Finally, we came to rest.

The day's work had been long but fruitful. We had made double the monies we would have on a normal day at market but that was probably because we spent double the time there. We set off across the desert on our long journey home expecting to make it in time for Mama's fish stew for supper and for story time around the fire but it was later than I had anticipated. The Moonbore her silver glow to us before we had even got a quarter of the way. I settled down to rest for...

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"Of all the songs ever written, his favourite is Lola? You can't be serious."

"Dead serious."

"Wow. That's a guy who really needs a friend."

"I know. So will you do it?"

"Why on earth would I?"

"Out of the goodness of your heart?"

"There's goodness in my heart?"

"You might be surprised what you'd find if you went looking."

"Calling all spelunkers! Is there anyone out there daring enough to embark on the most dangerous of quests, the search for goodness in the depths of my heart? Finders keepers, down there!"

"Very funny. So you're not...

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We had been the best of friends all though high school. It was summer after senior year and we would soon be off to our respective colleges. This was going to be one last slumber party; one last tribute to the way we had spent most weekends throughout the last four years.

Mindy had brought the tequilla, which was a recent development. I mean, slumber parties as freshmen didn't include booze. I furnished the barn, or rather my parents did. The night was soft and warm and the air was sweet with mown grass, and if you didn't mind the...

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I'm in luuu-uv with a ro-bot
An' I just can't stop
Got a feelin' he's a bad lot
But he gets me over the top

It was loud. It was *bad*. It was everywhere. It was augmented by neon lights in rainbow colors and, somehow, the voices and laughter bouncing off all the hard surfaces in here.

So, this, apparently, was a bar.

"Relax," Maya muttered at her side. "You look like a nun in need of Ex-Lax."

"This isn't what I had in mind," Elizabeth hissed back. "What the hell in the phrase 'a quiet night somewhere' made you...

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Running had always been an expression of freedom. That's how she had always seen it. The wind whipping through her hair, tugging at her clothes as her feet moved so fast that she felt like she was flying. AS though for just that moment, she was soaring above the ground, close enough to the clouds to touch them.

But then she began to notice the strings. The tiny threads, invisible against the light, that were attached to her clothes, hooked into her skin, threaded through to her soul.

When had that happen? When had she become the marionette? The freedom...

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She was supposed to be running. Fifteen more miles to go. But the butterflies caught her attention and she couldn't drag herself away.

"Go! Go! Go!" she heard the spectators shout. Or was that her subconscious?

She had to keep running she told herself. She needed the prize money for her next search. Money that would buy her time and equipment she would need. A top of the line GPS system, tape recorder, memory sticks. Anything that would help her track down her sister.

A year ago, her sister left a note and disappeared without a trace. And Amelia had...

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