Long Way Home (Chapter Two, page 1 of 7)

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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.

She wondered if they still played shows like that during the holidays. She hoped so.

After lingering by the front window, Alexis knew it was time to drop in on her big sister. As much as she wanted to, Alexis couldn't put it off any longer.

On the plus side, it was a relief not to wrap up warm and brave the damp, cold wind. Although she despised English weather, walking was still her way of life in London just as it had been on the island. Even when taking the Tube, she ended up walking blocks at either end of the journey.

She recognized the name of Betsy's street, although she couldn't recall which of her friends had lived there. No one she was in touch with. Then again, Alexis hadn't been in touch with anyone. She didn't belong to Facebook or Instagram or any of the other sites that involved reaching out to people you didn't actually see anymore. Alexis detested the whole concept.

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