WORK DAY Every day was like magic even a work day. Forty five minutes later they had finished breakfast and were in the barn getting the tractor hooked to the trim wagon.
Sarah was wearing her "work" clothes; dark grey shorts, white T-shirt, and tennis shoes. The new thing today was the cute addition of a red bandana she tied around her head from under her pony tail.
It was cute but it made her look older and a little more like a farm girl, Clem thought. After a couple hours trimming and loading they drove a load over to the compost area in the valley back by the stream.
It was a warm day and the valley and stream offered a lot of cool shady places to rest. Years ago Clem had rented a skip loader for some work up at the house and while he had it, he came down here and built a dam. The result was a small pond under the trees, eight feet deep at the deepest with more than enough flow to keep it crystal clean, fresh and cool.
Stream water in Michigan, even in midsummer never gets too warm and this pond was no exception. Once the clippings were unloaded Clem took Sarah by the hand and started walking down stream to show her the pool. As he walked he was thinking back, this was a first, no one had ever been here with him. He had built the pond alone with the machine. Anyone who knew he had the "Bob Cat" would have assumed it was only for the grading work up at the house. It was a very remote place, back behind a two hundred acre grove of Northern Spy apples, and down through a wooded area on a steep trail.
This lovely stream ran completely across his property; he picked this location because it was the most serene, beautiful and remote; a place to walk to on occasion and really get way.
When they arrived they sat down together on a large log up on the bank under an old maple tree. Clem had put the log under the tree with the skip loader for just such purpose. Sarah's arm went behind him to the log so she could slide closer. It was almost automatic. He could feel her young breast against his arm. She felt so good. The bond of love was so strong; they often would just sit in silence and now was such a time. It was so calm, so pretty, and so serene.
Together they sat looking out over the water and into the dense mature forest on the far bank. Clem was chewing a long hay straw he had found walking down. There was such a need for one another. It went way beyond sex and the erotic excitement of their situation. Without one another both of their lives were filled with such loneliness, but together life was such an adventure.
But, their love went way beyond that. It was a genuine appreciation for the very best in the other. It was fun doing even the most mundane things together. Without a word, Sarah removed her shoes and socks sitting on the log beside him. Finished, she stood up, turned in front of Clem, and slowly deliberately undressed.
T-shirt, shorts, panties, bra; all were taken off, neatly folded and piled on the log beside him. As each piece of clothing was removed with a little seductive move and a captivating smile. Without a word she turned and walked down the sandy slope to the pond and into the water. It quickly got deep. Once the water was up to her waist she lowered herself and with six beautiful strokes she was standing waist deep on the far side.
Her bandana and hair had remained dry. Clem could tell she could not only swim, she could swim well. "What the hell, girl; I thought you said something at the restaurant about not liking to swim.
You swim great!" Sarah returned to his side of the pond just as gracefully. Now standing knee deep in the water, "Yes…sorry if I miss lead you…I swim fine…I just said something because I could tell you were jealous of Bill's invitation to go swimming at the lake and your chubby friend Jane trying to move me out there. Maybe I should have just told them I like trimming apple trees and hauling clippings so much more than swimming and boating!" She laughed. Clem chuckled at the term "Chubby Jane".
Jane actually would be more accurately described as voluminous. Sarah was communicating a bit of unjustified jealousy. Sarah came walking up the sandy bank straight at him. It made his heart stop. The sunlight slanting down through the tree leaves decorated her nude body with an indescribable glow.
She looked so healthy; like she belonged right here in the forest. The summer sun played with the natural surroundings amplifying everything. It highlighted the many natural colors in her hair and turned her smooth skin to gold. Love welled up in Clem from the very tip of his toes. He was the luckiest man in the world to have her with him if even for a short time, and even under these tense circumstances.
His responsibility for this young lady and trying to determine the "right" things to do, were the most important things he ever faced. When Sarah got to him she did what she always did, she came up onto her toes, put one hand on either side of his neck to pull him down such that she could kiss him.
His arms found her waist as usual and they embraced. Finished, she backed away leaving a clear wet imprint of her wet body on his clothing. She laughed, "That is what you get for not coming in with me. Were you too modest? Do you not like swimming? Do you not like swimming with me?" She went on…teasing him. Clem finally had to comment, "I love to skinny dip, chick. That is why I came all the way down here with my skip loader and built this pond.
I come here often, even when it is too cold to swim. It's a great place to just eat a sandwich and think." A serious look came over Sarah, "Has Jane ever been here? Scotty." "Please get Jane out of your head little girl.
She has never been here, she has never been to my house, and she has never set foot on the Apple Valley Orchards as far as I know. You and I have such a complicated thing to deal with; we do not need the interference of false jealousies. Understand?" Sarah was straightening out her T-top on the grass in a square of sunlight where she could sit to dry off.
Clem took off his shirt and put it down as well so she had more area.
She was down on her knees working away when she stopped and looked up with the coy smile. He knew a zinger was coming.
"Would you have let me go to the lake to swim with Bill?" Clem looked away. His throat choked such that he doubted he could speak. He could feel emotion flooding his face. He waited to compose himself. Was it a serious question? He could not just let it hang in the air. He looked down at her sitting there…nude, vulnerable, young, "Yes! Yes Sarah I would." That was all he could muster. Another word would have failed to pass his lips.
He turned away and walked over to the log. As he sat down she was already standing in front of him with her arms reaching for him. She sat in his lap; their nude upper bodies came together, "Scotty, I am sorry." She kissed him. "I can't imagine why I asked that. It was so unkind of me. I was testing and I have no right to. I have no interest in going there.
I have no interest in being away from you anywhere. You know that, don't you?" Clem looked down, "Yes! But Sarah, remember I meant everything I said last night. You are a beautiful young bird and you were kept in a cage far too long. I opened the cage door and let you out. With me you learned to fly, but you are young and I am a lot farther along the path. You have your life all ahead of you. Now that you have found the joys of flying you will want to soar to many new places where I cannot be with you.
That is just the way it is. I love you so much I can let you go and you need to go with innocence. Sarah sat in his lap. Her dampness felt good. It was cool. It gave him a diversion from the deep, complicated confusion in his heart.
"Scotty, remember I meant everything I said as well. I will go away when you make me, but not a moment before you do, and I will never play the innocent role.
I am not innocent. I am a woman. I love a man more than he will ever know and that is all there is to say. We are in this together. In the army Clem had been a ranger. He was given the very best combat training any fighting man ever received. A big part of that training was mental preparedness and a big part of mental preparedness was learning to face you fears.
Fears only grow if they are not addressed. In combat he had always been able to go straight at his fear. He learned the satisfaction of facing his fears undaunted and coming out the victor. He was a leader. He received high honors. Now he faced the greatest, most complicated fear of his life; the fear of the unknown with Sarah.
Every facet of their relationship was filled with overwhelming fear. Keeping her here with him was impossible, every moment the constant fear of discovery. Forcing her to leave and returning to his lonely reclusive living was so frightening.
How would he ever live without her? There was nothing but grave punishment for both of them. For Sarah, it was the punishment of life in that family, with isolation and the condemnation of anyone who ever learned she had lived with him.
For Clem, his punishment would be determined by the law. They dressed and started walking back to the orchard where the trimming rack, and endless trees needing trimming, waited. Clem loved his trees. He loved everything about the apple business. He anxiously waited for the fall and the arrival of professional pickers. His business was good now. He owned all this land and all his money problems were gone for sure.
He even enjoyed trimming trees, he thought they looked so neat and healthy when he had finished. It was hard work, but he had built a life that he really enjoyed, and one that really suited him. But, there was no way a young attractive woman like Sarah was going to enjoy the same thing in the long haul. This was hard work and a rather mundane boring life style. As soon as the novelty of living in the country wore off it would become hard work and nothing more. There was little out here for a young woman.
He had to keep the reality of the situation in mind. Sooner or later he was going to be in for a real let down. He had to get rid of her now. The afternoon moved along. One tree after another got its annual haircut. Sarah did her part with a seeming joy. The clippings all got loaded soon after they hit the ground and every time, without exception, when Clem looked down from the rack Sarah was smiling up at him. It was a look he had come to know, to understand, and to love so very much. He worked with vigor.
No two people had ever formed a better apple tree trimming crew. These days with the summer sun and the activity had a wonderful affect on Sarah. Her hair had turned lighter, and was now accented with golden highlights. Her skin had tanned not brown, but golden as well. Her arm and leg muscles showed newly accentuated tone, from her activities. There was no question; Apple Valley Orchards had been a good thing for Sarah.
Something about loving her as he did made this hero complex well up inside him. It is a man thing for sure; sort of the Man of LaMancha thing. He had his way of fighting windmills; in his case he trimmed apple trees with renewed vigor.
He had to impress her somehow. Late in the afternoon Clem turned the tractor home to the barn from the compost. It had been a good day. They had trimmed more trees than scheduled, even with the unexpected swim break at the pond.
Once at the house, as was now the custom, they undressed together and headed for the bathroom. The shower felt good. They spent longer than normal in the warm water assuring that every inch was appropriately washed and rinsed. Dinner was appreciated as well. As was now the custom it was out on the picnic table. Sarah sat straddling the bench facing Clem as usual. She was wearing another of his T-shirts as usual.
Their conversation was loving, gentle, and filled with the hidden mysteries of two people who love one another so much they have lost contact with the entire world, except what immediately surrounds them. It was later than most evenings; they had worked longer than usual.
It was getting dark. The night sounds had started. It was a calm warm ending to a beautiful day. Clem had finished and was sitting leaning toward Sarah talking softly as she finished the last part of her cookie. Out of the corner of his eye he became aware of intermittent headlights coming through the trees way up the road.
A car was coming down the gravel road some distance away. He sat frozen. There were fewer than three cars a day that came down the road and rarely ever one this late. Absolute panic passed through Clem. For the first time, even considering years in combat, he did not know what to do. He did not know what to say to Sarah, but his face told the story.
She turned to look where he was looking, and Clem watched the blood drain from her young beautiful face as the car turned into the drive way and started right on up past the garage to the house.
Sarah, was first to speak, "Listen Scotty, you head around the house and find out who it is. I will run inside and get some real clothes on. Stop them on the porch. Don't let them come back here and don't let them go into the living room.
I will wait inside and try to listen to what you are saying and act accordingly. I will either come out to talk or hide! Her response has been quick; she had a game plan, who knew if it were the best one…who even knew if it was a good one…it was all they had! Sarah headed in the back door as Clem went swiftly around to the front of the house and actually got onto the porch before the car stopped in the gathering darkness.
Clem quickly sat on the glider and they arose to head down toward the car. He hope, to the visitor it looked as if he had come down to greet them from where he had been resting for some time. As Clem walked toward the car he first recognized it was a county government car, just before he recognized, Henry Jacks the county sheriff. This was a rural area; only two men served the law in the entire county. Henry was the older; far longer employed in the area, and the one that new Clem best.
He had been the sheriff during the entire time Clem had been here operating Apple Valley. He knew the complete file on Clem. He had been required to file several reports years ago to the parole board in Rosedale California as part of Clem's final parole and release. Tonight he was wearing a suit not his uniform, signaling it might just be a friendly call, but Clem shook from head to toe as he walked toward him.
Jacks had never really become a friend. At best it could be said they had mutual respect, but Clem always thought Jacks mistrusted him and was waiting for a screw up on his part. "Hello sheriff." He somehow managed to get out "Hey Clem Warren sorry to bother you this late, but I need to talk to you, unofficial like. Couldn't get out earlier; I had to work till nine." They were now about three feet apart. Clem sort of stuttered, "Sheriff Do you want to come up on my porch?
Glider is comfortable." The sheriff nodded and together they turned and moved up toward the porch. Once seated and after a cup of coffee had been turned down, Henry got right to the subject, "Clem I don't want to beat around the bush. I like you, and I like what you have done with Apple Valley. And, Clem you know I feel a pride in what you have accomplished as a former inmate. You have worked hard, kept your nose clean and I am proud of you.
Thus when I hear something, even a rumor that things in your life are not as they should be; I want to do something about it. And, if I find something wrong, I want to step on it quickly." The gathering darkness made his features even more serious as he turned directly toward Clem, "Clem, I have been told you have a young woman staying out here with you.
Frankly, if you do, it is none of my business or the counties business if everything checks out proper and she isn't some runaway or something. Rumor true, Clem?
Do you have a young girl out here? If so.who is she? Is everything above board?" Clem sat stunned. Words failed him as they had when he was unable to testify on his own behalf in court so many years ago. He had choked. He moved to get up to walk a step or two, to think But as he stood up he heard the screen door slam behind him. It was Sarah. She looked so different. Her hair was up on her head and covered with the red bandana.
She was wearing a sloppy dark shirt, (He later learned it was his. She had just grabbed it from the closet and tucked it all in the back to make it look like it fit her.
It showed nothing.) And loose fitting jeans she had packed for night events at camp. In the dark she looked like she could be any age. "Hello." Sarah offered in a calm voice as she sat down on the rattan chair just outside the door facing the couch. "I'm Sarah, Mr. Warren's niece from New York. I was in there reading. You startled me. There has not been one car come down that road after dark since I got here last week.
I keep telling Uncle Clem he needs more company out her, day or night. This place can give you the creeps. Who are you?" She asked in her forthright fashion, The Sheriff hesitated just a bit, a little overwhelmed.
"Hi, I am Henry Jacks, a friend of your uncle. I came out to check on a couple things. It is nice to meet you young lady. How long have you been visiting here? Sarah looked at him with one of her smiles and then turned, "Uncle Clem, why is it everyone thinks it is weird for me to be out here working in the orchards.
Why is it that everyone including you wants to get rid of me? Remember I didn't volunteer to come to this apple farm and work my butt off. Mom and dad sent me out to this forsaken place so they could have their big trip out of the country.
They told me right up front it was going to be hard work. You kept telling them it was just not the place for me, and I would just get in the way. And everyone I have met since I got here is surprised I am working here and ask right away…when are you leaving? I must be weird. I have grown to like your apple trees and I like trimming them with you and I like the money for school." The Sheriff was taken aback by Sarah.
She had stepped right in and answered a lot of his concerns. She had done a good bit to put his mind at ease; all he needed now was some verification. "Sarah, I am your uncle's friend, but I am also the county Sheriff. In that capacity I need to keep track of things as you can well imagine. Your uncle is a bit of a loner out here.
I like that and I like him and I don't want to stick my nose into his business anymore than necessary. I am always concerned about runaway kids.
Would you just write down your mom and dad's name address and telephone number for me? I know you said they were out of the country, so we can't call them tonight, but I will run an official records review in the morning and see what references we can find. I am sure my people can locate someone in New York that can give us the verification we need." Sarah said sure and disappeared into the house to come out just moments later with a piece of paper.
Henry took a glance at it and nodded. "Great thanks, Miss." The sheriff glanced at the paper, clearly he could see nothing in the darkness, but it satisfied him. Goodbyes were said and Henry's sedan disappeared up the road in the dark.
Clem and Sarah sat stunned, side by side on the glider. Much later this visit to the farm played a key role in Sheriff Jacks' grand jury testimony. Jacks testified in his deposition that he had never completely trusted Clem Warren beginning years ago when he returned to the county following his incarceration in California.
He had come out to Apple Valley Orchard to investigate as the result of input from a one, Jane Bar, who told his department she was worried about the well being of a young person being kept by Clem Warren. Jane had detailed several suspicions and with Clem Warren's criminal record they deserved to be vetted thoroughly. Jack testified he "smelled a rotten fish" right from beginning that evening, but he was stunned at the good relationship between Clem and Sarah.
He had been very suspicious that she might be a runaway as Jane had intimated, until her answers to his questions were so concise and her references played out as valid. On his report following the visit he noted that Sarah appeared to be well fed, clean and happy. REALITY They sat stunned. Nothing was said for over half an hour. Finally Clam got up in silence and Sarah followed him inside. They were in a complete state of shock.
Clem collapsed in his easy chair. Sarah fell to the floor at his feet. "I love you Scotty. I am so sorry. I know I did all this to you. I should have gone back when you first told me to. That sheriff knows something. I could tell and I don't know what it is.
Something has broken loose, somewhere." She looked up, tears welling up in her eyes. "Sarah, what did you put on that paper?" "I gave him my mother's name and the address, and telephone number of a condo my dad keeps in the city. I thought it might confuse things enough to give us some time." Clem was coming apart; his hands shaking. Tears stained his face. "Time for what, sweetheart? We have no time. Out time is over.
Somebody somewhere wants to steal our time and killed our dream." Scotty, we have time to run away. We have at least a day or two to figure out some good place to go…maybe Canada. I just want to be with you anywhere!" She began crying harder. She was beginning to face the reality of things. She knew they could not run…a teenage girl and a middle aged convicted felon.
Clem looked down at her. His face conveyed all the love that filled his heart. All of his fears were now directly in front of him. He had to face them bravely.
He had to have all his priorities right, and the highest priority was Sarah's young life. She could not suffer from this in any way. The Army captain took over. It was reality time, the novel was over. Sarah's story with him was finished. It was finished when the sheriff pulled into the yard.
Clem was the adult here and had to take charge and face things head on for both of them, "Sarah, There is only one answer…only one way out of this for us. Listen to me. Go upstairs NOW and pack everything you have into those pull bags.
We will load the car tonight and leave here as soon as we can. We must conclude that Sheriff Jacks may get more suspicious and come back with a warrant tonight. HE may be able to get feedback from New York yet tonight. There is no way to predict how fast the law will move, believe me.
As soon as we get our stuff together we will go out to the camp grounds at Spring Lake and spend the night. No one will know we are there. It is late enough we won't even have to check in with the ranger until morning. Tomorrow morning early, music camp ends for you…you just got fed up with it…I will act as your councilor again and take you home.
We will end this book right there. Jayson will believe you and give a good report to your dad when he gets home. Your life can return to normal. No one will suspect a thing. All you have to do is just start living a normal life and make sure you never say a word about this." Sarah looked up at him through tearing eyes, "Yah!
Shithead and what about you? They come out here with a warrant. I am gone. I am missing. No one can find me. No one knows a thing about me. No one knows I am alive. You are a felon and a fucked up recluse. They will arrest you in a minute and search for my body on every square foot of this farm. They will convict you of who knows what. They don't need a body to put you away for the rest of your life.
No fucking way I am going to leave you. I will stay and face the music.
I love you so much…you have done nothing wrong…only given me the dreams of a lifetime.
Surely, someone will understand. If I am here you have a chance. If I am gone you have no chance." Sarah began crying…all out crying.
Clem sits silently, He knows the truth and he must convince her…only one of them can come out of this whole and that has to be this girl he loves so much.
He breaks his silence sternly, "Sarah go pack your things hurry. There is some chance the Sheriff will be back tonight if he finds something out with the NYPD. This book has no good ending with us together…think… there is no place we cannot be found. I am going out to bring the car up here and lock the barn so no one can tell it is gone! When I get back her…if you love me as I know you do…you will have two packed bags at the top of the stairs for me to bring down.
Wear what you have on. We will have to sleep in the car. We are a team, right! " No more than fifteen minutes later Sarah and Clem drove down the gravel road toward town and on to Spring Lake.
Not a word was spoken between them. Sarah sat as close as she could and frequently just touched his arm. The twenty miles went quickly. No one was at the check in point and empty camp sites were everywhere. Together they spent a long sad night dozing now and then, but mostly waiting for the dawn. Morning came early. The night had been spent fully clothed together in the back seat of the sedan.
Clem was worried about how he looked. When he delivered Sarah he had to look the part of a camp councilor and he was, at best, rumpled for a music camp councilor. ENDING It was just five thirty in the morning when Clem and Sarah slipped by the ranger station and out onto the state route leading back across town and on out to the Wanewrite estate.
The world was still asleep. Clem noted three police cars and two sheriff vans parked in front of the Hall of Justice. He said nothing to Sarah, but it sent a horrible message to a convicted felon. It looked like they had amassed a little army for something; most likely him. He drove on down the street in silence with tears streaming down his face. His eyes were locked straight ahead; he did not dare even glance at Sarah. He feared this young woman he loved so very much could eliminate his resolve with one glance.
She had demonstrated that power over him so many times before. It was still way early when they arrived at the estate. A quick game plan was formulated as they drove up the long tree lined drive. No need to wake Jayson and risk getting trapped into some unbelievable story about her activities at music camp.
Clem would simply unload the bags at the carriage entry and be on his way back to the orchard. Sarah would use her key and go in and up to her room. She would catch up with Jayson and the staff later. When they arrived at the side entrance, there were no tears…no embrace…no words…Clem set the bags down on the cobble stone and walked past Sarah to the driver's door.
One last look was all they had. Sarah stood alone with her bags as Clem's Ford turn out of the carriage way and disappear down the drive.
Tears welled up in her eyes but she refused to wipe them away. Once the car had turned onto the highway and disappeared she unlocked the big old oak door and quietly went in.
She stood for a moment just inside the door overwhelmed with loneliness…it came over her like a dark blanket. One step at a time she proceeded up the marble staircase and down the hall to her bedroom. She shut the door, bolted it, and collapsed on the bed. Silently she cried into a pillow. Her grief was inconsolable. Over a half hour passed before she heard movements somewhere in the estate; enough to bring her to the reality.
The only thing she had left of Scotty was the game plan they had developed together. She owed him so much and right now she owed him her maturity. She had to buck up, get dressed properly and get about finishing the plan. Among everything else, now she had to be the actor she knew she could be. She was not going to spoil their game plan with bad dialog.
She had to protect Scotty and the life he had built at Apple Valley. She had to move back into her former life in this forsaken place seamlessly. It had to go like clockwork. She went down and appeared for breakfast as normal.
The kitchen staff treated her like nothing had happened. They undoubtedly thought she had just come home from camp on schedule last night while they were off work. She was politely served what she asked for and when finished eating, she got up, thanked the server and left the dining room. She had met the first test.
She had acted the part. Nothing was suspicious. She was over the first hurdle. She returned down the long marble hall and up the spiral staircase to her bedroom; as she moved along loneliness swept over her; a haunting, unending emptiness. Thoughts of breakfast on the picnic table with Scotty, the smell of the apple trees, the warm smile of someone who really knew her and loved her, his soft, gentle words.
She was filled with deep seated self pity. There was nothing but bad memories here. She was haunted by this enormous place and the sad, boring, lonely years she had spent here. She was alone again. She could not bring herself to even wonder about Jayson's whereabouts or for that matter any other member of the staff. As she moved along the marble corridor and up the spiral staircase to the music room; she was absolutely alone.
Scotty was alone. The world was a very lonely place. She sat down at the piano bench and played a few arpeggios which were familiar and friendly. Beside her on the bench was a tall stack of sheet music most of which she had pretty much committed to memory. The Steinway began to get a real workout. It seemed the more violent the selection the better Sarah played it, and the better she felt. For nearly an hour she played without pausing until she was interrupted by the large oak door swinging open behind her and Jayson entering.
He was very formal as usual. He politely questioned why she had come back from camp. She sensed from his demeanor he had slept in…certain that was going to again be quiet around here in the morning with her gone.
She sure could take advantage of that later if she needed to. "Jayson, I just got enough of music camp…the snooty councilors…the snooty student…the forced practice and mostly the performances.
I am not a performer. I want to write music someday I guess, but they think everyone should be a performer. Composition classes were good, but there were not many of those. Every day it was one performance class followed by another. So I went to the office yesterday and packed it in for a bit.
Anyhow, that councilor you met last week brought me home this morning early. He needed to be back there for his first master class at ten. My bags are out on the side entryway, could you have someone take them to my room?" With that Sarah played a few cords signaling the conversation was over.
Jayson made a couple friendly comment of welcome, agreed he would have her bags unpacked and was on his way. "You play lovely Miss Sarah," Came floating back as he shut the door. Sarah was alone with her piano and her books, just like always before, but now unlike before she had all the memories of her time with Scotty.
It gave her a momentary joy, like finishing a really good long novel. A feeling that she had a very precious gift no one could ever take away. As she moved back from the library to her bedroom she was again filled with sadness.
What a terrible emotional rollercoaster. She walked into the room, shut the door, locked it behind her, and collapsed on the bed. Tiredness had just caught up with her. All night she and Scott had been very uncomfortably wrapped together in the back seat of his car.
Neither had slept more than just a couple very little cat naps as they worried and waited for the sunrise. Sleep came instantly now; deep, dark exhausted sleep. A good long time later she was awakened by knocking at her bedroom door. It was Jayson delivering the message that it was eight in the evening, the staff had gone for the day, but they had put together a dinner for her when she got up. It took twenty minutes for Sarah to clear the cobwebs with splashes of cold water and get down to the dining room where Jayson had heated her food and set everything in order.
Once she was eating he took his leave. Jayson was done for the day.
His duty hours were very sanctimonious. She would probably not hear anything more from him until eight tomorrow morning.
Sarah finished, placed her dishes on a tray for the help to clean up, and proceeded back down the marble hall and up the steps to her bedroom. Loneliness moved with her like Linus's cloud of dirt. She could not escape it. Jayson's living quarters were on the lowest level. He had one final duty at eleven; it was to check building security and set alarms for the night. Other than that, he was done and would only be available in an emergency.