"I got lost" she lied easily. "am I not supposed to be here?" the secretary smiled politely.
"where do you need to be?" she asked.
"I need to get to haggard. I'm visiting my cousin there. I've never seen any of these towns. I've been looking for directions."
"haggard is a few towns over" something caught Alice's eye and she looked behind the woman, tuning out to what she was saying. She saw two people come from another corridor and walk in the opposite direction. One was a skinny man wearing a suit, she didn't see his face and the back of his head was covered by a black fedora that matched his suit. But it was the dark haired girl beside him that looked somehow familiar. They were talking but she didn't hear the words. The girl turned her head and Alice fought down a gasp. Her sister Stephanie walked away with the man in the suit.
The secretary had finished giving her directions and the other man and woman had gone. Alice nodded as if she had heard. "thanks" she said and smiled. She saw Abbi move in the shadows toward the door and Alice walked away. She opened the door and let Abbi slip by unnoticed before leaving. She waited till the door swung closed before taking Abbi by the arm and leading her down the side of the building.
"what the hell is going on!" she whisper-shouted. For the first time ever Abbi looked lost on the subject of magic.
"did you see her?"
"your sister? Yeah. Isn't she staying at Gordon's old house?" Alice nodded and took out her phone. She dialled her sisters number and waited.
"hi sis" Stephanie said after picking up the phone.
"where are you?" Alice asked.
"at my house" she said. "where are you?" Alice hesitated.
"we're in Roarhaven" at first Stephanie didn't reply.
"I have a call waiting" she said at last. "call you back" she hung up and the doors opened. They sneaked around and saw Stephanie and the man exit the building with the tall, skinny man. Her phone rang and she pulled it out of the pocket of a jacket Alice had never seen. Alice frowned. She had been talking to her when she had another call, why would her phone be in her pocket? Stephanie frowned.
"why would she be in Roarhaven?" she asked the person on the phone. Alice's eyes widened. Was she talking about her? That would mean she'd have to be talking to herself.
"right." she said to the phone. "call her back, tell her to get there. I'll be there as soon as I can and i'll text you. When I do, go to the bedroom" she hung up and turned to the man in the suit. He tilted his head.
"who is here?" he asked. He had a nice voice.
"my sister" she told him angrily.
"why?" Stephanie stopped for a moment. "oh no" she whispered.
"what?" the man asked.
"her friend" she told him. "she read some of Derek's books. The ones based on me. She must've come looking for the sanctuary." they rushed to a car parked nearby. It looked like a pretty old car. Alice had seen it lots parked at the pier. They got in and it sped off. They still never saw the man's face. They ducked behind the corner as the door opened again and Alice's phone rang. She answered after she saw the caller id was her sister. The one at home.
"hi" she said.
"Alice, can you come to my house please?" she looked at Abbi for help. 'you're home' she mouthed.
"i just got home" she said. "i was just at the edge of Roarhaven when I called."
"are you with Abbi?" she glanced up. Abbi shook her head.
"can you come please? I miss you" she rolled her eyes. Nice cover she thought sarcasticly. Abbi nodded.
"ok I'll be there soon"
"bye" Stephanie said before hanging up. They got up and rushed to Stephanie's house. This better be good.
They got to Stephanie's house and peered through the side windows to the lounge. What Abbi saw made her heart skip a beat. She saw Stephanie talking to herself. Not in the crazy talking when no one is listening kind of way. There were two Stephanie's standing in the lounge room arguing. They ducked under the window and Abbi gestured for Alice to go in.
"what are you going to do?" she whispered.
"sneak in the back. Find out what's going on." Alice made a face. It was her by the way, magic isn't real face. Abbi held up a hand, concentrated and clicked her fingers. she managed to turn the spark into the smallest of flames that flickered for a moment before going out. Alice took a moment, took a deep breath and nodded.
"act natural" she told her friend. She nodded and went to the front door. Abbi looked in the window and both the Stephanie's were still there. Neither of them had on the black clothes she saw here wear at the sanctuary so she couldn't tell which was which. The doorbell rang and they exchanged a word before one of them moved to the front door and the other one went the opposite way. She followed best she could through the windows and ended up losing her. Abbi scanned the side of the house and spotted an open window on the second floor. There was a vine nearby, ivy possibly, and it looked strong enough to climb too. She moved carefully and began to climb. Before she knew it she was right beside the open window. She made sure her feet were hooked securely in the vine and reached over she got her hands in then her forearms and then she got it almost up to her armpits before she untangled her feet. She grunted as she heaved herself in. luckily, this wasn't the room the other Stephanie had gone into. She heard Alice and her sister downstairs. She also heard other voices. They were hushed but she recognised the tall man and the other Stephanie. She snuck out of the room and crept quietly down the hall to the room where she heard their voices. She didn't dare look in, and she stayed next to a cupboard door, just in case. She began to hear words.
"why don't you like me?" Stephanie's voice asked.
"because you're a cheap impression of a great girl who you tried to kill"
"but I'm fixed now"
"I don't care. You're still a cheap impression" there was silence for a while.
"I like you" she said. The man sighed. "how long do you think Alice will be?"
"I don't know" she said. " they're sisters. They'll talk forever"
"tell her I'll be at the sanctuary"
"Ok" Abbi hear a bed creak as he got up but he moved too fast and she barely got into her cupboard when he came out. She payed attention to her ears to figure out what was happening outside. He stood where he was.
"hmm" he said after a moment. He went back in the bedroom, said something and came back out a moment later. Fake Stephanie followed.
"how are you sure?" she asked.
"I am" was all he said.
"I'll go this way" she heard fake Stephanie walk down one hallway and the tall man walked down another. She turned the handle slowly and inched the door open. When the space was big enough she peered out. They were gone so she stepped out and closed the door quietly. She looked around the corner before creeping down the hallway. She peeked around the next corner before going and stopped at a half open door. She pushed it open and looked around. No one there. She looked at the papers stacked high and books all over the place there were book covers framed on the wall. Gordon's study. She turned to the bookshelf and smiled. A book lay half off the shelf. It had no title on the spine and was completely blank. The switch to Gordon's secret room. She wanted to enter but she knew that the echo stone Gordon would be there and he might warn someone of her presence. Abbi heard footsteps and panicked. She looked around. Stacks of paper, stacks of books, pencils and even what looked like a shirt in the corner. But no place to hide. The footsteps stopped outside the door. She dove at the bookcase and tugged at the book. The bookcase opened and she jumped inside. Just then she realised something. The bookcase won't close while I'm inside. Abbi continued to panic. She jumped up and grabbed the bookcase, pulling it. It wouldn't budge so she left the room, pushed the book in as far as it would go and jumped back in as the door closed. The study door opened just in time to see the hidden door shut but too late to see her. Oh great. she turned to pitch black and clicked her fingers. A spark flew but no flame came. She concentrated harder, clicked and poured all her magic into it. A misty image of Alice's dead uncle stood in front of her staring. She sagged.
"Please don't tell I was here." he continued to stare. His gaze flickered down to her hand and back up. And then the hidden door began to open.