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         Alexis began to wonder if she were in fact crazy. She hadn't had contact with Lana Andrews in years. Not since that night when Lana had forcefully led her from her bed and out the door of house where all of Jackie's girls had lived. It was a terrifying night, and yet more than likely one that had saved her life.


         Later she had learned that Lana had stolen away from the life they had both so detested within a year of her own escape. The fact that that news had not come from Lana herself was unnerving to her now. She knew better than anyone the feeling, the need to cut the painful ties of the past. Did she now have the right to reawaken those ties?


         Alexis forcefully pushed the question from her mind. Right or wrong, she had to do it. Not to do so would mean letting go of the last thread of hope for answers to questions that would forever alter so many lives.


         Now, as she entered the small cafe that was provided to her as an emergency address, she had no idea what to expect. She approached the counter, struggling to keep the anxiety and fear she felt buried inside. She nearly lost that battle when the blonde woman behind the counter suddenly looked up to meet her eyes.


         "La --"


         Lana silenced her with a simple look, in that way that only she had. With a swift sideways glance, she indicated a table in the far corner. Alexis seated herself, and waited. Suddenly, a menu appeared before her. When she looked up, she saw only Lana's retreating form as she left the cafe.


         Confused, and more than a little frightened, Alexis opened the old fashioned cover. Inside was not a menu, but a small personal data padd.


My shift ended. Order coffee, drink it, and leave. I'll be at the transport stop for twenty minutes. - L.


         Alexis hurriedly cleared the message and closed the menu cover. After following the instructions, she left, trying to look natural while hurrying at the same time.


         "Lana. I need your help."


         Lana's face was emotionless, reflecting the flat tone of her voice as she spoke. "I have done everything I can, I have nothing more to give you."


         "Please, Lana. We have a chance to possibly correct some of the damage we have done, but there is no way I can do it without you." Spilling out the details of the story as quickly as she could, she plead for help.


         Lana tried not to hear what Alexis was saying, but somehow, as always, the little girl in her had captured her heart. "I would help if I could, for you, you know that. But what you are asking of me now is impossible. Do you realize what's happening? One of her own may have turned on Jackie, and others may follow willingly....but there are those who are still very loyal. Things like this, what you suggest, are just what they are looking for. You can bet that if the police just happen to get a well placed tip, there won't be deals like there are for the others."


         Alexis lost the fight. Tears filled her eyes. "Look, it's early. She'll be at the office for a while yet. It's a public place, no one will think anything of it. Please....I owe her....everything."


         Lana's eyes closed in frustration. She knew she wouldn't win this battle, no matter how hard she tried.


*  *  *


         Deanna gave in. She couldn't help herself anymore it seemed, how she was supposed to help anyone else was beyond comprehension. She gathered her things in a thoughtless rush and headed for the door.


         Alexis entered just as Deanna approached the door. "Oh, Deanna, wait. I brought that friend I mentioned to see you, I think she can help you more than I could."


         As she stepped from between the two women, an invisible current seemed to flash between them. When there eyes met, Deanna's breath caught in her throat. Without a word, Lana Andrews backed slowly to the door and fled the building.