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Saying goodbye to Mrs. Cassill had been difficult, perhaps because Nina knew there was so much she wasn't telling the woman. Things Nina knew Alice's mother would want to know.

She'll know soon enough, she thought to herself, and it wasn't as comforting a thing as Nina had hoped.

The things Alice had done, most likely even the things she had known, were things that would cast her in a different light. Things a mother would be pained to learn. Staring into green eyes, so like Alice's, set on a face lined with grief made Nina question once again the value of truth. Whether it was truly so worth the pain it would bring about to the people who learned of it.

It's what Alice wanted. And so it was, as far as Nina knew. Alice had wanted it so desperately she'd shattered Nina's mind—against all she had dedicated her life to.

With a smile that felt too brittle to keep up for very long and tremors running through her hands from the emotions she was holding back, Nina bid the older woman goodbye. She heard the door close behind her as she made her way down the path in the front yard and saw the last slivers of warm light fade as she was shut away from a place that felt so painfully like home. The warmth of her own mother a memory that seemed achingly fresh after the short visit.

Suddenly, Nina felt glad that Alice's father hadn't been home at the time. It would have been too much for her to handle, especially given her recent conversation with her own father. The promise she had made, one she was uncertain if she would be able to keep, clinging to the back of her mind.

With that, Nina made her way to her car through the chill that could not be beaten back by the last remaining rays of sunlight that managed to break through the dark clouds overhead. The warmth of the car did nothing to make her feel any better. Nina was still too preoccupied with all that she'd talked about with Mrs. Cassill, but more than that, she was surprised at how much she felt like she knew Alice.

Not much time had passed since the memories began to swim through Nina's mint, leading her to the woman who'd put them there. To someone who was long gone and Nina had never known. And yet, after all that had happened, all that Nina had done to get the answers that she needed, she'd learned more about Alice than she would have liked. Even if Nina was still picking up the pieces of who she used to be, trying to arrange them back into what she once was and hoping the cracks weren't so apparent.

As night fell over the town, and knowing that there was nothing she could do while it was so dark, Nina went in search of a place to spend the night. She didn't want to spend much longer in the time, didn't think she could risk staying in a single place for too long given the way she'd left, but she had no choice. Nina knew where she had to go, and she also knew that she wouldn't be able to find her way while it was dark, with a storm due to arrive so soon.

With that in mind, Nina found a small hotel—one of the few large chains she'd seen in the place—and got a room that was a definite improvement over the last place where she had stayed. The room was simple, with a bed that was perfectly made and lights that seemed too bright given Nina's aching head. She dropped her bag as soon as she walked in and glanced at the desk she was provided with. For a moment, she considered taking out the files that were hidden in her bag and going over them once ore, but she knew there was little more she would be able to find in them.

In the end, exhaustion—the same one she had been fighting against for days—won over, and Nina decided to simply take advantage of the warm room she had at the moment. After all, something told her she would need all the energy she could get for the day ahead.

That night, as Nina lay in bed, she was painfully aware of the near absolute silence that surrounded her. The sounds of the city—always awake, always in motion—were gone, taking the small comfort the sounds provided her. She lay there, memories she didn't want passing through her mind.

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