Chapter 13

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This chapter is dedicated to four stores -- and what's more, I've never been to any of them! So perhaps some explanation is in order. My publicist at Tor Teen, Patty Garcia, keeps a list of all the stores that have invited me in to give talks and signings. These stores not only asked, they begged, and made it clear that they have done everything they could to hand-sell the heck out of my books in the past. These stores have been enormously generous and supportive, and I'm delighted to say that I'll be able to visit three out of the four on the tour for Homeland (Uncle Hugo's, in Minneapolis, is top of my list for my next trip to the Twin Cities) 

Uncle Hugo's: 2864 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407 +1 612 824 6347
RiverRun Bookstore: 142 Fleet St, Portsmouth, NH 03801 +1 603 431 2100
Gibson's Booksore: 27 S Main St, Concord, NH 03301, +1 603 224 0562
Busboys and Poets: 2021 14th Street NW, Washington DC, 20009 +1 202 387 7638


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He was only a few yards behind where I'd been. Close enough to keep a good eye on me, if that's what he'd been doing there. Far enough away that he couldn't have quite reached out and grabbed me, if that was his goal.

I took a step backwards, landing on someone's fingers, jerking my foot up, nearly skidding on a slick of used food and toxic chemicals. I caught my balance, took another step. Knothead hadn't spotted me yet. He wasn't wearing tactical black, but I saw that his blue jeans had a couple of bulging cargo pockets, and there were a few little bulges around his waistline.

I took another step and looked carefully around me. Would Knothead have been here alone? Would he have had Timmy with him? Zyz didn't strike me as the kind of organization that sent its goons out on their own. I looked all around me, finding new reservoirs of panic and fear, searching the crowd for guys who could be Timmy, wondering if he might be wearing a wig or some other disguise. I didn't see him, but I did spot Lemmy helping an older guy who was limping, his arm around Lemmy's shoulders. I started to move toward him, and then I felt a hand take mine. For a glorious moment, I thought Ange had crept up on me and grabbed my hand -- somehow, I could feel that these were a woman's fingers.

Then the fingers grabbed hold of my thumb and did something awful and painful to it, something that made my head snap back in pain. I cried out, the sound muffled by my mask, and tried to squirm away from the terrible, wrenching pain. That only made it worse. I went up on my tiptoes, in agony, and managed to twist around and see who was the author of my suffering.

It was Carrie Johnstone, dressed like a sitcom housewife doing the grocery shopping in track pants, a loose SFSU sweatshirt, her hair tied back in a scrunchie. It was such a great disguise, so utterly unlike her efficient, ruthless persona, that I couldn't figure out where I knew that stern face from at first. When I did, I gasped harder. "Hello, Marcus," she said, and relaxed her grip on my thumb, just a little, so that I could catch my breath and focus for a moment. She watched my eyes carefully and when she was convinced that I was paying full attention, she brought her other hand out from beneath her sweatshirt. In it, she held a little two-pronged, pistol gripped tactical black gizmo. A tazer.

"I'd prefer not to use this," she said. "Because then I'd have to carry you. That would be conspicuous. And I might have to drop you. You wouldn't like that. Am I being clear?" I nodded and swallowed a few times behind my mask. She made the tazer vanish. "Smart boy. Come along now. We've got to move."

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