Long Way Home (Chapter Two, page 1 of 12)

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By the time Alexis came downstairs, fully dressed and hair blown out, the house was empty. A small stack of pancakes waited for her on the counter, covered with a paper towel. She put the plate in the microwave and scoured around for a coffee mug. Since she was generally a healthy eater, she'd tried to be one of those people who started the day with hot water and lemon or a green tea, but she couldn't manage it. She liked her coffee the way she liked her whiskey, the stronger the better. London was a great place to indulge that need for a caffeine perk. It wasn't quite Paris, but the people there certainly liked their coffee.

She was relieved to see coffee still left in the pot. It wasn't as though her parents knew she was a coffee drinker. They didn't know anything about her adult habits. It seemed odd, yet there were so many other things they didn't know. Coffee seemed the

least of it.

Alexis plucked a note from the kitchen table. Betsy's address. Within walking distance, she noted wryly. Betsy wasn't foolish enough to stray from her fan base.

She chewed her pancakes slowly, savoring each bite. It had been years since she'd enjoyed American pancakes. English pancakes tended to be thinner and less sweet. Alexis eventually gave them up completely after deciding that the bland taste wasn't worth the calories.

She sipped her coffee and wandered into the family room. She saw herself as a child on the same brown sofa, sipping hot cocoa and watching Christmas specials. She'd loved Rankin and Bass and Charlie Brown. For her, they'd brought a sense of magic.

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