Chapter 17

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Kudos and BBC. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

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"I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?"
Lewis Caroll

She could not go home. Not anymore.

Alexa parked the truck in a busy intersection, tossing Larry's keys on the seat and slipping an old checkered shirt over her bloodied tank top. The temperatures had dropped and she shivered, her bare feet barely visible beneath the hem of her jeans. Larry's shirt smelled of Marlboros but she didn't mind. She'd found an opened pack of his choice of cigarettes in the glove compartment and snagged it, slipping it into the pocket of his shirt.

Alexa looked around her, her eyes trying to spot Lucas in the crowd, but she did not see him. She slipped through the growing crowd of pedestrians, keeping her head low. She had a few blocks to walk but she didn't mind. She couldn't risk parking the truck too close to where she needed to go now, the one place that she could call her own.

Ever since she'd returned from Russia, everyone treated her like a porcelain doll that had fallen one too many times. Everyone thought she was too fragile, afraid that one more slip and she'd descend into some kind of madness.

Even her father, Nathaniel George, had decided it best that in the event of his death, to turn all Alexa's affairs over to a living trust attorney, till she turned 35. Most of his assets were also passed on to Liam, bypassing Alexa and entrusting her primarily with an allowance that was quite generous to begin with. But it made her feel invisible, as if Nathaniel did not want a trace of her anywhere, at least on paper.

But Alexa knew that to some, it was a privileged life to live, with no need for a job to pay her bills or her rent. Everything she spent was accounted for, though often questioned. At twenty-eight, she was old enough to manage her finances, but her father's arrangements prevented that. She was forever a child in his eyes, even in death.

When Alexa formed Found Hope a year earlier, she'd set aside her own salary for later use - not that she had needed a salary to begin with. And when she stepped down months earlier, passing on the bulk of the foundation to the management of a Board of Directors, they'd given her an early retirement package of sorts. Along with the salary, it was enough to live on modestly for a many years.

It was also enough to buy a place she could call her own. But Alexa could not and would not use her own name to purchase anything bigger than a car, much less a flat. She knew that Harry would have had her followed like he usually did to her new home, and probably even ask why she wanted to purchase anything like it if she already had a place of her own with Trevor Square, and her father's rental properties as well.

And the last thing Alexa wanted was to lose the only remnant of independence she had left, something that no one at MI5 knew about. She did not want to lose the home she'd secretly called her own for the last month, since she closed escrow on it and had it decorated.

To her neighbors, she was a wife whose husband was constantly out of the country, whose name was marked outside on the tenant directory board. It was a name she had acquired through weeks of hard work, aided by a resourceful private investigator who, as a result of his inquiries, had lost his license and was forced to leave the country. But Alexa had compensated him well for his work and the last she heard from him, he'd settled comfortably in Los Angeles.

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