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Also, I'm sorry that I was unable to get this out earlier. I had to take care of some family business.
DISCLAIMER: None of the characters are mine, save for Samantha. I'm not making any money off of this . . . sueing me would be pointless. Comments welcomed and appreciated!
- - - -
HARRIET TASHMAN’S RESIDENCE
It was nighttime as Jarod stopped his car outside an apartment complex then looked over at Samantha. She was sound asleep in the passenger’s side, her head resting against the window. Jarod turned off the engine, then gently nudged Samantha’s shoulder.
“Sam,” he whispered. “We’re here.”
Samantha slowly stirred and opened her eyes. She looked around, a little confused at first as to where she was, then she got her bearings straight, remembering what Jarod had told her a couple of days ago. She yawned and stretched as much as she could in the car before grabbing her leather bag and getting out of the car as Jarod came over.
“You still haven’t told me exactly who it is we’re meeting,” Samantha said as she followed him inside the building.
“An old friend of my family’s,” Jarod replied. They walked quietly up some stairs and down a hall, where Jarod knocked quietly on an apartment door. They waited a few moments before the door was open, and an aged woman with red hair and a kind face smiled at them.
“Jarod,” she whispered. She and Jarod hugged. “It’s good to see you again.”
“It is,” Jarod replied. He turned to Samantha. “Harriet, this is Samantha. Samantha, this is Harriet Tashman.”
“Hi,” Samantha smiled.
“Hello, Samantha,” Harriet replied. “Please come in.” Harriet ushered the two Pretenders into her apartment. The two sat at Harriet’s kitchen table while she prepared some tea. “Jarod, you still haven’t told me what’s going on.”
“Harriet, Samantha is on the run from the Centre,” Jarod explained. “A week ago, I learned that she had been kidnapped for the same reason I had been. I rescued her, and we’ve been on the run ever since.”
Harriet brought a tray with cups and a hot kettle over to the table. She poured two cups of hot tea and gave them to Jarod and Samantha. “What can I do, Jarod?” she asked.
“I need to see an old friend, but I would prefer that Samantha stay here and rest for a while.”
“Jaord, I told you I wouldn’t be in the way,” Samantha spoke up.
Jarod smiled. “I know you won’t, Sam, but you’ve been through a lot, and I think you should just relax and gather your thoughts.” Samantha sighed in defeat as Jarod looked at Harriet. “She’s been through a lot recently, and I need her to stay with someone I trust.”
“Don’t you think the Centre will find out she’s here?” Harriet asked.
“I left clues scattered around the country; it’ll take them weeks to sort through them all. By that time, I should be back, and Samantha and I will be on our way.”
Harriet nodded. “Okay, Jarod. She can stay in the spare bedroom.”
Jarod got up and hugged Harriet. “Thank you.” He looked at his watch. “I have to go.” Samantha and Harriet followed him to the door. He and Samantha hugged.
“Be careful,” she whispered.
“I’ll try,” Jarod replied. “Do you have everything?”
Samantha nodded. “Phone, computer, gun, clothes, money, and some reading material.”
“And if there’s anything out of the ordinary,” he added. “I want you to call me, okay?”
“I will,” Samantha replied. Jarod turned back toward Harriet.
“Again, thank you,” he said.
“Don’t worry, Jarod,” Harriet said. “She’s in good hands.”
“I know she is,” Jarod replied as he opened the door and left the apartment. Harriet locked the door securely, then turned back to Samantha.
“Well, Samantha, is there anything I can get you?”
“Just call me Sam, please,” Samantha said. “And I’m just really tired right now.” Harriet smiled and led Samantha back to the spare bedroom.
- - - -
THE NEXT AFTERNOON . . .
Jarod drove down a dirt road in silence. He hoped he had done the right thing by leaving Samantha with Harriet, knowing the emotional upheaval she had experienced in the past week. Discovering not only was she a Pretender but that she had a brother, who turned out to be none other than Angelo . . . even Jarod still couldn’t believe it. Still, he knew that Samantha would be safe staying at Harriet’s.
Jarod stopped his car in the driveway of a familiar house and turned off the engine. Grabbing his things, he got out and went up to the front door. He knocked then waited. The door opened, and Zoe, grinning, threw herself into Jarod’s arms. They shared a passionate kiss.
“I’m so glad you made it,” she said as the pulled him inside.
“Me too,” Jarod replied. He looked around. “Where is your grandmother?”
“She is spending time with Linda and her hubby,” Zoe replied. She grinned slyly. “Which means we get the entire house to ourselves for one week.” Jarod chuckled slightly, but it was more out of force than humor. Zoe noticed immediately. “Jarod, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he replied.
“Don’t give me that. What is it?”
Jarod sighed. “Just been through a lot, recently, that’s all.”
“Anything you want to talk about? Perhaps over some sandwiches? I can whip some up really quickly.”
Jarod smiled. “Sure.” He left his things near the front door and followed Zoe to the kitchen.
- - - -
Samantha was laying on the small guestroom bed, flipping slowly through one of her favorite books, The Three Musketeers, when there was a knock on the door. “Come in,” Samantha replied without looking up. The door opened and Harriet came in, carrying a tray with a sandwich, an apple, and a glass of milk on it.
“Since you slept in late,” Harriet replied, “I made some lunch for you.”
Samantha looked up and smiled when she saw Harriet and the tray. She marked her spot in the book and put it on the nighstand as Harriet set the tray next to the book. The older woman sat in a reading chair nearby as Samantha began to eat.
“Thank you,” Samantha replied.
Harriet smiled. “Did you sleep well?” she asked.
“Fairly well, considering.”
Harriet’s gaze fell on Samantha’s book. She picked it up and read the title. “Les Tres Musketeers.”
“It’s my favorite book,” Samantha explained between eating. “Especially in French.”
“I don’t know much French,” Harriet replied. “But I have read this book before - in English. I enjoyed it so much.” She put the book down and noticed the photograph of Samantha’s parents. Her eyes widened slightly as she took the photograph and stared at it. “It can’t be,” she whispered.
“What?” Samantha asked.
“Your parents are Benjamin and Marie Wilson?”
Samantha sat up straighter. “You know them?”
“Yes, I do. Well, I did, anyway.”
Harriet quickly put the photograph down and got up to leave. “It’s not important.”
Samantha quickly got up and blocked Harriet’s past. “I think it is. Now, how do you know my parents?”
Harriet looked at Samantha for a long time before she sighed and sat back in the chair. “You should sit down as well, Sam. It’s a complicated story.” Samantha sat on the edge of the bed, looking earnest as Harriet gathered her thoughts.
“I first learned about your parents through Jarod’s parents, when they came to stay with me after their two sons had been stolen from them. I didn’t talk much to Jarod’s parents, but I did overhear them talking about how they hoped Richard and Anna were safe.”
“Who are they?”
Harriet sighed and looked at Samantha seriously. “They’re your parents, Sam.”
“That’s not true,” Samantha replied. “My parents are Benjamin and Marie Wilson.”