The snack cart came up the aisle. Logan and Ashley each bought two sandwiches and a beverage (roast beef and a Coke for Logan, turkey and a diet Coke for Ashley). Ashley ate one of her sandwiches and put the other one in her purse for later, then glanced back at Logan. He appeared to be embroiled in his game, but every once in a while he discretely scanned the aisle. If he saw anything she’d missed, he didn’t show it.
Ashley’s mind turned again to the contents of the disc. Corporate documents, she supposed. Dodgy accounting, maybe. Plans for a hostile takeover. That kind of thing. The details were probably deadly dull, but given the size of Thorn C and C (two trillion in assets!), the scale of the operations it conducted and the profits it made from them, it could have been plenty to kill over.
The train stopped in Philadelphia a few minutes ahead of schedule, which meant that much longer a time at the platform—and that much wider a window of vulnerability. People got off, people got on. None of them had police uniforms on, which left her free to focus on the apparent civilians.
One crew-cutted man in a dark blue suit settled into a seat across the aisle from them. To Ashley’s eye he’d obviously worn a uniform and carried a gun at some time in his life. It also seemed possible that that plastic earpiece that might have been a hearing aid was in fact a radio. But all he did was crack open the thousand-page biography of Calvin Coolidge she’d seen a lot of people carrying about lately, and then fall asleep with it open in his lap.
He was still asleep when the train pulled into the station at Baltimore. Ashley and Logan got their cases, walked off the Amrail and switched to a subway train that carried them to a station three blocks from the Baltimore Fillmore. They walked the rest of the way, entered through the glass street doors, and proceeded to the desk, where Logan signed them in as Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins and made it clear in every way he possibly could that the two of them had had a long day and were anxious to rest up for another. The manager promptly called over a bellhop, who put their suitcases on his cart and led them into the elevator, up to the tenth floor, and down the hall to their suite.
Inside, the bellhop gave them a quick tour. The living room, he pointed out, had a view of the street below through a large, sleekly framed window. There were paintings on the walls (reasonably handsome copies of well-known still lifes, Ashley noted), fresh flowers in the vase on the table next to the couch. At the back of the room was a small corridor. On each side was a door leading to a bedroom with a king-sized bed, while the corridor terminated in an alcove containing a hall closet and a bathroom which contained a tub long enough to let Ashley fully stretch out her legs when she sat down in it, and high enough to let her immerse herself in water up to her neck.
Logan tipped the man (not too much or too little, either would have got them remembered) and sent him on his way, then shut the door behind him and closed the curtains. He then unpacked his detectors so that they could do a thorough sweep of each room for cameras or microphones. The odds that their pursuers were a step ahead of them were slim. That they would use that advantage just to bug the room in which they were staying, rather than come in right after them, seemed even slimmer. Still, it seemed best to be thorough.
Logan and Ashley started with the obvious places, the TVs, the clock, the smoke alarm, but they all came up clean. So did the rest of the room.
Logan went for his laptop then.
“The safe house,” Ashley remembered.
“I’m checking it now,” Logan told her. Just like Ashley’s apartment, their place in Newark had a hidden camera recording any attempt to get inside while they were out.
Ashley looked over Logan’s shoulder at the screen as he fast-forwarded through the record from the last six and a half hours. There was nothing but a dark, empty room. No one had been inside, which was reassuring at this time when she needed all the reassurance she could get.
They also needed a break, and Logan started seeing to that too. He set up his own miniature camera in the frame of the copy of Stiegel’s “Waterworks” on the wall within the line of sight of the suite’s door, just in case there was a spell when neither of them was keeping a lookout. He checked the feed from that camera, made sure the door was well covered and the system recording.
And that was that for the time being, which freed them to each begin the process of settling in. Ashley started by pulling her case into her room and unpacking her clothes. The mundane activity occupied her for a bit, but didn’t help with her restlessness after the day’s events—and she needed her rest, especially given the vagueness of their plans for the next few days. She thought about eating something, but wasn’t really hungry. And she wasn’t in the mood to crash in front of the TV either. Instead the big tub in the bathroom caught her fancy.
She walked over to Logan’s room, where she saw through the open door that he was unpacking his own clothes.
“I’m taking a bath,” Ashley said.
Ashley changed out of her clothes into the hotel’s bathrobe in her room, then went to the tub, turned the knob to the right and ran her fingers beneath it. The water was just short of scalding, the pressure good. Satisfied that she could at least have a decent soak she stopped up the drain and pressed the knob upward to maximize the flow.
The tub filled. Ashley slipped out of the robe, then slipped her body beneath the water, closed her eyes, and forgot all the questions that had nagged at her for the past twenty-four hours. After her soak she was relaxed enough to get into bed and fall asleep before she could notice herself lying awake—and dreamed of the white room again. She woke up again, and knew she wasn’t going back to sleep again.
That dream always seemed to come more frequently in periods of stress. Ashley supposed bad dreams usually did.
She sighed, checked the time, saw that it was three. Oh well, she’d at least had a few decent hours before the nightmare, and in any case, she wouldn’t have had that much longer to sleep even if her rest hadn’t been interrupted. Logan was supposed to wake her up before he headed out to see that friend of his, and he was going early, to catch him before he went to work.