“You can’t do this!” Knock Knock barmaid Lisa Luren was complaining.
The club had been appointed its bailiff. The club’s assets were now being officially seized so that its starting price at auction could be given.
The bailiff – a woman not much older than Lisa, named Colette – looked down her spectacles at her. “I’m sure you’ll find I can. I have been granted permission by the High Court. Her Honourable Judge Doyle’s signature is on all of it and I have been instructed to close this club and note anything that would be of value.” She raised her phone and took a photograph of a fresh bottle of Macks that had been sat on the bar.
“You’re putting us out of work. What are we supposed to do for work?”
Colette sighed. She took another photo of the bar. A fellow bailiff took note.
“Not my problem. Put on some clothes, get yourself educated and maybe you’ll find yourself a real job. People might start to take you more seriously.”
“Can’t you at least wait until the owner gets here? She needs to be here,” Lisa protested.
Colette smirked. “I don’t think the owner is going to be here anytime soon.”
“I think she means me,” Agnes Wilde stated. She had arrived in a hurry when she received Lisa’s text.
Colette nodded to her fellow bailiff. He handed a copy of the High Court authorisation to Agnes. Agnes was known as The Broker of Knock Knock. She was partner to The Baroness and beloved aunt of Tabitha. The Knock Knock club was all she had left to hang onto.
Agnes folded the document in a single sharp fold. She had a naturally ladylike composure, which she refused to drop. “Before she was taken, Tabitha signed her shares over to me. Unless you are here to arrest me, you can’t take anything.”
Colette was disinterested. She had seen it all and had heard all manner of excuses.
“Check the details of the document I’ve just given you. You will see that I’m not here to collect on Tabitha’s shares. They were already forfeit the minute the investigation into the Headliner Fund was raised. I’m here to collect on part of Tawny McInney. Until she returns, she is considered a fugitive of the law and her name is the first on the Headliner Fund.”
“What about my own shares?” Agnes protested. “I’m the controlling share holder in this club.”
Colette took a photograph of the stage. “I’m sure basic maths will tell you that one third share is not the controlling one. Tabitha’s shares are void and Tawny’s are now seized. This club is going to auction.”
“This is my club,” Agnes snarled. Her irritation was now beginning to show.
“Then you’re most welcome to bid for those shares back. I’m happy to keep you informed as our collection proceeds.”
Lisa snatched Colette’s shoulder but Agnes stopped her.
Colette shrugged her off. “I’m just doing my job. Do not add assault to the charge sheet. The court will have its dues one way or another.”
A group of bailiffs brought out a box of costumes belonging to The Baroness. Agnes’ chest tightened when she saw Tawny’s feather head band peeking out from the top. She loved that band. She had had it for years and despite it having lived its best days she refused to part with it.
“Gives me a classy look, doesn’t it?” Tawny had said.
Tabitha laughed. “It looks like you stole it from a fucking parrot with mange,” the niece teased.
Tawny laughed heartily. She pulled Tabitha onto her lap and squeezed her tight, kissing her head. Tawny looked into her dressing room mirror and saw Agnes watching them both. Tawny wrinkled her nose and kissed at her enjoying how Agnes’ elegant smile turned to a girlish giggle when she did so. Tabitha took her aunt’s head band and put it on her own. She flicked her glossy brunette locks and posed exactly the way her aunt would on stage.
“What do you think Aggie?” the young girl put to her.
“It could at least use a wash.”
Tawny refused. “Not a chance, honey. You wash off all the luck from it when you do that. I got that feather all by myself. Do you realise how hard it is to pluck straight from a gull’s arse?”
Tabitha laughed heartily. “You talk so much shit Aunt Tee,” she taunted.
Few heard Tabitha laugh the way that she did when she and Tawn were backstage. That tatty old feather band had all the luck in the world for Tawny and now that luck was being carried out the door of the Knock Knock Club courtesy of agents of the High Court.
“That’s not worth anything, surely?” Agnes stopped a bailiff carrying one of Tabitha’s signature red dresses. “Do you really need to be taking the clothes?”
Colette shrugged. “Why not? It’s not like she’ll wear them anymore.” Before she could reply the bailiff added, “Custom designed, product of Luen. It all makes a difference.”
“What are we going to do Agnes?” asked Lisa. They had made plans to visit a friend of the barmaid who used to buy drugs from her boyfriend Kev. They had hoped he could shed some light on who shot her daughter, Sarah.
“There’s nothing we can do,” The Broker was forced to admit. “I have to stay here but I’ll get you some help. We’re not done.”
I had been in Lydia’s City Main apartment with Franklin when my phone began to ring with a disguised number. Franklin was preparing to leave to rendezvous with Agent Kim. He looked up from pulling on a jacket.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?”
It had been a while since any of my old story contacts fromr the Coldford Daily had been in touch.
“Hello?” I answered tentatively.
“Sam?” a woman’s voice, steady, calm, despite the sound of something of a commotion behind her. “Agnes Wilde. I got your number from a note you had left with Dennis.”
“Yes, Agnes. How are you?” Agnes and I had met before. She had shed a lot of light on Tabitha’s motives. It had been interesting hearing the perspective of someone who loved the Boss Lady like a daughter.
“I’ve been better I’m sad to say. I was going to be helping one of my girls this afternoon but we’ve been met with a swarm.”
A swarm was a common term in the Shady City for when the bailiffs arrived, due to the biblical plague nature of their descent.
“I’m sorry to hear that Agnes but I’m not sure what help I can be.”
“I can’t get away at the moment and this girl really could use some support. One of the agents would be a better fit than I am. It’s the little girl, Sam. The little girl that was shot? I can’t contact the agency directly because I need to be discrete but could you put me in touch?”
“I’ll do what I can,” I agreed.
I owed it to that little girl to do what I could to find her killer.
I looked to Franklin first. Capable and approachable. He would put Lisa at ease.
“Sorry,” he said. “Kim and I are heading to the Court House.”
“It’s fine,” I said. “I know someone who might fit better.”
Whilst the bailiffs still swarmed their way through the club noting everything that could be of value down to the silver of the cutlery, Agnes opened the door to what little help there was available.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Lisa growled when she caught sight of Agent Lydia Lowe.
“We need all the help we can get,” Agnes warned. “Play nice.”
“That slutty bitch took Tabs away!” Lisa protested.
“I don’t have time for this. Tabs knew what she was getting herself into. It’s too late for her but if you want to find out what happened to Sarah you need to work with her.”
“Fine,” Lisa agreed, pouting.
A bailiff approached Agnes.
“Miss Wilde, we need the key for the upstairs apartment.”
Agnes’ lips tightened. “I suppose my toothbrush is worth something, is it?”
The bailiff didn’t answer. They just stood with their hand out waiting for their key. Agnes dipped into her jacket pocket and handed the key over.
“Right now, I have to concern myself with who is going to buy into this club. When Tawn comes back she will be devastated that Tabitha is gone. If she realises this place is gone too…” Her voice trailed off.
“Miss Wilde?” another bailiff called.
“I’m coming!” Agnes barked.
When she left Lisa and Lydia alone the Lydia asked her to join her somewhere quiet where they could talk. Lydia spoke first. “I’m so sorry,” she said.
She was not apologising for the Boss Lady’s demise. As her own aunt admitted, Tabitha had sealed her own fate. Lydia was offering heartfelt condolences for the death of her daughter, Sarah. If she hadn’t afforded me the opportunity to escape the club with the little girl, she would never have run into the scope of the gunman.
“Fuck you,” Lisa replied but she was starting to cry.
“I can’t bring your little girl back but I want to help you. Work with me and we’ll bring in the one that did it.”
“I thought you were one of us, you fake bitch. You took in Tabitha. She treated you like family. We were all like family.”
Lydia shook her head. She spoke softly. “I think you know that’s not true.”
Lisa smiled a little. It was true that The Baroness, The Broker and The Boss Lady treated all the girls at the club like family but long before she discovered she was an undercover agent, Tabitha made no secret of a dislike for Lydia. Jealousy? Instincts? Either way, Tabitha was not a fan. It had been club manager Dennis who had managed to gain Lydia access to the club.
“She’s good at what she does. She’ll draw in the crowds,” Dennis insisted – probably feeling like he could have a piece of Lydia himself.
“Fine,” Tabitha had agreed. “But keep her away from me. She looks like I might catch something.”
Preparing the girls for the evening Tabitha would do her usual rounds. “Great Lisa,” she would say. “Keep those drinks flowing. We want them pissed before we bring out the tip jars.” To Bette, the matron in charge of the dancer girls she would grin, “Got enough make up on? It looks like you’ve applied it with a trowel!” Bette would laugh at the good-natured ribbing. When Tabitha would turn to Lydia she would sneer, utter an, “Ugh,” and move on.
“I want to bring Sarah’s killer in. Will you let me help you?” Lydia put to the barmaid.
“Fine,” Lisa agreed for Sarah’s sake. “I was going to speak to someone who used to buy from Kevin. He might know something.”
“Good,” Lydia gave a chirpy smile. “What’s the address?”
“He lives in the Mid West now but he was Shanties born. He would never thank me for sending an agent to his door. I’ll go with you. I’ll talk to him first. Hopefully he will tell you all he knows.”
“We’ll get him, Lisa,” Lydia assured. “One way or another we’ll get that shooter.”
Lisa lowered her gaze. “I’m never going to have my daughter back. You lied to us. You lied to me. I thought we were friends.”
Lydia spoke soothingly. “I know I’m the last person you want around right now but I’m good at what I do and I can help find the one who shot Sarah. Let me help you.”
Lisa sniffed. “You’re still a fake bitch and the only thunder you bring is out your arse.”
Lydia shook her head. “Tabitha told you to say that, didn’t she?”
Lisa replied, “That’s the Boss Lady for you. But yeah, she did.”
Lisa’s contact had done good from what Lydia could tell. It seemed he had managed to escape the poverty trap of the Shanties and was now resident in a clean, respectable apartment in the Mid West.
“He’ll be a little shy of suits so let me do the talking,” Lisa instructed.
Lydia wasn’t going to complain. She wasn’t bearing any badge or uniform. It wasn’t her intention to cause any trouble for the contact. She just wanted to bring Sarah’s killer to justice.
A drug pusher was what Lydia expected from his association with Kev. He had clearly made a profitable business out of it. With bigger fish to fry she let Lisa take the lead. Lisa pushed the buzzer. Someone answered but they didn’t speak.
“Hey, it’s me,” she said.
The ring of the secure entry door sounded as it opened to them. Lisa stepped in first. Lydia was close at her back. She gave one last check for anything or anyone suspicious before she closed the door behind her.
They were greeted by a pleasantly lit, carpeted hallway. It wasn’t quite the Faulds Park building in City Main nor the Beckingridge Manor in Filton but it was clean. It was a typical Mid West apartment with its soft pastel coloured walls and welcoming plants in the corners. They climbed the stairs to the second floor. Lisa crossed an open landing and knocked on the door of apartment 2F. Their informant had been expecting them so the door was answered quickly.
“Agent Lowe,” Lisa introduced. “This is David Finn.”
Artist David Finn was sleepy eyed and his hair was tousled. He had clearly dressed in a hurry, his trousers and shirt not matching. He looked to Lydia, his mind still resonating on the word ‘agent’.
“Can we come in?” asked Lydia.
“Fuck,” was David’s reply.
David let the women into his apartment. The hallway may have been clean and well kept but the apartment itself was not. Clothes, paints, sketches were scattered everywhere. The artist started to straighten up as best he could.
While Lisa spoke to him Lydia took notice of a board that had been pinned to a wall. On it were photos of the Ferrald family who had raised David. There were also some photos taken from inside Harbour House, showing David with Tawny. She was clutching his face and kissing his cheek. David was smiling widely. His eyes were closed and his nose wrinkled. There was another with Tawny centre. She had one arm around David and the other round a well-groomed man wearing spectacles. Lydia assumed him to be the music teacher, Vincent Baines. Also pinned to the board was a photo of Tabitha as a girl. She was grinning, her two aunts standing proudly behind her. The photo was Tawny’s favourite and David had kept it for her. He knew she would be wanting it back when she was found.
“Jesus fucking Christ, lady!” David gasped to the Knock Knock barmaid. “You brought the law?”
“She just wants to ask about Kev,” Lisa explained. “She’s helping me.”
David nervously watched as Lydia inspected his apartment.
“Where did you meet her?” he asked. “She’s not CPD.”
“She was under cover at the club as one of the dancer girls.”
David’s nerves dissolved to a grin. “Really?”
“David? David?” Lisa urged but he was now lost in the neatness of Lydia’s form. “David focus!” she snapped her fingers in front of his glassy eyes.
“Sorry Lees,” he chuckled. “I was miles away there.”
Lisa pouted with good nature. “I’m sure you were. Can you help?”
“Of course,” David agreed.
When Tawny caught wind of Lisa’s daughter, Sarah, being gunned down and it likely being an Owen bullet that had taken her life she had vowed to do whatever it took to expose the killer. David was sure her vow and her disappearance were not unrelated. When he left Harbour House he met up with the Knock Knock barmaid to offer his support. It turned out that when Tawny spoke of Lisa, she had meant Lisa Luren. She and David had gone to school at The Grange together. Lisa was a couple of years above David but she was bubbly, popular and very memorable for a teenaged boy. They hadn’t seen one another in years but they knew each other well. David hadn’t realised the Kev he occasionally bought needles from was Lisa’s boyfriend.
Having given the time to put David at ease Lydia turned away from the board and prepared for her questioning. David kicked a pair of pink lace knickers under the sofa. There was no good explanation for them.
“So David,” Lydia asked. “When did you first find out about Sarah? What did Tawny tell you?”
“She heard from a friend that a little girl had been shot. That was nothing unusual in the Shanties but she insisted that it was an Owen that did it. The Kappa So creep Buddy Owen. He had been after Kev. He owed money to them.”
“Did you know Kev well?”
“Uh…” David turned to Lisa.
Lisa urged him. “It’s fine,” she said.
“I used to buy from him when the Kirkton apartments dried up. I haven’t touched anything since I came out of Harbour House though, honest! I’m clean and sober. I haven’t done anything illegal.”
“It’s okay. I’m just here to try and find out what happened to Sarah,” Lydia assured. “Did Kev ever mention anything to you about owing money to Kappa So?”
“No,” David replied. “But he owed lots of people. He stiffed me a few times too.”
“What made Tawny say it was Buddy Owen in particular?”
“She heard he was bragging about it.” David laid a gentle, comforting hand on Lisa’s shoulder. “He told one of his Kappa So brothers that he had deliberately shot Sarah first so Kev could see her skull explode. Then he shot Kev too.” Lisa sobbed so David pulled her close to him. “I’m sorry Lees, but we have to find him.”
“I know,” Lisa sobbed. “I know.”
Lydia remained collected. “Do you know the name of the brother that he had been bragging to?”
“Thad or Brad or some douche bag name like that.”
Lydia took note. “Thanks David,” she said.
“So you’re going to arrest him, right?” the artist asked.
“It’s not quite as simple as that I’m afraid,” Lydia admitted. “I need evidence or there’s nothing that can be done.”
Memories of Tawny and being confronted with the image of Lisa grieving for his daughter had left David a little emotional.
“And your looking for Tawn too?” he asked. “She’s loud, brassy, always flashing her tits at people,” he sniffed. “She can’t be missed, right?” he tried a cheerful spin.
Lydia smiled. “If learning about Sarah is the reason she’s gone missing then hopefully it will lead me to her too,” Lydia assured. “Lay low and say nothing to anyone.”
“Even CPD?” he enquired.
“The rich dragon lady wants to have a word with me. Can I talk to her?”
“If you mean Elizabeth Beckingridge then let me speak to her first. I want to find out all she learned from your friend, Vincent.”
David walked them to the door.
“Take care of yourself, Lees,” he said to the Knock Knock barmaid with a hug. “I’m here if you need anything.”
Lisa kissed the artist’s cheek. “I’m outta work just now so if you want a model give me a call,” she jested.
David laughed, “I will.”
Lydia shook his hand. “Thanks David. I’ll be in touch.”
“Sure, agent.” He leaned against the door frame. “Call me anytime. The more models the better…”
Lydia smiled. Her natural effervescence started to shine through her professionalism. She winked. “Stay safe.”
As they rounded the stairs Lisa looked back to see David still watching on with a raised eyebrow. His eyes were wide. Lisa shook her head with an exasperated giggle when he exhaled. Lydia had made an impression on him.
Kim and Lydia met outside the steps of the Court House. The last time they had done so it had been to discuss the raid on the Knock Knock Club. The dust from the debris had settled and through the dust an underlying problem in the Shady City was discovered. It resonated from all four corners of Coldford but that morning it had been the Chapter House the agents were targeting. The icy winter chill was closing in fast. Lydia blew warm breath into her hands. Smiling, she watched Kim approach. She hugged her agency partner. Kim was the self-appointed leader of their group. She was also the sternest but with Lydia close a warmth danced into her eyes.
“Let’s not waste time,” Kim suggested. “We need that signature.”
They headed on inside. An old building, the Court House had seen rulings from the first hanging two centuries before (ironically it had been Judge Jessica ‘Jess’ Owen who delivered the conviction. A man sentenced to death for thieving cattle. The cattle in question belonged to her family) right up to to death sentence of the Boss Lady. It had seen so much and still had so much to do.
The agents were escorted by a clerk on duty. Several members of the black bands were present. They were quiet and structured but their presence was worthy of attention.
Inside the office of The Judge, they found Doyle herself collecting documents.
“I must make this brief, agents,” she said. “I’m due in court.”
“It’s about an investigation I’d like to open,” said Lydia without haste. “With the help of my team.”
Karyn continued to prepare for court. “What kind of charges are you looking to bring?”
“Murder – first degree. Possibly several counts of rape, drug possession, whatever I can find.”
Judge Doyle stopped. “This perp sounds like quite a character. Coldford is no longer your jurisdiction. Why are you doing this? Why not tell CPD everything you know and let them handle it?”
Lydia stood firm. “Ma’am, if I leave it in the hands of CPD it will be brushed away. There is a conflict of interest at the department now.”
“Who is this target?” asked Doyle.
“Bernard Owen,” Lydia stated. “We have reason to believe he is responsible for the murder of Kevin Marsh and his daughter Sarah. We also have reason to believe he is responsible for the abduction of Tawny McInney.”
“And these reasons are hunches?” the Judge put to them.
It was Kim who had to admit. “It is just hearsay at this point, ma’am, but if we put it to CPD we will never discover the truth, not when the suspects cousin is now Chief of Police.”
Doyle gave it some thought. “I’ll grant you two weeks to find out what you can,” she said.
Kim offered the document that required a High Court signature to open the investigation. Karyn used the same silver pen that had been used to sign Tabitha’s life away. Buddy Owen had now come under investigation.
“If your enquiries bring up nothing, be prepared. The Captain will not stop at having your badges revoked.”
“It’s a risk we’re willing to take,” Kim assured.
“Good,” replied Judge Doyle. “Bring me whatever you find. We will see if a warrant is necessary.”
With more Owens arriving for the funeral of Pops even a place as large as Owen Estate was starting to feel crowded. Billy was occupied by his father, Jackson ‘Jackie’ Owen and The Cappy, so Buddy and his brothers managed to slip their nanny and head off back to Filton. They had said they were to meet with a Fullerton representative to discuss bringing the Chapter House back in order and they were.
“I’ll handle the Fullerton contract,” Buddy had offered.
Billy laughed heartily and shook his shoulder. “Shit for brains here still thinks he’s Chapter leader. You lost it boy.”
“I can do this,” Buddy pleaded to his father. “I can make it right.”
The Cappy scowled with a narrow gaze. “Close the Fullerton deal and then we’ll talk.”
Billy cheered. He wrapped his arm around his cousin’s neck. “Who’s the leader, little bro?” he asked.
Buddy could feel Cooper and Chad’s eyes burning on him.
“You are,” he admitted.
“Damn right I am. Who has the mighty big balls?” he asked.
Billy let him go. “Then let’s head out.”
Luckily The Cappy interceded. “Let Buddy try this one. I would like to see him produce positive results for once in his life. Billy, you and I should talk on CPD.”
“Sure thing Captain,” replied Billy.
So Buddy and his Kappa So brothers returned to Filton but before any meeting with Fullerton could take place they had a stop off to make.
Chad checked his phone. “Susie is out of the hospital.”
Buddy gave a sigh of relief. “Thank the fucking Lord Almighty,” he said. “I should send her something.”
Chad started to tap through his phone. “I have a flower guy I use,” he said. “What kind of flowers does she like? Orchids, lilies, tulips?”
Buddy stopped and scowled at him. “Flowers? She’s a six-year-old little kid, she likes pony rides and fucking chocolate milk.” He looked to Cooper and scoffed. “Flowers? Can you believe this guy?”
Cooper shrugged. Chad continued scrolling.
“You liked the purple tulips, remember?” Chad put to Buddy.
Buddy groaned. “They brightened up the place, brah.”
They had arrived at Cooper Garage. Cooper opened up. The annual luxury car auction in Luen was taking place. The Deluxe Drive event was a big deal among the traders and the Coopers never missed it. The garage had been on lock down since before the Loyalist/Fleet attacks began. As they stepped onto the main show room floor motion sensor lights sparked on.
Buddy stopped to admire a shining silver Bentley.
“We’re gotta get back into the Chapter House before Fullerton gets there and find the golden cock. Then I’m going to the farm, find the one who coked up my little mascot and I’m gonna fire ten rounds right up their fucking ass.”
“Yeah!” his brothers cheered.
“Then I’m gonna have my Chapter House back and I’m gonna make that sicko Penn eat my fucking dick.”
“Yeah!” the brothers continued in their encouragement.
“Then when I’m the new Cappy in town I’m gonna bang that farm girl because I’m Kappa fucking So!”
The cheer of the brothers rang through the garage. They climbed the steps to Cooper’s father’s office.
“We are Kappa So! Brothers for life,” Buddy was still ranting. They started in on the Kappa So chant as Cooper opened the door to Marshal Cooper’s office. More motioned sensor lights came on. Buddy pushed him out of the way and stood in the doorway first. He sniffed. He could almost smell victory.
“With everything that’s been going on I almost forgot we had this bitch!”
In the corner, hidden away from the rest of the city was Tawny, the one they called the Baroness.
George knew his aunt was looking for her but he always loved the thrill of a game of hide and seek. He especially enjoyed the admiration of his brothers when his Beck Firm informant was able to tell them exactly where Elizabeth was going to be looking next.
Tawny’s caught sight of Buddy and his bros unlocking Marshall Cooper’s cupboard and helping themselves to a generous helping of powder.
Buddy took the first line.
“I feel good!” he screamed. “I feel fucking good!”
“So what are we going to do with her? “ Chad asked Buddy of Tawny.
“Throw a sheet over her, brah. She’s weirding me out.”
Tawny shook her head. “You boys are in so much trouble,” she said.
Agnes and I met in Bobby’s lunch box. Whilst the Knock Knock was seized, Agnes had been staying in her Mid East apartment. We had joined for a coffee, the chance to relinquish our breaths and to discuss the power grabbing that had torn through the Shady City since the delivery of the sentence on The Boss Lady.
Agnes had gotten a text.
CAN YOU COME DOWN TO KK. HURRY.
I couldn’t let her return alone. When we got to the Shanties the streets were filled. I had never seen the place so busy. Even on the nights the Knock Knock was in full swing there still weren’t as many people pressing towards the club.
Lisa got talking to someone she knew in the crowd. She started to push through.
“They killed her!” screamed one. “They’ve done it. They’ve killed her.”
Mounted Black Band patrol pushed through. Agnes and I got crushed between them. Agnes fell into me but I managed to steady her on her feet. I had seen riot patrols before. I had seen them many times in fact but the crowd control that the Black Bands dealt was not the same. Their horses were larger. Thoroughbreds intended for war. A woman’s scream called out as she was crushed between two horses. A Shanties knife fighter pulled a blade and tried to plunge one of them. The horse reared. It’s horsemen came tumbling down with his baton at the ready. The knife dropped from the aggressor’s hands as the baton smashed against his skull.
“She’s dead! They’ve done it. They’ve killed Tabitha.”
The Black Bands swept the crowd back like the ocean over a sandcastle. Agnes roared a cry of despair that still tremors in my ears on dark nights when I’m alone.
From a post outside the club hung that red dress, that red dress that meant so much to so many people in the area. The wearer of the dress was gone. A notice on the door of the club read that the execution of Tabitha had been brought forward. No more appeals. No more pleas. All Lydia and Kim could do was lead the people away from the path of the Black Bands.
Paddy Mack comforted Brendan when they discovered the news. The Mack Distillery owner had known Tabitha since she was little girl. Kieran was pacing. He didn’t dry his tears. He let them flow freely. The bells rang in the distillery from behind the gates.
Agnes wept. It took both Lisa and I to try and usher her away. Don’t look, I hoped she would hear me think. For God’s sake don’t look.
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