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   Chapter 18 Brownie Oxford and the Ashland Affair

Brownie Oxford and the Ashland Affair: Brownie Bk1 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 12731

Updated: 2018-03-07 14:29


Chapter 18

My body was warm by the time I reached town, but an icy sheen remained around my bones. I circled in front of the B&T waving at Paul as was my habit. I saw Paul glance at his watch and then nod. I jogged around to the back of the building and let myself into the apartment, locking both doors behind me. Once inside the apartment, I emptied my pockets, tucking the cell phones, wallets and keys into my underwear drawer and dropping my knitting on to the bed. I stripped off my running gear and went into the shower. The hot water felt good against my skin and I sighed as I felt myself start to thaw out.

I started to shake as I thought about the morning's events, but ruthlessly pushed them away. I needed to think about now. Later I could think about Matheson. "Paul looked surprised by the time." I told myself. "I'll need to go down to see him." I thought about what I would say and how I would say it. I nodded to myself when I thought I had gotten it right. "Then I'll have to look normal." My mind momentarily blanked.

"Focus 'Nie, this is important." I told myself sternly. "I can fall apart later." I took several deep breaths. "Monday, it's Monday." Monday meant the library and the Laundromat. "And asking Paul about Swift." I had a course of action for the moment. Once I returned from doing laundry, I could figure out the rest.

Feeling a little more stable, I turned off the shower, dried myself off and got dressed in my favorite pair of jeans and most comfortable long sleeved t-shirt. I slipped my coat on over the outfit, slung my messenger's bag over my shoulder and picked up my library book. Thus prepared I went downstairs to see Paul.

Paul was finishing with a customer when I arrived. I waited patiently until he was finished. Once the customer left, he turned to me.

"You were early today, " he said matter-of-factly.

"Got cold, " I told him truthfully. "I think it might snow tonight. If it does, I won't be running tomorrow." I shrugged. "Even if it doesn't I might try running later so it's a little warmer."

Paul looked me over but seemed satisfied with my answer. "Won't be warmer until spring." He told me. "And I think we can almost count on the snow tonight."

"Then I guess I'll sleep in tomorrow, " I told him. He nodded.

"Off to the library then?" he asked gesturing towards my book.

"Yup, and then laundry." I looked around, making certain there were no customers. "Any word from Swift?"

He shook his head. "There won't be until it is safe for you to go back, " he reminded me. I sighed and nodded. Our conversational topics having run out, I let myself out of the front of the store and walked over to the library.

"Well hi there Betty, " Lucy greeted me as I turned my book on the history of silk over to her to check back in. I then listened to her as she talked about the latest gossip floating through town. As I made my usual appropriate responses, I reminded myself that Paul was probably watching the clock to make certain that I stuck to my schedule for the rest of the day and that I needed to spend the usual amount of time in the library. Once Lucy was through filling me in on the weekly gossip I turned towards the stacks, taking my time browsing.

"Paul goes home at eight, " I reminded myself as I strolled through the books pretending to read titles. I took a book off the shelf randomly and slowly flipped through the pages, not really seeing it at all. "Which means waiting until at least nine to do anything." I looked down at my bracelet. I would have to take it off before I left my apartment to fetch the car. After doing laundry I could spend the day packing up my things. I thought about all of the extras I had added during my time in Mayenfield. I didn't want to leave anything behi

ent, locking both doors behind me. I thought about leaving the key but realized Paul or someone like him would more than likely break the lock when they came looking for me.

"Or they would use a spare key." I slid behind the wheel of the SUV and drove out of the parking lot. I skirted around town, avoiding Paul's street and headed to the interstate. Deciding that heading towards the city I had fled would be the most obvious route, I turned the car west instead of east. As I accelerated onto the interstate, fat flakes of snow began to fall. I smiled knowing that not only would the snow obliterate any signs of today's activities, but it would buy me some time before Paul started to look for me.

"He knows I won't be running in the morning because of the snow and Tuesday I don't go anywhere but my run. If the snow sticks until Wednesday then he won't expect me to run and will only worry when I don't go grocery shopping." I didn't know how long Paul would wait to check on me after I failed to appear, so at best I only had until mid-morning Wednesday before the search began.

"Need to put as much distance as possible between me and them before then, " I told myself. The snow seemed to increase and I hoped it wouldn't slow me down. I glanced at the fuel gage and was relieved to see that my escape vehicle had a full tank of gas. I wouldn't have to stop for a while. With luck, I could drive out of the storm. For a while the storm seemed to increase, but as my route finally took me into lower elevations away from the mountains that surrounded Mayenfield, it began to ease up. Deciding this made west a good omen, I continued on my chosen path. As I pushed further west, the snow continued to lighten, eventually stopping all together.

I smiled and turned on the radio. News of a large storm blanketing the Mayenfield area made my smile even wider. Heavy snow was expected through the night and well into tomorrow morning. "For once let the weatherman be right, " I said aloud to myself. The report and weather warning ended and music began to play. I hummed along as I continued to drive. I didn't know where I was going and had only barely thought of what I would do when I got there, but I was certain this new life would be better than the old one I was leaving behind.

"And with a good bit of luck, I'll get to keep the new life for a while." I bid farewell to Betty Watson and continued driving through the night. "Just Brownie Oxford and her headless sidekick Martha on the road to anywhere."

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