going to jump to conclusions, she reminded herself, and attempted to bite back some of her immediate anger.
"Michael?" she said, irritation rising in her. "What the hell is he talking about?"
Without a word, Michael dropped the papers back onto the folder and stalked past the kitchen towards the main room.
"You really don’t know what’s going on, Mer?" Gen whispered, concern but also relief touching her eyes. Of course to her, the only thing worse than Michael lying to them would be Merri lying to them as well... But at least in this case—lucky for Genevieve—Meredith didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Merri shook her head. "No."
But he’s damn well going to tell me.
Her chair scraped against the hardwood as she stood suddenly, intent on following Michael to the living area, but found he was already on his way back. Behind him, the door to the weapons cabinet lay open, still swinging slightly.
He stopped next to Merri, set a handful of knives on the tabletop, and then spread them out.
The knives the men had... She recognized the smooth silver blades and detailed handles, and a chill rolled over her. Unbidden, memories emerged in her mind—feelings that weren’t her own, images she wished to forget... She absently wrapped her arms around her torso and shivered despite her attempts to remain calm. A few deep breaths and she straightened up, distancing herself from the knives, from the people who used to possess them, and waited for Michael to explain.
"One for each of your throats," he reminded them, pointing to each knife in turn. "The Witch, The Warrior, The Seer...and The Immortal."
Meredith stared down at the knives, and though she didn’t chance a look at Sage or Genevieve, she guessed they did the same.
"The Immortal," Merri repeated. She glanced at Michael, but his expression hadn’t changed. "Does that—"
"She’s difficult to track down," he interrupted. "And, obviously—though a knife was forged to slit her throat—she can’t be killed, which is why the others never went after her. Hence, I haven’t found her yet."
"Were you planning to tell us this at any point, Michael?" Merri said coldly.
He had lied to her. For months now. She never pressed him for any information—not about himself, or what he was doing helping them, or...or certain things she found "off" about him. In return, she at least expected some measure of honestly from him on anything that related to her or the others.
"I was going to tell you when I actually had something to tell you," he replied.
"And you didn’t think the fact that there’s another one of us counts as something?" Sage shot back. "You said three. You’ve been saying three for over a month!"
"Well now you know there’s four," he said simply.
"Jesus Christ, what the hell!" Gen shouted. "Are you sure there’s not maybe five now? Or six? How about a dozen?"
"Michael," Merri said, keeping her tone steady, calm. While the others were freaking out, if she seemed at least a little forgiving and reasonable, he wouldn’t be so quick to get pissed off and lie further. "Michael, that’s really it? Just a fourth?"
Her gaze flickered to the new guy, Thad, for confirmation. "That’s all you know about too?"
His dark eyes were wide, darting back and forth between her and Michael. "Uh, yeah. Far as I’ve heard from him and Shaw."
"But if there’s another one, wouldn’t she come here, to Newhaven?" Gen asked. "You said that we all magically gathered here or something."
"Except that she hasn’t," he said. "Or at least as far as I know. So I’ve been trying to find her."
"Who’s this ‘Shaw’ person, then?" Merri asked.
Surprisingly, Michael looked at Thad. "You know him so well—perhaps you’d like to explain."
Thad found everyone staring at him suddenly, and his eyes widened more. "Well...I guess..."
Meredith sat back down on the chair she had before and nodded to the one next to her for him to do the same. He hesitated a moment, glancing at each of them in turn. Michael made no move to release him from the task, so he sat down with a sigh.
"I know this guy," he explained. "David Shaw. He knew The Immortal about thirty-five years ago. She went by Natalya then. Shaw spent a few years with her, then she disappeared. He said he hasn’t seen her since," he paused, looked pointedly at Michael, then added, "and that he definitely can’t help you find her, Michael."
"Why don’t you tell them why she spent a few years with Shaw," Michael replied, leaning back on the counter and crossing his arms over his chest.
Thad sighed, almost as if he was bored with recounting the tale for them and prepared to rush through the rest. "She seeks him out every time he’s reborn. It’s like an obsessive thing with her. Then she spends a few years with him, and leaves before they can grow old together because, obviously, she isn’t gonna grow old."
"Reborn?" Gen said.
"Yeah," Thad replied with a shrug. "Like reincarnation. So she tracks him down when he’s reborn, no matter where he is in the world, and somehow he’s drawn to her too. Then she leaves again, like she did thirty-five years ago, and he goes the rest of his life without seeing her again."
Gen made a face. "That’s really depressing."
"That’s love, at least to them."
"But that makes sense then, doesn’t it?" Merri said. "That Michael thinks David Shaw can help? If he’s drawn to her, then he should be able to find her for us."
"Drawn to her if he sees her," Thad said. "He can’t just get on a plane and somehow end up wherever she is. She always initiates their meetings, apparently."
"There aren’t even any photos," Michael said coolly, but Thad put up his hands in defence.
"He says he doesn’t have any. But he wrote up a description."
"Yes, I read that..." Michael thrust a sheet of paper toward him, and Merri caught sight of a few lines of writing. "Dark hair, pretty, average height and build. Not exactly helpful."
"Hey, he doesn’t want to get into this. He knows what’s going on—he knows what could happen to him if the wrong people find out who he is. This is it—the end. Lines are being drawn and Shaw doesn’t want any part of it."
"This isn’t over," Michael said. "I will speak to him at some point."
"Yeah, didn’t think it’d be this easy."
Michael gathered up the folder and its contents once more, and then stalked from the kitchen, back out through the main room and up the stairs to his loft. Sage rose only moments later, tossing the empty containers from her food in the garbage, then returning to the punching bag to lace up her boxing gloves once more.
"So I guess she’s the one who does the fighting?" Thad guessed, studying Sage for a second before returning his attention to Merri.
"And who are you again?" Gen cut in before Meredith could reply.
"Thaddeus Alvin Kincaid," Thad said.
"Yeah, but who the hell are you? Why do you know us?"
Thad shrugged. "Grow up around the right people, and you learn a lot. And I know Shaw from school—he was my philosophy professor."
"So you know where he lives? You could tell Michael?" Merri asked, studying his expression as it changed to one of horror.
"Oh, no way. He’d kill me. Well, probably not, but I’m not taking any chances. Shaw is wicked paranoid now, with everything going on. Doesn’t teach anymore, wouldn’t even send this stuff for Michael through email—had to be delivered in person."
Though Merri considered pointing out Michael was far more likely to kill him for not revealing everything, she abstained from bringing up that fact.
"So what do you do, Genevieve?" Thad asked.
"I put out candles," she said with a bitter smile as she stabbed at her salad a few more times.
"Then I guess you would be The Seer." Thad’s gaze shifted to Merri and he grinned. His smile was a little lopsided—goofy almost—but endearing at the same time. He raised a dark brow in challenge. "See anything good?"
Jesus Christ, the guy was flirting with her! She went out of her way to not be noticed; her clothes were shapeless and forgettable, and she didn’t so much as wear lip-gloss.
"Haven’t decided yet," she countered, despite her better judgment.
In her peripheral vision, she caught sight of Genevieve making a face at them, but she ignored her.
"Damn," Thad said with exaggerated disappointment. "Will you at least let me know when you do decide?"
"Get out of here, Kincaid," Michael bellowed from the loft.
Thad sighed and shook his head. "He’s pissed. I don’t suppose he doesn’t really mean it?"
"He usually carries weapons," Gen replied. "I’d leave if I were you."
"Alrighty then. Definitely my cue to go. Later, Genevieve," his gaze settled on Meredith and he smiled again, "later, Merri."
As Thad let himself out, Merri returned her attention to her stone-cold french fries and avoided Gen’s raised brow and pointed look.
"Merri’s got a boyfriend, Merri’s got a boyfriend," Gen began in a sing-song voice.
"Hardly," Meredith replied dryly. "You’re the one who got a phone number today."
"I did, didn’t I? Well, okay, you did, but it was for me." Gen picked up the paper with Peyton’s number on it again and looked it over. "Did she say anything else? Like obviously not a sudden declaration of love or anything, but...something? Any kind of inkling she might go for chicks?" Bright blue eyes wide and hopeful, Genevieve waited, ready to latch onto anything Merri said.
"Not...really," Meredith confessed, wishing there was something more she could say as Genevieve’s expression fell. "But she didn’t seem very interested in Levi, so there’s still hope there. Next time I’ll definitely be on the lookout for any ass-checking out or anything."
"Good. And I’ll be sure to get you Thad’s phone number when next we meet."
"C’mon, I am just as capable of telling if a boy is cute as you are a girl is pretty. And he was cute. And there was definitely some flirtation going on."
"Again, that’s okay, Gen. I’m not dating right now." Or, like maybe EVER.
"Michael," Gen called as he returned from the loft, a few books in hand. "Can I have Thad’s phone number?" She shot Merri a wink, which Meredith pretended not to notice.
He dropped the heavy books on the table with a thud. "No."
"More spells—" Gen reached for one of the books, but he smacked her hand away and gave the top one to Meredith instead.
Aside from a journal to keep track of her visions, he hadn’t given her any books before, and she was puzzled by the gift. Anything that required reading seemed to be for Gen—what did this possibly have to do with her?
"And this would be...?" Merri said, turning the thick, spiral bound book over in her hands.
"A collection of accounts about The Seer in history," he replied.
"What do you mean?" Gen asked. "Throughout history...?"
"Other lives," Merri murmured, flipping through the book. Something else he never told me about, she thought, and much like the existence of The Immortal, this too seemed like something pretty important to not mention.
"Other...like, lives we used to have? More reincarnation?"
Michael gave her another glare, but before he could snap something about her stupidity, Merri cut in.
"Yeah, like that. Everyone gets reborn again and again, and we’re no exception."
Gen pondered this for a moment, then nodded slowly. "I get it." She looked up at Michael. "Ten bucks says you’re coming back as a worm next time, you know."
Merri stifled a laugh, and returned her attention to the book. Turning the pages, her hazel eyes scanned the text and photographs inside. It was almost a scrapbook of sorts, with photocopied pages from ancient texts, drawings, and scraps here and there.
Michael took the next book from the pile and tossed it to an empty spot at the table.
"A book is here for you to pick up later," he called to Sage.
"Don’t want it." The punching bag snapped as her fist struck it, taking quite the beating under her strength.
"Consider it required reading material," was his sharp reply.
Meredith turned her gaze toward Sage, watching her scary resolve. Pain wrapped around her like a cloak, covering her, clinging to her, and she hugged it back as if it was the only thing in the world. And still she fought, punched, kicked, mind empty, expression stony, all to keep from breaking. Though Merri suspected Sage had been coming to Michael’s a lot over the past few weeks while the others weren’t present, it was the first time she’d seen her there since before Hayden’s death. Clearly Sage didn’t want to talk to or be around anyone, but for Michael, oddly. After everything, she seemed to trust him now too. Merri wasn’t surprised really—he was easily the only one around them that wouldn’t force her to talk, to confront Hayden’s death and deal with it. He let her be, asking only what was necessary and nothing more. Perhaps it was simply because he didn’t care, but it was lack of expectation from him that seemed to put Sage at ease, and was the reason Merri trusted him as well.
Genevieve was another story entirely, however. Though Merri couldn’t say for certain if Michael particularly liked anyone or not, he really didn’t like Gen. He would never tell her why though, and months ago, when they first met, they seemed to have made a deal not to press for details where the other was concerned.
Still, she couldn’t help but be curious.
"Don’t I get one?" Gen sulked, interrupting Merri’s silent musings while Sage dropped what she was doing to retrieve the book.
Michael handed her the final tome. "There isn’t much there," he said. "Needless to say, most accounts of witches in history haven’t been favourable, and many didn’t survive the centuries."
Gen frowned a little, staring at the book without opening it. Merri immediately got the sense that something was wrong, not just in her body language and expression, but in a strange haze that surrounded her suddenly.
"Are you okay?" Merri asked with concern.
"Yeah...no...I don’t know." Gen shook her head. "But this," she tapped the cover of the book, "looks really familiar to me. I think I’m deja vu-ing or something."
"Take them home and read them, but I will need them back," he said.
"But if it’s about me, I want to keep it," Gen immediately objected, until Michael fixed her with an angry look, and she dropped her gaze quickly.
"I don’t trust you not to lose it."
"He sounds like my mom, you know," Gen whispered as Michael walked away.
"You probably would lose it," Sage pointed out.
Self-conscious suddenly, Merri closed her book, deciding to wait until later to view its contents. It seemed, to her, to be very personal things, these books and talks of past lives. Gen saw the situation differently, however, and openly went through hers, looking at the pages with cautious interest.
Sage stared at her book with distance in her eyes—detached almost—as if the book meant nothing. Maybe it did—maybe she only looked at it because Michael told her to.
"Why was I always a chick?" Gen said suddenly. Both Merri and Sage looked at her.
"What are you talking about?" Sage asked.
Gen pointed at her book. "I was always a chick. In like all my lives here. That’s weird, isn’t it? I always figured people got reincarnated as both."
Sage’s brows pulled into a frown. "Me too."
Merri found the other two looking at her then, and so she opened her book again. Sure enough, from what she saw, all records referred to her as being a woman. Though Meredith immediately thought to ask Michael about it later—after the others had gone—Genevieve beat her to it.
"Michael!" she shouted. "Why are we all girls?"
"There are these things called ‘x chromosomes,’" he said as he returned to the kitchen. "Maybe you should retake science."
"No, I mean it says in all our other lives we were girls," Gen said with a glare, as if he should know what she spoke about. "Why?"
"I don’t know."
"Isn’t that weird?"
"But what about other people? Do they always get to be reincarnated as the same gender?"
"I don’t know," he repeated, annoyed.
"What about The Immortal? Was she always a she?"
"Since she’s immortal, I’d have to venture yes."
Merri studied him in silence for a moment. She couldn’t determine if he was telling the truth or not. She could never tell with him. Strangely, the thing about Michael was that he required a certain level of blind trust; either you believed him or you didn’t, and nothing in his expression or actions would help make that decision for you.
And right now, she wasn’t sure she believed him, but he was unlikely to say more with the others around, so Merri kept her mouth shut on the matter.
A cell phone rang from within Genevieve’s messenger bag, playing a vaguely familiar midi, and Gen bolted to get it.
"Hello?" she said as she answered. Merri watched her friend’s face light up. "Hi!" She met Meredith’s eyes and mouthed the name "Peyton."
Now that’s something I didn’t see...
"No, it’s okay, I can talk..." Gen sent a quick glance to Michael, perhaps wondering if he’d disagree. Surprisingly, he didn’t say anything, and she quickly slipped off toward the back of the house, chatting away.
"Can I go now?" Sage asked, slamming the book shut.
Michael nodded, and Sage went straight for her boxing gloves once more.
Merri’s gaze strayed to the package resting in Gen’s spot. "I can’t believe you got that book."
Michael sat across from her and grabbed the package, sliding it along the table until it was in front of him. He tore through the brown paper and twine to pull out the hardcover book.
"I’m a little surprised myself."
"She did give you a hard time then?"
"A bit." He opened the cover and scanned the pages within, not meeting her gaze. Generally, Merri wouldn’t think much of it, but this time a warning seemed to prickle the hairs on the back of her neck, and she felt the need to press for more.
"How did you get that book?" Moments passed between them with nothing said, and no sounds in the room but that of Sage striking the punching bag and Gen still speaking on the phone.
Michael closed the book at last, meeting her gaze. "I told her what Genevieve did."
"What Gen did?"
"That day at the farmhouse. When she...removed your attackers."
Jesus Christ...that was the last thing she expected him to do. No one was supposed to know about that—he’d made that very clear, to her at least. Now he was breaking his own rules? For some book? When he hadn’t even told Gen herself what it was she did?
"You’re serious?" Merri whispered. "Do you really think that was wise?"
"I didn’t have a choice—"
"You could have lied—"
"That wasn’t working," he interrupted firmly, gaze boring into hers. "I tried."
"Then I doubt you were trying hard enough. We both know you’re damn good at lying." She raised a brow, daring him to contradict her.
"There’s a difference between lying and not explaining all the facts."
What an ass. "Yes, I’m aware you seem to think those aren’t the same thing."
"They’re not, and if this is about The Immortal—"
"I’m still pissed at that, but it’s not what I’m referring to."
"Look," he said in a low voice, leaning forward, keeping his eyes locked with hers. "I didn’t want to tell her, but I ran out of options. Anyone in the area with the slightest bit of power felt what happened that day—Krysta among them. She didn’t believe Genevieve to be a witch, and I didn’t have any other way to convince her."
"You couldn’t have had her do a spell right there or anything?"
Michael rolled his eyes. "Right, that would have made me look like an even bigger liar. The stupid girl can barely put out a candle most of the time."
"But this witch believed she was capable of ripping holes in dimensions?"
"Apparently—I got the book, didn’t I?"
Merri sighed and leaned back in her chair, folding her arms over her chest. "That seems too easy."
"I agree, but I wasn’t going to argue with her when she then offered to sell the book for double the price, in case she changed her mind. And if it turns out she didn’t really believe me, no harm done."
"What do you know about her?"
"Exactly what I told you before."
Now that she didn’t believe. Michael never would have told anyone about what Gen did at the farmhouse based on the little information he had on Krysta...
But though she studied him, she couldn’t pick up anything on him that suggested he was lying. Much like a traditional lie detector test, she could only really tell a liar if somehow the person she studied had some sort of emotional response to the lie. Michael might as well have been a sociopath—she couldn’t get anything from him.
"Are you done?" he asked with a half smile, no doubt able to guess she had been trying to read him.
She knew there was no sense in hiding it. "It’s not doing me any good. Now, if you could get that woman here, maybe I can see if she’s lying about something and put everyone’s mind at ease."
"I’m sure she’s harmless."
"Really?" she said with skepticism to her voice. "Gen didn’t seem to think so."
"Gen’s an idiot."
"No, she’s not. You should trust her instincts."
He shook his head. "You, I would trust. Her, of course not. She saw a lit candle in Krysta’s bathroom and decided she was a Satanist—I’m surprised she’s able to leave the house without being made to wear a helmet."
"Fine, but I trust Gen. So listen to me right now when I say don’t trust Krysta. Michael..."
Footsteps skipping on the hardwood interrupted her, and she turned to see Gen approaching.
"Whoa, you guys look pretty conspiratorial," she said as she flopped back down on her seat. "Whatcha talking about?"
"Nothing," Michael said, giving Meredith a pointed look. She tried to warn him with a glare that the conversation was far from over, but he waved her off and stood. "I’ve got work to do."
"Seriously," Gen whispered as Michael left for the loft. "What was that all about?"
"Trying to get Thad’s phone number," Merri quickly lied, feeling a moment of relief wash over her as Gen accepted the explanation with a grin.
"Cool. Let me know how that works out for you."
"You know, I’m glad he’s suddenly so not concerned about people being out to get us and all, and that he’s comfortable with us walking home at night," Gen complained, shivering a little as she glanced around nervously.
"You just wanted a ride home ‘cause you’re lazy," Sage replied.
"A little, but that’s not the point."
The three girls had left Michael’s around nine-thirty. To Merri’s surprise, Sage had stayed with them, walking their old route which saw Meredith home first. Whether or not anyone was still out there after them was irrelevant—the fact remained that they all felt safer together.
"So I was thinking we should do something nice for Peyton or something," Gen suggested, trying to be casual about it. "You know, ‘cause she’s new and all. It’s probably weird for her and stuff."
"Who the hell is Peyton?" Sage asked.
"New girl at school," Merri said.
"Cute new girl at school," Gen clarified. "Maybe we could go out to a club or something? Or have a little ‘Welcome to Newhaven’ party?"
"I’ll leave the planning to you," Merri said. They rounded a corner and several familiar buildings came into view. "This is me."
"You sure you don’t need us to go up to the door with you?" Gen offered. "That skanky witch lives right over there—she might try to kill you or sex you up or something."
"I’m fine," Merri assured her with a grin. "I’ll see you tomorrow." She walked toward the towering apartment complex to her right, moving at a slightly slower speed, listening and waiting for Gen and Sage’s conversation to resume and their footsteps to sound on the pavement.
She neared the building and glanced over her shoulder to see her two friends fading from view. Satisfied they weren’t looking back, Merri picked up the pace and slipped around the side of the apartment building, then down the next street.
As she travelled the next several blocks, the buildings got progressively uglier and older. Worn and forgotten. Fewer streetlamps worked, more garbage and broken glass littered the sidewalk that crunched under her feet. Yet strangely, she felt herself relax. She dropped her guard just a little, fished some cigarettes from her bag and lit one, taking a nice, deep drag. She was at home here—she blended in. No one gave her any notice, thankfully.
Cigarette held lightly between her lips, she slid her keys from her back pocket and approached the door to her building. She hardly saw a point in the landlord having a security door to enter the building; a guy put his foot through the bottom glass a month ago, and though some boards were nailed over the hole, someone usually broke those once or twice a week. Still, she wasn’t strong enough to break the wood herself, so she slid the key in the lock, turned it a few times until the latch finally gave, and opened the door.
Upstairs, the neighbours shouted at one another again, and stomped back and forth. The light above Merri flickered a few times and she glanced up, wondering if it would finally give out. The bulb held on, however, so she went to the mailbox to see about her mail.
The unit of mailboxes was nearly out of the wall, held in place by several pieces of electrical tape. Of course, much like the security door, no one bothered to fix that either. She didn’t even want to think about where her rent money went.
She opened the beat up mailbox door to find nothing waited for her inside—not even junk mail. Empty.
Strange... Something was up. Not that she received a lot of mail, usually...but this time she was expecting something. Something important.
But then mail was frequently delivered to the wrong apartments, as if the postal worker couldn’t wait to be out of the building, and merely dispensed letters and bills indiscriminately. And if that was the case this time...
That goddamn bitch. There were few people she trusted less than that cunt of a superintendent and her husband, Stu. If mail was "mysteriously" misdelivered, she’d know...or possibly be responsible for the disappearance herself.
Merri strode down the hall, past most of the first floor apartments and to the ninth door, near the stairwell. She hammered her fist on the door several times and waited. Within the apartment, she heard Heidi’s small grandson crying, his crack whore mother probably having left him there while she was partying. Sad to say, the baby would probably be better off in an alley than with Heidi.
She pounded on the door again, even past the point when she heard Heidi on the other side, cursing and shouting, "I’ll be there in a damn second!" Only when the door opened did Merri stop knocking. She leaned in the doorway when confronted by Heidi.
Middle-aged, middle height, and below middle intelligence, Heidi Harper planted her hands on her tiny hips and scrunched up her face of wrinkles that made her look ten years older than she actually was.
Merri took a long drag from her cigarette, and then blew the smoke out, blasting Heidi’s face. "I think you have something of mine."
"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Heidi barked, but a flicker of her eyes to the side told a different story. She was lying, and after spending the day with someone like Michael, Meredith found it a relief to see her abilities were indeed still in working order.
"I was expecting a letter today. You got it by mistake."
"I didn’t get anything of yours!" Heidi moved to close the door, but Merri caught the door and pushed it back.
"I think you should check." She levelled Heidi with a cool gaze.
"I think you should back off!"
"Who’s at the door?" called a man from within. Merri shuddered a little inside—Stu was home too. He’d taken a liking to her back when she first moved in, and though the suggestive stare of a man in his forties was creepy, it was far from the worst of her problems. And in this instance, his disturbing affection for her could be used to her advantage, if need be.
"No one," Heidi shot back, giving Merri a glare. She already had it in her head that her husband was having an affair with the young tenant, as well as half of everyone else on the block.
"Go and check," Meredith warned in a low voice.
"I don’t have it!"
Merri took what was left of her cigarette and slowly put it out on the Harpers’ front door, twisting the butt into the wood, all the while keeping her eyes locked on Heidi’s.
"Hey Stu," Merri called in a bright voice. "Can you help me with something?"
Heidi swore under her breath, but Merri only smiled as Stuart Harper jumped to his feet and ran to the door.
"What seems to be the problem?" he asked, flashing a grin of crooked yellow teeth and blatantly looking her up and down like only a man unaware of his own repulsiveness can.
"I was expecting a letter, and I think it got delivered in with your stuff by mistake...do you think you can check for me?"
"Of course, sweetie." He returned to the living room. Heidi stood frozen in place, glowering at Meredith, body rigid as she waited for her husband’s return.
"Yep, yep, here it is," Stu called, returning a few moments later with a beat up envelope. He held it out for her, and noticeably took a moment to touch her fingertips.
Merri did what she could to avoid cringing and offered another smile. "Thanks Stu. Later, Heidi."
Glad to be away from the pair of them, Merri quickly turned and bolted for the stairs, hearing the couple close their door and immediately begin arguing. Had she cared to, she probably could have heard the conversation easily, but Merri stopped her ears to it and continued to her apartment.
Two flights of stairs later, and she was at the door to her place. Again, she wasn’t sure a lock on the door was all that useful, but then she didn’t really have anything to steal. A single look around her one room apartment and sparse furnishings, and any potential robbers would move on to the next place.
She dropped her backpack inside the door, flipped on the light, then went straight for the couch, letter in hand. Sitting down, she looked the envelope over for a moment. Merri recognized the writing on the front, with a fake name and address in Montreal listed. Beside it was a yellow sticker from Canada Post, forwarding the letter to her. Best way to cover her tracks, or so she thought.
She tore through the side and slid out the folded paper and stack of twenties. At least Heidi hadn’t had a chance to open the letter yet, or November’s rent money would have been long gone. Putting the cash aside, she looked over the brief letter.
Kind of short this month. Jay got fired from Burger King but he gave a bit. I covered the rest so I own his ass now, lol. Hope you’re well.
Merri read the letter once more, then tucked it back in the envelope. Stowing the cash in her back pocket temporarily, Merri stood and slipped Lexie’s letter with the stack of others she kept in a kitchen cupboard drawer. They rarely said anything different—little updates about her, Jay, and sometimes Danni. Always mentioning how they miss her. Never asking if she’d ever be home, though.
They knew better.
With a sigh, Meredith curled up on the couch and flipped on the old seventeen-inch TV that sat on the floor, staring at it without really watching.
Miss you too, Lex.