First Chapter – Laying of Hands

First Chapter – Laying of Hands

Adel Rosse wedged her luggage into the cramped glass vestibule in the Lockwood Planned Parenthood in upstate New York, her laptop bag slipping from her shoulder to dangle from the crook of her arm as she pressed the entry buzzer. For the third time.

“Yes?”

Adel glanced around for the camera she knew would be aimed at her and suppressed the desire to roll her eyes. 

“I’m Adel Rosse?” She slid the bag to the floor at her feet and shook out the cramp in her arm. “The Portuguese translator your office requested?”

The line crackled with static as Adel waited for the door to buzz open. Two minutes later she was still waiting.

“I’m getting confirmation on that now.” The receptionist’s voice was replaced by a long stretch of static until it reemerged abruptly. “What’s all that you have with you?”

Adel glanced down at the luggage scattered at her feet that she’d schlepped from LaGuardia Airport in Queens to Lockwood, NY via a cramped flight, two shuttles and a questionable taxi. 

“My luggage. I was at the airport when I got the message.” Adel took a breath, shifting the weight of her suitcase off her ankle to lean against the wall and pulling her cell out of her pocket and scrolling through her recent calls. “I spoke to a Hannah Meyers?’”

A long silence echoed around the tiny vestibule, followed by a sharp buzzer and the door clicking open. Adel reached down for the handle of her suitcase and jumped as the speaker crackled to life again.

“Leave that where it is until we clear it please.”

Adel straightened and pushed the door open with a sigh, stepping into a predictably beige waiting area as the receptionist rounded the corner of the desk snapping on a pair of latex gloves. She passed without a word and Adel watched through the security glass window as she unzipped her overstuffed rolling bag. Piles of hastily packed clothing tumbled onto the floor in every direction, making the vestibule look instantly more like a frat house than a medical office. 

She walked up to the desk just as a petite woman with a blonde ponytail and a white medical jacket two sizes too big rounded the corner with a handful of files. She had dark blue eyes with blonde lashes so long they brushed her cheeks as she glanced down at the computer, then back to Adel.

“Sorry. Have you been helped?” She scanned the waiting area as she spoke, which was empty except for one young woman wearing a long skirt and jean jacket in the far corner of the room. “There’s actually supposed to be someone here at the desk, but I’m happy to help you.”

Adel smiled, her eyes lingering on the pale dusting of honey-colored freckles across the woman’s nose. “I’m actually looking for Hannah Myers? I’m Adel Rosse.”

“Oh thank god.” The woman offered her hand to Adel with a genuine look of relief. “You’re the translator?”

“I am,” Adel paused. “And you are…?”

“Sorry!” A quick smile flashed across her face. “I’m Dr. Myers. I’m the one you spoke to on the phone a few hours ago. Just call me Hannah.”

She walked out from behind the reception desk and opened the door for Adel. “Thank you so much for coming. We do usually have access to a local Portuguese translator, but she’s in Maine for the weekend.”

Adel walked through the door with a long backward glance at the entry door. 

“When the receptionist gets through unpacking my bags out there, what are the chances she’ll bring them in and stick them behind the desk?”

“Oh god.” Hannah peered around the door through the window. “Is she really doing that?”

“Yep.” Adel smiled. “And it may have turned out to be a bigger job than she thought it was going to be.”

Hannah rolled her eyes and motioned Adel down the hall. 

“Jesus. Amber missed her calling as a Secret Service agent. My office is the second door on the left.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Give me a second while I put one of our medical assistants on supervision duty.”

Adel smiled and took a seat in Hannah’s office. Framed diplomas from Yale Medical School and Wellesley College in mahogany frames lined the wall behind her desk, the perfect backdrop to the empty Burger King wrappers on her desk. The room smelled faintly of lemon furniture polish and expensive perfume.

“Thank you for waiting. I’m so sorry about that.” When she returned Hannah shut the door behind her and sank into the leather chair behind her desk as a deep sigh lofted a delicate strand of blonde hair from her forehead. “We had a bomb scare last week and our staff is on high alert. I’m just used to it, I guess.”

She reached under her desk and pulled out a cold bottle of water, handing it over to Adel.

“Thank you so much for coming, Adel. We have a client coming in that’s a personal friend of one of our staff. I called for a translator when I heard she was hesitant to come in. English isn’t her first language, and I hear you’re the best.”

“I’m happy to help.” Adel shrugged off her jacket and draped it across her lap. “Is she new to the states or just from a Portuguese family here in the upstate?”

“I actually have no idea. The only thing I know from Amy is that she’s scared out of her mind, so I’m guessing this isn’t just a routine visit.”

“Well, I’m happy to drop by.” Adel smiled. “I’m on assignment with Vanity Fair magazine but actually not supposed to be at the location until tonight, so I was at loose ends anyway.”

“So you’re going to be in town for a while?” Hannah walked over to the sink in the corner of the room and washed her hands, drying them with a paper towel as she turned around. “Where are you on assignment? I can’t imagine anything happening in Lockwood that’s exciting enough to warrant a visit from Vanity Fair.”

“It’s the camp on the edge of town, apparently. I haven’t actually seen it yet.”

The receptionist knocked lightly on the office door and stuck her head in. “Your four o’clock, Maribel, just got here. She’s in exam room one.”

“Great. How is she?”

“Honestly?” She paused, lofting an eyebrow. “Looks like she’s about to bolt.”

The receptionist closed the door quietly behind her as she left and Hannah looked at Adel. “Looks like it’s showtime. You ready?”

After Adel had signed the routine visiting volunteer papers at the desk, she washed her hands and pulled her dark hair, shoulder length back in a ponytail with the elastic she always kept around her wrist. She’d been volunteering as an interpreter at Planned Parenthood since she graduated college, so at forty-one, this wasn’t her first rodeo, but the energy in the hall was strangely tense. She smoothed her hands over her travel-creased oxford shirt and followed the same receptionist down the hall to the last door on the left where she handed Adel a clipboard and headed back to the front desk.

Adel opened the door slowly to find a teenage girl with dark, waist-length hair perched on the last inch of the exam table. She visibly flinched as Adel stepped in. Adel greeted her in Portuguese and a look of relief flashed across her face like sudden sunlight.

“I’m Adel,” She said as she put the clipboard on the counter and turned back to the girl. “What’s your name?”

“Maribel.” Her voice instantly disappeared into the silence of the room.

“Ok, Maribel,” Adel spoke softly and watched as Maribel fingered the tiny gold crucifix at her throat. “I’m not your doctor; she’ll be here in just a few minutes. I’m here to make sure you understand what’s happening, and make sure you get to ask her any questions you need to ask, okay?”

Maribel nodded. She started to say something then stopped short and jerked her attention to the door as they heard footsteps in the hall. Her shoulders relaxed slowly as the footsteps continued past the door and clicked down the hall. 

“It looked like you were about to say something,” Adel said gently. “It’s okay to ask me anything. Nothing you say will ever leave this room.”

Maribel bit her lip, taking a long moment to take the words in. “You won’t tell anyone?”

“Absolutely not. Whatever you say is between you and your doctor. I’m here to make sure you get the best care you can, but I’m bound by the same confidentiality rules as she is.”

“It’s a woman?” Maribel hesitated. “The doctor?”

Adel nodded, noting the long breath Maribel let out slowly. Adel picked up the clipboard and asked the first few questions on the forms, with Adel translating from Maribel’s Portuguese to written English. 

“And what is the reason for your visit today, Maribel?”

Maribel twisted the hem of the thin exam gown with her fingers, her hair falling forward into her face, followed by tears that disappeared into the fabric of her gown. Adel wanted to pull her into her arms, make her feel safe, tell her that no one would ever hurt her again…but they both knew no one could promise her that. So they sat in the silence until Maribel steeled herself and slowly squared her shoulders.

“Do I have to tell?”

Adel thought for a moment. She’d never been asked that question, but she’d been with Planned Parenthood long enough to know that a woman’s emotional and physical welfare was paramount, so she took a guess.

“No. You don’t have to tell. But anything you tell me or your doctor is confidential, so if you feel like you can share what happened, your doctor may be able to know better what care you might need.”

Maribel’s fingers were curled into a fist, her fingers white with tension. 

“I didn’t want to.” Another tear dropped from her cheek as if the first had left the door open for the rest. “I said no so many times.”

Adel slowed her breath, aware from experience that even that sound could startle a traumatized client. “You didn’t want what, Maribel?”

“I didn’t want to do the sex.” The next words tumbled out as if she needed to clear them from her body. “But he said it was my fault. That I wanted it.”

Adel caught her eye and Maribel reached for her hand. It was small and cold.

“Maribel, you don’t have to have a reason to say no to sex. Just that one word is always enough, no matter what anyone says.”

Maribel nodded, squeezing Adel’s hand as a soft knock on the door was followed by Hannah’s voice.

After waiting for a nod from Maribel, Adel told her they were ready.

Hannah came in and smiled warmly at Adel, but gave her patient space, sitting on the rolling doctor’s stool by the counter. Adel introduced Dr. Myer and Maribel nodded, looking unsure whether to breathe or bolt. Surprisingly, she chose neither. 

“Maribel,” Adel said softly in Portuguese, “Is it okay with you for me to share what you just told me with your doctor?”

Maribel nodded, and Hannah listened carefully to what Adel said, concern flashing across her face. She thought for a second when Adel was finished, then asked a few more details about what had happened. Maribel haltingly recounted the recent experience of being held against her will in the back of the restaurant where she worked by the owner, who had forced himself on her for hours until she managed to escape when the workers started coming in the next day.

Hannah looked at Adel. “Can you get a rough idea of the level of violence we’re talking about here, so I know a bit more before I start?”

A few more harrowing details from Maribel led to the next question.

“And is she on any form of birth control?”

Adel relayed the question, which was answered by a silent shake of the head.

“And was this her first sexual experience?”

Adel spoke softly in a reassuring voice, which was followed by a nod from Maribel. 

“Ok.” Hannah smiled at Maribel. “So let’s take a look if that’s okay with her?”

After Adel translated, Maribel responded with another nod and allowed Hannah to guide her feet into the stirrups. Silent tears slipped down her sides of her face and dampened the dark, glossy hair at her temples as Hannah gently started the exam, explaining everything she did before it happened through Adel. Maribel said that the attack had happened about three weeks prior, so Hannah said she’d do a pregnancy test with the urine sample that they’d already collected. 

“Let her know the STI checks we’ll do will take a bit of time to get the results back, and we’ll follow up with the results and recommend treatment if needed, but the pregnancy test will be back in just a few minutes.” 

Hannah told Adel they were done as she scooted backward on her stool and snapped off her latex gloves, dropping them in the trash. She smiled reassuringly at Maribel as she guided her feet out of the stirrups and had her sit up, then handed her a blanket from a warmer by the cabinets. Maribel pulled the warmth of the blanket up to her chin and spoke softly to Adel. 

Adel listened, then looked at the doctor. “She wants to know if anyone will be able to tell that she’s had sex? Her family are conservative catholics and she thinks no one will marry her if they find out.”

Hannah stood, speaking directly to Maribel as if she could understand without translation, holding her eyes with a soft understanding that slowly melted the fear from Maribel’s face. Maribel took a deep breath and closed her eyes as Adel told her what the doctor had said. 

“Maribel,” Adel said softly, “Dr. Myers said to never forget that this was not your choice and it was not your fault. She wants you to know there’s a difference between having sex and being sexually assaulted against your will. You didn’t choose to share yourself with someone else that day; you were assaulted. Those are two different things.”

Maribel’s face softened, and she met Adel’s eyes. “So, it doesn’t count?”

Adel smiled. “No,” she said, “It doesn’t count.’

Maribel nodded, her eyes shut tight against the tears, as Hannah squeezed her hand softly and left them alone in the room.

An hour later, after Maribel had walked through the front doors and disappeared into the busy stream of rush hour traffic, Adel finally gathered her bags from behind the front desk.

“Sorry about your suitcases.” The receptionist, in faded Disney scrubs, glanced up at Adel as she squirted a white pile of gardenia lotion into her palm. “It’s my responsibility to keep things safe around here.”

Adel thanked her and hid a smile as she wedged her rolling bag out from behind the front desk and into the waiting area as the door buzzed open in front of her. She’d started to regret packing so much stuff, but her editor had been worryingly vague about how long she’d actually have to be on location for this assignment. It had been originally assigned to a senior reporter that had prepped for it for months, but he’d a sudden heart attack the week before and was unable to fly. Which worked out well for her. A story like this was a huge opportunity that could land her name on the cover if she nailed it, and that was the holy grail of anyone in the magazine industry.

The late afternoon sun was intense, even for early June, and hovered above the street in a dense gold haze that instantly enveloped her as she stepped outside the doors. Adel parked her suitcases on the sidewalk and opened her Uber app before she realized the address was buried in the bottom of her laptop bag. She let it slip from her shoulder to the crook of her elbow as a taxi whizzed by, searching the bottom of the bag with her fingertips until she found the crumpled notepad she’d scribbled it into. The wind picked up and ruffled the pages as she flipped to the last page and typed the address into the app with one hand. 

She glanced up to pull her luggage closer to the side of the building and something at the end of the building caught her eye. Long, dark blonde hair blowing past the edge of the brick building, only to fall and rise again with the next gust like an ocean wave breaking on the shore. The traffic waned just enough for Adel to hear muffled crying from the same direction and she sighed as she clicked off her phone without finalizing her ride.

She leaned against the wall of the building, rubbing her temples and looking longingly at the specials board at the diner across the street. The short flight she thought she was signing up for had been delayed that morning; so she’d spent the first part of the day in the airport, and the second she’d walked off the plane she’d picked up a call from a volunteer coordinator for Planned Parenthood. The clinic location where they needed the interpreter was Lockwood, New York, where she was headed to for the assignment anyway, so she quickly accepted and headed for the taxi rank outside the airport, dragging her luggage behind her, the vague possibility of lunch forgotten in the rush.

Adel spoke fluent Spanish and Portugese, but it was the fact that it was a call for a Portugese interpreter that ended up being the deciding factor in accepting the call. Her own family was Portugese, from Mystic, Connecticut and she’d seen first hand how difficult it was for the poorer community with limited English to get adequate health care, especially in the recent political climate surrounding immigration. All in all, it had been a much longer day than she’d planned, and all she wanted to do now was to get to where she was going, order a massive pizza and watch trash tv. Crime documentaries, preferably, but after the day she’d had, she could even zone out to one of those car crash Real Housewives of Orange County reruns.

She glanced down the side of the building again. The hair had stopped blowing around the corner but she still heard sobbing. Enough to know that it was a woman. 

Fuck

Adel hiked her bag back up on her shoulder and scraped the wheels of her suitcases behind her over the cracks in the sidewalk as she approached the corner of the building. When she looked around it, a young woman sat sobbing against the side of the building, her knees pulled up to her face, the wind still picking up her hair and dropping it around her shoulders, her long skirt pooled like water around the white keds on her feet.

Lockwood looked like a decent enough town in upstate, but this was still New York. Adel looked at her watch and shook her head. Obviously she wasn’t just going to leave her there, so she might as well get on with it. She glanced at her watch and crouched down in front of her.

“Hey.” She said, her voice as gentle as if they were still in the clinic. “Are you okay?”

She didn’t respond, just nodded her head, her forehead still pressed to her knees. 

“Are you sure?”

She was well dressed, in a white tee-shirt, skirt and jean jacket, and Adel noticed the familiar scent of Ivory soap in the air around her. Adel just started to stand up when she noticed the pattern on the skirt and recognized her as the woman in the back of the waiting room when she’d arrived at the clinic. She leaned around the corner to make sure her suitcases were still leaning up against the building, then tried again.

“You know what? I think we may have met.”

The woman lifted her head then, her cheeks flushed and damp. Her eyes were startling; pools of the lightest clear blue rimmed with dark navy at the edges, and they held Adel’s gaze with a soft steadiness she hadn’t expected. 

Adel nodded toward the front of the building. “You were just in the clinic, right?” 

She nodded, then swiped at her cheeks with her palm and pulled her long, wheat colored hair over one shoulder. 

“I appreciate you stopping.” She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. “But I can’t talk about this.” 

“You don’t have to talk about it.” An unusually loud grumble from Adel’s stomach interrupted, and they both looked at each other and laughed, then laughed even harder when another rumble erupted, this one lingering for an insane amount of time.

“Well,” Adel said. “Either I’m about to give birth to an alien, or I might die if I don’t get some of whatever they’re cooking over there.” 

They both glanced across the street to the small diner with a pink and white striped awning and poster boards taped in the windows announcing the specials, faded and curling at the edges. The air held the faint scent of chopped steak or a juicy patty melt, Adel couldn’t tell which. She looked back at the girl and smiled.

“So what’s your name?”

She hesitated. “Grace.”

Adel stood, extending her hand with a nod in the direction of the diner. “Well, I’m new in town and it would be downright rude to make me eat alone, so I guess you’re my dinner date.”

“Date?” Grace looked up, startled. “I can’t…”

Adel smiled, still holding out her hand. “I don’t mean that literally. Although if you’ve somehow found me a decent patty melt, that’s a definite possibility.”

Grace hesitated, then reached up and let Adel pull her to her feet.

“Kidding.” Adel said. “Let’s go eat.”

Grace glanced nervously to both sides as they walked across the street and through the double glass doors into the diner. A yellowed postcard taped to the cash register directed them to “Seat Yourselfs” so Adel led them to a small booth in the corner by the windows. 

A rip in the black naugahyde booth scraped the back of Adel’s jeans as she sat down and handed Grace one of the two menus tucked behind the glass sugar container. She scanned it quickly and looked back up as two women passed by the window. Grace’s eyes dropped quickly back to her menu. 

“Are you not eating?”

“Oh, I’m definitely eating.” Adel smiled and nodded toward the front door. “I’m getting that patty melt on the specials board outside.”

Grace took another look at the menu and tucked it back behind the sugar.  “So what’s a patty melt?”

Adel clicked off her cell phone screen and laid it on the table. “Are you kidding me with this?”

The waitress, a round woman in acid-wash pleated jeans and a western shirt with pearl snaps down the front, stepped up to their table, her pen poised above her order pad. A worn brown nametag introduced her as Doris.

“Afternoon, girls. What can I get ya?”

The curls in her gray hair were perfectly round tubes stacked in neat rows across her head, as if she’d just slid the curlers out the side and varnished it into place with a slick of Final Net hairspray. 

Grace hesitated, then asked for a grilled cheese and a Coke. Adel ordered the patty melt with extra sauce.

“Smart.” Doris said, sticking the end of the pen in her mouth and tearing the order off the pad. “Those assholes wouldn’t know how to sauce up a decent patty melt if it was the only thing they had to do all damn day.”

Grace didn’t quite suppress a smile as the waitress left to slam the order down in the kitchen widow and ring the bell with equal force.

“So what’s this sauce that everyone’s so passionate about?”

“Wow. You really haven’t had a patty melt, have you?” Adel shrugged off her jacket and rolled up the sleeve of her black denim shirt to her elbows. “Actually, I don’t know the answer there. I’m not sure anyone really does.”

“Well, what does it taste like?”

Adel looked at Grace, her eyes shifting slowly from Grace’s eyes to her lips. They were  bare and soft, and her skin had a naked translucence that Adel had forgotten existed over her years in Manhattan. 

“Do I have something on my face?” Grace brushed her fingertip under her eye. “An eyelash?”

“Sorry, no, I just lost my train of thought. It’s been a long day.” Adel glanced over Grace’s shoulder toward the entrance as a cash register door slammed shut, jolting her back into reality. “A patty melt is really just a hamburger patty in a sandwich. It’s the sauce that makes it, but it’s hard to describe. It tastes like mayo, ketchup… and relish maybe?”

Grace smiled, pulling her fork and knife out of their white paper bag and laying them on the table. “So you’re saying I’m not missing much?” 

“Keep talking, newbie.” Adel smiled. “You’ll be begging me to switch plates with me after one bite.”

Grace looked out the window toward the clinic, her smile slowly fading. Adel watched and let the silence settle between them; she’d learned a long time ago that if a woman wanted to talk, she would. And if she didn’t, then it was none of Adel’s damn business.

Doris brought their drinks and rolled her eyes at the bell that clanged at the order window the second they hit the table. 

Grace unwrapped her straw and sank it into her glass. “You did see me in the clinic, didn’t you?”

Adel nodded. This was unfamiliar territory; she’d never interacted with a client outside the clinic. Grace jumped when the bell clanged against the front glass door as another couple came in and took a seat in the back of the dining area. 

“Why were you there?”

“I’m a volunteer interpreter with Planned Parenthood.” Adel pulled her staff card out of her wallet and held it up. “Usually I get called in on an as-needed basis in Manhattan, where I’m based, but my branch happened to see a request come through here in Lockwood and knew I’d be close to the area so she put me in touch.” 

“So that’s why you were behind the counter.”

Adel nodded, watching as Grace twisted the empty straw wrapper tightly around her finger. There was a long pause, and when she spoke again, she didn’t look up. 

“I left right after you got there.”

Adel watched as the wrapper split and fell apart around her finger. Grace picked up the pieces and closed them into her fist.

“Why did you leave?” Adel lowered her head to catch her eye and smiled. “And yes, I realize it’s none of my damn business.”

Grace laughed suddenly, letting the pieces of wrapper flutter out of her hand to the table. Adel reached out and swept them aside, replacing them with her own unused straw. Grace looked up and smiled, peeling the wrapper and setting it aside.

“Well, I almost didn’t get to, the receptionist was unpacking like a stack of random suitcases in front of the doors, but I still managed to squeeze past her.”

She started to say something else but stopped herself. Adel watched her twist the soft plastic of the straw before she wound it around the same finger. She waited, listening.

“I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but it just seemed like my only shot, and if I didn’t take it, I wouldn’t get another one.”

Doris appeared out of nowhere with their plates, settling them onto the cracked formica tabletop with a clatter and disappearing again without a word.

“Why do you say that? Your only shot at what?”

“I shouldn’t be talking about it. I need to just forget it.” Grace sat back in the booth and met Adel’s eyes for the first time since she’d brought it up. “I don’t know why I can’t just be normal.”

Adel dipped a french fry into the ramekin of sauce beside her sandwich and offered it to Grace, who ate it, then took another off her own plate and dipped it in the sauce before she popped it in her mouth. It was a while before she spoke again, her sandwich forgotten in front of her.

“I’m engaged.” She paused, and pressed the edge of the table with her thumb. Adel watched it slowly fade to white. “I just found out.”

Adel glanced at Grace’s bare ring finger and picked up half her sandwich. “I’d say congratulations, but you don’t look too excited about that.” She paused, sandwich in mid air. “What do you mean you ‘just found out?’”

“I am. Excited, I mean.” Grace stared out the window as a crowded group of cyclists sped by, then disappeared around the corner of the building. “Or I will be. That’s what everyone says, anyway.”

Adel nodded toward Grace’s plate. “Based on the look on your face, I’m guessing that grilled cheese might end up being more exciting than your wedding.“

Grace picked up half her sandwich and took a bite. The golden brown, buttery bread offered a satisfying crunch as it gave way to the center melt. Grace smiled and savored the bite, eyes closed, then took a long sip of her coke. 

“Well,” she said, examining it leisurely at eye level before taking another bite. “That certainly raises the bar.”

“Damn girl.” Adel shook her head and picked her sandwich back up. “You look like you appreciate good food.”

“Always.” 

Adel smiled and sat back in the booth. “Well, you don’t know me, and you’ll probably never see me again,” She paused. “So you might as well tell me what’s got you so freaked out you ran out of the clinic.”

Grace dipped another fry in the sauce that Adel had pushed to the center of the table. She was quiet for more than a minute, then looked up and met her eyes.

“What do you think it is?” She paused. “I mean, the reason I left?”

Adel smiled, leaning back and stretching her arm out onto the back of her booth.

“Well, it’s entirely possible you found me so attractive you knew you needed to leave before you jumped over the front desk and kissed me.” 

Grace stopped, her sandwich frozen in her hand halfway between her mouth and her plate. 

“What?” She said softly as a slow flush had crept up her neck. She laid down her grilled cheese and gripped the edge of the table with her fingers, her jaw suddenly tense. “Why would you say that to me?”

“I’m kidding,” Adel sat back up quickly and held Grace’s eyes, her voice suddenly soft. “I was just joking, I promise.” 

Grace looked around the dining room, then picked up her jean jacket. “Thank you for what you did, Adel, but I have to go.”

Grace struggled with a tangle of bills in her jacket pocket but Adel shook her head.

“Don’t worry about that.” Adel met her eyes for just a moment before Grace looked away. “I’m just sorry I upset you.”

Adel slid out of the booth like it was on fire, pivoting sideways to avoid running into a group of giggling teenage girls on their way in. She glanced again at Adel before she slipped out the door and ran down the sidewalk. Adel leaned into the window to watch. The wind picked up Grace’s hair again and spun it around her shoulders as she turned the corner and disappeared.

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