Looking at her credit card Samantha Ryan decided to risk withdrawing as much cash from it as she could. Then she’d make a run for it and start over. Until her father was caught and held accountable for his crimes, she’d never be safe. She was his ticket out of the mess he’d created.
Samantha waited until it was dark before she risked going back to her apartment. Even then, she waited nearby until she was absolutely certain her father wasn’t having it staked out. Chances were he had not heard about the bungled kidnapping yet. However, once the men failed to check in with him, he would know. Then he’d make plans to come after her again. She was certain of it.
Making her way across the street, Sam entered the building. Once she was upstairs, she knocked quietly on the door of her best friend – Marcie. It took a while to wake the girl from slumber.
“Sam, what the heck? Do you know what time it is?” The cute brunette looked angry.
“Marcie, let me in please. It’s a matter of life and death.”
From the look on her friend’s face, Marcie knew Samantha spoke the truth. She pulled the girl quickly into her apartment. “Sam, what is going on?”
Taking a seat on the sofa, Samantha slowly and deliberately relayed her story. With each sentence Samantha uttered, Marcie’s eyes got bigger. When the freckled faced beauty finally stopped talking, Marcie threw her arms around her.
“I’m so relieved you got away,” she muttered, her voice breaking. “I can’t believe your father did that to you. You should go to the police.”
“I can’t. Did you forget that his best friend is a cop? They’d never believe my story. They’d take his side in a heartbeat.”
“Then, you are right. You have to make a run for it and stay hidden until he’s finally caught and convicted. We’re going to need to disguise you right away. It isn’t safe for you to walk around looking like yourself at the moment. It’s a good thing I’m in the theater. I’ve got mad skills when it comes to makeup.” Marcie grinned widely trying to gain a smile from her friend. Her efforts did not work.
“First, we’ll dye your hair. How do you feel about auburn? We’ll cut it too. That long hair of yours is a dead giveaway.”
Sam stared at her friend, her mind whirling. “I don’t think cutting and changing the color of my hair will be enough to keep me safe.”
“Of course not, silly. We’ll change the way you look too. Then you’ll pack a few things and hide out at my parents’ summer home in Miami. You dad doesn’t know anything about that.”
“We can’t tell your parents, Marcie. We can’t tell anyone. That could put them in danger. My father is desperate. He won’t stop until he finds and kills me. He needs that money.”
“I wasn’t planning on telling them,” Marcie quipped. “They are in Europe for the next six months. Hopefully by then, this thing will be solved.” She looked disapprovingly at her friend. “You can’t just run off somewhere and hope to survive, Sam. You need help. I’m offering. Don’t turn me down.”
“I don’t want to put you in danger. You know my dad is going to come here looking for me.”
“Hello, actress here. Do I have to keep reminding you of that?” Marcie stood over her friend and stamped her foot slightly. The movement finally elicited a smile from Samantha.
“You’ve been doing that since you were six years old. Don’t you think you are a bit old for it now?” Samantha stood and hugged her friend. “I got lucky the day you walked into my life. Of course, I’ll take your help. You just have to promise me that you’ll be careful.”
“It will be my greatest roll,” Marcie laughed, tossing her shoulder-length bob.
“I love you,” Samantha sighed.
“I love you too,” Marcie responded. “So I’m not about to lose you to a greedy old son of a bitch,” she said through clenched teeth. “Now let’s get started. I’ve got the dye and the makeup kit. The sooner we do this, get you packed and out of here, the better.”
Samantha nodded agreement. An hour later she stood staring at herself in the mirror. She was astounded by Marcie’s work. Her sandy brown hair was now a deep auburn color. It suited her somehow. The waist-length cut she sported since childhood was gone as well. It was replaced by a pixie cut. Oddly, that suited her too because of her delicate features.
Sam looked at her eyes with awe. Gone were the gray-blue ones that had looked back at her for more than 20 years. Contact lenses had turned them emerald green. But it was her face that amazed her most of all. With the right color of makeup, Marcie had managed to cover every freckle. Her normally pale skin was replaced with something darker, more like Marcie’s medium tone.
“No one would recognize me,” Samantha whispered. “I can’t believe you were able to do this.”
“I told you I was good,” Marcie laughed. “Now let’s get you to your apartment and pack a few things.”
“I thought about that,” Samantha responded. “I can’t take more than a handful of items; things my father hasn’t seen. Otherwise, it will be obvious that I’ve been there.”
“I agree,” Marcie returned. “That’s why I made a list for you. It will help speed the process too.”
“You are a control freak, aren’t you?”
“It’s coming in handy at the moment, don’t you think?”
“I do. How can I ever thank you?”
“You can be part of my entourage when I become a star,” Marcie smiled. “I’ll need a personal assistant,” she teased.
“Anything you want,” Samantha returned, meaning every word.
“One last thing,” Marcie said holding out her hand. “Give me your credit card.”
“I can’t do that,” Samantha whined. “If I do, I won’t have any money for food and necessities.”
“Of course you will,” Marcie said, holding a wad of cash with her other hand. “My parents gave me money for my birthday. They always do. It’s the easiest thing for them. There is $5,000 here.”
“I can’t take that,” Sam mumbled. “It isn’t right.”
“What wouldn’t be right is your getting caught because you used this card. Your dad needs to think the kidnappers took did something else with you. They could have sold you into slavery for more money than he could pay. As long as there is a doubt in his mind that you are out there, the safer it is for you.”
“You really have thought of everything, haven’t you?” Samantha looked at her friend with more appreciative eyes. “With a mind like yours, you could do well in business.”
“Of course,” Marcie replied, tossing her hair again. “But I prefer the theater,” she mimed her best Garbo impersonation.”
“I’m going to miss you,” Sam whisper, tears forming in her eyes.
“I’ll miss you too,” Marcie said. “Who is going to read lines with me?”
“Always the comic,” Samantha laughed.
“No, always your friend,” Marcie said soberly. “I want you safe, Samantha. That’s all I care about.” With that, she held her best friend close and stroked her hair like a mother would a child’s.
“Let’s get this over with or I’ll never be able to say goodbye to you,” Sam whispered, her words ringing of truth.
An hour later, she was on a bus headed to Miami, a picture of Marcie in the locket next to her heart. She thought it odd that her surrogate mother was the same age as she was. However, Marcie had that kind of vibe about her. She’d always nurtured and taken care of her friend. Samantha was glad she wasn’t about to stop now.