Rock Con Roll (Chapter 2, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 2

The mere sight of Bea's home sent a mix of emotions through me. This was the woman I'd lived with until I was seventeen, so I felt a brief sentimental twinge. But she was also the woman who'd raised me to be a thief and a con artist-to pick pockets and locks, plan elaborate stings, and forge everything from documents to famous paintings. So I felt shame, too. She always used us for her own gain, never seeming to care about anything else, so I felt anger as well. Missing panda, indeed! I couldn't wait to see what that was about.

The small house looked like all the others on this suburban street, east of Los Angeles. Bea made sure it was as good as the rest of them, never shabby but never too fancy, either. Her intention was to make sure the house didn't stand out in any way. "Hiding in plain sight," she liked to call it. The taupe and white trim matched the house next door and three others on the block. I remember once coming back home after a con and trying to enter a neighbor's house instead. That's how forgettable our home always was.

But I didn't forget anything today. I parked and quickly walked to the house, carrying a big black plastic bag with the panda inside. Whatever it was about that thing, Bea didn't want to draw any attention to it, so she insisted that I bag it once I'd claimed it. I walked around the side of the house and grabbed the key from its hiding place. Then I went to the back door and let myself in.

Bea and I didn't part on the best of terms, so I was on delicate footing here. I'm told she was incredibly angry when I left, which is why I hid from her. But she wasn't at all angry with me when she called yesterday, so perhaps seven years had wiped that slate clean. I hoped so, anyway.

If I could return to New York without having to hide anymore, life would certainly be better. All I needed to do was make peace with Bea. I didn't expect to become friends with her-that would be pushing things. But since I was here, I could try to understand her better and get a new perspective on my childhood. Was she really always on the lookout for a scam? Did she care about anyone but herself? I wanted to know whether these images I had of her were true. How bad was it, really? Because the scared girl who ran away from this home thought it was incredibly bad.

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