Raquel's Trade
Part 7: Storm Clouds Gather
by Dr. Mercurious
Jessica took the stairs up to her apartment two at a time. She always was eager to come back to this little place she called home because it was one of the few areas she could truly relax. Today, she had an additional incentive. I can't believe it, she thought with glee. Only two days have gone by and I practically trip over the Guide! Jessica had heard an unGifted, or non-magician, had been 'chosen' as one but until Raquel walked into the elevator this morning hadn't believed it. Not that it mattered, really. Any little bit of chaos was good.
She gave her wards the once-over; it wouldn't do for the neighbors to overhear something she couldn't explain. Satisfied that nothing from the mundane world was going to surprise her, Jessica resumed her real form; skunks were pretty and all, but nothing beat her real body. Abruptly, the black areas of her fur lightened to a reddish hue as her hands and feet darkened to brown. Her muzzle lengthened and her ears more than doubled in size. Her tail shrunk to become something bushier with a white tip, dividing into three as it did so.
With her transformation complete, the kitsune padded into her bedroom and over to a plain-looking mirror hanging on a wall, just big enough to see one's face and neck in. A brief thought about what the other Avalons who couldn't shape shift like kitsunes -- which was just about the rest of them -- did when the pressures of living with a body shape that wasn't your own got to them crossed Jessica's mind. Probably the reason there aren't many of us on Mundane Earth, she thought as she lit an incense brazier on her dresser. Unfortunately, hiding the fact that there was magic on Mundane Earth was one of the few things that most Whites and Blacks agreed on. Personally, Jessica thought the reason for it -- to avoid unGifted hunting down and killing Gifted furs and Avalons -- wasn't a realistic fear in these modern times. After all, look at all the appreciative looks Raquel is getting, she mused
Her preparations finished, she walked back to the mirror and traced a circle three times over its surface, counterclockwise. Its surface darkened to reveal the squat and powerful face of a tan-furred bulldog -- the Lord of the Black, whose specialty was Necromancy.
She grinned at him. "Eddie! Whassup?" A dangerous thing to do, but no kitsune ever showed complete respect for someone in higher authority and she wasn't about to be the first.
"Contemplatin' an ol' family recipe -- fox-tail soup," he replied with a broad grin. "What can I do for ya, darlin'?"
"I found the Guide," Jessica blurted.
Eddie's powerful jaw dropped "Well I'll be dipped in batter and chicken-fried."
"You leave your sex life out of this. Let's discuss rewards, shall we? I think finding her in something under three days qualifies me for a biggie."
"Hold on a moment there," he growled. "I'm gonna need proof first."
Jessica gave him her most put-upon expression. "Don't you trust me?"
"I know kitsune; you'd prank the Devil himself."
"Hmmph! No nookie for you. As it happens I do have proof." She went over to her pocketbook and took out a wad of cotton. "It wasn't easy getting this lock of hair, let me tell you," she said, holding out to the mirror. "Even with her boon granted."
He briefly inspected the cotton wad and nodded once. "Now what's this about her boon?"
Jessica related her first meeting with the much-improved Raquel, including the tigress' new look, and added the note she'd seen tacked to the bulletin board later that day.
Eddie grinned. "Called the fur out, did she? I'm gonna like this gal! She's got big ones."
"Actually they're about C-cups, but she's got four of them so it makes up for it," Jessica shrugged.
"The Whites are gonna shit a brick," he chuckled, ignoring her bad joke. "Since she's a norm, they can't send her to Avalon. Means anyone who sees her will get to wonderin' about what's real and what ain't. That helps our cause out just fine."
"'Chaos means change, change means growth, growth means life'," she returned, the code that those of the Black like her lived by. "So, how about it? Do I get a bonus for coming though so quickly?"
"Sure do, darlin'," Eddie grinned. "Now, I'll give ya a choice; ya can make your demand or ya can let me give you a surprise."
She put her hands on her hips, lashing her tails. "Yeah, that's a real tempting offer," she retorted sarcastically. "And if I don't like this 'surprise'?"
"Then you give it back to me and make yer request," he answered. "A win-win scenario."
She regarded the bulldog's still-grinning face dubiously. One did not become Lord of the Black by being stupid, and in only ten years of holding his office Eddie was being hailed as one of the brightest Lords. It didn't help that her kitsune curiosity was gnawing at her.
"Well," he urged, "whaddya got ta lose, darlin'?"
She shook her head. She really did have nothing to lose "Okay, what is it?"
"This." The image vanished. A ripple appeared on the mirror's surface, like a disturbance on water, and a small felt-wraped irregular bundle thrust itself through and floated up to her. Jessica grabbed it and wasted no time in pulling the wrapping off to get a good look.
She almost dropped it when she saw what it was.
Eddie's image reappeared. "Before you go askin' me where I got it, you should know that the guy didn't know what he had and he ain't a magic type, either."
She ignored him. Bringing it to her muzzle, she inhaled deeply; underneath he smell of dust and seasoned wood, the scent of her one true love's magic still clung to the lyre fragment. "I remember when she made this." Her voice sounded faint and shaky to her own ears. "She sang it from an ashwood tree; one of its branches reshaped itself to form the lyre. When she plucked it off the trunk, I saw the strings -- forged from the moonlight. That's why no one could duplicate its sound, you know. It was all one solid piece."
"She must have been one special lady to win the love of a kitsune." Eddie's voice sounded almost respectful.
"The world will never know the like of Xendaene Mithrilsinger again," Jessica murmured. She clutched the lyre fragment to her like a life preserver.
"I wouldn't be too sure of that, darlin'." The Lord of the Black said. "See, I used that lyre piece to contact her spirit, and I couldn't. With an item so closely linked to her, it should've been a guarantee -- unless she ain't in the Afterlife anymore, that is.
The kitsune's head snapped up. "What!?"
His return grin was huge. "The Dark Minstrel's been reborn."
Jessica's breath caught. Somewhere, out there, her true love wore different flesh, her knowledge of herself buried, just waiting for the right stimulus to resurface. The thought made her quiver. "You want to awaken her, and you want my help."
"Can't think of anyone better to help than her lover," he shrugged. "But hey, no one's forcin' you to say yes, darlin'. Ya got yer momento right there in the palm o' your hand. Ain't like I'm gonna take it away from ya."
"What does it matter to you?" Her lips drew back into a snarl.
His jovial visage hardened into a scowl. "Call it an obsession started when I first learned about her and figured she got the fuzzy end o' the lollipop. Call it a whim if ya feel like it. Now, ya want in or no?"
Jessica closed her hand around the lyre fragment tightly. There was only one answer she could give, regardless of what it would cost her.
Alexander Gregan leafed through Ms. Fayral's personnel folder again to make sure he hadn't missed any information. Nothing stood out in her history to name her as especially brilliant. There were some notes in it about a peculiar medical condition, but they were unclear as to precisely what it was. Perhaps she's undergone an attitude change, the thought to himself. A disfigurement, if that is what she has, could account for her not using her full potential. Maybe she's finally decided she doesn't care how she looks. Personally, he had never really cared about other businessfur's opinions of him, a CEO who would do things like have a meeting with a 'lowly' employee. Other businessfurs also didn't have company that was solidly operating in the black without having to resort to interpretive accounting methods.
His speakerphone clicked on. "Uhh....Mr. Gregan, Ms. Fayral is here to see you," said the voice of the security fur at the elevator.
There's a slight tremor to his pitch, Alexander thought. She must be fairly distinctive-looking to illicit that sort of reaction from Boris. "Send her in," he told the speakerphone. He leaned back in his leather chair, placed her folder in front of him, and smoothed his features. Whatever her disfigurement was, he was determined not to react to it. I think she's had enough of that, he told himself sternly.
When he saw the two-headed tigress enter his office, he blinked once or twice to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him. Now this is unexpected. Beneath her blouse he could see the muscles of someone who wasn't afraid to work out with free-weights. The fact that she had two heads became a meaningless consideration for the moment. He always did have a weakness for muscular women, a trait very hard to find in those considered 'safe' for someone in his earning bracket to go out on dates with. Beneath her assured poise Alexander could read her body language and see her newly-won confidence.
He inclined his head to her. "Good morning, Ms. Fayral." He briefly wondered if she was one person or two, but dismissed the notion. Considering she used only one first name, either she was a single entity or two that acted and thought as one.
"Thank you, Mister Gregan," she said with her right head. He didn't detect any hint of unease, and her twin emerald gazes met his own blue squarely.
Good. I like an employee with spine, he thought. "I called you here today in order to compliment the work you've done on Mr. Ringtail's behalf. Excellently done, considering the workload."
She blushed slightly. "I have certain advantages," she answered in a modest tone. "I can concentrate on two tasks at once."
The realization of what she said hit Alexander squarely but painlessly between the eyes. He began to wonder about the capabilities of an office manager who could multitask to that degree. Or a stockbroker. Or a police detective. Any profession. Competing against someone with such an advantage was a foregone conclusion. All that natural ability, he marveled, stifled because society made it a point of telling her she couldn't contribute due to an accident of birth. Except now, for whatever reason, she's learned otherwise. It occurred to him that it had been so very long since he'd had the chance to shape someone, and last time there'd been less to work with. "In fact, I have other projects that I believe could benefit from someone of your abilities," he said. inspiration striking. "Would you be interested?"
"Only if it doesn't affect Mr. Ringtail's position, sir," her left head answered quickly.
If it wasn't for his long experience at being able to watch facial expressions he would have missed the annoyed look on her right head. Good; loyalty to one's employer is a rare trait these days -- with some justification. Alexander wondered idly how to correctly judge the feelings of an opponent with two faces. Hope you're looking at the one showing the true feelings, that's how. I'll have to drill her in sending misleading signals. "Absolutely not," he assured her. "Mr. Ringtail is one of my most valuable employees. If you like, consider it a test for consideration of a promotion.
The word 'test' seemed to be a red flag; Raquel -- Ms. Fayral; keep it impersonal, she's your employee, he warned himself -- sat up straight, both faces painted in resolution. She needs schooling in her body language, he mused. Never give signals to your enemy, after all.
This was going to be fun.
For the millionth time, Byron checked his right pants pocket for the tiny yet expensive gift nestled there. He took a deep breath and pressed the buzzer. The door flew open to reveal a short, red-quilled porcupine with a smile bigger than she was.
"Hiya, sweetie-bear," Cyndi cooed, standing on tiptoe to kiss him.
As silly as the pet-name was, Byron melted every time he heard her say it. "Hey there yourself."
"Raquel's out on a date, so we have the apartment all to ourselves." She gave him an impish grin. "Want to order in some Chinese, rent a few pornos and get naked?"
The absence of her roommate was the second best piece of news Byron had so far all day. Raquel seemed an OK femfur -- if a little touchy -- but that hideous-looking tail of hers made his fur knot. Only the fact that most other furs reacted to it the same way kept him from feeling totally guilty. "Had Chinese for lunch," he deadpanned. "Besides, porno movies are overrated. I know because my girlfriend gives me lots of ways to compare."
"Brat!" Cyndi's grin grew, it that was possible. "If you weren't so huggable, I'd trade you in for a stuffed bear."
He laughed and followed her inside. "They don't build them like me, hon." Then, finally, something she'd said earlier registered. "Wait. Raquel has a date??"
Cyndi flopped onto her couch. "Uh huh. Ain't it cool?"
Guess someone decided that making it with a four-breasted femfur was worth ignoring the tail, he thought, then scolded himself harshly. "Good for her."
She put her hands on her hips, assuming an affronted air. "Are we going talk about my roomie all night or are you going to take me up on one of my suggestions?"
Here it was; the moment of truth. He took a deep breath and pressed on. "Actually, I have a couple of things I want to tell you."
He beamed a smile at her. "I got the promotion."
Byron swore Cyndi achieved ballistic speeds when she launched herself from the couch into his arms, almost knocking him on his butt. "You made Shop Foreman!"
"Worked my ass off to do it, but yes."
"I never doubted you for an instant," she said, nuzzling him.
I know, he thought. You could always count on Cyndi for support. "Believe me, I appreciate it." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black box. "That's why I bought you this."
Her green eyes got big as she took it from him. "You didn't have to do that!"
Oh yes I did, he corrected her silently. He didn't say anything aloud, just waited while she opened it up to take a good look.
The expression on her face was something to behold. "Oh," she squeaked very softly at the diamond ring within.
"You don't have to answer now," Byron insisted hurriedly. "Take a couple of weeks to think about if you need." He forced himself to continue before he became too nervous to speak. "We've been going out six months and maybe that's too short a time but I all I know is that I've never loved anyone as much as I love you. Will you marry me?"
She opened her mouth up a couple of times, like a fish gaping for water. Finally she managed with a soft, "well, this was unexpected."
"I wanted to make Shop Foreman before giving it to you, so I could afford a good ring. The promotion happened sooner than I expected, but I'm not complaining."
She closed the box slowly. "I'm going to have to think about this, sweetie-bear."
Byron nodded. "Take your time."
"Your parents will never approve, that's for sure."
He grimaced sourly. "Their loss for being specists. I never did get why it wasn't okay to date or marry outside your species when I was a kid." Besides, artificial cross-semination will help us have kids when we decide it's time. He didn't say that last bit out loud, not wanting to spook her into saying 'no'.
She put it in her pocket and embraced him tightly. "Well I'll say this, you really know how to get an evening started."
Byron embraced her right back. "So I've been told. Got any ideas about what you want to do for the rest of the night?"
Her kiss was long and passionate. "Several. Let me tell you about them."
From the twinkle in her eyes and the tugging sensation in his jeans as she undid his zipper, there was absolutely no doubt as to what the hopefully future Ms. Byron Tettinger had in mind for the evening's entertainment.
When Kristen stepped into the elevator this morning, it was with some relief when she didn't see Raquel. Wedging herself into the crowd, it didn't take long to pick up on the conversation buzzing about; after all it had been THE subject for the past few days.
"...saw her for the first time Wednesday, and I thought WHOA..."
"...been hiding it? It's not like you can just stuff an extra head in your purse or..."
"...easier to keep track of my four-year old with two heads, let em tell you..."
"...boyfriend is one lucky guy...."
The raccoon tuned out the conversation as best she could and waited for the crowd to thin out until she got to her floor. In some ways, she felt guilty about her attitude. Until recently, Raquel had been an unfortunate femfur with a tail disfigurement; the tigress could be touchy about it but Kristen didn't blame her considering how other fursons reacted. But now... It's just not normal for someone to grow an extra head out of the blue like that, she thought to herself. And what happened to her tail? Kristen didn't know if what Raquel had was catching and didn't want to find out the hard way.
"Seems like someone isn't too interested in recent events," she heard a fur close to her murmur.
She looked sideways at an ocelot -- he was an office manager for one of the higher floors if she wasn't mistaken -- and gave him a weak smile. "I'm just not interested in spreading around gossip," she answered.
He snorted. "Someone walking in one day with an extra head is not gossip; you can't hide something like that. Now a sudden promotion, that's gossip."
Kristen stared at the fur. "What?"
He leaned closer. "You know that she's been coming into work earlier this week, right?" Kristen nodded. "Well, Mr. Gregan called her into his office Tuesday and she left with a pile of folders. I know how he works -- he does that to furs he plans on promoting to manager level."
"Of all the nerve," Kristen spat. "I've been here for twelve years and not even a hint and she gets a promotion after only five?"
"Make you think about what else she got with the extra head, doesn't it?"
The rest of the elevator had gotten quieter. Normally being the center of attention made Kristen nervous but she was too angry to care. "We'll just see about that," she snapped.
Abruptly the elevator dinged at her floor. Kristen stomped off to her desk, intending to call her union rep. The tone of the conversation seemed to have changed when she got off, but she had been too angry to catch how.
She got on the phone and dialed.
Dr. Mike Balto had on his best smile when he entered the examination room. "I'm glad you decided to come in on an earlier day, Raquel." He'd already resolved to -- for the moment -- talk to the twins as if they were one person since it made them comfortable. First they have to trust me before I can help them, he reminded himself.
"More like I wanted to get it over with," the left twin said. Both women laughed in unison to the joke.
Mike shook his head. "Well, don't worry. This'll be just a simple physical to start with. Later on I'll need to do an MRI to make sure everything's okay internally."
"If it's necessary," the right twin said. They looked doubtful.
"I'd like to be sure. Don't worry, it'll be nothing," he assured them.
He started with the basics; checking their throats, ears and eyes. Taking their blood pressures -- one reading for each arm, so he could get both hearts -- showed that it was well within normal. "So far so good," Mike smiled at them, and got twin smiles in return. He put on his stethoscope and placing it on the right of their back, listening for the heart on that side. Then he placed it on the left, listening for the other one.
"What the...?" He said aloud when he didn't find it.
"Something wrong?" The right twin asked.
"No," he answered absently. He checked around again. Sure enough only one, strong-sounding heartbeat was audible. This is impossible, he thought with alarm. Dicephalic conjoined twins like the Raquels can't have a normal internal arrangement. One body fueling the oxygen requirements of two brains needs two hearts for blood flow, an extra lung for more oxygen to get into the blood -- and that's just the basics! Even if the two hearts were beating at exactly the same time he should still hear an echo of the other one, and there wasn't even that.
"I'm scheduling you for an MRI Tuesday of next week," he told them. He'd get into a little trouble for pushing the twins in so early, but this was an emergency. He had to know what was going on internally with them to make a proper diagnosis and the sooner the better.
"Is something wrong?"
"Well...you've got a strong, healthy heartbeat," he told the left twin. "Any problems recently? Short of breath, tired all the time, headaches?"
Both twins snorted. "No on the first two, sort of on the third. The big boss of my company has decided I'm manager material," the right twin said. "The extra work is a killer, and he's taxing my ability to concentrate on two different things to its limit."
"Then tell him to ease off," Mike snapped. God save us all from slave drivers, he growled silently. More doctors complained of seeing patients come in for work-stress related illnesses than almost any other kind and employers seemed oblivious to it. "If he has a problem, tell him it's doctor's orders and he can call my office."
"There is something wrong, isn't there?" Both twins looked worried. The right twin seemed to be doing all the talking for now.
Mike knew he shouldn't make them nervous, but his honest streak kicked him in the teeth. "There could be. That's what the MRI will show." It was as much a lie as his ethics would allow him to say.
"Could you tell me what's wrong? Please?" The left twin begged.
"As I said, I don't know." He took their hands in his. "Don't worry," he assured them. "It's probably nothing. You seem healthy, happy and alert, which you wouldn't be if there was something seriously wrong. Okay?"
"Okay," they said in unison.
He nodded. "Good. Now let me finish up here and I'll make that appointment."
"Thanks," the left twin said. "Oh, and Doctor?"
"Call me Mike," he smiled.
"Okay, thanks Mike," she grinned. "You still don't buy that I'm one person, do you?"
Damn, they'd caught him out. He tried for a lie, but it got stuck in his teeth. Finally he just shook his head. "I'm sorry. I believe that you two have been raised to think you're one person but two brains means two personalities. It's that simple."
"Thanks for being honest," the right twin smiled. To his relief, they didn't seem offended by his bluntness. "I can see why you're Kayleigh's favorite relative."
"Considering the rest of my family, that's not much of a compliment."
That earned a laugh from both Raquels in stereo. "I heard that too! Anyway, I'd like to prove to you I'm one person."
Mike pretended to think about it for a bit, but he already had a test in mind. "I'll get back to you on that," he answered. It would take time to set up after all. The twins smiled at him, and he returned it; he hated to do this to them but in their own way they'd asked for help. The Raquels would fail the test -- no doubt about that -- and then he could get them the counseling they needed.
The night air seemed cold to the white-furred mink, increasing the tightness in her chest. Then again, she hadn't felt warm in almost two years ever since....since...she wished she could remember. She knew she hadn't always been a piece of human flotsam on the street, dressed in whatever she could scrounge and eating out of garbage cans -- she was once Somebody, then one day things went bad and got worse. The mink just wished she knew if it was her own fault or if she was just a victim of bad luck. At times she wanted to wail aloud to the uncaring sky, except she'd get tossed in the drunk tank again, and LA cops were not kind to homeless people they suspected of drinking.
Quieting her rasping cough with effort, the mink curled up in the alley she called home and drifted off to sleep. Today was at over, but there was still tomorrow. And the day after that. And the rest of them. At least I can still fall asleep quickly, she thought.
She began to dream right away. Normally her dreams were fuzzy and indistinct, just like her memories, but not this time. A figure haunted them, of a policefur. A husky to be precise.
Suddenly, she knew she'd met this fur before things went bad. This fur had always been nice to her. She even recalled her saying, with tears in her eyes, "you let me know if you need anything, Vicki, and I mean anything."
That's my name, she thought, suddenly awake. I'm Vicki! And she's....she's...
Kayleigh, said a voice beside her.
"That's right," she exclaimed aloud to the figure by her left. She couldn't make him out clearly, but he was dressed in a flowing robe and holding something.
He asked, would you like to visit her?
"I don't have any bus money," Vicki said, her heart sinking. "She lives in...Rhode Island, I think."
You're right.
She squinted at the figure, still unable to make him out clearly. "That's too far to walk."
An old, withered hand with nails so long they were practically claws took her hand.  Don't worry about it.  I will take you there myself.
"I...I can't thank you enough, sir!"
Call me Jack*.
An odd tremor ran through her for some inexplicable reason, like someone had walked over her grave. She was too happy for the feeling to hold her long. "Thank you, Jack," she smiled.
The robed figure turned his head in embarrasment as the lost soul hugged him for all she was worth
I'm sorry, Kayleigh, he thought. You shouldn't have made me promise.
A second later he was nowhere to be seen.
"Well, this one isn't too bad," Cyndi said, wincing slightly. "It just thinks you're a space alien.
"Just peachy," Raquel snarled. She glared at the pile of newspapers; each one had her picture somewhere on the front page. "You'd think that they'd have something more important to write about than me!"
Kayleigh sighed. What had started as a dinner at Pasta Pantry between friends had turned into something else when each one of them had picked up a different newspaper with a picture of Raquel and a different speculation about the two-headed tigress. Kayleigh could've told Raquel that it wouldn't be long before the media, ever hungry for more stories, descended upon her like a pack of jackals.
"I think you should give an interview," Cyndi piped up, toying with her pine-neede alfredo. She'd originally had been going to meet with her boyfriend-and-maybe-fiancÚ Byron but he'd gotten stuck working another overtime shift.
"Oh God, that is the worst thing she could do," Kayleigh exclaimed. "Trust me, my love, you want to stay away from them!"
"I can't hide forever, Kayleigh," Raquel said with her left head while her right was busy making short work of her steak pizziola. "If I don't give an interview, they'll just make something up."
Kayleigh sighed. Like any good cop, she loved to hate reporters, but Cyndi was right. "Fine; let's take a look at what they say back at my place and we'll go for the least sensationalized one."
From the wistful look on Raquel's heads, that wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of the evening with Kayleigh. "I suppose we'd better do it sooner rather than later."
"I'll head back to home," Cyndi said quickly. From the look the porcupine girl sped both their directions, it was clear that she didn't want to get in the way of anything that might happen.
"It's okay, Cyndi." She smiled at the tigress. "You can keep us from getting distracted."
Both of Raquel's faces blushed. Cyndi giggled. "Now why would I want to do a thing like that?"
Kayleigh grinned back. Raquel wasn't her first lover who'd had a straight friend, but none of them had been as enthusiastic in their approval. "Well, you could take pictures."
"Sorry, but I left my camera at the apartment."
"I swear, I don't know which one of you is worse," exclaimed a beet-red Raquel.
"She's been giving me lessons," Kayleigh laughed, pointing to a near-hysterical Cyndi.
After the laughter died down, the rest of the meal was spent in idle conversation. Between Cyndi's marriage proposal and all that had happened to Raquel, everyone seemed to have had an eventful week except Kayleigh. She was a little worried about Raquel's upcoming tests with her cousin Mike, but all she could do was support her lover and hope the tigress knew what she was doing when she'd agreed to them.
The night had cooled off a bit by the time the three femfurs had left the restaurant.
"Really, I don't mind taking off," suggested Cyndi. "I mean, just because my sweetie-bear isn't around doesn't mean you two should deprive yourselves of some together-time."
"No, we really should..." Raquel began, but a rustling noise by the restaurant's dumper caught her attention. All three saw a homeless fur wrapped in a long tattered coat, shivering despite the warmth in the evening. Occasionally a ragged cough would come from it as it scrounged the dumpster looking for something to eat.
"I'm going to call this in to the desk seargent," Kayleigh murmured to the other two. "They'll get him to the free clinic for some help. Poor thing sounds like he's got pneumonia."
"Sure thing," Raquel said.
"Here's my cell-phone," Cyndi immediately offered. Both women looked at the homeless fur with pity in their eyes.
The first thing to do is to get him at ease. Make that her, she corrected as her trained eye noticed the curve of the legs and arms. "Excuse me, miss?" The figure stopped its rustling, seemingly frozen. Kayleigh spoke louder. "Can I help you?"
The figure turned and smiled. "I knew I'd find you."
Kayleigh felt all the blood drain from her face in shock. "Vicki," she gasped.
* Jack is a copyright of his creator, David Hopkins