Four

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As Melissa and I searched for the address Alvin had given us earlier, I couldn't help but notice we had ended up on a lesser side of town. Not that I felt threatened, but knowing someone like Al was dwelling here for the time being made me respect him a little more.

"It says we're here," Melissa claimed as she gazed at her phone.

"Where is here?" I asked.

We looked down the deserted street, but the only thing I saw was a flickering neon Open sign in a tattoo shop window. Could that be...?

"Come on," Melissa said. "I feel like a sitting target right here."

I followed her out the car and onto the dark street. We were closer to the beach now, so the smell of salt water lingered in the air. Unfortunately, it was also mixed with the aroma of trash and sewer.

In the distance, you could hear the bustling of the city, but all was quiet here. It gave me the creeps.

Melissa lowered her face to peer inside the tattoo shop. The neon lights danced off her face as she pushed against the door. It was open.

We walked inside and the bell above our heads dinged at our arrival, but there was no one at the front.

"Alvin?" I called.

All remained silent for a minute. I was beginning to believe we were in the wrong place.

"Hello?" Melissa called.

That's when Alvin himself peeked around the corner.

"Lock the door," he ordered.

Melissa did as such.

"Come."

Melissa gave me an unsure glance before I followed Alvin around the corner and up the stairs, which led to a hallway.

"Did anyone follow you?"

"No," I stated, even though I was unsure. "We got your external-drive."

"Fantastic." He opened a door. "Did you also find the cellphone?"

Melissa set her bag down on the table inside the cramped room. Alvin's industrial-sized laptop sat on the counter as well, ready to go.

Melissa showed the drive first.

He gasped. "This is it."

Then I showed him my cellphone.

He took it from me and immediately plugged it into his computer and got to work.

"Come by tomorrow around seven." He looked up from behind his screen. "Bring some coffee, if you can."

"I actually have another favor..." I said.

He stared at me.

"Could you print up a few fake IDs?"

"So, you're skipping town," he claimed.

"I have to find my sister." I stared at him. "And I can't do that as Alexa Cortez."

"Sure," he agreed as he stood from his computer. "Let me grab my printer."

Melissa looked around the room. "Do you always travel with all of your equipment?"

"This isn't even half of what I own," Al revealed as he rummaged through a bag. "It's just what I could carry."

I raised my brow. "Had to leave in a hurry?"

Alvin found what he was looking for. "Let's just say hacking into your government's database is... frowned upon by the law."

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