It was almost three A.M. when Ashley emerged from underground, and a little after that when walking down a desolated side street she finally glimpsed her destination, a four-story apartment building one lot short of the corner of its block.
The building contained sixteen apartments, half of them vacant, with the two largest apartments up on the fourth, top floor. Logan owned the one on the right through an offshore company (the grandiosely named “Silverlake Enterprises”) that was little more than a few pieces of paper and a P.O. Box put together for the sake of anonymity. A three-bedroom flat which he had modified heavily for his purposes, he called it “the safe house.”
Now that they were working together, it was her safe house as well.
There was not another pedestrian or moving vehicle in sight as she walked to the building’s front door, where she got out her cell phone and texted COMING UP to Logan’s own prepaid cell. She then keyed the code into the door’s keypad lock, slipped quietly inside and took the stairs up.
The text was intended to alert him so that he’d be in position to open the office’s door without Ashley having to knock. Just as was supposed to happen, she stepped in front of the door and saw it open instantly, and after all the hours of wandering about suspicious of everyone she saw, Ashley felt glad to see a familiar face, a familiar face that also seemed glad to see her.
She stepped over the threshold into the apartment’s anteroom. Logan hurriedly shut and bolted the reinforced security door through which she’d just come behind her—and hugged her tightly. She felt herself hugging him back.
Just a moment later he pulled his arms away, as if recovering himself, and turned away to the second security door leading into the rest of the apartment. She walked through it with Logan right in back of her, shutting that second security door behind them.
Two closed doors now separating them from the hall, Ashley handed him the disc case, then fetched a change of clothes from the closet in the bedroom she used when she was there. Casuals she could sleep in.
“I’m taking a shower,” she said. More than food (real food, not energy bars), more than coffee, more than talk, that was what she needed.
She didn’t hear anything back for a moment.
“All right,” Logan said as she headed to the bathroom, where she pulled off her shoes and her glasses and her wig, stripped off her clothes, stepped into the tub, closed the curtain, and then turned on the hot water. As she scrubbed her skin she thought of the sweat of the chase, the dirt of the alley, the sheer sense of depletion that came with being on the run for so many hours—and Logan’s hug. He wasn’t usually so demonstrative. It was like he thought he was never going to see her again . . .
Her head clearer, her body relaxed, Ashley stopped the water, stepped out of the tub, toweled off, put on her other clothes and exited the room. The light was on in the bedroom Logan had converted into a work area, so that was where she went next.
Inside Logan was sitting in a swivel chair at the terminal controlling the bank of computer screens dominating one wall. Three of those screens were active. One showed the feed from the security camera covering the area in front of the apartment’s door, and a second the street outside. A third, oddly, displayed a MyTube page.
On the surface of the desk into which that terminal was set, in front of a second swivel chair, was a very early breakfast: a mug of coffee, a plate with buttered toast and scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.
Ashley sat in the second chair and helped herself to the food and coffee, which were still steaming. He must have prepared them when she was showering.
“Thanks,” she said.
“No problem,” Logan said and turned his chair from the screen toward her. “Starting to feel better?”
“Starting to,” Ashley said after a forkful of bacon. “What were you looking at on MyTube?”
“Remember when you came down in Times Square?” Logan asked her.
“Yeah, but how did you—”
“There’s a video of it up on the site.”
“Oh . . . no.”
No wonder he’d been so worried about her.
“How bad is it?” Ashley asked.
“I’ll show it to you in a moment. But first tell me what happened. Just the short version for now.”
Sitting across from her, elbow propped on his chair’s armrest, chin resting in his palm, Ashley remembered how her foster father had acted one Saturday night when she’d come back way, way after curfew. The time when he thought she was in the car accident he’d heard about on the news.
She took a deep breath, told Logan what he’d asked to hear. He hadn’t known all the details, but he seemed to have guessed everything that mattered.
“Let’s see the video now,” Ashley said when she was done.
“I’ll full-screen it,” Logan said, and clicked on the video at the top of the play list, then enlarged it to fill the whole display.