But... forever, this time.
Because he saved me once, and now it was my turn.
"Still waiting for him to show up?" Molly refilled my coffee without asking.
"How do you figure I'm waiting for anyone?" I frowned, puzzled how she knew.
"Because the way you're nursing that pie ala mode says you care more for what's coming in that door than you do for how that ice cream melts your pie to slush."
I smiled at this and tried to spoon up some of the now-gooey mess to my mouth. "That obvious, Molly?"
"As obvious as my name tag. There's just your one seat in here where you can see who's coming in without them noticing you right off. So you can drop your eyeballs back to that pie real quick if they do."
Molly pulled out a cloth from under the counter and pretended to clean a phantom spill. "Besides, I've seen other gals like you in that seat before. Every week. Same place, same time. Hoping when you come in, disappointed when you leave."
She then looked me in the eye.
"But don't worry none. He'll be along presently. Comes every week, just about now."
We shimmered into place right outside a diner. Looked like L.A. because of all the asphalt, cement, and palm trees. The diner had a lot of glass and chrome. And it was decorated for Christmas with plastic wreaths and synthetic ribbons.
The sky overhead was clear, with a tinge of smog between us, the sun, and the cloudless sky. Still a West Coast idea of what passed for morning out here.
Carol turned to me and smiled, then wrapped her arms around me to hug me in a bear grip that showed her relief and thankfulness.
Not uncomfortable, though. This was the old Carol I knew better.
She let up and pushed back to look at me, her arms on my shoulders.
"It's been so long, Mary. You look great." Carol's smile was back, and the tenseness had dropped out of her voice.
I had to smile in return. "It's good to see you, too. And thanks. Now, what is going on? What's this all about?"
A slight frown crossed her forehead. "Now you and I are safe here. The others, well, not so much. Did you get through those books and the briefing file?"
I nodded. "Just barely."
"I wish you'd had more time, but no one has that luxury anymore. Thing's are unraveling."
"You saw your old ship?"
"Sent to salvage, it said, Before John could rescue me."
Carol nodded. "That's the problem with most of the Ghost Hunter network. Every since John decided not to join. In fact, he never moved to that farm we all know and love."
I was speechless, even though my jaw was open - nothing was coming out. So I closed it.
"Wait - how did that happen?"
Carol hiked a thumb over her shoulder at that diner. "Since he was trapped in there."
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