Author Archives: Minna Hong

A Hard Rain; chapter eleven, part two

Leslie feels grimy, so she goes to take a shower.  She puts her hair up in a bun before getting in so it’ll only get minimally wet, and then she steps into the steaming hot water.  She turns the nozzle to the ‘massage’ setting and lets the water beat on her aching back.  After she is done, she steps out and puts on a pair of jeans and an Obama sweatshirt.  She quickly dries her hair and then returns to the laptop.  She knows she should do more research, but she is burnt out.

“Break into the rose.”  Leslie stares at the words John had said in her dream.  “Rose, as in Rose Duffy?”  Of course!  John had prepared a packet of information to be sent to Leslie in case of his death, so logic tells Leslie that he probably sent one to Rose, too.  Jealousy flares inside Leslie, but she tamps it down.  This is not the time to get emotional—she will deal with all that shit later.  She picks up the hotel phone and calls her cabby.  It’s time for a spot of B&E.

“Stay here,” Leslie tells her cabby as she steps out of the taxi.  She had him park a block away, and he had asked no questions.  He nods and pulls out Dickens again.  The sun is nowhere to be seen, and there is a definite chill to the air.  Leslie walks towards the house and sees—no cops.  She blinks.  No cops?  What the hell?  They should be crawling all over the place, but no.  The yellow crime scene is up, but there are no cops in sight.  Leslie goes around the house to the back door.  She rattles it, and it’s locked.  However, the lock is a cheap one, and Leslie is able to open it with her credit card and a lot of jiggling.  She slips in and takes a quick look around.  The house is devoid of much of anything.  The walls are white, gray, and steel-blue.  There is a harshness to the atmosphere that is oppressive.  Leslie shrugs it off and heads for the stairs.  She knows she doesn’t have much time, and she has a hunch that anything Rose has is hidden on the second floor.

Upstairs is more of the same in terms of décor.  There is little furniture in any of the rooms, and no photographs.  No knickknacks, no mementos, no sign that anyone actually lives in the house.  Leslie shivers at the coldness.  Her own house is not very cozy, but at least she has a few personal touches.  And, she has Josephine.  Josephine.  A wave of homesickness rolls over Leslie, and it surprises her.  She is not someone who is very attached to any place, but she suddenly wishes she was at home in her living room, watching the news, and cuddling Josephine on her lap.  She pushes that thought to the back of her mind as heads to Rose’s bedroom.  Once inside, she stops and stares.  The room is done in mauve, dusty rose, and salmon pink.  The bed has red satin sheets on it.  There are yellow roses on the bedside table, along with a battered stuffed bear who looks like he has a tale or two to tell.  Apparently, all of Rose’s personality had been poured into her bedroom—her sanctuary.  Leslie is more sure than ever that whatever John had sent Rose is hidden in this room.

Leslie pulls on her leather gloves and starts searching the room.  She feels guilty for rifling through Rose’s belongings, but it has to be done.  Leslie’s frustration mounts as she searches dressers and drawers and closets.  She can’t find anything, and she is this close to screaming.  She thumps her hand on the bedside table, accidentally hitting the teddy bear sitting there.  She frowns because he is lumpy in a way that a bear should not be.  She picks him up, turns him around, and sees a thick seam in the back that does not match the rest of the stitching.  She laughs when she remembers that John had told her to ‘bear it in mind’.  He had always been one for a bad pun.  Leslie is about to try to undo it when she hears a noise below.  She freezes for a minute before stuffing the bear into her purse and rushing to the door.  She creeps outside and towards the stairs.  She hears a noise in the kitchen which is between her and the front door.  The back door, the one in which she came, however, is directly below the stairs.  If she is quick and quiet, she should be able to escape unnoticed.  She tiptoes down the stairs as fast as she can, thankful that she is not wearing heels.  She races out the back door and runs to the cab.

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A Hard Rain; chapter eleven, part one

By 10:13:15 p.m., Leslie is yawning nonstop.  She has taken a break from the case because her mind is on overload.  Now, she needs to sleep.  She emails Siobhan with her most recent update, and then she heads to the bathroom to perform her ablutions.  She is falling asleep as she brushes her teeth, so she decides to forego taking a shower—she can do it in the morning.  She goes back to the bedroom, strips off her clothes, sets the alarm, and then lies down on the bed.  She is out before she can even close her eyes.

Leslie is dreaming of John.  He is healthy, happy, and oh, so handsome.  She hugs him, kisses him, and he is hard.  She slides her hand down his body, but he stops her with a gentle kiss.

“You are so beautiful, Leslie.”  John presses a kiss so tender to Leslie’s lip, it takes her breath away.  After breaking away, he presents a black rose to Leslie—a real, living black rose.  “I need you to break into the rose.  You will find me in the rose.  Bear that in mind.  Can you remember that after you wake up?”

“Yes, John,” Leslie whispers, pressing her cheek to John’s chest.  She sheds a few tears as he closes his arms around her.

“I have to go now, baby.”  John kisses Leslie on the top of her head.

“No!”  Leslie is anguished as she looks up at John, tears in her eyes.  “Don’t leave me again!”

“I’ll always be with you, Leslie.  Always.”  John hugs Leslie hard before letting her go.  She watches as he evaporates into thin air.  “Remember.  Break into the rose.  Bear that in mind.”  With a start, Leslie wakes up.

“Damn.”  Leslie looks at her watch.  It’s 3:12:39 a.m., and Leslie is wide awake.  She emails Siobhan to let her know, and then she returns to her laptop.  She writes down what John had told her—something about breaking into a rose and bearing it in mind.  Then, she takes a deep breath and starts researching Senator Bronson more thoroughly.  Her earlier Google search had been cursory at best, but now is not time to be squeamish.

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A Hard Rain; chapter ten, part two

“Hello?”  Michael picked up his phone without looking to see who had called him.  It was seven-thirty at night, and he was still at the office.  He knew he had to get home soon or his wife would bitch at him for deserting her in her time of need.  Then, he would get pissed because he worked so hard during the day, didn’t he deserve a little relaxation at home?  But, he would feel guilty about it because his wife was having such a difficult pregnancy and because of her miscarriages.

“Michael.  It’s Amy.  I’ve been thinking about you a lot.  I’d like to see you tonight.”  Amy’s voice was as seductive as ever, and Michael felt the pull as strongly as ever.

“I’m at the office.  I should be going home.”  Michael noted that he wasn’t saying no to Amy—he could never say no to Amy.

“That’s too bad, Michael.  I’m only wearing a pink teddy and a see-through robe.  Does that tempt you at all?”  Amy laughed, sending sexual tingles throughout Michael’s body.  He went hard immediately, and all he could think about was fucking Amy.

“I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”  Michael gathered his things and flew over to Amy’s house.  She welcomed him into the house wearing nothing but the teddy and the shortie robe.  Michael had them both off her as soon as she closed the front door.

“Hi, Michael.  Are you glad you came over?”  Amy tilted her head and looked at Michael from beneath her lashes.

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A Hard Rain; chapter ten, part one

“God, this is boring,” Leslie mutters as she sits in the back of Judge Anthony’s courtroom.  She is not paying any attention to the trial.  She knows it’s some kind of manslaughter charge, but that’s it.  She watches Judge Anthony, trying to discern what type of judge he might be.  Folly, really, as if she could tell by sitting in his courtroom during a trial.  She nods off several times as the attorneys drone on and on and on.  Finally, the judge calls for a recess.  Leslie wonders if she can catch the judge in his chambers.  Doubtful.  She’s pretty sure that she can’t.  She thinks for a minute before she walks outside the courtroom, cell phone in hand.  She pulls out her list and calls the judge.

“Hello.  Judge Anthony.  Who are you, and why are you calling me?”  The judge has a supercilious edge to his words, as if he were born with the right to rule.

“My name is Sandra Scoppettone.  I am with the Sun-Times.  I have information on the murder—“

“No you’re not,” Judge Anthony says briskly, barely letting Leslie speak.  “Try again, or I’m hanging up.”

“OK, look.  I want to write for the Sun-Times.  I just need a break.  I heard that there is new information as to the whereabouts of Freddy Amato and—“

“I’ll be right—where are you?”

“Outside your courtroom.”

“Meet me outside the building in two.”  Judge Anthony hangs up the phone abruptly, leaving Leslie to stare at hers incredulously.  What a rude man.  She makes it outside before Judge Anthony does.  She watches as he emerges from the building.  He is not a bad-looking man with his dark, slicked-back hair, intense blue eyes, and slim build.  He is wearing a black suit with a magenta tie.  Leslie remembers that he is noted for his flashy ties.  He looks around, but of course he has no idea what Leslie looks like.  Leslie stands up and walks over to the judge.  His eyes are glued on her chest as she approaches.  She has her coat unzipped and those three buttons unbuttoned—the judge is definitely a chest man.  Leslie keeps that in mind as she holds out her hand.

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A Hard Rain; chapter nine, part part three

“Damn it, Reynolds, tell me what the fuck is going on with the Robertson case, and tell me now.”  Chief Matthews bellowed at Detective Reynolds, a twenty-year veteran who still had a thirst for justice, despite his years on the force.

“I had officers canvass the area.  It seems that there were three strange cars that were seen at Ms. Robertson’s house the day she was murdered.”  Detective Reynolds was in his late forties, but he was still in good shape.  He prided himself on the fact that he had his full head of thick brown hair and that his eyesight was still as keen as ever.  He glanced at his notes before continuing.  “As we know, one of them was Amato.”  Detective Reynolds paused, looking momentarily uncomfortable.

“Who are the other two, Reynolds?”  Chief Matthews asked, his dark eyes boring into Detective Reynolds’ blue ones.  Detective Reynolds remained silent for a minute longer before reluctantly answering.

“Michael Erickson and Jonah Bronson.”  A murmur swelled among the other cops present; the chief was friends with both of the men.

“State Prosecutor Erickson and Senator Bronson?”  Chief Matthews asked, emphasizing the titles unconsciously.

“Yes.”  Detective Reynolds folded his arms across his chest and rocked back and forth on his heels.  He looked as if he wished he could be anywhere but where he was.  “The next door neighbors had a habit of keeping track of Ms. Robertson’s companions.  They knew who she was, of course.”  Of course.  Any fool with access to the internet knew who Amy Robertson was, and in these days of celebrity-gawking, of course the neighbors would have an unhealthy interest in the comings and goings of the daughter of an august senator such as Senator Robertson.  “They recognized both Senator Bronson and State Prosecutor Erickson on sight.”  The former was there in the afternoon for roughly an hour whereas the latter was there in the evening, but no one is sure for how long.”

“Reynolds,” Chief Matthews began, his eyes glowering.  Before he could say anything else, his phone rang.  “Matthews!”  The expression on Chief Matthews face turned from exasperation to…something else.  No one in the room had ever seen the chief look like that before.  He didn’t say anything other than, “Yes.”  “I see.”  “All right.” After he hung up the phone, he said to the room, “Everyone but Reynolds get out.”  The cops all began to protest in unison.  They had been on the case from the beginning, and they felt they had the right to know what was going on.  “Out.”  Chief Matthews didn’t need to raise his voice to get his point across.  Though the muttering continued, everyone but Reynolds filed out the door; Chief Matthews closed it after the last straggler had left.

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A Hard Rain; chapter nine, part two

After saying goodbye, Leslie hangs up the phone.  She ponders what she should do next.  She writes down all the private cell phone numbers of the main suspects and family (including a few she doesn’t recognize.  Jill Brewster?  Tommy Legato?  Parker Young?  Who the fuck are these people?) from John’s files and stuffs the list in her purse.  She is not sure she’ll need them, but she would rather have them and not need them than vice-versa.  She decides a real disguise is in order.  She hails her cabbie (who offers to run a tab for her as long as she needs one), and he takes her to the nearest Target.  Leslie is boycotting Target since the CEO gave money to that batshitcrazy idiot, Tom Emmer, in his bid for governor of Minnesota, but this is an emergency.  She needs a wig, and she knows they have them.  She picks up a blonde “Marcia Brady” wig, some oversized sunglasses, a fitted gray sweater with nine buttons that she can wear under her jacket, and taupe jeans.  She buys some thermal unders so she can layer properly and stay warm.  She also purchases a pair of scissors so she can change in the bathroom.  It takes her fifteen minutes total, and then she is on her way to the cop shop—after convincing her cabbie that it really is her and not some blonde bimbo.

She knows it’s a long shot to think that she’ll learn anything of importance from the police, but she has to try.  For better or worse, they are the ones with the information on the case, which is ice cold by now.  Leslie knows she’ll have to do more research, but she’s burned out on it at the moment.  For now, she will hit the streets and pound the pavement and all those other stupid clichés.  It’s time for some action.  Once she reaches the police station, she dismisses her cabbie.  If she needs him, she can call him.  She intends to swing by the courthouse afterwards, so most of her afternoon is spoken for.  She can hail a cab on the street for that short jaunt.  Leslie pauses right outside the door so she can unzip her jacket and unbutton the top three buttons of her sweater.

“Can I help you?”  The officer at the front desk looks bored as if he would rather be anywhere than manning the front desk.  He is young—in his late twenties, and by the corn-fed looks of him, he hasn’t been on the job more than a couple of years. His name is Rex Parkinson, which Leslie duly notes.

“My name is Emily Dickinson.  I am an old, old friend of Amy Richardson’s.  I went by her house, but she’s not there.  No one can tell me what happened to her.  Do you know?”  Leslie gives the cop a wide-eyed look, making sure to keep her voice soft.  She learned at an early age that most men like to help out a woman, especially a woman who is asking for help so explicitly.

“She was murdered last year, ma’am,” Rex, the cop, says impassively.

“What?”  Leslie gasps, forcing tears to her eyes.  “You’re kidding me!”  Leslie fishes out a tissue from her purse and carefully dabs at her eyes.  “I have been out of the country for over a year, and this is the first chance I’ve had since I’ve been back to visit her.  I’m shocked!”

“Sorry for your loss, ma’am.”

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A Hard Rain; chapter nine, part one

Back in the hotel room, Leslie powers up her computer and flips on the TV as well.  She wants to see what the press is saying about the disappearance of Rose, if anything.  On the face of it, one random disappearance doesn’t get much air play, especially if the victim isn’t a pretty young white girl.  However, with Rose’s connection to Senator Robertson (however tangential), Leslie has a hunch that the local news will at least pay lip-service to the case.  She is right.  The news gives the bare bones of the situation and hint that the disappearance may be connected to the murder of Amy Robertson, daughter of Senator Robertson, roughly a year ago.  None of them offer any evidence of such a connection, but nobody cares about facts these days.  Ratings were all that mattered, and a senator’s daughter’s murder added ratings to any story.

“The chief,” Leslie murmurs to herself.  She would like to follow him, but she knows better than that.  Even though the Chicago players don’t know of her existence, they would be bound to notice an Asian woman paying close attention to them.  Besides, Leslie does not think the chief is her top priority, so she shelves him for now.  She focuses instead on Jonah Bronson.  She has to admit it’s purely prejudicial as she hates child molesters with a passion.   She knows it’s in large part to her own history, and she hates how her experiences with Mr. Liu has permanently marked her.  Even in a healthy, loving relationship such as the one she has with John—had, she reminds herself sternly—she had not been completely free from her past.


“Oh, John.  Fuck me harder!”  Leslie gasped, grabbing John’s ass so she could pull him closer to her.  She needed to fill every inch of his cock—and more—in order to stave away the demons.  They had been swarming around her mind for days, and the best way to rid them was, well, to have sex.

“Like that, Leslie?”  John thrust his cock in as far as he could, and then he pushed it in a bit further.  Leslie gasped as he hit her sweet spot—one she hadn’t even known she had before John.  “Is this what you want?”  John grabbed Leslie’s shoulders in his hands so he could get better purchase.  Instantly, Leslie froze as she flashed back to a time when Mr. Liu had done just that.


“This is the proper way to get fucked, Leslie,” Mr. Liu said, his fingers biting into Leslie’s slim shoulders.  “Open your legs wider.”

“I can’t!”  Leslie was crying, but that only seemed to excite Mr. Liu even more.

“Do it!”  Mr. Liu shook Leslie by the shoulders until she forced her legs even wider apart.  Mr. Liu wasn’t very big, thankfully, but it still hurt like hell every time he fucked her as he didn’t care too much about preparation.

“It hurts!”  Leslie wailed as Mr. Liu paused in his movements.

“It’s supposed to, you little minx.  That just makes it feel better for me.”

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A Hard Rain; chapter eight, part two

Leslie presses her forehead to the window of the cab, feeling the tears gather in her eyes.  Even when John was tough on her, he was still so full of love.  He did it because he believed in her.  He believed with all his might that Leslie would get better, that she would heal from her past.  Every time she said she was ruined and broken, he would say she was damaged, but not broken.  It was as if thought he could heal her by the sheer force of his beliefs.  Leslie roots through her oversized purse for a tissue (John liked to joke that she could carry a small child in it) and blows her nose.  She wonders how long it’ll take before she doesn’t cry every time she thinks of John.  She has a hunch it’ll be a long time.

“Here we are.”  The cabbie pulls up to what looks like a gated mansion, at least to Leslie’s eyes.  “I hope they’re expecting you.”

“They are.”  Leslie is about to say something when an intercom crackles to life.


“Tell her Jacqueline Kim is here,” Leslie tells the cabbie.  He does so with little fanfare.  They are buzzed through the gate.  “Will you wait for me?”  Leslie asks the cabbie.

“Sure.”  The cabbie nods at Leslie before pulling a book out to read.  Leslie sees that it’s A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens.  Leslie exits the cab and marches toward the front door.  She takes a deep breath and rings the doorbell.  The door is opened by an older woman with faded blond hair and faded blue eyes, wearing a faded pink housedress.  Though she is neatly attired and her hair is combed, there is something vaguely slatternly about her.  It might be the way she is clutching her oversized wine glass, though it isn’t even ten in the morning yet.  That doesn’t daunt Mrs. Robertson as she gulps the red wine from her glass.

“You’re Jacqueline Kim.  Friend of Rose Duffy.  You want to talk to me about Amy.”  Mrs. Robertson’s words are slurred.  She steps back from the door and gestures for Leslie to enter.  Leslie glances around her and sees nothing but taupe and beige and ecru.  Everything is of fine quality and very tasteful, but it’s fucking boring.  Mrs. Robertson leads Leslie to the living room, which is at least done in dusty rose rather than beige.  But, the furniture is beige, and so is the floor.  Leslie would go nuts living in this soulless house.  “Sit.”  Mrs. Robertson motions to a beige leather couch, and Leslie gingerly sits down.  She and leather don’t get along very well.  She has a tendency to slide off it.  “I need a refresher.  I’ll be right back.”  Mrs. Robertson disappears without asking Leslie if she wants a drink.  Leslie blinks.  There is something off-putting about Mrs. Robertson’s manners.  It’s as she knows what she’s supposed to say and do, but she can’t quite do it.  Leslie waits tensely for Mrs. Robertson to return.  Once she does, she seats herself in a hard-back chair directly opposite of Leslie.  Mrs. Robertson continues to gulp at her wine, staring at Leslie without saying anything.

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A Hard Rain; chapter eight, part one

Leslie ponders what she’s learned from Prosecutor Erickson.  If he is to be believed—and, she does believe him—he loved Amy.  He is devastated by her death, and he feels guilty because he knows that he’s the kind of man who will always put his career and social standing before his personal happiness.  Whatever he feels for his wife, it’s nothing compared to what he felt—what he still feels—for Amy.  Leslie had been prepared to hate this man when she first talked to him, and oddly enough, she ended up feeling sorry for him instead.  He is a decent man trying to do the right thing; he just can’t be the man he wants to be.  Leslie pushes that aside to concentrate on the salient point of the conversation—he has no alibi for the time of Amy’s death.  This means he’s still on the suspect list, though Leslie doesn’t think he killed Amy.  Still, she can’t let emotion cloud her judgment, so she keeps him on the list for now.  She finds herself hoping she can find information that will exonerate him.

Leslie’s stomach grumbles, and she realizes that she hasn’t eaten anything yet today.  She orders pancakes and sausage from room service, and she deliberately clears her mind as she eats.  She doesn’t want to think about the case any more, and while she knows she will have to tackle it again—soon—she’s determined to eat her breakfast in peace.  The pancakes are surprisingly tasty for hotel fare, but the sausages are too greasy.  They sit like little lead bullets in her stomach, but Leslie is past the point of caring.  She needs sustenance, so she eats every last bite on her plate.  Then, she sacks out for an hour, two minutes, and three seconds.  She figures she has earned the reprieve.  She dreams of John, an alive John, and it makes her smile in her sleep.  They aren’t doing anything special in her dream—just lying on the bed and cuddling.  She never wants the dream to end.

She wakes up with a start, her heart pounding.  When she realizes that she is alone, her heart physically aches.  John should be next to her, damn it, sleeping soundly as he always did.  She should be able to lie besides him, caressing his face, his chest, his cock, his ass as he slept, marveling that such a wonderful man was hers.  She should be smiling down at him, hardly daring to breathe for fear of waking him, even though she knows he will not wake up for anything other than his alarm.  He should be sleeping, oblivious to her gaze and touch.  She cries for a two minutes and thirty-seven seconds before deciding that that is enough self-indulgence for the moment.  She gets out of bed and goes to the bathroom to wash her face.  Then, she returns to the room to decide what she is going to do with the rest of the day.  Ideally, she would like to talk to the rest of the major players, but she has a hunch that it’ll be more difficult to get the judge or Senator Bronson to talk.  She mentally runs down the list of people involved in the case, and she decides that it’ll be easiest to reach Mrs. Robertson, Amy’s mom.  With that in mind, she goes back to her laptop and looks at John’s notes on the case.  He has Mrs. Robertson’s number, and Leslie dials it before she can think about it.

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A Hard Rain; chapter seven, part three

Michael tried.  He really did.  He knew that he was in danger of doing something really stupid, so he began making excuses as to why he could not go to Tina’s family for dinner.  He had too much work.  He was too tired.  He had a migraine.  Tina started complaining after the third time he skipped out, but he couldn’t afford to see Amy again.  So, even though it displeased Tina, he continued to make his excuses.  One day, however, he and Tina got in a huge fight on the very subject.

“Mikey, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.  You act as if my family isn’t good enough for you, or something.”  Tina raised her voice as she continued to berate her fiancé.  “Daddy keeps asking where you are, and it’s embarrassing to have to tell him that you didn’t come again.”

“Tina, I’m sorry, but I’m really busy at work.  I—“

“Your work is more important than my family?”  Tina narrowed her eyes and stared hard at Michael.  He knew that if he didn’t want a bigger problem on his hands, he would have to go to the damn dinner.

“All right.  I’ll see what I can do at work.  I’ll be there.”

“Oh, Mikey!  Thank you!”  All traces of petulance left Tina’s voce as she squealed in glee and hugged Michael.  Now that she had gotten her way, she was all giggles and smiles.  Michael suppressed a sigh as he hugged Tina back.  He had a bad feeling about dinner, but it was too late for him to back away now.

“Michael!  Good to see you again.  Tina tells us you’ve been working very hard these days.”  Senator Robertson boomed, shaking Michael’s hand firmly.

“Yes, Sir.  I put in fourteen hour days, regularly.”  Michael replied, trying valiantly not to look around the room.

“Hello, Michael.  Fancy seeing you here.”  Amy appeared out of nowhere, a vision in white.  She was wearing a low-cut dress that ended well short of her knees.  The scarlet lipstick she had on accentuated the curve of her lips, and Michael couldn’t tear his eyes away from them.  “My heater is working wonderfully, thanks to you.”

“Glad to hear it.”  Michael said in a strangled tone.  He could feel himself harden, and he quickly excused himself to go to the bathroom.  Once in there, he splashed some cold water on his face to cool himself down and tried to think erection-deflating thoughts.  The problem was, all he could think about was how gorgeous Amy had looked in her white dress and scarlet lipstick.  That did nothing to kill his hardness.  “I can do this,” Michael muttered to himself, opening the door.  To his surprise, Amy was standing right outside.

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