Small marks hardly discernable on lightly golden tanned forearms, Malia took great care in pulling the sleeves of her blouse down and buttoned at the wrist as she hastily took her orders.
The man who might have noticed the tiny hardly there scars said not a word about them and turned his attention to the menu in his hand while rubbing his corse beard with the other, considering his options.
He asks for dessert before supper and Malia obliges with a smile and a promise to be back quickly before making a hasty retreat. If the man is a private detective sent by her mother she might scream.
No, she thinks, as he deliberately looks her way and grins, his watery blue eyes glimmering from behind round rimmles glasses, yes he must be here not to merely investigate like the others but to perhaps escort her to her parents.
She ducks into the back office and gives her boss her rather poorly executed I quit speech. He sits behind his old desk with its mountains of paperwork and glowers at her with his blazing black eyes, combs his hand, artificial and still the coolest thing she's ever seen, through his chestnut hair and sighs.
"Another one? No of course it is." He waves her off dismissively and goes back to his papers. "Where you fittin' to go this time?"
Malia goes straight for his rickety locker and pulls our an old Nike sports bag and fishes for her keys inside.
Everyday she brings what she'll need if she's got to hit the road and, saddened to the point of near tears she actually hugs Saul from behind, loving his powerful shoulders and the general warmth and feel of him against her.
If she weren't so damaged, if Saul saw her as anything other than the girl he'd found in the alley to the side of his diner drenched in rain a year ago then maybe she would have had him, the fifteen year gap be damned!
"I'll let you know when I get there."
"If you mange to give them the slip you know you're always welcomed back."
It's as close to a goodbye she's ever gonna get from Saul Giovanni and she nods and promises she'll be back as soon as possible as she leaves towards the back door into the filthy alleyway like a thief in the night.
Her piece of junk Chevy truck is older than she is, was bought dirt cheap from a retired sheriff up in some nowhere town in Seattle. It's red, matches with the rust stains and works so well, apart from the horrendous chuga chuga noise as it barrels down the road, that it feels almost new.
She loves it, especially after she'd found the tracker in her Toyota Camry she'd had to ditch when she'd first left Louisiana.
Her truck has been home more than any other place had been for a while.
The old trapper keeper with a journal inside had somewhat solidified this love for her truck when she'd found it beneath her seat, dropped and forgotten years before Mister Swan had sold the truck.
The girl who'd previously owned it muat have had such an imagination. Vampire werewolf love triangles? True love? So some of it could be called cliche, but the girl had been good at writing twisted love.
Malia wondered about that girl and her larger than life imagination. She wondered if she'd gotten a chance to publish anything yet and decided to keep an eye out on the chance that she did.
Malia pulls into a rest stop beside an old RV. She cranks opened the drivers side window an inch and settles down for a power nap.
Malia wonders about the man her family sent after her, wonders how angry he might have been when she'd ditched him and disappeared. Saul hadn't called her new number, she thought sadly as she thumbed at the old flip phone to set an alarm.
But Saul wasn't stupid and neither was Malia, who knew that maybe Saul was being watched too. She felt like some sort of criminal because her life now consisted of running and laying low, of using aliases to get by undetected.
If it weren't for what happened to her when she was eighteen then this wouldn't be happening. Her mother wouldn't try to bring her back home kicking and screaming against her will in the hopes of making Malia the Malia she'd last known eight years prior-
Well Malia can't blame her mother for it. After the kidnapping of her twin daughters and Malia being the one to make it out alive...
Malia doesn't have to try to differentiate herself from Diana that much, the long pale scar running from her hair line curving toward her ear dispells any illusions of Diana.
Sometimes when it all gets to be too much and all she can do is remember those horrible men, the stinking twin beds they'd been thrown on and the horrible things that happened there, Malia is sometimes glad that Diana died early on during the long six months of their abduction.
At least she hadn't been the one beaten, scared and abused four months in when those men decided that no amount of sweet talk was going to get Malia to willingly given herself to them.
Thank God she thinks, that Diana suffered from a bad heart since they were born and that early on she died. She thanks God fo ventricular fibrillation and the fact that Diana could be in peace.
Even if both sisters made it out alive neither would ever be the same. Malia used to be a chipper person, used to be trusting and chatty and beautiful just like Diana.
Diana who'd been so terrified that her heart stopped beating, though she'd been terrified of what was happening at least she died as who she was, a beautiful, intelligent young woman who would never know what real and true soul crushing evil was.
Malia tucks her flip phone into her bra and leans against the car door. Her eyes slip shut and she allows herself to sleep. Pain momentarily forgotten.
Malia is in a small town in Arkansas when Saul calls her. The man was sent by her parents, he tells her and in the same sighing voice that she ought to at least call them if she wasn't interested in going home.
She runs into a familiar looking woman coming out the grocery store with cleaning supplies and a pressed polo shirt. The face was from the news, years before Malia and Diana's abduction she remembers the woman's face. Bard something.
Another lonely traveler, she thinks as the woman spots her with a spark of recognition in her blue eyes, must have seen Malia and Diana on the news too, and nods.
She stays in Shakespeare Arkansas for a month before she decides to move on, the few jobs she'd taken had significantly lined her pockets.
She deduces that the best way to make quick cash without having to fake it with customers who make her insides twist and churn with anxiety and a low level terror of accidentally miscounting change is housecleaning.
She remembers Oliva, the young woman who came in three times a week to clean the house, remembers how hard she worked two hours on those three days unaware or uncaring of her audience consisting of two over curious children and an employer who couldn't be bothered for chit chat.
Thinking about it now and getting past the small bit of shame at considering it, Malia decides that this is the best course of action. She decides to head east after finding a small town in California that had nearly not made it on the maps.
"Beacon Hills... " Malia mumbles as her truck rumbles it's way down the lone desolate road out of Shakespeare, burst of wind sending her long hair flying from the opened Windows. "Sounds boring."