So it had all been decided.
Mary Lou would start working for Mark Goodrich next Monday. By then, he promised to have her in an office somewhere in the building she was in or someplace close by.
Until then, she would get busy, finishing up the work on clients she had been dealing with if it was possible to finish the work by then, or if not, briefing Clark Porter, a colleague, on the work of clients she could not finish by Monday. It would be a grind trying to bring everything to a conclusion, but not so much so, she decided, that she wouldn't sometime that afternoon take a break and go to the mall to check on the young woman.
Goodrich still hadn't told her the name of the person whose case she'd be working on, although it seemed from what he told her more and more likely that it was Senator Orr, Bob's father. She had kidded Goodrich about his secrecy. "What difference does it make if you tell me now or then? Is this some kind of game to you?"
"No, it isn't a game. Don't even say that. It's anything but a game, I assure you. It's just . . . I don't know, I guess I just want to use discretion and care. Who knows what could happen between now and Monday?"
"You mean like something could happen to me? I could get sick or die? Or to him?"
"Something could happen to either one of you, or to me," he said. "The world could end."
She laughed, and after she laughed, she thought maybe she should be more judicious and careful in what she said to him. She didn't want to spoil her chances for this opportunity, which seemed mysterious and had some unexplainable intrigue. It seemed to have greater appeal all the time.
"Yeah, I guess that's possible. But something could happen to anyone of us at any time, even after you've told me. But it doesn't matter. I'm good with waiting to know who it is. I have plenty to concentrate on the rest of this week and on into the weekend to finish up by Monday with what I need to get done so I don't leave the firm in the lurch with the work I've been doing here."
So it had gone with Mark Goodrich.
Mary Lou spent the rest of the morning and on into the early afternoon getting her files organized and finishing a few telephone calls to clarify certain facts and asking various clients to send in documentation that would address particular problems on cases she had been and was dealing with. Once she had gathered the open files together, she organized them into stacks of cases she felt she could complete by Monday, cases she didn't think she could complete by Monday, and cases she wasn't sure she could complete by Monday.
After that, she decided to take a break, and she walked to the food court for some coffee and a bagel. And, of course, to look for that young woman.
It was well past lunchtime, nigh onto 3:30 PM., too late for most people to be eating lunch and not late enough for almost anyone to be eating dinner already.
The food court wasn't as crowded as it usually was when she got there --- it was rare for her to come at this time of the day. Typically, she just got her coffee from the pot in the office and made some toast if she needed a snack.
Today she stopped at The Coffee Bar, which was located just before she entered the food court proper, and ordered. Then, with her tray in hand, she stepped into the big, open area, where the tables were arranged all over the place with several chairs scattered around them. The big screen television blared, as usual. Dr. Phil reruns.
She glanced around. Not more than a fourth of the seating was occupied, possibly even less than that. However, against the far wall, the north one, the wall made of glass, she saw the girl sitting alone. It looked like the young woman had her word search magazine in front of her, and she was concentrating on it, trying to figure out its words.
Mary Lou sat down where she could watch the girl but at the same time look around for her older counterpart. The older woman must be there somewhere, working. That was her mode of operation: to come here to the mall to work, to a place where she could earn some money and, at the same time, provide a safe place for the young woman to be, a place where the older woman could while she worked keep an eye on the younger one while she did her word searches or watched television.
What was certain was that Mary Lou didn't need the older woman thinking that Mary Lou was somehow stalking the younger woman. The younger woman was in all probability the older woman's daughter. They looked a lot alike. They even had some of the same mannerisms: they both seemed to chew gum incessantly, they both had the habit of running their left hand through their short hair every so often, and they both had the same appealing smile that was slightly canted to the right side.