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Nina sat at the small table of her hotel room, her notes and laptop in front of her and silence her only companion. The bright light from her screen made her eyes feel tired, and the call of sleep grew stronger with every passing second. Still, Nina found her mind stuck on a single thought, one that had occurred to her from the very start but had been pushed away by all else that had happened.

Why her?

Why, of all the people she had treated, had Alice chosen her? Nina hadn't known Alice, and yet something had told Alice that her memories would be safe with Nina. That Nina would find the truth—along with the card holding the final pieces of the puzzle.

And she was right, Nina thought, the notes in front of her suddenly looking like the obsessive writings of a woman near madness.

She thought of the things she'd done, of the lies she'd told and the people she'd hidden everything from. Of the home and the life she could never go back to.

Nina looked around at the dreary room she was sitting in, at the small bag that carried most of her belongings. She felt the tremors in her hand and the ache in her head that had become so common she could hardly remember a time when they weren't present. Above all, Nina felt the exhaustion that ran through her body even as she was determined to keep going. The very determination that, somehow, Alice had known would drive her to find the truth.

She knew, Nina thought.

Alice had treated her, had probably been there when Nina received the implant that had changed her life. More than that, Alice had seen Nina's file and knew what she did for a living. Alice knew that Nina was a journalist, had probably looked up her past work. If anyone would follow the trail Alice had left, it would be Nina.

By a twist of fate that neither could have ever imagined, both women had been connected, their lives and minds so deeply intertwined that Nina almost felt as if she knew Alice. Now, Nina was left to untangle the threads that tied her to the other woman. All the while, below the strong sense of determination mixed with a seemingly never ending exhaustion, there was the pain and anger Nina was starting to suspect would always be present when she thought of Alice.

More than that, there was now the knowledge that Alice hadn't been the only one to tamper with her mind.

Nina thought of a wide, mocking smile she'd once thought of as warm. She thought of mismatched eyes and red lips on pale skin. She thought of the friend she'd never had and the betrayal that was still like a fresh cut in her heart.

Someone had planted memories of a friendship she'd never had, all to keep an eye on her. To make sure that she didn't get close enough to the truth.

No, Nina though. No, it was to make sure that, if I did, they would be there to stop the truth from getting out.

The realization left her feeling cold. It made a chill run up her spine as she wondered how long they had been watching her and how much they could possibly know.

They never stopped me. They were counting on me leading them to the evidence Alice had gathered. She looked at the card laying next to her laptop and marveled at how far people had gone for it. To destroy a mind for such a small thing—it was nearly enough to pull a bitter laugh from Nina's lips.

She sighed, sitting back as she listened to the wind still raging outside. The thought that the same people who'd built up a lie to keep an eye on her could be in that town, watching her, wasn't nearly as alarming to Nina as it should be. Perhaps it was because of her profession, because of all of the things she'd seen and heard.

If they wanted to watch Nina, to see her fall apart as she chased down what they were trying so hard to hide, then they were welcome to. Nina was just going to keep goin. To keep searching for a way to get the evidence that Alice had given her life for out to the public.

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