0692321314 (S)

0692321314 (S) by Simone Pond Read Free Book Online

Book: 0692321314 (S) by Simone Pond Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simone Pond
she’s fine. Thanks for your help earlier today. She looked really good out there on the mat.”
    “I’m always happy to help. You’re my only family.”
    “And I appreciate that very much. Even if Grace doesn’t,” Ava said, and patted Sam on the shoulder. “Have you seen my husband?”
    “He’s waiting outside. Are you sure you’re okay? Anything I can do?”
    “I’m fine. I’ll see you in the morning for the results. And thanks again. I’m sure Grace’s performance impressed the judges.”
    Ava walked outside to find Joseph, who was standing next to a group of young soldiers-in-training. He said some final words and joined Ava.
    “What’s wrong?” he asked.
    “How do you know something is wrong?”
    “I know you, Ava. The look on your face says it all.”
    “I just spoke with Ms. Atwood.”
    “I can see why that would be bothersome. Those academia type are so, I don’t know, judgy.”
    “Well, she is one of the judges.”
    “What’d she say? Was it about Grace?” he asked.
    “I’m not supposed to say anything, but I trust you’ll keep this to yourself, right?”
    “What’s going on?”
    “Grace came across something inside the mainframe.”
    “And?”
    “Morray’s back.”
    “What do you mean back? ”
    “She found some digital footprints inside the mainframe, and it looks suspicious.”
    “So, you automatically assume it’s Morray?”
    “I’m not assuming anything. I know it’s him.”
    Ava and Joseph walked along the dirt path toward their cabin. A cold chill whipped through the village, cutting into Ava’s bones. She looked up at the black sky to the millions of stars above. She remembered when she first arrived at the village and saw real stars for the first time. Many years had passed, but sometimes she still felt like a newcomer. An eerie feeling permeated through her pores. Some of the old fears resurfaced. In the past, she had run from Morray. She didn’t want to do that again. This time, she’d face him head on. He was back to finish the match, but she was ready for him. She knew every detail of his life. Every tragedy. Every weakness. This time, she would be fully prepared.
    Joseph stopped and held her hands. “You know we’ll get through this, just like before,” he said.
    Ava loved her husband and his comforting words, but she had work to do. “I knew this day would come.”
    “We don’t know anything yet. Just some digital footprints.”
    “I know Morray well enough to know it’s not just some digital footprints. He’s back. Most likely using a new body. And he will do whatever it takes to regain control. Both he and Dickson have had a lot of time on their hands to come up with a plan.”
    “We don’t even know if Dickson survived.”
    “I think we both know he survived.” She glanced around at their peaceful village. “The worst part is he’ll try to take me with him. I don’t want to lose any of this,” she said.
    “And you won’t.”
    Joseph pulled her over and they kissed. For a few seconds, she rested in the arms of her husband until one of the young village boys yelled, “Way to go, General!”
    Ava separated from their embrace. “I’ve got to get on this immediately.”
    “Not tonight. You can work on it first thing tomorrow morning. We should get home and congratulate Grace. She did well today.”
    Ava remembered the look in Grace’s eyes—wide with confusion and curiosity—when she had come up out of the mainframe. What had she seen? Was Morray trying to send a message to Ava through her daughter? She had to protect Grace. No; she couldn’t wait until morning.
    “Why don’t you go on ahead of me? I forgot to tell Sam something.” Ava kissed Joseph’s cheek.
    “You didn’t forget anything. You’re going into the mainframe.”
    “I need to see Grace’s test results. It won’t take long.”
    “I know you. You’ll be out the rest of the night.”
    Ava paused, and then tried a different approach. “This is information

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