Son of the Morning (Chapter 10)

GAELIC WAS A BITCH. GRACE HAD SPENT TWO WEEKS WORKING on the Gaelic section, and made very little headway. The language wasn't in her computer programs, so she had no electronic aid in deciphering the faint chicken scratches. Whoever had copied the originals had tried to darken the copy to bring out more detail, with little success. She could see the tattered edges of the originals on the copy, telling her that the Gaelic sections hadn't fared as well as those written in Latin. Perhaps the paper hadn't been of as good a quality, or the pages had gotten damp at some time. Not that a good, clear copy would have helped much.

She had bought a Gaelic/English dictionary, and several guides to speaking Gaelic to aid her in figuring out syntax. The problem, however, was that she hadn't been able to find any guides to Gaelic as it had been spoken in the fourteenth century. She thought she would go mad with frustration. There were only eighteen letters in the Gaelic alphabet, but the Scots and Irish had overcome that restriction by using wildly creative spelling. Add to that the archaic styles of handwriting, word usage, and no standard spelling anyway, and the effort involved in translating one sentence was twice what it would have taken her to do an entire page of Latin or Old English.

But even with all the difficulties, eventually she pieced together sentences that made sense. The Gaelic section detailed the exploits of aHighland renegade called Black Niall. Though the section's inclusion with the rest of the papers made it likely Black Niall was the same man as Niall of Scotland, Grace didn't automatically assume they were one. She had already dealt with the complication of different spellings of the same name, so it was just as possible that the spelling could be the same but refer to someone else. After all, any number ofNialls had lived inScotland .Her Niall was Niall of Scotland, of royal blood; what connection would royalty have with aHighland renegade? These chronicles were different from the others; different handwriting, different paper. They could have been mixed by accident with the others, simply because of the name.

Black Niall was an entertaining rogue, though. Deciphering his exploits occupied all her free time, except for the hours she spent with Harmony's "mean little greaser son of a bitch," one MateoBoyatzis , a delicate and deadly young man of Mexican and Polish heritage.Matty knew more dirty tricks than a political ad man, and as a favor to Harmony he had agreed to teach "Julia" a few basics of fighting to win. She had no illusions about her slowly growing skill; she was not and never would be anything approaching expert. All she hoped to do was to be able to use the advantage of surprise to protect herself and the papers.

Not that she had anything to worry about, she thought, rubbing eyes grown weary from hours of wading through incomprehensible spellings and unlikely pronunciations. Any minute now, Gaelic was going to reduce her to drooling insanity, and then she wouldn't care what happened.

To give herself a break, she put the Gaelic section aside and turned on the computer, then scrolled through until she came to a section in Old French. The papers weren't in any chronological order; putting the story together was like placing pieces of a puzzle, an ancient one in many languages.

She saw the name almost at once, so attuned to it that her eyes picked up the familiar pattern of letters almost before she'd brought the words into focus.Black Niall.

"Whaddayaknow," she murmured, leaning forward. It looked as if Black Niall and Niall of Scotland were indeed one and the same. Why would papers written in French detail the exploits of an obscure Scots rogue, unless he wasn't so obscure after all? A Templar of royal blood, excommunicated, under the penalty of death should he ever be taken outside Scotland, and Guardian of the Treasure to boot – obscure perhaps by design, but certainly not unimportant. There had been people, perhaps remnants of the Order, who had known who and what Black Niall was, and made a point to keep track of where.

But royal? She had gone over and over the genealogical charts in the Newberry Library, and there hadn't been a Niall recorded during that era.

"Whowere you?" she whispered, seeking that elusive wisp of contact, almost like touching the mind of a man who was centuries dead. She had never before realized how powerful her imagination could be, but she took comfort in the sense of connection. She didn't dare let anyone else too close, not even Harmony, but there were no limits with the man who lived now only in her dreams. She didn't have to be wary with him, didn't have to hide her identity, didn't have to disguise herself.

These papers were yet another account of his exploits, where he had searched out a band of raiders and destroyed them, leaving no man alive. Niall had evidently gone to a great deal of trouble to protect his stronghold, dealing swiftly and harshly with any threat. This was another sticking point: if he were royal, he would have a title, and legal claim to his stronghold. The Gaelic papers, however, called him a renegade, a man who had taken by force a remote castle in the westernHighlands , and held it without title or deed, without anything except the power of his sword. Could a royal be a renegade, and if he had indeed been outcast from the family to such an extent that his name had been stricken from all records,

would or could Robert the Bruce have tolerated such insolence within his own borders?

The Gaelic papers would probably be more enlightening, but her brain simply couldn't absorb any more of it that night. Putting aside the French papers, she thumbed through until she found the pages in Old English.

Again, the name almost jumped off the page at her: Black Niall, a Scots warrior so bold and ruthless he was feared throughout theHighlands . His stronghold, Creag Dhu, was never breached, except once by "alayde who entered bye wicked trickery." Grace felt a tiny spurt of amusement when she read that, for of course a woman couldn't have accomplished the seemingly impossible without using "wicked trickery."

"She fooled you, didn't she," she murmured to Niall, almost smiling as she imagined his disbelief, his outrage at finding his castle's protection breached by a lone woman. He would have been in an absolute fury, the kind! that had the castle guards hiding from him Grace stopped her thoughts, grimacing as she realized her imagination had kicked in again. She might dream about him, he might seem so real that sometimes she thought she could turn her head and actually see him standing there, but in ; reality he had turned to dust a good six centuries before she'd ever been born. Reading on, she found that Black Niall had captured the woman, so the "layde's" trickery had gained her nothing, except his attention, and perhaps that was what she had wanted. The papers didn't indicate what he had done with her after capturing her. Bedded her, probably, Grace thought. He'd been a lusty man, ill suited formonkhood . Another account began: "Black Niall, theMacRobert -" and Grace sat upright as all the tumblers clicked into place.NielRobertsoune – son of Robert, and a great warrior in an order renowned for its warriors. NiallMacRobert again, son of Robert, and a warrior so great his stronghold was never breached, save by that unnamed enterprising lady. "A Scot of Royalblude " … son of Robert… son ofRobert the Bruce?

Electrified, she quickly checked the dates, only to sag back in disappointment. She could only guess at Black Niall's age, since she knew neither hisbirthdate nor the date he had died, but he had been a grown man when the Order had been condemned in 1307. King Robert I ofScotland , the most famous Bruce, had been too young to be Black Niall's father. Quickly Grace rechecked her notes on the chronology ofScotland 's royal line. Robert the Bruce's father, the Earl of Carrick, had also been named Robert.

Was Black Niallbrother to Robert the Bruce? How? The Bruce's four brothers, Edward, Nigel, Thomas, and Alexander, had been well documented as they fought with their brother and king to push the English out ofScotland . The only way Niall could be connected, but left in obscurity, would be if he were illegitimate.

"That's it," Grace breathed, sitting back. The ramifications, the possibilities, made sitting still impossible. She jumped up and began pacing the confines of her small room as detail after detail fell into place to complete the puzzle. A bastard half-brother, in medieval times, wouldn't have been that unusual or even that important – unless the legitimate heir happened to be aiming for a throne.Scotland had always been different from the rest ofEurope in the way it looked at kinship, and while Niall'sbastardy would normally have put him beyond the pale, inScotland the crown had been up for grabs by the one who wielded the most power. The Bruce had been an undeniably powerful warrior and foe, but Niall's skills in warfare had been legendary. His very existence would have been a threat to Robert.

The wonder was that he hadn't been murdered, to remove that threat. The fact that he hadn't suggested that he had been held in some affection. Then, too, he had joined the Templars, so perhaps his ambitions had been churchly rather than political. Not remembering what she'd already read about Black Niall, he hadn't been the churchly sort at all. So why had he been a Templar? Adventure, wealth? She could see where the promise of both might have lured Black Niall to the Order, but overall his nature seemed far too fierce and earthy for him to accept the restrictions.

Whatever his reasons for becoming a Templar, his doing so had been convenient for the future King of Scotland. The Bruce wouldn't have had to worry about a monk gaining the crown, because his vows of chastity would have precluded heirs to the throne.

His chastity had ended with the destruction of the Order, Grace thought, if she had translated some of the passages correctly. The references to sexual activity hadn't been explicit, but fairly plain for all that. However Niall had honored his vows while a Templar, after the Order had been destroyed he had embraced life – and women – to the fullest. He still would not have been a threat to the throne, because as an ex-Templar he would have shunned exposure.

But it explained so much – why Niall had been able to take Creag Dhu and hold it without interference from the King, even why the Bruce had been the one European monarch who had not only not enforced the papal death sentence against the Templars, but whose country had become a sanctuary of sorts for the hunted men. Robert had refused to sign his half-brother's death sentence. It even explained why Niall had been chosen as Guardian; theTempleMasters had known his lineage, known he and the Treasure would be safer inScotland than anywhere else in the world.

She inhaled suddenly, and the room turned dark around her as knowledge struck with the force of a blow. The Treasure. Ford and Bryant had died because these stupid papers told the location of the famed, lost Treasure of the Templars: Creag Dhu.

Money. That was what it came down to. They had died because of money, money that Parrish Sawyer wanted. Because she had the papers, he had either assumed she had already translated enough to know what they were about and also told Ford and Bryant, or he had wanted to wipe out all knowledge of them regardless.

She had thought the grief would be easier to bear if she just knewwhy.

It wasn't.

Conrad lay quietly in bed, lights off, but the city was never dark and the bland hotel walls were washed with muted, flickering colors from a plethora of neon. The latest computer list lay on the desk, put aside for now. Some things were best reserved for the night, but others had to wait for busy daylight and normal office hours. The delay didn't bother him; he was a patient man. Grace wasn't going anywhere, at least not yet. She had gone to ground somewhere in the massive urban sprawl, and she would stay there as long as she felt safe. She was a scholar, a researcher; she would research. The libraries inChicago were very good. Yes, he was confident she would remain inChicago for a while, and all the time he would be looking for her. She wouldn't know he was close until he was ready to pounce.

Mr. Sawyer had a small army of men out combing the streets, but Conrad didn't put any faith in that tactic. The people who operated in the underground economy weren't about to answer any questions truthfully, for one thing, and for another, Grace had proven herself capable of quite a few disguises. By now she could have shaven her head and dressed in leather, so relying on description was a waste of time.

Conrad preferred his own methods. To him it was simple: if anyone on the run remained in one place for long, he or she would have to establish an identity. For some it would be as uncomplicated as selecting a name. That worked so long as there was no need for credit, or a driver's license, or you didn't try to work in a legitimate place that demanded a social security number. In the long run it was smarter to establish a documented identity, and Grace St. John had impressed him with her intelligence.

The process was simple, but slow. To document an identity, one had to have a birth certificate. To get a birth certificate, one had to have a real name. Obviously, using a living person's name could be complicated when the two identities began colliding with each other, as would inevitably happen, so the best thing was to go to a cemetery and read tombstones. Find someone who had been born at approximately the same time as you were, within a couple of years either way, but who had died young. Sometimes the parents' names were on the tombstone, too: something along the lines of "Beloved Daughter of John and Jane Doe." Bingo, you had the information you needed to get a birth certificate.

Requests for birth certificates would go to the state capital, in this caseSpringfield . Getting a birth certificate was fairly easy; it was getting a full set of identification papers that would take time. Next she would have to get a social security number, and the federal government was slow. He had time to focus on the birth certificate requests.

With the Foundation's resources, gaining access to theIllinois state computer system had taken a mere phone call. He had been surprised, however, by the volume of requests. It was amazing how many people needed to prove their existence, whether for social security claims, passport applications, or whatever. The sheer numbers involved were what was slowing him down.

He could automatically delete those requests for men, but again there were a lot of people with ambiguous names. Shelley, for instance. Male or female? And what about Lynn, or Marion, or Terry? Those people had to remain on his list until he could check them out.

Nor did he have a specific date of request, which made his task more difficult. She couldn't have made a request any sooner than the day after he had almost caught her in Eau Claire, but what if she waited a few days, a week, maybe even a couple of weeks? That uncertainty added literally hundreds of people to the list, from allover the state. He narrowed the focus to theChicago area, but that still left hundreds because he figured at least a fourth of the state's entire population lived in the metro area.

Checking out that many people took time, and the list grew every day. Some of the people who requested birth certificates had moved in the meantime; they had to be located, and sometimes they had moved out of state. Some had gone on vacation, but until he had traced them he didn't dare eliminate them from his list. Grace could be hiding behind any of those names, even the most improbable. He would not underestimate her again.

"Girl, you look like shit,"Matty said genially, uncoiling his compact, graceful body from the tattered sofa in his apartment.

"Thanks," Grace muttered. She was tired from sitting up nights trying to decipher Gaelic. Her eyes felt gritty, she had the energy of a slug, and she had burned her hand that day when she picked up a pan to wash and discovered it had justbeen taken from the oven. Harmony had tended the bum, scowling the entire time, and then had insisted on accompanying Grace toMatty's for another "lesson," just to make certain something else didn't happen to her.

"Just skinhangin ' on a rack of bones," Harmony pronounced, still scowling. "I can't get her to eat, no matter what I cook. She's done lost ten pounds or more since she's been living in my house, whichain't exactly the best advertisement I could have."

Grace looked down at herself. She was used to Harmony's complaints that she didn't eat enough, but still she was surprised now when she reallylooked at herself, and saw her bony wrists, her body lost within the baggy folds of clothes that had once been the right size. She knew she'd lost weight, a lot of weight, that first horrible week after the murders, but she hadn't realized she was still losing weight. She wasthin. and verging on downright skinny. She had to use a safety pin to tighten the waistband of her jeans so that they didn't slide right off. Even her underwear was too big these days, and loose panties weren't comfortable.

"I told her she don't need to be wearing those baggy clothes," Harmony continued, folding bonelessly onto the couch and crossing her long legs. "But does she listen to me? You tell her."

"Harmony's right,"Matty said, frowning at Grace. "Don't give no sum bitch nothing to grab. Youain't got no size to you, Julia, and youain't got no meanness. You'll fight if you're cornered, but the thing is, you gotta keep fromgettin ' cornered, 'cause then your chances go way down. Are youlistenin ' to me?" It wasn't like him to give a shit about anybody, but he worried about Julia. Something bad had happened to her, and she was still on the run. She didn't talk about it, but he could see it in her eyes. Hell, he was used to shootings and stabbings, drug overdoses, gang violence, little kids with big, scared, uncomprehending eyes, so he didn't know exactly what it was about Julia that got to him, but something did. Maybe it was because she looked so frail, so that sometimes he thought he could almost see right through her, or maybe it was the sadness that wrapped around her like a coat. She never smiled, and her big blue eyes just looked… empty. The look in her eyes made him hurt inside, andMatty was a man who made a point of not letting people close enough to him that he'd be hurt if anything happened to them. He'd failed with Julia.

"I'm listening," Grace said obediently. "I listen to Harmony, too. I just can't afford a bunch of new clothes."

"You heard of yard sales?" Harmony asked. "Take your noseoutta your books once in a while and look around. People sell old jeans for four or five dollars, and usually you can get 'emfor a dollar if you stand around long enoughcomplainin ' that five bucks is too much."

"I'll look," Grace promised. Yard sales. She'd never been to one in her life, but if she could get jeans in her size for a dollar, she was about to become a yard-sale fanatic. She was getting tired of holding her clothes up with safety pins, and tired of her underwear wandering around inside her jeans.

"Okay, enough ofshoppin ',"Matty said impatiently. "I'mtryin ' to teach you how to stay alive. Pay attention here."

Matty'smethod of teaching didn't involve gyms ordojos , because he said fights generally didn't happen there. They happened on the streets, in houses, where people went about their business and lived their lives. A couple of times he'd taken her down to an alley for her lesson, which involved him attacking her from a variety of directions, tackling her or simply wrapping his arms around her and throwing her to the ground, and she had to get away from him. He'd shown her where to kick, where to punch, and what items commonly found in an alley could be used as a weapon, from a wooden slat to a broken bottle. He'd taught her how to carry her knife, the one she'd taken from the mugger, how to hold it and how to use it.

Mattysaw weapons everywhere. In his hands, a pencil was lethal, a book could do serious damage, and a salt or pepper shaker presented a priceless opportunity. Flashlights, paperweights, matches, pillows, a sheet, a jacket-all those could be used. Such a ridiculous notion as a fair fight never entered his head. Chairs were battering rams. A baseball bat or a golf club was for beating people in the head, ice skates were for slicing them open-the possibilities were endless. Grace didn't think she would ever be able to look at a room the same way again. Before, rooms had been just… rooms. Now they were weapons repositories.

He fell on her without warning, wrapping his surprisingly strong arms around her and dragging her to the floor. The fall stunned her, rattled her brain, but she remembered her earlier lessons and promptly raked the sole of her shoe down his shin, and simultaneously got enough leverage with one arm to hit him under the chin with the heel of her palm. His teeth snapped together with an audible pop, and he shook his head to clear it. Grace didn't stop. She wiggled, she butted him with her head, she tried to punch him in the testicles, she gouged for his eyes.

Mattydidn't just let her beat up on him, because that wouldn't teach her much, he said. She had to work to get in her licks. He deftly turned aside most of her efforts, but he'd explained to her that he was expecting her to fight and had a good idea what she'd do; a stranger wouldn't have that advantage. Still, she landed some of her attempts, enough to make him grunt occasionally, or swear when she managed to hit him in the chin again and he bit his tongue. Harmony sat on the couch and didn't exactly smile, but she looked pleased.

The effort quickly exhausted Grace. She collapsed on the floor, breathing heavily.Matty stood up and frowned down at her. "You're too weak," he pronounced. "Weaker than last week. I don't know what's eatin ' at you, Julia, but yougotta eat, 'cause youain't got no stamina." He wiped his mouth, and looked with interest at the blood that smeared his hand. "Guts, but no stamina."

Grace struggled to her feet. She truly hadn't realized how weak she had become; she had simply attributed her fatigue to staying up late trying to decipher all the papers. Once she had enjoyed food, but now she had no interest in it; everything was tasteless, as if her taste buds had been dulled by shock and never recovered.

"I'll eat," she said simply, realizing now that she didn't have a choice. Because it was such a struggle now to work up any appetite at all, what she did eat would have to be nutritious. She had no idea how long this time of sanctuary would last; she had to be ready to leave at any time, and she had to be healthy. Suddenly she felt a little edgy; perhaps she shouldn't wait until something happened, perhaps she should leave now, and find another brief sanctuary. She had Julia Wynne's birth certificate; she had filed for a social security number, and when she got that she would be able to get a driver's license. With a driver's license she could risk driving, and not worry if a cop stopped her for speeding, or for a blown taillight. She could buy a cheap car, risk driving, go anywhere she wished whether there was a bus route there or not.

Harmony stood and stretched. "I'll startfeedin ' her tonight," she toldMatty ."Maybe some strengthening excercises , too,whaddaya think?"

"Food first,"Matty said. "Poke some meat down her throat. Yougotta have the brick before you can build the wall. A nice steak, or some spaghetti and meatballs, stuff like that."

Grace tried not to gag at the mention of spaghetti. After working atHector's , she couldn't stand the smell of garlic and tomato sauce.

"I'll think of something," Harmony promised, noticing the look of revulsion on Grace's face. She understood, because she'd once worked three months at a seafood joint down south; she still couldn't stand the smell of hush puppies frying, but thank God she'd never even caught a whiff of one in Chicago. Pissed her off when she thought about it; she'd always liked hush puppies before, and now she'd lost that pleasure.

Grace and Harmony walked down three blocks to a bus stop. Grace had developed the habit of looking all around her, and Harmony watched with approval as she checked out her surroundings. "You learning," she said. "Now, what made you so uptight all of a sudden, there atMatty's ?"

Harmony was the most observant person Grace had ever met. She didn't even try to blow smoke. "I was thinking of leaving."

Harmony's eyebrows slowly climbed toward her yellow white hair. "Was it something I said? Maybe you don't like my cooking? Or maybe something's got you scared."

"Nothing has happened to make me nervous," Grace tried to explain. "It's just… I don't know. Intuition, maybe."

"Then I guess you'd better be packing," Harmony said calmly. "It don't pay to go against your gut feeling." She looked up the street. "Here comes the bus."

Grace bit her lip. Though Harmony hadn't asked her to stay, and wouldn't, suddenly she felt the other woman's loneliness. They hadn't been intimates; both of them had too much to hide. But they had been friends, and Grace realized that she would miss Harmony's tough unconventionality.

"You need to stay a couple more days, if you can," Harmony continued, still watching the bus. "Let me get some food in you, build up your strength a little. And get you some clothes that fit, damn it. Plus I got a few things I can show you, too, things that might come in handy."

She could live with the edginess for a day or two, Grace thought. Anything Harmony wanted to teach her was bound to be worth the stress. "Okay. I'll stay until the weekend." , Harmony's only reaction was a brief nod, but again Grace felt her pleasure. That night, sitting in the kitchen while Harmony worked a small miracle with a wok, Grace idly leafed through an impressive stack of newspapers. Harmony read the morning paper while sitting at the kitchen table and methodically emptying a pot of coffee, and tended to toss the paper onto an unused chair rather than into the trash. It had been so long since Grace had read a paper or listened to the news that she had no idea what was happening on a national level, and it felt strange to read the headlines and peek into an unknown past.

She had flipped through about half the stack when a grainy newsprint photograph caught her attention, and her gaze flew back to it. Suddenly she couldn't breathe, her lungs stilled in her chest, and her ears buzzed.Parrish. Parrish was one of the men in that photo.

Dimly she heard Harmony say something, then a hand was on the back of her neck, pushing her head down until it rested on her knees. Gradually the buzzing in her ears began to fade, and her lungs began working again. "I'm all right," she said, the words muffled against her knees.

"Izzatso? Coulda' fooled me," Harmony said sarcastically, but she released Grace's neck and plucked the news-paper from her nerveless fingers. "Let's see. What did you read that made you keel over? 'Peace Talks Resume'? Don't think so. How 'bout this: 'Graft inCityHallCostsCity Millions.' Makesmy blood pressure go up, but itain't never made me faint. Maybe it was 'Industrialist's Wife Dies.' There's even a picture of the poorgrievin ' husband to tweak your emotions. Yep, that looks like something would hit you hard." She slapped the paper down on the table, staring at the photo. "So, which one of these guys do you know?"

Still breathing deeply, Grace looked again at the photo. It was still a shock to see Parrish's handsome face, but now she noticed there were other people there as well. The husband, for one, his face stark with grief. Beside him stood a man who looked vaguely familiar, and a quick look at the caption beneath the photo identified them as Bayard "Skip" Saunders, wealthy industrialist, and SenatorTrikoris . Three other men were in the background, Parrish among them, none of them identified by name. Parrish's expression was suitably somber, but knowing what she did about him, she didn't trust the impression he gave.

Swiftly she read the four inches of column space. Calla Saunders had apparently fallen to her death from her penthouse balcony. There was no evidence of foul play. One of Mrs. Saunders's high-heeled shoes, with the heel broken off, had been found on the balcony. Investigators surmised she had fallen off balance when the heel broke, and gone over the railing; flecks of white paint from the railing had been found on her evening dress. She had evidently been alone on the balcony.

The investigators didn't know Parrish Sawyer the way she did, Grace thought, shivering. If he was anywhere near a death scene, she doubted the death was accidental.

She had forgotten how handsome he was. In her mind he had taken on a demonic aspect, his features shaped by the evil within, but the black-and-white photo captured his smooth, blond good looks, the chiseled face and slim, athletic body. As usual, he was impeccably attired. He looked completely civilized and cosmopolitan, a gentleman to his manicured fingertips.

His expression had been just as pleasant when he shot Ford in the head.

He was inChicago . She checked the date on the newspaper, saw that it was almost two weeks old. Parrish washere. She wasn't safe, as she'd thought. Her instincts were right; it was time to leave.

"Let's see," Harmony mused when Grace didn't answer. "Wouldn't be the senator; he's all bullshit.

Forget that Saunders guy; he's a completewuss , just look at him. The other three… hmm … one looks like a cop, see the bad suit?"

Harmony was systematically, and with irritating accuracy, summing up every person in the photo. In another few seconds she would arrive unerringly at the correct conclusion. To save her the time and trouble, Grace tapped her fingernail once on Parrish's face.

"Now forget you ever saw him," she advised, her face and voice tense. "If he even thinks you might know something about me, he'll kill you."

Harmony's lashes shielded her eyes as she studied the photo. When she finally looked up at Grace, her green gaze was hard and clear. "That man's evil," she said flatly. "Yougotta get out of here."

The next two days were a flurry of activity. Grace worked furiously on translating as much of the Gaelic as possible, because she wouldn't have time to work while she was traveling. Harmony made the rounds of yard sales, and came up with some jeans that actually fit Grace, as well as some tight knit tops and a pair of sturdy hiking boots. When they were together, Harmony talked. Grace felt like Luke Skywalker listening to Yoda, but instead of imparting pearls of mystical wisdom Harmony discussed ways of losing a tail, how to travel without leaving tracks, how to get a fake driver's license and even a fake passport if she didn't have time or it was too dangerous to acquire the real thing. Harmony knew a lot about how to survive on the streets, and on the run, and that was her gift to Grace.

Her final gift was borrowing a car and driving Grace toMichigan City,Indiana , where she planned to catch a bus. Grace didn't tell Harmony her intended destination, and Harmony didn't ask; it was safer for both of them.

"Watch your back," Harmony said gruffly, hugging Grace to her. "And remember everythingMatty and I showed you."

"I will," Grace said. "I do." She hugged Harmony in return, then gathered her bags and trudged into the bus station. Harmony watched the slight figure disappear inside, and blinked twice to dispel the blur from her eyes.

"God, you watch over her," she whispered, giving her orders to the Almighty, then Harmony Johnson got back into the borrowed Pontiac and drove away.

Grace watched from the window, her eyes dry despite the tight ache in her chest. She didn't know how many more good-byes she could say; maybe it would be best to stay on the go, not staying in anyone place long enough to get attached to people.

But she still had a lot of work to do on the papers, and she needed a safe place in which to do it. She studied a map of the bus routes, then bought a ticket to Indianapolis. Once there, she would decide her next destination, but it had to be something totally unexpected. Parrish hadn't been in Chicago by accident, she was certain. Somehow, he'd known she was there. His men had been searching for her. She must have been utterly predictable, and soon they would have found her.

That wouldn't happen again, she promised herself. She was going to ground, in a place where they would never expect to find her, and suddenly she knew exactly where she was going. It was the one place they wouldn't think to look, the one place where she could keep tabs on Parrish and his movements:Minneapolis .