Hullo, everyone! I hope you’ve had an enjoyable weekend! As you may have noticed from the title, I’m actually posting TWO parts today. This is happening for two reasons. First, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the publication of Paralyzed Dreams!!!!! If you haven’t bought it yet, you should definitely go check it out and leave a review on Amazon or on Goodreads! The second reason is that Part 30 has a terrible cliffhanger… So my apologies. 😉 If you missed the part posted on Friday, you can see it here, and if you’re new, start at the beginning! 🙂
My fingers fly over the keyboard as I search for Keller Stone. There are a few options, but now that I know that Keller is a girl, I’m able to find the right one. And I’m astonished to find that she lives right here in town.
I’m about to hurry downstairs to get Denver when I realize he’s not here. No. I don’t want to let anyone else in on this, so how am I going to get there? I check the address. It looks like it’s within walking distance, but I need to check. I pull up a map and enter the address. Good, it’s pretty close, just past where I think the Lava Java café is. Perfect. Now I just have to get out of the house without getting stopped. I grab my shoes and wrack my brain for a good excuse.
“Where are you going?” Maddie asks, watching me in her perceptive way.
I pause. Again, Maddie can be my perfect excuse. “Would you like to do some shopping?” I ask.
She glances towards the door, towards Brooklyn. I don’t think I need anymore clothes.”
I grin. “Not that kind of shopping. I was thinking more like books or something. Whatever you want to look at.”
Maddie’s face lights up. “Sure, that would be nice.”
“Cool. Then go ahead and get ready to go. I’ve got a place we can walk to.” I grab my wallet. I can probably delay my investigation a little for a trip to the bookstore. And it’s a much better reason than just “going for a walk.”
After Maddie’s ready, I motion toward the door. “Let’s go, then.”
“We aren’t going to wait for Brooklyn?” Maddie asks.
I shake my head. “She’ll be in the shower for ages. And if she comes, you’ll probably end up with more clothes.”
Maddie smiles and follows me downstairs. Mom greets us as we pass through the living room. She’s doing something on the TV, probably setting one of her shows to record. “Going somewhere?”
“Just a little shopping,” I tell her.
“Without Brooklyn?” Mom asks, surprised.
I nod. “We’re not getting clothes, and she’s in the shower, anyway.”
“Well, be careful,” Mom says. “Make sure your phone’s on.”
I smile. “Got it. Don’t worry, Mom, we’ll be fine.” We’ll be fine while we’re shopping, but I’m a lot more worried about the meeting with Keller. What am I expecting to learn, anyway? She’s just a friend of Genesis. What would she know that could be helpful?
I shrug off my doubt and wave goodbye to Mom as Maddie and I leave. I don’t know what I’m doing, but it’s all I have to go on right now, and I can’t let all my hard work go to waste, right?
Maddie and I have a lot of fun in my favorite bookstore. I point out some of my favorite books from when I was younger to Maddie, ad she gets a couple of them. I pick up a few for myself, too. After we pay, we go out and start walking towards Keller’s house.
“Where are we going?” Maddie asks.
I search for a non-dangerous answer. “I thought we’d stop at Lava Java,” I say, pointing at the building ahead. I’d never been there before Jen showed us – in fact, I’d never noticed it before.
“Sure,” Maddie agrees. We pick up the pace a little as we near the shop. I reach for the door handle, frowning at how dark the shop is. But when I tug on the handle, the door doesn’t budge.
“It’s closed!” I exclaim. I step back and notice there’s no sign. “That’s weird…” That’s something I will definitely be asking Jen about.
“I guess we won’t do that, then,” Maddie remarks. She looks curiously at the shop, then around the street.
I nod. “Guess not.” I pause, trying to find the best way to put this. “We can go visit someone I know while we’re in the area. I think she might like to meet you.” Probably a dead lie. But I can hope, can’t I?
Maddie looks up at me. “What are we really going to do, Albany?”
Caught. Maddie’s really perceptive for a little girl and an amnesia victim. Or maybe it’s because she’s a little girl and an amnesia victim. I sigh. “I’m trying to find the person who hurt Brooklyn.”
Maddie frowns. “But isn’t that what Jen is doing? Can’t you just let her find the person?”
I sigh again. “I could, I guess. But I don’t want to sit around doing nothing! I want to help.”
“You are helping,” Maddie says thoughtfully. “But anyway, I guess if you’ve gotten this far, you might as well keep going.”
I reach down and squeeze her little hand. She’s so young to be caught up in all of this. I’m so young to be caught up in all of this! “Thanks, Maddie. Let’s go.”
We head off down the street, our pace slowing as we get nearer to Keller’s house. What are we doing? Everything in me screams Run! Finally, we come to a stop in front of the house. It’s small, fairly nice, but plain. The most eye-catching feature is the motorcycle parked out front. Why does that scare me even more?
We walk up to the front door together, and Maddie grabs my hand. Somehow that gives me extra strength, and I reach up and push the doorbell.
There’s some shuffling noises inside, and the door is opened by a woman, who is clearly an older version of the Keller in the picture, right down to the bright red hair.
She starts when she sees me, surprised. “Well. You’re not Genesis.” Then here eyes flash down to Maddie and double in size. “Lila!” she cries before bending down and enveloping Maddie in a hug.