Chapter Fifty

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"Melody, go inside and check your father is asleep."

"I'm not leaving you here with her."

"I said go inside and check on him. I won't ask you again."

Melody stood firm, glaring at her mother. Hannah was reminded of the little girl who used to follow Shane everywhere, no matter how much he teased her. She was still that little girl, but now she was a stubborn little girl with a shotgun.

"Melody... please, your father can't cope with this."

Reluctantly, the girl backed away and went into the house and Amelia turned back to Hannah.

"Losing Shane has been hard on us all, but my husband...," her voice cracked and she exhaled slowly, "he's now a shell of the man he once was."

Hannah lowered her eyes to the floor, squeezing them shut, trying to stop the images flashing in her mind: Shane and his father playing football in their back yard, fishing down by the creek, celebrating Shane's sixteenth birthday...

The door opened and Melody came out and stood by her mother. "He's asleep."

Amelia nodded. "How long do we have?" She asked Hannah.

"I don't know. The guards were arriving as we left Anne's. I had to warn you." Hannah replied.

"You'd better come in then," Amelia said and led the way. Melody waited by the door and glared at Hannah as she walked passed. The aroma of dampness mixed with stale cooking fat assaulted Hannah's nose, yet the kitchen, looked clean, homely almost, almost like their old one.

"Take a seat." Amelia pointed to a small table in the corner of the kitchen and then sat on the opposite side. No freshly baked cookies or warmed milk welcomed Hannah this time.

"So Briggs has my name, does he?"

"Yes."

"That's unfortunate and yet not unexpected." Amelia paused, looking towards Melody. "So, how's Anne? I haven't seen in her in a very long time."

Hannah tried to reply, but couldn't find the words.

"Unfortunately she took her own life tonight, so it would be fair to say she isn't doing so well," Tucker said and laughed nervously. One look from Hannah and he stopped dead.

"That's too bad. She was one of the good ones." Amelia clasped her fingers together and closed her eyes. Melody reached over and put a hand on her shoulder. The simple gesture made Hannah think again about her mother and how much she wished she could just reach out and touch her.

"You didn't just come here to warn me, Hannah, what is it you want to know?" Amelia asked.

Hannah shook her head and then took a deep breath, her nerves getting the better of her under Amelia's penetrating stare.

"I want to know what this list is and why I was given it. Before Anne died, she told us that the other two people, Joel Muro and an A. Crowe, were already dead. Can you tell me anything about them?"

Amelia laughed. It was a hard, soulless laugh and not done out of amusement. Hannah, Tucker and Melody, looked on uncomfortably, confused by her reaction.

"Anne was half right. Joel died in a car accident nearly five years ago."

"So who was he?"

"Joel was a fix-it kind of guy and that is probably why his name is on the list. He knew everyone and could get anything; there wasn't a trade going on around here that he didn't know about. He wasn't Flawed, but he was low enough not to be accepted over there and kind of lived on the margins. Fortunately for the resistance, his sympathies were over here with us and great use was made of the information he managed to get from his contacts within the army. His tip- offs saved many lives; just not his own, sadly. Joel was killed, but it was made to look like an accident."

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